- The Washington Times - Friday, March 1, 2002

Trained in Washington

We had to chuckle yesterday when CBS' "The Early Show" correspondent John Alpert took a front-seat tour of battle-scarred Kandahar, Afghanistan, in a vehicle belonging to two bearded Afghans one doing the driving, the other sitting in the rear seat clutching an AK-47.

At one point during the tour, the driver, wearing a blue turban, turned the wrong way onto a one-way street, causing other Afghan drivers to blow their horns and shout insults.

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"You know that you're driving on a one-way street," Mr. Alpert informed the Afghan, who smiled and didn't seem the least bit concerned.

"I drove a taxi in Washington, D.C., for 12 years," he replied.

"Did you ever get pulled over?" Mr. Alpert asked.

"Oh, yes," he said.

Anything to win

Outspoken conservative pundit and television talk-show host Armstrong Williams called to complain yesterday that no matter how many limbs he walks out on, he can't get a mention in the Inside the Beltway column.

(Obviously, Mr. Williams didn't read yesterday's column, in which we revealed that he had joined the National Organization for Women for once in expressing dismay about the prospect of boxer Mike Tyson fighting tooth and ear for a championship match in Washington against Lennox Lewis).

Still, we promised Mr. Williams yesterday that we would mention the fact that newly elected New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will acknowledge on this evening's "The Right Side with Armstrong Williams" (9 p.m. on Channel 6 in Washington and Channel 58 in Maryland and Virginia) that he ran for office as a Republican because he knew he couldn't win as a Democrat.

Never one to hold his punches, Mr. Williams then inquires if the New York mayor isn't a hypocrite? Of course, you have to tune in to hear the answer.

Grab your kilts

One of our favorite publications, the Scotsman, reveals that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will share this year's "William Wallace Award," to be presented during Tartan Day celebrations in Washington.

Furthermore, the Scotsman's political editor, Hamish Macdonell, says both Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are expected to attend this year's celebrations, "turning the event into the biggest and most important celebration of Scottish culture ever witnessed in the U.S."

The body behind the award, the American Scottish Foundation, is said to be planning a major awards ceremony on Capitol Hill for April 9. Last year, the award was bestowed upon actor Sir Sean Connery, and the year before on then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi.

Mr. Bush not only has Scottish ancestry, Scotland was one of the few places he ever traveled to as a young man. Mr. Blair was born and educated in Scotland.

Independent Internet

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (known as ICANN) was originally created to take over Internet responsibilities previously handled by the U.S. government, taking it international without interrupting or hindering the spirit in which it was created.

The body also is in charge of coordinating the Internet's addressing policies, including domain names, such as .com and .gov, and more recently .info and .biz.

Now, emerging from two full days of meetings with his cyber-troops at the Willard Hotel in Washington, ICANN President and CEO M. Stuart Lynn is proposing that ICANN be restructured, to ensure that it serves average Internet stakeholders better.

Still, rumors are swirling around cyberspace that the "new" ICANN would eliminate direct participation of Internet users and allow governments around the world to take over the Internet entirely.

"Quite contraire," Mr. Lynn informs Inside the Beltway.

Instead, he argues that governments must play a role in guaranteeing that Internet public interests are represented, while not being hidebound in the very governmentlike processes and formalities that led to the creation of ICANN in the first place.

What's in a name?

For the March 5 ballot, Los Angeles County assessor candidate John Loew has legally changed his name to "John Lower Taxes Loew."

The last candidate to use such a strategy, observes Dave Mohel of the Hathaway Group, was "Byron Low Tax Looper," a Tennessee property assessor who in 1998 ran for the state Senate.

However, as Mr. Mohel notes, "Low Tax Looper was unable to see how effective the name change was, as he shot and killed his opponent two weeks before the election. Hopefully, this isn't a case of history repeating itself."

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