News you may have missed...

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

Anti-whaling activists clash with Indians

Plans by Washington state's Makah Indian tribe to resume hunting gray whales led to a scuffle and the arrest of four anti-whaling activists who say the hunt is illegal and will lead to wholesale commercial whaling on a global scale.

Tribal police arrested the protesters for trespassing on November 1 in a confrontation that began when the four stepped onto the Makah reservation at the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society official Lisa Distefano, group photographer Jan Cook of Seattle, and members Matahil Lawson of British Columbia and Ken Nichols of Hawaii were turned over to the Clallam County Sheriff's Department and released after making statements.

Undersheriff Joe Martin said his office is not considering charges. Federal charges are still possible.

"It's a sad thing that's happened," said Ben Johnson, chairman of the Makah Tribal Council. "Sea Shepherd has been pushing buttons -- people react. People can only take so much."

The Makah hoped to kill a gray whale this fall, reviving a centuries-old whaling tradition. The tribe stopped whaling in the 1920s, after commercial whaling decimated the gray whale population.

The Makah have received international sanction and federal support for a plan to take 20 whales through 2002, a maximum of five per year. But the Sea Shepherd Society has promised to stop the hunt, worried that if the Makah are allowed to kill whales, indigenous tribes and whaling nations around the world will clamor for the same right, says the group's Paul Wilson.

It's an argument the federal government and the Makahs themselves consider unfair.

"The Makahs are hardly responsible for what somebody else does," says Brian Gorman of the National Marine Fisheries Service. "The Makah have a clear right (under an 1855 treaty) to hunt gray whales."

The Makahs may not sell the whale meat they hunt and they deny they plan to give it to Canadian tribes to sell for them. "None of this is going to go anywhere but here," says tribe member Lena Markishtum. "This is for our culture and nobody else's."

For more than a month, anti-whaling activists on boats were anchored near the Makah Reservation harbor. At midday November 1, the protesters moved in closer to shore and yelled save-the-whale slogans to tribal members, who yelled at them to leave.

Young Makah pelted the 95-foot protest vessel Sirenian with rocks and chunks of concrete, shattering a window in the wheelhouse. A dockside clash that began when Distefano stepped ashore ended with the arrests and tribal seizure of a motorized inflatable boat.

"Things escalated to a level that should not have happened," Johnson said. "We're just lucky that nobody got hurt."

Nichols' forehead was scraped and bleeding after he was forced to the ground by a tribal police officer. Commenting later, he said: "I'm sorry there's so much hostility between us."

Tribal police Chief Leonard Ahdunko blamed the protesters for the violence, which became more than he and his six officers could handle. "They wanted to provoke it. There's not a lot that I can do," he said.

Opposition to climate treaty disappearing, says Canada environment minister

Opposition to the Kyoto climate treaty is melting away thanks to new attitudes in Alberta and the Reform party, Environment Minister Christine Stewart says.

But she said Canada won't ratify the treaty for now, suggesting Ottawa is keeping its options open in case the Kyoto Protocol runs aground in the United States.

Stewart said Canadians have come to understand the threat of climate change in the year since the Kyoto conference where Canada promised to cut its greenhouse emissions six per cent from 1990 levels by 2010.

She quoted comments last year by Reform environment critic Bill Gilmour, attacking commitments made at the Kyoto climate conference in December.

"The Reform party have changed their rhetoric and now they are asking how we will meet our target," she told a meeting sponsored by the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

Gilmour confirmed in an interview that Reform's position has changed. "I guess in a way she's right," he said. "We want to see what the plan is."

He said he accepts that global warming is happening and that it would be desirable to cut greenhouse emissions - a marked shift from previous statements suggesting the whole issue was bogus.

"The reality is that we have to work with other countries to see how we can fix the problem," he said.

Canada has not released any new commitments, but federal officials say privately new money will be needed to make the process work. Developing countries are seeking financial help before they sign up.

Stewart said the Kyoto treaty probably will not be ratified by any country for another two or three years.

There is uncertainty about whether U.S. Senate will ratify the Kyoto treaty although it has strong support from the White House.

The United States is the world's largest emitter of the so-called greenhouse gases and the treaty would have little chance of success without U.S. support. Stewart said the White House could implement many of the Kyoto goals even without ratification.

She said it would be irresponsible to Canada to ratify the treaty before its trading partners do.

And these people call Matt Drudge a joke?

If you happened to go to ABC News' web site the night before the election you found that California narrowly elected Democrat Gray Davis as governor on Monday night -- a good 18 hours before the polls even opened.

"In anticipation of today's election, we were testing our election result Web pages and we inadvertently published those pages," said ABC spokeswoman Michelle Bergman. "We are taking steps to introduce a series of checks and balances to make sure it doesn't happen again."

However, it's not the first time that ABCNews.com jumped the gun. In June 1997, the Web site posted a story that Oklahoma City bombing defendant Timothy McVeigh was guilty approximately an hour before the jurors had made their verdict known in a Denver courtroom.

According to ABC News.com, Davis became the new governor of California with 2,136,058 votes (49 percent), outdistancing Republican challenger Dan Lungren (1,982,820, 46 percent). ABC News.com also reelected Senator Barbara Boxer, giving her 2,155,456 votes (50 percent) to Republican Matt Fong's 1,916,746 (45 percent).

"Last night, during an internal test, pages containing mock election data were accidentally posted to the site," read a statement on the ABC site November 3. "There was no bias intended, and the predictions do not reflect the reporting or news judgment of ABC News."

The errors were discovered by -- yes, you guessed it -- Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report, who gained notoriety for being the first to report President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. Drudge is often held up by the mainstream media as an example of how the Internet has been a bad influence on good journalism.

ABC News.com also had Republican Peter Fitzgerald leading incumbent Carol Moseley-Brown, 57 to 42 percent, in the Senate race in Illinois, and Senator Al D'Amato winning reelection over Charles Schumer in New York, 50 to 42 percent.

The results were up for several hours before ABC News realized its mistake, Bergman said.

'Cause the Body said so!

In one of the more improbable upsets in American political history, Reform Party candidate Jesse "The Body" Ventura, once a pro wrestler known for his spoiler tactics in the ring, shocked his two rivals -- Democrat Hubert Humphrey III and Republican Norm Coleman -- to win Minnesota's governorship on November 3.

"We've shocked the world," an exuberant Ventura told his cheering supporters. "Hopefully the Republicans and Democrats will take notice now. They will stop their partisan party politics and start doing what's right for the people."

The crowd swelled with enthusiastic shouts of "Jesse! Jesse! Jesse!" Many waved yellow-and-black "Ventura" signs. One sign simply read: "Ventura kicks ass!!!"

Ventura, a hulking figure with a square jaw, shaved head and deep baritone voice, told the crowd he didn't make a lot of campaign promises because, "I don't want to make promises I can't keep."

"But I'm going to make you one simple promise tonight," he said. "I promise you I will do the best job I can."

Saying the vote was a "dream come true," Ventura compared his win to that of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, a group of blue-collared, tough-nosed hacks who captured the gold medal in Lake Placid, including an improbable win over the much-heralded Soviet Union.

"The American dream still lives," Ventura said.

At the White House, Press Secretary Joe Lockhart told reporters: "Never thought that 'body slam' would become a literal phrase in politics."

Outside the Beltway, Minnesotans were proud of their new governor. Many voters were drawn to Ventura's off-the-cuff wit and his push for quality education across the state, including a return to more neighborhood schools. In one of his final television ads, a Ventura action figure doll fought off Evil Special Interest Man.

"I like Jesse because he wasn't mixed into that political scene," said Ken Purmort, a 52-year-old graphic artist who voted for Ventura.

The race was open because Republican Gov. Arne Carlson was not seeking re-election.

Humphrey, the state's attorney general and son of the late vice president, was the early favorite because of his famous name and because he oversaw Minnesota's $6.1 billion settlement of a lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

Coleman, the St. Paul mayor, was a former Democrat and Humphrey protege who switched to the GOP two years ago. He was re-elected last year. His base in normally Democratic St. Paul, combined with his electoral experience and solid support within his adopted party, made him a very serious contender in the fall.

Besides being a professional wrestler, Ventura has been a Navy SEAL, a talk-show host, an actor in movies such as "Running Man" and mayor of a Minneapolis suburb. He and his family spent the final days of the campaign on an RV tour from St. Paul to southern Minnesota and the Iron Range.

Ventura was considered an entertaining sideshow to the main event until he passed 20 percent in the polls. He told voters they could choose between two career politicians or elect a person from the private sector.

Both Coleman and Humphrey have proposed using some budget surplus for tax breaks. Ventura wanted to return all the surplus.

Coleman favored giving middle-class families tax breaks if they send their kids to private schools. Ventura wanted to expand that for all families regardless of income. Humphrey was opposed to the idea altogether.

Humphrey campaigned against using tax dollars to fund a new baseball stadium, while Coleman was for user fees. Ventura says bonds should be used.

Humphrey and Ventura supported abortion rights. Coleman said abortions should be available only in case of rape, incest or if the mother's life was in danger.

On gun control, Ventura and Coleman stood together, both favoring a measure to make it easier to get permits to carry concealed weapons. Humphrey opposed the measure.

Humphrey tried to make sharp contrasts with his opponents, saying he cared most about tax cuts for working families, decent wages, injured workers and education. He told voters that what the government would do in the next four years would dramatically affect their lives.

Humphrey described Ventura as a guy who drives a Porsche made with Brazilian steel and Coleman as a guy who pays $67 for a fancy haircut, while Humphrey said he himself drove a 1989 American-made Oldsmobile station wagon and paid $10 at a barber shop for his haircut.

