We have a new 'food safety czar'

and millions more tainted chickens

WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration yesterday created a new senior position to supervise the agency's regulation of food safety, even as the agency disclosed that 3 million chickens raised on 38 Indiana poultry farms have been added to the growing list of animals that consumed feed tainted with a chemical used to make plastics.

FDA and Department of Agriculture officials said that they chose not to issue a recall for the chickens because they were given the feed in February and that most have already been processed and sold in the marketplace.

David Acheson, the FDA official who assumed the new post of assistant commissioner for food protection, also said that the amount of feed contaminated is minimal by the time it is fed to livestock that is consumed eventually by humans.

Congressional critics dubbed the newly created position as the "food safety czar" and derided it as likely to be ineffective.

Senators seem to be in no hurry

to give spies more powers

WASHINGTON - Citing FBI abuses and the attorney general's troubles, senators peppered top Justice and intelligence officials yesterday with skeptical questions about their proposal to revise the rules for spying on Americans.

Senate Intelligence Committee members, at a rare public hearing, said the Bush administration must provide more information about its earlier domestic spying before it can hope to gain additional powers for the future.

"Is the administration's proposal necessary, or does it take a step further down a path that we will regret as a nation?" asked panel chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

With little apparent success, the administration bill was portrayed as merely an adjustment to technological changes wrought by cell phones, e-mail and the Internet since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was enacted in the '70s. But Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., responded, "We look through the lens of the past to judge how much we can trust you."

Arrested astronaut Lisa Nowak

called smart, hardworking, selfish

ORLANDO, Fla. - Fellow astronauts describe Lisa Nowak as smart, hardworking and a good mother, but also selfish and unwilling to perform tasks for which she hadn't trained.

That glimpse into the astronaut's life was found in almost 150 pages of documents that include summaries of interviews with four astronauts following Nowak's arrest in February on charges of attempted kidnapping, burglary with assault and battery.

Police said she drove from Houston to Orlando to confront Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman. Authorities have said Nowak had an affair with Shipman's boyfriend, Bill Oefelein, a fellow astronaut.

Nowak, 43, has pleaded not guilty to all charges. NASA released her from the astronaut corps a month after her arrest, and she now is working at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.

The four astronauts interviewed included two who flew on a space shuttle mission with Nowak last July and two who flew with Oefelein last December.

6 teens wounded in 2 shootings in Jacksonville; girl troubles?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Six teenagers were wounded yesterday in two separate shootings near downtown that police believe may have been retaliation for a fight about a girl. "This was a targeted situation," Sheriff John Rutherford said. "This was not a random event."

None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, sheriff's spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said. All the injured victims, ages 15 to 17, appeared to know each other, but the sheriff said they were not cooperating with authorities.

The shootings occurred in the Talleyrand area near Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars football team. Children were walking home from an elementary school at the time.

Anti-Mexican militia was armed with homemade grenades, feds say

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Five members of a self-styled militia were denied bail yesterday after a federal agent testified they planned a machine gun attack on Mexicans, but a federal judge approved bail for a sixth man.

Magistrate Judge Robert Armstrong said he could not grant bail to the five because of the agent's testimony and the amount of weapons - including about 200 homemade hand grenades - that were seized in raids Friday in northeast Alabama. "I'm going to be worried if I let these individuals go at this time," he said.

Adam Nesmith, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that the five - Raymond Kirk Dillard, 46; Adam Lynn Cunningham, 41; Bonnell Hughes, 57; Randall Garrett Cole, 22; and James Ray McElroy, 20 - planned a machine-gun attack on Mexicans in Remlap, a town just north of Birmingham, and went there on a reconnaissance mission April 20. The agent provided no further details. *

- Daily News wire services