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web posted May 7, 2001

Nathaniel Branden to host LFB Author's Board

Laissez Faire Books is pleased to announce that on May 9th through 15th, Nathaniel Branden will be hosting their Author's Board and will be discussing his book The Psychology of Self-Esteem.

The Board is located at http://www.laissezfairebooks.com/cgi-local/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?az=list&forum=DCForumID10&conf=DCConfID1 and everyone is welcome!

EPA computer files were erased

Electronic computer files of top Environmental Protection Agency officials under President Bill Clinton were erased in January, despite a lawsuit by a conservative legal group to preserve records.

Craig Lawrence, an assistant U.S. attorney, told U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth the computer storage drives of former EPA administrator Carol M. Browner and a top aide were erased by a contractor just before Clinton left office on January 20.

"We take this matter very seriously," Lawrence said. "That's why we walked into court today and gave him as much information as we have."

Lamberth ordered the EPA on January 19 to preserve all records relating to a lawsuit filed by the Landmark Legal Foundation last fall. The lawsuit, filed under the Freedom of Information Act, seeks documents relating to the involvement of outside groups in regulatory actions the EPA took in the final months of the administration.

"It's very, very serious when evidence that is the subject of litigation is tampered with," said Mark Levin, president of the foundation, which brought the suit.

In addition to the hard drives erased on January 19, Lawrence said the contractor removed material from computers of two other Clinton EPA officials on January 26. The drives apparently were erased as part of the process of moving from one administration to another, according to government lawyers.

After the government's disclosure, Lamberth granted the foundation's request to question Browner under oath about the information sought in the lawsuit. Officials said Browner ordered that her computer drive be erased before she left office, but government lawyers said they believe the erasure of her hard drive occurred before Lamberth's order was signed -- although they apparently occurred on the same day.

Government lawyers said they are investigating whether they can recover any lost material from backup tapes.

Here's a headline that's never been written before: May Day parades turn violent

May Day brought thousands of workers to the streets in traditional labor parades on May 1, while a new generation of anti-globalization protesters scuffled with police from Sydney to Berlin.

Protestor kicks busIn London, some store owners boarded up windows and police marshaled a huge display of manpower, hoping to head off trouble by a militant minority among an anticipated 10,000 anti-capitalist protesters.

In Berlin, police used water cannons to break up street blockades, arresting several dozen leftists. Far-right marchers took to the streets later in the day, kept apart from counter-demonstrators by police.

Overnight, some 500 protesters erected barricades, set fires and threw rocks and bottles at police. A police spokesman said 30 to 40 demonstrators were arrested and several officers were injured. About 1,500 mostly drunk protesters set fire to a shed after a street festival near the former site of the Berlin Wall.

In Sydney, Australia, two police officers were hospitalized and 28 others injured as authorities fought with hundreds of anti-globalization protesters. In Brisbane, about 35 activists were arrested and several people injured as protesters tried to storm the stock exchange.

Authorities in London -- nervously recalling some demonstrators' tussles with police last year -- ordered 6,000 police officers onto the streets. Police fear that hardcore activists are planning violence during an afternoon rally on Oxford Street, London's busiest shopping street.

Police on foot and motorcycles, along with a circling helicopter, kept watch as about 600 cyclists snarled rush hour traffic in central London with a peaceful parade.

"I'm into the peaceful stuff. If anyone pulls out a brick, I'm going to be furious," said Daisy Evans, a 34-year-old office planner. "I'm anti-car, basically. I commute to work every day on my bicycle."

In France, thousands of workers and trade unionists marched, led by employees who lost their jobs in a recent wave of restructuring in a number of major companies.

"This May 1 is particularly important because of the string of layoffs organized by companies whose profits are rising," said Marcel Karbasse, a member of the CGT trade union.

In towns across Russia, hundreds of thousands of people joined marches and rallies -- though the 28,000 who turned out for two rallies in Moscow was a fraction of the number that used to jam Red Square in Soviet times.

Many of the marchers carried red flags, portraits of Josef Stalin and other Soviet-era momentos to underline what they see as Russia's decline since the Soviet Union's fall in 1991.

"Even though I had a hard time making it here today, I came to celebrate this holiday because everything has been taken away from us," said retiree Lidiya Olennikova in the crowd at a Moscow rally organized by the Communist Party.

In Istanbul, Turkey, 20,000 people marched, many urging the government to compromise with leftist inmates who are staging a monthlong hunger strike over prison conditions. Twenty strikers have died so far.

In China, May Day marks the start of one of the year's biggest travel seasons. The government requires employers to give employees the rest of the week off, in part to try to stimulate the economy by encouraging travel.

Elsewhere in Asia, some 1,000 workers from North and South Korea sang and danced together at Diamond Mountain, a scenic North Korean resort area. The festivities were the first joint May Day celebration since the division of the Korean Peninsula in 1945.

