Archive for Monday, June 3, 2002

Nation Briefs

June 3, 2002


Washington, D.C.: Air Force investigates equipment auction

The Air Force is looking into the Internet auction of sensitive government aircraft communications equipment.

The sales on eBay, which were reported by Newsweek, were of parts used in aircraft like the SR-71 spy plane and F-16 fighter.

Antiques dealer Norb Novocin told the magazine he bought the parts in Jacksonville, Fla., for $244 in an unclaimed property sale. The seller was a shipping company that had been hired to take the parts in 1989 from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to Warner Robins in Georgia, the magazine reported.

Novocin said that he initially called the Georgia base about buying the goods but was turned away. After he was contacted by the Air Force, Novocin said he turned over the names and addresses of purchasers and agreed to stop selling the equipment.

Florida: Space shuttle launch bumped to Wednesday

NASA delayed the liftoff of space shuttle Endeavour yet another day, to Wednesday, because a valve change was taking longer than expected.

The valve in Endeavour's left orbital-maneuvering system malfunctioned during the final few hours of the countdown Thursday evening. NASA fixed it, only to be thwarted at launch time by thunderstorms. The same problem with the nitrogen-gas valve appeared again over the weekend.

Texas: Vatican frescoes viewed for first time


A collection of 12th and 13th century frescoes that had never before been viewed together went on display Sunday at the Museum of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where they will remain for three months before they are kept from public view until at least 2025.

Painted by unknown artists under the tutelage of Italian artist Pietro Cavallini, the Vatican frescoes once adorned the walls of St. Agnese and St. Nicola, two early Roman churches.

They were covered by plaster in the 1700s and rediscovered and removed during renovations to the churches in the 1800s. They had been stored at the Vatican since.

The exhibit came to Lubbock largely because of the efforts of the Rev. Malcolm Neyland, who pastors churches in two small towns near Lubbock. He first toured the vast collection at the Vatican Museums in Rome near St. Peter's Basilica in 1988 and felt inspired to share the experience in some way by bringing it home to west Texas.

Washington, D.C.: New RNA form may help fight HIV

A form of RNA developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology silences genes that play a role in HIV infection, potentially showing a new way to combat the virus that causes AIDS.

The team used short forms of RNA ribonucleic acid that turn off genes vital for the production of proteins used by the virus to enter and infect cells. RNA carries the blueprint for constructing proteins.

The work was conducted in the laboratory, and problems to be solved include finding ways to deliver the RNA to cells in animals or humans, to ensure it would not interfere with normal biological processes and would not have side effects, said Dr. Phillip A. Sharp, who led the research.

Sharp won the 1993 Nobel Prize for the discovery of "split genes," that changed how scientists look at evolution and advanced research on hereditary diseases, including some cancers.

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