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Canada, Toronto: Murder charges dropped against convicted killer in deaths of prostitutes

Image
© unknown
The Crown has dropped first-degree murder charges against a convicted killer in the deaths of three Toronto prostitutes in the 1990s, the Ontario attorney general's office said Saturday.

Peter MacDonald, who is in his fifties, is serving a life sentence after being found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2000 death of James Campbell in Toronto.

He was charged with the deaths of the three sex workers last October.

The bodies of Julianne Middleton, 23, Virginia Coote, 33 and Darlene MacNeill, 35, were found near Toronto's Sunnyside Beach between 1994 and 1997.

The Crown withdrew the charges "because there is no longer any reasonable prospect of conviction," Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, wrote in an email.

"I understand the police investigation into the murders is ongoing."

Black Cat

Ousted Egyptian leader Mubarak suffers stroke, falls into coma

Murbarak
© Reuters
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak's lawyer says the former leader suffered a stroke, while director of Red Sea hospital denies claim; 83-year old is due to appear in Cairo court for questioning.

Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in February and has been detained in a hospital at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, has fallen into a coma, his lawyer said on Sunday.

"I was informed about the sudden deterioration in Mubarak's health and I am now on my way to Sharm el-Sheikh. All that I know so far is that the president is a full coma," Mubarak's lawyer Farid el-Deeb told Reuters. He did not give more details.

The director of a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh were Hosni Mubarak is being treated has denied Mubarak's lawyer's claim that the former president fell into a coma, state television reported Sunday.

Ambulance

U.S. EPA concerned about mountain top removal link to birth defects

Mountain Top Removal
© Unknown
Mountain top removal near Rawl, West Virginia
Charleston, West Virginia -- Federal environmental regulators are looking closely at a new scientific study that found Appalachian residents who live near mountaintop removal mine sites face an increased risk of birth defects.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials met last week with one of the study's authors, and EPA is concerned about growing evidence about mountaintop removal's potential adverse effects on public health in the coalfields.

Nancy Stoner, acting assistant EPA administrator for water, testified to a congressional committee last week about her agency's concerns regarding the findings of a series of West Virginia University studies.

"In 2010, an independent, peer-reviewed study by two university professors found that communities near degraded streams have higher rate of respiratory, digestive, urinary and breast cancer," Stoner told a subcommittee of the House Committee on Government and Regulatory Reform.

Ambulance

US: An Alarming New Stimulant, Legal in Many States

Bath Salts
© Michael Stravato for The New York Times
So-called bath salts are labeled “not for human consumption,” which helps them skirt a law that would make them illegal.
Dr. Jeffrey J. Narmi could not believe what he was seeing this spring in the emergency room at Schuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville, Pa.: people arriving so agitated, violent and psychotic that a small army of medical workers was needed to hold them down.

They had taken new stimulant drugs that people are calling "bath salts," and sometimes even large doses of sedatives failed to quiet them.

"There were some who were admitted overnight for treatment and subsequently admitted to the psych floor upstairs," Dr. Narmi said. "These people were completely disconnected from reality and in a very bad place."

Similar reports are emerging from hospitals around the country, as doctors scramble to figure out the best treatment for people high on bath salts. The drugs started turning up regularly in the United States last year and have proliferated in recent months, alarming doctors, who say they have unusually dangerous and long-lasting effects.

Pistol

Mississippi, US: Woman Accidentally Shoots Husband Dead as She Tries to Kill Pit Bull Puppy

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© WLBT
Horrific: Betty Walker opened fire on the pit bull and fatally wounded her husband in the chest.
A Mississippi woman has killed her husband after opening fire on a puppy she said threatened neighbourhood children, and accidentally shooting him in the chest.

Witnesses told Jackson police Robert Walker, 53, had picked up the eight-month-old pit bull after it had lunged at children on Friday.

His wife, Betty Walker, went inside to retrieve a gun, wounding the dog's leg with one shot and fatally shot her husband with another.

Mr Walker's son told local news station WLBT after the attack the children were taken inside before Mr Walker scooped up the dog.

Jackson police spokesman Colendula Green his death appears to have been accidental.

Ms Green said: 'The dog was trying to attack the kids in the neighbourhood and at that time, the wife did shoot at the dog but instead shot her husband in the chest area.'

Footprints

US, Florida: Casey Anthony Freed from Jail, Heads to Mystery Location

Casey Anthony
© Reuters
Casey Anthony (C) smiles at Defense Counsel Cheney Mason and Dorothy Clay Sims, before her sentencing at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, July 7, 2011.
Casey Anthony walked free from a Florida jail at midnight Sunday, three years and one day after she was first arrested for her role in the disappearance and, eventually, death of her 2-year-old daughter, Calyee.

Throngs of media and a handful of demonstrators were at hand outside the Orange County jail to witness the release.

Most of those who waved placards in the jail parking lot were there to voice their opposition to Anthony's release.

She did have some support. One man held a sign that read, "Casey, Will You Marry Me," while earlier someone else had a sign that said: "She's not guilty. Get over it."

