Hank Stuever: Two of Washington’s airports — Dulles and Reagan National — will soon be part of the federal government’s Registered Traveler program, which offers passengers the happy prospect of getting through security lines faster, swifter, better. (Ninety thousand of them and counting have enrolled.) All you need do is pay an annual fee — $100 to start, plus a $28 shakedown so the government can make sure you’re, you know, okay. Next you submit all sorts of personal information, fingerprints and, because the future is now, an eyeball scan.
Then you are all clear.
Dan Barry: Imagining that late December night of long darkness, you can almost hear these youths of Vermont tramping up to the isolated farmhouse to intrude upon the sanctuary stillness. The break of snow beneath their feet would be the least of it.
They had driven or walked a half-mile up a snow-covered lane called Frost Road, then trudged past a large blue sign that explained the historic significance of the farmhouse and the cabin beyond. And now they were entering the coldness of an uninhabited place, carrying with them cases of beer, bottles of rum and a store of ignorance about things that matter here.
Over the next several hours, more than 30 teenagers and young adults toasted their post-adolescence with liquor carrying the added kick of illicitness. By early morning they were gone, leaving a wounded house watched over by winter-stripped birches and sugar maples.
The damage left in their wake reflected some alcohol-induced mischief tinged with certain anger. Broken window, broken screen, broken dishes, broken antiques. Pieces of a broken chair used for wood in the fireplace. Gobs of phlegm spat upon hanging artwork. Vomit, urine, beer everywhere. And a blanket of yellow, pollenlike dust, discharged from fire extinguishers in parting punctuation.
Before long, distressing word spread from Ripton to Middlebury and beyond that the preserved farmhouse once owned by Robert Frost had been vandalized — desecrated, some said. If these children of the Green Mountains knew this house was once Frost’s, then shame. If they did not know, then shame still; they should have. How many had been weaned on Frost? How many had tromped through here on class trips and family outings?
Tim Botos: How many ways can you measure a few feet? It’s exactly 24 inches, or less than a yard on a football field. It’s the height of a full-grown garden daisy, or a touch narrower than an average casket.
Two feet was the difference between life and death for Dane Brown and Ward Anthony. Whether by fate, grace of God, or a giant mistake, the outcome depends on your point of view.
To this day, the families of the men haven’t met, though they became linked forever in a split second in Vietnam — a moment on April 17, 1968, when one of the men died and the other lived.
“Good Marines, both of them,” said Grady Birdsong, who served in the same company.
The Las Vegas Sun: There’s plenty of excitement in the air at Monte Carlo on Friday morning, its lobby filled with people arriving for a great weekend on the Strip. George Thorogood is at the House of Blues, the Miss America pageant is at Planet Hollywood, Ashanti is hosting a party at Pure, and the American Society of Safety Engineers is meeting at the Flamingo.
In the travel industry, the 11-year-old Monte Carlo is considered an overflow hotel, the kind of place tourists go if their first choices — the Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mirage and Venetian — are filled.
Tiffany Nelson, 21, has flown in from Dallas to celebrate a friend’s birthday and is just now opening the door to her room after having checked in downstairs, in an elegant lobby of gold and marble.
Ruth Santiago, who’s been on the housekeeping staff at the Monte Carlo since it opened, is cleaning rooms on the seventh floor. She’s one of 950 employees working at that hour.
Lynn Briggs of Amherst, N.H., is in town for the pageant — she’s the coach for Miss New Hampshire. She’s already checked in to her 28th-floor room and has decided to go for a walk up the Strip.
And there’s a fire on the roof of the 32-story hotel, offering a thickening column of black smoke against the winter sky.
Nobody inside knows.
Michael Brick: PLANO, Tex. — A black Hummer pulled into the Hooters parking lot as dusk fell. Arthur Dale Atwood, a professional bodybuilder with a 61-inch chest, opened the tailgate for a police informant to deliver more than 100 bottles of fake drugs made from vegetable oil.
For months, city detectives had been watching as Atwood, 34, amassed steroids, human growth hormone, Ecstasy and exotic thyroid stimulators. Last May, the police made their move. Outside the Hooters lot, officers pulled over the Hummer. But instead of filing drug charges, they turned Atwood over to federal prosecutors running a more ambitious investigation.
Three days later, federal agents began arresting seven other bodybuilders across the state. One of them, David C. Jacobs, 35, known to friends as Bulletproof, publicly boasted of having evidence to link players for the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons to steroids. No such evidence has been revealed, and those teams have strongly denied his statements.