Archive for Monday, May 20, 2002

Nation Briefs

May 20, 2002


New Jersey: Police, firefighters face off in football

Members of New York City's police and fire departments squared off Sunday in their annual football game against the somber backdrop of the losses suffered by both departments on Sept. 11.

A total of 343 firefighters died at the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks, including 22 who played on the department's football team. The NYPD lost 23 officers, although none who played on the police squad.

Some 15,000 spectators, including the police and fire commissioners and the families of the 22 fire department players who died, attended the game at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford.

The crowd watched in near silence as the Bravest Football Club presented the families with the lost players' jerseys, framed and bearing plaques with the words, "Forever a hero on our team."

The police team, the Finest, won 10-0 and leads the bowl series 21-9. Proceeds from ticket sales benefited Sept. 11 charities.

Texas : Inmates seek guarantee of competent lawyers

Attorneys for three death- row inmates will ask a federal appeals court today to force the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to ensure that condemned prisoners are given competent lawyers to contest their death sentences.

The petition was forwarded Friday to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Austin after a federal judge in Corpus Christi, Tex., refused to consider a lawsuit filed earlier in the day on behalf of inmates Johnny Martinez, Napoleon Beazley and Gary Etheridge, who are scheduled for execution in the next six weeks.

"We are alleging that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has a policy of appointing incompetent counsel to represent people on Death Row and that they are violating constitutional rights to due process of law," said David Dow, a University of Houston law professor who is representing Martinez.

The Texas Attorney General's Office, which represents state agencies in legal matters, declined to comment on any aspect of the lawsuit.

Florida: Breast cancer experts stick with tamoxifen

An expert panel recommended Sunday that doctors stick with tamoxifen as the time-tested treatment for early stage breast cancer, despite evidence that newer drugs may do a better job of preventing recurrence.

The decision affects the care of an estimated 700,000 women in the United States who take tamoxifen to prevent their breast cancer from coming back.

Cancer physicians fielded many calls from patients last December after reports that a newer class of drugs, called aromatase inhibitors, appear slightly more effective. Some quickly switched their patients, while many others wondered whether they should.

To help them decide, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world's largest organization of cancer doctors, convened an expert panel to review the issue.

Their decision: It's too soon to change. In the end, the new drugs may prove superior, but it will take a few more years of study before doctors can be certain of their advantages as well as their possible risks.

New York City: Navy to allow public on ships for Fleet Week

Although at war for the second time since Fleet Week became an annual fixture in New York harbor, the U.S. Navy is bringing in more ships than usual, and inviting the public aboard for the first time since Sept. 11.

Even so, Navy officials say security for the maritime celebration is unprecedented, with airport-type restrictions on visitors' bags and other items, and a commercial blimp, contracted by the Navy, patrolling above the Hudson River and beaming live television images to two ground security stations.

Twenty ships 18 American, one Canadian and one from Denmark with 6,000 sailors aboard will participate in Fleet Week, which started in 1987. The event runs May 22 through May 28.

Florida: Firefighters gain control of brush fire

Firefighters contained a brush fire that forced about 250 people to evacuate their homes, officials said.

The fire was contained late Saturday and another nearby brush fire was 70 percent contained, said Division of Forestry spokesman Mike Sawyer. The fires, which totaled about 1,000 acres, began at noon Saturday.

No injuries were reported, Sawyer said. The flames burned up to the back yards of homes in Fort Pierce and charred two storage units behind a church, Sawyer said.

The Florida Highway Patrol headquarters in Fort Pierce was also evacuated. Troopers' cars and other vehicles were moved from the parking lot as a precaution, spokesman Lt. Pembrook Burrows said.

Fort Pierce is about 54 miles north of West Palm Beach on Florida's east coast.

United Nations: Push to eradicate polio is gaining

Polio, which only decades ago killed thousands and crippled millions, could be eradicated everywhere, forever by the end of next year, say the leaders of a global campaign against the infectious disease.

"Eliminating polio within the next 18 to 20 months is definitely feasible, depending on whether we are able to get all the funds we need, and all the political and civil cooperation we need," said Bob Keegan, deputy director of the global immunization division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which is providing technical assistance to the U.N.-managed campaign.

When the U.N.-affiliated World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund launched their joint anti-polio drive in 1988, an estimated 350,000 children in 125 countries were newly paralyzed from the disease. In 2001, after spending billions of dollars vaccinating billions of children around the world, health agencies were able to identify just 480 fresh cases, all of them in the 10 nations where the United Nations is concentrating its eradication efforts.

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