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News Briefs

Mir Space Station Opens For Business


Hoping to give the Mir space station new life as a commercial venture, two cosmonauts entered the rundown station Thursday and prepared to make it habitable again eight months after the last crew shut it down.

Foreign investors, working with the Russian government, want to use the Soviet-era station for a variety of money-making ventures, such as scientific experiments, advertising from space, Internet camera hookups and perhaps even a space hotel for wealthy adventurers.

For the first time, private companies will be able to arrange to use an orbiting platform in space without having to get government approval -- as long as they have enough cash.

“Mir has in fact become a private business,” said Sergei K. Gromov, chief engineer of state-run Energia, which built Mir. “Today, Mir is open to any commercial offers that may come along.”

National Cancer Institute Reaches Out to Racial Minorities


The National Cancer Institute on Thursday announced $60 million in new grants to large research institutions to help link them with community programs to better prevent, treat and study cancer among racial minorities.

The aim is to reduce the unequal cancer burden borne by blacks, Latinos and other minority groups.

“It is designed to encourage people from the community to work with scientists,” said Dr. Richard D. Klausner, director of the institute.

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death for all Americans, but blacks have a cancer death rate about 35 percent higher than that of whites.

Possible reasons include poverty, lifestyle, cultural differences and access to health care. Also, recent studies have suggested that health care providers often offer different treatments, depending on race, and that whites fare better in this regard.

“The question we are dealing with is why cancer affects ... groups differently,” said Dr. Harold Freeman, chairman of a presidential advisory panel on cancer. “The reasons for these disparities need to be investigated further.”

Bush Makes His Pitch on Education Field


If there are two things that George W. Bush knows well and loves to talk about, they are baseball and education.

Friday night in Houston, Bush will indulge one of those passions when he presides over the Astros’ home opener at Enron Field, the team’s new ballpark.

On Thursday, at Charles E. Mack Elementary School in Sacramento, he indulged the other, presiding over a discussion with local educators who batted about pedagogic principles and advanced learning theories with all the gusto of infielders playing a game of pepper.

For 45 minutes, Bush leaned into the conversation, his arms folded and brow furrowed, as the talk ranged over “diagnostic assessments,” “disaggregated” results and the virtues of phonics as a teaching method.

“Education is a passion of mine,” said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. “It should be a passion for America.”

Education has become a cross-party calling card for Bush.