The Michigan Militia Corps'

Weekly Update
Internet Edition

Volume 5, Issue 27

Week of August 3, 1998

Don't "suspend" health ID number plan; end it completely, demand Libertarians

WASHINGTON, DC -- A plan by the White House to "suspend" a national health ID number is not good enough, the Libertarian Party said today: The idea should be scrapped entirely.

"Don't suspend the program -- end it," said the party's national chairman, David Bergland. "The only number Libertarians want to hear is zero: Zero plans for this Big Brother identifying number; zero plans for another government database; and zero plans for further federal intrusion into our health-care system."

On Friday, Vice President Al Gore announced that the White House would suspend a plan to mandate a so-called "unique health identifier" number for all Americans.

The number would allow doctors to track a patient's medical history from cradle to grave, and could be implemented in the form of a Social Security-type number, a "Health ID Card," or a biometric identifier like a retina scan.

The proposal has outraged Libertarians and other privacy advocates, who say it smacks of Big Brother -- and who charge that it will inevitably lead to a massive government medical database.

But that's only one of many reasons to oppose the national health ID number, which was snuck, almost unnoticed, into the 1996 Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act, said Bergland.

"If implemented, the plan would be the first comprehensive national identification system since the Social Security number in 1935," he noted.

"If you add this proposal to the other recent 'identity papers' initiatives from the federal government -- a mandatory biometric driver's license and a national employee database -- you see a clear trend emerging," he said. "That trend is the government's increasing power to track, monitor, and record information about every American, all the time."

Bergland said Libertarians have numerous grave concerns about the "unique health identifier" number:

* It will destroy medical privacy: "We live in a country where teenage hackers can break into the Pentagon's computers; where J. Edgar Hoover would ransack IRS records to find ammunition against his political opponents; and where confidential FBI files turn up in the White House," he said. "Do we want politicians to be able to snoop through a central medical database to discover who suffered from mental illness, or had a sexually transmitted disease, or underwent treatment for substance abuse?"

* It's unconstitutional: "Read the Constitution: Nowhere does it grant Congress or the White House the power to force Americans to have a medical ID number tattooed on their hospital records," said Bergland. "This is just another unconstitutional power-grab by the politicians."

* It's scary: "We Americans pride ourselves on living in a country that doesn't require internal passports -- unlike the former Soviet Union," he said. "But now, the government wants to mandate an internal medical passport. Anyone who values their freedom should oppose this terrifyingly un-American proposal."

* It gets the government more involved in health care: "This national ID number was allegedly mandated to make the health care system more efficient," noted Bergland. "But should we allow the same politicians who invented the $600 toilet seat and the $5.4 trillion national debt to fiddle around with health care? The more they get involved, the more expensive and inefficient the system gets."

Now that the plan is on hold, Bergland said Libertarians -- and "every American who is a name, not a number" -- need to join together to make the delay permanent.

"We need to send a message to Congress: Take your unique health identifier number -- and deep-six it," he said.

Top Brass Reserved Plots in Cemetery

By Rowan Scarbough

Arlington National Cemetery maintained a secret list of four-star generals and other senior officers who were allowed to pick out and reserve choice burial plots, in violation of military regulations, an Army investigation found.

Such notables as Gen. Carl Vuono, former Army chief of staff, and Gen. Maxwell Thurman, who headed the 1989 Panama invasion, were on the list of 94 officers and two federal officials in the 1980s and early 1990s. More than half the list was composed of generals, who received the privilege of touring the revered cemetery and choosing a family plot, according to a 1991 report by the Army inspector general obtained last month by The Washington Times.

The IG said the park violated an Army regulation that specifically prohibits reserving space at the crowded national shine.

The Army manages the sprawling cemetery, where burial is restricted to long-serving veterans, holders of the nation's highest military awards or the Purple Heart, those killed on active duty and top federal officials. The House Veterans Affairs subcommittee on oversight and investigations concluded earlier this year a probe into favoritism at Arlington. The inquiry unearthed the fraudulent burial of Democratic fund-raiser M. Larry Lawrence. His fabricated World War II record enabled his family to obtain an exemption from rules that would otherwise have disqualified him for an Arlington interment. His widow had his body disinterred from Arlington.

