Archive for Thursday, April 1, 2004

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April 1, 2004

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Boston

Research doubts value of inflammation test

A large new study casts doubt on one of the hottest ideas in the field of heart disease: that inflammation levels in the bloodstream are a powerful predictor of heart attacks.

The report in today's New England Journal of Medicine questions the value of a blood test already routinely used by some doctors to measure inflammation. And it challenges year-old recommendations from the U.S. government that doctors consider the test for some patients.

The researchers said their findings suggested that inflammation was only a moderate predictor of heart disease, less than some studies have indicated. They concluded that the test did not add much beyond other risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking.

Oklahoma

Nichols' trial focuses on explosives theft

Prosecutors at the murder trial of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols used a drill bit Wednesday to try to connect him to the theft of blasting caps and detonation cord from a rock quarry.

James Cadigan, a retired FBI tool-mark examiner, testified that a bit seized from Nichols' home after the April 19, 1995, bombing made the distinctive markings found in a drill hole in a padlock at the quarry near Marion, Kan.

A variety of explosives, including detonation cord and blasting caps, were stolen from the quarry less than seven months before the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The quarry was about 25 miles from Nichols' home in Herington, Kan.

Prosecutors say detonation cord and blasting caps were among the components of the 4,000-pound fertilizer-and-fuel bomb that destroyed the federal building, killing 168 people.

Nichols' attorney Barbara Bergman questioned Cadigan at length about his experience and about the accreditation of the FBI laboratory's tool mark unit.

California

Transgender protection law ignored by district

A school district in conservative Orange County is risking the loss of millions in state aid for refusing to update its anti-discrimination policy to protect transgender students.

Westminster school board trustee Judy Ahrens said the state Education Department policy promoted homosexuality, and she said she would not give in to what she called blackmail. "I'm calling their bluff," she said.

Westminster is the only one of California's 1,425 school districts to refuse to endorse a 1999 state law that gives boys who consider themselves girls and girls who regard themselves as boys the right to pursue discrimination complaints.

Two other trustees voted with Ahrens on the five-member school board.

"I'm really sad that the moral compass isn't out there," she said.

The district serves 10,000 elementary and middle school students.

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