VA changes rules for ex-POWs' heart ailments

Sunday, October 3, 2004

ARLINGTON, Texas -- All former U.S. prisoners of war who suffer from heart disease or stroke will receive government health-care benefits without having to prove the ailments were linked to their captivity, Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi said Saturday night. Former POWs had received coverage if they could prove their heart disease or stroke was caused by deprivation and brutality while imprisoned decades ago. But proving that link was difficult despite studies that have shown stress in captivity leads to such diseases, Principi said. Some 20,000 former POWs are expected to receive the new benefits, which will go into effect Thursday and do not require congressional approval. The benefits will cost at least $26 million the first year and will be absorbed in the veterans' health-care budget, Principi said.

White supremacist booth canceled at state fair

JACKSON, Miss. -- A white supremacist group has canceled plans to have a booth at the Mississippi state fair after a reputed Ku Klux Klansman under investigation for the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers said he had no intention of stopping by it, a state official says. Nationalist Movement leader Richard Barrett's plans to be at the fair and his promotion of Edgar Ray Killen as the booth's featured attraction triggered protests earlier this week by the NAACP and local leaders. Some critics called for a boycott of the 12-day state fair, which begins Wednesday.

Court: Viewing child porn by computer not crime

MIAMI -- Simply using computer equipment to view child pornography is not a federal crime, a federal appeals panel ruled Friday in reversing the conviction of a Florida man. Federal prosecutors stretched the link to interstate commerce by prosecuting James Maxwell for possession of child pornography without offering any evidence that he obtained the photos from out of state, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. The ruling adds to a split among appellate courts on the minimum requirements for federal child-pornography convictions.

Gas drilling halted along Montana mountain front

HELENA, Mont. -- The federal government will no longer consider letting companies drill for natural gas along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, the Bureau of Land Management confirmed Saturday, quieting for now one of the state's hottest environmental debates. The mountain front, which stretches about 100 miles along the eastern crags of the Rockies south of Glacier National Park, is home to grizzly bears, elk, bighorn sheep and other wildlife.

-- From wire reports

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