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web posted June 25, 2001

LFB presents Mark Skousen

This week Mark Skousen, author of "The Making of Modern Economics", will host Laissez Faire Books' forum discussion June 26th - July 3 on their website: http://laissezfairebooks.com.

For a preview of the discussion to come click on the link below.

http://www.laissezfairebooks.com/cgi-local/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?conf=DCConfID1

Every month, Laissez Faire Books' invites an author to its discussion board. Everyone is welcome to post questions.

Putin says he and Bush reached 'high level' of trust at summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin said June 18 he and President Bush do not agree on the security threats their countries face, but reached "a very high level" of trust during their weekend summit.

In a 2-hour interview with American reporters, Putin said the American president was a "very attentive listener" during the meeting in Slovenia and that Bush was interested in discussing the big picture of global problems. He also said Bush was "a nice person to talk to."

Putin said he and Bush agreed at their meeting two earliers to work together to identify security threats.

"Here we so far do not have a common position," Putin said, referring to security threats. He repeated that America should not move to abandon the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, saying it would have serious consequences for other treaties governing nuclear weapons.

However, Putin said: "We are satisfied with the kind of partner we have in President Bush."

During the wide-ranging question-and-answer session in the Kremlin library, Putin also said Russia does not deliver weapons to Iran that the United States or Israel could consider a threat. He also denied that Russia helped spread weapons of mass destruction.

Putin defended his policies in Chechnya, saying he would not allow the area to be used as a place to launch terrorist attacks against Russia.

He also addressed his past in the KGB, saying his work in the Soviet security forces had given him a special ability to work with people and absorb large amounts of information.

Clinton visit to Toronto causes protest

The Canadian branch of an international Jewish group is defending its choice to invite former U.S. president Bill Clinton to speak at an event to raise money for a Holocaust memorial.

Clinton's visit to Toronto on June 25 has sparked protest from several groups, including Rwandan exiles, who say Clinton isn't fit to talk about commemorating victims of genocide.

The groups say Clinton didn't do enough to stop bloodshed in Rwanda seven years ago.

''We're extremely sensitive to all of their feelings,'' Marilyn Somers, executive director of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, said June 20.

''It's unfortunate that a charitable event has been made a political forum.''

But Somers said the group felt Clinton would be an appropriate speaker because of his ''familiarity with Yad Vashem and all it stands for as well as his obvious affinity for Israel.''

Organizers hope Clinton's appearance will help them raise thousands of dollars for the construction of a memorial wall in the city's north end to commemorate the six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

Frank Diamant, executive vice president of B'nai Brith Canada, said he understands the unease within the Jewish community over Clinton's involvement given his track record with Rwanda.

But he noted that Clinton's presence creates a major fund-raising opportunity.

''I'm sure Yad Vashem did a lot of soul searching (before inviting Clinton). In the end, I hope the good will out weigh the bad and any dissension within the community,'' he said.

Protests are a given whenever a high-profile leader speaks, Somers said.

''When you bring in any person to speak who has created (a buzz) . . . there is always going to be somebody protesting,'' she said.

Clinton is expected to speak about the memorial wall project, his time at the White House and intergovernmental affairs between Canada and the U.S.

The Holocaust Wall of Remembrance will be the first of its kind in Canada. The names of 10,000 Jewish people who perished during the Second World War will be engraved onto eight granite walls.

At least one group of Rwandans living in Canada intends to picket the speech at the downtown Hummingbird Centre.

About 3,000 tickets for Clinton's appearance have been sold - at prices ranging from $150 to $250.

A corporate dinner with Clinton before the speech is sold out.

The official unveiling of the wall, estimated to cost $750,000, is scheduled for September.

This week's visit will be Clinton's second to Canada since leaving office. He spoke at a hospital fundraiser in Hamilton last month.

He is on the road for speaking engagements more than three weeks a month and is believed to earn about $100,000 a speech.

Somers said the society is paying Clinton a fee but would not disclose the amount.

US orders full FBI probe

United States Attorney General John Ashcroft has announced a comprehensive review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI.

The agency has been under criticism most recently for failing to hand over all documents to the defence in the case of the Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVeigh.

The FBI also failed to notice the alleged Russian spy, Robert Hanssen, within its own ranks for many years.

The announcement of the review came as the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the work of the FBI, began hearings into the agency's problems.

President George W Bush is currently looking for a new FBI director to replace Louis Freeh, who is leaving the post early.

Pre-empting the committee hearing, Ashcroft directed a high-level Justice Department group called the Strategic Management Council to propose ways of reforming the CIA by January 1, 2002.

The group, chaired by the deputy attorney general, should recommend actions aimed at "improving and upgrading the performance of the FBI," Ashcroft said in a memo calling for the review.

Judicial Committee Chairman, Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy, said as he opened the hearings: "The FBI has long been considered a crown jewel of law enforcement agencies.

"Unfortunately today it has lost a lot of its earlier lustre."

He said the image of the FBI for too many Americans has become one of an agency that is "unmanageable, unaccountable and unreliable".

"Its much vaunted independence has transformed for some into an image of insular arrogance," he added.

Leahy was one of several US senators to spearhead calls for a full review of the FBI after the agency admitted failing to hand over more than 3,000 pages of documents to the defence lawyers of Timothy McVeigh - prompting a delay of his execution for a month.

Roger Clinton denies pardons-for-pay scheme

Roger ClintonFormer President Clinton's half-brother on June 21 vehemently denied claims that he received money for promises of winning presidential pardons, a charge now being considered by a federal grand jury in New York.

"There is no truth to money for pardons. There is zero truth to that, zero truth," Roger Clinton said in an interview on CNN's Larry King Live.

A federal grand jury in New York is investigating the flurry of 176 pardons and commutations President Clinton granted on his last day in office, January 20.

Roger Clinton was responding to an article in the Los Angeles Times in which federal inmate Garland Lincecum said he paid a company about $235,000 for a promised pardon, and that the company has ties to Roger Clinton. The newspaper says Lincecum testified before the federal grand jury June 6.

The article says Lincecum, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence for wire fraud and conspiracy, never met with Roger Clinton but spoke to him on the phone. Lincecum told the newspaper that Roger told him, "We're working to solve your problem ... I can get anything from my brother."

Clinton, 44, said he did ask his brother for pardons for some close friends, but that none of them were granted, although he himself did win a pardon for a 1985 drug conviction for which he served a prison sentence.

He said he was hurt and angry that his friends didn't get their pardons and that he didn't talk to his brother for a while because of it.

"He'd [Bill Clinton] called a couple of times, and I didn't return the calls. I was really mad," Roger Clinton said.

He also railed at the justice system and the media.

"I am very disappointed in what seemingly is a system that allows me to be guilty until proven innocent," Clinton said. "I have been internationally labeled and branded what -- an extortionist, whatever, a drunk driver..."

Accompanied by lawyer Mark Geragos, who also represented former Clinton friend Susan McDougal -- also granted a presidential pardon -- Roger was at times restrained from talking about the Lincecum accusations.

Geragos would not say whether Clinton had been subpoenaed to testify before the federal grand jury in the pardons matter.

Regarding his February 17 arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence, Clinton said it was the result of a set-up and that police had been watching him the whole night.

"I wasn't driving erratically. That's the biggest bunch of crap I've ever heard," he said after hearing a police spokesman's written account of why Clinton's car was stopped that night in Hermosa, California.

Geragos said Clinton will appear in court June 25 for a pre-trial hearing on charges of DUI and disturbing the peace.

More teens lashing out at parents, Canadian study says

Teenagers seem to be punching, kicking, threatening to kill and otherwise abusing their parents in increasing numbers, partly because permissive mothers and fathers are not keeping a tight enough rein on their children, says a new Health Canada study.

Terrified parents should stop treating their offspring as friends and equals and begin to act as the loving authority figures they are supposed to be, says the report by Barbara Cottrell, a Halifax-based researcher.

She also says society has hidden and downplayed "parent abuse," much as wife battering was treated two decades ago, and must begin to shine a spotlight on the phenomenon.

