- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 28, 2002

NYC fires worker who called residents 'stupid'
NEW YORK The city fired the head of its customer-service office after he acknowledged calling New Yorkers "whining" and "stupid" in an essay on the Internet.
"I take painkillers, sleep a lot and think about killing every citizen and employee of New York City every minute I'm awake," Fletcher Vredenburgh, the former director of the Mayor's Action Center, wrote in an essay on the "FightLikeApes" Web site.
Mr. Vredenburgh told the New York Post he had written the unsigned essay for friends soon after he was appointed as head of the center, which handles New Yorkers' complaints about City Hall.
Mr. Vredenburgh, 36, was hired to the $44,000-a-year director's job by then-Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in summer 2001.

Atheist appeals decision of Scouts to expel him
SEATTLE An Eagle Scout who was expelled from the Boy Scouts of America after he refused to declare a belief in God is appealing the decision.
Darrell Lambert, 19, who had earned 37 merit badges in a decade with the organization, was told in November he could no longer belong to the Boy Scouts after he revealed he was an atheist.
"Teaching boys to mistrust and reject nonbelievers makes a mockery of the true moral values of Scouts," Mr. Lambert wrote in a letter to the organization. "I, personally, have not imposed my beliefs on other Scouts, and ask only to be given the same consideration in return."
The Associated Press received a copy of the letter yesterday.
The Irving, Texas-based Boy Scouts of America did not return calls seeking comment after the close of business yesterday.
Soon after Mr. Lambert was ousted, the Chief Seattle Council said the Boy Scouts is a "shared-values organization."
Mr. Lambert's appeal will be reviewed by a regional committee, which has 60 days to make a decision. If it upholds the local council, Mr. Lambert could appeal to the Boy Scouts' national office, which would have final say.

Frist's son injured in plane crash
NASHVILLE, Tenn. A small plane crashed during takeoff yesterday, slightly injuring the 18-year-old son of newly elected Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
Harrison Frist, a freshman at Princeton University, was a passenger on a privately owned plane that was taking off from John C. Tune Airport, said Frist spokesman Nick Smith. He was being treated at Centennial Medical Center, a hospital in the HCA Inc. chain founded by the senator's father and brother.
"Harrison is fine," Mr. Smith said. He had no other details.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Christopher White in Atlanta said the Cessna 182S rolled down a 30-foot embankment along the runway at the small airport. The FAA was investigating the accident, which also injured a second person, Mr. White said.

CDC taking inventory of nation's polio stock
ATLANTA The government is taking an inventory of polio strains in labs around the country as part of an effort to prevent the virus from escaping and causing outbreaks once the disease is eradicated.
All 31,000 institutions that have polio virus stocks including health departments, hospitals and private companies have until Tuesday to submit a report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC is also asking labs that no longer need to work with the virus to destroy any stocks they have.
Slightly more than half of the 31,000 institutions have already submitted reports. Many have asked for extensions.

EPA says most are safe from WTC pollution
NEW YORK Most lower Manhattan residents are unlikely to suffer long-term illnesses from inhaling airborne pollution in the weeks after the World Trade Center collapse, the Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday.
Citing measurements taken in and around the collapse zone, the draft report said only rescue workers and other people exposed to high concentrations of pollution immediately after the trade center attack are likely to develop chronic illnesses,
It is not clear how many people inhaled smoke and dust from the collapse, some of which contained metals such as lead and cadmium, PCBs, dioxinlike compounds, asbestos and other contaminants.

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