American Scene: Facebook makes it easier to become organ donor

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NEW YORK — Facebook users in the United States and the United Kingdom can enroll as organ donors via links to official registries on the world’s biggest social networking site, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The links should make it easier for people who want to donate their organs to sign up.

Facebook users who are already organ donors can add that information to their profile page, now known as their timeline.

Mr. Zuckerberg said his friendship with Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, who had received a liver transplant before he died last year, helped develop the idea, as did talks with his girlfriend Priscilla Chan, a medical student.

At least 112,000 Americans are waiting for organs and 18 people die every day from the lack of available organs, according to Donate Life America, a nonprofit that is teaming with Facebook.

Mr. Zuckerberg announced the organ donor update to Facebook on “Good Morning America” Tuesday.

Facebook Inc., based in Menlo Park, Calif., is busy readying an initial public stock offering said to be pegged at $5 billion. Facebook’s IPO could place the company’s value at $100 billion.

OHIO

Charity accused of ties to Hamas settles U.S. suit

TOLEDO — An Ohio-based charity accused by the U.S. of having ties to the militant Islamic group Hamas has settled its lawsuit against the federal government.

The agreement announced Tuesday will remove the charity from the government’s list of terrorist organizations.

The settlement comes six years after the Treasury Department essentially closed the charity’s operation by ordering U.S. banks to freeze the group’s assets. It accused the group of funneling money to terrorist-affiliated organizations.

The leaders of KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development in Toledo denied being connected to any terrorist group and sued the government after it refused to say why the charity’s money was frozen.

The charity said in January that it had shut down, and the settlement says it will remain closed.

NEW YORK

Police captain, wife, daughters die in fire

CARMEL — A police captain, his wife and two teenage daughters died in a fire that swept through their home in New York City’s northern suburbs Tuesday morning, authorities said. One adult son managed to escape the blaze and was hospitalized.

The fire, reported by a neighbor just before 2 a.m., left little behind of the family’s home on a quiet street in Carmel, located in Putnam County, about 60 miles north of New York City.

Officials identified the captain as Thomas Sullivan, of the Larchmont Police Department. He was a former New York police officer assigned to the Bronx, who left the city for the force in comparatively tranquil suburbs two decades ago because he felt he could make a bigger difference in a smaller community.

His daughters, Mairead and Meaghan, were students at Carmel High School. Mairead was a freshman and Meaghan a senior. Their ages were not immediately available. Their mother, Donna Sullivan, also perished in the fire.

“The school community is devastated,” said the district’s superintendent, James Ryan. “We are working together in this very difficult time to offer supports to students and staff.”

Only a 20-year-old son, Thomas Sullivan Jr., escaped the flames. He was being treated for smoke inhalation, Carmel police said.

The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately known. The Carmel Police Department said in a statement that it expected “a lengthy investigation and recovery effort in order to ascertain the origin of the fire and the recovery of potential victims.”

ILLINOIS

Postcard mailed in ‘58 is finally delivered

CHICAGO — A postcard mailed from Chicago in 1958 has finally reached its intended recipient, but not without a little help from Facebook.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that a postcard depicting Shedd Aquarium recently arrived at Scott McMurry’s Virginia home, more than five decades after his mom mailed it.

The 71-year-old recipient said he immediately recognized his mother’s handwriting.

The postcard was addressed to Clairmont Lane in Decatur, Ga., where Mr. McMurry grew up. But it recently arrived in Elizabeth Fulcher’s mailbox on Clairmont Lane in South Daytona, Fla.

Ms. Fulcher posted a picture of the postcard on Facebook and her friends helped track down Mr. McMurry.

The half-century mail delay remains a mystery.

In the meantime, the aquarium has offered to give him a tour of the attraction that his now-deceased parents visited.

NORTH DAKOTA

Official: Polka dots painted on home an eyesore

BISMARCK — Jim Deitz thinks he is creating a Grand Forks landmark, but the downtown apartment house he’s painting one polka dot at a time is making a city planner cringe.

