E. coli has sickened 29 people in three states

New York: A rare strain of E. coli never before associated with foodborne illness in the United States has sickened 29 people in Ohio, Michigan and New York, public health officials said Friday. The outbreak has been tied to romaine lettuce served in restaurants, school cafeterias and deli and supermarket salad bars.

Freshway Foods, an Ohio company, recalled the lettuce on Thursday. It said the lettuce had been sold primarily to food service and wholesale customers. The recall did not involve any bagged or mixed lettuce sold in supermarket produce sections, the company said, although some supermarkets appeared to have used the romaine in salad bars. Freshway said the lettuce had been sent to customers in 23 states, including Kentucky, as well as the District of Columbia. The company said the lettuce was sold for use in salad bars at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles and Marsh supermarkets.

Officials traced the illness to a bacterial strain known as E. coli O145, which is different from the more widely known E. coli O157:H7, which has been associated with outbreaks linked to ground beef, leafy greens and other foods. Dr. Robert Tauxe, a deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the bacterium appeared to be a particularly virulent strain capable of causing severe illness.

Graham drops climate bill; blames immigration, oil spill

Washington: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Friday that it has become "impossible" to pass climate and energy legislation at the moment, a declaration that likely dooms the bill's chance of passage this year. Graham had spent months trying to craft a bipartisan compromise on the issue with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., but he suggested late last month that he was unwilling to continue after Senate Democratic leaders said they hoped to push through immigration legislation this year. His new statement adds that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has put a halt to any immediate expansion of offshore oil drilling and hampered any chance of reaching a bipartisan deal.

Transportation secretary will visit Toyota president

Washington: Signaling renewed vigor in the federal government's scrutiny of Toyota Motor Corp., Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is heading to Japan to meet with company President Akio Toyoda. LaHood said the department was examining 500,000 internal documents recently turned over by the automaker in hopes of determining when it began to withhold crucial information about defects in its vehicles. The government already has fined Toyota a record $16.4 million for failing to disclose safety problems related to sudden acceleration. LaHood will meet Monday with Toyoda, where he plans to deliver a stern message that the U.S. will not tolerate violations of safety laws that jeopardize the public.

Appeals court rejects effort to strip word 'God' from oath

Washington: A federal appeals court on Friday rejected an effort to strip the word "God" from presidential oaths. Citing largely technical reasons, a three-member appellate panel ruled that California attorney Michael Newdow and his allies weren't in a position to legally challenge the oaths. Newdow, an atheist, had hoped to avoid formal invocation of the deity's name in the 2013 and 2017 inaugurations.

Atlantis to carry piece of tree from which Newton's apple fell

Cape Canaveral, Fla.: Sir Isaac Newton's famous apple tree is about to leave gravity behind. Flying aboard space shuttle Atlantis next week will be a 4-inch sliver of the tree from which an apple fell nearly 350 years ago and inspired Newton to discover the law of gravity. British-born astronaut Piers Sellers is flying the piece of wood for The Royal Society of London. "I'll take it up into orbit and let it float around a bit, which will confuse Isaac," Sellers said in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week.

herald-leader wire services