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eNews For The Week Of January 16, 2001


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In This Week’s Issue

Articles and Commentary

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Articles And Commentary

Bill 'the Busy Beaver' Clinton

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President Clinton has been described as one of the hardest working presidents ever. This is certainly true during the last few weeks of his administration. His order-signing pen must be smoking as the number of executive orders, federal policies, and treaties have been astounding.

Ari Fleischer, Bushs press secretary-designate, called Clinton a busy beaver and told the media that the flurry of activity hasnt escaped the attention of the next administration. They have been very busy in issuing executive orders and regulations and recess appointments, he said.

In just the past few weeks alone Clinton signed the Rome Treaty instituting the International Criminal Court, which still requires Senate ratification; he is trying to finalized a free-trade agreement with Singapore; and has sent representatives of his administration to pursue further talks in the Middle East in spite of the seemingly hopelessness of the peace process.

He has eased the export restrictions on high performance computers. Under the new system only the few countries officially accused of terrorism will continue to experience an embargo on computers. Countries like Russia, India, Pakistan, and those in the Middle East and Eastern Europe will be beneficiaries of these relaxed controls.

Despite protests from groups in the West, the President is also expected to add two more national monuments to his list of federal lands he has placed off-limits to developers, the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and the Kasha-Katuwe Ten Rocks in New Mexico. Environmental groups have been pressuring the president to include millions of acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in order to prevent natural gas drilling in the area. Earlier last month Clinton infuriated western governors by prohibiting logging and road construction on more than 58 million acres of national forest land. The governors are suing to block the institution of roadless rules, but it will take a lot of time and effort to undo these last minute declarations.

Clinton has also sent a request to Congress to raise minimum wages to $6.15 an hour. He has issued new regulations on ergonomics, organic foods, diesel fuel, medical privacy, and federal contracting. He has proposed to tighten the standards for tax shelters, and prohibit tax advisers from charging contingency fees based on tax benefits.

Through a presidential directive Clinton has established a counterintelligence board, called CI-21 (counterintelligence for the 21st century), to formalize information sharing between the FBI and the CIA. The directive also creates a new executive position to coordinate intelligence activities and to lobby for money in Congress. In the past a similar position was created to oversee drug control policies.

President-elect Bush has promised to review all of Clintons last-minute decisions, as well as some dating back to the earliest days of the Clinton presidency. Undoing executive orders is easy by issuing a new executive order. However, Congress and the courts may have to help undo other policies established over the past eight years. It is a legal jungle which may be more difficult to reverse than anticipated.

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Asian Union?

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Singapore is proposing that Asian countries begin working towards a regional coalition similar to the European Union. Officials there say that the challenges of a global economy along with its information technology make it necessary to seek changes. The challenge is to be competitive with the larger countries in Asia and to keep those most talented individuals from leaving for Silicon Valley.

One approach which we in Asia can adopt to take advantage of these opportunities and, at the same time, meet these challenges, is Asian regionalism, Yeo Cheow Tong, Singapore's minister for communications and information technology, says. We in Asia are nowhere near the level of European regionalism. We may not want to follow their brand of regionalism, which has evolved within the context of European history, culture and politics. But we cannot afford not to start working on a model of our own.

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Internet Speech Under Global Fire

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Freedom of speech and the press is a core right, which is crucial for maintaining freedom. Of course, the people most often watched by the press are those in government and so government is often hostile to a free press, because it doesn't want light shed on its misdeeds.

An article by Reporters Sans Frontires (Reporters without Borders) in France lists a total of forty-five countries that restrict their citizens' access to the Internet. Of those, twenty are extremely hostile to the global communications system.

Authoritarian regimes have particular problems with the Internet. Although the Internet is a major factor in economic growth, it also opens the floodgates of free speech and information and therefore constitutes a major threat. The great dictators of the 20th Century all made a major point of seizing control of the organs of public communications.

Typically the rationale for the restrictions is that of protecting the public from "subversive ideas" or defending "national security and unity." Governments restrict access by forcing users to subscribe via a single state-run Internet Service Provider (ISP) or using government-controlled filters on various ISPs, which block access to sites regarded as unsuitable. Sometimes the filters actually force users to register with the authorities.

It will prove interesting to see which side of the struggle wins the battle. As economic pressures mount, the efforts of countries to keep their people from world communications may prove insurmountable.

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Girl Kidnapped in Philippines

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The six-year-old daughter of a Filipino woman and a British man was kidnapped late last week by the Muslim terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. The girls mother reported that the terrorists had demanded money from her and when she said she had none, they took the young girl instead. Later reports said that the girl was transferred to the MILF, another Islamic independence group operating in the Philippines, and negotiations are under way to try to win her release.

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Lebanese Court Sentences 121 People

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A military court in Lebanon has sentenced 121 people for contacting and collaborating with Israel during its occupation of south Lebanon. Some of those given 20-year-hard-labor sentences were members of the South Lebanon Army, a militia that openly helped Israeli forces. Others were convicted of crimes such as visiting Israel, and were given three-week sentences. Lebanon, which is technically at war with Israel, prohibits any dealings or contacts with the Jewish state. Since the court is part of the military, the verdicts cannot be appealed.

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Global Warming Questioned

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Weather data collected from ships at sea have been called into question as ships usually monitored the temperature of the water, not air temperatures. Scientists assumed that seawater temperatures had a direct correlation with air temperatures and used the data on water temperatures to support their theories on global warming.

Subsequently, however, data collected from stationery buoys show that sea temperatures and air temperatures do not directly correspond to one another. This error in reasoning has lead to a nearly 40 percent over-estimate of global warming. Satellite data have also failed to show any significant warming trends.

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Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in these articles, enews and linked websites are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views held by Koinonia House. Koinonia House is providing this information as a resource to individuals who are interested in current news and events that may have an impact on Christian Life and Biblical trends. Koinonia House is not responsible for any information contained in these articles that may be inaccurate, or does not present an unbiased or complete perspective. Koinonia House disavows any obligation to correct or update the information contained in these articles.

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