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web posted January 10, 1999

Guest Choice Network announces nominees for 1999 Nanny Awards

Who will be 1999's Nanny of the Year?

Will it be Carnival Cruise Lines for evicting a paying passenger for merely possessing tobacco? Or Mothers Against Drunk Driving for attempting to ban beer on a Texas golf course? Or Greenpeace for spinning a small Cornell study on Monarch butterfly caterpillars into a worldwide panic?

In all, twenty-four nominees for 1999 are vying for the dubious distinction of being the "best" at misrepresenting scientific studies, exaggerating environmental effects or fabricating societal impact in the areas of food, alcohol, tobacco control, animal rights and "junk" science. Also recognized are transparently cynical efforts at "playing the kid card" for political cover and the "public disservice" award which cites those who overstep their authority to trample a personal legal lifestyle choice.

Among 1999's nominees: Action on Smoking and Health, Center for Science in the Public Interest, World Health Organization, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, SeaWeb, Consumers Union and activists Jeremy Rifkin, George Hacker and Stan Glantz and French farmer Jose Bove.

For a complete roster of 1999 nominees, visit www.guestchoice.com online or call (202) 463-7112 for a ballot.

The Nanny Awards are presented annually by The Guest Choice Network, a coalition of 30,000 restaurant and tavern owners working together to preserve the right to offer guests a full menu of dining and entertainment choices.

To vote: 1999 Nanny Award ballots are made available to the Guest Choice Network coalition members, selected business and trade association leaders and the media, but anyone interested can vote online at www.guestchoice.com or call the Guest Choice Network to receive a ballot by fax or mail. Nominations must be received by January 28, 2000. 1999 Nanny Award winners will be announced in Washington, D.C. in early February.

Beatty rules out run for presidency -- for now

Warren Beatty is ruling out a run for the presidency -- but not necessarily forever.

"I'm not running now," he said in an interview in the February issue of Vanity Fair magazine.

"I think the question is: Can I be effective at another time? Whether that is in a year, or two years, who knows?"

The actor suggested last summer that he was interested in a possible run as a Democratic candidate. He declined in November to seek a spot on the California primary ballot, but would not comment then on his future plans.

Although he had previously said it was unlikely he would actually become a candidate, the interview in Vanity Fair appeared to put the question to rest.

Beatty said he decided not to run after realizing that a poor showing on his part could damage his liberal agenda and the issues that matter to him -- including schools and a ban on special-interest money for political campaigns.

He told the magazine that he feared his critics would say: "'Look, Movie Star was up here and tried to do something with these issues and look how unpopular they are.' Well, I don't believe that."

But he doesn't think his flirtation with running for office was entirely in vain. "I feel good about speaking up," he said. "I wouldn't feel good if I hadn't. It seems to me that the effect has been positive, that I've not yet made too much of a fool of myself -- at least, I don't think I have. I have not diminished the importance of the issues. One has to be very, very careful not to be an unwitting party to making what most people consider to be unfashionably liberal ideas appear to be more unpopular than they really are."

He criticized the election system that gives great importance to the early primaries in a few big states.

"With the front-loading of primaries, you have the political version of a blockbuster movie," he said. "There's no time for people to discover the movie before it's kicked out of the theaters."

Beatty also refused to endorse any other candidates.

"They're all good men, but none of them are saying enough of the things that need to be said," he told the magazine.

Hillary Clinton rakes in soft money

Hillary Rodham Clinton has helped raise more than $360,000 in unregulated soft money donations for a special Democratic fund set up for the New York Senate race, federal records showed on January 4.

The soft money donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee allow supporters to bypass more stringent campaign limits of $2,000 per donor on what candidates can accept directly.

There is no limit on soft money contributions that can be made to pay for issue-oriented ads and activities that do not specifically advocate voting for a candidate. Corporations that cannot donate directly to candidates may also give soft money. Critics of the funding scheme say it allows candidates to skirt campaign contribution limits.

Clinton attended 11 events last year to raise money for the DSCC's "New York Senate 2000." She helped take in cash from California, Texas and her native Illinois, as well as New York.

The fund-raising events helped raise money for Clinton's campaign and the DSCC. By law, the DSCC cannot earmark contributions raised in the name of a certain candidate to help that candidate. But DSCC officials admit they keep track of the amounts candidates raise, and the committee's political director, Jim Jordan, said, "we certainly anticipate spending heavily in a large state like New York."

DSCC Chairman Sen. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey said that he would spend "whatever is required to win" in the high-stakes New York Senate race.

A pair of Democratic activists from Westport, Conn., topped the givers to the DSCC's New York committee. Sandra Wagenfeld and Francine Goldstein donated a combined $160,000, according to new disclosure reports.

Also donating large sums were Metabolife, a San Diego-based diet pill supplement maker that handed over $25,000, and Chicago-based television mogul Fred Eychaner who contributed $20,000.

Democrats have already begun spending soft money in the New York race. They used about $338,000 for television ads that showed footage of the first lady in New York and asked voters to "call Hillary." At about the same time the DSCC received a $500,000 donation from the politically powerful hospital workers union Local 1199. The New York City union's president, Dennis Rivera, is one of Clinton's strongest backers.

The first lady's most likely rival, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, said he still had not made up his mind whether to forgo soft money. But he indicated Clinton's early use of it might force him to do so as well.

"I believe you have to be competitive. I intend to get my message out," Giuliani said.

Both the Clinton and Giuliani camps have said they have raised more than $6.6 million, the amount former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato raised in 1997 the year before he was defeated by Charles Schumer. Neither camp will not say specifically how much they have in the bank for the campaign filing period that ended Dec. 31. Those financial filings are due at the end of January.

Officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee said they have not decided whether to set up an account specifically for the New York race. But they took a shot at Clinton's prolific fund-raising.

"She's given them one of their best years," Republican committee spokesman Stuart Roy said. "They should call the DSCC the 'donations saved for the Clinton campaign."'

While "victory" committees have been set up by the DSCC in six other states, they have been dwarfed by the New York effort. The California fund, for example, has raised only $57,000 for the DSCC, records show.

Canada's Chrétien's attachment to gifts rankles

Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, has kept more than 100 valuable gifts presented to him by foreign leaders since 1993, including top-of-the-line golf clubs, sculptures, ornate jewellery, oil paintings by famous artists and even cases of French wine and boxes of Cuban cigars.

Under Canada's conflict-of-interest rules, the prime minister and his cabinet ministers are permitted to accept free gifts presented during official government business, provided they declare anything worth more than $200 to the office of Howard Wilson, the federal Ethics Commissioner.

In opposition, the Liberals had a field day, railing against Brian Mulroney, the former Progressive Conservative prime minister, when he kept gifts, demanding they be turned over to the state as U.S. presidents are required to do.

But federal records at the ethics commissioner's office show that Chrétien and his wife, Aline, have kept 109 gifts. The list does not include the gifts Chrétien received on his last mission abroad, where he received an expensive 24-carat gold and diamond lapel pin from South Africa.

Among some of the gifts are: a "large ornate clock" given by Boris Yeltsin, who shocked Russia on December 31 by resigning as president; a Tiffany 18-carat gold pinwheel brooch and two Callaway golf clubs that cost $350 a piece from Bill Clinton, the U.S. president; a Chinese silk and horse sculptures from China; sterling silver from Pakistan; and an ancient cup from Israel.

Marjory LeBreton, a Conservative senator and former deputy chief of staff to Mulroney, said Mulroney returned all of the gifts he received from foreign leaders to the National Archives when he left office in 1993. She challenged Chrétien to do the same.

"When you look at Chrétien's list, there are some very expensive things. I would hope that Chrétien will turn over his gifts to the archives just like Mulroney did," she said. "I honestly don't know how Jean Chrétien can keep a straight face after the Liberals made such an issue out of Mulroney's gifts."

Francois Decros, the prime minister's communications director, would not say if Chrétien intends to turn over the gifts to the state.

"He abides by the rules in declaring them. We have never commented on whether he keeps them or gives them away," she said.

John Williams, a Reform MP and chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, also called on Chrétien to set an example of leadership by turning over the gifts to the state, including oil paintings by Katerina Mertika and Peter Max and a crystal globe designed by Jeffrey Gluk, a Miami artist.

"I find that scandalous that the office of the prime minister would be allowed to keep gifts given to him by virtue of the office that he holds," Williams said. "I have no problem with the odd bottle of wine, which is why the $200 limit is there, but oil paintings and carvings and statues and jewellery should be turned over to the state. It is a gift to the office holder, and I would hope that he would have the decency to turn them over to the state."

Williams said the prime minister should follow the example of David Kilgour, the secretary of state for Latin America and Africa, who received a sculpture on a visit to Gabon and promptly turned it over to the Canadian embassy in the west African nation.

"David did the right thing. It wasn't given to him by virtue of the fact that David Kilgour showed up on the doorstep. It was given to him because he was representing the government of Canada and therefore he turned it over to the government and did the right thing, and the prime minister should follow the example of his cabinet members," Williams added.

When the Conservatives were in power, Don Boudria, a Liberal MP and now Government House Leader, was harshly critical of Mulroney for accepting valuable gifts. At the time, Boudria said: "He shouldn't pretend it's a personal gift when clearly it is not ... It's a gift to to the prime minister of Canada and not to Brian Mulroney."

However, Boudria now maintains that Chrétien has the right to accept the gifts, explaining that it is "standard protocol" for prime ministers to keep gifts from foreign leaders.

Other gifts given to Chrétien include: a raincoat from Burberry's Ltd. of London; a frosted glass-footed vase and icon painted wood box from Romania; a bronze sculpture and silver chain and pendant from Peru; a marble chess set and decorative grapes made of Chile's national stone; black lacquered panels from Vietnam; a black bird sculpture from Ireland; an oil painting from Poland; and a framed brass warrior face from Burkina Faso.

Media accused of gun control bias

A conservative media group accused television networks on January 5 of biased coverage of the gun control debate.

The television networks are so badly spinning the gun control debate in favor of gun control they have become the "communications division of the anti-gun lobby," said Brent Bozell. He chairs the Media Research Center, which released its study of two years of television news stories on gun control.

The study analyzed the morning shows and evening newscasts between July 1, 1997, and June 30, 1999, on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC.

"There's a powerful, pervasive bias in the media," said Oliver North, the former Iran-Contra figure who now hosts a political talk show and is a national board member of the National Rifle Association. "This blitz of bias is having an extraordinary impact on public policy and legal opinion."

CNN spokesman David Bittler defended his network's reporting, saying, "We do not advocate for or against any particular position and we stand behind the balance and fairness that goes into all our reporting."

Bozell's group says it examined 653 morning and evening news stories on gun policy issues and found that stories advocating more gun control outnumbered stories opposing gun control 357 to 36, or a ratio of 10 to 1. Another 260 stories were neutral, the group said.

In many cases, the study said, pro-gun themes were not covered and gun proponents were not given air time.

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