Nation briefs 1/27/04

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Study: Neanderthals not ancestors of humans

WASHINGTON -- A study of the skulls of Neanderthals, comparing them with early and modern humans, concludes that that ancient group is unlikely to have been the ancestor of people today. Scientists have long debated whether modern people are related to Neanderthals, the squat, powerful hunters who dominated Europe for 100,000 years before dying out on the arrival of modern humans. The new study, led by anthropologist Katerina Harvati of New York University, measured 15 standard landmarks on the face and skull of Neanderthals, early modern humans, current humans as well as other primate species. The results are published in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Chief justice balks at senators' ethical questions

WASHINGTON -- Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on Monday rebuffed two Democratic senators who questioned Justice Antonin Scalia's impartiality in an appeal involving Scalia's friend and hunting partner, Vice President Dick Cheney. Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a presidential candidate, and Patrick Leahy of Vermont asked Rehnquist last week to clarify disqualification practices after Scalia acknowledged joining Cheney on a recent duck hunting trip. The Louisiana trip earlier this month came shortly after the Supreme Court agreed to review a lower court's decision requiring the White House to identify members of the vice president's energy task force. Scalia also had dinner with Cheney in November, about two months after the administration asked the justices to overrule the lower court.

Antivirus companies say new e-mail worm moving

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A malicious program attached to seemingly innocuous e-mails was spreading quickly over the Internet on Monday, clogging network traffic and potentially leaving hackers an open door to infected personal computers. The worm, called "Mydoom" or "Novarg" by antivirus companies, appears to be an e-mail error message. A small file is attached that, when launched on computers running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating systems, can send out 100 infected e-mail messages in 30 seconds to e-mail addresses stored in the computer's address book and other documents. The attack was first noticed Monday afternoon.

Toddler found stabbed in Philadelphia schoolyard

PHILADELPHIA -- A woman repeatedly stabbed her 1 1/2-year-old daughter and left her with a steak knife lodged in her back in a snow-covered schoolyard, where she was found alive Monday, police said. Tamika Fowler, 19, was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and related offenses in the attack on Shytaisia Shirley, police Capt. John Darby said. The toddler was hospitalized in critical condition but was expected to survive, he said. Bystand-ers found Shytaisia sitting upright in a snow bank in a west Philadelphia schoolyard with the 4-inch knife in her back early Monday and flagged down police, Darby said.

Snow and ice coat roads from Plains to East Coast

A pair of storms spread snow, sleet and freezing rain across the eastern half of the nation, glazing highways with treacherous ice as far south as Georgia and closing schools and government offices Monday. The weather was blamed for at least 32 traffic deaths and one sledding fatality on Sunday and Monday. The heaviest snowfall was 23 inches at Duluth, Minn., as moist air swept inland from Lake Superior. Drifting snow closed about 70 miles of Interstate 29 overnight in North Dakota, between Fargo and Grand Forks.

-- From wire reports

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