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web posted August 30, 1999

U.S. Senate candidate Lincoln Chafee says he tried cocaine in college

Democrats seem to like marijuana, but when it comes to cocaine, Republicans are the Scarfaces of the political world. Lincoln Chafee, who is seeking to succeed his father as senator from Rhode Island, has admitted to trying cocaine while a college student in the 1970s. A second hopeful said he tried marijuana.

"I think it's important to put it into perspective -- I tried it," Chafee, 46, told WJAR-TV in an interview that aired August 22. "It's not something I'm proud of."

Chafee, the mayor of Warwick, said he decided to speak publicly about his cocaine use following "dogged" questioning about whether Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush used drugs.

"I had three choices -- lie, which was not an option, or evade it and receive the consequences of that, or be honest. And I chose to be honest," Chafee said.

Chafee said he tried cocaine while a student at Brown University. He graduated in 1975.

Chafee is the sole Republican running for the Senate seat. The race has also attracted Rep. Robert Weygand, D-R.I., former Democratic Lt. Gov. Richard Licht, and former state Attorney General Arlene Violet, who may run as an independent.

The Providence Journal reported the next day that Weygand admitted to experimenting with marijuana -- but not heroin or cocaine -- while at the University of Rhode Island. Licht and Violet both said they had never used illegal drugs.

Chafee acknowledged that his admission could hurt his candidacy if voters hold him to the wholesome image of his father, John Chafee, a former Boy Scout and World War II hero.

"It's not something positive for my record," he said.

Said Violet: "I think his personal involvement with cocaine is going to be between him and the voters."

The elder Chaffee announced earlier this year that he would not seek a fifth term as senator in 2000. Chaffee, 76, was secretary of the Navy and a three-term Rhode Island governor before he became a senator.

U.S. soil erosion not as severe as thought

Yet another pillar in the enviro-wackos' platform has been knocked out. This time its soil erosion in some parts of the United States.

Fertile topsoil is not flowing down the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico as fast as thought, according to research published in the August 20 issue of the journal Science.

Stanley Trimble from the University of California, Los Angeles, said that his study challenges other research that concludes aggressive farming practices are causing erosion to become as serious as it was during the dust bowl six decades ago.

In 1995, David Pimentel of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., reported in Science that the world had lost nearly one third of its arable land over the past 40 years due to unsustainable farming practices.

Trimble gathered 140 years worth of information about sediment buildup and erosion from the Coon Creek River and its tributaries in Wisconsin farm country. He concluded that soil erosion overall in this watershed has been steadily decreasing, to six percent of what it was during the 1930s.

That means, he said, that soil conservation efforts appear to be working. Since the 1980s, more farmers have been trying new techniques, for example, tilling the soil as little as possible, or fitting crops to the contours of the land.

To reach his conclusion, Trimble reasoned that if soil were really eroding from the croplands around Coon Creek River, then it should show up in various spots throughout the watershed as well. He found that the buildup of sediment in the watershed had been progressively slowing down.

"We found that much of the sediment in Coon Creek doesn't move very far, and that it moves in very complex ways," said Trimble.

He believes that watersheds are more intricate than scientists have imagined and that existing models of erosion need to be re-evaluated.

School board reverses decision on Star of David

A school board has overturned its controversial decision that prevented a Jewish student from wearing a Star of David necklace to school.

The Harrison County School Board voted unanimously on August 23 to exempt religious symbols from its policy prohibiting students from wearing anything that could be viewed as a gang symbol.

"My decision was based entirely on the safety of the students. But after consideration and a lot of soul searching, I think it's justifiable that he and any other student get to express their religion," board member T.J. Harder said after the vote.

The parents of 11th-grader Ryan Green asked school officials to reconsider the policy, emphasizing that the Star of David was a religious symbol, not a gang symbol.

Security officials had told board members that some gang symbols incorporate six-pointed stars, and that the Star of David could be confused as such. On August 16, the board unanimously upheld the anti-gang policy.

When pressure and national attention mounted after its decision, the board met with members of the Jewish community and decided to reconsider its decision.

"We realized that it infringed on freedom of religious expression, and that freedom supersedes the safety issue," said Randy Williams, the board's president.

Tom Green, Ryan's father, declared the reversal a victory.

"It's a wonderful feeling," he said. "We are truly joyous. As a father to a son this is the best principle I could teach him: Stand up for your rights."

Canadian right could better unite without Manning or Clark: Poll

More voters across Canada would be willing to support a new right-wing party if neither Preston Manning nor Joe Clark were at the helm, a poll suggests.

