- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 17, 2002

Hart cleansing
It's been one of the largest and most thorough toxic mop-ups in Washington history, but come noon tomorrow, it should finally be safe for the Senate community to reoccupy the Hart Senate Office Building.
First, however, a closed-door meeting for U.S. senators will be held at 3:15 this afternoon to discuss certification from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the Hart building is safe. Half of the 100 U.S. senators have offices in the Senate's most modern building, shut down since a letter laced with anthrax spores was opened on Oct. 15 in the suite of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
CDC Director Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan and EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher will conduct the briefing for the senators in the nearby Russell Senate Office Building.
"We expect the Hart Building to reopen at noon on Friday," an advance memo to the senators states.
Meanwhile, in the nearly three months between Oct. 18 and Jan. 10, more than 5,000 environmental samples were taken in offices and common areas in the Hart building. This is in addition to the more than 6,000 personal nasal swabs taken in October (this columnist's snoot among them).
"Three months have passed since the initial incident, and no one in the Capitol Hill community has become ill with anthrax," says the senatorial memo, dated Tuesday.
Still, based on the high level of anthrax released in a localized area, the Senate's Office of the Attending Physician has recommended anthrax vaccination and an extension of antibiotic course for approximately 70 people who were in Mr. Daschle's and Wisconsin Sen. Russell D. Feingold's office suites when the contaminated letter was opened.
This column reported last week that a majority of the exposed 70 Hill staffers have opted for the anthrax vaccines, which are already being administered.

History's co-author
After more than 30 years of government service and commendations from Presidents Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter and Ford, Steven Garfinkel retires this month as director of the Information Security Oversight Office.
Mr. Garfinkel, who's headed the ISOO since 1980, was lead architect of the government-wide security classification system, although he did a fair share of declassifying, too. In fact, he crafted a system that has produced the largest number of pages declassified in the history of the government more than 800 million pages, or about three pages each for every man, woman and child living in the United States.
"This extraordinary accomplishment will help write our nation's history for years to come," observes Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin.

Go figure
It's not dandruff that has climatologists scratching their heads, but rather word that the continent of Antarctica might not be melting after all.
Gretchen Randall, Chicago director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's John P. McGovern Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs, points to a study by University of Illinois researcher Peter Doran showing temperatures in Antarctica have been falling 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since the mid-l980s.
"This disputes earlier claims that temperatures were rising in Antarctica, but earlier readings were taken on the peninsula rather than inland, where the latest reported readings were taken," notes Miss Randall, who like certain scientists believes computer models can't accurately forecast future climate change.
"This study demonstrates that climate change on this planet is still little understood," she says. "Past predictions of drastic changes have not happened and now scientists supportive of the global-warming theory admit they are 'confused' by the recent cooling in Antarctica."
The National Science Foundation's Longterm Ecological Research team has gathered temperature data near Antarctica's McMurdo Sound since 1986. While temperatures have risen on the peninsula closest to South America, scientists are unable to explain why temperatures are falling in the interior.

Litigants' smorgasbord
Washington political (and now sports) observer Ann Sheridan, president of the Georgetown Ignatian Society, wonders what precedent will follow "our Council of Governments' efforts to change the Redskins name because it offends Native Americans?"
"Are Cardinals, Padres and Angels an affront to Christians?" she offers as examples. "Will members of Wicca claim religious prejudice and persecution by the Wizards? Are Bill Clinton and the others who refused to serve their country going to boycott Dodgers games? Will short people demand respect when the Titans and Giants kick off? Should the Navy throw the Admirals in the brig?
"What if," she asks, "the Redskins were really named after the red potatoes grown in Ireland?"
OK, now you've gone too far, Mrs. Sheridan!

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