SAN DIEGO -- Thailand and many of its neighbors are starting to get their act together. After two years of downhill bad luck and self-inflicted pain, here's a really good sign: The awful, fiendish downtown traffic has returned, as the jobs and even the tourists are reappearing. Even Thailand's government, for a decade little more than a revolving door cabinet, seems relatively steady.
The current foreign minister, Surin Pitsuwan, has been in office long enough to represent his country at two consecutive annual APEC summits. That's not so unusual for other countries, but for Thailand, it's a political milestone.
This upbeat mood is good to see. Ever since the frightening and demoralizing Asian recession, triggered when the Thai baht plunged, Southeast Asia has been more aware than ever that everyone lives in the same neighborhood: Nothing so concentrates the regional mind as the prospect of a collective economic hanging. Now, none of the region's economies appear to be getting worse, and a few look to be on a serious upswing. Even some political developments seem to be leaning Asia's way. Consider the surprise mid-term resignation of International Monetary Fund head Michel Camdessus after almost 13 years.
The IMF undoubtedly played a major positive role in the Asian recovery, especially in South Korea, but Camdessus became a symbol of Western arrogance and economic hegemony. No one here will ever forget the infamous picture of Camdessus glowering over then Indonesian President Suharto as the latter signed off on the IMF's harsh terms for bailout funds. It ran in virtually every Asian newspaper.
Now there's increasing talk in the West of reforming or restructuring IMF to improve the institutional safety net, so as to cushion devastating economic downdrafts that cause widespread social dislocation in emerging societies. That would be very much in Asia's interest.
The region is also still applauding, without dissent, the hair-raising 11th-hour deal cut by the Clinton and Jiang administrations aimed at bringing China into the World Trade Organization. Smooth U.S.-China relations provide the geopolitical stability for regional economic growth and social development.
This is why Asia also applauded -- though perhaps not with a standing ovation -- the first major foreign policy speech of Republican presidential front-runner George W. Bush.
Delivered last week at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, it was framed by the Southeast Asian news media as a call for steady U.S. internationalism, in the face of roiling congressional provincialism, and stable Sino-U.S. relations -- though with a nod to the anti-China right in America. Leading papers, such as Singapore's Straits Times, emphasized such Bush statements as "we predict no conflict [with China]. We intend no threat....If I am president, China will find itself respected as a great power ... "
Southeast Asia liked those words, and, reflecting the region's voracious wish for good relations between the two powers, downplayed others. So it in effect neutralized Bush's comments depicting China as "an espionage threat to our country" and as a nation that's "alarming abroad and appalling at home." Beijing didn't like that, much less Bush's support for a missile defense system for Taiwan -- but, of course, Bush is working both sides of the street.
Bush had little to say about the world's fourth most populous nation, Indonesia. But few Americans do. Washington is so distant from Jakarta that scarcely anyone this side of Tokyo comprehends the devastating destabilizing effect, were this nation of 3,000-plus islands, glued together mainly by an overbearing central government, to disintegrate as one East Timor after another leaves the national fold.
There is one positive sign though. Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, recently elected successor to the fallen dictator Suharto, has had a good first month popping up in capitals from Beijing to Washington to show the new Indonesian democratic flag.
But his nation, still reeling from the Asian financial crisis and plunging for the first time into democratic government, will require the material assistance and political support of others outside the region. Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi stepped up and, dropping Japan's usual caution, laid out the red carpet for Wahid earlier this month in Tokyo. In January, savvy Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong will arrive with aid and lots of advice.
Earlier this month President Clinton met with Wahid in a session that went well. Southeast Asians are hoping that Clinton, who just finished visiting Turkey, Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and Kosovo, will somehow find his way out here early next year.
They note that those five countries together have a population of 144.1 million and Indonesia, smack in the geopolitical center of pivotal Southeast Asia, has more than 200 million. A U.S. presidential state visit would be easy to justify and enormously stabilizing to the entire region.
[Editor's Note: Tom Plate is Director and Founder of the Asia Pacific Media Network, a regional alliance of blue-chip news-media institutions. He teaches at UCLA and may be contacted at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org].