The so-called United Alternative would generate the most support with a new leader, according to a poll conducted last week by Winnipeg pollsters Western Opinion Research.

Participants were asked how they would vote with either Manning, the Reform party leader, or federal Conservative leader Clark at the helm of the new party.

Manning, the driving force behind the movement to merge Tory and Reform support behind a new party, would have received just 23 per cent support, the poll suggests.

Clark - who has steadfastly resisted the idea of a political merger - would have received 26 per cent, according to the poll.

With a new leader, the UA would have received 30 per cent support, holding the Liberals to just 46 per cent.

The poll was conducted over three days with 1 002 Canadian eligible voters and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.16 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Since its inception at a political convention in February, Clark has refused to endorse the idea of an alternative right-wing party, convinced the federal Tories can be restored to their former glory.

The movement has also been hampered by a controversy over Manitoba Reform MP Jake Hoeppner, who was suspended for speaking out against the UA and his own leader's efforts to silence criticism.

Ontario Environment Minister Tony Clement, who serves as co-chairman of the UA committee, has said supporters have less than a year to work out the bugs in order to be ready for the next federal election, which could come as early as June 2001.

The final decision on whether to form a new party will likely come at the next UA convention early next year.

NATO spy leaked attack routes in Yugoslav war

A Scottish newspaper has reported that a spy within NATO's command structure informed Russia about the attack routes of U.S. stealth fighters during the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, but senior U.S. officials said the report was inaccurate.

The Scotsman, a daily newspaper published in Edinburgh, reports that an unidentified NATO officer leaked the flight routes and planned targets of F-117A stealth fighters to Moscow. The Russians then passed the information on to the Serbs, according to the report, on the condition that Belgrade allowed Russians to be present when the planes were attacked.

The article, written by Jane's Defense Weekly consulting editor Paul Beaver, quotes NATO sources who said the officer was based in Brussels and had access to highly sensitive documents. The article says a NATO officer remains in custody.

However, a source on the staff of NATO's supreme commander for Europe, Wesley Clark, told CNN that while "we are aware that information was getting to the Serbs," there is "no information indicating that it was a spy or (coming from) anyone within NATO."

Several knowledgeable U.S. sources said they are not aware of the arrest of any NATO officer for alleged espionage except for a French major who has since been released for lack of evidence.

One U.S. official said he is not aware of "any evidence" suggesting the Russians might have passed on targeting information to the Serbs.

The documents The Scotsman reports were leaked to Russian military intelligence included NATO air tasking orders for stealth fighter bombing runs over Belgrade and its surrounding area on March 27 and 28.

A F-117A stealth fighter was shot down near Belgrade on March 27. The pilot ejected safely and was recovered by allied search teams. But U.S. officials said air tasking orders for U.S. aircraft never went through NATO channels, and they are confident no U.S. citizen gave them to the Russians.

Beaver's article says Belgrade took the flight information from Russian officials with the agreement that Russia would have personnel present at the "ambush" sites.

The Russians' goal, according to the article, was to get material from the downed stealth fighter away from the scene as quickly as possible, because they feared the site would be targeted by NATO bombers in a later wave of attacks.

Pentagon officials have said the site was not bombed in part because many civilians had gathered to the see the wreckage and because the 1970s stealth technology of the F-117A was not considered sensitive enough to warrant a military strike to protect it.

FBI admits using tear gas at Waco

The FBI, reversing a 6-year-old course, admitted the night of August 25 its agents may have fired some potentially inflammatory tear gas canisters on the final day of the 1993 standoff with the Branch Davidian cult near Waco, Texas.

"We continue to believe that law enforcement did not start the fire," said FBI spokesman John Collingwood. "But we regret previous answers to Congress and to the public (about possible use of inflammatory devices) ultimately may prove to be inaccurate."

Although some questions remain unanswered, Collingwood said, "all available indications are that those rounds were not directed at the main, wooden compound" in which cult leader David Koresh and many of his followers died during a fire that broke out during the FBI's final assault about noon April 19, 1993.

"The rounds did not land near the wooden compound, and they were discharged several hours before the fire started," Collingwood said.

Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis J. Freeh ordered a full inquiry into the circumstances under which military-type tear gas canisters were fired. Freeh assigned 40 FBI agents to the internal review and ordered everyone at the Waco scene re-interviewed. Collingwood said the inquiry could be completed in weeks.

Reno pledged to "get to the bottom" of why it took the FBI six years to admit that its agents may have fired potentially flammable tear gas canisters near the main compound building on the final day of the 51-day confrontation.

"I have no reason at this point to believe the FBI is responsible for the deaths of those people," Reno told her weekly news conference at the Justice Department.

