Nation digest 1/21

Monday, January 21, 2002

U.S. to pledge $290 million for Afghanistan

TOKYO -- The United States will pledge $290 million in reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan, a Bush administration official says.

The figure was to be announced today at an international conference on reconstruction for the war-torn nation.

More than 60 countries are gathered in Tokyo for two days of talks for ways to rebuild Afghanistan after 23 years of devastating warfare.

The United Nations, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have said $1.7 billion would be needed for the first year.

The U.S. pledge represents 17 percent of that total.

U.S. troops in Philippines taps residents' memories

MANILA, Philippines -- The arrival of U.S. troops has evoked a mixed reaction in the Philippines.

Many here recall the American rescue of the country from Japan in World War II. Others fear a reversal of gains since the end of colonial rule.

The checkered U.S. role in Philippine history explains the edginess about the deployment of 660 American troops. There were protests in Manila Sunday as another handful of Americans arrived.

About 160 Special Forces troops will train Filipino soldiers battling Muslim rebels linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.

Black studies programs still fight for respect

Black studies programs sprang up by the score on college campuses following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., but more than 30 years later professors say they still must defend their field.

When Harvard's new president recently questioned the work of his celebrated Afro-American studies faculty, the dustup sounded familiar to Penn State professor James Stewart.

"Everybody has a war story," said Stewart, president of the National Council for Black Studies.

The field still has "a very tenuous relationship in many institutions," added Stewart, a labor economist at Penn State and former director of the black studies department there.

Black studies programs and degree-granting departments are now offered at about 200 colleges and universities, Stewart said. Only about 10 of those are historically black institutions.

Researchers find gene for prostate cancer

NEW YORK -- Scientists have identified a second faulty gene that appears to make some families prone to developing prostate cancer, a finding that someday might help doctors diagnose and treat some cases of the disease.

Only 9 percent of prostate cancer cases are hereditary, and the gene is related to only an unknown fraction of these. It's not clear whether the gene, called RNASEL, plays any role in nonhereditary cancers.

The new work appears in the February issue of the journal Nature Genetics. The previously identified gene linked to hereditary prostate cancer, called HPC2-ELAC2, also appears to be implicated in only a small fraction of cases.

Further study could shed light on the biology of prostate cancer, which might give hints for developing treatments.

Cleared of murder, four sue police, prosecutors

CHICAGO -- Four men cleared by DNA evidence of the 1986 murder-rape of medical student Lori Roscetti are suing the police, prosecutors and crime lab workers who convicted them.

Six weeks after a judge vacated their 1987 convictions, the men are going after the officials they say framed them and coerced false confessions.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges Chicago police conspired against them because of frustration over their inability to solve the high-profile murder of Roscetti.

Omar Saunders, Larry Ollins and his cousin Calvin Ollins spent 13 years in prison for the crime. Marcellius Bradford got a reduced sentence for cooperating with prosecutors, but he said his confession was coerced.

-- From wire reports

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