- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Babbling nations

We’re told the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Dore Gold, has been traversing Capitol Hill this week discussing with congressional members and staff not only the shenanigans he witnessed while posted at the organization, but also what he personally uncovered while researching his book, perhaps appropriately titled “Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos.”

Exclusive soiree

Legendary spy master and senior KGB officer Victor Cherkashin, who handled two of America’s most dangerous traitors — the CIA’s Aldrich Ames and FBI’s Robert Hanssen — is flying from Moscow to Washington for a most intriguing dinner date.

The International Spy Museum is organizing the unusual January encounter, at which 20 guests will pay $160 each to dine and dish — and raise wine glasses to toast the end of the Cold War — with Mr. Cherkashin.

My, how times have changed. Mr. Cherkashin’s KGB career spanned 38 years, from Josef Stalin’s death in 1953 to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was Mr. Cherkashin who tracked the legendary Oleg Penkovsky while spying for the United States, although Mr. Cherkashin will not reveal many secrets about KGB undercover operatives and operations.

Gored again

National Anxiety Center founder Alan Caruba has issued his 14th annual “Most Dubious News Stories of the Year,” and once again groups and individuals claiming to be protecting humans, animals or the entire Earth “managed to make complete fools of themselves in 2004.”

A clearinghouse for information on scare campaigns, Mr. Caruba’s anxiety center adds that the news media were “pleased to report the end of the world despite evidence that the 4.5 billion-year-old planet was behaving the same as always, as is the case of the human race.”

Among our favorites is this August eye-opener from Reuters news agency: “The bad news is that tens of millions of people along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and Canada may drown if the slow slippage of a volcano off north Africa becomes a cataclysmic collapse. But the good news is that the world is not likely to be destroyed by an asteroid any time soon.”

Because we are a political column, how about January, when former Vice President Al Gore selected the coldest day in a half-century of New England weather records to declare that global warming was the result of “[President] Bush policies [that] are leading to weather extremes.”

Not to be outdone, an October Florida billboard campaign by Scientists and Engineers for Change and Environment 2004 said the hurricanes the state experienced were Mr. Bush’s fault. They were joined by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s National Voter Fund warning that “minorities [are] more heavily impacted by environmental threats.”

Horsing around

Trent Loos, a sixth-generation farmer, radio host and founder of Faces of Agriculture, attended the Nevada Cattlemen’s Convention and met Dave Mathis, a retired college professor who was on the original committee in 1971 tasked to deal with the excess of horses that had accumulated in the West.

“Every single day you can find a major newspaper in this country writing a story about the romantic notion of wild horses in the West,” Mr. Loos writes after the convention. “Animal rights zealots seem to have a haven for fund raising by mentioning the sentimental value of a wild horse.”

From Mr. Mathis’ committee came the adopt-a-horse (or burro, if you prefer one) act. Ironically, Mr. Loos says, “The original intent was to find the most cost-effective manner to remove these animals from the United States government feed bill. The result is possibly the most costly method that could have been created.”

The Interior Department has earmarked $30 million to deal with wild horses and burros, 38,000 of which still roam federal lands today. Nevada, where Mr. Loos owns 15 horses, happens to be home to more than half, yet “receives only about 15 percent of the budget to provide for the critters,” he continues.

So where does the money go?

Last year, $11.6 million was spent on the adopt-a-horse program, and 6,165 horses were adopted. The average person paid $185 to adopt an equine.

“Now let’s do some quick cowboy arithmetic,” Mr. Loos says. “Over one third of the total wild horse budget was spent adopting 6,165 horses, which means [Interior’s] Bureau of Land Management spent nearly $2,000 per horse to find it a new owner.”

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

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