deaths jump to new record
The number of serious drug reactions and deaths reported to the government shot up in the first three months of the year to a new record, a health industry watchdog group said Wednesday. The Food and Drug Administration received nearly 21,000 reports of serious reactions, including more than 4,800 deaths, said an analysis of federal data by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Two drugs accounted for a large share. One was the blood thinner heparin. Most of its problems were prompted by tainted heparin imported from China. The other was Chantix, a new anti-smoking drug from Pfizer. Associated Press
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Western Kentucky University was locked down for several hours Wednesday after reports of gunmen on campus, but officials said they could find no evidence shots had been fired. Someone reported seeing people with weapons in a building on a satellite campus and police later received reports that shots had been fired on the main campus, a mile away. Associated Press
A New York Times employee opened a letter Wednesday containing a white powder that officials later said was harmless. The discovery comes after more than 30 letters containing a suspicious powder were mailed to Chase bank branches and federal banking regulators' offices in nine cities. Officials said those letters, postmarked Amarillo, Texas, also appeared to be harmless. Associated Press
The Coast Guard says four survivors were found late Wednesday after a fishing boat disappeared in the Aleutian Islands. Three bodies were also recovered. The search was continuing for the remaining four crew members. The Coast Guard received a distress signal from the boat overnight. Search aircraft spotted two emergency strobe lights in the water and dropped two life rafts. Associated Press
Ratchet the Iraqi puppy arrived in Minnesota on Wednesday – and promptly took a nap near the baggage claim at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. The 6-month-old puppy left Baghdad on Sunday. His new owner, Army Spc. Gwen Beberg, had been trying to get Ratchet home for weeks. Beberg and another soldier rescued the dog from a burning pile of trash in May. The military bars troops from caring for pets on duty or from taking them home. But Beberg has said she couldn't have made it through her deployment without the pup. She's due to leave Iraq next month.
The Peace Corps will return to war-ravaged Liberia on Sunday for the first time since fighting erupted nearly two decades ago, its goal to help rebuild the West African nation's shattered education system. Liberia, founded by freed American slaves in the 19th century, has struggled to turn itself around since the brutal war ended in 2003 and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took office two years later. The return of the Peace Corps, which pulled out shortly after rebels invaded the country in late 1989, is being seen as a sign of confidence in Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female head of state. Associated Press