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web posted October 25, 1999

November 4, 1999: Save This Date!

The Canadian Property Rights Research Institute (CanPRRI)is hosting a special dinner.

Topic of Discussion: The Canadian Wheat Board: Is Market Control a Proper Function of Government or a Confiscation of Property?

Presented By: Al Loyns, Ph.D., University of Manitoba, Department of Economics and Jim Pallister, Producer, Canadian Farm Enterprise Network

Consider:

  • The World Trade Organization is scrutinizing Canadian agricultural marketing boards to see if they constitute a violation of international trade agreements.
  • Canadian grain farmers have suffered humiliation, fines, and punitive prison sentences as a result of trying to freely export their produce outside of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Could it be that:

  • Federal statutes have undermined the ability of producers to earn a profitable living in the production of barley and wheat?
  • Agricultural producers' rights to freely market their personal property is unduly restricted?
  • Single-desk marketing represents an overreach of the federal power of trade and commerce?
  • A dual marketing system is the only way to develop and sustain strong Canadian grain markets?

Location: Royal Inn North, 2828 - 23rd Street N.E., Calgary Telephone: 291-2003

Date/Time: Thursday, November 4, 1999, 6:00 pm Registration; 6:45 pm Dinner

Cost: Dinner tickets: $ 35.00

Sponsorship (Table of 8 with Wine Service): $500.00

Note: Some prepaid tickets are available for students and academics. Please inquire if you are interested in attending.

For Tickets and More Information Please call Yvonne Hazeldene at (403) 274-7684 or e-mail info@propertyrights.net. Visit CanPRRI at http://www.propertyrights.net/

Census Bureau says Times poverty story got it 'bad wrong'

The Census Bureau on October 18 denied a New York Times story that said it was beginning to revise the way it measures poverty in a way that would add millions of families to the official poverty rolls.

"The New York Times got it wrong, bad wrong," Census director of communications Steve Jost told CNN. He said the agency was writing a letter to the editor of the Times about the story.

The Census Bureau has been experimenting with a dozen different possibly ways to measure poverty since the National Academy of Sciences recommended that the government update its method in 1995.

A census study published in July said that substantially fewer people would be counted as poor if the government adjusted for such benefits as food stamps, school lunches and Medicaid, which are not currently counted as income.

But the study also said that more people would be counted as poor if the government subtracted such work-related expenses as child care and transportation to work.

In a story published the Times reported that under the proposed formula, for a family of four to be considered above the poverty line, their annual income would have to be $19,500 a year, instead of the current $16,600 per year.

As reported by the Times, the change would make 46 million Americans, 17 percent of the population, poor. In September, only 12.7 percent were considered poor, the lowest level in almost a decade.

The current poverty formula was created during President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration and has not changed since 1965 except for inflation adjustments. If the poverty line was increased, it would mean a rise in government spending to pay for benefits such for the poor, such as food stamps.

Ray sworn in as Starr's successor

Robert Ray was sworn in as the successor to Independent Counsel Ken Starr on October 18, inheriting a highly controversial investigation and the duty to write the special prosecutor's final report.

"I accept this duty with a keen recognition of the weightiness of the matters that have been entrusted to the office," he said. "I come to this task with a firm commitment to the legal and judicial process."

Ray, appearing outside the federal courthouse in Washington accompanied, by his wife Kristen, children, parents and other family, thanked Starr for "extraordinary service to the country at great personal sacrifice over the past five years."

"He gave a lot to this country," Ray said.

Ray pledged that he and his assistant prosecutors will be "thorough and fair to discharge the weighty matters and mandates that have been given our office and to continue the work of this investigation in a prompt, responsible and cost-effective manner."

Starr's investigation, which he took over from former Independent Counsel Robert Fiske, was controversial and lost much public support in the face of incessant criticism from presidential supporters. One member of the three-judge panel that appointed Ray hinted at the public fatigue and called for a speedy conclusion.

"There can be no more vital consideration now than closure with all deliberate speed," Senior Circuit Judge Richard Cudahy wrote. "Our selection of Robert Ray carries much promise."

