The Michigan Militia Corps'

Weekly Update
Internet Edition

Volume 5, Issue 26

Week of July 27, 1998

China Issues Threat Against Taiwan

BEIJING - China hinted on Monday that the United States was a potential threat to its security, issuing its first public defense policy review in three years.

In the statement, China also renewed a threat to retake Taiwan by force and criticized nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, The Cabinet said China wants a stable world order to pursue its primary goal of economic development. It noted an overall easing of tensions worldwide, but the Cabinet said threats persist.

Without naming names, the policy review assailed "hegemonism" - a euphemism for the United States and its superpower status - and the U.S. alliance with Japan.

"Hegemonism and power politics remain the main source of threats to world peace and stability," the policy paper said. "Some countries, by relying on their military advantages, pose military threats to other countries, even resorting to armed intervention."

The policy review criticized, again without specifying, the U.S.-Japan security treaty as "an infringement upon and interference in China's sovereignty." Renewed treaty guidelines issued last year drew Beijing's anger after a Japanese politician suggested that the pact covered potential conflicts over Taiwan.

China is sensitive about activities that undermine its claim to Taiwan as a renegade province. Japan ruled the island for 50 years until its defeat in World War II. The United States backed the island through much of the Cold War and continues to sell it arms over Beijing's objections.

In keeping with China's usually prickly statements on Taiwan, the State Council renewed a pledge to seek peaceful unification with the island but added that Beijing "will not commit itself not to resort to force."

If largely a recitation of long-held and oft-repeated positions, China's first published defense policy review since 1995 was notable for bringing a modicum of transparency to the largely secretive workings of the world's largest standing army.

While taking issue with India and Pakistan for conducting nuclear tests, the State Council singled out New Delhi for harsher treatment, criticizing it for "flagrantly" defying the international community. Pakistan is a decades-old ally.

Defense officials from the United States and other countries have urged China to publish more information about the People's Liberation Army more often to dispel suspicions about Chinese intentions.

The policy paper provided some details on a plan to trim the PLA by 500,000 to 2.5 million members. Overall the army will shrink 19 percent, the navy 11.6 percent and the air force 11 percent, the paper said.

It also released figures on conventional weapons imports and exports registered with the United Nations between 1992 and 1996. The figures show, for example, China imported 48 aircraft and two naval vessels, but the report does not provide details on the purchases.

Offsetting the small steps toward openness, the report does little to open the accounts of the PLA.

Too Good To Last?

The American economy is sailing along so smoothly (unemployment 4.5 percent, near-record stock prices, strong home sales) that it seems unpatriotic to ask the obvious question: Is this too good to last? Well, yes. Every great boom spawns a theory why it (unlike past booms) can continue indefinitely. There's been the "new era" (the 1920s), the "new economics" (the 1960s) and the "new paradigm" (the 1990s). The theories are always wrong.

Prosperity faces many dangers. Here are the usual suspects:

Asia's Crisis. It's getting worse. In 1998, economic output (gross domestic product) will drop 2.7 percent in Japan, 6.7 percent in South Korea and 19.9 percent in Indonesia, says economist Nariman Behravesh of Standard & Poor's DRI. China's economy is also slowing. Asia buys a quarter of U.S. exports. They will fall, while Asian imports -- cheapened by currency depreciations -- rise.

The Stock Market. Americans are spending more of their incomes and saving less, because fattened stock portfolios make them feel wealthier. But many economists think stock prices are too high. Mark Zandi of Regional Financial Associates says the market is 30 percent overvalued. Stock prices are nearly 30 times company earnings (profits), based on the S&P index of 500 stocks. Since 1960, this P/E ratio has averaged 16. If stocks slump, consumer spending (two-thirds of GDP) would probably follow.

The Year-2000 Glitch. Computers that run, among other things, power and communications networks often misread the new century as "00" and not "2000." The same problem afflicts perhaps one to 2 percent of the "embedded" computer chips that control everything from factory machines to medical devices. Unless errors are fixed, the economy suffers. For example, government (federal, state and local) pays 46 percent of health costs. If their computers crash, doctors and hospitals won't be paid on time.

