By LISA HOFFMAN
Some veterans are up in arms over plans by anti-Iraq-war demonstrators to assemble next month at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Billed as a protest marking the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war’s start and the 40th anniversary of a pivotal march on the Pentagon against the Vietnam War, the March 17 event will commence near the haunting memorial and end at the Pentagon. Organizers expect an enormous turnout.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart, Rolling Thunder and other veterans groups are promising to form a protective ring around the Wall, which they consider “hallowed” ground. Purple Heart national commander Tom Poulter said his members are outraged that the protesters would “even consider gathering near the Wall.” One fear is that someone may try to spray-paint the memorial as protesters did to the U.S. Capitol last month.
Protest organizer Richard Becker of the leftist ANSWER Coalition dismissed those fears as the rantings of “right-wing” extremists and said no one would attempt to deface or defile the memorial. And, although his group’s press release said marchers will assemble at the memorial, Becker said the staging area will actually be in a nearby stretch of the National Mall.
Pretty soon, you may not only be able to get the dirt on someone, but store the info in dirt, too. Japanese researchers will report in an upcoming journal published by the American Chemical Society that they’ve developed a method for copying and pasting data encoded in artificial DNA into the genes of a common soil bacteria. Specifically, they stored the message “E=MC2 1905” — Albert Einstein’s famous 1905 energy-mass equation — on a splice of the genetic material of a bacterium called Bacillus subtilis.
Look for the Air Force to back off its plans to cut 20,000 airmen from its ranks as a way to save millions of dollars, which the service would rather spend on aircraft and other hardware. The brass says Congress’ order last year to add 90,000 troops total to the Army and Marine Corps now means more airmen will be needed to support the added force with transport and combat air support.
The USAF says it wouldn’t even consider cutting personnel if Congress would allow the service to retire a host of warplanes it no longer needs. Although the service says the mothballing of U-2 spy planes, B-52 bombers and C-5 airlifters, among others, could save taxpayers $1.7 billion per year, lawmakers simply won’t hear of doing away with “their” planes — not to mention the jobs and bucks the aircraft bring into their districts.
One wonders what Abe Lincoln might have thought of the menu at the White House celebration of his 198th birthday this past week. Served were Dover sole with polenta crust and saffron broth, as well as veal medallions with wild morel fricassee, and pistachio oil dressing for the radicchio and mache salad.
For dessert: warm blueberry-vanilla cake with lemon sauce, which was a variation of what some historians say was the type baked by Lincoln’s wife to celebrate election-day victories. Unlike the nouveau one, the original included currants and a couple of healthy shots of brandy.
We’re apparently warming to the idea of organ donation. A Gallup Organization survey shows that 53 percent of us said we have granted permission for our organs or tissue to be harvested. That number, which came from a 2005 survey of 2,000 Americans, was nearly twice the 28 percent who had volunteered to be organ donors in 1993.
About 1 in 5 Americans overseas who wanted to vote last November were unable to, according to a survey by the Overseas Vote Foundation. Some never received an absentee ballot, others got theirs too late to meet the voting deadlines and still others were confused by the complex rules governing voting abroad.
Of 100 U.S. troops overseas who were surveyed, more than 40 did not cast ballots, the study said.
(SHNS staff writer Lee Bowman contributed to this column.)