The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 66.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Briefs (right)

Cease-Fire Called Step Toward More Autonomy in Spain’s Basque

By Renwick Mclean

The governing party in the Basque region of northern Spain said Thursday that the permanent cease-fire announced Wednesday by the militant Basque separatist group ETA opened the way for the region to loosen its ties with the central government in Madrid.

Inigo Urkullu, a member of the governing Basque Nationalist Party, said that it was time for the central government to begin addressing the demands of the Basque region’s peaceful separatists and supporters of more autonomy, who had long complained that they were unfairly associated with ETA.

“There is a political problem that predates the atmosphere of violence that has caused so much pain in Basque society,” Urkullu said Thursday in an appearance on the region’s public television station.

His comments echoed the views expressed Wednesday by the president of the Basque region, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, shortly after ETA announced that it would end its four-decade campaign of violence, during which it killed more than 800 people, in pursuit of an independent Basque state.

A Controversial Therapy
For Diabetes is Verified, in Mice

By Gina Kolata

Three groups of scientists report Friday that they independently replicated a controversial finding: Severely diabetic mice can recover on their own if researchers squelch an immune system attack that is causing the disease.

It is a discovery that was first published in 2001 and raised the hopes of people with Type 1 diabetes, which usually occurs in puberty and afflicts an estimated half-million to a million Americans. If the findings applied to humans, they might mean reversing a disease that had seemed incurable.

The findings also gave rise to questions about using embryonic stem cells as replacement cells for diabetics, a method that is the focus of intense interest. If it is possible, in mice, for the pancreas to cure itself, and if the same finding holds true in humans — which, so far, is entirely unknown — adding embryonic stem cells as the source of new pancreas cells might provide little added benefit, if any.

In any event, scientists are not yet ready to treat diabetic patients with embryonic stem cells; they first have to prod the cells to turn into insulin-secreting pancreas cells. Meanwhile, efforts to cure diabetes by transplanting pancreas cells from cadavers have met with limited success.

Economist Magazine Names
Editor in Chief

By Katharine Q. Seelye

The Economist magazine, the urbane British weekly that has been expanding its foothold in America, on Thursday appointed its U.S. editor as its editor in chief.

The editor, John Micklethwait, 43, who is British, was the magazine’s New York bureau chief and set up its office in Los Angeles. He has been the U.S. editor since 1999 and runs that desk from London.

The selection of Micklethwait is an indication of where The Economist expects to find its growth. The magazine, founded in London in 1843 by a Scottish hat maker to promote free trade, has a circulation of more than 1 million, with more than half (569,000) in North America. It now sells more than three times as many copies in the United States as in Britain.

Prosecution of Moussaoui
Finishes Up

By Neil A. Lewis

Prosecutors on Thursday finished presenting their case that Zacarias Moussaoui should be executed for the deaths that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, offering evidence linking him to the Qaida paymaster who provided money to most of the 19 hijackers who died in the plot.

The trial, which will resume Monday, offers the possibility of three dramatic moments in short order. First, the court may hear from Carla J. Martin, the Transportation Security Administration lawyer whose improper coaching of witnesses nearly derailed the trial.

Then, as Moussaoui’s lawyers pick up the arguments they began Thursday afternoon, the jury is expected to have the extraordinary experience of hearing testimony gathered somewhere in America’s secret overseas detention system.

Defense lawyers plan to have people recite the testimony of some of the most valuable captives, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, and Ramzi Binalshibh, the operation’s paymaster, who are imprisoned somewhere under U.S. supervision. There also might be testimony read from Mohammed Al-Qahtani, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who is believed by many to have been the missing “20th hijacker.”