1999 copyright, The Asia Pacific Media Network
WASHINGTON -- President Clinton's staged remarks in Urosevac, Kosovo to a crowd of Kosovo Albanians on Tuesday fell flat as he cajoled his audience "You cannot forget the injustice that was done to you. No one can force you to forgive what was done to you. But you must try." at that, Mr. Clinton's advice fell flat on a stunned and silent crowd.
The Kosovo Albanians in the audience know the basic task of the military operation has not been accomplished and will not be finished until every person in Kosovo can at least go home. The situation is unstable and Mr. Clintoin's remarks are a tip-off that de facto separation of the North from the rest of Kosovo is going to be side-stepped.
It is in this context, then, that the Daily Republican Newspaper asks Mr. Clinton to answer the following questions.
Mr. President, US warplanes bombed Yugoslavia and the Kosovo province with you as the Chief Commander of US forces. Does it worry you that the whole campaign was justified and conducted on the basis of what has turned out to be grossly mistaken or falsified information about a genocide planned by Belgrade?[Background: During the campaign, President Clinton, Secretary Cohen, and Secretary Albright are on record with figures of between 10,000 and 100,000 missing and probably killed in consequence of the alleged plan by Milosevic, Operation Horseshoe. However, the Hague Tribunal has recently revealed that, so far, 2,108 bodies have been identified - of more than one ethnicity and dead from different causes; in short, not all Albanians massacred by Serbs. From a human point, of course, this is a great relief. But it raises serious issues as to of the information and intelligence basis on which decisions with far-reaching consequences are made. And it begs the question: what is world public opinion informed about and what not, and who produces information for what purposes].
Mr. President, what are your thoughts by the fact that NATO, with your country in the lead, killed at least 2,000 innocent civilians in Serbia due to stray missiles and bombs? You have apologised to the Chinese people for bombing their embassy. Did you consider the possibility personally to apologise to the relatives or, for instance, pay a compensation of some kind? And how do you feel about the indictment of you, your Secretaries and all other NATO leaders to the Hague War Crimes Tribunal?[Background: For the indictment of NATO leaders, see [http://www.transnational.org/features/Indictment_of_NATO.html]. For the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic for, among other things, being responsible for the death of more than 300 people during the Kosovo war, see http://www.transnational.org/features/indicted.html].
Mr. President, the American Camp Bondsteel here at which you celebrate Thanksgiving Day with your soldiers, is said to be the largest US military facility the US has built from the ground-up since Vietnam. I have three questions about it: a) what long term strategic aims does this huge investment serve, and b) how is it possible to build such a facility on territory which, according to concurrent legal judgment - and all UN resolutions - belongs to the sovereign, recognised state of Yugoslavia whose integrity you are also obliged to respect? Follow uo - are you not sending a very strong signal that Kosovo's future status is somehow already settled by fait accompli? [Background: Camp Bondsteel is gigantic: 775 acres, costs US $ 36.6 million, has every convenience and facility needed for its 6,300 US soldiers, including two chapels and a mobile Burger King; the way it is constructed is said to be indicative of a multi-year engagement and wider-than-Kosovo aims].
Mr. President, it is hardly wrong to say that the US was sympathetic to the plight of the Albanians and cultivated the leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, LDK/UCK, such as the present self-appointed prime minister of this province, Mr. Hacim Thaci. Are you disappointed by the fact that these allies of yours - I think we can call them that since KLA and NATO helped each other - are also responsible for an ethnic cleansing policy that has driven 234,000 legitimate non-Albanian citizens out of the province, according to UNHCR figures? If so, what do you do now during your visit to put enough pressure on Hacim Thaci and his military and civilian colleagues to ensure that you can say what you said about the Albanian refugees in Macedonia and Kosovo: we are going to bring them back to a safe environment.
Mr. President, according to the UN mandate that KFOR, UNMIK, OSCE operate on, Kosovo's citizens and their multi-ethnic composition should be protected. However, the 234,000 have left under the very eyes of these missions being present on the ground. I am sure that you, as the single most responsible leader, regret this failure, given that this is the biggest and most heavily armed peacekeeping mission ever - and the ultimate test of NATO in that role. In which ways does America and its NATO and UN allies intend to change the structure and function of the entire Kosovo operation before it decays beyond repair?
