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Wednesday Briefing

October 04, 2006|Andrew Malcolm and Brian Hanrahan | Times Staff Writers

Oh, Canada's drugs are OK

The federal government will halt its controversial confiscation of discount drugs mailed to U.S. customers from Canadian pharmacies.

The move by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Customs Border Patrol, reverses a policy that began 11 months ago -- around the time enrollment began for the Medicare drug plan.

The initial justification for the confiscations was concern over the safety of drugs not manufactured in the United States. But critics charged the policy was actually meant to limit competition for higher-priced domestic drugs.

The drugs coming from Canada can be 30% to 80% cheaper, but in recent months the government was seizing 20% or more of those crossing the border.

The change takes effect Monday, but random safety tests on some drugs will continue, officials say. Page C1

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Top court hears deportation case

The U.S. Supreme Court opens its new term by debating whether thousands of longtime legal immigrants in this country must be deported if they are convicted of drug possession.

The issue is how to interpret a tough, 10-year-old federal law that requires deportation of legal immigrants who commit "aggravated felonies."

Despite the federal law's focus on expelling felons and drug traffickers, some immigrants who plead guilty to possessing drugs -- such as a small amount of marijuana -- have been deported too.

Though minor matters under federal law, such possessions are classified by some states -- such as Florida, Oregon, Nevada and North Dakota -- as felonies. State lawyers say the federal deportation law applies. Page A12

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Campaigning Bush hits Democrats

President Bush comes to California charging that congressional Democrats are failing to provide the necessary tools to combat terrorists.

"They talk tough on terror," the president says to a partisan crowd at Stockton's Memorial Civic Auditorium, "but when the votes are counted, their softer side comes out."

He calls the upcoming midterm elections a referendum on national security. "The stakes in this election couldn't be more clear," he adds. Page A18

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Big prize for the big bang

Two scientists--one on each U.S. coast--share the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics.

George F. Smoot of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and John C. Mather of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland are cited for their discovery that the universe began with a big bang.

The Nobel committee said that "marked the inception of cosmology as a precise science." Page A9

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Frances Bergen, Edgar's wife, dies

Frances Bergen, the widow of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and the mother of actress Candice Bergen, dies in Los Angeles after a prolonged illness. The would-be mother of Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd and other dummies was 84. Page B8

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The grief rolls in

The gunman who took over a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania and fatally shot five girls told his wife he molested two female relatives 20 years ago and was tormented by thoughts he would repeat the abuse. Police say Charles Roberts IV intended to assault his hostages until officers confronted him. Page A9

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CALENDAR

James Woods: An active mind

Comments fly out of James Woods' mouth like twigs shot out of a tree shredder. During a day of filming on the Fox lot, the actor delivers mini-monologues on his girlfriend, his late brother, his IQ, his dog and how meeting O.J. Simpson in a courtroom helped guide him toward "Shark," his first TV series. Page E1

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A premium 'Nine'

Lock a bunch of people in a bank during a 52-hour robbery siege. Then open the door, and guess what? Out pops ABC's "The Nine," which follows the lives of the former hostages.

Reviewer Robert Lloyd says it's at once the most mysterious and the most down-to-earth of this season's new serials, and it drives home an important point: Life can change in an instant. Page E1

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17 and on the go

Chris Brown is only 17 but already he's a chart-topping R&B phenomenon. The 6-foot-3 native Virginian, admired both for his boyish tenor and his fluidly athletic dance moves, spent three frantic days in the Southland last week. In addition to headlining a traveling festival of ascendant urban music acts, there was promotional and meet-and-greet work. In the end, it was all a little wearing. Page E3

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Write stuff

When the Sixth Annual Mexico City Book Fair opens Friday, it will have something of a hemispheric flavor: 50 artists and writers with strong ties to Los Angeles will be featured, along with 50 from Cuba.

"This is like saying to the Mexican American community in Los Angeles that Mexico City is their space as well, not politically but culturally," a Mexican cultural official says. Page E1

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FOOD

Turning the page on the use of sage

Sage already has earned its niche in Thanksgiving stuffing and Italian dishes. But in biscuits? Grits? Omelets and quesadillas? What about as a snack, battered and deep-fried?

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