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Iran: Police Use Tear Gas to Break Up Rally

Iranian authorities used tear gas to disperse protesters gathered for Egypt-inspired demonstrations in central Tehran Monday.

The Wall Street Journal reported that protesters rallied in Tehran’s Enghelab or Revolution Square, chanting “death to the dictator” and “down with the Taliban, in Cairo and Tehran.”

Before the protests, state police placed opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi under house arrest to prevent them from participating in the rally in support of Egypt and Tunisia’s anti-government protests. They also cut off the leaders’ phone lines, UPI reports.

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Nicolas Sarkozy Backs Annecy’s Olympic Bid

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he will support Annecy’s bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Three cities are vying for the chance to host the event: Annecy, Munich and South Korea’s Pyeongchang. The International Olympic Commission plans to decide the host on July 6 in Durban, South Africa.

Sarkozy traveled to Annecy Friday to meet with members of the IOC evaluation commission.

Annecy’s bid has been troubled by local opposition. Residents of the Semnoz mountain region say the Games will cause environmental damage, AFP reports.

The IOC began evaluating the city at the base of Europe’s tallest peak Mont Blanc on Thursday.

Sarkozy spoke to a tourism conference in the sky resort of La Clusaz Friday, saying, “You have a great candidature, a magnificent region and you want to host these Games. We are all going to pull together in a bid to get them.”

France lost its previous Olympic bid for the 2012 Summer Games when Paris was beaten by London.

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Mubarak Steps Down, Resigns Power to Military

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down and ceded power to the military Friday after 18 days of pro-democracy protests calling for his ouster.

“President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down and has handed power to the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces,” Vice President Omar Suleiman announced on state radio and television, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Several hundred thousand protesters gathered in Cairo’s central square erupted into cheers and whistles when the televised statement was made just after nightfall, The Associated Press reports. People waved Egyptian flags, honked car horns, fired celebratory shots into the air and chanted, “The people have brought down the regime!”

The announcement came just one day after Mubarak vowed to serve until September, provoking anger from demonstrators.

The 82-year-old fled Cairo with his family on Friday for their home in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.

Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, who flew to Egypt weeks ago to join in the protests, told The Associated Press, “This is the greatest day of my life.

“The country has been liberated after decades of repression,” he said.

After the announcement, a military spokesman said the armed forces would not act as a substitute for a “legitimate” government, and that it would soon make arrangements to enact the changes Egyptians want, AP reports.

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Three WWF Hostages Freed in India

Three female WWF volunteers who were kidnapped by armed militants earlier this week while working at a national park in northeast India have been freed, officials said Wednesday.

Three male environmental workers also abducted remain missing, according to AFP.

The volunteers, all Indian nationals, had been taking census data of tigers and elephants in Manas National Park on Sunday when they were attacked and taken hostage by 20 masked rebels.

A police spokesman told AFP that the three women were brought by bicycles to an area about 120 miles west of Assam’s main city of Guwahati, where they were let off and managed to reach a local police station unharmed.

While no one has claimed responsibility for the abductions, several militant groups are active in the remote state of Assam.

The most prominent group is the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which wishes to seeks to form a separate state for Assam’s Bodo tribespeople.

Manas, home to nearly two dozen of India’s endangered wildlife species, is located beside the foothills of Bhutan.

Rebels have been known to attack and sometimes kill wildlife officials in the region, AFP reports.

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WWF Volunteers Abducted by Gunmen in India

Six wildlife volunteers working for the WWF in eastern India have been kidnapped by armed militants, Indian police said Monday.

The abductions from Manas national park in the state of Assam occurred Sunday, just a few hours after Bodo tribal groups announced their decision to renew their campaign for a separate state, the BBC reports.

The three men and three women, all Indian nationals, were counting tigers and elephants and monitoring exercises inside the park when they were abducted by 20 masked men.

“A major hunt is under way to rescue them,” Kampa Borgoyary, deputy chief of the local Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), told AFP.

Borgovary said the abductees were accompanied by members of a local wildlife conservation group, and that the armed men “segregated the group and took away the WWF people.”

Rebels have been known to attack and sometimes kill wildlife officials in the region, AFP reports.

Manas, home to nearly two dozen of India’s endangered wildlife species, is located beside the foothills of Bhutan, about 120 miles west of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.

Authorities have not identified the rebels, but three militant groups are presently active in the area, including the National Democratic Front of Bodoland.

That group seeks to form a separate state for Assam’s Bodo tribespeople.

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Company Appeals Genetic Patent Ruling

SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 25 (UPI) — A Salt Lake City company says it is appealing a U.S. District Court ruling invalidating its patents on naturally occurring genes.

In March, U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet in New York ruled that parts of seven patents held by Myriad Genetics that concern two human genes related to breast and ovarian cancer are invalid because the genes are products of nature and thus not eligible for protection under U.S. patent laws, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Sunday.

Myriad argues the ruling in the suit brought by 20 researchers, organizations and cancer victims “imperils the entire biotechnology industry — molecular diagnostics, therapeutic drugs, agricultural applications, animal husbandry, etc.”

Those bringing the lawsuit say the patents have stifled research and limited the number of tests and treatments available for women at risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

In 1994 and 1995 Myriad were granted patents for the so-called BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (BRCA stands for breast cancer), then developed diagnostic tests that identify mutations that make women more susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer and aggressively marketed its products.

