The commissioner of the federal Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday called on Congress to empower the agency to better police compounding pharmacies like the one at the center of a national meningitis outbreak. But Republican lawmakers pushed back in a contentious House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing, arguing that the agency already has enough authority and leaving it unclear whether the House would support efforts to tighten oversight. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg called for new laws to clarify her agency's authority to crack down on companies like the New England Compounding Center, which distributed contaminated pain injections that have sickened more than 460 Americans, causing 32 deaths.
Bush may run for land commissioner
George P. Bush's father has issued a fundraising letter asking donors to open their pocketbooks because his son "is considering" running for Texas land commissioner, though a political strategist for the younger Bush said Wednesday no final decision has been made. "The office that George is considering running for is land commissioner, which oversees the mineral rights, commercial real estate owned and sovereign submerged lands of the state of Texas, as well as veterans' affairs and historic archives," former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush wrote. The position is often a stepping stone to higher office in Texas.
Scandal prompts Air Force changes
The Air Force announced Wednesday it is changing how it selects officers and instructors who train new recruits after a sex scandal at its training headquarters in which dozens of female recruits said they were improperly approached, sexually harassed or raped by male instructors. The commander in charge of training, Gen. Edward Rice Jr., said the Air Force will add more and better officers to supervise training units and require enlisted troops who hold instructor jobs to have more seniority. Instructors will also be expected to monitor each other for signs that abuse is taking place, and the Air Force plans to recruit one female instructor for every three males.
Protests over gas prices turn deadly
A man was killed and a dozen police officers injured Wednesday night in Irbid as demonstrations over increased gas prices stretched into a second day. Opposition leaders scrambled to harness a spontaneous eruption of anger that spread throughout the kingdom, taking officials and opposition leaders by surprise. The demonstrations were the most aggressive in this politically fragile and strategically critical ally of the United States in the past two years. Teachers went on strike, and other unions announced a two-hour work stoppage for Sunday.
Bombings kill 20, wound 100
From a busy market to a university campus, a series of bomb attacks swept through Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 100, Iraqi police and security forces said. The attacks struck civilian, government and security targets. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for any of the blasts, which were spread out in more than half a dozen provinces.