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Boy who sparked end-of-life debate dies

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A Canadian boy whose family's struggle to keep him alive despite overwhelming odds spurred an international end-of-life debate has died about four months before his second birthday, a family spokesman said Wednesday.

Joseph Maraachli, who became widely known as Baby Joseph, died Tuesday, according to Brother Paul O'Donnell of St. Paul, Minn., the family's spokesman. Joseph suffered from the progressive neurological disease Leigh Syndrome.

Earlier this year, doctors at London Health Sciences Centre in Joseph's native Ontario refused to perform a tracheotomy to extend his life, saying it was futile because the disease was terminal. Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis then agreed to treat Joseph.

The Rev. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, the group that flew Baby Joseph to St. Louis, said the child and his parents "fulfilled a special mission from God." He said the parents "wanted to fulfill their calling to love their child unconditionally and to protect him from those who considered his life worthless."


Public pools required to have back-up drain

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Thousands of public pools nationwide will be taking a fresh look at their safety systems after federal regulators changed course Wednesday on measures required to keep swimmers, especially children, from getting trapped in pool drains. The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted 3-2 to revoke guidance it provided pool operators nearly 18 months ago about how to comply with a sweeping 2008 law aimed at preventing drain suction from trapping swimmers under water.

The new guidance requires public pools with a single main drain to have a back-up system that could shut the suction of the drain. Previously, they had been told they could use a new "unblockable" drain cover, usually a dome-shaped piece of equipment that covers the drain and prevents entrapment. The concern is that the "unblockable" drain cover could break. Now, public pools with those single-drain systems have to buy new and costly back-up systems. Some pools may close if they don't have the new equipment by next May.


Obama urges students to continue learning

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Obama told students Wednesday in a back-to-school address that they bear responsibility in helping America get back on its feet.

"You're young leaders. And whether we fall behind or race ahead as a nation is going to depend in large part on you," he said in an address to high school students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School that was broadcast live on television and online.

He encouraged the students to get an education after high school. He said in tough economic times, the country needs their ideas and passion.

Obama also confessed that he wasn't always the best student and didn't love every class he took.

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