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Diplomacy's environmental downside

| Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

If you long have suspected that Secretary of State John Kerry is full of hot air, you're correct.

Kerry and his staffers are responsible for emissions of more than 35.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the environment while attempting to broker peace in the Middle East. That's according to an environmental impact study conducted by The Washington Free Beacon.

The online news outlet reported that after taking six trips to the region since February, Kerry and his advisers have caused emissions of almost twice the amount of carbon that the average American causes yearly. The Beacon determined that using statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Kerry, husband of Fox Chapel's own Teresa Heinz, alone bears responsibility for emissions of more than 26,000 pounds of CO2 as he tries to restart the Israelie-Palestinian peace process.

Odd behavior from a man who claims global warming is one of his greatest concerns — especially so because most analysts say the peace mission has little chance of success.

REPS RAKE IN PER DIEMS. State lawmakers representing Southwestern Pennsylvania aren't shy about milking the taxpayers.

Five of the top 10 legislative per diem collectors in May are from the Pittsburgh area. The per diems are supposed to cover travel and lodging expenses for lawmakers who easily could afford to pay those bills out of their own pockets.

The Pennsylvania Independent reports that Rep. Dom Costa, D-Stanton Heights, raked in the second-largest amount, with $2,598; Rep. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen, was fourth, with $2,487; Rep.Nick Kotik, D-Coraopolis, was sixth, with $2,213; Rep. Jaret Gibbons, D-Beaver, was seventh, with $2,017; and Rep. John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair, was 10th, with $1,949.

As these lawmakers have salaries of at least $83,000 annually, we wonder why they don't cut taxpayers a break and pick up their own travel and lodging.

RAGING RAPIDS. During recent flooding along Banksville Road in Pittsburgh's South Hills, police received a report that motorists were removing barricades and driving on the closed roadway.

One unidentified police officer, apparently busy and believing firefighters who had earlier blocked the road had already left, responded that the firemen should be doing it and told a dispatcher to tell the firemen they wouldn't be able to “wash their cars” that day. Meanwhile, firefighters apparently were farther down the road, trying to clear debris.

Talk about brotherly love.

PITTSBURGH BEAUTY.Kelly Heinrich, 39, was the only person from Southwestern Pennsylvania on the Washington, D.C., newspaper The Hill's 10th anniversary edition of its list of the “50 Most Beautiful People” who work on and around Capitol Hill.

Pittsburgh native Heinrich is co-founder of the Global Freedom Center, a nonprofit that provides training to help others identify and prevent human trafficking.

The Hill had U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., first on its “Beautiful People” list.

OH, WHAT A NIGHT! Bishop David Zubik of the Pittsburgh Diocese, who snagged a seat near the stage at a recent Heinz Hall performance by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, got a nod from the “Jersey Boy” himself.

Valli, 79, acknowledged “a priest in the audience” during his two-hour show. Zubik was a 13-year-old in Ambridge, Beaver County, when the crooner's first hit, “Sherry,” reached No. 1 on the pop charts in 1962.

The evening wasn't all play for the bishop, who paused in the lobby to give a blessing to a woman in a wheelchair.

— compiled by Trib Total Media staff

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