The Euro. In January, 11 of the European Union's 15 nations will adopt a single currency. These countries have a population of 291 million and a GDP of about $6 trillion. (U.S. GDP: $8 trillion.) The Euro's supporters think it will spur stronger economic growth; skeptics fear economic and political paralysis. (In January, countries will freeze exchange rates among their currencies. Euro bills and coins will be issued in 2002. Britain, Sweden, Denmark and Greece aren't joining.)

The U.S. boom reflects basic strengths -- and luck. An inventive culture drives investment in everything from the Internet to biotechnology. Competitive markets and the Federal Reserve have controlled inflation. Luck? Well, inexpensive imports have checked price increases of rival U.S. products. In the past year, new car prices are down one percent; infant-clothing prices are down 6 percent. The declines help offset higher inflation in services (excluding energy) of about 3 percent. And falling oil prices and interest rates have boosted consumer spending and home buying.

Still, the dangers lurk. Glance at the list above. What they have in common is that, in the modern era, they're unprecedented. You have to go back to the Depression of the 1930s to find a global financial crisis -- bank failures, mass bankruptcies -- that compares with Asia's collapse. By many valuation measures, the stock market is in uncharted territory. The creation of a European currency has no modern parallel; neither does the Year-2000 Glitch.

As a result, economic forecasts are bound to be less reliable. Economists are dealing with unfamiliar events that, increasingly, transcend economics. Asia's crisis is as much political and social as financial. It's already led to Suharto's downfall, the election of an opposition leader in South Korea (Kim Dae Jung) and the resignation of Japan's prime minister. Unsurprisingly, economic forecasts for Asia have been too rosy. "Every time we think we see light at the end of the tunnel, it's actually another freight train hurtling toward us," says Behravesh.

Confidence explains the U.S. economy's magical expansion in recent years. People spend because they believe in endless economic growth; businesses invest because people spend. Byron R. Wien, investment strategist for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, aptly told The New York Times last week: "It is sort of like having drink after drink and not getting drunk . . . and thinking that you can party all the time." The trouble is that uncertainty is the enemy of confidence; and if people weren't so confident, they might notice that uncertainty abounds.

Uncertainty, however, is not necessarily calamity. Maybe the Year-2000 Glitch will (mostly) be fixed; maybe the single currency will invigorate Europe. But maybe not. Asia's crisis is the nearest threat, and its effects are spreading -- as Behravesh shows -- to other poor countries through low raw-material prices. With Asia buying less, prices fall and exporters suffer. Between June 1997 and this April, oil prices dropped 27 percent; that harms oil producers (Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Russia, Mexico). Coffee prices plunged 21 percent; that hurts Brazil and Colombia. Copper prices are down 27 percent; that hits Chile.

Almost everything affects everything else. As prospects abroad dim, foreign investors pour funds into U.S. stocks. In 1996, they bought $12 billion of U.S. stocks, reports economist Ed Yardeni of Deutsche Bank. By the first quarter of 1998, that was $116 billion (at an annual rate). The flood of money is one factor propping up the market. But high stock prices presume rapidly rising profits, and these seem threatened. Export markets have weakened, and low unemployment is raising wage costs. Indeed, recent statistics suggest that falling exports are already slowing the economy; and the Commerce Department reports that profits have dropped slightly since the third quarter of 1997.

Confidence may have outraced reality. Still, it's hard to say when the boom will end or how -- whether with a loud thud or a quiet bump. The economy regularly reinvents itself, creating endless "new paradigms." The catch is this: change opens new avenues for excess, miscalculation and speculation. These are the enduring sources of economic instability that have doomed past booms. So, enjoy this one while it lasts. It won't forever.

Clinton Warns of Global Warming

WASHINGTON - Calling last week's heat wave the latest symptom of global warming, President Clinton accused Congress Saturday of negligence in not addressing the matter and ordered energy-saving measures in all federal buildings.

"Despite mounting evidence, (Congress) would deny the science and ignore the warning signs," the president said in his weekly radio address. They would, he said, "rather pretend it doesn't exist."

"Rather than invest in a common-sense strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they want to cut programs for energy efficiency and renewable energy - programs that long have enjoyed bipartisan support," he said.

"Global warming is real; the risks it poses are real." Clinton said. "... The sooner Congress understands that, the sooner we can protect our nation - and our planet - from increased flood, fire, drought and deadly heatwaves."

