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web posted November 8, 1999

"Greedy" people can always leave, Canadian PM says

Rich Canadians who judge their citizenship on the basis of how much more money they can make might want to think about moving to another country, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien hinted in a speech on November 1.

"There are some in Canada who will judge the success of countries solely by how much money they can make," he told a Liberal fundraising dinner attended by some of Ottawa's wealthiest high-technology executives.

"And many who today judge us harshly on our economic policy have actually made a great deal of money in Canada. But life is about more than just making money," he said.

"There may be other countries that are better for those who are already very well off. I'm not sure, but there might be.

"But if I have to choose between decisions that will make life better for those in the middle and for those who have less, or decisions for those who already have a great deal, I know how I choose . . . I know how Canadians choose.

"We choose, all the time, a balanced approach," he said to applause.

Chrétien promised his government will lower taxes "year after year after year" but said that is "only one part of the equation" to prepare Canada for the 21st century.

The next day, the Reform party used the example of an unidentified millwright at a forestry plant in Saskatchewan to demonstrate that high-income earners are not the only Canadians demanding tax relief.

A millwright, who sent a copy of his pay stub to Preston Manning, the Reform leader, saw his take-home pay cut almost in half because of taxes.

In a week when he worked 40 regular hours and 20 hours of overtime, the man had gross earnings totalling $2 021.67. Of that, the taxman took $803.10.

Ottawa must also spend more to help children, spur research and promote economic growth, he said.

The Prime Minister also drew applause with a pledge to respect centuries-old treaties with aboriginal peoples despite the "very difficult problems" the deals can cause, such as the current controversy between native fishermen and non-native fishermen on the east coast.

"Before we, the white people, arrived in Canada, there were treaties that were signed that have to be respected, and all of that has to be done in the spirit of generosity (and) tolerance that has been the characteristic of Canada."

BBC: Echelon exists

Echelon, the global spying network whose existence has been both vigorously claimed and airily denied, actually exists, according to a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

The BBC reported November 2 that an Australian government official has confirmed what both the Americans and British have consistently denied -- that the super-secret spy network exists.

According to the BBC, Australia's inspector general of intelligence, Bill Blick, confirmed that his country's Defense Signals Directorate forms part of the Echelon network.

"As you would expect there are a large amount of radio communications floating around in the atmosphere, and agencies such as the DSD collect those communications in the interests of their national security," Blick told the BBC.

Asked if information is then passed on to the United States or Britain, Blick said that "in certain circumstances" it was.

Those who have maintained the existence of Echelon say that its reach into the lives of private citizens is especially sinister. The network, which is believed to have close ties to the US National Security Agency, can reputedly eavesdrop on any phone call, fax, or email, anywhere on earth.

Proving Echelon's existence has become something of a Holy Grail for an assortment of privacy advocates, hackers, and journalists. The online campaign to unmask Echelon has been especially fierce, as a recent hackers' attempt at jamming the network illustrated.

An earlier report by journalist Duncan Campbell, commissioned by the European Parliament, provided additional evidence that Echelon, in fact, exists.

Campbell's report cited the example of the NSA intercepting a phone call from a French firm bidding on a Brazilian contract. The information was allegedly passed along to an American competitor, which wound up winning the contract.

"There is nowhere you can go to say that they've been snooping on your international communications," Campbell told the BBC.

While no one in an official capacity in either the United States or Britain has broken silence, one US military officer did admit that in theory, at least, a network like Echelon could exist.

"Technically, they can scoop all this information up, sort through it, and find what it is that might be asked for," Colonel Dan Smith told the BBC. "But there is no policy to do this specifically in response to a particular company's interests."

In the United States, Representative Bob Barr (R-Georgia) has persuaded Congress to open hearings on the question of Echelon's existence and reach.

Barr, who will be in England next month, accused the NSA of conducting a "dragnet" of communication and "invading the privacy of American citizens."

Actor asks voters to give him permission to build

Davy Crockett never gave up, not even when facing death at the Alamo.

