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Canada's socialists are now business friendly! Riiiight

The party that once denounced "corporate welfare bums" now wants to make Canada "a more business-friendly environment."

NDP caucus chairman Nelson Riis said September 1 the success of the private sector is "absolutely crucial" to the country's well-being and the party will make bridge-building with business a priority.

"(New Democrat) values remain unchanged. No question about that. Our traditional allies remain in place. But we have to grow as a political party," he told a news conference.

"It is fair to say that government cannot create the jobs of the future, in the same way that we've seen in the past.

"There is a partnership that needs to be built between government and business and labour and I think it is fair to say that our jobs of the future are going to be created, by and large, by business, with an emphasis on small and medium-sized business.

"We have got to grow into a much-improved relationship between our party and the business sector."

The party soon will appoint one of its MPs "a business spokesperson" to reach out to business leaders and ask what tax changes would encourage them to hire more and to grow, Riis said.
Tim Reid, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, called the initiative "absolutely wonderful."

For years, the chamber has tried for a meeting with successive New Democrat leaders but "we haven't got in the door," Reid said.

Riis said the strategy is an attempt to counter the perception spread by other parties that the NDP is anti-business.

He acknowledged the strategy "will be a challenge" for the party that, a quarter-century ago, condemned "corporate welfare bums."

And Riis still wants a comprehensive review of existing tax exemptions for business and individuals to determine which are not giving the government sufficient bang for the buck.

Riis repeated his party's call for a one-point reduction in the 7 per cent goods and services tax. That would be worth $2.9 billion.

"Most Canadians feel they are seriously over-taxed."

The party also wants Ottawa to restore $2.5 billion to health-care funding and pay the estimated $5 billion it owes in back pay to about 200 000 current and former civil servants, most of them women, who won a pay equity ruling.

After that, any future budget surplus should be divided equally among debt reduction, tax reduction and new program spending, Riis said.

It worked for Tony Blair...hopefully Canadians will be a little smarter though.

U.S. Postmaster says monopoly will end

The post office monopoly on carrying First Class mail is likely to end, Postmaster General William L. Henderson said.

Wait? A monopoly? Someone had better phone Janet Reno and Joe Klein.

"It is my belief that we will not maintain our monopoly forever," Henderson told the opening session of the National Postal Forum, a convention of businesses that deal with the Postal Service.

The post office spent two centuries as a government department and a quarter-century as an independent agency, but Congress is again discussing changes in how it is run.

"In the future, looking out ahead, there are storm clouds," Henderson said. The Postal Service "needs to be deregulated, commercialized," he said, and the agency and its customers need to get involved in that process.

When it was founded, the post office was given a monopoly on delivering First Class mail to ensure that service would be available to every American at a single price (price fixing?). From time to time, private firms have sought to obtain part of that business, but none has been able to offer universal service.

Henderson also said he plans to focus on "automation and attitude" in seeking ways to improve postal performance.

In Canada, the courts are just as hostile to freedom

Canada's Reform party lost a legal skirmish September 1 after a judge ruled the battle over Senate reform should be fought in the political arena and not in a courtroom.

Reform had sought an injunction in Federal Court to prevent Prime Minister Jean Chretien from filling a Senate vacancy in Alberta prior to Senate elections in the western province October 19.

Reform rushed to court the week before after the sudden resignation of Alberta Senator Jean Forest, who left to care for her ailing husband.

The Reform party wanted the court to prevent Chretien from naming her replacement before the vote, which has taken on greater significance because of the vacancy.

But Justice Donna McGillis dismissed the application, saying Senate reform is a political issue.

Reforming the Senate requires an amendment to the Constitution, and that requires the support of at least seven provinces representing at least 50 per cent of the population.

McGillis said Chretien would proceed at his own peril if he ignores Alberta's Senate vote, but noted he is empowered under the Constitution to appoint qualified people.

She said that when then-prime minister Brian Mulroney appointed Albertan Stan Waters to the Senate in 1990 after he was elected by voters, he did it for political reasons. He didn't set a precedent, she said.

A Justice Department lawyer concurred.

"It's a political question who gets appointed and not a legal question," Graham Garton said outside court.

"The Constitution sets out the basic principles of our democracy. If there is to be a change to that there has to be an agreement at the political level and there isn't any agreement yet to do that."

Eugene Meehan, an Ottawa lawyer representing Reform, had argued an unelected Senate is undemocratic and unconstitutional, and referred to the Supreme Court of Canada's recent opinion on Quebec secession.

Meehan said that judgment provides a roadmap for constitutional change.

Ottawa and the provinces would have to negotiate with Quebec if separatists win a referendum with a clear majority based on a clear question, the ruling said.

In Alberta's case, there has never been a referendum on Senate reform, but the province has passed legislation allowing for Senate elections.

"The corollary of a legitimate attempt by one participant in Confederation to seek an amendment to the Constitution is an obligation on all parties to come to the negotiating table," Meehan said, reading verbatim from the high court's ruling.

He said that because the Senate Elections Act was passed through a democratic process, Ottawa must recognize Alberta's push to amend the Constitution.

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein said Albertans are fed up with the Senate and Chretien's refusal to address its reform.

"What we're saying is that we feel one of the first steps to achieve a Triple-E Senate in the absence of constitutional reform is to at least have some people elected and accountable," he said.

Seven Reformers are campaigning for two Senator-in-waiting positions in Alberta.

Chretien has said he has no choice but to name senators since the 1992 failure of the Charlottetown accord which would have created an elected Senate.

His detractors said it would be a bitter pill to swallow if he ignores Albertans.

"It's going to be a very negative, hostile reaction," said Lorne Samson, a Calgary Reformer who worked on the Stan Waters campaign in 1990 and who has joined Reform in its legal challenge.

"You're taking away peoples' liberties, their right to vote."

U.S. Government order for nut-free zones on planes raises ruckus

Southern farmers and some lawmakers are roasting the Transportation Department over a new order establishing peanut-free zones on airplanes.

The Transportation Department directive issued in August requires airlines to set aside at least three peanut-free rows whenever they have an advance request from a passenger with a medically documented peanut allergy.

Mitch Head, a spokesman for the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, said the order singles out peanuts over other foods that may cause allergic reactions.

"We think it's an unfair regulation because it singles out one product -- our product -- as opposed to all the other food allergens that are out there," he said. "If they do want allergy-free zones, we would like them to include all foods that are potentially allergens."

"It is overreaching, bureaucratic nonsense like this that makes people distrust and resent government," said Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican who issued a statement calling the order an "embarrassment" to the government after news reports about it on September 2.

Rep. Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican, drafted a letter to Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater deploring the order and demanding a meeting to talk about it. Nine other lawmakers from peanut states joined in his request.

The directive stems from the 1986 Air Carrier Access Act, a law guaranteeing access to airlines for the disabled. After getting complaints from peanut allergy sufferers, the Transportation Department reviewed a 1996 Mayo Clinic study that found allergens from peanuts served during flights can wash through ventilation system filters after 5 000 hours of flight.

"Particles of the allergen -- in this particular case, peanuts -- are small enough to actually float in the air," aid Dr. David Tanner of the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic. "If they land on someone who is allergic, land in their eyes or in their nose, they can cause them an actual allergic reaction."

The agency concluded that evidence wasn't enough to ban peanuts from flights, but said the law does require that airlines provide buffer zones for passengers with documented peanut allergies who notify them in advance.

While there have been no documented cases of allergic reactions without actually eating peanuts, said Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder of the Food Allergy Network, there is anecdotal evidence that exposure to peanut fumes in a closed aircraft cabin has caused mild reactions like itchy eyes, runny noses and breathing difficulties.

Science? We don't need no stinkin' science...

No really...I did...really

Though everyone who watched his performance knew he didn't apologize, U.S. President Bill Clinton swore last month that he really did apologize. I guess we all missed it.

President Bill Clinton insisted September 2 he acknowledged "a mistake" and asked "to be forgiven" in his much-criticized explanation of his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

The president did not use either expression in the August 17 televised address in which he acknowledged an "inappropriate relationship" with Lewinsky and said he regretted misleading people.

Clinton, who was criticized by some prominent Democrats and Republicans for failing to make a more contrite public statement, said he had re-read the speech and had no desire to amend it.

"All I wanted to say is I believe it's time for us to now go back to the work of the country and give the people their government back," he said during a news conference with Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

So he apologized right?

Two days later when Clinton was in Dublin, Ireland, reacting to strong criticism from Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut), Clinton made another mea cupla.

"I can't disagree with anyone else who wants to be critical of what I have already acknowledged is indefensible," Clinton said in a photo session with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

"There's nothing that he (Lieberman) or anyone else could say in a personally critical way that I don't imagine I would disagree with since I have already said it myself, to myself, and I'm very sorry about it but there's nothing else I can say."

Asked about talk among some members of Congress that he should be formally censured, Clinton appeared to grow testy. "I shouldn't be commenting on that while I'm here on this trip. My understanding is that was not a decision that was made or advocated clearly yesterday (September 3)" on the Senate floor, he went on.

"If that's not an issue I don't want to make it one, one way or the other," Clinton said.

On the Senate floor that day, Lieberman and two other prominent Democratic senators -- New York's Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Nebraska's Bob Kerrey -- sternly denounced Clinton's relationship with Lewinsky and his handling of the affair's aftermath.

This is why some Canadian soldiers have to go to foodbanks

Defence Minister Art Eggleton okayed a military man's request to become a woman, agreeing the armed forces will pay for the sex-change operation.

Eggleton quietly approved the recommendation of senior medical and personnel officers in early September, setting a precedent under the defence department's medical plan.

The cost of a sex change runs between $20 000 and $30 000.

Defence officials had previously rejected paying for sex changes and opposition MPs suggested the anonymous Ottawa man should quit the forces to undergo sex re-assignment surgery.

"It's a very unique situation," Eggleton's spokeswoman Elaine McArdle said. "(The man) was diagnosed and I think for psychiatric reasons it was proven that it was in the best interest of the applicant," McArdle said.

Since provincial health plans pay for sex change operations, defence officials felt they couldn't reject the request, McArdle said.

The Ontario government has spent about $700 000 for 46 sex changes over the last six years.

Col. Scott Cameron, who heads the medical care committee which recommended the surgery, said he doesn't expect to be flooded with demands for sex changes from soldiers.

"This is a one-of. Clearly, this not elective," he said. "There is a lot of misconception on the public's part. They think this is some kind of perversion. In fact, it's a very well-defined medical disorder."

Only one in 30 000 men suffer from the disorder, Cameron said, adding much has been learned over the years, especially that's it possible to continue military service after surgery.

