By LISA HOFFMAN
Scripps Howard News Service
October 28, 2006
His lectern and podium were moved from the corridor entrance of the White House's East Room - where they had been placed for news conferences since the Reagan administration - to the far wall with its backdrop of elaborate gold draperies.
The Reagan White House had positioned them adjacent to the corridor for two reasons. The president striding down the flag-lined corridor made for a good visual and it allowed Reagan handlers to spirit him away quickly to avoid unscripted encounters with reporters.
Why the flip-flop now? "Just a change of scenery," the Bush press office said.
Is the hourglass half empty or half full?
White House chief of staff Josh Bolten has placed digital clocks that count down the days and hours left in the Bush administration on West Wing desks. The idea is to implant a sense of urgency for getting things done before Jan. 20, 2009, dawns.
Meanwhile, a decidedly anti-Bush Web site - www.bushlastday.com - is celebrating the passage of each day, hour, minute and second until the president goes for good. It's selling 01-20-09 bumper stickers, hats and buttons, too.
Digital divide? A new report on the future of the nation's electric grid notes that within 20 years half of the U.S. population will have been born and raised in the digital age. The Galvin Electricity Institute study says that will result in a population that will expect perfect power quality along with energy efficiency to run everything from robotic maids and home security guards to three-dimensional telecommuting that mimics physical presence in an office. The report stresses the need for an adequate electrical infrastructure to keep brownouts or blackouts to a minimum.
Remember George Tenet, the former CIA chief who left the job under a cloud after he said it was a "slam dunk" that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction? He's now landed a job at the British research firm that was the inspiration for the outfit at which "Q" worked in the James Bond novels and films. Unlike the mysterious Q, Tenet won't be creating cool spy gizmos at QinetiQ, the company that was once a top-secret part of Britain's defense ministry. Instead, he'll be an "independent non-executive director" - whatever that means. Sounds like good cover to us.
Speaking of names from the past, Oliver North and Daniel Ortega are facing off again in Nicaragua. North, the former White House aide and Iran-Contra character who got into a pile of trouble for his role in a secret scheme to support the right-wing Contra rebels in Nicaragua, was in Managua on Monday to campaign against Ortega, the former head of the left-wing Sandinista rebels and the nemesis of the Reagan administration. Ortega is ahead in the polls for the Nov. 5 presidential election.
Now comes Ph.D. creep. Nearly two-thirds of all doctorates awarded in the United States in the past century were granted in the last 25 years. A survey published by the National Science Foundation noted that men earned 73 percent of all Ph.D.s in the last century, but women received more than 40 percent of those awarded in the 1990s. Foreigners now claim more than a third of doctorates in science and engineering and 17 percent in all other fields.
Give yourself a gold star for your ecologically correct trash practices. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans recycled 32 percent of their waste in 2005 - a 2 percent increase from 2004 and 16 percent higher than in 1990. About half of all waste paper is now recycled and 62 percent of yard detritus is composted.
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