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Washington Calling

The myth of Columbus ... sick day excuses ... other items
Scripps Howard News Service


October 07, 2005

WASHINGTON - Christopher Columbus is riding the waves of historical revisionism that in recent years have torn up the reputations of many one-time American heroes like Thomas Jefferson. But surprisingly, American Indians are still embracing the myth of Columbus.

Among American Indians, whose ancestors were decimated by the diseases and depredation that followed Columbus' arrival, only 42 percent in a University of Michigan survey felt Columbus was a villain. But such is the power of myth that half shared the belief with non-natives that Columbus discovered America.


Hottest bogus excuses hiring managers told the Internet concern that they heard from employees asking for a sick day off from work:

- "I'm too drunk to drive to work."

- "I accidentally flushed my keys down the toilet."

- "My boyfriend's snake got loose and I am afraid to leave the bedroom."

- "I'm too fat to get into my work pants."

- "God didn't wake me."

- "My son accidentally fell asleep next to wet cement in our backyard. His foot fell in and we can't get it out."


The Government Accountability Office has compiled a handy dictionary of the unintelligible and often-feudal words bureaucrats use today when talking about federal budgeting - from how an "enhanced rescission" significantly differs from an "expedited rescission" and what "chained dollars" or "seignorage" means.

The dictionary is a half-inch thick and 182 pages long.


Look for Harriet Miers to be on the Supreme Court by Christmas. Although some of President Bush's conservative supporters are twittering about the missed opportunity to appoint a bedrock judicial conservative, what's helping Miers is that her appointment isn't getting that much open opposition from Democrats.


High-flying NASA panjandrums want to spend $77 million buying exclusive corporate planes so they can jet in style to hot meetings about the future of the space station and other troubled projects.

Congressional investigators are deflating the plan. The Government Accountability Office looked at more than 1,000 private flights NASA executives took in 2003 and 2004 and concluded that 86 percent of them were for routine business events in places well accommodated by commercial airlines. The probers estimated NASA wasted $20 million on the private flights. NASA said it will impose reforms.


Private pilots are bitterly opposed to Federal Aviation Administration plans to restrict flying in 3,000 miles of skies around Washington.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association says private pilots don't object to the smaller no-fly zones around Washington's core buildings like the White House and U.S. Capitol. But the group says expanding restricted air zones over such a large area isn't necessary, and the group frets that if the FAA succeeds in Washington, it will set a precedent for other cities to follow and put restrictions on private pilots around those cities as well.

Under the FAA proposal, pilots wanting to fly through a new "air defense identification zone" around Washington would need to file a flight plan with the FAA, get permission to enter the zone, obtain a code to enter into their aircraft transponder and stay in contact with air traffic controllers at all times while in the zone. Planes not complying could be shot down.


Contact Lance Gay at GayL(at)
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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