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American Scene

- - Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Witness backs 'octomom' doctor

LOS ANGELES — A doctor testifying on behalf of "Octomom" Nadya Suleman's fertility doctor repeatedly defended the in-vitro treatments she received, saying they were appropriate considering her impaired fertility and desire for a very large family.

Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg took the stand in a hearing that resumed Wednesday in Los Angeles, where closing arguments are expected to begin by Thursday in the Medical Board of California's licensing hearing for Dr. Michael M. Kamrava.

The state licensing agency is seeking to revoke or suspend the Beverly Hills physician's license to practice medicine, accusing him of gross negligence in his treatment of Miss Suleman and two other patients.

Dr. Steinberg, a longtime professional acquaintance of Dr. Kamrava's and a fertility doctor, said Dr. Kamrava had to take into account his clinic's low success rate when treating patients for fertility. His testimony conflicted in several instances with earlier testimony from the medical board's expert witness, Dr. Victor Y. Fujimoto, fertility chief at the University of California at San Francisco.

Dr. Kamrava's treatment in one attempted pregnancy, when he implanted eight embryos, was "aggressive," but "I can't fault his judgment, to be honest," Dr. Steinberg said.

PENNSYLVANIA

City, Boy Scouts settle gays fight

PHILADELPHIA — A Boy Scouts chapter that won the right to ban gays from its city-owned headquarters at a federal trial in Philadelphia said it has negotiated a deal to end the decade-long dispute with city officials.

The city had threatened to evict the scouts for violating its anti-discrimination laws, and urged the group to reject national Boy Scouts of America policies that ban gays. But a jury this year found the eviction would infringe on the private group's right to free association.

Rather than appeal, the city will instead offer to sell the building to the Cradle of Liberty Council for $500,000, less than half its $1.1 million value, City Council lawyer Jason Gosselin said Wednesday.

In exchange, the Scouts will forgive the nearly $1 million in legal fees the city was ordered to pay the Scouts after losing the case.

"At the end of the day, the Boy Scouts will be writing a check to the city, rather than the other way around," Mr. Gosselin told the Associated Press. "This is a better solution than having to go through an appeals process."

UTAH

Family: Smart suspectis mentally il

SALT LAKE CITY — The man charged with abducting Elizabeth Smart at knifepoint was dysfunctional and argumentative in childhood, and became increasingly unstable as he went through three marriages, his family testified Wednesday.

His elderly mother, Irene Mitchell, told jurors that she remembered her son as a "little boy and what a darling little boy he was," but added: "What I see now is not the same person."

Brian David Mitchell faces federal charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for the purposes of sexual activity. Miss Smart was 14 when she was taken from her Utah home. If convicted, the 57-year-old former street preacher could the spend the rest of his life in jail.

Defense attorneys have not disputed the facts of the case — Miss Smart's abduction on June 5, 2002, or her nine months in captivity — but they contend that Mr. Mitchell suffers from mental illness and can't be held responsible for his acts. Federal prosecutors, who concluded their case Tuesday, say he is faking mental illness.

WISCONSIN

Man shots TV over Palin show

MADISON — A rural Wisconsin man apparently enraged by Bristol Palin's "Dancing With the Stars" routine blasted his television with a shotgun, leading to an all-night standoff with a SWAT team, investigators said.

Steven Cowan, 67, was arrested Tuesday morning after officers coaxed him out of his house in Vermont, Wis., a farming community near Madison.

Mr. Cowan, who is accused of threatening his wife with the gun after destroying the television, appeared in a Madison courtroom Wednesday on a charge of second-degree reckless endangerment. His bail was set at $1,500. Mr. Cowan's attorney at the hearing, Jonas Bednarek, declined to comment.

According to court documents, Janie Cowan said her husband came home Monday from the bar and had a beer with dinner before they settled down to watch "Dancing With the Stars."

When Miss Palin, the 20-year-old daughter of 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, began her routine, Mr. Cowan jumped up and began swearing, saying something like "The [expletive] politics." His wife said he was upset that a political figure's daughter was dancing on TV even though he thought she didn't have talent.

From wire dispatches and staff reports