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Washington Calling

Recalled beef ... A good satellite ... World War I vet
Scripps Howard News Service


February 23, 2008

WASHINGTON -- It's not just the meat of "downer" cattle we should be worried about infiltrating our food supply. There's little standing in the way of meat from sick pigs, sheep, goats and other animals from winding up on our plates.

Even though 143 million pounds of possibly tainted beef from ailing animals had to be recalled recently after a videotape showed workers allowing cattle too ill or weak to stand being slaughtered, at least there exist federal regulations intended to protect us from eating meat that could make us sick.

No such specific rules ban the slaughtering of ailing pigs or another animals for human consumption. Food-safety advocates hope the shocking videotape and vast recall will spur Capitol Hill lawmakers to pass a measure that would bar slaughterhouses from turning any sick or aged animals into human food.


The Air Force has found that there remain many places on Earth that don't take credit cards. Case in point: much of Africa. The Stars and Stripes newspaper reports that U.S. airmen assigned to facilitate President Bush's just-ended trip to that continent lugged bags loaded with tens of thousands of dollars in cash to pay for everything from bottled water to jet fuel because using plastic wasn't an option in some of the places Bush visited.


While most attention was centered this past week on the U.S. shoot-down of the kaput spy satellite, another government "bird" also drew note for its record of rescues.

In 2007, 353 people were rescued from an assortment of trouble thanks to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite. The wayward people, who all carried personal locator beacons that "talked" with the NOAA environmental satellite, were saved at sea or rescued from downed aircraft or wilderness areas.

Federal safety officials want anyone who ventures far off the beaten track to carry such beacons, which increase the odds of a happy ending and lower the tab paid by taxpayers.


Unintended coincidence: The same day that Serb protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report that praised the Department of State for enhancing security at many American embassies and other diplomatic facilities.


Plans are being made to salute the last living U.S. veteran of World War I with a Washington tribute and a ceremony at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo.

The idea is to mark the end of an era before the only remaining American doughboy dies. There may not be a need to rush, given the remarkable shape Frank Buckles, 107, is in.

Buckles, who lied about his age to join the Army and went on to serve as a corporal in the U.S. military's ambulance service in France, is sharp of mind and spirit, though not very ambulatory anymore.


There's another presidential race about to get under way in Washington, and the supporters of Teddy Roosevelt vow this will be the year they prevail. In this case, the TR in question is not a reincarnation of the nation's 26th president. Instead, he's one of the four giant-sized, human bobbleheads who race in the fourth inning of every home Washington Nationals baseball game. The other costumed presidential contenders are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

During the past two seasons, everyone but Teddy has won a race. In his 120 consecutive losses, the mustachioed mascot has variously fallen, run the wrong direction or gotten lost in the stands. This year, fans have started a campaign called "Let Teddy Win," complete with T-shirts and signs.



E-mail Lisa Hoffman at hoffmanl(at)
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