The Democratic Party is having a difficult time recruiting a recognizable cast of characters to help retake control of the Senate. The latest to say "no, thanks" is former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who didn't let several months of courting from the Democratic National Committee sway him into seeking Georgia's open seat.
Other familiar faces ruling out senatorial bids in recent weeks are former Clinton Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman in Kansas, former Democratic presidential aspirant Gary Hart in Colorado, Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell in Missouri, even Philadelphia 76ers general manager Billy King in Pennsylvania. Jay Timmons, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, detects "minority party" disenchantment.
Three federal grants have been awarded to American universities to "partner" with Iraqi universities, and additional grants will follow in the coming weeks.
The first $4.1 million grant, for the study of archaeology and environmental research, goes to the State University of New York at Stony Brook to partner with Baghdad University, Al Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad, Mosul University and Basrah University.
Columbia University, Boston University and Oxford University in England will assist Stony Brook in providing tools and training to modernize Iraqi curricula in archaeology.
In addition, $3.8 million goes to the University of Hawaii to partner with the University of Mosul's College of Agriculture and Forestry in Hamam al-Alil, to strengthen academics in agricultural sciences at the University of Mosul and the University of Dohuk.
Finally, another $3.8 million goes to DePaul University's College of Law to work with the University of Baghdad. The U.S. Agency for International Development sees the partnerships as "a central and necessary element of the nation's transition to democracy."
We've learned that 11 former commissioners who served on the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission have endorsed a new plan to apply the BRAC model to closing "stagnant" U.S. Postal Service facilities.
The plan was originally proposed this summer by a panel appointed by President Bush to consider the future of the postal service.
"Because of its vast and outdated infrastructure, the U.S. Postal Service would benefit from the same kind of dispassionate review that we applied to the Department of Defense," the former commissioners say in a letter to Congress.
The ex-commissioners include former Rep. Jim Courter, chairman of the 1991 and 1993 rounds of BRAC; former Sen. Alan Dixon, who served as the commission's chairman in 1995; and Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
SAVE THE SEEDS
A major legal battle will be decided in the not-too-distant future on whether to continue to allow hemp ingredients in food products like waffles, breads, cereals and snack bars.
It's HIA v. DEA - Hemp Industries Association vs. the Drug Enforcement Administration - and the former, which represents more than 200 hemp companies in North America, is predicting victory over a federal ban of the "nutrients."
And no wonder.
During final oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Judge Alex Kozinski asked DEA lawyer Daniel Dormont: "Can you tell me how you are going to save the (poppy seed) bagel?"
On the heels of word - from scientists at the World Health Organization and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - that 160,000 people die each year from global warming, Ben & Jerry's, the Dave Matthews Band and Save Our Environment say the Bush White House is ignoring the heat.
(In all fairness to the Bush administration, the summer of 2003 never came to Washington. Rather, the city suffered through three miserable months of extremely cool temperatures, which resulted - in this columnist's opinion - in one of the most damaging hurricanes ever to strike the city.)
So the three groups are teaming up to offer Americans "free ice cream" if they will contact their individual senators and urge them to support the bipartisan Climate Stewardship Act, introduced by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.).
"Want some free ice cream?" the activists ask. "As a little incentive, we'll give you a coupon for some free Ben & Jerry's ice cream."
The legislation offered by McCain and Lieberman proposes to set mandatory limits on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases that some scientists blame for the rise in the Earth's temperature.
By the way, how much ice cream is each person rewarded after contacting their senator?
"One scoop," Ben & Jerry's tells us.
JUST SAY NYET
Although one would never know it by reading the establishment press this past week, Russia - at least for now - just killed the Kyoto Protocol.
President Vladimir Putin and fellow officials announced at a major news conference that Russia has fallen off the globally warmed beet wagon, in part because it has no intention of limiting its economic growth.
"This matters because Kyoto's terms were such that at this point only ratification by Russia or the U.S. could bring it into effect," says Christopher C. Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington's foremost skeptic of man-made global warming.
"With both powers having given that global warming treaty the cold shoulder, Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman now assume the burden of crippling America's economy in the name of a hysterical and spectacularly debunked theory."
He is referring to proposed "Kyoto implementation" legislation introduced by the Arizona Republican and Connecticut Democrat respectively - legislation where Americans get a free scoop of Ben & Jerry's in exchange for their support - that's expected to come up for a Senate vote a few days before Halloween.
One reason we're told Russia said "nyet" is because it couldn't receive a written promise of sufficient Kyoto revenue from the European Union. Russia was apparently banking on a tidy profit by selling "carbon dioxide credits" - illusory tons of hot air not emitted during a resulting economic downturn.
As Kirill Kondratiev, head of the Russian Academy of Sciences, put it: "The only people who would be hurt by abandoning the Kyoto Protocol would be several thousand people who make a living attending conferences on global warming."
The No. 1-rated Fox News Channel isn't such a bastion of conservatism that it isn't now offering "same-sex" spousal and domestic partner health benefits to its employees.
"Some important changes have been made to our benefit plan," employees are alerted in the October issue of "News at FOX News," including the Fox Medical Plan addition that provides preventative benefits and physical exams for one's "same-sex domestic partner."
Meanwhile, the National Stonewall Democrats, the homosexual wing of the Democratic Party, is sore at President Bush because he proclaimed it "Marriage Protection Week" on Monday (Oct. 6), yet has "refused for three years to proclaim 'Gay and Lesbian Pride Month,' which the Clinton administration used to recognize."