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February 04, 2004 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-04

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 4, 2004

NATION/WORLD

I

enate ofces Close after toxin oun NEWS IN BRIEF
WASHINGTON (AP) - A jittery attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 - was closed --- --

Senate struggled under its second to tourists.

attack with a deadly toxin in 28
months yesterday, this time in the
form of ricin powder sent to Senate
Majority Leader Bill Frist. No illness-
es were reported, but dozens of work-
ers were being monitored and work
slowed to a crawl.
Health experts expressed optimism
that casualties would be averted
because none of the dozens of congres-
sional employees who were near the
Tennessee Republican's office on
Monday when the white powder was
discovered were believed to be sick.
"As each minute ticks by, we are less
and less concerned about the health
effects," said Julie Gerberding, director
of the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention.
All three Senate office buildings
were shut and could be closed the rest
of the week. That included the Dirksen
Senate Office Building, where the sub-
stance was found Monday afternoon
by a young worker in Frist's fourth-
floor mailroom. Frist and others said
tests overnight showed the substance
was ricin, a natural and potent poison
made by refining castor beans.
The Capitol building - where
heavy security and a persistent case of
nerves have reigned since the terrorist
in Conn.

Senate leaders made a show of calm
and control. They said they had refined
their ability to respond to emergencies
since the anthrax attacks of late 2001
with better communication and coordi-
nation."Things are going very well, not
perfectly, but very, well," said Frist.
But still, it was a day of confusion.
Frist said 16 potentially exposed
staff workers had been quarantined
Monday night and decontaminated
with showers. But Senate aides, includ-
ing at least one who was quarantined,
said the figure was 40 to 50, including
about 10 Capitol police officers and
aides to Frist, Seri. James Jeffords (I-
Vt.) and the Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee.
Frist told reporters there was not
yet information on how dangerous
this sample of ricin powder was.
Democratic leader Tom Daschle of
South Dakota said tests of air filters
showed the chemical had not been cir-
culated through the buildings' ventila-
tion systems.
But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
emerging from a lunch where Frist,
Capitol police chief Terrance Gainer
and Capitol physician John Eisold
briefed Republican senators, said the
three had expressed concern.
osta centet

SEOUL, South Korea
N. Korea to resume talks on nuclear program I
North Korea agreed yesterday to resume six-nation talks Feb. 25 - a break-
through in American-led efforts to persuade the communist state to abandon its
nuclear weapons programs for economic and other concessions from Washington.
The new round of talks, to begin in Beijing, is expected to take up North
Korea's offer to freeze its nuclear programs as a first step toward what the Bush
administration hopes will be a complete dismantling of them. "We hope that these
talks will be successful," Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Washington after
meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
While the United States is willing to see where the North's proposal leads, its
ultimate objective is the elimination of Pyongyang's program, State Department
spokesman Richard Boucher said. "A freeze is not our goal," he said.
A State Department official said Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly is
expected to head the U.S. delegation. Kelly headed the American team for the
first round in Beijing. Washington and Pyongyang had disagreed on ground rules
for resuming six-nation talks.
Kim Ryong Song, a North Korean Cabinet councilor who is in Seoul this week
for high-level talks with his South Korean counterparts, called Pyongyang's pro-
posals "fair" and said progress at the Beijing talks hinged on Washington's stance.
WASHINGTON
Chair of House energy committee resigns
Rep. Billy Tauzin resigned as chairman Tuesday of the House Energy and Com-
merce Committee, one of the most powerful positions in Congress, and
announced he will not seek re-election in the fall.
Tauzin's desire to leave Congress has been widely speculated for months as his
name has surfaced as a potential head of lobbying groups of both the pharmaceu-
tical and motion picture industries.
He was instrumental in engineering passage of the new Medicare prescription
drug law passed by Congress in December. He also has been deeply involved in
energy and telecommunications legislation.
The 12-term Republican congressman from Louisiana hand-delivered his resigna-
tion letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-ll.) yesterday, effective Feb. 16, said
Ken Johnson, Tauzin's spokesman. Tauzin, 60, also will not seek re-election in the '
fall, Johnson said. Tauzin has made no decision on what he would do next, he added.
Tauzin's name repeatedly has surfaced as the top contender to head the lobbying
operation of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which
represents big drug manufacturers such as Eli Lilly and Co. and Merck & Co.

