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News Briefs

Al-Qaida Threat For Elections Leads To A Plan For High Alert

By David Johnston

The New York Times WASHINGTON

Al-Qaida’s intention to carry out an election-year attack inside the United States has been confirmed by recent intelligence, but the threat information does not indicate any time, place or method of attack, senior administration officials said Monday.

As a result, counterterrorism agencies will move to a higher state of alert in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 2 election and will remain at an increased state of readiness through the 2005 presidential inauguration, the officials said in a background briefing. Those efforts include additional steps to deter a possible attack.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is re-examining terror cases for fresh leads and is interviewing, and in some cases, re-interviewing, possible Qaida sympathizers in the United States, the officials said. A new directive outlining these steps was sent on Monday from FBI headquarters to the bureau’s 56 field offices.

The Homeland Security Department has contacted the National Governors Association to determine what kind of help states might need to secure polling places. Transportation safety officials expect to increase dog patrols at airports and train stations. The Coast Guard will increase the number of vessels to be boarded for inspections.

First Possible Case of Human Transmission of Bird Flu Reported

By Keith Bradsher

The New York Times BANGKOK, Thailand

Officials in Thailand announced Monday that a 32-year-old woman had been hospitalized with avian influenza and that two members of her family had already died of a flu-like illness, raising the possibility that these cases might include the first human-to-human transmission of the disease.

Thai health officials cautioned that they had no laboratory confirmation that the two deaths had been caused by avian influenza, popularly known as bird flu, or that the virus had developed the ability to spread from person to person.

But a team of experts from the Ministry of Public Health, the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has been assembled in Bangkok to investigate the case, and especially whether a human-to-human transmission had occurred.

Ex-Bishop Indicted In Sex Abuse Case, But Won’t Be Prosecuted

By Katie Zezima

The New York Times BOSTON

Thomas Dupre, former Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield, Mass., was charged with two counts of child rape in an indictment unsealed Monday, but only hours later the district attorney said a statute of limitations would keep him from prosecuting.

Dupre, who became the first prelate to be indicted in the sexual abuse scandal that has roiled the Catholic Church in America since 2002, was accused by a Hampden County grand jury of sexually abusing two boys while a parish priest in the towns of Longmeadow and West Springfield in the 1970’s.

The district attorney, William M. Bennett, began presenting the case to the grand jury in March, warning publicly that an indictment might not be possible because the statute of limitations was six years at the time of the acts Dupre was accused of committing.

On Monday, Bennett decided that the case could not be pursued without additional charges of witness tampering and conspiracy -- charges the grand jury declined to bring -- that could have stemmed from later contacts that the bishop was said to have had with the two young men.