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Rush named to broadcast hall of fame

Cape Girardeau, Missouri's best known son, radio and TV talker Rush Limbaugh, was honored April 7 as the latest inductee into the National Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

A two-time recipient of the NAB Marconi Award for Syndicated Radio Personality of the Year, Limbaugh, who addressed industryites at the ASCAP-sponsored Radio Luncheon, praised local broadcasters who focused their efforts on talk radio advancement throughout his career.

"I'm able to be here because of the concentrated undertaking on the part of broadcasters — small and large — to make what I do an important part of the industry," Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh began his nationally syndicated radio program in 1988 on 56 radio stations. Currently, he’s heard on more than 600 stations, and his eponymously titled talk show is the highest-rated national radio show in America.

Zhu Rongji's close encounter with protesters

On his first state visit to Western countries, the Chinese Premier, Zhu Rongji had a close brush with protesters from Reporters Sans Frontieres who demanded urgent hospital treatment for the imprisoned Chinese mainland journalist Gao Yu.

The press freedom activists threw handbills and photos of Gao into the air when Zhu passed by. The group had sent out an alert at the end of March warning that the 54-year-old Gao would die if she did not get proper medical treatment immediately.

"Gao Yu's life is in danger. We are not talking here about only allowing a journalist to express herself again but about allowing her to live." A spokesperson said.

The incident occurred in the Hallway of the Paris headquarters of the French employers' association on April 7. French police later picked up eleven members of the group. They were released after identity checks.

Later in the day, a Television Broadcasts (TVB) reporting crew from Hong Kong asked Zhu, in Mandarin, "How do you feel about the demonstrators?" The stern faced Zhu answered in three words, "Didn't see anything."

The senior news reporter, John Liauw Chung-ping, was later confronted by Su Xu, first secretary of the Chinese Embassy in France, who gave him a lecture, warning that all cooperation would cease.

"You shouldn't ask this sort of question. I'm telling you this seriously. This is not the question you should have asked. You have the freedom to do what you want. But the basis of our cooperation is gone. You may report what you like. But if you do this again. We will cut off all cooperation with you from now on. This is no joking matter. I'm telling you this seriously. This is our Premier. You should be prepared. We will cease all cooperation with you. I have to tell you this." The Chinese diplomat said in a loud , threatening tone.

A TVB spokesperson said the behaviour of the diplomat was regrettable. He pointed out that the diplomat did not understand the duties of the journalists and that he had no rights to tell a reporter what to ask.

Demonstrators commemorate Tienanman Square incident of 1976

About 30 demonstrators representing five groups gathered outside a downtown Japanese Emporium and marched to Xinhua, Hong Kong (New China News Agency) to commemorate the Tienanman Square Incident of 1976.

April 5 is the Ching Ming Festival according to the Chinese lunar calendar. It is the traditional day for the Chinese people to go to the graveyard to pay their respect to their ancestors.

The group brought along a ten foot wreath for the 'Heroes of the People', referring to those who died in suppressions under CCP's dictatorial rule.

They chanted slogans like, 'Long live the heroes of the people!', 'End the one party dictatorship', 'Power to the people', 'Release Wang Dan', 'Release Guo Yu', ... before setting out on their march. The police escorted the procession in the half hour walk to Xinhua.

There was a brief moment of tension when the police blocked the group from placing the wreath outside the main gate of Xinhua. A minor scuffle broke out when the group pressed forward with the wreath. In the end, the police allowed the wreath to be placed against a railing set up a couple of feet from the main gate. Then the demonstrators stood in silence for two minutes to pay their respect to the forerunners of the democracy movement who paid a dear price for their struggle.

Leung Kwok-hung, the spokesperson of the group, read out a statement, recounting the different movements since 1976 and the sufferings of the activists who were and still are brutally repressed by the Chinese Government.

He also specifically made the point that after the Western countries declared that they would not denounce the Chinese Government over its human rights record, the Beijing authorities had stepped up the arrest of the activists.

From March 18 onwards, thirteen people from seven provinces were taken into custody and six were detained. Two activists were handed down sentences of three years of 'education through lobour' without a trial.  Leung said these people had done nothing apart from writing letters asking for the formation of the independent trade unions, or voicing out their opposition to Li-peng becoming the Chairperson of the National People's Congress.

He also appealed to the international community to press for the release of all imprisoned democracy activists.

Capitalism keeps moving forward, Greenspan

Chairman Alan Greenspan on April 1 hailed a "seemingly inexorable" move toward capitalism in the world economy and said the financial upheaval in Asia was a milestone in that process.

"The current turmoil in East Asia is easy to categorize as one of many such crises over the decades," Greenspan told a newspaper editors' convention.

"Nonetheless, it appears to be an important milestone in what evidently has been a significant and seemingly inexorable trend toward market capitalism and political systems that stress the rule of law," he added.

Speaking two days after the Fed's main policy committee left interest rates unchanged, Greenspan made no mention of monetary policy or the current state of the U.S. economy.

Greenspan said the spread of capitalism was occurring in Europe, Latin America and Asia, and it was even having an influence in some socialist economies of Africa.

"The current crisis in East Asia is likely to hasten that trend as hard-learned lessons of economic structure lead to significant reform," he said.

Asian economies swept up in currency and financial turmoil this past winter were not using Soviet-style central planning, Greenspan stressed.

But he said some elements of central planning had been used in credit allocation policies, which he said was the "Achilles heel" of those economies.

Liberals calling conservatives racist? Say it isn't so

Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) attacked Rep. Gerald Solomon (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Rules Committee, April 3 for what he called disgraceful, racist remarks about U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Solomon recently said on the House floor he had "trouble handing out any more money to an organization whose secretary-general has just cut an appeasement deal with Saddam Hussein, said Saddam Hussein is a man he can work with, and called U.S. weapons inspectors cowboys. That is what this head of the U.N. said?

"He ought to be horsewhipped for saying it," Solomon declared.

Annan negotiated a deal with Iraq's president in February to enable U.N. weapons teams to enter any buildings they wish to inspect.

At a news conference, Payne said Solomon's remark about "horsewhipping" the U.N. secretary general was especially ironic as it preceded President Bill Clinton's visit to Goree Island, where enslaved Africans left their continent.

"To be on the floor of the House and say he should be horsewhipped, I think it's a disgrace, it's racist, it's an insult ... " Payne said.

Liberals calling conservatives racist? Say it isn't so II

The Reform Party of Canada, a populist/conservative party, threatened to sue the head of the Assembly of First Nations for publicly accusing the party of racism.

In early April, Reform demanded Grand Chief Phil Fontaine apologize for remarks he made to the Calgary Herald in March. The paper quoted Fontaine saying the Reform Party was guilty of "the worst kind of racism."

In a letter sent to Fontaine on April 1, the Reform Party gave the aboriginal leader until April 7 to apologize, the newspaper reported. Fontaine has refused.

"I believe what I said is absolutely true," he told the Globe and Mail on April 8.

Allow French-only voters, Quebec nationalists suggest

We've delighted telling the world about some of the stupidity over language laws in Quebec, but this one spooked ESR.

The Quebec government should amend provincial elections law to restrict the right to vote to those who have "a mastery" of the French language, the nationalist St-Jean Baptiste Society suggested April 1.

Society president Guy Bouthillier pitched the idea, and others, to a legislature committee hearing into Quebec's referendum law.

"The democratic principle, the principle of the right of each citizen to participate fully and in all knowledge in political life, supposes that the citizen knows the language in which the debate is carried out, is conducted," he said.

