Judge reverses anthrax ruling
A federal judge in Washington lifted a preliminary injunction Wednesday and told the Pentagon that it could resume a program of mandatory anthrax inoculations for all U.S. service members except six plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the legality of the government's anthrax vaccine.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled after the Food and Drug Administration issued a formal determination last week that the vaccine provides effective protection against deadly anthrax bacteria, whether they are inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
In issuing his injunction on Dec. 22 blocking mandatory anthrax inoculations, Sullivan ruled that the vaccine was an experimental drug "being used for an unapproved purpose" because the FDA has formally authorized its effectiveness only against anthrax spores absorbed through the skin.
Media seek release of Jackson records
News organizations asked a judge Wednesday to unseal court records related to the search of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch as part of the child molestation case against the pop star.
The news organizations' motion filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court contends the public was not properly notified of a request last month that the documents remain sealed until the singer's Jan. 16 arraignment.
"There needs to be notice and an opportunity to be heard regarding the sealing of court documents," said attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr., who represents NBC, CBS, CNN, ABC, Fox News Network and The New York Times.
Storm abates in Northwest
Bleaker weather descended on the Northwest Wednesday as freezing rain filled streets with slush, knocked down power lines, made driving miserable and brought the threat of flooding.
Public schools in Seattle and its suburbs and in northwest Oregon were closed Wednesday for a second day, and parts of western Washington and Oregon were under flood advisories as rain mixed with melting snow.
Tuesday's snow accumulations were the most since 1996 in western Washington. Accumulations ranged from 3 inches in Everett, north of Seattle, to 11 inches at Hoodsport.
IRS to cut jobs
The Internal Revenue Service announced plans Wednesday to cut around 2,400 jobs, mostly clerical, but says it will add nearly as many new positions to go after tax cheats.
IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said a dramatic increase in the number of electronic tax returns meant fewer data entry workers are needed to process them.
The job cuts will be made early next year. Savings from them will go toward hiring 2,200 criminal investigators, revenue agents and revenue officers to pursue tax scofflaws.