Clinton has asked Congress for $6.3 billion in research and tax incentives over the next five years to encourage the private sector to cooperate in improving energy efficiency, generating clean power and reducing greenhouse gases.

The president said El Nino, undoubtedly, is most directly to blame for this year's most severe weather.

"But growing evidence suggests that the extreme and erratic weather we're seeing in America and around the world is being intensified by global warming," he said.

"Consider this: 1997 was the warmest year on record and 1998 is on track to break that record," Clinton said. "Five of the hottest years in history have all occurred in the 1990s. Scientists predict that July may be the hottest month since mankind began recording temperatures. The world's leading climate experts predict even more extreme weather unless we reduce this dangerous warming trend."

Announcing steps meant as an example for private industry, the president directed federal agencies to work with private contractors to equip federal buildings "with the best energy-saving technology."

Hundreds of thousands of light bulbs will be replaced with more efficient fluorescent lighting, he said. And the Defense Department and six other federal agencies will ensure that all new federal buildings are designed to reduce energy use.

"Together, these measures will save taxpayers as much as $1 billion a year in energy costs," Clinton said. "They'll help to jumpstart markets for new technologies.

Last week, as temperatures around the nation topped 100, Clinton released $100 million in emergency money to help the 11 states hardest hit by this summer's heat wave.

He said Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and James Lee Witt, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will fly to Oklahoma and Texas on Monday "to see what more we can do to help there."

Clinton also announced that the Energy Department will begin a new program of crisis assistance to low-income families that need help repairing and replacing air conditioners and fans, and installing insulation.

Clinton, Gore Blow Hot Air on Climate Issues

By Paul Bedard, ASPEN, Colo.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore are using this summer's dog days to bolster fearsome warnings that the globe is warming up, but experts say the duo are overheating Americans with fudged data.

With greater intensity as the summer days get hotter, the president has been declaring that the climate is its hottest in 500 years while the vice president has said evidence of global warming is "piling up" week after week.

But in each case, they are leaving out key facts, according to climate experts:

While Mr. Clinton is using newly reviewed 2,000-year-old Chinese weather and crop data to make his case for global warming, he is only looking back 500 years, a time of the sharply cooler "mini-Ice Age," and ignoring the data showing that the world was warmer than now.

Mr. Gore's charge last week that "the evidence of global warming keeps pilling up, month after month, week after week," was made without the obvious context that the calendar is moving into the dog days of summer.

The government office in charge of temperature readings claims accurate data only goes back 100 years.

"It's getting silly," said Thomas Gale Moore, a former member of President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisors. "Next they'll be saying it's significantly warmer today than six months ago [in January]," he added.

"This is what they usually do, play with the data. Depending on where you start and stop, you can make the data say what you want," said S. Fred Singer, president of the Science and Environment Policy Project.

"The public are still not wise to it," he added.

The administration has been using the heat wave to build its case for a global warming treaty that would sharply reduce industrial pollutants and provide money to study the issue and educate the public on global warming.

Mr. Clinton and the vice president have referenced global warming at each campaign stop. They have suggested global warming is to blame for the fires in Florida and a recent heat wave despite climate experts claiming it is an aftereffect of El Nino and its summer cousin La Nina.

Mr. Gore, for example, held a recent press conference to blame the daily summer temperature increases on global warming -- not the arrival of late July and August, commonly the hottest time of the year.

"Usually the climate does warm in the middle of July. That's normal," said Mr. Moore.

The president increased his focus on global warming after returning from China, where he claimed to have received data dating back to the 15th century showing temperature increases on the globe.

Speaking at a July 9 Miami Democratic fund-raiser at the home of film star Sylvester Stallone, Mr. Clinton said, "When I was in China, I was reminded that one of the reasons we have weather records going back hundreds of years is that the Chinese weather people -- what we now call meteorologists -- have literally been keeping detailed records since the 15th century. And we now know that the five hottest years recorded since the 1400s all have occurred in the 1990s -- every one of them."

A week later, he told a gathering of Girls Nation, "There is ample evidence now that what my wonderful vice president has been saying for years and years and years is true: that the climate of the globe is warming at a rate which is unsustainable, which will lead us to more extreme weather condition. We now have records going back over 500 years which we can use to measure what the temperature was on this planet."

