Couple Agrees To Plead Guilty In Baby Sale

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 4 (UPI) — An Indiana couple has agreed to plead guilty to trying to purchase a baby from a homeless couple for about $300, officials said.

If a judge approves the plea deal, Michael Overby, 57, would serve four years in prison, while his wife, Debbie Overby, 50, would serve two years; both would serve terms of probation upon their release, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Investigators said the Oberbys agreed to pay a homeless woman, Rose Faucett, 37, about $300 for her daughter, Anna Marie Rose Overby. The baby was born April 2 at Wishard Memorial Hospital.

Prosecutors said Michael Overby signed an affidavit at the hospital saying he was the baby’s father so the Overbys could get legal custody of the baby.

Overby agreed to plead guilty to forgery and conspiracy to commit child selling, the newspaper said, while Debbie Overby agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit baby selling.

The Overbys, Faucett and Phillip A. Hester, 58, made a deal to give the baby to the Overbys at birth, prosecutors said.

Dozen Donors Give Big Bucks To Super PACs

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) — A dozen donors gave more than half the money collected by the biggest political action committees trying to influence the 2012 election, an analysis indicates.

The USA Today review published Thursday indicated donations collected by Republican-affiliated groups outpaced Democratic groups by more than 2-to-1. Overall, seven so-called super PACs raked in $23.7 million during the first half of the year — $12.1 million coming from just 12 people and companies.

DreamWorks Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg led the way among Democrats, donating $2 million in May to Priorities USA Action run by former aides to President Obama.

Donations to super PACs show just a portion of the outside money collected, USA Today said. For instance, American Crossroads, begun with help from President George W. Bush’s strategist Karl Rove, and Priorities USA, co-founded by former Obama spokesman Bill Burton, each have partner organizations that don’t have to reveal their donors.

The unfettered giving to the outside groups, which must operate independently of candidates, demonstrates how recent court rulings allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts could shape the 2012 elections, observers told USA Today.

“The super PACs are for the wealthy, by the wealthy and of the wealthy,” said Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group. “You’re setting up a dynamic where the candidates could become bit players in their own campaigns.”

School Store Pulls Obama-mocking Mints

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 4 (UPI) — Officials with the University of Tennessee bookstore got rid of novelty candies mocking President Barack Obama after a state congressman found them offensive.

David Kent, director of the bookstore, said the $2.99 mints, which bear the president’s image and the words, “This is change? Disappointmints,” were pulled from the shelves after he had a conversation with Rep. Joe Armstrong, D- Knoxville, the Knoxville News reported Thursday.

Kent said the bookstore carried similar products mocking President George W. Bush during his administration.

“We’ve never had any complaints before and we’ve carried them for years,” Kent said. “But someone saw it and they were offended by it, brought it to the attention of a state representative, and I said, ‘No problem, we’ll remove them.'”

Armstrong said the problem was in having products that aren’t “viewpoint neutral” for sale at a state institution.

“When you operate on state and federal dollars, you ought to be sensitive to those type of politically specific products,” Armstrong said. “If it was a private entity or corporation or store, (that’s different), but this is a state university. We certainly don’t want in any way to put the university in a bad light by having those political (products), particularly aimed at defaming the president.”

57 Convicted In Swedish Doping Ring

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 4 (UPI) — After a lengthy trial, 57 people were convicted for their roles in a massive doping ring, one of the largest criminal cases in Swedish history, officials said.

Seventy people were originally charged in the case for manufacturing and selling illegal doping drugs, the Swedish news agency TT reported Thursday.

Sentence length varied, but most received terms of several years.

Defense lawyer Gunnar Falk, who represented a Solleftea man, said his client’s prison term was too long.

“I haven’t had a chance to read through the comprehensive ruling, but I can say spontaneously that my client’s sentence was too harsh,” Falk told TT.

Falk said he would appeal his client’s sentence as too severe.

The group’s allegedly ringleader, a Swede believed to be living in Serbia from proceeds generated from the sale of doping materials, remained at large.

“The man managed the operations from Spain and Portugal where doping materials which had been imported from China were processed … for further transport to various addresses in Sweden,” chief prosecutor Marina Amonsson told TT in October 2010, when the charges were filed.

The trial started in November 2010; it reportedly cost about 58 million kronor — about $9 million — in legal fees.

