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Member of Cuban spy ring sentenced to seven years in prison

A confessed member of a spy ring was sentenced to seven years in prison for attempting to infiltrate U.S. military installations in Florida for the Cuban government.

Alejandro Alonso, born in Des Moines, Iowa, was the first member of the group to be sentenced. He had pleaded guilty to being an agent for a foreign country. Five others who have pleaded guilty are awaiting sentencing.

Alonso was charged with trying to penetrate U.S. military bases, infiltrate anti-Castro exile groups and manipulate U.S. media and political organizations.

He was one of 10 people arrested in September 1998 in connection with the spy ring. Four others were added to the list of defendants in May 1999.

Prosecutors said the ring tried to infiltrate the U.S. Southern Command and planted an agent at the U.S. Navy's Boca Chica Naval Air Station near Key West.

Vaccine protesters gather outside Air Force base

DOVER, Del. _ Dozens of people demonstrated Saturday outside Dover Air Force Base, where a pilot who has refused to take a mandatory series of injections against anthrax faces a possible court-martial.

Maj. Sonnie Bates, 35, is thought to be the highest-ranking officer in the Air Force to face the possibility of a court-martial for refusing to take the vaccine.

The military has ordered all of its 2.4-million reserve and active-duty soldiers, sailors and airmen to be inoculated as a defense against biological warfare. Several have been prosecuted for refusing the shots, which the military says are safe.

Government: Exposure sickened nuke workers

WASHINGTON _ Reversing a position held for decades, the government has concluded for the first time that many workers who built America's nuclear weapons likely became ill because of exposure to radiation or toxic chemicals, officials said Saturday.

The findings, based on a review of dozens of studies and raw medical data covering an estimated 600,000 workers at 14 nuclear weapons sites, could lead to compensation to the families of some of the workers. Many were unaware that they were being exposed to such health risks.

While the draft report of the studies did not show a direct causal link between workplace exposures and specific illnesses, it found that workers at the plants suffered higher than normal rates of a wide range of cancers and clearly were exposed to cancer-causing radiation and chemicals in the workplace.

The studies, reviewed by a special task force, examined health records and other data covering three decades of the Cold War from the late 1940s into the 1960s. The draft report, which President Clinton ordered last July, marks a reversal in the government's long-standing position that no links exist between work conducted at the Cold War-era weapons plants and later illnesses. That argument has stymied numerous lawsuits seeking compensation.

Nurse injured in clinic bombing suing Rudolph

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. _ A nurse who was seriously injured in the 1998 bombing of a Birmingham abortion clinic is suing fugitive suspect Eric Robert Rudolph, partly in an effort to block any profits he might receive from a book or movie, her attorney said.

Emily Lyons and her husband, Jeff, are also seeking damages in the suit against Rudolph, which they filed Thursday in federal court.

Lyons was arriving for work when a bomb exploded Jan. 29, 1998, outside New Woman All Women Health Care. The blast killed an off-duty Birmingham policeman. Lyons lost her left eye and has undergone numerous operations.

Rudolph is charged in six bombings, including the 1996 Centennial Park blast during the Olympic Games in Atlanta that killed one person and injured 100 others.

Law enforcement has searched for Rudolph for more than two years, focusing on remote areas in western North Carolina near his home.

Artillery battalions blast Texas family's ranch

GATESVILLE, Texas _ Robert Shoaf knelt over one of the 10 craters now dotting his property and sighed as he clasped a jagged strip of artillery shrapnel.

"One hundred yards that way, it would have hit my house," Shoaf said Saturday, pointing to the home he shares with his wife, Joan, about 100 miles southwest of Dallas.

Just days earlier, Shoaf and 11 other family members who live on the 300-acre cattle ranch were ducking for cover as Army battalions 8 miles away at Fort Hood launched a volley of howitzer shells toward their property.

"It roared like a whistle, and then a bomb exploded," the 70-year-old said. "I didn't know what it was until the next morning when we found the holes."

A 4-foot length of the foundation of his home cracked, and chunks of shrapnel lodged in the nearby home of his son Jay.

The force of Wednesday night's blasts, which continued for about an hour, shook pictures off walls, broke a chandelier in the family room and cracked sections of dry wall.

The shelling happened during a training exercise involving two artillery battalions, said Lt. Col. Maryane Cummings, a spokeswoman for Fort Hood. She would not speculate on what went wrong but said base officials are investigating.

Texas NAACP urges removal of Rebel flags

SAN MARCOS, Texas _ Intensifying their pressure on Republican Gov. George W. Bush, civil rights leaders on Saturday called for Texans to purge Confederate flags from public spaces.

Dozens of leaders from NAACP branches in Texas met Saturday to discuss ways to combat racism. Kyev Tatum of the Hill Country Branch asked the state board to endorse a protest in Austin against the Confederate flags and for stronger hate-crime laws.

Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP, said he supports the rally and wants to combine it with a protest of the state Senate's decision to designate April as Confederate History and Heritage Month.

A resolution was adopted by the Senate last March.