April 19, 2009 in Nation/World

At 100, her mind ‘superior’ to 20

Associated Press photo

Rita Levi Montalcini, winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1986, at an event for her 100th birthday, in Rome on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

Rita Levi Montalcini, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, said Saturday that even though she is about to turn 100, her mind is sharper than it was when she was 20.

Levi Montalcini, who also serves as a senator for life in Italy, celebrates her 100th birthday on Wednesday, and she spoke at a ceremony held in her honor by the European Brain Research Institute.

She shared the 1986 Nobel Prize in medicine with American Stanley Cohen for discovering mechanisms that regulate the growth of cells and organs.

“At 100, I have a mind that is superior – thanks to experience – than when I was 20,” she told the party, complete with a large cake for her.

The Turin-born Levi Montalcini recounted how the anti-Jewish laws of the 1930s under Benito Mussolini’s Fascist regime forced her to quit university and do research in an improvised laboratory in her bedroom at home.

“I should thank Mussolini for having declared me to be of an inferior race. This led me to the joy of working, not anymore unfortunately, in university institutes but in a bedroom,” the scientist said.


Shells disrupt Green Zone calm

Suspected militants shelled Baghdad’s protected Green Zone on Saturday in the first such bombardment in more than three months.

The back-to-back strikes reverberated across the Tigris River to a popular promenade, sending families packing up from fish restaurants and abruptly halting a party at a club.

Violence across Iraq remains sharply down compared with past years, but attacks and bloodshed have edged up in recent weeks and brought worries that it could slow the return of nightlife and commerce to parts of Baghdad.

The U.S military said the Green Zone was hit by two “indirect fire” rounds – which typically means either rockets or mortars – but there were no casualties or damage reported.

Islamabad, Pakistan

Suicide bomber kills at least 27

A suicide car bomber attacked an army convoy at a checkpoint in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 27 people near another emerging militant stronghold within striking distance of the Afghan border.

A deputy of Pakistan’s top Taliban leader took responsibility for the bombing near the town of Hangu and said more would follow until the U.S. ends missile attacks into Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the assault as a “cowardly act of terrorism” and said the pro-Western government would use an “iron hand” against terrorists and extremists.

While militant attacks are spreading across Pakistan, the onslaught remains fiercest near the Afghan frontier, where al-Qaida fugitives – possibly including Osama bin Laden – have found sanctuary.

The explosion Saturday damaged about a dozen army trucks and jeeps as well as a police station at the checkpoint, said Farid Khan, a senior police official in Hangu.

From wire reports

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