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News Briefs

Moscow Bomb Blast Kills Eight, Chechen Terrorists Blamed

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- MOSCOW

In Moscow, a bomb exploded during the evening rush hour Tuesday in a pedestrian underpass at one of the city’s busiest commuter hubs, killing eight people and injuring 53 in a blast authorities blamed on Chechen terrorists.

In the minutes after the explosion at Pushkin Square, thick black smoke streamed from one entrance of the underpass as bleeding people fled, some with their clothing shredded to pieces. Other dazed and injured victims, covered in blood, lay on the sidewalks awaiting ambulances.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, which occurred at one of the most popular meeting places in the heart of Moscow, where a statue of Pushkin, Russia’s favorite poet, stands adjacent to the first McDonald’s in the capital. But at the scene, Mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov voiced the conviction of many Russians when he characterized the bombing as “100 percent Chechnya.”

Study Links Brain Injury, Musical Memory

NEWSDAY

A 57-year-old patient with an abscess in his brain listened for five weeks to the faint lull of choral music.

“At first he thought it was a carnival in the schoolyard next to the hospital,” said the patient’s neurologist, Dr. Eva Schielke of the University Hospital Charite in Berlin. There were men’s and children’s choruses singing folk songs, and the sound was more prominent in his right ear. “Then, he realized there was no celebration.”

The abscess in his brain stem had activated musical memory stores, and the music would play non-stop until antibiotic treatments cleared the infection.

Schielke delved into the medical literature and found 10 other cases of musical hallucinations -- all in patients with damage to the brain stem. The lesions can also be caused by stroke, tumors or encephalitis. Her report appears in the current issue of Neurology.

Elderly people with extensive hearing loss have also noted this unexpected symptom. Scientists speculate that the sensory deprivation among these elderly patients leads to a release of musical memories.

Passing on the Right, Buchanan Takes Control of Reform Party

THE WASHINGTON POST -- LONG BEACH, CALIF.

Backers of Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign Tuesday wrested control of the Reform Party apparatus in a closed national committee meeting.

As local police broke up a pushing and shoving match, Buchanan’s opponents marched out of the meeting to hold their own “national committee” session two blocks away, claiming they were crushed illegally and threatening to sue.

But Buchanan’s success increases the likelihood that he will win the Reform Party nomination and the $12.6 million in federal funds that goes with it.

“It’s over now,” declared Angela “Bay” Buchanan, the candidate’s sister and chief strategist, in a briefing after the walkout. “It is Pat Buchanan’s nomination. They needed to win in there, and they did not have the numbers. We’ve won fair and square.”

A Buchanan victory, if sustained over almost certain legal challenges, would significantly change the centrist party that grew out of Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential bid. Under Perot, the party pointedly avoided taking stands on controversial social issues. But Buchanan holds hard-right positions on many social issues: He opposes gay rights, abortion and what he calls the “Israeli lobby.”