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DAILY BRIEFING

Democrats lash out on Bush maneuver

WASHINGTON, D.C.
Democrats called for an investigation yesterday into whether President Bush acted illegally in appointing Sam Fox ambassador to Belgium. A day earlier, Bush named Fox, a Republican fund-raiser, to the post as a recess appointment -- a maneuver that allowed him to bypass Congress, where Democrats had derailed his nomination. Senators Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, and Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, all Democrats, wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office calling the appointment a "clear abuse" of power. They asked whether Fox's appointment could be terminated if a Senate vote rejected him. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe defended the use of recess appointments as a presidential prerogative. (AP)

WEST VIRGINIA

Mine blast survivor is father for 3d time
MORGANTOWN -- Sago Mine survivor Randal McCloy Jr. is a father for the third time and the first time since he miraculously lived through an explosion that killed 12 fellow miners. Anna McCloy gave birth to Isaac Martin McCloy at a Clarksburg hospital yesterday. McCloy, 27, of Simpson, was the only man on a 13-member crew to survive the Jan. 2, 2006, explosion and prolonged entrapment at the underground coal mine near Buckhannon. (AP)

FLORIDA

Press release ban in astronaut trial
ORLANDO -- The judge presiding over the trial of fired astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak asked lawyers on both sides yesterday to limit media contact, and temporarily sealed some court documents. Nowak is accused of trying to kidnap a rival for a pilot's affections. Lubet did not bar attorneys from talking to reporters, but banned press releases. (AP)

New Mexico

Voters support tax to fund spaceport
LAS CRUCES -- Voters have approved a tax to raise an estimated $49 million toward a $198 million tourism spaceport, according to unofficial returns yesterday. Residents of Dona Ana County voted on the sales tax Tuesday in what backers said was a make-or-break election for Spaceport America. The complex would cover 27 square miles and its anchor tenant would be British millionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic. (AP)

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