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News Briefs I

Gene Researchers Race to Complete Human Book of Life'

The Washington Post

Leaders of the worldwide effort to map all the genes in the human body sharply accelerated their schedule Monday, agreeing to complete a "rough draft" in three years and a definitive map by 2003.

Responding to new competition from private gene-mapping companies, leaders of the Human Genome Project said they hoped to accelerate medical progress while ensuring that large portions of the genetic map remain public property.

The goal of completing an early rough draft of the gene map is new, and the goal of publishing a final map by 2003 hastens the old timetable by two years. "This is a highly ambitious, even audacious, goal, given that only about 6 percent of the human genome sequence has been completed thus far," said a government planning document released Monday.

Nevertheless, the science of analyzing genes has advanced so rapidly that researchers believe the new goals are attainable. Leaders of the Human Genome Project hope a definitive gene map will revolutionize biology and medicine by allowing researchers to unscramble how the body works at its most fundamental level, offering profound new insights into birth and death and all the stages between. They said the "rough draft" should be a big shot in the arm for medical research, advancing some fields of inquiry by many years.

Segregationist Figure George Wallace, 79, Dies

Los Angeles Times

George Corley Wallace, the onetime firebrand segregationist who dominated Alabama politics for almost two decades and commanded a front-stage position during the nation's tumultuous civil rights struggles, died Sunday of respiratory and cardiac arrest. He was 79.

Wallace, a former four-term Democratic governor who rose to power with a blend of virulent racism and pugnacious opposition to big government and liberal social philosophies, became a political hero to millions of working-class white Southern voters and gained an impressive national following during his four abortive campaigns for the White House as the "angry man's candidate."

Although he moderated his hard-right stance later in his political career and publicly recanted his segregationist past, the onetime Golden Gloves boxing champion never shook off the image of jut-jawed defiance to racial change that he created in the early 1960s with his cry of "segregation forever" in his first inaugural address and with his controversial "stand in the schoolhouse door" to block the integration of the University of Alabama.

U.S. Accused of Pressing for Crackdown on Kenya's Muslims

Los Angeles Times

Members of Kenya's Islamic community accused the United States on Monday of pressuring Kenyan authorities to clamp down on Muslim organizations, which they say are wrongly suspected of possible involvement in last month's bombing of the U.S. Embassy here.

Muslim leaders say that the organizations provided relief services to often-forgotten parts of the country and that they face intentional discrimination solely because of their religious affiliation.

Several members of Kenya's ruling party have threatened to withdraw their support for the government in Parliament, while other community leaders have vowed to incite countrywide protests unless the government rescinds its decision. Muslims claim the action is part of a U.S.-sponsored campaign of harassment and intimidation of members of their faith, who they say are being made scapegoats for the Nairobi blast, which killed more than 250 people and injured more than 5,000 others. An almost simultaneous bombing at the U.S. Embassy in neighboring Tanzania killed a dozen more people.