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THURSDAY BRIEFING

Clues from a child's fossils

September 21, 2006|Andrew Malcolm and Brian Hanrahan | Times Staff Writers

In an ancient streambed in Ethiopia, scientists discover the primitive, fossilized skeletal remains of a 3-year-old girl who apparently drowned about 3.3 million years ago.

The announcement comes in the journal Nature. Naturally, no one knows the story behind the ancient child's death, but the remains are at least 3 million years older than any other comparable fossil of childhood.

The bones are yielding rare insights into the origins of such things as upright walking, brain development, the beginnings of speech and the pace of childhood development that sets humankind apart from other primates. Page A18

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Automakers sued on global warming

California's attorney general sues the nation's largest automakers, charging that they create a public nuisance by selling vehicles with emissions that add to global warming.

The defendants are GM, Toyota, Ford, Honda, Chrysler and Nissan.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for existing and future environmental damage to the state's waters, coastline, forests, wildlife and public health.

Environmentalists hail the suit as a means to goad governments into action against global warming. The automakers dismiss the move as without legal merit. Page C1

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A shouting match at Hussein's trial

A new chief judge takes over at the genocide trial of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and six others.

On his first day, he confronts a walkout by the entire team of defense lawyers and shares a shouting match with a complaining Hussein.

"You do not have the right to speak," the judge tells him.

"You should listen to my opinion!" Saddam shouts back.

"I am the presiding judge, and I will decide who to listen to," the judge says. And then he orders Hussein removed. "Take him out, Take him out!" Page A6

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Immigration bills advance

Measures to toughen enforcement against illegal immigrants make headway on Capitol Hill.

The Senate agrees to consider a bill to build a double fence along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, and the House approves a measure to require that voters show photo identification at the polls.

Democrats dismiss the bills as political ploys aimed more at the midterm elections in November than effective enforcement.

Democrats also argue there is no proof that illegal immigrants vote. "How the heck do we know we don't have any?" demands one Georgia Republican. "We don't check." Page A21

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Bad spinach from Salinas Valley

Federal investigators say the bacteria-laden spinach that has killed one woman and sickened more than 140 others in 23 states was grown in California's Salinas Valley.

The precise source has yet to be pinpointed, but contaminated water is considered likely.

The E. coli bacterium involved is so pervasive in the valley, one of the world's most heavily farmed areas, that virtually every waterway there violates national standards. Page B1

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Actually, what I meant to say was ...

In another attempt to defuse the crisis swirling around his remarks on Muslims last week, Pope Benedict XVI expresses deep respect for Islam and emphasizes how Christians and Muslims both believe in one God. In his weekly audience, the pontiff repeats his regret for the furor. Page A4

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CALENDAR WEEKEND

Straight outta Biola

Not so long ago, members of the Cold War Kids had to sneak practice sessions in campus buildings at Biola University. Now, the band has signed with a prominent record label and will release its first CD next month. Cold War Kids is one of five acts spotlighted by Calendar Weekend in its second annual Local Music Report. Our experts also suggest 10 more bands you ought to know and list 10 bands that might break through in 2007. Page E28

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Jet Li is ready for a new direction

Jet Li says that although martial arts are known as wushu in his native China, the true meaning of the word is "stop fighting." In a sense, that's what he wants to do cinematically.

After "Jet Li's Fearless" opens Friday, the 43-year-old actor wants to move away from the martial arts genre. "In this movie and in my past three movies, I continue to say that violence is not any solution," he says.

Whenever kids see Li, they urge him to demonstrate his fighting skills, which he says concerns him. And he has a special message for young people in China, which reported 280,000 suicides among young people in 2003: "I want to tell them to be strong." Page E6

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No change yet for KKJZ-FM

Although Cal State Long Beach is still considering changing the management at KKJZ-FM, the jazz station will continue broadcasting for the time being.

KKJZ hasn't conducted any on-air fundraising campaigns lately, raising speculation that it might temporarily go silent. But the CSULB Foundation says it will provide financial support while evaluating the station's future. Page E12

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Maybe he wants to play tic-tac-toe?

Methods of communicating in the digital age continue to multiply. Actual understanding of these communications? Uh, not so much.

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