Actor Fess Parker, 75, who made his name portraying the King of the Wild Frontier on a TV series in the mid-1950s, says he will not either.

Parker has for years been battling city officials over his plans to build a hotel on the waterfront in Santa Barbara, about 110 miles north of Los Angeles.

But with city planners intent on scaling his proposed $50 million, 225-room hotel back to 150 rooms, Parker has taken the unprecedented step of removing his project from the city's bureaucracy and taking it directly to the voters.

During a local election Tuesday, voters rejected Parker's entire project.

The actor, also known for playing another legendary frontiersman, Daniel Boone, says the ballot initiative was the best way to preserve his property rights against zealous local officials. Opponents say Parker was trying to capitalize on his famous name to skip a process that applies to everyone.

"I've learned a thing or two from Davy Crockett. I don't give up," Parker told the Los Angeles Times.

"This is not a matter of 75 extra rooms anymore. This is a matter of (the city) stopping a good old Republican boy with Libertarian tendencies. When we lose private property rights and everything we do has to be approved, we're expected to give up."

But Mayor Harriet Miller said the actor was looking for special treatment. "He's appealing to his popularity as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett instead of the merits of the issue," Miller told the Times. "Mr. Parker has his own ideas about what he wants to do, and he doesn't want to follow our city process."

Crockett, a larger-than-life figure of the American West, died heroically in March of 1836 at the end of a siege by a Mexican army of thousands at the Alamo. All of the 180 defenders died in the siege.

The refusal of those 180 men to surrender while facing overwhelming odds roused fighting spirit among Texans, who used "Remember the Alamo" as a rallying cry six weeks later in a victory in the battle of San Jacinto.

U.K.'s Cook accused of misleading public on Kosovo massacres

Robin Cook, U.K.'s foreign secretary, is under pressure to answer claims that ministers misled the public over the scale of deaths among civilians in Kosovo to justify the Nato bombing of Belgrade.

The all-party Balkans committee of MPs asked the Foreign Office last week to comment on reports that the number of bodies of victims of Serbian ethnic cleansing is lower than the figures of dead issued during the conflict.

At the height of the war, western officials spoke of a death toll as high as 100,000. President Bill Clinton said the Nato campaign had prevented "deliberate, systematic efforts at ethnic cleansing and genocide". Geoff Hoon, then a Foreign Office minister and now the defence secretary, later scaled down the estimates. "It appears that about 10,000 people have been killed in more than 100 massacres," he said.

The most outspoken challenge to these figures has come from Emilio Perez Pujol, a pathologist who led the Spanish team looking for bodies in the aftermath of the fighting. He said: "I calculate that the final figure of dead in Kosovo will be 2,500 at the most. This includes lots of strange deaths that can't be blamed on anyone in particular."

Perez Pujol said the numbers of dead were far lower than the 44,000 he had been warned of, and few were in mass graves. He said his team had arrived in Kosovo expecting to perform 2,000 post-mortem examinations and to work to the end of November. "On September 12 I called my people together and said: 'We have finished here.' I informed my government and told them of the real situation. We had found a total of 187 bodies. Four or five had died from natural causes."

United Nations officials begun taking stock of the death toll last after the exhumation of corpses stopped for the winter. The UN is expected to report next month that the total number of victims so far uncovered is fewer than 2,000. Many were executed, but some died during fighting and others died in allied bombing.

There is still no clear picture, however. Some of the forensic teams sent by 15 different countries say they have discovered fewer bodies than they anticipated. Others say there is more work to do and believe the death toll will rise.

The US State Department said last weekend that about 1,400 bodies have been recovered from about 20 per cent of suspected massacre sites. There are about 500 suspected sites and priority has been given to those that were believed to contain the most bodies. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia reported earlier this month that the notorious Trepca mines in Kosovo, where 700 ethnic Albanian bodies were reportedly hidden, contained none.

The largest number of bodies has been recovered by British teams of police officers, pathologists and forensic scientists in the area where the worst mass killings reportedly occurred. They found 505 bodies, some in mass graves and many of them women and children.

