By LISA HOFFMAN
Here’s looking at you: The CIA now has its own Facebook group on the Web.
No, the point of the spy agency’s presence on the social networking site favored by 8 million mostly college-age kids is not to keep track of America’s youths. Instead, it is a tactic to attract them to apply for the National Clandestine Service, which collects “human intelligence” covertly around the world.
(Don’t tell that to the legions of paranoid bloggers and others who already are hyperventilating about this latest effort at “government mind control.” Some even believe Facebook is itself a clandestine government plant.)
In recent years, the CIA has been energetic in recruiting smart young folks into the fold, using its own lively Web site to sell itself. The agency says the group, which was launched last December, has attracted about 2,000 members, and officials swear it collects no information of any sort about them.
Forget a few good men. The Marine Corps wants 66,000 of ’em to deploy to the war in Iraq.Commandant Gen. James Conway said that is the number of Marines in the 175,000-person corps who have not yet been to combat in Iraq. In a Jan. 19 message sent to all leathernecks — titled “Every Marine Into the Fight” — Conway said it’s their time now.
He ordered commanders to identify each Marine who has not yet served on the ground in Operation Iraqi Freedom — “first-termers and career Marines alike” — and to reassign them to units heading for the war zone. The idea is to spread the burden more equitably throughout the corps, which has deployed about 56,000 Marines twice or more, and to provide combat seasoning to most in the ranks.
It’s, like, soooo unfair that foreigners with high-tech skills get way more temporary work visas to come to America than do foreign fashion models. That’s the plaint of the Fashion Model Fairness Project, an outfit created last year to back a bill introduced by Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., that would create a new visa category specifically for models. It’s just not right that foreign engineers, doctors and computer whizzes get most of the 65,000 H1-B visas available each year while models get only 800, the fashion industry and its lobbyists say.
Forget FirstGov.gov. The feds have just changed the name of the official U.S. government Web portal to USA.gov. Why? General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan says the new name is easier to remember. Plus, more than 600,000 people typed in “usa.gov” last year when searching blind on Google, et al. for government information — demonstrating that the address made sense to the public.Whatever it’s called, it’s the place to go for photos from Mars, chats with bureaucrats, government auction shopping, and statistics you wouldn’t believe.
The Web site of the Office of National Drug Control Policy — better known as the White House drug czar’s domain — provides a handy glossary of 2,300 drug terms that can be heard on the nation’s meaner streets. Among the terms highlighted as new: “devil’s dandruff,” used to describe crack or powdered cocaine; “pill ladies,” who are senior citizens who sell the powerful and addictive painkiller Oxycontin; and “hitters,” who, in exchange for drugs, will inject heroin or other illicit substances into the arms of users whose veins are difficult to find.
Another baby step toward democracy in the District of Columbia just came in the House, when lawmakers gave the city’s congressional delegate the right to vote on amendments — but not on any overall bills — on the House floor. When Democrats last controlled the House, they gave Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton the same privilege in 1993. The Republicans revoked it when they took over two years later.But the new House measure — which gives the same “right” to delegates from Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands — comes with this caveat: If the vote of any delegate serves to decide whether a measure passes, that vote is thrown out and the House then votes again.
In the Senate, these U.S. “colonies” have no vote whatsoever.
If you’re taller than 5-foot-9, it might be best if you avoid the front row of seats in the next generation of jetliners, That’s the advice of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which says the Federal Aviation Administration’s new ruling that seats can be placed closer to the bulkheads at the front of the passenger cabin mean that the tall among us will be in greater peril of bumping their heads in a rough landing or other mishap. The FAA, however, says the loss of 2 to 3 inches of space won’t put anyone in danger.(E-mail Lisa Hoffman at hoffmanl(at)shns.com.)