- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

Chain-linked capital

A permanent chain-link fence around the Kennedy Center? It's not out of the question.

Look for additional security buffers some in the form of chain-link fences to go up around official Washington as the nation enters this new age of terrorism. Here's what we know:

Since September 11, federal agencies and other facilities in the nation's capital have been re-examining the security of their perimeters. To give you an idea to what extent, we're told the entire federal government will spend about $6 billion on upgrading perimeter security alone this fiscal year, with a large part devoted to chain-link fencing.

In fact, on Tuesday at the Army-Navy Club in Washington, representatives from the General Services Administration, Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the Kennedy Center will be on hand for the Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute's introduction of new security-fencing guidelines.

Among the briefers will be a leading anti-terrorism analyst, retired Marine Col. Ed Badolato, who will explain how to maximize perimeter security at government buildings, military installations and other high-security areas of Uncle Sam's.

And it's not just government installations concerned about their peripheries. We're told dozens of leading technical and communications companies in the Washington area will be on hand for the security briefing, including Intelsat and Global Options.

Can't sit still

The down-to-earth philosophy of the late humorist and columnist Will Rogers and how it relates to the terrorist threat today was cited by Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson in an address this week.

Discussing the safeguarding of the nation in his remarks at the Heritage Foundation, Mr. Thompson stressed that although the United States has not suffered a terrorist attack since September 11, a great need for vigilance remains.

"Every day, the attorney general and I meet with the CIA, and we meet with the FBI. And every day, we evaluate and are confronted with threats that are deemed credible, and threats that as public officials we must take seriously," Mr. Thompson said.

"And the president has asked all of us to try to go back to normal, and I think that's good for our country. But you can rest assured that, as public officials, we have not gone back to normal, and we will never go back to normal as long as we are faced with the continuing threat of terrorism.

"As Will Rogers once said about someone who indicated that they were on the right track, he said, 'Well, even if you are on the right track even if you think you are on the right track if you just sit there on that right track that you think you are on, you are eventually going to be run over.'

"And I can assure you that we are not going to sit there," Mr. Thompson said.

It's worth noting that a statue of Will Rogers stands today in the U.S. Capitol, a symbolic national landmark perhaps spared destruction on September 11 thanks to a small number of Americans aboard United Airlines Flight 93 who refused to "just sit there."

Latest invention

A wise man once noted that the Stone Age ended, but not for lack of stones.

As the United States continues its search for alternative energy sources, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has been informed that the world's first fuel-cell/gas-turbine hybrid power plant is now generating electricity.

Linked together in a power plant the size of a small house trailer, the advanced generator is being tested at the National Fuel Cell Research Center on the campus of the University of California at Irvine.

"This new technology has the potential to alter the landscape of tomorrow's power industry," Mr. Abraham said. "It offers a preview of the day when more of our electricity will be generated by super-clean, high-efficiency power units sited near the consumer. Distributed generation could play a key role in strengthening the security and reliability of our power supply, and fuel-cell/turbine hybrids could help make distributed power a reality."

Because it operates on an electrochemical process, rather than combustion, the system emits virtually none of the air pollutants commonly released by conventional power plants.

Unveiling history

After 72 years under wraps, the details and individual forms of the 1930 census will be released to the public Monday by the National Archives and Records Administration.

And who would care to scroll through the 1930 census?

More people than you might have imagined, including those searching for a nugget that can fill in a family history, dates and places of birth of relatives, the years that relatives immigrated to the United States and whether they could speak English upon arrival, where our ancestors were employed, and even whether they owned a radio.

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