October 5, 2006 in Nation/World

Stanford professor wins Nobel Prize

The Spokesman-Review
 

Nearly a half-century after his father was awarded a Nobel Prize, a Stanford University professor won his own Wednesday for groundbreaking research into how cells read their genes, fundamental work that could help lead to new therapies.

Discoveries by Roger D. Kornberg, 59, have helped set the stage for developing drugs to fight cancer, heart disease and other illnesses, experts said.

At a press conference, Kornberg said the immediate application of his work is in making better antibiotics for diseases such as tuberculosis. “There will be specific cures for several diseases in the next decade,” he said.

Kornberg’s $1.4 million award, following the Nobels for medicine and physics earlier this week, completes the first American sweep of the Nobel science prizes since 1983.

Salinas, Calif.

FBI, FDA search for E. coli clues

Agents with the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration searched two produce-packing plants in California’s Salinas Valley on Wednesday in connection with last month’s outbreak of E. coli in fresh spinach that so far has sickened 193 people and killed at least one.

One search took place at San Juan Bautista facilities operated by Natural Selection Foods LLC, a processor linked to the outbreak, which last month recalled all of its spinach products. The other search was of a Salinas, Calif., plant operated by Growers Express LLC, a grower and packer that had not been previously associated with the outbreak.

“We are investigating allegations that certain spinach growers and distributors may not have taken all necessary or appropriate steps to ensure that their spinach was safe before it was placed into interstate commerce,” said Kevin Ryan, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California.

The FDA last week declared spinach safe to eat again, after investigators narrowed down the source of the outbreak to 12 fields on nine Salinas Valley farms.

Sacramento, Calif.

Prison crowding called emergency

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Wednesday in California’s critically crowded prisons, a step that allows him to use his executive powers to ship inmates to other states.

The move comes five weeks after state lawmakers failed to act on a $6 billion prison construction plan Schwarzenegger sought after calling a special session of the Legislature.

“Our prisons are now beyond maximum capacity, and we must act immediately and aggressively to resolve this issue,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

California has the nation’s largest state prison population with 172,000 inmates. Its prison system is about 70 percent over capacity.

Privately operated prisons in Arizona, Indiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee are willing to take 2,200 inmates.


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