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Tests sought for brain-damaged woman

Tampa, Fla. A former court-appointed advocate for a brain-damaged woman at the center of a right-to-die battle says the woman should undergo new medical tests to put to rest lingering questions about whether she has any hope of recovery.

But first her warring husband and parents would have to agree to drop their legal fight in favor of whichever side the independent medical experts support, the former advocate told The Associated Press.

The comments by Jay Wolfson, a University of South Florida professor, were his first on the case since he served as Terri Schiavo’s guardian ad litem. They came as the legal options of Schiavo’s parents have dwindled to two pending matters in state courts that have ruled against them before in their effort to keep her on a feeding tube.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to take up “Terri’s Law,” the measure pushed by Gov. Jeb Bush in October 2003 to keep Schiavo alive. The Florida Supreme Court struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Wolfson served as Schiavo’s guardian for two months in 2003 under “Terri’s Law.” He tried to broker an agreement between the two sides, but was unsuccessful.

Wolfson said it is not too late to revisit the original question in the long-running legal saga – is the 41-year-old woman disabled, or brain dead?

“There is so much at stake here, not just for Terri, but for the issue,” said Wolfson, who is both a doctor and a lawyer.

CDC to loosen flu-shot restrictions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to ease flu-vaccine restrictions this week and give its approval to states that want to offer flu shots to anyone who wants them.

“We don’t want vaccine to go to waste,” CDC director Julie Gerberding says. “So if there are local areas where there’s more vaccine than demand, they should loosen restrictions so people interested in immunization can get it.”

Much of the country has not waited for the CDC; nearly half of all states have done away with eligibility restrictions altogether since the first of the year.

In most years, flu does not peak until February, so it’s not too late to be vaccinated, experts say. But it takes two weeks for the vaccine to provide protection, so time is running short.

The CDC’s new guidelines urge states to continue vaccinating people in priority groups. It also gives its blessing to those that are broadening vaccine eligibility where supplies are plentiful.

About half the USA’s flu-shot supply, or 48 million doses, was lost when vaccine maker Chiron’s license was suspended on Oct. 5 because of contaminated vaccine.

Scientist pleads not guilty to molestation

Los Angeles A renowned gene therapy scientist pleaded not guilty Tuesday to molesting a young girl he instructed in martial arts.

Dr. William French Anderson, 68, director of the Gene Therapies Laboratories at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, remained free on $600,000 bail.

Considered the father of gene therapy, Anderson was Time magazine’s runner-up for man of the year in 1995.

A grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday charges Anderson with a single count of continuous sexual abuse of a child under age 14 and five counts of committing a lewd act on a child, from 1997 to 2001. The girl is now 17.

Prosecutors filed similar counts after Anderson was arrested last July at his San Marino home but later sought a grand jury indictment to speed the case.

Anderson is accused of abusing a girl who took lessons from him in tae kwon do. The alleged abuse took place at his home, prosecutors said.

Anderson faces a maximum prison sentence of more than 20 years if convicted of all counts. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Feb. 17.

Chastity belts sought in abortion rights battle

Harrisburg, Pa. An abortion rights group is urging supporters to ask lawmakers to mail them a chastity belt in anticipation of the Legislature’s annual designation of Chastity Awareness Week.

The form letter distributed Tuesday by NARAL Pro-Choice America said the organization wants lawmakers to support comprehensive sex education, equitable coverage for birth control and emergency contraception for rape victims.

“Until you give us real choices, please rush me the only thing that the Pennsylvania State Legislature seems to want to provide to protect my reproductive health: a chastity belt. My address appears below,” the letter reads.

NARAL spokesman David Seldin said his group is “trying to be more creative in the way in which we communicate and reach out, particularly to younger people.”

The campaign did not amuse the Urban Family Council.

“I think it’s quite sad that this organization is speaking negatively about young people being made aware of the healthiest choice they can make,” said Jill Page, an abstinence and youth development director for the group.

San Francisco may revise toll from 1906 quake

San Francisco The city supervisors agreed Tuesday to raise the official death toll from the 1906 earthquake in time for next year’s centennial of a disaster that was a defining event in the city’s history.

The move came at the urging of a retired city archivist who has spent much of the last 40 years poring over records to come up with a more accurate death count from the earthquake.

The number has stood at 478 since 1907, but Gladys Hansen, now the curator at the Museum of the City of San Francisco, said the actual death toll from the quake and subsequent fire is closer to 3,000.

Hansen said the tally overlooked single women, who were not registered in the city directory, as well as Chinese, Japanese and Irish workers, many of whom were illegal immigrants. Also, city leaders at the time were eager to downplay the scope of the devastation.

“This is about righting an old wrong,” said Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who sponsored the resolution to officially revise the toll from the quake on April 18, 1906.


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Trump administration seeks to expand immigrant family detention

The Trump administration is calling for the expanded use of family detention for immigrant parents and children who are stopped along the U.S.-Mexico border, a move decried by advocates as a cruel and ineffective attempt to deter families from coming to the United States.