"The abuse usually begins with verbal abuse. For most parents, the abuse is a daily occurrence that follows a pattern, usually with the child showing no signs of remorse or guilt," said the study.

"We have to break the silence that surrounds it. Because parent abuse is still not recognized, it is often considered acceptable behaviour."

The report, submitted to Health Canada earlier this year, is a follow-up on Ms. Cottrell's first examination in 1996, which was based on interviews with more than 100 parents, teenagers and child- welfare experts in Nova Scotia.

To prepare the updated report, which had been requested by the Health Canada, she interviewed another group of parents and social workers.

Many professionals believe parent abuse is increasing, the new study says. But police and shelters keep no statistics on the phenomenon and, outside of the study, there has been little research on the problem, Ms. Cottrell wrote.

Dr. Michael Seto, a psychiatrist at the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health whose specialities include young offenders, said he did not know much about the subject and could not name an expert who would.

"It's not studied widely," said Dr. Seto.

The report said both boys and girls can be abusive toward their parents, but mothers are more likely to be the victims, perhaps because they are seen as more vulnerable.

The physical abuse can include hitting, slapping, kicking, shoving, breaking things, punching holes in walls, throwing objects or spitting. They can also engage in psychological and emotional "terrorism," which includes threatening to injure, maim or kill their parents, yelling and swearing, and playing mind games.

The report also cited financial abuse, such as outright theft from parents, selling family possessions and demanding their guardians buy items they clearly cannot afford.

Children sometimes lash out at their parents because they have never faced clear rules and guidelines for their behaviour, the study says. The lack of control can leave the teenager fearful, prompting them to misbehave, wrote Ms. Cottrell.

Parents of the baby-boom generation often feel they should treat their children as friends, not as dependents who need their authority and guidance, the study said.

The report recommends that parents set clear limits for their children and enforce them resolutely. When abuse happens, they should consider calling police, which has proven to be an effective deterrent, said Ms. Cottrell.

Bush threatens to veto patients' bill of rights

Saying the measure would encourage unnecessary lawsuits and drive up the cost of health insurance, President Bush issued a formal veto threat on June 21 against a Democratic-backed patients' bill of rights.

"The president believes that patients should be given care first - litigation should be the last resort," the administration said in a written statement that also reiterated Bush's desire to sign legislation this year that provides "strong patient protections."

Bush's threat drew a tart rebuttal from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and other supporters of the measure that Democrats have made their first order of business since gaining a Senate majority a few weeks ago.

Kennedy, D-Mass., accused the president of taking "exactly the HMO line," and said it was disappointing he had vowed to "veto comprehensive patient protections supported by virtually every group of doctors, nurses and patients. The president should stand with them and not with HMOs and insurance companies."

Republicans privately expressed relief over the president's actions, saying it would make it easier for them to build support for less expansive proposals in both the House and Senate. One senior GOP aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the White House had been lobbied by congressional Republicans who feared the president might not state his position forcefully, and thus undercut their own efforts.

The legislation would strengthen the hand of patients dealing with HMOs by guaranteeing them access to emergency treatment, medical specialists and other types of care.

It also would give patients the right to sue HMOs for denial of care in federal or state courts, and to seek punitive damages - an issue sparking much of the controversy surrounding the legislation. One provision strongly opposed by Republicans would permit patients to sue before completion of an appeal of an adverse HMO decision on medical treatment.

The maneuvering overshadowed the day's debate on the Senate floor, where Republicans advanced an amendment to make the cost of health insurance fully tax-deductible for the self-employed beginning Jan. 1. Current law provides for full deductibility on Jan. 1, 2003.

Even that move underscored the political stakes involved in the patients' rights debate. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark., who faces a difficult re-election contest next year, was the principal sponsor of the politically popular amendment.

"This amendment addresses specifically how we can decrease the number of uninsured," he said. He added that roughly 25 percent of the nation's self-employed are without health insurance - more than 3 million people - in part because coverage is too costly. Corporations already are permitted to fully deduct the cost of insurance they provide their workers.

The bill's supporters dismissed the amendment as a ploy to sink the bill.

