Parents of twinsthank God, doctors
LOS ANGELES -- The parents of twins who were once joined at the head gave thanks to God and to the doctors who separated them -- even if the girls were a little difficult to recognize.
The twins "look so much better" but "right now we can't recognize them because they have all these bandages around their head," the girls' father, Wenceslao Quiej Lopez, told reporters Wednesday.
One-year-old Maria Teresa Quiej Alvarez and her sister, Maria de Jesus, were listed in critical but stable condition at the UCLA Medical Center, where doctors said they are optimistic both will recover.
The girls' father and mother, Alba Leticia Alvarez, spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since the twins were separated in the marathon operation that ended early Tuesday.
"We've been very happy ... especially because we learned everything was going well," the 21-year-old father said. "And we are grateful to the hospital. We don't know how we'll ever repay them, but somehow God will repay them."
Plunge into shark tank
NEW ORLEANS -- Ten people on a behind-the-scenes tour at an aquarium plunged into a shark tank after a platform collapsed. No one was seriously injured, officials said.
Two people were taken to a hospital for minor cuts and bruises, said Melissa Lee, a spokeswoman for the Aquarium of the Americas.
The accident Wednesday happened while donors to the aquarium were on an after-hours tour. The platform they were standing on is used by keepers to feed the sharks and is not usually open to the general public, Lee said.
It wasn't immediately known what caused the steel footbridge above the tank to collapse. The 400,000-gallon tank is home to everything from a few dozen nurse and sand tiger sharks to turtles, schools of redfish and stingrays.
Nixon's daughtersresolve library dispute
MIAMI -- Richard Nixon's daughters have resolved their two-year fight over how to spend a $20 million bequest for their father's presidential library, attorneys said.
Tricia Cox and Julie Eisenhower completed a court-ordered mediation Wednesday, but details of the closed-door meeting were not released.
"It was amicably resolved, but I cannot get into the details of the resolution because the parties wanted to keep them private," said Jack Falk, an attorney for the Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation in Yorba Linda, Calif.
One of Cox's attorneys, Enrique Zamora, said "everyone was happy" with the settlement, but declined further comment.
Nixon's longtime friend, Key Biscayne banker Charles "Bebe" Rebozo, left 65 percent of his estate to the library on the condition that the sisters and another Nixon friend, Robert Abplanalp, approve the spending.
The trust, formed after Rebozo died in 1998, gave the foundation $781,000 in 1999 but nothing since. A check for $1.3 million intended for taxes has been frozen.
Archaeologists unravelancient drug trade
JERUSALEM -- A thriving Bronze Age drug trade supplied narcotics to ancient cultures throughout the eastern Mediterranean as balm for the pain of childbirth and disease, proving a sophisticated knowledge of medicines dating back thousands of years, researchers say.
Ancient ceramic pots, most of them nearly identical in shape and about five inches long, have been found in tombs and settlements throughout the Middle East, dating as far back as 1,400 B.C., said Joe Zias, an anthropologist at Jerusalem's Hebrew University.
The drugs were probably used as medicine and the finds are helping researchers better understand how ancient people treated illness and disease. "It's a window to the past that many people are unaware of," Zias told a recent conference in Israel on DNA and archaeology. "Here's something used in prehistoric times and it's used until today."
When turned upside down, the thin-necked vessels with round bases resemble opium poppies pods. If there was any doubt about what was inside, the round bases have white markings, designs that symbolized knife cuts made on poppies bulbs so the white opium base can ooze and be harvested, Zias said.
The Mycenaean ceramics were analyzed with a procedure called gas chromatography that turned up traces of opium.