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web posted December 6, 1999

President Clinton's brother arrives in North Korea to perform

The brother of U.S. President Bill Clinton arrived in Pyongyang on December 2, accompanying three dozen South Korean entertainers on a cultural visit to North Korea's capital.

Roger Clinton and his rhythm and blues band joined well-known South Korean pop stars for a concert on December 5, sponsored by the semiofficial Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, in a 2 000-seat arts theater in Pyongyang.

Clinton told CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon that he'd wanted to travel to North Korea for several years, but the political climate wasn't right. Now, with his brother seeking to improve relations with the isolated communist nation, the "singing" Clinton said he hoped his approach could make a difference.

"Politics ... is supposed to stand for progress but sometimes stands in the way," he said. "I thought that this would be a way of ... maybe opening some lines of communication, and who knows, maybe starting some kind of peace process that apparently has not been able to start through political means."

Tensions between the United States, North Korea and its Asian neighbors escalated last year when North Korea fired a rocket over Japan. Talks held in September between Washington and Pyongyang appear to have halted the testing of a new, more powerful missile.

In a gesture of good will, Roger Clinton laid flowers at a statue of North Korea's late leader, Kim Il Sung.

"You don't have to be a politician to do something worthwhile," he told MacKinnon. "I'm hoping to use my position as first brother to ... just show people what good people really want, and that people just want to get along."

The communist north had shielded its population from what it terms "poison and garbage" from capitalist South Korea and the United States, but a severe food shortage has forced the North Koreans to seek help from the very nations it has shunned in the past.

A spokesman for South Korean ad agency Korecom said Clinton was donating his pay back to the impoverished country.

While North and South Korea have remained technically at war since an armed truce stopped fighting in the 1951-1953 Korean War, the two have taken tentative steps toward more normalized relations.

Anti-gunners try to ban Moses

Charlton Heston says he would not back down from giving a reading at a Jewish center despite opposition from a group that advocates gun control.

Heston's appearance on December 2 at the Skirball Center was inappropriate in light of a shooting in August at a Los Angeles Jewish community center, said a group called Women Against Gun Violence.

A white supremacist is charged with wounding several people at the center and later killing a postal worker.

Ann Reiss Lane, chairwoman of the group, wrote a letter to the Skirball Center pointing out that Heston is president of the National Rifle Association, which "advocates absolutely no regulations whatsoever on private gun ownership, including assault weapons and other weapons of mass destruction."

Heston said on November 29 the letter was "entirely irrational."

"I'm doing a series of readings: Shakespeare, Byron, Shelley, Frost," he said. "It has nothing to do with what she is talking about."

The reading went on as scheduled.

Bush survives, Keyes animated during debate

Texas Gov. George W. Bush found himself on the receiving end of a variety of figurative slaps on December 2 in the first fully attended Republican presidential candidate forum, but he and his five party rivals managed to maintain a cordial, civil exchange through the entirety of the long-anticipated 90-minute event.

The event, televised throughout the first-primary state of New Hampshire from the studios of Manchester television station WMUR, marks the first time Bush has appeared in a presidential face-to-face question-and-answer forum with his rivals. The other five candidates already have participated in several debates and public forums.

Bush was taken to task for his stance on the preservation of the Social Security system, and for his five-year, $483 billion tax cut proposal unveiled the day before.

Magazine publisher Steve Forbes, the man many expected to set his sights on Bush early, accused Bush of scheming to raise the age of eligibility for full Social Security benefits, after Bush told a morning talk show the week before that such a move would be one of many he would consider to keep the social aid system solvent.

"What are you going to raise the retirement age to?" Forbes asked. "It's already been raised to 67. This consideration is a form of betrayal. 'Consideration' is code for 'we're going to do it.'"

Bush countered that he had only mentioned consideration of a hike in the national retirement age. "I'm going to Washington to save and strengthen Social Security," Bush said, before pounding Forbes with a quote of his in own, in which Forbes advocated raising the national retirement age to 67 or 68.

"That quote was written 20 some-odd years ago, when the system was in crisis," a surprised Forbes responded, adding that his latest proposal to allow the vast majority of Americans to invest a portion of their Social Security benefits would eliminate the need for any changes in the recommended retirement age.

Forbes later accosted Bush on his tax plan, saying the cuts proposed by Gov. Bush were "small, inadequate, and leave the (Internal Revenue Service) in place."

Forbes advocates a national flat tax of some 17 percent annually.

"Don't phase in the cuts over five years," Forbes said. "Help people now."

A majority of the other candidates joined Forbes in criticizing the Bush tax plan, and the current revenue collection system. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch recommended the "terrible" tax code be rewritten top to bottom, while former U.N. ambassador Alan Keyes -- easily the most animated of the six speakers -- called for a return to the early American system of revenue collection.

"We need to get rid of the 16th amendment, and return to the original system that funds government with a variety of tariffs and duties," Keyes said. Of the Bush plan, Keyes intimated that the current tax process makes slaves of American workers who pay into government coffers with every paycheck.

"We are supposed to thank 'Massah' Bush because he is going to give us some (money) back," Keyes said.

For his part, Bush seemed satisfied with the varied criticism, saying, "For some its not enough, some too big. That leads me to believe I'm doing something right."

The forum covered a variety of topics, ranging from military readiness and a possible U.S. response to a theoretical Chinese missile attack on Taiwan, to regulation of the Internet and how to deal with Microsoft's advantage in the high-tech marketplace.

Christian activist Gary Bauer started off the evening with the first dig at Bush, urging him to nominate a running mate who held clear, anti-abortion views.

Nonetheless, Bush did not have to endure the sort of fierce, multi-participant attacks that many observers predicted awaited him. Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain -- the two of the six Republicans with the best chance for a win in New Hampshire -- exchanged pleasantries during the debate, with McCain commenting on Bush's attractiveness as a candidate, and Bush describing McCain as "a good man."

While most of the other GOP candidates campaigned actively during the week, Bush spent much of his time in debate preparations. He fended off moderators' questions on foreign policy and economic issues by touting his record as governor of Texas, "the second-largest state in the union."

"If Texas were a nation, it would have the 11th-largest economy in the world, " Bush said. "The people (of Texas) appreciate the fact that I know how to lead."

Until now, Bush had not been pressed to join his Republican counterparts in previous candidate forums. Substantially ahead of the other candidates in nationwide polling but in a tight race with McCain in New Hampshire, Bush's campaign only recently pushed up its original plan to keep him out of debates until January.

The debate's unusual rules allowed two moderators to question the candidates in turn. Each candidate was then given a minute to reply and 45 seconds to answer a followup. The White House hopefuls were also allowed a minute and 45 seconds apiece to make closing statements.

Forbes received a boost the next morning in the form of the endorsement of Manchester's staunchly conservative Union Leader newspaper.

Of the publisher, the newspaper writes, "Steve Forbes is not charismatic. (Some would say he looks like a geek.) But he's also not a phony. Ask him a question, you'll get a thoughtful answer, not a soundbite."

On Bush, the paper is not so effusive. "Bush is a nice guy but an empty suit with no philosophical underpinning."

Fringe anarchists in middle of violent demonstrations

Anarchists represented a tiny fraction of thousands of mostly peaceful protesters in Seattle last week, but their violent tactics put them on center stage as they rampaged through downtown, smashing store windows with hammers, spray-painting buildings and slashing tires.

The self-proclaimed anarchists appeared to be mostly teenagers and twentysomethings who donned black ski masks and black clothes sporting the anarchist symbol of the letter "A" in a circle.

The circled "A" is one of the most familiar symbols of anarchism and represents the slogan "Anarchy Is Order." Other symbols of anarchy include the black flag and the red-and-black flag.

A 28-year-old Oregon protester who identified himself only as "Smoke" said the rampage was justified.

"The idea of property is violent," said the man, wearing a black army helmet with the circled "A" symbol. "Some people are focusing their energy on the WTO instead of capitalism in general. Even if we stop the WTO here, we're not stopping capitalism."

He called non-violent protesters "peace police" and accused them of "pushing their views on some of us who are more radical."

Another protester, who said he is 24 but would not give his name, said that the real violence was being perpetrated by corporations and governments against the world's natural resources.

"A lot of the anarchists did what you'd expect of anarchists," said Mayor Paul Schell, describing how unruly demonstrators appeared to fall in behind peaceful protesters.

The anarchist movement represents a range of groups, from organized and primarily nonviolent groups like the Industrial Workers of the World to loosely knit and more extremist splinter groups such as the Eugene, Ore.-based Black Army Faction.

Anarchist thought, which dates back to the 19th Century, supports resistance to the state and capitalism, and encompasses a broad, and often vague, political platform and trade unionism.

Many of the younger generation of anarchists believe in using extreme measures, including violence against property, to achieve their goals.

"They're saying, 'Enough is enough' -- we don't have time to change things nonviolently," said Smoke.

A 17-year-old protester called "Rain" said protests in the 1960s failed to overthrow the government because "they were passive."

"I don't think it's right to hurt someone," said Rain, who had joined in the rampage, smashing windows and shouting. "But property destruction is not violence . . . And we're not just going to lay down and say, 'Peace, Love, let me give you a flower, piggie.'"

Rain said concerns run the gamut from excessive consumerism, environmental issues to urban despair of poverty and homelessness.

She also said spray-painting and property damage are effective tools. "It's fun and it gets people's attention," Rain said.

An 18-year-old Seattle man, who identified himself as "Meth," said he had participated in spray-painting anarchy symbols on downtown jewelry stores and other businesses on Pike Street and Pine Street.

"This is greed," the man said. "Where else would an anarchy symbol belong."

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