Rocket hits peacekeeping compound

KABUL, Afghanistan

A rocket slammed into the headquarters of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan late yesterday. There were no reports of injuries.

The compound, consisting of several buildings surrounded by high stone walls, is located across the street from the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy. Few peacekeepers were present at the time.

“At this point it appears that a building may have been damaged,” German peacekeeping spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Lobbering said.

A second rocket hit the Pul-e-Charkhi area, on the eastern edge of the Afghan capital. There were no reports of injuries there either.

Police spokesman Haroon Asafi said the rockets were fired from several miles east of Kabul. The city is patrolled by nearly 5,000 peacekeepers, a 22-nation force under the command of Germany and the Netherlands.

Despite their presence, Kabul has come under frequent attack in recent months. Officials blame Taliban and al-Qaida fugitives and forces loyal to renegade rebel leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Mohammed Azim, an Afghan soldier on duty outside the peacekeepers’ compound, said the Defense Ministry issued a warning four days ago that suspected al-Qaida operatives had entered the city.

Shuttle investigation notes high temperatures


Columbia’s salvaged data recorder registered unusual temperature spikes in the left wing just seconds after the shuttle experienced the peak heat of re-entry, indicating the ship was mortally wounded before it began its descent, an official close to the investigation said yesterday. And that makes the flyaway foam from the shuttle’s fuel tank, during launch, an even stronger suspect for breaching the leading edge of the wing, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A chunk of foam, perhaps containing ice or other debris, broke off the tank during Columbia’s liftoff on Jan. 16 and sideswiped some of the heat-resistant carbon panels on the leading edge at 500 mph and possibly also some of the metal and tiles underneath.

A spokeswoman for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, Laura Brown, said the tape from the data recorder holds a significant amount of good data from at least 420 sensors that were located across Columbia’s wings, fuselage and tail, mainly temperature and pressure measurements. The temperature surges in the leading edge were captured on tape 16 seconds after Columbia began experiencing peak heating in its plunge through the atmosphere on Feb. 1, Brown said.

Man admits to killing 4 because of Sept. 11


A man who allegedly wanted to harm people of Middle Eastern descent because of his anger over the World Trade Center attack has been arrested in a string of New York workplace shootings that left four people dead.

Larme Price, 30, of Brooklyn, was arrested Saturday after admitting to the shootings in a telephone conversation with investigators, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said yesterday. Police were charging Price with four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder in the attacks, all of which came in Brooklyn and Queens.

“This is a disturbing case,” Kelly said. “One man’s twisted view has led to the murder of four people. This department will not tolerate anger against immigrants or crimes of bias.”

Price, who is unemployed, contacted police and said he had information about the killings, Kelly said.

Parkinson’s trial drug shows positive results


A preliminary trial to test the safety of a drug in people with Parkinson’s disease surprised scientists when all five patients showed measurable improvement.

The drug eliminated the periods of immobility that had occurred as much as 20 percent of the time before treatment and reduced or stopped the involuntary movements common to the disease, said Clive Svendsen of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Also, the senses improved for three patients who had lost the ability to taste or smell. While much more work needs to be done, the findings being reported today in the online issue of the journal Nature Medicine encouraged researchers.

“All five patients showed improvement, some more than others. Some symptoms were more affected,” said Svendsen, one of the researchers on the trial.

New stents expensive for patients, hospitals


Much-anticipated new drug-covered stents, expected to cost three times more than the standard variety, could actually save money in the long run by reducing heart patients’ need for expensive repeat angioplasty and bypass surgery, according to a new analysis.

While there is little argument about the new stents’ technical superiority, their higher cost worries many, considering that most of the 1 million patients undergoing routine angioplasty each year are likely to receive them.

However, the new analysis, yesterday at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, offers some assurance that the stents will be worth the price, even though they might be a money-loser for hospitals.

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