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Food Fight: A New York Joint
On Boston Common?

First the reviled Yankees won the World Series; now Shake Shack, the New York burger joint, might stake a claim in one of Boston’s most sacred spaces.

Danny Meyer, the restaurant operator who owns Shake Shack and other Manhattan hotspots, wants to open a branch on Boston Common, a bold foray into a city that famously loathes New York and its icons. But Meyer will be bidding against at least one other proposal, for a New England-style seafood stand called The Common House.

“I love Shake Shack,” said Jeffrey Mills, a Boston College graduate who is pitching the seafood restaurant. “I was in New York last weekend and went there. But the Common needs something that markets Boston and Boston cuisine.”

Mills, who co-owned the now-closed Biltmore Room restaurant in New York, said he also planned to sell a Common House line of products named for Boston landmarks — “Freedom Trail ketchup, something like that” — in grocery stores.

Meyer was not available for comment, but David Swinghamer, president of the growth division at his Union Square Hospitality Group, confirmed his interest in opening a Shake Shack here. The Common is one of the nation’s “most beautiful” parks, he said in a statement.

Afghan President Tries to Placate Critics as He Begins New Term

Tainted by a flawed election and allegations of festering corruption in his government, President Hamid Karzai was inaugurated Thursday for a second term, promising to remedy the country’s problems and to have the Afghan army assume full control of security within five years.

Speaking in Dari and Pashto, Karzai reached out to the country’s two largest ethnic groups as well as to his defeated political rivals in a speech at a midday ceremony at the presidential palace.

Above all, his address seemed aimed at the United States and other Western allies, whose representatives, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, were among an audience of about 800 that also included government officials, military officers and tribal leaders.

Seeking to placate his international backers, Karzai touched on almost every major point that the Americans and other Western countries have pressed him to address in recent months.

He received applause three times: when he pledged to create a transparent and accountable government; when he promised to fight corruption; and when he thanked the United States and other allies for their help.

But those who heard the speech said it was hard to tell if he was truly comfortable with the many promises he made.

“The role of the international troops will be gradually reduced,” Karzai said. “We are determined that in the next five years, the Afghan forces are capable of taking the lead in ensuring security and stability across the country.”

U. of Nebraska Weighs Tighter Limits On Embryonic Stem Cell Research

In an unusual pushback against President Barack Obama’s expansion of federal financing of human embryonic stem cell research, the University of Nebraska is considering restricting its stem cell experiments to cell lines approved by President George W. Bush.

The university’s board of regents is scheduled to take up the matter on Friday, and if it approves the restrictions – some opponents of the research say they have the votes, though others remain doubtful – the University of Nebraska would become the first such state institution in the country to impose limits on stem cell research that go beyond what state and federal laws allow, university officials say.

For weeks, the Nebraska board of regents has been the focus of a fierce campaign by opponents of embryonic stem cell research, most recently by a flood of e-mail and telephone calls, a petition drive and radio advertisements.

The effort, which is being met with an equally heated push by supporters, is a new front in the battle over the politically contentious research: It is being fought before a public university’s governing board, not a state legislature or on a ballot measure.

“This could be another possible tool,” said David Prentice, senior fellow for life sciences at the Family Research Council.

Panel Sees No Need to Upgrade
Aging U.S. A-Bombs

In a new report, a secretive federal panel has concluded that programs to extend the life of the nation’s aging nuclear arms are sufficient to guarantee their destructiveness for decades to come, obviating a need for a costly new generation of more reliable warheads.

The finding, by the Jason panel, an independent group of scientists that advises the federal government on issues of science and technology, bears on the growing debate over whether the United States should ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or, instead, prepare for the design of new nuclear arms.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and other Republicans have argued that concerns are growing over the reliability of the United States’ aging nuclear stockpile and that the possible need for new designs means that the nation should retain the right to conduct underground tests of new nuclear weapons.

The testing issue is expected to flare in the months ahead when the Obama administration submits the test ban treaty for ratification by the Senate, where it faces a tough fight.