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web posted December 18, 2000

Nader has no regrets about running against Gore

Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, accused by some Democrats of winning votes that cost Vice President Al Gore the election, said on December 14 he had no regrets now that Republican George W. Bush had won the election.

Ralph Nader"The regret is that I didn't get more votes," Nader told CNN's "Larry King Live," underscoring his commitment to building a new party that would change the U.S. political scene and provide a progressive alternative to the Democratic Party.

"It's a bit presumptuous to have that sense that, just because you are a new party, somehow you have got to work to help elect someone other (as) president," Nader said.

The consumer crusader won about 97,000 votes in Florida, enough to easily hand Gore a victory. Bush won Florida by less than 1,000 votes, capturing the state's 25 electoral votes and the election.

Nationwide, Nader won 3 percent of the popular vote, falling short of his goal of winning the 5 percent needed to qualify for federal matching funds in the next presidential election.

But he did breach the 5 percent barrier in 11 states, including Alaska, where he got 10 percent.

Nader acknowledged some differences between the Democrats and Republicans, but said both parties were handing more and more power over to big corporations.

"We know who makes the decisions on the Food and Drug Administration, and on the auto safety agency, Department of Defense, Treasury Department, Commerce, Agriculture," he said.

"It's the 22,000 corporate lobbyists who are swarming over the city and the 9,000 political action committees that are funneling money to both parties."

Asked why he had not breached the 5 percent threshold, Nader said, "Well, challenging the two-party system is like climbing a cliff with a slippery rope."

He said the Democratic and Republican parties controlled access to states' ballots, funds, and the presidential debates, in addition to having vast influence on the media.

But he said his candidacy during the 2000 election had been a first step toward a longer-term political movement.

"People all over the country are now telling us maybe they should have voted for us. But I know they wanted the least of the worst," he said.

He said it was too early to predict whether he would run again in 2004, but he believed the Green Party had sent a powerful message to the Democratic Party that progressive voters could not be ignored.

Canadian Supreme Court tightens standards on police wiretaps

Wiretapping is a "highly intrusive" police power to be used only in the absence of any other reasonable method of investigation, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled on December 14 in a decision that tightens police forces' authority to use electronic surveillance.

The 9-0 decision ends legal confusion over wiretaps that saw some courts allow them only as a "last resort," while others granted police wide discretion to listen in on private conversations.

The court did, however, uphold an order for a new trial for a group of accused cocaine traffickers who had been acquitted after a Victoria judge threw out wiretap evidence against them. The decision sends Neil Grandmaison, Christina Khoury, Angela Araujo and six other members of an alleged drug ring back to court to face charges of dealing in bulk cocaine on Vancouver Island in the mid-1990s

The top court rejected the reasoning, though not the outcome, of a 1996 B.C. Court of Appeal decision that ordered a new trial for the accused traffickers. The B.C. court ruled police needed only to prove that wiretapping the suspects was the "most efficacious" method to penetrate the group.

That standard was too lax, the Supreme Court declared, adding necessity, not efficiency, must guide police.

"The proper test concerns whether, practically speaking, there is not other reasonable means of investigation," wrote Mr. Justice Louis LeBel in his first judgment since joining the court in January.

Michael Code, a lawyer for the accused, was disappointed that his clients will face a new trial, but pleased the top court held police to a more stringent standard.

"The judgment clarifies the previous law significantly," he said. "The court has restored the law to the statutory language that Parliament originally used -- which has been watered down significantly in the case law."

But one spokesman for Canadian police said yesterday the decision will not affect their operations.

"We're pleased with the decision. It affirms the way we've been interpreting the Criminal Code," said Detective Chief Superintendent Frank Ryan of the Ontario Provincial Police, speaking on behalf of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

Judge LeBel said the court sought to strike an "appropriate but often elusive balance between the interests of the state and those of its citizens."

"Wiretapping is highly intrusive. It may affect human relations in the sphere of very close, if not intimate, communications, even in the privacy of the home," he wrote.

Citizens must be "protected against unwanted fishing expeditions by the state and its law enforcement agencies," he added.

Bush names Powell as choice for U.S. secretary of state

On December 16, President-elect George W. Bush named former U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell as the nation's next secretary of state, making Powell the first person to formally accept a Cabinet post in the Bush administration.

Colin PowellPowell -- who would be the first African-American secretary of state in U.S. history -- formally accepted Bush's offer during a ceremony at an elementary school near Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The secretary of state nominee offered a preview of his international policy. "We will stand strong with our allies against those nations that pursue weapons of mass destruction," Powell said.

Powell also pledged to continue the struggle for Mideast peace. "It is absolutely a given that under a Bush administration, America will remain very engaged in the Middle East."

On Iraq, he said, "My judgment is that sanctions of some form must be kept in place . . . we are not doing this to hurt the Iraqi people, we are doing this to protect the people of the region."

Bush called Powell "an American hero, an American example and a great American story."

In a reminder of how far he's come, Powell jokingly thanked Bush for not holding the ceremony at the Texas governor's nearby ranch. "I'm from the South Bronx," Powell said, "and I don't care what you say, those cows look dangerous."

Powell's appointment is expected to be easily approved by the Senate.

The 63-year-old retired army general served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Persian Gulf War and the presidency of Bush's father, George Bush, and briefly during the first term of President Bill Clinton.