Detective Chief Superintendent John Bunn, who led the British investigation group, said his teams had completed work at most of the sites around Prizren and Velakrusa, where some of the worst atrocities were said to have occurred. He said he had found graves containing as many as 77 bodies together of people executed at close range.

Alice Mahon, the Labour MP who chairs the Balkans committee, said yesterday that the deaths were tragic but did not justify the military action taken by Nato. "When you consider that 1,500 civilians or more were killed during Nato bombing, you have to ask whether the intervention was justified," she said.

U.S. Supreme Court to Examine 'Fee Speech' at University Law

College campuses are a haven for free speech, and nowhere more so than at the University of Wisconsin.

Students can join myriad groups, and the traditionally liberal campus even has two independent student newspapers, including one with a conservative bent. While many revel in this marketplace of ideas, some young conservatives say that campus activism is less a tribute to free speech than to a bureaucratic system of "fee speech." Many of the activist groups on campus are funded largely by mandatory student fees.

Now the future of the fee-speech system--a feature of most university campuses today--is in doubt, thanks to a free-speech challenge coming before the Supreme Court this month.

Scott Southworth, a UW law student who believes that students should have the right to "opt out" of funding groups and causes they oppose, argues that mandatory fees are unconstitutional.

He predicts that the Supreme Court will agree and force student groups nationwide to rely on voluntary support.

At UW, about two-thirds of the annual fees--assessed at $331 per student in 1995, when Southworth first challenged them--go to the health clinic and the student union. The balance goes to more than 100 campus groups, with some getting a few hundred dollars for a speaker or a newsletter and others receiving more than $30,000 a year to pay for offices and staff.

Among the groups receiving university funds are the Internationalist Socialist Organization, the Militant Student Union, the Progressive Student Network, the UW Greens and the Ten Percent Society, the more militant of two gay rights groups.

"As a conservative Christian, I don't think I should have to fund these violently partisan, anti-Christian hate groups," Southworth said. He characterized the university's response as: "You either pay for these groups or we will kick you out."

The University of Wisconsin has defended the subsidies for student groups steadfastly and says that the array of advocates enriches campus life.

"The groups bring speakers to campus. They show films. They hold debates. They make the campus interesting," said Wisconsin Assistant Atty. Gen. Susan Ullman, who is representing the board of regents.

"This is not compelled speech," she added, since dissenting students like Southworth are not forced to say anything or endorse a viewpoint. The university's 40,610 students simply pay a fee, which is used by a committee of students to fund campus organizations, she added.

But Southworth believes that a series of Supreme Court precedents supports his position.

During World War II, the high court ruled that students--in this case, children of Jehovah's Witnesses--could not be forced to salute the American flag. In the wake of the Communist scares of the 1950s, the justices ruled that state university professors cannot be forced to sign loyalty oaths. The 1st Amendment includes a right "not to speak," they said.

In 1977, the court extended this idea to mandatory dues. Dissident teachers cannot be forced to pay for their union's lobbying and political contributions, the court ruled. And in 1990, the justices applied the same principle to the California state bar, ruling that lawyers cannot be forced to pay for lobbying in Sacramento.

Citing these precedents, Southworth and his attorney wrote a mildly worded letter to the UW Board of Regents in 1995, asking if he could "opt out" of paying some fees. He wanted to avoid subsidizing certain groups, specifically the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center. For one semester, he was seeking a refund of $7.99.

The university did not respond, and a few months later Southworth sued. He had enlisted the support of the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., whose mission is to "defund the left." Southworth found a friendly forum in the federal courts, where in recent years the biggest 1st Amendment victories have been won by conservatives.

A judge in Madison and then the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that students cannot be forced to subsidize campus groups that engage in "political or ideological advocacy."

The appeals court went beyond a similar ruling issued six years ago by the California Supreme Court. It ruled that University of California students may seek a refund for fees that go to political groups, an option that few exercise.

