- - Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In response to a disappointing ruling on the government’s plan to put graphic warnings and pictures on cigarette packages, the Justice Department filed papers Tuesday asking for a full-court review.

In August, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a lower-court ruling that said the graphic warnings and labels proposed by the Food and Drug Administration were not constitutional or scientifically justified.

In its new petition, the Justice Department asked the full appellate court to rehear the case.

The plaintiffs, which include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., argue that the government is illegally trying to force them to “rebrand” and advocate against their own products.

The government, backed by groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, says its warnings are “indisputably accurate” and graphic and text warnings on cigarette packages are necessary to communicate the health dangers of smoking, especially to youth.

NEW MEXICO

Sky diver cancels try at supersonic jump

ROSWELL — Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner canceled his planned death-defying 23-mile free fall Tuesday because of high winds. It was the second time this week he was forced to postpone his quest to be the first supersonic sky diver.

The former military parachutist from Austria planned to ride a pressurized capsule carried aloft by a 55-story, ultrathin helium balloon into the stratosphere, and then jump in a specially designed suit.

But winds and delays from a lost radio and problems with the capsule contributed to the decision shortly after 11:30 a.m. to abort the mission. Because the balloon is so delicate, it could only take flight if winds were 2 mph or below.

Mr. Baumgartner said he will try again.

FLORIDA

FAMU hazing defendant enters no contest plea

ORLANDO — The first of more than a dozen defendants charged in the hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major entered a plea of no contest Tuesday to third-degree felony hazing.

A judge didn’t impose a conviction on Brian Jones, 23, of Parrish, Fla., who switched his plea from not guilty. Jones isn’t admitting or denying guilt in the no-contest plea.

Jones refused to comment after the hearing in an Orlando courtroom. Sentencing is set for Oct. 22.

In agreeing to the deal, Circuit Judge Marc Lubet said Jones’ role in the hazing death of Robert Champion was relatively minimal.

Champion died last November after being beaten by fellow band members during a hazing ritual aboard a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel following a football game. An autopsy concluded Champion suffered blunt trauma blows to his body and died from shock caused by severe bleeding.

NEW YORK

Meningitis outbreak toll: 119 cases, 11 deaths

NEW YORK — The number of people sickened by a deadly meningitis outbreak has reached 119 cases, including 11 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the count on Tuesday.

New Jersey is the 10th state to have reported at least one illness. The other states involved in the outbreak are Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio.

Officials have tied the outbreak of rare fungal meningitis to steroid shots for back pain. The steroid was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. At least one contaminated vial was found at the company.

The company recalled the steroid that was sent to clinics in 23 states and later recalled everything it makes.

UTAH

Feds: Old potato behind prison-brew botulism

SALT LAKE CITY — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a weeks-old baked potato was the source of a botulism outbreak at a Utah prison where inmates consumed cell-brewed alcohol.

The outbreak sickened eight maximum-security inmates at the state prison in Salt Lake County in October 2011.

The CDC said in a report last week that the inmates made several batches of cell brew with fruit, water and sugar, but only one contained a potato thought to have made inmates sick.

PENNSYLVANIA

Police: Man tries to rob bank of $1 in prison bid

NORTHERN CAMBRIA — A man tried to rob a Pennsylvania bank of $1 because he hoped to be sent to a federal prison nearby, police said.

Jeffrey McMullen, a 50-year-old regular customer of an AmeriServ bank in the western Pennsylvania town of Northern Cambria, handed notes to two tellers Friday demanding a dollar, according to a police complaint reported by The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown.

The tellers thought it was a joke, police said. The man then spoke with a new-accounts employee and repeated he was robbing the bank for a buck.

Police said Mr. McMullen apparently wanted to be prosecuted federally so he could be taken to a prison in central Pennsylvania. Police could not immediately say why.

Mr. McMullen awaits a preliminary hearing.

From wire dispatches and staff reports