The two other judges did not refer to a speedy end to the probe in their order.

Before coming to Starr's office earlier this year, Ray had worked for Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz, who unsuccessfully prosecuted former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy.

On October 15, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said that "it's somewhat of a dubious proposition that someone involved both in the Espy investigation and the Starr operation" is "getting a promotion."

Starr said on October 18 in a CNN interview that Ray should be allowed to do his job.

"Unfortunately, we have seen already that a duly appointed career prosecutor, a career prosecutor, has already come under criticism and I think that's very unfortunate," Starr said. "Let's depoliticize it. Let's say that is now in the hands of very distinguished career prosecutor, Bob Ray."

Ray was a registered Democrat in New York City until January 1998. He ran twice for the school board in New York City in non-partisan elections, losing both times. Ray now is a registered voter in New Jersey unaffiliated with any political party.

In recent years, he made four donations totaling $90 in support of Republicans -- three to then-Sen. Alfonse D'Amato and one to the Republican National Committee.

The 39-year-old Ray has extensive experience as a prosecutor from his work as an assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York starting in 1989. In that capacity, he supervised and worked on a number of public corruption and organized crime prosecutions.

He joined Smaltz's office in 1995 and won convictions against a Tyson Foods executive and a Tyson lobbyist in the probe of illegal gifts to Espy.

Upon moving to Starr's office early this year, Ray helped prosecute Webster Hubbell, a longtime presidential friend and former associate attorney general.

Hubbell pleaded guilty to a felony in June for allegedly concealing his and Hillary Rodham Clinton's legal work on a fraudulent Arkansas land deal owned by her Whitewater partner, Jim McDougal, and Hubbell's father-in-law, Little Rock businessman Seth Ward. Hubbell says he knows of no wrongdoing by the first lady.

Ray will take over what remains of what was once an investigation into Whitewater, a Arkansas real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton -- an investigation Starr took over in 1994.

Ray will wrap up the probe into the White House travel office firings as well as questions about whether Kathleen Willey was illegally pressured to remain quiet about her accusation that Clinton fondled her in a room off the Oval Office.

There will also be a final report which is likely to be months away. Two months ago, Starr pledged the report will be issued "well before next year's election."

The report could cause some political headaches for the first lady if she officially launches a campaign to capture a Senate seat in New York.

Although the law authorizing the appointment of independent counsels expired months ago, Starr's investigation as well as the other independent counsel investigations still under consideration remain in place.

Animal activists want in on evolution act

An animal rights group said on October 19 teachers in Kansas should instruct pupils on vegetarianism, as it tried to take advantage of the state's recent controversy over the teaching of evolution to publicize its views on eating meat.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known for its sometimes unorthodox protests for animal rights, made its statement two months after the state's board of education voted to downplay evolution teaching in Kansas schools.

"Kansas educators have permission not to include evolution in their curriculum and if they include creationism in their classes, we're hoping they'll include vegetarianism in there," said Michael McGraw, a PETA spokesman in New York. "There is a lot of compelling evidence that Jesus was a vegetarian."

PETA also posted a billboard on Interstate 70 in Kansas proclaiming, "Jesus was a vegetarian," and urging readers to "show respect for God's creatures -- follow Him."

The billboard prompted chuckles in the state capitol where the campaign was taken somewhat less than seriously.

"I'm a big meat eater myself," said Mike Matsen, a spokesman for the office of Kansas Gov. Bill Graves.

Dole quits presidential race

Dole abandoned her bid for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination on October 20, citing an inability to raise enough money to compete with the record-setting pace set by GOP front-runner George W. Bush.

Speaking at news conference, Dole said her lack of funds hampered her ability to travel, communicate with voters and hire campaign staffers for key states, making it "nearly impossible to sustain an effective campaign."

"I've learned that the current political calendar and election laws favor those who get an early start and can tap into huge private fortunes or who have a pre-existing network of political supports," she said.

She said she hoped to compensate for the lack of funds by attracting new voters to the political process, showcasing her extensive experience and advocating substantive issues

"But as important as these things may be, the bottom line remains money," she said.