Because Powell is popular across the political spectrum, his appointment is seen by many analysts as a reassuring message following a historically close election that has revealed deep national divisions.

The Powell appointment is no surprise; Bush had hinted at it from the earliest days of his presidential campaign.

Powell -- the son of Jamaican immigrants -- was born in New York City and served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He is a recipient of several military decorations, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He also has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and an honorary knighthood from the queen of England.

Since his retirement from the military in 1993, Powell served as chairman of America's Promise, a volunteer organization aimed at helping young people. He is married and has three children.

The next day, Bush named Condoleezza Rice as his national security adviser, Alberto Gonzales as White House counsel and Karen Hughes as counselor to the president.

Rice, 46, an African-American, was Bush's top international policy adviser during the campaign and would be the first woman to be national security adviser.

"Dr. Rice is not only a brilliant person, she is a experienced person. She is a good manager. I trust her judgment. America will find that she is a wise person," said Bush.

She has degrees in political science and international studies and is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a public policy think tank at Stanford University in California.

Rice, who grew up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, enrolled in college at age 15.

"I did not go to integrated schools until I was in 10th grade and we moved to Denver, Colorado," she noted when her appointment was announced. She said Bush's administration will be "inclusive, an administration that is bipartisan and perhaps most importantly, an administration that affirms that united we stand, divided we fall."

Like Powell, she served in the administration of Bush's father -- Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff while Rice was a Russia expert on the National Security Council.

Gonzales, 45, is giving up his job as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court to accept the appointment as Bush's chief White House lawyer. He served as gubernatorial counsel during Bush's first term.

"Al is a distinguished lawyer. Al is a man who has only one standard in mind when it comes to ethics, and that is the highest of high standards," said the president-elect.

In announcing the appointment of Hughes, his longtime spokeswoman, Bush described her as "a woman who is frank, straightforward; she has got enormous judgment, as well."

Hughes said she had worked for Bush and his wife for six and a half years during both good and difficult times and she admires the Bushes more now than ever.

"I will work to serve you faithfully, sir. And I promise I will always give you my unvarnished opinions," she said, drawing laughter from her boss.

Time's Person for 2000: George W. Bush

There will be no recount on this one: President-elect George W. Bush was named as Time magazine's Person of the Year on December 17.

TimeAs in this year's razor-thin presidential election, the Texas governor received the nod over Vice President Al Gore. Time Managing Editor Walter Isaacson, said the magazine decided the week before that the new president-elect - either one - would receive its annual honor.

''The survivor would not only be the next president but a symbol of a historic showdown that would be remembered and cited a century hence,'' Isaacson wrote in explaining the magazine's choice.

As for Bush, Isaacson wrote, ''He remade and united the Republican Party and defeated a talented Vice President who had the wind at his back after eight years of wallet-popping prosperity.''

''His amiable demeanor,'' Isaacson continued, ''tapped into a desire to end years of meaningless partisan rancor.''

In an interview with the magazine, Bush said he viewed the close election as a positive for his administration.

''It gives us a chance to show we can rise above a divided house, that there are some issues ... that are more important than that which has divided the house,'' the 54-year-old Bush said.

Time's first cover honoree was Charles Lindbergh in 1927; last year's winner was Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. President Clinton was twice named as an honoree - first after his election in 1992, and again with special prosecutor Kenneth Starr in 1998 after the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Gore E-Truth: It's not too late

It ain't over until the Electoral College says it's over.

Despite Vice President Al Gore's televised concession and President-elect George W. Bush's acceptance, some people think that the presidency is still up for grabs.

The electors, as the past month's civics lesson has taught us all, are the cogs in the machine of American representative democracy. Even though a hundred million people voted on November 7, it's these 538 men and women who will actually pick the president on December 18.

Currently, 271 electors are pledged to vote for Bush; 267 are pledged for Gore. A candidate needs 270 to become president.

If four of them stray from their pledge to vote for Bush and instead vote Gore, the VP will become the next president. And thanks to the Web, David Enrich, a political activist from Claremont, California, thinks he can engineer this switch.

Citizens for True Democracy, a political organization that Enrich directs, has set up a site at www.votewithamerica.com that provides the names, addresses and phone numbers of 172 Republican electors who have promised to vote for Bush on Monday.

The group has "targeted" four Republican electors who, "based on their public statements, appear particularly likely to consider changing their votes," the site reads.

It allows people to contact these electors -- who live in Arizona, New Hampshire, Virginia and Tennessee -- for free via an Internet phone call through Net2Phone.

Two of the four electors' phone numbers led to answering machines, one of which reported in a chilling, robotic voice which must leave Gore supporters crestfallen: "Memory is full," it said. A third phone number responded with fax tones.

The fourth number, belonging to Arizona Republican elector Sheriff Joe Arpaio, actually got through. "Let me guess," said the receptionist who answered. "You're calling about the Electoral College?"

When he got on the phone, Arpaio said that he would most definitely vote for Bush. "I voted for him in the primary against (Arizona Senator) John McCain," he said, "and unless I die or something, I'll be voting for him again. Even then I'll be voting from heaven."

Arpaio -- who is the sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix -- said that he hadn't been overwhelmed with calls asking him to switch sides. He said that he's received "one or two calls a day and maybe a couple of letters," but nothing he isn't used to, he said.

After all, he spends a lot of his time "putting people in jail, so there are a lot of threats against me," he said.

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