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New wheelchair climbs steps, raises users to new heights

GAITHERSBURG, MD. (AP) -- Stairs soon may no longer be insurmountable obstacles for some of the nation's 2 million wheelchair users.

The first wheelchair that can climb stairs -- plus shift into four-wheel drive to scoot up a grassy hill and even elevate its occupant for eye-level conversation -- took a major step toward the market Wednesday, as advisers to the Food and Drug Administration unanimously recommended it be allowed to be sold.

The FDA isn't bound by its advisers' recommendations but usually follows them -- and it granted the iBOT 3000 Mobility System a special fast-track review reserved for important new medical technology, meaning a decision could come in a few months.

Besides going up and down stairs, the chair lifts onto two wheels so that its occupant, although still sitting, is elevated enough to reach high bookshelves and carry on eye-level conversations with people standing nearby.

The iBOT's $29,000 tab is less than some top-of-the-line models for the severely impaired but far more than basic chairs.

New Jersey jury convicts rabbi in wife's murder

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) -- A rabbi was convicted of murder Wednesday for hiring two men to beat his wife to death with a pipe so he could carry on an affair with a woman he met while ministering to her dying husband. He could now face a death sentence.

The verdict against Rabbi Fred J. Neulander, 61, came nearly a year after his first trial in the 1994 death of Carol Neulander ended in a deadlocked jury.

The rabbi stood expressionless as the verdict was read. Jurors took 27 hours to find Neulander guilty of capital murder, felony murder and murder conspiracy. The sentencing phase of the trial begins today.

Neulander, a founder of Cherry Hill's large Congregation M'kor Shalom, took the stand last year to deny any role in the slaying. He said he and his 52-year-old wife had an "open marriage" in which they agreed to see other people.

Neulander was arrested in 1998 and charged with arranging the slaying. A key witnesses was Elaine Soncini, a Philadelphia radio host the rabbi met as he ministered to her husband on his deathbed.

FTC bureau urges media to halt deceptive ads

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government is urging television, newspapers and magazines to stop carrying deceptive advertising with promises like "eat all you want and lose weight" or "lose weight while you sleep."

"Reputable media should be embarrassed by some of the ads that run," Howard Beales, director of the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Protection Bureau, said Wednesday. "The claims are so ridiculous."

Beales said he believes that publishers and cable TV executives want to cooperate, but if they don't, regulators could consider legal action.

The FTC has brought 97 lawsuits since 1990 against companies it accused of marketing phony weight-loss products, winning $50 million in restitution to consumers and other financial remedies. The law also prohibits disseminating false ads, Beales said, suggesting that provision could be used against the media should the FTC decide it was necessary.

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