Got an item about liberal lunacy? Conservative success? Send it in to ESR's Tidbits section!
web posted January 31, 2000
China stole Canadian nuclear secrets, newspaper says
Chinese spies stole Canadian nuclear secrets over a 20-year period to build an illegal copy of a research reactor that Beijing is now marketing around the world, the Globe and Mail newspaper said January 24..
The Canadian daily newspaper, quoting security sources, said Beijing had sent one of its best spies to Canada in the late 1960s to cultivate contacts among nuclear laboratory workers developing the so-called Slowpoke reactor.
As part of the information-gathering campaign, Chinese nuclear institutes invited Canadian exporters to visit and often asked them for important tips and hints.
A Chinese official also visited the headquarters of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) and -- claiming Beijing might want to buy the Slowpoke -- asked detailed questions about how the reactor worked.
"The Chinese pretty much picked the place clean," the newspaper quoted a security officer as saying.
The Globe and Mail said it was not until a University of Toronto scientist saw a virtual carbon copy of the Slowpoke reactor near Beijing in 1985 that Canadian security officials realized how successful the spying operation had been.
Canada subsequently gave up trying to market the reactor. But China has sold its version of the Slowpoke to Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Nigeria and India.
The Slowpoke -- or Safe Low-Power Critical Experiment -- is smaller than AECL's Candu reactor. Canada has sold two Candus to China in a deal worth C$4 billion ($2.7 billion).
An AECL spokesman said the loss of the technology did not pose a national security threat because the Slowpoke had no military applications.
Gore, Bush victors in Iowa caucuses
Vice President Al Gore won Iowa's Democratic caucuses by a wide margin, while Texas Gov. George W. Bush won the Hawkeye State's GOP caucuses, followed by millionaire publisher Steve Forbes.
Based on analysis of entrance polls -- conducted before voters entered caucus places to cast their votes -- CNN estimated that Gore defeated former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley by a nearly two-to-one margin.
With 61 percent of Democratic precincts reporting the night of January 24, Gore was ahead with 65 percent of the vote to 35 percent for Bradley.
Nearly complete official returns placed Bush well ahead of his five fellow Republican hopefuls.
Millionaire publisher Steve Forbes finished second in the GOP field, while conservative talk show host and former ambassador Alan Keyes was in the coveted third spot amongst Republicans, according to estimates.
With 94 percent of the Republican precincts reporting, Bush had a vote tally of 41 percent, Forbes 30 percent, and Keyes 14 percent.
"It's a little better than I anticipated," Bush said on CNN's "Larry King Live."
"I am thrilled with this record-shattering victory," Bush said to supporters at a post-caucus hotel celebration. "I am grateful and I am humbled. It is a victory of message and organization."
Bush told his Iowa faithful, "Seven months ago, I came to Iowa on a plane dubbed 'Great Expectations.' Tonight, Iowa has exceeded them."
Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has eschewed campaigning in Iowa to concentrate on the New Hampshire primary, was in fifth place with 5 percent of the vote, behind fourth-place conservative activist Gary Bauer, who had 9 percent. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch was in last place with just 1 percent of the vote.
Asked by CNN's Larry King to comment on his estimated results, McCain, speaking from New Hampshire, quipped, "That's 5 percent more than I thought I was going to get."
"We're looking forward to the playoffs that are going to begin tomorrow," McCain said of the New Hampshire primary. "I'm sure the folks in New Hampshire aren't going to be affected much by the Iowa caucuses."
A jubilant Forbes addressed well wishers after learning of his second-place finish, saying the evening was "great," and he was ready for the challenges ahead.
After introducing three of his five daughters to the crowd, Forbes described himself as a successful father who had shepherded four of those daughters through their crucial teen-age years.
"Anyone who can guide young women through the treacherous, dangerous teen-age and adolescent years is ready for the adolescent politicians in Washington," Forbes said.
I couldn't be happier and more excited," Forbes told CNN later in the evening. "It demonstrates that ideas matter."
Speaking of his third-place finish, Keyes told CNN, "I think it will indicate that there are a lot of people in Iowa and around the country who will believe in the message of moral principles."
Gore swas "extremely encouraged" by entrance polling showing him with a 2-1 advantage over Bradley, and was preparing to focus more and more on the economy as the campaign shifts to New Hampshire.
Gore and his wife, Tipper, watched television coverage of the projections, and a cheer broke out in their hotel suite as Gore was projected a a winner, the aides said. Gore then made two key telephone calls, one to New Hampshire's Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, and a second to President Bill Clinton, who congratulated the vice president, and advised him to focus on the economy when campaigning in New Hampshire through the rest of the week.