The Army IG report showed that favoritism in the form of the reservation list reached back to the presidencies of George Bush and Ronald Reagan. There is no indication in the report that those administrations knew of the list.

Said the IG, "Ground burial sites at [Arlington] were de facto reserved in violation of Army policy. Senior officials, as well as others, were allowed to select their grave sites at [Arlington]."

The Army IG focused on burial approvals during the Bush and Reagan administrations as well as presidencies dating back to 1967. The Army provided a copy of the IG report to The Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Elaine Kanellis, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon, said Arlington abolished the list after the probe was completed and erased all selected sites. She said no one on the list received the site they selected.

The Army began the probe after receiving complaints that unqualified people were gaining waivers for burial at Arlington. Investigators found that 94 exemptions were granted by the Army secretary or White House between 1967 and 1990. All of them, the report said, were justified.

But the IG did take exception to a list of plot reservations kept by the cemetery superintendent.

Raymond J. Costanzo, who then headed Arlington, testified that he didn't guarantee a particular parcel.

"If we are just holding it for a person, that is not a reservation," he told the IG.

"Anyone who has requested, requested of me, I try to accommodate them," he said. "So I take the position that if there is anything I can do positively for a person I will try to do that as long as it is not a serious violation of any rule, regulation or law. I would do that, yes. ... Sometimes we will ride around the cemetery and talk about it."

The IG described the arrangement this way: "It was general practice to not schedule a ground burial in a previously selected site as long as other sites were available. This practice created a perception that ground burial sites were reserved." Among well-known generals on the list: John Wickham, former Army chief of staff in the Reagan administration; Frederick Woerner, former head of U.S. Southern Command; Matthew B. Ridgway, who led U.S. troops in the Korean War; John Galvin, former NATO commander; and Robert Riscassi, the top commander in South Korea.

Most on the list are still alive. Gen. Thurman died of leukemia in 1995; Gen. Ridgway died in 1993 at age 98.

The list of 84 included 19 four-star generals, one four-star Coast Guard admiral, 13 three-star generals, six two-star generals, five one-star generals, one assistant secretary of the Army and a congressional staffer.

The Army could not say how many deceased officers on the list received the sites they picked out.

The Veterans subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Terry Everett, Alabama Republican, found no evidence that Democratic donors "bought" Arlington sites. But the panel did find some instances of favoritism and inconsistencies in how some families won waivers while others were denied.


Wednesday, August 5, 1998

WASHINGTON, DC - Calling it a victory for Americans seeking to maintain choices in financial services, US Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) praised Members of Congress and the Senate for passing a version of credit union protection legislation on Tuesday. The legislation did not include potentially damaging community reinvestment regulations which would have meant higher costs to consumers.

Rep. Paul was the first Member of Congress to introduce legislation, Financial Freedom Act of 1997 (HR1121), which sought to protect multiple-common-bonds from federal court rulings against the rights of Americans to participate in credit unions. The bill also would have removed some of the burdensome bank regulations which are so costly to consumers.

At the same time, the Credit Union Membership Access Act (HR1151) was introduced, with Rep. Paul as a cosponsor of the original language. During debate on HR1151, language was included to burden credit unions with new regulations, which would have had expensive consequences for American consumers. The cost-increasing version of the legislation passed the House, but was not included in a Senate version of the measure. The House passed the Senate version by a unanimous voice-vote Tuesday afternoon.

"I am absolutely opposed to new taxes and new regulations being levied on the American people, whether directly or indirectly. I am pleased that the version we passed today adopts the legislative intent of my legislation as it related to credit unions by allowing the multiple-common-bonds without new regulations and taxes," said Rep. Paul. "Americans should have choices in their financial decisions, and the government should not restrict those choices. Excessive government regulations and taxes only serve to increase costs and limit the alternatives available to the consumer, the American taxpayer."

In a related move, the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit on Tuesday voted to eliminate the burdensome and costly "Community Reinvestment Act" regulations on almost 87% of American financial institutions (those with assets of $250 million or less). The subcommittee passed the regulation-relief bill nearly 2-to-1. Eliminating the costly regulation was a key component of HR1121.

