USA

Spc. Agustin Aguayo, a US Army medic who refused to redeploy to Iraq because he considers the war immoral, was convicted of desertion Tuesday at his court martial in Wuerzburg, Germany. Aguayo had admitted to being absent without leave, but because the judge sided with prosecutors, he could face up to seven years in prison.

The US and North Korea concluded two days of talks in New York Tuesday in the first high-level meetings on US soil since 2000 aimed at resolving longstanding differences and normalizing diplomatic ties. Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright were among dignitaries who met informally with the North Koreans.

The State Department's annual report on human rights abuses, released Tuesday, acknowledged poor performances by three allies in the war against terrorism: Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The report also said the US would continue to respond in "good faith" to concerns about its own human rights record.

The state of Washington sued the federal government Monday over what Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) called an immoral policy that requires withholding Medicaid coverage until proof of citizenship is processed for infants born in the US to illegal immigrants. The new rule applies to about 8,000 newborns each year in Washington.

Ivy League and other elite universities are increasingly looking to immigrants from Africa, the West Indies, and Latin America – rather than to African- Americans – to achieve black diversity on campus, according to a report in Tuesday's Washington Post. The story cites findings by Ivy League researchers as published in the American Journal of Education.

In the largest collective fine levied to date against the radio industry, four major station ownership groups have tentatively agreed to pay $12.5 million to settle a Federal Communications Commission investigation into payola practices. They involve secret payments to air certain songs. By paying the fine and agreeing to set aside 4,200 hours of free airtime for independent musicians, Clear Channel Communications, CBS Corp., Citadel Broadcasting Corp., and Entercom Communications Corp. can avoid any admissions of guilt.

New Jersey lawmakers introduced a bill Monday that would ban .50-caliber weapons, which resemble large hunting rifles and which are accurate up to 1-1/2 miles, from being sold in the state. Supporters of the ban say terrorists can shoot down planes with the weapons. California is the only state with a similar law.

Testifying before Congress,administrators at the US Naval Academy outlined plans to curb sexual misconduct by mandating that midshipmen attend sessions each year aimed at preventing sexual harassment and assault. The move comes after two recent sexual misconduct cases involving players on the academy's football team.

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