Speaking at an energetic post-caucus rally, Gore thanked his supporters for "the biggest victory in the history of the contested caucuses here in Iowa."
"We've just begun to fight," Gore said. "This evening, at midnight, we'll take off for New Hampshire. We'll arrive at 3:30 in the morning, and at the crack of dawn, I'm going to hit the ground running and campaigning hard in the state of New Hampshire."
An upbeat Bradley congratulated Gore for his victory, and said though he was bloodied by Gore in the caucuses, he was unbowed.
"I've always said that running for president requires a mixture of humility and confidence," Bradley said. "Humility because the job is such an awesome undertaking, and confidence because you must know that you are up to it.
"Tonight, I have a little more humility, but no less confidence that I can win and do the job," he said.
Despite the weeks of hype leading up to the Iowa caucuses -- the true kickoff of the presidential election season -- most of Iowa's eligible voters chose to forego the opportunity to vote.
Its estimated that only 8.3 percent of the state's voting age population actually turned up at caucus voting places, with 3.5 percent of these attending Democratic gatherings, and 4.8 percent turning out for the Republicans.
The last time Democratic hopefuls slugged through a contested primary in 1988, 5.9 percent came out to vote for the five-candidate field. In 1996, 4.6 percent of the voting age population participated in the Republican caucuses.
Canada's RCMP was to have rounded up Communists
The Mounties planned to round up more than 1 000 "subversives" - including young children - at the outbreak of a third world war and place them in internment camps, newly disclosed documents show.
The Cold War-era plan, abandoned only in 1983, targeted leading Communists who were to be locked inside three federal prisons in Ontario and Alberta.
"The present number of persons who would be arrested as subversives in the event of a national emergency are 588 males and 174 females," says a 1970 memo from the RCMP.
"The type of person involved is not likely to be violent, dangerous or inclined toward escaping."
The documents, obtained under the Access to Information Act, show that the war internment plan was first drawn up in the late 1940s but was revived and expanded from 1969 to 1971.
The RCMP had 762 people on their to-be-interned list in 1970, including 13 children under the age of 11 and 23 between the ages of 12 and 16.
Most were from the Toronto area, though no names are included in the released material.
The group was primarily made up of people deemed "prominent Communist functionaries" by an RCMP Security Service program known as Profunc.
Those under 17 were likely the children of the target internees, and were referred to disparagingly by the Mounties as "red diaper babies".
The plan was to round up these so-called subversives quickly and place them in temporary custody while three federal prisons were emptied of their inmates.
A prison in Drumheller, Alta., was to be used for the west, and another in Warkworth, Ont., for the rest of the country. Women, however, were to be placed in the Joyceville, Ont., penitentiary, near Kingston.
"Mothers with babies at breast will be accommodated in the Joyceville Institution hospital area and . . . their children must in the first instance be placed with relatives or with Children's Aid Societies," says one 1969 document.
The existing prison population across the country would be thinned out by freeing non-violent inmates with less than a year left in their sentences. By shuffling the remaining prisoners, the three Alberta and Ontario prisons could be vacated within 10 days to become internment camps.
The Mounties had approval to lock up 762 people in 1970 but argued they would likely add more after cabinet invoked its extraordinary powers under the War Measures Act.
"There are approximately another 300, although not approved at present, they would no doubt be approved in time of war."
Rules for the camps were detailed in an RCMP manual that outlined procedures for everything from mail censorship to punishment.
"Punishment Diet Number One shall consist of water as required and one pound of bread per day," says an edition of the manual from the 1960s.
"Punishment Diet Number Two shall consist of water as required and, for each day, eight ounces of bread for breakfast . . . four ounces of oatmeal, eight ounces of potatoes and salt, for dinner and eight ounces of bread for supper."
The internment plan was abandoned at the order of the justice minister in 1983, the documents show. The reasons are not specified, though it may have been linked to the creation in 1984 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service which took over many RCMP Security Service functions.
The revival of the Communist internment plan in the late 1960s may have been the Mounties' response to student protests, black power and Quebec separatist agitation, says a historian.
"There's this mindset going into the 1960s where Communism is a top threat," said Steve Hewitt, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan who is writing a book on the RCMP and subversion.
"And the RCMP Security Service is like an elephant charging in one direction. . . . It's very difficult for it to change its mindset, to get away from this red-and-white world and realize there are these other threats."
