Friday, November 26, 2004

Thousands In UK 'Unaware They Have HIV'

Thousands In UK 'Unaware They Have HIV'
Increase In Infections Largely Due To African Immigrants
BBC News
11-26-4

The number of people with HIV in the UK is still rising with 53,000 adults now living with the virus, figures show.

More than a quarter - 27% - do not know they have the infection, which could be as many as 14,300 people.

There were 6,606 new HIV infections diagnosed, the Health Protection Agency said, but that could rise to 7,000 once all the data are collected.

The new figures come as the government announced a £300m investment to tackle the UK's sexual health crisis.

The increase in HIV diagnoses compares with 6,017 cases in 2002 and 2,835 in 1998.

The increase means the UK faces rising costs as well as ill health with each HIV infection estimated to cost between £500,000 and £1m in treatment and lost productivity.

Dr Kevin Fenton, author of the HPA's Focus on Prevention report, said the increase in the number of infections diagnosed was "the result of a combination of factors".

"But it is largely contributed to by the migration of people from areas of the world where there is a high prevalence of HIV, such as sub-Saharan Africa," he said.

Distribution changes

Of the 6,606 new cases diagnosed in 2003, 58% - 3,801 - were among heterosexuals while gay and bisexual men accounted for 1,735, or 26%.

The number of new infections diagnosed in gay and bisexual men was the highest for 10 years, Dr Fenton said.

The distribution of HIV cases has changed in the past decade, moving away from gay men and into heterosexual adults.

In 1994, only 31% of new cases were in heterosexuals.

This percentage had almost doubled to 58% by last year.

The number of heterosexual diagnoses likely to have been acquired in this country had increased from 139 in 1998 to 341 in 2003, he added.

Two thirds of HIV infections acquired through heterosexual sex diagnosed in 2003 were in women - 2,465.

£300m investment

Dr Ewen Stewart, HIV spokesman at the Royal College of GPs, said: "It is worrying that there are now a large number of people in the UK with undiagnosed HIV.

"If people are concerned that they may have been exposed to HIV they should contact their GP or sexual health clinic for a test."

Professor Pat Troop, chief executive of the HPA, said sexual health services were coming under increasing pressure to cope with the number of people diagnosed with HIV and other STIs.

She said: "We carried out a survey looking at waiting times in GUM clinics which showed that fewer than a third of patients are seen at clinics within the first 48 hours of seeking an appointment.

"If people are to receive early diagnosis and treatment, these waiting times need to be reduced."

On Wednesday, the government announced a £300m investment over the next three years in an attempt to deal with the UK's sexual health crisis.

Chinese Woman Tortured Just for Being a Mother

Tortured...for being a mother
24/11/2004 09:54 - (SA)

Beijing - A woman campaigning against China's stern one-child policy is being tortured in a re-education through labour camp, including being bound hand and foot and suspended in mid-air, a rights group said on Wednesday.
Mao Hengfeng, a Shanghai resident and a mother of two, is serving an 18-month labour camp sentence and has been repeatedly subjected to abusive treatment and severe beatings, Human Rights in China (HRIC) said.
"According to the latest reports HRIC has received, Mao has more recently been subjected to even more brutal treatment," it said.
"HRIC's sources say camp police bound Mao's wrists and ankles with leather straps, and then proceeded to pull her limbs in separate directions, while demanding that she acknowledge wrongdoing."
Clashed with police since 1980
Mao was sentenced to one-and-a-half years of re-education through labour - an administrative procedure that bypasses the courts - in April after petitioning the government for years to defend her rights.
Her clashes with authorities date back to the late 1980s, when she broke Chinese law by insisting on giving birth to a second child despite severe pressure to have an abortion.
After her second delivery, she was dismissed from her job at a soap factory and entered into a lengthy court battle for her right to work.
At the time of a key court hearing, she was seven months pregnant with her third child and was told by the trial judge he would rule in her favour if she agreed to abort the child, the group said.
She had an abortion against her wishes, but in the end the court ruled that because she had contravened China's family planning policy, the factory had a right to dismiss her, the group said.
Mao subsequently embarked on a 15-year struggle for her right to work and other basic rights.
HRIC said Mao had complained of her treatment to visiting family members, who saw injuries on her wrists and ankles.
She also displayed her injuries at a November 18 hearing for legal action against the authorities for terminating her welfare assistance.
"Mao's brutal treatment by camp officials clearly contravenes the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which China has ratified," said HRIC president Liu Qing.
"Higher authorities must step in and require that camp officials desist in any further actions of this nature against Mao Hengfeng and any other prisoners."

Europe's Pension Squeeze

European realities pop pension bubbles
By Alan Cowell The New York Times
Friday, November 26, 2004

BRIGHTON, England With his crisp, gray suit, white shirt and lapel poppy commemorating the end of the First World War, Chris Shergold does not exactly seem like a vision of the future.

But for many in Europe, his story is slowly becoming theirs, reversing the assumptions that this old continent has finessed life's travails so well that its people might look forward to ever shorter working lives in ever greater comfort.

In 1997, Shergold, a 61-year-old former banker, was forced into early retirement by the merger of his employer with another bank. At the time, that seemed fine: he had a company pension, the likelihood of part-time office work and investments. It looked as if the combination would offer a generous retirement, with vacations in the sun and a good life at home.

Then, in 2000, the stock market crashed. Now he has returned to full-time work, as a financial manager for a nonprofit organization. He estimates he will have to remain there until he is 67 if he is to return to the level of prosperity he envisaged seven years ago. In other words, he said, he has discovered "that there's no sort of golden, shining cloud coming along at the end of the day."

Shergold's story goes far beyond the gravelly beaches and amusement pier of this southern English resort, which has been his home since 1976. It is a cautionary tale for his generation in many parts of Europe, as aging societies from Sweden to Spain and across Eastern Europe as well confront a demographic time bomb: With ever fewer young people to work and pay taxes, the cost of looking after growing numbers of older people with state pensions akin to American Social Security becomes ever more prohibitive.

The dream of early retirement on a well-padded pension is receding, as are other comfortable visions of the future, like the pursuit of shorter working weeks and expanded leisure time that preoccupied many, particularly in continental Europe, in the 1990s.

"They got used to having that very cushy social system and now they are slowly coming to grips with the fact that the cushy system doesn't hold anymore," said Katinka Barysch, an economist at London's Center for European Reform, a private policy research body. Or, as Shergold put it, "the majority of people will just have to stay at work that much longer."

The alternatives seem dire.

In Britain, which offers Europe's least generous old-age pensions, Adair Turner, head of the government-appointed Pensions Commission in London said, "Our problem is that we are going to have a whole lot of very poor pensioners in 30 years' time."

And in much of continental Europe, where years of social legislation have guaranteed pensions as high as 70 percent of average retirement-age paychecks, Turner said, there will be "reasonably well-off pensioners supported over a number of years that society cannot afford."

Europe's post-baby-boomers, thus, will have to save more, pay higher taxes and work longer to maintain the kind of retirement comforts that they once considered their due.

To be sure, this is not, for most Europeans, a drama of Dickensian deprivation. Consider the case, for instance, of Marie Claude Hourcade, 55, who lives in Paris and retired last February from her job as an inspector in the French customs service.

As a mother of three - a relatively large family by European standards - and a government employee, she fell into a small category of people whose retirement benefits left even her amazed.

Her pension, she said, gives her the equivalent of about $3,000 a month. This, added to the salary of her well-paid husband, offers an affluent life.

"The money enables me to have extras," she said. "I go to the theater a lot. I see exhibitions. We have a house in the countryside, where we spend the summer."

Indeed, France ranks with the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Italy and Spain as among the most generous of state providers, with French retirees expecting their pensions to be about 70 percent of their country's average earnings. (In Britain, the expectation is a bit less than 37 percent, compared with 45 percent in the United States, according to figures from Britain's Pensions Commission.)

But it is precisely that level of generosity that will be under challenge as Europe's population ages and ever fewer working people pay the taxes to finance the soaring numbers of pensioners.

At present, according to European and United Nations figures, people of working age in Europe outnumber people of retirement age by about three to one, compared with a ratio of about five to one in the United States. By 2050 in Europe, by these estimates, the figure is expected to be about two to one.

This expectation of change poses enormous problems. Italy's 18 million pensioners are used to drawing generous pensions after a maximum of 35 years at work. But faced with one of Europe's lowest fertility rates and some of its biggest pension bills, the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi plans to increase the retirement age by five years, starting in 2007.

Germany, with almost 20 million pensioners, plans to reduce the size of state pensions, measured against the average worker's salary.

With 12 million pensioners in 2000, France also plans to increase the number of years people must work to qualify for pensions.

Even in the former Communist countries that joined the European Union this year, low birth rates are creating a pension crisis.

"Anyone who talks about 'old' Europe and 'new' Europe on this is failing to recognize that it's a global problem," Turner said, referring to perceptions of differences between the established economies of Western Europe and those of the former Communist countries.

Of course, there are nuances. Unlike most of continental Europe, Britain has traditionally relied on its people to augment modest state pensions by saving for old age in a variety of private and company pension funds. But in recent years pension funds have lost tax breaks worth about $9.5 billion a year, stock market declines have eroded portfolios and savings have given way to a huge surge in private debt, partly because of a booming housing market.

And as private companies have limited access to generous pension schemes, more than 12 million people in Britain, one fifth of the entire population, "are not saving enough for retirement," according to the Pensions Commission.

The idea of people's working longer seems a simple panacea. After all, people generally remain healthier for longer and working until the age of, say, 67 instead of 63 or 65 may not be such a burden. But that presumes there are jobs for older people in the first place.

In Berlin, Brigitte Beyerdörfer, like many Germans older than 50, particularly those from what used to be East Germany, has found that economies are not quite so obliging.

Her husband, Klaus, is a 62-year-old former truck driver who paid into state pension plans in East and West Germany for 46 years. But he had been receiving an unemployment benefit for a statutory maximum of three years when he was obliged to go into premature retirement last Sept. 1. That reduced his pension to about $1,000 a month.