Here to host a weekend retreat of major Democratic donors, he said early yesterday: "This is not a game. We cannot afford to go into denial about this."

Elliot Diringer, spokesman for the Council on Environmental Quality, said the president was referring to soil samples and tree-ring data. "That type of evidence does suggest climate change effect in that region," he said.

What Mr. Clinton didn't say, however, is that the Chinese have kept crop and weather data for over 2,000 years.

According to that information, the weather was warmer 2,000 years ago than it is today.

Mr. Moore, in his new book "Climate of Fear," said Europe and China were unusually warm from about 800 to 1300. After that, a "mini-Ice Age" occurred in the 15th century, dropping temperatures some two to four degrees below those of the 20th Century.

"If you start then, there's no doubt that the world has warmed since," he said.

"They just conveniently pick their starting point at the coldest period," Mr. Moore said. "You can't do that in science."

Mr. Singer said the Chinese data doesn't give temperatures because the thermometer wasn't invented until 1632. He said the data instead shows what crops were grown and at what altitudes.

Tom Ross of the National Climate Data Center said accurate temperature data collected by the federal government goes back only 100 years.

"The reliable records began about 1880," he said.

Scientists generally agree that the climate has warmed a degree over the past several hundred years due to greenhouse gases being released in the atmosphere.


By Jon E. Dougherty, USA Journal Online, JULY 17

Sen. Fred Thompson summed up the frustration of millions of Americans Wednesday during Attorney General Janet Reno's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators are still trying to find out why Reno is refusing, in the face of overwhelming evidence, to seek an independent counsel to investigate campaign finance abuses by President Clinton and Vice President Gore. She must have her reasons, but if it is because of some misguided loyalty to this administration, she is an idiot to think Bill Clinton will not discard her like so much refuse just to keep from getting busted himself.

Sen. Thompson's summation? "We've been back and forth on this issue so many times, but nothing ever changes." Ain't it the truth.

The Senate surely by now realizes what most everyone else has realized: That Reno, unless forced to do so, is not going to conduct a serious investigation of her boss. After all, Clinton appointed her.

But when it comes to figuring out what to do with a criminal president, the Constitution is very clear about how lawmakers can proceed from this point. If Reno refuses to budge voluntarily, it's time for lawmakers to budge her right out the door of the Justice Department.

The House should begin immediate impeachment proceedings against Ms. Reno for failure to faithfully execute her office. Her own FBI Director, as well as other legal scholars, have urged her to appoint a special prosecutor to look into White House campaign abuses. But she is obviously too much of a partisan to clearly enunciate the letter of the Independent Counsel law.

Therefore, returning a motion to impeach her would finally send this outlaw administration a message of resolve. From that point, Reno could either choose to do her job or take her chances with an impeachment trial in the Senate. Either way, her career in politics would be over.

At that point, perhaps Bill Clinton himself might also finally get the message that Americans have been waiting for lawmakers to deliver on their behalf: It is not okay to permanently damage the Office of the President, and it is not okay to behave like a slightly more civilized version of Poncho Villa. My bet is that even a mildly successful impeachment campaign against Reno would force Clinton to step down. And if he didn't, then Congress could begin proceedings against him. By that time, an entirely new Congress would be seated and it is likely to be filled with all kinds of congressmen who aren't in Clinton's FBI files and who aren't afraid of him or what he might do to them.

Right now, though, the primary impediment preventing a full accounting from the Clinton administration is Reno.

It doesn't necessarily matter if Articles of Impeachment are returned from the House, though I believe, with the right approach, they certainly could be. What matters now is that an effort is made. American voters can decide this November which of their lawmakers have earned another term in office and which of them has been a co-conspirator in helping to cover up the most unethical administration in history. Despite the power of this White House to cover up, to lie, to deceive, and to impede lawful investigations of real crimes, even Bill Clinton can't stop the voters from exacting their own revenge.

Every political organization, every voter, every commentator concerned about these abuses and what kind of shape the presidency will be in after Bill Clinton leaves office should begin now to lobby lawmakers and back their impeachment against Reno.

I agree with Sen. Thompson. This charade has gone on long enough.

