- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Senate advisory

One never knows, but Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, might have witnessed a terrorist incident gone awry last month after he boarded American Airlines Flight 4784, scheduled to depart Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport for New York.

A member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, Mr. Bayh had settled into his seat in the middle of the plane as the flight crew prepared to shut the main cabin door and begin taxiing toward the runway.

Suddenly, after one of the pilots announced strict security measures in place for flights leaving Reagan — passengers are forbidden to leave their seats 30 minutes after departure or before landing — a man described by one passenger as being of Middle Eastern descent leapt from his seat and shouted to a flight attendant that he’d forgotten an item at the airport’s security checkpoint.

The flight attendant, the passenger says, tried to prevent the man from deplaning, but he grabbed a piece of carry-on luggage and disappeared — never to be seen again.

“[A] man jumped up from his seat and ran off the plane, saying that he had left something behind,” confirms Meg Keck, the senator’s spokeswoman. “There was some initial confusion over whether or not the passenger returned to the plane.

“Other passengers spoke with the flight crew to inform them that the man had not returned to his seat,” Ms. Keck adds, “which prompted the crew to evacuate the plane as a safety precaution.”

Mr. Bayh, meanwhile, quickly made his presence known to the flight crew, arguing that the plane’s luggage also should be removed and reinspected for explosives — “that it could be a danger,” Ms. Keck says.

“The airline did so, and after a few hours’ delay the plane was allowed to fly on to New York,” she says, where the senator was to make a connecting flight to Israel.

Warming to aliens

A new report on potential effects of global warming, issued by two researchers working for the Pentagon, is being “misinterpreted” as a prediction of imminent climate disaster.

“Some alarmists are pointing to the Pentagon report as proof that we face impending climate disaster, but even a brief review shows that that isn’t the case,” argues Myron Ebell, director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“As with past national security assessments, the Department of Defense was presented with a worst-case scenario, not the likely future,” he says. “The Pentagon naturally believes it has to research any possible threat — whether it be an alien invasion, an accidental nuclear detonation, or catastrophic climate change.”

Authors of “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security” also reportedly acknowledge that many climate scenarios they discuss are “extreme” and “not the most likely,” Mr. Ebell notes.

CEI says the report “does make a useful contribution to the global warming debate, however, by recommending the ‘immediate action’ of improving predictive climate models.”

The Pentagon itself downplayed the report yesterday, with Andrew Marshall, the adviser who ordered the study, telling reporters that it was speculative.

“The Schwartz and Randall study reflects the limits of scientific models and information when it comes to predicting the effects of abrupt global warming,” he says. “Much of what this study predicts is still speculation.”

No election

The era of forced multilingual ballots “hit a new low” when the town of Briny Breezes, Fla., was forced to print election notices in Spanish despite the fact everybody understands English.

Furthermore, federal law required leaders of the tiny oceanfront retirement community to provide bilingual election information to residents — even though there was no election to hold.

“This is the epitome of government multilingualism gone amok,” says U.S. English Chairman Mauro E. Mujica, whose office is one block from the White House. “How many communities will have to throw away precious tax dollars to fund unnecessary multilingual services?”

Mr. Mujica, who immigrated to the United States from Chile, says Briny Breezes “has gotten caught up in the ugly tentacles of the Voting Rights Act,” which requires all towns within a county to print ballots in foreign languages when the number of foreign language speakers in that county rises above a certain threshold.

Two years ago, tony Palm Beach County was informed that more than 5 percent of its voters were Spanish-speaking, forcing each of its 37 municipalities to print ballots in Spanish and provide bilingual poll workers.

But U.S. census statistics show that 99 percent of Briny Breezes’ population of 411, 98 percent of whom are U.S. citizens, speak English “very well.” And talk about being U.S. citizens for a long time, the town’s median age is 70, double the U.S. average of 35 years.

Nevertheless, the town was required to print a double-sided notice — one side in English, the other in Spanish — to inform residents that there would be no election.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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