Aretha Franklin's funeral to fuse spirit with star-power

DETROIT (AP) — An epic funeral aims to salute the legacy of Aretha Franklin and close out a week of high-profile tributes and visitations.

The Queen of Soul's invitation-only funeral Friday at Detroit's Greater Grace Temple include former President Bill Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Smokey Robinson. Singers include Steve Wonder, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Faith Hill and Chaka Khan.

The service, which may exceed five hours, follows three days of public visitations and a concert in her honor in the city where spent most of her life.

Franklin's niece, Sabrina Owens, says organizers of the services have been guided by a single question: "What would Aretha want?" Owens and a group she calls "Aretha's angels" sought to create "an appropriate send-off that would match her legacy."

Franklin died Aug. 16 at 76 of pancreatic cancer.


Judge denies Alex Jones effort to dismiss Sandy Hook lawsuit

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A judge has denied conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' request to dismiss a lawsuit surrounding the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that he has called a hoax.

The Infowars host is being sued for defamation in Texas by the parents of a 6-year-old who was among the 20 children and six adults killed in the Newtown, Connecticut, attack. State District Judge Scott Jenkins on Wednesday ruled the case can proceed.

Jenkins also refused to dismiss a similar lawsuit brought by a man who was falsely identified on the Infowars website as the gunman who killed 17 people at a Florida high school in February.

Jones has since admitted that the Sandy Hook killings occurred. His attorneys defended his speech in court as "rhetorical hyperbole," but denied it was defamation.


Officials: Pest infestation closes high school for days

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Officials say a pest infestation has closed a high school in Tennessee for three consecutive days.

Shelby County Schools tells news outlets in a statement that classes at Kirby High School would be canceled again Thursday.

Several people have told news outlets cockroaches, rodents and snakes have been an issue. Carrie Fagan tells WMC-TV her daughter is a junior at the school and saw a rat and a snake inside.

County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter says the problem is a first for Kirby High School.

Officials say crews addressing the issue have been working on deep cleaning and renovation at the school. They say the infestation's source has been difficult to find so an external vendor has been servicing the campus.

It's unclear when the school will reopen.


Mom's use of opioids in pregnancy may stunt kids' learning

CHICAGO (AP) — Learning disabilities and other special education needs are common in children born with opioid-related symptoms from their mother's drug use while pregnant, according to the first big U.S. study to examine potential long-term problems in these infants.

About 1 in 7 affected children required special classroom services for problems including developmental delays and speech or language difficulties, compared with about 1 in 10 children not exposed to opioids before birth, the study found.

The study highlights the "absolutely critical" importance of early detection and intervention, before these children reach school age, to give them a better chance of academic success, according to Dr. Nathalie Maitre, a developmental specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The study involved about 7,200 children aged 3 to 8 enrolled in Tennessee's Medicaid program. Nearly 2,000 of them were born with what doctors call "neonatal abstinence syndrome."


Mexican experts: nearly 1,000-year-old Maya text authentic

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Fifty-four years after it was sold by looters, an ancient Maya pictographic text has been judged authentic by scholars.

Mexico's National Institute of History and Anthropology says it was made between 1021 and 1154 A.D. and is the oldest known pre-Hispanic text.

The 10 surviving pages of the tree-bark folding "book" will now be known as the Mexico Maya Codex. It had been known as the Grolier Codex.

A Mexican collector bought it in 1964, and it was first exhibited at the Grolier Club in New York in 1971.

Collector Josue Saenz returned the book to Mexican authorities in 1974.

The fact it was looted and had a simpler design than other surviving texts led some to doubt it. But the institute said Thursday tests proved its authenticity.


Gorilla originally born at Cincinnati Zoo set to return home

CINCINNATI (AP) — A silverback gorilla that was born at the Cincinnati Zoo is headed back to that zoo following the death of the famed gorilla Koko.

The 37-year-old gorilla Ndume (nnn-DOO'-may) was born in Cincinnati in 1981, before moving to California in 1991 to serve as a social companion for Koko. The Gorilla Species Survival Plan recommended Ndume move back to Cincinnati following Koko's death in June.

The gorilla is in good physical condition and is behaviorally normal. A transfer date has not been determined, but officials have requested the move take place as soon as possible so that Ndume can begin the socialization process with other gorillas.

Western lowland gorillas like Ndume are considered to be a critically endangered species, with fewer than 175,000 found in the wild.