Texting Driver Who Slammed Cyclist: I, Like, ‘Just Don’t Care’

Poor Kimberley Davis.

The 21-year-old Australian woman was livid when she slammed into a bicyclist while texting late last year, putting dents in her car. The victim suffered a spinal fracture and would spend the next three months in a hospital, but Davis wasn’t having any of it, The Standard reports.

“I just don’t care because I’ve already been through a lot of bullshit and my car is, like, pretty expensive and now I have to fix it,” she told a responding officer two days after the Sept. 20 collision. “I’m kind of pissed off that the cyclist has hit the side of my car. I don’t agree that people texting and driving could hit a cyclist. I wasn’t on my phone when I hit the cyclist.”

Davis, of Port Fairy, pleaded guilty on Monday to dangerous driving and was fined $4,500. Police say she used her phone behind the wheel 44 times before running down the cyclist. She called emergency responders but parked more than 300 feet away from the victim and refused to offer him help.

Davis couldn’t contain her sadness after the loss of her license, and she made her woes known on Facebook:

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The photo above appears to show that Davis expects to get her license back in May. She won’t — a judge on Monday suspended her license for another nine months.

The wife of the injured cyclist — who got spinal surgery and was told he could have been a paraplegic — said she was deeply disappointed that Davis’ license wasn’t suspended for longer.

Kobe To Begin Epic 6-Month Training Program

Kobe Bryant has been cleared to resume running and shooting and will begin an intense, six-month training program next week upon his return from a short family trip to Europe, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN. Bryant has been ramping up his activity level in recent weeks as he continues to recover from [...]

Scientists Make First Embryo Clones From Adults

Scientists for the first time have cloned cells from two adults to create early-stage embryos, and then derived tissue from those embryos that perfectly matched the DNA of the donors.

The experiment represents another advance in the quest to make tissue in the laboratory that could treat a range of maladies, from heart attacks to Alzheimer’s. The study, involving a 35-year-old man and one age 75, was published Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

The creation of the first early-stage human clones, using infant and fetal cells rather than those from adults, was reported last year. The new experiment, with a few tweaks, confirms that striking and controversial breakthrough and also shows the technique works on mature cells.

“The proportion of diseases you can treat with [lab-made tissue] increases with age. So if you can’t do this with adult cells, it is of limited value,” said Robert Lanza, co-author of the study and chief scientific officer at Advanced Cell Technology Inc. ACTC +1.43% of Marlborough, Mass. The study was funded in part by the government of Korea and done at a lab in California.

Such experiments are controversial because when cells are extracted from an early-stage human embryo, it destroys the embryo, which some people believe is equivalent to taking a life.

And while the embryos created in these recent experiments may have certain limitations that would prevent them from giving rise to a human clone even if implanted in a womb, that prospect is now scientifically closer.

As with the 2013 experiment, done by researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University, Dr. Lanza and his colleagues first extracted the DNA from an unfertilized human egg and replaced it with the DNA from one of the older donors. The egg automatically “reprogrammed” its DNA until it reached a stage of the embryo known as a blastocyst—a hollow ball of 50 to 100 cells.

Cells from the blastocyst then were cultured in a lab dish and yielded stem cells that were an exact match to the donor’s DNA. Those stem cells subsequently were turned into other tissue types, such as heart cells, which potentially could be transplanted into the patient without triggering an immune rejection.

“I’m happy to hear that our experiment was verified and shown to be genuine,” said Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a development biologist at Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland, Ore., who led the 2013 study that Dr. Lanza and his colleagues have now replicated.

Despite this advance, experts say it wouldn’t be easy to create a full-fledged human clone. Scientists have been trying for years to clone monkeys and have yet to succeed. Even the cloning of less-complicated creatures—from sheep to rabbits and dogs—required years of tweaking, and lots of wasted eggs and deformed fetuses, before it worked.

The recent experiments, nonetheless, have some observers worried. Dozens of countries have laws explicitly banning human reproductive cloning, though there is no equivalent federal law in the U.S. Most U.S. states don’t have such laws either, though a few, such as California, do.

“If we’re closer to some rogue scientist or fertility doctor using published techniques to create cloned humans, it certainly ups the stakes and means we should be moving to put a federal law in place,” said Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, a nonprofit public interest group in Berkeley, Calif.

