Former aide guilty in Abramoff probe

WASHINGTON - A former congressional aide pleaded guilty yesterday to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts from lobbyist Jack Abramoff in an influence-peddling scandal that has touched the White House, the Interior Department, and members of Congress.

Mark Zachares was the 11th person convicted in the Justice Department probe. He admitted engaging in official acts on Abramoff's behalf while working for Rep. Don Young (R., Alaska), who chaired the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Abramoff helped Zachares obtain his committee post. Zachares left Young's staff in 2005. Young's office declined to comment yesterday.

Zachares faces up to five years in prison, but under sentencing guidelines will probably face two years or less.- AP

Cheney blood clot is getting smaller

WASHINGTON - The blood clot found last month in Vice President Cheney's left leg is slowly getting smaller, according to doctors who checked his leg yesterday and gave him an upbeat report, Cheney spokeswoman Megan McGinn said.

Cheney was taken to his doctor's office for an ultrasound of the clot, which is called a deep venous thrombosis, then he returned to the White House to resume his normal schedule, McGinn said. The ultrasound "showed that the clot is gradually resolving," she said. "His blood-thinning medication was found to be in the desired range." Doctors advised that Cheney, 66, continue with the medication, she said.- AP

Two injured in riot at Indiana prison

NEW CASTLE, Ind. - Inmates staged a two-hour riot yesterday at a medium-security men's prison, injuring two staff members and setting fires in a courtyard.

The riot at the New Castle Correctional Facility, about 43 miles east of Indianapolis, began after a group of inmates took off their shirts in a recreation area in defiance of staff orders to keep them on, Correction Commissioner J. David Donahue said.

Corrections officials sent emergency squads and county and state police to the prison. New Castle Mayor Tom Nipp said the entire city police force also had been activated. No inmates escaped, Indiana State Police Sgt. Rod Russell said. - AP

Elsewhere:

Alabama's state House and Senate approved separate resolutions yesterday apologizing for slavery. Neither resolution will become official unless approved by the other chamber and signed by the governor.

American Indian women are more than twice as likely to be raped as other U.S. women, and the suspects often go free because of confusing police jurisdictions and a lack of nurses, Amnesty International reported.

Chinese officials yesterday granted Tai Shan, the National Zoo's popular giant panda cub, who will turn 2 in July, an extra two years at the Smithsonian Institution park with his parents.