Ventura spent $450 000, according to campaign chairman Dean Barkley, $310 000 of which will be repaid by Minnesota's public campaign-finance system. Humphrey and Coleman each spent $4 million.

Minnesota Republicans renamed themselves Independent Republicans after Watergate, while Minnesota Democrats call themselves the Democrat Farmer Labor party.

The DFL has controlled both houses of the Legislature since the Republicans held the House in 1986, and the Republicans have been hungry for a change.

Canada treats injured soldiers shoddily

Three plain-talking Canadian soldiers ambushed Defence Minister Art Eggleton on November 4 saying his department left them high and dry after they were injured in the line of duty.

"The government and Armed Forces have ignored us for six years minister, six years. I took a bullet for this country and waited 14 months for a wheelchair," retired warrant officer Tom Martineau told Eggleton outside the House of Commons.

Martineau, from Mount Hope, Ont., said he was shot by a sniper in Bosnia in 1994. The bullet hit a rib, a kidney and his spleen before lodging in his spine, leaving him partially paralyzed from the waist down.

When he was released from the care of military medical services, Martineau said it was a constant battle to get the least bit of help from the Canadian Forces for such things as a wheelchair and the proper psychiatric counselling.

"I've already fought a war and I was seriously wounded," he said. "I didn't know I would have another war when I got back to Canada. This war was worse."

Martineau's disillusionment echoes the findings of two internal departmental reports released this spring. One study showed levels of dissatisfaction with services for injured personnel ranging from 50 to 91 per cent.

Poor quality of life in the Forces as been a nagging problem for Defence Department officials.

At the time of the reports, Eggleton said the problems would receive urgent attention.

The minister barely got a word in edgewise as the soldiers recounted the treatment they had received by military officials. The trio, including Gordie Yeo from Montreal and Matt Stopforth from Kincardine, Ont., were invited to the Commons by Reform MP Art Hanger.

"I didn't know Mr. Hanger was going to bring you in today, otherwise I'd have been happy to get further information," the minister said.

He told the servicemen that their experience was not part of his department's policy.

Hanger had berated Eggleton in the Commons earlier in the day for ignoring the plight of soldiers who were exposed to toxic waste during a skirmish with Croatian soldiers in 1993. The servicemen say the Canadian Forces have not made any effort to check up on them.

Among those contaminated was Stopford, who also confronted Eggleton. Stopford is fighting for a disability pension after suffering from health problems he says are related to the contamination.

Eggleton said the matter is being investigated, but Stopford wasn't buying

"They already know - what are they investigating, their own work? They're right out of it, they don't care, we know that."

Clinton-Gore contributor indicted

A Tennessee developer who is a longtime supporter of Vice President Al Gore stands accused of making illegal donations to the 1996 Clinton-Gore presidential campaign and to two senatorial candidates.

Franklin L. Haney of Chattanooga, Tenn., was charged November 4 with conspiring with his administrative assistant to use "conduits" to contribute his own money in the names of other people listed on federal election records as the donors.

The 42-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury is the 14th in a Justice Department campaign finance investigation, which has also produced indictments against several prominent Democratic fund-raisers.

According to the indictment, Haney undertook part of the scheme after he committed himself to raise $50 000 by the end of 1995 for the Clinton-Gore '96 Primary Committee. That prompted an invitation for Haney to attend a June 5, 1995, event in Washington called "The Vice President Salutes the President," the indictment said.

The June 5 dinner at Gore's residence celebrated "the culmination of a six-week effort by close supporters of the vice president to raise early funds for ... Clinton-Gore '96," a document describing the event said. "This effort was conceived by and is chaired by Peter Knight," a lobbyist to whom Haney paid a $1 million fee less than a year after the dinner.

Haney said in a statement that he would be found innocent of the charges.

Gore's office issued a statement saying that "the vice president recognizes the serious nature of the charges and regrets that Mr. Haney and his family face these difficulties."

The indictment says Haney, 58, and his administrative assistant, a woman identified only as Jane Doe, came up with the plan to make illegal donations in 1991, and the next year they reimbursed five people for $1 000 donations to the Clinton for President Committee.

The indictment says that in addition to the money to Clinton-Gore in 1995, Haney made illegal donations to two unsuccessful 1994 efforts, the re-election campaign of former Sen. James Sasser, D-Tenn., and the Senate bid of Tennessee Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper. Sasser now is the U.S. ambassador to China.

Haney already is under scrutiny on Capitol Hill for paying a $1 million fee on April 1, 1996, to Knight, a lobbyist turned Clinton-Gore campaign manager. Haney also gave Sasser $1 million as part of that lobbying effort.

The Republican-led House Commerce Committee's investigative subcommittee asked the Justice Department last month to investigate the matter.

House Republicans have questioned whether the payments were illegal contingency fees based on Sasser's and Knight's abilities to use political pull to get the Federal Communications Commission to relocate to Haney's Portals development. Haney, Knight and Sasser have all denied the money amounted to contingency fees.

Canada slips in rankings of how free an economy is

Canada's Fraser Institute, in conjunction with independent institutes from 53 countries, released on November 6 the Economic Freedom of the World 1998/1999 Interim Report at the Economic Freedom Network's annual conference, held this year in the Philippines. The Economic Freedom Network conference focused on the results of the index and its importance to countries as diverse as South Africa, Guatemala, India, the United States, and Canada.

Canada hovers around sixth place, but has low rankings in several key areas. In this year's interim report, Canada ranks among the ten freest countries in the world, ranking as the sixth freest jurisdiction on the index, slipping marginally from fifth position in 1990. Canada scored high marks in the freedom to use alternative currencies, and the freedom to trade overseas, placing the country in the top three in both of these categories.

In the key categories of legal structure related to the security of private ownership, and the size of government, Canada ranks 21st and 95th respectively.

"While Canada is generally economically free in terms of our dealings with overseas investment and trade, it is clear that Canada places an undue economic burden on our citizens and on private property," said Dr. Michael Walker, Executive Director of The Fraser Institute and co-author of the Index. "The low score in the security of ownership-and markedly low score in the size of government variable-illustrates this clearly."

The study concludes that Hong Kong continues to be the most economically free country in the world. Following Hong Kong is Singapore, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. Between 1990 and 1997, New Zealand moved into the top five and Switzerland dropped out of the top five. Latin American countries, in general, fared better in 1997 than in previous measurements.

The greatest increases in economic freedom were achieved in the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Mauritius, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, and the Czech and Slovak republics (comparing both to a unified Czechoslovakia in 1990). Malaysia, Indonesia, and Venezuela were among those experiencing substantialdeclines in their rankings. Economic freedom leads to greater prosperity.

One of the most compelling results of the study is the relationship between economic freedom and prosperity. Countries that score in the top quintile of the "most economically free" countries had an average per capita GDP of US$18 142 and an average growth rate of 1.84 percent. As freedom declined, so did the average per capita GDP, as well as the average growth rate. The bottom 20 percent of economically free countries had an average per capita GDP of US$1 538 and an average growth rate of -2.10 percent.

Data from this and other studies in the Economic Freedom of the World series confirms that countries with consistently high levels of economic freedom perform far better than those with low levels of economic freedom. The research indicates that political leadership which fosters more economic freedom creates the domestic foundations for a higher standard of living and increasedeconomic growth.

Newt quits

In the face of a brewing rebellion within the Republican Party over the disappointing midterm election, House Speaker Newt Gingrich made the stunning decision November 6 to step down not just from the speakership, but also leave Congress.

"Today I have reached a difficult personal decision. I will not be a candidate for Speaker of the 106th Congress," Gingrich said in a written statement released that evening.

Gingrich told friends it is unlikely that he will return at all when Congress reconvenes in January, but is not ruling out that possibility altogether. Gingrich did say during a series of phone calls informing members of the Republican caucus of his decision that he will not serve out his full two-year term in the 106th Congress.

Gingrich's move came as a shock, as the speaker had been fighting to keep his top job up until that afternoon.

Sources say Gingrich made the choice when he was told as many as 30 Republicans would refuse to vote for him on the floor of the House. Another close associate of Gingrich said the speaker did not want to be the center of attention and distract his party for the next two years.

"The Republican conference needs to be unified and it is time for me to move forward," Gingrich's statement said.

Rumors of a leadership shakeup surfaced quickly after last month's election when the GOP suffered a surprising loss of five seats in the party's slim House majority. Just weeks before, Republicans had been confident they could add to their majorities in the House and Senate.

Earlier that day Gingrich's longtime friend and ally, Rep. Bob Livingston, announced he would challenge Gingrich for the speakership.

With his party in turmoil, Gingrich has been closeted at his Georgia home, calling dozens of colleagues to assess whether he could survive the latest leadership challenge.

Though he received support from members of the caucus he spoke with by phone, Gingrich only reached 40 to 50 people, indicating that many were not returning his calls.

Gingrich, the chief architect of GOP "Contract With America," has been a lightning rod for controversy ever since he steered his party to the majority in 1994 and took control of the speaker's gavel.

Over the past year, though, Gingrich had started to reverse his extremely low favorability ratings, which climbed from a low point of 24 percent to the 30 percentage point range. A recent CNN poll gave him a favorability rating of 42 percent.

1998 UK Big Brother Awards announced
(From the Free Congress Foundation)

The 1998 UK Big Brother Awards were held on the 50th anniversary of the writing of George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Privacy International announced winners it judged to be the modern-day equivalents of Big Brother in the novel, as well as individuals who had fought to protect privacy, awarding them Winstons, the name of the book's hero.

The academics, writers and lawyers who make up Privacy International concentrated their first awards on the UK, but plan to extend them to other countries over the next few years.