"Society has changed. The military has changed and m ore is known now about this particular disorder," Cameron said. "People who had this surgery are fit to serve, there's no medical reason why they can't."

But Reform MP Leon Benoit immediately slammed the decision as "not acceptable" as military personnel across Canada aren't get adequate medical care.

In April, two scathing defence department internal reviews showed most injured and sick soldiers and the families of those killed on duty are poorly treated and feel abandoned by their commanders.

"Eggleton's lost it," Benoit said. "I have case after case of deserving people who are being denied pensions, health care and compensation from the Department of National Defence."

"And now the minister has the gall to approve thousands of dollars for a sex change operation," Benoit said. "I can't wait to see Eggleton justify this. There's nothing much harder on morale than this."

Military analyst Scott Taylor, of Esprit de Corps Magazine, said he didn't want to debate the merits of this specific case, but added it "seems illogical" to pay for a sex change when there's well documented evidence that the forces have failed to adequately care for its own injured and sick.

"It's going to be disturbing for the troops," Taylor said. "And what about the applications for sex changed they've rejected?"

No really, China has moderated its policies

China drew the fire of international media rights groups for detaining a television producer employed by CBS on the eve of a visit by U.N. rights chief Mary Robinson.

The United States took up the case of Natalie Liu, also known as Liu Qingyan, 32, a Chinese citizen who is a legal permanent resident of the United States and free-lances for CBS in Beijing.

"The embassy made representations to high levels of the Chinese government yesterday on behalf of Natalie Liu," Bill Palmer, spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Beijing, said on September 4. He declined further comment.

Police handcuffed Liu and took her into custody from her Beijing home on September 2 without saying why or where they were taking her.

She is not accredited by the foreign ministry to work as a journalist for a foreign news organization in Beijing.

In a letter to Chinese President Jiang Zemin, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it was "greatly alarmed" by Liu's detention.

A CBS News Asia editor has said the network is helping to secure Liu's release.

CPJ condemned Liu's detention as a "blatant attack on freedom of the press."

"We are disturbed not only by the detention, but by the way in which it was carried out -- without a search warrant or statement of charges," said the letter.

"China's record on press freedom has long been a source of concern for CPJ," it said.

"This latest action is further evidence that China persists in seeking to maintain a culture of secrecy and signals that Chinese authorities continue to employ harsh methods to control journalists."

Liu's "only crime seems to have been working for the network without official permission, which is not a crime that merits arrest, according to international standards," said Paris-based Reporters sans Frontieres.

Chinese citizens are barred from working for foreign news organizations as journalists. Foreign news organizations in China hire their Chinese staff through the state Diplomatic Service Bureau.

"Our organization also asks the Beijing police to allow her family and lawyer to meet her as soon as possible and to ensure that she is well treated," said the letter, a copy of which was given to Reuters in the French capital.

Fourteen officers searched Liu's home for two hours and seized her videotapes, photographs, cassette tapes, name cards and notebooks.

Police videotaped and photographed the search and frightened her five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter, said her husband, Zhao Haiqing, 41, a Chinese businessman based in Bethesda, Maryland.

I guess Muhammad forgets about all those "bloodsucking" Jews who marched with King

A Million Youth March in New York on September 5 ended with violence following fiery rhetoric against whites, Jews and police.

At the end of the event billed as a black empowerment rally, organizer Khallid Abdul Muhammad called the police names and told participants to "beat the hell out of them with the railing if they so much as touch you."

Muhammad, a former aide to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, was dismissed from that position after a 1994 speech in which he referred to Jews as "bloodsuckers" and insulted Pope John Paul II, homosexuals and whites.

"We have a right, a God given right, a constitutional right to defend ourselves against anyone who attacks us," said Muhammad, dismissed as an aide to Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan after a 1994 speech in which he referred to Jews as "bloodsuckers" and insulted Pope John Paul II, homosexuals and whites.

Muhammad, who went minutes over a court-ordered time limit of four hours, told the thousands of participants to leave peacefully.

As the crowd dispersed, a police helicopter flew in low, angering some members who threw bottles and other debris. Police said 16 officers and five civilians were injured.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani insisted the only reason police had moved in was to enforce the court order. Giuliani said Muhammad didn't start speaking until 10 minutes before the deadline, and "he wanted to create a disturbance."

Police had stopped "what promised to be a really violent event," the mayor added. "They listened to four hours of people, including women who got up and talked about killing Jews and taking off their scalp and cutting off their heads."

"I think he should be arrested and incarcerated," Police Commissioner Howard Safir said netx day of Muhammad, a former Nation of Islam official. "He invoked a crowd to kill police officers. He then had people throw chairs and barriers at his request at police officers."

But Malik Shabazz, legal counsel and national coordinator for the Harlem rally, said September 6 that police officers had incited the violence. Muhammad had finished speaking by 4:01 p.m. and the crowd was being cleared out when police "attacked the stage," he said.

About 3 000 police officers - some in riot gear - were deployed at the controversial black rally, Giuliani had unsuccessfully tried to stop but managed to curtail with a court-ordered, four-hour time limit. Police say at least 6 000 people showed up, but others at the scene placed the figure at twice that.

California congressman exchanges angry words with constituent

A Republican congressman made an obscene hand gesture and swore at a constituent during a speech to fellow prostate cancer patients.

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham apologized to the crowd of about 100 people for his actions toward Chuck Cotton on September 6 at the San Diego Rehabilitation Institute.

He also said he was sorry for describing a rectal cancer treatment procedure Cunningham received as "just not normal, unless maybe you're Barney Frank," a gay congressman from Massachusetts.

"I am sorry. I was out of line," said Cunningham, who had a cancerous prostate gland removed in August.

The four-term congressman, a former Vietnam war combat pilot, said Cotton gestured first after criticizing Cunningham's opposition to military spending cuts.

Cotton, a retired McDonald's restaurant executive, denied making a hand gesture or heckling.

"He's trying to get himself out of it because he was in the wrong," he said.

In 1995, Cunningham apologized for using an offensive term for gays on the House floor. Also that year, he grappled with Rep. Jim Moran, a former amateur boxer, just off the House floor after the two exchanged insults on the floor.

Moseley-Braun accuses Will of racism, then apologizes

U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun lashed out at conservative columnist George Will and accused him of racism but later apologized.

A syndicated column by Will that appeared in newspapers September 7 detailed allegations of corruption in Moseley-Braun's 1992 campaign.

"I think because he couldn't say nigger, he said corrupt," Moseley-Braun, who is black, said that day following a Labor Day rally with fellow Democrats at Chicago's Navy Pier.

The Democratic senator also made a reference to the Ku Klux Klan by calling criticism by Will and other conservatives "a substitute for their hood."

Moseley-Braun apologized later that afternoon, saying she lost her temper and used language that was inappropriate.

"I was very upset that columnist George Will regurgitated wild charges without telling the truth," she said.

Will's column illustrated many of the problems that have dogged Moseley-Braun since she first ran for office in 1992, including allegations that she and her former campaign manager and ex-fiance, Kgosie Matthews, spent $281 000 in campaign funds on trips, clothing, jewelry and other personal items.

The Department of Justice has declined to pursue the allegations against Moseley-Braun, citing a lack of evidence.

In a statement, Will dismissed the senator's comments as "cynical name calling."

"Calling her many critics names and smearing them as racist is the senator's way of trying to change the subject," Will said.

Moseley-Braun is running for re-election against conservative state Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, an investment banker.

Want to help minorities? Cut taxes, says group

Speaking at a September 8 press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, Project 21 Advisory Committee Chairman Edmund Peterson and Director Roderick Conrad called upon Congress to cut taxes in order to aid the Black middle class.

The Project 21 statement read, in part: "It is absurd that the government will be running a $1.6 trillion budget surplus over the next decade while continuing to collect taxes at record levels. It is clearly time for them to give something back. We currently have
the largest Black middle class in the history of our nation. Tax relief provided by Congress will only help expand these numbers. It will allow even more Americans of all races to rise above their current circumstances and take advantage of the benefits they
have worked so hard to achieve."

"By allowing the American people to take home more of what they have rightfully earned, it will expand their ability to invest, save for their retirement and provide educational opportunities for themselves and their families...Congress...must look further than the modest tax cuts now being proposed to consider the long-term benefits of true tax relief."

Canadian pinkos were protesting Suharto, but maybe Chretien would have been more appropriate

Documents obtained by CBC-TV state that Prime Minister Jean Chretien's office ordered the RCMP to crack down on protesters at last year's APEC summit in Vancouver.

CBC reported September 8 that the move was taken because Chretien had assured Indonesian President Suharto he would not be embarrassed during the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation conference last November.

In one of the documents, Indonesia's ambassador asked the RCMP if Suharto's own security officers could use their guns to protect the president.

The Indonesians also wanted police to clamp down on Canadian news media that might be critical of Suharto, the Globe and Mail reported.

Chretien denied there had been any interference.

"The police have to do their job," Chretien said, denying that he had any personal role in instructing police.

"There were areas for protesters and there were areas where there was no protesters, to maintain order. So it's normal, everybody wants to have order, especially when there is a question of security. That was very important."

Chretien did acknowledge that Suharto, who has since resigned, was assured about his safety.

"He was preoccupied about his security and we said, ‘Don't worry, there will no danger with security'," Chretien said.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Peter Montague, who was in charge of security for the Indonesian delegation, told the Vancouver Sun on September 8 he was shocked his memoranda and other sensitive government documents detailing security arrangements for Suharto's visit have fallen into the hands of the media.

"Where the hell did he get those documents?" Montague asked after Reform MP John Reynolds distributed edited versions of the private correspondence obtained by CBC News.

"(Indonesian) Ambassador Parwoto asked us what would happen to one of their FSOs (foreign security officers) if he pulled his gun and shot someone during the visit," Montague acknowledged writing in one memo.

"They were told categorically that such a situation would not be tolerated and to keep their guns out of sight."

RCMP officers may have pepper-sprayed unruly demonstrators with alacrity at the UBC gathering of the leaders for fear they would breach the security cordon and alarm the bodyguards surrounding Suharto.

"I know we had some legitimate concerns, some very legitimate concerns, with respect to the possible actions by the foreign security agents from Indonesia and that was discussed at length with all of our APEC team," Montague said.

The documents include handwritten notes from RCMP Supt. Wayne May stating it was a "specific wish" of Chretien "that this is a retreat and leaders should not be distracted by demos, etc."

