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News Briefs

Russian Arms Safeguards Found Lacking


A decade-long U.S. effort to safeguard stockpiles of Russian nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is faltering because of bureaucratic obstacles, federal auditors warn in a draft report that faults leaders in both countries.

The problems already have delayed the destruction of thousands of Soviet-made chemical weapons, while raising the risk that nuclear bomb components or deadly germs could fall into the hands of terrorists, the General Accounting Office concludes in a report due to be released to Congress this week.

The United States has spent $6 billion since 1992 to help Russia destroy or secure Cold War-vintage weapons. But basic security improvements still have not been made at dozens of Russian military installations where more than 60 percent of the country’s weapons-grade uranium and plutonium are kept, the GAO found. The biggest obstacle is Russia’s continuing refusal to let U.S. officials visit the facilities where the upgrades are to take place, the report says.

Death Penalty Still Option In Teen’s Sniper Case


A request by lawyers for teenage sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo to have Virginia’s death penalty law declared unconstitutional was denied Monday by a Fairfax County circuit judge, clearing the way for the possibility of execution if he is convicted of capital murder.

The ruling by Judge Jane M. Roush was expected by the defense, which is building a record for appeals, and prosecutors.

“The Supreme Court of Virginia has rejected exactly the arguments that were just made,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said, noting that the state’s 1977 death penalty law has not been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The challenge was one of 13 defense motions, most of which were addressed Monday.

Roush approved hiring a psychologist and three investigators for the defense -- but not the five sought by Malvo lawyer Michael S. Arif. They will be paid by the state. Roush also agreed to limit the uniformed officers in the courtroom to avoid leading jurors to think that Malvo is unduly threatening.

Capital One CFO Resigns, Faces SEC Charges


Capital One Financial Corp., one of the country’s biggest credit card issuers, said its chief financial officer resigned after the Securities and Exchange Commission staff told him he could face civil insider-trading charges.

The SEC staff notified David M. Willey that they will recommend the commission file a lawsuit against him, alleging he sold shares of Capital One ahead of a public announcement last summer that drove the stock down 40 percent.

“We’re in the midst of a constructive dialogue with the SEC staff,” said Willey’s attorney Richard Morvillo. “We hope to be able to persuade the staff that any charges against Mr. Willey would be unwarranted, but if the SEC decides to proceed with the case we’re prepared to take this one the distance and defend this rigorously.”

Capital One officials, after releasing a statement on his resignation Monday, declined to comment on the matter, according to spokeswoman Liz Mather.