Nation briefs 12/2/4

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Okla. college bans alcohol after student's death

NORMAN, Okla. -- Drinking will be banned at University of Oklahoma fraternities and residence halls under new policies announced Wednesday, two months after a 19-year-old student died of alcohol poisoning. University of Oklahoma president David Boren said the rules will go into effect Jan. 18 at the start of the new semester. The university also will set up a hot line for students to report violations, and will expand alcohol education programs.

HIV rates unchanged in U.S.; nearing 1 million

ATLANTA -- Nearly a million Americans now have the AIDS virus and the nation's ability to keep others from becoming infected still lags despite a government pledge four years ago to "break the back" of the AIDS epidemic by 2005. The campaign, launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February 2001, intended to cut in half the estimated 40,000 new HIV infections that have occurred every year since the 1990s.

-- From wire reports

Ex-Bush official indicted in phone-jamming

CONCORD, N.H. -- President Bush's former New England campaign chairman was indicted Thursday on charges he took part in the jamming of the Democrats' get-out-the-vote phone lines on Election Day 2002. James Tobin, 44, stepped down Oct. 15 after the Democrats accused him of involvement. At the time, he called the allegations "without merit." In 2002, six phone lines run by the Democrats and the Manchester firefighters union were tied up for 1 1/2 hours by 800 computer-generated hang-up calls.

Skull fragment reveals early surgery, autopsy

NORFOLK, Va. -- A skull fragment found in a 400-year-old trash pit at Jamestown contains evidence of the earliest known surgery -- and autopsy -- in the English colonies in America, researchers say. Circular cut marks indicate someone attempted to drill two holes in the skull to relieve pressure on the brain, the researchers said. The patient, a European man, died and was apparently autopsied.

Senate gets OK to probe oil-for-food program

WASHINGTON -- The State Department on Wednesday endorsed a Senate investigation into possible fraud in the U.N. oil-for-food program while sidestepping a senator's demand that Secretary-General Kofi Annan resign. The oil-for-food program, which began in 1996, permitted Iraq to sell oil, provided that the revenue went for food, medicine and other necessities. Last month, a Senate subcommittee said it uncovered evidence that Iraq raised more than $21.3 billion in illegal revenue by subverting U.N. penalties, including the restrictive oil-for-food program.

-- From wire reports

Tenet criticizes intelligence chief idea

WASHINGTON -- Former CIA Director George Tenet on Wednesday criticized proposals to create a national intelligence director, saying the position would lack authority unless the director also is in charge of "leading men and women every day and taking risks." Tenet, who left the CIA in July after seven years as director, offered his opinion to an audience of about 250 at a closed conference on homeland security and technology. At Tenet's insistence, national media were kept out. Allowed in were some reporters for trade publications that cover the government's use of computers and the Internet.

Priest pleads guilty to raping boy in 1980s

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced Wednesday to 4 1/2 to 5 years in prison for repeatedly raping an altar boy in the 1980s. The Rev. Robert Gale pleaded guilty Tuesday to four counts of raping a child just as jury selection was set to begin for his trial. Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 10 to 12 years, but the judge settled on the shorter prison term, to be followed by 25 years of probation.

-- From wire reports

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