Nation briefs 11/5/04

Friday, November 5, 2004

Officials unsure if election terror plot disrupted

WASHINGTON -- More than 700 people were arrested on immigration violations and thousands more subjected to FBI interviews in an intense government effort to avert a terrorist attack aimed at disrupting the election. As with past unrealized al-Qaida threats, law enforcement officials said Thursday they don't know for sure whether any of those arrests or interviews foiled an attack. "It's very hard to prove a negative," said Michael Garcia, chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Calif. company to build anthrax vaccine stockpile

WASHINGTON -- The government said Thursday it is purchasing 75 million doses of a new generation anthrax vaccine under an $877.5 million contract -- the first awarded through a federal program to develop and stockpile antidotes to biological and chemical weapons. The five-year contract with VaxGen Inc. will provide enough vaccine to treat roughly 25 million people. The company expects to begin delivery by 2006. According to the contract, the first 25 million vaccine doses would be delivered within two years and the balance within three, said the company's president.

Much of Western U.S. OK with medical marijuana

With Montana's approval of a medical marijuana initiative, nearly three-fourths of Western states now have such laws -- while only two of the 37 states outside the West have adopted them. From a procedural standpoint, it's just easier to get pot issues on Western ballots because most states in the region allow such initiatives. Nationwide, just 24 states allow citizens to put issues on the ballot by petition, bypassing the legislature. Eleven of those states are in the West.

National Guard fighter jet strafes New Jersey school

LITTLE EGG HARBOR, N.J. -- A National Guard F-16 fighter jet on a nighttime training mission strafed an elementary school with 25 rounds of ammunition, authorities said Thursday. No one was injured. The military is investigating the incident that damaged Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School shortly after 11 p.m. Wednesday police chief Mark Siino said officers noticed punctures in the roof. Ceiling tiles had fallen into classrooms, and there were scratch marks in the asphalt outside.

Decline in foreign grad students raises alarm

A new survey indicates the number of foreign graduate students enrolling for the first time at American universities is down 6 percent this year -- the third straight decline after a decade of growth. Educators worry the trend is eroding America's position as the world's leader in higher education. The fall wasn't as steep as feared, considering applications last spring were down 32 percent. American universities staved off a comparable decline in enrollment by admitting a higher percentage of students.

-- From wire reports

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