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New NASA director nominated

President Bush has nominated Sean O'Keefe, an outspoken critic of NASA's budget-busting, to take the helm of the space agency as it struggles to fulfill its mission and meet demands for stricter accounting and tougher management.

The appointment of O'Keefe, 45, an experienced government belt-tightener who is deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, is likely to mean more cost-cutting and upheaval at NASA.

It puts the former Navy secretary in a position to implement the recommendations of a Bush administration task force that recently criticized the $5-billion cost overrun for the international space station. That task force was initiated by O'Keefe.

If confirmed by the Senate, O'Keefe will replace NASA administrator Daniel Goldin, who will retire this week after nearly nine years.

Cigarette companies don't have to pay for exams

Jurors rejected a lawsuit Wednesday that sought to force four tobacco companies to pay for annual medical tests for 250,000 healthy West Virginia smokers.

The six-person jury, nearly all of them former smokers, deliberated for 10 hours before concluding that people with a five-year, pack-a-day habit have an increased risk of disease but don't need medical monitoring.

Jurors also concluded that cigarettes are not a defective product and manufacturers were not negligent in designing, making or selling them.

The lawsuit, essentially structured as a product liability case with medical monitoring as the proposed remedy for wronged consumers, was the first of its kind to be tried in the United States.

The plaintiffs said the industry-funded screening program could lead to the early detection of lung cancer, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

They contended they deserved the tests because Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Brown & Williamson manufactured and sold a defective product with no regard for their customers' health.

First artificial heart recipient suffers stroke

The first recipient of a fully implantable artificial heart has suffered a stroke, doctors said.

Robert Tools, 59, developed sudden weakness of his right arm and leg Sunday afternoon, and was also unable to speak or understand speech, according to his doctors at the Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky. He was put back on a ventilator.

The doctors say the stroke occurred when a clot traveled to Tools's brain. Doctors suspect the clot formed in the artificial heart.

The stroke is a major setback for Tools, who had been doing so well that doctors had said he could be home for Christmas. Those plans were put on hold.

Calif. admissions policy

to consider hardships

SAN FRANCISCO _ A University of California regents committee Wednesday approved a new admissions policy that would take into account any hardships a student had to overcome.

The 13-2 vote sends the measure to the full Board of Regents, which is likely to adopt it today. Critics had branded the new policy as backdoor affirmative action.

The move to look at more than applicants' grades and test scores comes six years after the university system eliminated race-based affirmative action.

New trial for Einhorn

PHILADELPHIA _ Holding up the United States' end of a bargain with France, a judge granted a new trial Wednesday for former hippie guru Ira Einhorn, the one-time fugitive convicted in absentia of murdering his girlfriend.

Einhorn, 61, was extradited to the United States from France last summer only after the state passed a law allowing him a retrial if he asked for one.

The former Philadelphian has said he was framed for the 1977 murder by the CIA after he uncovered secret mind-control weapon experiments.

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