Rep. Paul said he is pleased with the day's events, but that he will not stop in his fight to protect Americans from high taxes and the over-regulation of the financial services industry.

"We need to continue working to level the playing field for all Americans by cutting taxes and reducing regulations," said Rep. Paul. "What happened on Tuesday on the House floor and in the subcommittee are victories for the American consumer, but I intend to continue my efforts to cut taxes, cut regulations and improve the economic choices available to Americans."

Severe Economic Slowdown

Commerce Department reports 4% shrinkage since January

WASHINGTON DESK - Private sector economists agree. Evidence of the past month shows an anemic mid-year U.S. economy is forcing the nation into a severe slow down. The sudden and sharp correction of over stocked inventories and the General Motors assembly line strike are symptoms of the underlying economic leadership void in the Clinton administration.

Making matters worse, there is the skyrocketing trade deficit, brought on by failure of Asian banks that has led to the over night collapse of foreign trade accounts last month.

The Clinton administration admitted on Friday that U.S. economic growth slowed sharply to a 1.4 percent annual rate in the past months, an that the General Motors strike followed closely by the economic impact from the Asian financial collapse had caused the lack-luster 4.1 percent retreat since the First Quarter.

That 4.1 percent second-quarter loss reported yesterday by the Commerce Department was the highest roll back for a quarter since the fall of 1996.

The Commerce Department said it was the nation's most sluggish quarter in three years.

The news of the loss was not well received on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average sharply declined 143.66 points to close at 8,883.29. This was a continued downturn as the Dow has fallen about 5 percent since hitting a new high two weeks ago.

The report showed that domestic final sales, an indicator of domestic demand, surged 6.3 percent in the second quarter, compared with a 6.6 percent gain in the first quarter, as consumers continued to spend freely and businesses continued to invest in new equipment.

As soon as the report became public knowledge, the Clinton White House began interpreting the dismal report as evidence president Clinton's monetary policies were continuing to show resilience in the economy.

At a news conference in the Rose Garden, Mr. Clinton depicted the Second Quarter loss as a "...moderate gain" saying that it was the result of Japan's monetary crisis. Making matters worse, he then called upon the Congress to use the International Monetary Fund to "...keep the problems in Asia and much of the rest of the developing world from more deeply wounding the American economy."

Most economists are predicting that the Second Quarter's lackluster performance is unlikely to have an immediate effect on the Fed's interest rate policy.

The sharp downturn in exports to Asia and increased competition from imports took another 2 to 2.5 percentage points off second quarter growth rates, according to economists consulted by the Daily Republican.

The Commerce Department report also revealed that personal savings plummeted in the Second Quarter to 0.6 percent from 1.2 percent in the First quarter and 3.5 percent in 1994.

Examining this trend, Chase Securities economists said in a report they issued in New York City on Friday that the low savings rate could leave many consumers with little financial cushion if the stock market were to continue its nose dive.

Meanwhile, president Clinton attempted to reassure the nation as he told reporters in the Rose Garden "Today our economy is the strongest in a generation...this is growth the right way, led by business investment and built on a firm foundation of fiscal discipline."

The Commerce Department report said prices paid by consumers, businesses and governments rose at only a 0.4 percent annual rate in the Second Quarter following a 0.2 percent decline in the first three months of the year. Inflation numbers haven't been so low in 38 years.

In spite of low inflation, however, the report highlighted the sudden decline in personal saving as a share of individuals' after-tax income.

Adding to fears of a likely critical adjustment coming in the stock market, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 143.66 points Friday, finishing down 54.07 points for the week.

Finally, the nation's trade deficit in July alone, moved to an all time high of $15.75 billion including goods and services. This had an immediate impact on the nation's jobs as the trade deficit dragged down employment in manufacturing, where total factory jobs fell 29,000 last month.

Falling domestic order backlogs and factory employment stalled production.

With widespread declines over last month's factory orders that are under severe import competition, production in June followed suit, its steep 0.6% fall is the worst performance of the Clinton administration's economy in more than five years.

