THE NEW HOPE
Wayne Newton has officially become the next Bob Hope.
"Wayne Newton epitomizes the patriotic and selfless support that America's sons and daughters in uniform should expect of the American people," says retired Army Gen. John H. Tilelli Jr., the USO's president and CEO.
Newton, a k a "Mr. Las Vegas," becomes chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle - Tom Hanks, Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones and Sherry Lansing among them - that will entertain U.S. military troops overseas and stateside.
Says Hanks: "A new and profound need for the USO is upon us."
Yes, that's Peter Max, the world-renowned artist whose expressionistic paintings of the Statue of Liberty and the American flag have become an annual July 4th tradition, who has created several posters to benefit families of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In fact, Friday and Saturday (Oct. 12-13), Max will be visiting the Washington area's Wentworth Galleries, his first exhibit in the nation's capital in more than a decade. The show is titled "From Pop to Patriotism."
"As an artist, I felt compelled to reach out and contribute my talents to help those in need," Max tells us. "The events of Sept. 11 were astounding. I was shocked at the great loss of life and also moved and inspired by the great acts of heroism that followed. America is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave."
The artist says he will also be supporting President Bush through his art in the coming months and has already created projects for his hometown, New York City. One recipient is his good friend, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
"I've always known Rudy Giuliani to be a great guy," says Max, "and now I'm glad all of America got to see what a great mayor he has been in dealing with this monumental tragedy."
EVERYBODY BUT ELVIS
What top pop or rock band isn't performing at Washington's RFK Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 21 - an all-star benefit "United We Stand" concert to aid victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks?
Those already confirmed include 'NSync, the Backstreet Boys, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Aerosmith, Aaron Carter, Ricky Martin, James Brown, Al Green and Kiss, with the Goo Goo Dolls, Carlos Santana, Matchbox 20, Britney Spears and Bruce Springsteen listed as tentative.
Proceeds from the sale of tickets, which go on sale Friday (Oct. 12), aid the American Red Cross Relief Fund, the Pentagon Relief Fund and the Salvation Army Relief Fund.
Just how easy is it to place a bomb aboard a commercial airliner, like the one that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland?
Far too easy.
"Right now, Americans would be shocked to learn that we leave about 90 to 95 percent of the luggage that goes into the belly of an aircraft unscreened for explosive devices. This will not do," says Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., adding there is no better time to be "thinking ahead of the terrorists."
The congressman and a dozen-plus other lawmakers have introduced the Baggage Screening Act, which would require screening of all luggage going into an aircraft for explosive devices, not just carry-on bags.
Inslee says the fact that the technology and equipment to detect explosives is on the market today, but not being utilized, is inexcusable.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service has a bit of good news for families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks whose immigrant or non-immigrant status was dependent on the victim.
Despite rumors stating otherwise, families of victims from more than 80 countries do not face immediate removal from the United States. There had been concern after a British woman feared removal after the loss of her husband in the New York attack.
In what INS Commissioner James W. Ziglar is now calling a case of "unfortunate timing," the woman received a "routine letter" from the INS about her husband's eligibility to remain in America. The INS was "unaware that the applicant was missing in the World Trade Center attack," he said.
All INS offices are now exercising what Ziglar calls "compassionate discretion" with families of those killed in the attacks.
CLINTON'S LOOSE ENDS
We're told legal briefs will be filed next week with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that
former President Bill Clinton should be disbarred.
The amicus briefs will be filed by the Atlanta-based Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF), the public-interest law firm that successfully pursued law-license sanctions in Arkansas against Clinton.
"We're working on them right now and hope to have them ready in a week or so," SLF President Phil Kent tells this column.
"He is going to be disbarred. If he's not good enough for the Arkansas Bar, he's not good enough to practice before the Supreme Court."
Earlier, the Washington-based law firm Judicial Watch announced it also was filing a brief with the Supreme Court asking Clinton be permanently disbarred in light of scandalous misconduct while in office.
The Supreme Court is already moving in that direction. Last week, it suspended Clinton's privilege to practice law before the high court, paving the way to disbar him by Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, Kent tells us Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott will be the keynote speaker at the SLF's 25th anniversary gala Saturday, Oct. 27. The SLF will also present awards to "two patriots who were our favorite (Clinton) impeachment managers," Kent says - Republican Reps. Bob Barr of Georgia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.