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In brief

Suicide bomber strikes in Pakistan Pakistani volunteers remove an injured man Thursday from the site of a suicide bombing in Mingora, Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border. A suicide bomber attacked a truck carrying troops in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 19 people and wounding 29, some seriously.Suicide bomber strikes in Pakistan

AP PHOTO
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Drought battle lines drawn

Allowing Georgia to fight drought by slowing water flow into Florida would imperil commercial fishing along the Florida Panhandle, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist argued in a letter to President Bush.

Crist urged Bush not to let Georgia move forward with a water-saving plan to slow the flow from reservoirs into rivers that eventually reach Florida.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has sued to try to force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to curb the release of water from North Georgia lakes into rivers that make their way to the Gulf of Mexico through the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola River basin. The corps controls water releases in the basin.

WASHINGTON Implant has weird effect

Scientists have long known that anti-Parkinson medications occasionally spark compulsions like pathological gambling.

Research published Thursday found another treatment, a pacemaker-like brain implant, can trigger a completely different kind of impulsiveness.

How different? The drugs leave a subset of patients unlikely to learn from bad experiences, like a losing poker hand.

The brain implant doesn’t hinder learning. In contrast, those patients can make hasty decisions as the brain loses its automatic tendency to hesitate when faced with conflict, University of Arizona researchers reported online in the journal Science.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Astronauts get to work

Astronauts aboard space shuttle Discovery and the international space station joined forces Thursday, linking their ships and kicking off the biggest construction job ever attempted by a single team in orbit.

Digital pictures taken of Discovery as it closed in for the docking were hurriedly beamed down so NASA could determine if a small patch of ice did any damage when it shook loose from fuel tank plumbing and hit the shuttle.

The ice struck the fuel-feedline hatch on the bottom of Discovery when the engines ignited Tuesday.

The first of a record-tying five spacewalks is set for today.

WASHINGTON Red-headed cavemen?

The image of Neanderthals may be in need of a makeover: scientists say at least some of these extinct hominids could have had fair skin and red hair.

Researchers studying the DNA of Neanderthals found a mutation in two individuals that can affect skin and hair pigmentation, they reported in Thursday’s online issue of the journal Science.

The mutation reduces the function of a gene known as MC1R. In modern humans, when a slightly different mutation reduces the function of that gene the result is red hair and fair skin, according to the team led by Holger Roempler of Harvard University and the University of Leipzig, Germany; Carles Lalueza-Fox of the University of Barcelona, Spain and Michael Hofreiter of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.

Neanderthals lived in Europe and Asia about 400,000 years ago. They were replaced by early modern humans.

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