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News Briefs

January 11, 1996
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EST

Justice Department drops probe of encryption programmer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Justice Department said it has dropped its investigation of computer programmer Phil Zimmerman.

Zimmerman is the author of the encryption software program PGP, or "Pretty Good Privacy." PGP contains an algorithm that is used to encode data. It is illegal under current U.S. law to export sophisticated encryption software.

PGP is widely available on the Internet, both from sites in the U.S. and internationally. The Justice Department wouldn't give a reason for dropping the probe, saying only that they declined prosecution because the case "didn't meet the standards for federal prosecution."

The Justice Department wouldn't say whether it still considers Zimmerman's action illegal. The wide availability of the software on the Internet has been cited by Zimmerman's defenders as a reason to drop the case.



Geese blamed for Air Force crash in Alaska

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An Air Force investigation into the crash of an Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) plane in Alaska on September 22, 1995, has concluded that the crash was caused by geese flying into the engines. All 24 crew members aboard were killed.

The $180 million plane crashed on takeoff from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. It was the first crash of the E-3 Sentry AWACS plane and is believed to be one of the most expensive single plane crashes ever.

The report also faulted the procedures at Elmendorf. "The air crew did everything humanly possible to fly this aircraft out of an unflyable situation," the report states. The senior controller in the tower had seen a flock of geese near the runway moments before the C-130 took off and failed to warn the crew.

The report also placed partial blame on the base's Bird-Aircraft Strike Hazard (BASH) program, which failed to "detect and deter" the geese from the area at the end of the runway.

The report does not make clear whether any action will be taken against any of the air controllers or other base personnel.



U.S. shutting down migrant camps at Guantanamo

camp

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (CNN) -- The U.S. military is shutting down the last of the migrant camps at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and expects to ship out the last Cuban refugees to the United States by the end of the month.

The Pentagon says that in September 1994 there were 46,000 Cuban and Haitian migrants at Guantanamo Bay. The last Haitians left on November 1, 1995. There are about 1,500 Cubans remaining in the camp. Most are being paroled into the United States. A small number will be repatriated to Cuba.

Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said the Cubans are being shipped out at a rate of about 500 a week.

The military is dismantling some of the camps, but the Pentagon says facilities for 10,000 migrants will be kept in case they are needed in the future.



Governor ends affirmative action, declares MLK holiday

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (CNN) -- Louisiana's new Republican Gov. Mike Foster abolished affirmative action and some special minority programs Thursday. During his first executive order, he also declared Monday as a state holiday in honor of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

The order does not affect existing contracts under state affirmative action, and some special minority programs under state or federal laws are exempt. It also doesn't override programs for the mentally or physically handicapped.

The order prohibits discrimination against anyone based on religion, race, place of birth, age or gender and requires that positions be awarded based on ability, merit, responsibility and value of service.



Survey: More Americans are surfing the 'Net

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The number Internet users has increased and they're spending more time on line, according to a survey released Thursday.

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The American Internet User Survey, directed by Thomas E. Miller, shows that users spend an average of 6.6 hours a week on the 'Net instead of watching television or talking on the phone.

Of the 1,000 United States adults surveyed in November and December, half said they got on the 'Net last year. Two-thirds of them look for weekly information and about a quarter search daily. The average on-line session lasts 68 minutes.

The survey found that 9.5 million Americans now use the Internet, including 1.1 million children under 18.

It also found that the average Internet user is 36 years old, has a college education, and a household income of $62,000.

The survey also reports:

Nearly a third of the users said they spent less time watching television; a quarter said they spent less time on long-distance telephone calls; 15 percent said they spent less time watching videos; and 10 percent said they spent less time listening to the radio.

Twelve percent and 13 percent said they decreased the time they spent reading newspapers and magazines respectively.

Nine percent and 11 percent said they increased the time they spent reading, primarily because they were trying to learn more about the Internet.



Utah congresswoman's estranged husband sued by mother

Rep. Enid Waldholtz

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Rep. Enid Waldholtz's mother-in-law says her son persuaded her to obtain a $72,000 mortgage on her house and give him the money, and then defaulted on the loan.

Joseph 
Waldholtz

A federal grand jury is investigating charges that Joseph Waldholtz engineered a $1.7 million check kiting scheme, lied to the Federal Election Commission and stole money from his wife, a freshman Utah Republican congresswoman.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Barbara Waldholtz said her son promised her he would pay off the mortgage on her home when she agreed to it in 1987. She also said he talked her into cashing in her pension in 1993 and giving him more than $14,000, which he spent.

Also Wednesday, Enid Waldholtz submitted amended House disclosure reports that show she owes $50,000 to $130,000 in back taxes since 1992.

While she was not yet married to Waldholtz at that time, the congresswoman still holds him responsible for the delinquency. The filings were reported in a story in The Salt Lake Tribune.

Related story



Clinton signs pension tax ban legislation

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton signed into law Wednesday a measure that bars states from taxing pensions of former residents who have since moved to another state.

Tens of thousands of retirees are said to be affected by such pension taxes.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, had fought for the measure, contending that states increasingly have sought to raise revenue through a tax on pensions to help them deal with growing budget problems.



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