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May Day madness, or, You have more to lose than just your chains

Like drunken frat boys during the big game, May Day marchers got themselves involved in some May 1 fun:

In Seoul, South Korea, riot police fired tear gas to disperse 20 000 people protesting job losses caused by the economic crisis that has swept East Asia. "No to layoffs!" South Korean workers chanted amid the yellow haze of tear gas that filled a central section of the South Korean capital.

The workers and student supporters dispersed but quickly regrouped, hurling rocks and garbage at police. The district reverberated with exploding tear gas, the workers' staccato slogans and labor songs blaring from loudspeakers.

May Day injuries were reported in Istanbul. Turkey, after hundreds of leftist demonstrators attacked police with stones and clubs. Police responded with water cannons and truncheons, injuring at least 10, although witnesses said dozens were hurt. Two police officers were also injured.

Communists and trade unionists held separate rallies in Moscow, each side drawing thousands of supporters. Still, it was a far cry from the millions who thronged the city on May Day in Soviet times to mark one of the great festivals of socialism. After Boris Yeltsin became president, he put an end to official parades on Red Square.

Masked demonstrators burned car tires and smashed the windows of a bank in Zurich, Switzerland, before police dispersed them with water cannons and tear gas. U.S. and Swiss flags were burned.

Workers marked the day by burning U.S. flags in Baghdad, Iraq and blaming the United States for the suffering of their people under U.N. sanctions.

Republican senators clash over Microsoft...we like only one of them

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch attacked Microsoft on May 1 and was in turn attacked by a senator from the company's home state in an escalating battle between the two senior Republicans.

Slade Gorton of Washington state called the Utah lawmaker's remarks "nonsensical" and said he was "completely outraged" by them. Hatch, by the way, is a friend of Microsoft foe Novell.

At issue was a letter to the Justice Department's top trustbuster, Joel Klein, written by 26 high-tech executives. The letter, made available by Microsoft on April 30, asked the government to permit the release of the Windows 98 operating system without delay in May.

Hatch said through a spokeswoman that the letter made it appear "that Microsoft is contacting potential witnesses and urging them to voice public opposition to possible law enforcement actions."

Hatch, his spokeswoman said, found it "troubling that the target of an investigation might be using its relationship [with computer-makers and others] to encourage [witnesses] to participate in a public relations campaign seemingly designed to frustrate legitimate efforts to enforce the laws."

Gorton responded to his fellow Republican with unusual fury.

He said through a spokesman that he was "completely outraged that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee would suggest that 26 high-tech CEOs should not be able to exercise their First Amendment rights and defend themselves against unwarranted intervention."

And he said that for Hatch to "presume that he knows more about the high-tech industry and what they need than the 26 CEOs...is nonsensical."

A Microsoft spokesman said, "The letter speaks for itself," and added that Hatch may have been misinformed about the letter.

It would appear that Hatch is misinformed about a number of things.

What happens when you don't serve

Recently the Army Reserve had its anniversary celebrations, but the Clinton Administration --  long friends of the army -- just plain forgot.

The White House did send a letter to the Pentagon on plain letterhead, mentioning the wrong anniversary date.  On the other hand, congratulatory messages on White House stationery (mentioning correct dates) found their way to organizations celebrating Secretary’s Day, Earth Day, National Jewish Week, Child Care Professionals´ Day, National Volunteer’s Week, and last but not least, U.S. relations with Turkmenistan.

No one missed her

In a recent interview with CNN, American expatriate Lorna Birdsall discussed the 40 years she's lived in Communist Cuba. Everything, says Birdsall, is peachy.

Of course, it's easy when you were married to Manuel Pineiro. If you're unfamiliar with the name, he served as a member of Fidel Castro's inner circle and for years served as head of intelligence. Nice work if you can get it.

While she may miss some of the conveniences in this economically depressed island, she doesn't miss them enough to move back to the United States.

"I'm defending the Cuban revolution in the sense that I live here and I work here," Birdsdall says. "Let's imagine there is no free speech, no free press...I mean, are people suffering because of this?"

When asked to define herself, Birdsall had some problems.

"I don't know what I am any more," she says. "I'm a Cuban, I'm an American. I'm a...I don't know...I'm Lorna."

How about "idiot"?

An argument for term limits?

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the 80-year-old lawmaker from West Virginia who has spent half his life in the Senate, on May 5, extended his own record by casting his 15 000th vote.

"I still feel a sense of pride when I walk through those chambers and stand on the Senate floor," Byrd, a Democrat, said after the vote on a job training bill. "It never gets old to me."

Byrd entered the Senate in January 1959 and is serving his seventh six-year term. He became the record-holder for most votes in 1990 at 12,134, and remains 137 votes ahead of the Senate's other abiding institution, 95-year-old Republican Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

Among the things that Byrd has fought during those 15 000 votes was the line-item veto and the balanced budget amendment. Byrd is also known as one of the premier porkmeisters in history, bringing massive amounts of taxpayer dollars from across the United States to his fiefdom.

One reason to like Bill Clinton

If Americans think their government loves taxes, they've got nothing on Canadian politicians.

Reluctant to give up what could be a huge cash cow, Ottawa is balking at a U.S. drive to guarantee that Internet and global electronic commerce remain tax free.

U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said May 5 she has convinced most major countries not to impose import duties or other taxes on electronic commerce.

"We already have a critical mass of countries that agree with the duty-free cyberspace concept," said Barshefsky. "We virtually have all heavy Internet user countries."

She added that the U.S. has bilateral agreements with the governments from which about 96 per cent of Internet traffic now originates.

But Canada is one of the few countries refusing to sign on so far, telling a trade negotiators' meeting in Geneva in early May it would only consider a four-year moratorium on taxing Internet transactions, said Ottawa trade consultant Peter Clark. "The Internet is a huge potential revenue source."

Ottawa insists it has not yet made up its mind whether it will tax Internet transactions. So far, only the goods and services tax is levied on Internet sales at the federal level.

