World and Nation

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Some restrictions relaxed on Pakistan nuclear scientist

A Pakistani court Monday eased some travel restrictions on Abdul Qadeer Khan, the scientist and pioneer of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, who admitted six years ago that he had been running an illicit proliferation network. But the court maintained a prohibition on news interviews with him about his past nuclear activities, according to lawyers involved in the case.

Khan, who is revered in Pakistan, had been put under house arrest in 2004 by then-President Pervez Musharraf after Khan offered an apology to the nation for his nuclear proliferation activities.

The details were never publicly disclosed, but Western intelligence officials had said that Khan created a black market that sold nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran and other countries.

Rescuers in China struggle to free 153 trapped miners

Rescue workers in northern China struggled Monday to reach 153 miners, trapped a day earlier when water gushed into a warren of tunnels dug for a new underground coal field.

Government officials say an additional 108 men scurried to safety as the mine began flooding Sunday afternoon. A preliminary investigation suggests that miners may have broken through to an adjacent subterranean pit where water had been accumulating, according to the official Xinhua news service.

Although Chinese officials say the number of mining-related deaths has dropped by half in the last decade, 2,631 coal miners were killed by gas leaks, explosions or flooded tunnels last year, according to the State Administration of Work Safety.

If rescue efforts fail, it would be the deadliest accident since 2007, when 172 miners died in a flooded coal mine in Shandong Province. This year, there have been a spate of high-profile mine accidents, including an underground fire in Hunan Province that killed 34 workers in January.

Scientists say FDA ignored warnings on radiation

Urgent warnings by government experts about the risks of routinely using powerful CT scans to screen patients for colon cancer were brushed aside by the Food and Drug Administration, according to agency documents and interviews with agency scientists.

After staying quiet for a year, the scientists say they plan to make their concerns public at a meeting of experts on Tuesday called by the FDA to discuss how to protect patients from unnecessary radiation exposures.

The two-day meeting is part of a growing reassessment of the risks of routine radiology. The average lifetime dose of diagnostic radiation has increased sevenfold since 1980, driven in part by the increasing popularity of CT scans. Such scans can deliver the radiation equivalent of 400 chest X-rays.

An estimated 70 million CT (for computed tomography) scans are performed in the United States every year, up from 3 million in the early 1980s, and as many as 14,000 people may die every year of radiation-induced cancers as a result.

The use of CT scans to screen healthy patients for cancer is particularly controversial. In colon cancer screening, for instance, the American College of Radiology as well as the American Cancer Society have endorsed CT scans, in a procedure often called a virtual colonoscopy, while the American College of Gastroenterology recommends direct examinations in which doctors use a camera on a flexible tube.