Prisoners Allowed Pornography Banned from Sale at Military PX

By Lindsey V. Corey The nation's legal system has spoken: America's prisoners have a constitutional right to pornography in their cells while America's privates may not purchase sexually explicit material at the base PX.

A federal judge in New Jersey and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco have both recently overturned bans on nude pin-ups and soft-core porn posters hanging in jail cells, including those housing "repetitive and compulsive" sex offenders.

At almost the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal to a new federal law that bans the sale of sexually explicit material on military bases.

"I'd like somebody to explain to me why inmates should get better treatment than those defending their country," says Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona's Maricopa County. "Those people didn't commit a crime and they are treated as second-class citizens. It's an insult to our country."

It was Sheriff Arpaio's 3-and-a-half-year-old ban on depictions of frontal nudity in Maricopa Country jails that a unanimous three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit declared unconstitutional July 2, just six days after the Supreme Court upheld the military base pornography ban passed by Congress.

Also crying foul is publisher Bob Guccione, whose Penthouse magazine is the top-selling adult magazine out of 122 titles available at military base outlets, according to Army Lt. Col. David Fredrickson, director of corporate communications for Army and Air Force Exchange Services. The total yearly PX sales of soft-porn magazines is $12 million.

"It's not a question of money, but morality and principle," Mr. Guccione maintains. "I've spent over a half-million dollars to fight this ban, and even if I win, I'll never recover that in a lifetime of sales to military personnel."

In the New Jersey case, state officials say they don't plan to appeal a ruling by Judge Alfred Wolin in favor of two pedophiles who challenged a law banning pornography from the state's Avenel correctional facility for repeat sex offenders.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal last week, Dennis Saffran, regional director of the Center for Community Interest, said the opinion by Judge Wolin, a Reagan appointee, "treats a law barring convicted sexual predators from keeping dirty pictures in their cells in the same manner as, say, a law banning the sale of the Nation magazine."

The suit against Mr. Arpaio was filed in 1996 by former inmate Jonathan Mauro, who was denied cell delivery of his Playboy subscription while in jail awaiting trial on charges of financial fraud.

Papers filed by Mr. Mauro said the ban denies inmates access to newsworthy interviews and investigative reporting found in Playboy and from a column by Harvard University professor Alan Dershowitz in Penthouse.

"Don't even try to tell me prisoners are subscribing for the articles," counters Kathy Fondacaro, communications director at the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families. "We're supposed to consider prisons a process of rehabilitation so they can come back to society and do good. I don't see how pornography is going to do that."

In 1986, the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography cited studies indicating more than half of rapists say they were "incited to commit an offense" by pornography and 42 percent of child molesters "implicated pornography" in their crimes.

Maryland GOP Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett was a major proponent of the 2-year-old ban on adult magazine sales at military bases, noting that a recent string of sex scandals in the military only reinforced the need for the ban.

"We will not help military people hurt themselves," he says. "It's not a First Amendment issue. To require our military stores to sell everything permitted by the First Amendment would be impossible. If they want [pornography], they can get it somewhere else."

The American Civil Liberties Union calls both bans -- for prisoners and members of the armed services -- unconstitutional.

Eleanor Eisenberg, executive director of the Arizona ACLU, argues the right to free speech is "not just the right to speak, but the right to hear, read and access information."

"Whether it's in the military, jail or school, the answer is still the same: The government should not interfere with our rights," she says.

New York City constitutional lawyer Floyd Abrams, a specialist in First Amendment issues, says the military pornography ban is "wrong because it denies access to constitutionally protected material."

Inmates "don't have the same rights as everyone else does, but to deviate from First Amendment rights requires good reasons by prison officials," he says.

Neither the Arizona ruling nor the military base sale ban has been implemented. The military's Resale Activities Board of Review, established just for this ban, will meet for the first time tomorrow to discuss which publications and material will be covered by the 1996 law. Their report is due Oct. 1.

And as his lawyer prepares an appeal for a rehearing by the 9th Circuit, Maricopa County's Sheriff Arpaio vows to keep up the fight.

"I've never been one to surrender, always sticking to my guns," Mr. Arpaio says. "You're not going to get Playboy. It's as simple as that, unless you get out of jail and you go to the drugstore."

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