North Charleston man facing federal charges over $.89 drink refill

A North Charleston man was hit with a federal fine for refilling his drink without paying. The on-site constructionworker says he didn’t know refills at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston came at a price, and Wednesday, during his lunch hour, he was slapped with federal charges.

The ticket was issued by the Federal Police Force at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston after Christopher Lewis refilled his soda without paying the $0.89. A hospital spokesperson called it a “theft of government property.”

“Every time I look at the ticket, it’s unbelievable to me,” says Lewis, who works construction. “I can’t fathom the fact that I made a $0.89 mistake that cost me $525.”

Lewis is now out of a job. According to a hospital spokesperson, signs are posted in the cafeteria informing patrons that refills aren’t free. Lewis says he never noticed the signs and admits he had refilled his drink without paying on other occasions. He says after he went back for seconds on Wednesday, a man who identified himself as the chief of police, stopped him.

“As I was filling my cup up, I turned to walk off and a fella grabbed me by the arm and asked me was I going to pay for that, and I told him I wasn’t aware that I had to pay for that.”

Lewis says he tried to pay the $0.89 right there, but wasn’t allowed to. He says he wasn’t given the chance to pay the cashier either.

“I never had an option to make right what I had done wrong.”

He says he was taken to a room, given the $525 ticket for shoplifting and told not to return to the property.

“I’m done there, at the VA hospital. I’m not allowed to go on the premises anymore. I asked him can I still work on the job site and just bring my lunch and not got to the cafeteria and he said he wanted me off the premises.”

A hospital spokesperson says it was her understanding that Lewis was aggressive during the confrontation.

The medical center released the following statement:

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is fortunate to have a highly trained Federal police force to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors and employees. As Federal police they are responsible for enforcing the law. Today a Federal citation was issued for shoplifting in the VA cafeteria to an individual who stated to VA police he had not paid for refills of beverages on multiple occasions, even though signs are posted in the cafeteria informing patrons refills are not free. Shoplifting is a crime. The dollar amount of the ticket is not determined by VA as it is a Federal citation. The citation may be paid or the recipient may choose to appear in Federal court to contest it.

Lewis and his fiancé have contacted the Internal Affairs Office in Columbia. He says he will contest the fine in federal court.

“It’s about pretty much I guess you would say getting your face back. I want everybody to know that I made a simple mistake, that I’m not a thief, that I’m not dishonest. I’m trying to do the right thing.”

South Korea ferry disaster: captain and crew accused of abandoning passengers

The parents of hundreds of children missing after Wednesday’s ferry accident off the coast of South Korea have accused the captain of the vessel of abandoning passengers after it emerged that he and six other crew members were among the first to leave the ship after it started to sink.

The captain, Lee Joon-seok, who is reportedly in his 60s, escaped from the 6,835-ton Sewol at about 9:30am on Wednesday, just 40 minutes after the vessel apparently ran aground and started to list severely.

Survivors and the families of 287 people, most of them teenagers, who are thought to be trapped inside the sunken vessel directed their anger towards Lee, according to South Korean media reports, as rescue efforts continued in the dim hope that some of the missing passengers might still be alive.

Local officials said 287 people remained unaccounted for more than a day after the vessel, with 475 on board, quickly sank in what may be South Korea’s worst ferry disaster for two decades. Nine people, including four 17-year-old high school pupils and a teacher, are known to have died, while 179 have been confirmed safe, including most of the 30 crew members, South Korean media said.

The tragedy was given added poignancy by text messages sent by pupils among those thought to be trapped inside the ship. “Sending this in case I may not be able to say this again. Mum, I love you,” said Shin Young-jin.

Kim Woong-ki, a 16-year-old pupil pleaded with his brother to help in a text sent after the ship listed suddenly to one side. “My room is tilting about 45 degrees. My mobile is not working very well,” Kim texted. His brother attempted to reassure him, saying: “So don’t panic and just do whatever you’re told to do. Then you’ll be fine.”

An 18-year-old female pupil identified only as Shin texted her father to tell him not to worry. “I’m wearing a life vest and am with other girls. We’re inside the ship, still in the hallway,” she told him. Her father’s response, urging her to get out, arrived too late.

“Dad, I can’t,” she said in her final message. “The ship is too tilted. The hallway is crowded with so many people.”

