- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2002

Talc, not anthrax, in Daschle letter

The powdery substance in the new threatening letter sent to Sen. Tom Daschle was talc and contained no trace of anthrax, Army scientists and the FBI said yesterday.

"We are going to investigate the letter as a criminal hoax," said FBI spokesman Chris Murray.

Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said the letter was similar to one he received last fall containing anthrax.

"It said this was anthrax, death to America, something to that effect, and 'stop the bombing' was the only phrase that was new," Mr. Daschle said.


Blood mercury high in ground zero workers

NEW YORK Four Port Authority police officers working at ground zero have been reassigned after tests showed elevated levels of mercury in their blood, officials said yesterday.

All four were in good health and had no symptoms of mercury poisoning, said Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesman Allen Morrison. High levels of mercury can damage the brain, kidneys and lungs.


Jailed writer set free after five months

HOUSTON A novice crime writer was released from jail yesterday after spending more than five months behind bars for refusing to hand over notes about a murder case.

"I'm just very grateful to be free," said a tearful Vanessa Leggett, who was released because the grand jury that demanded her notes was to end its investigation yesterday, attorney Mike DeGeurin said.


A poem a day prescribed for high school students

Billy Collins, the nation's new poet laureate, revealed a plan yesterday for getting young people interested in poetry: have someone read out a poem a day in high schools.

His "Poetry 180" will come up with 180 poems, one for each day of a school year. The first 64 are published on Mr. Collins' new Web site, with the rest promised as he obtains the permission of poets and publishers.

Most will be works by American poets, poems that, like Mr. Collins', are easy to understand on first reading. But a little note of explanation will be added to some with a recommendation that it be read before the poem itself.


3-year-old fatally shoots father

NASHVILLE, Tenn. A rookie police officer was fatally shot by his 3-year-old son, who had grabbed the man's service weapon from a kitchen table when the officer turned to talk to his pregnant wife.

Joshua Haffner, 22, was pronounced dead early yesterday after several hours of surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

The shooting occurred late Thursday, shortly after Mr. Haffner had gotten home from his shift at Nashville's South Sector Precinct, said Sgt. Ken Hampton of the Smyrna Police Department.


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