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Archive for Thursday, March 31, 2005

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March 31, 2005

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Texas

Ex-Scout official pleads guilty to child porn

A former high-ranking Boy Scouts of America official who ran a task force that worked to protect children from sexual abuse pleaded guilty Wednesday in Fort Worth to a child pornography charge.

Douglas Sovereign Smith Jr., 61, faces five to 20 years in prison.

Authorities found 520 images of child pornography, including video clips, on Smith's home computer, federal prosecutor Bret Helmer said. The images included children engaging in sex acts.

Smith entered his plea to a federal charge of possession and distribution of child pornography without making a deal with prosecutors. He'll remain free until sentencing July 12.

Smith worked for the Boy Scouts 39 years and led the Youth Protection Task Force that aimed to shield youth from sexual abuse. He did not work directly with children, and no child porn images were found on his work computer.

Virginia

Doctors upgrade Falwell's condition

Doctors upgraded the Rev. Jerry Falwell's condition from critical to stable on Wednesday and removed the Moral Majority founder from a ventilator.

Falwell, 71, has fluid in his lungs and doctors say he suffers from congestive heart failure, although a cardiologist, Dr. Carl Moore, said testing showed "his heart is strong" and he had not suffered a heart attack.

Falwell was admitted to Lynchburg General Hospital in "respiratory arrest." Family members told Moore that Falwell had been unconscious from five to seven minutes and had to be resuscitated by EMTs at the hospital emergency room.

Moore said there was no evidence of neurological damage.

Washington, D.C.

College faculties mostly liberal, study finds

College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says.

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

The study appears in the March issue of the Forum, an online political science journal. It was funded by the Randolph Foundation, a right-leaning group.

New York City

Drug-resistant strain of HIV reported

Health officials have identified several patients potentially infected with a rare strain of highly drug-resistant HIV, but are not sure if the cases are related.

The first case of the strain was reported last month in a man who had unprotected sex with dozens of other men while under the influence of crystal methamphetamine.

Officials then contacted sex partners identified by the infected man, and began surveying city HIV laboratories for patients with possibly related strains, The New York Times reported in Wednesday editions.

City officials would not say how many patients had been identified as possibly being infected with the strain, and said it could take months to determine for sure whether their infections are related to the first case.

Mississippi

Ten Commandments bill sent to governor

The Mississippi House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow the Ten Commandments and other religious texts to be placed in public buildings, a day after the Senate also approved it.

The legislation now goes before Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, who is "inclined to sign" it, said his spokesman, Pete Smith.

The measure passed the House 97-15 and the Senate 40-4 despite warnings from some lawmakers that the state should wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments on public property.

Mississippi has had a law since 2001 requiring the motto "In God We Trust" to be posted in public schools. The new bill would allow the motto, the Ten Commandments and excerpts from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount to be posted in all public buildings.

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