The Circuit

Laptop Patriotism

Say what you will about British tabloids and their dash of sass. Her Majesty's government is calling one paper — The Mirror — patriotic. On May 21, The Mirror turned over to the British defense ministry a laptop computer stolen from a British naval intelligence officer in April. It contained classified files regarding a joint U.S./ British fighter plane. According to the paper, the laptop passed through "a number of hands" before it was recovered. The paper quoted Labor Member of Parliament Stephen Hepburn as saying, "Well done, The Mirror. Our national security could have been endangered." Now, about those U.S. State Department laptops.

Strange Bedfellows

The Department of Health and Human Services is doing more these days than administering federal health and welfare programs. President Clinton's fiscal 2001 budget calls for $265 million for HHS to develop an antibioterrorist initiative, maintain a stockpile of pharmaceutical drugs if mass treatment is needed and increase research into the kind of potent chemicals that could be released into a civilian population.

With ever-present threats of anthrax and other bioterrorist drugs, Clinton issued an order on May 18 for federal agencies to expand and better coordinate their efforts at protecting against biological warfare. He has yet to ask for more money to fight cyberwarfare, an issue that has twice come to the foreground with recent virus attacks as malicious as any anthrax release.

OOPS!

Nothing like holding a party and forgetting to invite the invitees. That's what happened when Women in Technology threw a dinner on May 18 at the Ritz Carlton at Tyson's Corner, Virginia. The business group sold out its First Annual Leadership Award event. Sprint — one of many high-tech sponsors — thought they had invited some journalists to the program and trumpeted that fact to the group's members. On the day of the dinner, several journalists got last-minute e-mails about the event. They then informed party planners that they had never received an invitation and that it was now too late — even reporters need time to dress up.

Jamesprubin.com

What does a former State Department spokesman do with the rest of his life? Why, register his domain name and start his own World Wide Web site, of course. That's Jamie Rubin's plan. The site can be viewed at www.jamesprubin.com. The former spokesman for Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is apparently going global, too. In 10 languages besides English, the site says it is under construction. Just what will be on the site is unknown at this time, folks, so stay tuned!

Food, Farmers and Politics

When does food mix with politics? Always, especially as President Clinton tried to push through the last trade issue of his presidency. There were plenty of strange bedfellows over the issue of normalizing trade relations with China. Republicans supported it. But members of the president's party opposed it, as well as labor, environmental and human rights groups. But no argument was more curious than the map on the Agriculture Department's site, www.usda.gov. In a state-by-state review, economists with the Foreign Agricultural Service analyzed what's at stake. Tariffs will fall on virtually every crop exported to China, the economists said, including wine, red meat, ketchup and ice cream.

Did this sway the swing members of Congress? Hard to say. But we hear that Ben and Jerry are on their way to the Mainland, gearing up for a new market.

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