A government-appointed task force recommended in early May that Ottawa not be tempted to overtax electronic commerce.

But Revenue Minister Herb Dhaliwal said in releasing the report that Ottawa wants to make sure tax laws are "appropriately applied" to electronic commerce. "The department wants to ensure the integrity of Canada's tax base continues to be maintained," he said.

"In trade terms, the Internet is pristine," said Barshefsky. "There are very few, if any, international restrictions."

She said there are no customs duties on cross-border telephone calls or fax transmissions or computer data links and so electronic commerce should also remain duty free.

The U.S. is pushing to have the issue included in what could be the next round of global trade talks, something else Ottawa is fighting.

An international meeting on electronic commerce is scheduled to be held in Ottawa in October.

You can ignore the law...if you're the leader of a nation

Internet users who were forced to pay an illegal tax to register under the top three domains should not expect a refund anytime soon.

Casting aside a federal court ruling that found the fee was illegal, President Clinton signed into law a bill that will retain the money, approximately $60 million, in the National Science Foundation's Intellectual Infrastructure Fund.

The money, collected by Network Solutions Inc. of Herndon, Va., on behalf of NSF, originally had been earmarked by Congress for upgrades and development to the Next Generation Internet, the faster, more comprehensive Internet network envisioned for the future.

Roughly $23 million of that funding had been allocated to the NSF for various Internet projects. But the entire fund was frozen in January after a Washington lawyer claimed the fund was illegal.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas F. Hogan agreed.

In his ruling, Hogan found the fees collected from domain name registrants constituted an illegal tax because it was never approved by Congress. However, he wrote that while Congress had not yet granted the NSF authority to collect the fees, it still "retains the power to ratify the collection."

Clinton walked through that open door on May 1.

"We are pleased that Congress has enacted, and the President has signed, a bill which enables the NSF to use money collected in the domain name Internet Intellectual Infrastructure Fund to support Internet-related activities," said NSF spokeswoman Beth Gaston.

As part of his ruling, Hogan also dismissed nine of the 10 counts filed in the class-action suit by domain name registrants, including charges that NSI's deal with the U.S. National Science Foundation gave it an illegal monopoly over registration of top-level domains.

You have to wonder why they want stuff like this

The Canadian Government is contemplating legislation that would require mandatory key recovery and/or key escrow on all forms of encryption technology. Similar to the US Department of Commerce position, Ottawa is considering strict limitations on the import and export of strong encryption technology.

In late February, the Canadian Task Force on Electronic Commerce, a bureaucracy mandated to direct the future of Canada's encryption policy, requested public input on its policy paper "A Cryptography Policy Framework for Electronic Commerce Building Canada's Information Economy
and Society."

The paper presents several legislative scenarios being considered by Ottawa. These range from moderate regulation to extreme restrictions (or outright bans) on the access, use, development and distribution of unregulated encryption technology.

Canadians and the world can get copies of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) here while Canadians and Americans can download it here. Get it before its too late.

It's hard to believe that this actually happened in 1998

It seems every month that Enter Stage Right tells you about some kooky anti-freedom action that Canada's province of Quebec engages in. In May, one of the most bizarre statist actions took place in the home of language laws.

That month saw Quebec's Registrar of Civil Status announce that it found Ivory an inappropriate name for a child. The couple received a letter from the registrar urging them to reconsider because the name went against "Québécois tradition." The provincial arbiter of names advised Ivory's parents - Michael Janacek and Kelly Levis - to either reconsider their choice or defend it.

Interim registrar Pierre Bouchard suggested the change because he was concerned the name could eventually make Ivory the target of ridicule.

Levis was told Ivory wasn't acceptable because people will think of soap.

"I didn't name my child after a bar of soap!" said Levis. "The name just came to us one night and it's a beautiful name."

Quebec maintains a vigilant approach when it comes to names. About 85 000 births are registered each year and, in about 20 of those cases, officials step in and suggest parents reconsider.

The Quebec Civil Code states that if child's name invites ridicule or threatens to discredit the child, the Registrar of Civil Status has the right to suggest the child's name be changed. See what happens when you get people thinking that society has a right to do something?

As of May 4, Marie Claude Lanoue of the registrar's office said Ivory "has not been refused yet. We just want more information.

"The registrar is doing his job and if (the parents) convince us, we'll let it go," she said.

This isn't the first time that La Belle Province has stepped in after it received word of a name it didn't like. The bureaucrats have previously put a stop the names Lucifer and Cowboy as first names for children.

Well, the parents of Ivory decided to fight back. They recruited lawyer Brent Taylor, an outspoken critic of Quebec's separatist government, who called the name statute "social engineering" and threatened a constitutional challenge.

On May 6, the registrar's office said it had reconsidered Ivory and decided it was acceptable.

Three cases have gone to court since 1994, when Quebec's civil code was amended to give the registrar the power to strike down names "that invite ridicule or that may discredit the child."

In one case - the child named Spatule - the courts agreed the name must be changed.

But the registrar lost court battles over the middle name C'est-un-Ange (It's an angel) and Tomas. The registrar objected Tomas to because it had an acute accent over the "a" - a form that doesn't exist in French.

Would you believe that I don't even have to look hard to find this stuff?

Remember you're paying for this

If the Microsoft antitrust fight is ever set to music, two senators have some suggestions.

It started May 5 on the Senate floor when Sen. Orrin Hatch, a frequent critic of Microsoft, poked fun at the software company's selection of music three years ago to release its Windows 95 software, "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones.

Hatch, R-Uta, complained about alleged pressure by Microsoft on computer makers to publicly support the company and on computer users "increasingly beholden to Microsoft for software products."

Hatch's suggestion: Microsoft should adopt another Rolling Stones song for Windows 98, "Under My Thumb."

