And now the most compelling two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.
Remember Betty McCollum, the first-year House democrat from Minnesota who skipped the words "under God" while leading the House of Representatives in the Pledge of Allegiance last week. It went like this: "the Republic for which it stands, one nation (under God) with liberty and justice for all."
Her staff explained that she had swallowed at that moment. Then they suggested she was distracted by directions coming from House floor staff. Now the congresswoman says in a guest column in The St. Paul Pioneer Press that she simply "paused as the words 'under God' were spoken by the rest of the chamber. This wasn't an intentional omission of political, religious or revolutionary significance. It was an innocent mistake." No word on how she came to make the mistake, and nothing about swallowing or distracting instructions from staff.
The United States has gotten the head of the United Nation’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons fired. The man, Jose Bustani of Brazil, was dumped by a vote of 48 to seven, with 43 countries abstaining. The Christian Science Monitor reports that the complaint against Bustani was in part that he was secretive and abrasive in his management style. But what apparently offended the United States was that Bustani wanted to admit Iraq to the organization, even as Iraq continues to refuse to allow U.N. weapons inspectors into the country, in defiance of U.N. resolutions.
Police in Berlin are apologizing for the remarks of a department spokesman who said one way for Jews in Germany to avoid anti-Semitic attacks is not to wear religious symbols in public. The remarks, in an interview with an Israeli radio station, came after two attacks on Jews in Berlin in which the targets were identified by a Star of David in one case and a skullcap in the other. The Berlin Police Department expressed "great regret."
Federal wildlife officials have set aside more than 33,000 acres east of Los Angeles to preserve the habitat of the threatened Kangaroo Rat. The set aside will cover land in Riverside and San Bernardino counties where the four-inch rodent, whose long hind legs allow it to move by jumping, lives and breeds in burrows dug in sand and gravel. If you've never seen one, it may be because they're only active at night when it's cool. Environmentalists are not happy. They wanted 55,000 acres set aside.