home > archive > 2001 > this article

Tidbits
News you may have missed...

Got an item about liberal lunacy? Conservative success? Send it in to ESR's Tidbits section!

web posted July 2, 2001

Arrests made as a diverse group gathers to protest Clinton speech in Toronto

At least two people were arrested on June 25 as nearly 200 protesters railed against Bill Clinton outside the downtown concert hall where the former U.S. president was delivering a speech.

Most of the protesters were picketing Clinton's failure to quell a bloody uprising in Rwanda in 1994 as they held candles and silently mourned the loss of friends and families.

"The Americans didn't do anything," said Evariste Sibomana, who fled Africa shortly after more than a million moderate Hutus and Tutsis were butchered by Hutu extremists seven years ago.

"Against people using machetes, 100 American marines with machine guns could have stopped the genocide very easily, but they didn't want to."

It was a small faction of Iraqi protesters, angry about U.S. sanctions that have crippled their homeland in the wake of the Gulf War, that screamed obscenities and chanted "shame" when a police escort pulled up in front of the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts.

Two people were arrested for hurling eggs and tomatoes at police while Clinton was quietly ushered into the building through a back door. The protesters later moved to a nearby park.

Once inside, Clinton - who was invited to speak by the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, an international group dedicated to educating the world about the Holocaust - acknowledged the Rwandan anger.

"I noticed that in some of the press, I was criticized for coming here tonight because the United States did not stop the killing in Rwanda," Clinton said.

"That is true, and I regret it."

Peacekeeping efforts in war-torn Somalia in 1992, two years before the Rwandan genocide, exacted a heavy toll both in terms of U.S. military and civilian casualties, and dampened public enthusiasm for international peacekeeping efforts, a contrite-sounding Clinton explained.

"After Rwanda, I made up my mind that if we could stop it, it would not happen again."

Clinton's appearance was to help organizers raise thousands of dollars for the construction of a memorial wall in north Toronto to commemorate the six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

During his speech, delivered from a stage barren save for a stylized menora with six lit candles, Clinton lamented his inability to establish a lasting peace in the Middle East.

He related colourful tales about Nelson Mandela, former Israeli president Yitzhak Rabin, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and King Hussein of Jordan, and expressed confidence that a lasting peace is still within reach.

"I have seen these people alone together, the representatives of the two sides," he said.

"I know how close they were at the end of my tenure to an agreement, and I cannot believe that it is in the interests of anyone to continue to let young people die."

The visit, Clinton's second to Canada since leaving office, has instead opened a rift between two communities whose members consider each other kindred spirits, united by sheer survival.

Juliet Karugahe, who was barely into her teens when several of her family members were killed in Rwanda, has since travelled overseas in order to better understand what the Jews endured.

"Just last month, I was in Poland, and I went to all these horrible places," said Karugahe, 20, one of about 50 protesters on hand Monday.

"I support every effort to honour Holocaust victims, and I even support the wall of remembrance; I support everything they do to remember the six million Jews who perished," she said.

"But you can't get the right thing going the wrong way. The end doesn't justify the means."

The 500 Rwandans living in Toronto are upset with Yad Vashem and their decision to invite Clinton, not with the Jewish community itself, said 27-year-old Che Rupari.

"We are for putting up the Holocaust memorial wall, because it reminds everybody of what happened, and the result of a genocide, what happens to a people," Rupari said.

"Unfortunately, to have Bill Clinton fundraising for that subject, it's an affront to human dignity."

A significant portion of Canada's 16,000 Holocaust survivors live in Toronto, and their numbers continue to dwindle with the passage of time, making such memorials all the more important, said Canadian Jewish Congress president Keith Landy.

"It's not just there to serve the Jewish community; it's there to serve all fair-minded, fair-thinking people who decry these kinds of horrors - and that would include the Rwandan genocide," Landy said.

"One would have to question the motives of those who are seeking to raise the profile of this matter on the backs of such a worthy enterprise."

The Holocaust Wall of Remembrance will be the first of its kind in Canada. The names of Jewish people who perished during the Second World War will be engraved onto eight granite walls. Space on the walls will be sold to families of the dead and there will be room for 10,000 names.