When protesters erected a tent city at an APEC meeting site, RCMP Insp. Perry Edwards gave RCMP Supt. Trevor Thompson a note saying: "Trevor . . . :P.M. wants the tenters out."

During meetings held at the University of British Columbia campus, dozens of students were pepper-sprayed and arrested as they protested human rights records in some APEC member countries.

Police said they acted because protesters crossed police lines and blocked motorcade routes at the campus.

Chretien said security was a vital consideration, considering heads of government such as U.S. President Bill Clinton were among the 18 Pacific Rim leaders attending. Also on the guest list were Suharto and China's President Jiang Zemin - widely criticized for their human rights records.

"The RCMP had to do their job and they did their job," Chretien said.

"It is normal in a democracy that you can protest, but in an orderly fashion.

"I was the host and I wanted to make sure that the security of our guests was completely assured and it was the desire of everybody. Nobody wanted to have any violence."

The RCMP has said the security operation was one of the most complicated in its history because of the number of dignitaries needing protection.

Protesters say their rights to free speech were violated when police took their protest signs. Some female protesters who were arrested complained of being strip-searched.

The RCMP Public Complaints Commission, an independent civilian oversight body, is looking into the complaints.

Clinton's fund-raising under 90-day investigation

Attorney General Janet Reno on September 8 ordered a 90-day investigation of President Bill Clinton's fund-raising during his 1996 re-election campaign, days after a Federal Election Commission report recommended that the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign be required to repay $13.4 million in federal matching funds for allegedly violating rules for so-called "issues advocacy" advertisements.

At the end of the preliminary inquiry Reno could decide to seek the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate White House fund-raising if investigators find "specific and credible evidence" that campaign finance laws have been violated.

"I have commenced a preliminary investigation ... involving President of the United States William Jefferson Clinton concerning political advertisements during the 1996 election cycle," Reno wrote to the three-judge court that oversees the independent counsel law.

The attorney general has so far resisted appointing an special prosecutor to investigate Democratic fund-raising, but this was the third such 90-day probe Reno has sought on campaign finance in a month.

At the heart of the probe is whether issue advocacy ads run by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in battleground states were actually thinly veiled Clinton-Gore re-election ads.

The DNC spots were funded with so-called "soft money" -- funds intended for party-building or get-out-the-vote drives, not for specific campaigns.

The new investigation is focusing on whether Clinton and key Democrats illegally controlled Democratic party soft money and tailored DNC television ads to help the Clinton-Gore team win re-election.

The Justice Department began the new review after a Federal Election Commission (FEC) audit suggested Democrats used soft money to exceed campaign spending limits. In August, Reno began an initial 30-day inquiry into the matter.

Clinton's attorney, Charles Ruff, defended the DNC issue ads in a written statement, saying they were "not only lawful, they were completely appropriate."

"Counsel for both the DNC and Clinton/Gore used those (FEC) guidelines to approve every ad to ensure strict compliance with the law," Ruff wrote. "We are hopeful that once the Department has reviewed this matter fully, it will conclude that these ads were proper."

The DNC said it will cooperate with the Justice Department's review of issue advertising in "every way."

In a statement, DNC General Counsel Joe Sandler said the DNC expects "that this fuller examination will demonstrate conclusively that the DNC followed the letter and the spirit of the law."

Sandler said that both political parties agree on the legality of party-run issue ads. "In fact, Republicans are planning a $37 million issue ad campaign 'Operation Breakout' this fall, and have already begun running their television ads," he said.

Reno has faced continued pressure from Republican lawmakers to appoint an independent counsel to investigate alleged Democratic fund-raising abuses.

Last December Reno declined to order an outside investigation into whether the president or Vice President Al Gore might have violated a century-old law prohibiting solicitation of election funds in any federal workplace.

At that time, Reno ruled that the law applied only to "hard money," contributions used directly to support federal election campaigns, not the soft money that Clinton and Gore said they were raising.

Reno has also authorized a second 90-day probe of Gore and a preliminary investigation of former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes. Any of the three investigations could result in an independent counsel.

The Justice investigation of Gore centers on his fund-raising phone calls and whether the vice president knew the money he was soliciting would be diverted from soft-money accounts directly to the Clinton-Gore campaign.

The probe of Ickes, a chief fund-raiser in 1996 campaign, will focus on whether the former aide lied when he testified to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that the White House did not attempt to intervene in a 1996 strike by the Teamsters Union.

Both Gore and Ickes deny the respective charges.

President Threatens Government Shutdown in Push for Illegal Census Practice

Despite a federal court ruling on August 24, prohibiting the use of "sampling" in the 2000 census, the Clinton Administration is still proceeding with plans to use this counting method in the next national population survey. Furthermore, President Bill Clinton is threatening to shut down the FBI, DEA and other Justice Department-related law enforcement organizations as well as the State and Commerce Departments unless Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives present him with legislation providing full funding to implement this illegal process.

Data from the census, the once-a-decade survey of the American population, determines the number of U.S. representatives for each state, how voting districts are drawn and how federal money is allocated. The Clinton Administration is seeking to replace the traditional person-by-person counting method of enumeration with a statistical estimation process called sampling. While the Administration contends sampling is the only fair way to count all Americans, critics say it could produce erroneous population numbers and be manipulated for political gain.

"Many believe the Clinton Administration might try to use sampling to create population estimates that favor Democratic candidates," said David W. Almasi, director of publications and media relations for The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Clinton's record of politicizing government agencies like the IRS and FBI - added to the fact that tests of sampling have raised serious concerns about its accuracy - make Republican congressmen and others leery of giving the President control over mapping Congress for the next ten years."

Bulletin issued by The National Center for Public Policy Research

Marines who shot Texas teen inadequately trained

Marines involved in the killing of a teen-age goatherd during an anti-drug patrol along the Mexican border were not adequately trained for an armed operation among civilians, the military has concluded in an internal report.

In the harshest official criticism of the operation yet released, the report also said Marine commanders did not do enough to prevent the encounter that ended in the shooting death of 18-year-old Esequiel Hernandez Jr.

The mission "appears to have been viewed at every level of Marine Corps command as more of a training opportunity than a real world deployment," wrote retired Marine Maj. Gen. John T. Coyne, who investigated the shooting.

The report was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the San Antonio Current, a weekly newspaper, and by Common Sense for Drug Policy, a nonprofit group in Falls Church, Virginia.

"The whole sense of the report was that the military should not be involved in domestic law enforcement," said Kevin Zeese, president of Common Sense for Drug Policy. "They are not prepared for it. They're not trained for it. They're inappropriate for it."

The Marine Corps submitted an internal response, also released under the Freedom of Information Act, in which it disputed Coyne's conclusions.

Hernandez was killed May 20, 1997, while herding goats along the Rio Grande near Redford, 200 miles southeast of El Paso.

The military said that he fired his .22-caliber rifle twice at members of a Marine patrol assigned to guard against smuggling along the border, and that he had raised the weapon to fire a third time when Cpl. Clemente Banuelos shot him once with an M-16 rifle.

Relatives said Hernandez would never have knowingly shot at anyone and that he carried the rifle solely to protect his livestock from wild dogs and to shoot targets.

Military patrols along the border were suspended after the shooting.

No criminal or military disciplinary charges were filed against the Marines, and they were cleared by both state and federal grand juries. The Hernandez family received a $1 million settlement from the government.

Coyne said the Marines did not get enough training on the appropriate use of force among civilians.

He also said mission commander Capt. Lance McDaniel, who was in contact with the Marine patrol by radio from a command center more than 60 miles away, was too passive in deferring to Banuelos' judgment.

McDaniel and other supervisors disagreed with a corporal's decision in the command center to authorize Banuelos to return fire, but they did not immediately correct it, the report said.

McDaniel "should have made a more aggressive effort to obtain the facts and control the tactical decision-making process," Coyne wrote.

Committee struck to organize united alternative convention

Canadian Reformers took their first baby steps September 9 toward forming a new political movement with the goal of ousting the Liberals from power.

Dogged by months of skepticism, the Reform party formed a committee to steer Preston Manning’s grand plan for a united alternative - an initiative that could, ironically, end Manning’s prime ministerial aspirations.

He told party faithful at a Reform convention in May that the leadership of the party he helped found would be on the table if his bold strategy bears fruit, a process that could take years or may crash and burn.

Grassroots disillusionment with the political status quo has fuelled the plan, along with vote-splitting among Reform and Conservatives in Ontario, where the Liberals won 101 of 103 seats in the 1997 federal election.

Senior Tories, including leadership front-runners Joe Clark and Hugh Segal, have rejected the united alternative concept. They want Reformers to take another look at the Tory party.

The 13-member committee includes a former separatist, a B.C. Liberal and two prominent provincial Tory cabinet ministers. There’s no representative from Atlantic Canada.

The committee’s job is to organize a convention in Ottawa on February 19-21 to discuss issues and platforms for a new conservative movement.

"We share one overriding belief," Ontario Transportation Minister Tony Clement told a news conference.

"This country needs to have a united alternative to a one-party Liberal monopoly."

Clement and Alberta Treasurer Stockwell Day, a provincial Tory and federal Reformer, said the convention would provide a forum for Canadians of all political stripes, including so-called soft sovereigntists, to debate the merits of a united front.

The two, along with Reform MP Jason Kenney, rejected claims the alternative is nothing more than a Reform recruitment drive.

Party pollsters have told Reform its support is stagnant. The party has no MPs east of the Ontario-Manitoba border and Manning indicated at the May convention the party is stuck in a rut.

The steering committee, which includes former Quebec separatist Rodrigue Biron and B.C. provincial Liberal Richard Neufeld, says it has agreed on some broad principles, mostly from Reform’s election handbook, as a starting point for debate.

Among them is fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, reducing the debt; Senate reform, recall legislation; a renewed federation, one including Quebecers; and preserving social programs like health and education.

"I believe that the will is there and that the solutions are there," said Day.

"If we can provide for voters across the country a truly united alternative . . . I think we can create an environment where Canadians in each province can pursue their own hopes and dreams."

  See, China has changed!

Moments after police dragged away a dissident's wife waiting to meet her, U.N. human rights chief Mary Robinson told China on September 9 that respect for rights and economic growth go hand in hand.

Plainclothes police and hotel security grabbed Chu Hailan as she stood quietly outside the entrance to a swanky Beijing hotel, waiting to ask Robinson's help in seeking freedom for her jailed, ailing dissident husband.

"I want to see Miss Mary," Chu Hailan screamed as she was pulled through the Hilton Hotel lobby.

