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Archive for Friday, February 6, 2004

Briefly

February 6, 2004

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Washington, D.C.

Pentagon cancels Internet voting system for November

Citing security concerns, the Pentagon has canceled Internet voting that would've involved as many as 100,000 military and overseas citizens from seven states in November, a Defense Department official said Thursday.

The announcement comes two weeks after outside security experts urged the program's cancellation in a scathing report. They said hackers or terrorists could penetrate the system and change votes or gather information about users. At the time, the Pentagon said it felt confident enough to proceed.

But Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has since decided to scrap the system because Pentagon officials were not certain they could "assure the legitimacy of votes that would be cast," said a Pentagon official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Investigators widen search for source of Capitol Hill ricin

Investigators expanded their search Thursday for the source of ricin discovered on Capitol Hill after intensive testing of a Senate office mailroom failed to turn up the deadly poison's origin.

The ricin was discovered in Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office. Law enforcement officials say no letter or note has been found indicating how it got there, who was behind it and whether the Tennessee Republican was the target.

"We're not at the point in time where we can say how it was delivered," said Michael Mason, assistant FBI director in charge of the Washington field office. "We have not found a hot letter."

ROME

Experts: Poultry vaccination could help crush bird flu

U.N. agencies backed targeted poultry vaccination Thursday as part of a broader strategy to combat the bird flu ravaging Asia's farms, saying it could avoid some of the economically devastating consequences of mass slaughter while still protecting human health.

Experts ending a two-day conference on the crisis said the epidemic was so widespread that some governments could not afford to compensate farmers, many of whom are resisting killing off healthy birds.

They maintained that when it comes to infected birds, slaughter is the solution, but that under some circumstances vaccination of healthy birds could help stop the spread of the disease.

Indonesia

Strong quakes jolt remote province, killing at least 22

A series of powerful earthquakes struck Indonesia's remote Papua province early today, killing at least 22 people, injuring up to 600 and destroying hundreds of houses, authorities said.

The quakes, the largest of which was an estimated magnitude 6.8, hit hardest in the town of Nabire, damaging the local airport, a bridge, roads and buildings, said Margiono, a seismologist with the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency in the provincial capital, Jayapura.

Police said eight people died, but the state news agency reported 22 had been killed.

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