Authorized pot use blocks liver transplant
SEATTLE — Timothy Garon’s face and arms are hauntingly skeletal, but the fluid building up in his abdomen makes the 56-year-old musician look eight months pregnant.
His liver, ravaged by hepatitis C, is failing. Without a new one, his doctors tell him, he will be dead in days.
But Garon’s been refused a spot on the transplant list, largely because he has used marijuana, even though it was legally approved for medical reasons.
With the scarcity of donated organs, transplant committees like the one at the University of Washington Medical Center use tough standards, including whether the candidate has other serious health problems or is likely to drink or do drugs.
4 found shot to death
EASLEY, S.C. — Emergency workers responding to a 911 call Saturday discovered the bodies of four people in and around a suburban home. They had been shot to death.
Authorities were looking for a “person of interest,” an 18-year-old man, said Anderson County sheriff’s spokeswoman Susann Griffin.
Authorities would not say whether the shooting victims were related.
Easley is a city of 19,000 about 15 miles west of Greenville in northwestern South Carolina.
Mayor: Crash was accident
CHICAGO — Skid marks, a boarded-up entrance and police tape reminded commuters Saturday of the destruction left by a tractor-trailer that smashed into a crowded train station and killed two pedestrians, as authorities reviewed surveillance footage of the crash.
“It definitely makes you cautious,” said Tykeysha Vaughn, 22, as she exited the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line station, the site of Friday’s accident during the evening rush hour.
Meanwhile, the mayor disputed claims by some neighborhood residents that the intersection where the accident occurred, near an expressway exit, was dangerous, with quickly changing stoplights.
“It was an accident, just an accident,” Mayor Richard Daley said Saturday during an appearance at an unrelated event.
Dalai Lama speaks out
DHARMSALA, India — The Dalai Lama said Saturday he welcomed China’s offer to hold talks with his envoy but cautioned it would be meaningless to meet if Beijing was not serious about trying to solve the problems that caused recent unrest in Tibet.
But just as it appeared China was reaching out to the Tibetan spiritual leader, Beijing’s state press on Saturday blamed him for the deadly violence in the Tibetan capital that threatens to overshadow this summer’s Olympics.
The Dalai Lama lives in exile here in this northern Indian town.
Opposition party wins
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Zimbabwean President Mugabe saw his hold on power weaken Saturday, as his party failed to make any inroads in a recount of parliamentary elections and some loyalists expressed pessimism about his chances in a presidential runoff.
The Zimbabwe Election Commission on Saturday announced the results of 18 of 23 parliamentary seats being recounted, nearly a month after bitterly disputed elections appeared to give the opposition the edge over the 84-year-old president. The ruling ZANU-PF party needed to claw back nine seats to get control of Parliament, but none of the results in the 18 was overturned, destroying any hope it had of winning the Parliament.
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s most popular blogger was released Saturday after serving four months in prison without charge.
Fouad al-Farhan, 33, was detained Dec. 10 after authorities warned him about his online support of an activist group. At the time of his arrest, the Interior Ministry said only that his violations were not related to state security.
Farhan had used his blog to criticize corruption and call for political reform in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy.
DAMASCUS, Syria —Turkey’s prime minister flew to Damascus Saturday and said he was trying to restart direct talks between Syria and Israel, stepping up his nation’s behind-the-scenes efforts to negotiate a peace deal between the longtime enemies.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spent five hours in Syria meeting with President Bashar Assad and discussing Turkish efforts to mediate a deal.
“There was a request from Syria and Israel for this kind of an effort and Turkey will do its best in this regard,” Erdogan said on his return to Turkey. “This effort will start among the lower level [officials] and if they are successful, God willing, they will end with a higher level meeting.”
Hamas: Truce acceptable
CAIRO, Egypt — The chief of Hamas said Saturday that the Palestinian militant group would accept an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel but it would be a “tactic” in the group’s struggle with the Jewish state.
Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus-based Hamas leader, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television that Egypt had proposed a six-month truce between the Hamas rulers of Gaza and Israel. He said his group was ready to cooperate but added: “It is a tactic in conducting the struggle ... It is normal for any resistance ... to sometimes escalate, other times retreat a bit.”
He warned of an explosion of violence in Gaza if Israel rejects the truce.