As for guns, what's the problem? Everyone should have a gun in Texas. If they don't, they're damn fools and likely to get shot. Sunday's Million Mom March missed the point. It was Suzanna Gratia Hupp of the Second Amendment Sisters who was on the money. Her biggest mistake was not to be carrying her .38 when a crazed merchant seaman burst into a Killeen, Texas, restaurant in 1991 and wasted 23 people. Suzanna reached for her pistol, but she'd left it in the car. Both her parents were killed. A chiropractor, she had started carrying the weapon at the suggestion of a client who was an assistant D.A. When she remonstrated that it might be illegal, he replied, "Better to be tried by 12 than carried by six"—a sentiment the straight-shooting Shrub might heartily applaud.

Blowing in the Wind
Lost Alamos

A key problem in fire-ravaged Los Alamos is the fear that depleted uranium and toxic nuclear lab may have worked their way into the atmosphere and become part of the huge plume that has been floating over eastern Colorado, across the Oklahoma panhandle, and into Texas.

No one knows for sure what has happened. But in recent years, a lot of testing of high explosives has been done at the plant. It's as a test site for these explosives that various toxic metals may have come into play. Explosives are sometimes bonded with depleted uranium. Los Alamos also manufactures bomb triggers: grapefruit-sized objects sheathed in stainless steel, aluminum, or vanadium. The Los Alamos laboratory has disposed of at least 17.5 million cubic feet of hazardous and radioactive waste in 24 areas on the site since 1944, according to the Los Alamos Study Group, an antinuclear outfit. The list of contaminants includes lead, beryllium, arsenic, thorium, uranium, plutonium, PCBs, and barium.

Controlled burning in the area in May is unusual since the forests are especially dry and winds are often gusty. Normally, burning is done in early spring or fall. Among federal workers, the National Park Service—which runs Bandelier National Monument, where the fire that led to the conflagration was lit—is viewed as sloppy when it comes to safety.

Radiation's Long Reach
Chernobyl's Legacy

An alarming new report in the British science journal Nature says that radioactive pollution released from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine in 1986 will continue to contaminate British sheep for at least 15 more years. Already, 230,000 sheep in the upland regions of Wales, Cumbria, and Scotland are restricted from being sold for meat because of higher than normal levels of radiocaesium in their blood.

Scientists had originally thought the fallout wouldn't last long because it would bind to the clay matrix of the soil, preventing further uptake. But a recent study suggests they miscalculated. Of the 389 farms involved, tests on three show that some sheep have levels of radiocaesium that are nearly twice the limit deemed safe for human consumption. As bad as the problem is in parts of Britain, it is far worse in Belarus and western Russia, where livestock restrictions are likely to remain in place for another 50 years.

What's My Line?
Bush Boners

Neither Dubya nor his Dad is known for having a firm command of English grammar. But when it comes to turning an unusual phrase, each has a style all his own. Which Bush is responsible for each of the following?

  1. "We ought to make the pie higher."
  2. "There is madmen in the world and there is terror."
  3. "[Those are] hyporhetorical questions."
  4. "I hope we get to the bottom of the answer."
  5. "Please don't look at part of the glass, the part that is only less than half full."

(1) Dubya; (2) Dubya; (3) Dad; (4) Dubya; (5) Dad

Heaven on Earth

Asked by decorous radio talk-show host Diane Rehm to sum up what life in the White House has meant for his marriage, President Clinton breezily answered, "Oh, I think it’s been good for us, because I got to live above the store." The president said that he and Hillary spend "happy days" reading and talking out by the pool or on the Truman Balcony.

Additional reporting: Kate Cortesi

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