Nation digest 07/20/04

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Feds launch security probe at Los Alamos

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- With nearly all weapons research put on hold, a top Energy Department official arrived at Los Alamos National Laboratory on Monday to oversee a top-to-bottom review prompted by a string of security breaches. Deputy energy secretary Kyle McSlarrow's visit came as the lab responded to yet another report of security lapses -- an unconfirmed, anonymous tip that classified information had been sent over the lab's unclassified e-mail system 17 times in recent months. Last week, lab director Pete Nanos called for a stand-down on all but the most essential activities while officials investigate security lapses and conduct a wall-to-wall inventory of classified information at Los Alamos. The move was prompted in part by the disappearance of two electronic data storage devices reported missing earlier this month.

Study: Antibiotics don't relieve Gulf War syndrome

PHILADELPHIA -- A year on powerful antibiotics did nothing to relieve the chronic health problems reported by Gulf War veterans, demolishing the theory that so-called Gulf War syndrome is caused by a bacterial infection, researchers say. The bacterial-infection theory "is off the table at this point," said Joseph F. Collins, a VA Maryland Healthcare System researcher and one of the study's authors. "It's disappointing, but the results are definitive." The positive news is that the study narrows the search for the culprit, said Stephen L. Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center in Silver Spring, Md.

Wildfire forces hundreds from homes in California

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Dry, windy weather on Monday hampered efforts to contain a wildfire in northern Los Angeles County that has forced thousands of people to flee their homes, one of several blazes that crews were battling in the state. Nearly 1,600 homes in Santa Clarita had been evacuated since the fire began Saturday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or structural damage. More than 1,500 firefighters aided by helicopters and bulldozers were battling the 5,710-acre blaze, which was 39 percent contained Monday morning. The fire was started by a red-tail hawk that was electrocuted on a power line. It was one of several fires around California, from eastern San Diego County to Yosemite National Park, that have burned more than 40,000 acres.

-- From wire reports

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