Brigitte Beyerdörfer herself, she said, takes home about $1,800 a month from her work in a Berlin employment agency. After paying bills, including the monthly rent of about $520 for their 55-square-meter, or 600-square-foot, apartment in what was once East Berlin, they manage relatively well. The problem, though, is the job market: As in other parts of continental Europe, economic growth is sluggish, to say the least.

With unemployment in what used to be East Germany running about 18 percent, "if I lost my job here I wouldn't find another," Brigitte Beyerdörfer said. "All my friends are already sitting at home. We have never thought it would be so difficult to find jobs."

Moreover, to qualify for a full state pension of $1,560, she said, she would have to work for another 10 years, until she is 65.

"As long as I work it's O.K.," she said. "If I can't, it's going to be pretty tight."

Hospital Injects Woman With Cleaning Fluid

Thursday, November 25, 2004, 12:37 A.M. Pacific
Hospital details what went wrong: Woman dies from toxic injection
By Nick Perry and Carol M. Ostrom
Seattle Times staff reporters

A Seattle hospital's recent decision to switch antiseptics from a brown solution to a colorless liquid appears to have played a key role in the death of an Everett woman.
Mary McClinton, 69, a tireless worker for the disadvantaged, died early Tuesday. She was mistakenly injected with antiseptic — rather than a marker dye — during a brain-aneurysm procedure at Virginia Mason Medical Center 19 days earlier, on Nov. 4.
The hospital this week took the unusual step of publicly explaining, and apologizing for, the error.
Exactly what went wrong during the aneurysm procedure is detailed in a staff memo obtained by The Seattle Times. The memo, written by Dr. Mindy Cooper, chair of the quality-assurance committee, and Robert Mecklenburg, chief of the department of medicine, was sent to staff a week after the surgery, 12 days before McClinton died.
"The solution used to clean skin before and after procedures was recently changed from a brown iodine-based solution to a colorless antiseptic," which looks "exactly the same" as the dye, the memo states.
"At some time during the procedure, the clear antiseptic solution was placed in an unlabeled cup identical to that used to hold the marker dye ... that is injected into blood vessels to make them visible on x-rays."
The antiseptic then was injected into a main artery carrying blood to the leg, the memo says.
"The antiseptic solution is highly toxic when injected into a blood vessel. Acute and severe chemical injury to the blood vessels of the leg blocked blood flow to muscles, causing profound injury and swelling of the leg," the memo states. "Kidney failure, a sudden drop in blood pressure and a stroke followed."
The memo called the medical error a "systems problem," and while no individual is responsible, "all of us" are responsible. "We have injured her so badly that she may never again regain the life she enjoyed," the memo states.
As McClinton's condition worsened, hospital staff took drastic measures to try to save her, including amputating one of her legs below the knee. But her organs were too badly damaged.
Steven McClinton said his mother called two hours after the surgery saying "something is very wrong." He visited that night, and she was in pain, her leg badly swollen, he said.
The family camped out at the hospital watching over her, said another son, Gerald McClinton. At one point in the days following the surgery, she mouthed: "I love you" before slipping into an incoherent state from which she never fully recovered, Gerald McClinton said. He said he was holding her hand when she died.
Hit by picture
Gerald McClinton said his mother may never have known she had an aneurysm save for an odd incident at Virginia Mason two or three months earlier.
She was there for an eye procedure, and as she was sitting in a waiting room, a large picture, about 6 feet square, fell onto her head, the son said.
His mother told him that the picture "knocked her silly," Gerald McClinton said. In the days afterward she felt dizzy, so he took her to an Everett hospital where a brain scan revealed the aneurysm.
A Virginia Mason spokeswoman said last night the family "certainly are a credible source" but she could not verify the picture incident.
Mary McClinton, who moved from Alaska in 1996, dedicated her life to helping others, her family said. She was even adopted by the Tlingit tribe for her work as a vocational coordinator.
She worked at the Greater Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Everett helping to find jobs for people with physical and mental disabilities, said Pastor Paul Stoot Sr.
"Oh man, she was a mother to everyone," Stoot said. "Everybody to her was somebody that needed love."
Her funeral will be held at noon Saturday at the Everett church, the pastor said.
"Culture of patient safety"
Virginia Mason's unusual apology, posted on its Web site Tuesday, is part of a "culture of patient safety" that has been cultivated at the medical center since the patient-safety movement swept the country in 1999, said Dr. Robert Caplan, who heads the hospital's patient-safety efforts.
"We just can't say how appalled we are at ourselves and the suffering of this patient and her family and friends," Caplan said yesterday. "We're trying in every way we can to convey our apologies to this patient for this preventable medical error. In many ways, this open and honest communication is our way of trying to honor her."
The only way to improve patient safety, he said, is to be "open and honest about our errors. ... You can't understand something you hide."
Since the error, the liquid antiseptic has been removed from the hospital and replaced with a swab on a stick.
The hospital's public mea culpa is part of a broader trend of "trying to be more transparent when there's been a harmful medical error," said Dr. Thomas Gallagher, a University of Washington internist who has studied apologies and medical errors.
Gerald McClinton said the doctors treated his family well, and he is glad the hospital did not try to hide the mistake.
"It's a mistake, a very preventable mistake," McClinton said. "I am getting angrier by the minute, although I don't know really who I should be getting angry at."
McClinton said his family has not contacted an attorney. The hospital has approached the family wanting to talk about a settlement, he added, although no meetings have taken place. "We are looking at our options at this point," he said.
Deanna Whitman, a spokeswoman for the Washington state Department of Health, said Virginia Mason had reported more "adverse events" over the past three years than three other Seattle hospitals — although she added that she thinks Virginia Mason is generally more conscientious about reporting such incidents.
"Adverse events" are mistakes that stem from systematic problems. Not all medical errors are included.
Since the start of 2002, Virginia Mason, licensed for 336 beds, has reported nine adverse events, including four that resulted in the patient dying or being left in a permanent vegetative state, Whitman said.
During the same period, Swedish Medical Center, with 1,400 beds, reported four incidents and no deaths. Harborview Medical Center, licensed for 413 beds, reported five incidents including three that were catastrophic.
The University of Washington Medical Center, with 450 beds, reported seven incidents including three that were catastrophic, Whitman said.

Bush Seeks Money for Abstinence Education

Bush Seeks Money for Abstinence Education
Bush Wants More Money for Abstinence Education in Second Term While Awaiting Evidence It Works
The Associated Press

Nov. 25, 2004 - President Bush's re-election insures that more federal money will flow to abstinence education that precludes discussion of birth control, even as the administration awaits evidence that the approach gets kids to refrain from sex.
Congress last weekend included more than $131 million for abstinence programs in a $388 billion spending bill, an increase of $30 million but about $100 million less than Bush requested. Meanwhile, a national evaluation of abstinence programs has been delayed, with a final report not expected until 2006.
Ten state evaluations, compiled by a group that opposes abstinence-only education, showed little change in teens' behavior since the start of abstinence programs in 1997.
The president has been a strong proponent of school-based sexual education that focuses on abstinence, but does not include instruction on safe sex.
"We don't need a study, if I remember my biology correctly, to show us that those people who are sexually abstinent have a zero chance of becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease," said Wade Horn, the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services in charge of federal abstinence funding.
Those who say schools also should be teaching youths how to use contraceptives say Horn's argument ignores reality. Surveys indicate that roughly 50 percent of teens say they have sex before they leave high school. While the nation's teenage pregnancy rate is declining, young people 15 to 24 account for about half the new cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States each year.
Teaching only about abstinence means students will be less able to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, say supporters of comprehensive sexual education.
"The only 100 percent way to avoid a car collision is not to drive, but the federal government sure does a lot of advocacy for safety belts," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a group that promotes education about birth control and condom use.
The push for abstinence is one of several Bush policies popular with religious conservatives. Also topping the agenda: the faith-based initiative, which aims to open more government programs to religious groups. That push will continue into a second term, said Jim Towey, who directs the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
"This is a culture change in the way the government provides social services," he said in an interview. "It's a change to recognize if we really want to help our poor, we want to give them some choice of programs and providers."
The argument about sexual education has raged for years, between those who say teaching about sex promotes promiscuity and those who say teens will make better choices if they are fully informed.
The "abstinence-only" initiative was part of the 1996 welfare law. Because programs are so young, there has been little conclusive research about their effectiveness. Independent researchers said in 2002 there is no reliable evidence whether these programs are effective in reducing teen sex, pregnancy or the transmission of disease.
The same team has been updating its findings for the Department of Health and Humans Services. A second report was supposed to be released earlier this year, but has been pushed back, said HHS spokesman Bill Pierce. The final installation is expected in 2006.
Advocates for Youth recently compiled state evaluations that found little change in teens' behavior since the start of the abstinence programs. The states evaluated are: Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.
Leslee Unruh, president of National Abstinence Clearinghouse in Sioux Falls, S.D., said those state programs are not true abstinence programs because they talk about delaying sexual activity, but not specifically waiting until marriage.
Wagoner said backers of abstinence-only education are now distancing themselves from programs that don't work. He noted that the state programs all qualified for and received money from the federal pot of abstinence education money.
Horn and Unruh acknowledged a paucity of data. "So many of our programs are in their infancy. The jury is still out," Unruh said.
Horn said, "The research is not as adequate as it needs to be."
Still, he is not willing to wait for more evaluations, calling abstinence education "something that parents and children want."

Associated Press writer Laura Meckler in Washington contributed to this report.

Aging Australians to Cost $2.2 Trillion

Ageing Australians will cost $2.2 trillion over 40 years: report
By David McLennan
Thursday, 25 November 2004

Australia's ageing population will cost $2.2 trillion over the next 40 years if nothing is done, a new draft Productivity Commission report warns.

The average age of Australians is steadily rising because people are living longer and having fewer babies. This means there will be fewer people in the workforce and paying tax compared to those who have retired and continue to use government services.

The draft report, to be issued today, said the expected effects of this were even worse than had been predicted in Treasurer Peter Costello's Intergenerational Report in 2002.

It said that more than one in four Australians would be 65 or older by 2044-45, double the present ratio.

"Population ageing will accelerate over the next few decades in Australia, with far-reaching economic implications. It will contract Australia's workforce and economic growth, at the same time that burgeoning demands are placed on Australia's health and aged-care systems," the report said.

The report said it was unlikely that any feasible change in the number of babies being born would do much to affect the population's ageing over the next 40 years and increasing migration would have little practical effect, either. Annual migration would need to increase about six-fold to 3.7 million people a year, giving Australia a population of about 144 million by 2044-45 instead of the projected 26.2 million, and this would only delay the effects.

Commission chairman Gary Banks said early policy intervention would avoid the need for big changes later, such as excessive tax increases or service rationing.

The report said the best ways to stop the ageing population from becoming a problem was to promote further productivity and to enhance the cost-effectiveness of health care.

If there were no changes, increasing health-care and aged-care costs would be the main drivers of an expected increase in government spending of 6.8 percentage points of GDP in 40 years. This would come at the same time as the shrinking workforce led to a drop in tax of 0.2 percentage points of GDP.

This would mean that by 2044-45, governments would be spending about 7 per cent more than they would be raising. That would lead to a fiscal gap of about $2.2 trillion in today's dollars over the 40 years, with much of the burden on the Commonwealth.

Mr Costello welcomed the report, saying the Government had been at the front edge of global policymakers in dealing with the ageing phenomenon.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

'Multiculturalism Can Only Work Under Authoritarian Regimes'

'Multiculturalism Difficult In A Democratic Society'
By Hannah Cleaver in Berlin
The Telegraph - UK
11-25-4

Helmut Schmidt, the former German chancellor, has inflamed the country's debate on immigration by saying that multiculturalism can only work under authoritarian regimes, and that bringing millions of Turkish guest workers to Germany was a mistake.

"The concept of multiculturalism is difficult to make fit with a democratic society," he told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper.

He added that it had been a mistake that during "the early 1960s we brought guest workers from foreign cultures into the country".

Mr Schmidt, 85, who was the Social Democratic chancellor from 1974 until 1982, said that the problems resulting from the influx of mostly Turkish Gastarbeiter, or guest workers, had been neglected in Germany and the rest of Europe. They could be overcome only by authoritarian governments, he added, naming Singapore as an example.

Yet many would suggest that Mr Schmidt himself was at least partly to blame for the problems he was raising.

Safter Cinar, a spokesman for Berlin and Brandenburg's Turkish Association, said that bringing people into Germany was not the mistake, but refusing to call it immigration and failing to implement the necessary policies was. He said these errors were made during Mr Schmidt's chancellorship.

"When he is talking about mistakes, he is talking about his own mistakes," Mr Cinar said.

"They did not bring in the Gastarbeiter because they were feeling generous, it was an economic necessity.

"They may argue it was a mistake in 1973 when they put a halt on more Gastarbeiter coming in and another in 1974 when they allowed wives and families to join those who were here. It would have been possible, and legally feasible, to reduce numbers, to send back those who no longer had work.

"But if they are allowed to bring their families, that is immigration - and they didn't develop policies for that. And this was when Mr Schmidt was chancellor."

The Turkish population in Germany is the biggest outside of Turkey, numbering 2.3 million among Germany's 82 million population. There are a further 500,000 former Turkish citizens who have taken German citizenship. Germany is home to five million other non-Germans.

Mr Cinar gave warning that the discussion on integration and multiculturalism sparked in Europe by the murder in Holland of Theo van Gogh, and the resulting deterioration in community relations, was being carried out in a manner likely to alienate young Muslims more than ever. "The way that people are talking about it could well encourage young migrants to embrace Turkish nationalism and even Islamic extremism - or worse, both at the same time," he said.

"These are people who are born in Germany and only know Turkey from a couple of weeks holiday there, but are regarded in Germany as foreigners and disruptive elements. If they are assumed to be that way they will eventually decide to embrace it.

"Multiculturalism is not an option, it's not an ideology or a concept, it is a reality. We have many different cultures living in the same society and we have to do that with mutual respect."

Mr Cinar said that there were some values and concepts which should be taken as universal, and there were some people and groups which did not respect them.

"But not respecting those universal values is not a result of a multicultural society," he said.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.

'Mother' Judged the Most Beautiful Word

Mum's the word, says the world
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/4039185.stm
Published: 2004/11/25 16:40:44 GMT
© BBC MMIV

Mother is the most beautiful word in the English language, according to a survey of non-English speakers.
More than 40,000 people in 102 countries were polled by the British Council to mark its 70th anniversary.
Mother, passion, smile, love and eternity were the top five choices - but father did not even make it into the list of 70 words.
But some unusual choices did make the list, such as peekaboo, flabbergasted, hen night and oi.
SOME OF THE TOP WORDS
1. Mother
2. Passion
3. Smile
4. Love
5. Eternity
48. Peekaboo
50. Kangaroo
61. Oi
63. Hiccup
70. Hen night
Fantastic, destiny, freedom, liberty and tranquillity rounded out the top 10.
The British Council promotes the learning of English around the world and teaches the language to more than 500,000 people each year.
Chris Wade, director of communications at the council, said the most favoured choices in the list were all strong, positive words.
He said: "All of us have a mother and have a reasonable idea of who that person is, it's one piece of certainty we can have and it's also a very powerful word in a variety of cultures.
"But I wonder if we would have had the same result if we had done the survey in the UK."
He said the list showed the diversity of the English language: "There are words denoting concepts that people aspire to, like freedom; words that sounded fun like peekaboo and others that aren't really words at all but they convey real meaning, like oi."
Other words to make the top 70 included serendipity, loquacious, kangaroo and zing.
Imports
There were also words imported from other languages, such as renaissance and aqua.
"We'll grab anything we can take. Lots of words have been stolen over the years," Mr Wade said.
"But while other languages may be reluctant to use our words, [this has provided] a real richness in the English has evolved."
He said one English word to have gained widespread usage recently was flip-flop, which came 59th in the survey.
Failed US presidential candidate John Kerry was accused by the Republicans of having "flip-flopped" - or changed his stance - on a number of policy areas.
"Flip-flop was used a lot during coverage of the US election. If the survey had been done a year ago it probably would not be in the list," said Mr Wade.
Michael Quinion, whose recent book Port Out, Starboard Home examines some of the quirks of the English language, said it was a very "eclectic" list.
He said: "These non-English speakers certainly have wonderful English vocabularies.
"There seems to be a curious mixture of the formal and the colloquial. Oi is not a word that I would've thought turned up in English manuals all that often."
The list also included what Mr Quinion said was his own favourite English word - serendipity, which came 24th.
"It's so mellifluous but it's such a nice concept too."

Bush Doesn't Kowtow to the Washington Establishment

Bush the Insurgent
From the November 23, 2004 Wall Street Journal: He's a president who won't kowtow to D.C.'s establishment.
by Fred Barnes
11/24/2004 12:00:00 AM

THE SCHEMING in Washington as President Bush prepares for his second term is easily explained. It's the insurgents versus the Washington establishment, and the insurgents are winning.

Bush finds himself in the unusual position--for a president, anyway--as leader of the insurgents. Unlike other presidents who came to Washington with bold plans, Bush has not been housebroken by establishment forces. Even Ronald Reagan made peace with Washington. Bush hasn't. He wants to impose a breathtakingly conservative agenda in his second term, one that has prompted cries of protest from establishment figures like David Gergen, aide to four presidents, and the voice of the Beltway, the Washington Post.

Contrary to the doubters, the establishment does exist and does throw its weight around. It consists of the permanent bureaucracy, much of the vast political community of lobbyists and lawyers and consultants, leftovers from Congress and earlier administrations, trade groups and think tanks, and the media. The establishment can and does shape the zeitgeist in Washington and, importantly, a huge chunk of the Senate is establishment-oriented and dozens of senators themselves members of the establishment. It's become more Republican in recent years but is still center-left in ideological tilt. But it's liberal in a reactionary way, passionately opposing conservative change.

In the eyes of the establishment, the Bush tactics, the Bush agenda, and Bush himself are over the top. The president is girding for battle. He's aiming to consolidate control of his administration, drive out recalcitrant (read: establishment) elements, and make the permanent government heel, especially at the
CIA and State Department. He's kept his White House staff intact, from political adviser Karl Rove to speechwriter Mike Gerson to budget chief Josh Bolten, as a kind of headquarters cadre. The White House aides who've departed, such as national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and counsel Alberto Gonzales, were dispatched to take over Cabinet agencies.

Bush's agenda is post-Reagan in its conservatism, which means it's more far-reaching and thus more threatening to the establishment. Bush would not only reform Social Security and allow individuals to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in financial markets, he would also revamp the entire federal tax code and fill the Supreme Court with judicial conservatives. And those are only his domestic plans. In foreign affairs, Bush would make aggressive efforts to spread democracy around the world the centerpiece. The foreign policy élite is aghast.

From the start of his first term, Bush has been immune to the blandishments of the establishment. When Reagan came to Washington in 1980, he made a point of attending a welcoming party at the home of the late Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post. It signified his desire for cordial relations with the establishment. Reagan mostly got along fine, while still pursuing policies (tax cuts, fervent anti-communism) frowned on in Washington. His wife Nancy became his ambassador to the establishment. If Bush had an ambassador, it was Secretary of State Colin Powell, and he's leaving the administration.

By Washington standards, Bush is a misfit. He's different. He barely socializes at all and on weekends and holidays makes a beeline for Camp David or his ranch in Crawford, Texas. He'd rather invite Christian musician Michael W. Smith and his wife to the White House for dinner than eat out. If Bush really wanted to soothe establishment types, he'd invite them to state dinners at the White House, after which their names would be in the paper. But he's held fewer state dinners than any president in memory.

In a World of Starvation, Half the Food is Trashed

Almost half of U.S. food is tossed
Nov. 24, 2004 06:30 PM

A University of Arizona scientist has some food for thought for all of us who will sit down to tables groaning beneath the weight of the Thanksgiving feast.

Much of that food likely will be thrown away; in fact, says UA anthropologist Timothy W. Jones, almost half of all food in America never gets eaten. Jones' research evolved from work done in the 1970s by UA archaeologists who began evaluating garbage to see what was being thrown away.

Jones has spent the last 10 years measuring food loss, from farm and orchard, through the warehouses, retail outlets and dining rooms, and eventually to landfills. What he found was that vast amounts of edible food are discarded each year.

Jones found that on average, households waste 14 percent of their food purchases. Fifteen percent of that includes products still within their expiration date but never opened. Jones estimates an average family of four currently tosses out $590 per year, just in meat, fruits, vegetables and grain products.

- William Hermann

Canadian Patients Urged to Go to U.S. For Treatment

Thu, November 25, 2004
Patients told to go to U.S.
CAN GET MEDICAL TESTS QUICKER
By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU CHIEF

WINDSOR DOCTOR Albert Schumacher believes it's his ethical and moral responsibility to tell patients they can cross the border for faster tests. The president of the Canadian Medical Association said the country's doctors have no choice when waiting times get unhealthy for their patients.
"Right now physicians scramble to get their patients the treatment they need," Schumacher said.
"Getting it in a timely way is virtually impossible."
In a speech to the Toronto Board of Trade yesterday, Schumacher said the shortage of health professionals and the inability to access timely care for patients is undermining confidence in the system.
"There is a perfect storm brewing in terms of health human resources and it threatens to wipe out any and all efforts to make the system work better," he said.
He accused governments of dragging their feet.
Sixty percent of family doctors here have limited or closed their doors to new patients while the U.S. and Britain recruit Canadian physicians.
Provinces such as Alberta and B.C. have become increasingly attractive to Ontario doctors seeking better compensation and working conditions, Schumacher said.

Students Can Thank Anyone - Except God

Students Free to Thank Anybody, Except God
Monday, November 22, 2004
By Laurel Lundstrom

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland public school students are free to thank anyone they want while learning about the 17th century celebration of Thanksgiving (search) — as long as it's not God.

And that is how it should be, administrators say.

Young students across the state read stories about the Pilgrims (search) and Native Americans, simulate Mayflower (search) voyages, hold mock feasts and learn about the famous meal that temporarily allied two very different groups.

But what teachers don't mention when they describe the feast is that the Pilgrims not only thanked the Native Americans for their peaceful three-day indulgence, but repeatedly thanked God.

"We teach about Thanksgiving from a purely historical perspective, not from a religious perspective," said Charles Ridgell, St. Mary's County Public Schools curriculum and instruction director.

School administrators statewide agree, saying religion never coincides with how they teach Thanksgiving to students.

Too much censorship can compromise a strong curriculum, some educators said.

"Schools don't want to do anything that would influence or act against the religious preferences of their students," said Lissa Brown, Maryland State Teacher's Association assistant executive director. "But the whole subject of religious toleration is a part of our history and needs to be taught."

Brown, a former social studies teacher, said she was surprised to hear schools aren't teaching about the Pilgrims' faith in God.

Teaching about a secular Thanksgiving counters the holiday's original premise as stated by George Washington in his Thanksgiving Day proclamation: "It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor."

Such omissions also deny the Pilgrims' religious fervor in the celebration of Thanksgiving, as related by Harry Hornblower, an archaeologist who spent years researching the history of the holiday.

According to the Web site Plimoth.org, dedicated to Hornblower's research, the Pilgrims "fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean."

Thanksgiving, the site said, derived from their belief that "a series of misfortunes meant that God was displeased, and the people should both search for the cause and humble themselves before him. Good fortune, on the other hand, was a sign of God's mercy and compassion, and therefore he should be thanked and praised."

But researchers like Hornblower aren't mentioned in classrooms. "We don't focus on religion, because it is not a part of our curriculum," said Sandra Grulich, Cecil County Schools' elementary school curriculum coordinator.

Opponents of censorship worry that by omitting such religious material from lesson plans, educators are compromising their students' education.

"School administrators need to get a backbone," said Joel Whitehead, president and lawyer at the Rutherford Institute, a constitutional rights defense organization. "We are in real danger of throwing out cultural heritage in our country if we don't know what Thanksgiving is really about."

Mentioning that the Pilgrims were Puritan is about as close as most administrators are willing to step to integrate religion into their curriculums.

"We mention they were Puritan but students usually just understand that they had a belief system and not much more than that," said Carol Williamson, Queen Anne's County Schools' associate superintendent.

Thanksgiving is usually taught as a part of social studies and emphasizes cultural immersion.

"The Pilgrim Story is read in Spanish and English," said Alfreda Adams, principal at Mills-Parole Elementary School in Anne Arundel County where 70 Hispanic students attend. "We make sure that we celebrate all cultures."

The Mayflower, Pilgrims, Native Americans become enduring symbols to students before the two-day hiatus they are granted each year to spend time with their families.

"In elementary school we learned that the Pilgrims came to the Indians and they all had a feast," said Emmanuel Cobington, 13, a seventh-grader at Annapolis Middle School.

Emmanuel said his teachers never mentioned that the holiday was religious, but he added that he learns about different denominations in some of his classes.

"We learn about different religions like Judaism and Christianity in our social studies classes," he said.

Whitehead advocates for more classes like Emmanuel's and says it is harmful to students when administrators censor curriculums for fear of offending someone.

"Education is inevitably going to offend someone," said Whitehead. "We need to get beyond being politically correct, or everything will be glossed over."

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

Rather's Retirement Marks Welcome Change in Journalism

Lexington
Dropping the anchorman
Nov 25th 2004
From The Economist print edition
Dan Rather's retirement marks a welcome change in American journalism

FOR conservative America, it just keeps on getting better. A mere 20 days after the Republicans' clean sweep of the White House and Congress, the American right celebrated the retirement of one of the hated grandees of liberal journalism, Dan Rather. “It's as if the voters just keep on voting,” says one conservative. “And our side just keeps on winning.”

The right has been after Mr Rather's scalp for decades. The CBS veteran made his name beating up Richard Nixon in the Watergate era and has kept CBS News on the liberal straight-and-narrow as its longstanding news anchor. (Accuracy in Media, a conservative-watchdog group, first started its “Can Dan” campaign 16 years ago.) Mr Rather's career highlights include a shouting match with George Bush senior over Iran-contra and an interview with Saddam Hussein shortly before last year's American invasion. Now the 73-year-old has announced that he will be retiring from his anchoring job next March.

Next March will be exactly 24 years since Mr Rather took over from Walter Cronkite. But Mr Rather's reputation has not recovered from a “60 Minutes” documentary (made by CBS) which tried to raise questions about George Bush junior's service in the Texas National Guard. Mr Rather claimed to have documents proving that Mr Bush had violated a direct order to take a physical examination, and also that his superiors had been put under pressure to “sugarcoat” his evaluation. But within 14 hours internet sleuths had shown that the documents were forgeries. Mr Rather stood by his story for 12 excruciating days, while his supporters arrogantly contrasted the network's rigorous fact-checking with “a guy sitting in his living room in his pyjamas writing”. But the pyjama guy turned out to be right.

Mr Rather's retirement epitomises two broader shifts of power. First, the old media are losing power to the new. And, second, the liberal media establishment is losing power to a more diverse cacophony of new voices.

For most of the post-war era the American media were dominated by a comfortable liberal consensus. The New York Times was the undisputed king of the print news, while the network anchors lorded it over TV news. That consensus is now under siege. The attacks are partly coming from the cable networks—particularly from conservative Fox News. (Charles Krauthammer once quipped that Rupert Murdoch had spotted a niche market—half the country. Sure enough, Fox is now America's top-rated cable news network.) But old media also face a newer and more unpredictable source of competition—the blogosphere. Bloggers have discovered that all you need to set yourself up as a pundit is a website and an attitude.

All through the recent election campaign, the new media outsmarted the old media when it came to setting the news agenda. Republican strategists admit that the Swift Boat veterans' attacks on John Kerry, largely ignored by the old media, would never have got anywhere without the online Drudge Report. Drudge was also instrumental in turning the “60 Minutes” story into an embarrassment for the Democrats, not Mr Bush. Local bloggers also had an effect; in South Dakota, for instance, they repeatedly highlighted Tom Daschle's partisan record in Washington, DC, something that the Democratic Senate majority leader's friends in the local print media had never laboured to expose.

The bloggers have often been at their most devastating when they have been criticising the old media for bias. Their favourite target has long been the New York Times, where they helped to remove the paper's previous editor, Howell Raines. But CBS is also a juicy target. Why, the bloggers are now demanding, is Mr Rather being allowed to keep a full-time job working for “60 Minutes”, the very programme whose reputation he has besmirched? “This is not a victory,” proclaims Rathergate.com, before declaring its intention to keep attacking CBS.



I'd rather not be Rather
Given America's fractious politics, it is easy to look at Mr Rather's retirement merely in terms of a left v right scorecard. But, more fundamentally, it is about choice.

Mr Rather's announcement of his (partial) retirement comes just a few days before Tom Brokaw resigns from his job anchoring NBC's evening news. That leaves ABC's Peter Jennings as the only survivor of the long-established triumvirate. But nobody imagines that the arrival of new blood at CBS and NBC will revive the fortunes of the network news. Most Americans now get their news from an ever-proliferating range of sources: not just Fox or CNN, but also foreign newspapers and even the innumerable original documents that are now available at the touch of a button. And fewer people regard any single news source—be it CBS News or the New York Times—as the embodiment of truth.

The erosion of the old media establishment probably does entail some shift to the right, if only because so many of the newer voices are more reliably pro-Republican than Mr Rather. But the new media are simply too anarchic and subversive for any single political faction to take control of them. There are plenty of leftish bloggers too: such people helped Howard Dean's presidential campaign. And the most successful conservative bloggers are far from being party loyalists: look at the way in 2002 that they kept the heat on the Republicans' then Senate leader, Trent Lott, for racist remarks that the New York Times originally buried. It is a safe bet that, if the current Bush administration goes the way of previous second-term administrations and becomes consumed by scandals, conservative bloggers will be in the forefront of the scandal-mongering.

Mr Rather's passing does not mean that the liberal orthodoxy is about to give way to a new conservative one. It means that all orthodoxies are being chewed up by a voraciously unpredictable news media, which is surely all to the good.

Curves Fitness Chain Is a Franchise Superpower

Curves fitness centers grow into franchise superpower
By Clarke Canfield
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Wednesday, November 24, 2004

HOLLIS, Maine -- On a winding country road in the middle of nowhere, a building that once housed an antique shop now holds groups of women working out. Curves, a no-frills fitness club for women, can be found in the oddest places.

Targeting women in small-town America is part of the company's business strategy -- and it's working. Curves has grown to more than 8,400 franchises in all 50 states and 28 countries, making it by far the world's No. 1 fitness center in terms of number of clubs. One in every four fitness clubs in the United States is a Curves.

In some ways, Curves is the anti-club: no treadmills, no saunas, no locker rooms, no mirrors, no aerobics classes, no free weights. Forget the spandex -- sweat shirts rule.

Members work out on eight to 12 hydraulic resistance machines, stopping between stations to walk or jog in place. The clubs' standard routine is over in 30 minutes and is designed to burn 500 calories.

While other clubs go after the prized 18-to-34 demographic, Curves' customers are more likely to be aging baby boomers.

Sharon Morrison, owner of five Curves in Maine, including the one in Hollis, said there's a comfort level and camaraderie at Curves that women can't get elsewhere. At the same time, she said, they're losing pounds and inches.

"I had joined so many clubs in my life, and all I had lost was money," Morrison said.

The company is the creation of Gary Heavin, 49, who heads Curves International Inc. in Waco, Texas. Heavin was a millionaire by age 30 after taking over a failing health club in Houston and expanding it into a chain of 17 clubs. But then came a divorce, bankruptcy and business failure. He spent 2.5 months in jail when he couldn't make child support payments.

In 1992, Heavin and his second wife, Diane, opened the first Curves club. It was small and simple, a place where women could feel comfortable.

Three years later, Heavin was selling franchises, and by 1998 there were 500. Curves aims to have more than 25,000 -- including 8,000 in Asia and 8,000 in Europe -- within five years. By comparison, Gold's Gyms and Bally Total Fitness, two of the biggest fitness clubs in the country, have about 1,000 facilities between them.

"We're the McDonald's of fitness centers in America and Canada," Heavin said. "And we can be the McDonald's of fitness centers around the world."

One reason for fast growth is the low cost. Club owners pay $29,900 for a franchise, equipment and training, plus a monthly franchise fee of $395. Club members usually pay $29 a month, far less than conventional fitness clubs.

The clubs are typically just 1,000 or 2,000 square feet or so, with few frills and low overhead and limited hours of operation. Compare that to the large multipurpose clubs, which can be 30,000 to 40,000 square feet with a full assortment of fancy machines, locker rooms and amenities.

It is that efficient business model that allows Curves to enter small markets. In Maine, you'll find a Curves in what was once a farm store in a hay field in North Yarmouth, in a former candle shop in Waterboro, and in a renovated cafe in Gorham.

Others are in small and off-the-beaten-path places like Blue Hill, Livermore Falls, Milbridge, Newcastle and Wilton.

Of the 76 Curves in Maine, 58 are in towns with fewer than 10,000 people. Thirty-one are in towns smaller than 5,000.

Rather than take customers away from other clubs, Curves creates its own markets and generates customers from where a customer base didn't exist before.

That approach works for Denise Masalsky, 49, of Waterboro. Between Curves and a sensible diet, she has lost 48 pounds since March and has more energy than ever.

Masalsky, a fourth-grade teacher, likes the quick exercise routine at Curves, and is pleased somebody was willing to locate a fitness club in rural York County community, population 4,114.

One Million Christians Petition Re: EU Constitution

1m Christians sign EU religion plea
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels
(Filed: 25/11/2004)

More than a million people from all over Europe are to deliver a petition to
Tony Blair and fellow EU leaders calling for changes to the constitution
recognising Europe's Christian heritage.

Refusing to accept a secular "fait accompli" from Brussels, a Christian
coalition is demanding that each EU state publish its version of the
constitution's preamble, with references to God if desired.

Already armed with 1,149,000 signatures and with thousands more pouring in
from Holland since the murder of the film-maker Theo van Gogh, the group
claims that most states want some reference to Christianity but were blocked
by France.

The move is keenly backed by Pope John Paul II, who has repeatedly condemned
the "moral drift" of Brussels. "One does not cut the roots to one's
birthright," he told pilgrims this summer.

Euro-MPs voted this week to back the calls for a change in the text.
Petitioners, led by Italy's International Mission Centre, will now take
their case to EU governments. The current version of the preamble eschews
Christianity, talking vaguely of "the cultural, religious and humanist
inheritance of Europe".

Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the former French president, deliberately left the
issue open when he wrote the document, inviting a petition.

"I have chosen not to insert the reference to the Christian heritage in the
constitution,"he said. "Rather I appeal to you to persuade me of its
necessity."

A British official said it was too late to change the preamble, although
national parliaments could add a "rider" stressing their country's Christian
roots.

An EU official said: "These Christians could at least have the good grace to
accept that they lost the argument."

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

National ID Database to Be Created in the U.K.

National identity database to be created
By David Barrett, PA Home Affairs Correspondent
23 November 2004

The widely-expected Bill to create Home Secretary David Blunkett's compulsory national identity card scheme was announced today.

A Home Office spokesman said a draft Bill published in April will be revised and updated in the light of a public consultation and an inquiry by MPs.

It will create a national secure database designed to hold details of everyone living in Britain.

The database - the biggest IT project ever attempted by the British Government - will store details such as name and address, plus so-called biometrics such as fingerprints.

Mr Blunkett believes the database will make a significant contribution towards tackling illegal immigration and working, identity theft and terrorism.

The card will also stop people using free State services such as the NHS when they are not entitled to do so, he has said.

The identity card will be the first seen in Britain since wartime ID papers were abolished 52 years ago.

Opponents claim the ID card will be a major invasion of personal privacy by the State, and could lead to police and Security Services having access to a wide range of information about individuals.

Mr Blunkett has insisted there will be a robust set of safeguards in the Bill to prevent the database being misused.

The Home Office spokesman said that a new watchdog set up to oversee the scheme will be known as the National Identity Scheme Commissioner.

Ministers have already said the biometric cards will start to be phased in from 2007-8, when everyone applying for a new or renewed passport will have to pay a total of £85 for an ID card as well.

The Bill will provide a power to make the cards compulsory at a later date.

Failing to register will carry a penalty, although Mr Blunkett has said it will not be a criminal offence.

The Bill will cover the whole of the UK.

Protesters against the ID card plans were to have their skin "branded" with bar-codes outside the Houses of Parliament as the Queen's Speech took place.

The "branding" by campaign group NO2ID - actually a rubber stamp rendered in black ink - was to be carried out by a demonstrator wearing a Tony Blair mask.

NO2ID organiser Mark Littlewood said the imagery was designed to symbolise the type of society that would be created the ID cards became law.

He said: "The Government's plans for identity cards represent an enormous threat to privacy and liberty in the UK.

"The creation of a national database, which is bound to grow over time, is the moral equivalent of bar-coding the entire population."

National ID Card for the U.K.

ID card scheme unveiled by Queen
Tuesday, 23 November, 2004, 15:10 GMT

Plans for ID cards have been criticised by civil liberties groups
A bill to introduce a compulsory identity card scheme for the UK has been unveiled in the Queen's Speech.

The home secretary believes identity cards will help tackle international terrorism, identity theft and help the work of the UK immigration services.

A draft bill published in April has been revised after consultation.

Last month David Blunkett dropped a proposal to combine ID with passports and driving licences after criticism his plans were badly thought out.

Facial scans

Under the revised proposals a national database will be created holding personal information such as names, addresses, and biometric information for all those who are issued with a card.

Biometrics include fingerprints, facial scans and iris scans, all of which are unique to each individual.

A new agency, which will incorporate the functions of the UK passport service, will begin issuing ID cards from 2008.

The planned bill outlined in the Queen's Speech, will ensure that access to "specified public services" will be linked to production of a valid ID card and it will include penalties for those failing to register.

Watchdog

It will also create new criminal offences on the possession of false identity documents.

Mr Blunkett has already promised to allow the whole scheme to be overseen by a new independent watchdog.

If they are introduced they will be the first national ID since the Second World War ones ended half a century ago.

The Home Office has said people will pay either £35 for a stand-alone ID card or £85 for a passport and ID card together.

The Liberal Democrats have argued money for a ID card scheme would be better spent on more police and greater intelligence efforts against terrorism.

The Tories meanwhile have been broadly supportive of the plans.

World Survey: Citizens Mistrust Their Leaders

Thursday, November 18, 2004 8:42 a.m. ET
By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) - People around the globe largely mistrust their political leaders and nearly half fear the world will be less safe for their children, according to a survey issued on Thursday.

The survey, carried out in 60 countries by the Gallup International polling organization for the Swiss-based World Economic Forum, also found that business leaders have a better image than the politicians -- but not by a huge margin.

Worldwide, 63 percent of the 50,000 people questioned believe politicians are dishonest while 43 percent think the same term applies to business leaders, according to the survey, titled "The Voice of the People."

Some 52 percent feel politicians behave unethically, and 39 percent believe the same of business chiefs. But while 39 percent think politicians are not capable or competent, only 22 percent viewed their business counterparts in the same way.

Least trusted by their peoples, the survey indicated, are the political leaders of Latin America, West Asia and Africa with dishonesty ratings of 87 percent for the first, 84 percent for the second and 82 percent for the third.

Although in Western Europe as a whole 46 percent of the survey sample described their politicians as dishonest, in Germany 76 percent held that view, while 70 percent of Germans thought business leaders were dishonest too.

By contrast, across the border in France, where cynicism about political life has been long viewed from outside as rife, only 36 percent saw their politicians as dishonest and only 27 percent described them as unethical.

IRAQ WAR EFFECT

In Britain, 72 percent feel that "politicians respond to people more powerful than themselves" -- possibly reflecting disapproval of Prime Minister Tony Blair's support for President Bush over Iraq, survey compilers said.

The figure for Western Europe as a whole was 58 percent.

In North America, covering the United States and Canada, 50 percent of the sample felt political leaders are dishonest, and 47 percent believe business leaders behave unethically. The survey as issued by the Forum gave no other details or breakdown for the two countries.

It said Ecuador returned the highest dishonesty rating, 96 percent, followed by Mexico with 93 percent, Nigeria with 92 percent, Peru, Bolivia and India with 91 percent -- and new European Union member Poland with 90 percent.

At the other end of the scale, only three percent of those surveyed in Singapore saw their political leaders as dishonest, 12 percent in the Netherlands and 13 percent in Malaysia.

The survey found 45 percent of the sample around the globe -- and 46 percent in the United States -- predicting a less safe world for future generations, of whom nearly one third thought life would be "a lot less safe" in years to come.

In Western Europe, this view was expressed by 55 percent of the sample -- up to 63 percent in Germany.

But in Africa, scene of some of the worst natural disasters and civil conflicts of the last decades, optimism was stronger with 50 percent saying the world would be safer and only 30 percent expecting less security.

U.K. Government To Make Every Offence Arrestable

U.K. Government To Make Every Offence Arrestable
London Independent | November 24 2004

Plans to make every offence arrestable, including minor crimes such as littering or spraying walls with graffiti, were criticised yesterday by solicitors for giving the police excessive powers.

The proposal is contained in a Bill that includes the setting up of a national crime agency that is expected to become Britain's version of the FBI.

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill is expected to give the police many new powers including allowing officers to take DNA samples and fingerprints from minor offenders arrested on the street.

One of the controversial measures is to allow officers to arrest a suspect for any offence. At present, a police officer can only arrest someone suspected of an offence that could result in a prison sentence of at least five years.

Janet Paraskeva, the chief executive of the Law Society, which represents all solicitors in England and Wales, said: "The police would have a power to arrest however minor the suspected offence. That is not an appropriate balance between the liberty of the citizen and the needs of the police."

The Bill extends the powers of community support officers.

In addition it will create a new offence of incitement to religious hatred to protect faith groups - particularly Muslims - from hate attacks.

Police powers are also to be strengthened to combat harassment by animal-rights extremists against scientific and medical establishments that use animals. The Bill would strengthen the existing police power to prevent protesters from demonstrating outside people's homes.

The Bill is one of the few pieces of legislation that is likely to become law before the expected general election in May and highlights the importance the Government places on the measures, which are likely to win popular support.

Powers to test offenders on arrest rather than when charged is to be contained in the Drugs Bill. The Bill will give the police powers to tackle dealers who hide evidence or claim drugs are for personal use.

Top U.K. Judge Calls for Universal DNA Database

Judge calls for UK DNA database
BBC | November 24 2004

Everyone who lives in Britain should have their DNA stored on a national database, a top judge has said.

Lord Justice Sedley is well known for his support of human rights, including upholding a ruling over the government denying rights to asylum seekers.

The law lord said the potential gain from a national base was considerable.

"The risks, so long as they are confronted, are controllable," he said during a Leicester University Law School lecture.

Lord Justice Sedley said he made no case for or against the introduction of compulsory identity cards.

"But a society that feels able, as ours does, to give serious consideration to such a step, ought not to turn its face away from the case for a universal DNA register."

He said that DNA analysis had transformed the process, not only of detection work by police, but proof in court.

The judge added: "What is particularly welcome is that it is as potent in eliminating those who are wrongly suspected or accused as it is in tracking down the guilty."


He was giving the law facility's annual lecture to a 150-strong audience of law lecturers, students and prominent citizens from Leicester.

Endless uses

Human rights group Liberty has already condemned the idea as a 'frightening scenario'.

A spokesman said recently: "Once a national data base is set up there will be endless other uses for it."

DNA testing was first used to catch a criminal in 1987.

Scotland Yard used mass testing of 4,000 men to arrest Colin Pitchfork, a 25-year-old baker in the sexual assaults and strangulations of two 15-year-old girls in Narborough, Leicestershire.

DNA was developed as an identification technique by British scientist Alex Jeffries at the University of Leicester.

In the US, FBI has had a national DNA database since October 1998, which allows police agencies to compare their evidence with convicted offenders in 42 states. The database has so far assisted with more than 4,900 criminal investigations.

Canadians Increasingly Dependent on Mood-Altering Drugs

Study finds pot use has doubled, but researchers more worried about booze
2 hours, 54 minutes ago
DENNIS BUECKERT

OTTAWA (CP) - The number of Canadians who say they have used cannabis or injectable drugs in the past year has doubled in a decade, according to a major new survey.

But addiction specialists still see alcohol abuse as the greater problem. Data from the Canada Addiction Survey, the most comprehensive addictions survey ever done in Canada, presents a disturbing picture of a society increasingly dependent on mood-altering substances.

Fourteen per cent of respondents said they had used cannabis in the last year, up from 7.4 per cent in 1994.

Overall, 45 per cent said they had used pot at least once in their lifetime.

Nearly seven per cent reported using injection drugs in 2004, which would translate into 269,000 Canadians. That's up from 132,000 in 1994.

The survey also suggests that more than four million Canadians have used an injectible drug at some point in their life, up from 1.7 million in 1994.

The proportion of drinkers rose to 79.3 per cent this year from 72.3 per cent in 1994. Seven per cent of respondents described themselves as frequent heavy drinkers, up from 5.4 per cent in 1994.

Researchers who conducted the study said it showed the need for better drug-control programs but did not indicate alarm at the findings.

"This is both a good news and bad news story," Michel Perron of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse told a news conference Wednesday.

"Despite the fact that most Canadians drink in moderation and without harm we are concerned about heavy drinking among youth aged 18 to 24.

"The increasing use of cannabis by Canadian youth is also an area of concern because we know cannabis is not a benign substance."

The reasons for the increasing substance use will become clearer as data are analysed in greater detail, he said.

Robert Hanson of Health Canada said the department is working on a campaign targeted at youth to discourage cannabis and alcohol use, and consulting on a national strategy.

Ed Adlaf of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health said alcohol is the greatest concern because it affects the most people. He said about 20 per cent of adults are drinking hazardously.

Adlaf said he is also concerned that 18 per cent of cannabis users are using the drug daily, and about a third say they can't control their use.

Males were more likely than females to have used the drug, and young people had a higher rate of use than older Canadians.

The survey also suggests usage increases with education, rising to 52 per cent for those with post-secondary education from 35 per cent among high school dropouts.

The updated information comes as the federal government moves to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of pot.

The pro-marijuana group NORML Canada says the survey clearly shows that cannabis laws have failed to deter people from using the drug.

The survey was sponsored by Health Canada, the Canadian Executive Council on Addictions and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

Some highlights from the Canada Addiction Survey, released Wednesday:

-44.5 per cent of Canadians reported using cannabis at least once in their life, compared with 28.2 per cent in 1994.

-45 per cent reported using some illegal drug at least once, up from 28.5 per cent in 1994.

-14.1 per cent reported using cannabis in the last year, up from 7.4 per cent in 1994.

-50.1 per cent of males used cannabis at least once in a lifetime.

-39.2 per cent of women used cannabis at least once.

-79.3 per cent of Canadians reported using alcohol in the last year.

-7.3 per cent said they were lifelong teetotallers.

-13.7 per cent said they were former drinkers and had not used alcohol in the last year.

-20.2 per cent reported heavy drinking at least once a month.

60 Per Cent Have Positive View of Bush

Poll: Majority gives Bush good job approval mark

(CNN) -- Fifty-five percent of Americans like the way President Bush is handling his job, while the approval rating for his Iraq policies is slightly lower, according to the first full CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll following the November 2 presidential election.

Forty-two percent of those polled don't believe Bush is doing a good job. Sixty percent have a positive opinion of Bush, versus 39 percent with the opposite view.

Many of the poll questions targeted foreign affairs, especially the U.S. performance in Iraq. The responses showed that Bush's positive approval rating does not necessarily translate into a perception of military success, said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Iraqi general elections are set for January 30 to choose a national assembly, a Kurdish assembly and 18 provincial governing councils.

Respondents were divided, with 51 percent saying the Iraqi elections will take place and 42 percent disagreeing.

Forty-nine percent of those surveyed doubt the United States will able to keep Iraq on track toward democratic government, and 46 percent are confident it will be done.

Responding to whether the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq, 47 percent said yes, and 51 percent said no.

Asked who was winning the war in Iraq -- the United States and its allies or insurgents -- 46 percent of respondents said neither side, and 44 percent said the United States and its supporters.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

U.S. and Iraqi military forces almost completely control Falluja, considered a hotbed of insurgent activity, but violence has spiked elsewhere. Sixty-one percent of those polled said they feel offensives in Falluja and elsewhere will make Iraq better.

But nearly three-quarters of those polled said they are worried about Iraq, with 35 percent very worried and 39 percent fairly worried.

On other foreign affairs questions:

•52 percent don't feel Iraqis will accept the election results.

•A majority believe Iran (58 percent) and North Korea (60 percent) represent long-term, but not immediate, threats to the United States. Bush has identified both as part of an "Axis of Evil," citing nuclear threats.

•Nearly two-thirds of respondents feel Israel and the Arab nations will never resolve their differences; 37 percent say they will.

On controversial social questions, 63 percent believe openly gay men and lesbian women should be allowed to serve in the military; 32 percent don't. Forty-three percent oppose both same-sex marriages and civil unions.

Regarding officials in Bush's administration, Secretary of State Colin Powell was most popular among poll respondents, with 87 percent saying they have a favorable impression of him. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice is viewed as favorable by 63 percent; Vice President Dick Cheney by 53 percent; Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 51 percent; and Attorney General John Ashcroft, 50 percent.

There was strong agreement, 72 percent, that the country is more deeply divided on issues than it has been in the past several years. Respondents also said they believe Americans are divided when it comes to values -- 65 percent say greatly divided, and 34 percent say united.

The survey results were based on telephone interviews with 1,015 adults Friday through Sunday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Chretien Gets Honored By Gay Group

365Gay.com, November 22, 2004
US Gay Rights Group Honors Former Canadian Prime Minister
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien will be honored for his role in helping secure recognition of same-sex couples in Canada.

Chretien legislated some of the most inclusive rights for gay and
lesbian couples in the world, stopping just short of full marriage
rights. After courts in Ontario and British Columbia legalized same-sex
marriage in those provinces Chretien announced that the government would
bring in legislation to extend that across Canada. The draft bill is
currently before the country's Supreme Court.

Chretien will receive the International Role Model Award from Equality
Forum, a Philadelphia LGBT rights group, on April 29 Independence Hall
in Philadelphia.

"Jean Chretien is an especially worthy candidate. He is a devout
Catholic, who adhered to his public responsibility of equality for all Canadian citizens," said Michele Bogrette, Vice President, Board of Directors of Equality Forum. "With his impetus, most of Canada's
provinces legally sanction same-sex marriage."

Chretien will attend to accept the award and speak about international
GLBT civil rights.

Meanwhile, Equality Forum has singled out 40 other people who have made
significant contributions to advancing LGBT civil rights rights will
honored at a ceremony at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Over 80 organizations and leaders were asked to nominate the Heroes. The
40 people were selected by Equality Forum. The gala will be held on May
1, part of a series of events planned to mark 40 years of the gay rights
movement.

"The organized movement began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1965, in front
of Independence Hall with 40 demonstrators from NY, DC and
Philadelphia," said Sally Susman, National Co-Chair, 40th Anniversary
Celebration. "That demonstration lit a fire that became the global GLBT
civil rights movement we know today."

The Heroes come from politics, entertainment, sports and activist
groups.

"This is an impressive list from Bayard Rustin to Barney Frank, MTV to
Melissa Etheridge, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin to Kevin Bourassa and Joe
Varnell, Larry Kramer to Andrew Sullivan," stated Malcolm Lazin,
Executive Director, Equality Forum. "In honoring these Heroes we
acknowledge the paths they have paved for our equality."

Scientists Debate Blending Species

Posted on Sun, Nov. 21, 2004
Scientists debate blending species
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post

WASHINGTON – In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in their veins. In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human. In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells firing inside their skulls.
These are not outcasts from “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” the 1896 novel by H.G. Wells in which a rogue doctor develops creatures that are part animal and part human. They are real creations of real scientists.
Biologists call these hybrids chimeras, after the mythical Greek creature with a lion’s head, a goat’s body and a serpent’s tail. They are products of experiments in which human stem cells were added to developing animal fetuses.
Chimeras are allowing scientists to watch, for the first time, how nascent human cells and organs mature and interact – not in the cold isolation of laboratory dishes but inside the bodies of living creatures. Some are already revealing deep secrets of human biology and pointing the way toward new medical treatments.
But with no federal guidelines in place, an awkward question hovers above the work: How human must a chimera be before more stringent research rules should kick in?
The National Academy of Sciences, which advises the federal government, has been studying the issue and hopes to make recommendations by February.
“We need to establish some kind of guidelines as to what the scientific community ought to do and ought not to do,” said James Battey, chairman of the National Institutes of Health’s Stem Cell Task Force.
Chimeras (pronounced ki-MER-ahs) – meaning mixtures of two or more individuals in a single body – are not inherently unnatural. Most twins carry at least a few cells from the sibling with whom they shared a womb, and most mothers carry in their blood at least a few cells from each child they have born.
Scientists for years have added human genes to bacteria and farm animals – feats of genetic engineering that allow those critters to make human proteins such as insulin for use as medicines.
“Chimeras are not as strange and alien as at first blush they seem,” said Henry Greely, a law professor and ethicist at Stanford University who has reviewed proposals to create human-mouse chimeras there.
But chimerism becomes a more sensitive topic when it involves growing entire human organs inside animals. And it becomes especially sensitive when it deals in brain cells, the building blocks of the organ credited with making humans human.
In those experiments, Greely told the academy, “there is a non-trivial risk of conferring some significant aspects of humanity” on the animal.
In one ongoing set of experiments, Jeffrey Platt at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., has created human-pig chimeras by adding human-blood-forming stem cells to pig fetuses. The resulting pigs have both pig and human blood in their vessels. And it’s not just pig blood cells being swept along with human blood cells; some of the cells themselves have merged, creating hybrids.
It is important to have learned that human and pig cells can fuse, Platt said, because he and others have been considering transplanting modified pig organs into people and have been wondering if that might pose a risk of pig viruses getting into patient’s cells. Now scientists know the risk is real, he said, because the viruses may gain access when the two cells fuse.
In other experiments led by Esmail Zanjani at the University of Nevada at Reno, scientists have been adding human stem cells to sheep fetuses. The team now has sheep whose livers are up to 80 percent human – and make all the compounds human livers make.

Jamaican Columnist: The New Gay World Order

'The New Gay World Order'
Heart To heart
Betty Ann Blaine
Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Dear Reader,
The unrelenting assault by homosexual activists disguising as human rights proponents is something that requires careful thought and strategy.
Let us be clear about one thing. What we are seeing is calculated, deliberate and focused strategy to apply as much pressure as possible so that we will not only bend, but capitulate and bow before the altar of what I call, "The New Gay World Order".
It seems to me that there is no end to how far we can stretch the barriers of personal behaviour, and then arrogantly ask the rest of us not to judge or criticise.
The question is, where will human beings draw the line? I'm told that there are countries in Europe where public notices are posted enticing people to have sex with anybody or anything - man, woman or do. If we are not careful, we may be muzzled by laws which tell us that we cannot criticise people who engage in bestiality.
I realise that what we are seeing is the ever-expanding borders of human degradation, where absolutely anything goes, and where people with a sense of decency are being goaded into silence.
Even when I was a victim of the folly of youth, I realised that I had to be guided by what was right and appropriate, and that there were certain lines that I would never cross.
For example, I knew that I would not have affairs with my friends' boyfriends or husbands under any circumstance because I knew it was wrong. I knew that I would never entertain, let alone put myself in a position, to have a relationship with someone of the same sex, because I knew it was wrong.
The point of the matter is that if we are not guided by any parameters, then there is no end to what we are capable of doing. That is exactly why an adult woman could be charged, as we read in the newspapers last week, with having sex with an eight-year-old child.
Homosexuality is not an unpreventable disease, it is an option. It is learned behaviour, practised by more and more people who simply disregard the limits of personal conduct, as well as God-given principles and morals.
It is bad enough that people can choose to engage in perverted behaviour, but to then believe that they have the right to impose their views and lifestyles on the rest of us, and to present it to children as normal, is to me the most abominable aspect of this growing scourge.
The tragedy of Jamaica is that we are ripe for infiltration, and for the proliferation of homosexuality because of the grinding and pervasive poverty that exist. More and more of our young children are being lured into homosexual acts entirely for money and the ability to get things.
The combination of poor education and parenting, and the unrelenting exposure to the Western sex media, embellished by our own local porn networks, create fodder for young, vulnerable minds.
In almost every girls' high school in Jamaica, there are growing lesbian cliques. There are a few in Kingston that are notorious for this because of their aggressive style of seeking new recruits.
I believe that the time has come for school principals to come out from behind the curtain of secrecy and shame, and speak up about it, so that as a people, we can begin to examine and address the specific root causes.
I want to say to those overseas gay activists, that the "hate" label that you are trying to stick on us, doesn't phase us in the least, because Jamaica has never hated gay people. I grew up as a child here at home seeing and interacting with people who are gay with the same love that I had for everyone else. What Jamaicans deplore is the behaviour, not the person.
I have never met a gay person who is not a very nice human being, so I realise that I don't have to be tricked into defending myself. What we have to be wary of, however, is this rabid remnant of homosexual activists who use pressure, power and money, to intimidate us into accepting their particular lifestyle.
And don't be mistaken. There is a vindictive spirit that will seek to blacklist and marginalise anybody who opposes them in any way, even journalists and ministers of religion.
I refuse to be tricked into the argument of "judging", and who has the right to judge who or what. The source of our values is the Christian Bible, which, by the way, is read, and its teachings practised by many non-Christians in our society.
The Bible is clear. It says, "Be fruitful and multiply". It also says, "For even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient." (Romans 1:27)
The message we want to send to the Western world, is that you cannot manipulate God or his word.
The Bible was used very effectively as a tool of subjugation and control of us during slavery, and we watch now as it is being used to further the aims of particular interest groups. We want to say, most emphatically, to Western gay groups, that you have taken on the wrong group of people.
Jamaicans know who lifted us out of the ravages of slavery and colonialism - it's the name that every Jamaican calls when he or she is in trouble - the name Jesus Christ. It is the life and teachings of Jesus Christ that we use as a model for our personal behaviour.
The most wonderful thing about Jesus Christ is his perpetual and everlasting love for mankind. This is why we know that there can be no room in our hearts for the hatred of gays.
The gay world and the rest of us have got into trouble because we have become disconnected from God, our Creator, and we have lost sight of the purpose for which he created us. When we fully grasp the fact that we were made in God's image and likeness, to further the goals of his Kingdom here on earth, then there will be no room for idolatry, self-indulgence or personal excesses.
With love.

UN Accused of Sex Abuse

UN investigates 150 allegations of sex abuse
23 November 2004

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations is investigating about 150 allegations of sexual abuse by UN civilian staff and soldiers in the Congo, some of them recorded on videotape, a senior UN official said yesterday.
The accusations include paedophilia, rape and prostitution, said Jane Holl Lute, an assistant secretary-general in the peacekeeping department.
Lute, an American, said there was photographic and video evidence for some of the allegations and most of the allegations came to light since the spring.
"We are shining a light on this problem in order to determine its scope, and we will not stop there," Lute told a news conference. She did not say if 150 different people were involved but indicated some suspects committed more than one offence.
In May the United Nations reported some 30 cases of abuse among peacekeepers in the northeastern town of Bunia, where half of the soldiers are stationed.
Since then one French soldier was sent home and three UN civilian staff were suspended, with many other cases expected to follow. Reports from the region say soldiers from other nations have also been repatriated to face charges at home.
Jean-Marie Guehenno, the UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, went to the sprawling central African country, formally called the Democratic Republic of the Congo, last month. He has promised an overhaul of staff discipline.
The UN internal oversight office is expected to release a report soon on the abuse in Bunia. In addition, the peacekeeping department is sending at least two other teams to Congo to deal with various aspects of the problem, Lute said.
The United Nations has jurisdiction over its civilian staff but troops are contributed by individual nations. Consequently, the world body has only the power to demand a specific country repatriate an accused soldier and punish him or her at home.
The revelations of peacekeeping abuses is usually kept quiet at the United Nations until reporters or individual countries disclose the news, as happened in Cambodia in the early 1990s and later in Somalia, Bosnia and Ethiopia.
In the Congo, the United Nations mission has some 10,800 peacekeepers and some 60 civilian staff, led by an American, William Lacy Swing. The mission has previously released reports of abuses but not details of the ongoing investigation.
Annan on Friday expressed outrage at the conduct of soldiers and civilians in the Congo, saying, "I am afraid there is clear evidence that acts of gross misconduct have taken place."
"This is a shameful thing for the United Nations to have to say, and I am absolutely outraged by it," he said while in Tanzania where Guehenno briefed him.
Annan said the allegations concerned a small number of UN personnel and promised to hold those involved accountable.
"I have long made it clear that my attitude to sexual exploitation and abuse is one of zero tolerance, without exception, and I am determined to implement this policy in the most transparent manner," Annan said.

A Majority Believe in Creationism

Poll: Creationism Trumps Evolution
NEW YORK, Nov. 22, 2004

(CBS) Americans do not believe that humans evolved, and the vast majority says that even if they evolved, God guided the process. Just 13 percent say that God was not involved. But most would not substitute the teaching of creationism for the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Support for evolution is more heavily concentrated among those with more education and among those who attend religious services rarely or not at all.

There are also differences between voters who supported Kerry and those who supported Bush: 47 percent of John Kerry’s voters think God created humans as they are now, compared with 67 percent of Bush voters.

Overall, about two-thirds of Americans want creationism taught along with evolution. Only 37 percent want evolutionism replaced outright.

More than half of Kerry voters want creationism taught alongside evolution. Bush voters are much more willing to want creationism to replace evolution altogether in a curriculum (just under half favor that), and 71 percent want it at least included.

60 percent of Americans who call themselves Evangelical Christians, however, favor replacing evolution with creationism in schools altogether, as do 50 percent of those who attend religious services every week.

This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 885 adults interviewed by telephone November 18-21, 2004. There were 795 registered voters. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on all adults and all registered voters.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Saudis, Arabs Funneled Millions to Clinton's Library

Saudis, Arabs Funneled Millions to President Clinton's Library
BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
November 22, 2004

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. - President Clinton's new $165 million library here was
funded in part by gifts of $1 million or more each from the Saudi royal
family and three Saudi businessmen.

The governments of Dubai, Kuwait, and Qatar and the deputy prime minister
of Lebanon all also appear to have donated $1 million or more for the
archive and museum that opened last week.

Democrats spent much of the presidential campaign this year accusing
President Bush of improperly close ties to Saudi Arabia. The case was made
in Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11," in a bestselling book by Craig
Unger titled "House of Bush, House of Saud," and by the Democratic
presidential candidate, Senator Kerry."This administration delayed
pressuring the Saudis," Mr. Kerry said on October 20. "I will insist that
the Saudis crack down on charities that funnel funds to terrorists... and
on anti-American and anti-Israel hate speech."The Media Fund, a Democratic
group whose president is a former Clinton White House aide, Harold Ickes,
spent millions airing television commercials in swing states with scripts
such as, "The Saudi royal family...wealthy...powerful...corrupt. And close
Bush family friends."

Perhaps as a result, the Saudi donations to the Clinton library are
raising some eyebrows. Mr. Unger said he suspects that the Saudi support
may have something to do with a possible presidential bid by Senator
Clinton in 2008.

"They want to keep their options open no matter who's in power and whether
that's four years from now or whatever," the author said. "Just a few
million is nothing to them to keep their options open."

The chief financial officer for the William J. Clinton Presidential
Foundation, Andrew Kessel, said that the vast majority of the roughly
113,000 donors to the foundation are ordinary Americans who made small
gifts.

"We have 91,000 who gave $100 or less," he said in an interview Friday.
"It's not all Saudi princes."

Information about the donors is available to the public on a single
touch-screen computer mounted on a wall on the third floor of the recently
opened library. Eventually, most who have contributed $100,000 or more
will be listed on a wall in the museum's lobby, Mr. Kessel said.

However, some donors have asked that their names not be released. "We
don't have many," Mr. Kessel said, adding, "It doesn't involve anyone
controversial."

The computer lists donors by categories that correspond to the size of the
gift. But there are no dollar figures provided for each of the funding
levels.

Asked why the donor categories were not publicly defined, Mr. Kessel
said,"It was a decision we made.We really don't need to at this point."

As a charitable organization, the Clinton Foundation is not required to
make the names of its donors or the amounts of their gifts public.
However, some of the other foundations that contributed to the library
have disclosed their gifts on financial reports that are available from
the Internal Revenue Service. By comparing those reports with the donor
categories on the third-floor computer screen in the library, The New York
Sun was able to match donor categories with approximate dollar amounts.

The highest tier,"Trustees," includes donations from 57 individuals,
couples, or other entities. IRS reports reviewed by the Sun show that the
foundations at this level have generally given or pledged $1 million or
more. The Wasserman Foundation of Los Angeles, founded by movie mogul Lew
Wasserman, gave the Clinton library $3 million. The Roy and Christine
Sturgis Charitable Trust pledged $4 million. The Anheuser-Busch Foundation
has given $200,000 annually for the last several years as part of what
appears to be a $1 million pledge.The Annenberg Foundation also gave $1
million.

The Saudi royal family and the governments of Dubai, Kuwait, and Qatar
donated at this "Trustee" level, as did the governments of Brunei and
Taiwan. Also listed as trustees are three Saudi businessmen - Abdullah
Al-Dabbagh, Nasser Al-Rashid, and Walid Juffali.

Other notables at the "Trustee" level include the deputy prime minister of
Lebanon, Issam Fares; Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and his wife,
actress Kate Capshaw, and an heir to the Wal-Mart fortune, Alice Walton.

The next tier down is labeled "Philanthropists." A major New York labor
organization, Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union,
donated at this level, which appears to correspond to gifts of $500,000 to
$1 million. Also donating in this range was the editor of the Las Vegas
Sun, Brian Greenspun, who was one of Mr. Clinton's roommates at Yale.

On the level below that are the "Humanitarians." Based on benchmarks
available from other sources, the "Humanitarians" seem to have given
between $100,000 and $500,000. In their ranks are the King of Morocco,
Mohammed VI, as well as a Pakistani-American businessman from California,
Farooq Bajwa. Several perennial Clinton donors are on this list, such as
the Big Apple Supermarkets chief, John Catsimatidis, and a San Diego class
action lawyer, William Lerach. The U.S.-Islamic World Conference gave at
the Humanitarian level, as did several Jewish groups, the Jewish Communal
Fund, the Jewish Community Foundation, and the University of Judaism,
according to the information available on the computer screen in the
Clinton Library here.

The most controversial known donation to Mr. Clinton's library is also
recorded at this level: a gift from a Manhattan socialite and singer,
Denise Rich. Ms. Rich gave the foundation $450,000 while her fugitive
ex-husband, Marc Rich, was seeking a pardon on tax-evasion and
racketeering charges. Mr. Clinton granted the pardon hours before he left
office, triggering a federal criminal investigation, as well as
congressional inquiries.

As a result of that flap, a House committee voted in 2001 to require
public disclosure of all large donations to presidential libraries. But
the legislation stalled.

Another confounding aspect of the donor list available at the Clinton
library is that, in nearly every case, it lacks any information beyond the
name of the individual or company who gave. There are no hometowns or
addresses for the donors and only in rare instances is there mention of an
employer. Campaign finance records generally include this data.

Many of the numerous $100 gifts were for the inscribed bricks, or
"pavers," that surround fountains just in front of the building.The same
computer that lists the major donors also shows the minor ones where to
find their paver. As a result, lines at the sole terminal are sometimes
long.

President George H.W. Bush's library, which opened in 1997 in College
Station,Texas, also received significant financial support from overseas.
The governments of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Japan each gave $1 million or
more, while the People's Republic of China donated between $50,000 and
$100,000.

The Chinese communist government may also have chipped in for Mr.
Clinton's library. The Chinese Overseas Real Estate Development company
gave at the $100,000 or higher level. So did the National Opera of Paris.

Fund-raising for the Clinton Library began in 1999, while Mr. Clinton was
still in office. However, the fund-raising team reportedly refrained from
soliciting gifts from foreigners or foreign governments until Mr. Clinton
left the White House in January 2001. Aides to the former president said
the donations support not only the library complex, but also the
foundation's other work, such as distributing AIDS drugs abroad and
shoring up small businesses in Harlem.

Mr. Unger, who wrote "House of Bush, House of Saud," said he thinks the
gifts to Mr. Clinton's library pale in comparison to business deals that
Mr. Bush's family has done with the Saudis. The author said the gifts to
ex-presidents are designed to encourage a pro-Saudi attitude on the part
of present or future occupants of the White House. "It would be surprising
if they didn't give," Mr. Unger said."The Saudis have given to every
presidential library for the last 30 years, Republican and Democrat."

A Washington Post editorial on Thursday decried the lack of disclosure of
the Clinton Library's funders, calling it "outrageous." Said the
editorial,"the presidential libraries, though built and endowed with
private funds, are public property, run by the National Archives. The
public has a right to know who's underwriting them."