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NATION IN BRIEF

Friday, April 1, 2005; Page A08

3 Closed Parishes Are Given Reprieve

WEYMOUTH, Mass. -- The Roman Catholic parish that sparked a wave of protests against church closings in the Boston Archdiocese will reopen, the archbishop announced Thursday.

The decision by Archbishop Sean O'Malley is a victory for parishioners who staged a round-the-clock vigil inside the St. Albert the Great Catholic Church in Weymouth. The church is one of three O'Malley has allowed to stay open after ordering them closed.

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Stem Cell Research
Cloning

The closings were part of a reorganization announced last spring. It called for 82 churches to be shut down or folded into neighboring parishes because of declining attendance, a shortage of priests and financial pressure caused in part by the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Massachusetts House Approves Stem Cell Bill

BOSTON -- The Massachusetts House passed a bill Thursday night that would give scientists more freedom to conduct embryonic stem cell research. The House voted 117 to 37 to approve the measure, giving it enough votes to override an expected veto by Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill Wednesday.

The measure would allow scientists to create cloned embryos and extract their stem cells for research into the treatment and cure of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and other conditions.

• TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- An E. coli outbreak that has infected 22 people -- most of them children -- has been traced to a third Florida fair, and authorities believe it almost certainly resulted from contact with animals at petting zoos. Most of the victims attended the Central Florida Fair in Orlando or the Strawberry Festival in Plant City in March, but Florida Health Secretary John O. Agwunobi said Thursday that at least one person is believed to have contracted the infection at the Florida State Fair in Tampa in mid-February. Among the suspected victims was Kayla Sutter, 12, who died suddenly last week.

• AUGUSTA, Maine -- Gov. John E. Baldacci (D) signed legislation that protects gay men and lesbians from discrimination. Within hours, a religious group launched a campaign to overturn the law. The law, which received final House and Senate passage late Wednesday, takes effect in late June. The measure amends the Maine Human Rights Act by making discrimination illegal in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and education based on sexual orientation or sex. Maine law now prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, disability, religion, ancestry and national origin.

KINGSTON, N.Y. -- A man accused of walking into the Hudson Valley Mall on Feb. 13 and opening fire with a semiautomatic weapon, injuring two people, was indicted Thursday. The 18-count indictment handed up in Ulster County charges Robert Bonelli Jr., 24, of Glasco with multiple accounts of assault, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and criminal use of a firearm.

• HOUSTON -- The mother of a 4-year-old boy who shot his 2-year-old brother in the head has been charged with a weapons count, police said. Tameka Michelle Jones, 29, is scheduled to appear before a judge Friday to answer a misdemeanor charge of making a gun available to a minor. The 2-year-old was shot March 12 after an argument with his brother over a toy, and he remains in critical condition.

• SALINAS, Calif. -- A great white shark that survived far longer than any other in captivity was returned to the wild because it was growing too large and had begun preying on other fish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The shark, captured by a halibut fisherman off the coast of Orange County in August, was in captivity for 198 days. The previous captivity record was 16 days. It was also the first great white to regularly eat outside the wild, putting on 100 pounds while at the aquarium.

-- From News Services


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