New Orleans Concerned It Make Take Months To Get Rid Of Celebrity Visitors
Authorities in New Orleans fear that the current wave of celebrities inundating the storm-ravaged area may last about three months, or until a new crisis in another part of the country or world lures them away.
"Sean Penn could be gone as soon as next month," said Mayor Ray Nagin. "But Oprah, John Travolta and Kelly Preston, Susan Sarandon and Harry Connick Jr., we're all going to have to live with until probably the late fall."
The celebrities began pouring into the area several days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, bursting levees and causing mass flooding. Nagin faulted the federal government for not having a plan to keep the celebrities out, and several members of Congress said they would appoint a committee to study how the celebrity wave could have been prevented, outlining a strategy for dealing with the problem in the future. Nagin said he was particularly worried about the threat of even more celebrities descending on his city for photo ops. "We're dealng with the possibility of a Category-3 Celine Dion visit sometime in the next few weeks," he said.
Umpires Suspended For Steroid Use
Opening a strange, new front in the war against peformance-enhacing drugs, Major League Baseball suspended 17 umpires today after they tested positive for steroid use.
The unprecedented spot-checking of umpires began earlier this week after one official who was taunted after a close call leaped into the stands and roughed up 23 unruly fans.
It was unclear why the umpires, whose jobs generally require them to stand still on the field, were compelled to take the drugs. But one of the accused, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "When you're 5'6, 180 pounds and have to call a strike on a guy who's 6'2, 240 pounds when it's a full count, two outs and bases loaded, you're going to want to level the playing field a bit."
New York GOP To Clone Jeanine Pirro
Starved for candidates to compete in next-year's statewide elections, the New York Republican State Committee has hired a team of scientists to clone Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, enabling her to run simultaneously for governor, attorney general, senator and comptroller.
Pirro announced Monday that she would run for Senate in 2006 against Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, disappointing those who wanted her to try to succeed outgoing Gov. George Pataki or Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
"None of the names we've floated for these other jobs get much of a bounce in public opinion polls," said one GOP insider. "Pirro's not only the best horse on the track, she's the only one at the gate." The cloning would also allow her to run against Democratic comptroller incumbent Alan Hevesi.
State election law prohibits one person from running simultaneously for four offices, but a team of lawyers will argue that the candidates, to be named Jeanine Pirro 1-4, are actually individuals with identical positions and resumes.
"What the hell," said the insider. "It works for the Democrats."
Ex-Candidate Still Sending Daily Schedule To Reporters
A year after losing his uphill battle for Congress in New Jersey, Bud Hofstetter of Wayne continues to e-mail his daily schedule to reporters throughout the state.
Among yesterday's highlights: 8 AM -- Shave and Shower. 8:45 -- Breakfast, check e-mail, read paper. 9:30 -- Head over to Home Depot.
Hofstetter is now retired from a supervisory position at the state's Department of Labor Statistics, but is contemplating another bid for office. "I thought I'd keep my name out there and let people know what I've been doing," said Hofstetter, who lists his own phone number as "press contact" on the daily schedules. On most days, the schedule reads "No public events,: except when Hofstetter heads into town for shopping or other errands that may bring him on contact with the public.
Most of the daily schedule entries regard personal errands and and housekeeping tasks, but last week he included: 12 PM -6 PM: Available to answer questions from the media on pressing issues of the day.
New Six Flags Attraction To Fling Riders Into Space
Struggling to compete for thrill-seekers' attention, Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in Jackson, NJ, is planning an attraction that will hurl riders via nuclear-powered cannon out of the Earth's atmosphere to bounce off the moon before returning their oxygen-starved bodies to the surface.
Tentatively named the "Inertial Coma-Tizer," the ride is scheduled to open for the 2007 season, pending approval from state regulatory authorities and NASA. Next year, 26 new roller coasters are scheduled to open around the world.
Reaction to the new ride was tepid.
"It sounds like, you know, whatever, maybe it's OK," said Phil Nordquist of Ann Arbor, Michigan, after riding Kingda Ka, the world's fastest and tallest roller coaster, which reaches speeds of 128 mph, at Six Flags on Sunday. "I'll have to see."
Competing Bids To Redevelop Whole Planet
A United Nations subcommittee convened this week to analyze three competing bids to redevelop the entire planet. But members later said it will take years to properly analyze them.
"The environmental impact statements -- Wow!" said Tahuru Aleika, the subcommittee chairman. "I just don't even know where they would begin."
The bids have been kept under wraps, but inside sources said one of the bids was from Donald Trump, who would convert two of Earth's continents into mega-casinos, another two into luxury housing and leave one for "everyone else." The plan would also call for renaming the planet "Trump." The plan also has an option for later development of the moon and Mars.
The identity of the other two developers was not immediately known, but a source said one conglomerate was based in Frankfurt, prompting concern in some corners.
"Last time Germany tried to redevelop the planet -- well, you know ...," said an American diplomat.