Defense secretary breaks arm

As defense secretary, Robert Gates has been to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan – some of the most dangerous places in the world. But it was the path to his front door in Washington on Tuesday night that took him down, even if only momentarily.

Falling victim to the hazardous ice sheen that coated much of the region on Tuesday, Gates slipped and fell hard on his right shoulder, fracturing his arm.

Geoff Morrell, a Pentagon spokesman, said Gates was returning from dinner at about 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday with his personal security guards when he lost his footing. Gates immediately called his doctor but shrugged off medical care until Wednesday morning, when he met with a Pentagon medical team and learned through X-rays that he had fractured his upper humerus, the bone that runs from the shoulder to the elbow.

A trip to Bethesda Naval Hospital to see an orthopedic surgeon – who decided that Gates did not need an operation – caused him to miss an appearance before the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee on the Pentagon’s budget request. Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England filled in.

Asheville, N.C.

Graham recovering after surgery

Evangelist Billy Graham underwent successful surgery Wednesday to update a shunt that controls excess fluid in his brain and was expected to remain in the hospital for several days.

Graham was listed in fair condition at Asheville’s Mission Hospitals after the 28-minute procedure.

Dr. Ralph C. Loomis installed a new valve in the shunt on Wednesday that can be programmed externally to maintain desired fluid levels and pressure.

Graham was expected to remain there until doctors are able to program the valve to properly regulate the pressure.

The 89-year-old Southern Baptist minister has a variety of health concerns that have largely confined him to his mountainside home in the hamlet of Montreat for several years. Among the concerns was hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid within the brain that can cause symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.

Anchorage, Alaska

Diocese plans bankruptcy filing

The Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks plans to file for bankruptcy after negotiations to settle sexual abuse claims failed, the bishop said Wednesday.

Bishop Donald J. Kettler said he anticipates filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection within five weeks.

More than 150 claims were filed against the Roman Catholic diocese, alleging abuse by clergy or church workers between the 1950s and 1980s. The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ken Roosa, said 135 of those cases are still pending.

Fort Worth, Texas

Court overturns ban on sex toy sales

A federal appeals court has overturned a statute outlawing sex toy sales in Texas, one of the last states – all in the South – to retain such a ban.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Texas law making it illegal to sell or promote obscene devices, punishable by up to two years in jail, violated the right to privacy guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

Companies that own Dreamer’s and Le Rouge Boutique, which sell the devices in its Austin stores, and the retail distributor Adam & Eve sued in federal court in Austin in 2004 over the constitutionality of the law. They appealed after a federal judge dismissed the suit and said the Constitution did not protect their right to publicly promote such devices.

The Texas attorney general’s office, which represented the Travis County district attorney in the case, has not decided whether to appeal, said agency spokesman Tom Kelley.


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