- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 4, 2001

Officials blame rat for power loss, fatality

MIAMI A rat chewing on electrical wiring knocked out power to traffic signals in a Miami neighborhood, leading to a fatal crash involving a policeman and a security guard, police and utility officials said yesterday.

During the 40-minute power outage Sunday, a police cruiser and a car driven by the guard collided in an intersection near Miami International Airport. Miami-Dade County police said both drivers apparently failed to realize the traffic signal was out and neither stopped.

The guard, Carlos Pascual, 43, died Monday of injuries from the crash, which occurred as he drove home from work. Officer William Rial was treated for minor injuries. He had been on his way to answer a burglar-alarm call when the crash occurred.

Doctors assail firm for abortion drug letter

BOSTON Two doctors from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have assailed drug maker G.D. Searle for trying to dissuade doctors from prescribing an unapproved drug to induce abortion.

The criticism by Ralph Hale and Stanley Zinberg was published in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

Administration of the abortion pill RU-486 must be followed by a second drug to expel the dead fetus, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended misoprostol, sold under the brand name Cytotec, for this purpose.

Searle, a unit of Pharmacia Corp., sent a letter to doctors in 2000 warning that misoprostol has been approved only to prevent ulcers, not to help induce abortion. It is legal for doctors to prescribe FDA-approved drugs for unapproved uses.

Nose may be source of staph infection

BOSTON Most hospital Staphylococcus aureus infections best known for causing toxic shock syndrome are caused when bacteria lodged in the noses of patients spread out of control, according to a study by German scientists reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

Their tests found that in five out of six cases, the bacterium that causes potentially deadly blood poisoning and which killed 82 percent of the hospital patients it infected before the antibiotics era was identical to the bacterium previously found in their noses.

The discovery gave doctors a new strategy for attacking the bacterium.

In theory, patients who harbor Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and up to 80 percent have it some of the time could have their noses treated, cutting the chance that the bug will spread.

Chinook Indian tribe wins recognition

The Indian tribe that welcomed the Lewis and Clark expedition to the mouth of the Columbia River won formal recognition yesterday from the federal government.

"It's a historic day and a glorious day for us," said Chinook tribal chairman Gary Johnson at an Interior Department ceremony.

The tribe, whose more than 2,000 members are based in what is now southwest Washington state, signed an 1851 treaty that Congress never ratified. The Chinooks have dealt with the federal government over the years, but never in a formal relationship.

The tribe applied for federal recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1981 and appealed a 1997 preliminary rejection. The tribe discovered that much information from their application had been mislaid in a desk drawer at the BIA.

Five persons killed in trailer home fire

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. A fire at a trailer home early yesterday killed five persons, including three children who had been in the bedroom where the blaze apparently broke out.

The victims were identified as Donna Miles, 30, her brother, Charles Powell, 26, and her children, Daniel, 5, Gilbert, 4, and Mary, 2.

The two adults tried to rescue the children by leading them through a back door cluttered with furniture, books and boxes, but they were overcome by smoke, said Garland County Fire Marshal Ed Davis.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Marshal Davis said it broke out near some new bunk beds in the children's room.


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