Chu later said in a telephone interview that plainclothes police beat her on the head and stomach while in the hotel. She was then taken to a local police station. She was released later that afternoon, eight hours after being hauled away.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao claimed Chu had been blocking the entrance to the hotel and disturbing order. Police and hotel executives refused to comment.

Robinson later said she spoke to Assistant Foreign Minister Wang Guangya about Chu and was assured she was released. "I know her concerns are very serious concerns," Robinson said.

The police action threatened to muddy the careful path both Robinson and Chinese leaders hoped her 10-day visit would take.

It was the first official mission to China by a U.N. high commissioner for human rights, and both sides wanted it to end the confrontation between China and U.N. groups on human rights.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission, which sets policies for Robinson's office, has annually aired criticisms of China's treatment of dissidents and pro-independence Tibetans.

"China can be commended for efforts to eliminate poverty and to meet the basic needs of all," Robinson said in her speech, acknowledging China's position that economic development takes precedence over political rights.

But, she added, the "right to development" is based on "respect for all human rights."

Without elaborating, Robinson later told reporters she brought "a number of concerns" raised by U.N. human rights teams to the attention of Chinese officials.

A diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.N. groups investigating torture, arbitrary detention and religion have recommended changes to Chinese officials.

Robinson has pressed Chinese officials on when they will meet a 6-month-old pledge to sign the U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a key human rights treaty.

Robinson left Beijing on to then spend two days in Tibet.

Robinson's visit has drawn pleas from dissidents to promote tolerance and curb police powers. But Chinese officials indicated they did not want her to meet with government critics.

Chu had been waiting for Robinson along with international reporters. She said she wanted to ask for a meeting about her husband, labor rights campaigner Liu Nianchun. "If she had said 'no' I would have just gone home," she said.

One of China's most prominent jailed dissidents, Liu has been in detention for more than three years without trial. Chu has been seeking a medical parole for her husband, to treat high blood pressure, stomach problems and other ailments.

Supreme Court to weigh 2000 census dispute

The Supreme Court agreed September 10 to consider -- as quickly as possible -- a politically and financially charged fight between the Clinton administration and House Republicans over how to conduct the 2000 census.

Under an expedited schedule, the justices will hear arguments in the case November 30 -- setting up a likely decision by March.

At issue is a Clinton Administration plan to use scientific sampling to supplement the traditional head count taken every ten years. House Republicans want the method banned.

"If the current uncertainty ... continues beyond March 1999 (the) ability to conduct the most accurate census possible will be seriously threatened," lawyers for both sides argued in jointly seeking the action.

The Clinton administration has argued that sampling would produce much more accurate results, at a far lower cost, than a traditional head count.

But a federal court panel recently sided with House Republicans, who argued that the Constitution requires national census every ten years by "national enumeration" or head counts.

The three-judge panel avoided ruling on the constitutionality of the sample method, but said the method was illegal because it violated federal law.

But White House lawyers filed an appeal with the Supreme Court on grounds that the Constitution "does not require that the relevant numbers be determined through any particular methodology."

The topic has been hard-fought between Republicans and Democrats because census figures are used to redraw lines for congressional districts and to allocate billions of dollars in federal funds.

Democrats have argued that traditional head counts often miss inner city residents, immigrants and the homeless -- groups that have traditionally supported the Democrats.

Republicans have countered that scientific sampling is more vulnerable to manipulation and fraud.

The Census Bureau conceded that 4 million people were overlooked in the 1990 census. In a move to correct such mistakes, it planned to use a dual method in 2000.

Under the 2000 plan, traditional head count by mailings and door-to-door surveys would cover 90 percent of the population. But sampling would be used to estimate the remaining 10 percent, mostly those who live in inner-cites.

House OKs bilingual education limit

A GOP bill to limit federal support for bilingual education cleared the House on September 10, three months after Californians voted to end such programs.

Opponents accused Republicans of exploiting anti-immigrant feelings to win conservative votes in midterm elections this fall. Sponsors said they were trying to ensure that the 3 million children who speak little or no English learn the language quickly.

The measure, passed 221-189, covers about $300 million worth of federal aid specifically earmarked for bilingual and immigrant education. The money would have to be targeted to programs that teach children English in two years. Aid would be limited to three years per pupil.

It would not restrict local or state spending, the source of most spending for students with limited English. Nor would it limit aid to bilingual education under Title I, a federal program for impoverished schools, the sponsors say.

Parents would have to be told if their children are put in bilingual education and could remove children from such programs if they wanted.

"We want to mainstream these kids," said Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Calif., the chief sponsor, told reporters. "We want to assimilate them into the mainstream of American culture.

"The best way to do that is to hasten their English language learning so that they can become fluent in English, the official, common, commercial language of our country, in two years or less."

Riggs acknowledged that GOP lawmakers wanted to capitalize on the attention given to California's Proposition 227, approved by voters in June. The measure ends bilingual education in favor of one year of immersion in English.

Riggs has criticized the California law as "draconian." And Republican attitudes vary. House Speaker Newt Gingrich supports making English the nation's official language. But Texas Gov. George W. Bush, a potential Republican candidate for president, supports bilingual education.

Bilingual programs teach children arithmetic, reading, arithmetic and other basic skills in their native language so they don't fall behind while mastering English. But critics say pupils are held too long in those programs, up to six years, in part to keep the teachers employed.

Kyoto target will be tougher to reach, internal Canadian government memo says

Canada's commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions will be even tougher to meet than when it was made.

Senior federal officials contemplated concealing that information from the provinces, according to documents obtained under Access to Information.

The ink was barely dry on the international deal reached in Kyoto, Japan, to combat global warming when officials at Natural Resources Canada revised their projections on the extent of Canada's future emissions, the documents say.

By 2010, Canada's emissions could be nearly 40 per cent higher than the estimates officials used to reach the federal government's Kyoto position, one memo indicates.

Ontario Hydro's decision to close failing nuclear reactors at the Bruce and Pickering power plants, new oil sands developments in Alberta and the possibility of using Sable Island gas at home could increase emissions, it said.

In Kyoto, Canada agreed that by 2010, the country would have cut emissions levels by 6 per cent below 1990 levels.

It was estimated that would mean emissions would have to be 25 per cent lower in 2010 than they would be without any government action.

But the memo makes it clear the natural resources department had new numbers by January 5, less than three weeks after the Kyoto deal was signed.

Those numbers, based on projections of a higher growth in emissions, would dictate a cut of 32 per cent.

The higher numbers have clear financial and political implications.

On average, the government assumes the economy would grow by about $25 billion to $35 billion less each year if Kyoto targets are implemented, compared with just operating as normal.

That works out to about $250 to $335 per year, per person.

In a memo to Mike Cleland, the assistant deputy minister of natural resources, Neil McIlveen recommended the department not revise the 1996 Energy Outlook to reflect the new numbers.

To do so would take time and resources away from implementing a plan to cut emissions, said McIlveen, director of the energy forecasting division of Natural Resources Canada.

But he was also worried about the political implications of publishing higher numbers at a time the provinces - particularly Alberta - were objecting to the Kyoto targets as impossible to meet.

"Further, it is not clear what are the political and policy benefits to be derived, as we begin the consultations on the implementation plan, from announcing that projected emissions may now be higher than previously expected," he wrote.

"Whether the gap, in 2010, between the no-policy change projection and the Kyoto target is 21 per cent or 25 per cent is of secondary importance - either way, it is a large number."

Reached after the news broke, McIlveen said the department was not trying to conceal the numbers.

But before he was informed that his memo was now public, he was asked on September 11 to provide the government' with its current projections for emissions in 2010.

"The numbers that we have are 599 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 1990, and by the time you get out to 2010 it's 703 (megatonnes)," McIlveen said. "That is about a 17-per-cent increase, roughly."

Asked about oilsands developments and the nuclear reactors being off-line, McIlveen revised his numbers.

"If all of them were to go ahead, and that's a big if, I think you could add...I think it's 21. It's 21."

Read the contents of his memo, McIlveen acknowledged that the numbers could increase if the oilsands projects go ahead and Ontario's reactors aren't back on-line.

"That would put it up to about 25, 26 per cent, yes."

The government has begun to discuss the possibility of increased emissions at conferences, he said, although it has not revised the numbers officially.

McIlveen said he was concerned about jeopardizing the consultation process with the provinces on how best to achieve the Kyoto targets.

"Going out and saying 'it's a little bigger' is maybe not going to help this process too much," McIlveen said.

Clinton repents

As the House of Representatives debated the process for releasing the details of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a tearful President Bill Clinton told a White House prayer breakfast the morning that the Ken Starr was released [September 11] that he has "a broken spirit."

"I have been on quite a journey these last few weeks to get to the end of this, to the rock-bottom truth of where I am," Clinton said. "I don't think there is a fancy way to say that I have sinned."

Agreeing with his critics that he was not "contrite" enough during his Augugust 17 statement, Clinton said, "It is important to me that everybody who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine. First and most important, my family, my friends, my staff, my cabinet, Monica Lewinsky and her family and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness."

His comments were the first time the president has publicly apologized to Lewinsky. Clinton went on to describe the journey he has been on during the weeks since his first public admission, saying that he has finally repented.

"I have repented," Clinton said. "I must have God's help to be the person that I want to be. A willingness to give the very forgiveness I seek. A renunciation of the pride and the anger, which cloud judgment, lead people to excuse and compare and to blame and complain."

Clinton said he will continue to lead the country, but he will also seek "pastoral" help to repair the damage his recent conduct has wrought.

But while the president admitted he made a mistake, he also added that he will "instruct my lawyers to mount a vigorous defense using all available, appropriate arguments."

But Clinton said the "legal language must not obscure the fact that I have done wrong."

Huh? There's your contrition.

High taxes blamed for Canadian brain drain

Canadian business leaders were told September 14 the tax system is robbing them of more than incentives, profits and competitive advantages: it's robbing them of the brains of their operations.

Peter Harris, chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce tax committee, told the chamber's annual meeting that Canada is losing ground against countries like the United States where lower taxes lure businesses and people to locate.

Harris said the Canadian government likes to blunt the impact of its onerous tax regime by comparing itself to developed countries including Sweden, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

On that scale, Canada sits comfortably in the middle, buffered by the high European taxes.

But Harris said since 80 per cent of Canada's trade is with the United States, that is the more meaningful comparison.

On every level of taxation, whether it's income tax, corporate tax, consumption tax or capital gains tax, Harris said the United States rates as a much less costly country in which to live and do business.

"The highest marginal individual tax rate in Canada, which is about 52 or 53 per cent, is reached when a person hits $59 000 taxable income," said Harris, an Ontario tax lawyer who has served as special adviser to Revenue Canada and the federal Finance Department.

