Dickie Cronkite
Someone who has more "theme park experience."

Big news.
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Okay, I've got big news.

First off, tonight was the historic home-opener for the new Washington Nationals. The game was letting out just as I was metro-ing it back to Vaginia...truly surreal to see all those freshly merchandised bright-red "W" hats and T-shirts on the train. If you didn't know the context, you'd think you were at the RNC. In Nebraska.

The Nats beat the D-backs 5-3.

Secondly: In an similarly impressive outing, Team Smashtar placed third from the bottom at the National Press Club's trivia night. An no, Smashtar did not enjoy that I dubbed our group "Team Smashtar." But she did give clearance for our name next quarter: The O'Smashtar Factor. (Which was inspired by her whole diatribe about how people our age shouldn't smoke pot. She's not conservative or anything.)

And that's right, you heard me. NEXT quarter at the National Press Club.

Change of plans, people - I'm stayin' in DC. Through the summer. Just got official clearance today.

Look, look. I know what you're thinkin'.

I'm such a city slut.

Yes, I'm the same guy writing odes to Chi-town, like a lovesick puppy. My feelings have not changed. I'll take that Windy place over DC any day.

But those playing along at home - all two of you - might have noticed a recent trend.

Clips. Lots of 'em. Things are going amazingly well out here thus far. (And with that, I probably just jinxed myself.) It just wouldn't make sense to go back and cover the local urban beat out of the Chicago newsroom.

And it's better this way: I don't think I coulda beared to part with Chi-town, knowing it was goodbye. Sorta like with TAFKAC, when I think about it...

So yes - the rumors are true. Those of you that secretly pumped your fists in joy last quarter after we said our goodbyes - it's a pleasure to disappoint. You're stuck with me over the summer!


And speaking of clips, here's my latest from yesterday:

Capps brings back stroke bill


WASHINGTON -- In a speech to the American Heart Association on Tuesday, Rep. Lois Capps announced that she has re-introduced her Stroke Treatment and Ongoing Prevention bill for a third time in the House.

The bill aims to strengthen stroke prevention and treatment through a national registry and information clearinghouse, which would collect and disseminate data about stroke care and analysis. The bill would fund programs to improve medical professional training.

"We need to educate medical providers on stroke recognition," said Mrs. Capps, D-Santa Barbara. She stressed the importance of informing the public about "where the treatment centers are, so people know how to reach them."

"There are stroke busters -- drugs that are available if they're used within three hours of the onset," Mrs. Capps said.

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the nation's third-leading killer, and about 700,000 Americans will suffer one this year. In her speech, Mrs. Capps said fewer than 3 percent of stroke patients receive "state-of-the-art medication."

Records obtained through the California Department of Health Services show a decline in Santa Barbara County stroke deaths in recent years. In 2001, there were 123 deaths; in 2002, there were 113 deaths; and in 2003, 104. In each year, more than half of those who died were 85 and older. The numbers for 2004 were not available.

Mrs. Capps, a former nurse who co-chairs the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition, first submitted the bill in December 2001, but it did not come to a vote in the House.

In the 2003-04 session, the House passed Mrs. Capps' initiative, but with considerably less funding than was originally requested: $95 million over five years instead of about $500 million over five years.

The bill stalled in the Senate, however, when Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who backed the bill, was unable to forge an agreement to pass the bill with Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., then-chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Mrs. Capps' office said she is hopeful the third time will be the charm.

The Senate committee has new Republican leadership in Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

"We haven't been stopped yet," a Capps spokesperson said. "We have to get through the House, and then we'll worry about the Senate."

After her speech, Mrs. Capps said: "We build on momentum. It sometimes takes more than one time."

Dickie Cronkite writes from Washington, D.C., for Medill News Service.

E-mail him at *******@newspress.com.

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