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Rosie O'Donnell, Tom Selleck slug it out over gun control

So much for a peaceful discussion about gun control.

Rosie O'Donnell and Tom Selleck got into a verbal tussle over the issue on her show on May 19. The actor has filmed a commercial for the National Rifle Association, while O'Donnell has been a frequent critic of the NRA since the Columbine High School shootings.

Selleck said he believed gun control legislation wouldn't have done anything to prevent the tragedy, and that it was wrong to legislate against guns during a period of national mourning.

When O'Donnell complained about NRA opposition to efforts to ban assault weapons, Selleck said he couldn't speak for the organization.

"You can't say 'I will not take responsibility for anything the NRA represents' if you're doing an ad for the NRA," O'Donnell said. "You can't say that. Do you think you can?"

Selleck said it was "an act of moral vanity" for O'Donnell to assume that someone who disagrees with her cares any less about gun control. He said he felt attacked.

"I didn't come on your show to have a debate," he said. "I came on your show to plug a movie. That's what I'm doing here. If you think it's proper to have a debate about the NRA, I'm trying to be fair with you. This is absurd."

Conceding the debate hadn't gone well, O'Donnell apologized to Selleck, saying she wasn't making a personal attack. Selleck, looking down at the floor, didn't accept it.

"It's your show," he said, "and you can talk about it after I leave."

Hispanic squad is ousted from Minority Golf Championship

Manuel Inman and the University of Texas-Pan American golf team got a painful lesson in discrimination in earily May, in the last place they ever expected: the National minority College Golf Championship in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

One day before the opening round, UTPA coach John Garcia was informed that his squad would not be allowed to participate in the Division I competition because they were not a "historically black school." The decision to censure UTPA and Chicago State was made by the Black College Coaches Association.

It did not matter that UTPA was 88 percent Hispanic, nor that Garcia had been told by the national Minority Golf Foundation before his team left its campus in Edinburg, Texas, that it would be allowed to compete. Its invitation was rescinded once it arrived at PGA GC, but the team decided to play anyway, even though its scores didn't count. "I don't think it was fair at all,"
said Garcia, "but I wasn't going to take my team home."

What made the coaches' decision to exclude UTPA even more ludicrous was that the team from Bethune-Cookman College, which ended up winning the title by 28 shots over Jackson State, fields no African-American players. B-C standout Craig Billing, whose nine-under 207 earned him medalist honors, is an Englishman; his four teammates are from Great Britain, Australia, and Canada.

"My biggest problem," said B-C coach Dr. Gary Freeman, "is picking a place to eat that everyone will like."

If UTPA had been allowed to compete, they would have finished second. Manuel Inman, however, would have set a tournament record for scoring.

Adapted from Golf World. Thanks to Lawrence Henry for bringing it to our attention.

Environmentalist blasts Imperial Oil president

The president of Imperial Oil is wrongheaded and behind the times in his campaign against the Kyoto climate treaty, says environmentalist Maurice Strong.

Strong, former head of Petro-Canada, a man who has never had a job in the private sector and someone who has worked towards a United Nations led world, attacked Bob Peterson on May 19 with a blistering attack on Imperial head Bob Peterson at a federal conference on energy efficiency.

"Mr. Peterson had his counterparts in earlier days when the Petersons of that day were against abolishing child labour, they were against sanitation, they were against abolishing slavery. Why? Yes, ideally it was fine, but it was bad for business.

"Mr Peterson, who may be a nice man otherwise, he's simply wrong-headed. He's a real demonstration that not all the dinosaurs are in the parks in Calgary, not all the fossils are in the fuel."

Peterson opposes ratification of the Kyoto treaty on the grounds that it would damage Canada's economy, causing higher prices, more unemployment and lower investment.

Strong said higher taxes on fossil fuels are inevitable if Canada is to meet its Kyoto commitment to cut greenhouse emissions six per cent from 1990 levels by the year 2010.

"The real doomsdayers in this climate change issue are not those who are predicting catastrophe for the world if we don't change, but those who are predicting catastrophe for their business if we do change."

He predicted that continued weather disasters will change U.S. attitudes on energy policy, just as the Littleton school massacre shifted the mood on gun control.

"If scientists are right we're going to get increasing turbulence and that is going to cause more and more human and economic chaos.

"I believe there's strong evidence America will turn around and lead the charge on climate change because they will be deeply concerned with the impacts of climate change on America."

Ottawa has said repeatedly it will not introduce a carbon tax, insisting the Kyoto targets can be met with other measures such as energy efficiency.

Canadians sick and tired of high taxation, says poll

During the recent tax season, Canadians were bewildered by a barrage of facts and figures about our rising tax burden. The result has been confusion -- and unprecedented dissatisfaction.

But what do Canadians think is a fair tax rate?

Conventional wisdom holds that the poor and middle classes believe the rich should pay a heavy share -- and that they don't. Yet our poll consistently revealed this view to be untrue. In fact, there is remarkable consensus among Canadians about what's fair. Across ethnic, economic, gender, ideological and age lines, Canadians agree that a tax rate of about 29 per cent total for a family of four is appropriate. That is 29 per cent total, including not only income taxes but all federal, provincial and local sales and property taxes. The reality is that the combined taxation rate is about 50 per cent.

Equally unexpected was the discovery that 83 per cent of Canadians feel their taxes are too high -- and this despite the fact that most Canadians underestimated, by about 25 per cent, how much they actually pay in taxes. If the 83 per cent figure doesn't seem surprising -- since we have become accustomed to complaints about taxes -- it's worth noting that the level of dissatisfaction has not always been this high. In 1962 only 47 per cent of Canadians thought their taxes were too high, while 43 per cent felt they were about right.

Taxes for the average Canadian family increased by 139 percent (after inflation) between 1961 and 1998. The fact that much of this massive hike goes straight to paying interest on the public debt - while schools, roads, and health care continue to face cutbacks -- only increases frustration. "It is intriguing that taxpayers across Canada, regardless of their age, politics or class, had such a similar idea of what is the 'ideal' fair tax. It indicates an opinion that is pretty much nationwide," says Gary Edwards, vice president and general manager of Gallup Canada.

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