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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is using The Washington Times newspaper and other familiar organizations as examples in its 24-page State Department employees' "Whistleblower and Whistleblower Reprisal" test, which a government source leaked to Inside the Beltway.


One question reads: "Keeping in mind the concept of protected disclosure, please consider the following scenario:

"Soon after returning to Washington, D.C., from overseas travel with the assistant secretary, a member of the assistant secretary's staff provides an anonymous tip to The Washington Times. He asserts that the assistant secretary is accepting illegal gifts from foreign dignitaries in exchange for certifying to Congress that the country's leaders have cracked down on illegal human trafficking. The staff member was motivated by a personal dislike for the assistant secretary to provide this information, which he knew to be false, to the media.

"Is this a protected disclosure? Yes or No? Correct! The answer is no. This is not a protected disclosure, because the staff member subjectively does not have a reasonable belief the information is true."

The State Department, according to the source, is requiring thousands of its employees in the United States and at various U.S. embassies to take the whistleblower training class through the Foreign Service Institute's learning center. Employees must complete the training by May 1.


The good folks of Pikeville, N.C., don't get caught up in national celebrity worship. After all, the rural region has more than its share of local celebrities.

"I got out of the car; a lovely lady next door to the fire station here waved a pamphlet to me and said she had to talk to me," Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. recalled of his trip to the Tar Heel State this week. "So I walked over and took out a pen - I thought she wanted an autograph.


"She said, 'No, no, honey, I've signed it for you.' She did, swear to God."


That was former House Speaker Jim Wright stopping by the Capitol this week to greet his former congressional colleagues.

Observed Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Texas Democrat: "This is a proud day for us to welcome a distinguished Texan who rose from Weatherford, Texas, to serve here with the legendary Sam Rayburn and then to preside over this chamber."

Indeed, the 86-year-old Mr. Wright served 34 years in the House and was speaker for two years until 1989, when a feisty Republican congressman from Georgia named Newt Gingrich brought ethics charges against the Democratic leader. Mr. Wright subsequently resigned his leadership post and retired.


In the category of "better late than never," a bill has been introduced in the Senate to award the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award, to U.S. soldiers who were prisoners of war at Bataan in the Philippines during World War II.

An unprecedented 76,000 American and Filipino troops surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942, following the Battle of Bataan. Then came the infamous 60-mile "Bataan Death March," during which thousands of Americans were physically abused and murdered by their Japanese captors.


"Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek is grand marshal of Saturday's always-spectacular National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, which runs (walks, marches and floats) along Constitution Avenue from Seventh to 17th Streets NW, 10 a.m. to noon.


We have it on good authority that the furry red Sesame Street character Elmo will be on hand, as well as "American Idol" finalist Kimberley Locke, who will be singing "Band of Gold." Grammy award-winning disco diva Thelma Houston will also perform "Don't Leave Me This Way," fresh off the release of her 22nd album.

And talk about timing, the city's cherry blossoms are at peak bloom for the parade, which features dozens of other celebrities.

(Trivia junkies take note: After the parade, the quiz show master Mr. Trebek will be holding "Jeopardy" tryouts from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Montgomery College's Germantown Campus.)

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