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October 23, 2009 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-23

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, October 23, 2009 - 3A

Man arrives drunk
to court summons
A man who was jailed after
showing up drunk to sentencing
hae received a 60-day jail sen-
cence for child abuse.
Livingston County Circuit
Judge Michael Hatty yesterday
also sentenced Christopher Nor-
ton to three years' probation for
third-degree child abuse.
Norton's 27-year-old girlfriend
Jamie Barnes of Cohoctah Town-
ship was accused of biting her
3-year-old daughter to teach her
a lesson. She also pleaded no con-
test to third-degree child abuse
and will be sentenced Oct. 29.
Norton first appeared for sen-
tencing Oct. 15. But a sheriff's
deputy told the judge Norton
failed a preliminary breath test.
Hatty says Norton's blood-
alcohol level was 0.085 percent.
The legal limit for driving is 0.08
Pepsi iPhone app
removed for its
offensive nature
PepsiCo Inc. has removed the
iPhone application that prom-
ised to help men "score" with
different types of women about
a week after it was criticized for
The soft drink and snack
maker announced its decision
yesterday. The application, called
"Ampupbefore you score"-used
to promote its Amp energy drink
- was unavailable for download
on iTunes and removed from the
brand's site.
"We've listened to a variety of
audiences and determined this
was the most appropriate course
of action," the company said in a
The application gave users
pickup lines to woo two dozen
stereotypes of women, from "the
nerd" to "the foreign exchange
student" and a scoreboard to
keep track of their conquests.
Feds expose pot-
growing scheme
in nursery homes
Federal authorities in Califor-
nia announced charges yester-
day against 18 people they said
operated a lucrative marijuana-
growing operation by converting
Central Valley homes into high-
tech pot nurseries.
They estimated the value of
the marijuana crop at nearly $100
million a year.
All the suspects are from the
San Francisco Bay area, but half
remain at large, including several
who authorities believe fled to
China or HongKong.
Nine were arrested early yes-
terday on drug and real estate
fraud charges. All but one of them

made initial court appearances
later in the day. The remain-
ing suspect already is in federal
prison in California on unrelated
Somali pirates
seize ship off East
African coast
Somali pirates with automat-
it weapons seized a cargo ship
off Africa's east coast and are
holding its 26 crew members
from India and Myanmar hos-
tage, anti-piracy officials said
The pirates captured the Pan-
amanian-flagged MV Al Khaliq
some 200 miles (320 kilometers)
west of the Seychelles islands ear-
ly Thursday, a statement from the
European Union's anti-piracy task
force said.
In response, Seychelles said
Thursday it would deploy troops
to its outer islands as a deterrent
force to approaching pirate ves-
Noel Choong, who heads the
International Maritime Bureau's
piracy reporting center in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia, said Thurs-
day's hijacking demonstrated a
new trend: pirates actively target-
ing vessels very far off the coast
duringclear weather.
He said it was the third such hi-
jackinginaweek. Pirates hijacked
a Singapore-flagged bulk contain-
er last Thursday and a Chinese
cargo ship on Monday.
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports

Indiana man
convicted of
murdering 7

In this Sept. 22, 2009 file photo, a sign indicating townhouse availability at a development in Beaverton, Ore. is shown. Improvements
in housing are driving the early stages of the economic recovery, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday.
Economy to continue
growth into new year

Family of victims
continue to mourn
in wake of trial
charged in one of the worst mass
slayings in Indianapolis history
was convicted yesterday of. kill-
ing seven members of one fam-
ily,.including three children, in a
bloody rampage prosecutors said
stemmed from a quest for drugs
and cash that didn't exist.
Marion Superior Court Judge
Robert Altice convicted Desmond
Turner, 31, on 23 counts stemming
from the June 1, 2006, deaths of
Emma Valdez, 46; her husband,
Alberto Covarrubias, 56; the cou-
ple's young sons, Alberto, 11, and
David, 8; and Valdez's adult son
and daughter, Magno Albarran
and Flora Albarran and Flora's
son Lois, S.
Turner, who waived his right to
a jury trial in exchange for pros-
ecutors dropping their request for
the death penalty, faces up to life
without parole. The sentencing
phase of the trial starts today.
Marion County Prosecutor
Carl Brizzi said he did not have
the evidence needed to meet the
high standard of proof required
for a capital conviction. Prosecu-
tors' case was built on witness
accounts and other circumstan-
tial evidence. They lacked a
murder weapon or any physical
evidence tying Turner directly to
the scene.
Maria Flores of Indianapolis,
Emma Valdez's sister, said after
the verdict that the death penalty
wouldn't have made a difference.
"Killing him won't bring our
family back," she said.
Defense attorney Brent West-
erfeld had hoped to capitalize on
the prosecution's lack of physi-
cal evidence. During his closing
arguments, he put up diagrams of

