Mumbai Terrorist Appeals Death Sentence

NEW DELHI, July 29 (UPI) — India’s highest court is considering an appeal by Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, sentenced to death for the Mumbai terrorist attack, a spokesman said Friday.

Pukhraj R. Bora, the Supreme Court registrar, said Kasab’s appeal of his sentence was forwarded to the court from the jail in Mumbai, CNN reported. Kasab, a Pakistani, was convicted last year of murder, conspiracy and making war against India.

The attack in November 2008 killed 160 people in India’s financial center, the city formerly known as Bombay. Kasab was the only survivor of the 10 men who landed in small boats and terrorized the city for three days, targeting luxury hotels, a Jewish community center and a train station.

If Kasab’s appeal is rejected by the Supreme Court, he can appeal to the president.

2 Young Sea Lions Elude Rescuers

SAN FRANCISCO, July 29 (UPI) — Rescuers have made four unsuccessful tries at capturing two young sea lions spotted off a San Francisco pier with wires around their necks.

Jim Oswald, a spokesman for the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif., said there has been a change in tactics, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday. The four attempts were made by boat, and the sea lions were scared into swimming off.

The rescue team now hopes to capture the sea lions while they are on a beach.

“Right now it’s a waiting game to see whether these two go someplace where it’s easier to catch them,” Oswald said.

One of the sea lions is almost full-grown while the other is very young. Scientists have not been able to determine if the wire has injured them yet.

Entanglement in wire, fishing nets and other man-made objects has become a hazard for marine mammals, turtles and birds. The animals can develop cuts and infections and can even be suffocated or strangled.

Cues Can Direct Choice Of Healthy Eating

LOS ANGELES, July 29 (UPI) — When people making healthy eating choices look at food, their brains react differently from those of people succumbing to dietary temptation, a U.S. study says.

Neuroscientists studying human decision-making say when we think about future rewards such as health over shorter-term pleasures such as digging into that cheeseburger, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is typically acting in concert with the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

However, if we succumb to the temptation to go for unhealthy foods, researchers say, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is involved but is acting without the more sober input from the lobe next door.

In a study of 33 hungry young adults not trying to lose weight who were offered a number of food choices while lying in a brain scanner, external “cues that direct attention to the health features of food” caused them to take health benefits more heavily into account, the study found.

Subjects asked to consider the healthfulness of a food before choosing were more likely to choose healthy foods, and their brain activity showed the patterns of long-term reward preference that researchers were looking for.

Public health campaigns using labeling schemes drawing attention to the healthy attributes of a grocery item and launching public service announcements about the benefits of healthy eating could make use of this “external cue” effect on our brain choices, researchers say.

Chavez Shows Who’s In Charge

WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez– battling cancer, succession speculation and tough economic times — is proving himself anything but down and out.

Despite earlier surgery to remove a tumor from his pelvic area and scheduled chemotherapy treatment in Cuba, Chavez sounded his old self this week as he and the country marked his 57th birthday.

“I’m like the phoenix, I’ve returned to life,” he said in a telephone call to state-run television.

“I’m halfway through my life, another 57 years are coming!” he added later and then danced a brief jig on a balcony at the presidential palace in Caracas for supporters below.

“Next year, we will win the presidential elections once again! Strength, unity!”

Chavez was first elected in 1999 and immediately began a series of populist reforms to transform the country into a socialist state. Foreign-owned oil interests have been nationalized, land-reform has been introduced and worker councils and cooperatives established.

Flamboyant in personality and speech, he — like his hero and friend, Fidel Castro — is fond of balconies, long speeches and railing against the Great Imperialist, the United States.

It was no surprise that when he vanished from public view early last month without explanation, anxiety ran through the ranks of supporters. When the public was told he was in Cuba and had had a cancerous growth removed from his pelvis, prayer vigils were convened and supporters as well as foes speculated on the future.

Could Chavez continue to govern? If not, who would replace him? Close aides and Cabinet ministers — Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and Minister of Energy Rafael Ramirez — were mentioned amid rumors of a possible power struggle. So, too, was Chavez’s older brother, Adan, a provincial governor.

“Hey, Adan, you look well-shaven, dressed up,” Hugo Chavez joked in a television link up with his brother, news reports said. “I can see you’re preparing for the succession.”

