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web posted October 4, 1999

Clinton gets angry at reporter's questions at picnic

The president seemed buoyant and relaxed.

He was smiling, shaking hands and socializing with reporters on September 24 during the annual picnic for members of the White House press corps when a guest asked, "When are you going to have your next formal press conference, Mr. President?"

President Clinton kept shaking hands and after a few moments said: "I don't know. I'll have one."

The reporter, Paul Sperry, Washington bureau chief of Investor's Business Daily, asked, "When?"

The president replied, "Why?"

Sperry: "The American people have a lot of questions about illegal money from China and the campaign-finance scandal."

Suddenly, the president's mood changed, his face turned red and he launched into an argument that lasted nearly 10 minutes as he defended himself and the Democratic Party against allegations of Chinese attempts to influence the 1996 U.S. presidential election.

During the extraordinary exchange, Clinton suggested that Republicans were hypocrites on the subject of campaign-finance violations. He complained about the length and cost of the investigation and suggested that the FBI would prefer that the news media report on political funding irregularities rather than questions about the April 19, 1993, federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

"We've spent $4 million and gave the (campaign-finance) task force millions of records and every shred of evidence, and they haven't found a thing," Clinton told Sperry.

Sperry replied that FBI agents who testified before Congress this month raised serious allegations of Department of Justice stonewalling on the campaign-finance matter and reminded him that FBI Director Louis Freeh thought enough evidence existed to call for an independent counsel.

At that, Clinton laughed and said, "Yeah, the FBI wants you to write about that rather than write about Waco."

President Clinton and the FBI have been at odds during the investigation of allegations that China attempted to make illegal donations to Democrats in 1996, but the comment marks one of the first times Clinton has publicly expressed this level of exasperation over the nation's chief law-enforcement agency.

Brookings Institution presidential scholar Stephen Hess said he found the president's anger unusual, given that Clinton has survived a series of political storms, investigations and attacks on his presidency.

"The idea that the president is acting as if the FBI is some kind of independent operation that is outside the executive branch of government and is trying to do him in is pretty fascinating," Hess said. "It is very peculiar that this guy would have gotten under his skin in this way, that he would have answered him in this nondiplomatic manner when he could have just pushed him down the receiving line. It is not typical. He has this temper, and it flares up from time to time, but not that often."

American Enterprise Institute political scientist Norm Ornstein said that given the recent testimony of FBI agents regarding the handling of the campaign-finance probe and the earlier memo, the president's reaction could have been anticipated.

"What the FBI agents did was naturally going to get a tremendous amount of antagonism in return from the Justice Department officials and the White House," Ornstein said.

Clinton began his response to Sperry by saying that Republicans were as sullied as Democrats by campaign-finance allegations.

"You want to know the only person who has been linked to money from China? Haley Barbour and the RNC, that's who," he said.

He apparently was referring to allegations by former Democratic fund-raiser Johnny Chung, who told investigators that he was told by a Chinese contact that an aide to Barbour - who was then the chairman of the Republican National Committee - helped arrange a $2.1 million loan to Republicans with the help of the Chinese in 1994. The aide's attorney has denied the allegation.

The president suggested that reporters were bowing to an agenda set by Republicans and not following the issues the people care about.

"The GOP wants that to be the story rather than guns or their tax plan," Clinton said.

Sperry replied that the public wanted answers about the allegations of illegal contributions. But Clinton wasn't buying it.

"I've been all around this country, and you are the first person to ask me about it," Clinton said. "Not one person has brought that up."

The conversation got so heated that a White House photographer attempted to end it.

"This is so inappropriate," the photographer said, defending the president. "Mr. President, there is a nice little boy here who wants to shake your hand."

Midway through the encounter, the president tried to downplay any lingering concern he had about the campaign-finance issue, saying, "I don't have to run for re-election anymore."

At one another point, Clinton directly criticized the reporter and the tone and tenor of his questions, calling them accusatory.

Both Ornstein and Hess suggested that it was rude for the reporter to argue with the president at a party to which he was invited.

The party on the South Lawn of the White House was "Jazz on the Lawn," and featured blues, jazz and zydeco bands and Cajun food and Chicago barbecue.

The next day, Sperry said he regretted that the exchange got out of hand.

"I hope he didn't think I was trying to ambush him," Sperry said. "I really wasn't. I really feel bad that that happened and it was such a scene."

Sperry said he was hoping to encourage a news conference soon to answer questions raised by the FBI agents at the congressional hearing.

Near the end of the exchange, the reporter again told the president that, and suggested he answer the questions.

Replied the president: "I just did."

