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web posted July 30, 2001

Katherine Harris eyes bid for Congress

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris is putting together a campaign team for an expected run for Congress next year, a state GOP official said July 24.

David Johnson, executive director of the Florida Republican Party, said Harris is about to open an exploratory account.

While no official announcement is set, Johnson said he "expects" Harris to get in the race for a seat in the House of Representatives.

Harris, 44, emerged as a controversial figure during last year's Florida presidential recount as her office laid out the rules for the recounting and eventually awarded the state's 25 electoral votes to George W. Bush, handing him the White House.

Meanwhile, former Ambassador to Vietnam Pete Peterson filed papers on July 24 to enter Florida's governor's race, although sources close to Peterson say he has not yet made an official announcement.

He would join a crowded field of Democrats -- including former Attorney General Janet Reno -- who may challenge GOP governor Jeb Bush next year.

Student suspended for wearing dagger with kilt

A Michigan honour student who wore a small dagger to his prom as part of a Scottish national costume avoided possible suspension by agreeing not to return to his high school for a semester, school officials announced July 24. Under an agreement with the school, honours student Jeremy Hix, 16, will take college classes until he is allowed to return for the second half of the school year.

"I feel that this was the best option that was presented to us," Hix said. "Expulsion won't be on my record, so I won't have anything to explain."

He will be allowed to attend school functions including dances and sports events during the semester he does not attend. Hix also agreed not to keep any weapons, including the sgian-dubh, a short dagger.

Hix was ejected from the prom and expelled from school for the remainder of his junior year after a chaperone spotted the dagger. Hix said the sgian-dubh he wore in his sock was not a weapon but part of his Scottish regalia, which included a feathered bonnet and a kilt in his family tartan. Hix, who plays the bagpipes, spent two years assembling the kit. Under Michigan law, he could have been suspended for the school year.

"We're glad that it's over and the resolution is fair and reasonable," school board president John Malatinsky said.

Cuba marks Revolution Day with march

Cuban President Fidel Castro led a march the morning of July 26 commemorating the start of the Cuban Revolution 48 years ago. Cuban officials said as many as 1.2 million people -- about one-tenth of the island's population -- were expected to participate in the observance.

Fidel CastroCastro was flanked by the two grandsons of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini and top members of the Cabinet and the communist party, as he joined a throng of marchers waving Cuban flags and other large banners.

The observance is traditionally celebrated with a speech by Castro, but no speeches were planned this year.

The procession was working its way down the Malecon, the city's famous waterside drive, and past the U.S. diplomatic mission.

Buses began arriving in the capital at 1 a.m. on July 26, shuttling thousands of people in for the march.

The Cuban Revolution has its roots in the July 26, 1953, attack on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago by Castro's forces. The anniversary is a major event in Cuba's revolutionary calendar.

OCAP loses ally in CAW...about time

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty lost funding from one of its strongest supporters July 26 as the Canadian Auto Workers union announced an end to its $10,000 annual donation because of the group's recent actions.

The CAW national executive board made the decision at its meeting July 9-13 in reaction to OCAP's mock eviction protest at Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's Whitby constituency office on June 12. During the protest, 50 people threw furniture into the street.

"I'm saddened that the national president of the CAW places so much concern on Jim Flaherty's furniture," said OCAP leader John Clarke.

"It's a big chunk of our funding. But we're very confident we can fill the gap."

Clarke said independent donations had increased since the protest at Whitby and last year's melee at Queen's Park. He said the group would continue to work with rank-and-file CAW supporters.

"We can't stop what we're doing. We have great respect for the CAW and we'll continue to work with the CAW and its members as best we can," he said.

CAW president Buzz Hargrove said the union will continue to pursue progressive causes through other methods.

"We're dedicated to civil disobedience where it's necessary, but not destruction of property," he told Global News reporters yesterday.

In a CAW statement, Hargrove said: "This was one of the most difficult decisions our union has had to make as OCAP has been a key organization in bringing to the public the devastating impact of homelessness and the plight of people living in poverty."

Hargrove said at the time of the raid that CAW might no longer fund OCAP if the contributions were going to support similar actions. The organization gave OCAP $12,500 last year. That included an extra $2,500 to help defray legal fees.

Sid Ryan, Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said he had no plans to cut the union's $6,000 donation to OCAP.

‘Jam Echelon Day’ protest planned

Internet activists are planning an international day of protest on Oct. 21 in an effort to jam Echelon, the super-secret global surveillance system. But privacy experts warn the protest is unlikely to succeed.

Organizers of the cyber-event are encouraging the Internet community to send as many e-mail messages as possible, containing certain "trigger words" that the Echelon system is believed to pick up on. They theorize that if monitored emails reach a critical mass, the Echelon intelligence system will be overworked.

A list of 1,700 suspicious words — including "hackers", "encryption" and "espionage" — have been listed on the Ciperwar Web site, to be included in email, telephone or fax communications on the "Jam Echelon Day."

Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, believes that sprinkling certain words in messages will not have much of an impact, saying, "The Echelon system works on a very sophisticated system of word relationships, rather than strictly on key words."

The goal may be unattainable, said the coordinator at ciperwar.com, who prefers to be known by his nick-name, ‘Scully.’ Nevertheless, "is it not better to signal displeasure at being monitored, than passively allow it to happen?"

Janet Reno tests the political waters

Former Attorney General Janet Reno, still weighing whether she'll run for governor, said July 28 she considered it important to improve the image of politics.

Reno and four other potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates spoke at the Young Democrats Summer Convention as they test the waters to explore running to unseat Gov. Jeb Bush next year.

Reno said she expects to decide in the next six weeks on whether to run for governor. She called for improvements to the state educational system, a health care system that works with the federal government and a ban on new oil drilling.

"Let us do everything we can to preserve that fragile wonderful land for our children and their children and on and on and on," she said.

The governor's race is expected to be one of the most closely watched next year, and many Democrats view Bush as vulnerable because of the state's contested vote in last year's presidential election.

State House Minority Leader Lois Frankel was the only announced gubernatorial candidate to attend.

"We need to get rid of Jeb Bush. He needs to be retired," Frankel told the gathering of about 150 people. She said winning the election was also about "political payback."

The gathering also included speeches from Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox and U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, both of whom are considering entering the race.

Davis, a three-term congressman from Tampa, said he expects to decide by Labor Day whether he will run for governor.

"This election is not about payback," he said. "It's not about getting even. This is about replacing Jeb Bush with leadership that is going to move the state forward."

Maddox said he did not know if he would run.

"There are a lot of good ones out there," he said.

Three possible Democratic hopefuls did not attend the convention. They were former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam Pete Peterson, a former Panhandle congressman; state Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami; and Tampa attorney Bill McBride.

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