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Rubio says 'no thanks' to prospect of VP spot

WASHINGTON (AP) -- First-term Sen. Marco Rubio insists he'll say "thanks, but no thanks" to the vice presidential spot on the Republican ticket but suggests that anything's possible in 2016 and beyond.

"I am really committed to doing a good job in the Senate," the Florida Republican told a dozen-plus reporters Thursday. "If I do a good job in the Senate, three, four, five, six years from now, I'll have a different opportunity to do things inside of government and outside of government."

The Cuban-American senator has frequently been mentioned as a potential running mate for likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney -- and a surefire way for the Republican Party to improve its abysmal standing with Hispanic voters.


Lab method replicates XNA synthetic genes

NEW YORK -- Scientists moved a step closer to synthesizing new life forms in the laboratory after researchers showed that artificial genetic material called XNA can be replicated in the test tube much like real DNA.

Researchers at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Britain demonstrated for the first time a way to extract information from the artificial genetic molecules and mass-produce copies of them. The finding, published Thursday in the journal Science, shows that DNA and its sister molecule RNA may not be the only chemical structures upon which a living unit can be based.

The scientists invented a lab method for making copies of synthetic DNA. They also developed a way to make XNA fragments that evolve with desired properties.

In particular, they created XNA fragments that could bind with great specificity to a molecular target in the HIV virus. The discovery could create a new platform for devising targeted drugs to treat a variety of diseases, researchers said.

"This brings us one big step closer to artificial life," Gerald Joyce, a biochemist at Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, said in a telephone interview.

"The heart of what life is, is the replication of genetic information," he said. Joyce wrote a commentary accompanying the study.

-- Bloomberg News


Mental state at issue in slaying, abduction

CONROE, Texas (AP) -- Attorneys for a nurse accused of fatally shooting a new mother and speeding away with the dying woman's infant son said she was confused and mumbling in court Thursday, and they plan to review her mental state.

Verna McClain is facing a capital murder charge in the death of 28-year-old Kala Golden. Investigators said McClain, a mother of three, had suffered a miscarriage and was desperate to find a baby after telling her fiance that she had given birth to their child.

The judge delayed a bond hearing until Monday to give McClain's lawyers more time to review the case, and McClain will be held without bond until then. The capital murder charge carries a potential death sentence.

McClain is accused of shooting Golden in the parking lot of a suburban Houston pediatric clinic, then snatching Golden's 3-day-old son, Keegan Schuchardt. The infant was found safe hours later with McClain's sister. McClain intends to plead not guilty, defense attorney E. Tay Bond said, adding that a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was "certainly something we will be visiting."