Chinese president repeats threats of force against Taiwan

Chinese President Jiang Zemin said on September 27 that China wanted "peaceful unification" with Taiwan, but added that it would not back down from threats to use force, if necessary, to bring the island back under Chinese control.

"We will not undertake to renounce the use of force precisely for the purpose of bringing about a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question," he said. "The Chinese people have both the determination and ability to achieve the complete reunification of their motherland."

Jiang was speaking to some 800 international business leaders gathered in Shanghai for the opening of the Fortune Global Forum. In a speech he also used to tout China's appeal to international business, the president warned other countries not to interfere with China's internal issues.

"No country will allow its own territory to be split off, nor will it allow any foreign force to create or support such a split," he said.

Taiwan, led by Nationalist politicians, has been estranged from the mainland since the communist takeover in 1949. While China regards the island as a renegade Chinese territory, Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui recently called for "special state-to-state" relations between the two.

Jiang offered condolences to those in Taiwan who were affected by a recent devastating earthquake and aftershocks. The tremors have killed more than 2 000 people.

The Fortune forum opened a week of activities to mark 50 years of communist rule in China. Shanghai, China's financial center, prepared for the world's leading capitalists by building a $100 million convention center and a $1.5 billion airport.

Despite slumping economic growth, declining international investment, continuing tension with the United States and uncertainty about its bid to join the World Trade Organization, Jiang said China was "filled with confidence" for the 21st century.

"The Chinese people will firmly and unswervingly follow the paths of reform and opening up," said Jiang, a former Shanghai mayor. "Our goal is to realize modernization by the middle of the coming century, to make our country a wealthy, strong, democratic, and a civilized, modern socialistic country and to achieve the great revival of the Chinese nation."

Defending his country's human rights record, long criticized by the United States, Jiang said that a nation must first secure its own people's "rights to survival and development" before looking to other issues.

"The fact China has assured the rights to survival and development of over 1.2 billion (Chinese people) is a major contribution to the course of the progress of human rights across the world," the president said. "This is the road we must take for the course of promoting human rights in light of China's national conditions."

Quayle quits GOP presidential race, McCain jumps in

Former Vice President Dan Quayle dropped out of the Republican presidential race on September 27, his war chest and appeal both dwarfed by the party's front-runner, Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

"Today, our campaign is really in a rather unique position because the most recent, national poll -- the CNN/Time poll -- shows us in second place, finally beginning to emerge as the clear alternative to the front-runner," Quayle said at a Phoenix news conference, his wife, Marilyn, at his side.

"But you need more than that," he added, a reference to the enormous sums required to run a political campaign. "The front-runner, apparently, will have up to $100 million to spend in the Republican primaries."

Conceding he couldn't compete with Bush on that level, Quayle added: "There is a time to stay and there's a time to fold. There is a time to know when to leave the stage. Thus, today, I am announcing that I will no longer be a candidate for president of the United States."

The former vice president did not endorse Bush, or any other Republican candidate, but said he would support whoever the party chose to nominate. "I want to see the Republicans recapture the White House," he said. "It is time that we restore honor, dignity and decency to the Oval Office."

Although Quayle came in eighth in August's Iowa nonbinding straw poll, well behind Bush, he vowed then to stay in the race.

But, after turning their attention to next year's Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, Quayle and his campaign chiefs concluded that they could not raise enough money to stay in the race.

Quayle, 52, has been running a debt since early in the campaign.

The withdrawal makes him the fourth Republican contender to drop out of the race for the White House before the first primary votes are cast.

Quayle joins Ohio Rep. John Kasich; former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander; and Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire on the list of GOP casualties on the campaign trail.

Kasich and Alexander endorsed Bush after dropping out, while Smith left the party to run as an independent.

On the same day Quayle announced his withdrawal, Arizona Sen. John McCain formally kicked off his own campaign for next year's Republican presidential nomination.

"It is because I owe America more than she has ever owed me that I am a candidate for president to the United States," McCain said, referring to his experience as a Navy pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war.

Quayle, a former congressman and senator from Indiana, was picked by Bush's father, former President George Bush, to be his vice presidential running mate in 1988. After being defeated for re-election in 1992, Quayle moved to Arizona.

He began his campaign in March in his hometown of Huntington, Indiana.

Quayle had among the most extensive political resumes in a GOP field in which five candidates have never held elective office and George W. Bush, the front-runner, won elective office only in 1994.

Peter Worthington named the 1999 Winner of the Colin M. Brown Freedom Medal

Canada's National Citizens' Coalition is pleased to announce that journalist, columnist and author Peter Worthington is the 1999 winner of the Colin M. Brown Freedom Medal.