Republican Sen. Slade Gorton, whose home state of Washington includes Microsoft's headquarters, didn't let it end there. He fired back later in the day from the Senate floor, arguing that Microsoft's theme song might as well be "Satisfaction," and he accused Hatch of listening too much to "Sympathy for the Devil."

"Microsoft has been satisfying their customers for 20 years, and that's what they want to continue to do," Gorton said. "To the senator from Utah and everyone at the Justice Department who wants to stand between Microsoft and its customers, all I can say is: You can't always get what you want."

Court upholds firing of man who refused to put flag up at work

Connecticut's free-speech law does not protect a defense worker who said he was fired for refusing to display an American flag at his workstation, the state's second-highest court ruled May 6.

The state Appellate Court ruled that private employees have the right to speak out on the job on issues of public or social concern, but that a company policy on flag-waving was not such a concern.

"The issue of whether the employer should have 'expected' the plaintiff to display a flag may be the subject of a grievance involving a condition of employment, but it is not a matter of public interest," Judge Antoinette Dupont wrote.

Gonzalo Cotto sued Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft, complaining that he had been fired in 1992 for refusing to put up the flag during a Gulf War celebration.

He also claimed he was singled out for speaking publicly against the company for allegedly pressuring employees to display the flag.

But Sikorsky officials said the company had no policy requiring employees to display the flag, and that Cotto was fired for creating a disturbance after employees were asked to display flags at their workstations.

"He threw the American flag on the floor, and he was sent home," company spokesman William Tuttle said. "On return to work, he wore the flag hanging out of his back pocket and used it as a handkerchief."

Cotto's attorneys argued that his firing violated a state law passed in 1983 that expanded free speech rights to private workplaces.

A lower court dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the state and federal constitutions do not extend free speech rights to activities "on private property, against the wishes of the owner ..."

The three-judge appeals panel ruled unanimously to uphold the dismissal of the lawsuit.

Cotto's attorney said she planned to appeal.

"My position is that you can be a good machinist without being willing to wave a flag at a workstation or support the particular war going on at the time," Karen Lee Torre said.

Sikorsky, a division of United Technologies Corp. of Hartford, makes military helicopters. Over 700 Sikorsky-made helicopters were flown during the Gulf War.

House rejects ban on affirmative action in admissions. So much for that color blind society dream

Are you sure that a conservative revolution occurred in 1994?

A proposal to ban college admissions preferences based on ethnicity, gender or race was rejected May 6 in the House after both sides said they were pushing fairness for students.

The 249-171 vote effectively endorsing a continuation of such affirmative action programs occurred as Congress moved toward passing a bill covering federal aid to college students and increasing federal efforts to train and recruit teachers.

The bill includes provisions guaranteeing a drop in student loan interest rates and raising the amount needy students may receive in Pell Grants.

The proposed affirmative action ban had the support of House GOP leaders, who said admission preferences force college officials to discriminate against other students, for example Asians, who belong to minority groups not recognized by preferences.

"Whenever public institutions of higher education sort, divide and classify applicants for admission into racial groups, they send a powerful and perverse message that we should judge one another on the basis of race," said Rep. Charles T. Canady, R-Fla.

It was the second vote on affirmative action this year.

In March, the House rejected, 225-194, an amendment to remove contract set-asides for women and minorities from a transportation spending bill. The Senate rejected that amendment 58-37.

Among those supporting a continuation of affirmative action in college admissions Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts, the only black Republican in the House. He signed a letter to colleagues with liberal Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

"This is not the time to eliminate the one tool we have -- imperfect though it may be -- to help level the playing field for many minority youth," the letter said. Later, black, Latino and female lawmakers argued that the country has yet to overcome the discrimination that made preferences necessary.

The amendment, Lewis said, "is not color blind. It is blind to centuries of discrimination, it is blind to the racism that is still deeply embedded in our society, it is blind to the barriers that continue to confront generation after generation of African-Americans and other minorities."

President Clinton has pledged a veto if the final bill includes the ban, sponsored by Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Calif. The measure would deny federal support to public institutions that make admission decisions on the basis of gender or race.

"I acknowledge that discrimination continues to exist in our society and that it is morally wrong, but I believe that we will never end discrimination by practicing it," Riggs said. He said the measure was based on Proposition 209, which California voters approved in November 1996.

The Senate still must pass its version of the bill. After that, House and Senate negotiators must work out a compromise.

Failed Canadian socialist leader sees human rights erosions in cutbacks

Right-wing governments are reneging on principles signed 50 years ago in the Declaration of Human Rights, former Canadian politician Ed Broadbent said May 7.

Broadbent led the neo-socialist federal wing of the New Democrats, never having brought the party remotely close victory. Broadbent retired at the beginning of this decade to accept a government job.

An understanding in Canada and Western Europe that government had to take care of its citizens through universal pensions, health care and unemployment insurance began to unravel in the early 1980s, he said.

"The principle was accepted by all parties at that time," said Broadbent, who was appointed the first president of the International Centre for Human Rights in 1990.

"That's no longer the case. Things began to unwind with social and economic rights in our part of the world."

Broadbent spoke at a reception honoring Kamloops, British Columbia people and organization for their contributions to social justice and anti-racism causes.

A new breed of small-C conservative no longer believes government has a duty to provide for the social and economic well being of its citizens, he said. But the two principles are a central part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in 1948, three years after the end of the Second World War. One more reason to get out the U.N. I think.

Conservative governments in the 1940s believed the only way to assure evil political forces such as Nazism never rose again was to ensure citizens everywhere "could live with dignity," said Broadbent, who assumed the J. S. Woodsworth Chair in the department of humanities at Simon Fraser University last year.

However, the pensions and social programs that ensure that dignity have been stripped away in the last two decades, encouraging social advocates to stand against the conservative tide, he said.

Believing in social justice does not mean endorsing handouts, Broadbent said. Encouraging people who have become dependent on government to work is right, provided there is a social network to help them.