"By contrast, in the United States, the individual income tax rate - federal and state combined - is about 45 per cent and that doesn't hit until you make about $271 000. In other words, there's a much broader base sitting in the United States."

Harris said generous tax rates mean more people have more money to spend in the United States. That is one of the big reasons Canada is losing a growing number of what he called "its best and brightest."

Harris said one recent study found that as many as a quarter of all doctoral students left Canada within two years of graduating: "Income tax rates are drawing those people away."

Harris also said there's little truth to the argument often made by Canadians that U.S. taxpayers are disadvantaged by the fact they must pay health-care premiums since there is no universal coverage.

He said most U.S. businesses provide medical benefits and there's medicare for the poor and elderly.

John Wetmore, president of IBM Canada Ltd., said IBM tracks benefits, bonuses and wages paid in the countries where it has offices. He said U.S. health-care premiums don't make a significant difference.

"It wouldn't, by any stretch of the imagination, come close to (compensating) for the income tax differential," Wetmore said.

"We're a company that's subject to the brain drain and we're losing very good people. Unfortunately these days, a good chunk of graduating classes are moving south to take their first jobs. The income taxes make a big difference, a negative difference, to Canada."

Harris said reducing individual income tax is a good start, but the business community wants a package from the federal government that also looks at corporate and payroll taxes.

"I know the prime minister [Jean Chretien] talked about personal rates, but that doesn't come near to solving the problem on any long-term, meaningful basis," he said.

"You don't have to drop the rates lockstep with the United States. I think it comes down to economic morale. If the people of this country look down the tunnel and see some cause for optimism as to what spending power and consumption power they'll have over time, that'll be a major step in the right direction."

Top Democrats rip Clinton's defense strategy

Two top Democratic leaders in Congress had tough words September 14 for President Bill Clinton, saying he should curb hair-splitting over legal technicalities in favor of straight talk about the Lewinsky sex-and-perjury scandal.

In statements, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt took Clinton to task over how he has handled the aftermath of his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

"I certainly agree with those who have grown impatient with hair-splitting over legal technicalities," Daschle said. "There is a basic understanding of the standard of truthfulness that the president failed to meet."

"The president and his advisers must accept that continued legal jousting serves no constructive purpose," Daschle said. "It simply stands in the way of what we need to do: move forward and let common sense guide us in doing what is best for the country.

"I question what purpose is served by additional exposure to the salacious details contained in the Starr report," Daschle added. "We must find a way to proceed and avoid further bombardment of the airwaves and Internet with such material."

Gephardt said Clinton "had a wholly inappropriate sexual relationship with a young White House intern and failed to be truthful about it. We must now consider the implications of his actions, seek the truth and render a judgment.

"One of the most important virtues of the American character is our ability to approach the complexities that life presents us with common sense and decency," Gephardt said. "The considered judgment of the American people is not going to rise or fall on the fine distinctions of a legal argument but on straight talk and the truth. It is time for the president and the Congress to follow that common sense for the good of the country."

The White House responded to the Democratic leaders' criticisms, referring to a statement the president made the week before, in which he said that he did not want his attorneys' legal maneuverings to mask his wrongdoing. Well, at least since it was too late.

"The president has made clear that he does not want the work of his lawyers to get in the way of his admission that he had an improper relationship and he misled people to keep it private," said a statement read by Jim Kennedy, a spokesman for the White House Counsel's Office. "No legalisms should obscure the fact that it was wrong, he apologized for it and he has asked for forgiveness."

Proving Communism is no longer a threat?

Ten people were set to be arraigned at a federal court in Miami September 14, charged with spying for the Cuban government.

The eight men and two women were arrested without incident the previous Saturday in the Miami area, following a four-year investigation by the FBI. They face charges including espionage, and failure to register as agents of another nation.

Congressional sources said the arrests were timed to avert an operation planned by the suspects, but provided no details. It was not immediately clear whether they were Cuban exiles, agents who slipped into the United States from Cuba, or some of each.

Among those accused is Rene Gonzalez, formerly affiliated with the Miami-based Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue, which flies search-and-rescue missions for Cubans fleeing their homeland who are found in waters north of Cuba. He has been linked more recently to Ramon Saul Sanchez's Democracia movement, which sails from the Florida Keys to areas near Havana to protest Cuban government actions.

According to Jose Cardenas, spokesman for the Cuban American National Foundation in Washington, the accused spies had infiltrated Cuban exile groups, including Brothers.

Soon after the February 1996 shootdown of two Brothers planes over international waters in which four people were killed, federal officials looked into whether spies played any part in the shooting.

Juan Pablo Roque, a former Cuban air force pilot and double agent, infiltrated the Brothers group before returning to Cuba. He said he passed information about Brothers to the Cuban government.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-born Miami Republican, wrote the FBI in June requesting a briefing by the agency's counterintelligence section on two types of activities by Cuban officials in the United States.

She said she was concerned about "a significant increase" in travel by Cuban officials to Florida and New York for private meetings and an "inordinate number of meetings that Cuban government officials have been holding with major U.S. corporations and industry giants."

Canadian Chief justice says no legal right to work

Canadians have no legal right to the guarantee of a job, Chief Justice Antonio Lamer said September 14.

"One cannot go to court, at least not in this country, to demand one," the chief justice said in a speech prepared for delivery to the International Bar Association conference.

Lamer was scheduled to address a session entitled The Human Right to Work in a Free and Democratic Society but was unable to attend.

His speech was read by Chief Justice Allan McEachern of the B.C. Court of Appeal.

"We must accept that there are simply some matters, important as they may be, even though they may be referred to as rights, are not justiciable before courts of law even in a free and democratic society," said Lamer’s speech.

The reasons why the right to a job is not protected, he said, are complex and sensitive and he expressed reluctance to discuss them.

"Some matters have such a large component of public policy at their core that they cannot be readily resolved in judicial proceedings.

"The right to work, if interpreted to include a right to a job, other than one to which there may be some specific entitlement, probably falls into that category."

There seems to be an assumption in some societies, Canada included, that if something is important it must have a legal source, said Lamer.

But he said there is "no doubt that some of the most important human values are those that have little legal content."

"I am simply saying we should not be too quick to label as legal rights everything we happen to think is desirable or beneficial to society."

He reminded the lawyers that courts generally deal with civil and political rights, rather than economic and social ones.

The right to work falls into the latter, he said.

Constitutions generally place emphasis on civil and political rights.

But he found it interesting that those rights, as well as economic and social rights, have long been recognized in international agreements between countries.

As an example, he cited the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, of which Canada has been a signatory for many years, which mentions the right to work.

"This is where my curiousity takes over," said Lamer. "This clear statement, in an international instrument, is not matched by a correspondingly clear provision in our domestic law of the right to work."

The delegates later listened in rapt silence as the vice-chairman of the Assembly of First Nations told them that most natives in this country have not yet had the luxury of discussing the right to work.

"We have been systematically and systemically kept apart from Canada," said Herb George.

For many natives, the right to work is incomprehensible because many native communities have an unemployment rate of more than 90 per cent. Many native adults have never had a job, he said.

The history of natives in Canada has been one of continual court battles to get aboriginal rights recognized.

Recent court rulings have recognized those rights, but George still foresees opposition.

"Now we need to go to public policy for expression of those rights and that will be a struggle."

Boy loses human rights fight over church-hockey conflict while gays get pride weekend.

Christians apparently do not have the same rights as other people while gays do, at least according to two different human rights commissions in Canada.

A frustrated father whose son was cut from a minor hockey all-star team for choosing God over sport has failed to win support from Newfoundland’s Human Rights Commission.

But the Parmiter family hopes that their move this summer to a new community and a new league will help get young Joshua some more ice time.

"To me hockey is very important, but so are our religious beliefs and my son should be allowed to practise both," said Lee Parmiter.

Joshua Parmiter, 10, missed several Sunday hockey practices last year in order to attend various Pentecostal church services and activities.

The boy was eventually cut from the team in keeping with the Conception Bay South Minor Hockey Association’s constitution, which states players on all-star or developmental teams must attend practice regularly.

The association said making allowances for one child, whatever the reason, would disrupt the team and league.

Parmiter’s complaint against the hockey league was recently dismissed by the Human Rights Commission.

The family has hired a lawyer to look into taking the matter to court.

Parmiter said he is frustrated with the commission’s ruling, which he said supported the league’s rules and did not agree that the criteria discriminates against people with strong religious beliefs.

"Sikhs can wear their turbans in the RCMP but they can’t take a 10-year-old boy, where church is part of his life, and make a preference for that?"

Suspecting the commission’s ruling would not be in his favour, Parmiter moved his family in June to St. John’s from nearby Chamberlains, Nfld.

He had hoped the increased number of teams and players in the St. John’s Minor Hockey Association would prevent further scheduling woes.

But it now appears Joshua, ranked sixth in his old league, could end up missing several games instead of practices.

Joshua is presently registered for the Atom division house league. Tryouts for the competitive team begin next week.

But regardless of whether he qualifies for the elite team, he will still have to play 20 scheduled house-league games on either Saturday or Sunday, said association president Peter Breen.

"He could play 10 games on Saturday and 10 on Sunday, or it could be five on Saturday and 15 on Sunday depending on how the schedule works out," said Breen.

"This is the way things have been for years and we can’t change the whole system for one kid."

He said he has not heard any other complaints about Sunday games or practices.

Parmiter did not make any special scheduling requests during registration and made no indication that Joshua would not be able to play on Sundays, said Breen.

It’s too soon to say whether Joshua would be cut from his team if he misses games or practices because each situation is judged separately, said Breen.

It’s necessary for parents and players to be flexible because of the difficulty in getting enough ice time for all teams, he added.

Parmiter said his son is excited about getting back on the ice and attended a development camp and private hockey school through the summer to keep improving.

"We’re trying our best as a family to get him ready and I just hope things will quiet down so he can do his thing."

Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside has accepted "under protest" a human rights decision ordering him to proclaim Gay Pride Weekend.

Woodside bowed to the order September 17 but refused to have anything to do with the actual wording of the proclamation which must be read within one year.

"I believe in free speech and I believe in having the freedom to express yourself," the five-term mayor told reporters.

"I think it’s important as a politician that you just don’t do it unless you believe in it and therein lies the problem for me."

A one-man Board of Inquiry appointed under the New Brunswick Human Rights Act ruled that Woodside discriminated against the gay and lesbian complainants in the case by refusing to proclaim Gay Pride Weekend.

