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Associated Press
George Zimmerman, right, with attorney Don West, is sworn in before declining to take the stand and testify during his trial Wednesday.

BRIEFS: Defense attorneys rest in Zimmerman trial

– After taking less than a week to call 18 witnesses, George Zimmerman’s defense attorneys rested their case Wednesday in the neighborhood watch volunteer’s second-degree murder trial.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys planned to work out the jury instructions before they present closing arguments today. Judge Debra Nelson said the case could be sent to the six jurors as early as Friday.

Zimmerman never testified. But jurors saw repeated video recordings of Zimmerman telling his side of the story to investigators. He claims that he shot Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, in self-defense while the teen straddled and punched him.

Drone successfully lands on carrier

The Navy successfully landed a drone the size of a fighter jet aboard an aircraft carrier for the first time, showcasing the military’s capability to have a computer program perform one of the most difficult tasks that a pilot is asked to do.

The landing of the X-47B experimental aircraft means the Navy can move forward with its plans to develop another unmanned aircraft that will join the fleet alongside traditional airplanes to provide around-the-clock surveillance while also possessing a strike capability. It also would pave the way for the U.S. to launch unmanned aircraft without the need to obtain permission from other countries to use their bases.

Student loan rate drop dies in Senate

An effort to restore lower interest rates on student loans has failed in the Senate.

The White House and most Senate Democrats favored restoring interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans to 3.4 percent for another year. But lawmakers Wednesday were unable to muster the necessary 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle.

That left interest rates at 6.8 percent. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., voted in favor of the motion to limit debate on the bill, and Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., voted against it.

Family member accused of murder

A 16-year-old family member was arrested on suspicion of murder in the case of a missing 11-year-old autistic boy in Southern California, police said.

A body that matched the description of Terry Dewayne Smith Jr. was found partially exposed in a shallow grave on the family property, Menifee police Chief John Hill said at a news conference.

The body has not yet been positively identified, Hill said, adding that the death was the result of “a domestic issue” at the house.

Japan groundwater shows radioactivity

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has found levels of radioactivity in groundwater at its crippled Fukushima nuclear station at levels 244 times those considered safe for an atomic plant.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said that it strongly suspects contaminated water from underground leaks at the Tepco plant was seeping into the ocean, Kyodo News said.

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