USA

Senators were to be given a look at more photos of American mistreatment of detainees in Iraqi prisons Wednesday in a high-security classified office in the Capitol. But the pictures then were to be returned to the Pentagon for the Bush administration to determine whether they should be made public. The viewing occurred the day after an Islamist Website posted a video showing hooded terrorists, one of whom beheaded US civilian contractor Nick Berg, claiming that the execution was to avenge abuses in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. Meanwhile, military officials called before the Senate Armed Services Committee pinned most of the blame for the prison abuse on a small group of poorly supervised and undertrained soldiers.

The US will tighten economic sanctions against Syria, President Bush announced Tuesday while calling the Arab country an "extraordinary threat to national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the United States."

The trade deficit grew by 9.1 percent in March to an all-time high of $46 billion, the Commerce Department reported. At the same time, the sale of American goods and services to other countries also set a record: $94.7 billion.

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Side air bags are headed toward becoming standard equipment, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in announcing proposed new regulations. The government- imposed requirement would guarantee action by automakers, who reached a voluntary agreement last December to improve side-impact safety by 2009.

The Energy Department is launching a joint effort with three private companies to build the world's fastest civilian research computer at the Oak Ridge (Tenn.) National Laboratory, it announced. The US has nine of the world's 10 fastest computers, but Japan is the leader in ultrahigh-speed computing, considered key in making scientific discoveries.

Nine former students at a Roman Catholic school filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that they were sexually and physically abused between 1944 and 1977 by nuns who ran the now-defunct Boston School for the Deaf. The case is the first to allege widespread abuse by nuns in the area since the sex scandal involving current and former priests that rocked the archdiocese in 2002.

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