"It’s a question of balancing rights, but the balance has been found to clearly favour the complainants," wrote commissioner Brian Bruce, a law professor at the University of New Brunswick.

"They (gays and lesbians) are simply seeking to exercise their right to be equal members of the community as they are entitled to do by law."

Bruce referred in his decision to recent rulings under the Ontario Human Rights Code in which the mayors of London and Hamilton found themselves embroiled in similar actions.

In both cases, the arguments of the homosexual community carried the day. The Ontario mayors were ordered to make the proclamations, which Bruce said are viewed as a public service.

The Ontario mayors were also fined - $5,000 in the Hamilton case and $10,000 in the London case. Woodside was not fined.

Had he been, Woodside said it wouldn’t have been a problem. He said he has cheques sitting in his office from all over Canada and the United States from people ready to put their money where his mouth is, if necessary.

Woodside, the mayor of Fredericton for 19 years, also said he had phone calls of support from cities facing similar battles, notably Edmonton and Winnipeg.

"I’ve received phone calls from other cities in Canada that are going through the same thing," he said.

"Contrary to what was said in this report - that Gay Pride is widely accepted in North America - that’s not the case. I wouldn’t consider Toronto and Vancouver to be the standard we all try to live by."

Woodside said he’ll leave the actual wording of the proclamation to the human rights inquiry. He said he’ll take no part in drafting the announcement and when he reads it, people will know it’s against his will and against his principles.

"I believe the majority of people in this community will acknowledge homosexuality but will not condone it and should not be expected to condone it," he said bitterly.

Members of the homosexual community said they were pleased with the decision, but acknowledged it has divided the community.

"It’s a double-edged sword," said James Whitehead of the Frederiction Lesbians and Gays organization.

"It has been a very divisive issue and it’s very frustrating when someone can turn something that seems so simple to begin with into something so divisive. There’s been a lot of damage done."

Allison Brewer, a lesbian activist and one of two complainants in the case, said that despite the strong feelings stirred by the dispute, the battle was worth the price of victory.

"I just feel safer today," Brewer said. "I feel a lot safer today because we have a Human Rights Act that will actually protect us and doesn’t gloss over the issue."

I guess Christians can't say that though.

Chretien to Alberta...no right to vote on Senators

Douglas Roche, a former Conservative MP, diplomat and international arms control activist, has been named to the Canadian Senate in a move denounced by Alberta Premier Ralph Klein as a "slap in the face" to his province.

The appointment September 17 by Prime Minister Jean Chretien means there will be no vacancy to fill this fall when Albertans vote in an election for two so-called senators-in-waiting.

"To me the issue is simple," Klein said in Edmonton. "Who should decide who represents Alberta in Parliament? The people of Alberta, or the prime minister?"

The Tory premier was careful not to attack Roche personally. He insisted the issue is not personality but the selection process that gives the prime minister sole constitutional power to fill Senate seats.

Roche, 69, was one of four new senators named by Chretien. He will sit as an independent.

The appointments bring the Senate standing to 55 Liberals, 43 Conservatives and five Independents. There is one vacancy from Newfoundland in the 104-seat chamber.

On Thursday, however, attention centred on the Alberta seat, with federal Reformers joining Klein on the attack.

"I guess basically Alberta got screwed again," said MP Rob Anders, the Reform critic for Senate affairs.

The fact that Roche is widely respected on Parliament Hill and in diplomatic circles cut no ice with him.

"It wouldn’t matter whether the prime minister had named a nun, a Liberal or a Tory, the fact is this person is not elected and no matter how credible he is, he should be elected."

Peter Donolo, a spokesman for Chretien, dismissed the comment as "typical Reform gutter politics." He called Roche a distinguished Canadian and characterized the appointment as a non-partisan one.

Roche served as a Conservative MP for Edmonton from 1972 to 1984 and later was Canadian ambassador for disarmament and chairman of the United Nations disarmament committee.

Klein and Reform Leader Preston Manning had pressed Chretien to wait for the fall election and appoint one of the victors to the upper house.

Brian Mulroney, trying to win support for the ill-fated Charlottetown constitutional accord, acceded to similar pressure in 1990 and named Stan Waters after he won an election for a vacant Alberta seat.

So far, however, two Reformers and a little-known Independent are the only candidates this time around.

"This is not serious," said Donolo. "What kind of election would that be?"

Chretien, in a letter to Klein earlier that week, argued that only a full-blown constitutional amendment -not electoral "tinkering" - could guarantee meaningful Senate reform.

Klein replied days later, telling Chretien he "may have seriously set back the cause of national renewal."

The premier said he will go ahead with the fall election and expressed hope that Chretien would choose one of the winners for a future seat.

"You don’t need to amend the Constitution to give expression to the democratic will of Albertans," he wrote to the prime minister. "You just need to make the appointment."

Wrong's not right

Need some conservative music? Steve Vaus might be able to help you. Vaus sent ESR some e-mail last month about a new song he's written.

"I was a recording artist on RCA, Nashville a few years ago until I was dropped for being too conservative. I have released a new song, Wrong's Not Right that is generating a lot of attention on talk radio (Mike Reagan, Alan Keyes, Joseph Farah, Roger Hedgecock, the Ware Pair, Geoff Metcalf, and many others)," wrote Steve.

"It combines a powerful musical message with Clinton denial clips in an electrifying three minute package . . . Alan Keyes opined, 'This could be the 'where's the beef' moment for this administration.' I have instructed stations to ask their listeners to copy it from the air or contact me for a free copy, make copies and share them with friends and elected officials."

Listen to the song at http://www.stevevaus.com/RA/WrongsNotRight.ram or visit his site at http://www.stevevaus.com/ Steve will send anyone a free copy on cassette and radio stations by overnight delivery (check details http://www.stevevaus.com/wrongnotright.spl.html on web site for both offers).

Whoops! Al Gore gives government award to spy

Vice President Al Gore handed one of his spiffy "reinventing government" awards to a woman the FBI later charged with penetrating the Defense Department.

Theresa Squillacote, a former Pentagon lawyer and ex-House Armed Services Committee staffer, was arrested in October 1997 by the FBI on charges of spying over 20 years for East Germany and Moscow, and for reportedly attempting to spy for the South African Communist Party.Daniel McGroarty, writing in Investors Business Daily, first uncovered the story, which also appeared in the Russia Reform Monitor.

Mrs. Squillacote's husband, Kurt Stand, an officer in the Democratic Socialists of America, is a co-defendant in the espionage case. According to a report in the Washington Post, at the time of her arrest, Mrs. Squillacote had interviewed for a job at the White House.

They must have been taught well

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a student walkout over low teacher pay turned into a riot as dozens of rock-throwing teens smashed windows, damaged police cars and looted a convenience store. One officer was slightly injured during the incident just off the campus of Rio Grande High School. Nine students and one teacher were arrested. The teacher, Jimmy Romero, was arrested for attempting to interfere with the arrest of his son, a student at the high school.

About 500 to 800 students (roughly one-third of the student body) walked out after a signal was given over the school's PA system. Most were persuaded to return to class after a short time, but about 200 students left the campus. Soon, they were throwing rocks through the windows of homes and businesses. "They threw cans at passing cars," said one witness. "They were like playing." When police arrived, they were pelted with stones and their patrol cars were damaged.

School officials suspended the arrested students. Romero was placed on administrative leave. "If there were teachers who incited or encouraged this in any way, we will find out and punish them, too," said Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Brad Allison.

The teachers' union site representative claimed there was no teacher encouragement of the walkout, although the pay question was a topic of discussion in class. Some students carried protest signs apparently fashioned from paper from the school's media center. Only teachers are supposed to have access to the supplies. Teachers had been staging periodic picket lines outside the school in their efforts to get a 9 percent pay raise prescribed by the state legislature. The school board has offered 5.2 percent.

Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Don Whatley told the Albuquerque Journal he hopes state lawmakers will take notice of the riot as a possible sign of trouble at the school, one of several he said suffer from outdated facilities that are not conducive to good learning and student behavior.

Judge says Criminal Code section is unconstitutional

The Canadian Criminal Code section dealing with unlawful assembly was declared unconstitutional on September 22 by a Quebec Court judge. Judge Claude Millette said the criteria of the section violates the right of people to peacefully participate in a demonstration or an assembly.

He said Art. 63 as currently stated, "is completely inequitable for citizens who want in good faith to participate in an assembly.

"The current criteria to determine the illegal character of an assembly does not exclude the possibility, I should say the probability, that innocents could be convicted," the judge wrote.

The Criminal Code says that someone could be charged with unlawful assembly if a bystander has reasonable grounds to fear that person and at least two others are disturbing the peace.

Millette said people could stay home and not exercise their democratic rights to participate in assemblies for fear of being charged - something that was absolutely unacceptable in a democratic society.

"The basis of Art. 63 is to prevent violence, but that basis should not be obtained at the risk of punishing individuals before a crime has been committed," the judge wrote.

Millette was ruling in the case of Alexandre Popovic, who was charged with unlawful assembly along with several anti-poverty activists after a disruption during their municipal court appearance in February.

The group was being arraigned in connection with a protest last Dec. 3 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel where about 100 people rushed the luncheon buffet at the hotel's restaurant. They then walked out with the food and held a sit-in outside the hotel.

Besides the unlawful assembly charges, some members of the group face charges of assault and intimidation.

Lawyer Julius Grey, who was intervening only on the charges of illegal assembly, had argued the Criminal Code section was invalid because it violated rights guaranteed by the Constitution, including freedom of assembly and expression.

The judgment was praised by Yves Manseau, a spokesman for a civil rights group.

"That judgment sends a message to the police that they can't act with impunity to stifle the weak."

It may be too late

U.S. President Clinton has called for an immediate increase in military spending and asking top defense advisers to make their case for a bigger budget in the long run.

In a letter to Defense Secretary William S. Cohen on September 22, Clinton called for an immediate infusion into the budget for the current fiscal year to address parts shortages and asked the Pentagon to work with the White House to develop a revised budget proposal for fiscal 2000 to take care of longer range needs.

"Although we have done much to support readiness, more needs to be done," Clinton said in the letter, made available by unnamed Pentagon officials to The Washington Post and The New York Times.

"The message here is that the president has accepted a budget increase in some unspecified amount," one of the officials told the Post.

Cohen told reporters last month that deficiencies affecting U.S. war-making capability can be addressed and pledged to work with Clinton and Congress "to assure that our armed forces have the resources they need to protect U.S. interests."

Clinton himself met the following day with Cohen and senior military officers and said he was "determined that we don't relax our vigilance to keep our forces ready to protect our security today and well into the 21st century."