Myriad says the material and methods that were patented are substantially different than those found in the body.

Sweet ruled the existence of an isolated form of DNA — or genes — like that claimed by Myriad does not alter the fundamental quality of the material as it exists in the body nor the genetic information it encodes.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Kids Don't Appear Affected by Moms Working

IRVINE, Calif., Oct. 16 (UPI) — Children of mothers who return to work before their child is age 3 are no more likely to have academic or behavioral problems, a U.S. meta-analysis says.

Lead author psychologist Rachel Lucas-Thompson from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., and JoAnn Prause and Wendy Goldberg of the University of California, Irvine, reviewed 50 years of research on working mothers and stay-at-home mothers and find for some families, having a mom on the job is better for children, 69 studies conducted from 1960 to 2010 found.

“Overall, I think this shows women who go back to work soon after they have their children should not be too concerned about the effects their employment has on their children’s long-term well-being,” Lucas-Thompson says in a statement.

The meta-analysis included studies in which the mother returned to work, either part-time or full-time, within three years of giving birth.

Further analyses suggest children in middle- and upper-class families with two parents were slightly more likely to see decreases in achievement when older.

“This suggests that families who are not struggling financially may not see as many benefits of maternal employment on very young children,” Lucas-Thompson says. “For these families, it’s possible that alternate care arrangements may not be as emotionally supportive as the child’s mother.”

The findings are published in the Psychological Bulletin.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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'Second-hand' Danger in Radiation Therapy?

NEW YORK, Oct. 25 (UPI) — Thyroid cancer patients given radiation can be dangerous to people around them for a week, doctors say, raising questions of where they should spend that time.

In 1997, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stopped requiring that the patients be quarantined in a hospital.

Now, patients can be released right after their treatment — swallowing radioactive iodine — when they are at their most radioactive, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Scientists say a second-hand dose could exceed an average American’s annual level from all natural sources, and can be three or four times the safe level recommended for a pregnant woman.

With most health insurance plans not covering an extended hospital stay, most patients check into a hotel.

“There weren’t many choices, really,” said Ann Maddox, 72, who traveled 500 miles from Fayetteville, N.C., to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for her treatment.

Staying with her pregnant daughter wouldn’t be safe for the fetus, she said, and flying home would expose fellow airplane passengers, so Maddox’s husband checked them into a hotel.

“I pretty much went in the back door,” she said.

Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., accuses the NRC of turning a blind eye to the problem.

“My investigation has led me to conclude that the levels of unintentional radiation received by members of the public who have been exposed to patients that have received ‘drive through’ radiation treatments may well exceed international safe levels established for pregnant women and children,” Markey said in a statement.

Many radiation experts doubt radioactive thyroid patients represent a public health problem.

“We’re talking about really small doses,” said Dr. Henry D. Royal, the associate director of nuclear medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Haiti Said at Risk of Another Earthquake

MIAMI, Oct. 25 (UPI) — Haiti’s January earthquake may not have relieved stresses on the main earthquake fault there, leaving it “locked and loaded” for a major quake, researchers say.

Studies suggest a previously unmapped “blind” fault may have triggered the catastrophe but did little to ease centuries of seismic strain building up along the island’s major Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone.

That could put the island at risk for repeat temblors along the Enriquillo fault, one researcher said.

“Even if this earthquake did not occur along the entire fault, it’s certainly an indication that stress has built up in the area,” Andrew Freed, a Purdue University geophysicist, told The Miami Herald.

“It’s locked and loaded. My concern is that we are in the beginning of new cycles of earthquakes.”

Large quakes can follow within decades and at either end of the fault zone, another researcher says.

“There is another shoe waiting to drop at one or both ends of the rupture zone,” Timothy Dixon, a professor of geophysics at the University of Miami, said.

“We can’t say very much about when that other shoe will drop. It could be 100 years from now or it could be next month,” he said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Space Tourism Ticket Prices Could Drop

HOUSTON, Oct. 25 (UPI) — Two space tourism companies say the price for a trip into space could drop from millions of dollars down to hundreds of thousands by late 2011.

A brief trip into space featuring a few minutes of weightlessness and a view of the earth 62 miles below could be within reach of the merely well-off and not just the mega-rich, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday.

“Now, the sky is no longer the limit,” said Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group is one the companies planning to offer commercial suborbital missions late next year. “We will begin the process of pushing beyond to the final frontier of space itself.”

Space Adventures, the Vienna, Va.-based company that brokered the flights of seven space tourists to the International Space Station between 2001 and 2009, also plans to offer suborbital tourist flights.

Both companies are expected to offer tickets at between $100,000 and $200,000, still a steep price for a flight lasting a few minutes.

“There’s no magic wand out there to wave and reduce the cost of space access by a factor of 10 or 100,” said Jeff Foust, a space industry analyst for the Futron Corp.

The big hope in space tourism, he said, is that once suborbital flights grow in demand ticket prices will drop.

“It’s not going to be something where it’s a $99 deal with Southwest,” Foust said. “Relative to commercial air travel it will still be expensive. But people spend tens of thousands of dollars to climb Everest, visit Antarctica or go on African safaris. This price will attract adventure tourists.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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