PHILADELPHIA

Deal gets abortion doctor life without parole in deaths

A Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted of killing three babies born alive at his rogue clinic dodged a possible death sentence Tuesday in a hasty post-verdict deal with prosecutors.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, waived his right to appeal in exchange for a sentence of life without parole. Gosnell was convicted Monday of first-degree murder in a case that became a flashpoint in the nation’s abortion debate.

Former clinic employees testified that Gosnell routinely performed illegal abortions past Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit, that he delivered babies who were still moving, whimpering or breathing, and that he and his assistants dispatched the newborns by “snipping” their spines, as he referred to it.

LAS VEGAS

Simpson’s co-counsel says O.J. dependent on lawyer

O.J. Simpson became so dependent on his lawyer during his Las Vegas armed robbery trial that the former football star would have done anything Yale Galanter advised – including passing up the chance to testify, his co-counsel testified Tuesday.

“I could advise O.J. all day long, and he was very respectful of me,” Gabriel Grasso told a court considering Simpson’s bid for a retrial. “But if I advised him of something different from what Yale said, he would do what Yale said.”

It was Galanter’s decision not to have Simpson testify, Grasso said.

Under questioning from H. Leon Simon, attorney for the state, Grasso acknowledged the trial judge, Jackie Glass, specifically asked Simpson if he wanted to testify and he said no.

ATLANTA

Georgia Tech to offer science degree taught totally online

The blurring between traditional universities and the new “Massive Open Online Courses” reached new levels Tuesday when Georgia Tech announced it will offer what it termed a first-of-its-kind computer science degree taught entirely over an open online platform.

Georgia Tech will charge about $7,000 for the master’s degree, even though the courses that lead to the degree are available to anyone for free through Udacity, a MOOC platform currently offering 26 courses taught by partners including Georgia Tech.

But while students can take MOOCs for free, only accredited universities like Georgia Tech can award credit and degrees for such coursework. Georgia Tech is betting that students will happily pay $7,000 for such a credential, given that the cost of the on-campus computer science master’s, or even the current online version of that degree, runs about three times higher than that for Georgia students, and between six and seven times higher for out-of-state and international students.

Students admitted to the program would receive services such as help and assessment not available to others taking the same Udacity courses.

WASHINGTON

Report questions need for drastic cut-back on salt

A surprising new report questions public health efforts to get Americans to sharply cut back on salt, saying it’s not clear whether eating super-low levels is worth the struggle.

Make no mistake: Most Americans eat way too much salt, not just from salt shakers but because of sodium hidden inside processed foods and restaurant meals. Tuesday’s report stresses that, overall, the nation needs to ease back on the sodium for better heart health.

But there’s no good evidence that eating very low levels – below the 2,300 milligrams a day that the government recommends for most people – offers benefits even though national guidelines urge that certain high-risk patients do just that, the Institute of Medicine concluded.

Also, there are some hints, albeit from studies with serious flaws, that eating the lowest levels might actually harm certain people – those who are being aggressively treated for serious heart failure, the report added.