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New Briefs I

Poet Wins Literature Nobel Prize

Los Angeles Times
WARSAW, Poland

Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, a reclusive widow whose seductively simple verse has captured the wit and wisdom of everyday life for the past half century, has won the 1996 Nobel Literature Prize, the Swedish Academy announced Thursday in Stockholm.

Unassuming, shy and obsessively protective of her privacy, Szymborska had been considered a longshot for the prestigious award, which was presented to another poet, Irishman Seamus Heaney, last year. Although she is perhaps Poland's most famous female writer, Szymborska is often overshadowed in Polish literary circles by poets Zbigniew Herbert and Tadeusz Rozewicz, both of whom have been mentioned as Nobel contenders.

"She has gone through a long evolution, and has reached maturity," said renowned Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who won the Nobel prize in 1980. "Polish poetry in the 20th century has reached a strong international position on the European continent. Szymborska represents it well."

Szymborska reacted to news of her award with characteristic humility and humor. She granted several brief telephone interviews from a faraway mountain retreat she frequents in southern Poland, then took an afternoon nap - with strict orders not to be disturbed.

Judge for Oklahoma Bombing Case Throws Out Defense Subpoenas


The presiding judge in the Oklahoma City bombing case Thursday threw out defense subpoenas for 63 government agencies, brushing aside a claim by Timothy McVeigh's lawyer that "there's a cover-up going on here." But later the judge said he would order the government to respond to dozens of specific defense requests for documents.

Information is being "withheld from us and possibly the prosecution," lawyer Stephen Jones said as U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch heard arguments on a prosecution motion to quash the subpoenas McVeigh's lawyers wanted to serve on the White House and dozens of other federal offices.

Prosecutors argued that the scores of defense subpoenas were "a fishing expedition." Matsch granted the government's motion to block the subpoenas, but reminded prosecutors "you are representative of the whole government" and responsible for making certain that information in government files is made available to the defense.

Compound May Inhibit Alzheimer's


A compound has for the first time in animal tests reduced the level of the plaque-forming substance in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease, researchers reported.

Scientists at Athena Neuroscience, a San Francisco biotechnology company, say the compound significantly inhibits the production of beta-amyloid, the substance that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. The compound, and others being tested, are still in the early stages of animal testing and could be available for human trials by 1998.

"These compounds look like they may be able to significantly slow the amyloid buildup that we now believe initiates Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Dennis Selkoe, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. "This is very exciting. For the first time, there appears to be compounds that inhibit a key step in the production of the amyloid protein, and do so at a very low dose."

Four million Americans suffer from Alzheimers, which causes memory loss, altered behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. One of the hallmarks of the condition is amyloid plaques, sticky fibers in the brain. No one is sure yet whether beta-amyloid triggers dementia, or is secondary to the disease process.