Nation roundup for January 2


Well wishes for Barbara Bush

HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama and wife Michelle Obama are wishing former first lady Barbra Bush a “speedy recovery” after she was hospitalized with a respiratory-related issue.

In a written statement Wednesday, the president says the thoughts and prayers of all Americans are with Mrs. Bush. Obama says she is blessed to have a loving, supportive family and, in his words, a “vibrant spirit that we hope will have her feeling better soon.”

The 88-year-old was hospitalized on Monday in Houston, where she lives with her husband, former President George H.W. Bush. A spokesman for the former president says Mrs. Bush is in great spirits.

Obama issued the statement while vacationing with his family in his native state of Hawaii.

Utah aiming to block gay unions

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah took its fight against gay marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, asking the high court to suspend same-sex unions that became legal when a judge struck down the state’s voter-approved ban.

The heavily Mormon state wants the marriages to stop while it appeals a judge’s decision, which said banning gay couples from marrying violates their right to equal treatment under the law.

In papers filed Tuesday, the state asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor to overturn a decision that has led to more than 900 gay marriages in Utah. Sotomayor handles emergency requests from Utah and other Rocky Mountain states.

Sotomayor responded by setting a deadline of by noon Friday for legal briefs from same-sex couples. She can act by herself or get the rest of the court involved.

“Numerous same-sex marriages are now occurring every day in Utah,” Utah lawyers complain in the filing. “Each one is an affront not only to the interests of the state and its citizens in being able to define marriage through ordinary democratic channels, but also to this court’s unique role as final arbiter.”

Also Tuesday, the Utah Attorney General’s Office advertised a formal bid request to outside law firms for help preparing the appeals.

State officials have said it could cost $2 million, bringing criticism from a lawyer for couples who sued to overturn the ban and say Utah should give up the fight.

“We are disappointed that Utah will spend millions of dollars in taxpayer’s money, to attempt to reinstate laws which deny due process and equal protection to all of Utah’s citizens,” the lawyer, James Magleby, said Tuesday.

Utah insists that states have the authority to define marriage as between a man and woman. “That states have a powerful interest in controlling the definition of marriage within their borders is indisputable,” Utah said in the filing.

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby’s decision on Dec. 20 came as a shock to many in the state, which approved the ban on same-sex marriage in 2004.

Hospital won’t help transfer girl

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A California hospital is unwilling to allow an outside doctor to fit a 13-year-old declared brain dead after tonsil surgery with the breathing and feeding tubes that would allow her to be safely transferred to another facility, its lawyer said Tuesday.

Children’s Hospital Oakland will not permit the procedures to be performed on its premises because Jahi McMath is legally dead in the view of doctors who have examined her, lawyer Douglas Straus wrote in a letter to the girl’s family.

“Performing medical procedures on the body of a deceased human being is simply not something Children’s Hospital can do or ask its staff to assist in doing,” he said.

The refusal appeared to reverse the position articulated Monday by a hospital spokesman. He said the hospital would allow a doctor retained by the family to insert a feeding tube and to replace the oral ventilator keeping Jahi’s heart beating with a tracheal tube — surgical procedures that would stabilize Jahi if she is moved to a facility willing to keep caring for her.

Christopher Dolan, the lawyer for Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, said he received the news as he tried to confirm the conditions under which the hospital would have allowed a visiting doctor and nail down the long-term care facility that might accept the girl as a patient. Dolan said he has been talking with the New Beginnings Community Center in Medford, N.Y., an outpatient client for people with traumatic brain injuries, and with an unnamed facility in Arizona.

“They’re speaking out of both sides of their mouths. They say one thing and we go down that road, and then they say something else,” Dolan said of hospital officials. “The hospital said, ‘Bring us a doctor’ and we said, ‘Tell us the conditions’ and now, they’ve wasted a half a day of our time. We don’t have much time.”

Woman crushed by drawbridge

BOSTON (AP) — A woman walking across a Boston drawbridge was crushed to death Tuesday after an operator raising the bridge for a boat to pass heard her screams and lowered it, accidentally trapping her between the two plates, investigators said.

The woman was crossing the bridge around noon when a bridge operator, not aware that she was on the bridge, began raising it for the boat in the Chelsea River.

The woman grabbed hold of one of the sides of the bridge and the operator immediately lowered it when he heard her scream, but she became trapped in between the plates and suffered massive trauma, police said.

“I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her,” witness Waldina Garcia, 47, told the Boston Globe. “She was screaming and screaming and screaming.”

The woman, who wasn’t identified, was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators called her death on the Meridian Street Bridge, which connects Chelsea and East Boston, an accident.

The distraught bridge operator was taken to the hospital for evaluation, officials said.

Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas Menino, told the Globe that the bridge operator was placed on unpaid leave pending results of the investigation. She described that as standard procedure.

Investigators told the Globe it wasn’t clear whether the woman began crossing the bridge after warning lights and alarms were activated.

The bridge was closed to traffic during the investigation, but later reopened.

 

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