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News Briefs II

Baptist Group President to Resign


Faced with the near certainty of a prison sentence for his conviction on racketeering and grand theft charges, the Rev. Henry J. Lyons plans to resign Tuesday as president of the nation’s largest black religious organization, his lawyers said Monday.

“He’s going to step down (Tuesday) in St. Petersburg,” said Denis M. de Vlaming, one of four lawyers who defended Lyons in his Florida trial that ended last month. “It would be beyond impractical for him to continue. He is doing the right thing.”

Lyons’ decision to step down as president of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc. marks a dramatic change in his public posture since the scandal broke in July 1997, after Lyons’ wife set fire to a $700,000 waterfront home the minister owned with another woman. Throughout the controversy, Lyons has proclaimed his innocence and has rejected repeated calls to resign as the leader of millions of black Baptists.

Even after his conviction, Lyons said he had no plans to resign and appeared determined to stick to his plan to run for a second term as convention president -- a pledge he likely would have had to fulfill from prison.

Scientists Announce First Definitive Test for Alzheimer’s Disease

NEWSDAY -- Forgetting where you put the car keys at age 65 may be normal, but forget too many things too often and it may be the first step toward Alzheimer’s disease, experts say.

Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., say that a standard memory test can now identify people with a much higher risk for Alzheimer’s, the first confirmed test for the disease. About 50 percent of those with minor cognitive problems on the test developed Alzheimer’s within three years, the researchers said, and about 80 percent developed the disease in six years.

Before now, said Ronald Petersen, the study’s chief investigator, “There has not been a clear method of evaluating people with memory loss.”

In response, the federal government announced Monday that it will fund -- along with Pfizer Inc. -- a $22 million study in 65 to 80 research centers that will weigh use of the Pfizer drug Aricept against vitamin E as a way to prevent or slow Alzheimer’s disease in volunteers who show mild to moderate cognitive problems on the memory test.

Alzheimer’s affects an estimated 4.5 million Americans, causing severe memory decline and ultimately leaving people unable to perform even simple tasks. “If we could cut the rate of (cognitive) decline in half,” Petersen said, “we could make an enormous impact on the individual, his or her family and society.”