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Photographers set up Wednesday night as the space shuttle Discovery is readied for launch. After flying 143 million miles, with a year total in orbit, Discovery is poised to blast off Thursday one last time.
Photographers set up Wednesday night as the space shuttle Discovery is readied for launch. After flying 143 million miles, with a year total in orbit, Discovery is poised to blast off Thursday one last time. (Craig Rubadoux)

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

MISSISSIPPI

Transplant delayed for former prisoners

A proposed kidney transplant that won two Mississippi sisters their freedom from prison cannot take place until one quits smoking and they lose 160 pounds in total.

Jamie and Gladys Scott had served nearly 16 years of their life sentences for an armed robbery when they were released from a prison in central Mississippi on Jan. 7. Gov. Haley Barbour (R) granted Jamie Scott an early release because she suffers from kidney failure, but he agreed to let Gladys Scott go on the condition that she follow through on an offer to donate a kidney to her sister.

Jamie Scott said Wednesday that she needs to lose more than 100 pounds and that her sister has to shed 60 pounds before their doctors will even test them for compatibility. Doctors are also requiring Gladys Scott, a heavy smoker, to quit.

The sisters moved to Pensacola, Fla., and Florida parole records list Jamie Scott at 5 feet tall and 254 pounds. Gladys Scott is listed at 4-foot-9 and 184 pounds.

Barbour hasn't responded directly to numerous questions about whether he'll send the sisters back to prison if the transplant doesn't happen. He's called questions about such a scenario "purely hypothetical."

Asked Wednesday about the sisters having to lose weight for the surgery, Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said, "That's a medical call, not something imposed as a condition of their release."

- Associated Press

FLORIDA

DEA raids clinics to look for illegal pills

Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local police swept across South Florida on Wednesday, making arrests as part of a lengthy undercover operation into illegal pill mills that dispense huge amounts of powerful prescription drugs across the nation.

The probe centered on dozens of pain clinics in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Arrests were expected to include doctors and pain clinic operators, with assets being seized by hundreds of law enforcement officers.

- Associated Press

MEDICINE

Whooping cough cases on the increase

More than 21,000 people got whooping cough last year, many of them children and teens. That's the highest number of cases since 2005 and makes 2010 among the worst years in more than a half-century, U.S. health officials said Wednesday.

The officials are puzzled by the sharp rise in cases. The vaccine against whooping cough is highly effective in children, and vaccination rates for kids are good.

- Associated Press

Defense staff hit by budget cuts: Commanders at NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command say that Defense Department budget cuts are leading them to reduce staffing by 79 positions, 40 of them military jobs. Offices most directly affected include chaplains, history, surgeon general and control systems.

Some charges against Blagojevich could be dropped: Federal prosecutors asked a judge Wednesday for permission to dismiss three racketeering charges against former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Prosecutors told U.S. District Judge James Zagel the accusations contained in the charges are duplicated in other counts.

- Associated Press


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