The NCC presents the award annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement or defence of political or economic freedom.

Worthington will receive the medal at a banquet in Toronto on Thursday, November 16th at the Toronto Eaton Centre Marriott Hotel.

"No one is more deserving of this special recognition than Peter Worthington," says NCC president Stephen Harper. "Whether serving his country in the Canadian army or working behind a typewriter as a journalist, Peter has tirelessly and courageously striven throughout his life to protect and advance the cause of freedom".

The medal which Peter Worthington will receive commemorates the late founder of the NCC, who first started his crusade for "more freedom through less government" in 1967. Colin M. Brown died on March 4th 1987.

Previous recipients of the award include Ted Byfield, Mike Harris, Ralph Klein, Diane Francis, Barbara Amiel and Thomas Bata.

U.K. to legitimize exorcism therapy, or proof that I'm not drinking enough

The British government plans to recognize exorcism of demons as a therapy for treating mental illness.

In a radical move that will dismay many doctors, a report prepared for the Health Education Authority and due to be published on October 4 will endorse the use of Christian healing and "deliverance," casting out evil spirits, which are controversial practices even within the churches that use them.

Although the report will warn about the dangers of fringe religious groups exploiting vulnerable people, it will urge psychiatrists and other mental health professionals not to dismiss spiritual therapies and prayer, even if they lack a scientific basis.

The New Testament describes many instances of the healing power of Jesus and the "positive effects of His ministry on those who were willing to listen," says the government-funded report.

"An emphasis on demons and demon possession can be very damaging to people who are vulnerable and there is an important distinction to be drawn between evil and mental ill health," it goes on.

"At the same time, some hold that a deliverance ministry is an important part of their belief in prayer and some people have found exorcism and similar approaches helpful."

Doctors should be sensitive to people's religious beliefs, the report said. This means if their patients report seeing visions, hearing voices or speaking in tongues, which have been experienced by saints and mystics, they should not automatically be diagnosed as mentally ill.

The report, Promoting Mental Health: The Role of Faith Communities, is backed by leading psychiatrists, the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, the Church of England Board for Social Responsibility and Dr. Jonathan Sack, Britain's chief rabbi. It is part of a government campaign to break down stigmas about mental illness, before World Mental Health Day this month.

Promoting Mental Health, which cites U.S. research suggesting a strong link between religious belief and well-being, is published just as more British clergy are becoming interested in exorcism in the runup to the start of the new millennium.

Despite the sinister image generated by films such as The Exorcist, all Church of England diocese have an official exorcist. However, bishops have become increasingly concerned by the proliferation of maverick exorcists and "fundamentalist" groups such as the Ellel Ministries, the largest healing and deliverance ministry in Britain.

Participants say that some Ellel prayer meetings have involved people screaming and writhing on the floor as "demons" of lust, homosexuality or bed-wetting are "expelled" from their bodies.

A posting on the organization's Web site says the Ellel Ministries is organizing a Canadian conference on the healing and teaching ministries of Jesus to be held in Orangeville, Ont., Oct. 13-16.

Rev. Tom Wills, an advisor on exorcism to the archbishop of York, England, said the church would be reluctant to exorcise people not genuinely possessed but who believe they are because of an illness.

"People only become possessed for a reason, such as involvement in the occult or the worship of evil," he said. "We ask such people to renounce the devil and all his works before commanding the evil to leave them. It can be quite frightening."

Bradley outraises Gore in third quarter

Bill Bradley, his Democratic presidential campaign surging, raised more money than Vice President Al Gore over the last three months, and has more money in the bank heading into the final quarter of the year.

Bradley raised an estimated $6.7 million between July and September, spokeswoman Anita Dunn said September 30. Gore raised around $6.5 million during the same period, according to senior advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity.

By spending less than $4.2 million during the last three months, Bradley wound up with more than $10 million in the bank. Gore aides said the vice president would have between $9.5 million and $10 million. Gore spent about $6 million between July and September, almost as much as he raised.

Gore, seeking to rejuvenate his campaign, announced September 27 that he was moving his headquarters from Washington to Nashville, Tenn., and challenging Bradley to a series of debates. He called the move "an opportunity for transformation."

He acknowledged, "This is a hard, tough fight."

Bradley has been gaining on Gore in key early primary states. Since entering the race, Bradley has raised around $18.4 million, including more than $650,000 over the Internet.

"It shows that the campaign continues to enjoy steady growth and support," Dunn said. "In particular, we're excited about the number of small donors, both through our Internet site and through the mail."

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