Lest anyone forget who is in charge, Hugo Chavez since his return has announced the nomination of a minister of prisons, approval of $51 million in funding for a state government, funding for an organization that promotes socialism and the launch of a trash collection project.

He’s even found time to criticize a referee’s call in a Venezuela-Paraguay soccer match and throw a jibe at Washington.

“The empire is bankrupt and could drag half the world down with it,” he reportedly said of the U.S. debt crisis during a Cabinet meeting. “Fix your own problems first, decadent empire.”

Many the announcements have appeared on Chavezcandanga, the president’s Twitter account. It’s said up to 50 messages to supporters appear every week — not the greatest substitute for his penchant for pressing the flesh at public events but a clever way to show he is active.

And active he must remain with elections looming. Crime is a major concern in Venezuela. So is inflation — more than 30 percent — and lack of sufficient public housing. All are electoral Achilles’ heels for Chavez, whose support mainly comes from the working class and urban poor.

Chavez this week, in an announcement that could have been designed to promote the hope of future economic progress for the country, said the state owned oil company, PDVSA, was increasing oil production by 30,000 barrels a day in the Orinoco region of the country as a special birthday gift to him.

Oil is the backbone of the Venezuelan economy and key to solving its socio-economic problems.

Judge Orders Nixon Testimony Unsealed

WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) — The transcript of grand jury testimony former U.S. President Richard Nixon gave shortly after his resignation should be unsealed, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered the release of the transcript at the request of a historian and academic groups, The Washington Post reported. They filed a lawsuit arguing public interest in the history of the Watergate scandal outweighs interest in preserving the secrecy of grand jury proceedings almost 40 years old.

“The special circumstances presented here — namely, undisputed historical interest in the requested records — far outweigh the need to maintain the secrecy of the records,” Lamberth said. “The court is confident that disclosure will greatly benefit the public and its understanding of Watergate without compromising the tradition and objectives of grand jury secrecy.”

Nixon gave his testimony in 1975 in California. He resigned in 1974 under threat of impeachment, two years after burglars working for his 1972 re-election campaign were arrested in a break-in at the Democratic National Committee office in the Watergate.

U.S. Vacations With A Caveat: Work

NEW YORK, July 29 (UPI) — Many U.S. workers, especially men, indicate a vacation includes doing at least a little work, such as checking e-mails, researchers said.

The survey of 3,304 adults conducted by Harris Interactive found 54 percent of men and 37 percent of women indicated their vacation included doing a bit of work. Overall, 46 percent of those who indicated they would take a vacation this summer indicated they would also do at least a little work during their break.

Researchers said 47 percent of workers ages 35-44 indicated they would monitor e-mails while during vacation and 29 percent would check their work voicemail systems.

Other age groups also indicated they would work while taking a vacation, but not with as much frequency as the 35- to 44-year-old group.

Harris said “an unlucky but very small 1 percent” indicated they were so stuck they would work through their own vacations.

Harris said that group can “connect with the sentiment: ‘What’s a vacation?’ because they work as if they are not on vacation at all.”

All that is provided a worker takes a break this summer. The poll sponsored by Adweek and Harris Poll found 40 percent of U.S. adults indicated they were scheduling a vacation and 12 percent indicated they were not sure if they would take a break.

Accused Fort Hood Plotter Appears In Court

WACO, Texas, July 29 (UPI) — An AWOL soldier who converted to Islam was formally charged Friday with a bomb plot aimed at Fort Hood in Texas.

Naser Jason Abdo, 21, appeared in federal court in Waco, the Los Angeles Times reported. As he left the courtroom, Abdo, who had refused to stand during the hearing, called out “Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009,” referring to the Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who has been charged with killing 13 people on the base in 2009.

Abdo, who left Fort Campbell, Ky., without leave earlier this month, was arrested Wednesday in a motel room in Killeen, Texas, not far from Fort Hood’s main gate. Investigators said bomb-making materials were found in his room, and he allegedly planned to construct two bombs and use them in a restaurant patronized by soldiers stationed at Fort Hood.

Another item allegedly found in Abdo’s room was an al-Qaida publication titled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom.”

Investigators said he also made statements about his plans after his arrest.

Trump Sued Over Clothes Licensing Deal

NEW YORK, July 29 (UPI) — Donald Trump is being sued in New York by a firm that arranged a clothing licensing deal and says he cut off payments.

The real estate tycoon’s company hired ALM International in 2003 to make licensing deals, and ALM helped broker a deal with PVH (formerly Phillips-Van Heusen) to put his name on dress shirts and neckties, court papers state.

The plaintiff, now called ALM Unlimited, charges Trump improperly stopped paying in 2008 after years of personally signing its checks, for a total exceeding $300,000.

“Part of the art of the deal is to comply with the deal, to fulfill your responsibilities,” ALM attorney Jay Itkowitz told USA Today, quoting the title of a Trump book. “We argue that he hasn’t done that.”

“This lawsuit is without merit and is very insignificant,” Trump said this week, and his lawyer has moved to dismiss the case.

Testifying in a deposition, Trump said the payments were a mistake because he was unaware of them, and, “I don’t feel that these people did very much, if anything, with respect to this deal.”

Trump attorney George Ross, also under oath, said ALM was entitled to far less than it received, but Cathy Glosser, Trump’s executive vice president of global licensing, said Ross told her “to see to it that ALM got paid.”

Most Support Death Penalty For Fort Hood Shooter

WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) — Likely U.S. voters overwhelmingly support the death penalty for the Army psychiatrist accused of the Fort Hood massacre, a poll released Friday indicated.

Three-quarters of those responding to the IBOPE Zogby International poll said they believe Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan should be sentenced to death if he is convicted of killing 13 people and 62 percent said they strongly support the death penalty. Only 18 percent would oppose the death penalty and 6 percent were unsure.

Hasan is awaiting court martial for the 2009 shooting spree. While the death penalty is an option, the U.S. military has not put anyone to death since 1961.

The interactive poll surveyed 2,297 registered voters July 22-25. The margin of error is 2.1 percentage points.

Teen From Titanic Project To Get Headstone

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, July 29 (UPI) — A teen who died of injuries suffered in a fall while building the Titanic in 1910 will get a headstone at his unmarked Northern Ireland grave, officials said.

Samuel Scott, 15, believed to be the first person killed in connection with the ill-fated ship, will get the headstone Saturday at Belfast City Cemetery during the Feile an Phobail festival, the BBC reported.

His body had lain in an unmarked grave in the cemetery since 1910, when he suffered a fractured skull in a fall while working with a riveting team at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

The headstone unveiling comes after publication of a new book, “Spirit of the Titanic,” in which Samuel, the main character, is a ghost that haunts the ship during its voyage. The book also includes characters such as the Titanic’s captain, Edward Smith.

“It really seems to have hit home,” said author Nicola Pierce. “The kids really do seem to like it.”

30 Egyptian Migrants Drown In Mediterranean

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, July 29 (UPI) — Egyptian security forces said they found the bodies of 30 undocumented migrants floating in the Mediterranean Sea north of Alexandria.

The young men from the governorates of Kafr al-Sheik, Gharbiya, Damietta and Alexandria drowned in an attempt to emigrate from Egypt to Italy, al-Masry al-Youm reported Friday. They were aboard a fishing boat for a week before it sank, the report said.

Security officials arrested the vessel’s owner, who investigators said took $8,400 from each passenger and received a call from someone on board before the boat sank but didn’t alert authorities.

Brain Waves Activate Car’s Braking System

BERLIN, July 29 (UPI) — German scientists say an experimental driving simulator identifies brain waves of a driver about to press the brakes and can brake faster than the driver could.

The Journal of Neural Engineering described an experiment with 18 test subjects wearing a cap wired with EEG sensors.

When the drivers in the simulator thought about slamming on the brakes, the car did so automatically a fraction of a second more quickly than they could, ABC News reported Friday.

Brain waves told the car to hit the brakes an average of 130 milliseconds faster than the driver’s foot did, the researchers said.

In the experiments, that translated into a car doing 62 mph needing 12-15 fewer feet to come to a stop.

“Waiting for the driver’s response can lead to a slow response in emergency situations,” said Stefan Haufe of the Berlin Institute of Technology.

“Therefore, in order to obtain a faster confirmation, our study suggests that it is feasible to detect a driver’s intention to brake, which naturally precedes any observable actions.”

The researchers said the technology is far from real-world applications at this point.

