USA

The Pentagon took steps Tuesday to provide greater confidentiality to alleged victims of sexual assault as a means of better preventing such assaults in the military. The policy change follows a spate of assaults against servicewomen serving in Iraq by their male comrades, as well as incidents at the Air Force Academy. The lack of privacy and confidentiality has proven to be a barrier to encouraging victims to come forward. One of the key changes will allow accusers to seek medical treatment without automatically triggering an investigation.

While touring the tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island Tuesday, Secretary of State Powell promised that the US would send more helicopters to the tsunami-ravaged Indian Ocean region. Dozens of helicopters are the workhorses of the biggest humanitarian operation since World War II. Speaking of the devastation, Powell said, "I have been in war and I have been through a number of hurricanes, tornadoes, and other relief operations, but I have never seen anything like this." As of Wednesday, about 13,400 US military personnel were involved in the relief effort, including 12,000 aboard ships.

Federal authorities used the Patriot Act on Tuesday to make David Banach of Parsippany, N.J., the first person arrested after a recent rash of reports around the nation of laser beams hitting airplanes. Although charged with temporarily blinding the pilot and co-pilot of a small chartered plane, he claims he was simply using the device to look at stars with his 7-year-old daughter. The FBI acknowledged the incident had no connection to terrorism but called Banach's actions "foolhardy and negligent."

Wade Boggs, a five-time American League batting champion, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday in his first year of eligibility. Ryne Sandberg made it on his third try. Boggs played the majority of his career with the Boston Red Sox. Sandberg, an exceptional infielder, played all but a few games with the Chicago Cubs.

In a showdown of undefeated college football powers, the University of Southern California beat the University of Oklahoma, 55-19, in Tuesday night's Orange Bowl in Miami. The Trojans became just the second team to go No. 1 wire-to-wire in The Associated Press Top 25, and the 10th team to repeat as national champs. USC finished 13-0.

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