By LANCE GAY
Scripps Howard News Service
May 12, 2006
The State Department says in its annual report on global terrorism that Canada is becoming a haven for terrorists. "Terrorists have capitalized on liberal Canadian immigration and asylum policies to enjoy safe haven, raise funds, arrange logistical support, and plan terrorist attacks," the report says.
South of the border, however, looks all sweetness and light. Mexico "works closely with the United States on all aspects of counterterrorism, security and prevention," the diplomats said. The views from Foggy Bottom contrast with the rhetoric on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are mapping plans for a wall along the Mexican border, but not along the Canadian side.
With political humor mining the dregs, the panel organizing Class of 2006 graduation ceremonies at Princeton University next month decided against having an entertainer as keynote speaker and, instead, asked Bill Clinton to give the speech.
Among the students on the panel choosing Clinton on the grounds they wanted someone "inspirational": Harrison Frist, son of Senate Republican leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, and Lauren Bush, niece of President Bush.
For all those out there tinkering on innovative devices in your garages or basements, Congress is coming up with a handsome $52 million in taxpayer money for a new prize program to entice inventors to develop workable designs for a hydrogen car.
The measure, which got little opposition when it cleared the House this month, provides up to $1 million in prizes for those who develop innovative ways of dealing with production, storage, distribution and utilization issues involving hydrogen cars, and a $4 million prize for a hydrogen prototype car. A special $10 million prize is available for the inventor of truly "transformational technology" that speeds the conversion from oil to hydrogen power.
The Department of Homeland Security has grabbed headlines with spectacular workplace immigration raids in recent weeks.
But it's only news because federal enforcement activities have been lagging in previous years. The Government Accountability Office said there were 2,849 worksite arrests for immigration violations in 1999, but that dropped to 953 arrests in 2000. By 2004, the number was 159. The pattern was the same with fines given employers who hired illegal aliens, which declined from 417 in 1999 to three in 2004, the GAO concluded.
It's little surprise to observant commuters, but nine out of 10 U.S. drivers sing in their cars - and most say they don't give a fig if someone in traffic notices them.
According to the poll of 1,000 drivers conducted for the auto-accessory company Auto Expressions, women drivers are more likely to be car crooners than men - especially redheads in SUVs. Go figure, but most likely to sing are drivers born under the astrological sign Aries; those least likely are born under Capricorn.
Facing a deficit of front-line translators, the Pentagon is boosting bonuses for proficiency in foreign languages. Starting June 1, speakers of languages "of strategic need" - currently Arabic and Farsi - can earn up to an additional $300 a month, and the military is offering $6,000 signup bonuses to National Guard and Reserve volunteers who are proficient in foreign languages.
Alan Gottleib of the Second Amendment Foundation says he has no sympathy for Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., for his personal problems that resulted in his decision this month to enter a rehabilitation program at the Mayo Clinic.
"Why should he, or his father, have the gall to sponsor, lobby for and especially vote on any kind of legislation that would restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners?" Gottleib said. "I'd rather go quail hunting with Dick Cheney than get in a car being driven by a Kennedy."
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