AP PHOTO
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist discusses the latest developments
in the discovery of the poison ricin in his office at a news
conference yesterday.
Suspicious powderfouno

leaked out of envelope addressed to Republicans

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (AP) - Angry and
frightened postal workers awaited test results yes-
terday on a mysterious powder found at the same
mail distribution center where anthrax was discov-
ered in 2001.
The coarse, gray powder was found Monday night,
leaking out of an envelope addressed to the Republi-
can National Committee.
It was discovered about the time a white powder
later identified as the lethal poison ricin was found
in Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office in
Washington.
The Wallingford center remained open yesterday
while the powder was tested by the state Department
of Public Health, and no workers were reported sick-
ened. Some of the powder was sent to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

"At this point in time, we do not know what sub-
stances the powder may contain, and there is no
information at this time to connect this substance to
the reports of ricin found in Washington, D.C.," State
Health Commissioner J. Robert Galvin said.
Investigators believe the envelope, a business reply
envelope that did not require postage, was mailed
from somewhere in Connecticut. The amount of
powder was not disclosed.
"Absolutely, we're concerned," said Keith Larsen,
38, a mail handler at the center. "I mean, they lied
to us in the past, so we don't know what's going on
in there."
Anthrax spores were found at the Wallingford cen-
ter in the fall of 2001. A 94-year-old Oxford woman
was one of the five people nationwide who died of
anthrax during that fall's unsolved attacks, and inves-

tigators believe she got the bacteria from mail that
passed through the center.
Three initial tests of the center in 2001 came up
negative before a fourth, more sophisticated test
found lethal levels of anthrax. The center never
closed, a decision workers criticized at the time.
John Dirzius, president of the American Postal
Workers union local for Wallingford, said he agreed
with the decision not to close the center yesterday.
"Of course we have those concerns, but we don't
know what we are dealing with here," Dirzius said.
He said about 150 workers were on the job when the
powder was found.
The worker who discovered it was wearing gloves,
a voluntary precaution, officials said.
"Nobody needed medical treatment," said Carl
Walton, a spokesman for the Postal Service.

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VLADIKAVKAZ, RUSSIA
Car bomb explodes
near Russian market
A car bomb exploded last night in
parking lot near the central market in
Vladikavkaz, a southern Russian city
near the war-ravaged Chechen Republic,
killing two people and wounding several.
Heavy smoke filled the area as fire-
fighters battled flames. The blast shat-
tered glass in buildings near the lot.
Vladikavkaz is the capital of the
province of North Ossetia, to the west
of Chechnya.
A regional security official, Uruzmag
Ogoyev, said two people died and 10
were hurt. Regional interior ministry's
spokesman Ismel Shaov said one civilian
and one soldier were killed and six peo-
ple were hospitalized with injuries.
Earlier, a Federal Security Service,
spokesman in Moscow said a woman
pedestrian was killed and several sol-
diers who were passing by in a truck;
were hurt.
GENEVA
U.N. seeks to calm
fears over bird flu
The United Nations health agency
sought yesterday to dampen fears of
bird flu striking large numbers of peo-
ple, even as the death toll in Asia

climbed to 13.
A 7-year-old boy became the fourth
person to die from the disease in
Thailand. Vietnam has reported nine
fatalities.
"I think it's very important at this
stage that we remain calm about worst-
case scenarios," said Mike Ryan, head
of the global epidemic response net-
work at the World Health Organization.
"What we're dealing with at the
moment is small clusters of cases asso-
ciated with exposure to poultry."
Plan to cut smoking
includes tax on pac
Four former surgeons general yester-
day unveiled a plan to reduce smoking
that included a $2-per-pack tax they
predicted would prompt at least 5 mil-
lion smokers to quit.
They also called for a nationwide
counseling and support..line for smok-
ers trying to quit, an idea that immedi-
ately was put into practice by Health
and Human Services Secretary Tommy
Thompson. He said more than $25 mil-
lion would be dedicated for the toll-free,
national "quitline" that will be established
by year's end. States also would receive
additional funding to either supplement or
create their own quitline services.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports.

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