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Headphones interfere with heart devices

NEW ORLEANS: A new study indicates that headphones can interfere with heart devices such as a pacemaker or an implanted defibrillator. "Headphones contain magnets, and some of these magnets are powerful," said the study's leader, Dr. William Maisel, a cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and a consultant to the Food and Drug Administration. "The headphone interaction applies whether or not the headphones are plugged in to the music player and whether or not the music player is on or off." Maisel's research was presented yesterday at an American Heart Association conference. Researchers tested eight headphone models in 60 people with heart devices. When headphones were about an inch from the device, interference was detected nearly one-fourth of the time - in four of the 27 pacemaker patients and 10 of the 33 with defibrillators. The interference could temporarily deactivate a defibrillator, keeping it from delivering a lifesaving shock. The magnet's effect falls off rapidly with distance, and heart device function returns to normal as soon as the headphone is out of range. A separate study found no danger from cell phones with Bluetooth wireless technology.

African leaders offer views on Zimbabwe

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: African leaders say Zimbabwe's rival political factions should share control of the Police Ministry in an effort to form a unity government and then devote their time to solving the nation's economic crisis. The recommendation came at the end of a nearly 12-hour summit of the Southern African Development Community. Zimbabwean President Robert G. Mugabe and his main rivals signed a power-sharing agreement in September. But the agreement has stalled over how to allocate Cabinet posts. The regional bloc is recommending that both Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the main opposition faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai name police ministers.

Spread of cholera feared in Congo

KIBATI, Congo: Doctors struggled yesterday to contain an outbreak of cholera in a sprawling refugee camp near Congo's eastern provincial capital of Goma, as renewed fighting ignited fears that patients could scatter and launch an epidemic. Congolese soldiers and rebels were about 800 yards apart near Goma, where rebel leader Laurent Nkunda declared a cease-fire Oct. 29 as his forces reached the edge of the city. Rebels and soldiers clashed Thursday just north of the Kibati refugee camp, and soldiers who retreated last week were digging in yesterday. About 50,000 refugees have crowded around Kibati, some in log cabins, others in tents or huts. Doctors Without Borders said it treated 13 new cases of cholera in Kibati yesterday.

Indonesia security up after executions

TENGGULUN, Indonesia: Indonesia boosted security yesterday after three Islamic militants were executed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. Emotional supporters thronged ambulances carrying their caskets through narrow streets, some calling for revenge. Several embassies, including those of the United States and Australia, urged citizens to keep a low profile, saying they could be targeted. Imam Samudra, 38, and brothers Amrozi Nurhasyim, 47, and Ali Ghufron, 48, went before a firing squad near their high-security prison on Nusakambangan island, said Jasman Panjaitan, a spokesman for the attorney general's office. The Oct. 12, 2002, attacks - allegedly funded by al-Qaida and carried out by the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah - were the first of several suicide bombings in the world's most populous Muslim nation. Many of those killed were Western tourists, who packed into two nightclubs on the popular resort island. The three militants confessed to helping plan and carry out the attacks.

AIG is reportedly near deal for new bailout plan

NEW YORK : American International Group Inc. was reportedly near a deal late yesterday for a revised bailout package from the U.S. government that would make borrowing terms easier for the troubled insurer. A proposed $123 billion bailout package would be replaced with a new $150 billion package, according to The Wall Street Journal. Details of the arrangement could be announced today, when AIG is scheduled to report its third-quarter results. The plan reportedly would replace an $85 billion two-year loan with a $60 billion five-year loan at a lower interest rate. The government also reportedly would inject $40 billion into AIG in exchange for preferred stock. The government had earmarked $85 billion in September for AIG's rescue. Another $37.8 billion was made available in October.

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