Judge wants to know more about Zimmerman finances

Posted April 27, 2012, at 8:59 p.m.

ATLANTA — The now-defunct website George Zimmerman set up to solicit donations from supporters raised more than $200,000, his lawyer said in a Florida courtroom Friday — one week after Zimmerman’s family argued that it had meager assets with which to pay his bond.

The new development could prompt Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester Jr. to increase the $150,000 bond he set earlier — though the judge said Friday that he wanted to know more about who controls the money before ruling on the matter.

The amount of money defendants like Zimmerman have at their disposal is a key factor judges consider in setting a bond amount. Defendants with more money are typically viewed as higher risks because they can more easily afford to flee. Judges also seek to fashion a bond figure that represents a significant financial stake for the defendant and, thus, an incentive to return to court.

Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the February slaying of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager whom Zimmerman encountered one evening and considered to be suspicious.

Zimmerman, 28, who is half white, half Peruvian, acknowledges that he shot the 17-year-old, but says he did so in self-defense. Law enforcement officials’ original decision not to arrest him sparked national outcry, and a contentious conversation about race and the U.S. justice system.

Zimmerman established the website, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, earlier this month, and used it to solicit funds for his legal defense and living expenses. His attorney, Mark O’Mara, instructed him to shut it down, and it disappeared from the Web earlier this week.

Ky. woman says dentist dropped tool down throat

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky woman is suing a dentist, accusing him of dropping a small screwdriver down her throat that migrated to her digestive tract and later required surgery to remove.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington by 71-year-old Lena David of Nicholasville. David claims Dr. W.B. Galbreath told her to try to regurgitate the screwdriver and then sent her for X-rays when that did not work.

Galbreath did not return a message left at his office Friday by The Associated Press.

The lawsuit says that the X-rays showed the screwdriver in David’s stomach, and that the dentist discharged her with instructions to “eat a diet high in fiber.”

In June 2011, about a month after swallowing the screwdriver, David checked into a hospital with abdominal pain and had to have the screwdriver removed.

Dutch pot restriction aimed at foreigners

AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands’ famed tolerance for drugs could be going up in smoke.

A judge on Friday upheld a government plan to ban foreign tourists from buying marijuana by introducing a “weed pass” available only to Dutch citizens and permanent residents.

The new regulation reins in one of the country’s most cherished symbols of tolerance — its laissez-faire attitude toward soft drugs — and reflects the drift away from a long-held view of the Netherlands as a free-wheeling utopia.

For many tourists visiting Amsterdam the image endures, and smoking a joint in a canal-side coffee shop ranks high on their to-do lists. Worried that tourism will take a hit, the city’s mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, is hoping to hammer out a compromise with the national government, which relies on municipalities and local police to enforce its drug policies.

Coffee shop owners a week ago mustered a few hundred patrons for a “smoke-out” in downtown Amsterdam to protest the new restrictions.

Drug-resistant malaria emerging in Africa, researchers say

Drug-resistant malaria may be emerging in Africa, according to a study that suggests the most powerful drugs against the disease are losing potency on the continent most affected by it.

Genetic mutations in the parasite that causes malaria are starting to make the bug resistant to artemether, the key ingredient in Novartis’s Coartem, researchers at the University of London wrote in the Malaria Journal on Friday.

Studies in Cambodia and Thailand have shown that drugs based on artemisinin, the class of remedies to which artemether belongs, are becoming less effective there. The World Health Organization has been leading efforts to contain the resistant strain amid concerns it may spread to Africa, rendering the best treatments useless and endangering millions of people.

At least 29 injured as explosions rock Ukrainian city

MOSCOW — A series of explosions rocked the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk on Friday, injuring 29 people.

The explosions, officials said, were caused by small bombs placed in litter bins in the downtown area of the industrial city, about 280 miles southwest of Kiev. Officials said there were four explosions, while local residents said they heard five to nine blasts.

Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said at a briefing in Kiev that 18 of the 29 injured were hospitalized.

Speaking at an urgent session of Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Vladimir Rakitsky, deputy head of the national Security Service, said that a terrorism investigation had been initiated.

No individual or group immediately claimed responsibility.

The explosions came the day after Yulia Tymoshenko’s supporters handed photos of the allegedly bruised body of the jailed ex-premier to foreign diplomats. Tymoshenko, whose health is reported to be failing, is serving a seven-year prison term after being convicted of abusing her powers in signing Ukraine’s gas deal with Russia. She has accused prison guards of beating her.

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