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Briefs

Pharmacy inspections finding problems

– In response to pressure from Congress and health care watchdogs, federal regulators have launched an aggressive surprise inspection campaign of large specialty pharmacies, in the spotlight after a deadly meningitis outbreak last fall that was linked to tainted drugs, officials said Friday.

Inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration fanned out to 11 states and have so far found dozens of safety lapses at four facilities, including contaminated drugs, medications with no expiration dates, and drug containers that were “not clean and sterilized,” records show.

The inspections began Feb. 19 and will continue over the next two months, covering about 30 facilities. Depending on the findings, the specialty pharmacies could face fines and possible suspension of their licenses.

Syrian rebels want weapons, not food

The head of Syria’s rebels said Friday that the food and medical supplies the United States plans to give his fighters for the first time won’t bring them any closer to defeating President Bashar Assad’s forces in the country’s civil war.

“We don’t want food and drink, and we don’t want bandages. When we’re wounded, we want to die. The only thing we want is weapons,” Gen. Salim Idris, chief of staff of the opposition’s Supreme Military Council, told The Associated Press by telephone.

The former brigadier in Assad’s army warned that the world’s failure to provide heavier arms is only prolonging the nearly 2-year-old uprising that has killed an estimated 70,000 people.

Chad claims it killed Mali al-Qaida leader

Chadian President Idriss Deby announced Friday that Chadian troops fighting to dislodge an al-Qaida affiliate in northern Mali killed one of the group’s leading commanders, Abou Zeid.

The death of the Algerian warlord, a feared radical leader of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb behind the kidnapping of several Westerners, could not immediately be verified. His death would be a big blow to his group and its growing influence in North and West Africa.

Cyanide likely killed lottery winner

An autopsy on the exhumed body of a Chicago lottery winner poisoned with cyanide yielded no significant new clues about his death, the Cook County medical examiner said Friday.

No remaining cyanide was found in samples of Urooj Khan’s body tissue, likely because cyanide breaks down over time, and there was nothing notable from tests on his stomach contents, Stephen Cina told reporters.

Cina did say Khan’s coronary arteries had significant blockage, which could have increased the effectiveness of the cyanide. But he said there was nothing to make him think a heart attack killed Khan, saying, “I don’t see how I can ignore lethal cyanide level in the blood.”

Woman to lead Air Force Academy

Maj. Gen. Michelle Johnson has been chosen to be the next superintendent of the Air Force Academy, the first woman to hold the job.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Johnson’s appointment Friday.

Academy officials said the Senate must first approve her promotion to a three-star lieutenant general, the rank required to become superintendent.

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