- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 5, 2005

Officials ponder removing hazmat ID

U.S. federal officials are considering a proposal to remove placards from railroad tankers because some say they advertise hazardous loads to terrorists.

However, first responders to rail accidents say removing the signs could endanger their lives because, in a derailment, police and firefighters need to know immediately if dangerous chemicals are involved, the New York Times reported yesterday.

“There’s this feeling that you have to secure everything possible in every way possible for every possible kind of terrorist attack,” said Garry Briese, executive director of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Federal officials said they want to strike a reasonable balance between security and safety but that some clashes are inevitable.

If delicate information leaks out, “it gives our adversaries too much of a picture of what our vulnerabilities are,” said Jack Johnson Jr., chief security officer of the Homeland Security Department.

Dolphins’ beaching followed sub exercise

KEY WEST, Fla. — The Navy and marine wildlife experts are investigating whether the beaching of dozens of dolphins in the Florida Keys followed the use of sonar by a submarine on a training exercise off the coast.

More than 20 rough-toothed dolphins have died since Wednesday’s beaching by about 70 of the marine mammals. A day before the dolphins swam ashore, the USS Philadelphia had conducted exercises with Navy Seals off Key West, about 45 miles from Marathon, where the dolphins became stranded.

Navy officials refused to say if the submarine, based at Groton, Conn., used its sonar during the exercise.

Fatal plane crashfollowed ‘a little fun’

ST. LOUIS — Moments before a double engine failure and a crash that killed them, one of the pilots aboard a regional airliner told an air-traffic controller they had “decided to have a little fun” by flying at the plane’s maximum altitude.

There were no passengers on the plane and no one on the ground was injured by the Oct. 14 crash in a residential neighborhood of Jefferson City, Mo. Transcripts the St. Louis Post-Dispatch obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration describe the rapid descent of the Pinnacle Airlines Corp. plane after it lost engine power.

The problem was first mentioned in the transcripts when an air-traffic controller in Kansas City told the pilots it was rare to see the plane, a Canadair CRJ2, flying at an altitude of 41,000 feet.

“Yeah, we’re actually … we don’t have any passengers on board, so we decided to have a little fun and come up here,” one of the pilots said. The transcripts don’t identify whether Capt. Jesse Rhodes or First Officer Richard Peter Cesarz made the statement.

55 swimmers sickened at pool

ROYAL OAK, Mich. — More than 50 people were taken to a hospital yesterday after high levels of carbon monoxide were detected at a high school pool, police said.

The 55 children and adults were transported to Beaumont Hospital after many of those inside Dondero High School were sickened. Police were called after 10 a.m. and laid those sickened on a sidewalk outside the school.

It wasn’t clear whether all those taken to the hospital were sickened. Those being treated were listed in good condition. Officials said that testing by the fire department determined high levels of carbon monoxide inside the pool area. He said it was believed to have been caused by a malfunctioning furnace.

Professor won’t befired for remarks

BOULDER, Colo. — University of Colorado President Betsy Hoffman said a professor who compared September 11 victims to Nazis will not be fired if a review turns up only inflammatory comments, not misconduct.

“If we find it is just about speech, there will be no action,” Mrs. Hoffman told the school’s faculty assembly Thursday, adding that she feared a “new McCarthyism” was responsible for the uproar over Ward Churchill’s essay.

The university is reviewing Mr. Churchill’s speeches and lectures to see whether he should be dismissed for exceeding the boundaries of academic freedom. A decision is expected next week.

Mrs. Hoffman did not comment on published reports this week that the university was considering buying out Mr. Churchill’s contract to end the firestorm over his essay.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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