News Briefs

Israeli incursion injures 140, kills 11


In the most intense battle in Gaza in months, an Israeli army raid left 11 Palestinians dead yesterday, including eight who witnesses said were hit by an Israeli tank shell fired at a crowd. Israel insisted it targeted only armed men.

More than 140 Palestinians were hurt, 35 of them seriously, doctors said.

The crackdown at the Jabaliya refugee camp – the largest and most heavily armed Palestinian shantytown – came a day after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 14 Israelis and an American teenager on a bus in the Israeli port city of Haifa.

Also yesterday, Israeli troops in the West Bank killed three Palestinians: a gunman, a 16-year-old boy and a 55-year-old mother of eight cutting grass for her sheep.

After nightfall yesterday, witnesses said about 100 Israeli tanks and other military vehicles moved toward the Jabaliya camp again, signaling the second large-scale incursion in the area in as many days. The Israeli military would say only that an operation was in progress.

In raiding Jabaliya, troops met fierce resistance from hundreds of Palestinian gunmen who fired assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades at Israeli tanks and helicopters raking the streets with machine-gun fire. In anticipation of an incursion, militants had also planted explosives in the streets, detonating them by remote control as armored vehicles drove by.

Algerian plane crash leaves one survivor

ALGIERS, Algeria

An Air Algerie passenger jet, one of its engines ablaze, crashed shortly after takeoff deep in the Sahara Desert yesterday, and 102 people were killed, officials said. A young soldier survived.

The Boeing 737, flight 6289, crashed after taking off from Tamanrasset bound for the Algerian capital, Algiers, 1,000 miles to the north.

Terrorism was not suspected, said an airline spokesman, Hamid Hamdi.

“There was a mechanical problem on takeoff,” he said. “There is no element that leads us to think there was a terrorist attack.”

Witnesses at the Tamanrasset airport and airline officials said one of the plane’s two jet engines caught fire as it was taking off.

APS, Algeria’s official state-run news agency, and airline officials at the scene said 102 had been killed. But an official at the airline’s office in Algiers told The Associated Press that he couldn’t immediately confirm the number of deaths.

“Unfortunately, we know only of one survivor,” said Hamdi, identifying him as a young Algerian soldier who was in a critical but stable condition in a Tamanrasset hospital.

NASA safety causing recurring problems


A former NASA official who led a study three years ago that faulted the way the agency dealt with safety risks told the Columbia investigation board yesterday that the same problem appears to have played a role in the shuttle disaster.

Henry McDonald, an engineering professor, appeared as a witness as the board held its first public hearing on what caused the shuttle to break up over Texas on Feb. 1, killing all seven astronauts.

McDonald said he was disappointed the space agency did not adopt more of his team’s recommendations. He noted that the same type of communication breakdown he warned about seems to have hindered engineers who evaluated damage to Columbia’s left wing by launch debris and concluded the shuttle and its astronauts were safe.

“It’s a replay,” McDonald told reporters after addressing the board.

New York collectors dodge art sales taxes


It is one of the worst-kept secrets of New York’s fine art galleries: Ultra-rich art collectors who drop millions of dollars on paintings are illegally arranging with dealers to duck the sales tax.

Now, state and federal prosecutors are going after buyers and dealers with zeal.

This week, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced that 34 families had coughed up $6 million over the past year in back taxes on art purchases.

And in federal court, Samuel Waksal, the ImClone Systems founder and friend of Martha Stewart, pleaded guilty to conspiring with a dealer to dodge $1.2 million in sales tax on nine paintings that cost him a total of $15 million.

Morgenthau and his federal counterparts said their investigations are far from over.

Health foods lower high cholesterol


People with high cholesterol may lower their levels by a surprising one-third with a vegetarian diet that combines a variety of trendy heart-healthy foods, including plenty of soy and soluble fiber, a study found.

Although a healthy diet is a mainstay of cholesterol control, people typically can reduce their cholesterol only about 10 percent by changing what they eat. As a result, doctors routinely prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.

A variety of studies suggest certain plant foods are especially good at lowering cholesterol. So a Canadian team put together a diet combining several of these to see what would happen.

“The reductions are surprising,” said Cyril Kendall of the University of Toronto. “Most dietitians would not expect that sort of reduction through dietary means.”

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