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web posted August 21, 2000

Japan textbook draft glosses over wartime past

A draft of a Japanese junior high school history textbook glossing over Japan's World War Two invasion of Asia has been submitted for screening and possible use, a move likely to provoke fierce opposition from Asia.

In what could become the latest flashpoint in periodic battles over how Japan's wartime actions should be taught, the draft, one of eight submitted to Japan's Education Ministry, says that actions committed during wartime cannot be judged, Kyodo news agency reported August 14.

Quoting ministry sources, Kyodo also said the draft barely touches on Japan's 1910-1945 colonization of Korea and fails to mention thousands of people, mostly Chinese and Korean, who were brought to Japan as forced laborers before and during the war.

"War is a tragedy," Kyodo quoted the text as saying. "But it is hard to judge good or evil."

"It is not about which (side) is right and which is wrong. War is the last resort when countries clash over national interests and political solutions have failed," Kyodo quoted the sources as saying.

An Education Ministry official declined to comment, saying that the contents of the draft had not yet been published and they were still under consideration.

"We can say nothing about the contents while they are still being judged," he said.

The books would go into use from April 2002. The Japanese school year begins in April.

Japanese history textbooks have roused fierce debates in the past.

In 1982, a huge row was touched off in Asia when textbooks described Japan's World War Two invasion of the region as an "advance."

According to Kyodo, the current draft says that Japan's victories over Western powers in Asia helped colonized nations there gain independence by giving them courage and dreams.

The draft also says the term "war of aggression" has come to be used emotionally and without being defined.

Current Japanese textbooks give fuller accounts of Japanese actions in the war but have been slammed by the right for going too far in depicting the past.

In the view of conservatives and nationalists, Japan has become a country where patriotism is a dirty word.

Liberals and leftists counter that without a forthright examination of its history, Japan -- if not doomed to repeat tragedy -- will be unable to coexist with its neighbors.

Many U.S. voters would not want atheist or Arab vice president

In picking a candidate for vice president of the United States, it would be acceptable to choose a woman, a black or a Jew, somewhat acceptable to pick an Arab American, somewhat less acceptable to nominate a homosexual -- but do not on any account choose an atheist.

A Reuters/Zogby poll of likely voters released on August 14 found almost no objection to a woman, black or Jew serving as vice president. The question arose after Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore selected Joseph Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, as his running mate.

Asked if they would rule out a woman as vice president, 4 percent said "yes" while 95 percent said "no." Only 2 percent said they would rule out a black for vice president, while 97 percent said they would not. Three percent would rule out a Jew; 96 percent said they would not.

The differences between those answers in a poll with a 3.2 percent margin of error were statistically insignificant. But the answers changed when the same question was posed about homosexuals, Arab Americans and atheists.

Thirty-eight percent said they would rule out an atheist for vice president; 56 percent said it made no difference.

Twenty-three percent said they would rule out a homosexual; 71 percent said they would not. Eleven percent would exclude an Arab American; 83 percent would not.

Conclusion: religious belief seems to be more important than sexual orientation and much more important than religious affiliation, gender or race.

Asked if they thought the president or vice president of the United States should be a Christian, 38 percent said "yes" while 56 percent said "no."

Gore's selection of Lieberman was broadly welcomed by voters, though 3 percent were "very concerned" and 17 percent "somewhat concerned" that he would have divided loyalties between Israel and the United States. Three-quarters of respondents said they were not concerned about that.

Less than 2 percent thought the fact that Lieberman was an Orthodox Jew should rule him out for the post of vice president. Twenty-six percent said Lieberman's selection was "excellent" and 41 percent said it was "good." Another 17 percent called it "fair" and 6 percent thought it was "poor."

Those were somewhat higher marks than Republican nominee George W. Bush got for choosing former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney as his running mate. Still, 78 percent said the choice of Lieberman would not change their vote; 16 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Gore and 3 percent said less likely.

The survey was conducted Aug. 11-13.

Microsoft throws giant party for Democrats

The Clinton administration's effort to break up Microsoft didn't stop the computer giant from hosting Democrats with beef sandwiches, fajitas and the soothing sounds of a country band at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage on August 15.

"Bill Gates has been cooking for you all day — we hope you enjoy this," quipped Mike Egan of Microsoft, master of ceremonies at the event.

Despite the tough language of legal briefs and the damage Republicans say the Democratic administration is inflicting on Microsoft, the high tech giant showered Democrats with kindness at their national convention.

Microsoft donated nearly $600,000 in cash and computer equipment for the convention host committee and co-hosted the Autry Museum shindig for Pacific Northwest Democrats.

