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News Briefs

November 2, 1995
Web posted at: 3 p.m. EST

FBI seal

FBI wants more wiretaps to fight computer-based crime

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation has proposed a national wiretapping system that would give law enforcement officials the capacity to monitor as many as one out of every 100 phone or data transmission lines in high crime areas. Currently, one in every 174,000 phone lines is tapped, according to Thursday's New York Times. Congress would have to approve an increase in wiretaps and courts would have to authorize them in each individual case.

The FBI would not comment on the proposal, but in the past officials have testified before Congress on a growing incidence of computer-based crimes. Digital switches and fiber optics now in growing use often carry hundreds of conversations or data transmissions at the same time, making it difficult to isolate a single phone line.

Telephone industry executives and privacy-rights advocates have questioned the FBI's need for access to such a large portion of the phone network.

Tune in to CNN's World News at 10:30 p.m. EST for more.



Audit: Mammograms safer, more accurate

mammogram

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The nation's first mammography standards have led to safer and more accurate breast cancer detection, according to a government audit. It said the Food and Drug Administration's requirements have significantly improved mammogram quality at more than 10,000 facilities nationwide, particularly in nine states that did not have mammography standards.

Mammograms are a woman's best shot at finding breast cancer early enough to cure it, often detecting tumors two years before they can be felt by hand. As of October 1994, mammography facilities had to meet new FDA standards requiring up-to-date equipment, doctors trained to interpret mammograms accurately or technicians who properly positioned the breast for X-rays. Breast cancer strikes 182,000 women a year and kills 46,000.

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Lawsuits dismissed against subway shooter

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A judge dismissed $13.5 million in lawsuits filed against Bernhard Goetz by two of the four teen-agers he shot on a subway train 11 years ago. The judge ruled the lawsuits had been pending several years with no attempt to move them forward. But Goetz, 47, still faces a third lawsuit filed by another of the teens, who was paralyzed in the shooting on Dec. 22, 1984.

Goetz, who is white, made headlines when he shot the black teen-agers after they approached him on the train. The youths, all 18 and 19 at the time, said they were panhandling money to play video games and had asked him for $5. Goetz said he thought he was being robbed. A jury acquitted him of the shooting but convicted him of illegal possession of a weapon. Goetz said he was pleased by the dismissals. He declined to say whether he still carries a gun on the subway.




AIDS

Researcher: AIDS conspiracy rumors dangerous

SAN DIEGO (CNN) -- People who believe AIDS was created as a plot against African-Americans are at greater risk of getting the virus because they are less likely to be tested or use condoms, according to a researcher. For years, health officials have said the rumors are untrue, but a large number of blacks believe them, said Sandra Crouse Quinn, a health educator at the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Quinn and her colleague, Stephen B. Thomas of Emory University in Atlanta, have found the conspiracy belief widespread among blacks in Washington housing projects and clinics, and among black college students. They presented their findings to the American Public Health Association.

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Another Democrat to leave Congress

House emblem

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Ten-term Congressman Anthony Beilenson, D-California, announced Wednesday that he will retire from the House of Representatives.

"In the ideological and often mindless politics we seem to be consumed with today, I have come to feel that I can no longer make the kind of meaningful and useful contribution that is required of a responsible legislator," he said.

Beilenson is a senior member of the House rules committee and a former chairman of the House intelligence committee.



Perot party qualifies for California ballot

SACRAMENTO, California (CNN) -- Unofficially, Ross Perot's Reform Party has turned in enough signatures to quality for a spot on the 1996 presidential ballot in California, an election official said Wednesday.

Perot

California Secretary of State Bill Jones said Perot's supporters had collected nearly 108,000 signatures, enough to have the Reform Party unofficially qualified for the March 1996 Primary Election ballot.

A minimum of 89,007 voter registrations are required to qualify as a new party in California. The Natural Law Party has also qualified, according to Jones, turning in 95,473 registrations.

California voters will also be able to choose candidates from five other parties: Democrat, Republican, American Independent, Peace and Freedom, and Green.

Final certifications for the new parties will be made after county voting officials turn in final voter registration figures.



Computer failure causes lengthy airport delays

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- The main air traffic control computer for the Chicago area failed Wednesday, causing long delays for travelers.

Air Traffic Controller

Officials ordered all flights into and out of the area halted for more than an hour. A "national ground stop" was also issued, preventing all flights destined for Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports from taking off. Planes that were already approaching Chicago were allowed to land, using a backup computer system, according to FAA spokesman Don Zochert.

A half-dozen computer failures in the last year at the air traffic control center have been blamed on the aging computer system. This latest failure was probably due to human error, an FAA official said.

There were no reports of near-misses or other safety-related problems during the time the computer was down.



FBI agents defend their actions at Waco

Waco

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A former FBI negotiator said the FBI stepped into a situation "almost beyond repair" during the 1993 siege at the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held its second and final day of hearings on the matter Wednesday.

The former agent told the committee that intimidating tactics by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI hostage rescue team frustrated his group's negotiations.



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