And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:
Fewer Plates for Cheapskates
Secretary of State Colin Powell apparently has succeeded in his last-ditch effort to resolve an international dispute over — parking tickets. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, steamed about the fact that diplomats have run up $22-million worth of illegal parking tickets since 1997 had threatened to tow literally hundreds of diplomatic vehicles until the consular and diplomatic officials began paying their overdue bills to the city. The State Department warned that his effort to dun foreign officials would violate international law, and might prompt retaliation against Americans stationed abroad. After receiving a phone call from Powell, Bloomberg said the State Department has agreed to reduce the number of license plates it issues to foreign officials — and to help the city collect from deadbeat diplomats.
Official Takes Heat, Hillary Out in Cold
And in Chicago, a women's park still features flowers named after Hillary Rodham Clinton, but the park itself no longer bears the New York Senator's name. The Clarke House Park henceforth will be known as the "Chicago Women's Park and Gardens." The drama began in 1997, when Mrs. Clinton still identified herself as a native of Illinois, and was about to celebrate her 50th birthday. Someone figured it might be nice to name a park after her — and to make the announcement during a visit by the then-first lady. But Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg, whose department runs the park and initially agreed to the name, says, "I now think it's better not to call it for an individual. I have to take the heat for changing my mind."
Has Many Namesakes...
And finally, Turkmenistan's flamboyant President Saparmurad Niyazov has had cities, airports and even a meteorite named in his honor. But that was nothing. From now on — at least while he lives — the month of January will bear his name. Niyazov, known as Turkmenbashi, or head of all Turkmen, but more often called Turkmenbashi the Great, proposed the name change at a meeting of the people's council. Niyazov was offered the presidency for life in 1999, although he has said he may step down and hold elections in 2010. This may surprise you, but delegate after delegate at the people's council begged him to stay in power until he dies.