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Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Truck bomb kills dozens in Chechnya VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia — A truck laden with explosives blew up Monday outside a government compound in Chechnya, reducing eight buildings to rubble and killing at least 41 people. Russia's president said the attack was aimed at derailing a political resolution of the 3 1/2-year-old war.

Three suicide-bombers, including one woman, carried out the attack, Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky told the ITAR-Tass news agency.

The explosion, which had the force of at least 1.3 tons of TNT, wounded more than 110 people, 57 of them critically, said Maj.-Gen. Ruslan Avtayev. Nearly all the dead were civilians, including six children.

Most victims were government employees who had just returned to work after May holidays.

Snow's comments fuel further rise of euro FRANKFURT, Germany — The U.S. dollar fell to a four-year low against the euro Monday, inching closer to its all-time bottom after U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said a weaker dollar would help U.S. exports.

The 12-country currency hit $1.1621 in morning trading in Europe, then slipped back below $1.1600 in the afternoon. It was the dollar's lowest level against the euro since January 1999.

Late in New York trading, the euro was quoted at $1.1541, up from $1.1488 late Friday.

Economists said Snow's comments Sunday on ABC's "This Week" set off the latest surge by indicating the U.S. government wouldn't take steps to halt the dollar's slide.

"When the dollar is at a lower level, it helps exports, and I think exports are getting stronger as a result," Snow said.

U.S. manufacturing exporters have been pleading for a weaker dollar, since a strong currency means their goods are more expensive than those of foreign competitors, costing them business and squeezing profit margins.

20,000 British brains taken for research LONDON — British doctors and morticians removed at least 20,000 brains for research from 1970 to 1999 without obtaining families' consent, according to a government report published Monday.

The figure includes only those brains still held by hospitals and universities in England, and many more could have been taken and destroyed, Dr. Jeremy Metters, Her Majesty's Inspector of Anatomy, said in the report.

Removing organs without families' permission was explicitly outlawed in 1999. A law passed in 1961 said organs should only be taken from corpses if relatives did not object, though permission was not required.

In one case, Metters said, a hospital mortician was paid $16 for each brain he provided for research. Metters said it was possible that a brain could have been removed in any post mortem carried out by a hospital or coroner between 1961 and 1999.

Israel clamps closure on Gaza JERUSALEM — The Middle East peace process pulled in different directions Monday, with Israel and the Palestinians arranging their highest-level meetings in three years and Israel imposing especially tough travel restrictions in Gaza.

The conflicting signals underscored difficulties faced by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who in two days of meetings here failed to secure Israel's agreement on the "road map" for halting 31 months of Palestinian-Israeli violence and creating a Palestinian state.

In the latest bloodshed, three Palestinians were killed Monday in Gaza, at least two by Israeli gunfire.

Hopes for jump-starting the plan now rest with expected talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his newly appointed Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas — and with Sharon's scheduled meetings with President Bush next week in Washington.

On Monday, Powell sought Egypt's help in the peace negotiations, a day after meeting separately with Sharon and Abbas. In Jerusalem, he urged both sides to move ahead with the peace plan and not allow disagreements to derail it.

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