A retired Security Service officer said Canada faced a genuine threat from Communist subversives, but not so serious as to require an elaborate internment plan.
"It was a serious case of the RCMP Security Service carrying a huge tar-and-feather brush much too far," Peter Marwitz said from Ottawa.
Davidian prosecutor stepping down
The federal prosecutor who was removed from the Branch Davidian case after raising questions about a possible government cover-up is resigning, saying Justice Department leaders have been "less than forthright."
U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston said he is leaving his job as chief federal prosecutor in Waco in two weeks to practice civil law. While he said he needed a break, he also referred to the Davidian controversy.
"There's no secret I've been frustrated by the Department of Justice," Johnston said in the January 25 edition of the Waco Tribune-Herald. "The vast majority of people in the agency are great people. But at the leadership level, I feel some people have been less than forthright."
Johnston, 40, helped draft the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms search warrant that became the basis of the 1993 raid and ensuing 51-day siege at the compound near Waco. He later helped convict nine Davidians.
He was removed from the case last fall 10 days after sending a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno in which he warned that he had seen documents indicating that government lawyers had known for years about pyrotechnic grenades being used during the standoff.
The FBI has admitted that incendiary devices were used, but denies starting the fire on April 19, 1993, in which Davidian leader David Koresh and about 80 others perished.
Johnston, appointed an assistant U.S. attorney in 1987, also drew criticism from many inside the Justice Department last spring when he allowed Mike McNulty, one of the producers of the Oscar-nominated documentary "Waco: Rules of Engagement," to tour a locker where Davidian evidence was stored.
McNulty reported finding FBI projectiles, which he said were capable of starting a fire.
Meanwhile, FBI employees have reportedly testified that flashes seen in an infrared surveillance video of the siege are "glint," not gunfire.
The Tribune-Herald reviewed the statements of 20 FBI employees, including technicians, pilots and infrared video operators. The agents were deposed for the upcoming wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the government by surviving Branch Davidians and their families.
The agents were not identified, the newspaper reported.
In one deposition, a pilot who flew the plane carrying the video camera said "glint" was "an unexplained phenomenon" that sometimes appears on infared tape during the day. Another FBI employee likened the flashes to the shine from a car fender or hood.
Plaintiffs' attorney Michael Caddell attacked the theory.
"How did we distinguish between a glint and something else?" Caddell asked during a deposition. "Is it a glint when it might have otherwise been gunfire from an FBI agent?"
Echelon 'proof' discovered
References to a project Echelon have been found for the first time in declassified National Security Agency documents, says the researcher who found them.
After combing through declassified National Security Agency documents, Jeffrey Richelson, a researcher for the National Security Archives, has concluded that Echelon -- the purported name of the alleged international project for intercepting all forms of electronic communication -- does exist.
"[The documents] provide government confirmation of the Echelon program," Richelson said.
At the same time, Richelson said the documents indicate that it may not have nearly the illicit scope and nature held by some of the more extreme conspiracy theories regarding Echelon.
"My research suggests that it's much more limited than the extreme cases make out," he said.
In fact, Richelson said he doubts the agency has overstepped any legal bounds in executing the Echelon program.
Intelligence watchdogs suspect that national agencies worldwide -- led by the NSA and others -- are intercepting and handing off private communications among citizens to each other.
Richelson found the telling information in a mountain of documents he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Some he obtained as recently as the last six months. Others he's had for years. He published his findings on the Web for the first time last week.
One of the documents Richelson highlights for its specific reference to project Echelon pertains to the functions of naval security group activity in Sugar Grove, West Virginia.
Richelson said documents make clear that a program called Echelon is associated with the Sugar Grove installation.
Echelon has been described by privacy groups as a global surveillance network that intercepts all kinds of communications for redistribution among the primary partners in a decades-old UK-U.S. alliance that also includes Australia and New Zealand. But Richelson said that the vision is probably far bigger than the reality.
"Echelon is a more limited program," he wrote on his site.
Those limitations, he said, include restrictions imposed on collection activities by the UK-U.S. allies regarding the citizens of those countries.
"Thus, the [Naval instruction document] also specifies that one of the responsibilities of the commander of the Sugar Grove site is to 'ensure [that] the privacy of U.S. citizens are properly safeguarded pursuant to the provisions of USSID 18."
The agency's public affairs office did not respond to email seeking comment on the findings. The office has consistently declined to comment on Echelon-related developments.
