News you may have missed...

It's Not the Heat, It's the Stupidity: Analysis Finds Bad Policies, Not  Global Warming, to Blame for Tropical Diseases

A Brief Analysis issued by the Dallas, Texas-based National Center  for Policy Analysis finds that the spread of such tropical diseases as malaria, cholera and dengue fever has more to do with bad government policies than global warming. The Brief Analysis, "Sick Argument: Global  Warming and the Spread of Tropical Diseases," notes that Peru had been cholera-free for decades until 1991, when Peruvian officials took the advice of the U.S. EPA and ended water chlorination. More than 300 000  Peruvians contracted cholera the following year. The paper also notes that malaria was fairly widespread in the United States earlier this century when the temperatures were presumably cooler, with more than 120 000 cases in 1934. For more, contact Sterling Burnett at The  National Center for Policy Analysis at 972/386-6272 or visit their  website at www.ncpa.org.

The Myth of Scientific Consensus on Global Warming

Forget what you've read in the press or watched on television: There  is no scientific consensus on global warming.  A survey of over 400  German, American and Canadian climate researchers conducted by Dennis Bray of the Meteorologisches Institut der Unversitat Hamburg and Hans von Storch of GKSS Forschungszentrum found that 67 per cent of the researchers either disagreed or were uncertain about the proposition that climate change  will occur so suddenly that a lack of preparation would devastate certain  parts of the world -- the underlying assumption of the Kyoto treaty.

Close to half of the researchers -- 48 per cent -- indicated that they don't have  faith in the forecasts of global climate models.  For more information,  obtain a copy of National Policy Analysis paper No. 177 by calling Mike Quickel at The National Center for Public Policy Research, 202/543-1286,  or by visiting the website at www.nationalcenter.org.

Because you know the courts are for protecting consumers

A federal district court permitted the Department of Agriculture to implement the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact, which was "specifically designed to artificially raise the price of milk by creating a cartel" in the New England  states to increase regional prices above federal levels. The compact boosts the minimum price for milk by 26 cents per gallon and hurts farmers, as well as consumers, who now must pay a "tariff" to sell their milk across state lines.

How about hogging the remote control?

A handout distributed by the Iowa Domestic Abuse Hotline claims that "about one half of all women in Iowa have had domestic violence happen to them at some time in their lives." This alarming figure is based on a definition of domestic violence that includes such actions as "threatening to harm himself" and "controlling all the money, not allowing you to work, not allowing you to associate with certain people."

David Kelley to defend greed on ABC

David Kelley, Executive Director of the Institute for Objectivist Studies, will appear on an ABC special on February 3, 1998 at 10:00pm EST to defend greed.

Hosted by John Stossel, Kelley will refute Ted Turner's claim that philanthropy is morally superior to profit-seeking, will show why Michael Milken did more good then Mother Teresa, and he will explain why trade is not a zero-sum game with winners and losers.

Lawsuit Settlement Rings Teachers' Union's Bell; California Teachers Association Must Repay $200 a Year to Resigning Members for Dues Spent on Politics

The California Teachers Association (CTA), the state's largest teachers' labor union, can no longer prevent members from resigning from the union or requesting a refund of the portion of their mandatory dues spent for political purposes under the settlement terms of a class-action lawsuit.

"California's teacher union officials have feared this moment for decades: a time when teachers can free themselves from the union's grasp without obstruction," said Stefan Gleason of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the organization that filed the lawsuit.

Teacher Judith Apple of San Diego tried to resign from the union because she disagreed with its political activities, but was told she would have to continue as a full member and pay full dues until her affiliate's bargaining contract expired in July of 1998. With foundation assistance, Apple filed suit in November of 1996, charging her compulsory union membership violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The settlement eliminates compulsory membership requirements from contracts, accepts all current and past resignation requests and mandates the rebate of all dues money not spent on collective bargaining, contract negotiation and grievances to all members who request it. Refunds are expected to total approximately $200 a year. The settlement affects all 250 000 CTA members.

"Teacher union officials diverted over 95% of teacher's compulsory union dues spent on politics into subsidizing the partisan interests of a single, narrow ideological group," said Gleason. "But now with this federal court settlement California's educators can no longer be forced along for the ride."

RCMP exam re-written for minorities

The Toronto Star reported in January that a report on federal employment equity ordered the RCMP entrance exam be rewritten after some aboriginals and other visible minorities scored slightly lower than other potential recruits, says

"Aboriginal applicants to the RCMP tend to have significantly less formal education than applicants from other groups," the report said. "For some visible minorities there are also likely second-language issues in addition to educational ones."

