ARLINGTON, Va.

Thousands of cemetery grave markers may be wrong

Thousands of grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery may need to be replaced or added to accurately account for the dead, following a meticulous Army review of each of the nearly 260,000 headstones and niche covers on the grounds.

In a report to Congress on Thursday, the Army found potential discrepancies between headstones and cemetery paperwork on about 64,000 grave markers — about one in four.

Congress ordered the review last year following reports of misidentified and misplaced graves that led to the ouster of the cemetery’s top executives.

The report found no further evidence of misplaced graves, though it cautioned that its review is not complete and that some errors could have gone undetected.

There are potentially thousands of minor errors, including misspelled names, or incorrect military ranks and dates of birth and death.

FORT MEADE, Md.

Hearing to determine court martial for security leak ends

A seven-day hearing into the biggest national security leak in U.S. history ended Thursday with defense lawyers insisting that the accused soldier was a victim of overreaching by a military that didn’t even follow its own rules for safeguarding sensitive information.

The government argued that it had made its case for a court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, a troubled young intelligence analyst who prosecutors said aided the enemy by leaking troves of documents.

Lawyers for the prosecution and defense gave closing arguments in the preliminary hearing at a military base outside Washington to determine whether Manning should be tried for allegedly sending hundreds of thousands of diplomatic documents and Iraq and Afghanistan war zone field reports to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The presiding officer, Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, has until Jan. 16 to recommend whether the 24-year-old Crescent, Okla., native should be court-martialed.

NEWARK, N.J.

Hospitals, nurses reach deal over assisting in abortions

Twelve nurses who sued one of the state’s largest hospitals after claiming they were forced to assist in abortions over their religious and moral objections reached a deal Thursday with their employer in federal court.

Under the agreement, 12 nurses in the same-day surgery unit of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey can remain in their current positions and not be compelled to assist in any part of an abortion procedure. The nurses must only help in a life-threatening emergency if no other non-objecting staff members are available and only until which time one can be brought in to relieve them, according to the agreement.

Fe Esperanza Racpan Vinoya, one of the plaintiffs who said she opposes abortion on religious grounds, said she was happy that the agreement meant she and her colleagues would not have to assist in any aspect of an abortion procedure.

LAGOS, Nigeria

Oil spill affects about 115 miles of ocean off coast

An oil spill near the coast of Nigeria is likely the worst to hit those waters in a decade, a government official said Thursday, as slicks from the Royal Dutch Shell PLC spill approached the country’s southern shoreline.

The slick from Shell’s Bonga field has affected 115 miles  of ocean near Nigeria’s coast, Peter Idabor, who leads the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, told The Associated Press. Idabor said the slick continued to move toward the shore Thursday night, putting at risk birds, fish and other wildlife in the area.

Shell, the major oil producer in Nigeria, said Wednesday the spill likely occurred as workers tried to offload oil onto a waiting tanker. The company published photographs of the spill, showing a telltale rainbow sheen in the ocean, but said it believes that about 50 percent of the leaked oil has already evaporated.

The source of the leak has been plugged and experts from Britain were coming to help with the cleanup, Idabor said. Nigerian Navy ships also had been sent into the area to help control the spill, he said.

– From news service reports