The thing I find funny about Broadbent is how much of a failure he was and the collectivist programs that his party inspired. Both are in disrepute, but being a man of his times, Broadbent just doesn't realize it.

Record number of wiretaps asked for in U.S. in 1997

Law enforcement agents sought a record number of court orders last year to allow them to secretly listen in on more than 2 million private conversations, a government wiretap report released in May shows.

The 1 186 wiretap requests approved by federal and state judges in 1997 marked a 3 percent increase over 1996 and surpassed the 1 154 logged in 1994. The total is believed to the highest since Congress in 1968 started requiring the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to compile such records.

As in past years, the bulk of the wiretap requests -- 73 percent -- were spurred by narcotics investigations. Other crimes most often cited included gambling and racketeering.

The telephone wiretap was the most common device used, but other surveillance tools were authorized as well.

Investigators actually installed 1 094 wiretaps, and each intercepted an average of 2 081 conversations -- a total of 2.27 million. Only in 1994 were more conversations -- 2.35 million -- subjected to reported government snooping.

Federal judges authorized 569 wiretaps; state judges 617. The most orders were issued in New York (304), New Jersey (70) and Florida (57). California, the nation's most populous state, ranked fifth with 29 authorized requests. Pennsylvania was fourth with 42.

In all, 23 of the 42 states in which courts can authorize wiretapping reported at least one such authorization last year.

Under federal law, prosecutors who apply for court permission to install wiretaps are required to submit reports unless a court order is issued with the consent of one of the parties whose conversations are to be intercepted.

Clinton dedicates building named after Reagan

A massive new home for thousands of federal workers in the nation's capital was dedicated on May 5 in honor of President Reagan, who decried big government during his two terms in office.

And President Clinton, who repeatedly declared "the era of big government is over" during his 1996 re-election campaign, delivered the honor.

Clinton, joined by former first lady Nancy Reagan and Commerce Secretary William Daley, officially dedicated the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, just a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.

The $816 million building bearing Reagan's name is a sprawling mix of government and private offices surrounding an atrium. The second-largest government building ever constructed, after the Pentagon, it already houses 5,000 workers and ultimately will accommodate 7,000.

Inside are restaurants, offices, part of Johns Hopkins University and government agencies, including the Agency for International Development, the U.S. Customs Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Legislation providing for the building was approved by Congress and signed by Reagan in 1987. That legislation projected a cost of $362 million and a completion date of 1993. Clinton signed a bill in 1995 naming the building after Reagan.

It is not the only capital area facility named for Reagan. Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Congress passed legislation signed by Clinton that renamed Washington National Airport in suburban Virginia as Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

That move angered local officials who say Congress usurped their power. Most local residents still call the airport by its old name noting that Reagan fired 11,000 unionized air traffic controllers who went on strike in 1981 and barred the government from rehiring them. Clinton lifted that ban in August 1993.

Klein denies Microsoft jihad is political

During a recent Forbes forum Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein denied that the Justice Department attacks against Microsoft are political in nature.

"The White House didn't know, nobody outside the building knew I was going to do Microsoft until the very day I filed suit," said Klein on May 8.

"There was no political pressure brought to bear in the process," he said. "The notion that this was a political play is so far removed from reality."

Klein said Microsoft's lobbying presence in Washington, which until recently was relatively small, had nothing to do with the Justice Department's decision-making process.

The real reason behind the Microsoft antitrust suit?

During a weekly press conference on May 14, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno admitted that she doesn't know how to use her computer and that she uses a pencil and piece of paper exclusively.

According to Reno, her problems began in 1993 when she moved from her job as chief prosecutor in Dade County, Florida to Washington D.C.

"I was doing OK with the office computer in Miami," she told reporters. "I was getting fairly fluent with it. And then I came to Washington and had to learn anew. I didn't do a very good job of it.

"...It got so confusing, as to what was on the computer or what wasn't on the computer, what was on the hard drive, what was on the soft drive, that it made it easier for me just to do my work with paper and pencil.

"At this moment," Reno said, "I do not have a personal relationship with a computer."

We'll leave that obvious joke alone.

Memo to politicians: The latest proof tax cuts work - or Kennedy and Reagan were right

"Last year's capital-gains tax cut is already proving this point. In January, [the Congressional Budget Office] raised its estimate of annual capital-gains realizations by an incredible $177 billion. In April alone, says CBO director June O'Neill, capital-gains taxes exceeded CBO estimates by about $12 billion. Hmmm: a lower tax rate yields higher tax revenues. Sound familiar?" -Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot.

So it finally happened

The U.S. Department of Justice, 20 states and the District of Columbia filed two separate lawsuits on May 18 charging that Microsoft illegally has exploited its monopoly power in an effort to gain what Attorney General Janet Reno called a "chokehold" over Internet commerce, betraying an apparent lack of knowledge.

The suits both ask a federal court to force Microsoft to either separate its Internet Explorer browser from the forthcoming Windows 98 operating system or ship it with a rival browser from Netscape Communications Corp.

"This initial step will begin to enable consumers to have a fair choice of products that can compete in the marketplace on their own merits," said the failure Netscape in a statement. "We believe government investigators have examined the case thoroughly and would not have brought action against Microsoft unless their investigations had uncovered serious violations of the law."

Or had Netscape not whined enough.

Some industry executives were appalled at the prospect that Microsoft could be forced to distribute a competitor's product.

"What I want to know is why the Department of Justice picked Netscape Navigator, said Sheldon Laube, chief technology officer of an Internet services company, USWeb Corp. "Why does Netscape get the Department of Justice to help them market their product?"

"It makes it look like they (antitrust regulators) are no longer in the business to protect the consumer," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group, a market research firm. "It looks like they are in the business to protect Netscape."

Funny thing though. Days after the suits were filed, CNN reported that advance sales of Windows 98 were huge.

"We're forecasting there will be more [copies of] Windows 98 sold in the first six months than there was in the first six months of the launch of Windows 95. When we look at the penetration of [PCs in] small businesses and home consumers, it's ... going to surprise a lot of people," said Channel Marketing president David Goldstein.

A public service announcement. You are responsible for third world debt

According to England's Guardian at least. In mid-May the English paper began a campaign to end the third world's foreign debt, stating that it "...is crippling parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America: 21 million children will die because of debt. Millions more will grow up unable to read or write as government budgets for health and education are dwarfed by debt repayments to the West."

So who owns this foreign debt? Why the generous nations of the first world where you're probably sitting right now reading this, which means that you are ultimately responsible for this genocidal campaign of hooking third world countries on this crack-like debt.

"In a special report starting Monday May 11 the Guardian will explore the inherent instability and injustice of economic globalization and the enormous human costs," said the Guardian, oblivious of that crazy objective stuff and revealing their real agenda

According to the Guardian, it isn't the men behind the Hutu and Tutsi massacres who are responsible for poverty, or men like Laurent Kabila who run dictatorships disguised as semi-free states. Going back decades, the many third world nations have not done one iota of work to improve their nations and move to a free society. But the Guardian says you and globalization are responsible.

I'll freely admit that the first world doesn't have clean hands when it comes to some countries in the third world, but guilt-ridden campaigns like the one the Guardian ran are just another attack on capitalism and some nation's responsibilities to their citizens and the rest of the world.

What communism really teaches children

We all know that leftists love to load their pet societal engineering projects into the curriculum of a nation's courses, but their cousins the communists are true masters of it. A recently found Khmer Rouge textbook provided proof of that.

The textbook, innocent enough at first glance, belonged to a schoolgirl who recently fled the Khmer Rouge's last stronghold at Anlong Veng in northern Cambodia after fighting broke out between the hard-line leadership and war-weary mutineers.

The girl, who reportedly only reluctantly parted with her book, lives in a camp of 7 500 guerrillas and their families who have defected to the government since March. The worn paperback was one of her sole possessions.

The book offers a rare glimpse into how the Maoist-inspired Khmer Rouge kept forming new generations of revolutionaries after it was deposed when Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979.

The book's lessons, including a list of words the schoolgirl was expected to memorize, weren't standard curriculum:

  • Guerrilla warfare is defined in handwritten print as "a small attack, an ambush or a mobile attack without any rules."
  • Treason is defined as "selling out your country." The prime example given is Cambodian leader Hun Sen, Cambodia's strongman since the 1980s. Hun Sen and the Khmer Rouge are sworn enemies.
  • A bamboo spike is a sharp object dipped in poisonous tree sap. Students learn that piercing someone with the object causes the victim "to break into convulsions and die."
  • Other terms to know: infiltrate, detonated mines and ancient weaponry.

Another chapter in the 120-page book, published in 1994, includes examples of how to write letters to soldiers battling government troops, praising them in carefully constructed sentences for their courage and military victories.

Wilson vetoes bilingual education

Calling bilingual education a dismal failure, California's governor endorsed a proposal that would require schools to teach almost exclusively in English as he rejected an alternate plan.

Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed a bill May 18 that would have let schools in the nation's most populous state choose how to teach 1.3 million "limited English-proficient" children.

Under the current system, immigrant children are taught primarily in their first language, and English is gradually introduced.

The bill from Sen. Dede Alpert, a Democrat, would have allowed school districts to keep that system, use the "English immersion" technique advocated by Proposition 227 or develop their own approach.

Wilson, a Republican, instead backed Proposition 227, which is on the June 2 ballot.

"Bilingual education in California has been a serious failure," Wilson wrote. "(Alpert's bill) fails to provide much hope of improvement."

Alpert criticized Proposition 227 for imposing a one-size-fits-all solution for California, where schools recognize 55 languages and even more dialects are spoken on playgrounds and in cafeterias.

"This veto is simply shortsighted," she said. "Yes, some of these children will survive academically, and anecdotal evidence will be that one or two may even excel. But too many will fall hopelessly, and unnecessarily, behind their classmates."

The backers of Proposition 227 were less than thrilled to have Wilson's support.

Wilson alienated many immigrants with his support of Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot measure denying most social services to illegal immigrants. In contrast, recent polls find Proposition 227 is supported by about half of the Latino households surveyed.

"It is very unfortunate that the governor has chosen to endorse our initiative," said Ron Unz, author of Proposition 227 who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for governor in 1994.

Alpert's bill would have been largely superseded by Proposition 227, if it is approved. But if Proposition 227 were challenged in court and suspended, the bill would have taken effect.

National symbol "Smokey Bear" sold to hawk Japanese autos, in violation of law

From the National Centre for Public Policy Research.

A deal brokered by the National Forest Foundation that would permit the Japanese automaker Subaru to use Smokey Bear (also known as "Smokey the Bear") to sell one of its new products not only violates federal statute, but raises serious questions about U.S. Forest Service management, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research. It also raises the question, the group says, as to whether or not independent organizations are being permitted to set Forest Service policy.

The National Forest Foundation (NFF) is a private foundation set up by the U.S. Forest Service to help solicit private sector donations in support of Forest Service conservation programs. As a private entity, it does not have the authority to make commitments for the U.S. government. Nonetheless, the NFF signed an agreement with Subaru that commits Smokey Bear to attend 10 auto shows, the primary purpose of which is to promote sales of Subaru's new "Forester" Sports Utility Vehicle. In return, the NFF received $25,000, the use of 30 sports utility vehicles for two years and the promise of $150 for every Forester vehicle purchased by a NFF member.

But the Smokey Bear trademark was removed from the public domain in 1952 (PL 82-359). A subsequent amendment to the law in 1974 (PL 93-318) gave the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to protect the symbol of Smokey Bear for fire protection. Forest Service regulations make the limits on the use of Smokey Bear even more explicit. According to Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 271.4, "The Chief [of the Forest Service] may authorize the commercial manufacture, importation, reproduction, or use of 'Smokey Bear,'" but only if the use of Smokey "shall contribute to public information concerning the prevention of forest fires" and "does not in any way detract from" Smokey's status as the symbol of forest fire prevention. Participating in auto shows and selling automobiles would violate these restrictions.