The difference in scores on the entrance exam was "not of a great magnitude," but the report cited concerns over subtests involving written composition, logic and computation.

Work on a revised entrance exam was in "the very early stages," said the report, which covered 1996.

"We have to try to design tests that meet the requirements of the kind of people we're looking for," said Sergeant Mike Gaudet, an RCMP spokesperson in Ottawa. "We want to make sure there are no systemic barriers."

The employment equity report said the RCMP's recruitment priorities are, in descending order: visible minorities, aboriginals, women and Caucasian men.

Sounds like some systemic barriers to me.

...and speaking of the RCMP

Parents in two tiny Acadian communities say their children run and hide at the sight of a Mountie and they want the New Brunswick government to find out why.

A group of parents from the northeastern New Brunswick villages of Saint-Sauveur and Saint-Simon were in Fredericton on January 12 asking questions about an RCMP decision to use tear gas last year during a protest over threatened school closures.

The parents want a public inquiry into what they regard as excessive use of police force to silence a group of Canadians protesting a government decision.

The RCMP responded to the school demonstrations last May with baton-wielding tactical squads who lobbed tear gas grenades to disperse the men, women and children.

To date, they have never received an apology and the government has refused to hold an inquiry.

U.S. Supreme court says lying can get you fired

Government agencies can punish employees who lie while being investigated for employment-related misconduct, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously January 21.

The court overturned rulings in five separate cases that had barred federal agencies from stiffening the disciplinary action taken against wayward employees based on false statements they made when questioned about their misconduct.

Although the decision dealt with federal employees, its rationale appeared to affect state and local government employees as well. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court that nothing in the Constitution nor any federal law bars such punishment.

"A citizen may decline to answer the question, or answer it honestly, but he cannot with impunity knowingly and willfully answer with a falsehood," Rehnquist said.

When the cases were argued in December, Rehnquist had observed from the bench that the bottom line seemed simple. "The moral of this is don't lie," the chief justice had suggested.

Rehnquist said federal employees who fear they may expose themselves to criminal prosecution if they answer questions about their work-related conduct can exercise their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

But agencies are free, when it comes to dishing out noncriminal discipline, to take such silence into consideration, he said.

In each of the five cases, the federal Merit Systems Protection Board and a federal appeals court disallowed extra punishment based on an employee's false statements. Punishments were reduced in each after false-statement sanctions were disallowed.

Presumably, the respective agencies now will be able to reinstate the harsher punishments.

Proving conservatives can be good statists too...

Ontario high school students will have to put in at least 40 hours of volunteer work over four years to graduate under new curriculum guidelines unveiled in early January.

"Through community involvement, students will experience first hand how everyone can make a contribution to their community," a government source said.

In addition to putting more emphasis on math, science and languages, the new curriculum will require students in grades 9 through 12 to take a civics course and do volunteer work in the community as part of a plan for "promoting responsible citizenship," the source said.

"Forty hours over four years - that's an average of 10 hours a year - is not onerous," the source said.

Under the plan, volunteer work can be at an organization such as the United Way or in a less formal setting like tutoring children in the neighbourhood or visiting lonely shut-ins.

Exactly what type of work qualifies will be decided at the local level and with some discretion from the school principal. There will be "an honour check-up system," to ensure the volunteering is done.

Teachers will not have to monitor the program or find the volunteer work for the students.

The education ministry will work with school boards and other groups to suggest how students in remote and rural communities as well as those with special needs can get the opportunity to volunteer.

"In rural areas, the opportunities might be less than they are in highly organized urban areas where there's a volunteer group on every corner," the source said. "The program will be flexible so that all students will be able to find ways to participate.

"There will be a clear process and clear expectations for how students will report on their activities."

Start a rebellion...murder someone...becoming a founding father

Two Liberal MPs, one from Quebec and the other from Manitoba, say they will push a bill to exonerate Louis Riel if the government doesn't move quickly to clear the Metis leader's name.

Winnipeg South MP Reg Alcock says he will join Bourassa MP Denis Coderre in a private member's bill they expect would likely pass a House of Commons vote.

Similar legislation proposed by Bloc Quebecois MP Suzanne Tremblay was defeated 112-103 in December 1996. Many Liberals voted against it or absented themselves because it was being advanced by a separatist.

Riel was hanged for treason in Regina in 1885 after the Northwest Rebellion. He is a controversial figure whose actions have long divided French and English Canada.

Critics of the move to exonerate Riel say he was delusional near the end of his life. Riel claimed he was in regular contact with God and the Virgin Mary.

