American Scene: Report: Stem-cell agency needs a restructuring

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CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES — California has transformed into a powerhouse player in stem-cell research, but the taxpayer-funded institute responsible for that needs an overhaul, a report released Thursday found.

The review by the Institute of Medicine lauded the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for making the state a leader in the field by funneling research money with an eye toward stem-cell therapies.

But the report found too many members of the governing board represented schools that won funding and recommended a restructuring to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

California voters in 2004 passed Proposition 71, a state ballot initiative that created CIRM at a time when there were federal restrictions on human embryonic stem-cell research and such work was opposed by some on religious and moral grounds because embryos have to be destroyed to harvest the cells.

IOWA

Authorities ‘confident’ bodies are 2 cousins

EVANSDALE — Investigators are confident that human remains found by hunters are those of two young Iowa cousins who vanished in July, authorities said Thursday.

Autopsies by the state medical examiner’s office were still under way, but the remains are believed to be those of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins, who were 10 and 8 when they did not come back from riding their bikes July 13, Black Hawk County sheriff’s Capt. Rick Abben said.

Hunters found the bodies Wednesday in a rural wildlife area in northeastern Iowa, about 25 miles from Evansdale, the city of 4,700 where the girls were last seen. Authorities found their bikes and a purse near a recreational lake in the city, and their disappearance sparked a massive search and kidnapping investigation involving the FBI, state and local police.

Capt. Abben said at a news conference Thursday that investigators were “confident” the bodies were those of Lyric and Elizabeth, based on evidence found at the scene and a preliminary investigation.

NEW JERSEY

Mayor indicted with brother, pal

NEWARK — A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted the mayor of New Jersey’s capital city on corruption charges.

Trenton Mayor Tony Mack, his brother and an associate are accused in an eight-count indictment of extortion, bribery, and mail and wire fraud.

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