The doping drugs were used by athletes seeking to illegally improve performance; many of those arrested were bodybuilders, officials said.

“All of the confiscated material filled a huge underground storage facility in Sundsvall and a number of police storage facilities were used as well,” said Detective Henrik Blusi, an officer involved in carrying out surveillance on the network.

Jaywalking Mother Opts For New Trial

ATLANTA, Aug. 4 (UPI) — The Georgia mother convicted of jaywalking in an incident that left her 4-year-old son dead will ask for the case to be retried, her attorney said.

Raquel Nelson, sentenced last week to a year of probation in the case that left her son A.J. dead, was convicted of secondary vehicular homicide, failure to use a marked crosswalk and reckless conduct, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday.

In the sentencing hearing Wednesday, the judge gave Nelson an alternative to probation — a chance to retry the case.

“Ms. Nelson has decided to proceed with a retrial,” her attorney, Steve Sadow said. “I have taken the case pro bono because her prosecution is morally wrong and unjustified.”

A law professor said the judge’s offer of a new trial is rare.

“If the results of the jury decision are either contrary to the evidence or supply what the judge feels is an unfair result, a new trial can and sometimes is granted,” said University of Georgia law school professor Ron Carlson said.

Cobb County attorney Barry Morgan declined to comment on the judge’s offer.

Nelson was standing on the median holding another child when her son A.J. pulled away from her and ran into the street to follow his sister, who had safely crossed.

A.J. was struck and killed by a van driven by Jerry Lyn Guy, who fled the scene; Guy has been convicted of hit and run twice before.

Guy received what some perceived as a slap on the wrist for the boy’s death; he was charged with felony hit-and-run, served a six-month prison term and must complete 4 1/2 years of probation.

Assistant Cobb County solicitor AnnaMarie Baltz said last week prosecutors didn’t ask for his imprisonment.

“We never intended to seek jail time,” Baltz said. “But the state is bound to uphold the law.”

Perry Surgery Included Stem-cell Injection

AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Possible U.S. presidential hopeful Rick Perry received an experimental injection of his own stem cells when he had back surgery, his office confirmed.

The spinal-fusion and nerve-decompression procedure to treat a recurring back injury of the Republican Texas governor included “the innovative use of his own adult stem cells,” Perry spokesman Mark Miner told The Texas Tribune of Austin.

When Perry emerged from the surgery July 1, he posted a message on the Twitter microblogging service saying his “little procedure” had gone “as advertised,” but didn’t mention the non-approved treatment.

Perry’s treatment did not involve embryonic stem cells, which he and many other conservatives ardently oppose using for medical research on both religious and moral grounds, his office said.

His treatment involved removing his own adult stem cells from healthy tissue in his hip and injecting them back into his spine and bloodstream during the surgery, with the belief that the cells would assist tissue regeneration and speed recovery, the newspaper said.

Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells, found throughout the body, that multiply by cell division to replenish dying cells and regenerate damaged tissues.

Scientific interest centers on their ability to divide or self-renew indefinitely, generating all the cell types of the organ from which they originate, potentially regenerating the entire organ from a few cells.

Some doctors and biomedical engineers swear by the benefits of this relatively new science, but others say there’s still little clinical evidence that it’s effective, the newspaper said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, responsible for protecting and promoting public health, is in litigation over its authority to regulate new stem cell clinics and has not approved the use of adult stem cells for anything other than bone marrow transplants, used for decades to treat cancer and sickle cell anemia, the Tribune said.

Three weeks after his treatment, Perry wrote a letter to the Texas Medical Board, which is considering new adult stem cell rules, saying he hoped Texas would “become the world’s leader in the research and use of adult stem cells.”

Court Documents Say U.S. Knew About Coke

EL PASO, Texas, Aug. 4 (UPI) — U.S. officials let the Sinaloa drug cartel smuggle tons of cocaine into the United States in exchange for intelligence about rival cartels, court documents say.

The claim was made by attorneys in defense of Mexico’s Vicente Zambada-Niebla, who was extradited to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges in Chicago, the El Paso (Texas) Times reported.

If the claim is true, it could prove to be as damaging to federal investigators as the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm’s “Operation Fast and Furious,” that let U.S. weapons get into Mexico, the report said.

