- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Parched parcels

Inside the Beltway in recent days has reported that anthrax-delayed U.S. mail finally is being slid into the proper Washington mail slots.

Yesterday, we learned that sufficiently irradiated or perhaps "seared" is a better word letters have begun arriving on Capitol Hill.

"You mentioned yesterday that the House [of Representatives] is getting belated mail," says congressional aide Hannah Vick, who toils in the Rayburn Building, "but did you know that our mail is rather crispy? They told us that the corners would be cut off and they are but the mail itself is very brittle, the ink sticks together, the paper is yellowed, and it all kinda falls apart.

"Not that it bothers me," Miss Vick adds. "God knows nothing could survive whatever [the terrorists] did to that mail. But the fact that the little plastic 'windows' on the envelopes are completely melted makes me wonder if I'm going to grow a couple of extra fingers."

Opting for shots

A majority of the 70 congressional staffers who were in Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's and Sen. Russell D. Feingold's Capitol Hill office suites when an anthrax-contaminated letter was opened on Oct. 15 have opted for anthrax vaccines, according to a Senate memo we obtained.

"Most have opted for, and received, a first immunization," according to the memo, dated this week. "Patients who received their first shot were given a second shot in the Capitol on January 3 and 4."

The Senate's Office of the Attending Physician (OAP) had recommended the vaccinations and an extension of antibiotics for those who were exposed to anthrax.


Democrats are proposing a "radical" National Climate Service (NCS) its framework tucked away in the back of the mammoth Senate energy bill.

David E. Wojick, a science adviser who writes about climate policy for Electricity Daily, reveals that the new climate bureau would fall under the jurisdiction of the Commerce Department, along the lines of the National Weather Service (NWS).

"Like the NWS, the NCS would do computer modeling, then issue forecasts and warnings at national, regional, state and local scales," explains Mr. Wojick, who foresees in the NCS "a radical new direction in applied climate-change research."

He says while the NWS mostly predicts weather a week or so ahead and has a hard enough time of it at that "the NCS will be looking years and decades into the future, if not centuries. In addition, while the Weather Service just makes forecasts, the Climate Service would be charged with 'developing assessment methods to guide national, regional, and local planning and decision making' based on its predictions.

"Its proponents say it will make U.S. climate science 'policy relevant' at all levels of government for the first time. Climate skeptics call it a cruel hoax on the American people," notes Mr. Wojick.

If that's not enough weather forecasting, the bill also creates a climate-science czar in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, plus a National Office of Climate Change Response, both in the Executive Office of the President.

"I suggest it makes sense to create a White House Office on Continental Drift Response," a none-too-pleased Christopher Horner, counsel for the Cooler Heads Coalition in Washington, tells Inside the Beltway.

Lawyers with hearts

After gazing into his crystal ball, well-known Washington malpractice lawyer Jack Olender delivered his top legal prognostications for this new year. (Mr. Olender claims his predictions are accurate 80 percent to 90 percent of the time, and he is quick to point out that this is a considerably better rate of success than the forecasts of stock market analysts.)

According to Mr. Olender, law firms in 2002 might as well install revolving doors as associates and partners increasingly come and go for a few dollars more. He says he is nostalgic for the days when a lawyer gave a lifetime of service at a single firm, and when the profession was less driven by business considerations and more by a "sense of calling."

Still, Mr. Olender predicts with pride that lawyers will be "Americans first and lawyers second" by representing terror victims free of charge as they seek payment from the national September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

On a related matter, he forecasts a "clash of the titans" in the case of a Swiss reinsurance company against the leaseholder of the World Trade Centers. If the courts determine that the two airplane crashes comprise two incidents instead of one, the available insurance will be double the amount for one incident. Mr. Olender predicts the parties will settle in the end.

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