2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Global response to outbreaks urged NEWS IN BRIEF '
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Unit- originated in Asia. emerge, re-emerge and persist," the
ed States is being urged to take the
lead in global efforts to detect and
counter new diseases, even as medical
authorities work to determine the
source of a mystery illness now report-
ed in several countries.
The new outbreak of an unknown
illness reinforces the need for global
surveillance and improved ability to
move diagnostic work from remote set-
tings to reference labs, James Hughes,
head of the infectious disease division
of the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, said yesterday.
Margaret Hamburg, chairwoman of
the Institute of Medicine committee
that prepared the new study, said:
"Infectious diseases cross national bor-
ders and require a global response."
As if to prove that point, an
urgent search is under way to isolate
the causes of the new pneumonia-
like illness, which appears to have
So far, severe acute respiratory syn-
drome has killed nine people, seven in
Asia and two in Canada.
More than 150 people, mostly in
Hong Kong and Vietnam, have fallen
ill, and World Health Organization
officials said they are investigating
possible cases in England, France,
Israel, Slovenia and Australia, none of
which previously had any.
The illness' rapid spread caused a
rare worldwide health alert to be
issued Saturday by the WHO.
"The United States should help lead
efforts to reverse the complacency in
industrialized countries" regarding
infectious diseases, said Hamburg,
vice president for biological programs
at Nuclear Threat Initiative, a private
group working to prevent the spread of
nuclear, biological and chemical
"Microbial threats continue to
report said. "Others are previously
known pathogens that are infecting
new or larger groups or spreading into
new geographic areas."
Other new infections in recent years
in the United States and abroad have
included hantavirus, Nipah virus and
West Nile virus.
New infections are spread by the
increasing ease and speed of travel and
the continuing growth of cities, which
bring huge numbers of people together.
The ability of the U.S. medical
establishment to track and respond to
infectious diseases depends on a public
health structure that has been neglect-
ed for years, the report said.
The CDC's Hughes noted that the
new report is a follow-up of one done
by the Institute of Medicine in 1992.
"We've made some progress, but
at the same time today's report
shows much work remains to be
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done," he said.
He said investments in public health
capacity and bioterror preparedness
complement those with dealing with
naturally recurring infectious diseases.
"We have an unprecedented oppor-
tunity in the United States right now to
rebuild our systems to deal with infec-
tious diseases," he said.
The new report urged federal, state
and local governments to direct
resources to rebuild and maintain the
staff and facilities needed to detect and
deal with new diseases.
The CDC should work to improve
reporting of infectious diseases by
health care providers, including auto-
mated electronic lab reporting, the
It also said the United States should
help reduce the global health threat by
working with the World Health Orga-
nization, concentrating in particular on
threats in developing countries.
JERUSALEM (AP) - The Pales-
tinian parliament created the post of
prime minister yesterday, taking a
major step toward U.S.-sought reforms
and rebuffing Yasser Arafat's attempts
to retain a say in forming the next
In the West Bank, Israeli forces
killed two top Hamas fugitives
accused in a string of shootings and
bombings that killed dozens of
Israelis. In a separate incident, an
11-year-old boy attending a Gaza
funeral was shot and critically
The gunbattles came as Palestinian
legislators cast their ballots in a water-
shed vote that signaled a further weak-
ening of Arafat's influence - a
process that began about a year ago
amid growing dissatisfaction among
Palestinians with his leadership.
"It's the beginning of a transition -
it is certainly a turning point and a
qualitative shift in the political cul-
ture," said legislator Hanan Ashrawi.
"Now we have power-sharing that is
clearly spelled out."
Arafat has been wrangling with
the increasingly assertive parliament
over giving some of his sweeping
powers to a prime minister but
reluctantly agreed to create the new
position under international pres-
sure. Even with the reforms, howev-
er, Arafat will retain control over
security forces and peace talks with
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Prosecu-
tors charged a self-proclaimed prophet
and his wife yesterday with aggravated
kidnapping and sexual assault in the
abduction of Elizabeth Smart, disclosing
for the first time details of the girl's nine-.
Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee
also were charged with burglary and
attempted aggravated kidnapping - a
charge stemming from what prosecutors
said was an attempt to later abduct Eliza-.
beth's 18-year-old cousin.
"We are not dealing with just a
religious zealot, we are dealing with
a predatory sex offender," District
Attorney David Yocom said in
announcing the charges.
Mitchell, 49, and Barzee, 57, could
receive life in prison if convicted. They
were scheduled to be arraigned today,
and bail was set at $10 million each.
Before yesterday's charges, no details
had been released about any abuse Eliz-
abeth, now 15, might have suffered dur-
ing her disappearance.