“The EEG system has to cope with a multitude of artifacts” — random electronic noises — “that are stronger than the neural signals,” they said.

Judge Strikes Down Broad Florida Drug Law

ORLANDO, Fla., July 29 (UPI) — Florida’s main anti-drug law is unconstitutional because it makes no allowance for intent, a federal judge says.

U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven, ruling in Orlando earlier this week, said the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act is the nation’s only drug law to target people who possess illicit drugs unknowingly thanks to legislative action in 2002.

She called the statute “atavistic and repugnant to the common law,” the Palm Beach Post reports.

Prosecutors argued the law does not punish innocent conduct since possession of a banned drug is never legal.

Nellie King, president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, hailed Scriven’s ruling as “courageous,” with “monumental” implications.

“What is surprising is the government’s belief that stripping the intent requirement from the drug statutes was lawful from the start,” she said.

The Legislature’s decision to deny its citizens basic rights dating back to English common law is “alarming and arrogant,” King said. “Judge Scriven’s ruling simply renews the mandates inherent in the Constitution which our Legislature opted to ignore.”

The state is expected to appeal.

Kendrick Given 1-year Ban From Tennis

LONDON, July 29 (UPI) — U.S. tennis player Robert Kendrick has been suspended for one year due to a positive test for a banned stimulant, international tennis officials said Friday.

Kendrick, a 31-year-old ranked No. 105 in the world, tested positive for the stimulant Methylhexaneamine during the French Open. He admitted taking the substance but said it was in a capsule he took to fight jet leg and he wasn’t seeking a performance advantage.

Kendrick lost his first-round match in Paris.

The International Tennis Federation accepted Kendrick’s explanation but said a player is responsible for any substance he consumes. Kendrick will be banned from competition until May 21, 2012.

Kendrick has been ranked as high as 69th in his career. A professional since 2000, he’s never won an ATP tournament and never advanced beyond the second round of a Grand Slam event.

Wind Farm Proposal Gains In Florida

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., July 29 (UPI) — A wind energy farm with 500-foot towers on the edge of the Florida Everglades is closer to realization with a decision by Palm Beach County.

The county commissioners’ vote to amend development rules Thursday eases the way for 80 wind turbines on 16,000 acres of sugar cane land near Belle Glade.

The Sierra Club and Audubon Society warned rotating blades would threaten migrating birds such as eagles, wood storks and the Everglades snail kite, and their lights would disorient them, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.

“They will be drawn (to the towers), they will circle these and they will die,” said Drew Martin of the Sierra Club.

The wind arms can spin at almost 200 mph, with each tower expected to generate enough energy to power 400 homes.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote to Wind Capital Group July 1, urging more study of potential wildlife threats.

“Collisions with turbine blades are often fatal, and usually resulting in the animal being effectively eliminated from the breeding population,” the agency said.

George Gentile, representing Wind Capital, said a yearlong review would determine the risk to wildlife.

Convicted Killer Guilty Of 1973 Murder

TUCSON, July 29 (UPI) — A man already convicted of rape and murder in Wisconsin has been found guilty in Arizona of kidnapping, raping and killing a young woman there in 1973.

William Floyd Zamastil, 57, was convicted Thursday after a trial in federal court in Tucson. He faces a life sentence with no parole when he is sentenced in October.

The victim, Leesa Jo Shaner, 23, vanished May 29, 1973, when she drove to Tucson International Airport to pick up her husband. Her car was found at the airport and her body four months later in a shallow grave at Fort Huachuca.

“The FBI is extremely gratified by this verdict,” Phoenix Division FBI Special Agent in Charge James Turgal Jr. said. “While there can be no real justice for Leesa Jo Shaner’s family, at least they were able to witness her killer being called to answer for his crimes.”

Shaner’s husband, son, mother and three sisters were in court almost every day during the trial, Turgal said.

Zamastil first became a suspect in the case in 1979, officials said. He was then serving a life sentence in Wisconsin.

‘Octomom': Drugged When Agreed To Implants

LOS ANGELES, July 29 (UPI) — Californian Nadya Suleman, known as “Octomom,” says she was drugged and didn’t know what she was signing when she agreed to be implanted with 12 embryos.