About 3,000 tickets for Clinton's appearance were sold at prices ranging from $150 to $250. A corporate dinner with Clinton before the speech was sold out.

The official unveiling of the wall, estimated to cost $750,000, is scheduled for September.

Clinton travels for speaking engagements more than three weeks a month and is believed to earn about $100,000 a speech. He was greeted by protesters when he spoke in Hamilton last month.

Organizers of the event have refused to disclose how much the former president was paid.

U.S. Supreme Court upholds Texas affirmative-action ban

The Supreme Court on June 25 upheld a lower-court ruling that struck down an affirmative-action program for publicly funded colleges and universities in Texas.

The case was the result of a successful challenge to a University of Texas law school policy that gave special consideration to black and Mexican-American applicants.

A ruling that struck down the University of Michigan Law School's affirmative-action policy is before an appellate court and may be considered by the Supreme Court in its fall session, meaning that further clarification of scholastic affirmative action is likely.

The court's order nevertheless ended hopes that the justices would resolve appellate-court conflicts over affirmative action. Those differences have surfaced since the court's 1978 fractured Bakke decision, which stated that universities may take race into account in admissions.

The state of Texas had challenged a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found the former law-school policy discriminated against whites.

The Supreme Court was asked to consider the case in 1996, but refused that year. Since then, the case returned to the lower courts and has worked its way back.

Texas education officials have said the ruling left the state at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting students to its public universities.

The Texas attorney general's office, in a brief in favor of the affirmative action policy, said the court should decide whether the Bakke decision remains the law of the land.

"The court's long silence on consideration of race in higher education has left conflict and confusion in the lower courts," the state argued.

The state said that even though Texas had long ago eliminated legal segregation in higher education, the admissions policy was critical to bring diversity to the state system.

A high court decision is crucial in 16 states that are operating under judicial orders and negotiated desegregation plans designed to eliminate discrimination in higher education.

In the Texas law-school class of 500 that entered last fall, there were 18 blacks and 34 Mexican-Americans in a state where more than 40 percent of the population comes from those groups.

Texas has substituted a program that guarantees admission to any public university in the state to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

This program "has the effect of lowering undergraduate admission standards," the state argued.

Lawyers for two non-minority applicants who were denied admission argued the appeals court decided the case correctly and did not contradict the Bakke decision allowing affirmative action.

"The court of appeals has not held that race could never be considered in admissions," the applicants' lawyers said.

"Instead ... the court considered the ... justifications that the law school proffered for its use of racial classifications ... and concluded that none of them was constitutionally adequate ... ."

The applicants also argued that the state failed to identify any law-school admissions practice that is traceable to the era of legal segregation in Texas education.

Since the state began granting preferences to minorities in the 1960s, there was a "clean break with the ... practices of the 1940s," the lawyers said.

The case is Texas v. Hopwood, 00-1609.

Conservative Schundler takes NJ GOP governor primary

Conservative Bret Schundler won the Republican nomination for governor on June 26, easily defeating a moderate former congressman in a race with the ideological direction of New Jersey's GOP on the line.

Schundler
Schundler

Schundler, the mayor of Jersey City, just west of New York, grabbed support from the Jersey shore and counties in the southern part of the state in early returns. His lead over former Rep. Bob Franks grew through the night.

Franks conceded about 90 minutes after polls closed and asked his supporters to back Schundler. Franks, who served in Congress for four terms, said he would likely no longer hold public office.

Schundler will face Democrat Jim McGreevey in November's general election. McGreevey coasted to the nomination against a little-known opponent.

In the weeks before the election, analysts and political insiders said a Schundler victory would take the New Jersey GOP in a dramatically conservative direction, abandoning decades of moderate-to-liberal policies that got candidates like Christie Whitman and Tom Kean elected governor.

Schundler, 42, who opposes abortion and supports gun ownership, spent nearly two years building a network of conservative groups and single-issue supporters. He largely ignored social issues in his campaign and focused on school choice and lower property taxes and auto insurance, branding Franks "just another tax-hiking liberal."