Answers prepared by the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team to questions submitted recently by lawyers for Waco families and survivors suing the government "suggests pyrotechnic devices may have been used in the early morning of April 19, 1993," Collingwood said.

"The FBI may have used a very limited number of military-type CS gas canisters on the morning of April 19 in an attempt to penetrate the roof of an underground bunker 30 to 40 yards away from the main Branch Davidian compound," he said.

In a story published on August 23 by The Dallas Morning News, former Deputy Assistant FBI Director Danny Coulson, revealing what had not been publicly disclosed for six years, said two pyrotechnic projectiles were fired several hours before the blaze began.

But, Coulson said, the devices were not to blame for the inferno later the same day. "The two projectiles," he told the media, "were fired around 8 o'clock in the morning at what used to be David Koresh's swimming pool -- which the FBI referred to as 'the pit.'"

"The fire, we know, didn't start inside the compound until 12:07 (p.m.)," Coulson said, which "would make it impossible for those two devices to have caused that fire."

Coulson was deputy assistant FBI director during the siege and helped supervise operations from Washington.

Asked why he hadn't disclosed the information sooner, Coulson said he hadn't learned the truth until recently and hinted the Justice Department was to blame. "I had believed, until last week, that we fired no pyrotechnic devices at Waco," said Coulson.

Canadian labour calls for tax cuts

Move over Paul Martin and Preston Manning: some labour leaders are joining the call for tax cuts.

In an unusual step, on August 25 the head of the Canadian Labour Congress called for tax cuts aimed at low- and middle-income earners.

Ken Georgetti admits this represents a "shift in emphasis" for the labour congress, which represents 2.1 million workers.

But Canadians are calling for tax relief, he said.

And since Martin, the Liberal finance minister, and his government intend to direct part of the federal surplus towards tax relief, average citizens should get the benefit, said Georgetti.

"If there's going to be consideration to apply some of that surplus to relieving taxes on Canadians, surely to God the answer isn't to give the rich more money," Georgetti said.

At the same time, he also urged Martin to reinvest more in social programs from the budget surplus, estimated to reach more than $10 billion this year.

Traditionally, labour and the New Democratic Party, which most unions support, are more interested in enriched social programs than in seeing revenues for those programs slashed.

Social democrats shouldn't be rushing to take on right-wing issues like tax cuts, contended Buzz Hargrove, head of the powerful Canadian Auto Workers union.

"Our problem in Canada isn't (that) taxes are too high, our problem is we're paid too little," Hargrove said, showing his deep knowledge of economics.

Voters who support a tax cut agenda aren't likely friends of labour or of the NDP anyway, he added.

"We're getting caught in the Reform party platform of saying we're overtaxed.

"If that's going to be the issue, you might as well vote for the one (party) that's going to really do it (cut taxes deeply) and doesn't give a damn about social programs."

Georgetti argues Canadians have been badly hurt by taxes that have been steadily rising with inflation for the last decade, while at the same time their wages have been flat.

Working Canadians helped build the federal surplus and should now get a break, he added.

"We also recognize that people, in a time of surplus, need some tax relief."

Delta Force had active role in raid, ex-CIA officer told

A former CIA officer said the day after the admission over Waco that he learned from Delta Force commandos that members of the secret Army unit were "present, up front and close" in helping the FBI in the final tear-gas assault on the Branch Davidian compound.

The former officer, Gene Cullen, told The Dallas Morning News that he heard the detailed accounts of the military's active involvement from "three or four" anti-terrorist Delta commandos as he worked with them on an overseas assignment in 1993.

"Whether it's the macho-bravo-type talk of guys in the field, I don't know," he said, declining to identify the individuals involved. "I have no reason to suspect that they lied. And it didn't just come from one of them. There were three or four guys that confirmed that, who were from Delta."

In the months after the Waco tragedy, Cullen said, he heard from associates in Delta Force that the secret unit's involvement there amounted to far more than observation or tactical discussions.

While he was deployed overseas on an assignment, Cullen said, Delta operators told him that the unit "had 10 operators down there, that they were involved in the advanced forward stages of [the FBI's April 19] operations."

"When they explained to me the depth to which they were involved down in Waco, I was quite surprised. They said basically they were out there in the vehicles, the Bradley [fighting vehicles], the CEV [tanks]," he said. "They were active."

The chairman of the Texas Department of Public Safety told The News on August 26 that evidence in the hands of Texas law enforcement personnel may support the account given to Cullen.

"I'm advised there is some evidence that may corroborate" the allegation that Delta Force participated in the assault, said James B. Francis Jr., the DPS official.

