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News Briefs

FCC Clears Access To Internet Over Power Lines

By Stephen Labaton

The New York Times WASHINGTON

Clearing the way for homes and businesses to receive high-speed Internet services through their electrical outlets, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules on Thursday that would enable the utility companies to offer an alternative to the broadband communications services now provided by cable and phone companies.

As a further spur to the rollout of broadband Internet services, the FCC also ruled that the regional Bell companies do not have to give competitors access to fiber-optic lines that reach into consumers’ home -- a decision that prompted two of the Bells, SBC Communications and BellSouth, to announce that they would move quickly to build new fiber-optic networks in residential neighborhoods. The ruling was criticized by the Bells’ rivals and consumer groups, which called it anti-competitive and said it would lead to higher prices.

For the electric companies’ part, broadband Internet service is more than a year away from becoming widely available. But the agency’s ruling is expected to significantly increase the level of investment and interest by the utilities, which had been stymied in previous attempts to offer new services over power lines. They reach more American homes than either telephone lines or television cables.

Report On Prison Abuse Implicates 28 U.S. Soldiers

By Thom Shanker

The New York Times WASHINGTON

A newly completed Army criminal investigation has implicated 28 active-duty and reserve soldiers in the homicides of two Afghan men detained at the American air base at Bagram, Afghanistan, in December 2002, and describes potential offenses ranging from involuntary manslaughter to assault to conspiracy, the Army said Thursday.

One Pentagon official said five or six could face the most serious charges, a decision that now rests with the soldiers’ commanders.

Those cited by the investigation include officers -- the highest ranking being two captains -- noncommissioned officers and enlisted soldiers, according to Pentagon officials familiar with the report. The names were not publicly disclosed.

The inquiry by the Army Criminal Investigation Command involved soldiers from two units deployed at the Bagram Control Point, a detention facility at an American base 40 miles north of Kabul. The Army Reserve unit was the 377th Military Police Company with headquarters at Cincinnati, and the active-duty unit was Company A of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, whose home is Fort Bragg, N.C.

After photographs of American soldiers abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad drew global outrage, investigators learned that the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion had played a major role in setting up the prison’s interrogation unit.