John McCaslin

The USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), the last of the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, is now three years from completion and is set for launch in 2008.

The Navy expects this latest addition to its fleet to be in service for at least five decades - at least through the year 2058 - 70 years after Mr. Bush was elected president in 1988.

OFF TO ASPEN

The annual Aspen Ideas Festival, a gathering place for 100 of today's most "profound and provocative" thinkers, commenced Tuesday in Colorado's Rocky Mountains.

Among those in attendance at the event, hosted by the Aspen Institute: former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his wife, Alma, chairwoman of America's Promise; TV news personalities Jim Lehrer and Cokie Roberts; historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.; Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers; Nobel laureate Toni Morrison; and Colorado Gov. Bill Owens.

"Through it, we can stimulate important and interesting discussions and give more people access to the seminars and open-minded dialogues that form the crux of what the institute has been doing since its origins in the 1950s," says Elliot Gerson, the institute's executive vice president and chief creator of the festival.

NEW ENEMY

We're told the United States and Russia will hold a first-of-its-kind joint tabletop terrorism-response exercise this October.

Word of the preparedness drill comes on the heels of President Bush late last week receiving the first progress report from a joint U.S.-Russia working group he established with President Vladimir Putin. The group's primary purpose is to deal with the threat of terrorists gaining access to nuclear material or weapons.

PRESIDENT HARRISON

The former co-chairman of the Republican National Committee has become the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's (CPB) new president and CEO.

Patricia S. Harrison, since 2001 the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, says she is "pleased to join with the board and all stakeholders in the future success of public broadcasting."

Already she has vowed to join with public broadcast leaders to restore congressional funding cuts of CPB in the president's fiscal 2006 budget.

Under Harrison's leadership, the U.S. government started the first exchange program for high school students from the Arab and Muslim world.

BAR THE STARS

Flying the American flag this Independence Day?

Not everybody was so privileged.


John McCaslin

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

Be the first to read John McCaslin's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.