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Military medical offices given 45 days to show how they'll improve health care


Improve health care, military told

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday directed military medical officials to show within 45 days how they will improve care, patient safety and access to treatment at underachieving military health care facilities. Hagel released findings of a 90-day review of the entire military health care system, which serves 9.6 million active-duty troops and their family members, as well as retirees. He also directed military medical officials to write a detailed plan by the end of the year to fix and track uneven performance across the military health system of 56 hospitals, 361 clinics and 249 dental clinics in the U.S. and around the world. The review looked at access to treatment, quality of care and patient safety. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said the review identified care that was superior, sub-par and "then there's a wide variety of kind of average behavior."

Mertismail, Turkey

ISIS militants overrun Kurdish village

ISIS militants on Wednesday swept into a Kurdish village in Syria just across the Turkish border, as farther south, in Homs, twin car bombs killed at least 45 people, including 41 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings near an elementary school in Akrama, which has been targeted by jihadist groups like the Nusra Front; militants from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have increased their presence in Homs province as well. Meanwhile, British Royal Air Force warplanes flying out of a UK air base on Cyprus have destroyed four ISIS targets in Iraq over the last two days, the base commander said Wednesday, including a "heavy weapon position" and an armed pickup truck.

Canberra, Australia

Parliament passes antiterrorism laws

The Australian Parliament on Wednesday passed counterterrorism laws that extend secret service powers despite concerns about the impact on press freedom. The National Security Legislation Amendment Bill gives greater search and surveillance powers to the nation's spy agency, Australian Security Intelligence Organization. The bill is the first of three parts of tough new laws designed to better equip security agencies to deal with extremist networks like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The most contentious section of legislation carries a potential 10-year prison sentence for anyone who discloses information relating to a "special intelligence operation."

Newport News, Va.

U.Va. suspect's name arose in '03 attack

The man charged with abducting a University of Virginia student was mentioned in a police file in a sexual assault at a different university in 2003. Christopher Newport University said in a statement Wednesday that Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. had been included in a campus police file stemming from an on-campus sexual assault. Matthew left school afterward but was never charged with a crime. Matthew is charged with abducting missing U.Va. student Hannah Graham with intent to defile, or sexually molest, her.


Free birth control cuts teen pregnancy

Birth control prevents teenage pregnancies and abortions when teens know about it and are able to use it. Of 560 young women deemed at high risk for pregnancy who were given free access to hormonal implants and copper IUDs as part of a study, not a single one became pregnant during the years they were tracked, according to a report that appears in today's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. Among all 1,404 teens who took part in the Contraceptive CHOICE Project between 2008 and 2013, the average annual pregnancy rate was 34 per 1,000 teens. That was 41 percent lower than the pregnancy rate for all American teens, which was 57.4 per 1,000 in 2010.

Times wires