Mr. President, in every speech you have held also on this tour, you emphasise human rights, general humanitarian concerns and freedom. Now, there are almost 1 million refugees in Serbia - many more in fact than there were Kosovo-Albanian refugees in Macedonia and Albania. They have fled from Croatia, Bosnia and now Kosovo, driven away for exactly the same reasons you stated repeatedly at the time about the Albanian victims: "not because of anything they have done, but because of who they are." Yugoslavia and Serbia is in deep crisis because of political blunders and economic mismanagement, that is true, but also because of NATO's destruction and many years of sanctions and exclusion from the international community. A humanitarian catastrophe cannot be excluded this winter. How do you reconcile your personal commitment to humanism and moral leadership with actively preventing that these human beings are helped? Do you see any historical evidence that this is the way to overthrow authoritarian leaders?
Mr. President, in your own speeches before the bombing campaign, you emphasised that a major goal apart from stopping a genocide was to create stability in the Balkan region. I think quite a few diplomats and security experts would agree that neither Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, nor Bosnia and Croatia for that matter, are more secure now than before March 24. Rather, less so. I think many would be grateful for your guidance as to where and when the Balkan situation has improved in any proportion to the political, moral, military and economic investment we have made here?
Mr. President, do you intend to compensate, one way or another, Macedonia and Albania for America's/NATO's use of their territory and facilities? I mean in more substantial terms than "keeping the door open" for later - much later - membership of NATO?
Mr. President, wherever you go you promote human rights, freedom and democracy. I am sure that the right to privacy and freedom of speech is absolutely essential central in your thinking. Therefore, I can't help asking you -- how come your adminiustration has developed technology that permits you to listen and automatically register not only e-mail and fax traffic worldwide but also on private telephone conversations? [Background: The tapping of communication was reported recently by The Independent.]
[Editor's Note: Dr. Jan Oberg of the Transnational Foundation submitted these questions for the Republican to ask President Clinton.]
Copyright 1999 The Daily Republican Newspaper. All rights reserved.
LUND, Sweden -- We have received a number of excellent ideas about peace and Macedonia from people around the world. These respondents make exciting suggestions based upon a general body of knowledge and experiences. They focus much more on the human dimensions of conflict-resolution than governments do. By and large they reject military means in peacebuilding, and focus on local forces and bottom-up approaches rather than top-down, foreign imposed peace - indeed, quite a few tell us right away that the West in general and NATO in particular should stay away. This is a very moving appeal. People obviously must be given a chance to find their own solutions. Here are some of them.
Develop a true image of the place. It's a great problem that, regarding the Balkans, East Timor, Colombia, Haiti, Ecuador, Cuba, North Korea and many places in Africa, we may not have a broad enough image of what it is all about. Modern media should show us peacebuilding efforts, accompaniment, non-violent direct-action and cover it live. That would give people hope that something can be done. So, peace news and not only war news, please.
NATO is not for peace. It is disastrous for Macedonia and others to accept NATO as the "international community"; NATO is a military alliance of countries whose goals are the realisation of the policies and interests of the transnational corporations and the economic neo-liberal agenda of the wealthy countries. And each country with its specific problems should not expect NATO to solve them by means of its standard military package.
Go for the European Union, in spite of all. The far-from-perfect European Union points to the economic advantages of cooperation and the increased political clout of the whole region. It is a feasible model of a union of sovereign states, particularly if they pursue a course of people-oriented social and economic policies.
Development and politics from below is basic democracy. Countries such as Macedonia should develop their own political structures and not simply model them on those of the wealth-driven western "democracies." Rather, go for the "bottom up" approach in which local councils are at the base of the political system, and are thus more sensitive to the issues which dominate everyday life of citizens. These local councils then elect the legislators at the higher level of governance, which assures local input into national political decision-making. Such a system can break free of the rigidities of ideologically dogmatic party politics.
The Balkans between Third World and Rich World. It would be a stimulating challenge to the Balkan states to take on the role of leadership in the gap between rich and third-world countries, which they could only do by cooperative action and a "global"view which wipes out all traditionally corrosive "ethnic" biases.
