National Digest


September 17, 2004

FDA allows for use of home defibrillators without prescription WASHINGTON - People worried about sudden cardiac arrest no longer need a doctor's prescription to buy devices that jump-start the heart.

The Food and Drug Administration for the first time agreed yesterday to let consumers go online and purchase the $2,000 devices for home use. Some 80 percent of the instances of sudden cardiac arrest, which is best treated by a shock from a defibrillator, happen at home.

The FDA endorsed a July recommendation from its advisory panel to remove the prescription requirement after federal advisers were satisfied that people could use the machines safely at home. The agency approved HeartStart for use without prescription for adults and children at least 8 years old and weighing at least 55 pounds.

Grand jury report tells of missing Columbine file

DENVER - Authorities decided soon after the Columbine High School massacre to withhold a document showing deputies knew one of the killers had been accused two years earlier of making death threats and building pipe bombs, according to a grand jury report released yesterday.

The grand jury also said it was "troubled" by still-missing documents in the deadliest school attack in U.S. history. But it did not hand up any indictments, closing at least the third investigation that has elected not to place any blame for the slaughter of 13 people by suicidal teens Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

Victims' families said the report confirmed their suspicions that the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office covered up mistakes that could have led authorities to the killers as much as two years before the attack. The grand jury said it didn't hand up any indictments because all the witnesses claimed to know nothing about the missing sheriff's records. The records involved a draft search warrant for Harris' house a year before the attack.

Parishioners at churches set to close continue sit-ins

BOSTON - Parishioners at two Roman Catholic churches earmarked for closure by the Boston Archdiocese continued sit-ins yesterday after a legal setback in their battle against the plan, and members of a third church planned their own occupation.

The parishes - St. Albert the Great in Weymouth, St. Anselm in Sudbury and St. Bernard in Newton - are among 82 that Bishop Sean P. O'Malley ordered shut by year's end in a restructuring prompted by falling attendance and economic woes caused partly by the clergy sex abuse scandal that began in Boston.

St. Albert parishioners, who have occupied that church since Aug. 29, went to court seeking an injunction to stop the archdiocese from selling church buildings and other assets, arguing that the church belongs to them, not the archdiocese.

Superior Court Judge Thomas E. Connolly rejected their arguments Wednesday, citing the First Amendment and saying the court could not involve itself in a dispute between church members. The judge stopped short of dismissing the lawsuit altogether.

Six teenagers charged in gang initiation death

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Six teenagers were charged with homicide yesterday in the beating death of an eighth-grader who agreed to the fight as part of a gang initiation.

"To join the gang, you had to engage in a fight," said District Attorney General Bill Gibbons. "And it was a fight that got out of hand."

From wire reports

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