- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2004

United for once

You may spot embattled U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the mean streets of Washington today, where several lawmakers are demanding his ouster. He’s scheduled to be in town for a speaking engagement, among other stops.

His visit comes on the heels of a none-too-flattering survey conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, finding U.S. citizens view the United Nations as “anti-American” by a margin of nearly 2-to-1, or 52 percent to 27 percent.

Conservatives are most disenchanted with the United Nations, by a 61 percent to 23 percent margin; moderates follow closely at 52 percent to 27 percent; and even liberals are disgruntled by a margin of 41 percent to 36 percent.

Eskimo dunk

Last night, before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Center for International Environmental Law announced a complaint on behalf of Arctic Inuit peoples against the United States “for causing global warming and its devastating impacts.”

And what are the devastating impacts?

“Apparently their snowmobiles are falling through the ice,” relays Christopher C. Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who is attending this week’s global-warming negotiations in Buenos Aires.

“Leaving aside for the moment this action’s legal merits (there are none), a remarkable approach to oral argument on this case was tried at a Monday night event publicizing a report underpinning this complaint,” Mr. Horner tells this column.

The speaker was Dr. Robert Corell, “most famous for his steady hand guiding the conveniently timed November 2000 ‘National Assessment on Climate Change,’ a compendium of scary climate stories released by the Clinton-Gore administration,” he says.

“According to Dr. Corell, it seems that the Inuits, who he boasts have lived a subsistence lifestyle just as their ancestors have done for 9,000 years, now have that cold, hand-to-mouth bliss threatened by global warming.”

Space firsts

Floating above the global warming, the crew aboard the four-year-old International Space Station is discovering what it takes to live and work in space for long periods of time.

This year has proven to be an “exceptional example,” says NASA space station program manager Bill Gerstenmaier.

For instance, he explains, with no space shuttles to deliver supplies since the Columbia accident in February 2003 (repair parts are being shipped via a smaller Russian resupply vehicle), flight engineer Michael Fincke got out some needle and thread, so to speak, and made needed repairs to his U.S. space suit. Normally, a shuttle would have delivered new suits as replacements.

When he wasn’t tailoring, NASA Mission Control in Houston kept Mr. Fincke in close contact with his wife as she gave birth this year. He spoke to her via an Internet protocol telephone, another first — at least during labor.

Meanwhile, Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao entered the history books by casting the first vote in a U.S. presidential election from space — 230 miles above Earth.

Thanks to a special law passed in Texas in 1997, astronauts can now vote electronically from space. Mr. Chiao submitted his electronic ballot to his county clerk’s office via e-mail.

Hellholes

The eye-opening title of the American Tort Reform Association’s latest report is “Bringing Justice to Judicial Hellholes.”

Another word for them is “jackpot jurisdictions” — places where decks are stacked in favor of plaintiffs, who flock there “in search of a big payday from friendly judges and juries,” says Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform.

Madison County, Ill., ranks No. 1 in the “hellhole” category, both for asbestos litigation and class-action lawsuits. Other friendly court systems are found in neighboring St. Clair County, Ill.; Hampton County, S.C.; the entire state of West Virginia; Orleans Parish in Louisiana; South Florida; and Los Angeles County.

“We will continue to shine a spotlight on Madison County and other problem jurisdictions … that will restore balance to the legal system in those states,” promises Ms. Rickard.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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