The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 36.0°F | Overcast

News Briefs

Police Say Maine Poison Case May Be Rooted In Grudge


Quiet, implacable Daniel Bondeson had a hand in the mass poisoning at Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church that killed a 78-year-old usher, police said Monday. And they believe that the act may have had its roots in a grudge that festered through years of bake sales and committee meetings.

Because the state medical examiner did not release autopsy results Monday, Lieutenant Dennis Appleton of the Maine State Police said he could not confirm that Bondeson’s shooting death on Friday was a suicide.

He also said investigators are not sure whether Bondeson acted alone, or whether he was the one who mixed arsenic -- probably less than a teaspoonful -- into a pot of coffee served at a church fellowship meeting on April 27.

But he was willing to say what has up until now been conjecture: That investigators believe a parishioner at the tiny, traditional Lutheran church became so enraged over where the church was headed that he or she planned a violent revenge on the congregation.

“With any group there are factions,” Appleton said. “All the votes in that church didn’t go 10 to nothing. They sometimes went six to four.”

FDA Approves Drug For Lung Cancer


The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved a controversial drug meant as a last-ditch treatment for people with lung cancer.

The drug, AstraZeneca's Iressa, is the first of a new class of so-called targeted therapies that can attack tumors while avoiding some of the usual side effects of chemotherapy like anemia, increased risk of infections, nausea and hair loss. In studies it has been shown to drastically shrink tumors, but only in a small percentage of patients.

For the vast majority of patients, the drug, a pill taken once a day, does not work and is associated with a potentially fatal side effect on its own -- a type of pneumonia.

The FDA’s decision that the benefits of the drug outweighed the risk was seen by some patient advocates and analysts as a new sign of flexibility on the part of the agency in viewing drugs for life-threatening diseases. Some advocacy groups have criticized the agency, saying it has demanded too high a burden of proof for drugs, even when patients are going to die anyway.

“I think the new commissioner is listening to the public and is concerned about the need to get life-saving medicines to patients much sooner,” said William Burroughs, president of the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs, referring to the FDA commissioner, Mark B. McClellan, who has vowed to speed up drug reviews. Burrough’s patient advocacy group is named for his daughter, Abigail, who died of cancer two years ago at age 21 after trying in vain to procure Iressa and another experimental drug.

Supreme Court Sets Aside Murder Conviction Of Texas Teenager


The Supreme Court delivered an unusual rebuke to a Texas appeals court on Monday by unanimously setting aside the murder conviction of a teenager whose confession, the justices found, was the product of an illegal arrest and should not have been introduced at his trial.

The decision, which gives Texas the chance to retry the defendant, Robert Kaupp, for the 1999 crime without introducing the confession, made no new law. Rather, the Supreme Court viewed the Texas Court of Appeals as having made such obvious errors in upholding the conviction that the justices overturned its decision in an unsigned opinion, without even bothering to hear arguments in the case.

Kaupp, who was 17 at the time, was under suspicion of having taken part in the murder of a 14-year-old girl, but the Harris County Sheriff's Department lacked evidence to obtain a warrant for his arrest. Instead, six police officers went to his home in the middle of the night and, after his father allowed them in, roused him from his bed by shining a flashlight on him. “We need to go and talk,” one officer said, to which the teenager replied, “OK.” The officers then handcuffed him and took him to the police station, barefoot and in his underwear. There, after receiving his Miranda warnings, he implicated himself in the murder.

Old Man Of Mountain Pieces Make Brief Appearance on eBay


As Granite State residents mourned the weekend collapse of the Old Man of the Mountain, bits and pieces of the revered New Hampshire emblem popped up for sale on eBay -- yours for the price of $2 a pop.

And just as suddenly Monday, the remains were removed by the web-based auction house after New Hampshire officials made clear that the pieces were government-owned and that selling them was illegal.

“Anyone claiming to have for sale remnants and artifacts from the Old Man of the Mountain is violating state law,” Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald said in a statement.

The pieces could be key to rebuilding the craggy symbol, a possibility Governor Craig Benson is weighing.

“Even the rubble of the Old Man could have importance for possible reconstruction so [taking the remains] is clearly defacement,” said New Hampshire Attorney General Peter Heed, whose office is investigating the eBay offers. All of which is not to say that profiteering off the Old Man's demise didn’t continue. A check of eBay’s offerings Monday found postcards, even a thimble and a bottle opener, all with the visage of a man no more.