The director of Privacy International, Simon Davies, said the time was now right for the awards. "Surveillance has now become an inbuilt component of every piece of information technology on the planet, we've got a long way to go to wind the clock back. I think these awards are the beginning of a movement," he said.

The Big Brothers were given for a number of categories:

Corporation: The British firm Procurement Services International received a Big Brother award for selling surveillance equipment to Nigeria, Turkey and Indonesia, three countries whose human rights records have been severely criticized.

Local government: Newham Council in London won for using its 140 street cameras and facial-recognition software to try to pick out criminals in crowds.

National government: The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was named a Big Brother over its plans for the police to have access through a third party to the keys to any information sent electronically that was locked by encryption.

Product: Software by Harlequin that examines telephone records and is able to compare numbers dialed in order to group users into 'friendship networks' won this category. It avoids the legal requirements needed for phone tapping.

Lifetime achievement award: Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, a listening station used by the US National Security Agency and described as the biggest spy station in the world, won this special award.

None of the winners were present to accept their awards. But a video was shown at the awards ceremony of a receptionist at Newham Council receiving a Big Brother earlier in the day and of several police dragging a Privacy International campaigner out of the DTI's headquarters after he had tried to present it.

Winstons were awarded to three individuals, cited for campaigning at Menwith Hill, documenting police surveillance and pursuing a privacy case against a landlord who had installed a two-way mirror in a 19-year-old woman's apartment.

U.S. Supreme Court: Wisconsin tuition vouchers can continue

The Supreme Court is allowing Wisconsin to continue providing financial help to poor families whose children attend religious schools. While the action taken on November 9 applies only to one state, it is sure to renew a national debate on the controversial issue of tuition vouchers.

In the Wisconsin case, the justices left intact a state program that provides tuition vouchers -- good for up to $5 000 a year per child -- for students who attend private schools in Milwaukee.

Because most of those schools are religious, the state's plan was challenged as a violation of the constitutionally required separation of church and state.

With only Justice Stephen Breyer dissenting, the Supreme Court let stand a landmark Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that the tuition voucher program was constitutional because it has a secular purpose and will not have the primary effect of advancing religion.

That Supreme Court action is not a decision and sets no national precedent. But it is sure to give reinvigorate efforts by tuition-voucher backers in other states.

Congress is considering a national voucher program, and legislatures in about half the states have considered such programs in recent years.

The Wisconsin program initially allowed about 1 500 children in Milwaukee to attend private, nonreligious schools with the tuition paid by tax dollars. But the program was expanded to cover as many as 15 000 children, or about 15 percent of the total student enrollment. They can attend the school of their choice, religious and private nonsectarian alike, at state expense.

Under the program, any child in a family whose income is near the poverty level will get a voucher of nearly $5 000. The state then will cut the city's public school budget by the same amount for each student who transfers out of the system.

The voucher check is sent directly to the private school, but the parent must sign it. More than 6 200 students took part in the program this school year.

To qualify for the program, a single parent can make no more than $14 000 per year while the income limit has been set at $28 000 for a family of four.

In addition to raising constitutional arguments, opponents -- including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP -- also argued that the program would divert tax dollars from Milwaukee's public schools, thus undermining efforts to improve them.

Bermuda Labor Party wins, ends 30-year rule of conservatives

Bermuda's Labor Party swept to victory for the first time in general elections on November 9, ending the conservatives' 30-year rule.

Twenty-six of the 40 Parliament seats went to the Bermuda Labor Party and the rest to former Premier Pamela Gordon's United Bermuda party. Labor had held 18 seats in the outgoing government.

Labor Party leader Jennifer Smith, who will become the new premier, said Bermuda's residents had met their "date with destiny" in Monday's elections.

Turnout was 77 percent of the 36 000 voters on the island, Britain's most populous remaining colony with 60 000 people.

The biggest issue was the economy, which is dependent on tourism and a booming off-shore banking industry now threatened by proposals for stricter regulation.

The Labor Party, which has moved to the political center in recent years, sought to reassure the island's white-led business community during the campaign, promising to "work in partnership with the banking community, international business and the island's chamber of commerce."

The 35-year-old Labor Party had never won an election before.

Although Bermudians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world with a per capita income of $36 000, some complain of declining education standards and the lack of affordable housing on their 22-square-mile island.

Drugs and crime are also causing problems on Bermuda, which islanders still pride as one of the safest vacation destinations.

"They won. We lost," Gordon said. "We've got a lot of work to do, and if this is what the people of Bermuda need to start the healing process, then we need to get busy."

Gordon's ruling United Bermuda Party was founded by the white merchant class descended from Britons who settled in Bermuda in the 1600s and make up 35 percent of the population. Gordon is black, as is most of her Cabinet. However, the party is seen by many as part of the white establishment.

Most Bermudians are blacks of African descent.

Racial tensions dominated politics here in the 1970s, and race riots erupted in 1972-73 and in 1977.

Democratic fund-raiser Trie indicted

Democratic fund-raiser Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie was indicted by a federal grand jury on November 9 for obstructing a congressional investigation.

A similar charge against Trie, a former Little Rock, Arkansas restaurateur and longtime friend of President Clinton, was dismissed previously in Washington because a judge said it was not filed in the proper venue. The latest indictment said the alleged offense occurred in Arkansas and elsewhere.

Trie still faces charges of funneling illegal contributions to the Democratic National Committee to gain access to Clinton and other top officials.

Trie, who opened an international business consulting company after Clinton became president, frequently attended Democratic fund-raising dinners that featured Clinton or Vice President Al Gore.

He fled overseas when congressional fund-raising probes began in 1997 but voluntarily returned in February and pleaded innocent to the charges. He was released on a personal recognizance bond.

Democrats returned $645 000 that Trie either donated or raised after it was revealed the money came from questionable and possibly illegal sources. Clinton's former legal defense fund returned $640 000 in contributions from Trie.

Beijing dissidents set up opposition party

Defying a government ban, dissidents have started a branch of an unauthorized opposition party in Beijing and Tianjin, a leader of the group said November 10.

Two Beijing dissidents, one of whom was associated with the China Democracy Party, were summoned by police for questioning today, and two others had disappeared, possibly into police custody, said veteran activist Xu Wenli.

Police led away Xu's assistant, Zhang Hui, that afternoon. Wang Zhixin, a Beijing dissident who recently attempted to declare his candidacy in the city legislature, was questioned and released, Xu said.

Cha Jianguo, a vice chairman of the Beijing-Tianjin branch of the China Democracy Party, went missing that afternoon, and Lu Honglai, another vice chairman, had not been heard from since he left his home in Tianjin on November 9 Xu said.

Authorities have rejected efforts to register the party in Beijing and other regions, which would challenge the Communist Party's monopoly on power. Many associated with the group, including Xu, have been interrogated by police and warned to stop their involvement.

Defying those warnings, six dissidents including Xu and Lu issued a statement on the evening of November 9 declaring that they had set up a party branch.

The statement said since China lacked a law governing political parties, there was no need to register with the government.

A "temporary party charter" issued by the group called for an end to the communist "one-party dictatorship" and a new government that would protect human rights and freedoms.

Its platform declared members would promote justice, human rights, private enterprise, fair economic competition, the planting of forests and environmental protection, freedom of religion, autonomy for areas inhabited by ethnic groups and peaceful reunification between China and Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

Xu, who was named chairman of the group, said police also had stepped up surveillance of his home.

With many other dissidents exiled abroad, Xu, 56, is one of the most prominent democracy campaigners still left in China. He was jailed after the Democracy Wall protest movement of the late 1970s and freed in 1993, having served all but three years of a 15-year sentence, much of it in solitary confinement.

Lu Honglai, a fellow Democracy Wall activist, spent three years in a labor camp.

In October, he published an underground journal of writings by dissidents, the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China, said a Hong Kong-based group.

Imperial Oil says Kyoto deal should not be ratified

Canada's largest oil producer raised the political stakes in the battle over climate change, saying on November 11 Canada should not ratify the Kyoto climate treaty.

Imperial is believed to be the first Canadian company to go public with outright opposition to ratification of the treaty, which the federal government endorsed in principle last December.

"This is the first position of this type that I've seen," said Michael Barluk, spokesman for Environment Minister Christine Stewart, referring to the Imperial position paper.

The Imperial Oil analysis says compliance with the treaty would cost as much as $140 billion by 2010, and massive government intervention would be required to meet its targets.

"Potential actions would likely have to include a doubling of consumption taxes on transportation fuels as well as limiting families to no more than one small, fuel-efficient vehicle."

Under the Kyoto protocol, Canada committed itself to cutting its greenhouse emissions six per cent from 1990 levels by the year 2010.

The largest source of the so-called greenhouse emissions is the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gasoline.

David Manning, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, says there is range of views within the sector and most companies are trying to cut emissions.

"We share Imperial's concern that the public does not understand the total implications of this discussion, but we also understand there's a lot of public support for responding," Manning said.

Canada prepares credits for greenhouse gas cuts

Canada hopes by early next year to have a system of credits to encourage the private sector to move quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a Canadian minister said on November 11.

"We hope to have in place by early 1999 a system of tangible credits for early action," Natural Resources Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters while on a business tour that encompassed Argentina, Chile and Peru.

"That system of credits for early action is being assembled quite literally as we speak."

He added that the loans would seek to, "to send a positive message to the business community that there is no advantage in delay and there is no disadvantage in being pro-active."

He did not disclose the amount involved, saying it was being analysed.

In a pact signed in Kyoto, Japan, in December, developed nations set targets for cutting their greenhoax gas emissions.

Gore questioned on campaign finances

Vice President Al Gore was interviewed November 11 in the Justice Department's preliminary investigation of whether he and President Bill Clinton illegally benefited from 1996 election campaign ads.

