In brief | Nation & World, February 7, 2014


Syrian rebels free hundreds in attack on Aleppo prison

BEIRUT — A suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of a Syrian prison Thursday and rebels stormed in behind him, freeing hundreds of inmates as part of an offensive aimed at capturing key government symbols around the northern city of Aleppo.

Government forces, meanwhile, dropped crude “barrel bombs” in deadly airstrikes as both sides escalated their fight for the strategic city ahead of a second round of peace talks set for next week. Opposition leaders threatened to suspend the talks over the barrel bombings.

In the past six days alone, the makeshift weapons — containers packed with explosives, fuel and scrap metal — have killed more than 250 people in Aleppo, including 73 children, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

They include at least 11 who died Thursday — six of them from the same family — in the opposition-held neighborhood of Masaken Hanano.

Videos uploaded by activists showed the aftermath, including men weeping amid ravaged buildings and corpses covered with blankets on the pavement.

Martin Luther King’s children battle over Nobel medal, Bible

ATLANTA — A generation after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, his children are fighting again over control of his legacy.

This time it involves two of his most cherished possessions: his Nobel Peace Prize medal and the Bible he carried.

King’s daughter Bernice King has both items, and she says her brothers, Dexter King and Martin Luther King III, are demanding she hand them over so they can be sold. It is the latest in a string of disputes over the years that some historians have come to see as a sad and unseemly footnote to history that could damage King’s name.

A year adrift? A medical Q-and-A on what’s humanly possible

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The story of a Salvadoran fisherman who says he survived more than a year adrift on the Pacific Ocean raises many medical questions. The Associated Press spoke with Claude Piantadosi, a professor of medicine at Duke University and author of the book “The Biology of Human Survival,” to find out what is physically possible and for his view on the tale of Jose Salvador Alvarenga. These questions are from that interview:

Q: How long can a human survive without any water, or without any food?

A: The average is about 100 hours (approximately four days) without water and about five or six weeks without food. You can survive much longer with just a little food, although you’ll lose weight and run into vitamin deficiency problems. So it would have been vital for Alvarenga to have collected both food and water during his journey. The Pacific’s regular squalls would have provided some rainwater that he could have scooped from the bottom of his boat.

Q: How important is shade?

A: Absolutely critical. You get significantly warmer in direct sunlight and sweat more. The pictures of the boat show a fiberglass box in the middle which he could have sheltered in, and any type of canvas would have helped keep him out of the sun.

Heart group aims at preventing stroke in pregnant women

Just as heart attack symptoms may differ between men and women, so do stroke risks. Now, the American Heart Association has issued its first guidelines for preventing strokes in women. They focus on birth control, pregnancy, depression and other risk factors that women face uniquely or more frequently than men do.

The advice applies to patients like Denise Miller, who suffered a stroke last year that fooled doctors at two northeast Ohio hospitals before it was finally diagnosed at the Cleveland Clinic. She was 36 and had no traditional risk factors.

“There was nothing to indicate I was going to have a stroke,” other than frequent migraines with aura — dizziness or altered senses such as tingling, ringing ears or sensitivity to light, Miller said.

These headaches are more common in women and the new guidelines issued Thursday flag them as a concern. Miller recovered but has some lingering numbness and vision problems

By wire sources