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WASHINGTON: Obama near court choice

President Barack Obama will choose a Supreme Court nominee he thinks can provide the "spark and leadership" of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, the lion of the court's liberals and a respected, persuasive force for decades, senior adviser David Axelrod said Wednesday. "He senses that responsibility," Axelrod told The Associated Press. Axelrod is deeply involved in Obama's review of the candidates as the president nears one of the most consequential decisions he will make.

Probe of pediatric meds

A congressional committee has begun an investigation into the problems that led to a massive recall of children's and infants' Tylenol and other widely used over-the-counter pediatric medicines, with lawmakers pledging to scrutinize the performances of both the drugmaker and federal regulators. Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-Brooklyn) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), leaders of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said they are "deeply concerned" about the recall, which affects an estimated 70 percent of the market for over-the-counter pediatric liquid medicines. It involves such brand names as Motrin, Benadryl and Zyrtec, in addition to Tylenol. The pair pledged to ask "tough questions about the conditions of the manufacturing plant . . . and about whether FDA's inspection and recall procedures were sufficient."

CALIFORNIA: Winner on the night shift

A TV newsroom employee found out while working the graveyard shift that she and her husband have the Mega Millions ticket worth $266 million, her boss at KNBC in Los Angeles said Wednesday. Assignment manager David Reese said the newly minted millionaire called him at 2:30 a.m. to share her good news. Then she finished her shift and asked her colleagues to keep her name a secret until she's ready to step forward, Reese said. On the evening newscast the woman was called "Millionairess X" and was quoted as saying she heard that the winning ticket was purchased in Pico Rivera. She called her husband and learned the news. "She started crying," colleague Nicole Stevenson said. Reese said he saw a photocopy of the ticket showing all six numbers drawn in Tuesday's multistate game - 9, 21, 31, 36 and 43 with 8 as the Mega number. The winner has a year to turn in the ticket, then 60 days to decide how he or she wants the money. The woman has worked as a freelancer for KNBC for about four years, and her husband was laid off two weeks ago, Reese said.

LOUISIANA: Klansman gets life

The leader of a Ku Klux Klan group pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing an Oklahoma woman, an erratic recruit who a witness said yelled "I want out" the day after her initiation. Raymond Foster, 49, of Bogalusa, was immediately sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder by state District Judge Peter Garcia in Covington. Cynthia Lynch, 43, a Klan recruit from Tulsa, was shot and killed in November 2008, the day after initiation rites in rural St. Tammany Parish, about 50 miles north of New Orleans.

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