"By allowing the National Forest Foundation to lease Smokey to Subaru, the Forest Service has permitted an independent foundation without direct accountability to the U.S. taxpayer to determine how a government resource will be used," said David Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "One wonders what other taxpayer resources and what other policy decisions the Forest Service has surrendered to outside groups."

The NFF also agreed ­ apparently on behalf of the Forest Service ­ that the 30 Forester SUVs would be used, complete with U.S. Forest Service shields, in high profile areas of the nation's National Forests.

The National Center for Public Policy Research protested the sale at the House Resources Committee beginning on May 13. National Center activists, one donning a bear costume with a "Sold" sign affixed, distributed press materials outside the hearing.

Did you hear anything in the media about it?

New England Journal of Medicine urges making hay off school shooting tragedies

From Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership came out swinging after once again the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has shown its extreme bias against the individual right to keep and bear arms. The lead editorial in the May 7, 1998 issue of NEJM (pp. 1375-76) openly called for "gun control" advocates to "try to make political hay out of the Jonesboro shooting."

The author, Jerome P. Kassirer, M.D., editor of NEJM, urged that "it is time to eliminate semiautomatic firearms from private homes." Why? Because of the "unmistakable role of [semi automatic] firearms" in the Jonesboro murders. After listing and summarily dismissing a multitude of other factors which could have contributed to the boys' shooting their classmates, Kassirer wrote: "Though we may never know precisely why the boys did what they did, we certainly know how."

After explaining how the boys burglarized homes and stole weapons, methodically planted themselves in a position to kill efficiently, and used telescopic sights to assure accurate shooting, Kassirer concluded: "Given these facts, how can anyone accept the contorted logic that lawful arms ownership has nothing to do with this tragedy, or that this is not a gun issue? The vast array of powerful firearms available to the boys is remarkable.... Would so many people be dead if such lethal weapons had not been [available to steal]?"

Disregard that Kassirer's conclusion does not follow from the facts. Disregard that the young killers committed several serious felonies before they ever started shooting people. Disregard that the killers were not lawfully possessing firearms at the time.

Consider instead how Kassirer's logic applies to three other heinous murders that occurred in Daly City, California, the day before the Jonesboro incident. Megan K. Hogg, 25, methodically bound the hands and faces of her three children, aged 7, 3, and 2 years, using duct tape. The police reported that "she did them one at a time. She took them into the bedroom, suffocated them and came back and got the next one." (Associated Press story, 3/24/98)

In spite of all of the evidence that Ms. Hogg was either psychotic or that she committed intentional, premeditated murder, Kassirer would have to say: "Given these facts, how can anyone accept the contorted logic that lawful duct tape ownership has nothing to do with this tragedy, or that this is not a duct tape issue? The vast array of powerful duct tape available to Ms. Hogg is remarkable.... Would so many people be dead if such lethal weapons had not been readily available at any hardware store?"

Apparently not content with one logical embarrassment, Kassirer's editorial actually blames the Waco massacre on the "large stashes of firearms ... [that] were found at Waco." (Piles of hidden guns forced government agents to smash the building and gas the people inside?) The Oklahoma City bombing would not have occurred, he says, except that money obtained from the sale of stolen weapons was used to fund the bomb. The editorial proceeds also to call for registering all firearms and for banning weapons with "large ammunition clips" which have been modified to have a "sporting appearance." (And we thought the law banned guns that lacked a "sporting purpose.")

Kassirer defines "a dangerous arsenal" as "a single semiautomatic weapon left loaded, unlocked, and accessible." One gun is an arsenal. Then he asks the rhetorical question: "Does anyone need to have a private arsenal of high-powered weapons?" He answers NO to that question, because such weapons "are of no value for hunting," their "use for target practice seems dispensable," and they "are certainly not needed for protection against crime."

Kassirer, of course, is wrong on all three counts, but that doesn't really matter. The right to keep and bear arms helps people defend against the mega-killers: tyranny and genocide. Kassirer predictably ignored that factor - - but then again, he would ban duct tape.

Hong Kong votes for democracy, gets continued tyranny

Critics of communist China dominated Hong Kong's first post-handover election, final results showed May 25. The Democratic Party, led by Martin Lee, pledged to use the outcome to press Beijing for more democracy, both in Hong Kong and mainland China.

But only a third of the 60 seats in the Legislative Council are elected by popular vote, so the pro-democracy legislators will be in the minority.

Lee, who was kicked out of the assembly by China's communist rulers, won back his seat. So did other outspoken pro-democracy advocates such as Emily Lau and Christine Loh.

Beijing booted them from the legislature last July 1, just hours after Britain returned its colony to China. Beijing named a provisional legislature, which quickly passed a voting law to ensure the democratic camp would be a minority after Sunday's election.

"Hong Kong people want democracy and they want it now, and we see absolutely no reason ... why the government should delay the democratic process," said Lee.

Forty of the 60 seats in the legislature were chosen in elections by professions in which fewer than 140 000 people were eligible to vote, and by an 800-member election committee. Those two tiers ensured that a pro-Beijing business and professional elite would retain control.

Of those 40 seats, five went to pro-democracy candidates and the remaining 35 went to pro-China politicians.

In a theme he is sure to hone in on in coming months, Lee called for direct elections for all 60 seats in the next legislative election in 2000 and for Tung's chief executive post in 2002.

More than 1.48 million people, 53 per cent of registered voters, cast ballots in the direct part of the election for 20 seats.

That was above the previous record of 920 500 voters, or 35.8 per cent, in the final election under British rule in 1995.

Union mob attacks seniors' home under construction...Ayn Rand was right

A group of non-union construction workers watched helplessly as more than 40 people tore apart a seniors' home under construction in Kleinburg, Ontario.