Bouthillier also urged the government to pressure Ottawa to require immigrants to know how to speak French or English before they can become citizens.

Once Quebec becomes an independent state, that would be changed to just French, he added.

Christos Sirros, Liberal critic on election reform, found Bouthillier's presentation so outrageous that he asked him if it was an April Fool's joke. "He said things that I found completely warped in terms of what Quebec is like," Sirros said later.

One Parti Quebecois member didn't dismiss the idea of making French a requirement to vote, however. Jean-Claude St-Andre said the idea was "a little bit exaggerated," but suggested the government should "think about it.

"I think that it's a bit fast to reject it out of hand," he said.

Guy Chevrette, minister responsible for electoral reform, said he had more important issues to deal with.

"For the moment, I will certainly not start a linguistic debate over the electoral reform," Chevrette said.

The legislative hearings come after the Supreme Court struck down key sections of Quebec's referendum law last fall after it found third-party spending restrictions went too far.

APEC police crew "a little excessive," says Marchi

Trade Minister Sergio Marchi says Canada is pushing aggressively for human rights provisions in any free trade of the Americas pact, but concedes Canada's domestic image on that front was recently tarnished.

On April 15, Marchi, speaking to a breakfast gathering in Ottawa, said Canada has been lobbying hard to have labor, environmental, academic and human rights groups included in the process of negotiating the Free Trade Area of the Americas, or FTAA.

"That's why at the last meeting in San Jose, Canada was very, very aggressive and almost suggested it as a bottom line that we create this new committee so that we may have a channel through which the civil societies would be able to express themselves," said Marchi.

"The message that Canada wanted to bring was that we've got to be more open, more transparent, more engaging and less afraid of talking to our peoples."

Last November in Vancouver during a trade summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum, protesters were pepper-sprayed by police, detained without being charged and held back unusually far from points where they might have been seen by visiting dignitaries.

Subsequent research has shown the Prime Minister's Office engineered many of the restraints on freedom of expression.

Marchi said he found the news footage of the demonstrations disturbing. "As a Canadian watching it on television I thought some of our police crew were a little bit excessive," he said in response to a question.

"That's the image I got on TV and I think that's probably the image most Canadians had. That's the honest answer. I thought on TV it was a little excessive and a little forceful."

Good for U.S., says Clinton of sex case dismissal

President Clinton said that the dismissal of Paula Jones' sexual misconduct lawsuit against him was in the country's best interests.

But he said he would have preferred to have his day in court if he had not been in office because he was innocent of Jones' charge that he sought oral sex from her during an encounter in 1991, when he was governor of Arkansas and she was a state employee.

``If I were just a private citizen, Joe Six-Pack, I would have mixed feelings about not getting a chance to disprove these allegations in court," Clinton told Time magazine on the trip home from his African apology fest.

"After having been through what I've been through, I would have wanted to put all my evidence before 12 of my fellow citizens.

"But I don't have mixed feelings as president, because having the case dismissed and putting this behind us is plainly in the best interests of the country."

Clinton said the summary judgment by U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright of Little Rock, Arkansas, left him feeling ''freer'' to concentrate on "what I'm supposed to be doing." It also "exposed the raw political nature of this whole situation," he said.

"It removes whatever obstacle this case would have been to my giving everything to this job for the next two years," he added. "The charges are not true."

"But now we see why for over 200 years no one had any idea the president should be subject to a civil suit and (everyone) believed that the chances were that if one was filed, it would have an overwhelming political aspect to it."

I'll say this much...Bill Clinton is the smoothest mutha I have ever seen.

Did the Feds have a hole put into cell phone cryptography? Naw, say it isn't so

It was a challenge a trio of computer students and professionals could not resist: proving "tamperproof" digital cellular phones are actually vulnerable.

After about six hours of work, two graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley and a computer cryptologist were able to "clone" the phone, allowing them to make unauthorized calls from another phone.

"Given the state of the security of other cellular phone systems, I wasn't terribly, terribly surprised," said Ian Goldberg, one of the students. The three looked at the project as a challenge.

The three cracked the codes guarding a Global System for Mobile Communications phone. The GSM digital standard is the most widely used in the world, with more than 79 million phones in use. The standard is used primarily in Europe.

Overcoming the security also revealed a hint that the code may have been intentionally weakened during its design to allow government agencies the ability to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, The New York Times reported April 14.

Marc Briceno of Smartcard Developers Association, who worked with Goldberg and Wagner, said the weakened code would let powerful computers available to intelligence agencies decode a voice conversation relatively quickly.

"I can't think of any other reason for what they did," Briceno said.

For years, the computer industry has been rife with rumors about government intrusion or intimidation. Little evidence has ever emerged to support such speculation, the Times reported, but the origins of the GSM system are hazy.

Clintons pay $91 964 in federal taxes...and they probably enjoyed it

President Clinton paid $91 964 in federal income taxes in 1997, with royalties from Mrs. Clinton's book and income from investments outstripping the president's salary.

They reported $569 511 in adjusted gross income, of which $200 000 was the president's salary. They also reported income of $281 898, including royalties from "It Takes A Village," Mrs. Clinton's book, as well as earnings from investments and a refund from his Arkansas state taxes.

The first family made charitable donations totaling $270 725, which were primarily derived from proceeds of Mrs. Clinton's book. All income from the book is being donated to charity.

Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore released their tax returns, showing earnings of $197 729 and federal taxes of $47 662.

In 1997, the Clintons tax returns revealed they were millionaires for the first time -- on paper, at least. They reported $1 065 101 in adjusted gross income, of which $200 000 was the president's salary. They paid $199 791 in federal income taxes.

That year, royalties from Mrs. Clinton's book, "It Takes a Village," totaled $742 852. Of that sum, she donated $590 000 to charity and kept $152 000 to pay the state and federal taxes the Clintons owe as a result of the book royalties.

In 1998, Chelsea Clinton filed her tax return, which showed $1 106 in tax on income of $8 447. Last year, president also filed a federal income tax return on his daughter. Chelsea had income of $13 101 and paid $1 969 in taxes, which were believed to be royalties from an autobiography by her late grandmother, Virginia Kelley, the president's mother.

Hatch begs for Hollywood money

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) took swipes at the Clinton administration and the Democratic Party's fund-raising machine April 15 as he urged a conservative-leaning industry group to change Hollywood's image as a "one-party town."

"Have you noticed how many fund-raisers Clinton and Gore are having?" Hatch asked the public policy-oriented Wednesday Morning Club in a breakfast speech at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Hatch, chairman of the Senate's judiciary committee, noted the traditional disparity between Republican and Democrat fundraising hauls in Hollywood while he blasted the administration's push to win free TV time for political candidates as part of a campaign finance reform initiative.

"When I come out here (for a fund-raiser), I get about $30 000. For Gore, it's about $2 million," said Hatch. "And now (the administration) is trying to force the media to give free time to politicians through the Federal Communications Commission."

In Hatch's view, Hollywood and the GOP just don't understand each other, but the existence of a group like the Wednesday Morning Club should give conservatives reason for hope. Among the 150 industryites who turned out for Hatch's speech were actor Tony Danza, Brian Walton, executive director of Writers Guild of America West, and author/columnist Arianna Huffington.

"The attitude back there (in Washington) is, the movie industry is all liberals, and all the (political) money goes to liberal democrats," said Hatch. "What you're doing is extremely important ... You don't realize the power of your position, or the role (Hollywood) can play in politics. But to the extent that you remain a one-party community, it's a disaster, not only for this community, but for the country."

