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Archive for Sunday, February 8, 2004

Briefly

February 8, 2004

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Vietnam

WHO: No evidence bird flu mutated to more deadly form

The World Health Organization said the bird flu virus that killed two Vietnamese sisters did not contain human genes, meaning there is still no sign the virus sweeping Asia has mutated into a new, more contagious form.

The women's blood was tested because experts suspected they may have caught the disease from their brother, who also died; but that link could not be proven because the brother's body was cremated. So far, there have been no known cases of person-to-person transmission in the current bird flu outbreak.

Japan said today it had temporarily suspended all imports of American poultry after avian influenza was detected in Delaware, while South Korea and Singapore effectively banned U.S. imports by halting customs inspections of poultry products.

Gaza Strip

Israeli airstrike kills militant leader, 12-year-old boy

Israel killed an Islamic Jihad leader and a 12-year-old boy in a missile attack on a car on a crowded Gaza City street Saturday, prompting threats of revenge from the militant group.

The air strike, the first targeted killing in six weeks, wounded 10 Palestinians, three of them critically. It was not clear whether the strike signaled a change in tactics after a lull in targeted killings.

Also Saturday, a Palestinian military court charged four suspects with planting explosives along a main road in Gaza. A prosecutor said the defendants targeted Israeli tanks, but that one of their bombs may also have ripped apart a U.S. diplomatic vehicle and killed three American security guards Oct. 15.

Los Angeles

Spirit rover digs into first rock on martian surface

Fresh from being given a clean bill of health, the Spirit rover drilled its first tiny hole in a rock on the surface of Mars, NASA scientists said Saturday.

"We made some history here. We put the first planned hole on Mars," said Stephen Gorevan, a scientist handling some of Spirit's workload.

A tool equipped with small, diamond-shaped heads cut 2.7 millimeters deep into a small area of a sharply angled rock dubbed Adirondack. The circular hole, measuring about 45 millimeters wide, could give scientists clues to Mars' geologic past.

Australia

3 Marines charged with rape

Police have arrested three U.S. Marines on charges of raping two women in the northern port city of Darwin while on shore leave, authorities said today.

Police said the three men, ages 20, 21 and 22, were each charged early today over allegations they assaulted two sisters at the women's apartment Friday night after returning from a nightclub.

Some 4,500 Marines have been on shore leave this week in Darwin after serving in the Persian Gulf.

The Marines were ordered to appear in Darwin Magistrates Court on Feb. 24. In line with Australian law, no details of their identities or home towns were released.

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