"They just went on like fleas, ripping off the drywall with pipes and cutting the wires with pliers," said witness Tony Fiorini. "I was really shaken."

Police were called to the two-hectare site in the Islington Ave. and Nashville Rd. area in Kleinburg the morning of May 25 as a mob, allegedly from a striking drywallers' union, caused more than C$50 000 in property damage.

Some 2 000 drywallers, belonging to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters-Drywall Acoustic Local 675, went on strike May 1 over wages.

"(The vandals) just stormed the place, tearing down everything they could reach. There's little we could do," said Fiorini, president of Kleinburg Rotary Non-profit Housing Corporation, the sponsor of the 35-unit project which was to have been completed by the end of July.

During the 30-minute rampage, security guard Gus Athana handcuffed two of the vandals and brought them back to an on-site trailer.

"Fifteen of them just swarmed the (six-metre) trailer and started shaking it," said Athana, who started his first day at the site May 25.

"At one point, the trailer was moving a few feet off the ground and they stuck braces from scaffolding through the windows," said the 27-year-old man.

The two men in custody were finally freed and they fled in handcuffs along with others in 12 vans and Jeeps parked on both sides of Islington Ave., witnesses said.

Site superintendent Ed Ross said three men visited the site last May 23 complaining that the developer had hired a non-union company and threatening to set up a picket line the week of the mob attack.

"At no time, (were we) told to stop the work to support the union," said Ross.

Police said there have been similar occurrences in Markham, Newmarket, Barrie and other parts of Greater Toronto in the last few weeks.

John Lewis, business manager and general counsel for the union, declined to comment, except to say the incident "wouldn't surprise me. Some people may take it on their own volition to take action."

Fiorini said all of his six non-union drywallers left him the day of the mob assault, fearing repercussions.

"We still have all this drywall to fix and replace and I think it's going to take us another month (until August) to finish this project," said Fiorini, adding two more guards and dogs have been brought in.

Now this wasn't the only incident by the union. And two of three men charged after a near-completed house in Durham Region was trashed May 26 for the third time in six days are top officials in the union.

A mob of 80 men wielded pickaxes, hammers and hatchets and caused $10 000 damage to a nearly completed house on Sagewood Ave. in Courtice. The home was being built by a non-union crew.

Also on May 26, about 50 men caused $6 000 damage at a subdivision site in Whitby.

Clinton urges businesses to hire from welfare rolls

On the first anniversary of his administration's welfare-to-work initiative, President Bill Clinton once again called on businesses to hire more people from the welfare rolls.

"The Welfare to Work Partnership was based on the simple premise that now that we have passed the welfare reform law, which required all able-bodied people who could work to work, we had a moral obligation as a society to provide a job to all those people who were about to lose their guaranteed benefits for idleness," Clinton said May 27 in the White House's East Room.

"Today, there are fewer than nine million people on welfare -- 3.3 percent of the population -- the lowest percentage of the population on welfare since 1969," Clinton said, but he urged American businesses to help improve those statistics by hiring more.

"First, we have to find more private-sector jobs," Clinton said. "I would like to ask the Welfare To Work Partnership in 1998 to double the number of people they hire and to double the number of companies that are participating."

Once again Clinton shows his true colors as a statist, arguing that society has a moral obligation to the less fortunate, that jobs are a right. The sad thing is that this so-called welfare to work program was largely a Republican iniatitive.

Conservative's conservative passes away

Republican conservative patriarch Barry Goldwater, a former Arizona senator and presidential candidate, died May 29 at age 89, his wife said.

"He is soaring," KTAR-AM Radio in Phoenix quoted Goldwater's wife, Susan, as saying in announcing his death.

"Mr. Republican" to many in the GOP, Barry Goldwater was "a conservative's conservative." Outspoken and earthy, he was never afraid to call things as he saw them.

Goldwater was first elected to the Senate from Arizona in 1952. Twelve years later, he was ready for bigger things, becoming his party's candidate for president 1964.

During the campaign he was accused by Democrats of extremism. Goldwater's response? "Extremism in defense of freedom is not a vice. Extremism in the defense of liberty is a virtue."

On Vietnam, Goldwater called on Lyndon Johnson to do what was necessary to win. Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" 25 years later, his feelings about the war had not changed. "I'd rather kill alot of North Vietnamese than one American and we've lost enough of them," he said.

In his bid for the White House Goldwater lost nearly every state. He blamed the defeat on a nation still shocked by the assassination of John Kennedy.

Nevertheless, in 1968, Arizonans sent Goldwater back to the Senate where he was a strong supporter of Richard Nixon's first five years as president. But Watergate left Goldwater disillusioned.

He would later call Nixon the most dishonest men he ever met.

It took Ronald Reagan's election for Goldwater to see many of his ideas become law, including tax reform and government deregulation.

Goldwater retired in 1986 to write his autobiography and work as a news commentator.

Republican calls on Clinton, Gore to release Kyoto papers

Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson called on Bill Clinton and Al Gore to "stop stonewalling" the release of internal documents that discuss the devastating economic impact of their proposed "Global Warming" treaty.

"The Clinton/Gore White House once again is putting personal political gain ahead of the interests of the people they were hired to serve,"Nicholson said. "Gore, following orders from environmental extremists, negotiated a global warming treaty last December that apparently even his own advisors say will be a job killer. And it wouldn't even help improve the environment."

Top administration officials, who testified before the House International Relations Committee yesterday, attempted to downplay the economic impact of the sharp energy cuts required by Al Gore's Kyoto Treaty. When pressed by members of the committee, they refused to release internal documents that show many of Clinton/Gore's economic advisers believe the treaty will cause substantial job losses, slow economic growth and cut into America's buying power.

"Most economists say Gore's treaty will lead to big hikes in gas, heating oil and food prices and cost millions of American jobs. Now White House advisors are refusing to let the American people see the economic models and other materials requested by a bi-partisan delegation from Congress," Nicholson said. "Clinton/Gore should stop stonewalling and tell the American people the truth."

