Nation and world news briefs

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‘That ’70s Show’ star Danny Masterson must head to trial on charges he raped 3 women, judge rules

Danny Masterson, an actor on “That ‘70s Show,” failed to get his Los Angeles rape case dismissed Monday and must appear for arraignment Nov. 2, a judge ruled Monday.

The former sitcom star is accused of forcibly raping three women in separate incidents at his Hollywood Hills home between 2001 and 2003.

His defense filed a demurrer motion that was denied by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Eleanor J. Hunter early Monday, sources confirmed to the New York Daily News.

Masterson’s lawyer Thomas Mesereau declined to comment when reached by phone after the hearing.

Mesereau and co-counsel Sharon Appelbaum appeared in court without their famous client Monday and unsuccessfully argued the charged offenses were outside the statute of limitations, Deadline.com reported.

According to prosecutors, Masterson raped the first victim, an unidentified 23-year-old woman, between January and December 2001.

He then allegedly raped a 28-year-old woman in April 2003 and a 23-year-old woman between October and December of the same year, prosecutors said.

If convicted as charged, he faces up to 45 years to life in state prison.

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office said it declined to file sexual assault charges against Masterson in two other cases due to insufficient evidence and the statute of limitations.

At a prior hearing, Mesereau claimed Masterson is “absolutely not guilty.”

Masterson, 44, played the character Hyde on “That ‘70s Show.”

He was sued in civil court last year by ex-girlfriends Chrissie Bixler and Marie Riales and two Jane Doe plaintiffs in a complaint that alleged sexual assault and harassment.

The women also named the Church of Scientology, of which Masterson is a lifelong member, as a defendant.

Masterson called the lawsuit “beyond ridiculous.”

—New York Daily News

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Tropical Storm Epsilon becomes the 26th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season

MIAMI — Tropical Depression 27 has strengthened into Tropical Storm Epsilon, the 26th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season. It could become a Category 1 hurricane as soon as Thursday.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm could head northwest toward Bermuda and cross the island as a Cat 1 this weekend — the third hurricane to pass near or over the island this season.

As of the 5 p.m. update, Tropical Storm Epsilon was stationary about 730 miles southeast of Bermuda with 45 mph maximum sustained winds.

For the next few days, Epsilon will be fighting wind shear, the hurricane center said, so it probably won’t strengthen much. By Wednesday or so, that shear should lighten up and allow the storm to strengthen into a hurricane.

With Epsilon as No. 26, the 2020 hurricane season is pushing the 2005 record of 28 named storms.

Forecasters are also tracking a trough of low pressure just south of Western Cuba with a low chance of strengthening anytime soon. As of the 2 p.m. update, they gave it a 10% chance of strengthening over the next two days and a 10% chance of strengthening in the next five days. The hurricane center said it’s likely to drift toward the Yucatan Peninsula over the next few days.

—Miami Herald

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‘Incredibly rare’ white baby sea turtle pops out of the sand on South Carolina beach

An “extremely rare” white baby sea turtle was found Sunday on a beach 25 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina, according to Kiawah Island town officials.

“You can imagine the excited ‘oohs’ and the ‘aahs’ from the guests, including some College of Charleston students, when the (beach) patroller found a lone, leucistic hatchling in the nest,” town officials wrote on Facebook. “It was a first for everyone.”

Leucism is a condition that decreases color pigmentation, experts say, often making an animal appear white or spotted.

“Leucism is different from albinism, as albino animals have a complete loss of pigment, leaving them completely white with red or pink eyes,” town officials posted.

Loggerhead turtles are typically “reddish brown,” the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory reports.

Sea turtles with leucism are rare — largely because odds of survival in the ocean are slim, according to the Olive Ridley Project.

“Leucism is an abnormal genetic defect, and not a useful one,” the project reports. “Camouflage is important to all animals, particularly very small sea turtle hatchlings that are predated on by almost everything. So, to be born white makes you stand out and very visible to predators.”

Kiawah Island researchers said they chose to let nature take its course, and the newborn white turtle “crawled to the ocean and swam away in the surf” to meet its uncertain fate.

—The Charlotte Observer

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