- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2001

High winds keep Atlantis aloft

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. For the second day in a row, gusts of nearly 25 mph forced space shuttle Atlantis and its astronauts to keep circling Earth yesterday instead of coming home.

The weather was no better at the backup landing site in Southern California, so Mission Control ordered the crew to spend a 13th day in orbit and aim for a touchdown this afternoon.

Atlantis and its crew of five undocked from the International Space Station on Friday, after delivering and installing the $1.4 billion Destiny laboratory, and should have returned to Earth on Sunday.

Churches get grant to push seat-belt use

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Two Memphis churches have been awarded a $12,000 federal grant to promote seat-belt use among blacks in a pilot project that could lead to similar grants on a national scale.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is providing the money to the Congress of National Black Churches, which has 65,000 members nationwide and is administering the pilot grant.

It will be used for seven months of educational programs at New Sardis Baptist Church and Greenwood CME Church, said the Rev. L. LaSimba Gray Jr., pastor of New Sardis. The money will be used for workshops for parents and children, coloring contests for children and meetings for teen-agers where staff members discuss the importance of buckling up, the Commercial Appeal newspaper reported yesterday.

Blood test may reveal high risk of obesity

SAN FRANCISCO A simple blood test may soon be able to predict which youngsters are likely to grow up to have weight problems, researchers reported yesterday.

Scientists say such a test already works in lab rats, revealing which ones will become obese if given access to the rodent equivalent of limitless hamburgers, potato chips and fried chicken.

"I think something like this could be applied to the human situation," said Dr. Sarah Leibowitz of Rockefeller University in New York. She presented her research yesterday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Leibowitz raised rats on standard low-fat chow. When they got to be normal-size juveniles, she fed them a single high-fat meal, then measured their triglyceride levels. Dr. Leibowitz found that rats whose triglycerides, fats that circulate in the blood, shot up the highest after the high-fat meal were also the most likely to become obese.

The researchers believe that triglycerides, or something that travels with them, turn on genes in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. These genes promote overeating and fat storage.

Kilimanjaro's ice may be shrinking

SAN FRANCISCO The white ice atop Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro, enshrined in literature and beloved by tourists, may be disappearing, the victim of a process shrinking mountain glaciers everywhere.

A survey completed last year found 82 percent of the ice field that existed on Kilimanjaro in 1912 has melted, said Lonnie G. Thompson, an Ohio State University researcher.

"The ice will be gone by 2015 or so," predicted Mr. Thompson.

He reported on his research Sunday at the national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Fen-phen users can recover, studies say

PHILADELPHIA People who took the diet-pill combination fen-phen and a similar weight-loss drug have new hope that any damage done to their heart valves may not worsen with time or may even improve, two new studies show.

About 6 million people took the drugs before they were pulled off the market and research has suggested that up to a third of them may have suffered some heart-valve damage.

Both studies, which are published in today's Annals of Internal Medicine, found that leaking heart valves got no worse with time and in some cases got better.

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