Nation briefs 2/19/03

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Man gets 10 years for Milwaukee beating death

MILWAUKEE -- The oldest defendant in the fatal mob beating of a 36-year-old man was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison.

Antonio Albert, 33, expressed remorse for the death of Charlie Young Jr. Albert had pleaded guilty to second-degree reckless homicide.

Young was beaten by a mob of mostly youngsters Sept. 29 and died Oct. 1. He was chased and beaten with broomsticks, shovels, a folding chair and a milk crate after he had a confrontation with one of the youngsters.

Ten juveniles were charged as adults with reckless homicide. Several have pleaded guilty to reduced charges. The youngest alleged participant, a 10-year-old boy, was found not competent to stand trial.

Hacker accesses millions of credit card numbers

NEW YORK -- A computer hacker gained access to more than 5.6 million Visa and MasterCard account numbers by breaching the security of a company that processes transactions for merchants, the card associations said Tuesday.

Visa USA spokesman Mike Riley said that there has been no report of fraudulent activity involving the accounts and that Visa was monitoring the situation.

Processors handle transactions for merchants, bundling and transmitting charges to the banks that issue the cards.

Visa, which is based in Foster City, Calif., said that after learning of the incident, the company's fraud team "immediately notified all affected card-issuing financial institutions and is working with the third-party payment card processor to protect against the threat of a future intrusion."

Growing ineffectiveness of Cipro linked to overuse

CHICAGO -- Cipro, the antibiotic that became a household word during the 2001 anthrax scare, is becoming increasingly ineffective against other dangerous germs because of overuse, a study found.

The researchers examined data on infections in hospitalized patients in 43 states and Washington, D.C., from 1994 to 2000. Ailments included respiratory and urinary infections caused by a variety of bacteria.

Many germs had grown resistant to fluoroquinolones, a class of antibiotics that includes ciprofloxacin, known by the brand name Cipro.

In 1994, Cipro was effective against 86 percent of the bacteria samples analyzed, but that dropped to 76 percent by 2000, the researchers found.

The anthrax bacterium was not studied, and the researchers said their findings do not mean that Cipro is becoming less effective against anthrax, which rarely affects humans.

The study appears in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

-- From wire reports

Death toll from N. Carolina factory explosion rises to five

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- A man burned in last month's explosion at a North Carolina plastics factory died Tuesday, bringing the death toll to five.

Three people died Jan. 29, the day of the explosion and raging fire at the West Pharmaceuticals Services plant in Kinston. A fourth victim died Jan. 31.

The latest victim, Milton Murrell, died at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center. Four other patients remained in critical condition.

Federal officials are still investigating the cause of the blast, including the theory that an accumulation of rubber dust may have been sparked by static electricity, a small fire or something else.

About 130 people were inside the medical supply factory at the time of the explosion.

-- From wire reports

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