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Nation Digest

Monday, November 2, 2009

GUANTANAMO BAY

Terrorism suspects to get H1N1 vaccine

Terrorism suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base will soon get swine flu vaccines, despite complaints that American civilians should have priority, a military spokesman said Sunday.

Army Maj. James Crabtree, a spokesman for the U.S. military prison in Cuba, said the doses should start arriving this month, with guards and then inmates scheduled for inoculations.

He acknowledged that there may be an "emotional response" from critics who argue that suspected terrorists should not receive the vaccine while members of the U.S. public are still waiting because of a shortage.

But he said U.S. military officials are "responsible for the health and care of the detainee population." Medical personnel at Guantanamo Bay requested the doses, but Crabtree said he did not know how many.

Detainees will be vaccinated "entirely on a voluntary basis," he said. "There is always going to be a segment of the population that is going to refuse," either because of anxiety about a shot or "distrust of our motivations."

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told CNN's "State of the Union" show on Sunday that he does not agree with the H1N1 vaccination plans for the detainees.

"I don't think it's a good idea. The administration probably didn't think it would be very popular either," Boehner said.

Health officials have recommended that people in high-risk groups receive the swine flu vaccination first. There has been heated debate in several U.S. states about where prisoners should fall in the pecking order of vaccine recipients.

Scott A. Allen, a spokesman for Physicians for Human Rights, an international medical group, said that there are "certain basic obligations the U.S. has to its prisoners," and that vaccinations for influenza fall into that category.

-- Associated Press

CALIFORNIA

Little hope 3 days after military crash

The search for nine people missing when a U.S. Coast Guard plane collided with a Marine Corps helicopter over the Pacific Ocean is now a recovery mission, officials said Sunday.

Petty Officer 1st Class Allison Conroy said there was little chance of finding survivors among the seven military personnel aboard the Coast Guard C-130 and the two in the Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter.

"We always hold out some hope, but at this point the Coast Guard has suspended the active search for survivors," Conroy said.

The aircraft collided Thursday evening as the Coast Guard was searching for a missing boater. The Marine helicopter was flying in formation with another Cobra helicopter and two transports on a nighttime training exercise.

The Coast Guard has begun investigating the cause of the crash, Conroy said.

-- Associated Press

OHIO

6 bodies called homicide victims

Six badly decomposed bodies found at the Cleveland home of a convicted rapist facing a new rape allegation were females and all were homicide victims, the coroner's office said Sunday.

Powell Caesar, a spokesman for Cuyahoga County Coroner Frank Miller, said at least four of the victims apparently had been strangled. Decomposition made it difficult to determine how two victims died, he said.

None of the victims has been identified, Caesar said. Two were black, but the others' race had not been determined, he said.

Anthony Sowell, 50, was arrested Saturday when officers spotted him walking down the street in his neighborhood.

Police found the first two bodies Thursday night when they went to Sowell's house to arrest him on a new rape charge. Police said he spent 15 years in prison for a rape in 1989.

-- Associated Press

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