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VA proposes changes for wartime mustard gas claims

World War II veterans exposed to mustard gas testing and sworn to secrecy for four decades will be eligible for disability payments under relaxed rules proposed Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nearly 2,000 military personnel participated in the experiments conducted by the Naval Research Laboratory in several locations. They were often promised weekend passes and were not told the nature of the experiments, which included prolonged exposure to mustard gas. The few veterans who have come forward since the tests were declassified in the mid-1980s have been unable to receive service-connected compensation because of the lack of any existing medical records from the tests. Under the VA proposal, veterans who took part in the testing will receive compensation if they suffer from one of six diseases linked to mustard gas _ laryngitis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, chronic conjunctivitis and corneal opacities.Experimental military plane

crashes in Delaware

NEW CASTLE, Del. _ A V-22 Osprey airplane, which can hover like a helicopter and is the focus of a funding fight between the Pentagon and Congress, crashed on its initial test flight Tuesday. Two people aboard suffered only minor injuries. The crash at New Castle County Airport came eight minutes into the flight, said Madelyn Bush, spokeswoman for Boeing Helicopters, which operates a test flight center at the airport. The plane was the fifth of six being built under a $1.8-billion congressional appropriation, Ms. Bush said. The craft was hovering about 15 feet off the ground when suddenly it tipped to the left and the engine on the left wing slammed into the ground, igniting a small fire.

Political group files ethics

complaint against Kennedy

WASHINGTON _ The Conservative Campaign Fund, a conservative political group, Tuesday filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., alleging that he violated Senate rules by his actions related to an investigation of a rape charge against his nephew. The complaint may contain a flaw that would cause the committee to dismiss it. Ethics Committee rules state the panel only can act on complaints alleging improper conduct related to a senator's official duties.

Briefly . . .

Charges temporarily dropped: Drug trafficking and corruption charges against 11 Detroit area police officers and two others, including the mayor's niece, have been dropped to allow more time for investigation, federal authorities said Tuesday.

Snazzy shelter: A citizens group in trendy Marin County, Calif., has proposed construction of a homeless shelter _ with a skylight and garden _ modeled after the architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright. The $2-million shelter would house 60 people.