It's not all bad
February 2, 2013

A Spanish long-distance runner showed exemplary sportsmanship last December when he helped a confused rival finish before him. Iván Fernández Anaya was in second place to Olympic bronze medalist Abel Mutai in a race in Navarre, Spain, when he noticed the Kenyan runner stop about 30 feet from the finish line. Mutai thought he had completed the race — and couldn't understand the crowd telling him to keep going in Spanish. Rather than speed past Mutai, Anaya guided him ahead to the actual finish. "I did what I had to do," he said. "He was the rightful winner." 

En-Danger Zone
12:27 p.m. ET

Meet the pangolin, a small, scaly Asian creature that wears the unfortunate crown of being the world's most trafficked mammal.

While being covered in scales has the distinct advantage of qualifying the odd creature as the most steampunk animal in existence, the pangolin's prickly exterior tends to do it more harm than good. Its keratin scales are used in traditional medicine to treat skin diseases, and pangolin meat can fetch up to $150 dollars per pound at restaurants in parts of China where it's considered a delicacy. What's worse is that because the animals are less magnificent (and less cuddly) than the poster children of endangered species' movements, like elephants and tigers, they receive less attention.

"The pangolin runs the risk of becoming extinct before most people have even heard of them," said Britain's Prince William. If an endorsement from the prince doesn't help animals' cause, Pokemon lovers of the world should rise to the occasion, as the popular character Sandslash was loosely based on the pangolin.

The backlash continues
11:48 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Bowing to pressure over his state's controversial new religious freedom law, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) on Tuesday said he would call for legislation this week to ensure the law cannot be used to discriminate against gays.

"We will fix this and we will move forward," he said in a press conference.

Saying Indiana had a "perception problem" based on "sloppy reporting," Pence insisted the law's intent was never to allow discrimination based on sexual orientation. Rather, he framed it as establishing a "balancing test" for the courts to weigh alleged encroachments on religious freedom. Still, Pence said he felt a tweak was necessary to clarify the law's intent going forward.

"It's been a tough week in the Hoosier state, but we're going to move forward," he said.

This just in
11:28 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Iraqi forces on Tuesday recaptured the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a speech on state television. "The successful experience of Tikrit will be repeated in other areas," he said. ISIS seized control of the city last summer, so its recapture by the state represents one of the most significant gains in Iraq's campaign to push back against the militant group.

impressive
11:24 a.m. ET
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Keeping a forbidden cell phone in prison is impressive on its own, but Britain's Neil Moore went above and beyond. Moore used a smuggled phone to create a fake government email account, and he emailed prison officials to obtain his freedom.

Moore, 28, was being held in the maximum-security Wandsworth prison. He was awaiting trial on fraud charges in March 2014 when he began what prosecutors called a plan of "extraordinary criminal inventiveness, deviousness, and creativity," NBC News reports.

After creating a fake web address similar to that of Britain's Royal Courts of Justice, Moore pretended he was a count clerk and emailed prison officials that he was granted bail. The prison then released him on March 10.

Even though he got away with the scheme, Moore "had a change of heart" and turned himself in a few days later, according to NBC News. He pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud, as well as one count of escape from lawful custody, and he will be sentenced on April 20.

injustice system
11:05 a.m. ET
iStock

If you want to kill somebody in Alabama, try not to do it when there's an election coming up:

Statistics show that Alabama judges, who are elected to the bench, have overridden juries in murder cases 111 times since the death penalty’s reinstatement in 1976. Of that 111, judges have upgraded the sentences to death 101 times. In the remaining 10 cases, the judges downgraded the sentence to life in prison. More than 20 percent of the inmates on death row in Alabama are there as a result of judicial overrides. [...]

The Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association says in the 111 death-penalty upgrade decisions, 80 percent occurred in the year leading up to a judge's re-election. [Allgov]

Alabama's combination of elected judges, the death penalty, and judicial override essentially allows judges to campaign from the bench, convincing voters they're tough on crime by handing down the death penalty in cases where jurors didn't find it appropriate. This lethal legal mix is unique to Alabama among all 50 states.

For more background on the (relatively rare) American practice of electing judges, take a look at this segment from John Oliver on Last Week Tonight.

Germanwings Crash
10:57 a.m. ET
Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images

Lufthansa spokeswoman Kerstin Lau announced Tuesday that the company's insurers have set aside $300 million to deal with "all costs arising in connection with the case" of last week's Germanwings crash. The jet crashed into the French Alps, and all 150 people aboard the plane were killed.

Last week, Lufthansa, Germanwings' parent company, offered 50,000 euros (about $54,250) to relatives of the victims of the crash. The announcement comes after aviation lawyers told Bloomberg that the victims' families may be able to seek unlimited liabilities.

Investigators believe that the plane's co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, intentionally crashed the plane and locked his captain out of the cockpit.

Quotables
10:48 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has no regrets over claiming in 2012, sans evidence, that Mitt Romney hadn't paid taxes in a decade.

"They can call it whatever they want," Reid said in an interview with CNN when asked if that claim amounted to McCarthyism. "Romney didn't win did he?"

With Romney hanging close in the 2012 election, Reid assailed the former Massachusetts governor's refusal to release years' worth of his taxes. He later claimed an anonymous investor with Bain Capital — Romney's old workplace — tipped him off that the GOP nominee "didn't pay any taxes for 10 years." 

See More Speed Reads