- - Saturday, November 14, 2009


Judge says seals can stay, maybe

SAN DIEGO — A judge says harbor seals who took over a La Jolla beach a decade ago can probably stay.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor issued a tentative ruling Thursday that allows the seal colony at Children’s Pool in La Jolla to remain. He’s expected to issue a final ruling after opponents get a chance to argue that the pool should be restored for people.

In 1997, the city said the pool shouldn’t be used because of bacteria from seal waste.

Another judge earlier ordered the city to remove the seals. However, Judge Taylor says a state law signed by the governor in July could allow them to remain. It would permit the cove to be designated as a marine park.


‘Balloon boy’ parents plead guilty

FORT COLLINS — The parents accused of pulling a spectacular hoax by reporting that their son was aboard a runaway balloon have pleaded guilty to charges that could bring some jail time and probation.

Richard Heene pleaded guilty to knowingly and falsely influencing Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden, a felony. Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to knowingly filing a false report with emergency services, a misdemeanor.

Richard Heene told Judge Stephen Schapanski he understood that he could have to pay restitution for the costs incurred by public agencies because of his actions. Local and federal authorities spent at least $62,000 pursuing the balloon and searching for 6-year-old Falcon after it landed.

Judge Schapanski told Mayumi Heene that her plea doesn’t automatically prevent any action by federal authorities regarding her immigration status; she is a Japanese citizen. Her attorney, Lee Christian, acknowledged that was the case but said avoiding a trial could reduce the consequences.


World’s largest cruise ship arrives in port

FORT LAUDERDALE — The world’s largest cruise ship has arrived in South Florida.

The 16-deck Oasis of the Seas moored Friday at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. It set sail from Finland to Florida in late October.

The massive $1.5 billion vessel is nearly 40 percent larger than the industry’s next-biggest ship and five times larger than the Titanic. It has 2,700 cabins and can accommodate 6,300 passengers and 2,100 crew members.

The ship also features various “neighborhoods” - parks, squares and arenas with special themes. One of them has a tropical environment that includes palm trees.

The Oasis of the Seas will embark on its first cruise on Dec. 5.


Former hostage files bankruptcy

LEXINGTON — Former hostage Terry Anderson, who was held captive in the Middle East for 6 1/2 years, has filed for bankruptcy.

Mr. Anderson claimed $1.8 million in liabilities and $60,000 in assets in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filed Nov. 3 in Lexington.

Mr. Anderson was chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press when he was kidnapped in Lebanon by Iranian-sponsored terrorists. He was freed in 1991. He is now a lecturer at the University of Kentucky.

After being released, Mr. Anderson received a $26 million judgment in a lawsuit against Iran. In 2004, he lost the race for an Ohio Senate seat.

The bankruptcy filing lists 17 credit cards, some with debt related to a restaurant in the Virgin Islands.

Mr. Anderson did not immediately return messages left at his office at the university.


Lethal injections to be just 1 drug

COLUMBUS — Ohio has become the first state to adopt a procedure for lethal injections that uses one drug, a method never before tried on U.S. inmates.

The state filed papers Friday in U.S. District Court saying it has decided to switch from a three-drug cocktail to a single injection of thiopental sodium into a vein. A muscle injection will be available as a backup.

The decision comes two months after an Ohio death row inmate walked away from an unsuccessful execution, and subsequent executions were put on hold.

Several states have faced similar challenges, but Ohio is the first to drop the three-drug approach in favor of one dose. The Death Penalty Information Center says it’s never been attempted on humans.


Cancer ‘faked’ to raise implant cash

WACO — Authorities say a Texas woman lied about having breast cancer and spent $10,000 raised at a benefit to have her breasts enlarged.

McLennan County sheriff’s investigator James Pack said in court records that Trista Joy Lathern, 24, shaved her head to look like a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy.

Mr. Pack said Mrs. Lathern wanted breast implants to try to save her seven-month marriage.

The Waco Tribune-Herald reported that Mrs. Lathern was charged with theft by deception. Sheriff’s officials and Mrs. Lathern’s attorney didn’t immediately return phone calls from the Associated Press.


Feds to check animal abuse claims

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal officials say they’ll look into complaints by the animal rights group PETA about the treatment of animals at University of Utah research facilities.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said one of its agents spent eight months working undercover in the labs and documented neglectful and harmful conditions.

The group said it documented a cat whose skull was cut open so electrodes could be implanted on its brain, and kittens that died after chemicals were injected into their brains.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it would look into the complaints and make an unannounced visit to the facilities soon.

University officials said they also would investigate the allegations, but emphasize that researchers there have always met federal standards for animal care.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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