In Seoul, 10,000 workers and students beating gongs and drums marched behind a large banner denouncing the president's economic reforms, reading: "Down with Kim Dae-jung, who ruined workers' lives."

About 20,000 Taiwanese workers, waving placards and purple banners reading "Give Me Work," marched through Taipei's government district demanding action to curb the island's jobless rate, which is at a 16-year high of nearly 4 percent.

In Cuba, Fidel Castro's government called for hundreds of thousands of workers to take part in a march past the U.S. government's mission in Havana.

In Phnom Penh, over 2,000 people, mostly young women workers, defied a city order and marched for improved conditions for Cambodia's estimated 150,000 garment factory workers.

Study declares Bush "dramatically less visible"

U.S. President George Bush has done a better job controlling his message in his first 100 days in office but "has not gotten an easier ride" than former President Clinton on TV screens and in major newspapers, a study of their news coverage concludes.

The study, conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, concludes that overall Bush is "dramatically less visible" at the end of his 100th day in office than was Clinton eight years ago. Overall, there were 41 percent fewer stories about Bush on network television, the study said.

"As a whole the press has depicted Bush as a skillful manager, more comfortable as an insider than a man of the people, who is stubbornly pursuing a sincere, conservative ideological agenda even if it is controversial," the study concluded.

"By contrast, a much larger percentage of the coverage of Clinton depicted him as a politician of the people whose actions and policies were often highly calculated but also more popular."

During the entire period, Clinton and Bush saw the same portion of clearly negative stories -- 28 percent. Clinton received more clearly positive stories -- 28 percent -- during his first 100 days than did Bush, at 22 percent.

"Contrary to Democratic complaints, George W. Bush has not gotten an easier ride from the American media in his first 100 days than Bill Clinton did in his famously rocky start," the study concludes.

It didn't start out that way.

"Bush had a far better first month than Clinton," the study said, with positive stories outweighing negative 27 percent to 23 percent. Clinton's press coverage for his first month in office ran 32 percent negative to 22 percent positive," it said.

It noted that Clinton was hit in his first days in office with highly negative accounts of miscues regarding policy on gays in the military and a series of badly handled high-level appointments.

The study said coverage of Bush turned more critical in his second month as attention turned from his ability to handle the job to his ideological and policy agenda. Critical stories outnumbered positive accounts, 36 percent to 17 percent in this period, the study said.

The study was based on a study of 899 news articles and television broadcasts at four network television news stations, two major newspapers and one news magazine.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism is part of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is financed by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Blumenthal drops libel lawsuit against Drudge

Former White House aide Sidney Blumenthal dropped a $30 million libel suit against Internet gossip columnist Matt Drudge on May 1 and agreed to pay Drudge's side $2,500 for travel costs.

Blumenthal filed the suit in 1997 after Drudge reported a story that suggested Blumenthal beat his wife, Jacqueline. Drudge apologized and retracted the report almost immediately after it appeared on his Web site.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, raised potentially groundbreaking issues about electronic journalism because Blumenthal and his wife also sued America Online, which carried Drudge's column.

AOL argued that it was not acting as a publisher because it simply reprinted the column rather than supervising or editing it. A judge later agreed, severing AOL from the case.

The Washington Post, in a report on its Web site, quoted Drudge as saying that "the irony that Blumenthal has to pay me to let him out of a lawsuit he brought says it all from my end."

Blumenthal told the Post he dropped the suit because Drudge "is backed by unlimited funds from political supporters who use a tax-exempt foundation. He'd like to see the lawsuit go on endlessly."

"Suing Drudge was the right thing to do because it was the only way to make absolutely clear that his story was a malicious and reckless lie," Blumenthal was quoted as saying. "Drudge has placed enough burden on our family for four years and we're moving on with our lives."

Blumenthal said the suit has cost him tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

U.S. Army won't wear Chinese-made berets

Army soldiers won't be wearing Chinese-made black berets, after all.

The Pentagon issued a brief statement late May 1 announcing plans to recall whatever Chinese-made berets have already been delivered and distributed.

"The Army Chief of Staff has determined that U.S. troops shall not wear berets made in China or berets made with Chinese content," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said in a brief statement. "Therefore, I direct the Army and the Defense Logistics Agency to take appropriate action to recall previously distributed berets and dispose of the stock."

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki decided last year that all soldiers, except paratroopers and Special Forces soldiers, would wear black berets, beginning June 14, the Army's birthday.

With that deadline set for acquiring 2.6 million berets, the Defense Logistics Agency said it had to use foreign manufacturers along with American suppliers. When word got out that China was among the suppliers -- scheduled to make approximately 600,000 of the berets -- it created a problem among lawmakers who want the Army to buy American. A review was started in March.

For years, only members of elite Ranger commando units have had the right to wear black berets and they objected that widespread use of the headgear would cheapen something they had won through special training.

Shinseki later accepted a Ranger offer to switch from black to tan berets, enabling Rangers to keep an exclusive color.

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