- - Sunday, December 20, 2009

Girl says ‘Superman’ lifted vehicle off her

OTTAWA, Kan. — A Kansas mother is praising a neighbor as a “Superman” after her 6-year-old daughter told her he somehow found the strength to lift a car off her.

Kristen Hough said Friday that her daughter Ashlyn was treated for minor injuries afterward.

Ms. Hough’s neighbor Nick Harris, 32, said he saw a vehicle back out of a driveway and over Ashlyn. He said he didn’t know how he managed to lift the Mercury sedan off the child.

There were no witnesses to confirm the incident last week, but Ottawa police say Ashlyn told them it happened. Lt. Adam Weingartner said he didn’t have anything to dispute the account.

Lt. Weingartner said it appeared Ashlyn wasn’t pinned under the car long enough to be seriously hurt.

Ottawa is 50 miles southwest of Kansas City, Mo.

Crime probe widens on Pennsylvania lawmakers

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A widening criminal investigation is leaving some of Pennsylvania’s most powerful state lawmakers accused of illegally converting the public work force and the General Assembly’s thick bankroll into potent re-election tools.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett’s 3-year-old probe so far has resulted in 25 arrests. The most recent arrests were made last week, when the third-ranking Democrat in the state House and a member of the governor’s Cabinet were charged.

A key trial in the case is scheduled for next month in Harrisburg, and how it turns out could have implications for the 2010 governor’s race. Mr. Corbett is a leading candidate for his party’s gubernatorial nomination.

Judge extends abortion law block

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma County judge has extended a temporary restraining order that blocks enforcement of a strict abortion law. The law would require doctors to report personal information about women who seek abortions and for the information to be posted on a public Web site.

The law was to have taken effect Nov. 1. District Judge Daniel Owens said Friday that the restraining order would remain in force until a lawsuit seeking to throw out the law is resolved. A hearing is set for Feb. 19.

The Center for Reproductive Rights and two women sued in September, saying the legislation violated a rule in the Oklahoma Constitution that requires one piece of legislation to deal with only one issue.

Supporters have said the measure deals only with abortion.

Astor’s son bares private life

NEW YORK — The son of New York philanthropist Brooke Astor is facing prison for looting his mother’s millions — and he’s making a surprisingly personal approach to stay free.

Anthony Marshall’s sentencing is set for Monday, but he’s trying to get a judge to throw out the part of his October conviction that requires at least a year behind bars. His attorneys say any prison time could kill the ailing 85-year-old.

Mr. Marshall didn’t testify or call even one witness at his five-month-long trial.

Now he’s detailing his medical problems, professional accomplishments and sometimes sad childhood in court papers. More than 70 supporters have written to the court.

Prosecutors say Mr. Marshall is making a cynical effort to dodge consequences for his crime.

Debate resurfaces over climber beacons

PORTLAND, Ore. — The recent search and rescue operation for three young climbers has rekindled debate in Oregon about requiring locator beacons for mountaineering expeditions on Mount Hood.

In 2007, the Oregon legislature considered a bill to require beacons for wintertime climbs on the state’s highest mountain, but the measure died in the Senate.

The bill was introduced after a climb in which one man was found dead in a snow cave and two others were never found.

Mountaineers who oppose such a requirement say it could lead climbers to take undue risks and that beacons don’t always ensure rescue.

Backers of such a requirement say beacons would help find lost climbers, reduce risk to search and rescue teams and save money.

Donor organs pass rare infection

JACKSON, Miss. — A rare infection has been passed from an organ donor to at least one recipient. It’s thought to be the first human-to-human transfer of the amoeba.

A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says four people in three states received organs from a patient who died at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in November after suffering from neurological problems.

The CDC spokesman said two of the recipients are critically ill, and the organism (Balamuthia mandrillaris) has been found in one of them. The others haven’t shown symptoms.

The organism is a microscopic parasite found in soil that causes encephalitis. It can be especially dangerous to people undergoing organ transplants, whose immune systems are weakened purposely so their bodies don’t reject their new organs.

The medical director of the Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency said transplants carry risks and doctors can’t test for everything, but the potential benefits far outweigh the risks.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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