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Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) earned his status as longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate by keeping not only his home renovator well-fed from the pork barrel, but his constituents as well. As former head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he perfected his legendary ability to bring home federal dollars. Among the several senior committee positions Stevens relinquished yesterday after being indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges was ranking membership of the defense appropriations subcommittee, where he helped mark up the mammoth defense appropriations bill…
Taxpayers reports that Stevens “sponsored 159 defense earmarks worth $1.3 billion in the last four years.” Among the highlights:
Four earmarks for the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), “originally designed to capture energy from the aurora borealis.”
Three earmarks for Hibernation Genomics, a “program that aims to ‘hibernate’ people by slowing down their metabolisms while keeping them alive long enough to treat illnesses.”
Multiple earmarks for the Alaska Land Mobile Radio, which an Alaskan state audit criticized for “cost overruns, shoddy accounting and budget planning.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”