Iowa man charged in stock-price case

CHICAGO - An Iowa machinist was arrested yesterday and charged with sending dud pipe bombs and threatening letters to investment companies in Denver and Kansas City in an effort to drive up stock prices. Authorities said he signed the messages "The Bishop."

A criminal complaint unsealed in Chicago charged John P. Tomkins, 42, of Dubuque, with mailing a threatening communication with intent to extort and with possessing an unregistered explosive device. Officials said the pipe bombs would have exploded had just one wire been connected.

Investigators have said "The Bishop" mailed more than a dozen letters to financial institutions for 18 months. The letters threatened recipients if the prices of certain stocks did not move to certain levels, often $6.66; the number 666 is associated with Satan. - AP

Army to increase hiring at hospitals

WASHINGTON - The Army said yesterday that it was hiring case managers and boosting oversight at military facilities after a new internal review concluded poor outpatient care extended beyond Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Gen. Richard Cody, the Army's vice chief of staff, said officials were finalizing a report on problems after a team of Army inspectors visited 11 bases in seven states last month to study outpatient treatment, building conditions, and the information provided to patients.

The investigation found staffing shortages, excessive paperwork and poor training that created too much bureaucracy and long waits for injured soldiers, particularly at Fort Stewart in Georgia and Fort Hood and Fort Bliss in Texas.

Cody and Gen. Michael S. Tucker, a deputy commanding general at Walter Reed, said the Army was working hard to hire the personnel needed by June. - AP

Texas passes bill to bar cancer shot

AUSTIN, Texas - State lawmakers yesterday rejected Gov. Rick Perry's cancer-vaccine order, sending him a bill that blocks state officials from requiring the shots for at least four years.

Perry has said he is disappointed but has not indicated whether he will veto the bill. He has 10 days to sign or veto it, or it will become law without his signature. It passed by a veto-proof margin in both chambers.

Perry issued an executive order in February requiring the human papillomavirus vaccine for sixth-grade girls. The vaccine protects against strains of the sexually transmitted virus that cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts. Lawmakers said the vaccine was too new to force on Texas families. - AP

Elsewhere:

Tony Snow, who has been on leave as President Bush's top spokesman while recuperating from cancer surgery, will return to work Monday, the White House press office said.

The University of Virginia's board marked founder Thomas Jefferson's birthday this month by issuing an apology for the school's use of slave labor between 1819 and 1865.