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Exodus from Africa traced back further

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Modern humans may have left Africa thousands of years earlier than previously thought, turning right and heading across the Red Sea into Arabia rather than following the Nile River to a northern exit, an international team of researchers says.

Stone tools discovered in the United Arab Emirates indicate the presence of modern humans between 100,000 and 125,000 years ago, the researchers report in today's issue of the journal Science.

While science has generally accepted an African origin for humans, anthropologists have long sought to understand the route taken as these populations spread into Asia, the Far East and Europe. Previously, most evidence has suggested that humans spread along the Nile Valley and into the Middle East about 60,000 years ago.

The discovery "points convincingly to an early dispersal of [anatomically modern humans] along a southern route, from eastern Africa into South Arabia," said G. Philip Rightmire of Harvard University.

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Illegal roadblock led to Mexico attack on 2

McALLEN, Texas (AP) -- An American missionary couple from Texas who were attacked Wednesday by gunmen in Mexico drove up to an illegal roadblock in a dangerous area of the country that has had 40 violent car thefts in the last two months, a Mexican official said Thursday.

The gunmen opened fire after the driver, Sam Davis, decided not to stop, said an official in the Tamaulipas state Attorney General's Office.

Davis' wife, Nancy, was shot in the head by a bullet that shattered the rear window of their 2008 Chevrolet pickup truck, said Ruben Villescas, police chief in Pharr, Texas. Authorities said the couple's heavy-duty truck is the kind prized by criminal organizations in Mexico. Sam Davis told U.S. investigators that he drove as fast as he could to the border, about 70 miles away, with his wife bleeding in the seat next to him. Faced with a long line of traffic waiting to enter the United States, he drove in the opposite lane across the Pharr International Bridge to the border checkpoint.

Nancy Davis, 59, was rushed to a hospital in McAllen, where she was later pronounced dead.

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Tea Party Caucus sets sights on budget cuts

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Tea Party Caucus met for the first time Thursday, showing itself to be a still-tiny group with big goals for slashing the federal budget. The meeting was organized by freshman Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, and conservative firebrand Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. They were joined by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

"I think we're already co-opting Washington," Paul said. "I went to my first State of the Union this week, and guess who's against earmarks? The president of the United States has been co-opted by the tea party! I don't think he's necessarily happy about it." Paul touted his proposed budget, which would cut $500 billion a year by eliminating the Department of Commerce, gutting the Department of Education and trimming defense spending.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., once a tea party darling, declined an invitation.