A Pentagon spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity denied that any U.S. military units were involved in the assault, "as far as I know."

You know, like that "as far as I know no tear gas rounds were fired at the compound" denial America heard for six years.

Use of active-duty military personnel against civilians without a specific presidential decree is a violation of federal law.

The spokesman confirmed that three Defense Department "observers" whom he declined to identify were in the Waco area on April 19, 1993, the day that an FBI tear-gas assault ended in a fire that consumed the compound. Branch Davidian leader David Koresh and more than 80 followers died in the fire, which arson investigators ruled was deliberately set by sect members.

The spokesman said Pentagon policy barred him from any public discussion of Delta Force, even the possibility of its existence.

A once-classified memo written to the military's Special Forces Command, which includes Delta Force, indicated that three of its members watched the final tragedy unfold. The May 1993 memo stated that the observers did not participate and were warned not to videotape anything that happened.

Mr. Francis said evidence in the hands of Texas law enforcement suggests that more than three Delta Force members were at the compound on April 19 and involved in the assault.

"I have been advised that there are some police officers who have developed some evidence that needs looking into with regard to what the role of Delta Force was at the Branch Davidian compound," he said, declining to elaborate.

"I think it's a subject that the FBI director and the attorney general need to look into," Mr. Francis said. "The $64 question is whether they were advisory or operational, and I think some of the evidence is problematical."

An FBI spokesman in Washington said he had been instructed by the Department of Justice to refer all questions on the presence of Delta Force to the Pentagon.

The spokesman, Tron Brekke, added that he could not say whether Delta Force might have actively assisted the FBI in any way in Waco "because I don't think anybody knows."

"That's part of the reason that the attorney general and the director are, in a very expeditious manner, going to have 40 assistant inspectors and whoever is chosen to lead them come down and find out definitively what did happen," he said. "I don't know what was done or wasn't done down there."

Cullen, who said he worked as a CIA case officer from the 1980s to 1995, said Special Forces experts watched events near Waco with interest immediately after four federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents died trying to serve search warrants at the Branch Davidian compound.

At the time, he said, he was a supervisor in the CIA's special operations group and had frequent contact with members of Delta Force, Navy Seals and civilian tactical experts such as the FBI's hostage rescue team.

Before joining the CIA, he said, he worked as a deputy U.S. marshal, so he was particularly interested in exploring the problems faced by civilian law enforcement near Waco.

A CIA spokesman refused to confirm or deny whether Cullen ever worked for the agency, in accordance with policy. The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed that he worked for that agency in the early 1980s. Cullen said he left the CIA to take over his family's construction firm.

Since he resigned, Cullen has appeared on the PBS documentary program Frontline to discuss his involvement in the Special Forces' operations in Somalia, a deployment that ended in tragedy when U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopters were downed and Special Forces soldiers died in a Mogadishu gunbattle.

Immediately after the Branch Davidian standoff began, Cullen said, he learned from associates within the CIA and Special Forces that the FBI had called in Delta Force personnel "as observers."

"The bureau was very concerned. They weren't quite sure what David Koresh had inside that building anyway," Cullen said. "They were leaning on Delta. If there was something that blew up in their faces, they were interested in having Delta on the scene to respond and be fully equipped, operational and ready to go on a moment's notice."

In mid-March 1993, Cullen said, officials with his group called a meeting of about 20 special operations experts, including FBI and Delta personnel, to discuss Waco because it represented a useful case study on how tactical experts might respond to hostage situations.

He said he proposed using chemical agents to render the Branch Davidians unconscious so the compound could be taken without violence.

"If you pump tear gas into the building, everybody's going to get their gas masks," he said. "You're giving them time to prepare for something."

FBI officials have testified before Congress that some form of anesthetic gas was briefly discussed but was ruled out near Waco because of the potential threat to children and weak adults.

Cullen said that he attended no other formal meetings on Waco but that he later learned in conversations with special operations colleagues that authorities had ruled out any operation that involved sending personnel into the compound.

"It was more 'contain 'em. We're going to get em out.' There wasn't any type of talk about trying any type of rescue," he said.

Documents released under the federal Freedom of Information Act to a Tuscon, Ariz., lawyer indicate that the military's Special Forces Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida was heavily involved in helping the FBI in Waco. Military personnel provided technical and equipment support, the defense records indicate.

The command oversees Delta Force, Navy Seals and other units.

A May 1993 Special Forces memo stressed that the military in Waco played only "a supporting role." It was written by an officer who helped the FBI persuade the attorney general to approve the tear-gas assault.

