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Archive for Thursday, May 6, 2004

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May 6, 2004

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LOS ANGELES

Worker recovering after 6 nails driven into head

A construction worker had six nails driven into his head in an accident with a high-powered nail gun, but doctors said Wednesday they expected him to make a full recovery.

Isidro Mejia made his first public appearance Wednesday since the April 19 accident that left him with six 3 1/2-inch nails embedded in his face, neck and skull. He told reporters in Spanish from his wheelchair that he did not remember much about the accident but was grateful to be alive.

Mejia, 39, was atop an unfinished home when he fell from the roof onto a co-worker who was using the nail gun, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Newlands said.

Three nails penetrated Mejia's brain, and one entered his spine below the base of his skull. Doctors said the nails barely missed his brain stem and spinal cord, preventing paralysis or death.

California

Cooler weather helps corral southern wildfires

Firefighters got help from cooler weather and diminishing winds Wednesday as they tried to contain a trio of wildfires that have burned more than 22,000 acres and destroyed at least 14 homes in Southern California.

Thousands of people remained evacuated from their homes as the two largest fires ate up acres of grass and low-lying scrub in Riverside County, an inland region east of Los Angeles.

"I hope the weather holds out," said Jane Scribner, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry. "It really does make a difference."

Moist air expected to move in from the Pacific could help slow the wildfires, and temperatures were expected to drop to the low- to mid-80s for the rest of the week.

NEW YORK City

Picasso painting sets record for auction

Pablo Picasso's 1905 painting "Boy with a Pipe" sold for $104 million Wednesday at Sotheby's, shattering the record for an auctioned painting.

The total includes the auction price of $93 million plus the auction house's commission of about $11 million.

"This is the finest work in public hands that was for sale," Sotheby's senior vice president David Norman said.

The previous record was set by Vincent van Gogh's 1890 "Portrait of Doctor Gachet," which was sold to a Japanese billionaire for $82.5 million in 1990 at Christie's. That price included the auction house's premium.

Sotheby's did not say who bought "Boy with a Pipe."

LOS ANGELES

Canadian charged with making terror threat

The purported terrorist threat against a West Los Angeles shopping mall last week turned out to be a fake, authorities said.

Zameer Mohamed, 23, was charged Tuesday in federal court with a single felony count of using a telephone to maliciously make a false threat. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Mohamed, a citizen of Tanzania who lives in Canada, was arrested last Thursday as he crossed from Canada into Montana. He had falsely identified an ex-girlfriend as part of the phony plot, apparently as revenge because she supposedly bilked him out of money, the FBI said.

The attack was to have happened last Thursday. Police for several days increased patrols at several shopping centers.

New Jersey

Parents indicted in case of starved adopted sons

A couple accused of starving their four adopted sons were indicted Wednesday by a grand jury, a prosecutor said.

Raymond and Vanessa Jackson were each indicted on 28 counts of aggravated assault and child endangerment.

The couple was charged in October with aggravated assault and child endangerment after a 19-year-old adopted son was found foraging through a neighbor's trash for food. Bruce Jackson was just 4 feet tall and weighed only 45 pounds.

Authorities found three younger adopted boys in the family's home who were undersized.

By the end of February, the boys, who were placed with other families, had gained between 15 and 33 pounds and grown in height between 1 1/2 and 6 1/2 inches, authorities said.

Kentucky

Patient receives artificial heart

A self-contained artificial heart was implanted in a patient this week at a Louisville hospital, the first such experimental surgery at the hospital in more than a year.

The patient, who was not identified, was in critical but stable condition after Monday's seven-hour procedure, a Jewish Hospital spokeswoman said.

The patient is the 13th recipient of the experimental AbioCor pump in an ongoing clinical trial by the device's maker, Abiomed Inc. of Danvers, Mass.

It was the sixth implant performed at the hospital by Drs. Laman Gray and Rob Dowling and the first since January 2003.

DALLAS

Mayan queen's tomb found in Guatemala

While excavating an ancient royal palace deep in the Guatemalan rain forest, archaeologists made a rare discovery -- the 1,200-year-old tomb and skeleton of a Mayan queen.

Archaeologists announced the find Thursday and said the woman appeared to have been a powerful leader of a city that may have been home to tens of thousands of people at its peak. They found her bones on a raised platform, with evidence of riches scattered around her body.

"We find clues of people's existence in the past all the time, from the garbage they left or the buildings they built. ... But when you actually come face-to-face with human beings, it's a deeply sacred moment for all of us," said David Freidel, an anthropology professor at Southern Methodist University, which sponsored a team of 20 archaeologists excavating the site.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Few SUVs earn highest crash safety ratings

General Motors' sport utility vehicles generally have poor ratings in the government's frontal crash tests but perform well in side-impact crashes, according to results released Wednesday.

The 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer, Buick Rainier, GMC Envoy, GMC Envoy XUV and Oldsmobile Bravada each earned three out of five stars in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's frontal crash tests. But they earned five stars on the side-impact tests.

Three stars means there is a 21 percent to 35 percent chance of serious injury in a similar real-world crash.

The Saturn Vue, Toyota Highlander and Infiniti FX were the only SUVs of the 13 tested to receive five stars in both the front- and side-impact tests.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Panda at National Zoo artificially inseminated

The National Zoo said Wednesday that zoo scientists artificially inseminated its female giant panda over the weekend in a last-minute, "low odds" effort to produce a long-sought surviving panda cub.

Mei Xiang, the female, was vaginally inseminated with sperm from Tian Tian, the male, about 5 p.m. Sunday. The procedure took place just hours after the zoo said at a news briefing that the pandas' short mating season had ended -- and that the zoo would not try any artificial fertilization methods until the pandas had been given more time to breed naturally.

Zoo spokeswoman Peper Long said Wednesday that the zoo's reproductive researchers "changed their minds" about holding off on artificial insemination.

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