"We will continue to monitor readiness, to deal quickly and effectively with any problems that do arise," Clinton said at the time.

The Wall Street Journal reported the week before the release of the letter that the military leaders if asked were ready to tell Clinton that planned defense budgets of $250 billion must be increased by as much as $10 billion to $15 billion annually to stave off problems with modernizing weapons, fixing crumbling bases and bankroll meaningful training.

Gun owners stand up for their rights

Declaring it open season on gun owners, thousands of protesters from across Canada converged on Parliament Hill September 22 in what will be a futile effort to nix Ottawa's new firearms registry.

Demonstrators, many waving placards and decked in orange hunting caps, almost drowned out the noon time chimes on the Peace Tower clock as they chanted "Fed Up, Fed Up" to describe their unsuccessful fight.

The four-hour protest, held under grey skies and occasional rain, occurred four years to the day that a similar rally was held on Parliament Hill before the federal government introduced its gun control law.

The registry, which will require firearms to be registered in a central data bank, begins Dec. 1 and will be phased in by 2003. Owners must be licensed by 2001.

"I will be registering at the last possible moment that I have to register and most of us will be doing that," said Toronto target shooter Norbert Hildebrandt, who has been attending protests and firing off letters to politicians for years opposing the new gun laws.

Hildebrandt, who yelled and cheered as he listened to dozens of speakers, said the main reason he opposes gun control is because he fears it will lead to the confiscation of his guns.

Gun enthusiasts and opposition politicians repeated complaints that have become familiar during the lengthy debate: the registry is an invasion of privacy, it won't curtail violent crime and it is a waste of millions of dollars that would be better spent elsewhere.

RCMP, who estimated the crowd of mostly men at about 10 000, stepped up security for the protest, which was one of the biggest in years.

Just hours before gun lobbyists marched on the Hill, Justice Minister Anne McLellan launched a pre-emptive strike by holding a news conference to say their efforts were in vain.

"We will not be deterred by inflammatory and irresponsible rhetoric," she said. "The debate is settled, the debate is over."

Of course, there was no debate, but we'll allow McLellan her delusion.

The registry will require the country's estimated three million gun owners to register approximately seven million firearms.

It was initially slated to get underway October 1, but the government announced the day before the rally it would be delayed two months because some police forces aren't ready yet.

About 100 gun enthusiasts also held a demonstration outside McLellan's office in Edmonton on the day of the rally.

McLellan, as Alberta's cabinet minister, comes from a part of the country most opposed to the gun law and the Alberta government is currently leading a court challenge joined by several provinces that have refused to take part in the registry.

Chretien sorry - sort of - for APEC confrontation

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien expressed regret September 22 for a police confrontation that saw protesting students pepper-sprayed on the final day of last fall's Asia-Pacific summit in Vancouver. But he dismissed suggestions that personal responsibility for the incident can be laid at his door.

And while he didn't rule out testifying about the affair at a public inquiry, he showed little appetite for the idea and noted it would be very unusual for a sitting prime minister to do so.

Chretien's comments came as opposition MPs pressed him for a second straight day over the APEC summit, at which more than 40 people demonstrating against the since-deposed Indonesian President Suharto were arrested by the RCMP.

Most of the arrests came on the last day of the conference, as police manhandled protesters trying to scurry through a security fence and doused others blocking a motorcade route with pepper spray.

"I'm sorry that some people had the problem with the police,"Chretien told the Commons.

"Nobody wished these things and it's why there is an inquiry . . . at the end we'll see who is responsible or not."

At a news conference closing the summit, Chretien made light of the affair with the comment: "Pepper, for me, I put it on my plate."

He explained he hadn't been briefed on what happened and wasn't aware that a crowd-control agent called pepper spray even existed.

"I probably should not have made the joke, but I didn't know."

Documents filed with the RCMP Public Complaints Commission indicate officials in the prime minister's office played a key role in security arrangements for the summit.

Reform Leader Preston Manning noted that a pair of RCMP memos carry notations that it was the prime minister's "specific wish" that visiting leaders not be disturbed and that he wanted demonstrators who set up a tent city removed.

Chretien brushed off the memos with a suggestion that officials don't always speak accurately for their political masters.

"I've seen many people in departments speaking on behalf of their ministers or on behalf of the prime minister not knowing . . ." he began - before being shouted down by opposition hecklers who kept him from concluding his sentence.

New Democrat Leader Alexa McDonough wondered later whether Chretien was setting up his staff to take the fall.

"It's truly astounding that what the prime minister is going to now try to do is hide behind his own officials," she said. "I think the cat's already out of the bag."

Chretien's chief of staff, Jean Pelletier, and his former operations director Jean Carle will testify at hearings to be held by the RCMP complaints commission.

But the prime minister has so far refused to join them voluntarily, or to say whether he would obey a subpoena if one is issued.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy tried to rebut charges by NDP critic Svend Robinson that he behaved like a "bootlicker"to Suharto's regime in organizing the summit.

A department memo, filed with the commission, quoted Axworthy as apologizing to his Indonesian counterpart, Ali Alatas, for an anti-Suharto poster campaign in Vancouver three months before the conference began.

"I didn't apologize," Axworthy insisted Tuesday, but he acknowledged he did tell Alatas he found the posters "distasteful."

The Indonesians complained repeatedly about security arrangements and hinted Suharto wouldn't come to Vancouver unless they were improved.

Axworthy admitted he was anxious to have all 19 APEC nations attend the summit, but denied giving any assurances that protests would be curbed.

He viewed the Indonesian concerns as understandable, since Suharto's entourage had been confronted and jostled by protesters in Germany the year before.

"We defended the right to have demonstrators," said Axworthy. "But we didn't want to have anybody who was part of an international meeting being physically sort of intimidated."

On Tuesday, an APEC protester said some of the activists who were arrested were targeted before the conference even began.

Jonathan Oppenheim, a member of the anti-APEC group known then as APEC Alert, said RCMP had a book that contained several pictures of protesters.

"These pictures were used to arrest organizers, the RCMP would use (the book) to pick out (anti-APEC) organizers and they would be arrested," said Oppenheim, a physics student at the University of B.C.

Also reported was the fact that a Canadian aboriginal chief at the protest says she saw Chretien issue orders to security personal.

"I saw him actively involved in everything that was taking place," Chief Gail Sparrow of the Musqueam Indian band said.

Sparrow acknowledged she couldn't hear anything Chretien was saying outside the anthropology museum at the University of British Columbia, where the APEC leaders were gathered.

But she asked officials what was going on and they indicated there was concern about protesters along a motorcade route.

Firing of CPP watchdog to be probed

An all-party committee will investigate the firing of the government's top Canada Pension Plan watchdog.

The House of Commons' finance committee has struck a subcommittee to look into the firing as soon as actuary Bernard Dussault "has had full recourse for his legal options," Finance Minister Paul Martin told the House of Commons September 22.

Dussault, chief actuary for the Canada Pension Plan, was fired suddenly in August.

Martin has said neither he nor his office was involved in the "purely internal" decision to dismiss Dussault, who had served in the senior post for the past seven years.

But Reform critic Diane Ablonczy (Calgary-Nose Hill) has said she believes the decision was politically motivated.

"This was mere weeks before he was to have issued his major five-year review of whether enough money will be there to pay Canadians' pensions," Ablonczy told the Commons.

"Is the minister saying that top officials, people who are independent and whom Canadians rely on for good independent advice, can just be thrown out the door and he does not even know that this happens?"

Dussault's dismissal was a decision made by the superintendent of financial institutions, John Palmer, Martin said.

The minister was only informed afterward, he said.

"We have separated politics from the good administration of the public service and the public services takes its own decisions," Martin said.

"The superintendent, in conjunction with the public service, had managerial dif- ferences with the chief actuary," he said.

Dussault has filed a grievance with the department asking to be reinstated.

He has said he was not aware of any managerial problems, and Palmer's office has confirmed it had no problem with Dussault's work.

He was replaced with a consultant who was commissioned to finish Dussault's report.

It is believed that Dussault's report would have shown that recent increases in CPP contributions are not enough to cover the massive unfunded liabilities in the system.

Chretien nixed Canada's condemnation of China: Patten

Canada's decision to withdraw support for a United Nations resolution condemning China's human rights record last year was done against the wishes of Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, Hong Kong's former governor says in a new book.

Chris Patten, Hong Kong's last British governor, says Axworthy and several other cabinet ministers were in favour of supporting the resolution, but they were overruled by Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who was against it.

"Lloyd Axworthy . . . had been told in Peking by (Chinese Premier) Li Peng, so it is reliably said, that if Canada went ahead and supported the resolution the Chinese would take power-station projects away from Canadian firms," Patten wrote in the book, entitled East and West.

"Mr. Axworthy, to his credit, was outraged. So were several of his cabinet colleagues when he reported this back to them.

"But with Mr. Chretien, the prime minister, arguing on the other side, the decision went against Axworthy. Game, set and match to Li Peng. Canada, too, then opted for quiet dialogue."

Canada withdrew its support for the resolution it had co-sponsored for six years when it was up for consideration last year.

But a foreign affairs spokesman dismissed the idea that Canada would withdraw support for the resolution because of commercial threats.

"There was never any linkage between commercial considerations and our decision," Stewart Wheeler said September 23.

He said Canada decided not to support the resolution because of "weakening in the consensus on the resolution, especially among the traditional co-sponsors, and in the view that the resolution no longer carried the same weight that it had in previous years."

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister's Office said: "There is no basis to Mr. Patten's assertions."

At the time of Canada's withdrawal, Axworthy said it was concluded that Canada could have a greater influence on human rights in China by promoting changes "from within" and by "pursuing and intensifying our promising bilateral measures" instead of backing the resolution.

Chretien also publicly defended the policy, saying dialogue with China was the way to go.

Wheeler said Canada's approach of working directly with China to effect change on human rights was subsequently adopted by other countries, including the United States.

First lady criticizes Sen. D'Amato

Never mentioning him by name, Hillary Rodham Clinton unleashed a fierce attack on Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato on September 23, accusing him of voting to "keep women down and back."

The first lady's verbal attack came on behalf of Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who is engaged in a bitter campaign to unseat D'Amato.

"I think it's fair to say that Chuck's opponent has voted in a way that puts him in the same category as those in the Senate who are consistently voting to keep women down and back," Mrs. Clinton said at a $1 000-a-head fund-raising luncheon for Schumer.

"His voting record on choice is the same as Jesse Helms," she said, referring to the ultraconservative North Carolina Republican. "The people of New York need to know that they do not need a Jesse Helms clone."

