Nation roundup for January 7
Most dangerous temps in decades
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The coldest, most dangerous blast of polar air in decades gripped the Midwest and pushed toward the East and South on Monday, closing schools and day care centers, grounding flights and forcing people to pull their hoods and scarves tight to protect exposed skin from nearly instant frostbite.
Many across the nation’s midsection went into virtual hibernation, while others dared to venture out in temperatures that plunged well below zero.
“I’m going to try to make it two blocks without turning into crying man,” said Brooks Grace, who was bundling up to do some banking and shopping in downtown Minneapolis, where temperatures reached 20 below, with wind chills of minus 50. “It’s not cold — it’s painful.”
The mercury also dropped into negative territory in Milwaukee, St. Louis and Chicago, which set a record for the date at minus 16. Wind chills across the region were 40 below and colder. Records also fell in Oklahoma and Texas.
Forecasters said some 187 million people in all could feel the effects of the “polar vortex” by the time it spread across the country on Monday night and Tuesday. Record lows were possible in the East and South, with highs in the single digits expected Tuesday in Georgia and Alabama. Below-zero wind chills were forecast up and down the coast.
California girl on ventilator moved
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The 13-year-old California girl who was declared brain dead after suffering complications from sleep apnea surgery is being cared for at a facility that shares her family’s belief that she still is alive, her uncle said Monday.
Jahi McMath’s family and their lawyer would not disclose where the 8th grader was taken on Sunday night after a weeklongs battle to prevent Children’s Hospital Oakland from removing her from the breathing machine that has kept her heart beating for 28 days.
The uncle, Omari Seeley, told reporters Monday that Jahi traveled by ground and that there were no complications in the transfer, suggesting she may still be in California.
Nurses and doctors there are working to stabilize her with intravenous antibiotics, minerals and supplements while she remains on the ventilator, lawyer Christopher Dolan said.
The new facility has “been very welcoming with open arms. They have beliefs just like ours,” Sealey said.
“They believe as we do…It’s a place where she is going to get the treatment she deserves.”
The nearly $50,000 in private donations the family has raised since taking the case public helped cover the carefully choreographed handoff to the critical care team and transportation to the new location, Sealey said. The facility, where Jahi is expected to remain for some time, is run by a charitable organization that so far hasn’t sought payment, Dolan said.
Both men refused to name the facility or reveal where it was located, saying they wanted to prevent staff members and the families of other patients from being harassed.
While the move ends what had been a very public and tense fight with the hospital, it also brings new challenges: caring for a patient whom three doctors have said is legally dead because, unlike someone in a coma, there is no blood flow or electrical activity in either her cerebrum or the brain stem that controls breathing.
The bodies of brain dead patients kept on ventilators gradually deteriorate, eventually causing blood pressure to plummet and the heart to stop, said Dr. Paul Vespa, director of neurocritical care at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has no role in McMath’s care. The process usually takes only days but can sometimes continue for months.
“The bodies are really in an artificial state. It requires a great deal of manipulation in order to keep the circulation going,” Vespa said.
Jahi underwent surgery at Children’s Hospital on Dec. 9 to treat severe sleep apnea, a condition where the sufferer’s breath stops or becomes labored while sleeping. Surgeons removed her tonsils and other parts of her nose and throat to widen the air passages.
While recovering in the Intensive Care Unit, she bled heavily from her mouth and nose and eventually went into cardiac arrest. Doctors at the hospital declared her brain dead three days later and moved on Dec. 20 to remove her from the ventilator.
Her mother, Nailah Winkfield, refusing to believe her daughter was dead as long as her heart was beating, went to court to stop the machine from being disconnected and twice won injunctions prohibiting the hospital from acting. On Friday, the two sides reached an agreement allowing Jahi to be transferred if Winkfield assumed responsibility for further complications.
Under a judge’s order, the hospital released Jahi to the coroner, who then released her into the custody of Winkfield.
Sealey, the girl’s uncle, said Monday that his sister is relieved her persistence paid off and “sounds happier.” He criticized Children’s Hospital for repeatedly telling Winkfield they did not need her permission to remove Jahi from the ventilator because the girl was dead.
“If her heart stops beating while she is on the respirator, we can accept that because it means she is done fighting,” he said. “We couldn’t accept them pulling the plug on her early.”
Dolan, the family’s lawyer, said Jahi’s condition suffered because the hospital refused to feed her once she was declared brain dead. The family plans to pursue a federal court lawsuit alleging that Children’s Hospital violated their religious and privacy rights. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday.
“She’s in very bad shape,” he said. “You would be too, if you hadn’t had nutrition in 26 days and were a sick little girl to begin with.”
