And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine.
If you hated Super Bowl commercials that seemed to exploit the Sept. 11 slaughter, you may want to skip this item. A travel company is offering walking tours of the area where the World Trade Center stood. The Pennsylvania Co. – NYC Vacation Packages – plans to charge customers about $1,900 for a three-hour walking tour of the area. Also included in the charges – three nights of hotel accommodations and stops at other Big Apple sights. The tour wouldn't include the viewing platform at the center of the carnage; groups aren't allowed there. One woman whose son died in the attacks says she's dismayed at the prospect of the tours.
The Web site DailyFreeman.com says a civil rights attorney in New York wants to ramp up a movement against the war on terror. Self-proclaimed pacifist Michael Sussman gave a lecture yesterday at the State University of New York in New Paltz, comparing what he called the national "neighborhood watch" program to McCarthyism and the detainment of terror suspects in Cuba to Japanese internment during World War II. Sussman said, "We have a choice to make, and it's a lot easier to shut up." He says the government is threatening civil liberties by urging people to rat on suspected terrorists. He also said the United States should not have gone into Afghanistan, and has no right to be there. He claimed that the United States is " back to being a conqueror and telling other countries how to live."
Finally, police in Austin, Texas, decided this year to abolish a New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition – having women bare their breasts, and that decision evidently enraged businesswoman Caroline Estes. She has organized a protest for this weekend. She wants hundreds of women and a few men to remove their shirts in the middle of downtown. She says it's not a sexual issue. She says it's "insulting" the police feel "men can't control themselves in the presence of a bare breast." Yesterday, police dropped plans to slap disorderly conduct charges on bare-breasted pre-Lenten revelers. Gendarmes feared such an effort could set off a riot – and besides, city attorneys ruled a quick flash of flesh didn't qualify as disorderly conduct. Estes says she considers the Austin police very pro-breast, but she plans to hold the demonstration anyway. She says she wants to keep Austin "liberal and happy and fun" – and at age 43, she says the only riot her breasts would cause "might be people stampeding the other way."