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News Briefs

Lawmaker Is Expelled from Party For Alleged Corruption


One of the highest-ranking Chinese officials ever to be caught in a corruption scandal has been kicked out of the Communist Party and likely will be stripped of his posts after he allegedly accepted more than $4 million in bribes with the help of his mistress, state media announced Thursday.

Authorities have recommended that Cheng Kejie be removed as vice chairman of the National People’s Congress, China’s highest lawmaking body, the New China News Agency said.

The legislator now awaits criminal prosecution and is almost certain to become the latest high-profile victim in Beijing’s war against official corruption. Last month, a former provincial deputy governor was executed for taking $650,000 in bribes.

The news agency accused Cheng of amassing his shady gains between 1992 and 1998, when he served as chairman of southern Guangxi province.

In collusion with his married mistress, Li Ping, Cheng steered loans and contracts to businesses that in turn rewarded the two conspirators with kickbacks amounting to $4.6 million, investigators charged. Cheng and Li, whose adulterous relationship was emphasized in the official media, squirreled away the money “for their future marriage,” reports said.

Dental Student Arrested for Alleged Racist E-Mail Threats


After nearly a month of unnerving racist threats against minority students at the University of Iowa’s College of Dentistry, police arrested an unlikely suspect early Thursday -- a 23-year-old black woman in her second year at the school.

Tarsha Michelle Claiborne of Baton Rouge, La., allegedly sent several threatening e-mail messages from a university computer -- including a bomb threat that closed the college on Tuesday as 30 bomb squad officers from around the region went through every locker and desk.

Claiborne also is accused of placing a plate of spaghetti, colored red with food dye, on the doorstep of another black student at the school, along with a note that read: “Black man’s brains.”

She was arrested at her home after police obtained a search warrant. She confessed to the crimes, according to court documents, and could face more than 20 years in prison.

Blood Thinner Plavix Could Cause Rare Blood Disorder


A new blood-thinning drug widely prescribed for people with heart disease apparently can cause a potentially fatal blood disorder in rare cases, according to a report released Thursday.

An estimated 3 million people, including 2 million Americans, have taken the drug Plavix, which the report links to 11 cases of a disorder known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. Victims of TTP develop multiple tiny clots in blood vessels that supply many organs of the body, and some die from brain or kidney damage.

The drug, also known as clopidogrel, has been promoted as a safer alternative to a different blood-thinner, ticlopidine, that had previously been associated with TTP. Plavix was approved two years ago by the Food and Drug Administration as a possibly more effective drug than aspirin for reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes in people who have atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. It works by preventing blood clots from forming.