NIH expands partnership to combat Ebola

BETHESDA – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a program to expand partnerships between United States and West African universities to combat the Ebola virus and mitigate the next outbreak.

The initiative comes from NIH’s Fogerty International Center, which will fund programs to better prepare the region for future outbreaks.

Participating institutions include, Duke, Yale, Vanderbilt, the University of Liberia, and Sierra Leone’s College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences.

“We support research and research training activities in low- and middle-income countries through a number of programs, including the recent awards to support planning to develop research training programs in Sierra Leone and Liberia,” said Ann Puderbaugh, a spokesperson for Fogerty Center.


NIH pushes forward on nutritional taskforce

BETHESDA – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) formed a task force last week to outline the agenda for nutrition research.

The Nutrition Research Task Force (NRTF) comes from the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) as a means of developing a multidisciplinary integrated approach to nutritional research.

“We started to look for ways to integrate and coordinate nutritional research across the field,” said Dr. Christopher Lynch, director of NIDDK’s Office of Nutritional Research who also serves as the spokesperson for the task force.


Marine's advocate defeats Iran on terrorism

Dan GaskillDan Gaskill, who lost to John McCarthy for prosecutor in the last election, celebrates a larger victory over Iran this week. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER

For 16 years, Dan Gaskill has kept photos of his fallen Marine Corps comrades in his office.

Though he didn’t serve with them, since 2000 he has represented many Marines whose lives were forever altered by an act of terrorism.

They are the victims of the 1983 Beirut Bombing and Gaskill has been part of the quest to punish Iran for its involvement in the planning of the attack.

On April 20 Gaskill finally completed his mission as the United States Supreme Court ruled 6-2 in Bank Markazi v. Peterson.


Former President Clinton on the stump in Leisure World for Hillary

bill-clintonSILVER SPRING -- Former President Bill Clinton told Leisure World residents Wednesday they should vote for his wife Hillary Clinton in the April 26 Democratic presidential primary because "she is the best change-maker" he has ever known.

Clinton also answered a question after his speech about how a would-be Hillary Clinton administration would handle the problems with the capital Metro system.

"Well, her infrastructure program sets aside a significant amount for mass transit," he said, adding that Metro workers are "often over-worked."

During his speech in the senior living development, Clinton focused on health care and education.

He made the case that Hillary Clinton's proposals would be both progressive and have a chance of passing Congress.


Metro inspectors identify three damaged stations

Bethesda Metro 7Commuters return to Bethesda Metro after system-wide shutdown on Wedneday, Mar. 16. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER

WASHINGTON — Inspections during the 29-hour shutdown of Metro uncovered three stations that should not have been operating, according to the head of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld rested his hands on the sides of a podium Wednesday as he addressed the media for a news conference at Metro headquarters.

“Let me tell you that the shutdown today was necessary,” Wiedefeld said.

The three stations of the most concern were Foggy Bottom, Potomac Avenue and McPherson Square, said WMATA spokesperson Sherri Ly.

Work crews identified problems so severe at those three stations, Metro officials said they would have closed them if they knew earlier about the damage.


Entire Metro shutting down for system inspection Wednesday

WASHINGTON –  For the first time in history, the entire Metro system will shut down Wednesday for emergency inspections of third-rail power cables after a tunnel fire Monday morning.

metro logo

“When I say safety is priority, I mean it,” said WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld at a media conference Tuesday. “While the risk to the public is very low, I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here, and that is why we must take this action immediately,” Wiedefeld added.

The system will re-open 5 a.m. Thursday.

Wiedefeld said the reason for the shutdown was an electrical fire involving a cable in the tunnel outside McPherson Square Station in Northwest Washington, D.C. that caused severe delays affecting thousands of riders.

The investigation of the cause of the fire is ongoing but Wiedefeld said he does not want to take any chances of risking the safety of employees and riders.

While the stations are closed, Metro workers and outside contractors will inspect 600 underground “jumper” cables for damage, Wiedefeld said.

According to Wiedefeld, work crews inspected all the cables within the last year but they will be inspected again.