Microsoft officials also honored Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, while raising money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and they co-hosted a fund-raiser for Emily's List, which gathers money for Democratic women candidates.

"It's pretty obvious that Microsoft is embracing the Democratic delegation to Congress from our state," said Jim Kainber, executive director of the Washington State Democratic Party.

More correctly, the company is embracing lawmakers in both political parties, said Rick Miller, a company spokesman.

Microsoft donated a similar amount of money for the Republican National Convention and co-hosted events for the GOP in Philadelphia, he said.

"Showing leadership and support for issues important to this industry is not partisan," Mr. Miller said. "We have found people on both sides of the aisle who have shown leadership."

Ben Waldman, a Microsoft vice president and a Democratic delegate from Washington state, said an administration has to uphold federal laws regardless of which party occupies the White House.

"I certainly don't blame the vice president in any way" for the antitrust suit, said Waldman, who stressed that he's speaking as a citizen, not for Microsoft.

Protester hits Canadian PM Chretien with pie

A breezy visit to a summer festival ended up in a mess for Prime Minister Jean Chretien on August 16 when a protester smacked him in the face with a cream pie.

Jean Chretien hit by pieChretien wasn't hurt, but the incident resurrected concerns about his safety.

Red-faced Mounties apologized for the security breach and launched an immediate review of the incident.

Chretien was glad-handing his way through a crowd of well-wishers when a man walked up and pushed the pie into his face.

The prime minister, his face dripping with cream filling, bent over defensively and gazed around for a few seconds before security staff hustled him away to clean up.

RCMP grabbed the man, who identified himself as Evan Brown, and whisked him to a cruiser.

Chretien emerged a few minutes later and resumed his visit. Later, he joked about the incident to a group of island supporters.

"You have developed a funny way of serving pies these days," he said to gales of laughter. "I'm not that hungry."

Brown, 23, said he was protesting for social reform on behalf of students and the poor.

"It's time the government was made accountable. It sure as hell doesn't happen in this country," he shouted while being led off by police as a handful of supporters cheered.

"What's the crime? Supporting multinationals, supporting the (International Monetary Fund).

"I think it's disgusting that this beautiful island is being spoiled and turned rancid by a government that doesn't give a rat's ass about it."

Brown, who said he is a member of the P.E.I. Pie Brigade, was later charged with assault and released on bail.

Many in the crowd condemned Brown and expressed sympathy for Chretien.

"I think it's kind of humiliating to the province of P.E.I. because poor Mr. Chretien came down here to meet people and to do a nice thing," said Robert Godfrui.

"The poor guy steps out of his car and he got a pie right in the face."

Opposition leader Stockwell Day raised concerns about Chretien's safety.

"I'm somewhat disturbed that the security would allow someone to get that close," he said.

"I don't really see the humour in (pie throwing). I have a sense of humour . . . But I can't say that I'm amused by that and I hope he's all right."

The incident is the latest in a string of security breaches involving the prime minister.

In November 1995, a man armed with a knife broke into the prime minister's residence at 24 Sussex Drive. He confronted Chretien's wife, Aline, and she bolted, locking herself and her husband in a bedroom.

It took seven minutes for the RCMP to respond. Then-solicitor-general Herb Gray described the security breach as "shocking and dismaying."

In March 1996, a drunken man jumped the fence to the grounds of 24 Sussex Drive and was arrested walking toward the prime minister's house.

On Feb. 15, 1996, during a Flag Day celebration in Hull, Que., a shouting protester came face-to-face with Chretien before the prime minister grabbed him by the neck and briefly throttled him.

Staff Sgt. Andre Guertin, an RCMP spokesman, said the force does its best to "strike the right balance between establishing fair security measures and also providing reasonable access for Canadians to their prime minister.

"This incident is truly regrettable, it should never have occurred," he said. "We are taking this matter extremely seriously. We have initiated a complete review of the incident."

FBI plan to release 'Carnivore' e-mail documents draws fire

A civil liberties group objects to how the FBI plans to release to the public some of the 3,000 pages of documents describing its "Carnivore" e-mail surveillance system.

The group says the schedule laid out by the government is too open-ended.

The Justice Department told a federal judge August 16 that the FBI had located 3,000 pages in response to a Freedom of Information request and lawsuit by the group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which asked for every document the FBI has describing the computerized system that has raised an uproar among civil libertarians and in Congress.

The government said the FBI could release the first batch of documents in about 45 days. Additional releases should follow every 45 days until all the pages have been evaluated for release. But the Justice Department and the FBI gave no commitment to either process or to release any specific number of pages in each interval.

