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Nation in brief

Report: Teen drug use on decline

By wire services
Published September 9, 2005

WASHINGTON - The percentage of Americans using illicit drugs declined slightly last year, though the results were more pronounced for youths, according to a survey released Thursday.

For people ages 12-17, there was a 9 percent drop in illicit drug use between 2002 and 2004, the federal government announced.

"Today's survey confirms the welcome trend on teen drug use," said John P. Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Overall, 19.1 million Americans used illicit drugs last year, or 7.9 percent. The numbers were basically the same for the surveys taken in the previous two years, when about 8 percent of Americans reported using illicit drugs within the previous month.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health is an annual survey of close to 70,000 people. It measures drug and alcohol use through several categories, including age, ethnicity and type of drug.

The survey showed that illicit drug use dropped from 11.6 percent to 10.6 percent among youths ages 12-17 from 2002 to 2004.

However, binge drinking, which is defined as five or more drinks in one sitting, increased in the same age group - from 10.6 percent to 11.1 percent from 2003 to 2004.

Ohio death row inmate wins temporary reprieve

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Gov. Bob Taft delayed the execution Thursday of a convicted killer over questions about whether prosecutors presented inaccurate information at a clemency hearing.

Taft ordered the execution of John Spirko delayed until Nov. 15 to allow for a second hearing, which had been requested by the parole board.

Spirko, 59, was convicted of killing a postal worker but says he didn't do it.

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported that Timothy Prichard, director of the attorney general's capital crimes office, made false statements last month and misrepresented evidence regarding what Spirko knew about the 1982 murder of Betty Jane Mottinger, 48, and his whereabouts on the day of the killing.

Appeals court questions handling of detainees

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court on Thursday questioned the Bush administration's operations at Guantanamo Bay, where almost all detainees were categorized by military tribunals as enemy combatants.

The two hours of arguments were in sharp contrast to those of nearly three years ago when the appeals court suggested that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay were not entitled to have access to the U.S. courts, and subsequently ruled against them.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision a year ago.

On Thursday, the court suggested the judiciary might have the legal authority to become involved in reviewing the tribunal procedures.

[Last modified September 9, 2005, 01:19:15]


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