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Caspar Weinberger passes up jury trial

Former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger has waived his right to a jury trial, leaving the Iran-Contra charges against him to be decided by U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, according to court papers filed Thursday. The move was made to avoid delays in picking a jury and generally speed up the trial, according to Weinberger's chief counsel, Robert S. Bennett. Deputy independent counsel Craig A. Gillen, chief prosecutor in the case, has the right to object and is expected to present his view this morning.

Study: Radiation higher than thought

YAKIMA, Wash. _ Seventy percent more radiation was released at the Hanford nuclear reservation from 1944 to 1947 than was previously thought, said a new study released Thursday. About 685,000 curies of radioactive iodine 131 were released during the early days of plutonium production at Hanford, compared with the previous estimate of 406,000 curies, the Hanford Environmental Dose Reconstruction Project reported. Iodine 131 accumulates in the thyroid and can cause cancer and other diseases.

Senate panel holds hearing on Iraq

WASHINGTON _ The Senate Intelligence Committee held an unscheduled, secret hearing Thursday to determine whether the CIA withheld information regarding an Italian bank's illegal loans to Iraq. Senior officials of the intelligence agency testified at the hearing, which lasted several hours. Another hearing was scheduled today. Neither the agency nor the committee would comment on the sessions.

Burning oil well may be capped

PORT FOURCHON, La. _ A burning well that has spewed thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico may be capped today, Coast Guard officials said. A burned barge was hauled away Thursday from the wellhead, which has been spewing flaming oil for more than a week, making it possible for crews to bring in another barge and begin capping the well, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeff Murphy. Officials are assessing environmental damage.

Census sued over homeless count

WASHINGTON _ Two cities and a group of homeless advocates have sued to force the Census to recount the nation's street people. In U.S. District Court, they charged that the Census Bureau deliberately failed to count thousands in its one-night tally of the homeless to reduce the federal aid available to them. The suit, filed Thursday, asks the government to admit that the 1990 Census is inaccurate and appoint a commission to develop a better method for a new count. The suit was filed by the cities of Baltimore and San Francisco, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, 15 homeless advocacy organizations, seven homeless people and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

Plane tantrum lands woman in court

CHICAGO _ A woman whose drunken argument with her husband escalated into a tantrum on a flight from London to Los Angeles appeared in court Thursday to face federal charges. Joan Nandakumar, 39, of Los Angeles, was charged with assault for allegedly hitting, biting and throwing plastic glasses at flight attendants, a reserve pilot and a few passengers who tried to subdue her, federal prosecutors said. The eruption forced the plane to land at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Nandakumar faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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