Nation digest 06/29/06

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Study: B vitamin pills don't keep brains sharp

Folate and B vitamin pills failed to help keep elderly people's brains and memories sharp in the longest study yet to test this approach. The findings were published in today's New England Journal of Medicine. Folate and B vitamins lower homocysteine, a blood substance that can make arteries stiffen and clog. Many studies have observed that people with higher levels of homocysteine also have a greater risk of heart disease, Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

Clouds a concern for Saturday shuttle launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A cloudy weather forecast raised doubts Wednesday about whether the space shuttle Discovery would get off the launch pad this weekend for the space shuttle's first launch in nearly a year. There was a 60 percent chance clouds that can trigger lightning strikes would prevent a launch during the 10-minute window Saturday afternoon, said Kathy Winters, shuttle weather officer. The weather forecast remained the same for Sunday and Monday and was expected to worsen later in the week. The space agency would make maximum of four launch attempts over five days starting Saturday, if needed. The launch window extends until July 19. The countdown for launch started Wednesday.

Episcopal feud over gay bishops intensifies

NEW YORK -- A Pennsylvania diocese that is the epicenter of conservative Episcopal dissent over gay bishops rejected the authority of the incoming head of the denomination Wednesday but stopped short of a full break with the Episcopal Church. The vote by the Diocese of Pittsburgh came on the same day that the liberal Diocese of Newark, N.J., tested the new Episcopal call for restraint on the appointing of gay bishops by naming a gay priest as one of four nominees to become its next leader. The Episcopal Church and its fellow Anglicans worldwide are struggling to prevent differences over the Bible and sexuality from escalating into a permanent split.

Lincoln to get color makeover on the $5 bill

WASHINGTON -- The government said Wednesday it had reversed course and decided to redesign the $5 bill. Officials with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing said they changed their minds in part so they could respond to a new scam in which counterfeiters are bleaching the ink off $5 notes and then printing counterfeit $100 bills on the bleached paper. The bureau plans to settle on a new design for the $5 bill by the fall of 2007 and begin introducing the new notes in early 2008.

-- From wire reports

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