Clinton plays race card with athletics

No one would argue that minorities haven't took it on the chin for years when it came to amateur and professional athletics -- whether playing or managing -- but when U.S. president Bill Clinton brings up the issue of race in athletics, it's merely another photo op to share pain, not a meaningful exchange.

President Bill Clinton said on April 15 night that "there is something wrong with the recruitment system" if college and professional sports find it difficult to hire minority coaches and administrators.

"I've hired hundreds and hundreds of minorities" as governor of Arkansas and as president, Clinton said. "Nobody ever accused me of giving jobs to people that weren't qualified."

We'll ignore that blatant opening.

Speaking to a town meeting at the Wortham Theater Center and a national cable TV audience on ESPN, Clinton said that if professional and college sports do not have networks to draw talent from, "there is something wrong with the recruitment system.

"My personal experience is that if you make a real effort, there are lots of people out there. Since I believe intelligence and ability are evenly distributed across racial and ethnic groups, if you look at it, you can find it."

Clinton participated on a panel with 10 sports luminaries, including former NFL running back Jim Brown, Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson, former major league infielder and broadcaster Joe Morgan and Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

The meeting, broadcast live on ESPN, was the second of Clinton's three planned nationally televised town meetings on race. The first was in Akron, Ohio, last December.

Morgan, a member of baseball's Hall of Fame, said baseball had made some progress, notably in the hiring of a black manager, Jerry Manuel, by the Chicago White Sox.

But he also noted that while some of the greatest players in baseball history are black, "once they're finished, there is no place for them to go" in the sports business.

Morgan said baseball has failed to recruit talent in urban black areas, while spending large sums of money to set up baseball academies in other countries. He said that if baseball were to hire more black scouts and to support the game more in this country, "you would see more Willie Mays coming out of the inner city."

The forum's makeup angered Latino activists who complained that too few Hispanics were represented. Felipe Lopez, a basketball star at St. John's University, was the only Hispanic on the panel. ESPN added Lopez after a Latino group wrote to Clinton to protest.

Brown and Joyner-Kersee engaged in a spirited exchange over Brown's contention that African Americans should pool their money and invest in their own neighborhoods.

Joyner-Kersee, who has a sports foundation and is also an agent, argued that if blacks "don't want to put that capital in there, we can't force them as human beings. We can't do that."

"Does that go for whites, too?" said Brown.

"That goes for whites, too," Joyner-Kersee said heatedly, adding, "If I made all this money and I want money invested here, I have a right to do that. That is my choice. That is why we live in America, because we have choices."

Middle class tax cut for Americans? Yeah right

U.S. taxpayers will have to work later than ever to earn their "tax freedom," according to a report released April 15 by the Tax Foundation.

Americans will need to work until May 10 of this year, or 129 days, to pay off their total tax bill, the conservative group said. That "tax freedom" day comes one day later than last year.

Tax increases, economic expansion and the progressive nature of the current tax system which, as national income rises, causes the tax burden to rise more than proportionally, are the reasons for the later date, the organization said.

Connecticut bears the nation's heaviest tax burden, working the first 145 days of the year (until May 26) to pay taxes. Conversely, New Hampshire residents have the lowest tax burden, earning their tax freedom in 114 days (April 25).

The Tax Foundation breaks down the figures according to how long it takes to pay each type of tax. It takes the average American 45 days to pay personal income taxes and 38 days to satisfy payroll taxes.

Additionally, Americans will work 18 days to pay sales and excise taxes, 12 days to pay property taxes and 13 days to pay corporate income taxes, which are usually hidden from consumers who end up paying them by higher prices for goods and services.

In Boston, two Republican congressmen re-enacted the Boston Tea Party

In Boston on April 15, House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas and Republican Rep. Billy Tauzin of Louisiana re-enacted the Boston Tea Party by dumping the IRS code into Boston Harbor to call attention to their tax reform proposals.

But as the congressmen dumped a crate containing the tax code marked "tea" into the water, protesters in three-piece suits and dresses standing alongside the congressmen on the ship yelled "flatten the poor, sink the poor with your flat tax." Others later surrounded their car, waving signs that said "Rich People's Liberation Front." I guess they're not paying enough in taxes yet.

Another protest saw the Americans for Fair Taxation, a well-heeled tax activist group, conducted a funeral procession in front of the IRS' Baltimore office. A coffin and musicians playing a dirge symbolized their push to bury the federal tax code.

The group plans to spend $10 million by the end of the year to promote replacing the current federal income tax and Social Security payroll taxes with a 23 percent national sales tax on "all final sales of new goods and services."

To offset the regressive nature of such a tax, the group suggests sending all taxpayers monthly rebate checks to cover basic living expenses.

Subsidies are the real threat, says Rupert Murdoch

Government subsidization of public broadcasting is a greater threat to pluralism and diversity in the digital age than anything News Corp. might do, Rupert Murdoch said in a robust tongue-lashing delivered to Europe's public broadcasters on April 6.

The executives gathered in this industrial city to grapple with the question of what role the European Commission should play in shaping the Continent's digital landscape.

"The media sector is experiencing a historic growth spurt," the News Corp. chairman told European regulators, politicians, and top-level media executives at the European Audiovisual Conference. "Pluralism and diversity are growing organically under our very noses while we agonize about their shrinkage. But if unhealthy concentration does exist today, it exists not in the private sector but with state broadcasting."

Murdoch's plea for a minimum of government interference at what he called "a defining moment in European audiovisual history" carried a warning against a premature rush to regulate the evolving digital business and against the stunting effect of state subsidies on the natural development of the market.

"It is sometimes hard to hear yourself think over the noise of grinding axes as our competitors cloak their pleas for protection and special privilege in the language of public interest," said Murdoch. He specifically criticized the BBC for launching a publicly funded cable news channel, BBC News 24, at a giveaway price, which he contends is putting commercial rivals such as his own Sky News in jeopardy.

He attacked the European Broadcasting Union, an alliance of public broadcasters and long-established private networks across Europe, for acting as a "cartel" to sew up exclusive sports rights.

"Through the EBU and individually, state and some long-established private broadcasters have fought diversity in broadcasting every step of the way over the past 30 years," said Murdoch, who's gobbled up his share of American sports teams and their television rights and controls the broadcasting of English Premier League soccer. "And what saddens me is that even in the recent audiovisual revolutions in the UK, they again receive all the privileges."

He also took a side swipe at UK media companies "spending vast sums on armies of policy advisers and lobbyists bent on manipulating the political process rather than competing in the marketplace."

Earlier in the day, BBC Director-General John Birt had put forward a sophisticated case for expanding the role of public broadcasters in the digital age, based on the threat that otherwise, "We risk a knowledge underclass."

Over the next year the BBC is launching three publicly funded digital channels, including BBC News 24, as well as five pay channels and a slew of online services.

Birt argued that the globalization of the media could undermine national cultures. "That ubiquitous soft-drink world of jeans, trainers, and the baseball cap will advance inexorably, limiting choice and ignoring minorities. We cannot halt the advance with barriers or quotas," he said.

But Murdoch dismissed "Birt's very shaky claims." "With the burgeoning of free radio, television, and the Internet, this has to be wrong," Murdoch said, claiming, "Pluralism and diversity ... are actually endemic in this brave new world of media."

Sounds like an Earth Day activity

A Manhattan man was recently given a $1 000 summons for chaining his bike to a tree in front of his store.

The Parks Commissioner told the man he would forego the fine if he would apologize to the three and give it a hug. The man reportedly not only hugged the tree, he kissed it as well.

He's still not out the woods though. The Parks Department says bike chains can damage the wood and make the tree more likely to fall on a pedestrian during a storm.