In its statement of reconciliation to Aboriginal Peoples in January, the government referred to the "sad events culminating in the death" of Riel.

It also promised to find a way to recognize his "proper place in Canada's history." Many consider Riel the founder of Manitoba and a Father of Confederation.

Ralph Goodale, the federal minister responsible for the Metis, is working on a bill that would deal with Riel's execution and would recognize him as a founder of Manitoba. He has a core group of cabinet supporters, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Secretary of State Ron Duhamel, who will help push the bill.

But Alcock and Coderre said they are skeptical that the government would act quickly to pass the bill.

Under the creepy category of "A Real Bad Idea Which Reminds Us Of Another Purity Campaign"

Rabbi Nachum Eisenstein thinks he'll soon be able to answer the perennial question, "Who is a Jew?"

After years of debate about who belongs to the biblical Chosen People, Eisenstein has started choosing which Jews qualify for a new master list. The Committee for Jewish Lineage is compiling a computerized registry of the world's estimated 10 million Jews to ensure the "purity of the Jewish community."

Only genealogically genuine Jews need apply. According to Eisenstein, that means people whose Jewish roots can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

"We hope they will be proud of the fact that we want to give them, like, a membership card, that you're full-fledged members in the Jewish nation," Eisenstein said.

Against a bitter political backdrop which has seen Israel struggle with recognizing of non-Orthodox Jews, Eisenstein's Jewish lineage committee is anxious to give its stamp of approval to Jews with the right family background. After years of researching Jewish genealogy, Eisenstein is confident he can weed out wannabe Jews, reducing the risks of intermarriage and the specter of assimilation.

Against that bitter political backdrop, Eisenstein's Jewish lineage committee is anxious to give its stamp of approval to Jews with the right family background. After years of researching Jewish genealogy, Eisenstein is confident he can weed out wannabe Jews, reducing the risks of intermarriage and the specter of assimilation.

California's Campaign Reform Initiative Goes National

Mark Bucher, one of three authors of California's Campaign Reform Initiative, which is scheduled to be on California's June ballot, described the initiative and it's political value to conservatives.  The CRI would 1) prohibit foreign contributions to state and local campaigns, 2) require employers to gain annual written permission from each employee before making payroll deductions for political purposes at the state and local level and 3) require labor unions to receive annual written permission from each member before using mandatory dues for state and local political activity.  It is the last provision that is expected to be helpful to conservatives.  As Bucher says, "The other side exists primarily through compulsion.  If you took away federal funding, their mandatory student fees (thanks to Ralph Nader's operation) and their mandatory union dues, they wouldn't have a leg to stand on in terms of issues... Most of what they stand for, the American public doesn't stand for."

Bucher also discussed a national version of the CRI, HR 1625, which the U.S. Congress is expected to vote on this summer, poll data showing overwhelming support for CRI, and CRI-like initiatives in states other than California.

Clinton Scandal Shows "Naked Abuse of Power," Says Project 21

The African-American leadership group Project 21 says allegations of perjury and an affair with an intern by President Clinton is a critical blow to the President in terms of trust and character.

"This recent situation with the President takes on a very serious tone because this time the actions that are being alleged took place in the White House and supposedly involved Vernon Jordan," says Stuart Pigler, aide to Michigan State Representative Dick Posthumus and Project 21 member.  "Surely, the American people will see that character flaws such as these can effect sound judgement when conducting the affairs of the country and creating policy.  There's no avoiding the word at this point."

"Every allegation that has been brought against the President by alleged paramours, business partners and critics involves misuse of the public trust for private gain.  I just think it's a naked abuse of power," added Washington policy analyst Kevin Pritchett.

Despite DOJ jihad and bad press -- Americans still like Microsoft

Despite a jihad by the Department of Justice against Microsoft and bad press concerning their actions against it, Americans still have positive feelings about the company.

A survey conducted by CNN and Time magazine asked 1 020 Americans, with 648 computer users among them, their opinions of Microsoft's role in the computer industry.

Of the 648 computer users, 60 per cent believed that the government should not place restrictions on Microsoft so its competitors can "compete." Among the 1 020, 51 per cent adopted that position.

Americans also liked Bill Gates, the survey found. 52 per cent of PC users and 42 per cent of all Americans had a favourable opinion of Gates, compared to 31 per cent in a 1995 survey.

The survey was conducted on Jan. 14 and 15 and results reflect a possible sampling error of +/- 4 percentage points.

