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Clinton symbolizes what's wrong: Poll

Americans consider President Clinton to be "the person who most symbolizes what is wrong with the nation."

So says a recent poll conducted for Shell Oil Company by Peter D. Hart Research Associates. Clinton got 30 percent of the vote in the phone poll of more than 1 200 randomly selected people over 18, edging out Jerry Springer (27 percent) and Linda Tripp (12 percent), Larry Flynt (9 percent) and Mike Tyson (8 percent).

The president also did poorly as a role model for today's youth, with just 1 percent of the vote -- trailing Hillary Clinton at 6 percent. Colin Powell put everyone to shame with 24 percent of the role-model vote, beating Pope John Paul II (19 percent), Michael Jordan (18 percent), Oprah Winfrey (11 percent) and Mark McGwire (9 percent).

What's more, 34 percent of the pollees considered Clinton's caper with Monica Lewinsky to be "the most powerful symbol of America's declining values."

Ottawa to let pot ruling stand

A court ruling that grants a dying man the right to use marijuana - but not buy it - is consistent with Ottawa's policies, Health Minister Allan Rock said on May 11.

Rock said the government will not contest a decision allowing Toronto AIDS patient Jim Wakeford to smoke and grow marijuana legally.

"I've read the judgment, I don't want to appeal it," Rock said in Ottawa.

But Wakeford said the ruling doesn't go far enough because he can't just buy it.

"Even though I have the right to cultivate, I don't necessarily have the knowledge. And I'm going to need help," he said.

Two of his caregivers face charges of possession and trafficking and Wakeford wouldn't say how he comes by his pot now.

"I'm not a rat."

Wakeford's lawyer said Ottawa has to address the supply issue, perhaps by growing the marijuana itself.

"They're the ones who made it illegal so they're the ones who have to take some action," said Alan Young, noting how important the hardy weed is to his client.

"This isn't about Cheech and Chong getting together to smoke a joint," Young said.

"Because Jim can access marijuana, this should prolong his life, because it fights the wasting, stimulates his appetite. The biggest danger Jim has is simply wasting away."

Rock has previously promised to explore the use of medicinal marijuana and said he would outline his plans for clinical trials in June.

"We're going to start research. We're going to start clinical trials. We're going to start making marijuana available to people for medicinal purposes by the end of June."

But Young said Rock's timetable may be unrealistic.

"I happen to know (Rock) has not yet secured a lawful supply of marijuana," he said. "So I don't know how he can promise Canadians clinical trials."

Young estimated about 20 applications to be allowed to use medicinal marijuana are currently before the federal government. He said he hopes the Wakeford ruling prompts the feds to act quickly so they don't also have to resort to the courts.

The ruling made Wakeford the second Canadian legally able to smoke marijuana but it's considered significant because it came from the Ontario Superior Court.

Toronto epileptic Terry Parker won a similar ruling from a lower court in November 1997 which the Crown appealed on the grounds that marijuana is still illegal even if it is therapeutic for some people.

That appeal is still pending.

Gingrich blasts administration, media and Hollywood on Kosovo and Littleton

From Kosovo to Columbine High, from the Clinton Administration to the media and Hollywood, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had a lot to tell a woman's group on May 12.

On Kosovo, Gingrich said the U.S looks like a violent, helpless, pathetic country.

"Instead of Theodore Roosevelt's 'talk softly and carry a big stick,' we have yelled and carried a toothpick," said Gingrich. "And what has happened? The people we are protecting are driven out or killed or raped, the people that are under the shelter of the U.S. are no longer in Kosovo."

"The Serbians accepted a brutal choice; we get to kill them and they get to kill Albanians," he said. "The Russians are now established as a power in Europe, the Chinese are now getting engaged in Europe we are wasting our resources. Our prestige is diminishing."

Gingrich told the gathering that the Clinton-Gore Administration has grossly under funded the Defense Department.

"God help us," he said, "if either the North Koreans or the Iraqis decide to take advantage of our current position. Does this administration honestly think nobody else in the world watches CNN?"

Gingrich said he does not know how the president has gotten away without addressing a joint session of Congress on Kosovo.

Despite this, Gingrich says the U.S. must provide leadership in the world. "It is our historic destiny and fate, there is no other country big enough, complex enough or capable of providing leadership on a worldwide basis."

He expressed disbelief that China now apparently has an active voice in European affairs.

"For the entire history of the human race, the Chinese have never been actively involved in Europe, and now in a few short months the Clinton-Gore Administration has managed to fashion a policy that gives the Chinese a voice in Europe," said Gingrich.

On Chinese espionage, he said he does not blame them for stealing U.S. nuclear technology. "I blame the Clinton Administration for not protecting U.S. secrets in China," said Gingrich.

The former speaker also had much to say about children and violence and criticized how the media covers such stories.

Gingrich said for every child that murders, there are hundreds of other children who are good and have good values.

"I want to say to the elite in this country -- the elite news media, the liberal academic elite, the liberal political elite -- I accuse you in Littleton and I accuse you in Kosovo of being afraid to talk about the mess you have made, and being afraid for taking responsibility for the things you have done," he said.