Sax or sex? Clinton tries to choose

President Bill Clinton was handed a copy of the Kama Sutra by a mischievous journalist on April 18 and after glancing at a couple embracing on its cover handed it right back.

Clinton was given the illustrated Kama Sutra, the oldest known treatise on sex written in India 1 500 years ago, just after posing for a hilltop "family photo" of the 34 Western Hemisphere leaders at the Summit of the Americas in Santiago. The U.S. president, who often stops to chat with crowds, took the book as the Americas leaders strolled down a hill to lunch in a restaurant overlooking the Chilean capital.

A few steps later Clinton accepted a saxophone held by out another person. An avid saxophone player, but acutely mindful of his image, the president fingered the instrument's keys but apparently thought the better of playing and gave it back.

The two journalists who offered the gifts, both reporters for Argentine satirical television shows, regularly try to embarrass politicians in front of cameras by putting them in compromising positions.

Blair no longer hip, say musicians

Prime Minister Tony Blair on April 19 hit back at pop music's decision to end a long honeymoon with his government, accusing chart stars of changing their tune on the issue of youth unemployment.

A campaign launched last month by the pop music bible, New Musical Express (NME), reversed the industry's support for Blair's New Labour government since it ousted long-ruling Conservatives from office in elections almost a year ago.

The downside from the pop industry's point of view is that youngsters who prefer to sit at home strumming their guitars will no longer be entitled to unemployment pay - part of a general drive to get people off public benefits and into gainful employment.

So the NME unfurled a "no dole, no rock 'n' roll" campaign. But Blair told Sky television news that the NME campaign, backed by fashionable young stars like the Lightning Seeds, Primal Scream and Jarvis Cocker, was what in politics would be called a U-turn.

He said some of its supporters had spent the 1980s, a decade of rising joblessness, attacking then-Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher "for denying young people jobs".

"Now when the Labour government introduces a programme that gives all young people a guaranteed chance of high quality training or a job with proper pay... we are attacked because actually it destroys their creative juices to be off the dole and into work," he said.

Blair, once a guitarist in a student rock band, was greeted with enthusiasm by the pop music industry when Labour achieved a landslide election victory last May 1.

Noel Gallagher of Oasis was pictured sharing a joke with him at a champagne reception in his Downing Street office and the NME hailed him as the "hippest prime minister in history".

But signs of a change emerged when deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had a bucket of ice water poured over his head by Danbert Nobacon of anarchist group Chumbawamba at an awards ceremony in February.

Court of Appeals rules against EEO rules

A federal appeals court in Washington served up a stunning defeat April 14 for the Federal Communications Commission — throwing out its 30-year-old rules governing the hiring of minorities and women.

The Equal Employment Opportunity rules have been a fact of life for every TV station in the country since 1968, when the FCC began requiring that broadcasters demonstrate an active minority hiring program as a condition for renewing their licenses.

But in a case brought by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which is the licensee for two public stations in Clayton, Mo., the D.C. Court of Appeals threw out the EEO rules, saying the agency had failed to prove that they serve the public interest.

The court's ruling was particularly painful for FCC chairman Bill Kennard, who is an African-American and a forceful advocate for increasing the role of minorities in broadcasting.

"Our nation is diminished by today's (court decision)," said Kennard. "The unfortunate reality in our nation today is that race and gender still matter. We all benefit when broadcasting, our nation's most influential medium, reflects the rich cultural diversity of our country."

David Honig, who represents the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on many of the issues before the FCC, was stunned by the decision and said he would not be able to comment until reading the full decision.

One lawyer predicted that the decision, if not reversed, could serve as a springboard to remove all government-sponsored affirmative action programs.

The FCC has based its minority- hiring regulations on the premise that the hiring of minorities would increase program diversity. But the court ruled that the "commission never defines exactly what it means by diverse programming," adding, "The government's formulation of the interest seems too abstract to be meaningful."

Under the rules, broadcasters must make an affirmative effort to reach out to minorities and hire at a level that reflects the racial makeup of their community. Proof of that effort must be documented in its application for license renewal.

The Missouri Synod had argued unsuccessfully at the FCC that it could not find qualified minorities who met their own employment criteria, which included a "knowledge of Lutheran doctrine" and "classical music training."

The National Assn. of Broadcasters has long been critical of the EEO rules. While the NAB has always said that it supports minority recruitment, it claims the EEO regulations are overly burdensome. The NAB said Tuesday that it would not comment on the court's decision until it had fully reviewed the case. While nobody expects minorities to be laid off because of the court's decision, it could affect future hiring decisions, say legal experts.

The FCC counters that the EEO rules have been very effective in increasing the ranks of minorities and women in the broadcasting industry. According to numbers furnished by the agency, in 1971 women made up 23.3 per cent of the broadcast workforce and minorities made up 9.1 per cent of radio and TV employees. Last year, women accounted for 40.8 per cent of broadcast employees, and minorities made up 19.9 per cent of the workforce. Although the court did not address how the EEO rules affect women, legal experts said the decision leaves gender rules vulnerable to attack.

Cut in Canadian corporate tax rate urged...but still create other taxes

Federal and provincial governments should cut the corporate tax rate by 10 per cent and broaden the tax base, including taxing polluters and employers who lay off workers, a federal government committee recommended in April.

"Lowering tax rates toward international norms would provide a greater incentive for business to invest and create jobs here, while also protecting the revenue base," the Technical Committee on Business Taxation report concludes.

The committee of tax experts, headed by University of Toronto economist Jack Mintz, was set up by Finance Minister Paul Martin in 1996 to suggest ways to improve the corporate tax system without cutting the amount of money it generates.

The committee has concluded Canada's combined federal-provincial corporate tax rate is 43 per cent, while the average combined U.S. corporate tax rate is 39 per cent.

"The recommendations are good recommendations and I think that they, combined, can be taken as a damning indictment of the government's high tax policies," Reform finance critic Monte Solberg said in a telephone interview.

The committee thinks the federal and provincial governments should work together to harmonize their tax policy, bringing the federal tax rate on businesses down to 20 per cent and cutting provincial tax rates to 13 per cent from 14 per cent.

At the same time, the governments should broaden the profit base on which tax is charged, Mintz said in an interview.

For example, instead of taxing fuel, which puts Canadian transportation industries at a disadvantage, the committee suggests extending the tax to include other sources of pollutants such as toxins.

"If you brought the gasoline tax down and put a tax on toxins and other energy products like the use of coal and electrical generation, you could actually reduce emissions even with raising the same amount of revenue," Mintz said.

The report also says corporations are paying too much in payroll and other taxes that are not directly linked to profits. In 1995, businesses paid $85 billion in taxes - only $19 billion of which came from direct corporate income taxes. The rest was generated by property, sales, payroll and excise taxes, among other fees that do not necessarily reflect profits.

Instead, the committee suggests taxing corporations on a user-pay basis. For example, businesses could reduce their employment insurance premiums if they maintained a stable workforce. Employers would be charged based on the number of layoffs, since it costs the system more when those workers apply for benefits.

In a news release, Martin said the recommendations don't reflect the government's views, but will stimulate debate.

Pro-taxpayer ratings in U.S. House continue to slide, says group

Pro-taxpayer scores last year in the U.S. House of Representatives continued their decline from record-setting levels two years ago, while Senate scores showed only a minuscule improvement, according to a comprehensive study released last month by the 300 000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

"In 1997, many members of Congress partied hearty with our tax dollars," said NTU President John Berthoud. "The trouble is, taxpayers are the ones left with the fiscal hangover."