Liz Cheney drops bid to unseat Wyoming Sen. Enzi
WASHINGTON (AP) — Liz Cheney’s sudden exit from her Wyoming Senate race brought a surprise end to a high-profile campaign that touched off a bitter fight within the Republican Party as well as a public spat with her lesbian sister over gay marriage.
The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney cited unspecified “serious health issues” in her family rather than her uphill race to unseat three-term GOP Sen. Mike Enzi in her announcement on Monday.
“My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and they will always be my overriding priority,” she said in a statement. One of Cheney’s daughters has Type 1 diabetes.
Cheney, who moved with her husband and five children from Virginia to Wyoming to run for the seat, offered voters a familiar name — her father served as the state’s congressman for 10 years — but faced solid opposition from mainstream Republicans who rallied around Enzi as he fought off her challenge from within the GOP.
The 47-year-old Cheney — a former State Department official, founder of a Washington nonprofit organization and onetime Fox News contributor — cast herself as an outsider and the 69-year-old Enzi as a lawmaker co-opted by his years in Washington.
Her campaign, however, failed to attract the backing of the major outside conservative groups such as the Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth that have endorsed challengers from the right in some other Republican primaries.
So a clash between tea party activists and establishment Republicans never materialized against the conservative and popular Enzi. He had served as Gillette, Wyo., mayor for seven years and a state legislator for 10 before his election to the U.S. Senate, and he cruised to re-election with 76 percent of the vote in 2008.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and Wyoming’s other senator, John Barrasso, had loudly proclaimed their support for Enzi, and GOP senators from other states also stood behind their colleague. Although Cheney’s fundraising has been robust, polls showed her trailing by double digits.
In November, Cheney said she opposed gay marriage, sparking a public feud with her sister, Mary, who is a lesbian and married to a longtime companion, Heather Poe.
Mary Cheney wrote on Facebook: “’Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree, you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history.”
Poe went farther. She wrote that Liz Cheney had always supported the lesbian couple and their two children, and “to have her say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive.”
The high-profile dispute led Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, to weigh in, saying their daughters loved each other, but “Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage.”
As for the campaign against Enzi, as recently as Dec. 18, in a telephone town hall meeting, Cheney excoriated him for what she contended was his failure to take a bigger role in negotiations on the federal budget that Congress approved late last year. He voted against the final version. She also maintained that his work with the “Gang of Six” negotiators helped lead to President Barack Obama’s health care law, which he also ultimately opposed.
“People on our side confuse compromise with capitulation,” Cheney said.
The talk was more gracious on Monday.
Said Enzi after a brief conversation with Cheney: “I’ve always believed in putting family first and have tremendous respect for Liz’s decision. Her family is in our thoughts and prayers.”
As for the Senate race, he said, “I haven’t been running against anybody. I’ve been running to campaign for re-election.”
In Wyoming, the campaign led to public spats that ensnared even longtime friends.
Former Sen. Alan Simpson drew a stinging family rebuke last year over his support for Enzi. Simpson said Lynne Cheney told him to “shut up” after he refused to sign a football for Cheney’s 15-year-old granddaughter at a Wyoming fundraiser.
On Monday there were no harsh words as Simpson and his wife, Ann, called Liz Cheney.
“We had the most pleasing conversation for 15 minutes or so. We just said, ‘I’m sure it was a tough one. We just know we care about you. We’ve cared about you since you were a little gal, and we’re not going to let this destroy any friendship,” Simpson said.
“I said, ‘I love your old man. He and I did 45 years together and I’m not about to see that relationship (harmed),” Simpson said. “I said, ‘your whole family’s in our DNA,’”
Simpson said Liz Cheney decided at Christmas that “this is a mom thing,” and she needed to be with her family. The Republican primary is scheduled for Aug. 19.
Despite Cheney’s decision, Simpson and others said they believed she would return to politics.
”Liz is a rising star in Wyoming and national politics and we look forward to her return when the time is right for her and her family,” said Tammy Hooper, chair of the Wyoming Republican Party.
This time, there were several hiccups.
Last summer, Teton County records revealed that Cheney and her husband, Philip Perry, were more than two months late paying property taxes on the $1.6 million home they’d bought in Jackson Hole in 2012.
She said the late payment resulted from a misunderstanding of the terms of closing on the home with views of the Teton Range.
The week after that, The Associated Press reported Cheney had bought a Wyoming resident fishing license despite having lived in the state for less than the required one-year minimum.
Cheney paid a $220 fine for the infraction, records showed.
Bob Loevy, a political science professor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, recalled Cheney discussing her desire to run for elected office in Wyoming when she was a student of his in the mid-1980s.
“I know it was a longtime ambition of hers,” Loevy said. “But, looking at it as a political scientist, she was attempting a very difficult thing. No matter how great your family’s reputation may be, an incumbent senator is very difficult to beat in what is essentially a one-party area.”
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