"The proposed schedule is far too open-ended," complained David Sobel, general counsel of the group. "With no clear commitment to evaluate a specific number of pages in each interval, this process could stretch on for many months or even years."

The department told U.S. District Judge James Robertson in a written status report that the government has begun reviewing the pages to see if any should be withheld as classified information.

Next, a large number of the pages would have to be reviewed by private companies that supplied them under contract to see if they objected, the government added. The companies can prevent release of their trade secrets.

In response to protests over Carnivore, Attorney General Janet Reno has promised that it will be reviewed by an external team assembled by a major university and by an internal team, which hopes to report to her by December 1.

The Carnivore system has software that scans and captures "packets," the standard unit of Internet traffic, as they travel through an Internet service provider's network. The FBI installs a Carnivore unit at a provider's network station and configures it to capture only e-mail to or from someone under investigation.

FBI officials say court orders limit which e-mails they can see.

But privacy advocates say only the FBI knows what Carnivore can do, and Internet providers are not allowed access to the system. They ask why the FBI retains remote control of Carnivore equipment and doesn't just give it to Internet providers so they can comply with court orders.

Sobel said he would likely seek modifications in the government's plan from the court.

The government said it was expediting the request "without respect to the FBI's current backlog of FOIA requests." It also said that it has waived fees for the processing. The law and regulations provide that fees be waived and processing expedited when there is wide public interest in the requested documents.

But the government warned that "review of these documents will be more complex than most FBI Freedom of Information-Privacy Act requests because, among other things, a large amount of responsive material ... (was) supplied, under contract, by outside commercial entities. These outside commercial entities will, under existing laws and regulations, need to be notified and given an opportunity to weigh in on the disclosure of their information."

Democrats nominate Gore for presidency

Democratic conventionOn August 16, Democratic National Convention delegates nominated Al Gore for president, capping off a night that featured a speech by Gore's running mate, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.

After being nominated by longtime friends -- actor Tommy Lee Jones and Lois DeBerry, a Tennessee state legislator -- the vice president's nomination was seconded by his eldest daughter, Karenna Gore Schiff.

"It gives me great joy and pride tonight to second the nomination of my father, Al Gore, for president of the United States," she said to the cheering crowd as a smiling Gore strode on stage to embrace her and wave to the crowd.

Only a short time earlier, Lieberman took to the podium and accepted the vice presidential nomination, saying that the "miraculous journey begins here and now."

"My friends, 10 days ago, with courage and friendship, Al Gore asked me to be his running mate," Lieberman said. "Tonight, I am so proud to stand as your candidate for vice president of the United States," he said to a cheering Staples Center crowd.

"I am humbled by this nomination and so grateful to Al Gore for choosing me, and I want you to know, I will work my heart out to make sure Al Gore is the next president of the United States."

Connecticut's junior senator took to the podium to deliver his nomination speech to chants of "Go Joe!" just moments after being introduced by his wife, Hadassah -- who said her husband was more than "just a regular Joe."

As anticipated, Lieberman touched upon the tenets of his Orthodox Jewish faith and remarked on lessons he learned in 1960s Mississippi as a civil rights worker -- a point underscored by Georgia Rep. John Lewis, himself a civil rights activist who first met Lieberman during that tumultuous time.

"This year, right here, we will nominate someone who marched with Martin Luther King in the March on Washington," said Lewis. "From our lips to God's ears, I believe that America is ready for Joe Lieberman, and Joe Lieberman is ready for America," he said, referring to the Jewish saying.

During his prime time acceptance speech, Lieberman laid out for convention delegates -- and the entire nation -- why he believes the Gore-Lieberman ticket should carry the November election, and to harken to his own roots as an activist in the civil rights movement.

"As every faith teaches us -- and as presidents from Lincoln to Roosevelt to Reagan to Clinton have reminded us -- we must as Americans, try to see our nation not just through our own eyes, but through the eyes of others," Lieberman said.

"In my life, I have seen the goodness of this great country through many sets of eyes," he said. "In the early 1960s, when I was a college student, I walked with Martin Luther King in the March on Washington," he said, noting that shortly thereafter he went to Mississippi to register African Americans to vote.

"The people I met never forgot that in America, every time a barrier is broken, the doors of opportunity open wider for every single one of us, and I know that in a very personal way tonight," he said, referring to the fact that he is the first Jewish vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket.

"In my life I have tried to see this world through the eyes of those who have suffered discrimination," he noted, adding that is why he believes "that the time has come to tear down the remaining walls of discrimination in this nation based on race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation."

"And that's why I continue to say, when it comes to affirmative action, mend it, don't end it."

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