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UNOS to oversee hand, face transplants like organs
Written by LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer   
Friday, 27 December 2013 07:43

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sure your liver or kidney could save someone's life. But would you donate your hands, or your face? Signing up to become an organ donor may get more complicated than just checking a box on your driver's license.

The government is preparing to regulate the new field of hand and face transplants like it does standard organ transplants, giving more Americans who are disabled or disfigured by injury, illness or combat a chance at this radical kind of reconstruction.

Among the first challenges is deciding how people should consent to donate these very visible body parts that could improve someone's quality of life — without deterring them from traditional donation of hearts, lungs and other internal organs needed to save lives.

"Joe Blow is not going to know that now an organ is defined as also including a hand or a face," said Dr. Suzanne McDiarmid, who chairs the committee of the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, that will develop the new policies over the next few months.

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U.S. church official seeks bail; conviction quashed
Written by MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press   
Friday, 27 December 2013 07:18

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Roman Catholic church official sentenced to prison for his handling of priest-abuse cases had his conviction overturned, and may soon be back before a judge for bail.

Monsignor William Lynn had served 18 months of his three- to six-year term for child endangerment before the state Superior Court overturned the felony conviction on Thursday.

The three-judge panel unanimously rejected arguments that Lynn, the first U.S. church official ever charged or convicted for the handling of clergy-abuse complaints, was legally responsible for an abused boy's welfare. Defense lawyers have argued that Lynn, 62, was convicted under a law passed years after he left his post at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

"It was fundamentally unfair from the day it started," defense lawyer Thomas Bergstrom said. "He's been in prison 18 months for a crime he didn't commit and couldn't commit under the law. It's incredible what happened to this man."

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For divided Congress, water projects are a unifier
Written by HENRY C. JACKSON, Associated Press   
Friday, 27 December 2013 07:12

WASHINGTON (AP) — Big multimillion-dollar water projects, once a favorite target of good-government reformers who made them a poster child of political pork, are back in vogue as a rare force of concord in a dysfunctional Congress.

Republicans and Democrats who found little common ground in 2013 are rallying around a bill they hope to pass early next year authorizing up to $12.5 billion over the next decade for flood diversion in North Dakota, widening a Texas-Louisiana waterway, deepening Georgia's rapidly growing Port of Savannah and other projects.

That's the Senate bill's total. The House version would cost about $8.2 billion. Negotiators are confident they can merge the two and pass the package for President Barack Obama's signature early in 2014.

Unlike a farm policy-food stamp bill also the subject of ongoing House-Senate negotiations, the differences in the two houses' water project bills are modest and the acrimony is less.

Negotiators say the roughly $4 billion gap between the two bills is more about how they are written than substantive policy or political differences.

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Utility linemen brave cold, ice to restore power
Written by COREY WILLIAMS, Associated Press   
Friday, 27 December 2013 07:14

DETROIT (AP) — When an ice storm glazed over Michigan last weekend, Tony Carone feared he wouldn't be spending Christmas at home with his family.

"Nobody had to call. I heard it on the top of my roof," Carone said.

The 52-year-old lineman for Detroit-based DTE Energy is one of the thousands of electrical workers who have put in double shifts trying to restore power to more than a half-million homes and businesses. Outages stretched from the Great Plains to Maine and into eastern Canada.

"My power went out the same time as everybody else's," Carone said of the power to his Lapeer home, north of Detroit. It was about 7:30 a.m. Sunday, while he was on the phone with his utility's area leader. He walked out the door a half-hour later and has been working 16 hours a day ever since.

The storm has been blamed for 17 deaths in the U.S. and 10 in Canada. Five people apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning tied to using generators.

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Suspect in Los Angeles airport shooting pleads not guilty
Written by LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent   
Thursday, 26 December 2013 15:45

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (AP) — The man authorities say killed a Transportation Security Administration screener and wounded three other people during a rampage at Los Angeles International Airport last month pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and other felony charges in a case that could bring the death penalty.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, who was wounded before his arrest, occasionally touched a bandage on his neck and spoke in a hoarse voice during a three-minute arraignment before a federal magistrate at the West Valley Detention Center east of Los Angeles where there is a medical facility.

The diminutive defendant acknowledged his name in a near-whisper and that he had read his 11-count indictment.

Trial was set for Feb. 11 in a downtown Los Angeles federal court.

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