Judge rejects guilty plea in prisoner abuse case

FORT HOOD, Texas -- A military judge Wednesday threw out Pfc. Lynndie England's guilty plea to abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, saying he was not convinced the Army reservist who appeared in some of the most notorious photos in the scandal knew her actions were wrong at the time. The mistrial sends the case back to square one. It will be reviewed again by Fort Hood's commander, Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, who will decide what charges, if any, England should face. If she is charged, the case would go back to a military equivalent of a grand jury hearing, officials said. The judge, Col. James Pohl, entered a plea of not guilty for England on a charge of conspiring with Pvt. Charles Graner Jr. to maltreat detainees at the Baghdad-area prison and a related charge.

Bill would insure more in retirement accounts

WASHINGTON -- The House overwhelmingly approved a measure Wednesday raising the $100,000 ceiling on federal bank deposit insurance to $130,000, and to double that amount for retirement accounts. The vote was 413-10 for legislation that would raise maximum insurance coverage for deposits for the first time since 1980, when it was $40,000 per account. Retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k) plans would be insured up to $260,000. Proponents say the move is needed to keep pace with inflation and encourage more people to save. With inflation, $40,000 in 1980 would be worth nearly $94,000 today. Republicans have pushed the bill through the House before, only to see it die in the Senate.

House cuts budget for Homeland Security

WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers cut nearly a half-billion dollars from the Homeland Security Department's 2006 budget proposal on Wednesday for what they called repeated failures to update Congress on counterterror spending. Another $310 million was ordered withheld until the department submits reports lawmakers have requested. The House bill also eliminates $1.7 billion in fees to be generated by raising airline passenger costs $3 per ticket, a controversial proposal in President Bush's budget that was to pay for security measures.

Two soldiers detained in arms plot in Colombia

CARMEN DE APICALA, Colombia -- Colombian police arrested two U.S. soldiers for alleged involvement in a plot to traffic thousands of rounds of ammunition -- possibly to outlawed right-wing paramilitary groups, authorities said Wednesday. The two soldiers were detained during a raid Tuesday in a gated community in Carmen de Apicala, 50 miles southwest of the capital and near Colombia's sprawling Tolemaida air base, where the detained soldiers worked and where many U.S. servicemen are stationed.