- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2003

The few, the proud

Days before the September 11 terror attacks, two U.S. Marines armed with a bottle of Brasso, sponges and cloths got on their knees and began polishing the brass base of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial flagpole bearing the Marine insignia.

The pair of Marines, this column reported, undertook the late-evening buffing because the Marine Corps insignia had become “dingy and tarnished.”

However, a U.S. Park Service ranger, sporting a goatee and wire-rimmed glasses, soon arrived and informed the Marines that they were violating “SOP” — standard operating procedure. He ordered them to cease their polishing because the Brasso could harm the base.

“It’s not the way we do it,” the ranger said.

Now we learn that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has hired the Stuart Dean Co., which specializes in restoring monuments and statues, to “finally polish the flagpole base,” says fund founder Jan C. Scruggs.

He says that while the base of the pole has been vandalized and has deep gouges from a knife or screwdriver, the new “polishing techniques will keep the base looking pristine and shiny for two years.”

That isn’t to say Marines can’t assist with periodic polishing.

“U.S. Marines have been polishing their emblem and can continue,” Mr. Scruggs says, “but must use Carnuba wax.”

Irresponsible bunch

Does anybody wish to respond to the World Watch Institute’s bizarre claim that Hurricane Isabel was a likely result of global warming?

“Hundreds of thousands of people have lost power, water and phone service — thousands have had their homes damaged or destroyed — and all the World Watch Institute can do is point the finger at industry,” reacts Competitive Enterprise Institute President Fred Smith.

“Hurricanes occurred a thousand years before the first combustible engine — back when the only emissions came from cooking fires. I find it irresponsible, if not reprehensible, that World Watch seizes upon a natural disaster to advance their radical and misleading environmental agenda.”

Probing Greenpeace

A complaint has been filed with the Internal Revenue Service against Greenpeace, urging that the environmental organization be investigated for violating tax laws.

Mike Hardiman, executive director of Public Interest Watch, said Greenpeace’s complex structure masks its misuse of tax-exempt contributions.

“American tax law very clearly differentiates between taxable and tax-exempt contributions, and the ways in which they can be used,” Mr. Hardiman says. “Greenpeace has devised a system for diverting tax-exempt funds and using them for nonexempt — and oftentimes illegal — purposes.

“It’s a form of money laundering, plain and simple.”

Greenpeace, in a statement, denies the accusations.

The complaint charges that during one three-year span, a Greenpeace entity diverted more than $24 million in tax-exempt contributions. Such contributions, the complaint states, are supposed to be used for “educational” programs, but instead funded non-exempt activities.

A review of IRS filings and annual reports for tax years 1998, 1999 and 2000 shows that Greenpeace Fund Inc. funneled tax-exempt contributions to nonexempt programs, the complaint continues.

Examples cited include: blockading a naval base in protest of the war in Iraq, boarding an oil tanker for a “banner hang,” breaking into the central control building of a nuclear-power station and padlocking the gates of a government research facility.

Apple pie?

Baseball’s not a pastime yet in Russia, but the sport has gained enough popularity to field a Russian boys’ all-star baseball team, which arrived in Washington this week on a goodwill tour.

On Monday, the Russian youngsters, aged 10 to 13, visited the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, then defeated Washington’s Head First All-Stars by a score of 5-1 (the two teams play a double-header Saturday to complete the series).

Also yesterday, Hall of Fame pitcher turned Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning joined Jack and John Hillerich of Louisville Slugger to present new bats and equipment to members and coaches of the Russian team when it visited Capitol Hill.

Today, the boys head to Cooperstown, N.Y., to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, then tomorrow play a Harlem team — a game Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend. The team is also expected to meet with President Bush in Washington.

The existence of Russian baseball was news to both the Russian Cultural Center and the Russian Information Center in Washington when we called to inquire yesterday.

“Frankly, I have no idea about baseball in Russia,” said a man at the latter center.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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