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HOUSE DEFIES BUSH ON SPY ACT EXTENSION

WASHINGTON

President Bush pressured the House on Thursday to finish a bill giving the government more leeway to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists, but House Democrats didn't budge, breaking for a recess without acting. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act expires at the end of the day on Saturday. The Bush administration contends that the law's expiration would put national security at risk, while congressional Democrats say it would have little immediate effect and that more time is needed to consider changes.

FDA criticism is mounting

A key House Democrat said Thursday that the head of the Food and Drug Administration should resign in the wake of an inquiry over an antibiotic and news of a blood thinner linked to allergic reactions and four deaths. "It's just a total lack of leadership," Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who heads an investigative panel that conducts oversight of the agency, said of FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach. As questions mounted about FDA oversight of drug production overseas, scientific tests turned up possible irregularities in some samples of the blood thinner heparin, linked to several deaths and hundreds of life-threatening reactions, a spokeswoman for the manufacturer said Thursday. Baxter Healthcare Corp.'s advanced testing found "trace differences" in some lots of heparin, including quantities in which the active ingredient was produced at a supplier's plant in China, spokeswoman Erin Gardiner said. Baxter and the FDA said it was too early to say whether the problems were caused by the ingredient made in China.

Judge insists on video data

A federal judge ordered the Bush administration to tell him whether two CIA interrogation videos destroyed in 2005 were relevant to his case. The videos showed the CIA using harsh interrogation methods on two terrorism suspects. The Justice Department has urged judges not to demand information about the tapes, saying it would interfere with an investigation into their destruction. U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts rejected that stance last month when he ordered the government to reveal how it has handled evidence since 2005 and explain what has been destroyed. The deadline to turn over that information was Thursday, but the Justice Department asked Roberts to put that ruling on hold during the criminal investigation. In a ruling Thursday, Roberts said he wouldn't require the government to reveal its handling of all evidence since 2005. But he insisted that prosecutors reveal whether any destroyed evidence was relevant to his case involving a Guantanamo Bay detainee.

Also in the capital

The FBI put its domestic terror squads on alert Thursday for any threats against synagogues and other potential Jewish targets in the United States after the killing of a Hezbollah commander.

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