"The vice president voluntarily agreed to the interview and will continue to cooperate fully, as he has done in the past, with the Justice Department's examination," Gore's lawyers said in a statement.

The interview at the vice president's residence focused on the "Democratic National Committee issue ads," the statement added.

At issue in the investigation was whether Clinton tried to circumvent campaign spending limits through the more than $40 million in advertising that was paid for by the Democratic Party but was designed to promote Clinton's re-election.

The White House believes the so-called issue advocacy ads at the center of the investigation were completely appropriate and said they had been carefully reviewed by lawyers for the Democratic Party and for the Clinton re-election campaign.

Attorney General Janet Reno will decide by December 7 whether to ask a special panel of three federal appeals court judges to appoint an independent counsel in the matter.

If she does, Clinton will have the unpleasant distinction of being the first president to be investigated by two separate independent counsels.

Justice Department investigators interviewed Clinton two days earlier.

Reno began a 90-day inquiry in September into whether Clinton and Gore benefited illegally by coordinating Democratic issue ads to assist their re-election, thereby violating federal spending limits.

Both the White House and the Democratic National Committee have previously denied any wrongdoing.

The review arose from a preliminary Federal Election Commission report that concluded the Clinton-Gore campaign violated rules governing issue advocacy ads.

FEC auditors are said to have recommended that the Clinton- Gore re-election campaign be required to repay $13.4 million in federal matching funds received during the 1996 primaries.

The Clinton-Gore inquiry is the third separate 90-day review under way related to campaign fund raising. A separate investigation of Gore focuses on whether he truthfully described to federal investigators his understanding of how campaign finance laws applied to fund-raising activities he undertook two years ago.

Hurricane Mitch shows need for climate change talks, says Stewart

Environment Minister Christine Stewart says developing countries are showing a new interest in the climate change issue following Hurricane Mitch and other recent weather disasters.

Even China and India - longtime skeptics on the climate issue - have changed their attitude, Stewart said November 12 in a telephone news conference from a United Nations climate conference in Buenos Aires.

"I sense this year in Buenos Aires a very different mood than existed in Kyoto a year ago," Stewart said, referring to the Japanese city where a global climate treaty was negotiated last December.

"I think there’s a much higher level of commitment . . . a sense that we can achieve something."

The tragedy caused by Mitch in Latin America has added to a sense of urgency, she said. A few scientists have said global warming is likely to result in more frequent extreme weather events like storms and hurricanes.

"If this is the kind of event that the scientists are talking about, that might be a result of climate change, then indeed we have a lot of work to do."

Paula Jones: 'I feel I have won'

Paula Jones claimed victory in her sexual harassment lawsuit against U.S. President Bill Clinton, after Clinton's agreement to pay her $850 000 to drop the suit.

"I feel that I have won," she said when asked about the settlement. "I think I have made an impact in the workplace and I do believe that will prevail over any of the other things in the end," she told the syndicated television program "Inside Edition" in a two-part interview broadcast in the middle of November.

Partial transcripts, released November 14 show Jones at one point in the interview sobbing and storming from the room. She said that if she could speak with Hillary Rodham Clinton, "I would just try to explain to her that, no matter who the man is, nobody can treat you like this and use you and just throw you out the door like some piece of meat."

Jones said she probably won't get the chance to speak with Hillary Clinton because "... She probably hates me."

The settlement does not call for an apology or admission of guilt from the president. It ends a four-year legal battle that spurred impeachment proceedings against him.

Jones was under contract not to speak to other reporters through November 30.

Jones alleged that Clinton, when he was governor of Arkansas and she was a state employee, made a crude advance in a Little Rock hotel room in 1991. Clinton has denied her accusation, and her lawsuit was dismissed last spring. An appeal of that dismissal was pending.

Following the settlement offer, Jones and others had celebratory drinks with real estate tycoon Abe Hirschfeld, who made a separate, $1 million offer to the Jones camp to settle the suit. The president has distanced himself from the Hirschfeld offer.

Clinton attorney Bob Bennett said that settling the Jones case allows an army of White House lawyers to focus exclusively on the House impeachment proceedings.

"The president doesn't want to spend one more minute" on the Jones case, Bennett said.

Canadian "conservatives" elect Clark as leader

Joe Clark is leading the federal Conservatives again. On a second ballot on November 15, Clark had 23 320 points in the cross-country voting, while rival David Orchard had 6 779 points. Clark needed just over 15 000 points to win.

"Our first priority must be restore the confidence of Canadians in their financial security and the way political decisions are made," Clark told supporters.

"We can change the course of Canada. We can offer a sense of purpose and of hope. The Chretien government is drifting in office . . . They took people for granted.

"We will make the Chretien government care what Canadians think."

Clark, who has inherited the fifth-place party in the Commons and one mired in debt, rejected overtures to join with Reformers to create a united alternative to the Liberal government, saying he’ll devise his own plan.

He also rejected suggestions there’s nothing more that can be done to appease Quebecers.

" We have a great deal of work ahead of us to build a country where we all feel comfortable."

Orchard, an anti-free trade crusader, conceded defeat at his Toronto headquarters.

"I offer my support and I look forward to working with Mr. Clark and to head off the Reform party’s attempt to take over our party."

Orchard said he wants the party to study the impact of a decade of free trade, but Clark made no commitment.

During the Tory campaign, Clark described Orchard as a tourist in the Conservative party. The other leadership candidates were Hugh Segal, Brian Pallister and Michael Fortier.

There were 90 100 Conservatives eligible to vote.

It was Clark’s third run at the Tory leadership he first won in 1976 but lost to Brian Mulroney in 1983.

Clark, 59, took 48.5 per cent of the votes in the first ballot October 24. All his other leadership rivals except third-place Orchard conceded defeat after that vote.

Clark became Canada’s youngest prime minister at age 39 in 1979, but his minority government lasted just six months before it was defeated on a non-confidence vote.

He ended his first political career in 1993, retiring just months before a disastrous election that saw the governing Conservatives reduced to two seats in the Commons.

Giving the black helicopter crowd what they wanted to hear

Anti-poverty and human rights groups are turning to the United Nations to help improve the plight of the poor and homeless in Canada.

Low Income Families Together, the National Anti-Poverty Organization, the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues and Nova Scotia Legal Aid headed to Geneva to argue on November 16 to a UN committee that Canada is in violation of a 1976 covenant on human rights.

Josephine Grey of the Low Income group says Canada's scaling back of laws and benefits for the poor and underprivileged has left anti-poverty advocates with little option but to air the country's problems on the world stage.

"We know the United Nations isn't in any position to enforce (the covenant)," said Grey. "But we also know Canada is very sensitive to its international reputation."

Canada recently won a coveted spot on the UN's Security Council and the has been named by the UN as the best country to live in for the past six years.

The Ottawa-based Centre for the Study of Living Standards recently said anyone who has tried to measure Canadians' quality of life has found it's worsened considerably during the 1990s, even though the economy has bounced back from the last recession.

Grey said it was "a disgrace" that there are 1.4 million Canadian children - about one in five - living in poverty, an increase of more than 500 000 since 1995.

The groups blame belt-tightening governments that scaled back welfare and restrictions on workers compensation and employment insurance for rising poverty and homelessness.

"You can't as a country take a massive U-turn," said Grey. "Especially an affluent country."

Foreign affairs spokesman Sean Rowan said the federal government takes its obligations under the UN covenant very seriously.

It recognizes "the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living . . . including adequate food, clothing and housing."

But Grey says governments in Canada - especially the federal and Ontario governments - are in violation of the covenant, which calls for the use of maximum resources available to fight poverty.

"Housing, health, education, labour rights and a healthy environment are all included in the covenant," she said. "Wealthy nations like Canada are expected to take steps toward meeting the goals of the covenant, but since Canada last reported in 1993, it has taken many steps backward."

Rowan responded by saying that submissions by people like the Low Income group are part of the process.

Representatives from across Canada appealing before the UN include Grey; Pamela Coates, president of the National Anti-Poverty Organization; Bruce Porter of the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues; and Vince Calderhead of Nova Scotia Legal Aid.

IRS workers stole millions sent by taxpayers. Now that's government theft!

An audit found an estimated $5.3 million in taxpayer money was stolen by Internal Revenue Service employees during a recent 21/2-year period, but agency officials insist such misdeeds are not widespread.

The chief of IRS service centers, Jimmy Smith, said November 16 he has no quarrel with the General Accounting Office findings but pointed out that the problems involve a tiny fraction of the roughly 25 000 employees who have some role in handling payments and refunds for about 200 million tax returns.

"The instances of embezzlement and theft are extremely rare," Smith said. "It gives us some reassurance that the safeguards we have in place are working."

The GAO, however, said the agency lacks some basic theft deterrents at its 10 service centers, such as surveillance cameras in key areas and proper tracking of receipts.

"These control weaknesses over receipts expose both government and taxpayer funds to risk of loss and can lead to an increased taxpayer burden," investigators from GAO, Congress' investigative and auditing branch, wrote in the report.

The GAO's annual examination of the IRS found that in fiscal 1997, the tax collector's financial statements were reliable for the first time since 1992. But the report released in late October said the IRS is plagued by "serious weaknesses" in its safeguards against theft or loss.

The GAO identified these shortcomings:

  • Mail sent by taxpayers is not logged until it reaches the fourth office at a service center, making payments vulnerable to misuse or embezzlement.
  • Workers are allowed to open and sort through mail without surveillance cameras present and are allowed to bring personal belongings into key processing areas. Nine theft cases from January 1995 to July 1997 involved receipts stolen in a purse, lunch box or duffle bag, the GAO found.
  • Checks are sometimes overlooked in the processing area -- 14 checks totaling $170 000 in one day observed by the GAO -- meaning they change hands several times before their existence is officially acknowledged.
  • Mail sometimes is routed unopened to less secure IRS offices, increasing the chances of misuse and causing delays of three to five days in deposits.