The retired house painter on Tuesday was putting the final polka dots on his home-turned-apartments, where passers-by have been gathering to watch him work and to request colors from his palette of a dozen cans of brightly colored paint.

“Pizza delivery drivers won’t have any trouble finding this place,” Mr. Deitz said of the century old-two story home that houses six apartments. “You can’t miss it.”

The house is next to a church, a fraternal organization building and a new low-income apartment complex. Mr. Deitz and the city had negotiated a deal to buy out the property to expand the low-income housing facility.

Mr. Deitz said he was offered $100,000 for the home a year or so ago.

“They were going to buy me out and they backed out,” Mr. Deitz said. “I want $150,000 for it now.”

IOWA

Medical examiner at JFK’s assassination dies

DES MOINES — Dr. Earl Rose, the medical examiner in Dallas when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, died Tuesday at an Iowa City retirement community at age 85.

Dr. Rose’s wife, Marilyn, said he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and then developed dementia. The Des Moines Register first reported Mr. Rose’s death.

Kennedy was shot Nov. 22, 1963, and taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital. Minutes after he died, a debate erupted about what do to with the body.

Dr. Rose insisted that an autopsy be performed in Texas and stood in a doorway to block Kennedy’s aides as they removed his body.

He and other Texas officials saw the shooting as a state crime, requiring an autopsy by Dr. Rose’s office. The Secret Service and the first lady disagreed, and Kennedy’s body was flown to Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, where an autopsy was done by pathologists James Humes and Thornton Boswell.

Conspiracy theorists have used their findings to try to support an array of claims about plots leading to Kennedy’s death.

Dr. Rose believed many of those theories wouldn’t have gained traction if he had been able to do his job.

“[He felt] the chain of evidence was lost, for one thing,” Marilyn Rose said. “It would have been helpful if other doctors who had worked on Kennedy would have been able to put in their expertise. Also the autopsy that was done was very inadequate.”

ARKANSAS

Bouncy houses cushion bear’s fall from tree

CONWAY — When a black bear climbed a tree in a central Arkansas city and refused to come down, authorities turned to unconventional rescue tools: bouncy houses.

Conway police spokeswoman La Tresha Woodruff said Foster the bear is named for the residential street where he holed himself up in a tree, straddled a branch and wouldn’t budge.

She said officials shot Foster with tranquilizer darts late Monday, causing him to fall asleep. They inflated two bouncy houses usually reserved for children’s parties beneath the tree. And then firefighters let loose with water from a fire hose, knocking the bear from his perch.

The edge of the inflatable houses broke Foster’s fall.

Ms. Woodruff said Foster wasn’t hurt. Wildlife officials plan to release him back into the wild.

NEW JERSEY

Princeton to suspend frosh joining Greek organizations

PRINCETON — Princeton University says any freshman who joins, rushes, or pledges a fraternity or sorority starting this fall will face suspension.

The Ivy League school also says any students who solicit the participation of freshmen in Greek organizations will face the same punishment.

Princeton had announced last year it would ban first-year students from Greek activities starting in the fall of 2012. But it was left to a committee to decide how to enforce compliance.

Princeton President Shirley Tilghman announced this week she had adopted the committee’s report. It includes a recommendation that leniency be considered for violators who are “extraordinarily forthcoming.”

Greek organizations are not recognized by Princeton and do not have houses. Princeton believes frats and sororities promote social exclusiveness and place an excessive emphasis on alcohol.

OHIO

Scout official quits, supports ousted lesbian den mother

BRIDGEPORT — A board member for a regional Boy Scouts group has resigned in protest over the removal of a lesbian den mother in eastern Ohio because of the group’s ban on gays.

Parents in Bridgeport have rallied behind Jennifer Tyrrell, saying she was a great leader and they want her brought back.

David Sims of the Ohio River Valley Council tells the Los Angeles Times he resigned from the council’s board Friday after learning Ms. Tyrrell’s story.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation released the text of Mr. Sims’ resignation letter, which says he understands Ms. Tyrrell’s removal is legal but opposes it because he believes it is discrimination.

The Boy Scouts has stated that as a private organization it has a right to exclude gays. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the ban.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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