Inside the Beltway

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Letter to America

“I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to all our American friends and members who have been affected by the tragic events wrought by Hurricane Katrina,” writes Benny Peiser, professor of science at Liverpool John Moores University in Britain.

“Notwithstanding continuing rescue and support efforts, the calamity has triggered a rather opportunistic and cynical reaction by opponents of the current U.S. administration. In an eerie development … environmental campaigners, ‘green’ journalists and European officials are blaming (once again) the U.S. and its people for the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

“Instead of supporting the rescue efforts, demagogues are using the human tragedy in a futile attempt to score points [on the impact of so-called global warming]. …

“Europeans in particular, who have been rescued and liberated from themselves by the U.S. no less than three times in the course of the 20th century, should feel ashamed for kicking a friend and ally when he is down.

“Let me [reassure] our American friends and colleagues that this pitiless mind-set of environmental activists is not representative for the vast majority of Europeans who are following the heartbreaking events with great concern and empathy. …”

(Editor’s note: Inside the Beltway reached Mr. Peiser in Britain yesterday and obtained his permission to reprint this letter from CCNet, a scholarly e-mail network of about 2,000-plus subscribers where he serves as an editor.)

Marred wedding

An unusual lawsuit was filed this week in U.S. District Court in Washington by a prominent Jewish political figure, Mark Siegel, and his family against Ridgewell’s, a leading local caterer.

The lawsuit pertains to a wedding Mr. Siegel threw for his daughter on April 2 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington. The lawsuit charges that in willful disregard of the agreed-to contract, Ridgewell’s served shrimp, octopus and eel — “all of which are well-known to be non-kosher forbidden foods.”

“As you can imagine, Ridgewell’s action basically ruined the wedding for Siegel, his family, the groom’s family and anyone else who was kosher and saw the food served,” says one associate of Mr. Siegel, who notes that the wedding was officiated by Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlberg of Adas Israel of Washington.

Among those attending the wedding, we’re told, were Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum, former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Sheldon Cohen and well-known Washington journalists Al Hunt, Judy Woodruff, Morton Kondracke and Eleanor Clift.

Mr. Siegel, who is credited with helping create the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, served in the Carter White House as liaison to the Jewish community.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for breach of contract, fraud, battery and infliction of severe emotional distress. At the reception that evening, the lawsuit states Mr. Siegel’s daughter, Rebecca, told Ridgewell’s that it “had marred her wedding.”

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