In 1997, the average Taxpayer Score in the House of Representatives was 43 percent, down from 1996's mean of 54 percent. Averages actually rose for the Senate, from 52 percent in 1996 to 53 percent in 1997. The high point for averages over the Rating's 25-year history came in 1995, when typical scores reached 58 percent in the House and 57 percent in the Senate. The record low of 27 percent and 28 percent for the House and Senate, respectively, occurred in 1988.

Party averages have also taken an interesting turn since the Republican Party took control of both Houses of Congress. In the three-year period from 1995 to 1997, the average House Democrat's score remained consistently low -- from 28 per cent in 1995 to 29 per cent in 1997. House Republican averages, however, fell dramatically over that same period, from 83 per cent to 56 per cent. Senate party averages for Republicans declined less, from 86 per cent to 75 per cent. Even though Democrat averages in the senior chamber rose three points -- from 23 per cent to 26 per cent -- they remained well below the "F" grade cut-off score of 33 per cent.

"Although some of the Republicans have drifted lower, most Democrats in Congress continue to earn "D" and "F" grades from taxpayers," Berthoud observed. There were a total of 183 "Big Spenders" in the House and Senate, all but one of whom (Sanders, I-VT) were Democrats. "Big Spenders" receive the grade of "F." However, in this Rating, more than 80 Republicans wound up with "C+", "C", "C-" or "D" grades. On the top of the scale, just 70 Republicans earned "A"s, and hence received the coveted "Taxpayers' Friend" Award. In 1995, 121 lawmakers were named "Taxpayers' Friends" for their outstanding voting records.

Berthoud attributed some of the decline in Republican scores and grades to the fact that the two parties narrowed much of their policy differences by passing the 1997 Balanced Budget And Taxpayer Relief Acts: "Last year Congress reached what was advertised as a "consensus" on lowering taxes and erasing the deficit. Unfortunately, the "consensus" ended up giving taxpayers one penny in relief on every dollar they send to Washington, and the economy deserved more credit for balancing the budget than politicians did. It's therefore no wonder that our scores reflected an overall decline."

The top scorers in the House and Senate, respectively, were Ed Royce (R-CA) with an 85 per cent and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) with an 87 per cent. At the bottom of the heap in the House and Senate, respectively, were Alan Mollohan (D-WV) with a 14 per cent and Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) with a 6 per cent.

"The drumbeat of 1995's fiscal revolution in Congress was barely audible in 1997," Berthoud concluded. "The Clinton Administration's previous vetoes and constant push for more spending have taken a toll."

The NTU Rating, which includes every roll call vote affecting fiscal policy, assigns a "Taxpayer Score" to each member of Congress that indicates his or her commitment to reducing federal taxes, spending, and debt. For 1997, a total of 171 House and 138 Senate Votes were selected.

National Taxpayers Union is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen organization with 300 000 members who are dedicated to lower taxes, less wasteful spending, taxpayer rights, and accountable government at all levels. The 1997 Rating is available via fax or on-line at www.ntu.org.

It truly is a holiday in Cambodia

Pol Pot died on April 15 in a small hut near the Thai border as Cambodian government troops were trying to finish off the remnants of the Khmer Rouge. The 73-year-old revolutionary died of a heart attack, said his comrades-turned-captors.

In a jungle hut, the body of Pol Pot was placed in a plain wooden casket, carried to a nearby clearing, and set alight. There was no ceremony, except for a handful of Khmer Rouge soldiers, no gathering of those with whom Pol Pot carried out the revolution that left nearly two million Cambodians dead.

Pol Pot led the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime that through its radical Maoist-inspired policies caused the deaths of as many as 2 million Cambodians — either in mass executions or from starvation and disease.

Days before his death Pol Pot reportedly was in tears after realizing that the Khmer Rouge was on the verge of defeat.

An account in the Hong Kong-based magazine Far Eastern Economic Review by Nate Thayer suggests the heart attack may have been brought on by hunger, lack of medical care, even shock — upon learning the Khmer Rouge was preparing to turn him over to an international tribunal for trial on genocide charges.

He didn't deserve that much.

Dole Borks Microsoft

A man who couldn't even relate the URL to his web site during his election campaign and a judge who's last name became an alternate verb for getting screwed are the latest to be hired by Microsoft's competitors.

At a Washington, DC, news conference on April 20, Bob Dole announced his role in the Project to Promote Competition and Innovation in the Digital Age, or ProComp, a campaign to lobby against Microsoft's perceived antitrust violations. The group formed a few months ago, and so far a host of companies and trade associations, including American Airlines, Netscape, Oracle, and Sun, have come on board. Netscape enlisted Dole and former US Court of Appeals judge and Supreme Court rejectee Robert Bork to bring some political credence to the coalition.

Dole is the same man who stated in Microsoft's defense back in June 1995, "A company develops a new product -- a product consumers want. But now the government steps in and is in effect attempting to dictate the terms on which that product can be marketed and sold. Pinch me, but I thought we were still in America."

For his part, although he's an expert in antitrust laws, Bork admitted he knew little about the Internet.

"I am going to have to analyze something about this technology," he said at the news conference. "My wife gets on the Internet, but she'll have to teach me about it."

Netscape declined to say exactly when they were hired or for how much.

I've heard of cafeteria Catholics, but this is pretty bad

The head of China's Roman Catholic church on April 20 urged Pope John Paul to cut ties with Taiwan and recognize communist China to enable relations between the Vatican and state-sanctioned Chinese believers.

"We hope that Pope John Paul II will cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan and recognize the People's Republic of China as China's only legitimate government as soon as possible," said Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan, chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

"If the political problems between the two states are resolved it will open new prospects in the relations between the two churches," he told a news briefing in Beijing.

The Vatican has had ties with Taiwan since 1949, when the Nationalist government was driven off the Chinese mainland by Mao Zedong's communist forces.

Bishop Fu said while the official Chinese Catholic church pledges allegiance to China's communist government and does not recognize the Vatican's authority, it had no differences with the Pope on matters of religious belief, with apparent exception of recognizing murderers.

"We are completely in accord with the Pope on matters of faith and doctrine, and Chinese Catholics pray for the Pope in masses in all churches," he said.

The government-backed Chinese Catholic church does not recognize the Pope and appoints its own bishops. The Vatican in turn does not recognize these bishops.

Gore's generosity and National Volunteer Week

After last year's  Volunteer Summit, you would think that the Clinton administration would be giving in a big way...maybe, unless you're the Vice-President.

Vice President Generosity was hardly liberal with his income of $197 729, giving only $353, or .17 per cent, to charities. Annually, the average American family donates about $700, while families in Mr. Gore´s income bracket donate between $3 300 and $8 000.

I wonder who the "evil rich" really are...remember this when they ask you to do "your duty."

You missed it: 15 000 beats 2 500

So you've heard that "consensus of 2500 climate scientists" (of which only a small fraction are actually climate scientists) support global warming? Convincing isn't it?

How about 15 000 scientists, two-thirds of which with advanced degrees, coming out against global warming? What's this? You didn't hear this in the media last month? Shocking.

In six weeks, 15 000 scientists signed a petition against the climate accord which was drafted in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997.

"The treaty is, in our opinion, based upon flawed ideas. Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful," said Dr. Frederick Seitz, president emeritus of Rockefeller University and a past president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

The Petition drive was organized by Dr. Arthur Robinson, director of the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine (Cave Junction, OR) and a vocal critic of the shaky science used to support the Kyoto Accord. It was staffed by volunteers and supported entirely by private donations, with no contributions from industry. The Petition mailing included a scientific summary, an editorial essay by Arthur and Zachary Robinson published in the Wall Street Journal (Dec. 4, 1997), and the covering letter by Dr. Seitz, holder of the National Medal of Science and board chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute (Washington, DC) and also of the Science & Environmental Policy Project (Fairfax, VA).