Monsanto Doses EU with Biotech Ad Blitz

Posted to the web: August 03, 1998
By Zadie Neufville LONDON, UK, August 3, 1998 (ENS)

All-out war over acceptance of genetically engineered foods has broken out across Europe. Some are calling it the new colonisation. For others it is a battle for the control, or the protection, of the world's food supply. The threat is not bombs or guns it is hunger.

At the heart of the war over the genetic engineering of plants are the rights of peoples worldwide to grow the foods they want to eat. This week, United States based multinational company Monsanto begins a major media blitz in Europe aimed at winning the hearts of Europeans and overcoming the European public's opposition to genetic engineering of foods. The company comes armed with the declarations of leading African personalities wooing consumer support.

Monsanto is the second largest agrochemical company in the world. One of the leading manufacturers of genetically engineered seeds, the company has asked prominent Africans to endorse genetic engineering as an essential contributor to the world's food supply in the next century. Endorsements for the genetically modified plants are expected to come from former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere and Gracia Machel - wife of the late Samora Machel who just married President Nelson Mandela of South Africa.

The Monsanto statements supported by the African signatures will be prominently placed in the European press in the coming week. The Monsanto ads, entitled "Let the Harvest Begin," include these statements. "We all share the same planet - and the same needs. In agriculture, many of our needs have an ally in biotechnology and the promising advances it offers for our future. Healthier, more abundant food. Less expensive crops. Reduced reliance on pesticides and fossil fuels. A cleaner environment. With these advances, we prosper; without them. We cannot thrive...Biotechnology is one of tomorrow's tools in our hands today. Slowing its acceptance is a luxury our hungry world cannot afford."

A counter-attack has been mounted. A media alert distributed by the Panos Institute of London, a non-governmental organisation that works to stimulate debate on global environment and development issues, said Friday that senior African politicians, scientists and agriculturists have released counter-statements to the European press. African delegates to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in a counter-attack on the planned Monsanto ads said in a joint statement. "We strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly, nor economically beneficial to us." The delegates who included representatives from all African nations in the UN except South Africa, accused Monsanto of "threatening and jailing" U.S. farmers who save seeds for planting the next year's crop. The delegates denounced Monsanto's interest in the environment. "Its major focusis not to protect the environment, but to develop crops that can resist higher doses of its best-selling chemical weed killer "Roundup." Maize, called corn in some parts of the world, is one focus of the battle over biotech crops.

Monsanto's European advertising campaign reportedly cost $1.6 billion, Panos said, and is aimed at winning consumer support for genetically modified food. Millions more could be spent in a climate where consumer groups and environmentalists, speaking out against the use of genetically engineered seeds for human consumption, appear to be winning. Several European countries -Austria, Luxembourge and Italy - have attempted bans on the planting of genetically modified seeds.

Consumers have picketed grocery stores protesting biotech foods. One major UK supermarket chain, Iceland, has refused to sell genetically modified food products. In March, Britain's sugar barons refused to accept any genetically engineered sugar beet through their factory gates. They did not want a repeat of what happened in Holland in 1997 when a tiny amount of sugar from genetic-engineering trials was accidentally introduced into bags of Dutch sugar. Once discovered, there was a public outcry, and all 12,000 tonnes of the mixed sugar had to be disposed of at great expense.


The argument gained momentum a few weeks ago when Britain's Prince Charles, spoke out in a newspaper article against genetic engineering, accusing the multinationals of "playing God." Monsanto and their supporters claim genetically engineered seeds will solve world food supply and many medical problems. But, large numbers of farmers, scientists and environmentalists see genetic engineering as "tampering with God's creation "with little regard for possible side-effects," a sentiment echoed by Prince Charles in his article. The prince called for additional testing to ensure that bio-engineered food products are safe for human consumption, and refused to eat these foods.

Monsanto's Technical Manager, Dr. Colin Merritt, responded to the prince's comments by saying no one should be denied the choice of food modified by genetic engineering. Dangers to the environment, some scientists warn, include the loss of biodiversity, potential dangers to human health, loss of income and opportunities for small farmers, and the control of the world food supplies by a small number of people. According to recent reports from the biotechnology sector, over the next year chemical companies will release 75 million hectares of genetically altered grains onto the world market - more than three times the amounts from 1996 trials.

Tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers are some of the products now being produced on a vast scale. According to recent newspaper reports, 1.25 million hectares of carrots and the first potato crops will be reaped in 1998. Estimates are that more than 150 million hectares of genetically engineered foods will be available on the world market by the year 2,000.

The dilemma of the world's poor farmers was highlighted recently when an Australian company attempted to patent rice seeds developed through research of wild plant material. Indian farmers recently lost the right to grow one variety of "basmati" rice, a traditional crop on the sub-continent for over 2,000 years. In June a variety of the chick pea was patented. In response to Monsanto's Africa-endorsed European campaign, African delegates to the United Nations have expressed fear the company is working towards controlling the world's crop production. The company which produces one of the world's largest selling agro-chemicals, the herbicide Round-up, also produces seeds which can only be used with this brand of chemical.

Genetically modified seeds reportedly produce higher yields. They also enable plants to repel attacks from pests and weeds. But the seeds must be bought anew for each year's crop. Poor farmers can no longer save seed from last year's harvest to plant the following spring. While they are expected to reduce the amount farmers must spend on pesticides, the seeds need intensive farming and will be too expensive for small and subsistence farmers. Many genetically engineered crops need more water than most small farmers can afford.


Six chemical companies: Monsanto, Enimont, Du Pont, Sandoz, Zeneca and Ciba Geigy , dominate research and development in plant genetics. The big six, together with Shell, WR Grace and Cargill, the world's largest grain and oilseed trader, dominate the international seed market. Important crops for which genetically engineered seeds already exist include maize (corn), soya, sugar beet, and cotton. Biotechnology to modify other crucial food crops such as rice, wheat, potato and cassava is now being explored. These crops are among the most important of the 20 crops that provide the world's population with 90 percent of its food.

Just four crops: rice, wheat, maize and potatoes, account for 50 percent of all food worldwide. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) was a chief supporter of the 1960s Green Revolution which increased food production worldwide with improved seeds, pesticides and fertilisers, but also left degraded land and disrupted communities behind. Now the FAO emphasises that "intensified food production can be achieved by the sustainable use of a broader range of genetic material." The genetic modification of food is already a multi-million dollar global business. This year alone, 3.5 million hectares of genetically modified soya have been planted in the U.S. Monsanto expects another 1.4 million hectares to be reaped in Argentina. In 1996, Monsanto earned $9.26 billion in revenue. The company is growing rapidly through a number of mergers. It is now involved in farming, food processing and distribution in addition to its seed and agro chemical production operations.

Monsanto sent ripples of fear through the agricultural sector in March when it merged with the Delta and Pine Lands Company, developer and patentee of the "terminator technology" which robs plants of their reproductive abilities.

Monsanto further shocked the international community when it attempted a merger last month with the Grameen Bank, Bangladesh's world-famous microcredit agency. The merger was aimed at "bringing technology to the poor" reports said. Grameen Bank President Muhammad Yunus has since announced that his organisation is abandoning the idea of a Grameen/monsanto partnership.

On June 29, Monsanto Company and Cargill, Incorporated, announced that they have signed a definitive agreement for Monsanto to purchase Cargill's international seed operations in Central and Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa for US$1.4 billion.

Governors, Mayors and House Work Together to Halt Clinton Power Grab

Reagan information exchange

President Clinton's Executive Order on Federalism, signed quietly in May, was feared by some to be a plan by Clinton to stay in power in the year 2000 by declaring an emergency over the 2YK computer glitch. Governors, mayors and millions of ordinary Americans just saw it as a power grab by Clinton. It would have allowed federal intervention in state and local matters by outlining multiple justifications for federal intervention and pre-emption, rather than stressing deference to state and local officials. The order was intended to guide federal regulators.

Faced with a wall of opposition, and a bi-partisan rejection of his plan, Clinton suspended the order "indefinitely." White House spokesman Barry Toiv said: "We intend to consult very closely with representatives of state and local governments as the process of revising the executive goes forward," White House spokesman Barry Toiv said.

Last month Sen. Fred Thompson sponsored a "sense of the Senate resolution" urging Clinton to withdraw the order. Calling Wednesday's move good news, Thompson said, "But I'm afraid this whole episode shows a tendency of the administration and some in Congress to try to centralize decision making in Washington. Power is a difficult thing to give up," he added. Also joining in the fight to undo Clinton's order were: The National Council of State Legislatures, Council of State Governments, National Association of Counties, The U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, International City/County Management Association.

Eye-Scan Technology Presents Intriguing Possibilities, Problems

By Sean Scully

A new technology for identifying humans by scanning their eyes offers unlimited promise to protect privacy -- but also poses dangers that must be reckoned with, according to the company that developed the technique.

"So many things that have been invented and made have an aspect for good, but they also have an aspect for abuse," John Siedlarz, president of New Jersey-based IriScan, said at a press briefing last week.

The company is marketing a system that scans the iris of the eye, the colored circle around the pupil. The iris is far more complex and highly individual than a fingerprint or other characteristics of the body, known as "biometric identifiers," Mr. Siedlarz said.

"It's a circular human bar code that is unique to you," Mr. Siedlarz said.

Using a high-resolution video camera, a computer can scan and almost instantly identify the unique pattern of a human iris.

With currently available technology, Mr. Siedlarz said, it's possible to build a system that could search a database of all 260 million Americans and identify a single individual within 10 seconds.

The technology would be useful for verifying the identity of people making financial transactions --from a simple ATM withdrawal to a multimillion-dollar wire transfer -- or for restricting access to health records. The technology is also useful in restricting access to highly sensitive areas.

Private companies, including GTE, already use the iris scan to maintain security in offices. A Washington-based company is testing such a system to allow commuters to pay mass transit fares without using tokens or cards. And banking companies are testing the technology on ATMs in Britain.

But Mr. Siedlarz said the potential abuses are clear -- governments or businesses using such information secretly or indiscriminately. The burgeoning biometric identifier industry should adopt ethical standards to prevent such misuse, he said.

The iris scanning technology raises the possibility of an easy way to identify and track all Americans. But use of the technology by the government might prove politically difficult -- Americans have long been skittish about the idea of a "national ID card."

In 1996, Congress approved development of a national health ID system and a national register of people qualified to work in the United States. But both systems have been met with public suspicion, and proposals to create a formal national card have been met with little enthusiasm.

"I don't like that much ability to ID placed in the hands of a government that's not responsible with such power," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, when asked about iris scanning and similar technology.

Mr. Siedlarz said he has also run into some religious objections. Some Christians worry that biometric identifiers represent the "mark of the beast" discussed in the Book of Revelations. Such concerns helped to derail a plan last year in Alabama to add fingerprints to the state's driver licenses.

While Mr. Siedlarz understands such concerns, he said, "it certainly is a leap ... to conclude that the colored part of the eye -- which you were born with and was given to you by God -- is somehow the mark of the beast to be used for evil purposes."

GOP Lawmakers call FCC Phone Fee for Wiring Schools to Internet Illegal

By Nicole Tsong

Key Republicans urged Congress yesterday to repeal a government fee levied on phone companies that now funds a program to lower Internet access costs for schools and libraries.

Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin of Louisiana, who heads the House Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications, said the fee, which the Federal Communications Commission charges the companies, amounts to a tax and that under the Constitution only Congress has the power to levy taxes.

"The FCC has made a legal mess," Mr. Tauzin told another House panel, the Commerce subcommittee on oversight.

He said the FCC had misinterpreted a provision in the 1996 telecommunications law that gave schools and libraries access to the Internet at a reduced cost, the so-called "e-rate."

He said the agency took it upon itself to levy a fee to cover the e-rate and that many of the phone companies are passing the fee along to their customers, many of whom are getting nothing in return. That, Mr. Tauzin said, makes the fee a tax.

Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, Connecticut Republican, chairman of the oversight subcommittee, said, "It is disturbing that the FCC should try to make this determination" to levy the charge.

