Thanks a lot

John McCaslin
|
Posted: Jan 29, 2004 12:00 AM

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards couldn't wait to get "home" to South Carolina, where he's banking on his first primary season victory next Tuesday (Feb. 3).

And how helpful will Democratic Sen. Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina be to the first-term senator-turned-presidential candidate?

"I know he was born here (in South Carolina) and he and I are good trial lawyers together, but he doesn't have nearly the experience to go all the way and really take that White House," Hollings told the Greenville News.

KINDER AND GENTLER

Holding court in a corner of JD's Tavern in Manchester, N.H., MSNBC host Chris Matthews managed a few grins as a "Saturday Night Live" rerun aired over the pub's three television sets - mainly a sketch of impersonator Darrell Hammond lampooning the usually feisty "Hardball" host.

But the host appeared "chagrined," according to our source, when at the conclusion of the skit JD's patrons erupted in applause. After all, in broadcasting from Iowa and New Hampshire, Matthews has made a concerted effort to tone down his brusque demeanor, actually permitting some of his guests - or at least the men - to finish their sentences.

D.C. MISSION

Researchers from George Washington University associated with NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., played a major role in Sunday's successful landing of the Opportunity rover on Mars by studying atmospheric entry and trajectory data from the earlier landing of Spirit.

GW researchers analyzed accelerometer and gyro readings from Spirit's trip through the Martian atmosphere and found NASA's temperature predictions for the Martian atmosphere to be "right on track" in the hope of duplicating conditions the second time around.

"These are two very significant tasks, obviously, getting Spirit and now Opportunity safely on Mars (was) critical to the Mars Exploration Rover mission," says Bob Blanchard, lead research scientist for the GW group.

The phase in which GW researchers were involved is the entry, descent and landing portion of the mission. It begins when the spacecraft reach Mars' atmosphere at approximately 80 miles above the surface of the planet and ends when the landers are safely on the surface.

The descent takes approximately 6 minutes, during which time the spacecraft slows from approximately 12,000 to zero miles per hour.

GRIM EITHER WAY

No wonder it's so icy in Washington - the world, or at least a good chunk of it, is headed into an ice age. And get a load of the culprit.

"Britain is likely to be plunged into an ice age within our lifetime by global warming," writes Geoffrey Lean, environment editor of the London Independent, citing a study "being taken seriously by top government scientists."

The U.S.-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute study has uncovered a change "of remarkable amplitude" in the circulation of the waters of the North Atlantic, the story goes.

"Similar events in pre-history are known to have caused sudden 'flips' of the climate, bringing ice ages to northern Europe within a few decades," notes Lean. "The development - described as 'the largest and most dramatic oceanic change ever measured in the era of modern instruments' - threatens to turn off the Gulf Stream, which keeps Europe's weather mild.

"If that happens, Britain and northern Europe are expected to switch abruptly to the climate of Labrador - which is on the same latitude - bringing a nightmare scenario where farmland turns to tundra."

MEAN ELVES

The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, which recognizes animal and eco-terrorism as forms of domestic terrorism, has been drafted by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance.

The draft bill, which is currently being circulated to state legislators across the country, would increase penalties for persons participating in politically motivated actions and it creates specific penalties for those who aid in such acts of terrorism.

"Animal and ecological terrorists endanger lives, set back life-saving medical research and strike fear into the hearts of countless researchers, business people, farmers, sportsmen and more," the alliance states.

The group cites one "ecological terror organization" - the Earth Liberation Front, or ELF - that is known by the FBI to be a leading domestic terror group.

ELF, the alliance notes, has gone so far as to publish "Underground Direct Action Totals for 2003," charting the eco-terrorist front's targeting of automobile dealerships, animal research facilities, military offices, construction sites, meat, seafood and fur industries.

A handful of groups like ELF, including the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), took responsibility for 75 terror acts in 2003, which caused an estimated $60 million in damages.

UNILATERAL SPEECH

The State Department's Foreign Press Center hosted more than 150 international reporters in Iowa and New Hampshire "to observe how democracy works," although it didn't get any help from Sen. John Kerry's campaign.

"And here Kerry is the one screaming all this 'unilateral' stuff, that the U.S. should not go it alone," a State Department employee said.

"Our guys couldn't get in, none of them were given credentials by Kerry's people," she told this column, referring to foreign reporters who had wanted to cover Kerry's victory speech and celebration in the New Hampshire primary. "They couldn't even pull the tape from his speech. Some of these guys were not happy."

A representative from Kerry's campaign said there wasn't space enough for the foreign reporters.

What are left of the foreign scribes arrived in South Carolina Wednesday.