The $5.3 million in theft and embezzlement was identified by the IRS from January 1995 to July 1997.

It included one instance of check "cloning," in which employees stole a check for $590 000 and, using the account numbers and forged signatures, had duplicate checks made that were payable to the conspirators.

"Several of these checks were cashed before being discovered by the taxpayer and reported to the IRS," the GAO found.

One IRS employee altered a check to be payable to "I.R. Smith" and then deposited it in a personal checking account. In another case, a tax examiner with the ability to adjust taxpayer accounts used payments to issue 10 refund checks totaling $269 000 to herself using her maiden name.

The report does not indicate what happened to the employees found to have stolen money.

Besides recommending additional surveillance cameras, the GAO suggested that the IRS restrict the kinds of personal items that can be brought into receipt-processing areas and that lockers be provided for employees to store them.

Better training would prevent letters from being routed to the wrong offices, the GAO added, and security guards should not be permitted to accept walk-in payments.

Smith said the IRS is examining whether there are cost-effective ways to implement the recommendations, which also involve employee privacy and union bargaining issues.

Murdoch makes pledge to black entrepreneurs

Rupert Murdoch, accompanied by his son James, announced a $300 000 commitment on November 17 to joint programs with the organization One Hundred Black Men, committing his News Corp. to intern programs as well as financial support.

One Hundred Black Men is an association of Gotham professionals who organized 35 years ago to improve the quality of life for blacks and other minorities.

At a New York Hilton meeting, Murdoch used his turn at the podium to "promote a principle I believe in with every ounce of my being — individual entrepreneurship and wealth creation."

He noted the risk-taking inherent in entrepreneurship is "one of the few subjects on which I am a real bona fide expert."

"I can still recall the knot in my stomach," said the News Corp. chairman and CEO, "when our company’s fate rested in the hands of a single frightened banker."

The Australian-born global mogul, whose second marriage ended earlier this year, appeared remarkably fresh for having attended the funeral of his first wife a day earlier in their former home town of Adelaide.

Murdoch left no doubt that he admires the values of his adopted country: "In America, those who came up the hard way are still admired more than they are envied, emulated more than castigated. That’s the way it should be."

Murdoch also professed to be confronting obstacles not unlike those that brought the original One Hundred Black Men together in the first place.

"Countless times I’ve faced foes who thought me an impetuous or an impertinent or an upstart Australian — or far worse," he said. "I was an unwelcome addition to their stuffed-shirt business club. Well, I invited myself in anyway and that has never made me popular."

Rather than popularity, however, Murdoch said there are only two things worth caring about: "your own conscience and your record."

Livingston nominated as speaker; Armey fends off challengers

House Republicans nominated Rep. Bob Livingston of Louisiana by voice vote to be their candidate for Speaker of the House during a closed-door meeting on November 18 of the House GOP conference. Current Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas also held on to win re-nomination to the Republicans' No. 2 leadership position.

And J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, the only African-American Republican in the House, upset John Boehner of Ohio to become the new Republican conference chairman.

There was no contest for the No. 3 spot. The hard-liner Republican Whip Tom DeLay of Texas was re-elected by acclamation.

Although Livingston must still run against the Democratic candidate, Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri, the Republican majority in the House virtually assures the New Orleans native of winning election to the speaker's job when the 106th Congress convenes in January.

In a speech to Republicans, Livingston likened his new job to "herding cats," and made it clear his style will differ from that of the confrontational Gingrich.

"I want to be speaker of the whole House," he said. "We Republicans lose nothing by reaching out to the other side ... we must cooperate to move forward."

Appearing with the leadership winners and challengers in a show of party unity outside the caucus room, Livingston also tried to give the Republicans a fresh start for the 106th Congress.

"We muffed our message a little bit in the last elections, the American people held us accountable. But as Abe Lincoln said, 'A slip is not a fall,'" Livingston said with many members of his new leadership team by his side. "We may have slipped but we haven't fallen. And we are going to pick ourselves up and move ourselves forward, and advance the Republican agenda."

It took House Republicans three ballots to finally decide on a majority leader. Armey faced tough challenges from Reps. Steve Largent of Oklahoma and Jennifer Dunn of Washington.

On the first ballot, Armey was leading with 100 votes, Largent was second with 58 and Dunn was trailing with 45 votes. Deputy Whip Dennis Hastert of Illinois was nominated but did not do very well in the first vote.

The winner had to capture a majority of 112 votes, so the person who got the least votes drops out and the others compete for that member's supporters.

On a second vote Armey dropped on to 99 and Largent moved up to 73. Dunn the third finisher in the second vote has dropped out of the running and now Armey and Largent will jockey for her votes.

In the third and final ballot, Armey recaptured his seat taking 127 votes to Largent's 95.

Appearing with Dunn and Largent after the vote, Armey called the race "a merry chase."

Canada's Chrétien lectures China on human rights

China must give people the individual freedom to achieve their dreams if it wants to ensure human progress, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said during a visit to China.

In his first direct address on human rights while in Communist China, Chrétien told students at Qinghua University on November 19 that Canadians are disturbed by China's harassment of political opponents.

"I would be less than frank if I did not say directly to you that many Canadians are disturbed when we hear reports from your country of restrictions on the right to free expression of different political views," Chrétien told business students.

"And particularly when we hear of people being harassed and imprisoned for expressing dissenting political views different from the government.

"When Canadians hear of such things, the progress that China is making on so many political and social fronts is often forgotten."

He urged China to satisfy two U.N. covenants that enshrine freedom of speech and assembly and participation in public affairs and elections - the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the U.N. Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights.

Chrétien's speech was a carefully crafted address, following the lead of U.S. President Bill Clinton, who raised human rights in a visit here earlier this year.

The speech was designed to appeal to critics at home who have accused him of being too chummy with the China that shot pro-democracy students at Tienanman Square, while not offending a country the Liberal government believes is crucial to Canadian business and investment interests.

Chrétien cited Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms and guarantee of basic human rights, while dismissing the notion that Asian and Western nations cannot bridge their different values.

"Some say that the right to eat is more important than the right to speak, that collective needs must always have priority over individual rights.

"This is no more true than the converse," he said.

Chrétien did not refer directly to either the Tienanmen Square massacre in 1989 or more recent human rights cases in China, and he did not raise individual cases of detention while speaking with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji or President Jiang Zemin.

Starr says Clinton 'chose deception'

In a marathon session, Independent Counsel Ken Starr laid out his case against President Bill Clinton on November 19 then clashed with Clinton lawyer David Kendall over Starr's allegations of presidential misconduct in the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Starr told the House Judiciary Committee the evidence suggests Clinton lied under oath, obstructed justice and attempted to thwart not just Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit but Starr's grand jury probe as well.

"On at least six different occasions -- from December 17, 1997, through August 17, 1998 -- the president had to make a decision," Starr told lawmakers. "He could choose truth or he could choose deception. On all six occasions, the president chose deception."

Starr's testimony came on the first day of historic impeachment hearings by the Judiciary Committee. After he finished a 58-page statement, Starr answered questions from committee lawyers David Schippers and Abbe Lowell, House members and Kendall.

"Nothing in this overkill of an investigation amounts to a justification for the impeachment of the president of the United States," Kendall declared.

Clinton's lawyer pressed Starr on leaks of secret grand jury investigation, saying there has never been a case with so many prosecutorial leaks.

"I totally disagree with that," an angry Starr replied. "That's an accusation..."

Kendall and Starr also argued over investigators' treatment of Lewinsky in the early stages of the probe; Starr disputed Kendall when he said Lewinsky was "held" at a suburban Washington, D.C., hotel after FBI agents approached her.

"That is false and you know it to be false," Starr told Kendall.

In their questions, committee Republicans focused on Clinton's conduct, while Democrats tried to put Starr on the defensive by attacking his methods -- in particular, how Starr's investigators first approached Lewinsky at the suburban Washington, D.C. hotel to persuade her to cooperate with their probe.

Asked why his staff approached Lewinsky there and encouraged the ex-intern not to contact her lawyer, Starr said, "She was, as the information came to us, a felon in the middle of committing another felony."

Rep. Charles Canady (R-Florida) accused Democrats of trying to shift attention from Clinton's conduct by focusing on Starr's methods.

Canady said their attacks on Starr reminded him of the adage, "If you don't have an argument, abuse the other side."

Lowell, the Democrats' chief counsel, asked Starr about Lewinsky's grand jury testimony that no one asked her to lie or promised her a job for her silence about her sexual relationship with Clinton. Wasn't that unequivocal? he was asked.

"I would say it is utterly incomplete and grossly misleading," Starr replied.

Lowell also pressed Starr about why he included firm conclusions about Clinton's alleged misconduct in his report to Congress, rather than merely presenting the facts that he and his staff uncovered.

Starr said his office tried to organize what they learned into a coherent referral for Congress and defended his report. "I stand behind it because it is mine. I stand behind each word of it," Starr said.

Starr also jousted with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), who chided him for not making it known before the election that he did not have evidence of impeachable offenses by Clinton in the Whitewater, FBI files and White House travel office cases.

"You're the expert on unfair questions," Frank told the prosecutor when Starr objected to one of Frank's questions.

Some Republicans were effusive in their praise for Starr, though. "I commend you for standing up to the nonsense ... that you have had to put up with today," said Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, a longtime Clinton critic.

Starr alleged that Clinton systematically lied about his relationship with Lewinsky during legal proceedings in the Jones case and Starr's grand jury probe.

He accused Clinton of "a pattern of obstruction that is fundamentally inconsistent with the president's duty to faithfully execute the law."

