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News Briefs

‘Love Bug’ Virus Suspect Arrested


Philippine authorities Monday arrested a reclusive bank employee who lives in a gritty Manila public housing apartment from which investigators believe the “Love Bug” computer virus was unleashed on the world.

Law enforcement officials said they think that the man, along with his girlfriend and her younger sister, who were still being sought, were involved in creating and spreading the virus, which crippled millions of computers around the world beginning last Wednesday and was still popping up in some places Monday. A source close to the investigation said the mischief sprang from an effort to pilfer the Internet access passwords of fellow computer users in the Philippines, not with the intention to interrupt the world’s electronic mail traffic, as the program eventually did.

Although U.S. officials in Washington expressed skepticism at this reading of events, the source here said: “I don’t think they ever expected it to spiral out of control like it did.”

Investigators said the virus, which hobbled many Internet-connected businesses and government agencies, was launched from a personal computer in the messy apartment, located next to a fetid canal in a lower-middle-class Manila neighborhood where most people do not own computers or use the World Wide Web. Authorities zeroed in on the apartment because the phone number there was captured by a caller-identification device at the local Internet service provider used as a distribution point for the virus, the source said.

Human Genome Project Discovers Down Syndrome Chromosome


The international Human Genome Project reported Monday that it has finished decoding the human chromosome responsible for Down syndrome, the most common genetic cause of mental retardation.

The “essentially finished” genetic code of chromosome 21, published in the journal Nature, is viewed as an important step by genetics researchers because of the new insights it offers into a disorder that strikes every racial and ethnic group in the world.

In the United States alone, more than 350,000 people have Down syndrome. One child in every 700 to 1,000 births is born with the condition. In addition to retardation, these individuals often suffer heart defects, blockages in the digestive tract and lung infections. They also have a high incidence of leukemia.

Most people with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21 in every cell in their bodies, and identifying all the genes carried on that chromosome will help scientists understand the disorder and its many variations.

Euro’s Slide Strengthens Greenback


The euro’s collapse has made the green in American pockets worth more here than at any time since the mid-1980s, and the Americans are coming, in greater numbers than ever.

Since the euro’s inception on January 1, 1999, it has lost 24 percent of its value relative to the dollar, dropping gradually over the last 16 months from $1.17 to a hair under 89 cents as of Friday. Economists differ over the reasons for the decline, though many credit the U.S. economy’s faster growth rate and higher returns on investment.

The number of American tourists in Western Europe already had been running at unprecedented levels in many countries. The European Travel Commission, which is financed by 29 European nations to promote tourism on the Continent, has predicted record highs during the peak summer season of roughly 6.2 million Americans, or 5 percent more than last year.