A pleasant surprise at the University of California at Berkeley

Berkeley has been known for a lot of things, but a love of Ayn Rand isn't usually one of them.

According to a recent informal poll among freshman students, the individualist author's The Fountainhead was named the post popular book. In contrast, Alice Walker's The Color Purple was the most popular book in 1987.

Rand made the top ten both years and the novel made the top five in both years, a feat only match by J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye.

"I think there's something in her books very appealing to students who are just forming their ideas about the world," said Steve Tollefson, a lecturer and faculty development coordinator who has been teaching freshman writing at UC for 25 years. "My only solace is that I think they get smarter here at Berkeley and outgrow her."

Or perhaps they already grew smarter Mr. Tollefson.

Ice storm the fault of humans, says Greenpeace

Though facing a gradual decline in its numbers, and an increasing lack of relevancy among the public, Greenpeace still manages to come up with some good copy.

According to a Greenpeace report released in the last days of January, Quebecers should reduce their contributions to climate changes, the cause of last month's ice storm. The environmental group also suggested Quebecers should wean themselves off their current centralized electrical energy source and opt for safer alternatives, like solar power.

The report attempts to establish a link between climate changes on a global scale and the ice storm that left three million Quebecers in the dark.

"The big ice storm of the beginning of 1998 cannot simply be considered a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon," the report states.

"It could be a terrible glimpse of what the future holds for us if we don't put a stop to our worldwide dependence on gas and other fossil fuels."

Climate changes caused by global warming could increase the frequency and severity of El Nino, which could then trigger increasingly extreme weather in eastern North America, it said.

Dems block renaming of Washington Airport after Reagan

GOP attempts to rename Washington National Airport after former President Ronald Reagan have run into roadblocks by congressional Democrats, who note the area's second biggest building already sports Reagan's name.

Republicans were hoping to pass a bill making the change by Reagan's birthday February 6, but Democrats used parliamentary tactics January 29 to block further consideration of the bill. The stalling strategy came after GOP lawmakers balked at a Democratic proposal to rename the Justice Department after the late Robert F. Kennedy.

"This is the definition of pettiness," said Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., the bill's sponsor. "Today a cynical attack was launched against a great national leader. Ronald Reagan has given so much to America, and it is shameful that every member of the Congress cannot join in granting him this  small, well deserved honor."

Democrats said politics had nothing to do with their concerns. They eventually dropped their request to rename the Justice Department, but complained that Republicans were refusing to consider any changes to the bill.

"There are a number of Democratic senators who want the opportunity to have a right to offer perhaps more than one amendment," Democratic Leader Tom Daschle said. "There are a lot of very legitimate questions. ... So I don't think it would be in our best interests to proceed today."

"People have raised the question of whether it is appropriate to take the name of Washington off the name of this particular airport," he said. "There is some question as well about whether the Reagan family even wants this to be done," he said.

Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., countered that renaming the airport in honor of Reagan would do no disservice to the nation's first president.

"Washington National Airport was not named after George Washington. It was named after the District of Columbia," he said.

President's Road Ban Violates Laws

At the end of January, the Clinton Administration placed a two-year moratorium on building new roads in the National Forest system for low road density  areas of 1,000 acres or more. The moratorium would make these areas de facto wilderness areas in violation of the 1984 Wilderness Act which specifies that any federal lands not specifically designated wilderness areas must be managed for multiple uses. It would also bypass both the  National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act. 

For its part, the Clinton Administration argues that the moratorium is necessary to, among other things, upgrade existing roads, "aggressively decommission old, unneeded...and unauthorized 'ghost roads,'" and to identify sustainable funding sources for maintaining the forest road  system. Critics, however, believe the Administration's real motivation  is to bring federal policy one step closer to banning timber harvests and other activities in National Forests. As a result, a new coalition of  some 70 multiple-use and property rights groups, Communities for Forest Access, has been formed to fight the designation. To join the coalition or further information call Chuck Cushman at 360/687-3087. Information on the moratorium can also be obtained from the Oregon Lands Coalition at  503/363-8582.

Monica Lewinsky Helps Democrat Fundraising

Controversy sparked by alleged presidential mistress Monica Lewinsky appeared to be having a positive effect on Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraising.  According to an AP report on the party's telemarketing, "[DNC] Chairman Steve Grossman said the average pledge rate was $28.35 the day before the allegations were made public [January 20], and it dropped to $25.13 two days later.   The average pledge had jumped to $30.21 on  January 27."  This was the highest single day since the campaign began in mid-January.  The Republican National Committee reports no change in the rates of return on their fundraising.

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