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Hollywood Connections Helped Push Strike Near a Deal

With Hollywood writers on the brink of ending their three-month strike, they can thank this city’s time-honored way of getting things done — connections.

Over the last two weeks, Laeta Kalogridis, a movie and TV writer and a founder of United Hollywood (unitedhollywood.blogspot.com), a pro-union Web site, emerged as an unlikely peacemaker.

Working the phones and e-mail during her forced hiatus from projects like Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” she operated as a conduit between David J. Young, a militant leader of the guild, and Peter A. Chernin, the News Corp. president, who was similarly protective of company interests.

As Kalogridis joined those trying to resolve the fight, players on both sides of the labor dispute finally shifted ground, most importantly on the knotty issue of new-media compensation. That cleared the final obstacles to a deal that will be reviewed by writers in meetings here and in New York on Saturday.

If all goes well, the boards of the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East could end their walkout as early as next week, allowing production of most television dramas and comedies to resume and tens of thousands of people to return to work.

Diabetes Health Goes Beyond Blood Sugar, Doctors Say

The startling findings of a major federal study on the effects of lowering blood sugar are unlikely to change the way most people with Type 2 diabetes manage their illness, doctors said Thursday.

The study, announced Wednesday, showed that an intensive program to lower blood sugar actually increased risk of death. The findings were so surprising that the study was stopped early, and they seemed to undercut the accepted wisdom that people with diabetes should do everything possible to get their blood sugar down to normal.

But the methods used in the study, called ACCORD (for Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes), bear little resemblance to the techniques most doctors and patients use to manage blood sugar levels. And the patients in the study were typically far sicker than many people with diabetes.

Studies Call Biofuels A Greenhouse Threat

Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.

The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months, as scientists took a closer look at the global environmental cost of their production. These latest studies, published in the prestigious journal Science, are likely to add to the controversy. These studies for the first time take a detailed, comprehensive look at the emissions effects of the huge amount of natural land that is being converted to cropland globally to support biofuels development.

The destruction of natural ecosystems — whether rain forest in the tropics or grasslands in South America — not only releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned and plowed, but also deprives the planet of natural sponges to absorb carbon emissions. Cropland also absorbs far less carbon than the rain forests or even scrubland that it replaces.