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Nation in brief: Judge throws out execution method

Thu., Nov. 1, 2007

California’s stalled death penalty plunged deeper into disarray Wednesday when a judge tossed out the state’s new lethal injection method.

Marin County Judge Lynn O’Malley Taylor invalidated the state’s new procedure because state prison officials failed to treat the new execution method as a new state regulation, which mandates public comment among other requirements.

Taylor’s ruling came a day after the U.S. Supreme Court signaled it would continue to halt executions nationwide until it decides a challenge to Kentucky’s lethal injection procedure.

California prison officials in May overhauled their process for injecting condemned inmates with a deadly three-drug combination. That was in response to a federal judge’s ruling that California’s execution procedure was so badly designed and carried out that it was likely to cause unconstitutional pain and suffering.


Accused sheriff surrenders

The sheriff of Orange County turned himself in to federal authorities and made a brief court appearance wearing handcuffs on Wednesday to face charges that the once-rising Republican star took cash and gifts in exchange for political favors.

Michael S. Carona heard the charges against him but did not enter a plea, although his attorney said outside court he would plead not guilty to seven counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and witness tampering on Monday.

“He’s so anxious to fight these charges that we have to hold him back,” said Carona’s attorney, H. Dean Steward. “He’s angry. He didn’t want to go through this today, and he’s embarrassed.”

Prosecutors accuse Carona and others of collecting $350,000 in everything from payments, loans, a boat, vacation expenses, watches, ringside boxing tickets and luxury box seats to postseason baseball games.

Also charged are his wife and his alleged mistress, who is an attorney; both appeared in handcuffs with Carona on Wednesday.


Team unravels feline DNA

An Abyssinian cat from Missouri, named Cinnamon, has just made scientific history. Researchers have largely decoded her DNA, a step that may aid the search for treatments for both feline and human diseases.

The report adds cats to the roughly two dozen mammals whose DNA has been unraveled, a list that includes dogs, chimps, rats, mice, cows and, of course, people.

Why add cats? They get more than 200 diseases that resemble human illnesses, and knowing the details of their genetic makeup should help in the search for vaccines and treatments, researchers say. The list includes a cat version of AIDS, SARS, diabetes, retinal disease and spina bifida, said Stephen J. O’Brien of the National Cancer Institute.

The new work is reported in the November issue of the journal Genome Research.


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