- - Thursday, December 6, 2012


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.


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.


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.

New Jersey’s U.S. attorney’s office says the charges are related to an alleged scheme to accept $119,000 in bribes in exchange for Mr. Mack’s influence in the development of a garage on city-owned land.


29 charged in gang indictment

LOS ANGELES — More than two dozen people were charged Thursday with racketeering conspiracy stemming from an investigation that targeted South Los Angeles gangs controlled by a Mexican Mafia member serving a life sentence for murder.

The 60-count indictment said members of the Harpys street gang engaged in drug trafficking, murder and robberies targeting students at the University of Southern California at the behest of convicted Mexican Mafia member Danny Roman.

Roman gave his daughter and son-in-law orders to commit crimes, which were passed along to gang members, federal prosecutors said. The couple both are facing charges,

Roman was convicted of first-degree murder in 1984 and is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at Pelican Bay State Prison.


Mormon church wants more compassion for gays

SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon church has a new campaign to encourage its members to be more compassionate toward gays and lesbians.

Church authorities insist they aren’t changing the Mormon teaching that same-sex relationships are sinful.

However, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it wants to foster more understanding of homosexuality among Mormons and a more civil conversation about the issue.

The LDS church is making the push through a new website leaders launched Thursday.


Sheriff: Handyman kidnapped, forced to work

MORGAN HILL — A Northern California man and woman are accused of luring a handyman to a home, beating him and holding him against his will for about six hours while they forced him to fix a dishwasher and other appliances under threat of his life.

Jason DeJesus, 36, and Chanelle Troedson, 33, were charged with false imprisonment and other felony counts Thursday, three days after they were arrested in the attack on the 50-year-old handyman, Santa Clara County authorities said.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Cardoza told The Associated Press the attack followed a dispute between the handyman and a relative of Mr. DeJesus’ over payment for work he had done at the relative’s house about two months ago.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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