- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 6, 2008

Storms delay launch of Hubble mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. | NASA has delayed next month’s space shuttle launch to the Hubble Space Telescope by two days.

Tropical Storms Fay and Hanna have held up operations at Kennedy Space Center. So on Friday - one day after moving Space Shuttle Atlantis to the launch pad - NASA announced the postponement.

Atlantis is now scheduled to blast off Oct. 10 on the space agency’s last visit to Hubble. The next shuttle mission to the International Space Station also has been delayed by two days. Space Shuttle Endeavour is now looking at a Nov. 12 liftoff.

Even if NASA has to move Atlantis off the launch pad because of Hurricane Ike, a monstrous storm looming out in the Atlantic, the Hubble mission still should remain on track, officials said.

Pollution-health link questioned

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. | An independent review panel says a seven-year effort to document possible links between industrial pollution and health problems in the Great Lakes region has been hurt by substandard science.

The Institute of Medicine says drafts of a report still under development by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were deeply flawed. The institute says there were problems with the data selected for use in the reports and the conclusions.

The CDC asked the institute to examine its handling of the report after drawing accusations from some in Congress of a cover-up for delaying its release.

Drafts made public earlier this year suggest that pollution in more than two dozen locations around the Great Lakes is causing health problems such as cancer and premature births.

Smoking settings may aid addiction

MANHATTAN, Kan. | A Kansas State University researcher suggests that nicotine’s power, or addictive quality, may be in how it enhances other experiences.

Study leader Matthew Palmatier said much previous research on nicotine addiction has looked at the drug itself rather than the other factors associated with nicotine’s addiction.

“People have very regimented things they do when they smoke,” Mr. Palmatier said. “People smoke in very specific places, often with a specific group of people. Maybe it’s a reason why nicotine is so addictive if you get used to having that extra satisfaction from things you normally enjoy, not having nicotine could reduce the enjoyment in a given activity.”

For a smoker who enjoys drinking coffee, the nicotine may make a cup of coffee more satisfying.

The findings are published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Jesse Jackson out of hospital

CHICAGO | The Rev. Jesse Jackson has been released from a Chicago hospital, two days after he was admitted for severe stomach pains.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Jackson’s civil rights organization, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, says he was released from Northwestern Memorial Hospital shortly before noon on Friday.

Mr. Jackson underwent a series of tests that determined he was suffering from viral gastroenteritis - an infection caused by a number of viruses. His office later said he had been stricken by food poisoning and was severely dehydrated.

Rainbow/PUSH spokeswoman LaToya Porter says that Mr. Jackson was feeling much better and that he was planning to attend a Rainbow/PUSH event Saturday.

Autism-vaccine theory debunked

NEW YORK | A U.S. and Irish study ends the remaining support for the hypothesis that autism with stomach complaints is related to vaccine exposure, researchers said.

Scientists at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s Center for Infection and Immunity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Massachusetts General Hospital and Trinity College Dublin evaluated bowel tissues from 25 children with autism and gastrointestinal disturbances and 13 children with gastrointestinal disturbances by real-time reverse transcription for the presence of measles virus RNA.

“The work reported here eliminates the remaining support for the hypothesis that autism with gastrointestinal complaints is related to measles, mumps, rubella vaccine exposure,” said study author Mady Hornig.

The findings are published in the journal Public Library of Science.

Court won’t reject pathologist charges

PITTSBURGH | A federal appeals court refused Friday to dismiss fraud and theft charges against celebrity pathologist Cyril Wecht and said he can be tried again with a new judge presiding.

The judge at Dr. Wecht’s first trial didn’t follow proper procedure in declaring a mistrial after jurors deadlocked, but that wasn’t enough to dismiss the 41 counts against him, the appeals court ruled.

Dr. Wecht, 77, has earned millions investigating deaths, including those of JonBenet Ramsey, Elvis Presley and Vince Foster.

He was accused of using his former Allegheny County coroner’s staff to benefit his private business and allegedly trading unclaimed county morgue cadavers for office and lab space at a university where he taught. Dr. Wecht was also charged with mail fraud for allegedly overbilling his private clients, including other Pennsylvania prosecutors, for bogus travel expenses.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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