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South Pole scientist on mend after stroke

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The engineer evacuated from a South Pole research station is recovering well from her stroke, her doctor said Friday.

Renee-Nicole Douceur, who traveled to Johns Hopkins Hospital this week for treatment, had a minor to moderate stroke, but tests did not find any tumors, according to Dr. Paul Nyquist. She is regaining her vision, and her speech is improving.

Douceur was evacuated two months after she began experiencing vision, language and memory problems while working as station manager at the National Science Foundation's South Pole research station. The 58-year-old nuclear engineer from Seabrook, N.H., was coordinating an emergency air drop at the station when her vision faltered, she said.

Douceur had asked for an emergency evacuation in August, but officials rejected her request because of bad weather.


Agency apologizes for $16 muffin error

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Remember the $16 muffin, a sign of government spending out of control? It turns out that all the criticism was half-baked.

The Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General is apologizing for erroneously concluding that a hotel charged the government $16 apiece for breakfast muffins.

The IG's assertion last month prompted widespread criticism of government spending. A swift rebuttal came from Hilton Worldwide, which manages and franchises hotels including the Capital Hilton, the location for a Justice Department conference that served the muffins.

At the time, the IG said it stood by its report that the muffins were indeed that pricey.

On Friday, the IG's office reversed itself, saying that it had received additional information concerning food and beverage costs and that the department did not pay $16 per muffin at the conference by the Executive Office for Immigration Review.


Basement captive case nets new charges

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Three suspects arrested in an alleged Social Security fraud plot in which police say mentally disabled people were kept in a basement now face additional charges over the abuse of a victim who was kept locked in a closet for at least two weeks, prosecutors said Friday.

District Attorney Seth Williams announced new charges of aggravated assault, kidnapping, conspiracy and other counts against Linda Ann Weston, 52, her daughter Jean McIntosh 32, and Eddie Wright, 50, in connection with the abuse of the 19-year-old woman. Officials say the victim was only let out twice a day to eat and use the bathroom.

Prosecutors did not release the victim's name, but the alleged abuse is consistent with that previously described by police as being suffered by Weston's niece, Beatrice Weston, 19.

Beatrice Weston was kept locked in a closet at the apartment where four mentally disabled people were rescued from a squalid basement earlier this month, authorities said.


Tractor-trailer hits van, kills 7 mourners

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Seven members of an extended family traveling from Chicago to New Jersey for a funeral, including a newborn and three other children, were killed when their minivan hit a deer and a tractor-trailer struck them from behind, police said Friday.

The victims in the crash on the Indiana Toll Road include a 21-year-old mother and her two sons, one of whom was 6 weeks old. The other victims were a 52-year-old man and his 15-year-old son, and a 26-year-old woman and her 8-year-old daughter, police said.

The family was from Ecuador.