New estimate out on autism rates
ATLANTA | Health officials now estimate that one of every 110 children has autism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the new estimate Friday. It’s a small change from the 1-of-100 estimate that CDC officials made in October. CDC officials said that estimate was preliminary and the new number comes from a completed analysis of reports from 11 states.
Previously, the CDC had said autism occurred in one of 150 children. The new estimate looks at 8-year-old children who had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in 2006.
The increase may be due in part to changes in how autism is diagnosed. The CDC is studying possible environmental causes as well.
Sexual assaults down at military academies
ANNAPOLIS | A new Defense Department report said the number of reported sexual assaults has dropped at the nation’s three major military academies.
The report released Friday said reported sexual assaults dropped to 25 for the 12-month period ending in May 2009, compared with 34 the previous year.
The report tracks efforts to reduce sexual assaults at the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy. All three service academies have developed programs to raise awareness about sexual assault in recent years.
The report says there could be a variety of reasons for the drop in reported assaults, including fewer incidents or a lack of reporting by victims.
Defense to make voting easier for troops
The Department of Defense is making it easier for service members and their families to register to vote when they move to a new base.
Under a policy change, service members will be offered voter-registration materials and assistance whenever they are deployed or transferred between bases. Military bases around the globe will be like one-stop shops for voter registration similar to driver’s license bureaus.
The changes were announced Friday by Sens. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and John Cornyn, Texas Republican, the top members from their respective parties on the Senate rules committee, which has jurisdiction over voting issues.
Specter faces tight race in 2010
Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has lost his lead over his Republican challenger in a November 2010 race that could determine whether Democrats keep control of the Senate, according to a poll released Friday.
Mr. Specter, 79, is a longtime Republican who broke with the party in April and joined the Democrats, helping them to a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the 100-member Senate.
The Quinnipiac University survey found voters split 44 percent to 44 percent between Mr. Specter and Republican Pat Toomey, a former U.S. congressman, when asked who they would elect if they were to vote today. Mr. Specter’s overall approval rating is 47 percent, the poll said.
Quinnipiac said its poll of 1,381 Pennsylvania voters surveyed between Dec. 8 Dec. 14 had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
Governor under fire over ties to donor
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. | Florida’s governor said he saw no reason to investigate a South Florida lawyer charged with operating a $1 billion Ponzi scheme or to refuse his political contributions.
Gov. Charlie Crist said this week he initially didn’t believe rumors about now disbarred attorney Scott Rothstein.
The two were once political allies and friends. Mr. Crist attended Mr. Rothstein’s extravagant wedding, and Mr. Rothstein helped throw a birthday party for the Republican governor, who is now running for Senate.
A South Florida Sun Sentinel analysis of campaign contributions shows Mr. Rothstein, his legal associates and their families have donated at least $2.8 million to largely Republican political causes since 2006.