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Bill would get tough on leakers

Sat., Nov. 12, 2005

Washington The Senate has signed off on a provision that would strip the security clearances of any government official who knowingly discloses national security secrets, reflecting lawmakers’ anger over recent leaks of classified information to the public.

The GOP-run Senate added the Democratic-sponsored provision to a broad defense policy bill expected to be approved next week. The House version does not include that provision.

“I served in World War II. We had an expression then. It said, ‘Loose lips sink ships,’ ” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who sponsored the provision. “Exposing our secrets was a grave offense then and it is a grave offense now.”

The provision, approved by the Senate on Thursday, would apply to anyone in the federal government, including those in Congress and on House and Senate staffs who have clearances and who intentionally disclose classified information, including details of a covert agent’s identity or a secret operation.

Meteorite hunter hopes find worth a million

Greensburg, Kan. A rare 1,400-pound meteorite was discovered seven feet underground by a collector in an area long known for producing prized space rocks.

Using a metal detector mounted on a three-wheel vehicle, Steve Arnold of Kingston, Ark., found the huge meteorite two weeks ago in Kiowa County’s Brenham Township in southern Kansas.

The meteorite is classified as an oriented pallasite, a type noted for a conical shape with crystals embedded in iron-nickel alloy. Only two larger ones of that type are known to have been found.

“It is aesthetically the type of meteorite that makes collectors drool,” said Arnold, who has hunted for meteorites around the world and estimates his find is worth “seven figures.” Arnold said he wants to sell it, preferably to a museum or someone who will keep it intact.

NYC subway system to try new detectors

New York Police next week plan to roll out another anti-terrorism tool designed to stop bombers from attacking the city’s subway system: portable explosive detection devices sometimes used at airports.

About a dozen high-tech detectors by various manufacturers – some resembling handheld vacuum cleaners, others the size of fax machines – will be positioned at subway entrances where officers conduct random bag searches, officials said Friday.

The devices are being tested to determine whether they will be put into regular use.

Hospital abruptly shuts transplant program

Irvine, Calif. Dozens of people who waited months or even years for new livers at University of California, Irvine Medical Center will turn to other hospitals after a federal investigation led to an abrupt shutdown of the facility’s transplant program.

The UCI transplant program voluntarily closed down Thursday when federal officials cut funding for Medicare patients after finding that more than 30 people died while awaiting liver transplants in the past two years.

A report by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that UCI was offered 122 livers between August 2004 and July 2005 but transplanted only 12. The hospital has not had a resident liver transplant surgeon since June 2003; its two surgeons were instead based in San Diego, some 90 miles away.


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