Nicholson noted that the highly respected, non-partisan Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates (WEFA, Inc.) says under Gore's treaty gas prices would skyrocket 50 cents a gallon, family energy bills will go up $440 and every man, woman and child will have to fork over an extra $308 a year.

Legislators also pointed out that Gore's treaty would cause the U.S. pain even though the administration itself says the treaty would do almost nothing to slow the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as long as it exempts developing countries. Furthermore, only 19 per cent of members of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union say 'greenhouse gasses' are overheating the planet.

Court strikes down a prevalent union political dues collection scheme

The United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 May 26 in a critical National Right to Work Foundation-led case that halts organized labor's widespread practice of forcing employees into union- dominated "arbitration" proceedings. These proceedings are used to thwart employee objections to compulsory union dues demands.

The sweeping worker victory in Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) v. Miller, applies to millions of public and private workers who until now have been unprotected against this union scheme.

The Court's decision stated, "The (union's) interest does not overwhelm (workers') resistance to arbitration to which they did not consent, and their election to proceed immediately to court for adjudication of their federal rights."

Under Foundation-won Supreme Court precedents like Communications Workers v. Beck, workers have the right to reclaim all dues not used for collective bargaining purposes. But in these so-called "arbitrations," experience shows that unions' calculations of the objectionable amount are generally rubber- stamped.

"In order to protect their political-spending racket, union officials have created an array of obstacles which workers must overcome before they can reclaim their compulsory dues which are used for politics," said Foundation President Reed Larson. "One of their favorite tactics has been forcing teachers and workers into phony union 'arbitrations' which are nothing more than kangaroo courts."

Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the use of mandatory "arbitration" proceedings to thwart employees' compulsory union dues challenges. Foundation attorneys won the appeal on behalf of 150 Delta pilots who objected to the union's computation of how it spends their compulsory union dues for non-bargaining activities, including politics.

This precedent-setting Supreme Court opinion in ALPA v. Miller rejects attempts by ALPA union officials to bar the pilots from access to federal court by forcing them to exhaust internal union proceedings -- to which the nonunion pilots never agreed -- presided over by union-paid "arbitrators" hand-picked from the ranks of the American Arbitration Association (AAA).

The giant AFL-CIO and the National Education Association (NEA) labor union teamed up with ALPA union against the 150 Delta Air Lines pilots in this crucial case which directly attacks the illegal collection of forced union fees.

"This victory in Miller directly impacts the AFL-CIO's massive forced- dues-for-politics machine," said Larson. "That's what union power brokers across the country fear the most."

Participate in Julian Simon memorial service

A Free-Market.Net bulletin

Back in February, when the great libertarian scholar Julian L. Simon passed away, a number of people asked how they could send condolences to his family, or if there was anything else they could do to honor his memory.

Here in Chicago, we [Free-Market.Net - ed.] are co-hosting a memorial service with The Heartland Institute on June 10. But for all of you who aren't in Chicago, you are invited to participate in the memorial service online.

Please come post a few words in the Remembering Julian Simon Forum. The more people who post their comments, the more fitting a memorial it will be. These postings will be available to Rita Simon and the others gathered in his memory on June 10, and they'll be available on the Web pages for everyone to see. This forum is not just for people who knew Julian Simon personally -- if you appreciate what he accomplished, let the world know this.

Go directly to the forum at: http://www.free-market.net/forums/simon9806/

The forum doesn't require any registration or special software. Just click over and leave a few words of remembrance.

If you are not already familiar with his work, or want to be reminded of his significant and continuing impact, there is also a Remembering Julian Simon home page at: http://www.free-market.net/features/heartland/simon.html

The home page has links to Julian Simon resources online -- e-texts, tributes, interviews, home pages, etc., including audio clips of Simon speaking.

Unions outspend paycheck protection groups 9-to-1

Financial disclosure reports submitted to the California Secretary of State¹s office by the campaigns both for and against Proposition 226 show opponents of the paycheck protection ballot initiative were outspent supporters by a margin of more than 9 to 1.

Opponents of Proposition 226, comprised mainly of labor unions that see the initiative as a threat to their continued use of mandatory union dues for political activity, reported spending $19.3 million two weeks before the vote. Supporters of Proposition 226, on the other hand, reported expenditures of only $2.1 million.

Much of the money paying for the opposition campaign came from the political accounts of labor unions at the state and national level, some even coming from special dues assessments earmarked specifically for the campaign.

Canadian gun control is no less stupid then American

Just to prove that Canada has its own anti-gun law loving politicians, here's an update about Bill C-68, a Canadian law which will force the registration of all (legal) firearms in the country creating a central database of who owns what.

The law, which comes into effect on October 1, 1998, is already C$40 million over budget. Originally slated to cost $85 million, the central registry is has already reached $130 million with one even one firearm being registered! Critics have pegged the cost of registering Canada's estimated seven million rifles and shotguns at over $1 billion.

Does this concern the federal government? Truth is hardly one its strongest points. Recently Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Philip Murray criticized the Department of Justice for grossly inflating gun crime statistics. In a letter, Murray stated that in 1993 the RCMP investigated 88 162 crimes, among which 73 involved the use of firearms. That translates into .08 per cent of crimes investigated by the RCMP involving firearms.

But the Department of Justice decided to count guns seized or recovered (but unrelated to the actual crime), and inflated that 73 to over 600 incidents, and then using those bloated statistics to sway public opinion and help make C-68 the law. Those same numbers were used by the federal government during a legal challenge to C-68 heard in the Alberta Supreme Court last fall.

So do we need this law? According to recent numbers, the number of police is dropping across Canada. Rather then spending money to insure the safety of Canadians, the federal government is using taxpayer dollars to register legal gun owners.

Yup, Canadian politicians sound remarkably like their American counterparts.

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