Connections between cables are “metal on metal” and could also come into contact with metal that runs along the walls of the tunnels.

Friction could be causing the metal to deteriorate, Wiedefeld said.

He said the investigation started Monday.

“I’m just trying to deal with what I know and what I fear,” said Wiedefeld.  

He said the initial investigation indicates the incident “shows some commonalities with (the) L’Enfant (Plaza incident).”

In January 2015, a train stopped in a tunnel and it filled with smoke, leaving one woman dead and 80 other riders ill.

Wiedefeld ordered Farragut West, McPherson Square, and Metro Center stations of the Blue, Orange and Silver lines to be closed at 9 p.m. Monday to allow extra time to repair the cable.

Metro officials said WMATA will run extra buses Wednesday to handle potential overcrowding issues.

Wiedefeld said he is shutting down the system at midnight and not earlier because he wanted to allow people to choose how to return home since he made the decision after thousands of riders used the system to commute to work.

“We brought people in (to their jobs today); we want to give them the choice of what they want to do,” said Wiedefeld.

WMATA Board of Directors chairman Jack Evans, a District City Council member, said he and the Board supported Wiedefeld’s decision to shut down all lines.

Wiedefeld said he spoke with members of Congress as well as with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and the National Transportation Safety Board in making his decision.

Members of the Maryland congressional delegation lamented the closing.

 “This decision is an incredible disruption to everyone who uses Metrorail. However, safety first must be a mandate,” said U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D). “More than 700,000 people ride this system each day. For those who work on it, for those who ride it to work, to school and to worship, and for those visiting our Nation’s Capital, safety must be a number one priority.”

“I’m frustrated that it has come to this. It is long past time that Metro get to the bottom of ongoing safety concerns. There must be a sense of urgency, certainty and solutions that stick when it’s done,” she added. 

U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-6) said, “For a long time Marylanders have been denied the safe, reliable and efficient Metro system that they deserve. It is deeply disturbing that the system is in such a precarious state that it must be entirely and abruptly shut down during the middle of a workweek. This is a stark demonstration of a total agency failure; now is the time for every stakeholder in WMATA to demand better performance and improved safety.”




Congressional Candidates Support National Shield Law

JK016739ROCKVILLE -- All nine candidates running in the 8th congressional district said they would support and sponsor a national shield law to protect journalists and their sources if they are elected to Congress.

During a debate hosted by the Montgomery County Sentinel Saturday at the Executive Office Building, state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20) paraphrased a quote from former President Thomas Jefferson by saying, "If I had to choose between a government without a newspaper or a newspaper without a government, I would not hesitate a moment to choose the latter.'

"The newspapers, which are under tremendous heat and economic stress... are an essential public voice and watchdog in what takes place in corporate America," said Raskin. "Not only would I support it and will I support it, I've been supporting it. And I would absolutely sponsor it because the last thing reporters need is more judges and cops and prosecutors breathing down their necks."

State Del. Kumar Barve (D-17) added that he tells his friends and relatives in India that "we aren't free because we're rich.

"We're rich because we're free. And there's no way to be free unless you protect the fourth estate," he said.

For former news anchor Kathleen Matthews (D), the issue is personal.


NBT Worlds sit-down interview with Prince Mahidol Award winner, Professor Morton M. Mower

The Prince Mahidol Award for 2015 in medicine went to Professor Morton M. Mower (MAO-wer) of the United States, who is co-inventor of the Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator or AICD. To view the interview with Professor Mower, click the link below.


Cummings Grills Pharmaceutical Execs on Drug-Price Increases

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Elijah Cummings, D- Baltimore, charged Thursday that huge drug-price increases amounted to “blood money” that hurt vulnerable patients and caused hospital budgets to soar.

Cummings grilled pharmaceutical representatives about the drug-price hikes at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.


Weathercasters praised for snow storm prediction

Predicting the size and power of the blizzard that struck Montgomery County last weekend came down to science and experience.

Jim Lee, the meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service forecast office for Baltimore and Washington, D.C., explained that the official call for the blizzard watches did not start until Wednesday morning.