New developments in stories we’ve been following recently.
CURWOOD: You're listening to NPR's Living On Earth.
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CURWOOD: Time now to follow up on some of the news stories we've been tracking lately.
Last week, we reported on a growing dispute at the Environmental Protection Agency over questions of conflict of interest involving Administrator Christine Todd Whitman. Part of the row includes a controversial decision by Ms. Whitman to transfer the agency's ombudsman to the Office of Inspector General. She also froze the records of the ombudsman's probe of a matter financially linked to her husband.
Now, a federal judge has issued an injunction that temporarily halts the move. But EPA spokesman Joe Martyak says he's confident the court will find the claims of Ombudsman Robert Martin unfounded.
MARTYAK: We deny his claim that he will be adversely affected by this move and we deny his allegations of retaliation and continue to believe that he will function not only fully, but better under the Office of the Inspector General.
CURWOOD: A full hearing is scheduled for February 26th.
CURWOOD: You may recall our interview with John Walsh of the World Society for the Protection of Animals. He talked about the sorry state of the Kabul Zoo in Afghanistan, and Marjan, the old, one-eyed lion who languishes there.
Well, now John Walsh is part of the first team of animal experts on the ground in Afghanistan and he sends back daily updates to his colleagues as they prepare to join him. One of them is David Jones, who directs the North Carolina Zoological Park.
JONES: We're the first agency to have provided back pay for the keepers, the only civil servants, in fact, that have been given back-pay in Kabul. And so, all the keepers, of course, are amazed by this and everybody is working very well with John to try to make life a bit more comfortable, particularly for the lion and the bear, right now.
CURWOOD: After the situation at the zoo has stabilized, the team plans to work with the stray dog population in the city and domestic farm animals in the Afghan countryside.
CURWOOD: Public health officials in New York are launching several studies to try to determine long-term health effects stemming from the World Trade Center collapse. Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine is heading up one study on pregnant women who were in Lower Manhattan on September 11th.
LANDRIGAN: Really, the best kind of study to assess the effects of environmental exposures is this kind of study, where you sign up moms during the pregnancy, get information on exposures at that time, and then, follow the babies forward in time.
CURWOOD: Other studies will focus on clean-up workers.
And finally, a sanitation worker in Japan was arrested recently for threatening a bar owner with a knife. Apparently, the bar owner wasn't separating his trash from recyclables well enough for the collector, whom the Japanese have dubbed "God of Garbage."
And that's this week's follow-up on the news from Living On Earth.
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