- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Ballooning orchids
Uncle Sam's libido, it seems, is too high.
The world's top buyer and distributor of condoms is the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID.
"Since 1986, this single federal agency has spent $427.8 million on condoms, close to half a billion," says a congressional aide in the know (U.S. taxpayers pay about 5 cents per condom to keep the world's population at manageable levels).
"This is not the total amount of condoms purchased by the federal government, but rather only by one agency, USAID," the official points out.
The Philippines alone, he adds, has received $7.5 million worth of these condoms so many that its citizens are using them as party balloons. In fact, the official cites the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which reports the country is dealing with a similar oversupply of U.S. contraceptive pills by using them to fertilize exotic plants.
"Our supply is so high that in provinces people running health centers use the pills to grow orchids and the condoms for party balloons," says Philippine Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit, who wasn't too upset when USAID recently announced a cutback on birth-control assistance.

Duchess in Dirksen
That would be Sarah, the Duchess of York, balancing the scales on Capitol Hill tomorrow.
Not the congressional budget scales, which are laden with pork.
Rather, the international duchess on nutrition and fitness will man a special Body Mass Index (BMI) weigh-in station in the Senate Dirksen building, upon which the likes of Sen. Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico Democrat, will weigh in and learn their BMI numbers.
A congressional briefing by the duchess, spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society's Great American Weigh-In, will discuss the impact of nutrition and physical activity on cancer and other chronic diseases.
Mr. Bingaman, 59, should have an excellent BMI. "He runs regularly, almost every weekday, when he's here and when he's in New Mexico," says Jude McCartin, the senator's press secretary. "And he eats foods that are good for you."
Mr. Bingaman and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, a medical doctor, were primary sponsors of legislation last year to reduce obesity nationwide.

Hijacked buildings
Now, our final few of the country's "most absurd" anti-terrorism security measures, as submitted by airline pilots, the military, security experts and ordinary citizens.
"The most absurd measure I've seen are security guards in the Presidential Towers in Crystal City confiscating penknives of active duty military members in uniform," writes a U.S. Navy commander, who orders anonymity.
"I asked the guard what they were afraid of, 'That we would hijack the building and run it into the one next door?' If so, it's not even an effective practice as office buildings are equipped with scissors, letter openers, and even hammers."
Gary Lambert of Lafayette, Calif., writes: "At the Oakland Airport, I saw a 70-plus-year-old woman helped up from her wheelchair … patted down, and helped back to her wheelchair."
Before boarding a flight to San Jose, Calif., Daria Hadrovic of Lansing, Mich., purchased a Diet Mountain Dew from the airport gift shop. The security guard "took the pop out of my hand … made me open it and take a swig out of it. I can only assume that the … [terrorists] carrier of choice is a white, freckled, red-headed, 5-foot-11-inch female in her early 30s."
Mark of Los Angeles flew 120,000 miles in 2002 aboard partner airlines Northwest and Continental. He filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration after one caffeine-induced flight aboard a Northwest "red-eye" departing Los Angeles International Airport.
As he told the FAA, his first-class flight attendant was more concerned about reading her novel than preventing somebody from slowly prying open the cockpit door. In fact, she took her book to the back of the plane, leaving the first-class galley unoccupied.
"When she failed to return to the galley, I poured a cup of coffee for myself," he says. "After about 20 minutes [when] she still hadn't returned to the forward galley, I went looking for the cabin crew … No flight attendants were to be found.
"I went back to first class and poured another coffee for myself. During the next 45 minutes or so, I poured a few more. Still no sign of the cabin crew. After about 75 minutes since last [seeing] a cabin crew member, I was pouring another coffee when one of the flight attendants from the main cabin tapped me on my shoulder, asking if she could get me something."
An FAA official in Washington later awakened Mark at 5:30 a.m. Pacific time to say that while the three attendants in question denied his accusations, "she doubted the missing flight attendants would be 'missing' on the future flights."
"How about sporting events?" says 69-year-old John A. Dinsmore of Oneida, Wis. "Last fall I attended a [Green Bay] Packer game at Lambeau Field, which accommodates about 63,000 fans. My 3-inch pocket knife was confiscated by a security officer. When I queried why I was told I could be dangerous to the fans."
He then asked "who would pick up my body pieces if I attempted something against" all those Packer fans?
Finally, Don Derham thought it was silly for security at Florida's Walt Disney World to search his young daughter's purse. "Why a 7-year-old girl needs a purse is itself a baffling question," he says.

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