WASHINGTON: FDA urged to retest pharmacies

A government watchdog group is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to reinspect more than a dozen specialty pharmacies with prior records of violations. Contaminated pain injections from New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., have been blamed for fungal meningitis that has killed 36 people and sickened more than 500. In a letter sent Thursday, Public Citizen asks the FDA to revisit 16 compounding pharmacies that received warning letters from the agency between 2003 and 2012. Congressional investigators reported recently that the FDA inspected the New England pharmacy three times before the outbreak, and issued the company a warning letter in 2006, citing several violations, including mass-producing drugs without doctors' prescriptions and repackaging FDA-approved drugs into smaller doses.

Court taking up gay nuptials

Three weeks after voters backed same-sex marriage in three states and defeated a ban in a fourth, Supreme Court justices are meeting Friday to decide whether they should deal sooner rather than later with the claim that the Constitution gives people the right to marry regardless of sexual orientation. The court could duck the ultimate question for now and instead focus on a narrower but still important issue: whether Congress can prevent legally married gay Americans from receiving federal benefits otherwise available to married couples. Gay marriage is legal, or will be soon, in nine states and the District of Columbia. Federal courts in California have struck down the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but that ruling is being appealed. But 31 states have amended their constitutions to prohibit same-sex marriage.

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NEW MEXICO: A toilet-paper apology

Eastern New Mexico University says a graduate, apparently feeling guilty over a student prank years ago, has sent a box of toilet paper to repay the school for loot from a dormitory. The university said it received the gift box this week with a Christmas card and written apology. The box contained five packages of 16 rolls of two-ply, septic-safe tissue for a total of 80 rolls. The anonymous writer apologized and said a new dedication to Christian faith led to the deed.