The U.S. appeals court said in the Wisconsin case headed for the Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional for the university even to collect such fees.

On the activist Madison campus--where last week it was the issue of school sweatshirts being made in sweatshops that mobilized a crowd of students outside the library--the Southworth case is the subject of vigorous debate. "Christian Right Invades UW-Madison," declared the Daily Cardinal in an editorial denouncing Southworth.

By contrast, the other student newspaper, the Badger Herald, praised Southworth and his allies for "standing up for their rights."

Student government leaders support the fee system. They said that Southworth's lawsuit is targeted at racial minorities and gays and that groups serving these students could not survive without the support of fees.

"This is part of a larger strategy to shut down the voices the Christian right disagrees with," said Adam Klaus, who chairs the Associated Students of Madison, which distributes the funds.

Among the largest grants were those for the Campus Women's Center and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center, which gets its entire $30,000 budget from student fees.

Dave O'Brien, director of the center for gay students, said that his is a "service group, not an advocacy group. We're here to create a safe space for LGBT students."

"Scott Southworth may call us a political, ideological group, but we are not. Each year, we host the Coming Out Week and the Out and About Week. We publish a newsletter, and our activities are open to every student regardless of sexual orientation."

Southworth accuses his opponents of being bigoted toward Christians on campus. His brief to the high court says that in April 1995 more than 400 demonstrators tried to disrupt a church service in Madison because it featured two speakers who opposed homosexuality. The protesters chanted "Two, four, six, eight! We don't want your Christian hate!" his brief says. Last year, former UC Regent Ward Connerly, who led the campaign against affirmative action, came to Madison but was shouted down by angry students and was unable to deliver an address.

"The left doesn't care much about our freedom of speech," Southworth said. "I'm tolerant of what they have to say. I just don't think I should have to subsidize them."

While conservatives are hoisting the banner of the individual's right to free speech, liberal lawyers are touting the importance of campus community. The American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way and the Brennan Center for Justice, named for the late liberal Justice William J. Brennan, filed briefs urging the court to reject Southworth's claim and to uphold the mandatory fees.

The fees create a "public forum," like a band shell in a park, which all can use to speak, they say. "The right to opt out of financially supporting a public forum . . . could rend the common fabric [of the campus community] and transform it into a voluntary assembly of individuals," the Brennan Center brief says. What's wrong with a voluntary assembly of individuals? Ask Southworth and his lawyer, Jordan Lorence of Fairfax, Va.

"If the context were different, they would agree with us," Lorence said. "If there were a campus KKK chapter, I don't believe they would tell black students you must support it as a condition of being at a public university."

But Southworth's goals for his case and for the cause of optional fees extend far beyond the university level. He believes that a high court ruling in his favor will lead to constitutional attacks on government-funded art.

"If we win this case, the NEA [National Endowment for the Arts] is done for," he said.

The justices will hear the case (Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin vs. Southworth, 98-1189) on Nov. 9.

U.S. judge finds Microsoft holds monopoly power

A U.S. federal judge ruled November 5 that Microsoft Corp. wields monopoly power in personal computer operating systems, a major setback for the world's largest software company in one of the biggest antitrust cases of the century.

"Three main facts indicate that Microsoft enjoys monopoly power," District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson said in his findings, citing the company's large and stable market share, the high barriers to market entry, and the lack of a commercially viable alternative to the Windows operating system.

During the trial, which started over a year ago and ran 76 days, the Justice Department and 19 states alleged Microsoft used its power to illegally crush rival Internet browser-maker Netscape. Microsoft argued it had no monopoly in operating systems and always acted within the law.

Netscape, now a part of America Online Inc, had a head start in the manufacture of browsers, but Microsoft eventually won the lion's share of the market. The government also charged Microsoft tried to bully other companies. In other portions of his ruling, Jackson said Microsoft's actions harmed consumers and it used its power to punish any firm that could intensify competition.

The judge's ruling sets the stage for a later ruling on whether Microsoft's actions constitute a violation of antitrust law.

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