A lawsuit on the constitutionality of the charge is pending in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and a ruling is expected this autumn, according to Ken Johnson, a spokesman for Mr. Tauzin.

Rep. Jerry Weller, Illinois Republican, a member of the oversight panel, also criticized the agency's move. "The FCC is not created as an agency to dole out block grants," Mr. Weller said. "The FCC was put in place to regulate telecommunications." FCC General Counsel Christopher Wright denied that the agency had overstepped the law. He told Mrs. Johnson's subcommittee that the commission believes its action "is fully consistent with the terms of the statute and does not constitute an unconstitutional tax."

By providing discounted services for schools and libraries and wiring classrooms, the FCC is staying within the limits of the law, he added.

Mr. Tauzin said the e-rate program -- which already has received requests from more than 100,000 schools -- could be continued if Congress passes a bill he introduced with Mr. Weller earlier this year. The measure would abolish the FCC fee and fund the program with telephone excise taxes already in place.

"This is a plan that is win-win for all," he said.

The current excise tax, which all telephone users pay, raises about $5 billion a year for the government. The new bill would collect about $1.7 billion of the tax for the e-rate program, distributing the money to states as block grants.

The measure would eliminate the rest of the tax, relying on the expected budget surplus to make up the Treasury Department's lost funds, Mr. Tauzin said.

"The legislation effectively kills two birds with one stone" by preserving the Internet access program and cutting the telephone tax, Mr. Weller said.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Oregon Democrat, opposed the measure, saying it would not provide the e-rate program with as much money as the fee does.

"We must not hold our kids hostage to intergovernmental disputes," he testified. "They need this technology today."

The Tauzin-Weller measure is expected to go to the floor this fall, according to Mrs. Johnson.

White Water Check from Indonesia Cashed at White House Credit Union


New evidence surfaced on Tuesday of apparent of illegal foreign contributions to the Democratic Party in 1996.

Congressional investigators provide details of $200,000 in travelers checks that were purchased from a bank in Indonesia, BANK CENTRAL ASIA in Jakarta, and later cashed or deposited in the United States by associates of Charlie Trie and Antonio Pan.

One well-placed congressional source tells the DRUDGE REPORT that at least $50,000 of this laundered money was contributed to the Democratic National Committee!

One stray travelers check, purchased in Indonesia, was cashed at the White House Federal Credit Union! The deputy of finance for the DNC cashed a $5,000 travelers check at the White House credit union in 1996, according to Hill investigators.

"We don't know if the money was given to Trie after the check was cashed; we don't know if he pocketed the money; we don't know if it was later deposited into DNC accounts -- we just know it was negotiated," said one senior staffer.

The travelers checks are the first hard evidence, made public, that tie Indonesia dollars to DNC hands -- with one check clearing the White House Credit Union.

What's next?

We thought this group of citizens would be the first up in arms, and we were right. Citizens Against Government Waste President Thomas A. Schatz was outraged yesterday to learn that employees of the Social Security Administration receive time off at taxpayer expense for Christmas shopping. "Just when you think you've seen it all in Washington, something else comes along," reacts Mr. Schatz. "This is so outrageous, I'm almost speechless. Here's an agency which spends an admirable 1 percent of its revenues for administration costs, but then has to waste money by allowing employees to go Christmas shopping." In recent hearings before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, chaired by Rep. Jim Bunning, Kentucky Republican, Congress discovered that 42 Social Security offices throughout New England grant their employees as many as four hours of paid leave for Christmas shopping each holiday season.

Paying the piper

The average American's per-capita federal tax bill will reach $6,031 in 1998, up 3.6 percent from last year's, the Tax Foundation informs Inside the Beltway. The average federal tax bill for fiscal 1998 will range from a high of $9,469 in Connecticut to a low of $4,030 in Mississippi.

Locally, the average bill in the District of Columbia is $7,862; in Maryland, it's $6,737; and in Virginia, $6,076.

If you think these are big jumps, in nominal terms, the per-capita federal tax burden is 44 percent higher this year than in 1992, and 65 percent higher that it was in 1988, according to the foundation, which has been making heads and tails of these valuable numbers since 1937.