Documents filed in U.S. federal court said the Sinaloa cartel was allowed to bring tons of cocaine into the United States in exchange for information about rival cartels, The Houston Chronicle reported.

The documents also said Zambada-Niebla worked as an informant for the U.S. government while he was a known fugitive.

Zambada-Niebla’s legal team wants a U.S. judge to drop charges against their client because his alleged agreement with the government reportedly promised him immunity from prosecution.

Federal prosecutors and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency declined to comment on the case.

Zambada’s lawyers said as recently as 2008 his client and a top cartel lawyer allegedly met at a Mexico City hotel with two DEA agents, where he was reportedly promised immunity.

In “Fast and Furious,” the ATF botched a sting to catch weapons traffickers by allowing a load of illegally purchased guns slip into Mexico. The shipment was lost and some of the guns turned up at crime scenes, including one where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed.

Court: Refusal To Bathe Before Sex Is Rape

ROME, Aug. 4 (UPI) — A husband’s refusal to bathe before demanding sex from his wife and his refusal to listen to her pleas to stop constitute rape, Italy’s Supreme Court ruled.

Court records indicate a 51-year-old Sicilian shepherd had a habit of “returning from tending sheep in the fields and imposing sex on his wife without cleaning himself up beforehand,” restraining her hands and ignoring her pleas to stop, Italian news agency ANSA reported Wednesday.

“The sexual acts were forced by the strength of the man,” the justices said in their opinion. “Therefore, they are considered violent.”

In 2007, the man was sentenced to nine years in prison, but an appeals court reduced the sentence to two years and reduced the crime from rape to maltreatment and violent behavior.

Following the high court ruling, the man was awaiting sentencing, ANSA said.

New Generals Appointed In Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Turkey appointed a slate of new military commanders Thursday after a number of top generals resigned in a surprise move last week, the government said.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul approved a new set of commanding officers for the Turkish military following three days of talks at the Supreme Military Council, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports.

Gen. Necdet Ozel takes over as chief of General Staff. He previously served as the head of the Turkish paramilitary police force.

Gul appointed Ozel as acting chief of staff after several top military commanders resigned last week.

The resignations were seen as part of a struggle between the Turkish military and the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

Tensions have risen between the AKP government and the military over the future political direction of Turkey, as many in the military see the AKP as pursuing a covert policy of attempting to Islamize Turkey society.

Francis Ricciardone, the U.S. ambassador to Ankara, told senators this week that the military shakeup would “not come as a setback” to bilateral security relations.

Cardiac Arrest? Here’s A Sandwich

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 4 (UPI) — A 63-year-old Swedish man suffered cardiac arrest on a Ryanair flight and the crew simply offered him a sandwich and a soft drink, the man’s angry family said.

And the crew insisted he pay for the food, passenger Billie Appleton told the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.

“We want Ryainair to apologize,” she said of the Irish low-cost airline. The family is also considering legal action.

Her stepfather, Per-Erik Jonsson, became ill on a flight back to Stockholm, Sweden, from London and went into cardiac arrest, she said.

Cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart fails to contract effectively.

“They said he had low blood pressure and gave him a sandwich and a soda. And they made sure he paid for it,” Appleton told the newspaper. Ryanair offers food and drinks for purchase through a “buy on board” program.

Jonsson first broke into a cold sweat and asked his wife for some water, Appleton told the newspaper. He then lost consciousness.

Appleton, a nurse, intervened while Jonsson’s wife alerted the flight crew.

“He didn’t respond when I tried to shake him. But after I slapped him in the chest, he began breathing again,” Appleton said, adding the crew responded only when she shouted for a doctor and said he needed oxygen.

The only other attention the crew gave the family was when it insisted on payment for the food and drink, she told the newspaper.

Ryanair spokesperson Stephen McNamara told the Swedish newspaper The Local the crew handled the situation according to European Union requirements.

“In line with procedures for such cases, a Ryanair cabin crew suggested a diversion to the nearest airport or to have an ambulance on standby on arrival at [Stockholm-Skavsta Airport] so that the passenger could receive medical treatment,” he said.

“However, the passenger’s companion, who identified herself as a nurse, declined this offer,” he said.

Jonsson’s family disputed the airline’s version of events and said no ambulance was waiting for them when they landed, forcing them to drive Jonsson to the hospital themselves.