The officer, whose name was blacked out, stated that the discussions with Reno before the assault did not include any mention of "the use of the military."

The memo stated that Special Forces observers who stayed in Waco through April 19 understood the legal restrictions on their activities.

Other defense documents indicate that some Special Forces officials feared that even watching law enforcement activities in Waco might violate federal prohibitions on domestic military activity.

Special Forces soldiers who trained ATF agents before they raided the compound Feb. 28, 1993, were specifically barred from watching the raid or offering medical support, the documents indicate.

"I felt as if my hands were tied," one Special Forces soldier wrote.

Atlanta's minority contractor program faces legal challenge

Escalating both a legal and a verbal battle, a conservative group has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, claiming a program that sets aside city contracts for businesses owned by minorities and women is unconstitutional.

The Southeastern Legal Foundation filed suit on August 26, making its latest target the city that is the birthplace of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a symbol of black economic achievement.

The group wants the city to abolish the affirmative action program, which was started in 1975 under Maynard Jackson, the city's first black mayor. It affects up to one-third of city contracts.

The issue has been bitter. Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, who as a child was the first black to integrate a North Carolina school system, has likened the foundation to the Ku Klux Klan.

"The program has strengthened our economy and helped remedy past and present discrimination," said Campbell, adding that the city would vigorously defend it.

The foundation, which has challenged race-based preference programs around the country, says the true purpose of the law is to "channel public funds to political supporters of defendant Bill Campbell."

Foundation president Matthew Glavin said he was willing to negotiate, but insisted any settlement would require that the city abolish the program.

"You can't break the law just a little bit," he said. "The program will end either voluntarily or by court order."

Glavin is calling for the city to use a race-neutral program to give a percentage of contracts to local or small and disadvantaged companies.

"I don't think we'll settle," said state Rep. Billy McKinney, D-Atlanta. "We'll just let Matt Glavin and that bunch of racists file their suit and do the best they can."

In 1995, the Supreme Court curtailed the federal government's freedom to give special help to racial minorities. Affirmative action foes argue that set-asides award work on the basis of race and are therefore unconstitutional.

In 1989, the court struck down a Richmond, Virginia, affirmative-action plan and made it far more difficult for communities nationwide to set aside certain percentages of jobs, construction contracts or other sought-after treatment for minorities.

In several recent battles, communities have given in to the foundation's demands rather than risk a long, costly court battle.

Earlier this year, the threat of a lawsuit from the foundation forced the DeKalb County, Georgia school board to abolish a voluntary busing program that allowed blacks to attend primarily white schools. Last year, the foundation forced Atlanta's school system to agree to a two-year ban on mandatory racial hiring goals.

The foundation won perhaps its biggest victory earlier this year in a suit against the Clinton Administration over its statistical sampling plan for the 2000 census. The Supreme Court disallowed the plan, which was expected to increase the number of minorities counted.

Federal judge reverses himself on school vouchers

A federal judge who created turmoil by holding up a state-funded voucher program just as the school year began reversed himself on August 27, allowing some students to attend private schools with vouchers this year.

U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. ruled that students who participated in the program for elementary school students in Cleveland last year may receive tuition vouchers again this year.

But those children who are new to the program this year will not be allowed to get the tuition grants.

About 4,000 students from kindergarten through sixth grade were to receive up to $2,500 in tuition vouchers so they can attend private or religious schools at taxpayer expense.

Bert Holt, a member of a pro-voucher group, estimated Oliver's ruling would keep about 300 students from receiving vouchers.

Oliver said the new arrangement, which rolls back a heavily criticized decision he made on August 24, will last only one semester or until a final judgment is reached on whether the program violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Oliver also set a Dec. 13 trial date.

On August 24, Oliver granted a request from voucher opponents to suspend the program until a trial determines whether it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

He said voucher opponents had a strong argument that the program is unconstitutional. It appears to have the "primary effect of advancing religion," he wrote. Most of the 56 schools that participate are religious institutions.

At the time, he said that allowing the program to continue would "cause an even greater harm to the children by setting them up for greater disruption at a later time."

The 4-year-old pilot program, which provides tuition money for children of poor families, is the only one of its kind in Ohio. It has an $11.2 million budget for this year.

Oliver, in his ruling on at the end of the week, said that because the state approved funding for this year's voucher program in late July, it was inevitable that a court challenge would come in August as schools were set to begin. That also meant his decision was bound to cause inconvenience.

"This timing caused disruption to the children previously enrolled in the program beyond that normally associated with a student's transferring from one school to another," he said.

A telephone message seeking comment was left at the state attorney general's office, which has appealed the suspension to federal court.

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