a shirt and pants that police found
soaking in the bathtub of a friend
of Turner's the day after the slay-
ings. The clothing contained DNA
evidence from Turner but not the
victims, he noted.
Altice, however, said Turner's
actions after the slayings, includ-
ing washing his clothes and flee-
ing to Kentucky, weighed heavily
in his ruling.
"Mr. Turner was indeed the
main shooter," he said.
Brizzi said the case was solved
"old-school," without DNA evi-
dence, and that there was no
physical evidence linking Turner
to the crime scene because he and
co-defendant James Stewart had
been careful. Stewart has pleaded
not guilty to murder charges and
his trial is set for Nov. 30.
Westerfeld also tried to dis-
credit the prosecution's main wit-
ness, Brandon Griffith, who had
testified that he had seen Turner
force his way into Valdez's home
with an assault rifle minutes
before the slayings.
"I don't believe we begin to
understand Brandon Griffith's abil-
ity to lie," Westerfeld told Altice.
During closing arguments, the
prosecution put about eight items
on an evidence table. Westerfeld
started his summation by putting
two large boxes containing evi-
dence introduced during the trial,
including the clothes Turner wore
the night of the slayings.
He pushed both boxes down the
table, crowding out the few items
the prosecution had used.
"They didn't bring the moun-
tain of evidence ... because the
mountain of evidence moves to
the defense side," he said.
Prosecutors Jennifer Haley and
Janna Skelton vividly described
how many bullets struck each
victim, noting that in some cases
the shots blew off parts of the vic-
tims' skulls. Several relatives of
the family were in tears.

Leading indicators
show positive signs,
but jobs still scarce
NEW YORK (AP) - A private
forecast of economic activity rose
for the sixth straight month in
September, a sign the economy
may keep growing early next year
despite rising unemployment.
The number of new claims for
jobless benefits jumped more than
expected last week. Claims had
fallen in five out of the previous
six weeks, and most economists
expect that trend to continue but
at a slow pace, with employers still
reluctant to hire.
The Conference Board said
yesterday that its index of leading
economic indicators rose 1 percent
last month after a 0.4 percent gain
in August, beating economists'
The group said the indicators'
5.7 percent growth rate in the
six months through September
was the strongest since 1983, but
joblessness is weighing on the
rebound. Dips in manufacturing
hours worked and building per-
mits, a gauge of future construc-

tion, were the only two measures
out of 10 that weighed down the
index. It is meant to project eco-
nomic activity in the next three to
six months.
The six-month rate is consistent
with annual economic growth of
about 8 percent, said Paul Dales,
U.S. economist at Capital Eco-
nomics. It's unlikely the rebound
will be that strong, however, as
the index may be "distorted" by
the Federal Reserve's rock-bottom
interest rates and market liquidity
measures, he said.
The government will report on
third-quarter economic growth
next week. Many economists think
gross domestic product - the value
of all goods and services produced
in the United States- grew about
3 percent after falling for a record
four straight quarters. But many
wonder if that pace can continue in
the current quarter and next year
as unemployment rises and con-
sumers remain hesitant to spend.
Lack of job growth is a major
problem. The Labor Department
said the number of newly laid-
off workers filing claims for job-
less benefits rose to a seasonally
adjusted 531,000 lastweek, from an
upwardly revised 520,000 the pre-

vious week. Wall Street economists
had expected only aslight increase,
according to Thomson Reuters.
Economists consider jobless
claims a gauge of layoffs and a sign
of companies' willingness to hire.
The four-week average of claims,
which smooths out fluctuations, fell
to its lowest level since mid-Janu-
ary. But claims remain well above
the 325,000 that economists say is
consistent with a healthy economy.
The report is "slightly disap-
pointing," Ian Shepherdson, chief
U.S. economist at High Frequency
Economics, wrote in a note to cli-
story, which is that ... a clear down-
ward trend in claims has emerged"
over the past two months.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
economist Ethan Harris expects
the economy to grow at a 3.3 per-
cent pace in 2010, even though
the Federal Reserve forecasts the
unemployment rate will stay above
9 percent.
There's a "shift away from
being so reliant on U.S. consumer
demand," he said. Spending on
homes and apartments, along with
ries could propel the economy even
as shoppers stay home, he added.