Gingrich blamed Hollywood and computerized games for "undermining the core values of civility -- and it's time they were stopped by a society that values free speech enough to protect it."

The former speaker said one of the biggest mistakes was taking prayer and God out of the classrooms.

Chung tells his fund-raising story to Congress

For the first time, campaign fund-raising figure Johnny Chung publicly detailed his involvement in the campaign fund-raising scandal surrounding the 1996 election, including the allegation that the head of the Chinese military intelligence gave him $300,000 intended to help re-elect President Bill Clinton.

Chung testifyed before the House Government Reform Committee last month about his fund-raising activities during the 1996 presidential campaign. The hearing came at a complicated time as U.S.-China relations have been strained by both NATO's accidental bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade and the investigation into whether China stole U.S. nuclear weapons secrets.

For Republicans, Chung is the main example of what they contend was a Chinese effort to influence the 1996 presidential elections, including a donation of $300 000 by General Ji Shengde, the head of the Chinese military intelligence.

In his statement, Chung gave a detailed recounting of his meeting with Ji and his activity surrounding the donation. He said that acting under advice of the woman who arranged the payment from the general, he kept the money for other purposes, including to help take care of the general's son, Alex, who was attending college in Los Angeles.

Chung said none of the $300 000 that he said Li gave him was used as political donations.

Chung reiterated, both in English and Chinese, what Ji told him when he met the general in the basement of a restaurant. "We like your president very much. We hope to see him re-elected. I will give you 300 000 U.S dollars. You can give it to your president and the Democratic Party," Chung quoted Ji as saying.

Chung was asked by a committee lawyer what his response was to the general's statement. "I said to myself, 'Who the hell this guy is? Who do you think you are?' But I didn't say it," Chung said.

The FBI has traced $20 000 of that money to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). As part of the fund-raising investigation, Chung has pleaded guilty to making $20 000 in illegal contributions to Democrats, including the Clinton-Gore campaign, and to tax evasion.

Chung said after he began to cooperate with the Justice Department that he was threatened and offered money from Beijing "to take care of" his legal expenses and family if he refused to cooperate with the FBI.

Chung said the threat -- and an introduction to a defense attorney who claimed to have Justice Department connections -- came from a man who indicated he was connected to Ji.

Chung said that after he pleaded guilty and was cooperating with the FBI, he was contacted by Robert Luu, a U.S. citizen in Beijing, who said he was helping Liu Chao Ying, the Chinese woman who introduced him to Ji.

Luu "starting talking about a Commander Lee, who wanted to take care of me," Chung said. "The message was as follows: 'If you keep your mouth shut, you and your family will be safe.'"

Chung said Luu also introduced him to a well-connected former Watergate lawyer, whom Chung didn't name. Chung said he met at least a dozen times with Luu, who never gave him any money.

Chung said after the meetings, the FBI believed that Chung and his family were in danger and put them in protective custody.

Chung also testified that a Beijing banker told him that former Little Rock, Arkansas, restaurateur Charlie Trie approached the Chinese government sometime before February 1996 asking for $1 million to support Clinton and the Democratic party.

Trie owned a restaurant near the state capitol in Little Rock that Clinton often went to when he was Arkansas governor. In 1996, Trie tried to give $600 000 from questionable sources to Clinton's legal defense fund, which rejected the donations. Trie goes on trial next Monday in Little Rock, charged with obstructing a U.S. Senate investigation into campaign fund-raising abuses by ordering the concealment of subpoenaed documents in Arkansas.

Gun club looking for women

In an effort to establish greater political credibility, Canada's Law-abiding Unregistered Firearms Association is trying to boost its female membership.

"The bottom line is we need more female members in LUFA to give us credibility," association president Bruce Hutton told 80 people at a meeting on May 12. "Politicians are afraid of women, not unlike many men here tonight," joked Hutton, a former RCMP officer who lives in Rocky Mountain House.

Of the 10 000 members who have joined Hutton's organization, 500 are women.

Hutton said the lack of women in the association has made it an easy target for critics who have branded the group as a bunch of Western redneck men.

"But if we have female members that understand that firearms are a farmer's tool in rural areas, that firearms are sources of recreation as it relates to target shooting or to hunting, that gives us credibility in our membership list.

"And it's very difficult for the media to distort us as a bunch of pistol-packing rednecks from the West - which we're anything but," he said.

Annet den Boer, who farms near Penhold, was sold on Hutton's speech.

"It's a good idea, why not?" she said, snapping up a $20 membership after the meeting.

Women can shoot guns and deserve the freedom to own them as well, she said. "There's lots of women's lib."

Hutton said he also wants to work more closely with native and Metis groups to form a common front against the government's new firearms legislation.

The association was granted intervener status in April in the Alberta-led Supreme Court of Canada challenge to the Firearms Act. The Alberta government argues the act is a federal intrusion on provincial property rights.

LUFA is planning to hold about 100 meetings across Canada by the fall and is planning an ad campaign to promote its cause.

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