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News Briefs

Rescue Plane Carries Ailing Doctor Away from South Pole Base


From a runway of snow lighted by smudge pots and bonfires, a rescue team flew out of the South Pole on Wednesday with an ailing American doctor aboard. It was the first time an airplane crew braved the swirling ice pellets and freezing polar winds so late in the Antarctic winter.

They completed the first and most hazardous leg of the journey when they landed about eight hours later at a base maintained by the British Antarctic Survey at Rothera on the Antarctic Peninsula.

The perilous flight from the world’s most remote human outpost across 1,550 miles of polar plateau was the second emergency medical evacuation of U.S. personnel from Antarctica in 24 hours. Tuesday, in less difficult conditions, a Royal New Zealand Air Force cargo plane evacuated 11 Americans from McMurdo station, the main National Science Foundation research base in Antarctica.

NSF officials said Dr. Ronald S. Shemenski, 59, the only doctor at the South Pole station, was flown out on a chartered Canadian Twin Otter aircraft and was expected to complete the journey Thursday by flying to Chile. He will then return to the United States.

Archaeologists Identify Ancient Peruvian City as Oldest in Americas


Archeologists have identified the oldest city in the Americas, a massive 4,600-year-old urban center called Caral in the Supe River valley of Peru.

Researchers have known of the existence of Caral for nearly a century but had no idea, until now, of its true age.

The city and as many as 17 others nearby were constructed about the same time the pyramids were being built in Egypt, about 800 years before the oldest previously known cities in the New World.

The monumental construction project was carried out at a time when early Americans were thought to be living only in small coastal fishing villages.

The city was built before corn was domesticated or pottery to store it in was developed -- both of which were thought to be crucial in the development of civilizations.

“This is one of the most important discoveries in New World archeology in the last 30 years,” said archeologist Brian Billman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the research. “It completely shakes up our notion of what is going on in this time period. Every textbook on Andean archeology will have to be rewritten as a result.”

Ukranian Parliament Dismisses Prime Minister


Communists and business tycoons united Thursday in Ukraine’s parliament to dismiss the country’s reform-minded prime minister, intensifying a five-month-old political crisis in the second most populous former Soviet republic.

The ousting of Victor Yushchenko was widely seen as a triumph for the business clans that back Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and as a blow to the West, where Yushchenko was viewed as the country’s best hope for economic reform and a lessening of corruption.

The vote, 263 to 60, roused anti-Kuchma demonstrators, who had been flagging after weeks of protests against the scandal-tarred president. Some 10,000 to 20,000 demonstrators thronged the streets of Kiev, shouting: “Shame, shame. Kuchma out, Kuchma out.”