Find a list of the signers and more information at http://www.sepp.org, http://www.oism.org/pproject/ or http://www.sitewave.net/pproject/ (the last two are specifically geared to the petition). Make sure to read the report Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide at http://sitewave.net/pproject/s33p36.htm which can be downloaded in PDF format.

The petition has even been so successful that opponents have been signing fake names and then slamming the fact that there are fake names!

And you say that you didn't see this reported in the media during April? You just probably missed it...

NOW decides not to support Paula Jones...shocking!

Yes, if it were in doubt that the National Organization for Women should have actually been named the National Organization for Liberal Women, NOW proved it on April 22 when they announced that they would not be filing a brief in support of an appeal of Jones' dismissed suit against U.S. president Bill Clinton.

"We do not intend to encourage higher courts to consider and possibly create legal precedent that would injure everyday women in the workplace, based on the allegations and evidence of a politically charged case," said NOW President Patricia Ireland.

Ireland called the case imperfect at best, saying, "Hard cases make bad laws ... We have decided not to work with these disreputable right-wing organizations and individuals advancing [Jones'] cause."

NOW did not poll its membership, but Ireland said that it was clear from contact with about 500 of its local chapters they did not support filing a friend-of-the-court brief by margins of at least 8-to-1 and possibly 10-to-1.

Shocking!

"Paycheck Protection" initiative gains momentum

Two recent polls show likely California voters overwhelmingly support Proposition 226, an initiative on the state's June primary ballot to require employers and labor unions to get worker permission before using payroll deductions and mandatory membership dues for state and local political activity.

Support for Proposition 226 among likely voters was 67 per cent of those surveyed in polls conducted by both the Los Angeles Times and the Public Policy Institute of California. This is a seven-point jump from a Field Poll conducted in late March.

The Los Angeles Times poll also found opposition to Proposition 226 by union members fell from 32 per cent in the Field Poll to 28 per cent.

Visit the website at Yes! on Prop 226

During the week of April 20, labour and Prop 226 debuted radio aids attacking the backers of the proposition as out-of-state business interests, despite the fact that 98 per cent of the 10 000 donors are from California.

Patrick Rooney, the Indiana insurance executive portrayed by Proposition 226 opponents as a major benefactor of the campaign, has donated less than $50 000, and maintains a personal residence in California.

"If Patrick Rooney is vilified for donating less than $50 000, what must we do about AFL-CIO President John Sweeney?" asked David Almasi, editor of the Political Money Monitor. "He's bringing millions of dollars of other peoplešs money into the state."

Teachers union rehires dubious political operative to fight paycheck protection

Bob Watson, whom New Republic magazine once called a "disgraced hack who typifies insider sleaze," was rehired by the National Education Association (NEA) to head the teachers union's national campaign "to fight the attempt by right-wing groups to minimize our political effectiveness."

As an aide to Senator Chuck Robb (D-VA) in 1992, Watson and Robb Chief of Staff David McCloud leaked transcripts of cellular phone conversations involving Robb political rival then-Governor L. Douglas Wilder (D). Watson pled guilty to the charge of conspiracy, and was fined the maximum penalty of $10 000. The left-wing publication PR Watch commented, "In a sane world, McCloud and Watson would have been forced to slink out of town and get real jobs following their disgrace in the Robb scandal. Instead, it seems to mark a stepping-stone in their careers." That's when Watson moved to the NEA.

While at the NEA in 1992, Watson was detailed to the Clinton/Gore campaign. He later became a deputy executive director of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), where he was partially responsible for the creation of the White House's taxpayer-funded donor database. He was also involved in a DNC effort to fund non-profit organizations likely to register Democratic voters.

New York union locals trying to create "Labor Party"

Union locals in New York don't like the almost exclusive support organized labor has shown Democratic candidates. Citing problems with a "rightward-drifting Democratic Party," a coalition of union locals including the Buffalo Teachers Association, Communications Workers of America (CWA) and United Auto Workers are creating their own "Labor Party."

Complete with a slate of candidates, CWA Legislative and Political Director Bob Master asks, "Why not create a political vehicle that puts our kind of populist economic politics forcefully into the political debate?"

You mean the guy's who been charged all those times? Well...it is Italian politics

Forza Italia, a four-year-old conservative party, held its first congress in late April and elected as its leader the party's founder, Silvio Berlusconi, a media mogul and ex-prime minister.

UN shows its colors (primarily red) on Cuba

The UN Human Rights Commission declined this year, the first time since 1991, to condemn Cuba. Latin America mostly abstained; Europe mostly joined the United States in censuring Cuba.

So did Canada -- though its prime minister, Jean Chretien --  became the latest Canadian to pay an official visit to Cuba.

The last Canadian prime minister to visit Cuba, however, was Pierre Trudeau in 1976. Trudeau angered many anti-Communists worldwide by snorkeling with his host and at one point reportedly yelling "Viva Castro!"

"Of course we will raise the question of human rights and political rights," Chretien told reporters April 26 before leaving Canada. "Isolation leads nowhere. But if we are engaging them, discussing with them, offering help ... the people of Cuba and the president of Cuba will certainly be happy to have a dialogue."

Chretien returned to Canada with no progress made on human and political rights.

1990s the New, Greedier "Decade of Greed"
From the The National Center for Public Policy Research's Budget Watch

The president who blamed 12-years of trickle-down economics for creating a "Decade of Greed" that left the poor even poorer appears to have presided over a meaner, greedier "Decade of Greed."  Since the beginning of President Clinton's term in office the Dow Jones Industrial Average has soared from 3 301 to 9 000.  But last year, the poverty rate hit 13.7 per cent, up from 12.8 per cent during President Reagan's last year in office. There were also 1.4 million bankruptcies filed in 1997, compare to only 613 465 in 1988.  Meanwhile the median household income has dropped to $34 076 from $35 073 in 1988.  During President Clinton's "Decade of Greed," the poor actually do appear to be getting poorer. Source: "Avarice in the '90s? Depends Who Says," by Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times, April 26, 1998

Corporations join in their own deaths by joining environmental movement

Some of the world's largest corporations have joined a Greenpeace boycott of British Columbia lumber and paper in a global campaign to "save" Canada's ancient rainforest.

Among the firms refusing to buy or use any wood or byproduct of B.C. old-growth forests are Xerox Corporation, FedEx, Kinko's Copies, 3M and Bristol-Myers-Squibb.

"U.S. consumers don't want to be associated with ancient forest destruction and companies are moving to meet their customers' needs," Greenpeace's Marc Evans said in April. "We expect the majority of U.S. corporations to follow this trend."

The Greenpeace campaign, begun in Europe, includes two other U.S.-based Fortune 500 firms that don't want to be identified publicly, Evans said. Brave ones they are.

Greenpeace will soon extend its campaign to Japan in a worldwide effort to convince Canada's largest trading partners to avoid B.C. old-growth wood, he said.

None of these U.S.-based firms has cancelled contracts with B.C. forestry companies, so it's difficult to calculate the potential impact of such a boycott.

Xerox, the world's largest supplier of cut sheet paper, has directed all its suppliers to avoid any product made from ancient trees, spokesperson Brent Laymon said.

He cited Xerox policy, as outlined in a recent corporate letter:

"We do not use, purchase or distribute wood products made wholly or in part from clear-cut old-growth rainforest trees."

