Nation briefs 3/1/04

Monday, March 1, 2004

Harvard University plans stem cell research center

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Harvard University plans to launch a multimillion-dollar center to grow and study human embryonic stem cells, the school said Sunday. The center, to be announced April 23 at a scientific conference, could be the largest privately funded American stem cell research project to date, the Boston Sunday Globe reported. President Bush, citing ethical considerations, has limited federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to existing lines of cells. Harvard issued a statement Sunday confirming its plans, saying the school is "proceeding in the direction of establishing a stem cell institute." Final details are not complete, it said.

Doctors' groups urge eye wear for kids in sports

CHICAGO -- With youth basketball season winding down and baseball looming, two influential physician groups are strongly recommending protective eye gear for young athletes in many organized sports. Balls, bats, rackets and even elbows can cause serious and sometimes permanent eye injury, and children are particularly susceptible because of their aggressive playing style and lack of athletic maturity, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology say in a joint policy statement. In 2000 alone, more than 42,000 sports and recreation-related eye injuries were reported nationwide, more than 70 percent of them in people under age 25, the groups said.

Grocery workers ratify agreement to end strike

LOS ANGELES -- Southern California grocery workers voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract with supermarket operators, ending a strike that inconvenienced millions of customers and cost three major grocery chains hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales. After a two-day vote, 86 percent of grocery workers who cast ballots approved the contract negotiated by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, the union said Sunday. The contract covers 70,000 workers, a majority of them employed by Albertsons Inc., Kroger Co. and Safeway Inc. It requires employees to pay for health benefits for the first time and includes two one-time bonuses for hours already worked. The contract offers no raises.

Carrier USS Enterprise returns after six months

NORFOLK, Va. -- The nation's oldest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and its 5,000 crew members returned home Sunday to adoring crowds after a six-month deployment supporting the war in Iraq and the global war on terrorism. The USS Enterprise, displaying a banner reading "Hi Mom," pulled into Norfolk Naval Station and fired a two-gun salute as family and friends cheered wildly from the pier. The Enterprise, commissioned in 1961, had been at sea since Aug. 29. It headed to the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf in the first deployment of a Navy carrier since major military operations in Iraq officially ended May 1.

Midsize sedans fare poorly in bumper crash tests

WASHINGTON -- Six midsize sedans fared poorly in bumper crash tests conducted by the insurance industry, with each averaging more than $500 in repairs after crashes at 5 mph. The 2004 Mitsubishi Galant fared best, averaging $525 in repairs in each of four tests, according to results released Sunday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The 2004 Chevrolet Malibu and the 2004 Acura TSX earned the group's lowest rating, averaging more than $950 in damage in each of the four tests. New models of the Suzuki Verona, the Nissan Maxima and the Acura TL earned the agency's second-worst rating. They averaged between $613 and $731 in each of the four tests.-- From wire reports

Notes could offer clues in deaths of prostitutes

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Police are investigating whether notes left at a truck-stop ministry could offer clues in the effort to determine who killed seven women, most of them prostitutes. The notes, found at an Oklahoma City truck stop where one of the victims was last seen, rail against prostitution. One refers to "parking lot sin," and a second note, dated Jan. 31, reads: "Hey Minister, You Need to Get busy for Jesus AND Clear The Whores Out of Here." It was signed, "WARNING." The notes were discovered by Barry McLead, who runs a ministry out of a converted horse trailer at the northeastern Oklahoma City truck stop. Shortly before McLead discovered the notes, the body of Casey Jo Pipestem was found in a creek near Grapevine, Texas. Police investigating her death have asked for copies of the notes.

-- From wire reports

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