Even a key Schumer aide called Mrs. Clinton's remarks "unusually sharp." But Howard Wolfson, Schumer's communications director, said "it indicates how important this race is," said

In response, D'Amato's campaign issued a statement that did not mention Mrs. Clinton but accused Schumer of running a negative campaign.

"Chuck Schumer has given up all pretense of running a campaign on the issues. It's sad that he's decided to go completely negative," the statement from D'Amato spokesman Harvey Valentine said.

Smaller crowd protests gun control in British Columbia

Only a fraction of the thousands of people expected turned up to protest new gun-control laws on the lawn of the provincial legislature September 27.

Gun control opponents admit they're losing, but said they're not giving up their fight. "We've won a few skirmishes, but we're losing the war," Reform MP Jim Gouk told the crowd. "That's the truth and you have to face it."

But Gouk told the protesters that the fight to stop C-68 is "not over by a long shot."

"This isn't gun-control this is just harassing law-abiding citizens," he said. "If someone could show me how registering my shotguns and rifles would help reduce crime, I would be at the front of the line."

Gouk urged the group to convince non-gun-owners to battle the legislation because without their support, gun owners don't have a chance, he said.

It's important to make those groups understand that gun-control laws won't reduce the chances of criminals having guns, Gouk said.

B.C. Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh didn't attend the rally, but said in an interview he's still working with Ottawa to make the law as effective as possible. He said the bill does deal with many key crime issues, such as gun smuggling and heavier penalties for using firearms in a crime.

The registration process as it's now envisioned may be too cumbersome, he said, but his officials are working with their federal counterparts to make it less expensive and less bureaucratic.

An elderly Oregon man, Norman Cobb, attended the Victoria rally because he fears gun control in Canada will bleed into the United States.

"I'm here to support the Canadian gun-owning community in the realization that if Bill C-68 is implemented in Canada, people who want to deprive Americans their arms will use the presence of Canada's law as just one more justification to do the same to us," he said, as he sat on the stage with a large 13-star American flag.

Giving the black helicopter crowd what they want to hear

Social activists who shook their heads in disbelief when the United Nations recently ranked Canada the best country in the world in which to live for the fifth straight year are hoping to persuade it to take a different view.

Canada has been asked some tough questions by a U.N. committee that reviews compliance with an international agreement that guarantees basic social rights.

It is awaiting Ottawa's responses this month to a list of 81 often pointed questions. Some activists say Canada might be found in contravention of the international agreement it signed in 1976.

The committee on economic, social and cultural rights has asked Canada to explain a host of issues, including a rise in child poverty, the drastic decline in the number of Canadians receiving unemployment benefits, a doubling in the use of food banks over the last decade, and the state of aboriginal housing.

The committee got much of the fodder for its questions this spring from a number of Canadian non-governmental organizations who want the U.N. to recognize social problems they see in this country.

"We've seen the door opening to all sorts of violations for economic, social and cultural rights happening," said Laurie Rektor, executive director of the National Anti-Poverty Organization, who will appear before the committee when Canada's review comes up in November.

"Canada's status as a signatory is not affected, but Canada's record is."

Canada was rebuked at the last review in 1993 for some of the same problems that are being asked about now. The committee made several recommendations to the government on how to remedy them.

"If the committee was looking at a country that because of global pressures or structural adjustment or economic downturn, something they couldn't do anything about, then the committee would have some tolerance," said Bruce Porter of the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues.

The U.N. committee consisting of economic and social rights experts will look at how changes in federal and provincial legislation have reduced social rights and how problems can be addressed.

"They're going to try to do things diplomatically, but on the other hand they have to fulfil their mandate and they can't make it look as if affluent countries that are well-liked within the U.N. system don't get subjected to the same degree of scrutiny as countries that have a lot of poverty," said Porter.

The covenant covers everything from the right to employment freely chosen under favourable conditions to the right to an adequate standard of living.

Signatories are obligated to protect those "rights."

Democrats trail GOP in House funds

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee trails its GOP counterpart four-to-one in money it can spend directly on House candidates. And it is being criticized for accepting a six-figure donation from an executive whose company is under investigation.

Federal Election Commission records show the DCCC in August received $100 000 from Bernard Schwartz, chief executive officer of Loral Corp. Congress and the Justice Department are reviewing Loral's satellite dealings with China. The company has denied any wrongdoing.

Republicans suggested September 23 that the contribution be given back. But with House elections just weeks away, the DCCC's bigger problem may be its lack of so-called hard money, funds that can be spent directly on federal candidates.

The National Republican Congressional Committee reported it had $7.4 million in hard money in the bank, compared with just $1.7 million the DCCC had at the end of August.

The DCCC, which started the year with hopes of trimming the Republicans' slim majority in the House, shrugged off the gap by saying it is exceeding its own fund-raising goals. It still can take out loans to fund activities up to Election Day.

"It's never been part of our strategic planning that we can outspend the Republicans," DCCC spokeswoman Olivia Morgan said. "We just spend smarter and we have better candidates."

The DCCC's hard money accounts are lagging behind the committee's past performance. In 1996, a presidential year, it had more than $4 million on hand at the end of August. In 1994, when Democrats lost control of Congress to the GOP, the committee had $3.6 million on hand to start September.

Republicans are trying to score political points with the DCCC financial standing, noting the Democratic committee sent $460 000 in soft money to the home-state party of DCCC Chairman Martin Frost.NRCC spokeswoman Mary Crawford suggested Frost was worried about the strength of his Republican challenger, Shawn Terry.

"Clearly Mr. Frost is worried about his own re-election with Shawn Terry nipping at his heels," she said.

But Morgan said the transfers took place under the committee's "Texas Fund," a previously disclosed program under which money raised at certain Lone Star state events are earmarked for the Lone Star state.

"This is a battleground plan we've been talking about for over a year," she said.

However, NRCC analysts who studied the Democratic documents filed with the FEC contended that most of the money used for the Texas transfers came from sources outside the state.

Rep. John Linder, R-Ga., the chairman of the NRCC, urged Frost to return the $100 000 from Schwartz because of the current inquiries into a federal waiver that allowed it to sell sensitive satellite technology to

"The DCCC goes to people like Bernie Schwartz," Linder said. "They took a $100 000 check from him on August 14 and frankly, I think they ought to return it."

Annette Bening blasts political correctness; defends besieged university professor

In an interview with a campus magazine, Hollywood's Annette Bening scoffs at the notion that Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare was sexist, and lambastes the Arizona State University (ASU) administration for its decision to terminate Jared Sakren, Bening's former acting teacher.

Professor Sakren, head of the ASU Acting Program, was fired for teaching Shakespeare and using a "classical" approach to acting in his classes.

Academy Award-nominated Bening was Jared Sakren's pupil from 1980-82. When Bening learned of Sakren's dismissal, she rushed to defend him: "ASU made a gross error. This talented, energetic, caring teacher has fallen victim to an atmosphere of political correctness and this is wrong.... Besides Jared himself, Jared's students are the ultimate losers here." Bening calls Sakren a "master" and an "exceptionally good teacher" who has skills "most acting teachers don't possess."

Sakren, a Juilliard graduate, angered feminist faculty in the ASU Theatre Department by teaching, in his own classes, plays by Shakespeare, Aeschylus, Chekhov, and Ibsen. The department head criticized his "selection of works from a sexist European canon that is approached traditionally." The department labels plays by Shakespeare offensive, sexist and Euro-centric and
asked Sakren to change the ending of the plays or "reinterpret" the texts. Sakren refused. The department then required the use of a play entitled "Betty the Yeti: An Eco-Fable," the story of a logger who has sex with a sasquatch and is transformed into an environmentalist.

Sakren, who has been financially crippled by the ordeal, has filed a lawsuit against ASU. ASU attorneys moved to dismiss the suit, claiming that non- tenured ASU faculty members are not protected by academic freedom, and ignored his constitutional claims for freedom of speech.

Sakren's former students include actors Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis, and Oscar-winner Fran McDormand.

In the interview, Bening calls the anti-Shakespeare trend at universities "ridiculous." "I have trouble taking it seriously," she
said. Bening believes that Shakespeare was essential to her interest in drama and describes the playwright as a genius who understood the hearts and souls of women.

Early in her career, Bening acted in more than a dozen Shakespeare plays. More recently, Bening starred in Ian McKellen's adaptation of "Richard III." Underlining the importance of Shakespeare in the curriculum, Bening stressed that schools which drop Shakespeare are "cheating" their students. "To discourage the teaching and performing of Shakespeare is like taking a painting or art student and saying, 'Don't study Rembrandt because he lived in a patriarchal society'.... That is a ridiculous argument. Absurd."

Germans move to the left in elections

In a landmark election on September 27, Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder defeated 16-year incumbent Helmut Kohl to become Germany's new chancellor. Schroeder immediately promised to tackle unemployment while pursuing stability in foreign policy.

"After 16 years, the Kohl era is at an end," Schroeder told cheering supporters at Social Democratic Party (SPD) headquarters. He said he would work for "economic stability and development, domestic security and continuity in foreign affairs."

Schroeder said his top priority would be to tackle high unemployment. And he pledged he would invite business and trade union leaders to form an "alliance for work" to find ways of creating jobs and cutting joblessness.

Directing his remarks to voters in eastern Germany -- where unemployment has been disproportionately high since reunification -- Schroeder promised to "do everything in order to improve their lives and to complete, step by step, the growing together of eastern and western Germany."

The vote brought to an end Kohl's conservative-oriented government and marks the first time in modern German history that a sitting chancellor has been voted out of office.

Conceding defeat in a brief speech, Kohl thanked friends and party members who supported him during the past years. "It was a great time," he told the party faithful gathered at Christian Democratic Union (CDU) headquarters.

"The voters have clearly opted for Red-Green," he said, referring to the possible coalition of Social Democrats and Greens that could take over now.

Kohl took full responsibility for the much-criticized CDU campaign, which got off to a slow start and began to close the gap with Schroeder only late in the race.

The outgoing chancellor also said he would give up his post as chairman of the CDU.

"There is no debate about this defeat. I will of course accept the consequences," he said in announcing he would not be available for re-election at a party congress later this year.

Witty, brisk and telegenic, Schroeder had mounted a media-savvy campaign that capitalized on snappy sound bites and his appealing looks, offering voters a refreshing departure from the plodding and long-winded Kohl.

Schroeder also steered the left-leaning SPD into a more business-friendly stance, something he called "the New Center," that came complete with a slogan heralding "the power of the new."

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