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In brief: Care of Alamo changes hands

From Wire Reports

SAN ANTONIO – Flags were lowered and prayers were said in the myriad languages of the Alamo’s 1836 defenders on Friday as the Daughters of the Republic of Texas ended their 110 years as custodians of the mission-turned-fortress-turned-shrine.

Members of the 124-year-old group held a solemn, low-key ceremony to mark the handover of the Alamo to the General Land Office of Texas.

The prayers were recited in English, Spanish, Danish and German during the event in front of the Alamo. A group of men in period dress stood as honor guard.

The Daughters will operate a research center and conduct programs on the site. However, under a state mandate, the group began turning authority over the Alamo to the Texas General Land Office in March.

Bill to speed approval of drugs advances

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation Friday to speed approval of drugs and medical devices and boost funding for medical research, pushing forward a major overhaul of the federal government’s regulation of key parts of the health care system.

The legislation, which is backed by major industry groups as well as some leading patient advocates, drew unusually bipartisan support.

The bill passed 344-77, as 170 Republicans and 174 Democrats voted for it, brushing aside warnings from consumer watchdog groups that loosening oversight of prescription drugs and medical devices could harm patients.

A centerpiece of the bill is $8.75 billion in new funding for the National Institutes of Health at a time when the agency’s research budget has been flat for more than a decade.

The bill awaits action by the Senate, where lawmakers are crafting their own legislation, expected later this year.

Ex-governor loses appeal of convictions

WASHINGTON – Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell appeared to be headed to jail Friday after a federal appeals court affirmed his convictions on 11 counts of selling his office to help a businessman who plied him with gifts and loans.

Despite speculation by legal experts that McDonnell had a strong case on appeal, the decision against him by three 4th Circuit Court of Appeal judges appointed by Democrats was unanimous.

McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison; his wife, who was tried with him, was sentenced to one year. Her appeal is pending.

The appeals court had taken the unusual step of keeping Bob McDonnell out of prison pending the resolution of his appeal.

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