USA

Kidnapped engineer Douglas Wood, an Australian who lives in Alamo, Calif., was shown Sunday pleading for his life on a videotape presumably made by Iraqi captors. On the tape, originally aired by the Arab satellite TV channel Al Jazeera, the disheveled Wood is shown between two gun-pointing masked militants, with a sign identifying the captors as members of the Shura Council of the Muja-hideen of Iraq. Wood, whose wife is American, said he has been working on reconstruction projects with the US military and called for US-led forces to spare his life by leaving Iraq. Australian Prime Minister John Howard said his country would not negotiate with terrorists.

Progress for America, a group that supports President Bush's stalled judicial nominees, was poised Monday to unveil a two-week, $1.85 million radio and TV ad campaign aimed at hastening the confirmation of the conservative judges. The commitment is the largest to date by special interests trying to weigh in on the issue.

Two teenage boys who survived six days adrift in the Atlantic Ocean on 14-foot sailboat, were recuperating Monday from their ordeal at a Southport, N.C., hospital. Troy Driscoll and Josh Long, endured scorching sun, fended off sharks, drank sea water, and ate jellyfish until spotted by fishermen Saturday seven miles off Cape Fear, N.C., more than 100 miles from where they set off from Sullivans Island, S.C., on April 24. The boys quickly encountered stormy conditions.

More than 300,000 patients died after suffering some sort of hospital-related incident between 2001 and 2003, according to a report issued Monday by Health Grades Inc., an independent ratings company. Since 2000, the study shows, the rate of hospital-acquired infections, a key indicator of overall hospital performance, has risen 20 percent.

Educator and psychologist Kenneth B. Clark, who died Sunday in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., was best known for his pioneering 1950 study of the effects of racial discrimination in the classroom. His conclusion that school segregation marred the development of white as well as black students was cited by the US Supreme Court in its 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which declared segregation unconstitutional in public schools. The first black professor at the City University of New York, Clark also taught at two Ivy League schools, Harvard and Columbia.

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