Appearing on Thursday’s “Dr. Drew” show, she said fertility doctor Michael Kamrava had handed her a note about what she would do if “too many [embryos] grew.”

“He gave it to me to sign right there while I’m laying down and I signed it and didn’t read it,” Suleman said, CNN reported.

Kamrava had his California medical license suspended July 1 for gross negligence, KABC-TV, Los Angeles, reported. The California Medical Board ruled Kamrava “did not exercise sound judgment” when he transferred the 12 embryos in 2008.

Suleman, 36. said she never intended to have eight children in January 2009 in addition to the six she already had.

The single mother living on public assistance conceived all 14 children through in vitro fertilization.

Suleiman said she had been turned into a “parody without permission.”

“I have the spotlight. I know it’s my responsibility [for my kids] to brush it away and get rid of the Octomom character,” she said.

Suleman said she suffers anxiety, panic attacks, hyperactivity and obsessive compulsive disorder and was taking a “cocktail of drugs,” including Valium.

Mich. Woman Attacked While Feeding Bear

ONTONAGON, Mich., July 29 (UPI) — A Michigan woman who suffered injuries to her arms, legs and back when she was attacked by a bear belonging to a friend said she is grateful to be alive.

Linda Beck of Ontonagon County in the Upper Peninsula said she has been feeding her friend’s bears for years, but she never had any problems with the animals until one of them ran at her July 18, WLUC-TV, Marquette, Mich., reported Friday.

Beck said she fled from the bear, but it caught up and knocked her to the ground.

“I knew I needed more help than what I could give to stop her. So, I started to pray. And all of a sudden, as soon as I was done praying, there was a little water bucket over there. And I grabbed it and put it over her face,” Beck said.

Beck said she didn’t have time to lock the gate while fleeing and the bear escaped.

“Michigan State Police arrived on the scene. I had radio contact with him and he had seen the bear outside of the larger fence. So, it was out and at large. We discussed it on the radio and felt that the best case was to euthanize the bear for public safety at that time,” said Sgt. Steven Burton of the state Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division.

Beck was airlifted to Wausau, Wis., where she received surgery for her injuries.

“I’m alive, and I thank the Lord for that,” she said.

Loughner Lawyers Appeal Forced Medication

SAN DIEGO, July 29 (UPI) — Lawyers for Jared Loughner, accused in a Jan. 8, 2011, Tucson shooting spree, have appealed a judge’s order that allows him to be medicated without his consent.

In court papers, lawyer Judy Clarke argued Thursday that Loughner’s constitutional rights are being violated by forced treatment, the Los Angeles Times reported. U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns said last month doctors at the federal prison hospital in Springfield, Mo., could force Loughner to take psychotropic medication but was reversed on July 12 by an appeals panel.

Doctors have continued to give Loughner medication, saying he could otherwise harm himself or others. Clarke, in her appeal, argued they could use less intrusive methods, giving him tranquilizers instead of “brain-altering chemicals.”

Loughner was found incompetent to stand trial for the Tucson shootings, which left six people dead and 13 injured. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was holding a constituent event, appears to have been the target and is still recovering from a gunshot wound in the head.

Canada Settles $80M Indian Land Dispute

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, July 29 (UPI) — The Canadian government has agreed to pay a Manitoba Indian reservation $80 million to settle a 108-year-old land dispute, officials in Ottawa said Friday.

Chief Terry Nelson of the Roseau River First Nation band, 60 miles south of Winnipeg, said the settlement ended an “injustice [that] has plagued our people,” the Winnipeg Free Press reported.

In 1903, the federal government took 12 parcels of land covering some 7,700 acres from the band and sold it to farmers and settlers, the Winnipeg Sun said. That was a loss of 60 percent of the reservation, the reports said.

The band first filed a claim in 1986, which was rejected, as was a second one in 2001.

A 2007 claim for compensation resulted in Friday’s settlement, the newspapers said.

The Indian band has some 2,325 members, the Free Press said.

Illinois Considers Ads On License Plates

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., July 29 (UPI) — The Illinois secretary of state’s office said it is researching the possibility of boosting revenue by putting corporate logos on license plates.

Officials said the office’s study will determine potential costs of the program and whether there would be interest from the public, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.

The officials said drivers would potentially receive registration discounts for choosing the corporate-branded plates.

The office’s study is due Jan. 1.