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News Briefs, part 2

FBI Head Criticizes Anti-Terrorist Laws

Los Angeles Times

Appealing for support for President Clinton's counterterrorism proposals, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh and other senior officials told Congress Thursday that current laws inhibit them from monitoring a broad range of terrorist threats, including the danger posed by the growth of well-armed, far-right militias.

And, as the Senate Judiciary Committee opened hearings on anti-terrorist measures to combat such incidents as last week's bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, several Republican senators including Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., moved to put a GOP stamp on Clinton's proposals by introducing an anti-terrorism bill of their own.

Dole's bill, co-sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, incorporates many of Clinton's proposals. But its inclusion of a provision to limit death row appeals - one of the most fiercely contested proposals in the Republicans' rewrite of last year's omnibus crime bill - touched off partisan controversy.

Hatch said, if Clinton accepts habeas corpus reforms putting a one-year time limit on death row appeals, Republicans would not antagonize Democrats further by adding a repeal of last year's ban on assault weapons to the bill.

Research Supports Use of Implants For Parkinson's Disease

The Washington Post

Researchers have found the most convincing evidence to date that implanted cells from fetal tissue can reverse the course of Parkinson's disease, an incurable brain disorder that afflicts about one in 200 Americans.

A team of neuroscientists from Chicago's Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center and elsewhere grafted nerve cells from 6- to 9-week-old fetuses into the midbrain of a 59-year-old man suffering from an advanced form of the condition. The disease is caused by degeneration of brain cells that produce dopamine, a substance essential to motor coordination.

Within a month of the procedure, the researchers report in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the patient - who had been forced to quit his job because of tremors and motion problems - showed sustained improvement in muscle function and "could again perform all activities of daily living independently and engage in an active exercise program."

A few similarly encouraging signs had been seen in some previous transplant subjects, but doctors were unable to determine whether implants of dopamine-producing fetal cells had caused the improvements or whether some other factor was responsible.