Saturday, September 11, 2004

Quebec Exports Women for Late-Term Abortions

Last Updated | Sep 10 2004 03:05 PM EDT
Some abortions must be done in U.S.: minister

QUEBEC CITY - Quebec Health Minister Philippe Couillard regrets the need to send some Quebec women to the U.S. for late-term abortions
Last year, the provincial government sent 30 patients to clinics in Kansas and New York for treatment.
Couillard said that Quebec simply doesn't have the expertise to perform the specialized procedures in the province.
Long-time abortion activist Dr. Henry Morgentaler said he approves of Quebec sending women to Kansas for late-term abortions.
"These abortions are difficult to do and they have a high rate of complications," he said, noting that late-term abortions require specialists to carry out the procedure.
He pointed out that Quebec is not the only province that does this. "We do it here in Ontario as well, because we do not have enough doctors here in Canada that would provide abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy," Morgentaler said.
It is rare for a woman to require an abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy, and is most often needed by very young women or women with difficult social situations, he said.


Quebec hopes to offer late-term abortions
Last Updated Fri, 10 Sep 2004 19:06:28 EDT

QUEBEC - The province hopes to have a doctor in place next year that will offer late-term abortions to women six months pregnant and beyond, Quebec health officials announced Friday.
Canadian women now travel to Colorado, Kansas and Washington to obtain these abortions because no Canadian doctor will perform them, including Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who says he has ethical problems performing 24-week pregnancies.
But despite his personal views, Morgentaler doesn't believe new rules on late-term abortions are needed because most abortions take place between six and nine weeks of pregnancy.
The government's decision on late-term abortion was defended by Quebec Health Minister Philippe who said, "In Quebec, our doctors at the present time don't feel comfortable doing abortions later than 22 weeks. From 20 to 22 weeks they're all done in Sherbrooke, after that we still don't have the capacity to do them here."
"It is extremely hard for a woman to have a late abortion and also hard for the doctor that performs it, both psychologically and other ways, Couillard told CBC radio, "
Quebec's bishop Msgr. Marc Ouellet criticized the government's announcement saying the whole concept of abortion is unacceptable, regardless of weeks. He would prefer the money be spent helping women complete their pregnancy and offer the child for adoption.
The Canadian Medical Association suggests an abortion take place before the fetus is viable, usually at 500 grams or 20 weeks of pregnancy.
In 2003, 30 women from Quebec sought abortions in the U.S. past 22 weeks of pregnancy. A B.C. health official says that a handful of women from the province head to Washington state each week.
Each late-term abortion costs about $5,000 US.
In 2001, 96.7 per cent of Canadians had abortions before 16 weeks of pregnancy, a Statistics Canada survey shows.

Ratings Not So Fab Anymore for 'Queer Eye'

Ratings not so fab as 'Queer Eye' fades
Friday, September 10, 2004 Posted: 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) -- Once television's fashion sensation, "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" seems to be going out of style.
Barely a year after the Bravo series exploded into a pop-culture phenomenon, its ratings indicate that "Eye" has become as passe as white jeans after Labor Day.
Viewership for first-run episodes plummeted during the summer by about 40 percent versus a year ago in the NBC Universal-owned cable network's target demographic, viewers 25-54, as well as 18-49. Tuesday's new episode drew 804,000 in the latter demographic -- its second-lowest yet.
There is no shortage of factors that might explain the drop, ranging from overexposure to heavy competition in its Tuesday 10 p.m. time slot. While many cable series fray at the edges in their sophomore seasons, "Queer Eye's" ratings decline has been steeper than most in recent years.
"It's a pretty stiff decline," said Brad Adgate, senior vp research at media-buying agency Horizon Media. "It's a little surprising because you would think the halo effect of having the Olympics on Bravo would help it, too."
But with "Eye" still the network's top-rated series and an Emmy nomination to its credit, Bravo president Lauren Zalaznick believes the series has already proved its worth by putting the network on the map and paving the way for the next generation of Bravo originals.
"The strategy for 'Eye' was a very sound one: to take Bravo from nowhere to somewhere," said Zalaznick, who added oversight of the network with the NBC Universal merger in May. " 'Eye' is going to live a long, healthy life."
Still, she allowed for the possibility of some creative tweaking.
" 'Eye' does not need a facelift," she said. "Maybe a little Botox."
The decline of "Eye" would have seemed unthinkable last summer: The provocatively titled makeover series was drawing buzz even before its debut in July 2003. "Eye" proceeded to break Bravo ratings records repeatedly in its opening months with help from new owner NBC, which heavily marketed the series and even aired a few of its episodes in primetime.
By the fall, the "Fab Five" cast of Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia, Kyan Douglas, Ted Allen and Jai Rodriguez were seemingly everywhere, from appearances on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" to "Eye"-branded books and CDs. They also made their mark through endorsement deals, like Filicia's pitchman pact with retailer Pier One.
But "Eye" began to sink not long after beginning its second season in June. It bottomed out August 3, with just 617,000 viewers in that demographic; an episode that aired the same week last year drew nearly 2 million 25-54 viewers.
Bravo's overall ratings for August responded in kind, dropping 20 percent from the previous year in 18-49 and 25-54 -- despite having three hours of Olympic coverage leading into primetime on the East Coast. However, Bravo researchers note that "Eye" is not down nearly as sharply when repeat episodes are measured.
Not helping matters is "Eye's" crowded Tuesday time slot, including TBS rebroadcasts of "Sex and the City" and a second-year cable series that has avoided slumping, FX's "Nip/Tuck." But "Eye" held its own last year in a time slot just as tough, which also included MTV's perennial powerhouse "The Real World."
In retrospect, the series' early success might have been its timing. "Eye" blew in amid a perfect storm of social trends, as gay issues like same-sex marriage made headlines and the boon of makeover-style programming like "Trading Spaces." The "Fab Five" were also well situated to become the goodwill ambassadors of metrosexuality, the male-grooming trend then just starting to build.
"They were properly positioned for all those elements coming together," said Michael Wilke, executive director of the Commercial Closet, an organization studying the depiction of gays in advertising. "But if you embody a cultural moment, it presents the challenge of continuing past that moment."
Another culprit is the questionable staying power of reality programming itself, particularly in the makeover category, which was already approaching saturation before "Eye" began. The granddaddy of the genre, TLC's "Spaces," recently registered huge losses but has been on the air since 2000.
Ubiquity also has a way of accelerating the life cycle of a hit series; industry observers compare "Eye" to MTV's "The Osbournes," another hit reality series-cum-media obsession that burned out quickly after going white hot. But "Osbournes" didn't drop as steeply as "Eye" in its second season.
MTV is able to compensate for the short shelf life of unscripted programming with a prolific production unit. Bravo has pledged to double its own output, but while other new series including "Celebrity Poker Showdown" have improved on the primetime average, none are on "Eye" level.
In an unintended way, the decline of "Eye" actually plays into the growth strategy for Bravo. Now that the series has raised the channel's visibility, Bravo needs to define the channel's identity beyond being a one-hit wonder. "We are not just the 'Queer Eye' network," said Jeff Gaspin, president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, at a July press conference.
But some of the upcoming programming was inspired by "Eye" itself, including a 13-episode spinoff, "Queer Eye for the Straight Girl," and a British adaptation of "Eye" currently on the air. Zalaznick doesn't believe they are rehashing a tired concept. "It's an OK risk to take," she said. "This show has been so successful, I would put on the Japanese or Slovenian version."
There's plenty more of the original "Eye" on the way as well, with Bravo ordering 40 episodes from Scout Prods. in October.

Is There a Yale Presidential Conspiracy?

Is there a Yale presidential conspiracy?
By H.D.S. Greenway | September 10, 2004

CONSPIRACY theorists have noted that for the last 15 years every occupant of the White House has held a degree from Yale University. Indeed, there has been a Yalie on the ticket in every presidential race for the last 32 years, running either for president or vice president.
During the primary season, three of the Democratic contenders hoping to wrest the presidency from Yale man George Bush were also Yale men: John Kerry, Howard Dean, and Joe Lieberman. And Yale's run will continue no matter who wins in November. With Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush waiting in the wings, who knows how long this will continue? How about Barbara Bush, Yale '04, versus Anne Dean, '06, in a decade or two?
Furthermore, both John Kerry and George Bush were members of America's most famous college club, the secret society of Skull and Bones. Even though it takes in only 15 seniors a year, "Bones" can claim all of Yale's White House occupants: William Howard Taft, George H.W. Bush, and his son, fueling the conspiratorial fires of the secret manipulation of American society by sinister elites.
Yale and Harvard are neck and neck in the number of past presidents, albeit Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton had Yale law degrees and were not Yale undergraduates. If Kerry wins, Yale will surge ahead, although some might argue that Harvard's two Adamses, two Roosevelts, and John F. Kennedy might have a qualitative edge.
But, clearly, this is Yale's moment, and it is fair to ask why. When F. Scott Fitzgerald was looking at colleges he found Harvard sort of indoors. He found Yale brisk and energetic like a day in October. But Princeton, he wrote, was lazy and aristocratic like a day in June, and so he chose Princeton.
Fitzgerald's description of Yale was apt. Yale has often seemed more driven than its rivals. Alexandra Robbins, author of a book about Skull and Bones, quotes Italian scholar and Yale professor Thomas Bergin, who wrote in 1982 that while no one "seemed in a hurry" at Cornell, Yale was always in high gear. Yet "as much work seemed to get done in the one place as the other . . . The difference it seemed to me was that the old, puritanical imperatives of service, competition, and awards still linger in New Haven."
Yale was founded in 1701, 65 years after Harvard, by dissident Harvard men who thought that Harvard was losing its religious fervor. Old Yale encapsulated a tradition of manliness and honor. It is hard to imagine those ancient heroes of boy's literature, Dink Stover and Frank Merriwell, going anywhere but Yale. Whereas individualism might flourish at Harvard, Yale stressed team play, conformity, and the Roman virtues.
Although Yale owes much to Oxford and Cambridge, many of its traditions grew out of America's fascination with German education in the early 19th century. Yale's anthem, "Bright College Years," is the same tune, but not the words, that the German officers sing in "Casablanca" when they are drowned out by the rest of the customers singing the "Marseillaise" at Rick's Cafe.
Yale's secret societies, of which Skull and Bones is the oldest (1842), were born in the tradition of early 19th-century German romanticism that inspired Wagner. Although dueling with sabers never made it to New Haven, the Yale societies still share a lot with their German counterparts.
The secrecy part certainly has lent an aura to Yale's senior societies and to Yale's mystique. It is no coincidence that the statue of America's first spy, Yale man Nathan Hale, that graces the old campus in New Haven is replicated at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.
Yale was changing fast when Bush and Kerry were experiencing their college years. The university was becoming more egalitarian, more diverse, leading up to the admission of women in 1969, the year after George W. Bush graduated. Skull and Bones didn't follow suit until 1991.
Yale is more of a meritocracy and more intellectual now, but a faint penumbra of the old "puritanical imperatives of service" remains. On a bright autumn day in New Haven that last line of the college song, "For God for Country and for Yale," may not seem quite the classic definition of anticlimax that it is.

H.D.S. Greenway's column appears regularly in the Globe.

Constant Monitoring Everywhere

The Land Beyond Transactions
With new streams of information, such as RFID and metadata, coming on fast, companies are closely following the emergence of two key advances: "location" analytics and metadata mining. Together, they could deliver higher intelligence about key business processes.
By Stewart McKie

Analytics add business value by leveraging corporate data streams. Until recently, the focus of business analytics has been the transaction data stream. The bulk of business analytics today is wedded to corporate transaction systems managing financial, demand, and supply chain transactions. These transactions reflect what used to be paper documents — orders, invoices, payments, and so forth. And there's still a long way to go to optimize and extend the scope and reach of transaction analytics. But as new data streams are expanding the domain of analytics, they're driving new directions in analytic technology. Two such directions are location and metadata analytics.
Look at any business today and the traditional transaction data stream is just one of many. The use of the Web for e-commerce — online sales, sourcing, and marketing — has generated new clickstreams to mine to better understand customer buying behavior and brand preferences. Digital voice traffic, email, and now instant messaging are also creating equally voluminous message streams that literally encapsulate much of the day-to-day conversations of doing business. Web site log files and call-center or email archive files are the basis for clickstream and message-stream data analysis. But what's interesting about the new directions in analytics is that the drivers are less the data streams themselves but new hardware and new ways of describing data.
Location Analytics
Location analytics is about creating business value gained from data derived from location awareness, the movement of people and items between locations, and location context. Location analytics is being driven by the proliferation of synergistic hardware, including global positioning satellites (GPS), mobile/cell phone networks, and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. Broadly speaking, people-centric location analytics will depend on mobile phone and GPS networks, while item-centric location analytics will depend on RFID tags.
Locating people is already relatively accurate. With services such as FollowUs a user of a standard mobile phone can be located within 100 meters in an inner city area in the United Kingdom. The latest cell/mobile phones enabled with Assisted GPS (A-GPS) can bring that down to less than 40 meters. (For examples of the capabilities location-based services can deliver, see the Qualcomm SnapTrack link in Resources.)
But it's not just people that can be tracked. When a vehicle is fitted with a GPS-enabled device such as the AsItMoves locator, the location of the vehicle can be pinpointed to within tens of meters. And there will soon be literally billions of items (and people) that can be located once they're fitted with a RFID tag and come within range of an RFID scanner. A RFID tag stores data that allows a scanner to record the location of an object (and other contextual information) when it comes within the scanner's range by reading and writing data from and to the tag (if required). And these aren't the only devices generating location data. Closed circuit TV cameras in stores, streets, and highway tollbooths are also collecting location data in the form of timestamped images of people or vehicle traffic.
The use of RFID data is particularly interesting because of the potential and scope of RFID use in a business context. RFID tags have already found their way not just into "things" — such as delivery trucks and the items, cartons, or pallets transported along a supply chain — but also into animals and even humans. RFID technology is not only used for asset location tracking but also for identification and recording contextual data at a point in time. VeriChip is a supplier of RFID tags that have been implanted in humans to allow specific individuals entry into secure areas or provide medical information to doctors. Passive RFID tags carry data that RFID scanners can read — for example, a product identifier, a patient's medical status, or the origin of a cow in the food chain. Active RFID tags allow contextual data to be written to the tag as part of a read and write scanning process including location identifiers, timestamps, and temperature.
Currently, the business focus of RFID is in supply chain optimization. According to Jonathan Byrnes, a senior lecturer at MIT (see Resources): "Analytical applications improve supply chain coordination, ensuring that the right amounts of the right products are in the right places at the right times. An example of this is using RFID to get an early read on demand trends, and transmitting this information throughout the supply chain to align production and inventory levels." However, improving demand forecasting isn't the limit of RFID's analytic potential. RFID will become a key part of the "real-time enterprise" by providing new data streams about the location, movement, and context of both animate and inanimate objects within an organization.
But location analytics based on RFID faces a number of challenges. The volume of data collected could be enormous. With the potential for thousands of scanning devices operating in a large organization scanning at rates much faster than humans can create and post "transactions," we could move toward RFID databases that might reach multiple terabytes — maybe even a petabyte — dwarfing the largest data warehouses of today. Also, standards are required to oil the flow of data, like the use of globally accepted Electronic Product Codes (EPCs) and data interchange metadata such as the XML-based Physical Markup Language (PML). And there are important privacy and security implications when RFID is embedded in humans that go way beyond concerns about who knows when and where you bought a candy bar.

Copyright © 2004 CMP Media LLC

TV Series to Highlight Steamy Side of the UN

TV series to highlight the steamy side of U.N.
Thursday, September 9, 2004 Posted: 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- Sex, drugs and corruption among U.N. peacekeeping forces in the world's most dangerous hot spots will become fodder for a new TV series, the whistle-blowing authors of a tell-all book said Wednesday.
"Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures," written by current and former U.N. peacekeeping mission employees Heidi Postlewait, Andrew Thomson and Kenneth Cain, will be developed and produced as a dramatic series by Miramax Television.
"We hope the TV series will reflect the very best and the very worst of U.N. peacekeeping forces in the '90s," said New Zealander Thomson, a U.N. medical doctor who served in Cambodia, Haiti and Rwanda among other danger zones.
"We haven't pulled any punches," he told a news conference.
The book caused a sensation when it was published by Miramax Books in June over objections by some senior U.N. officials who thought it cast the international organization in a bad light and was inaccurate.
Cain, who quit the world body in 1996 after a disillusioning experience in Liberia, said the trio delved into their personal lives to tell "what it felt like and smelled like" and that they felt compelled to write the story of corruption and failed leadership that contributed to disasters in Rwanda in 1994 and in Bosnia at about the same time.
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard described the book as "sensationalist, exploiting the sex angle and not in the U.N.'s interest to be published."
Eckhard confirmed that Postlewait and Thomson, who remain employed by the U.N., have been reprimanded for failing to get U.N. approval for the book.
"We didn't set out to write a scandalous book," said Thomson. "But it was a scandal that a million people were killed and not a single official was investigated or disciplined," he said, referring to 800,000 deaths in Rwanda and 200,000 in Bosnia.
Thomson said Secretary-General Kofi Annan had acknowledged the U.N. needed provisions to protect whistle-blowers. "Heidi and I see our book as a test case," he said.
The title of the book is taken from an incident that in Somalia involving Postlewait, a former New York social worker, and a local interpreter.
"I can feel this pounding inside me and I can't wait. It has to be right now, not in ten minutes, not five. Now," she wrote. "An emergency. Emergency sex."

Broadcast of a Skull and Bones Initiation Ceremony

The first ever audio broadcast of a Skull and Bones initiation ceremony was made on BBC Radio 4 last night (9th September 2004) at 2000hrs BST.
The programme ran for 30 minutes and should be heard by everyone; so that they truly know who is pulling their strings and where the puppeteers’ loyalties lie.
You can listen again online here:

Friday, September 10, 2004

Attempt to Derail Forced Mental Screening Fails

Attempt to dump mental screening fails
Rep. Ron Paul hoped to stop mandatory federal program for children
Posted: September 10, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2004

An amendment offered by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, in the House of Representatives yesterday that would have remove from an appropriations bill a new mandatory mental-health screening program for America's children failed by a vote of 95-315.
Paul's amendment would have removed the program from the Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2005. Ninety-four Republicans and one Democrat sided with Paul, while 118 Republicans, 196 Democrats and one Independent voted against the amendment.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the New Freedom Initiative recommends screening not only for children but eventually for every American. The initiative came out of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, which President Bush established in 2002.
Critics of the plan say it is a thinly veiled attempt by drug companies to provide a wider market for high-priced antidepressants and antipsychotic medication, and puts government in areas of Americans' lives where it does not belong.
As WND reported yesterday, Kent Snyder of the Paul-founded Liberty Committee argued strongly against the program:
"The real payoff for the drug companies is the forced drugging of children that will result – as we learned tragically with Ritalin – even when parents refuse."
The congressman, who is known for his strict adherence to the Constitution, wrote in a letter to his colleagues before the vote: "As you know, psychotropic drugs are increasingly prescribed for children who show nothing more than children's typical rambunctious behavior. Many children have suffered harmful effects from these drugs. Yet some parents have even been charged with child abuse for refusing to drug their children. The federal government should not promote national mental-health screening programs that will force the use of these psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin."
The New Freedom Commission found that "despite their prevalence, mental disorders often go undiagnosed" and recommended comprehensive mental-health screening for "consumers of all ages," including preschool children.
The commission said, "Each year, young children are expelled from preschools and childcare facilities for severely disruptive behaviors and emotional disorders."
Schools, the panel concluded, are in a "key position" to screen the 52 million students and 6 million adults who work at the schools.

Canadians 'Giving Up' on Religion?

Canadians giving up on religion, poll finds

Canada is bounding along the road toward a secular society, with half the adult population now of the opinion that more regular attendance at religious services by people would be of no benefit to Canadian society, says a survey published yesterday by the Centre for Research and Information on Canada.
The CRIC poll shows that 61 per cent of Canadians believe religious practice is an important factor in the moral and ethical life of the nation -- which is a drop from 79 per cent in 1980.
And when CRIC asked Canadians how important religion is to their personal lives, their responses placed Canada in the ranks of the world's most secular countries -- less churchy than Britain, on a par with Italy, and not a great deal more inclined to institutional faith and worship than Germany, France, Russia or Bulgaria.
Only 29 per cent of Canadians say religion is a very important part of their lives, in contrast to 59 per cent of Americans who give it high personal importance.
Another 37 per cent say religion is somewhat important -- for a total of 66 per cent. But 20 years ago, 76 per cent of the population said it was either very or somewhat important.
As for the question of whether society would be better off if people attended religious services more regularly, 50 per cent agreed, but a surprising 48 per cent disagreed -- a disagreement rising to 60 per cent in British Columbia and Quebec. (In Atlantic Canada, on the other hand, 67 per cent of respondents said more regular religious attendance would be of social value.)
Age is a significant determining factor in the religious values of Canadians, the CRIC survey found. Young Canadians were least likely to feel -- only 35 per cent in the 18-to-29 age group -- that Canadian society would be better off if more people regularly attended religious services. And barely 50 per cent of Canada's youngest adults said religion was either very or somewhat important in their lives.
The figure rose to 64 per cent for Canadians aged 30-to-44, to 68 per cent for those aged 45-to-59 and 76 per cent for Canadians over the age of 60. Religion also was personally important more to women (72 per cent) than men (59 per cent).
Interestingly, a majority of Canadians -- 56 per cent -- felt that public schools should teach children about all the major religions of the world.
Support for the notion was lowest in Ontario, perhaps because of the province's culturally diverse society -- the most diverse in the country -- combined with the growing debate over why only Roman Catholics are the only faith community entitled to a publicly funded school system.
Eleven per cent of respondents said the public schools should teach children only about the Christian religion because it is the faith espoused by the country's majority. But perhaps ironically, support for this view was highest in one of the country's two most secular provinces -- Quebec (19 per cent) -- but lowest in the other -- B.C. (6 per cent).
The telephone survey of 1,500 adults was done by Environics Research Group in June.
The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

'Chechen' Terrorists Couldn't Speak Chechen


MOSCOW, September 6 (RIA Novosti) - Terrorists who seized a school in North Ossetia's Beslan, September 1, were receiving orders from abroad throughout the three suspense-laden days, says Aslanbek Aslakhanov, President Vladimir Putin's adviser for North Caucasian affairs.
"The men had their conversations not within Russia but with other countries. They were led on a leash. Our self-styled friends have been working for several decades, I deem, to dismember Russia. They are doing a huge, really titanic job. It's clear as daylight that those people are coming up as puppeteers and are financing terror," he said to the Rossia television company, national Channel Two, tonight.
Though the bandits named certain people they wanted to see as negotiators, and Mr. Aslakhanov was among them, he is sure the terrorist gang really did not mean whatever contacts.
Aslanbek Aslakhanov, a Chechen, was on the site throughout the tragedy, and contacted the gang on the telephone. "The men were certainly not Chechens. When I spoke Chechen with them, they said they couldn't make out a word. 'Speak Russian,' they told me. Well, I did as they wished, though I speak Russian with a Caucasian accent," he said in his TV interview.

Police Embrace Biometric Technology

Police share digital mugshots in post-Sept. 11 embrace of biometrics
Jim Bronskill
Canadian Press
Friday, September 10, 2004

OTTAWA (CP) - Canadian police forces have begun electronically sharing mugshots as part of a project that could eventually lead to a nationwide database of crime suspect photos.
Three Ontario police services converted their mugshot files into digital images for the pilot project, then pooled their efforts to create a searchable online library of 118,000 photos. Police used the computerized tool to quickly - and often successfully - compare images of people they arrested with the virtual library containing photos from old mugshot books, video surveillance tapes and composite drawings.
"Matches could be found even where the subject went from long hair to bald in five years," says a recent report by the Canadian Police Research Centre, one of the participants.
The project is just one example of how law-enforcement, security and intelligence agencies are embracing biometric technologies in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Authorities say the terrorist assaults revealed a glaring need to better track and share information about people of concern.
Critics predict the move toward reliance on such biometric identifiers as fingerprints, facial images and iris scans will be a troubling legacy of 9-11. They foresee an Orwellian society in which civil liberties and privacy are sacrificed in the name of national security.
Advocates insist the brave new technologies will make Canada a safer place.
The digital mugshot initiative, known as Project BlueBear, was a collaboration of the Canadian Police Research Centre, private firm VisionSphere Technologies Inc. and the southern Ontario police services of York, Windsor and Chatham-Kent.
In announcing the pilot effort two years ago, John Arnold, chief scientist for the police research centre, said "the events of 9-11 clearly demonstrate the need for police services on both sides of the border to share information in a more timely, cost-effective way."
Participants feel the best police uses for the facial-recognition technology are confirming the identity of suspects prior to booking, identification of faces caught on video surveillance systems and the compilation of "suspect" databases.
"All agreed that the BlueBear system would be even more effective linked to larger and more police mugshot systems."
The initiative could help fulfil a long-term federal goal of ensuring all Canadian police services can collect and transmit digital fingerprint images, mugshots and biographical information.
While the events of Sept. 11 seem to have accelerated adoption of high-tech tools and security watch lists, experts question their value in fighting terrorism.
"In the case of 9-11, only two of the 19 attackers would have appeared on watch lists and would have been stopped," said Andrew Clement, an information studies professor at the University of Toronto.
Dogged investigation and field work is necessary to determine whether someone might be a terrorist, particularly since many try to keep an ultra-low profile before committing a deadly act, he said.
"If they are a suicide bomber, they only get to do it once. There's no record, there's no database of their prior activity that indicates danger."
A federal task force on identity documents acknowledged earlier this year that biometrics cannot conclusively establish a person's identity.
"Nor can biometrics replace the intelligence necessary to determine that someone is likely to be a terrorist, or some other public security concern," said a report by the task force.
However, the paper added, such digital markers can help support investigative work and "may prove to be the only speedy or non-discriminatory way to identify impostors or people of security concern."
Among the initiatives involving biometrics currently in the works:
-Proposals that would require virtually all newcomers to Canada, including visitors, refugees, permanent residents and new citizens, to be fingerprinted and photographed.
-An electronic passport featuring the holder's photo and biographical information on a computer chip.
-Electronic comparison of photos of passport applicants against images of people on security watch lists.
Some see these watch lists as the Achilles heel of the biometric strategy.
The often poor quality of such files means matches can actually be serious cases of mistaken identity, says Roch Tasse of the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.
"There's no coherent system to manage those lists."

© The Canadian Press 2004

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Forced Mental Screening Hits Roadblock

Forced mental screening
hits roadblock in House
Rep. Ron Paul seeks to yank program, decries use of drugs on children
Posted: September 9, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Ron Strom
© 2004

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, plans to offer an amendment in the House of Representatives today that would remove from an appropriations bill a new mandatory mental-health screening program for America's children.
"The American tradition of parents deciding what is best for their children is, yet again, under attack," writes Kent Snyder of the Paul-founded Liberty Committee. "The pharmaceutical industry has convinced President Bush to support mandatory mental-health screening for every child in America, including preschool children, and the industry is now working to convince Congress as well."
As WorldNetDaily reported, the New Freedom Initiative recommends screening not only for children but eventually for every American. The initiative came out of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, which President Bush established in 2002.
Critics of the plan say it is a thinly veiled attempt by drug companies to provide a wider market for high-priced antidepressants and antipsychotic medication, and puts government in areas of Americans' lives where it does not belong.
Writes Snyder: "The real payoff for the drug companies is the forced drugging of children that will result – as we learned tragically with Ritalin – even when parents refuse."
Paul's amendment to the Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2005 would take the new program out of the funding bill.
The congressman, who is known for his strict adherence to the Constitution, wrote in a letter to his colleagues: "As you know, psychotropic drugs are increasingly prescribed for children who show nothing more than children's typical rambunctious behavior. Many children have suffered harmful effects from these drugs. Yet some parents have even been charged with child abuse for refusing to drug their children. The federal government should not promote national mental-health screening programs that will force the use of these psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin."
The New Freedom Commission found that "despite their prevalence, mental disorders often go undiagnosed" and recommended comprehensive mental-health screening for "consumers of all ages," including preschool children.
The commission said, "Each year, young children are expelled from preschools and childcare facilities for severely disruptive behaviors and emotional disorders."
Schools, the panel concluded, are in a "key position" to screen the 52 million students and 6 million adults who work at the schools.
The state of Illinois has already approved its own mental-health screening program, the Children's Mental Health Act of 2003, which will provide screening for "all children ages 0-18" and "ensure appropriate and culturally relevant assessment of your children's social and emotional development with the use of standardized tools."
Members of the Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership have held several public hearings on the program in recent months, hearing from parents and others who oppose the mandatory screening.
Karen R. Effrem, M.D., is a physician and leading opponent of mandatory screening. She is on the board of directors of EdWatch, an organization that actively opposes federal control of education.
"I am concerned, especially in the schools, that mental health could be used as a wedge for diagnosis based on attitudes, values, beliefs and political stances – things like perceived homophobia," Effrem told WorldNetDaily.
"There are several violence-prevention programs that do say if a person is homophobic, they could be considered potentially violent."
Continued Effrem: "This mental-health program could be used as an enforcement tool to impose a very politically correct, anti-American curriculum."
Effrem emphasized the new program has no guarantees of parental rights, noting some children have died because parents were coerced to put their kids on psychiatric medications.
Snyder says the following groups have come out in opposition to the screening program: Eagle Forum, Gun Owners of America, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Concerned Women of America, Freedom 21, the Alliance for Human Research Protection, and the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology.
A screening program in Paul's home state began nearly ten years ago. The Texas Medication Algorithm Project, or TMAP, was held up by the New Freedom Commission as a "model" medication treatment plan that "illustrates an evidence-based practice that results in better consumer outcomes."
The TMAP – started in 1995 as an alliance of individuals from the pharmaceutical industry, the University of Texas and the mental health and corrections systems of Texas – also was praised by the American Psychiatric Association, which called for increased funding to implement the overall plan.
But the Texas project sparked controversy when a Pennsylvania government employee revealed state officials with influence over the plan had received money and perks from drug companies who stand to gain from it.
Allen Jones, an employee of the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General says in his whistleblower report the "political/pharmaceutical alliance" that developed the Texas project, which promotes the use of newer, more expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs, was behind the recommendations of the New Freedom Commission, which were "poised to consolidate the TMAP effort into a comprehensive national policy to treat mental illness with expensive, patented medications of questionable benefit and deadly side effects, and to force private insurers to pick up more of the tab."
Jones points out, according to a British Medical Journal report, companies that helped start the Texas project are major contributors to Bush's re-election. Also, some members of the New Freedom Commission have served on advisory boards for these same companies, while others have direct ties to TMAP.

Wal-Mart Seeks to Boost Image

Wal-Mart in offensive to boost image
By Neil Buckley in New York
Published: September 8 2004 19:11 | Last updated: September 8 2004 19:11

Wal-Mart vowed to go on the offensive to protect its reputation from critics of its business and labour practices, and said growing opposition would not slow its growth.
Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's chief executive, told a Goldman Sachs retail conference in New York that the world's largest company was engaged in an “outreach programme” to get its story across.
The company has faced growing publicity over the past year over its poor pay and benefits for workers. It has also met increased opposition to new stores - often organised by labour unions - particularly as it expands into urban areas.
It faces a series of lawsuits, including a sex discrimination suit involving up to 1.6m women that could be the biggest civil rights class action against a US private employer. Other suits allege that it forced staff to work unpaid overtime.
“We have got to eliminate this constant barrage of negatives . . . that cause people to wonder [whether] Wal-Mart was going to be allowed to grow. Because, clearly, the customer is going to allow us to grow,” Mr Scott said.
“We have not got our story out to the extent that we need to,” he said. “We as a company have failed to tell people that we in fact don't have a majority of part-time jobs - almost 80 per cent of our jobs are full-time jobs. We don't pay the minimum wage. We spent $2bn in health benefits last year.”
He admitted that, with 1.5m employees, Wal-Mart needed to make a culture change from the days when Sam Walton, the retailer's founder, ran the company, and clamp down harder on any employee wrongdoing.
Mr Scott added that the company would analyse all criticism, and make changes if criticism was justified.
“Where we get criticism that is simply wrong, we are going to fight it,” he said.
The Wal-Mart chief said it was important to get its message across to people who did not live near a Wal-Mart store and did not know the company.
“A different group of stakeholders is important to us - people who are not familiar with Wal-Mart stores, so their view of Wal-Mart is what they read in the newspapers or see on TV.”
But Mr Scott said opposition to store openings was not slowing its expansion. It was on track to open 230 or 240 new stores this year and would open more than that next year. He added Wal-Mart had not changed its optimistic outlook for the Christmas shopping season in spite of weaker-than-expected August sales.

Animal Rights Activists Draw Parallels With Holocaust

Phillips Square exhibit a shocker
Equates food animals, Holocaust victims
The Gazette
September 9, 2004

A stark photo of a naked, emaciated man in a concentration camp, juxtaposed against a bone-thin calf on a farm. A photo of dead victims of the Nazis, piled like garbage, next to a shot of a mound of slaughtered pigs.
In Phillips Square at midday yesterday, large, disturbing images from a pro-vegetarian exhibit titled Holocaust on Your Plate greeted passers-by, some of them munching on lunch from a Burger King across the street.
The display, which has angered Jewish groups, made its Canadian debut in Montreal after touring 100 other cities.
Banned in Germany and Britain, it hits Ottawa today and Toronto tomorrow.
Eating meat is akin to Nazism is the message from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known for its graphic, controversial animal-rights tactics.
A young Jewish woman who happened upon the exhibit disgustedly handed a pamphlet back to a PETA activist.
"You can't compare people to animals, especially when you're showing pictures of the Holocaust, people who are starved, their bones sticking out," she said. "It's wrong, it's offensive."
Standing next to one of PETA's eight panels, each measuring about two by 2 1/2 metres, another passer-by said the imagery shocked him.
Halldor Eiriksson was sitting on a bench, eating a turkey sandwich. "I think it's rather tasteless to compare animals" to
the millions imprisoned and killed in concentration camps, he said.
"And, logically, I don't think it makes sense. There are things in the production of meat that are definitely not OK, but their comparison is simply wrong. These animals have been produced for meat. There's a fundamental difference between why they are being killed. They are products, just like soybeans or whatever."
Matt Prescott, the Virginia-based PETA activist who created the exhibit, said he objects to how chickens, pigs and other animals are crammed together, mutilated and killed in factories and slaughterhouses.
PETA is "not saying meat-eaters are the equivalent of Nazis. We're saying anybody who eats meat is guilty of holding the same mindset that allowed the Holocaust to happen. We can take a stand against that every time we sit down to eat by adopting a vegetarian diet."
Prescott, who is Jewish, said most of his mother's family was killed in Nazi camps in Poland.
"As a Jew and as somebody who has family who died in these camps, I think there's no better way to honour the memory of those who died and make sure they didn't die in vain," he said.
But Mayer Schondorf, 74, one of about 7,000 Holocaust survivors living in Montreal, said it's "absolutely unthinkable" to compare the treatment of animals to his years as a child imprisoned in four concentration camps, including Auschwitz.
Schondorf described the camps as "total deprivation, total inhumanity, beatings, watching constantly for every step that you make and trying to survive, being deprived of food and water and being in danger every moment that you'll be taken out for execution or sent to the gas chambers."
Local Jewish leaders were also appalled by PETA's tactics.
To "use the Holocaust as a tool to sensationalize their cause is not only offensive and insulting to the memory of the Holocaust and its survivors but to all humanity," said Ann Ungar, executive director of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.
Jeffrey Boro, president of the Quebec section of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said the exhibit "trivializes what transpired in the Second World War and the suffering of these people."
Survivors "almost had to live like animals to survive. To be compared to an animal afterward is something that would tear at their souls," he said.

Ontarians Sour on McGuinty Liberals

Ontarians turn sour on McGuinty Liberals
Accusations of promise-breaking take toll
Thursday, September 9, 2004 - Page A16
The Globe and Mail

Ontario voters have turned thumbs down on Premier Dalton McGuinty and his Liberals, giving them failing marks on their problem-plagued performance over 10½ months in office, according to the latest poll by Ipsos-Reid.
The poll shows that the government has been damaged by accusations of breaking its promises, especially for raising taxes to pay for health care after pledging during last year's election campaign to hold the line on tax bills.
According to the poll conducted for The Globe and Mail, radio station CFRB and CFTO television, voters would opt for the Progressive Conservatives to form the government if an election were held now, even though the party has not yet chosen a new leader.
In the so-called "horse-race" question about which party would win an election if one were called now, 35 per cent said they would vote for the Conservatives, down from 39 per cent who picked that party in early June. The Liberals would be supported by 32 per cent, unchanged from the June results.
Twenty-four per cent would back the New Democratic Party, led by Howard Hampton, up one percentage point since June. And 8 per cent would prefer the Green Party and its leader, Frank de Jong, up three percentage points.
Over all, 6 per cent said they were undecided and 1 per cent would pick another party.
John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos-Reid, said results show that voters are unhappy with Mr. McGuinty's government. "The man is wearing it. The Premier himself has had a rough time."
Alleviating the political gloom for the Liberals, he said: "They are not being trounced by another party. Instead, the parties are pretty evenly bunched."
More damaging for the Liberals are the dismal approval numbers given to Mr. McGuinty and the majority belief that his government is taking the province in the wrong direction. Sixty-one per cent of those polled said that they disapprove of Mr. McGuinty's performance, while only 29 per cent said they approved. The others did not respond.
This represents an increase of 15 percentage points in the number of voters who are unhappy with Mr. McGuinty since the question last was asked in April. Reinforcing this number is the finding that 52 per cent of those polled say the province is on "the wrong track." Only 42 per cent say it is on "the right track." The rest did not respond. The poll, conducted between Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

Powell Declares Genocide in Sudan

Powell declares genocide in Sudan
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/09/09 16:25:56 GMT

The US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the killings in Sudan's Darfur region constitute genocide.
Speaking before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr Powell said the conclusion was based on interviews with refugees who had fled Darfur.
He was speaking as the UN Security Council prepared to debate a second resolution that threatens oil sanctions if Sudan does not stop the abuses.
His use of the term genocide is likely to influence the diplomatic debate.
Up to 50,000 people in Darfur may have died and a million have been made homeless during the conflict.
Mr Powell blamed the government of Sudan and pro-government Arab Janjaweed militias for the killings.
"We concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility and genocide may still be occurring," Mr Powell said.
Mr Powell's conclusion is based on evidence collected by state department investigators, who interviewed more than 1,800 refugees.
Their testimonies, Mr Powell said, showed a pattern of violence which was co-ordinated, not random.
Three quarters of them said the Sudanese military had been involved in the violence, working with the Janjaweed.
The BBC's state department correspondent Jill McGivering says the use of the word genocide does not legally oblige the US to act, but it does increase the moral and political pressure.
Ten years ago the UN was accused of failing to stop genocide in Rwanda.
The Sudanese government says it does not believe its allies within the UN will agree to any sanctions.
Oil threat
A previous UN resolution was passed in July, calling for the pro-government Arab Janjaweed militias to be disarmed. The new draft resolution - put forward by Washington - says Sudan has failed to fully comply.
If Khartoum has still not complied by the proposed new deadline, sanctions may be introduced "including with regard to the petroleum sector". Sudan currently produces about 320,000 barrels of oil per day.
The resolution also calls for:
 the expansion of the number and mandate of the current 300 African Union troops in the country
 international over flights in Darfur to monitor what is happening, and an end to Sudanese military flights there
 UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to assess whether acts of genocide have been carried out and identify the perpetrators.
Critics point out that Colin Powell first demanded Khartoum stop the violence at the beginning of July.
Two months later, they say, the government still has not met key demands, yet the US is proposing allowing it another 30 days.
The US House of Representatives had already declared the violence genocide, but the state department has until now argued that the word is a legal definition and that the data had not been available.
'Not enough aid'
Meanwhile, aid agencies including Oxfam, Care International and Save the Children have accused three nations of failing to give enough aid to Darfur.
The agencies criticised Japan, France and Italy for giving only $6m, $9.6m and $10.8m respectively.
"These are some of the richest countries in the world and they have been some of the poorest donors," an Oxfam spokeswoman said.
The US contributed $206m in 2004-5, and the UK gave $94m.
The European Union as a whole is a large donor, but the agencies point out that a UN appeal for $531m to carry out humanitarian work in Darfur in 2004 has raised only $276m.

Gay Degenerates Plot Toronto Event

(Warning: Explicit language)

No frills f-----
PUSSY PALACE LITE / Sisters are doing it for themselves
story by Leanne Cusitar / Xtra! Sep 2 2004

Word on the street is that the bodacious babes behind the Pussy Palace are
making a bold new move in their quest to provide Toronto with hassle-free
girl-on-girl booty calls. But unlike previous events, this one will be
aimed at all the low-maintenance hoochies out there.

Anyone who's attended one of the Toronto Women's Bathhouse Committee's
previous Sapphic soirees knows the veritable cornucopia of sensual
delights that have awaited them there. The second you stepped through the
doors you entered an alternate universe of carefully constructed
sex-positivity, complete with guided tours of the premises that included
stops at massage rooms, lap-dancing nooks, a peek in at the temple
priestess, cupid games and much, much more. All of the activities designed
to put women in the mood have been provided by a horde of yummy
volunteers, ever-so-eager to serve bathhouse patrons.

On Thu, Sep 16 the event will take a turn toward the DIY model with a
no-frills Pussy Palace just like the ones the boys have available to them
every day. Here adventurous gals in search of a little no-questions-asked,
no-phone-numbers-given koochie will be in charge of what they give and
get. As the committee puts it, it's got all the flavour of the former
bathhouses with none of the additives.

Carlyle Jansen, long-time member of the Toronto Women's Bathhouse
Committee, says the group would like to offer the bathhouse nights more
frequently but the amount of work involved is huge. And with a human
rights case still pending before the courts over the police raid four
years ago they're already pretty busy gals. Hopefully, a back-to-basics
approach will allow the committee to provide more events with less work,
as well as provide an opportunity for the gals who've attended previous
parties to show off what they've learned.

(If you yearn for the luxury of the previous Pussy Palace events, don't
worry. There's a plan to continue running bathhouses with all the
trimmings; the committee hopes to be able to run at least one event of
each type per year if they get a good response to this one.)

It's always been the committee's hope that the more nervous gals venturing
into the bathhouse would find the various services a yummy way to warm up
to more sizzlingly spontaneous action as the night went along, and to
encourage gals receiving services to feel free to provide a bit of sexy

themselves. After all, there's nothing like receiving a sensual massage to
put you in the mood to give one, right? Evidence that this strategy works
has been demonstrated on previous Pussy Palace nights; where gals who just
received a tantalizing treat from one of the many volunteers on hand were
often observed being inspired to (ahem) share the wealth, to the great
glee of all the lucky gals involved.

Pussy Palace Lite will expand on this tradition by providing a golden
opportunity for all those lascivious and lovely lusty ladies with an
opportunity to demonstrate just how truly bold 'n' bootylicious they are
by putting more of themselves on the line, all in the name of expanding
their sexual horizons. The only difference will be they'll be operating
more independently than usual at this event.

If you've always dreamed of dazzling the gals with your smooth and silky
lap-dancing moves, bring a couple of sexy outfits and let 'er rip. If
you're really feeling inspired, you could even hang out your shingle and
do a hands-on training for a bevy of eager babes. The same goes for things
like massages, cupid games and other deliciously decadent diversions - if
you can think it up, you can provide it at the Pussy Palace Lite event.
(Just remember it's all volunteer-based. Nobody gets paid for her time at
an event like this.)

Of course, not every gal who goes will want to do this - some of us are,
after all, more into receiving than giving - but it's likely there'll be
more than enough of us who do to get everybody's motor running.

Another advantage of the more stripped-down approach is the increased
emphasis on gals becoming more direct about expressing their desire for
the sweet patooties who get their knickers in a twist. Gals interested in
this type of space will be thrilled. More women will be attending this
event with a renewed determination to cruise like the boys do - directly,
succinctly and without the need for all the bells and whistles. Sure, it
can be a lot scarier to approach that hot babe you've got your eye on than
lining up for some guaranteed attention from a volunteer, but how else
will you ever learn to get out there and ask for what you want, even if it
means you risk getting shot down in the process?

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started:

. Get into a hard-core chick-cruising mode before you arrive. That might
mean going it alone so you don't end up joined at the hip with your
friends instead of prowling the halls like the sultry sex bomb you really

. Start off with a bang by scheduling an early evening sex date with an
existing lover to get you ramped up and ready to hit on all those gals out
there waiting for you. Even if you are the shy type, there's nothing like
the just-f----d look to get the gals sniffing around

. Vary your cruising style. Saunter, sashay or stride the maze of
hallways. Then, when you find a nook or cranny that particularly appeals
to you (the sling room comes to mind), prop yourself up against the wall
and wait for the gals to come to you. Make eye contact with everyone,
indicating your interest (or lack thereof) clearly. If they respond to
your slow, seductive smile, get your horny ass over there and tell them
what you're looking for. If they don't get your nibbly bits in a twist,
simply turn your head away - if they still approach, politely say
"Thank-you, but I'm not interested"

. Expect rejection. It's part of the game and isn't about you, anyway.
Someone either floats your boat or not, and if you go in expecting to hear
a few nos you're a lot more likely to hang in there till you hit the gals
that can't wait to say yes to you.

So whether you're a seasoned bathhouse babe ready for the hunt or a
blushing novice eager to have her Pussy Palace cherry popped, there's a
good chance you'll find something at Pussy Palace Lite that'll work for
you. Organizers are crossing their fingers that they'll see hundreds of
fabulous femmes, sweet-hot butches, ever-appealing androgynes and
tantalizing trans folk out. After all, if enough women and trans folk
attend to make it financially worthwhile for the clubs, it could mean
doubling the number of bathhouses they provide - and who could complain
about that?

$17 for a room. $10 for a locker.
8pm-2am. Thu, Sep 16.
Club Toronto. 231 Mutual St.
(416) 925-9872 ext 2115.

Stephen Harper Sells Out on Social Conservatism

Harper to be 'more severe judge' of MPs whose views damage party
Wed Sep 8, 6:35 PM ET

OTTAWA (CP) - Free speech is one thing, but Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says he'll be tougher on loose-lipped caucus members who trample party principles.

Outbursts on abortion, same-sex rights and bilingualism played into Liberal hands during the June election campaign, Harper acknowledged Wednesday in an interview. Those mistakes won't happen again, he vowed.

"In a campaign, the whole issue is about what the party's running on. You expect members, if they're going to be on the team, to be on the team. Some of what happened last time can't be repeated, and it won't be repeated."

Harper will be "a more severe judge" of those whose public musings stray from the party platform, he said. He didn't offer details.

The party - born last December of the merged Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives - also announced it will hold its first convention in March, allowing all members a hand in crafting its official policy book.

"Look, it is a fine line because the party does value the right of members of Parliament to represent their constituents, to have diverse views on some controversial public policy issues," Harper said.

He has no plans to vet MPs' speeches in the House of Commons, he said, but election campaigns demand unity and discipline.

He was angered by relentless Liberal attacks casting his party as dangerously right-wing, he said.

But Harper also spent much precious time between stump speeches dousing political brushfires set by his own candidates. Whereas the Conservative platform had carefully sidestepped touchy moral issues in an effort to broaden its appeal, some incumbent MPs couldn't help unloading.

It didn't help that the party hadn't yet held a policy convention to hammer out the finer details of its principles.

Cheryl Gallant, re-elected in an Eastern Ontario riding, made damaging headlines when she compared abortion to the beheading of an American contractor in Iraq (news - web sites). She followed that up by saying most Conservatives would like to rescind hate-crimes protections for gays and lesbians.

Harper's confidant and former language issues critic, Scott Reid, was demoted during the campaign for suggesting a review of French-language services.

But Randy White of British Columbia perhaps earned the longest stay in Harper's dog house with remarks on Conservative plans to override court judgments on same-sex marriage. The comments were made public just two days before the June 28 vote, knee-capping Harper's carefully choreographed dance around the issue.

The dream of a Conservative government collapsed, but Harper still led his party to 99 seats and an Ontario breakthrough, as the Liberals were cut to minority status.

The next step toward power will take more than defusing a few loose cannons, says Faron Ellis, a political scientist at Lethbridge Community College. A more painful shift is needed.

Social conservatives may be loud but they're a minority in the new party, he said.

"The problem is that their views tend to characterize . . . the party as something it's really not."

Pulling the Conservatives firmly on to political middle ground "won't be pretty," says Ellis, co-author of New Conservatives, Old Problems, a chapter in a book about the election to be published this fall.

"That's the test for this party."

Harper had little to say Wednesday about the election campaign outburst that was perhaps most damaging: a rhetorical missive from Alberta Premier Ralph Klein about provincial changes that could breach the Canada Health Act.

Klein's oft-repeated threat, uttered during the heat of an election campaign, was music to Liberal ears. Strategists used it to paint Harper as a willing accomplice in a Conservative conspiracy to kill medicare.

Harper was frosty Wednesday when asked about the state of his relations with Klein.

"I haven't had occasion to speak to him," he said.

Global Suicide Toll Exceeds That of War and Murder

Global suicide toll exceeds war and murder
13:37 08 September 04 news service

Suicide kills more people each year than road traffic accidents in most European countries, the World Health Organization is warning. And globally, suicide takes more lives than murder and war put together, says the agency in a call for action.
The death toll from suicide – at almost one million people per year – accounts for half of all violent deaths worldwide, says the WHO. “Estimates suggest fatalities could rise to 1.5 million by 2020,” the agency warned on Wednesday.
"Suicide is a tragic global public health problem,” says Catherine Le Galès-Camus, WHO’s assistant director general for non-communicable diseases and mental health. “There is an urgent need for coordinated and intensified global action to prevent this needless toll."
The WHO is holding a meeting of experts in Geneva, Switzerland, to address suicide prevention ahead of its “World Suicide Prevention Day” on Friday.
"It's important to realise that suicide is preventable," points out Lars Mehlum, president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention. "And that having access to the means of suicide is both an important risk factor and determinant of suicide."

Muslim countries
The number of suicides in most European countries exceeds the number of annual traffic fatalities, says the WHO. In 2001, the global toll from suicide was greater than the 500,000 deaths from homicide and the 230,000 deaths from war combined.
And an estimated 10 to 20 million people survive failed suicide attempts each year, resulting in injury, hospitalisation and trauma, says the agency. However, the ultimate extent of the problem is unknown as full reliable data is unavailable.
The highest suicide rates are found in Eastern Europe, says WHO, whereas people in Latin America, Muslim countries and a few Asian nations are least likely to die by their own hand.
Suicide rates tend to increase with age but “there has recently been an alarming worldwide increase in suicidal behaviours amongst young people aged 15 to 25”, warns WHO. Men also successfully commit suicide more than women – with the exception of rural China and parts of India.

Blister packs
The most common methods for committing suicide include swallowing pesticides, using firearms and overdosing on painkillers. Curbing access to these methods is a crucial factor in preventing suicide.
“One recent breakthrough was the move by many pharmaceutical companies to market painkillers in blister packs rather than more easily accessible bottles, which had a significant impact on their use as a suicide method,” says WHO.
High self-esteem and social “connectedness” can protect against suicide. Psychosocial interventions based on these and appropriate treatment of mental disorders has cut suicides among people at risk in countries such as the UK and Finland, says WHO.

Shaoni Bhattacharya

Another Woman Injured in Abortion?

Kansas Abortion Business Accused of Botching Late-Term Abortion
by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
September 8, 2004

Wichita, KS ( -- The presence of an ambulance outside a local abortion business last week has pro-life advocates concerned that yet another woman has suffered a botched abortion at the facility owned and operated by infamous late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller.
On September 2, members of Operation Rescue West reported an ambulance arriving at Tiller's Woman's Health Care Services to pick up an African American woman, "visibly writhing in pain."
The woman was taken to Wesley Medical Center, where Tiller as admitting privileges, but the woman's condition is unknown.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue West, who saw the ambulance take the woman away, told that women admitted to Tiller's business get recorded as "Jane Doe," making identification and nearly impossible.
A spokesperson for Woman's Health Care Services, Tiller's abortion business, refused to comment or confirm details of the incident.
"Why do you even call," an unidentified WHCS staffer told "we are not going to tell you anything."
Wesley Medical Center could not comment on the situation as the woman's name was unknown.
Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, told that abortion practitioners don't want ambulances showing up at their businesses, and will frequently use private vehicles or taxis to transport injured women to the hospital.
"For an ambulance to show up, it must have serious," said Culp.
Operation Rescue West also reported that Leroy Carhart, the abortion practitioner who filed one of the three lawsuits challenging the federal partial-birth abortion ban in Nebraska, was on duty at the time.
Tiller, however, accompanied the woman to the hospital as Carhart does not have admitting privileges at Wesley.
The Women's Health Care Services is the single largest abortion facility in the United States and one of the few to perform late-term abortions. So far this year, three staff members have resigned their positions, including two site managers.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Mark Steyn on the Russian School Massacre

Mark Steyn: No other word for it but slaughter
September 06, 2004

PHOTOGRAPHED from above, the body bags look empty. They seem to lie flat on the ground, and it's only when you peer closer that you realise that that's because the bodies in them are too small to fill the length of the bags. They're children. Row upon row of dead children, more than a hundred of them, 150, more, many of them shot in the back as they tried to flee.

Flee from whom? Let's take three representative responses: "Guerillas", said The New York Times. "Chechen separatists", ventured the BBC, eventually settling for "hostage-takers". "Insurgents", said The Guardian's Isabel Hilton, hyper-rational to a fault: "Today's hostage-taking," she explained, "is more savage, born of the spread of asymmetrical warfare that pits small, weak and irregular forces against powerful military machines. No insurgent lives long if he fights such overwhelming force directly . . . If insurgent bullets cannot penetrate military armour, it makes little sense to shoot in that direction. Soft targets – the unprotected, the innocent, the uninvolved – become targets because they are available."

And then there was Adam Nicolson in London's Daily Telegraph, who filed one of those ornately anguished columns full of elevated, overwritten allusions – each child was "a Pieta, the archetype of pity. Each is a Cordelia carried on at the end of Act V" – and yet in a thousand words he's too busy honing his limpid imagery to confront the fact that this foul deed had perpetrators, never mind the identity of those perpetrators.

Sorry, it won't do. I remember a couple of days after September 11 writing in some column or other that weepy candlelight vigils were a cop-out: the issue wasn't whether you were sad about the dead people but whether you wanted to do something about it. Three years on, that's still the difference. We can all get upset about dead children, but unless you're giving honest thought to what was responsible for the slaughter your tasteful elegies are no use. Nor are the hyper-rationalist theories about "asymmetrical warfare".

For one thing, Hilton is wrong: insurgent bullets can "penetrate military armour". A rabble with a few AKs and a couple of RPGs have managed to pick off a thousand men from the world's most powerful military machine and prompt 75 per cent of Hilton's colleagues in the Western media to declare Iraq a quagmire.

When your asymmetrical warfare strategy depends on gunning down schoolchildren, you're getting way more asymmetrical than you need to be. The reality is that the IRA and ETA and the ANC and any number of secessionist and nationalist movements all the way back to the American revolutionaries could have seized schoolhouses and shot all the children.

But they didn't. Because, if they had, there would have been widespread revulsion within the perpetrators' own communities. To put it at its most tactful, that doesn't seem to be an issue here.

So the particular character of this "insurgency" does not derive from the requirements of "asymmetrical warfare" but from . . . well, let's see, what was the word missing from those three analyses of the Beslan massacre? Here's a clue: half the dead "Chechen separatists" were not Chechens at all, but Arabs. And yet, tastefully tiptoeing round the subject, The New York Times couldn't bring itself to use the words Muslim or Islamist, for fear presumably of offending multicultural sensibilities.

In the 1990s, while the world's leaders slept – or in Bill Clinton's case slept around – thousands of volunteers from across the globe passed through terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and were then dispatched to Indonesia, Kosovo, Sudan . . . and Chechnya. Wealthy Saudis – including members of the royal family – invested millions in setting up mosques and madrassas in what were traditionally spheres of a more accommodationist Islam, from the Balkans to South Asia, and successfully radicalised a generation of young Muslim men. It's the jihadist component – not the asymmetrical one, not the secessionist one – that accounts for the mound of undersized corpses, for the scale of the depravity.

If the Russian children are innocent, the Russian state is not. Its ham-fisted campaign in Chechnya is as brutal as it is ineffectual. The Muslims have a better case in Chechnya than they do in the West Bank, Kashmir or any of the other troublespots where the Islamic world rubs up against the infidels. But that said, as elsewhere, whatever the theoretical merits of the cause, it's been rotted from within by the Islamist psychosis.

I wonder if, as they killed those schoolchildren, they chanted "Allahu Akbar!" – as they did when they hacked the head of Nick Berg, and killed those 12 Nepalese workers, and blew up those Israeli diners in the Passover massacre.

The good news is that the carnage in Beslan was so shocking it prompted a brief appearance by that rare bird, the moderate Muslim. Abdulrahman al-Rashed, the general manager of al-Arabiya Television, wrote a column in Asharq al-Awsat headlined, "The Painful Truth: All The World's Terrorists Are Muslims!" "Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture," he wrote. This is true. But, as with Nicolson's prettified prose in London, the question remains: So what? What are you going to do about it? If you want your religion to be more than a diseased death cult, you're going to have to take a stand.

What happened in one Russian schoolhouse is an abomination that has to be defeated, not merely regretted. But the only guys with any kind of plan are the Bush administration. Last Thursday, the President committed himself yet again to wholesale reform of the Muslim world. This is a dysfunctional region that exports its toxins, to Beslan, Bali and beyond, and is wealthy enough to be able to continue doing so.

You can't turn Saudi Arabia and Yemen into New Hampshire or Sweden (according to taste), but if you could transform them into Singapore or Papua New Guinea or Belize or just about anything else you'd be making an immense improvement. It's a long shot, but, unlike Putin's plan to bomb them Islamists into submission or Chirac's reflexive inclination to buy them off, Bush is at least tackling the "root cause".

If you've got a better idea, let's hear it. Right now, his is the only plan on the table. The ideology and rationale that drove the child-killers in Beslan is the same as that motivating cells in Rome and Manchester and Seattle and Sydney. In this war, you can't hold the line against the next depravity.

(Mark Steyn is a columnist for Britain's Telegraph Group and the Chicago Sun-Times.)

Newspapers Engaging in Navel Gazing

Aug. 28, 12:49 EDT
This just in
Newspapers in the United States have been rushing to contrition. Is it navel-gazing, or a break with the newspaper industry's tr
Randy Dotinga
The Christian Science Monitor

To judge from this year's rash of apologetic post-mortems, American newspapers are a very sorry bunch.

The New York Times acknowledged downplaying skepticism about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. USA Today explored how it let a top foreign correspondent fool editors for years with fake reports.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post ran a front-page story that said the newspaper's prewar coverage "in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times."

And, perhaps most amazingly, a Kentucky newspaper in July admitted that it had virtually failed to cover the civil rights movement.

Some of this, of course, is damage control in an era when the news media are struggling to restore faltering credibility with readers. But beyond that, there's a debate over what this trend signifies -- a mere bout of self-analysis that amounts to navel-gazing, or a break with the newspaper industry's tradition of considering itself above reproach.

"We have a culture of thinking that we're always right," says Arlene Morgan, associate dean at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and former assistant managing editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In reality, of course, newspapers make plenty of blunders, from confusing actress Angelica Huston's last name with the largest city in Texas to declaring that President Bush carried a fake turkey to soldiers in Iraq last Thanksgiving. (He didn't.)

Readers notice the errors.

In 1999, a landmark industry report found that nearly a quarter of newspaper readers surveyed discovered factual errors in newspapers each week; 73 per cent said they'd become more skeptical of media accuracy. Then, last year, the credibility of the press fell even further when alert journalists began exposing colleagues who fabricated and plagiarized their stories.

In a world where Jayson Blair became fodder for a David Letterman Top 10 list, it's perhaps not surprising that The New York Times, in particular, has been sensitive about mistakes. Among other things, it hired a reader's representative who promptly annoyed staffers with a series of critical columns.

In addition to post-scandal damage control, there's another factor in the growing list of mea culpas, according to Geneva Overholser, faculty member at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Internet, she says, gives critics a louder voice than they had in the past, when they needed access to a printing press to spread their opinions across the country. "Each of these criticisms is far more powerful than it used to be," she says, "and in turn causes newspapers to feel more compelled to be transparent. That is a good thing."

Otto von Bismarck famously said that it's best not to see how laws or sausages are made -- and some say the chaotic inner workings of newspapers shouldn't get a public airing, either.

In many cases, however, readers seem to like knowing how editors make decisions. San Antonio Express-News editor Robert Rivard says his weekly column about the newspaper's successes and failures "goes a long way toward placating a lot of readers who have questions. What readers don't want is a vacuum, an information vacuum. They want to know the story behind the story."

Then again, some critics think newspapers have gone too far. In the influential online magazine Slate, media critic Jack Shafer ripped Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader for its "appetite for painless self- flagellation" after it explored the failure of its predecessors to cover the local impact of the civil rights movement.

"If the Herald-Leader had any real editorial guts," Shafer writes, "it would exhume a defective story from five years ago -- a story touched by its current crew of editors and reporters -- and run it through the Revisionator."

Rivard agrees that the past doesn't always need to be rehashed. "You have to keep it contemporary," he says.

Journalists also have to be careful to avoid "fawning over one another as though the entire world is as interested in us as we are," Overholser says.

Whether extensive self-analysis is good or bad, much of the American media remains untouched by regular displays of contrition.

Many newspapers, like The Christian Science Monitor, communicate directly with readers only through occasional editor's columns or published corrections when substantial mistakes are uncovered.

The Monitor, for instance, ran a front-page correction and apology after publishing a story about a British member of Parliament that turned out to be based on forged documents. Just a few dozen of the nation's 1,500 daily newspapers have ombudsmen or reader's representatives, and they're virtually unheard of in the broadcast industry.

Why? Thin skin is one explanation, but lack of money is another. Overholser admits that, when she was editor of The Des Moines Register, she would rather have spent $40,000 to hire a police reporter than an ombudsman.

Even if newspapers do examine themselves, that's no guarantee of improvement.

"Do you really fix the systemic problems of not listening to your staff, of shutting down when people are concerned about certain ethical practices?" asks Morgan. "Are you really fixing the problem and then disclosing to the public how you fixed it?"

Halfhearted efforts, she says, will risk being like many of the recent internal exposes -- "more public relations than public information."

Cash Is No Longer King

Last update: September 5, 2004 at 6:18 PM
Shoppers flock to debit cards
Chris Serres
Star Tribune
Published September 6, 2004

In the ongoing battle for shoppers' wallets, cash is no longer king.
Plastic finally has outstripped cash and checks as the most popular way to buy items at the checkout line, according to a recent study by Dove Consulting and the American Bankers Association.
The biggest factor behind the change in consumer buying habits is the explosive growth of bank-issued debit cards, which draw money directly from a consumer's account when a purchase is made.
Shoppers like the cards because they are convenient; banks are pushing them because they are cheaper to process than checks and are a lucrative source of fee revenue.
One out of three purchases now are made with debit cards, compared with one out of five purchases four years ago, according to Boston-based Dove Consulting.
People are whipping out the cards everywhere from burger joints and gas stations to parking lots and thrift stores.
"It's convenient," Danny Sanchez, 25, said after swiping his Wells Fargo debit card to buy a cheeseburger and fries at a Hardee's restaurant in St. Paul. Sanchez, a graphic design student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, said he prefers using a card because the payments are easier to track and he doesn't like to carry cash.
Banks have a vested interest in encouraging customers like Sanchez to use their cards.
Most banks do not charge any fees to own or use a debit card. However, they do collect an interchange fee from merchants each time a customer swipes a debit card. The fee typically ranges from 0.7 to 1.5 percent of the purchase amount.
The fees add up. Last year, regional bank TCF Financial Corp. of Wayzata collected $53 million from its debit cards, more than double the $20.7 million it collected in 1999.
"Banks save on expenses and earn more fee income, so they have a clear interest in enticing more people to use these cards," said Ben Crabtree, a banking analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co.
Indeed, banks are so fond of the cards they have begun offering cash rewards and discounts similar to those traditionally offered by credit card companies.
For instance, holders of U.S. Bank's Visa check card earn a small cash reward -- equal to one-quarter of 1 percent of a purchase amount -- each time they sign for a check card purchase. Last year, U.S. Bank gave back $35 million to its check cardholders through the rebate program. Those not interested in the cash can receive airline miles or points toward the purchase of consumer items.
"This is the best debit card, hands down, anywhere in the country," boasted Christine Hobrough, U.S. Bank's retail market president for the Twin Cities.
U.S. Bank is not the only bank pushing plastic.
Last month, TCF unveiled a card, "TCF Miles Plus," that lets customers earn points that can be redeemed to buy airline tickets. Cardholders earn one point for every dollar spent. Based on an August sampling of air fares, about $25,000 spent on the card would earn enough points to buy a flight from Minneapolis to New York on a major carrier.
TCF's new product is a credit card, but it functions like a debit card with purchases deducted directly from checking accounts. And unlike most credit cards offering airline miles, TCF's card has no annual fee and is not subject to travel blackout dates or airline seat restrictions.
"Traditionally, cards have been commodity products" for banks, said Crabtree of Piper Jaffray. "But a card like [TCF's Miles Plus] is powerful enough that it might actually help the bank win some new customers."
The cards also are valuable retention tools. Banks have found that customers are less likely to switch to a competing bank if they are trying to accumulate mile points or other rewards on their cards.
"It's about creating customer loyalty," said Ed Kadletz, executive vice president and director of debit card services at Wells Fargo, which unveiled a debit card rewards program of its own in April. "Let's say you've got a [Wells Fargo] credit card, a debit card, automatic bill payment ... the relationship becomes very deep and very broad. You get comfortable and you are less likely to leave to another financial institution."
However, consumers should keep a close eye on fees. One out of five banks nationwide charges customers a fee when they enter a personal-identification number, or PIN, instead of signing for a purchase, according to Dove Consulting. None of the major Minnesota banks charge this fee, but in some parts of the country it can range from 10 cents to $1.50 per transaction.
Fear of fees is a major reason Dan Lindquist, 39, of St. Paul, uses cash for just about everything. Each Friday, Lindquist withdraws just enough cash from the bank to make it through the week, and only uses his debit card to make big purchases.
"You can swipe [a debit card] here and swipe it there and not even notice that you've just spent a few hundred dollars," said Lindquist, a delivery driver at Target Corp. "With cash, I always know how much I'm spending."

Drug Trial Secrecy Puts Patients at Risk

Tue 7 Sep 2004
9:48am (UK)
'Drug Trials Secrecy Putting Patients at Risk'
By John von Radowitz, Science Correspondent, PA News

Patients are being put at risk because of the secrecy of drug companies which refuse to publish the results of clinical trials, it was claimed today.

New research suggests that data from more than a quarter of cancer trials may never reach the public domain.

In many cases the results are hidden, either to stop commercial rivals learning too much or because the findings are negative, say experts.

Experts from the Cancer Research UK charity today said they were worried about doctors and surgeons being hampered by the inaccessibility of trial data.

Secrecy could also lead to the unnecessary duplication of research, wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds, they said.

Dr Richard Sullivan, head of clinical programmes at Cancer Research UK, said: “The medical community needs to know the results of clinical trials to be able to view the entire picture of how a treatment works, how it compares to other therapies and what choices could serve patients best.

“It’s disturbing to think that important information on clinical trials is being left to gather dust.”

One study looked at 500 cancer trials and found that 26% had failed to publish their full results five years after presenting early data at a leading American conference.

Trial investigators cited lack of time and shortage of funds as their main reasons for not publishing.

But Dr Sullivan said there was a perception among drug companies that publishing early data might help the competition.

His colleague, Professor Fran Balkwill, head of translational oncology at the Cancer Research UK Clinical Centre in London, whose job is to transfer basic discoveries to the clinic, said: “All scientists, whether clinical or not, have a responsibility to make sure their data is accessible to the wider community.”

The two charity experts voiced their concerns today at the British Association Festival of Science at the University of Exeter in Devon.

They said a comprehensive database of all clinical trials was needed to monitor research progress and ensure information was published.

Dr Sullivan said it was not possible to make any predictions about lives lost because of missing data.

But he cited the example of the 20,000 to 26,000 people in Britain receiving chemotherapy for lung cancer. About a quarter of them were likely to be receiving sub-standard treatment, he said.

Dr Sullivan added: “We’re entering an era of increasing complexity when treating patients.

“Every piece of information is going to be hugely valuable. The days when there was lots of wasted information in clinical trials that didn’t really matter are gone.”

Hours-Old Baby Found in Calgary Garbage

Hours-old baby found in Calgary garbage
Last Updated Wed, 08 Sep 2004 10:17:41 EDT

CALGARY - A newborn baby was saved Tuesday night when a woman discovered him wrapped in a garbage bag and placed with the trash in a Calgary neighbourhood.

The boy, believed to be only hours old, was suffering from mild hypothermia and is in hospital.

Temperatures in Calgary hovered around 10 degrees Tuesday evening.

The woman was out walking her dog around 8:40 p.m. when she heard a sound from the bag, which was in the driveway of a home in the city's northwest. She called police and paramedics when she discovered the infant inside.

The garbage would have been collected Wednesday morning.

Calgary Police Insp. Brooke Bishop says the baby's 15-year-old mother was found in a nearby home, and was also taken to hospital.

"We have to determine the mindset of the young mother, find out what brought her to do this desperate act of leaving the baby," Bishop said. "And then social services needs to be involved.

"Whether there are criminal proceedings that have to occur ... there is so much that has to be completed before that is determined."

Written by CBC News Online staff

UK Mental Health Laws Allow Enforced Treatment

UK Mental Health Laws Allow Enforced Treatment
BBC | September 8 2004

A fresh version of government plans to allow enforced treatment of potentially dangerous mental health patients is to be unveiled on Wednesday.

The new draft of the Mental Health Bill is expected to include concessions in the wake of the heavy criticism made of the first draft published in 2002.

The Tories said those plans infringed basic human rights.

Mental health campaigners have been expressing concern about the latest draft even before publication.

'Inhumane and unethical'

The 2002 draft of the Mental Health Bill proposed measures to detain mentally ill patients for their own protection and the protection of others, even if their condition was not treatable.

There were also proposals to allow compulsory treatment in the community under Community Treatment Orders. If a patient did not stick to the treatment orders they could be detained in hospital.

The proposals were condemned as inhumane and unethical by the Mental Health Alliance and other charities, and prompted some 2,000 objections.

Critics were concerned doctors would turn into policing bodies rather than carers, and the net would be cast too wide meaning people posing no risk to others would be detained.

The re-worked draft legislation, for England and Wales, is expected to resolve some of the points of contention.

The changes

It is expected to tighten the criteria of which patients can be forced to be detained and treated in hospital to those at highest "risk" - those who are suicidal, a risk to others or are at severe risk of neglect.

It would be up to three health professionals treating the patient to define this risk.

It could include people with personality disorders if the doctors could justify that the planned treatment was clinically sound to a tribunal.

If treatment could not be justified but the person was deemed a danger to others, they should be referred to another appropriate agency such as the police, it is expected to say.

The criteria for Community Treatment Orders are also tipped to be tightened to apply to patients who relapse and are continually in and out of psychiatric hospital.

It is expected to rule against prisoners being treated under these Orders. Instead, any in need of psychiatric care should be transferred to a hospital.

Patient empowerment

Also, patients who have the capacity to make decisions about their care would be able to refuse treatments such as ECT or shock therapy, even if they were detained in hospital.

However, doctors would be able to over-ride these refusals if they and a tribunal believed the treatment would be in the patient's best interest.

Patients would be able to nominate a person as their designated carer who would no longer need to be their nearest relative.

These carers would have to be consulted when there were changes to the patient's care, such as admissions to and discharges from hospital.

Andy Bell from the Mental Health Alliance said: "The government has had lots of time to listen to everybody in the mental health community.

"Everyone, from psychiatrists to services users, carers to nurses and social workers, has said very clearly that the [original] proposals were unwise because they are not practical and in many ways not ethical.

"We are obviously hopeful that they will have headed those very strong warnings."

A committee of MPs will now review the new draft.

Local Police May Have Helped Russian School Siege

Local police may have helped terrorists plan Russian siege
Irish Examiner | September 7 2004

THE militants who seized a school in Russia, killing more than 350 people may have had help from local police, an official admitted yesterday.
Meanwhile, the president of North Ossetia, the southern province where the hostage drama unfolded, apologised for failing to avert it.
"I fully understand my responsibility," Alexander Dzasokhov told doctors and relatives of the wounded children in a hospital in the regional capital Vladikavkaz, not far from Beslan.
"I want to beg your pardon for failing to protect children, teachers and parents," said the regional leader, who looked distressed with tears in his eyes.
In another sign of officials taking responsibility for the bloodbath, the regional Interior Minister Kazbek Dzantiyev offered his resignation. It was not accepted.
"After what happened in Beslan I have no right to hold this post, both as an officer and a gentleman," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Dzantiyev as saying.
Official accounts say forces moved on the school gymnasium on Friday after Chechen separatists holding 1,000 people hostage started firing on children fleeing in panic from two explosions.
Half the dead were children. The rest were teachers, parents and relatives.
Valery Andreyev, local head of the FSB security service, was quoted by Moscow radio station Ekho Moskvy as saying the militants may have received help from local police, possibly because they were coerced.
Soslan Bidoyev, 23, whose brother was taken to hospital after the siege, was shocked by his account of events at the school when it was initially seized last Wednesday.
"He told us that when the hostages were brought in, the gunmen made the adults pry open the gymnasium floor. They took out supplies of weapons from underneath the floor," he said.
The Interfax news agency also quoted security sources as saying the weapons had been smuggled into the school well in advance.
The source claimed that arms were smuggled in during building work in the summer.
ITAR-Tass quoted an unidentified intelligence official as saying on Saturday that the school assault was financed by Abu Omar As-Seyf, an Arab who is said to represent al-Qaida in Chechnya. The news agency said the assault was masterminded by Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev.