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A surrogate mom mistakenly gave away her own baby

A California mom had to fight for custody of her biological child when she became pregnant with "twins" while acting as a surrogate for a Chinese couple.

 Jessica Allen was already a mother of two when she decided to become a surrogate to Mr. and Mrs. Liu. The $30,000 she would earn would help her become a stay-at-home mom, and to buy a house. She underwent in-vitro fertilization in April 2016. Allen says she and her partner, Wardell Jasper, also had sex--with a condom--after getting permission to do so from the IVF doctor. When she went to the hospital, doctors told her she was pregnant with twins. 

 "Not once during the pregnancy did any of the medical staff provided by the agency say that the babies were in separate sacs. As far as we were concerned, the transferred embryo had split in two and the twins were identical," Allen tells the New York Post. 

 When the babies were born by C-section in December, Allen says the babies were taken from the room before she could even see them. The next morning, she says, the babies' mother visited her in the hospital and showed her a photo on her cell phone. 

 “Wow! They look different,” Allen says she told her, before she snatched back the device. 

 Allen says she had hit the nail on the head. DNA tests confirmed that the boys were not actually twins. 

 "It turned out that, in an extremely rare medical incident called superfetation, we had gotten pregnant naturally, despite using condoms, after the in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle during which Mr. and Mrs. Liu’s embryo was transferred into my uterus," she says. "Mike was a biological match to the Lius, while Max had my genes." (The names of the babies and the couple were changed for this story.) 

 But then, things got worse. Allen says she was told that the Lius didn't want to keep Max, and the agency they had used had someone caring for the baby. Not only that, but the agency was essentially shopping around for couples to adopt Max and cover the cost of the compensation the Lius were now demanding as "compensation." The Lius were also considering putting the baby up for adoption, she says. 

 Allen and Jasper hired a lawyer to help, and through negotiations, they got their biological son back--and the agency agreed that the "fees" the couple owed would be zero. 

 A worker from the agency met Allen at a Starbucks and gave her her baby, which the couple have now renamed Malachi. She says he's happy, learning to walk, and loves his big brothers. 

 "Wardell and I, who got married in April, weren’t planning to expand our family so soon, but we treasure Malachi with all our hearts. I don’t regret becoming a surrogate mom because that would mean regretting my son. I just hope other women considering surrogacy can learn from my story. And that a greater good will come out of this nightmare," says Allen.

Tweets help convict man who attacked, kidnapped girlfriend

The victim's story was backed up by Rhinehart's own words on Twitter. "We were able to just pore over all of those tweets, and honestly, our jaws dropped when we saw he just laid it out for us,"

Clarkston mom kills daughter’s fiance’; Terry Crews speaks out about being groped; NFL will discuss player protests

• Clarkston mom kills daughter’s fiance’

A Clarkston mother is charged with killing her pregnant daughter’s fiance. Paw Law, 57, is accused of shooting Nyatole Eh, 17, of Clarkston, several times in the abdomen, as they got ready for breakfast on October 8. Law was said to be angry that Eh and her daughter were planning to get married and move to Wisconsin. A Clarkston Police detective said the woman went to a pawn shop and bought a gun on Saturday, after an argument over the move. “There was no type of argument or even altercation at that point. It’s looking like Mom just walked up behind the victim and shot him,” said Det. Jason Elliot.

( AJC/by Cory Hancock)

• Kennesaw State University chearleaders take a knee

Kennesaw State University cheerleaders are speaking out after taking a knee at a football game. In the Sept. 30 game, several of the cheerleaders kneeled during the national anthem. In the following Saturday’s game, the entire squad was off the field. The Cobb County sheriff, Neil Warren, admitted that he talked to the KSU president about it, saying he was “outraged” and promising to stop going to games if the protest over police brutality continued. Warren says the president, Sam Olens, assured him it wouldn’t happen again. The young ladies who talked to Channel 2 Action News agreed they were nervous, but that the protest was worth it. They say the actions bring attention to behavior that’s been pushed to the background and that while they understand there are critics, they will continue supporting the appeal for justice. Republican State Rep. Earl Ehrhart called the kneeling a “repugnant and hateful” political statement.

• Terry Crews speaks out about being groped

As more actresses from Angelina Jolie to Gwyneth Paltrow come forward to reveal their own stories of harassment by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, actor Terry Crews says he can relate. Crews didn’t call any names, but revealed on Twitter that some “high level Hollywood executive” once groped his privates as he and his wife were stunned into silence. He said hearing about the Weinstein cases now gives him PTSD.

•  Marijuana ordinance

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed signs an ordinance to decriminalize minor marijuana possession. The bill to eliminate jail time and lower the fine for anyone caught with under an ounce of weed.

• Missing Newton County newborn

The death of a Newton County newborn has been ruled a homicide after a GBI autopsy confirms two-week-old Caliyah McNabb died from blunt force trauma. Her father, Christopher, took off for hours when the baby’s body was found in a duffel bag in the woods on Sunday, after the girl was reported missing on Saturday. He is being charged with murder.

• Daniel Defense gun manufacturer

A Georgia-based gun manufacturer plans to lay off as many as a third of its workforce. Daniel Defense, based near Savannah, cites declining sales. At least four of the semi-automatic assault rifles found in the hotel room of Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock were made by the company. It has not been revealed whether any of those guns were the ones modified to shoot more like machine guns.

• NFL will discuss player protests

The NFL’s owners meet next week, and the issue of player protests during the national anthem is the big topic. A letter to all 32 teams from Commissioner Roger Goodell says in part, “Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.”

Mike Ditka is apologizing for saying he wasn’t aware of any racial oppression in the U.S. over the last 100 years. The ex-Chicago Bears coach made the comments in a radio interview while criticizing players who kneel during the national anthem as they protest racism and police brutality. Ditka was harshly criticized for seemingly ignoring Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation and the lynching of blacks that occurred well into his lifetime. He says he was only referring to the NFL, not society overall.

• Equifax

Hackers may also have driver’s license information on more than 10 million Americans. The Wall Street Journal reports this is In addition to personal information, including Social Security Numbers, of 145.5 million people, stolen from Equifax.

 

Police Chief: 'It's An Assassination'

(WSB Radio)  The manhunt for an accused cop killer has gone nationwide, and a reward has gone way up.

"From my perspective, this is just an ambush and an assassination," says  Athens-Clark County Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin.  The $50,000 reward to find the man behind the fatal shooting of Senior Police Officer Buddy Christian reflects that. 

Lumpkin says the search for 33-year-old suspect Jamie Hood is stretching nationwide, but they believe he is still in the local area.  They are searching house to house, street by street, as Hood's mother pleads for her son to surrender.

"People can't exist with this type of manhunt without someone assisting [them], and we have to identify that and find that lead," Lumpkin said in a Wednesday morning press conference.

Lumpkin broke down during the conference when asked about Christian's wife and children.  He was a 34-year-old married father of three.  The ACCP says Athens First Bank will serve as the depository for a memorial fund for Senior Police Officer Elmer “Buddy” Christian.  Donations may be dropped off at any branch of Athens First Bank. Donations may also be mailed to Athens First Bank, 150 West Hancock Ave., Athens, GA, 30601, with a notation that it is for this fund.

GBI Director Vernon Keenan is confident the high reward will bring a needed tip for the suspect's arrest. 

"I believe that $50,000 is a great inspiration for someone to come forward and to offer up Jamie Hood," says Keenan.  He expects the tip will come from someone Hood runs with. 

A second search focused on the nephew of suspect Jamie Hood.  Police believe the man known only by his nickname, "Little Hood," may be helping his uncle by giving him money.  Little Hood is said to be driving a blue Ford Taurus with side damage. 

AirTran Stockholders Okay Merger

(WSB Radio)  The merger between AirTran and Southwest Airlines is one step closer to completion.

By a solid margin, AirTran's shareholders have agreed to be taken over by Southwest.  Nearly 99% of shareholders cast votes, and 78% approved the takeover.

"We are grateful for our stockholders' strong vote of confidence in this merger," said Bob Fornaro, AirTran's chairman, president and chief executive officer. "In approving the transaction, our stockholders recognized the value of bringing together AirTran and Southwest to create a platform for increased profitability and sustainable long-term value."

The deal between the two discount carriers was announced last September, and the merger is expected to be completed within the next three months, pending approval by the Justice Department.

Bin Laden Photos Won't Be Released

The debate over whether to release photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse is apparently over--and the White House has decided not to.

 

President Obama tells CBS he will not release the photographic evidence of the 9/11 mastermind's death.  The president is being interviewed by Steve Kroft today for the episode of 60 Minutes set to air Sunday.

 

The White House had been weighing the release of a photo, in part to offer proof that bin Laden was killed during a raid on his compound early Monday; however, officials had cautioned that the photo was gruesome and could inflame anti-U. S. rhetoric.

 "We don't trot out this stuff as trophies," said the president.

 

Patrick Moton of Atlanta, a Marine Corps veteran of Desert Storm, is in favor of keeping the photographs private.  He says to release them could damage the sometimes-tenuous relationships the American troops build while on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan--and possibly increase the potential danger against them.

 

"One of the most crucial things for the troops on the ground in the Middle East is to maintain their relationships with the local communities, with the clerics, with the sheiks," says Moton.  "It enables them to gather intel on al-Qaeda, to help them form a government of their own.  They have to have that trust to get anything done.  If there's something that is interpreted in those pictures as being disrespectful of Islam, their religious traditions, or it seems as if the United States has mistreated that body in a way that [the Americans] don't care about the relationships that those people have with their religion, then they're not going to trust the United States.  They're not going to feel like they're there as their partner, but that they're there as an occupying force."

 

Republican Mike Rogers, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has seen a picture of the corpse--and he said Wednesday that the White House should not release it because the risks outweight the benefits. 

He added, "Imagine how the American people would react if Al Qaeda killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the Internet." 

Rogers also points out that conspiracy theorists won't be persuaded no matter what the U.S. does. The photos have been described by several sources as gruesome. They say one picture shows part of bin Laden's skull blown off.

A Pentagon official said bin Laden received a swift burial at sea in accordance with Islamic tradition, which states that the body must be buried within 24 hours to honor the Prophet Muhammad, and should not be cremated or embalmed.  The U. S. government also revealed that it would have been tough to find a foreign country willing to accept the remains of the world's most-wanted man within the needed time frame.

 

The Pentagon says the body was sunk the waters of the northern Arabian Sea after adhering to traditional Islamic procedures--including washing the corpse--aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

Your Home Value May Be Way Down

Your home value may be down--way down. 

Real estate site Zillow.com says home values fell an average of 3% in the first quarter from the previous quarter, and in metro Atlanta, it was worse--4.4%. 

The 3% drop in the first quarter of 2011 is the largest decline since late 2008 and is blamed on foreclosures pushing values down.  Prices are decelerating in large part because the many foreclosed properties that often sell at a discount force other sellers to lower their prices.

Metro Atlanta was among those with the sharpest yearly declines: home values dropped 17.3% year-over-year.

Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries now believes while there will continue to be some bounceback this year, prices nationwide won't hit bottom before 2012.  Demand is picking up, but a slew of foreclosures will keep supply outpacing demand--and home prices may drop another 7 to 9% before bottoming out.

Some notable exceptions:  Home values went up year-over-year in some cities including Alpharetta (5.8%); Berkeley Lake (1.5%); Johns Creek (7.5%); Milton (10%); Roswell (8.2%); Sandy Springs (7.7%); Social Circle (4.8%); and Walnut Grove (5.1%).

Milton, Sandy Springs and Social Circle were among the rare areas in Georgia which saw actual gains in home values in the month to month, quarter over quarter and year over year.

New Grand-Gorilla For Willie B.

Zoo Atlanta has a new member of the family.

Early this morning, lowland gorilla Kudzoo gave birth.  Kudzoo is the daughter of famed western lowland gorilla Willie B.  The baby gorilla is Willie B.'s third grandchild.

“We’re very excited about the birth of Kudzoo’s infant, particularly given Atlanta’s long connection to Willie B.’s family,” said Zoo Atlanta's deputy director Dwight Lawson in a statement. “Kudzoo has already proven to be an excellent mother, and she appears to be demonstrating those same maternal skills in the care of her newest arrival.”

Kudzoo, now 17, suffered a miscarriage last year after becoming pregnant in 2009.   This infant is the second for her and 21-year-old male Taz.  Willie B.’s second grandchild, Gunther, was born to Sukari in August 2006.

Willie B., who died in 2000, was named for former Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield.  The gorilla inspired the city to modernize the zoo and free him from a dark, cramped habitat.  Now, Zoo Atlanta is home to the nation’s largest collection of gorillas--24--and is  recognized for its care and research of these critically-endangered great apes.

Arrests In Parking Lot Break-Ins

Arrests have been made in connection with some car break-ins at a park & ride lot in College Park. 

The four suspects in custody range from 16 to 27 in age, and may be responsible for similar crimes elsewhere.

College Park Police Detective Boyd Burns tells WSB he will be meeting with East Point Police to see if recent car burglaries in their jurisdiction are connected to this case.

"Without giving too many details, yeah, there are some similarities to both incidents," says Burns. 

Marcus Demonte Overstreet, 27, of Riverdale; Eric Devon Howard, 19, of College Park; O'Hammer Lamar Keith, 19, of East Point; and a 16-year-old boy were nabbed when an employee of the Park 'n Ticket at 3945 Conley Street spotted the crimes in progress.  Police say the suspects were entering vehicles, and attempting to steal an SUV. 

Last Thursday, thieves smashed their way into more than 45 cars in three parking lots near Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. 

 "Detectives from other agencies hear these reports and make phone calls, and we try to connect dots that way," says Burns. 

East Point police said the suspects broke windows and took electronics and cash from the cars.  "They're looking for any items sitting out and about such as GPS systems, CD players, laptop computers, things like that," said East Point Police Sgt. Cliff Chandler.

Most of the break-ins happened at an off-site lot on Camp Creek Parkway named The Parking Spot.  All of the lots have attendants watching the cars 24 hours a day. 

Anyone with any information on the Park 'n Ticket case is asked to call Detective Boyd Burns at (404) 762-4617.  

Porsche Building $100M HQ In Atlanta

Porsche makes it official:  the automaker is moving its North American headquarters to the old Ford site on the south side of Atlanta.

A lot of excitement surrounds the announcement, as the Hapeville site has sat vacant since the Ford plant was demolished two years ago.  It closed in 2006.

In the second half of 2013, Porsche will open its new U. S. headquarters near the new International terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.  Groundbreaking is slated for this fall.  While some 200 people are reportedly employed in the Sandy Springs office, 400 employees will work at the new Hapeville offices. 

"This ambitious endeavor sends the clearest possible message that Porsche believes in the strength of the United States market, both today and tomorrow," says Porsche CEO Detlev von Platen.

A customer experience center will also feature a road handling course to show off their vehicles' capabilities and allow potential owners to test drive cars.  A new exit off I-75 will go straight to the International terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Von Platen says a huge factor in selecting Atlanta for the HQ move, which it has spent a year considering, is the presence of the vacant land to put a driving track. 

Porsche says the $100 million complex will include office facilities and a technical service and training center.

Jacoby, the developer, says Porsche will use 27 of the 130 acres on the Hapeville site.  Jacoby hopes to bring in more retail, office, conference and hotel clients on the rest of the land.

The new headquarters also will house Porsche Financial Services Inc., and Porsche Business Services Inc., which are both located in Lisle, Ill. The company says other Porsche businesses also will be included.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed touted the level of cooperation which went into landing the deal for Georgia.  The Hapeville site was one of 17 which aggressively went after Porsche's business.

With the Porsche Chicago-area offices being moved to the Peach State, Georgia offered $1.75 million in job tax credits.  The DOT pitched in $800,000 in infrastructure improvements.

Governor Deal says Georgia is on its way to becoming the automotive capital of the U. S. 

"I think Detroit is getting a little bit jealous right now," he said. 

'Personal Problems' Prompt Kidnapping Tale

A Ball Ground woman who frantically reported her own kidnapping Monday afternoon made up the whole thing. 

Lisa Bode, 44, called 911 around 2:00, telling the dispatcher that a white man in a gold car had shoved her into his trunk after her vehicle broke down on I-575 near the Cherokee-Pickens county line.  Deputies swarmed the area, looking for the gold car Bode said was heading south on the interstate, but could not find it--and no tipsters reported seeing anything unusual. 

This morning, Cherokee County officials confirmed that Bode was booked into their jail shortly before midnight, charged with falsely reporting a crime and making false statements.  She was located last night in Fannin County, and after detectives interviewed Bode, they charged her with the crimes.

"It appears Bode was dealing with numerous personal problems which lead to her fabricating the abduction story," said Lt. Jay Baker in a statement. 

WSB's Richard Sangster reported that deputies located Bode's SUV, driver's license and credit cards but had had no luck tracking her cell phone Monday. 

She is currently in the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center with an $11,880.00 bond. 

Walgreen's Robber Has 'Swollen Cheeks'

Wanted:  Older WF with swollen cheeks.   

DeKalb County Police are looking for an armed robber with a unique look. 

Police say a white female held up a Walgreen's drugstore at 2320 North Druid Hills Road Monday, pulling out a handgun and demanding cash at a checkout counter.  Once she got the money, she took off.

Surveillance video captures an image of the woman, whom witnesses describe as 5'6" and about 60-70 years old.  DeKalb Police spokeswoman Mekka Parrish tells WSB that the clerk was able to describe

"Quite naturally for anyone, when a gun is pulled out, the amount of information that you gather is very limited," says Parrish.  "The one thing that we were able to ascertain...is that she had distinctive facial features--cheeks that were swollen and described as red." 

The woman is believed to have driven away in a light-colored tan or gold Jeep Liberty.

She was last seen wearing a baseball hat with a white and red "G" in the center, sunglasses, brown jacket and stone washed jeans.

Tipsters are asked to call the DeKalb Police Major Unit at (770) 724-7890.

Smoking Joint Lands Man In Joint

Don't smoke pot right before stepping into a room full of deputies.

A 19-year-old man who came to pick up the property of an inmate at the Gwinnett County Jail caught the attention of officers because of how he smelled.  It wasn't body odor--it was the smell of marijuana.

Questioned by deputies, Jordan David Mendez admitted smoking marijuana just before coming to the jail. 

A search of Mendez' vehicle turned up 14 small baggies of marijuana, and he was promptly arrested on charges of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and crossing the guard line with drugs.

Mendez is being held without bond.

Tornado Victims' Gift Cards Stolen From UPS Store

Alpharetta Police say an owner of a UPS Store franchise is under arrest for stealing gift cards meant to help tornado survivors.

A statement from George Gordon with the Alpharetta Public Safety Department explains that a customer came into a UPS Store in John's Creek with a stack of gift cards to ship to tornado-torn Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which was hit with deadly tornadoes April 27.  The shipper was sending them to a relative in Tuscaloosa, who would disperse the cards to storm victims.

"An employee of the Johns Creek UPS Store had told the patron 'they' would box them up and mail them," says Gordon's statement.  Police say there were more than 50 cards totaling thousands of dollars in value.

But when the customer checked with her relative on the status of the gift cards "weeks later," she was told that they had never arrived, so she investigated to find out what had happened.

"The patron had recorded the card numbers, and went to the store of purchase at a Target location in Roswell.  She was informed some of the gift cards were used at another Target store in Alpharetta," and contacted police, says Gordon.  "Based upon the investigation, the owner of the John's Creek UPS store and a female accomplice were taken into custody today for the theft of the gift cards."

Edward Michael Copenhaven and UPS store employee Margaret Kate Carlisle face multiple felony counts of theft by taking. 

"Stealing from people who lost most of their belongings, their assets, in this tornado event, that's just incomprehensible," Gordon tells WSB. 

 

Final School Bells Ring For 8 DeKalb Schools

The last day of school really is the very last day of school at some DeKalb County schools.

As DeKalb brings its school year to a close, eight schools will be closing for good.  The school board voted in March to close six elementary schools: Atherton, Glen Haven, Gresham Park, Peachcrest, Medlock and Sky Haven Elementary Schools, as well as Avondale Middle School and High Schools.Board members say it will save the school system $12.4 million.On the campus of Atherton Elementary, administrators announced a "Fun Day" for a send-off celebration that included four of the six principals the school has had in its 47 years.

"I just got started at Atherton Elementary School," says principal Clifton Myles, who took over after the CRCT cheating scandal broke in 2008.  "It has been an interesting experience because I see what can possibly happen for this community."

Parent Brenda Ethridge has fond memories of Atherton.  She went there as a girl, and now her children do. 

"I've never come up here and not received a smile," she tells WSB's Sandra Parrish.  "It's truly going to be missed in the neighborhood."Parrish and her father, Ralph (pictured), also have a long history at Atherton.  Sandra attended the school and her father was principal there when it opened in 1964 until his retirement in 1981. 

About 7,000 children in the district will be reassigned to new schools in the district.  Most of the teachers will be transferred to other county schools, too.

"It feels like we're all being split apart now.  It's just a sad day," says Ethridge. 

Students looked for the silver lining on the dark cloud of having the school bells ring for the last time ever at Atherton.

"It's kind of okay, because you get to make new friends," says 4th-grader Shellikay Allen, "but all the memories here, you don't want to let go."

"I'm sad because I won't see my friends, but I'm glad I get to go to another school and meet new friends," said 3rd-grader Diovanni Johnson.

Fifth-grader Mikayla Hickson said her school doesn't deserve to close, and took a practical view to express her displeasure about all the students being shifted around.

"The neighborhood won't have a neighborhood school, so they have to find another school that's far away from where they live."

Arrest In Murder, Arson At Lucky Shoals Park

Gwinnett Police arrest a teenager in connection with the death of an honors student found in her burning car.

Andrea Nassos, 18, was last heard from the evening of Thursday, May 19, when her father Pete said she was headed to work.   But the teen never showed up there.  The next morning, a body was pulled from a smoldering car at Lucky Shoals Park in Tucker.

WSB's Pete Combs reports police have now charged 18-year-old Boris Mejia in the case.

"He is part of Andrea Nassos' circle of friends," says Gwinnett Police Corporal Jake Smith. 

Mejia was arrested by police in Houston, Texas.  He first surfaced as a suspect May 25. 

Cpl. Smith tells WSB that is when detectives went to the teenager's house in Tucker, and found that he wasn't there.  Interviews with relatives, including his 50-year-old father Ignacio Mejia, revealed that Mejia had killed Andrea at her DeKalb County apartment, then tried to bury her body in his father's back yard in Tucker.

"Ignacio kind of discovered what was going on, and Boris at that point took Nassos' body and her vehicle to Lucky Shoals Park where he set it on fire," says Smith.  "Following the arson, Ignacio drove Boris to Houston, Texas, and left him there."

The teen was arrested there earlier this week.  Mejia is being brought back to metro Atlanta, where he will face charges in both Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties.  Charges will include murder, arson, and tampering with evidence.  The elder Mejia will be charged with tampering with evidence and hindering the apprehension of a criminal.

"We're not really speculating on motive at this point," says Smith, who adds that the damage from the fire made it difficult to determine her precise cause of death--but that it was clear Nassos was the victim of a homicide.

Salvia--The "Legal" Way To Get High

(WSB Radio) It's an herb, it's a hallucinogen, and supposedly it's non-addictive. Buzz is building about a legal way to get "buzzed."

  • Listen to Veronica's report on salvia here.

    WSB's Veronica Waters reports there is a plant with a medicinal and meditative history which has become known as a recreational drug of choice in some circles.

    "The first hit, it just put me in a trance like I was in a third realm or something," says Lincoln Brewer, assistant manager at Smoke 911 on Roswell Road-- a tobacco/paraphernalia store for the 18-&-over crowd. "It's not a toy."

    He's talking about salvia divinorum, a native Mexican plant in the mint family which was used for centuries by Indian healers and prophets.

    "It's an intense hallucinogen," says Brewer.

    News stories in recent years have garnered salvia more of a spotlight. Sold in different strengths, it commonly ranges in price from $16 to $60 for a gram. And yes, it's legal.

    "It's available in south Georgia, it's available in metro Atlanta through so many shops, but it's also available through the Internet," says State Senator John Bulloch of Ochlocknee. It has several nicknames, including "Magic Mint" or "Sally D."

    Researchers at the Energy Department say it's not a typically pleasurable drug...but is probably getting more popular because it produces a very fast high--in both onset and duration.

    "Parents, I would say, are pretty clueless," said Jonathan Appel, an assistant professor of psychology and criminal justice at Tiffin University in Ohio who has studied the emergence of the substance. "It's much more powerful than marijuana."

    Salvia's short-lasting effects and the fact that it is currently legal may make it seem more appealing to teens, lawmakers say. Others say legislators are overreacting to a minor problem.

    YouTube has many videos showing users' first salvia trips. Often, users laugh a lot or experience introspective and fantasy-laden moments which they often don't remember. Some report out-of-body-like experiences with a sense of traveling through time and space. The sage also often impairs motor functions. One video's description says the smoker recalled feeling as if he was in a peapod.

    The video below includes blue language, but shows an intense and immediate reaction which nearly immobilized the smoker.

    Caution: Video Contains Explicit Language

    Most commonly smoked in a water pipe, salvia is held in the lungs for 20-30 seconds. It's high is almost immediate...typically lasting five to 20 minutes. Brewer remembers one of his experiences at a friend's house.

    "A lot of visuals, like a lot of intense colors, maybe seeing things that really aren't there," he tells WSB. "Just a good sensation over your body, real light on you like you're floating, almost, but spinning at the same time."

    Southwest Georgia Senator Bulloch pushed through the Senate a bill criminalizing salvia back in 2007, but it didn't go any farther. He tells WSB he was sort of stuck on just how to punish those who possess or use salvia versus those who sell it.

    "I had several district attorneys that said it's beginning to show up. It's not detectable through a drug urinalysis test, and so drug users that have been through the court system and are required to take urinalysis tests...are using this product as a second source of getting high," says Bulloch.

    Bulloch thinks any successful legislation will have common threads state-to-state. According to sagewisdom.org, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Delaware, Maine, North Dakota, Illinois, and Kansas are the only states in the USA that have statewide laws prohibiting possession of salvia divinorum. Some municipalities around the country have enacted their own restrictions on the plant or its extracts.

    Brewer maintains salvia isn't addictive and that it's only "stupid kids" who would smoke it and then try, say, to go drive a car. Always smoke with friends, he recommends.

    "If you are going to experiment with it, you want to do it someplace that you are very familiar with, and you do have people around you that you trust," says Brewer. "With any kind of hallucinogen--especially with this--you could have a bad experience, and there's no telling what you can do or what kind of feelings you might get from a bad sensation."

    Researchers also say the drug has potential as a treatment for Alzheimer's, pain and possibly mood disorders.

    "We're trying to keep it legal, so don't be doing stupid things while you're on it," cautions Brewer.

    Thursday, 1 May 2008

  • Woman Charged After Baby Dies In Hot Car

    A woman whose infant relative died in a hot car last week has now been charged with the girl's death.

    Jennifer Peacock, 21, faces involuntary manslaughter and 2nd-degree child cruelty charges.   Peacock surrendered to police and is jailed in Cobb County.  Police have not revealed how Peacock and the baby are related.

    May 25, Kennesaw Police responded to 1730 Tuscan Heights Boulevard, the location of the Ivey Hall Day School, on a report about a five-month-old baby being left in a vehicle for five hours.   

    "A family member of the baby apparently forgot the child was in its car seat asleep when she arrived for work at noon," said a statement from police.  Memory lapse or not, authorities decided to charge the woman.

    "The detectives apparently spoke with the D. A.'s office, and this is what kind of charges they seemed to appropriate it," Officer Scott Luther tells WSB.

    Police: Man Had Sex With Dogs

    The son of a former Doraville mayor faces some graphic accusations.

    Police say 56-year-old John Norman can't have any contact with children, pets, or livestock, because he was caught on video having sex with two German shepherds. 

    "I don't have any words for it," neighbor Thomas Hart tells Channel 2 Action News.  "We're hoping that's not true.  We're hoping somebody got confused here." 

    Doraville Police also say a search of Norman's home turned up computer discs with photos of minors engaged in sex. 

    Norman faces five counts of sexual exploitation of a child; aggravated animal cruelty; and bestiality charges.  A judge set bond at $110,000.  His father is Jesse Norman, a former longtime city mayor.

    Neighbors say Norman got the dogs from Germany, and had trained them to be police dogs.

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