In WashingtonChina approves lending of pandas to...


In Washington

China approves lending of pandas to National Zoo

Chinese officials in the United States announced yesterday that the government in Beijing has given final approval to lend two giant pandas to the National Zoo.

As outlined in a letter of intent signed April 7, the deal calls for the Smithsonian Institution, which operates the zoo, to donate $1 million a year for 10 years to China to rent the pandas. China will retain ownership of the new pandas, as well as any offspring.

National Zoo officials said they did not know when the pandas would be delivered.

Albright urges graduates to 'be doers, not dabblers'

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright urged George Washington University graduates to "be doers, not dabblers," even as she acknowledged their criticism of her appearance yesterday and the Clinton administration's policy toward Iraq."I know that there are some who are unhappy I was chosen and I can understand why," she told the graduates. "If I were a graduate, I would have asked for Denzel Washington or Tom Cruise. But I'm pleased you didn't, because I love academic surroundings."

At an entrance to the outdoor ceremony near the White House, students and anti-war protesters distributed literature denouncing United Nations sanctions against Iraq. Critics say sanctions have led to the deaths of millions of Iraqis because of inadequate supplies of food and medicine.

In the Nation

Astronauts prepare to fix equiptment outside station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - After an impeccable linkup with the international space station yesterday, the astronauts aboard space shuttle Atlantis prepared for their next 200-mile-high feat: a spacewalk to fix broken equipment on the outside of the station."This is just the first of several exciting days," commander James Halsell Jr.

Launch of first U.S. rocket with Russian engine off

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The launch of the first U.S. rocket bearing a Russian engine is cancelled until at least tomorrow because of a valve problem on the pad.

Lockheed Martin Corp. had hoped to have a fifth shot last night at launching its new Atlas III rocket with a European communication satellite on board.

But while draining propellant from the rocket after Saturday's failed launch attempt, a gasket in the liquid oxygen check valve wore out and delayed the work. Technicians were replacing the gasket as well as the rocket's batteries.

Saturday's launch attempt was scuttled by a fishing tournament that drew more than 70 boats into the launch-danger area offshore and a computer error.

New drug shows promise in halting cancer tumors

NEW ORLEANS - A new drug that targets one of the basic genetic flaws in cancer shows promise in early tests on humans, halting the growth of tumors and making them more vulnerable to chemotherapy.

The medicine is one of many in development that attempt to shift cancer treatment away from a broad attack on all rapidly dividing cells. Instead, the new drugs focus on the precise genetic mutations that make tumors different from healthy tissue. Researchers presented data on experimental use of one of these drugs yesterday.

The drug was discovered by Dr. John Mendelsohn of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and is being developed by ImClone Systems Inc., which is financing the research.

State workers in Illinois to testify in license trial

CHICAGO - State workers who funneled $50,000 in bribe money into Gov. George Ryan's campaign fund are expected to testify as the first trial in the Illinois driver's license scandal begins this week.

The scandal involves the secretary of state's office, which Ryan headed before becoming governor last year. Workers took bribes from immigrants who wanted to be truck drivers but spoke little or no English and had almost no hope of passing the complex tests, according to investigators.

Some workers then donated some of that money to Ryan's campaign fund - federal prosecutors estimate it was more than $170,000.

Hawaii plans to investigate Xerox in fatal shooting

HONOLULU - The state plans an investigation to determine whether Xerox Hawaii took appropriate steps to prevent the fatal shooting of seven employees by a co-worker in November.

The investigation will begin as soon as the murder trial of Byran Uyesugi ends and is expected to take several months, said Jennifer Shishido, administrator of the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Explosion in L.A. injures apartment residents

LOS ANGELES - An explosion possibly caused by a large firework tore through an apartment building yesterday morning, injuring residents and sending police on a search for explosives in one of the apartments.

It was unknown how many people were hurt or how serious the injuries were, authorities said.

Firefighters found that an explosion had blown a hole in the fourth flor of the building, which is near Koreatown section of Los Angeles, police Officer Trevion Stokes said.

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