Franks, 49, a moderate four-term congressman, had the backing of nearly all the state's county Republican chairmen and sought to portray Schundler as a far-right extremist. He warned that the GOP would go down in defeat in November if the conservative won the nomination.

Franks positioned himself as a reformer, pledging to rewrite election financing laws and create an elected auditor to monitor state finances.

The same internal battle between social conservatives and centrists is being fought by Republicans in several states, including Virginia, the only other state with a governor's race this year.

Franks resigned from the House to run for the Senate last year, losing to Democrat Jon Corzine, a former investment banker who spent a record-shattering total of more than $60 million.

Franks did not join the race until April, after acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco withdrew over critical news coverage of his business dealings. DiFrancesco became governor when Whitman left to join the Bush administration as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

On the Democratic side, McGreevey won easily against Elliot Greenspan. McGreevey, who lost narrowly to Whitman in 1997, has been campaigning for most of the past four years.

Torricelli: Denying special counsel 'regrettable'

Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-New Jersey, said June 27 he thought it was "regrettable" the Justice Department denied his request for a special counsel to look into allegations of fund-raising wrongdoing in his 1996 run for the Senate.

The U.S. attorney in New York is heading the inquiry. Attorney General John Ashcroft has recused himself from the case. Torricelli, who once chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, led efforts to defeat Ashcroft in last year's election.

"I think it's regrettable," Torricelli said. "I managed the Senate campaigns against John Ashcroft, and to have either John Ashcroft or his appointees in a position to pass judgment is regrettable.

"I think it [appointing a special counsel] would have been the better choice, but I certainly accept the decision of the Justice Department," he told reporters during a press conference to push his bill for a child-disability tax credit.

This was Torricelli's first personal reaction to the June 22 announcement by the Justice Department. His lawyer earlier released a statement criticizing the decision not to appoint a special counsel.

Federal prosecutors are investigating Torricelli's 1996 Senate campaign and whether he received illegal campaign donations. The probe began during the Clinton administration.

Businessman David Chang, a former friend, has told prosecutors Torricelli knew of illegal campaign contributions, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Chang pleaded guilty last summer to making illegal contributions to Torricelli's campaign and to witness tampering in connection with the federal investigation.

Torricelli previously called the probe "unwarranted" and dismissed Chang as a liar.

Colorblind traffic-light installer gets fired, sues county

A former traffic-light installer is suing Palm Beach County for firing him because he is colorblind and couldn't distinguish between red and green wires.


Cleveland Merritt, 54, of Riviera Beach, claims in his federal lawsuit that the county violated the Americans with Disability Act. He seeks lost wages dating back to his firing in 1997, The Palm Beach Post reported on June 27.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission already has ruled that the county discriminated against Merritt.

But the county said it wasn't illegal to fire Merritt from his $20,000-a-year job for failing to do his work, which required discerning between some of the 19 differently colored wires in a traffic light.

Merritt's lawyer, Sandra Bosso-Pardo, said the county could have kept him on the job by assigning him to other duties not affected by his colorblindness.

The county plans to ask a judge to dismiss the case, said Assistant County Attorney Leon St. John.

Free speech wins one. High court strikes down most tobacco ad limits

The U.S. Supreme Court handed a victory to cigarette companies on June 28 by striking down most of the state regulations that restrict tobacco advertising near schools and playgrounds.

The high court overturned most of a U.S. appeals court ruling that upheld the regulations in Massachusetts that sharply limit public display of tobacco products.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said for the court majority that federal law on cigarette ads preempted regulations on outdoor and point-of-sale advertising which had been adopted in an effort to reduce smoking by minors.

She said the outdoor and point-of-sale advertising regulations relating to smokeless tobacco and cigars violate free speech rights, but sales practices regulations for all tobacco products were constitutional.

Most of the ruling was a victory for Philip Morris Cos. Inc. ; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. ; Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., a unit of British American Tobacco Plc ; Loews Corp.'s Lorillard Tobacco Co. Inc.; and UST Inc.'s United States Tobacco Co.

