John McCaslin

We got a chuckle out of the following memo sent to several Florida congressional chiefs of staff from Kirk Fordham, chief of staff to Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) who's resigning to work on former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez's campaign for the Senate. It regards a going-away reception for Fordham at a Capitol Hill restaurant:

"We are on for a noon lunch tomorrow at Hunan Dynasty. Looking forward to seeing you all. As a small going-way gift, please bring along your boss's fundraising list on an unwrapped CD-ROM."

Martinez, at the urging of Bush adviser Karl Rove and others in the White House, recently departed the Cabinet and announced his candidacy for the Florida Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bob Graham, a Democrat.


Sen. Charles E. Schumer's Republican opponent in New York is pushing a program designed to protect the country's 47,000 critical infrastructure facilities - reservoirs, dams, pipelines, oil refineries, chemical plants, ports and power stations - from terrorist attack.

Addressing how one guards so many facilities and thousands of miles of shoreline and borders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week "without calling up millions of Americans to serve on foot patrol," Senate candidate Michael Benjamin says look no further than inexpensive video cameras, or webcams.

The small cameras, or "US HomeGuard" system, would be installed throughout all critical infrastructure facilities and monitor areas where no person (or vehicle) should ever be - a "no-man zone."

(The ACLU would obviously be happy because by monitoring only "no-man" zones there would be no violations of personal privacy.)

Every five seconds, the candidate explains, each webcam would send an encrypted photo via the Internet to a central processing center. Pictures would also be sent whenever the webcam's heat or motion detectors are triggered. The entire process, including alerting local authorities to possible breaches of security, is completed in a matter of seconds.

Benjamin has been a securities trader on Wall Street since 1998.


Historians, educators, Academy Award recipients, notable filmmakers, actors and celebrities will descend on Washington next month for the first annual Black History Month Film & Discussion series.

The sponsoring FLOW Foundation has secured Visions Cinema Bistro Lounge and the Republic Gardens for the first-ever history sessions coinciding with the city's observance of Black History Month.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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