Distraught parents who travelled to the southern island of Jindo to be near the scene of the accident reacted angrily to reports that the ship’s passengers, including 325 pupils from Danwon high school in the Seoul suburb of Ansan, had initially been told to stay in their cabins rather than head to the emergency exits.

A crew member said an evacuation order had been issued 30 minutes after the accident, but several survivors said they did not hear any instructions to abandon ship. There was speculation that the order was not relayed to passengers on the public address system.

Some relatives threw water at the South Korean prime minister, Chung Hong-won, during a visit to the Jindo gymnasium. “How dare you come here with your chin up?” one screamed at him. “Would you respond like this if your own child was in that ship?”

Another blocked Chung’s path as he tried to leave, saying: “Don’t run away, Mr prime minister! Please tell us what you’re planning to do.”

A rescued pupil confirmed that passengers had been told to stay in their seats or cabins after the ship struck what may have been an underwater rock and began to list.

“We must have waited 30 to 40 minutes after the crew told us to stay put,” the pupil said. “Then everything tilted over and everyone started screaming and scrambling to get out.”

Another passenger, Koo Bon-hee, said more people might have escaped had there been an immediate evacuation order.

“The rescue wasn’t done well. We were wearing life jackets. We had time,” said Koo, 36, who was on his way to Jeju island – the ship’s intended destination – on a business trip with a colleague.

“If people had jumped into the water … they could have been rescued. But we were told not to go out.”

But instead of ordering passengers to leave, officers on the bridge were trying to stabilise the vessel, a crew member said.

Lee, his face hidden by a grey hoodie, told reporters at the coastguard offices that he felt “really sorry for the passengers, victims and their families and am deeply ashamed. I don’t know what to say.” He had earlier been criticised after he was seen drying wet banknotes on his bed while being interviewed by journalists.

Kim Jae-in, a coastguard spokesman, said coastguard officials were questioning Lee, but denied earlier reports that the ferry had turned too swiftly when it was supposed to make a slow turn. He also declined to say whether the ferry had strayed from its usual route.

The Sewol’s wreckage is in waters just north of Byeongpung island, located about 470km (290 miles) from Seoul.

Navy divers tried to enter the capsized ship more than 10 times on Thursday, but were hampered by strong currents and poor visibility.

Three vessels equipped with cranes are due to arrive on Friday to help with the rescue and salvage the ship. The rescue operation now involves 169 boats, including 26 navy ships, and 29 aircraft, Kang Byung-kyu, the minister for security and public administration, was quoted as saying by Yonhap.

Iranian killer’s execution halted at last minute by victim’s parents

When he felt the noose around his neck, Balal must have thought he was about to take his last breath. Minutes earlier, crowds had watched as guards pushed him towards the gallows for what was meant to be yet another public execution in the Islamic republic of Iran.

Seven years ago Balal, who is in his 20s, stabbed 18-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh during a street brawl in the small town of Royan, in the northern province of Mazandaran. In a literal application of qisas, the sharia law of retribution, the victim’s family were to participate in Balal’s punishment by pushing the chair on which he stood.

But what happened next marked a rarity in public executions in Iran, which puts more people to death than any other country apart from China. The victim’s mother approached, slapped the convict in the face and then decided to forgive her son’s killer. The victim’s father removed the noose and Balal’s life was spared.

Balal hangingHosseinzadeh’s mother slaps Balal. Photograph: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

Photographs taken by Arash Khamooshi, of the semi-official Isna news agency, show what followed. Balal’s mother hugged the grieving mother of the man her son had killed. The two women sobbed in each other’s arms – one because she had lost her son, the other because hers had been saved.

The action by Hosseinzadeh’s mother was all the more extraordinary as it emerged that this was not the first son she had lost. Her younger child Amirhossein was killed in a motorbike accident at the age of 11.

“My 18-year-old son Abdollah was taking a stroll in the bazaar with his friends when Balal shoved him,” said the victim’s father, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, according to Isna. “Abdollah was offended and kicked him but at this time the murderer took an ordinary kitchen knife out of his socks.”

Iran executionBalal’s mother, left and Hosseinzadeh’s mother embrace after the execution was halted. Photograph: Arash Khamooshi/Isna

Hosseinzadeh Sr has come to the conclusion that Balal did not kill his son deliberately. “Balal was inexperienced and didn’t know how to handle a knife. He was naive.”

