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Aspirin Therapy Benefits Women, But Not in the Way It Aids Men

By Mary Duenwald

The New York Times

Regular use of low-dose aspirin does not help prevent first heart attacks in women as it does in men, a 10-year study of healthy women has found.

Participants in the Women’s Health Study who took 100 milligrams of aspirin every other day were no less likely to suffer heart attacks than those in another group who took placebos. Each group had about 20,000 members.

But aspirin did appear to help protect the women against stroke -- something the drug has not been found conclusively to do for men.

“What was really surprising and not anticipated was this gender difference,” said Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which helped finance the Women’s Health Study. The study of healthy women over 45, conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, was the first large clinical trial to look specifically at the effects of aspirin on women.

Rebel Attacks Down Sharply In Afghanistan, U.S. Says

By Carlotta Gall

The New York Times KABUL, Afghanistan

Attacks and firefights involving American forces in Afghanistan have decreased so much that violent contacts are now rare, the U.S. general in charge of operations in Afghanistan said Monday.

American casualties are also down in the last few months, he said.

Lt. Gen. Eric Olson, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76, summed up U.S. military activities in Afghanistan since he arrived a year ago, saying that many previously insecure areas of the country were now safe and that Afghans seemed to have become increasingly cordial toward the American troops.

“When we arrived in the spring of 2004, we experienced 10 to 15 attacks against coalition forces each week,” he said at a news briefing. “Now at this point we rarely receive more than five attacks per week.” There have been 20 to 25 deaths among U.S. troops in the last year, he said.

The biggest fall in insurgent activity was in the southern provinces of Zabul, Uruzgan and Kandahar, Olson said, where supporters of the country’s ousted Taliban rulers have been most active in the last two years.

“At the same time we are seeing Afghan security organizations being able to operate much more freely in some of these areas that used to be very violent,” he said.

Genzyme CEO May See Lower Compensation

By Jeffrey Krasner

THE BOSTON GLOBE

Genzyme Corp. chief executive Henri A. Termeer, one of the most highly compensated executives in the biotechnology industry, will receive a base salary of $1.4 million this year, and the target for his bonus is $1.5 million, according to company reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

That $2.90 million total would be a decline of about 5.7 percent from the $3.1 million he received in 2004, which was comprised of $1.3 million in salary plus a bonus of $1.8 million, according to the filing.

In 2003, Termeer earned $2.8 million in combined salary and bonus.

Termeer’s 2005 compensation won’t necessarily decline from last year’s, though. The Cambridge company’s compensation policy allows senior executives to earn more than the target bonus, based on outstanding performance.

The target bonus includes measures of corporate performance and individual achievement. For every 1 percent Termeer’s performance exceeds his target, his bonus is increased by 2.5 percent, to a maximum of 1.5 times the target bonus, according to the filing.

Gang War Prison Fire Kills 133 Inmates

By Jean-Michel Caroit

The New York Times SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic

Rival gangs armed with guns, knives and machetes battling for dominance in a prison in the Dominican Republic set off a fire early Monday that swept through a crowded cellblock, killing more than 133 inmates and injuring 26, the authorities said.

The fight in the prison in Higuey, 90 miles east of Santo Domingo, began late Sunday night and was briefly quelled by guards firing tear gas. But it flared anew about 2:30 a.m. when several members of one of the gangs set pillows and bedding on fire in the cellblock, known as Vietnam.

The National Police chief, Manuel de Jesus Perez Sanchez, said firefighters could not reach the prisoners or the fire because inmates had jammed the locks with sand and other debris. Among the dead, officials said, were two Puerto Rican inmates and a Haitian.

“It was awful; I saw piles of burnt bodies on the sidewalk,” said Arevalo Cedeno, a lawyer who lives near the prison. “It was an inferno.”

President Leonel Fernandez was in Spain on Monday, but Vice-President Rafael Albuquerque traveled to Higuey and ordered an investigation into the fire.

“How did weapons enter the jail?” said Francisco Dominguez Brito, the prosecutor general of the Dominican Republic. “We have to acknowledge there was negligence in this case.”

Overcrowding and corruption has long been a chronic problem in Dominican prisons. The Higuey jail was built in 1960 to house 80 inmates, but according to the director of Prisons, Juan Ramon de la Cruz Martinez, it had a population of 426 on the morning of the fire.

Andrea Elliott contributed reporting from New York for this article.