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News Briefs

Bush Quashes Bar Association’s Role in Selection of Judges

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

President Bush decided Thursday to discontinue a half-century tradition in which presidents have relied on the American Bar Association for advice on potential candidates for federal judgeships, concluding it’s unfair to give “any single group such a preferential, quasi-official role.”

In a telephone conversation and subsequent letter, Bush’s chief counsel Gonzales told association President Martha Barnett that administration officials would consider the views of the ABA along with those of other groups. But in a major change from past practice, the association will get the names only after the president has made his selections public.

The decision, which White House officials had foreshadowed for nearly a week, delighted key Republicans in Congress and other conservatives, who have contended for years that the ABA has a liberal orientation that tinges its ratings of judicial candidates. But congressional Democrats and liberal organizations said the absence of early vetting by the ABA would erode the caliber and independence of the federal bench.

Sharon Returns Home To Increasing Violence

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- JERUSALEM

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon returned home Thursday from a U.S. visit to face a deteriorating security situation and an escalation in what he called “Palestinian terror” during his four-day absence.

While Sharon was abroad, an Israeli father of six was killed in a drive-by shooting, a large car bomb was defused in a religious neighborhood of Jerusalem and mortars were fired on a Jewish farming community in Israel and at Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

“I shall do exactly as I promised: restore security to the lives of Israeli citizens,” Sharon said.

Clashes raged in the Gazan town of Khan Yunis after the funeral of a Palestinian killed by an Israeli tank shell during a clash Wednesday night. The army said Palestinians lobbed five armor-piercing grenades at a post during the battle Thursday. At least five Palestinians were wounded during two hours of fighting, according to Palestinians sources.

FDA Approves New Device To Watch Adult Diabetics

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved a wristwatch-like device for adult diabetics that automatically -- and painlessly -- checks blood sugar levels every 20 minutes by sending tiny electric currents through the skin.

The GlucoWatch Biographer, made by Cygnus Inc. of Redwood City, Calif., won’t completely replace those often inconvenient and uncomfortable finger prick tests because it sometimes gives false readings.

But it will supplement them by checking blood glucose more frequently -- sounding an alarm if blood sugar reaches dangerous levels, either too high or too low, even when the patient is asleep.

The approval “heralds the advent of new technologies that promise dramatic improvements in the quality of life for millions of Americans who have diabetes,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.