h Defense rests its caseat Abu Ghraib trial
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Army Spc. Charles Graner Jr., of Uniontown, Pa., enters the judicial complex at Fort Hood, Texas. The defense for Graner rested its case Thursday without the accused ringleader of abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison taking the stand. The jury of four Army officers and six senior enlisted men was expected to begin deliberating after closing arguments Friday.
Graner's lawyers had indicated earlier that Graner would probably be the final witness, and that he would offer his version of what occurred in a scandal that stirred outrage against the United States around the world.
Graner, 36, is the first soldier to be tried on charges arising from the Abu Ghraib scandal. He had appeared glum in recent days, but outside court he said: "I feel fantastic. I'm still smiling."
Bush plans to raisePell Grant awards
WASHINGTON -- President Bush is proposing to raise the maximum Pell Grant award by $500 over the next five years and fix a persistent shortfall in the nation's chief college aid program, The Associated Press has learned. That would put the maximum grant at $4,550 by 2010 -- up 12 percent from the $4,050 offered today.
The White House declined to disclose whether the president wants to increase the grants received by more than 5 million low-income students, but congressional and education officials familiar with the details of his proposal said Thursday that Bush will call for raising the Pell Grant award $100 a year for five years.
Computer woes at FBI
WASHINGTON -- A $170 million computer overhaul intended to give FBI agents and analysts an instantaneous and paperless way to manage criminal and terrorism cases is headed back to the drawing board, probably at a much steeper cost to taxpayers. The FBI is hoping to salvage some parts of the project, known as Virtual Case File. But officials acknowledged Thursday that it is possible the entire system, designed by Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, is so inadequate and outdated that one will have to be built from scratch.
Williams paymentbrings more fallout
WASHINGTON -- Leaders of a Senate committee have asked the Education Department to turn over records of recent years' public relations contracts, while reminding the education secretary of a federal ban on "propaganda." The request came after revelations that the Bush administration had paid a prominent black media commentator, Armstrong Williams, to promote the new education law that had been strongly supported by President Bush. Separately, a Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission called Thursday for his agency to investigate whether Williams broke the law by failing to disclose that the Bush administration paid him $240,000 to plug its education policies.
LAS VEGAS -- An armed AirTran Airways pilot was charged with operating an aircraft under the influence after a federal screener at McCarran International Airport smelled alcohol, authorities said Thursday.
Thatcher's son pleadsguilty in coup plot
CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- The son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pleaded guilty Thursday to unwittingly helping bankroll a botched coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, and in exchange he received a fine, a suspended jail sentence and the right to rejoin his family in the United States. Within hours of agreeing to the $506,000 fine, Sir Mark Thatcher checked in for a flight out of South Africa. "There is no price too high for me pay to be reunited with my family, and I am sure all of you who are husbands and fathers will understand that," Thatcher told journalists outside court.
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