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News Briefs

Israel, Syria End Talks, Agree to Reconvene

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

Israel and its Arab neighbors Thursday ended a month-long round of talks that came closer to real peace negotiations than ever before, but fell short of promising an early settlement of their 44-year-old conflict.

Still, the negotiators promised to return for more talks in a little more than three weeks -- after taking each others' proposals back home and testing the political reactions in Jerusalem and Damascus.

The good news in this round, the sixth in a series of meetings based on a U.S.-led peace initiative, was that Israel and Syria, long the Jewish state's most bitter enemy, were able to talk for the first time about the dimensions of a genuine peace.

The bad news, though, was that the substantive disagreements between Israel and Syria, and between Israel and the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, remain almost as wide as ever.

"If it will rain, it will first become cloudy," said Syria's Bushra Kanafani, suggesting that a peace agreement is still a long way off. "It's not cloudy yet, so I cannot expect rain tomorrow."

Responded Israel's Yossi Gal: "Rain starts with drops, with sprinkles" -- meaning that even small signs of progress could mean major improvements to come. "It's our belief that peace in the Middle East is becoming less a matter of contention and more a matter of time," he added.

Strong Yen Could Hurt Japan

Los Angeles Times

TOKYO

The sudden surge in the value of the yen is being greeted calmly by government officials here, but some business leaders are worried that a strong national currency will further undermine Japan's floundering economy.

The rising yen will cut into already weakened corporate earnings, hurt exports and delay Japan's economic recovery, economic analysts said.

Government officials gave no indication Thursday that they would intervene to support the value of the dollar against the yen. Bank of Japan governor Yasushi Mieno said that the yen's rise was positive in the long run because it would help reduce Japan's massive trade surplus.

The yen weakened slightly against the dollar in New York Thursday -- finishing at 120.49 yen to the dollar -- after rising to a record high on Wednesday as investors fled the currency turmoil in Europe and sold off U.S. investments. In Tokyo Thursday, the yen finished at 120.25 to the dollar.

Study Disputes Association Between Cancer and Diet

Newsday

BOSTON

A high-fat diet does not appear to increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, according to a review of data from the largest ongoing study of women's health ever undertaken.

While there have been similar findings in several much smaller studies, the finding from the study of 121,000 American nurses flies in the face of conventional wisdom regarding dietary fat and cancer.

Dr. Walter C. Willett of Harvard Medical School, who directs the nurses' study begun in 1976, said that while reducing fat in the diet substantially reduces the risk of heart disease and appears to lower the risk of colon cancer, "there is no suggestion of an association between fat and breast cancer), no matter what type of fat you consider."

Other cancer experts questioned Willett's findings. "It's a very interesting study but it is flawed," said Dr. Daniel G. Miller, president of Strang Cancer Prevention Center in New York City. "The differences in fat consumption that he shows are so small you would expect no kind of change in breast cancer rates. ... You can't have one flawed study negate what everyone all over the world knows."

Willett, who spoke at a program on new frontiers in cancer prevention sponsored by the Harvard School of Public Health, acknowledged that, "Diet has assumed the center stage over the past 10 years" in the fight against cancer.

Weather

Danielle Sneaks in the Back Door

By Yeh-Kai Tung
Staff meteorologist

There will be one more day of clear skies before the clouds roll in.

As the current high pressure cell moves off the coast, winds will turn away from the colder, northerly direction towards the east. The cloudiness associated with tropical storm Danielle, located off the North Carolina coast as of last night, will move our way Saturday, bringing overcast skies and some rain. Sunday should be the better of the two weekend days, with warmer temperatures and skies clearing in the afternoon.

Friday: Mostly sunny. High 62F (17C). East wind 15-20 mph (24-32 kph).

Friday night: Clouding up after midnight. Continued easterly winds 12-17 mph (19-27 kph). Low 53F (12C).

Saturday: Cloudy with light rain possible in the afternoon. High 65F (18C). Low 56F (13C).

Sunday: Partly cloudy early, then breaks of sun in the afternoon. High 72F (22C).Saturday. Cloudy with light rain possible in the afternoon. High 65F (18C). Low 56 F (13C).