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New England in brief

Snowstorm to begin during rush hour

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December 13, 2007

Commuters will face a troublesome afternoon commute today as heavy snow is expected to begin falling at about 5 p.m. and last until midnight, according to the National Weather Service. From 4 to 8 inches are forecast, with most of the accumulation hitting before 8 p.m. On Saturday, a separate storm is expected to track farther west, with lighter snow beginning in the evening and changing mostly to sleet and freezing rain in the immediate Boston area by Sunday morning. Points north and west of the city will see continuous snowfall, the Weather Service said.

Massachusetts

Antitobacco efforts rank 33d in nation
Massachusetts ranks 33d among states on efforts to curb tobacco use, a new study shows. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends spending at least $35.21 million, the Commonwealth allocated $12.8 million for tobacco prevention this fiscal year, according to a report from Tobacco Free Kids, a national antitobacco advocate. Maine tops the list with $16.9 million in funding, more than 1.5 times the minimum recommended by the CDC for that state. Maine is one of only three states that spent above the CDC's recommended minimum. On the other extreme, Connecticut spent no funds on tobacco prevention despite a minimum recommended level of $21 million. Overall, states spent $717 million this fiscal year on tobacco control efforts, a 20 percent increase over the previous year. (State House News Service)

WELLESLEY

Ban on MassBay nursing program lifted
State regulators yesterday lifted an admissions freeze on the nursing program at Massachusetts Bay Community College, convinced the Wellesley-based school has hired enough administrators and faculty to run an effective program. The decision by the Board of Registration in Nursing to lift the four-month ban allows the two-year commuter college to admit nursing students for the spring semester, which begins Jan. 22. In July, the board took the unusual step of barring the college from admitting new nursing students because of staffing deficiencies. The freeze sparked months of unrest on campus and contributed to a faculty no-confidence vote taken against President Carole Berotte Joseph last month. The 5,000-student college has since hired a dean, program administrator, and four faculty members.

CAMBRIDGE

Defense in school slaying seeks dismissal
The defense for a Princeton teenager accused in the slaying of a fellow student at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School filed papers yesterday demanding that murder charges be dismissed. John Odgren's lawyer, Jonathan Shapiro, said in Middlesex Superior Court that prosecutors misled the grand jury that indicted Odgren on first-degree murder charges when they instructed the panel to ignore Odgren's history as a special needs student who had been prescribed medications for behavioral issues. Odgren is accused of fatally stabbing 15-year-old James Alenson on Jan. 19 in a high school bathroom. The two students did not know each other, officials have said. Corey Welford, spokesman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone, declined comment.

WORCESTER

Jury awards $2.5m in medical suit
A jury has awarded $2.5 million to a Fitchburg woman who received HIV treatments for almost nine years before discovering she never had the virus that causes AIDS. Audrey Serrano of Fitchburg sued Dr. Kwan Lai, who treated her at UMass Medical Center in Worcester. Serrano's attorney, David Angueira, says Lai repeatedly failed to order tests to confirm that Serrano had HIV after she was referred from another clinic. Serrano was treated with a powerful combination of drugs that triggered a string of physical ailments and depression. She found out her diagnosis was wrong after she was tested at another hospital in 2003. Lai's attorney, Joannie Gulliford Hoban, argued the doctor was not negligent and provided standard care. (AP)

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Senators block Bush's ATF nomination
Idaho's Republican senators are blocking President Bush's nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, saying the agency has become overly aggressive in enforcing gun laws. Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo placed separate holds on the nomination of Michael Sullivan, the acting ATF director for more than a year. Sullivan, who also serves as US attorney in Massachusetts, was nominated by Bush in March. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved his nomination last month. The ATF had no immediate comment. (AP)

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