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News Briefs

Judge Orders Law to Give Deposition

SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON POST

A Massachusetts judge Monday ordered Boston Cardinal Bernard F. Law, the nation’s senior Roman Catholic prelate, to give a videotaped deposition Wednesday in the civil suit brought by sexually abused victims of defrocked priest John J. Geoghan.

If he appears as scheduled, Law would be the first American cardinal to be deposed in such a case, according to Bill Ryan, spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The court order comes just days after the Archdiocese of Boston abruptly backed out of a multimillion-dollar settlement with 86 victims of Geoghan, now serving a nine to 10-year prison sentence after being convicted in January of a single count of child molestation. The archdiocese’s finance council rejected the agreement, estimated to be worth between $15 million and $30 million, because it feared there would not be enough money to settle additional sex abuse cases.

Law, who has acknowledged that he transferred Geoghan to new a new parish after learning of the allegations against him, has not been questioned in conjunction with the suits involving Geoghan. He had been scheduled four times to be deposed but each time the deposition was postponed.

FBI: Mail Bombs From Same Source

THE WASHINGTON POST

As rural postal carriers in three Midwestern states warily returned to their routes Monday, authorities said the pipe bombs discovered in mailboxes since Friday are nearly identical and came from the same source -- possibly a single individual.

Officials also announced late Monday that they had discovered another pipe bomb in a mailbox in Nebraska, bringing to 16 the number of devices found so far. Authorities said Monday night they were also investigating the report of a possible bomb in Salida, Colo., about 100 miles west of Pueblo.

Postal and law enforcement officials in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska said they have developed several promising leads in their investigation of the bombings, which have left six people injured and have rattled communities far removed from other recent terrorist scares.

The FBI has described the bombing campaign as a case of “domestic terrorism.” Investigators believe the culprit, who has placed anti-government notes along with the bombs, is most likely a middle-aged or older male working alone, officials said.

Studies to Back Smallpox Vaccine

NEWSDAY

Taking a pre-emptive strike against smallpox by mounting a mass vaccination campaign of people between the ages of 1 and 29 could spare more lives than a conservative government plan in the event of a bioterrorist attack, according to two reports to be released Tuesday.

The vaccine strategies to be reported at a meeting of pediatric researchers show that mass vaccinations ultimately would cost the government less money and that the number of deaths and injuries from the vaccine itself can be roughly predetermined.

Dr. Matthew Davis of the University of Michigan, who is to unveil one of the plans to the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting this week in Baltimore, said a mass campaign would protect those who are most vulnerable to smallpox: People between the ages of 1 and 29. Most people 30 and older were vaccinated against the virus and may still carry some immunity.

The younger segment of the population never received the vaccine because immunizations stopped before they were born. The last routine immunizations with the vaccine in the United States took place in 1972; the nation’s last case of smallpox was in 1949. The World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated globally in 1980 after an aggressive immunization campaign. The last case of natural transmission was in 1977 in Somalia.

“There are risks with the vaccine,” Davis said, “but there are even greater risks with smallpox.”