Around Campus

Bomb scare closes International House
University Police prevented students from leaving International House Sunday morning for two hours after being notified by the U.S. Secret Service about a “suspicious” package in the State Department.

At 10 a.m., Metropolitan Police cordoned off 22nd Street between G Street and Virginia Avenue after they were advised that a suspicious person left a package in the hallway of the State Department complex, which is across the street from International House.

UPD, without receiving orders from MPD, kept students from leaving and entering International House until 11:41 a.m., when the suspicious package was found to contain a stuffed animal.

“We did that until we were sure that is was safe for people to leave the building,” UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said.

Michael Barnett

Fat suits rejected in court
Litigation against McDonald’s by two Bronx, N.Y. girls has been thrown out of court for a second time. But GW law professor John Banzhaf, who has spearheaded obesity litigation, told the Financial Times that he thinks the ruling will not deter the filing of additional lawsuits involving obesity cases.

Ashley Pelman and Jazlyn Bradley claimed that the McDonald’s ads misled them by claiming that its products could be part of a healthy lifestyle. They also claimed that McDonald’s failed to present nutritional information in their restaurants.

Judge Robert Sweet, a federal judge in New York, said the girls could not prove that they witnessed any misleading ads nor had they made a direct correlation between McDonald’s and the alleged injury: their obesity, according to the Financial Times.

Judge Sweet had dismissed an earlier case in January, stating that the plaintiffs did not prove that McDonald’s products involved danger beyond the knowledge of common consumers. However, he suggested the plaintiffs could argue that the company’s products contained so many additives that they were more unhealthy than normal consumers recognized.

The suit was refiled a month later but focused on the company’s marketing claims. Banzhaf said he expects to see more suits filed involving “fat cases,” and said they are winnable in court.

GW to receive biodefense funds
Government agencies will provide a GW research center with funding to help develop bio-terror vaccines and to conduct media training for biodefense scientists.

The University is one of eight Regional Centers for Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases in a Mid-Atlantic consortium. The centers are receiving funding to increase preparedness for bioterrorism attacks with vaccines and treatments.

Funding provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases will total $350 million over five years for the entire consortium.

The research will not only prepare the area for a bioterrorism attack, but can also help cope with public health crises such as West Nile Virus and SARS. The regional research will study bacteria considered to be threatening, including any small amount of bacteria that cause severe illness.

Other area universities included in the consortium are the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Georgetown University and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Conor Kennedy

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