Last week, however, Michael Jacobs, deputy director for information systems security at the NSA, bristled at the notion that his agency would spy on U.S. citizens. Strict internal policies, he said, prevent the agency from doing such a thing.
"That is not our job," Jacobs said. "We take those restrictions very seriously."
Steven Aftergood, who edits the Secrecy & Government Bulletin Project on Government Secrecy Federation and has been following the Echelon story, accepts Richelson's findings and conclusions.
"Is this reference to activation of Echelon units a reference to what we have to come know and love as the Echelon network? I would say it appears so," Aftergood said. "That's what Richelson is asserting and I buy it."
So is it a big deal?
"It's interesting because I don't know of any other official government documents that make reference to Echelon by name," Aftergood said. "It's certainly interesting from that point of view."
But he, like Richelson himself, sees no smoking gun.
"I don't think this document in itself raises any significant questions. The fact that there is such a network with various stations around the globe ... that's entirely non-controversial," Aftergood said.
"It does not get into other aspects of the Echelon mythology such as its use for domestic surveillance, economic espionage, or other questionable activities. So from that perspective it doesn't create any new questions."
Hillary Clinton raises gender issue in explaining criticism
Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested on January 25 that some people may dislike her because she is a woman in public life -- or maybe it's her hairdo.
She later said she was kidding about the gender remark but added that "it would be great if New York joined the rest of the country in electing a woman statewide."
New York has never elected a woman running alone to statewide office, though three have been elected lieutenant governor as part of a single ticket with a governor.
The state's current governor, Republican George Pataki, said after being told of Mrs. Clinton's remark: "I don't think gender has anything to do with it."
Pataki, a supporter of New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the Republican expected to oppose Mrs. Clinton, a Democrat, in the Senate campaign this year, said:
"When you don't live in a state, I don't care what your gender is, it's a legitimate issue. When you have certain philosophical positions that are, I believe, out of touch with the vast majority of New Yorkers, that's a legitimate concern."
During a morning interview with Albany's WGY-AM radio, Mrs. Clinton was told, "In certain circles, just mention your name and you've got foaming at the mouth."
After laughter from the first lady, morning show host Don Weeks asked if she "ever tried to understand that venom and does it bother you?"
"I know that it's out there and I think some of it is because of the positions that I've taken and maybe a little of it is because I'm a woman taking those positions," Mrs. Clinton said. "And, maybe some of it is people don't like my hair style. I don't know what it is."
Some recent polls have shown Mrs. Clinton running almost even with Giuliani among female voters. Given that, independent pollster Lee Miringoff said it would be logical to try to appeal to women voters by portraying herself as a victim of gender discrimination.
"There's been an eroding of the gender gap," the head of Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion said. "Clearly, she needs to win and win big among women to be successful."
On another topic, Mrs. Clinton said she had received a warm welcome from her new neighbors in suburban Westchester County but had "taken every chance I could to apologize to my neighbors because there are satellite trucks and errant press people tromping through their backyards with their telephoto lenses.
"Don't tell anybody this, but I don't have any curtains yet so, gosh, I don't know what they might be seeing," she added.
Mrs. Clinton also stole a phrase from her husband as she discussed her adopted state's high energy costs, stiff property taxes and hefty in-state airfares.
"Now that I'm a resident, I can share your pain," she said.
Hallway huggers told to back off at Canadian school
The simple act of hugging has been added to the scurrilous list of playground faux pas at a Manitoba elementary school.
Donna Kormilo, principal of the Gimli Early Middle School in Gimli, just north of Winnipeg, said on January 25 her students have been told to stop the hugging and resort to alternatives such as a patting on the back, shaking hands, or giving "high-fives."
Hugging in the hallways, she said, was getting out of hand.
"We were having groups of students gather in the mornings and at recesses and proceed into these big hugging chains, and were causing disruptions," said Kormilo, who added that students were blocking the narrow hallways.
"We want them in time for class. We want them prepared to learn and behave in a respectful way for the younger students."
When the announcement was made by the school principal over the public address system before Christmas, it immediately sparked classroom debate, especially among older students.
Because the school teaches students from kindergarten to grade eight, the principal said it was important that the older students act as role models for the younger ones.
"We realize that a caring touch is necessary," she said.
Kormilo also admitted that the classroom environment has become more prohibitive over the years, especially for teachers, but said it was necessary in creating a comfortable learning environment.
"I would say over the years I have become more hesitant to freely give hugs or touch," she said.
© 1996-2018, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.