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Archive for Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Nation Briefs

April 10, 2002

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Miami: President Carter to travel to Cuba

Former President Jimmy Carter is preparing to meet with Cuban President Fidel Castro next month in what both proponents and opponents of the current U.S. policy toward Cuba hope will ultimately pave the way for changes.

Carter will be the highest-ranking U.S. official and the first former president to travel to Havana since Castro took control in 1959. The visit is scheduled for mid-May.

Permission for the trip was granted last week.

The Carter Center at Emory University in Atlanta has not released any details on the proposed trip. Carter, a Democrat who held the White House from 1977-81, is credited with opening communication between Havana and Washington after nearly two decades of hostility and virtually no contact.

California: Scientists discover new species of whale

Scientists have discovered a new species of whale, a startling find made through DNA analysis of some of the marine mammals that washed ashore in California over the past three decades.

The 13-foot beaked whales, named to reflect their pointy snouts, were previously lumped together with another species found in Australia and New Zealand.

Genetic analysis of the five known whale specimens indicates they represent a species distinct from their southern Pacific cousins, despite their similar appearance.

"Even off the coast of California, where we thought we knew everything, we're discovering new species," said John Heyning, a deputy director at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Vernon, where remains of several of the newly identified beached whales are housed.

The new whale becomes the 21st species of beaked whale to be described scientifically.

A report detailing the discovery will be published in July in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

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