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Taliban dig in as Pakistani
army mounts new offensive

Military advance met.
with series of suicide
bombings and raids
across Afghanistan
stan (AP) - Residents fleeing a
6-day-old Pakistani army offen-
sive in a Taliban stronghold along
the Afghan border reported
Thursday that the insurgents are
digging in for a fight and travel
the roads freely.
Tired and dusty refugees arriv-
ing in this northwestern town
Thursday from different parts
of South Waziristan reported
intense army bombing by jets and
helicopters but said they had seen
no ground troops.
The accounts by a dozen refu-
gees to Associated Press report-
ers are a sign of just how much
fighting remains before the mili-
tary can even hope to clear the
area, which in recent years has
become a major global hub for al-
Qaida and other extremist groups
who carry out attacks against U.S.
troops in Adghanistan.
The militants were believed to
control roughly 1,275 square miles
of territory before the offensive
began. That portion covers about
half of South Waziristan, which
itself is slightly larger than Dela-
The military say its troops are
progressing steadily and retaking
land on-three fronts. But officers
have made it clear that the cam-
paign will be long and bloody
and acknowledged resistance is
As the army presses into their
heartland, the militants are try-
ing to bring the war to the rest of
Over the last 20 days, they
have killed more than 170 people

in a series of suicide bombings
and raids on Western, civilian
and security-force targets across
the country.
In the latest attack, suspected
insurgents on a motorbike shot
and killed a senior army officer
and a soldier Thursday in a resi-
dential part of the capital, Islam-
abad. The slain officer, Ahmed
Moinuddin, was on leave from
his job as deputy commander of
the U.N. peacekeeping mission in
The attack came despite
ramped-up security nationwide.
It was believed to be the first tar-
geted killing of an army officer
in the capital, a sign of evolving
militant strategies.
The United Nations says
110,000 people have fled South
Waziristan in recent months as
speculation rose of an army offen-
sive, about 30,000 of them in the
last few days. Most are staying
with relatives or in rented homes
in Dera Ismail Khan and nearby
New arrivals said the Taliban
were preparing for a fight.
"We saw no ground forces on
the way, nothing except helicop-
ters and airplanes. But we saw a
lot of Taliban movement," said
Awal Jan, a refugee from the town
of Sarwakai. "They were roaming
around in their vehicles and dig-
ging trenches in the mountains."
Pakistan is under intense
pressure to eliminate Islamist
militant groups sheltering in its
northwest that also attack U.S.
and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
The military has battled them in
various districts, losing hundreds
of soldiers, but questions remain
about its overall strategic com-
tnitment to the fight.
The army has previously
moved into South Waziristan
three times since 2004. Each time
it has suffered high casualties

and signed peace deals that left
insurgents with effective con-
trol of the region. Western offi-
cials say al-Qaida now uses it and
neighboring North Waziristan as
an operations and training base.
One refugee said Taliban fighters
had told villagers they must join
them or flee.
"They said, 'If you want to
side with us, you may. If you are
scared of death, then leave imme-
diately,"' said Habibullah, who
gave only a single name.
Maadi Shah, his wife and five
children walked for a day to
"Earlier there was aerial bomb-
ing once a day, but now it is hap-
pening countless times," he said.
"We saw the Taliban shifting to
the mountains toward Makeen
(the main town). They are well-
entrenched there," said Shah,
who stopped talking after a man
warned him of possible Taliban
retaliation for meeting reporters.
The current offensive pits
28,000 troops against some
12,000 militants, 1,000 of them
believed to be foreign fighters,
mostly Chechens and Arabs. They
are fighting in an unforgiving
landscape of hulking mountains,
rock-strewn valleys and sparse
A military statement Thursday
reported two more soldiers were
killed, bringing the army's death
toll to 18, and that 24 more mili-
tants were slain, bringing their
death toll to 129. Reporters are
blocked from entering the region,
meaning verifying information is
all but impossible.
Authorities say they are not
expecting a major humanitarian
crisis like the one triggered by
an offensive in the northwestern
Swat Valley earlier this year. Still,
many refugees have complained
of receiving little or no govern-
ment assistance.

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