Committee Chairman Henry Hyde said the inquiry was part of "the series of checks and balances that exemplify the genius of our founding fathers."

"Today the search for the truth continues," Hyde said in his opening statement. Hyde praised Starr for offering a "clear, documented, compelling case against the president."

"There are many voices telling us to halt this debate, that the people are weary of it all," Hyde said. "There are other voices suggesting we have a duty to debate the many questions raised by the circumstances in which we find ourselves, questions of high consequence for constitutional government.... What is the significance of a false statement under oath? Is it essentially different from a garden variety lie? A mental reservation? A fib? An evasion? A little white lie? Hyperbole?"

To no one's surprise, the hearing got off to a partisan start, with the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, ridiculing Starr as "a federally paid sex policeman" who was obsessed with driving Clinton from office because of his sexual affair with Lewinsky.

The special prosecutor, who listened impassively to Conyers' fierce attack, said the Clinton probe and his referral to Congress was not about sex, but "about obstruction of justice, lying under oath, tampering with witnesses and misuse of power."

Starr emphasized that his referral "never suggests that the relationship between the president and Ms. Lewinsky in and of itself could be a high crime or misdemeanor...The propriety of a relationship is not the concern of our office."

Starr moved through his 58-page statement in a calm, deliberate fashion, seemingly unaffected by Conyers' criticism. He mentioned Conyers' comments at one point, when he defended what he called traditional law-enforcement methods the Office of the Independent Counsel used to seek information from witnesses.

"It was not our place to reinvent the investigative wheel," Starr said.

Starr told lawmakers that "no one is entitled to lie under oath simply because he or she does not like the questions or because he believes the case is frivolous or financially motivated or politically motivated."

Canadian publisher says TV doesn't do good job reporting on repressive governments

Canadian newspaper tycoon Conrad Black said on November 19 that while television had focused attention on tragedies in relatively accessible places, it did not have a good record in revealing the atrocities of repressive governments.

Because television could usually report only from places where it was allowed to do so, "there are frequently irresistible temptations to trade access for favouritism," he told a forum at the United Nations on television.

"I am afraid that CNN was not entirely guiltless of this in reference to Iraq and the Gulf War," Black said. Canadian television networks were "not blameless on the same score in respect of Cuba," he added.

"They regularly gleefully report on the regime's effort to attract foreign tourists and investment, but are almost pristinely silent about those repressive policies that drove nearly 20 percent of the population of Cuba into incarceration or exile," he said.

In reasonably accessible countries, "television does have some demonstrated aptitude for focusing international attention on heartbreaking conditions," Black said, referring to famine in Ethiopia in the 1980s, and factional strife in Somalia and ethnic conflict in Rwanda in the 1990s.

But he added: "It has not any demonstrated capacity for lifting the veil on government-sponsored inhumanity or even monstrous atrocities committed in jurisdictions that go to any serious lengths to restrict television access.

"Thus it largely missed the mass murders in Cambodia, some regrettable excesses in Tibet and ... many of the most egregious actions of the government of Iraq."

Black, whose company, Hollinger International Inc. and its affiliates publish more than 175 newspapers in Canada, the United States, Britain and elsewhere, was the keynote speaker at a U.N. forum on "the future of audio-visual memory."

He said that because television was so dependent on obtaining access on the ground, "there is a natural tendency to give excessive comparative emphasis to the shortcomings of free and open societies and to leave viewers relatively unaware of the extent of abuses in efficiently repressive jurisdictions."

As an example, he said the U.S. television industry had "inadvertently defamed this country ... by inciting the inference that the great cities of America are crime-ridden urban jungles, infested by uncontrollable numbers of violent, drug-crazed criminals."

Steeply falling crimes rates in New York City made it "statistically safer than many of the great cities of Europe," he said.

Referring to the Watergate scandal, Black said the "systematic destruction of Mr. (Richard) Nixon's ability to govern was chiefly the work of television and was ... a good deal less creditable" than print media reporting at the time.

Among the consequences was "the inflammation of the ambitions of an immense number of journalists to be aggressively investigative and to confer on the Washington press corps the preposterous notion that it has some extra-constitutional authority to determine whether the chosen head of the American people is fit to serve the term to which he has been elected."

U.S. Post office recognizes Ayn Rand

It was almost too much believe. The U.S. Post Office announced that it will honour individualist and staunchly pro-capitalist Ayn Rand with her own stamp in 1999.

"The 1999 addition to the Literary Arts stamp series honors Ayn Rand, the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged," the agency said on its web site.

"Rand believed that a productive society is the result of individual freedom and effort. Her philosophy influenced all of her books and made her a controversial but respected author. The stamp art was illustrated by Nicholas Gaetano, who also illustrated book jackets for several recent editions of Ayn Rand’s books."

Tipper Gore plays for the cameras

According to a piece on the Drudge Report, Tipper Gore, the wife of U.S. Vice President Al Gore, had her appearances stage managed while in Honduras during the second week of November.

Gore was in the country to lend support to people battered by Hurricane Mitch.

"She's gonna be shovellin' mud," Nathan Naylor, press spokesman for the vice president, reportedly told the news crews covering the visit. "Then she'll wipe the sweat from her brow, like this. Make sure you get that shot, all right?"

Naylor even did the gestures, pretending to shovel with an imaginary spade then running his right hand along his forehead to brush off imaginary sweat. Pause.

According to a report by Phil Davison in the Independent newspaper of London, Tipper Gore was playing for the camera as she was praying for the camera during the visit.

"When Mrs Gore arrived, the choreography went perfectly," Davison, who was covering the damage nightmare in daily dispatches, reported.

"Well, almost. Residents did not really know who she was. Some thought she was Diana, Princess of Wales. News arrives slowly in these parts, even before the hurricane."

"As she tramped down narrow street in the slums of this barrio near Tegucigalpa, badly hit by Hurricane Mitch, she spotted an old lady shovelling thick, dark mud from the front door of her simple stone home.

"'Does she need some help. Is this where I'm supposed to shovel?' America's 'Second Lady' asked Mr Naylor. 'No, no, it's further down,' he replied."

The second lady finally arrived at the scene of her photo opportunity, a 6-foot pile of hardened mud in a narrow street.

"It was a strange pile, squarish and flattened, and it seemed odd that it had been left to block the street and hamper rescue efforts," Davison detailed.

"But to everything there is a purpose."

The wife of the vice president of the United States was ready to attack her mud pile with a spade: "I counted eight shovelfuls and, sure enough, up came the glove to flick away the sweat," Davison wrote.

"As Mrs. Gore approached, Naylor skillfully helped a television crew clamber up the pile for the perfect shot."

"Mr Naylor spun round to look at the cameras. The stills were whirring, the videos' red lights were on. His face took on the look of a man by a peat fire sipping a cognac and smoking a pipe. Mission accomplished."

Davison also wrote that Gore had aides set up a tent so that it would appear that she had slept outdoors in a show of solidarity.

"Her aides had brought a tent along. They had, of course, also rented a room in a local luxury hotel, so she nipped back there, her police escorts' sirens blaring, to freshen up before returning to her tent to sleep."

"How well she slept nobody knows. But she was up at 4.30am, long before the refugees. That enabled her to appear live on a US television breakfast show."

"Thank you, Mr. President. In Honduras we visited a neighborhood devastated by the storm. We joined the effort to clean up the school that will become a medical facility... That night I slept in a tent outside a shelter with homeless families..." said Gore on Bill Clinton's weekly radio address a few days later.

Blacks four times as likely to hold strong anti-Semitic views, says survey

Blacks are nearly four times as likely as whites to hold strong anti-Semitic views, according to a survey released November 23 by the Anti-Defamation League.

Abraham Foxman, ADL national director, blamed Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and others.

"The Farrakhan message of anti-Semitism is repeated and repeated and that strengthens and reaffirms these attitudes," Foxman said. "There are some voices of restraint. We know that responsible leadership has spoken out against anti-Semitism in the black community, but they can't make it their everyday task."

Benjamin Muhammad, a spokesman for Farrakhan, denied the charge.

"We categorically take exception to the untrue statements and the false statements made by Mr. Foxman in regard to the Nation of Islam," Muhammad said. "We are not anti-Semitic, period. And for someone to falsely accuse us of being anti-Semitic is itself an injustice."

Those surveyed were asked whether they agreed with such beliefs as "Jews have too much power," "Jews have too much influence over the American news media" and "Jews are more loyal to Israel than America."

Based on their reponses, those surveyed were rated as not anti-Semitic, most anti-Semitic, or in the middle.

Among blacks, 34 percent were listed as most anti-Semitic, down slightly from 37 percent in the ADL's last survey, in 1992. Nine percent of whites fell into the most anti-Semitic category, down from 17 percent.

Twenty-one percent of blacks were listed as not anti-Semitic and 45 percent were in the middle.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People disputed the findings.

"I find it very hard to believe that a third of all black people are anti-Semitic as this survey suggests. I think the findings are faulty," said NAACP President Kweisi Mfume.

A total of 999 people nationwide were surveyed by telephone October 12-21 by the Boston firm of Martilla Communications/Kiley & Co. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.

Overall, the number of Americans with strong anti-Semitic opinions dropped to 12 percent from 1992, when the survey found 20 percent embraced anti-Jewish stereotypes. Those identified as not anti-Semitic rose to 53 percent from 39 percent in 1992. Those in the middle dropped to 35 percent from 41 percent.

Democratic fund-raiser gets probation, fine

Democratic fund-raiser Howard Glicken was sentenced in federal court on November 24 to 18 months probation and fined $80 000 for soliciting a political donation from an overseas source and hiding the contribution.

