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American Scene: 100,000 Facebook users use organ donor option
ATLANTA — An organ donation group says more than 100,000 people used a Facebook feature on its first day to declare they are donors.
The option was announced Tuesday by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to boost the number of potential organ donors. It allows Facebook users to add organ donor along with other personal information on the site.
Donate Life America, the group working with Facebook, said more than 100,000 users had added their donor status by Tuesday night.
The feature also provides a link to state registries so people can officially sign up to be donors. By Wednesday morning, 18,000 Facebook users had used the link.
A spokeswoman said the company didn't know how many of those 18,000 followed through and registered.
Pastor: Telling parents to punch gay sons was joke
FAYETTEVILLE — A North Carolina pastor says he was joking when he told parents to punch their sons if they show any signs of homosexuality.
Sean Harris was preaching at Berean Baptist Church about marriage before a vote on a state constitutional amendment that would make marriage between a man and a woman the only legal domestic union in the state.
Mr. Harris said he does not advocate hitting children and wishes he could take back the remarks.
He said he stands by his belief that "the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly."
Killer of Olympic boxer gets 21 years to life
LAS VEGAS — A man has been sentenced to 21 years to life in a Nevada prison for the slaying of Olympic bronze medal-winning boxer Rhoshii Wells in a Las Vegas apartment courtyard.
Judge J. Charles Thompson sentenced 29-year-old Roger Randolph on Wednesday to 20 years to life for murder with a deadly weapon, plus one to 12 years for discharging a weapon where a person might be endangered.
Wells was 31 when he was shot in August 2008 while walking with his 4-year-old son through an apartment complex near downtown.
Authorities said Wells may have had a dispute with Randolph over a dice game.
Wells represented the U.S. as a middleweight at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Randolph was convicted by a Clark County jury in February.
Police: Waitress brought food, but took jewelry
AMBRIDGE — Police say a western Pennsylvania waitress swiped jewelry from the home of a widower under the guise of delivering food to the grieving man.
Ambridge police charged Karri Kathleen Villella with burglary, theft and other crimes Monday in connection with the theft of jewelry that belonged to the man's late wife.
Investigators say Ms. Villella admitted taking two rings and a house key that she used to return and steal more items.
Authorities say the widower thought Ms. Villella was bringing him food because he was a regular customer at the restaurant where she worked and often sat in her section.
Ms. Villella is being held on $10,000 bail.
Mom accused of burning daughter in tanning booth
NUTLEY — Authorities say a 5-year-old New Jersey girl sustained burns after her mother took her in a stand-up tanning booth.
Patricia Krentcil is charged with child endangerment.
Nutley Police Detective Anthony Montanari said police were called to an elementary school April 24 because the kindergartner was experiencing pain as a result of a "pretty severe sunburn."
Ms. Krentcil told TV stations that her daughter was in the room at the tanning salon, but not the booth.
New Jersey law prohibits anyone younger than 14 from using tanning salons.
Ms. Krentcil posted $25,000 bond and was released to authorities in Camden County, where she had an outstanding warrant on a municipal charge.
Only Canadian on death row in U.S. seeks clemency
HELENA — The only Canadian on death row in the United States is asking the Montana Parole Board to instead let him live the rest of his life in prison.
Ronald A. Smith of Red Deer, Alberta, was sentenced to death in 1983, seven months after he marched cousins Harvey Mad Man, 23, and Thomas Running Rabbit, 20, into the woods just off U.S. 2 near Marias Pass and shot them both in the head with a .22-caliber rifle.
They had picked up Smith, who was partying his way across northern Montana with some friends. Smith, 24 at the time of the killings, originally sought the death penalty, spurning a plea deal that would have spared his life.
The board is scheduled to listen to testimony from more than two dozen witnesses in a hearing that could extend through Thursday. Smith, 54, is scheduled to testify himself.
A document inadvertently released by the board last month showed a recommendation that Smith's request be rejected. The board said the staff letter was just a recommendation for them to consider as they look at the case.
After the hearing, the board will consider whether to recommend that Smith's sentence be commuted to life in prison. The ultimate decision lies with Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
Sextuplets' parents: 1 sick baby a 'fighter'
HOUSTON — The parents of Houston-area sextuplets born last month said Wednesday that one of the babies is battling some health problems but they are confident she will recover and are looking forward to taking all six newborns home soon.
Lauren and David Perkins said their three boys - Andrew, Benjamin and Levi - and two of their girls -Allison and Caroline - are doing well. The third daughter, Leah, had surgery Monday to repair a portion of her bowel, and her parents say she is a "fighter."
Mrs. Perkins, 28, of the Houston suburb of Pearland, said it has been upsetting to watch Leah struggle.
"Leah is just a roller coaster for sure," she said. "We get excited for all of her gains and then it's heartbreaking when she has a big setback. She's been able to recover from everything so far. We are just confident she will be able to pull through."
The sextuplets, who were conceived after their mother underwent fertility treatment, were born April 23 - 10 weeks premature.
The babies could be healthy enough to go home in 10 weeks or so, said Dr. Charles Hankins, a neonatologist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, where the children were born. The heaviest of them weighed 2 pounds, 15 ounces at birth, and they need to be up to 4 to 5 pounds before they can leave the hospital, he said.
Penn State gives $1.1M to abuse-research center
STATE COLLEGE — Seeking to make amends for the Penn State child sex scandal, the university said it has given more than $1.1 million in football bowl revenue to its new center for child abuse research and treatment.
The Center for the Protection of Children, started in the wake of child sex abuse accusations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, will offer treatment for abused children and a primary care clinic for foster children. It also will sponsor research into the prevention, detection and treatment of abuse; offer training; provide advocacy; and collect data.
"We expect that the center will become a national leader in clinical care, research, education and direction of policy related to child abuse and neglect," Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement Wednesday.
The funding is more than twice the amount that Penn State had promised in December. The university said higher-than-expected bowl revenues allowed it to give more. Penn State's share of Big Ten bowl proceeds totaled $2.6 million, of which $1.5 million has been donated to the Pennsylvania Coalition against Rape, a group that operates rape crisis centers across the state.
The Center for the Protection of Children will be based at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital and bring together clinicians, scientists, legal scholars and educators. Its director, Dr. Andrea Taroli, said the additional funding will help it get off the ground more quickly.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports
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