Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "Africa, Inc.," Oct. 10, 2009

The seven former CIA directors included Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, and George Tenet, who served under President George W. Bush; John Deutch and James Woolsey, who worked for President Bill Clinton (Tenet first was appointed by Clinton); William Webster, who served under President George H.W. Bush; and James Schlesinger, who ran the agency under President Richard Nixon. CIA Director Leon Panetta also opposed Holder's investigation.

Man knows not his time

Norman Borlaug lived long enough to be hailed as the father of the Green Revolution-and to be chastised for it. The plant pathologist, who died Sept. 19 at 95, began with an assignment to eradicate wheat rust and went on to become singularly obsessed with increasing field productivity to relieve famine. He developed a high-yield, disease-resistant wheat that helped to double world food production between 1960 and 1990. Agronomists say his work may have saved 1 billion lives by quadrupling crop yields in places like India and Pakistan, and he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 1970. More recently environmentalists blame his achievements for reducing biodiversity and dietary quality.

Capitol Hill road kill

Thank Congress if you're seeing fewer dead animals on the highways. It passed a federal mandate requiring states to spend 10 percent of federal transportation dollars on enhancement projects like road kill reduction. But Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is trying to reset those spending requirements to put safety first. Coburn argued that 13,000 Americans lost their lives last year because of unsafe roads or bridges while Congress earmarked $3.7 billion for "transportation enhancement" projects in 2004-2008: That's code for bike paths, historic preservation, and scenic beautification that win lawmakers local favor. Alas, the only road kill on the Senate floor in debate over a transportation bill was Coburn's amendment to shift priorities, which lost by 20 votes. "Congress continues to be tone deaf to the millions of Americans who want us to make common-sense decisions about how we prioritize funds," Coburn lamented.

Civil service

Evangelical Mark DeMoss wants more civility in public discourse. He and Lanny Davis, a liberal Jewish spokesman and former Clinton White House counsel, are pushing a Civility Project to promote "respectful behavior and speech." DeMoss is not calling for political unity: "By civility I do not mean a softening or a watering down of my beliefs or my convictions."

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