The 55-year-old Florida political operative pleaded guilty in July to accepting a $20 000 contribution to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 1993 from German businessman Thomas Kramer.

Glicken was also sentenced to perform 500 hours of community service for violating campaign finance laws.

Glicken avoided prison time by agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors on the Justice Department's campaign finance task force when he pleaded guilty.

Glicken was sentenced by Judge Henry Kennedy in U.S. District Court in Washington, who termed the sentence "stiff, and appropriately so."

The Coral Gables fund-raiser is one of 14 people charged to date by the Justice Department's task force which continues to probe possible violations of political campaign laws by Democratic fund-raisers.

No independent counsel for Gore

Attorney General Janet Reno on November 24 rejected the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate allegations that Vice President Al Gore may have lied to FBI agents about his campaign fund-raising during the 1996 campaign.

Reno's decision means Gore will not have to face the scrutiny of an outside prosecutor as he prepares a run for the presidency in 2000.

Reno announced the decision in a 20-page letter to the federal court which oversees the independent counsel process, within hours of the end of a preliminary 90-day inquiry by the Justice Department.

"I have determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that further investigation is warranted," Reno told the court.

The Justice Department's investigation centered on whether Gore lied to FBI agents about possible illegal fund-raising calls he made from his office during the 1996 campaign.

Gore said he only made calls for so-called "soft-money" -- funds for general Democratic Party spending. But a recently discovered memo from a former Gore aide appears to contradict Gore's account. It talks about raising not only soft money for the party, but also "hard money" aimed for the Clinton-Gore campaign.

Federal law bans raising money for a specific campaign on federal property, while soft money is largely unregulated.

A number of senior Justice officials believe the memo is inconclusive and so far, no one has come forward to say Gore solicited hard money in those phone calls.

But FBI Director Louie Freeh continued to maintain there is a need for an independent counsel, citing a conflict of interest.

Gore has denied any wrongdoing and some observers say the investigation should end.

"There ought to be a pretty strong case before you even make the appointment and that case seems utterly lacking against Vice President Gore at this time," said lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

On December 7, Reno's preliminary investigation of Clinton comes to an end. The attorney general ordered the 90-day investigation of the president to consider whether issue advocacy ads run in 1996 by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in battleground states were actually thinly veiled Clinton-Gore re-election ads.

The Justice Department began the review after a Federal Election Commission (FEC) audit suggested Democrats used soft money to exceed campaign spending limits. In September White House Counsel 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."

Canada politicians, loggers lash out at Greenpeace

Accusing Canada's government of not doing enough to protect the forestry industry from a Greenpeace boycott, the official opposition party in parliament teamed up with the country's largest forest union November 24 to battle the environmental group.

"Canada's forest industry needs access to markets and that access to markets is being severely constrained by the activities of radical groups who are funded from outside the country," declared Reform Member of Parliament John Duncan.

"Our federal government has to wake up, recognize what is going on, and (fight for us) in the international community," said Duncan, who represents a constituency in the heart of British Columbia's forest industry.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups have waged an international public relations campaign against western Canada's timber industry, including a resounding call for a boycott by European and U.S. consumers.

Greenpeace contends that wildlife and watersheds are being destroyed in British Columbia by unrestrained logging practices such as clear-cutting, in which great tracts of forests are cut down indiscriminately without regard to the age or species of the trees. The group wants a moratorium on the remaining intact rainforest valleys.

Greenpeace activists have boarded ships carrying Canadian forest products to ports in Britain and the United States, stalling the offloading of cargo. They have also organized protests across Britain, Belgium and Germany against Canadian lumber and products.

Environmental groups have also protested outside 85 Home Depot Inc stores in the United States which they said sold products cut from a British Columbia coastal area that Greenpeace has dubbed "The Great Bear Rainforest."

Darrel Wong, President of the Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers of Canada, said the environmentalist's actions have hurt the industry and forced thousands of workers off the job.

"(Foreign importers) have said that they're losing interest in purchasing B.C. forest products, specifically because they really don't need the headache (of the protests)," Wong said.

He said Greenpeace is ignoring the progress made by Canadian industry to become more responsible.

Canada's opposition Reform Party said the government should impose stiffer penalties for illegal acts committed by the environmentalists, including forced repayment of money lost because of blockades of legally forested products.

They also want Canada to pressure the United States and Germany to revoke Greenpeace's charitable tax status so that these governments do not aiding the group's actions.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy said Canada is already countering the Greenpeace boycott campaign abroad.

"Canada has undertaken a campaign to promote the interests of Canadian foresters in Europe. We are certainly in the position of providing the good, strong evidence that Canada does follow proper forestry practices," Axworthy said.

However, out-campaigning Greenpeace appears an uphill battle. After the Reform party said it would hold a press conference on the issue, Greenpeace sent a nine-page letter to Reform Party leader Preston Manning, three federal ministers, several forestry company executives and all members of parliament from British Columbia to counter Reform's position.

Following the press conference, a Greenpeace campaign director tracked down reporters who attended the conference to offer the group's comment.

Duncan shrugged off the counter attack.

"I know they're very good at public relations. I mean, that's the business they're in," he said.

British court rules against Pinochet

Britain's highest court ruled on November 25 that Gen. Augusto Pinochet does not have immunity from arrest, meaning the former Chilean dictator must remain under police guard while Spain seeks his extradition on charges of murder, torture and genocide.

The 3-2 decision by a panel of judges in the House of Lords came after lawyers for British and Spanish authorities appealed an October ruling by a British High Court, which said that Pinochet should not be extradited because a head of state was immune from prosecution for crimes committed while in office.

While Pinochet supporters were stunned by the ruling, human rights lawyers and activists both in Britain and Chile welcomed the ruling as a victory for human rights.

The court decision means that the next move is up to Home Secretary Jack Straw, Britain's interior minister, who must by December 2 make the politically controversial decision whether to go ahead with extradition proceedings.

Pinochet's best hope, according to some observers, is that Straw will block the Spanish extradition proceedings, which would mean that extradition requests lodged by Switzerland, France and other countries also would likely fall away.

Pinochet and his wife, Lucia, heard the verdict -- broadcast live on British television -- in his room at the Grovelands Priory, the north London hospital where he had remained under police guard awaiting news of his fate.

Pinochet underwent back surgery October 9 during a regular visit to Britain and was arrested in his bed at another hospital.

Key issues in the appeal were whether international law and custom -- including trials of Rwanda Hutus and Bosnian Serbs for genocide and war crimes, and Britain's 1988 adoption of a U.N. Convention on Torture -- override this country's sweeping State Immunity Act passed in 1978.

A Chilean government report says 3 197 people were murdered or disappeared at the hands of secret police after Pinochet ousted President Salvador Allende, an elected Marxist.

Pinochet's lawyers argued that, although it might be morally regrettable, Britain's 1978 State Immunity Act was sufficiently sweeping to give even Adolf Hitler immunity.

Prosecutors' lawyers pointed to the Nuremberg trials of World War II Nazi leaders and recent trials of Rwandan Hutus and Bosnians for mass murder or war crimes, and said the development of international law and custom has put some offenses beyond immunity.

Canadian Tax Payers Federation launches national campaign

Representatives of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation held simultaneous news conferences on November 25 in front of billboards erected in six Canadian cities in launching a national CUT TAXES NOW! campaign.

"Taxes in this country are too high and climbing. They are killing jobs, eroding family incomes and making saving for the future
impossible. They are striping the poorest Canadians of opportunity and sending our best and brightest to live and work outside the country,” said CTF federal director Walter Robinson. "The time has come to chart a new course." In November, the CTF appealed to the House of Commons Finance Committee for $10-billion in tax relief in 1999 federal budget:

  • 10 per cent across-the-board personal income tax cut which would move the tax brackets from 17 per cent, 26 per cent and 29 per cent to 15 per cent, 24 per cent and 27 per cent respectively;
  • Immediate re-indexation of the income tax system to inflation thereby ending Paul Martin's stealth tax called bracket creep;
  • Removal of the remaining 3 per cent and 5 per cent federal surtaxes.

In its submission the CTF also highlights several deficit prevention measures and repeated its call for a Taxpayer Protection Amendment to the Constitution. The complete submission is available on the CTF’s web site at www.taxpayer.com.

The CTF's CUT TAXES NOW! campaign includes billboard advertising in nine Canadian cities, a national petition drive, lobbying federal politicians, on-line support through the CTF website (www.taxpayer.com), speaking and media presentations, and distribution of the CUT TAXES NOW! brief.

"Our campaign is a call to arms. But our efforts are meaningless unless Canadian taxpayers who have sacrificed, again and again, join us, stand up and tell Paul Martin enough," said Robinson. "Lower taxes will stimulate growth, unearth the underground economy, create more jobs and ultimately generate more money for Mr. Martin and his government to dedicate to debt reduction and program priorities."

Canadian Firearms Centre ignored 40 recommendations by privacy commissioner

On November 26, Garry Breitkreuz, MP for Yorkton-Melville, said he was appalled by what he learned from Privacy Commissioner Bruce Phillips. Phillips was responding to Breitkreuz' concerns about privacy rights violations in the new Firearms Act. "Bill C-68 is due to come into force on December 1st, and the Privacy Commissioner's response confirms my worst fears that the privacy and safety of millions of gun owners is now threatened," commented Breitkreuz. "If anyone was looking for another justifiable reason to delay the implementation of this totally flawed and ineffective piece of legislation, this is it!"

