Terror threat lowered for financial institutions
Federal authorities lowered the terror alert status for areas around financial institutions in New York, Washington and Newark, N.J., saying Wednesday that additional security precautions had reduced the threat.
Lowering the threat level from orange to yellow -- the midpoint on the government's five-level terror warning system -- comes three months after the alert was raised because of concerns the institutions and the areas around them could be al-Qaida targets. Yellow is "elevated," while orange is considered a "high" threat of attack.
Homeland Security Deputy Secretary James Loy said security improvements made since the threat was raised Aug. 1 allowed the government to make the change. However, he warned the threat of an al-Qaida attack remained serious.
"We are as concerned today as we were a month ago," Loy said.
Patient has human form of mad cow disease
Ireland has suffered its first homegrown case of the human form of mad cow disease, the government said Wednesday.
Health Minister Mary Harney said doctors confirmed that a man in his early 20s was diagnosed with variant Crutzfeld-Jakob Disease, a fatal condition linked to the consumption of infected beef.
Prime Minister Bertie Ahern told lawmakers that consumers shouldn't be worried about the safety of Irish beef, saying the nation had imposed strict controls since the early 1990s to ensure that the meat is free of the disease formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.
Mad cow disease eats holes in the brains of cattle. It appeared in Britain in 1986 and spread through Europe and Asia, prompting massive destruction of herds and devastating the European beef industry. Cases have also been detected in the United States and Canada.
So far 147 people in Britain, and an additional 10 elsewhere, are known to have contracted variant Crutzfeld-Jakob Disease since it was first identified in 1996 in Britain.