Week In Review

May 21, 2006

Annapolis

Navy instructor files complaint

A Naval Academy instructor set to stand trial on allegations of sexual harassment has filed an equal opportunity complaint with the Navy, citing "gender-based double standards" in how the school handles such claims.

Lt. Bryan Black, who is accused of using crude and sexually explicit language in front of a mixed group of midshipmen last summer, wrote a detailed account of "off color, wholly inappropriate remarks" made from the lectern at an athletic association dinner May 9.

In a written response to the claim, which was filed two days later, Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt thanked the oceanography professor for bringing this to the academy's attention and said an inquiry into the allegations "has been initiated."

Charles Gittins, Black's civilian attorney, said the academy's failure to investigate these comments immediately shows that his client is being singled out.

Maryland section, Friday

Anne Arundel

Firefighters' cancer risk to be analyzed

A federal agency announced Wednesday that it would fund a program to analyze the cancer risk to firefighters exposed to toxins, an issue highlighted by a cluster of illnesses among Anne Arundel County firefighters who trained at the fire academy in Millersville in the 1970s. County officials said the effort by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health falls short of a request by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski for a full-blown study. But they hope NIOSH's decision to launch a national Hazardous Substance Training Program - which will determine whether firefighters' exposure to toxins raises their long-term risk for some cancers, including brain cancer, and heart disease - in conjunction with the International Association of Fire Fighters will build momentum toward a cancer study that would include the Anne Arundel County fire service.

A study released last year by the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health uncovered 17 cancer cases among the county's Fire Department ranks but could not determine whether they were linked to training methods at the fire academy in Millersville between 1971 and 1979. Anne Arundel County Fire Chief Ronald D. Blackwell said the unanswered questions surrounding the 10-month, $25,000 Hopkins study required "some kind of federal attention."

Maryland section, Thursday

Anne Arundel

Seamstresses race to finish blankets

And they're off! With ESPN's live announcement at 5 p.m. Wednesday of the post positions for the nine horses running in the Preakness Stakes, three high-tech seamstresses at a tiny Millersville company were set into motion. Standing over three whirring industrial machines, they were competing in a little-known race of their own: embroidering the horses' names on both sides of each saddlecloth. All the work at the Embroidery Store had to be completed that night, so the finished, elaborate broadcloth blankets could be displayed at Thursday morning's traditional Alibi Breakfast for owners and trainers at Pimlico Race Course in Northwest Baltimore.

Maryland section, Thursday

Annapolis

Academy plebes take on `Sea Trials'

The lowly plebes, caked in mud and sweat, jogged toward the "minefield" of cinder blocks, tires and sticks and began to holler wildly. Dressed in fatigues, some with painted faces and one sporting a freshly cut Mohawk, they'd already been warned to stop their whooping or face more "PT": more push-ups, more sit-ups, more leg lifts, more pain. Almost immediately and in unison, the 25th Company of plebes began, with respects to Walt Whitman, to "sound their barbaric yawps" in defiance. The minefield was only the latest challenge for about 1,000 Naval Academy freshmen, who awoke at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday to begin "Sea Trials," one of many rites that mark their transition into fully respected midshipmen at the school. The grueling 14-hour obstacle course includes almost 30 physical and mental feats that test their limits and commitment to teamwork.

Maryland section, Wednesday

Anne Arundel

Police kill teenager armed with scissors

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