Xerox was among several U.S.-based firms contacted that insisted they're not part of a boycott
because they haven't used B.C. rainforest-related products.

Tobacco actually wins a court case

A federal judge in West Palm Beach, Fla. dismissed on April 13 a class action lawsuit brought against cigarette manufacturers by a number of local labor unions.  The lawsuit accused cigarette manufacturers of targeting blue collar employees to start smoking, racketeering and conspiracy.  (Imagine that, a group of unions accusing someone else of racketeering and conspiracy.)

Using the same technique as the state class action lawsuits, they tried to recover health care costs from their insurance plans.  In dismissing the case, the Judge said he was not going to support the ongoing hysteria against tobacco, and allow them to be sued into oblivion simply because they were currently unpopular.   He said that the dangers of tobacco use are well known, and that he was not going to overturn common law rules simply to take money from them.  He said that we need to slow down this runaway train of anti tobacco hysteria.  The companies plan to use the ruling to fight 40 similar anti tobacco lawsuits in other states. 

The ozone is getting better! The ozone is getting worse!

The environmental movement changes its mind so fast that it's hard sometimes to figure out why they stand. One year you can hear that global warming will make everything hot while the next year they're telling you everything will freeze over. Temperatures are going up! Temperatures are going down!

The ozone layer over Canada is getting thicker – increasing to about 98 per cent of normal, Environment Canada reported.

That's the best in more than a decade for the ozone layer, which soaks up ultraviolet-B rays which cause sunburn and are linked to skin cancer, increased risk of cataracts and depression of the immune system. The thicker ozone layer is expected to last until this summer.

This has, based on the billions of years worth of data that scientists have on the climate of the planet, been described as a "freak occurrence."

AFL-CIO hopes to spend near $80 million in 1998 elections
Originally appearing in the National Center for Public Policy Research Political Money Monitor

In January, AFL-CIO leaders approved $15 million for issue advertising, grassroots organizing and other political activities related  to this November's mid-term congressional elections. But this is deceptive: overall political spending by the AFL-CIO this year is likely to be closer to $80 million.

This initial $15 million, according to an AFL-CIO official contacted by Political Money Monitor, is part of the normal union budget to be spent on get-out-the-vote and other grassroots mobilization activities. On top of that, AFL-CIO officials are trying to raise $13 million from member unions to fight "paycheck protection" ballot initiatives and legislation (running total: $28 million). Another stated goal is a two-year/$20 million a year "media education" campaign (running total: $48 million).

Next, Roll Call has reported that a "top union official" said the AFL-CIO plans to spend $28 million on television advertising and 300 "grassroots coordinators" (running total: $76 million). When asked about this figure, however, the union's press office denied the report, calling it a "misprint."

So far, this total does not include "soft" and hard money campaign contributions to candidates, causes and political parties. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, organized labor collectively spent $49.2 million in hard money contributions, and $9.5 in soft money contributions during the 1996 campaign cycle. The AFL-CIO itself made $2.2 million in total contributions in 1996 (if this trend continues,  running total: $78.2 million). In addition, AFL-CIO affiliate unions like  the American Federation of Teachers will most likely spend millions in  campaign contributions independent from its parent union.

Wealthiest Americans miserly on campaign contributions
Originally appearing in the National Center for Public Policy Research Political Money Monitor

Despite claims that the rich control politics with their money, a new report by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation finds that the wealthiest Americans (collectively worth $623.7 billion) only made $21.3 million in federal campaign contributions between January 1993 and December 1997, only 0.0034 per cent of their accumulated wealth.

The report found only 38 members of the 1997 "Forbes 400" list of the wealthiest Americans also showed up on a Mother Jones magazine list of the 400 biggest campaign contributors. Forbes 400 members gave only 0.52 per cent of the total contributions during the 1995-6 campaign cycle. The report also found giving trends of the rich favored incumbents (62.5 per cent of contributions) and consistently backed whichever party controlled Congress.

3 kids who didn't want to testify against father shackled, jailed...who is the criminal here?

Three children, whose only crime was their reluctance to testify against their father, were jailed for 12 days in Los Angeles County's overcrowded Central Juvenile Hall and brought to court in handcuffs and leg chains, according to their attorneys and other court officials.

The shackled siblings - two boys, 14 and 12, and a girl, 14 - appeared March 30 before Judge Lance Ito, who had issued warrants for their arrest as material witnesses less than two weeks before. Prosecutors said neither they nor the judge expected the children to be shackled.

"I had seen murderers walk in the front door, no handcuffs, no leg chains," said Deputy District Attorney Susan Powers.

The children's attorneys decried the way the children, already the alleged victims of child abuse, were being held in the company of serious juvenile offenders.

Ito ordered the young witnesses to be moved to the "least restrictive setting to ensure their return to court," according to court records. After sitting through the hearing in the shackles, the children were transferred to a shelter run by the Department of Children and Family Services.

A spokesman for the county Probation Department, which transfers inmates to and from Juvenile Hall, said department policy requires any serious offender or anyone at risk of escaping to be transferred in shackles. He said the children were determined to be a flight risk based on their history.

"The thing is, when we have someone in custody, we want them to stay in custody," said Craig Levy, a spokesman for the department.

The emotionally distraught children have escaped from foster care twice since they were removed from their home in September, attorneys said.

Both times, the children's mother allegedly concealed the children and urged them to recant any allegations against their father, who is accused of sexually abusing his daughter and is currently in County Jail.

According to attorneys, the first time the children escaped, the mother told investigators she did not know where they were. Moments later, officers found the children huddled together behind some clothes in a closet of the family home, according to attorneys.

The next time the children failed to show up in court, the mother was asked in open court to give their address. Officers who were sent to search for the address found that it did not exist, according to attorneys. The judge asked investigators to search her purse.

A different address written on a piece of paper led investigators to the children, where they were arrested and taken into custody. The mother was arrested on perjury charges.

"These poor children were really caught in a dilemma," Powers said. "They were caught between loyalty to family and these civic obligations (to testify) that were put in front of them."

Generally, material witnesses like these children are offered bail after they are arrested, Powers said. But in this case, who would post it?

"They're wards of the court," she said. "In this case the county would post bail, but they're already in county custody. So it's kind of a paradox."

Republicans back environmental indoctrination program
Originally appearing in the National Center for Public Policy Research Relief Report

Representatives Scott Klug (R-WI), Joe Barton (R-TX), John Ensign (R-NV) and James Walsh (R-NY) are among the original co-sponsors of a bill that would authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to indoctrinate our nation's children through "questionable environmental education programs, which seeks to get kids activated, both in their personal life-style... and in political activities," according to Michael Sanera, Director of the Center for the New West's Environmental Education Program. The bill, the National Environmental Education Amendments Act of 1998 (H.R. 3441), would reauthorize the 1990 Environmental Education Act (EEA), which expired in 1996. Advocates of H.R. 3441 argue that the bill would improve the EEA by requiring the EPA to support "balanced and scientifically sound" environmental education programs and prohibit "lobbying activity."

But closer examination of the EPA's concept of "balance" suggests that the program would continue to be used to indoctrinate children. The EPA's "Environmental Science Education Materials Review Guide," for example, states that all funded environmental materials must "reflect EPA policy on the topics explored." H.R. 3441's prohibition on lobbying is likely to be similarly ineffective. While it would bar electioneering, political party activity, and direct lobbying using federal grant money, it would not stop educators from teaching students the political action skills that frequently make them pawns in the environmental policy debate.

