- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

Snowbound French
Someone with time on his hands yesterday muddled through Kalorama, the fashionable diplomatic neighborhood in Northwest Washington, to see whose embassies had cleared the sidewalks and whose had not. The intelligence agencies can no doubt decipher something from the list.
The Chinese have cleared the walks most of them at their embassy at the old Windsor Park Hotel on Connecticut Avenue. So have the Yugoslavs, just across the avenue.
But the French haven't disturbed so much as a flake on the walks running the expansive length of their ambassador's lawn fronting the avenue. The snow was still knee-deep along the entire property. Strollers had to use the street, dodging cars and trucks navigating the ruts in a single lane.
On nearby Massachusetts Avenue, the walks were passable, if not always entirely clear, past the Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Romanian, Greek, Pakistani and Vietnamese establishments. No word on what frightened the French ambassador, but spring begins four weeks from today.
Hold your ground
The Environmental Protection Agency, like all other federal agencies in Washington, is rushing to figure out how best to protect its work force in the event of a nearby terrorist attack.
In a memo to her staff obtained by this column, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman says that instead of evacuating, the safest place for thousands of EPA employees could be at their desks, particularly if it is determined that:
"[I]t is safer inside than outside," that releasing large numbers of employees into the streets "will only add to confusion and panic," and "there is a likely exposure to some hazard or harm, and releasing employees will spread the hazard or harm to others, including family members."
That said, she points out that the EPA does not have the authority to require that its employees remain at their workplace, but nor can she guarantee their "complete protection" should they stay put.
"The large office buildings we work in each day cannot be sealed from outside air," she concedes. Rather, remaining in the office is "an option to attempt to reduce risk of harm to employees and, where applicable, their families."
Mrs. Whitman reveals in the memo that she has directed all EPA facilities in coming days to conduct so-called "Shelter-in-Place" simulations, during which staff will be asked to remain at their desks while air conditioning/heating and elevator systems are shut down.
The simulations will give the EPA and other agencies a better idea in how best to protect tens of thousands of bureaucrats working in close proximity in this terrorist-targeted city.
Donkey and Pidgeon
Formerly called the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America, the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance is keeping its eye on everything from banning man's best friend to kooky letters faxed to terrorist leaders.
Take a bill introduced in the California Legislature to end the gentlemanly tradition of hunting with dogs. Bill 342, sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Paul Koretz of Los Angeles (since when do they hunt except for criminals with dogs in Beverly Hills?), would make it illegal for any dog to pursue or capture a hunted beast, big or small.
While the Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Protection Institute back the legislation, the sportsmen, among myriad other concerns, fear it will contribute to the spread of rabies.
However, what really gets the goat of alliance President Bud Pidgeon is perhaps the "most outrageous and callous act ever" by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which reportedly sent a letter this month to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat pleading that he spare the lives of animals during future terrorist attacks.
PETA President Ingrid Newkirk was obviously outraged after a Jerusalem donkey was strapped with explosives on Jan. 26 and blown to bits near a bus carrying Israeli soldiers.
"All nations behave abominably in many ways when they are fighting their enemies, and animals are always caught in the crossfire," she wrote. "If you have the opportunity, will you please add to your burdens my request that you appeal to all those who listen to you to leave the animals out of this conflict?"
The Washington Post later asked the PETA head if she'd ever considered requesting that Mr. Arafat stop blowing up people as well. She reportedly replied that it was not her "business" to inject herself into human wars.
"Since September of 2000, 729 Israelis have died as the result of terrorist attacks, yet PETA's concern is the death of a donkey," says Mr. Pidgeon. "This warped perspective again shows that PETA's claims of promoting compassionate behavior is a farce."
Taken to lobby
That's former Republican Rep. John Thune, once the lone congressman for all of South Dakota, joining the Washington lobbying firm of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn as senior government-affairs counselor.
"I was attracted to the firm by its premier health care and government relations practice, and I am looking forward to working on issues I was involved in during my service in the House," says Mr. Thune, who prior to his three terms on Capitol Hill was appointed by President Reagan to serve at the Small Business Administration.


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