World and Nation

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Failure of Nylon Strap Suspected in Crane Collapse

A prime suspect in Saturday’s East Side crane collapse — a spectacular disaster across two Manhattan blocks that has claimed seven lives and is expected to cost millions — is a $50 piece of nylon webbing that investigators suspect may have failed while hoisting a six-ton piece of steel.

A photograph taken at the site shows the yellow nylon sling is ragged at the end like a child’s shoelace, indicating, according to experts, the immense force that may have torn it apart.

The investigation into the accident continued Monday while workers recovered three more bodies from the rubble of a four-story town house on East 50th Street that was demolished when a section of the toppling crane slammed into it. That brought the death toll from the collapse to seven, making it one of the deadliest construction accidents in New York City in recent memory.

Heaps of shattered brick, wooden joists, and unidentifiable pulverized debris littered the spot where the four-story town house once stood. Firefighters used mechanized equipment, like a grappler, to move heavy pieces of detritus, then dug through lighter material with shovels and, at times, their hands.

Georgian On Death Row Rebuffed By State’s High Court

A narrowly divided Georgia Supreme Court declined Monday to order a new trial for a man sentenced to death in the 1989 murder of an off-duty Savannah police officer, despite recantations by 7 of 9 witnesses who originally testified against him.

The convicted man, Troy A. Davis, 39, had collected affidavits from all seven of the recanting witnesses, some of whom said their trial testimony had been coerced by investigators who were under pressure to convict someone in that fatal shooting of a fellow officer.

But the court, in a 4-3 decision written by Justice Harold Melton, held that sworn testimony at the trial was more important than the later recantations, noting that some of the witnesses had said only that they no longer felt able to identify the gunman.

“We simply cannot disregard the jury’s verdict in this case,” the court said.

The dissent, written by Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, called the court “overly rigid” in its consideration of new evidence in support of a retrial and said it had failed to allow “an adequate inquiry into the fundamental question, which is whether or not an innocent person might have been convicted or even, as in this case, might be put to death.”

Center to Study Health-Race Link

Drugs to treat hypertension and diabetes are substantially less effective in blacks than they are in whites, one of the many mysteries involving the interaction between health and race that the National Institutes of Health hopes to unravel at a new research center.

The Center for Genomics and Health Disparities will be led by Charles N. Rotimi, former director of the National Human Genome Center at Howard University. Born in Nigeria and trained at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Rotimi has been involved in genetic epidemiology projects in Africa, China and the United States, including the Africa America Diabetes Mellitus Study, the Genetics of Obesity in Blacks Study and others.

“By understanding the nature of human genetic variation,” Rotimi said in an interview, “we can see how that overlaps with group identity and individual identity. Do those differences have implication to what we see in terms of differential response to drugs and differential distribution of diseases?”