Prosecutors contend Mitchell, a
drifter whose writings promote
polygamy, entered the Smart home
June 5 after using a knife to cut a win-
dow screen. Elizabeth was forced at
knifepoint to walk up a mountain trail
behind the Smart family home to a
concealed campsite, according to
Mitchell threatened to harm or kill
the girl's family members if she resis-
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Cuba rounded up several dozen dissidents and confirmed new restrictions on
U.S. diplomats, the government said late yesterday amid worsening relations
between the two countries.
An official statement on state television accused the chief of Washington's
diplomatic mission in Havana, James Cason, of trying "to foment the internal
The statement continued: "No nation, no matter how powerful, has the right to
organize, finance and serve as a center for subverting the constitutional order."
Offices at the U.S. Interests Section were closed late yesterday and attempts to
reach American diplomats were unsuccessful. The U.S. State Department last
week had reported the travel restrictions on its diplomats in Havana, but the
Cuban government did not confirm the new measures until yesterday.
In Washington, a State Department official said they had not seen the
announced measures but would look into them.
Havana's actions are just the latest in an increasingly ugly exchange of words
between the two governments, which have had no regular diplomatic relations for
more than four decades. The announcement said several dozen government oppo-
nents had been detained but did not elaborate or say if any charges pending.
Oil prices fall to lowest level since January
The price of oil plunged 9 percent yesterday, falling to its lowest level in more than
two months as traders bet that the impending United States invasion of Iraq will go
smoothly and that global stockpiles of crude are sufficient to offset any supply dis-
ruptions. The April futures contract fell $3.26 to $31.67 a barrel on the New York
Mercantile Exchange, the lowest close since Jan. 8.
However, with U.S. supplies low and uncertainty in the Middle East high, traders
said petroleum prices likely will remain volatile in the short term.
"This thing could go right back up," said Tom Bentz, an analyst at BNP Paribas in
New York. "We're still vulnerable because inventories are tight." The most recent
Energy Department data showed commercial stockpiles of crude at 269.8 million
barrels, 18 percent below year ago levels. Supplies have dwindled as a result of high
demand for heating oil in the Northeast and fewer imports from Venezuela, whose oil
industry was crippled for months by a nationwide strike. Yet Bentz and other traders
mostly expressed confidence yesterday that the loss of Iraqi crude could be made up
elsewhere and that the U.S. government will tap its own 600 million barrel stockpile,
the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in the event of a supply emergency.
Cuba restricts travel of U.S. diplomats
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas
Jrclears Bayer in
$560 million lawsuit
A jury yesterday cleared Bayer
Corp. of liability in a $560 million law-
suit that accused the pharmaceutical
giant of ignoring research linking the
cholesterol-lowering drug Baycol to
dozens of deaths.
The jury deliberated for 2 1/2 days
before returning the verdict. It was the
first of about 8,000 cases against Bayer
to go to trial.
"The verdict validates Bayer's asser-
tion that the company acted responsibly
in the development, marketing and vol-
untary withdrawal of Baycol," Bayer
said in a statement. #
The lawsuit was brought by Hollis
Haltom, an 82-year-old engineer who
said a muscle-wasting disease caused
by Baycol severely weakened his legs.
His lawyers had produced e-mails and
internal documents to argue that Bayer
didn't adequately warn doctors about
the possible side effects of the drug
before it was pulled off the market.
the risk of smoking
How long and how much you
smoked, and how long it's been since
the last puff, make a difference in the
risk of getting lung cancer.
Scientists have come up with a formu-
la that certain smokers and ex-smokers
can use to calculate that risk - one that
could help people decide if they really
want a controversial test for lung cancer.
The formula, published in this week's
Journal of the National Cancer Insti-
tute, shows a wide variation in risk.
Consider a 51-year-old woman who
smoked a pack a day since she was 14
until stopping nine years ago. The formu-
la puts her chances of getting lung cancer
in the next 10 years at less than 1 in 100.
Compare a 68-year-old man who
smoked two packs a day since he was 18
and hasn't yet quit. He has a 1 in 7
chance of lung cancer by his 78th birth-
day if he keeps puffing. If he quit smok-
ing today, the risk drops slightly.
favors war with Iraq
Britain's House of Commons
backed Prime Minister Tony Blair's
policy on Iraq yesterday, voting in
favor of using "all means necessary"
in order to disarm Saddam Hussein.
In an earlier vote,lawmakers also
supported Blair, rejecting a motion to
oppose a U.S.-led war with Iraq. Yet
many rebel legislators in Blair's Labor
Party voted against his hard-line
stance on Baghdad - which prompted
three ministers to resign this week -
showing that opposition to his pro-war
position remains strong.
With a U.S.-led war appearing
inevitable, British legislators voted
396 to 217 to defeat a parliamentary
amendment by Labor Party rebels
that declared the case for war "has
not yet been established." The 217
votes included about 138 Labor Party
backbenchers, TV reports said.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports.
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