Children could, for example, continue to be encouraged by educators to write letters to the editor supporting environmental policies they learn in class. Tucson, Arizona second-grader Brian is just one of many students who have learned such skills. As part of a class project, he wrote a letter to the editor opposing a new housing development saying, "Man is killing Mother Nature just for money." A companion bill to H.R. 3441 is being offered in the U.S. Senate by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK).

FBI sued over wire tapping

Two telecommunications industry groups filed a lawsuit April 27 accusing the federal government of trying to stick companies and their customers with the lion's share of the tab for developing and installing a new digital wiretapping system.

The groups, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and Personal Communications Industry Association, said in a suit filed in a Washington, DC federal court that the FBI and the Department of Justice are asking for a system that is far more extensive and expensive than the one envisioned under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act.

The suit contends that the FBI, in regulations issued last year, redefined what equipment costs would be covered by the government in a move to shift more of the burden to companies -- and ultimately to consumers. The bill set aside US$500 million in federal funds to pay for the project. The industry contends, and Attorney General Janet Reno has conceded publicly, that the system will cost much more than that.

Specifically at issue is who will pay for retrofitting equipment installed before 1995.

"The FBI's regulatory definition fails to acknowledge that Congress intended that carriers be reimbursed to retrofit all existing equipment, service, and features" at the time the law was enacted, the suit said.

In February, the FBI and Justice Department acknowledged that the three-year effort to negotiate a digital wiretapping pact with the telecom industry had failed and asked the Federal Communications Commission to resolve the issue. The new surveillance system, required to be in place under the terms of the 1994 law by this October, is expected to be delayed at least a year.

If Richard Scaife is so secretive, why can you find him on the web?

Don't know who Richard Scaife is? Friends of Bill say he's the main money man -- a billionaire, FYI -- behind a right-wing anti-Clinton conspiracy, attacking with his money. Former White House counsel Lanny Davis has been quoted as saying, "He's using it to destroy a president of the United States."

But as CNN points out, "If it's a conspiracy, it's a pretty open one. Scaife's tax-exempt foundations disclose their grants on the Web. Among them: $2.4 million over several years to American Spectator to pay for anti-Clinton reporting, even a private eye to dig up dirt. And millions more went to other anti-Clinton groups."

Among the "news" in the piece are the large donations that groups like the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, GOPAC, and Citizens for a Sound Economy have received from Scaife's foundation (If Mr. Scaife is reading, ESR sure could use...)

Overall, the piece gave a fairly balanced view of Scaife, going to both sides of the political divide (Liberals say he's a shady and secretive power broker, conservatives call him a philanthropic gentleman).

Of course, it ends in typical CNN fashion (and aren't they owned by a billionaire who donates heavily to liberal causes?):

"Is Richard Scaife great and powerful or just the man behind the curtain?

That's a matter of opinion. But it is a fact this billionaire has spent millions in tax-free money attacking the current occupants of the White House."

Women's group files brief in Jones case

One week after the National Organization for Women declined to support Paula Jones in her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton, another women's rights group announced on April 28 that it would get involved in the case.

But the Women's Equal Rights Legal Defense and Education Fund (WERLDEF) would not take sides in the lawsuit, its president Gloria Allred said.

Instead, WERLDEF simply was seeking to file an amicus or so-called "friend of the court" brief on the legalities of what constitutes sexual assault.

"We wish to emphasize that we are seeking to be a 'friend of the court' and to assist the court," Allred said. "We are not seeking to be a friend of Paula Jones or President Clinton."

"We take no position on whether Paula Jones or President Clinton is telling the truth about what did or did not happen in the hotel room in Arkansas on the day in question," she added.

Allred said her group will file a brief taking issue with the judge's interpretation of the sexual assault law.

She added that she has supported Clinton throughout his presidency, and "believe he has an outstanding record ... in the area of women's rights."

Allred, a high-profile women's issues lawyer who often represents women in sexual harassment cases, also made clear that she wasn't at odds with NOW.

"We respect their (NOW's) decision, and we do not criticize or second-guess it in any way," she said. "They have every right to decide what is best from their point of view and they have stated the reasons for their decision."

Now that's a poll question

"Question: Even if Bill Clinton sexually groped a visitor in the Oval Office, seduced a 21-year-old White House intern, dropped his trousers before a lowly state employee, illegally took money from Chinese communist donors, entertained known criminals, drug dealers, and arms smugglers at private White House gatherings, hid subpoenaed documents in the living quarters of the White House, rented out the Lincoln bedroom, illegally requisitioned the private FBI files of 900 Republicans, misused the IRS and the FBI to attack political enemies, used taxpayer-paid lawyers and aides to defend himself against charges of sexual misconduct, was criminally involved in the looting of a bank in Arkansas, lied under oath, shredded documents, castrated a buddy, suborned perjury, tampered with witnesses, and obstructed justice, should he remain in office? Yes or no." -Linda Bowles

Black Leadership Network praises Congressional efforts on behalf of minority communities

Republican congressional leaders are to be commended for tackling key issues of concern among minority communities, says Project 21, an African-American leadership network. Project 21 members contend that initiatives made during the 105th Congress constitute one of the greatest leaps forward for minorities in the past 30 years.

Project 21 member Kimberley Wilson says, "After three decades of black political efforts to coddle the residents of the inner city with worthless social programs and a celebration of victimhood, the Republican-led 105th Congress has actually taken concrete measures to encourage self-sufficiency in minority communities."

Project 21 singled out work on the following issues for special praise:

  • Needle Exchange: H.R. 3717 prohibits the federal government from subsidizing the distribution of hypodermic needles or syringes for the injection of illegal drugs. It repeals a provision of the FY 1998 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act that allows the federal government to fund needle exchange programs after March 31, 1998.
  • School Choice: The District of Columbia Student Scholarship Act would provide 2,000 Washington, D.C. students with tuition supplements that could be used for public or private schools.
  • The Renewal Alliance for America's Urban Families & Communities: This bill would restore authority and resources to religious, non-profit, and volunteer groups seeking to reweave the social fabric of inner-city neighborhoods. It targets tax and regulatory relief and savings incentives to restore the shattered economies of inner-city neighborhoods.
  • Fathers Count: This Republican initiative to help low-income fathers, encourage marriage and better parenting is the next step in welfare reform.
  • Census: A commitment to a Census that counts everyone. The leadership also stands ready to ban sampling for apportionment purposes on the grounds that it is unproven.
  • The HIV Prevention Act of 1997 will reduce the rate of HIV infections among all Americans by focusing on public health and prevention.

Kevin Pritchett, a policy analyst and member of Project 21's advisory council, adds: "After years of liberal neglect and bad policies, conservatives in Washington and around the nation have stepped up to the plate and taken on the hard issues important to minority communities: crime, school choice, harmful regulation, saving community-based organizations and promoting resonpsible fatherhood. These policies are not just good for minority communities, but for Americans of all races. Conservatives have a positive, color-blind agenda, not just the same old spendthrift, race- and quota-based remedies that many have posited in the past and still push today."

Project 21 member Renee Stikes, special projects director of the Small Busines Survival Committee concludes "Republicans in Congress have done more to address the problems facing the African-American community than our so-called leaders. While members of the Congressional Black Caucus were off shadowing President Clinton in Africa, Republican leaders enhanced community-building legislation like the American Renewal Project. They understand that problems facing the inner-cities will never be solved until the community-based organizations that are 'in the trenches' are given the assistance necessary to build values in our communities. Fortunately, the constituents of the Congressional Black Caucus were well served by Republican leaders who chose to take care of business back home instead of investing in symbolism."




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