- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2001

The other threat
Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney continues to wage her own war over Afghanistan.
Days after blasting the U.S. news media for disseminating only "white noise" surrounding the war in Afghanistan ignoring "these other voices out there," she said the outspoken Georgia Democrat now tells a House International Relations subcommittee hearing on human rights in Afghanistan: "I don't think anybody is supporting the Taliban, except maybe some elements of the State Department and the CIA."
"Ms. McKinney, you are not recognized," hearing chairman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, scolded the congresswoman for speaking out of turn. "You are not recognized, Ms. McKinney."

Time to fly
As this column pointed out last month, Americans might be shocked to learn that anywhere from 90 percent to 95 percent of the luggage that goes into the belly of an aircraft is unscreened for explosive devices.
"This will not do," reacted Rep. Jay Inslee, Washington Democrat, adding there was no better time than now to be "thinking ahead of the terrorists."
So he and several lawmakers introduced the Baggage Screening Act, requiring the screening of all luggage not just carry-on bags entering an aircraft. Democrats and Republicans had since supported the legislation, although it was not clear late yesterday whether federal employees would be operating the new explosives-screening equipment.
"This is at least a partial victory … in that we have attained 100 percent screening for explosives for checked baggage," Mr. Inslee told Inside the Beltway yesterday, prior to a House vote "on whether competent people will operate the machines, adequately paid federal law enforcement officers operating million-dollar machines [rather than] those working for minimum wage."
Meanwhile, Mr. Inslee is cautioning travel-weary Americans that it will take time to manufacture and install the new baggage-screening technology at airports around the nation. But as with the new urgency to install irradiation machines to kill harmful bacteria such as anthrax at U.S. postal facilities, the congressman is calling for "wartime immobilization" to produce the baggage-screening equipment.
"We can't say [the screening] will start at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, we still have to manufacture [several thousand] machines. So we want to do this as quickly as possible a wartime immobilization of our industrial bases," Mr. Inslee said.
Will the task be accomplished in due time?
During World War II, observed Mr. Inslee, "we built 12,000 B-24s in three-and-a-half to four years."

University of America
Number of foreigners who enter the United States every year on student visas: 500,000.
Number who show up for class: unknown.

Cost of freedom
In 1962, the U.S. government devoted 47 percent of its budget to defense. Today, that portion has dropped to 15 percent.
From 1991 through 2001, inflation-adjusted defense spending declined by 25 percent (from $404 billion to $300 billion). Over the same period, inflation-adjusted nondefense spending rose by 24 percent.
Sources: Heritage Foundation, National Taxpayer's Union and National Center for Public Policy Research.

Musking Osama
"I just read your column in The Washington Times National Weekly Edition about using mothers-in-law to find Osama bin Laden, and thought I would share the following with you," writes Boone Carlon, a subscriber in Arkansas.
"At a recent Arkansas bluegrass music festival, a guitar-picking friend from Texas who is also a hunter offered the following. Doug said: 'Air drop a large herd of javelinas and they will empty out the caves.'"
Distantly related to the wild hog, the javelina, or collared peccary, has a course blackish-gray coat and stands about 21 inches high at the shoulder, educates our javelina authority, Jerry F. Downhower.
In addition, the hoofed animal has a large gland on its arched back, about 8 inches in front of the tail, and when the javelina becomes excited the gland gives off a hefty dose of musk, a substance with a strong odor.
As for sniffing out Osama, javelinas travel in bands often numbering in the hundreds. For the most part, they are shy, timid animals, preferring to avoid danger.
"But if cornered," warns Mr. Downhower, "they fight viciously with their sharp teeth."


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