First Drip (7/15/14): Trial of Panthers' Greg Hardy begins

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The bench trial of Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy is scheduled to begin today. Hardy faces charges that he beat up his ex-girlfriend during an altercation in May. If Hardy is found guilty of the two misdemeanors, he can appeal for a jury trial.

Carolinas Medical Center has been ranked the No. 1 hospital in Charotte for 2014 by the U.S. News and World Report. Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast in Concord ranked second and CaroMont Regional Medical Center was third. Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy was ranked fourth. Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte was fifth.

Two of the nation's oldest and biggest cigarette companies are set to merge as Winston-Salem's Reynolds American Inc. plans to buy Greensboro-based rival Lorillard Inc. for approximately $25 billion. The deal would create a new rival to Altria Group Inc., owner of Philip Morris USA. Not part of the deal would be the Kool, Salem, Winston, Maverick and Blu eCigs brands which would be sold to Imperial Tobacco Group for $7.1 billion.

Archie Andrews, of the popular comic series, will die in an upcoming issue of Life with Archie by defending his best friend Kevin Keller from an assassination attempt. Keller is the first openly gay character in the comic universe.

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