Soldier acquitted of raping soldier in her barracks room

FORT RUCKER, Ala. - An Army officer was acquitted by a military judge Wednesday of raping a soldier in her barracks room, a claim the defense said she concocted to keep from being sent to Iraq.

First Lt. Mike Hall, 35, of Nashville, Tenn., was also acquitted on an adultery charge but convicted of having sex without informing his partner that he had genital herpes.

Hall had testified in his court-martial that a night of dancing, flirting and kissing with 1st Lt. Jennifer Dyer, 26, last August led to consensual sex, not rape as she alleged.

Man convicted of attempting to sell missiles to terrorists

NEWARK, N.J. - A former British clothing merchant was convicted Wednesday of attempting to sell shoulder-launched missiles to what he believed was a terrorist group planning to shoot down airliners. The federal jury reached its verdict in its second day of deliberations, finding Hemant Lakhani guilty on all five counts. Lakhani, 69, was arrested in 2003 at a hotel room near the Newark airport after getting caught in a sting operation in which undercover operatives posed as terrorists and arms dealers. Prosecutors said he agreed to arrange the sale of more than 50 missiles.

False alarm briefly sends White House into security alert

WASHINGTON - President Bush was rushed from the Oval Office to an underground shelter and Vice President Dick Cheney was taken to a secure location Wednesday on fears that an unidentified aircraft had entered restricted space near the White House. Officials said it was a false alarm.

The incident was sparked by a blip on a radar screen that turned out to be a false alarm and no aircraft actually entered restricted air space, said Brian Roehrkasse, a Homeland Security Department spokesman. Helicopters scrambled to investigate confirmed the lack of errant aircraft, he said.

Outdated WIC program could be more nutritious

WASHINGTON - A government nutrition program for low-income women and young children lags behind current dietary standards, according to a report Wednesday that suggests ways to revamp the 30-year-old food plans.

Encouraging program participants to breast feed, eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and cut down on some dairy products are among recommendations made in a federally funded study by the Institute of Medicine.

The proposals would mark the most dramatic changes made to the kinds of foods offered through WIC - the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - which serves some 8 million people per month, including about half of all infants in the United States.

Budget talks fail in effort to cut future Medicaid spending

WASHINGTON - Negotiations faltered Wednesday toward a budget agreement that would slow the growth in Medicaid spending, a spokesman for a key Republican senator said.

Medicaid became the central point of negotiations after the Senate, led by Oregon Republican Gordon Smith, voted to strike proposed Medicaid cuts from the budget.

Smith sought a commission to study changes to the federal and state health care program for the poor and disabled.

House and Senate Republicans, working to reconcile their different budgets, have discussed an outline that would reduce projected Medicaid spending by roughly $10 billion over five years. The change would be one part of a GOP effort to shrink growing deficits and control automatically increasing spending programs.

Bill would make transporting minors for abortions illegal

WASHINGTON - The House passed a bill Wednesday that would make it illegal to dodge parental-consent laws by taking minors across state lines for abortions, the latest effort to chip away at abortion rights after Republican gains in the November elections.

By 270-157, the House sent the bill to the Senate, where it has new momentum as an item on the Republicans' top 10 list of legislative priorities.

Reflecting rising public support for requiring parents' involvement in their pregnant daughters' decisions, the bill would impose fines, jail time or both on adults and doctors involved in most cases where minors were taken out of state to get abortions.

Jackson's ex-wife testifies in star's molestation trial

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Michael Jackson's ex-wife, the mother of two of his children, testified Wednesday in his child molestation trial that the pop star asked her to make a rebuttal video on his behalf in the aftermath of a damaging television documentary about his life.

Taking the stand with Jackson looking on, Debbie Rowe was asked by prosecutor Ron Zonen how she knew Jackson, and she said, ''We've been friends and we were married.''

- From wire reports