The Bard And the Balkans

The Kosovo crisis is blood and war and refugees and some dreadful mistakes in bombings that have much embarrassed NATO. That may be why NATO spokesman Jamie Shea of Britain is so good at his job, which is to elevate matters to a more existential, literate plane.

Take his recent response when questioned about reports that Serbs were digging up evidence of mass murders and reburying bodies to cover up their evil.

"All of this . . . the attempt to destroy the evidence, the belief that you can dig up the crime if you dig up the body," Shea said, "reminds me of the scene in Act II of `Macbeth,' where you remember that having committed his crime, Lady Macbeth says to Macbeth: `Go. Get water and wash this filthy witness from your hand.'

"And Macbeth replies:

`Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from

my hand?' And Lady Macbeth replies: `Out, damn spot. Out, I say. Here is the smell of blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. What is done cannot be undone.'

"And I would like to send those lines to the authorities in Belgrade," Shea said. To befuddle them? No, "so that they realize that, no matter how much they may exhume mass graves, the [war crimes] tribunal will be on to them in due course."

With water supplies run-ning low in Belgrade, watch for Shea to give us something from Coleridge next.

In the Wake

Summer is only a week away. In most of the country, that means lazy days at the beach, hot dogs and beer, baseball and picnics.

But in Washington, summer means just another battle over those nifty water toys called personal watercraft, or Jet Skis.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association has written members, telling them that it "has learned that the Department of Interior plans on banning motorized boating . . . in national parks. The first step is to ban" Jet Skis, the letter says. "After that, the

Department of Interior has expressed its intention to ban . . . [motor]boats, motorcycles and snowmobiles."

"Absolutely false," says Park Service spokesman David Barna. The Jet Skis will be allowed where "appropriate," such as lakes behind dams or national seashores, just not in the Reflecting Pool at the Lincoln Memorial, he says. And there is "no plan to do anything with motorboats."

Enclosed in the NMMA packet is a handy "sample letter," with instructions to "please recreate with personalized information on your company letterhead."

The letter, to be sent to senators, urges a hold on Interior's funding "until it drops these attempts to unfairly restrict" personal watercraft. Letter writers should be sure to note that these proposals would mean a downturn in boat sales and job losses.

But one large powerboat maker, Genmar Holdings Inc., doesn't seem worried about such a ban. The company last year dropped its longtime membership in the trade group because it didn't want to promote Jet Skis. Seems the company was a bit concerned about linkage with the noisy, polluting and dangerous toys (83 deaths nationwide were attributed to personal watercraft in 1997 alone, according to the National Transportation Safety Board).

Letters or not, the ever-aggressive Interior Department does indeed plan to ban the machines in parts of national parks -- but not this season. Interior's ban would take effect on October 1. Unclear whether funds have been set aside for the families of anyone who might be killed between now and then.

Don't Ask;

Do Tell

Attention, Senate interns. Hurry on down to a never-before-offered training session that's bound to be useful, even in the post-Packwood era.

Jean Manning, the Senate's chief counsel for employment, recently sent around this e-mail invite: "I will be conducting three Senate-wide seminars for interns this summer. The topic will be sexual harassment, and the purpose is to educate them that Senate offices have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment, what sexual harassment is, and that they should report any incidents to the Chiefs of Staff, Staff Directors, Office Managers or Chief Clerks in accordance with the policy of the particular office/committee in which they work." Sessions are scheduled for June 29 and July 15 at 10 a.m. in SH-708. Double-check on the location, however, because Manning reports the "response has been very good" from the estimated 500 to 1,000 summer interns, and she's looking for a bigger room.

We trust nothing should be read into the e-mail's failure to tell interns to report harassment to the senator.

Tips and comments for Al Kamen's column are welcomed

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