July 14, 2007 in Nation/World

World in brief: Chernobyl hurt colorful birds more

The Spokesman-Review

Radioactive fallout near the site of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Northern Ukraine has dampened populations of brightly colored birds more than their drab cousins, scientists reported this week.

The research, published online Wednesday in the Journal of Applied Ecology, suggested that brightly colored birds don’t have enough antioxidants left over to thrive in highly contaminated areas. Growing vividly colored feathers uses up a lot of antioxidants, which are also needed to fight radiation damage.

Radiation causes the production of free radicals, reactive compounds that can damage DNA. Antioxidants mop up free radicals to defend the body, but there is a limited supply of the protective molecules.

The forest surrounding Chernobyl, where clouds of radioactive particles were released after a disastrous accident in 1986, might look like a wildlife preserve, said study author Timothy Mousseau, a biologist at the University of South Carolina. But to a trained naturalist, something is clearly wrong. Many birds have abnormalities, such as deformed beaks or bent tail feathers.

Pamplona, Spain

Brothers gored by same bull at run

A bull that broke from the pack seriously gored two American brothers, catching one on each of its horns during the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona, where both were recovering Friday in the hospital.

Lawrence and Michael Lenahan were gored simultaneously by the bull, which also injured 11 other people Thursday. It was the worst day for injuries in the nine-day festival.

“I started yelling at my brother to show him I was bleeding everywhere, but he showed me he was bleeding everywhere,” said Lawrence Lenahan, a 26-year-old Air Force captain from Hermosa Beach, Calif.

He was gored in the buttocks, while Michael Lenahan, 23, of Philadelphia, was injured in his leg and was recovering well from surgery at the same hospital.


French place limit on tax burdens

French legislators approved a measure Friday lowering the cap on tax burdens to 50 percent of income, despite resistance from leftists and even within the ruling conservative coalition.

The tax limit is part of a sweeping economic package central to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans to open up the economy. The lower house of parliament began debating the bill this week in a special summer session Sarkozy called after his May election and was to wrap up discussion Monday before sending it on to the Senate.

According to the measure approved Friday, a taxpayer cannot be taxed more than 50 percent of his or her income. Until January there were no across-the-board limits on taxation. Since January, the cap has been at 60 percent of income.

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