- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2003

Soccer bootsA U.S. congressman is asking the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation to take the lead in scheduling as soon as feasible home-and-away “friendlies” between the U.S. and Iraqi national soccer teams.”Sports can be a very powerful means to bring people together,” Assistant Majority Whip J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, writes in a letter to S. Robert Contiguglia.A TV sportscaster in his previous life, Mr. Hayworth recalls horrific stories of Iraqi team players, under the regime of Saddam Hussein, being threatened before matches “and tortured after them if their performance was not up to the standards of … Hussein’s sadistic son, Uday, who was Iraq’s sports czar.”Players and coaches were regularly jailed, beaten on the bottoms of their feet with sticks or on their backs with electric cables, spat at, punched and worse,” he says. “One particularly horrible torture device was a sarcophagus with long nails pointing inward from every surface to puncture and suffocate victims. Even family members were jailed and tortured as a way to intimidate and control players and coaches.”The congressman says he was touched by the recent story of a local Iraqi soccer team — the Najaf Poets — thrashing an informal squad of U.S. Marines. The score was 7-0.”By the end of the match, the 600 Iraqi fans were cheering on the overmatched Americans, who played in fatigues and combat boots,” Mr. Hayworth says.United evilRep. Vito J. Fossella, New York Republican, was born on Staten Island and today has district offices there and in Brooklyn, both within sight of the United Nations.The 38-year-old lawmaker is polite in referring to a “culture of carelessness” at the United Nations and resolution H.R. 800, which would “reform” the world body by reducing funding for the Commission on Human Rights — “hijacked by terrorist nations,” he says — and other panels like it.”The latest outrage is Cuba,” he says. “The [Cuban] dictatorship is in the midst of a brutal crackdown, having executed three men for trying to escape Cuba and imprisoned dozens of others for daring to speak out,” he says. “The United Nations said nothing about the crackdown, but elected Cuba to another term on the human rights panel.”The current chair of that panel is Libya, that beacon of human rights,” Mr. Fossella adds. “At the beginning of the year, Iraq was going to head the Conference on Disarmament, [and] Iran chairs that conference. North Korea and Cuba also sit on the Disarmament Committee.”Mr. Fossella says it would not be as grave if not for the fact that the United States pays about 22 percent of the United Nations’ operating budget.Soap boxesWe had to laugh when Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, Ohio Republican, in the absence of Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, was given the task of introducing the latter’s resolution authorizing the use of the Capitol grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby.Awaiting the arrival of Mr. Hoyer, the clerk read the resolution, authorizing the 62nd annual derby to be held June 21, when racers age 9 to 16 will roll down Constitution Avenue.When the reading was accomplished, Rep. Lincoln Davis, Tennessee Democrat, expanded on the importance of the Soap Box Derby. And when he was done, an uncomfortable Mr. LaTourette noted that the House was still awaiting the arrival of Mr. Hoyer.So Mr. Davis re-read the resolution. Once again, no sign of Mr. Hoyer.Has the gentleman from Tennessee, wondered the Republican, ever had the “thrill” of being present during the running of the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby?”I have never had that privilege,” replied the Democrat, who commenced describing what a thrill it must be anyway. Still no Steny.Dialogue between the two lawmakers continued, so to speak. Mr. LaTourette noted at one point that the Soap Box Derby championships would be held in Akron, Ohio, and soon digressed into the tough economic times that the former “Rubber Capital of the World” is facing.Then, who should stroll into the chamber but Rep. Jerry F. Costello, Illinois Democrat, who was immediately yielded three minutes to say anything he could muster about soap box racing. His thoughts finished, Mr. LaTourette actually began thanking all members present for their hard work during the previous 107th Congress.Into the chamber walked Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr., Tennessee Republican, saying: “I understand that we are trying to use some time while we wait for the gentleman from Maryland.” He then recalled a time that he had attended a Soap Box Derby in Knoxville.Given Mr. Hoyer still hadn’t shown up, Mr. Duncan then reread the resolution — on behalf of himself and Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican and chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, who also apparently enjoys those races.Finally, Mr. Davis reappeared to announce that Mr. Hoyer “has been detained and will not be able to speak on the bill that he is sponsoring.”“I am glad we received that announcement,” said a relieved Mr. LaTourette, “because I had run out of Soap Box Derby things to talk about.”

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