Archive for Saturday, February 14, 2004


February 14, 2004


Washington, D.C.

FDA delays decision on morning-after pill

The government is postponing its decision on whether morning-after birth control should be sold without a doctor's prescription.

The delay comes with the Food and Drug Administration under intense political pressure to reject the move.

The FDA had been scheduled to decide next week on whether Barr Laboratories' version of emergency contraception, called Plan B, could be sold over the counter, next to products such as aspirin and cough medicine.

Barr announced late Friday, however, that FDA had extended its deadline for making that decision to May.

The reason: FDA requested more explicit information about 16- and 17-year-olds who have used the pills, and the agency now needs additional time to evaluate the data, said Barr spokeswoman Carol Cox.


Juror excused, replaced in bishop's trial

A juror in the trial of Bishop Thomas O'Brien was excused Friday and the jury, deliberating the hit-and-run case all over again with a substitute juror, ended the day without a verdict.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gerst gave no specific reason for the substitution except to say the departing juror was excused for "personal reasons."

Gerst told the jurors "not to speculate, to guess or to discuss what you think may be the reasons for the substitution."

The jury had deliberated about 3 1/2 hours Thursday. An alternate juror, a man, replaced the departing juror, also a man, on the eight-member panel.

O'Brien, 68, could get anything from probation to 3 3/4 years in prison if convicted of leaving the scene of the accident that killed pedestrian Jim Reed, who was jaywalking when he was hit June 14. Prosecutors argued that O'Brien knew, or should have known, that he hit someone.

Washington, D.C.

CBS pulls Medicare ad, waits for review

CBS has stopped running the Bush administration's publicly funded ad for the new Medicare prescription drug law, pending a review of its content by congressional investigators.

The 30-second ad, titled "Same Medicare. More Benefits," has prompted strong criticism from Democratic lawmakers and a range of interest groups who say it is a barely disguised commercial for President Bush's re-election campaign.

Democrats asked the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, to examine whether the administration should be using taxpayer money to air the commercial. Several lawmakers have been lobbying network executives to get them to yank the ad, pending the GAO review.


Researchers develop small hydrogen reactor

Researchers say they have produced hydrogen from ethanol in a prototype reactor small enough and efficient enough to heat small homes and power cars.

The development could help open the way for cleaner-burning technology at home and on the road.

Current methods of producing hydrogen from ethanol require large refineries and copious amounts of fossil fuels, the University of Minnesota researchers said.

The reactor is a relatively tiny 2-foot-high apparatus of tubes and wires that creates hydrogen from corn-based ethanol. A fuel cell, which acts like a battery, then generates power.

The work was outlined in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Washington, D.C.

Bush agrees to meet with 9-11 panel

President Bush agreed Friday to meet privately with the federal commission reviewing the 9-11 attacks but declined to testify publicly about what the government could have done to prevent the tragedy.

While the panel has "suggested the possibility of a public session at a later time, we believe the president can provide all the requested information in the private meeting, and there is no need for any additional testimony," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

The 9-11 panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was established by Congress to study the nation's preparedness before the attacks and its response, and to recommend ways to guard against similar disasters.

The bipartisan panel faces a May 27 deadline to complete its work but has asked for at least a two-month extension, citing a need to conduct more interviews and analyze documents.


Appeals court rules in Schiavo case

Gov. Jeb Bush and the parents of a severely brain-damaged woman won appellate court rulings in their favor Friday on two legal issues in their quest to keep the woman alive against her husband's wishes.

Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that Pinellas Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird did not follow judicial rules when he denied Terri Schiavo's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, the ability to intervene in the constitutional challenge to a law aimed at keeping their 40-year-old woman alive.

The appeals court also ruled that Bush's attorneys will be allowed to question witnesses in the court battle over the law, which gave the governor authority to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube after her husband had it removed in October.

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