Lieberman: Review changes nothing

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.

A media-sponsored review of disputed ballots from the 2000 presidential election in Florida was “fascinating” but it doesn”t change anything, Sen. Joseph Lieberman said yesterday as he reaffirmed his support for President Bush.

Al Gore and Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, lost Florida and the presidency to Bush and Dick Cheney by a scant 537 votes last year.

The new examination of 175,000 Florida ballots which didn”t make it into state-certified totals indicated the partial recounts Gore pursued in Florida would still have left Bush clinging to the narrow lead he had after Election Day.

However, if Gore had pursued a full statewide recount he might have picked up enough votes to surpass Bush by an even slimmer margin.

The 2000 election was a time of deep division between the major parties, but Americans have rallied behind Bush since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

And on a day when a jet crash in New York gave the nation a fresh round of jitters, Lieberman stressed the legitimacy of the election.

Bush is “not only our president, but our commander in chief,” Lieberman said while speaking to the National Jewish Democratic Council in Hollywood, Fla.

“The election of last year seems a world away. These recounts are fascinating. They don”t change anything.”

Lieberman”s move-on attitude matched many Americans” reaction to the ballot review, released Sunday night.

“What”s done is done,” said Lorrie Branch, a Gore supporter from New Haven, Conn. “You can”t fix it, but maybe it would have made a difference back then.”

Bush supporter Sandy Myles of Kirtland, Ohio, echoed the sentiment. “I don”t care about last year anymore. Of course, I might feel differently if I had voted differently, but we need to go forward.”

Wildfires ravage Kentucky mountains

PIKEVILLE, Ky.

Heavy smoke shrouded eastern Kentucky”s mountains yesterday as the southern Appalachian region”s worst fire outbreak in a decade threatened to get worse, with no rain was in sight for at least a week.

Kentucky”s blazes have burned 146,500 acres so far this year, the worst in a Southern wildfire season that also has burned parts of Maryland, the Virginias, the Carolinas and Tennessee.

A man was killed yesterday morning in a chain-reaction car accident south of Pikeville. State troopers said smoke from the fires, coupled with fog, contributed to the crash. One firefighter was killed in Tennessee during the weekend when he was overrun by flames.

Many fires in the region are arson.

Although fires in the mostly hardwood forests of the Appalachians generally aren”t as big or destructive as blazes in the West, some 96,600 acres of forest have burned in Kentucky in the last two weeks alone. The biggest fire, which was only 70 percent contained Monday, had blackened nearly 31,000 acres in a region surrounding Hazard, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

Twenty-three new fires covering about 1,000 acres were reported Monday in eastern Kentucky, said Gwen Holt, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

Five people have been arrested on arson charges in eastern Kentucky, and a plea for hunters and rural residents to report anyone they see starting fires has resulted in dozens of calls, Holt said.

Red Cross will give refunds if asked

WASHINGTON

The American Red Cross, under fire for its use of money raised since the terrorist attacks, said it will return donations to any contributor who requests a refund.

The emergency relief group, which has collected about $500 million since Sept. 11, touched off a controversy last month by announcing that not all of the funds would go to victims of the attacks.

More than $200 million will be held in reserve in case it is needed for other terrorist attacks, the group said yesterday.

“This has not been a big issue for us,” said Devorah Goldburg, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross. “If people have a question about how donations are used, we talk with them and go through the whole process. If they still have a problem, then we honor a request for the donation to be returned.”

The organization also reiterated that it honors the wishes of contributors who request their money be used for a specific cause.

“If a check has a specific request on it, then we honor that as well,” Goldburg said.

The question of how the money should be used played a part in Red Cross director Bernadine Healy”s recent decision to resign at year”s end. Some lawmakers in a congressional oversight committee accused the group of taking advantage of the tragedy to bolster its budget.

The 37,000-employee American Red Cross administers almost half the nation”s blood supply and provides relief to victims of disasters.

Inhaled anthrax not deadly if treated

WASHINGTON

Inhaled anthrax is a treatable infection and not a sure death sentence if doctors recognize the disease early and treat it aggressively, experts say in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

An analysis in JAMA of the 10 recent cases shows that if doctors speedily give patients a constellation of antibiotics, along with aggressively treating symptoms such as the accumulation of fluid in the chest, there is a high rate of survival.

“The fact that six of these patients have survived gives hope that the published mortality rates of 86 to 97 percent for inhalational anthrax may not be accurate in the year 2001,” Anthony Fauci and H. Clifford Lane, both of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said in the JAMA editorial.

The rate of survival 60 percent for the recent inhalational cases could well improve for future infections.

because doctors across the country now are so aware of anthrax and its symptoms.

“The signs and symptoms of inhalational anthrax are way up on the radar screen of virtually all health care providers now,” said Fauci, the NIAID director.

Prior to Oct. 4, when a Florida man was hospitalized with the first recognized U.S. case of inhaled anthrax since 1976, the disease was relatively unknown to most American doctors. In medical terminology, inhaled anthrax was not high on the “index of suspicion” in making a diagnosis.

With the intense publicity given the anthrax-by-mail crisis and the publication in journals of specific medical details of the 10 cases, inhaled anthrax has become an infection that doctors will probably consider.

If doctors are practicing in an area where there already is anthrax illness, the possibility of the disease would be at or near the top of the “index of suspicion” for workers who match an existing pattern of infection, said Fauci. In the current pattern, postal, media and Capitol Hill workers were the most likely to be infected with anthrax.

Fauci said the 10 cases also have added important new details about inhaled anthrax infection symptoms previously unrecognized but which doctors may now consider.

“If you read the textbooks, the disease is not exactly what we are finding,” he said.

Doctors have found that patients with inhaled anthrax may not show a raging fever, for instance. Most of the 10 inhaled anthrax patients had normal or only slightly elevated temperatures early in their illnesses.

Survey shows gays feel more accepted

MENLO PARK, Calif.

About three-fourths of homosexuals and bisexuals feel more accepted by society today than a few years ago, but about the same percentage say they have experienced discrimination, according to a survey released today.

The findings by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation were based on telephone interviews with 405 randomly selected self-identified lesbians, gays and bisexuals in 15 major U.S. cities last November.

Seventy-six percent of lesbians, gays and bisexuals surveyed reported they feel more accepted. However, 74 percent reported encountering verbal abuse, while 32 percent said they experienced physical abuse or damage to their property because of their sexual orientation.

Eighty-five percent of lesbians, 76 percent of gay men and 60 percent of bisexuals said they had experienced discrimination, according to the survey.

Ninety percent of the lesbians, gays and bisexuals interviewed believe the government is not doing enough to protect them from discrimination, while 64 percent said more prejudice was directed toward them than blacks.

The foundation conducted a second telephone survey with 2,283 adults to gather the general public”s feelings about gay and lesbian issues.

In that survey, 62 percent reported they have a friend or acquaintance who is gay, compared to 55 percent three years ago and 24 percent in 1983.

Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said they think there is more acceptance of homosexuals today than there was a few years ago, and 29 percent said that acceptance is good for the country. Forty-four percent said it didn”t matter either way and 23 percent said it was bad for the country.

The margin of error for the general public survey was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points it was plus or minus 5.9 percent for the gay, lesbian and bisexual survey.

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