Running free

A Florida state senator facing Medicare fraud charges can campaign for re-election wearing a monitoring device.

Judge Alan Gold ruled yesterday that federal prosecutors don't have clearly convincing evidence to warrant further restrictions on Sen. Alberto Gutman, a Miami Republican.

"This wasn't about me running away but about me running for re-election," said Mr. Gutman, who is free on a $150,000 bond. "As the case proceeds we will prove our innocence against these politically motivated, false and contrived allegations."

Mr. Gutman has pleaded innocent with his wife, Marcie, to charges of pocketing profits of home health care companies that generated $845,000 in false Medicare billings.

Houston suspends officers after shooting of Mexican immigrant

HOUSTON - Pedro Oregon Navarro, a 23-year-old father of two, was inside his apartment last month when several Houston police officers burst in, looking for illegal drugs.

After the Mexican immigrant locked himself inside his bedroom, the police kicked in the door and, suspecting Oregon had shot at them, began firing.

Thirty-three bullets later, Oregon was dead, shot a dozen times, including nine times in the back.

But police found no drugs, and an investigation would show the officers had no warrant and incorrectly relied on a tip from an informant not registered with the department. A gun officers said Oregon had pointed at them was never fired.

Oregon's death has led to an outcry among Hispanic activists and has hurt the image of Houston's police department, already dealing with allegations of misconduct by its officers.

"They went knowingly and consciously in search of their own heroics and forgot to abide by the rules," said Tony Cantu, a Hispanic activist.

"It's frightening that officers would illegally enter a residence and shoot a man in the back," Paul Nugent, an attorney hired by Oregon's family, said Thursday. "Evidence seems to indicate he was shot in the back while he was on the floor. We think he dove to the floor for cover when the police kicked in the door.

"We hope there's a vigorous investigation. The family is afraid there will be a whitewash and the officers' actions will somehow be justified."

Six officers who took part in the raid, including a sergeant, were suspended with pay pending the outcome of investigations. The district attorney's office is to present its case to a grand jury this month.

An unidentified police source quoted by the Houston Chronicle said one of the officers who burst into Oregon's bedroom about 1:30 a.m. on July 12 shouted that Oregon had a gun. About the same time, a gun carried by one of the officers went off, with the bullet hitting an officer and knocking him to the floor. The other officers, thinking their colleague had been shot by Oregon, opened fire. The wounded officer, wearing a protective vest, was not seriously hurt.

Harris County District Attorney John B. Holmes Jr. says it's possible the officers might not be indicted for the shooting because a person may not resist an arrest, even if it is illegal. And he says if Oregon threatened them, it would be proper for them to use deadly force against him.

"I don't know what happened out there," Holmes said. "What I truly feel in my heart of hearts is these guys had no idea what they were doing."

The case has put an unwanted spotlight on the department, which in recent weeks has suffered from the suspension of an officer accused of raping several women and reports of officers filing false time sheets.

Police Chief Clarence Bradford denied his department has a discipline problem.

"I see some officers who probably in fact need to revisit what they're going to do as Houston police officers and remember the oath that we all took when we pin on our badge about servicing the citizens of Houston," he said.

Oregon had been in the United States about eight years, according to his mother, Claudia Navarro, who still carries two uncashed checks he earned from his job as a landscaper.

"We are looking for justice," she said in Spanish, appearing this week at a demonstration outside the district attorney's office. "That's what this case is all about - justice."

Nugent, the attorney, said Oregon had no criminal record.

"He was hard-working, had a steady employment history, was a soccer player and soccer coach," Nugent said. "He didn't use drugs and certainly didn't sell drugs. The police made a mistake. They killed the wrong man."

If you would like to submit an editorial, commentary, or news story from your perspective on something you have been keeping an eye on, please e-mail it to and it will be evaluated for entrance. Thanks.

To subscribe to the Weekly Update, put out weekly by Michigan Militia Corps 5th Division command, simply send a message to with the phrase "subscribe militia" in the BODY of the message. The Weekly Update is archived at the Michigan Militia Corps web page at: