McCaslin's Beltway Beat

Posted: Aug 10, 2001 12:00 AM
SHARK BAIT Curious about the seemingly inexplicable increase in shark attacks in recent years? So was Sean Paige, the Warren Brookes Fellow at Washington's Competitive Enterprise Institute, who has discovered that since 1993, the federal government has been ordering deep cuts in the number of sharks that can be caught by commercial and recreational fisherman off U.S. coasts. It's part of a "shark-stock rebuilding program based on the questionable premise that sharks are in decline worldwide," Paige explains. "As the quantity of sharks being caught has fallen, the frequency and number of shark attacks have been on the rise, reaching record levels last year." In Florida, he says, where the majority of attacks occur, federal and state protections for sharks have led to a more than 80 percent decrease in sharks taken during the 1990s. State restrictions have created de facto shark sanctuaries in waters closest to shore, where human-shark interactions are most likely to occur and where one of the sharks most often implicated in attacks on man - the bull shark - is a frequent visitor. TAKING THE FIFTH It costs more than a penny for Bill Clinton's thoughts. "I don't think I'd pay $10 million or $12 million or whatever it is for the book," says Alfred S. Regnery, president of Regnery Publishing Inc., who, unlike Alfred A. Knopf, didn't land Bill Clinton's memoirs. Not that he tried. "I don't think we would have been a player," says Regnery, whose conservative publishing house was a persistent thorn in Clinton's side. Its biggest best seller ever was "Unlimited Access" by Gary Aldrich, a veteran FBI agent who was assigned to the Clinton White House and was alarmed by what he saw. Clinton, who plans to publish his memoirs in 2003, would certainly do well to sell as many books as Aldrich, and would probably score a sequel if he came close to the publishing success of conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh. "We sold over 2 million books attacking Bill Clinton," says Regnery. "So if there's that many people that want to buy a book by him as bought books attacking him, he'll be halfway there. But even if it sells, I don't think (Knopf) will make their $10 million or $12 million back. It's unheard of that any book would sell that many. He would have to sell a couple million books, and that's very unlikely, a pretty iffy proposition." Then again, Clinton could produce a "tell-all" that everybody and their mother would rush out to buy. But don't count on it. He already has pocketed a record $12 million, so what's there to gain? SLOW TO SIGN There was much grumbling in May 1993, four months after Clinton took office, when in lieu of presidential retirement certificates, 17 retiring U.S. Army officers of the Military District of Washington were presented pieces of paper that read: "Presidential Certificates are not available for individuals retiring on 20 Jan 93 or later. If certificates are continued under President Clinton's Administration, a certificate will be mailed to your retirement address." Within days, certificates bearing Clinton's signature arrived in the retirees' mailboxes. The question now is whether President Bush is signing his certificates while vacationing this month at his Texas ranch. "We were told he loves the military, but this is eight months after he was sworn into office," says one disgruntled Navy lieutenant commander, who upon his retirement in recent days was handed a memorandum from the commander, Navy Personnel Command: "This office is still awaiting published Certificates of Appreciation signed by President George W. Bush." DIVIDED IN BATTLE In response to concerns that "prevailing discriminatory attitudes" might have denied some deserving Jewish and Hispanic war veterans the Congressional Medal of Honor, the House Armed Services Committee is recommending a provision to require the service secretaries to review the service records of certain Jewish and Hispanic veterans from World War II to determine if they should have received Congress' highest award. AUDIENCE OF A BILLION The future of the Internet is being pondered on Capitol Hill. M. Stuart Lynn, the new president and chief executive officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), will appear next week in the Rayburn House Office Building to discuss "The Challenge of Borderlessness and a Billion Connected People: Pondering the Future of the Internet." What is ICANN? In short, it's the technical coordination body for the Internet. Created in late 1998, the California-based nonprofit corporation assumed responsibility for a set of technical functions previously performed under U.S. government contract by IANA (Internet Assigned Names Authority), among other groups. Specifically, ICANN coordinates the assignments of the following identifiers that must be globally unique for the Internet to function: Internet domain names, Internet protocol address numbers, and protocol parameter and port numbers. "The trip to Washington kicks off an outreach initiative on our part, intended to educate and inform people about ICANN, as there is a lot of misinformation and misconception out there on our role," says Mary Hewitt, ICANN's director of communication.