News Midday Update: Kennedy at Duke for surgery on brain tumor; judge orders return of polygamist group’s children; Wachovia board forces out CEO Thompson

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was at Duke University Medical Center today for a risky six-hour surgery for his cancerous brain tumor, and faces chemotherapy and radiation treatment following the procedure.

The 76-year-old senator was diagnosed last month with a malignant glioma, a lethal type of brain tumor. A statement from the Massachusetts Democrat’s office said the surgery would be performed by one of the nation’s top neurosurgeons, Dr. Allan Friedman, at the Durham, N.C., hospital.

Experts said surgeons will likely try to remove as much of the tumor as possible while balancing the risk of harming healthy brain tissue that affects movement and speech.

‘‘Almost no malignant gliomas are cured by surgery, but many of us believe that the more you get out, the next treatments, whether they be radiation or chemotherapy, have a better chance of working because there’s less tumor there to fight,’’ said Dr. Matthew Ewend, neurosurgery chief at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The surgery was scheduled to begin around 9 a.m., said Anthony Coley, a Kennedy spokesman. The hospital had given no updates by late morning. The senator was expected to remain at the North Carolina facility for one week to recuperate and then will begin further treatments at Massachusetts General Hospital and start chemotherapy.

– Associated Press

Judge orders return of polygamist group’s children

A judge today ordered the return of more than 400 children taken from their parents at a polygamist group’s Texas ranch, following the state Supreme Court ruling that the state’s seizure of the youngsters wasn’t justified.

The order signed by Texas District Judge Barbara Walther allowed parents to begin picking up their children from foster care this morning.In exchange for regaining custody, the parents are not being allowed to leave Texas without court permission and must participate in parenting classes. They were also ordered not to interfere with any child abuse investigation and to allow the children to undergo psychiatric or medical exams if required.

‘‘We’re really grateful to get the order signed,’’ said Willie Jessop, an elder of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the sect that runs the ranch in west Texas.

The judge’s order requires that parents allow children’s welfare workers to make unannounced visits and that the families notify CPS if they plan to travel more than 100 miles from their homes.

– Associated Press

Wachovia board forces out CEO Ken Thompson

Wachovia Corp. chief executive Ken Thompson was pushed out today as head of the nation’s fourth-largest bank, becoming the latest financial services executive to be ousted amid turmoil in the U.S. housing market.

Thompson joins Stanley O’Neal at Merrill Lynch & Co. and Charles Prince at Citigroup Inc., who both presided over huge losses from exposure to bad mortgages, and were subsequently forced out from their perches at the top of Wall Street institutions.

The Charlotte-based bank said last month that it lost $707 million in the first quarter, nearly doubling the losses it reported earlier after further review of its portfolio.

Thompson will not receive any incentive pay for the 2008 fiscal year, but according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he will get a severance of $1.45 million and accelerated vesting of $7.25 million in restricted stock.

The bank’s shares tumbled more than 4 percent to a new 52-week low of $22.72 in early trading, following a broad descent in the European banking sector today.

– Associated Press


— Summer school started today for some Bibb County students. Come back to our Web site to find out how it went.

— We're checking in with five first-year teachers in Houston and Peach counties that we first told you about last summer. We'll tell you how their first year went, how it measured up with their expectations -- and if they'll return to teaching in August.


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