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Archive for Friday, February 11, 2005

Briefly - Nation

February 11, 2005

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Louisiana

Oldest Marine dies

George Dewey Perkins, said by fellow former Marines and Veterans Affairs officials to be the nation's oldest Marine, is dead at the age of 106.

The Kansas native would have been 107 next month.

Perkins served in the Marines from 1917 to 1919 and was about to head to Europe when he and other members of his unit came down with the Spanish flu, which was killing millions of people throughout the world.

Perkins died Wednesday of natural causes at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport, said his adopted granddaughter Rose Mary Mason-Robinson, a patient advocate at the hospital.

Perkins was born in Iola, Kan.

Washington, D.C.

Payment would benefit WWII civilian sailors

The bullets and torpedoes they faced were just as real, but World War II merchant mariners say the government hasn't given them the same treatment as military personnel.

Now there's proposed legislation to pay $1,000 monthly to the aged former civilian sailors, who hauled troops, tanks, bombers, fuel and other wartime goods to keep Allied forces supplied.

Similar measures have failed, and supporters say time is running out because the mariners are now in their 70s and 80s. Some traveled Thursday to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers for support.

A bill to give mariners or their widows $1,000 a month died last year before being reintroduced last month. Estimates on who might benefit vary widely, with some saying 60,000 are surviving and others saying only 10,000 need the money and would apply for it.

Florida

Repair kit uncertain as shuttle launch nears

With just three months remaining until liftoff, the astronauts assigned to the first space shuttle flight since the Columbia catastrophe still don't know what type of repair kit will accompany them into orbit.

The problem is, none of the five options for patching gashes in the hull of an orbiting shuttle is all that good. Nonetheless, mission commander Eileen Collins said she and her crew would have at least one type of repair method on board when Discovery takes off on the first shuttle flight in more than two years, as early as mid-May.

None of the five options under consideration could repair a hole the size of the one that destroyed Columbia on Feb. 1, 2003. The hole in Columbia's left wing was an estimated 6 to 10 inches across, and was caused by a piece of foam insulation that broke off the external fuel tank at liftoff.

Discovery's trip to the international space station, to deliver badly needed supplies and replacement parts, is considered a test flight because of the brand-new fuel tank, redesigned to keep dangerous chunks of foam from coming off.

Atlanta

New vaccine to fight college meningitis

All college freshmen who live in dorms should be vaccinated for meningitis, a government panel recommended Thursday for the first time.

The panel also is advising doctors to give the shot to all 11- to 12-year-old children and that it be provided to at least 4 million children eligible under the federal children's vaccines program.

The recommendation was sparked largely by a new vaccine, Menactra, that is effective for more than eight years, while the old vaccine lasted for three to five years. The new vaccine also prevents people from being carriers of the bacteria.

College freshmen who live in dormitories are six times more likely than other people to be infected with meningitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Effective this fall, Kansas University students living in student housing must be vaccinated for meningitis. The policy comes after KU student Andy Marso was nearly killed last spring by the bacterial infection.

Washington, D.C.

Report seeks flexibility in tenure system

Saying higher education's long-standing tenure system isn't family friendly and harms the careers of women, a panel of university leaders called Thursday for colleges to make the traditional academic career path more flexible.

Thursday's report, produced by the American Council on Education and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in conjunction with a panel of university presidents, asks colleges to consider a number of policy changes, some of which are already being tested on various campuses. Among them: better child care, and allowing women with young children more time to complete research before being evaluated for tenure.

While women account for 51 percent of new doctorates awarded, they account for just 38 percent of university faculty and 28 percent at research universities, the authors noted.

Donna Ginther, a Kansas University associate professor of economics, has completed two similar studies about women and academia.

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