According to the father, Balal escaped the scene of the stabbing but was later arrested by the police. It took six years for a court to hand down a death sentence, and the victim’s family deferred the execution a number of times. A date for execution was set just before the Persian new year, Nowruz, but the victim’s family did not approve of the timing.

Hosseinzadeh said a dream prompted the change of heart. “Three days ago my wife saw my elder son in a dream telling her that they are in a good place, and for her not to retaliate … This calmed my wife and we decided to think more until the day of the execution.”

Many Iranian public figures, including the popular TV sport presenter Adel Ferdosipour, had called on the couple, who have a daughter, to forgive the killer. Although they did so, Balal will not necessarily be freed. Under Iranian law the victim’s family have a say only in the act of execution, not any jail sentence.

Balal hanging chairThe chair on the gallows. Photograph: Arash Khamooshi /Isna

In recent years Iran has faced criticism from human rights activists for its high rate of executions. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon,accused Hassan Rouhani of doing too little to improve Iran’s human rights, especially reining in its staggering use of capital punishment.

As of last week, 199 executions are believed to have been carried out in Iran this year, according to Amnesty, a rate of almost two a day. Last year Iran and Iraq were responsible for two-thirds of the world’s executions, excluding China.

At least 369 executions were officially acknowledged by the Iranian authorities in 2013, but Amnesty said hundreds more people were put to death in secret, taking the actual number close to 700.

Iran is particularly criticised for its public executions, which have attracted children among the crowds in the past. Iranian photographers are often allowed to document them.

Bahareh Davis, of Amnesty International, welcomed the news that Balal had been spared death. “It is of course welcome news that the family of the victim have spared this young man’s life,” she said. “However, qisas regulations in Iran mean that people who are sentenced to death under this system of punishment are effectively prevented from seeking a pardon or commutation of their sentences from the authorities – contrary to Iran’s international obligations.”

She added: “It’s deeply disturbing that the death penalty continues to be seen as a solution to crime in Iran. Not only is the death penalty the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment with no special deterrent impact, but public displays of killing also perpetuate a culture of acceptance of violence.

“Public executions are degrading and incompatible with human dignity of those executed. In addition, all those who watch public executions – which regrettably often includes children – are brutalised by the experience.”

In October last year an Iranian prisoner who survived an attempted execution and was revived in the morgue was spared another attempt, though his family said he had lost mental stability and remained in jail.

Missing boy existed only on Facebook

Police searching for two-year-old Chayson Basinio knew it was a race against time to find the missing child, who had reportedly disappeared from a supermarket car park.

The local judge opened an inquiry for kidnapping and sequestration and police divers dredged a lake, fearing the child may have drowned.

As the days passed without any leads or clues, detectives at Moulins in the Auvergne prepared to warn relatives who had alerted them that they could find no trace of the boy.

Which, in the circumstances, was hardly surprising. In fact, neither Chayson Basinio nor his parents existed – except in the virtual world of social media.

Police had found photographs allegedly of the boy and his father, Rayane Basinio, 20, on Facebook, but absolutely no evidence that they were real.

Eric Mazaud, the public prosecutor, said the investigation had changed, but charges would be made.

“The inquiry for kidnapping and sequestration has obviously been redirected into one of reporting an imaginary crime or offence,” Mazaud said.

“It [the inquiry] was long and complicated but we can now say that the young Chayson has never existed and nor have his father or mother.”

The boy was reported missing on Friday by a woman who claimed to be the boy’s great-aunt. She told officers she had last seen the child the previous week near a supermarket and believed he had been kidnapped. She told detectives that Basinio and the boy’s mother had separated and she had no idea where they were.

Detectives continued to search for the boy, but became suspicious after noting inconsistencies in her story. The woman, who has not been named, is now in police custody. She faces up to six months in prison and a €7,500 (£6,180) fine if found guilty of inventing a crime.

Police said her teenage daughter and a cousin – both minors – who are believed to have set up the false Facebook account and pirated pictures from other accounts on the site were also being questioned.

“Sadly, this is a very modern-day story. Someone decided to create false Facebook accounts and took pictures from real accounts to feed the false accounts and make these people seem real,” Mazaud added.

He said the imaginary family had been created several months ago.

“We don’t know why someone decided to make a false report. We are currently trying to work out a motive. Either that person has a psychological problem, or there were other purposes behind it, such as revenge.”