- The Washington Times - Friday, May 31, 2002

Anthrax vaccines available to civilians

Much of the Pentagon's supply of anthrax vaccine, originally intended exclusively for military personnel, is likely to be reserved for civilian use, a senior Pentagon official said yesterday.

David Chu, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said while details remain to be worked out, the Pentagon does not expect to return anytime soon to its original goal of vaccinating all 2.4 million members of the armed forces against the deadly disease.

"The events of last fall were really a wake-up call for the country this is no longer just a military-personnel problem. This is also a national problem," Mr. Chu said.

9/11 panel names new staff director

The joint congressional panel looking into possible intelligence-agency shortfalls before September 11 has named Eleanor Hill, former inspector general for the Defense Department, as its staff director.

Her selection comes just days before the panel, led by the chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence committees, is to begin both closed and open hearings on intelligence-community actions before the terrorist attacks and problems that could have prevented better preparedness for those attacks.

Miss Hill, a partner at the Washington law firm of King & Spalding, will direct a staff of about two dozen people with experience in intelligence collection, analysis and oversight.

Americans training Georgian military

U.S. training of military officers in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia will make it harder for terrorists to find safe haven in the region, the commander of the American trainers said yesterday.

Lt. Col. Robert M. Waltemeyer said 70 Green Berets and other trainers began Monday their 21-month program of helping upgrade a poorly financed Georgian military.

The $64 million U.S. program, which also will give Georgians weapons, ammunition, uniforms, communications and other equipment, is part of a global counterterrorism effort.

One in four reports high blood pressure

ATLANTA About a quarter of U.S. adults say they have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, the government reported yesterday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 24.9 percent of adults in a 1999 survey reported they had been told by a doctor they have high blood pressure. The figure was up from 22.9 percent in 1991.

The CDC said the increase may reflect higher levels of obesity. But it could also mean more doctors are making their patients aware of high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Researchers develop counterterrorism tools

TROY, N.Y. Imagine light beams that could spot anthrax spores in a sealed envelope. Sensors installed inside skyscrapers that detect if the building is in danger of collapsing. Radio transmitters that keep track of rescue workers who enter endangered buildings.

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the necessity of fighting terrorism is the mother of invention for professors and students who are developing technologies that could help prevent deaths from attacks by air or through the mail.

Physics Professor Xi-Cheng Zhang has found that high-intensity light beams called terahertz waves can be used to sense anthrax spores inside a sealed envelope.

Storms postpone shuttle launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Thunderstorms forced NASA to call off yesterday's launch of space shuttle Endeavour on a mission to deliver a new crew to the International Space Station and fix the orbiting outpost's robot arm.

Launch managers said they will try again tonight, even though the weather was expected to worsen.

The delay means yet another day in orbit and a record-breaking stay for Americans Daniel Bursch and Carl Walz. They have been living aboard the space station since December along with their Russian commander, Yuri Onufrienko. Their mission, already at the 176-day mark, will reach at least 189 days by the time they return to Earth. The U.S. space endurance record stands at 188 days.

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