Microsoft wins...kind of...

A federal appeals court on June 28 reversed a lower court's ruling that Microsoft be broken into two companies as a remedy for anticompetitive practices.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated in full the lower court's final judgment and remanded the case to a new judge.

The appeals court also devoted 20 pages of its 125-page opinion on the matter to the suit to the subject of "judicial misconduct," saying that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, the U.S. District Court judge who ruled against Microsoft, violated ethical guidelines requiring judges to avoid public comments on pending cases and avoid the appearance of impropriety.

However, the court affirmed Judge Jackson's conclusions that Microsoft does have a monopoly in the market for computer operating systems and violated U.S. antitrust laws.

"The judgment of the District Court is affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded in part," the court wrote in its opinion. "We vacate in full the Final Judgment embodying the remedial order, and remand the case to the District Court for reassignment to a different trial judge for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

The appeals court ruled that Judge Jackson improperly conducted himself in the case, leaving himself open to the appearance he was biased against Microsoft.

"We vacate the judgment on remedies, because the trial judge engaged in impermissible ex parte contacts by holding secret interviews with members of the media and made numerous offensive comments about Microsoft officials in public statements outside of the courtroom, giving rise to an appearance of partiality," the court wrote in the opinion.

Judge Jackson's actions "would give a reasonable, informed observer cause to question his impartiality in ordering the company split in two," the appeals court said.

The U.S. Justice Department, which in conjunction with 19 states brought the case against Microsoft, issued a brief statement shortly after the Appeals Court's decision became public. "We are pleased that the Court of Appeals found that Microsoft had engaged in illegal conduct to maintain its operating system monopoly. We are reviewing the court's opinion and considering our options," the Justice Department's statement said.

In a statement released late that afternoon, Microsoft said it was pleased with the decision.

"Microsoft is pleased that the U.S. Court of Appeals has overturned most of the lower court's findings against the company, drastically narrowing the case and removing the breakup cloud from the company."

"The central issue in this case is the fundamental principle that every company must have the ability to innovate and improve its products on behalf of its customers. On this point, we are very pleased that this ruling reverses the District Court's previous ruling and provides a positive framework for Microsoft if these issues have to be retried. Today's ruling creates a better framework for allowing companies to improve products on behalf of consumers by adding new and innovative features."

"While there are some aspects of this ruling on which we didn't prevail, we continue to believe that we face significant competition every day and we must continually improve our products in order to succeed."

Judge: McGuckin won't face felony charges

A Bonner County judge ruled the afternoon of June 28 that JoAnn McGuckin will not face felony charges of injury to children.

Following a two-day preliminary hearing, Magistrate Judge Debra Heise said that prosecutors did not have sufficient evidence to proceed to a trial on the felony charge. The judge reduced the charge to misdemeanor injury to children, which carries a maximum jail term of six months and a $300 fine.

The May 29 arrest of JoAnn McGuckin sparked a five-day stalemate between five of her children and Bonner County deputies.

The judge said that the squalid conditions in the McGuckin house did meet the requirements under the law for charging JoAnn McGuckin with a felony.

She ruled, however, that the state did not prove the other test under the law: that the conditions could result in great bodily harm or death.

McGuckin will soon be released on her own recognizance, without conditions.

The fate and custody of her children is yet to be decided. A separate legal process continued the next evening to determine the custody of the six McGuckin children, who are now living in a foster home.

NOW elects new president

Kim GandyDelegates to the National Organization for Women convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, chose attorney Kim Gandy as the group's next president, succeeding Patricia Ireland, who has held the post for 10 years.

Gandy, a Washington lawyer and the group's executive vice president, takes office in August.

Ireland, who backed Gandy's candidacy, could not stand for the position again because of term limits in the NOW bylaws.

Gandy, 47, said that her immediate concern was blocking efforts by U.S. President George W. Bush to fill future Supreme Court vacancies with jurists who would vote to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Key to that effort, she said, was electing abortion rights supporters to the U.S. Senate, which confirms or rejects Supreme Court nominees.