Arrow Down

Georgia, US: Atlanta Schools Created Culture of Cheating, Fear

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© AP Photo/John Bazemore
Students at Emma Hutchinson School in Atlanta leave after the day's classes. Hutchinson has been identified as one of forty four schools involved in a test cheating scandal.
Teachers spent nights huddled in a back room, erasing wrong answers on students' test sheets and filling in the correct bubbles. At another school, struggling students were seated next to higher-performing classmates so they could copy answers.

Those and other confessions are contained in a new state report that reveals how far some Atlanta public schools went to raise test scores in the nation's largest-ever cheating scandal. Investigators concluded that nearly half the city's schools allowed the cheating to go unchecked for as long as a decade, beginning in 2001.

Administrators - pressured to maintain high scores under the federal No Child Left Behind law - punished or fired those who reported anything amiss and created a culture of "fear, intimidation and retaliation," according to the report released earlier this month, two years after officials noticed a suspicious spike in some scores.

The report names 178 teachers and principals, and 82 of those confessed. Tens of thousands of children at the 44 schools, most in the city's poorest neighborhoods, were allowed to advance to higher grades, even though they didn't know basic concepts.

One teacher told investigators the district was "run like the mob."

"Everybody was in fear," another teacher said in the report. "It is not that the teachers are bad people and want to do it. It is that they are scared."

Attention

US: Colorado Woman Accused of Groping TSA Agent in Arizona

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© The Associated Press / Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Yukari Mihamae, 61, is seen in this undated booking photo in Phoenix provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Authorities say the Colorado woman who allegedly groped a female Transportation Security Administration agent at Phoenix's international airport on Thursday, July 14, 2011 is facing a felony count of sexual abuse.
Authorities say a Colorado woman who allegedly groped a female Transportation Security Administration agent at Phoenix's international airport is facing a felony count of sexual abuse.

Phoenix police say 61-year-old Yukari Mihamae is accused of grabbing the left breast of the unidentified TSA agent Thursday afternoon at an airport checkpoint.

TSA staff say Mihamae refused to be go through passenger screening and became argumentative before she squeezed and twisted the agent's breast with both hands.

Police were called and say Mihamae admitted grabbing the TSA agent and continued to argue with officers before she was arrested.

Maricopa County jail officials say Mihamae was released from custody Friday. They couldn't immediately provide any information about her case status.

Phoenix TV station KSAZ says Mihamae lives in Longmont, Colo., and is self-employed.

Sheriff

US, Oregon: Police Use New Approach to Fight Property Crime

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© unknown
Eugene police hope that a new strategy they're using to fight property crime can be effective as the Lane County Jail begins releasing more inmates into the community, Police Chief Pete Kerns said Friday.

"This is going to require that we be even more creative and innovative than we've been so far," Kerns said, referring to Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner's decision to cut the jail staff and close 84 beds in the facility's north annex in order to help balance his department's budget. The cuts went into effect last week.

Jail officials say they expect that about 750 more inmates per year will be released early as a result of the cuts. About 2,700 inmates gained early exits from the jail for "capacity based" reasons during the past year, sheriff's Capt. Randy Smith said.

The 84-bed annex previously was closed for a 16-month period in 2008 and 2009. Burglaries and thefts in Eugene rose sharply during that time, Kerns said.

The sheriff's office hired additional jail deputies and reopened the 84 beds in August 2009. Between then and now, property crime has dropped by about 25 percent in the city, Kerns said.

Dollar

Canada: Stealing from Mom and Dad

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© Reuters
An elderly couple sit on a bench next crocus flowers in a park in Duesseldorf
Why power-of-attorney abuse against seniors is soaring - and so easy to get away with

Léony de Graaf, a Burlington, Ont.-based financial adviser, witnessed first hand how lives can be ruined by the unscrupulous use of power of attorney. She received a call from an 82-year-old client who had been forcefully incarcerated in a Hamilton psychiatric ward. "Rose was still capable of handling her affairs, including her own banking," says de Graaf. "I had a very strong suspicion that her son, who had a power of attorney [POA] for his mother, was trying to have her deemed incompetent so he could take full control of her assets." She suspected Rose's son misled the psychiatrist whom he himself had arranged to evaluate his mother, whose family doctor had recently retired.

De Graaf fought to have Rose (not her client's real name) released from the facility, advocating for her capacities and a reassessment. The medical team relented and allowed Rose to move into a retirement residence. Unfortunately, even after Rose's release, de Graaf was powerless to stop the son from redirecting his mother's investment statements to himself, putting her house up for sale, and eventually moving her west, where he lived. "One of the fastest growing crimes against seniors is POA abuse," says De Graaf, who chairs the local chapter of a group called Seniors and Law Enforcement Together chapter.

Having a senior declared incompetent is a commonly used legal manoeuvre by POA abusers to nullify the senior's ability to make choices for themselves, including revoking the POA, says Ann Soden, a Montreal lawyer who specializes in elder law and heads the National Institute of Law, Policy and Aging. Sadly, perpetrators of many types of abuse against seniors are often their own children and others they trust. According to the Canadian Centre for Elder Law, the most conservative statistics suggest one in 12 older Canadians are abused or neglected, with the most commonly reported type of abuse being financial.