They noted that it runs afoul of a constitutional requirement for tax measures to originate in the House, and said it would also trigger a provision under Congress' budget rules requiring 60 votes for passage. That's the same level of support needed to overcome a filibuster, but Republicans have generally said they don't plan to mount a traditional filibuster.

Hutchinson read Bush's statement aloud on the Senate floor.

The president believes the bill "would encourage costly and unnecessary litigation that would seriously jeopardize the ability of many Americans to afford health care coverage," it said. "...The president will veto the bill unless significant changes are made to address his major concerns."

The administration's statement said the measure would expose employers and unions to different and inconsistent state-law standards in the event of a lawsuit, and also would create "open-ended and unpredictable lawsuits" against employers.

Led by Kennedy, Sen. John Edward, D-N.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz., supporters swiftly answered Bush's charges.

Edwards said an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office indicated that relatively little of the increase in cost would result from the lawsuit-related provisions, and accused Republicans of trying to "move the focus" away from the patient protections embedded in the legislation.

"It has to do with quality of care. When you get better care...it does cost a little bit more money," he said.

The Senate debated its legislation as House Republicans signaled a delay in drafting their own measure. In a concession, GOP leaders agreed earlier last week to accept a new right to sue HMOs in state court in limited cases.

"This is a slow process. I expect we'll have it out sometime in July," said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who had earlier said a vote by the full House might be possible by the end of this week.

Bush names conservative to liberal appeals court

President Bush nominated conservative Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl on June 22 to a federal appeals court considered among the most liberal in the country.

The White House announced that Kuhl of Los Angeles County Superior Court is Bush's choice for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.

Kuhl must be confirmed by the Senate, where Barbara Boxer, D-California, signaled that Kuhl would face tough scrutiny.

In a statement, Boxer said she has heard from numerous constituents who oppose Kuhl. "These letters and calls raise a number of issues important to Californians including: the right to choose, civil rights, representation of tobacco companies, privacy rights and whistleblower protection," Boxer said.

"I am continuing to evaluate this nomination," she added.

California's other Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein, promised not to block a vote on Kuhl. Feinstein had raised objections with the White House after it floated Kuhl's name for the federal bench without consulting California lawmakers.

Feinstein has since "had a chance to discuss it with the White House and now she wants to hear the full case for Judge Kuhl and make a decision," said the senator's spokesman, Howard Gantman.

If confirmed, Kuhl, would lend some right-leaning weight to the California appeals court.

Also on the same day, Bush nominated Hawaii attorney and Republican partisan Richard R. Clifton to the Ninth Circuit, which includes not only the Western states but also Hawaii.

Clifton, who has been a partner in the firm of Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright since 1977, also has served as volunteer attorney for the local Republican Party in Honolulu and as legal counsel for GOP gubernatorial candidates in Hawaii.

Castro falters during speech

Two hours into a speech that was being broadcast live to the nation on June 23, Cuban President Fidel Castro suddenly appeared faint and was led away from the podium by his bodyguards.

Castro rubs his eyes seconds before his bodyguards led him from the podium
Castro rubs his eyes seconds before his bodyguards led him from the podium

Castro, 74, who is famous for talking as long as five hours without a break and without water, started his remarks at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Dressed in his traditional garb of battle fatigues, at 11:20 a.m. EDT, his speech slowed and he appeared to be groping for words.

As the camera cut away to pictures of the crowd, he was escorted to a seat, where he remained for several minutes. Hundreds of people in the crowd watched initially in confusion, and then began chanting, "Fidel! Fidel!"

A Cuban official then tried to calm the crowd and exhorted them to raise their flags. He said Castro had participated in the dedication of a new ballet school the night before and had not eaten or slept.

A few minutes later, Castro resumed his remarks. "I'm okay," he said to applause. "Don't worry." He said he would finish his speech later in the day "when it's not so hot. I have things to say, and I want to finish."

He then concluded with his trademark closing phrase: "Patria o muerte -- Venceremos!" ("Fatherland or death -- We will overcome!")

In his speech, Castro denounced the conviction of five Cuban spies in Miami, Florida, earlier this month.

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