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News Briefs

FDA Rejects Morning-After Pill Without Prescription


Federal drug regulators on Thursday rejected a drug maker’s application to sell a morning-after pill over-the-counter because of concerns about whether young girls would be able to use it safely.

The Food and Drug Administration told the pill’s maker, Barr Pharmaceuticals that before the drug could be sold without a prescription the company must either find a way to prevent young teens from getting it from store shelves or prove, in a new study, that young girls can understand how to use it without the help of a doctor. Company executives expressed confidence that they could clear those hurdles, although it was unclear how long that would take.

The decision was a surprise because in December, a panel of independent experts assembled by the FDA voted, 23-4, to recommend that the drug be sold over-the-counter. The majority concluded that the drug was not only effective but that women could be trusted to use it correctly without a physician’s advice. The FDA normally follows the recommendations of its advisory panels.

Suicide Bomb Explodes Near U.S. Headquarters In Baghdad


A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb Thursday near the American occupation headquarters here, killing five Iraqi civilians and one American soldier, witnesses and military officials said.

The bomb exploded at a military checkpoint where cars were waiting to be searched before crossing a bridge leading to the headquarters. Twenty Iraqi civilians, three Iraqi police and two American soldiers were wounded in the blast, a military spokesman said.

A group linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on Thursday on an Arabic-language Web site. Though American officials have not yet verified the statement’s authenticity, they told news agencies that the bomb attack bore the signatures of Zarqawi.

“We may not have any verbal or physical evidence at this point, but it is certainly the calling card of a terrorist organization,” a senior coalition official told Reuters.

Bush Says Rumsfeld Will Stay, Apologizes for Abuse of Iraqis


President Bush said on Thursday that he was sorry for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers, but vowed that the man in charge of the U.S. military, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, would remain in his job.

Bush’s apology was made in the White House Rose Garden at the side of King Abdullah II of Jordan after they met in the Oval Office. The president, who had deplored the abuse but stopped short of an apology in Arab television interviews on Wednesday, appeared to direct his words to the king as the leader of an Arab nation.

“I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families,” Bush said.

Bush pledged that his defense secretary would not be ousted, even as he acknowledged that he had chastised Rumsfeld 24 hours earlier for his failure to inform him about graphic photographs showing the American abuse of Iraqi captives at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. “Secretary Rumsfeld has been the secretary during two wars and he is an important part of my Cabinet, and he will stay in my Cabinet,” Bush said.