Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Off to Aspen

The annual Aspen Ideas Festival, a gathering place for 100 of today’s most “profound and provocative” thinkers, commences today in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

Among those in attendance at the event, hosted by the Aspen Institute: former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his wife, Alma, chairwoman of America’s Promise; TV news personalities Jim Lehrer and Cokie Roberts; historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.; Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers; Nobel laureate Toni Morrison; and Colorado Gov. Bill Owens.

“Through it, we can stimulate important and interesting discussions and give more people access to the seminars and open-minded dialogues that form the crux of what the institute has been doing since its origins in the 1950s,” says Elliot Gerson, the institute’s executive vice president and chief creator of the festival.

Who’s Bush?

The USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), the last of the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, is now three years from completion and is set for launch in 2008.

The Navy expects this latest addition to its fleet to be in service for at least five decades — at least through the year 2058 — 70 years after Mr. Bush was elected president in 1988.

New enemy

We’re told the United States and Russia will hold a first-of-its-kind joint tabletop terrorism-response exercise this October.

Word of the preparedness drill comes on the heels of President Bush late last week receiving the first progress report from a joint U.S.-Russia working group he established with President Vladimir Putin. The group’s primary purpose is to deal with the threat of terrorists gaining access to nuclear material or weapons.

President Harrison

The former co-chairman of the Republican National Committee has become the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s (CPB) new president and CEO.

Patricia S. Harrison, since 2001 the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, says she is “pleased to join with the board and all stakeholders in the future success of public broadcasting.”

Already she has vowed to join with public broadcast leaders to restore congressional funding cuts of CPB in the president’s fiscal 2006 budget.

Under Mrs. Harrison’s leadership, the U.S. government started the first exchange program for high school students from the Arab and Muslim world.

Toke and stroke

There has been a great deal of response, sarcastic to humorous, to our item last week about white-collared Washingtonians flocking to country music legend Willie Nelson‘s inaugural golf tournament in Texas yesterday to benefit the Washington-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

“I would assume that the safest place for the gallery to stand at this event would be in the middle of the fairway,” writes Charlie Blankenship of Industry, Penn. “If the golfers toke up in the clubhouse in the morning and similarly refresh themselves through the day, it could be long past dark before the last foursome finishes, leaving behind a veritable storm of empty Doritos bags, Slim-Jim wrappers and thousands of lost golf balls.

“The winners will stagger back in at the edge of dark, boasting an average round of 200 over par for each. The last place team is expected to hit triple digits and ‘darn proud of it!’ What a day for the sport.”

Too hot for wool

“Do these stripes make me look like I’m warming dangerously?”

So asks global-warming skeptic Christopher C. Horner, counsel of the Cooler Heads Coalition at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington.

“Look out, world, here comes the fashion industry steaming down that runway of global salvation,” warns Mr. Horner. “It was cute when crooners and drama queens demanded to be taken seriously on matters of deep scientific inquiry.”

He’s referring to the otherwise reclusive Italian fashion designer and philanthropist Carlo Gianconi‘s offer to assist world leaders, many of whom he considers friends, in reducing global warming.

Popular in Las Vegas for what one writer describes as “his flamboyant gambling and his attitude of never letting anything bother him,” Mr. Gianconi says global warming bothers him enough that he’s decided to do something about it.

The designer’s initial efforts include the creation of a Web site and hiring an agent to assist him.

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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