Dole, like the rest of the GOP field, had lagged far behind Bush, who is the governor of Texas. She raised more than $1 million from July to September, but was far behind Bush, who continued his record-setting pace, raising more than $20 million.

Dole, 63, had never even formally announced for the presidency but unofficially was running. She had scheduled a formal announcement for November 7 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Dole was seen by many observers as the most credible female ever to seek the White House and was running second -- albeit a distant second -- to Bush in most national polls. She was a former cabinet secretary in two GOP administrations and she resigned as president of the Red Cross to seek the White House. She also had high name recognition among Republican activists.

She is married to the 1996 Republican presidential nominee, former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, and he was at her side as she announced her departure from the race. She thanked her "precious husband" for his support.

Dole noted that she had attracted a lot of political newcomers to her campaign, mainly women.

"I think that in terms of women and their views of my withdrawing from the race right now, I think what we've done is pave the way for the person who will be the first woman president," she said.

Asked if she would have done something differently now that she's dropping out, Dole said that leaving the Red Cross earlier might have made a difference. Dole could not raise money while Red Cross president because the organization has a strict non-partisan stance.

"But who knows if it would make that much of a difference because this is something that's never happened before," she said. "You know, timing's everything, isn't it?"

Bush, speaking in Dallas, said that Dole was a "trailblazer."

"She has made a mark in the political process. She entered the primaries and brought a lot of dignity and class. I'm proud to call her a friend and I wish her all the best," Bush said.

Her campaign ended less than three months after a surprisingly solid third-place finish in Iowa's straw poll. The finish gave her a chance to boost her campaign, which was already sagging in polls and money-starved.

But Dole said that straw poll finish translated only into a stronger organization and not improved fund-raising.

Dole said it was on a five-hour plane ride earlier this week that she realized she could not raise enough cash to compete with Bush and Forbes, who is largely financing his own campaign with his personal fortune.

The latest campaign finance reports showed that Dole had only about $860,000 in cash while Bush had more than $37 million in cash on hand. She said Bush and Forbes held a 75-to-1 cash advantage over her.

"Two people have spent $19 million already and TV ads are going up next. You know, I'm used to facing the odds but 75 or 80-to-1, that's pretty tough," he said.

She said Bush really began running back in 1996 when he "quietly but effectively" pulled in the Republican Party's traditional fund-raisers. She also cited that as Texas governor, he is close to the nation's GOP governors and their statewide political networks, including his brother Jeb, who is governor of Florida.

"I think clearly, here you have a situation, it's a phenomenon, it's never happened before in politics, it may never happen again, where you have person with a vast political network of supporters and this goes back through the years," she said.

Ruling against Quebec sign law

A judge has struck down provisions of Quebec's language law requiring French to be predominant on business signs.

Quebec Court Judge Danielle Cote said on October 20 a sign outside an antiques store in Knowlton, Que., does not violate the law even though its French and English lettering is of equal size.

The far-reaching decision could affect several other language cases and rekindle Quebec's language debate.

Premier Lucien Bouchard, on his way to California for a trade mission, said he hadn't seen the judgment but it would be studied by government lawyers.

"It would be premature and somewhat irresponsible on my part to comment or make an analysis based on what little I know of the situation," he said.

But he added the ruling wouldn't cast a shadow over his trip to attract American businesses to Quebec.

Guy Bouthillier, head of the Montreal chapter of the Societe St-Jean-Baptiste, said the ruling weakens the language law.

"Every time they (courts) drive a nail in, it prepares room for the next nail and the next nail and you end up in a coffin," Bouthillier said.

Bouthillier, who supports Quebec leaving Canada, said it's up to the politicians and the people to find solutions to language problems, not the courts.

Quebec government lawyers had argued French still needed protection and it was up to antique dealers Wally Hoffman and Gwen Simpson to show their Charter of Rights and Freedoms rights were violated by Art. 58 of Law 101.

That article requires that French be predominant on all commercial signs.

The sign outside the Lyon and the Wallrus antique store is in English only on one side and in French only on the other. The English lettering is the same size as the French lettering.