Here's an excerpt from November 23rd letter the Privacy Commissioner sent to Breitkreuz: "This past June, my staff reviewed drafts of many of the forms for the new firearms licencing and registration systems. Following this review, we provided to the Canadian Firearms Centre a total of more than 40 comments relating to eight of the forms. These comments related generally to
the fact that many of the questions appeared to be too loosely worded and that, in providing answers to these questions, applicants could be providing more personal information than would be necessary to determine if, in owning firearms, they might pose a threat to themselves or others. On September 29, we received copies of the final version of some of the forms that were made available to the public on October 1. Our Office was not aware that our comments resulted in very few changes until the forms had already been printed and distributed."

"The Minister of Justice has completely ignored the Privacy Commissioner's warnings in his 1996/97 annual report," reported Breitkreuz. Back then Mr. Phillips said, "Since the (firearms) regulations themselves provide little detail, it now appears that the only forms and schematic of the process will provide the answers - far too late to provide legal protection." Breitkreuz added, "Following their Minister's lead, her bureaucrats ignored more than 40 recommendations to improve the forms the Privacy Commissioner warned the government about a year and a half ago. The arrogance of the bureaucrats in the Justice Minister's department is absolutely disgusting," raged Breitkreuz.

"This gun registration system is going to leak like a sieve. Private information about millions of firearm owners and the guns they own is going to be an open book to criminals across Canada. If law abiding, responsible firearm owners were considering registering early, I say don't do it! Wait until the government gets its act together. Wait until your Charter right to a "reasonable expectation of privacy" is fully respected and fully protected," urged Breitkreuz.

I can't even begin to comment on the hypocrisy...

Under domestic pressure for a written apology from Japan for World War II atrocities, Chinese President Jiang Zemin hinted to Japanese lawmakers November 27 that Tokyo had not done enough to atone.

In an address to Japanese legislators Jiang said history played an important role in determining bilateral relations.

On the first state visit by a Chinese head of state to Japan, Jiang met the day before with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and received a spoken apology -- first issued in 1995 -- for Japan's World War II invasion of China.

But the joint written declaration that was expected to include an unambiguous Japanese apology merely said Japan was "conscious of its responsibility" for suffering caused to the Chinese people.

In his morning meeting with legislators, Jiang touched on the issue of Japan's invasion, referring to history as a "mirror" that was important for the future of bilateral relations.

Japanese media also reported Jiang expressed his disappointment with the communique by agreeing with opposition leader Naoto Kan that the statement did not go far enough to express Japanese remorse.

Chinese dissident groups in Beijing have demanded Jiang call for a written apology.

Many editorials and analysts agreed.

"China is sure to be upset," said Takehiko Yamamoto, a professor of international politics at Waseda University. "For China, the first-ever visit by its head of state is an extremely important event, and the apology was one of the main issues."

The mass-circulation Asahi newspaper said in an editorial Japan must "face historic facts" and that its understanding of the past must match that of the international community.

China had demanded the same sort of apology Obuchi extended to South Korea's Kim Dae-jung in October, when Tokyo issued its fullest written apology for its 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.

Many Chinese harbor intense resentment toward Japan for its invasion of China, which included widespread massacres and biological experiments. Japan's failure to own up to its past has been a big obstacle to improved ties.

The absence of a full expression of remorse in the joint statement was widely interpreted as an indication Obuchi was forced to cave in to opposition from the party's conservatives, who have strongly opposed apologies for the war.

"China is sure to come away with a impression Obuchi is unable to control his party," Yamamoto said.

One day before, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura conceded that gaps remained between China and Japan's approach to the Japanese aggression during the war.

"Japan and China agree on their recognition of history, but there are differences on nuance and handling of historical issues," he told reporters.

Japan is hoping that its promise of big loans to help Chinese economic development will offset the diplomatic set-back. Obuchi offered China new loans of 390 billion yen ($3.2 billion) for environmental, farming and other development projects for 1999-2000.

Obuchi also agreed not to support Taiwanese independence or membership in international organizations reserved for sovereign countries.

Jiang, while in Japan, met with business leaders, civic groups and students at a major university before leaving Tokyo for visits to two northern Japanese cities, Sendai and Sapporo.

Obuchi, in his policy speech to a special session of Parliament later on the 27th praised his meeting with Jiang as a "new turning point in China-Japan relations" and barely mentioned the joint declaration issued by the two late the day before, preferring to dwell on the future.

Clinton answers 81 questions posed by House Judiciary Committee

Some Republicans disappointed by President Bill Clinton's answers to 81 questions from the House Judiciary Committee about the Monica Lewinsky affair say Clinton must be more forthcoming if he wants Congress to consider censure as an alternative to impeachment.

"This censure idea, without an admission on the president's part, is a political cop-out," said Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) on NBC's "Meet the Press" on November 28. "I do not want to have an unrepentant perjurer leading the nation into the 21st century."

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) called for the president to be questioned directly in a personal appearance on Capitol Hill.

"I think he ought to have to answer questions and be subject to examination, because the answers that he gave were evasive," Specter said on "Fox News Sunday." "Let's bring the president in."

But Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican who has come out for censure and against impeachment, said that there are not enough votes in the full House to impeach Clinton -- and that the GOP is pursuing that course at its own peril.

"It's going to make it harder to get our agenda across. We have to show that we can lead, that we can bring an end to this," he said on "Meet The Press."

However, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas, who opposes censure as unsatisfactory and extraconstitutional, took issue with King's analysis that the full House won't approve articles of impeachment.

"I respect his opinion, but I don't respect his ability to count votes," DeLay said on CNN's "Late Edition." He said censure would merely be "a piece of paper."

On November 29, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, one of the first Democrats to openly condemn Clinton's behavior, called for censure in an essay in the New York Times.

He said Congress needs to make "a strong statement that makes clear to ourselves and posterity that we are a nation that understands the difference between right and wrong, truth and falsehood."

GOP critics are complaining that Clinton's responses, which were released November 27, were evasive, incomplete and did not offer much of a defense against charges lodged in an impeachment referral from Independent Counsel Ken Starr.

"(In) not one of those 81 answers could he bring himself to answer simply 'yes' or 'no,'" said Rep. Bob Barr, a Georgia Republican on the Judiciary Committee and one of Clinton's harshest critics, in an interview with CNN.

"He is so afraid of answering questions directly that even when they asked him about his oath of office, whether he took this particular oath of office, he couldn't simply say 'yes.' He had to explain it in the third person," Barr said.

Judiciary Committee member Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Arkansas) said Clinton's answers could have been "an opportunity for the president to accept responsibility for any false statements."

"That opportunity was declined," said Hutchinson, who is considered to be one of a small number of GOP members on the committee who might possibly break ranks and support censure instead of impeachment.

One top Republican aide, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said that even the smallest admission of wrongdoing by Clinton in his answers would have made it easier for Republican moderates to negotiate an end to the politically unpopular impeachment process.

"I detect among (committee members) disappointment and surprise that the president isn't mounting a more vigorous defense," the aide said, adding that without such a defense, articles of impeachment are all but certain to be approved by the committee and reach the House floor.

Barr said Clinton's answers "will be used by our staff, our lawyers and our investigators to buttress the case that the president in fact did perjure himself on many occasions."

However, one White House official called the GOP criticism predictable, adding that Clinton was in a no-win situation.

While deviating from earlier statements might have given one Republican room to maneuver away from supporting impeachment, "it would have handed eight others something new to hit Clinton over the head with," the official told The Associated Press, on condition of anonymity.

In his written answers, Clinton acknowledged once again that he misled his family, his staff, his friends and the American public.

But in several responses to the questions submitted by Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde three weeks earlier, Clinton said his testimony was "not false and misleading."

At the same time, he failed to recall many of the significant events in his relationship with Lewinsky, a former White House intern.

Asked to admit or deny he spoke with Oval Office secretary Betty Currie about gifts he gave to Lewinsky, Clinton said, "I never told Betty Currie to take possession of gifts I had given Ms. Lewinsky."

He also insisted, "I did not tell Ms. Lewinsky to lie, and I did not tell anybody to lie about my relationship with Ms. Lewinsky."

Many of the questions asked the president to "admit or deny" specific events or conversations. He usually was not as direct in his answers, and in at least 17 instances said he did not recall or his recollection was uncertain.

Clinton preceded his responses with a personal statement, asking for a "speedy and fair resolution" to the matter, which he said "long ago ceased to be primarily a legal or political issue and became instead a painful personal one."

Hyde has given Clinton an opportunity to either appear personally before the committee or send a legal representative to appear on his behalf and call witnesses. A tentative date for the appearance was set for December 8.

Kennedy said a few days later that the White House is still evaluating the invitation from Hyde.

The president's personal lawyer, David Kendall, has indicated he will be sending a memorandum to the committee, which is expected to make a detailed argument that nothing brought before the committee so far rises to the level required to impeach a president.

Democratic contributor flees country

A Miami businessman charged with making illegal campaign contributions to President Bill Clinton and other Democratic candidates was believed to have fled the country in November, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Justice Department spokesman John Russell said Mark Jimenez is considered a fugitive, but would not say what steps were being taken to locate him, The Tampa Tribune reported.

Mitchell Fuerst, a staff attorney for Jimenez's company Future Tech International, said he doesn't "hold much hope that he is coming back."

Jimenez, a 52-year-old Philippine national, was indicted in September on 17 counts alleging he made nearly $40 000 in illegal Democratic campaign contributions in 1994 and 1996. Jimenez was Florida's largest Democratic donor in 1996.

Jimenez and others in Future Tech International allegedly funneled personal and company contributions to the Clinton-Gore campaign through company employees.

The practice, called "conduit contributions," is a way of bypassing contribution limits and laws that ban companies from contributing to campaigns for federal offices.

After coming to the United States in the early 1980s, Jimenez expanded Future Tech from a small computer components distribution company to one that does more than $250 million a year in business.

Current Issue

Archive Main | 1998

E-mail ESR




1996-2020, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.