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Andersen executive defends firm's work



Published: Mon, January 21, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Andersen executivedefends firm's work

WASHINGTON -- Under attack for his firm's role as auditor of Enron Corp., the chief executive of Andersen LLP said Sunday he was unaware of any instance in which the energy giant broke the law, and sought to focus blame for Enron's collapse on its business model rather than its dubious accounting practices.

"There is nothing that we have found that was illegal," Joseph F. Berardino said. "People want to focus on the accounting, and I think that's fair game. But a company has failed, and it's failed because the economics didn't work."

Berardino's remarks on NBC's "Meet the Press" came as the accounting firm itself has become the focus of multiple investigations based on revelations that Andersen's Houston office destroyed documents on Enron in the midst of a federal securities investigation.

Berardino also has been asked to appear before a House panel that has scheduled a hearing Thursday on Andersen's document-shredding.

Asked about Berardino's remarks Sunday, Ken Johnson, a spokesman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, "We're hopeful that he will come before our committee and tell us the same story -- under oath."

Laura Bush donatesgown to Smithsonian

WASHINGTON -- First lady Laura Bush's inaugural gown became a historical artifact Sunday when she donated it to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Exactly one year after her husband took the oath of office, leading her to nine inaugural balls and into the White House, Mrs. Bush turned the sequined red dress over to the museum. She kept up a tradition dating back to Helen Taft, whose husband, William Howard Taft, was sworn in as president in 1909, and who later donated her gown.

Over the years the museum obtained 13 first ladies' inaugural ensembles, dating back to one worn in 1881 by Lucretia Garfield, wife of President James Garfield, and those worn by Mrs. Bush's mother-in-law, Barbara Bush, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"I'm sure that this dress holds many memories for you. Now it will become part of the country's collective memory," Marc Pachter, acting director of the museum, said at a dedication ceremony. The dress was on display next to him.

The gown and matching coat, shoes and handbag will be displayed as part of the museum's presidential exhibit, alongside one worn to George Washington's inauguration in 1789.

Second gene identifiedfor inherited cancer

NEW YORK -- Scientists have identified a second faulty gene that appears to make some families prone to developing prostate cancer, a finding that someday might help doctors diagnose and treat some cases of the disease.

Only about 9 percent of prostate cancer cases are hereditary, and the gene is related to only an unknown fraction of these. It's not clear whether the gene, called RNASEL (pronounced "R-N-ace-L"), plays any role in nonhereditary cancers.

The new work appears in the February issue of the journal Nature Genetics. The previously identified gene linked to hereditary prostate cancer, called HPC2-ELAC2, also appears to be implicated in only a small fraction of cases.

The new study was done by a consortium of researchers from institutions including the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Md., the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore and the Cleveland Clinic.

Further study of the gene could help shed light on the biology of prostate cancer which might give hints for developing new treatments.

Refugees head home

GOMA, Congo -- Thousands of Congolese refugees ignored warnings from relief workers Sunday and scrambled around rivers of lava or over the still-hot crust of older flows, trying to get home even as Mount Nyiragongo continued to tremble and smoke.

U.N. officials want the refugees, estimated to number 300,000, to take shelter in relief camps. The volcano, the workers said, remains dangerous and the air in the burned out city of Goma may be polluted with poison gas from the lava.

Water purification plants were wiped out as the molten rock poured into the city of 500,000. Returning refugees were turning to polluted Lake Kivu for drinking water.

Nevertheless, many of the Congolese who fled to Rwanda said they would rather go home to begin rebuilding than live in U.N. camps.

U.N. officials said they have not yet determined whether Goma is safe.

Combined dispatches




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