But Cote agreed with defence lawyer Brent Tyler who said French had made great strides and is not threatened.

Simpson said the ruling sends a message to the government.

"Let's live peacefully together and get on with life and put away our measuring tapes," she said outside the court.

The government says it will appeal the decision.

In 1988, the Supreme Court struck down what was previously Law 101's requirement that signs be in French only.

The court ruled, however, that Quebec could legally require that French have "greater visibility" or "marked predominance" on signs.

Robert Bourassa's Liberal government amended the law in 1993 to allow for bilingual commercial signs, so long as French was dominant.

But enforcement of the amendments since then by Quebec language inspectors has created new tensions and led to a backlog of impending trials.

Simpson, 54, and Hoffman, 64, had their trial last June 28 in Granby.

Police magazine cover features Handgun Saint Award to John Walsh of 'America's Most Wanted' TV program

The cover of the current issue of The Chief of Police Magazine depicts John Walsh, host of "America's Most Wanted" television program, receiving the St. Gabriel Possenti Society Medallion from John Michael Snyder, Founder/President of the Society.

Snyder recently visited Walsh at the program studio here and presented him with Medallion, which Walsh is shown wearing in the September-October issue of the magazine, official publication of the National Association of Chiefs of Police (NACOP). Snyder is Vice President for Public Affairs of NACOP.

Possenti was a Catholic seminarian who rescued the villagers of Isola, Italy from a gang of 20 terrorists in 1860 with a striking, one-shot, lizard- slaying demonstration of handgun marksmanship. He died two years later and was canonized in 1920. The Medallion, designed by NACOP's Founder, features an image of Possenti flanked by silhouettes of a lizard and a handgun.

The international, interdenominational Society promotes public recognition of Possenti, seeking his Vatican designation as Patron of Handgunners, and emphasizes the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of legitimate self-defense.

Previous Medallion recipients include Archbishop Custodio Alvim Pereira, Vice President of the Chapter of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, Rev. Anthony L. Winfield, Baptist author of Self Defense and the Bible, a monograph which the Society distributes, Aaron Zelman, Executive Director of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Rev. Godfrey Poage, C.P., author of Son of the Passion, a Possenti biography, and Reps. Phil Crane of Illinois and Cliff Stearns of Florida.

Snyder, Public Affairs Director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, has been named "Dean" of gun lobbyists by The New York Times, The Washington Post, the New York Daily News, The Washington Times and CNBC-TV.

October 25 is Trough Day: 97 MPs qualify for pensions worth nearly $50 million

Canada's National Citizens' Coalition is declaring Monday October 25, 1999 to be MP Pension Trough Day.

"Today's the day 97 lucky MPs will qualify for the gold-plated pension plan," says NCC president Stephen Harper. "But while it's good news for them, it's bad news for taxpayers who will be on the hook for $49,022,280 to pay for their retirement gravy train."

October 25 is Trough Day because it marks the sixth anniversary of the 1993 federal election and, as MPs need only six years of service to qualify for their lavish pension, those first elected that year are poised to jump into the pension trough. They join 55 longer serving MPs who have already qualified.

"Trough Day is a day of shame," says Harper. "It's a commemoration of how our elected representatives isolate themselves from the real world at taxpayers' expense."

Harper notes that of the 97 MPs qualifying for the plan on Monday, there are 4 Reform MPs who campaigned against the pension plan in 1997 and yet opted to join the MP pension plan last year.

As well the list includes 2 Liberal and 3 Bloc Québécois MPs who announced in 1995 that they were opting out of the plan and who may have opted back in last year.

"These 5 MPs have not publicly confirmed that they are staying out of the plan," says Harper. "We hope they come clean with voters and let us know where they stand."

The NCC has long been a critic of the MP pension plan, arguing that politicians should have retirement benefits which are consistent with those in the private sector.

"It's time our MPs did the right thing," says Harper. "It's time they reformed their pension plan. Let's make this the last Trough Day ever."

Under the MP pension plan, MPs not only qualify for lifetime super-rich pensions after only six years in office but they also enjoy unlimited protection against inflation.

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