"They have more to fear from women's votes than they have to fear from right-wing political and religious zealots," Gandy said shortly after her election was announced early July 1. Senators who vote to confirm a justice who wants to outlaw abortion will "be put out of office by the women in their states."

Gandy, a graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a mathematics degree, shifted her career to law after becoming involved with NOW in 1973. She served as a senior assistant district attorney in New Orleans before opening a private practice, where she focused on women's rights issues, including child support, marital property, domestic violence, sex and race discrimination and lesbian mother custody.

As executive vice president, Gandy has led NOW's litigation, legislative and government relations agenda and sees a continuation of that tack during her presidency.

"From the Bush administration's attacks on women's rights to preparing for a vacancy on the Supreme Court, NOW activists have our hands full protecting the advances we've made together over the past decades and moving forward on women's rights," Gandy said.

She served three years as state NOW president in Louisiana, and was elected to the national board in 1982, taking up the executive vice president post in 1991.

Gandy defeated Toni Van Pelt, a St. Petersburg, Florida, travel agent and the immediate past president of Florida's NOW chapter, for the presidency. The final vote tally was not immediately released.

Gandy now lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Christopher "Kip" Lornell, an ethnomusicologist and part-time professor of Africana studies at George Washington University. They have two daughters; Elizabeth Cady Lornell and Katherine Eleanor Gandy.

China embraces capitalism at 80th bash

President Jiang Zemin has thrown open the doors of the Chinese Communist Party to the "new classes" of private entrepreneurs and professionals.

In an address marking the 80th birthday of the CCP, Jiang also pointed out the major goal of the party was to raise economic productivity and boost the population's standard of living.

In a surprising move, Jiang, 74, said at the Great Hall of the People the morning of July 1 that the CCP should absorb qualified members of the new classes so as to boost its "influence and [national] cohesiveness."

These sectors, Jiang said, included founders of non-state enterprises and their staff, private and individual entrepreneurs, managers in joint ventures, professionals and self-employed elements in society.

"Members of the new social classes have made a contribution to socialist production forces through honest work and legal operations," Jiang, also party General Secretary, told an audience of about 2,000 cadres and representatives.

The leftist or ultra-conservative wing of the CCP, however, has consistently opposed allowing private entrepreneurs and other non-socialist elements to join the party.

Jiang and his aides have responded by saying only when the party has recruited new, upwardly mobile elements can it make further progress in economic reform.

Jiang's 90-minute address was largely concerned with ways in which the world's largest party could stay relevant in the new century.

He played up the so-called theory of the three representations, meaning the CCP must be representative of foremost production forces, the most advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the people.

Jiang called upon party cadres and members to be innovative by "liberating their thoughts and seeking truth from facts."

He indicated that ways of thinking and doing things must be changed "if they do not fit the requirements of advanced production forces."

A long section of the address was devoted to ways to ensure the "advanced nature, purity, creativity, cohesiveness and fighting spirit" of the party's 64.5 million members.

The party chief pledged to mobilize all resources to fight corruption, which he called a matter of life and death for the party and a "long-term struggle."

Analysts said, however, Jiang failed to break new ground on political reform.

He said the party would continue to oppose "Western-style multi-party politics and the tripartite division of power."

The party chief promised, however, that there would be more "inner-party democracy."

Jiang indicated reform of the cadre system, particularly allowing senior cadres to be picked through "open, democratic and fair processes," would be a thrust of reform in the coming years.

He added there should be a scientific assessment system so that talented cadres will be promoted and incompetent ones demoted.

After the address, National People's Congress chairman Li Peng called upon party members to "seriously study and deeply appreciate" the spirit of the Jiang address.

A source close to a party think-tank said Jiang's speech, particularly the theory of the three representations, would form a basis of Jiang Zemin Theory, which would be unveiled next year.

He added Jiang's decision to admit members of the new classes to the CCP should boost his power base and authority.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4




Current Issue

Archive Main | 2001

Musings - ESR's blog

E-mail ESR


Loading

Send a link to this page!

 


Home

1996-2013, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.