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DeLay’s money laundering conviction overturned

DeLay

– A Texas appeals court tossed the criminal conviction of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Thursday, saying there was insufficient evidence for a jury in 2010 to have found him guilty of illegally funneling money to Republican candidates.

The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals said prosecutors failed to prove that the money being laundered was illegally obtained, which the court said was required for a money laundering conviction. Prosecutors alleged that DeLay illegally channel $190,000 in corporate donations though his political action committee and into Texas legislative races, where corporate money is barred.

“The fundamental problem with the State’s case was its failure to prove proceeds of criminal activity,” the court wrote in a 2-1 decision.

Rise in dementia strains caregivers

A new report says nearly half of all seniors who need some form of long-term care have dementia.

More than 35 million people worldwide, including 5 million in the U.S., are estimated to have Alzheimer’s or a similar dementia. The devastating brain disease is on the rise as the global population ages.

A World Alzheimer Report out Thursday examined the strain the disease puts on caregivers. Families provide much of the world’s Alzheimer’s care, stress that can harm the caregiver’s own health. Plus, families are getting smaller, with fewer children to care for their aging parents.

Eventually, many patients wind up in assisted living or a nursing home.

Mars rover finds no signs of methane

NASA’s Curiosity rover hasn’t discovered any signs of methane in the atmosphere of Mars, a finding that does not bode well for the possibility that microbes capable of producing the gas could be living below the planet’s surface, scientists said Thursday.

Since landing in Gale Crater last year, the car-size rover has gulped Mars air and scanned it with a tiny laser in search of methane. On Earth, most of the gas is a byproduct of life, spewed when animals digest or plants decay.

Curiosity lacks the tools to directly hunt for simple life, past or present. But scientists had high hopes that the rover would inhale methane after orbiting spacecraft and Earth-based telescopes detected plumes of the gas several years ago.

Birth control battle may go to top court

The federal government asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to decide whether Hobby Lobby and a Christian bookstore chain have to provide a wide range of birth control options for workers as part of the federal health care law.

The 251-page appeal was filed Thursday by U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli and other government attorneys.

The Oklahoma businesses have operated under a court order that allows them to avoid fines while they challenge a portion of the new law requiring them to provide the coverage. Company attorneys object to offering such plans based on religious grounds.

Official accused of selling snakes

A Long Island animal control officer had hundreds of snakes, including two 6-foot Burmese pythons, at his home, where he ran an illegal side business selling the animals, authorities said.

Officials said there were 850 snakes in two garages at the Shirley, N.Y., home of Richard Parinello, 44, including the Burmese pythons, which are illegal in New York state.

Parinello has worked on and off as an animal control officer for the town of Brookhaven since 1988, town spokesman Jack Krieger said.

Authorities spotted the snakes during an investigation into whether Parinello was working while on disability leave from his town job.

Dairy Queen clerk praised for gesture

Joey Prusak was appalled when he saw a customer at the suburban Minneapolis Dairy Queen store where he works pick up someone else’s $20 bill and slip it into her purse.

So when the woman got up to the counter to order, Prusak refused to serve her unless she returned the money. When the woman refused, the 19-year-old store manager gave the visually impaired customer, who hadn’t realized he’d dropped the money, $20 out of his own pocket.

“I was just doing what I thought was right,” Prusak said. Even so, Prusak has received loads of praise since a customer’s email about him to Dairy Queen was posted online.

Now, people are calling the store, thanking Prusak and even offering him jobs. Customer traffic at the Hopkins Dairy Queen has doubled, and many people are leaving large tips – money that Prusak says he will donate to charity.

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