Great Peace personalities must be found. All it takes is a Gandhi, a Mandela, or someone like them. Perhaps only deep conviction with a morally-based vision can open the gates to a rational and truly democratic new world order.
Let them find their own way. Don't impose peace. The people of Macedonia should be allowed to determine how peace should be maintained. It may be (and I believe is) appropriate to assist them in this process. I do recommend facilitating group processes at all levels, from small groups of individuals to higher level groups.
Selfishness and materialism must be stopped. The root of the problem is selfishness and materialism. Selfishness not only on the part of the people living in Macedonia , but also of the people living in the rest of the world.
Love and personal commitment. Love God, love your fellow man, yes even love your enemy. We can all contribute and this is a nice way.
Stop your Western colonialism. In the way you've come: go away and leave us alone! We Macedonians are not "Indians". You should acknowledge the difference and recognise that "civil society" is not what we need. After all, your own countries are not civil, you are all Swedes, Britons, Germans, French etc.
The West cannot and should not "help". Most of the ideas you have listed (in PressInfo 79) are more like academic talk. They will not necessarily have any impact on or connection to real life. Probably I would have viewed it better if only I had any confidence in Western values left. Unfortunately, after NATO's Yugoslavia war I realised that we ARE two different worlds.
Focus on women for development and peace The empowerment of women is key to a more peaceful future. Find ways that will encourage women to think and speak out about what they want for their children and grandchildren. Assist them in identifying and developing the means to equip themselves for action: a group or institute that can help develop processes and train animators who can nurture vision and hopes, encourage dialogue and mutual listening, help shape constructive aspirations and attitudes, foster creative problem-solving, and build networks.
"Apples for Peace" - A tax to finance a centre for education and environment issues We could start a movement, "Apples for Peace." A peace tax could be added to the market price of vegetables from Macedonia. The idea could catch on to other agricultural products, like peppers,tobacco and grapes. Imagine trucks of apples, walnuts etc. heading for Western Europe, for Christmas, with a ten percent "peace tax" added. The kilo price would still be under the going EU rates. The members in Diaspora would help out in the marketing. This tax could then help finance, among other socially inventive projects, a permanent educational and environmental centre; remember, the region borders on Greece and Albania, and it might be a good site for such a centre. And then we should leave the talk about multiculturalism off centre. My experience in the field is that too much talk about multiculturalism inhibits cooperation between members-citizens.
Removing trade tariffs to Europe and get rid of the mafia. A removal of the existing trade barriers to Europe would foster economic and social development of Macedonia. If more options for prosperity existed, corruption and the mafia would become less appealing to people. As in Yugoslavia there are people making a living from the possibilities created by barriers in trading. It is vital to avoid that counterproductive forces to economic and social development becomes an integrated part of the future society of Macedonia.
Let us be and be in peace! Stop arms profiteering! There was peace in former Yugoslavia before profit-makers started their marketing for selling weapons wrapped up in nice words like: civil society, democracy, free competition, peacemaking, and so on. I would really like to know when will we can hope for an end to all this peacemaking in the Balkans which suits western profit makers more than us? Is there anyone in UN with heart and consciousness who can say: people in the Balkans have paid enough. Now, let them be.
NATO is irrelevant, also for Macedonia. Macedonia was seriously destabilised by NATO's militant conversion of it into a combined military base and refugee camp. This sentence defines the most serious problem in keeping peace in Macedonia. NATO has destabilised the Balkans for years to come. No state that once comprised Yugoslavia should ever become a member of NATO. The existence of NATO is as relevant to world peace as would be the Warsaw Pact coming back and expanding into Western Europe.
Get the OSCE and UN back. The present OSCE mission must be expanded. Also, the reestablishment of the remarkably successful UN mission is imperative.
Lift the sanctions on Yugoslavia. Sanctions is a horrible threat to peace and reconciliation. They make the people suffer while the leader consolidates his power. The horrendous damage to the civilian population in Iraq should be a lesson. Sanctions are war against the people, and do nothing to dislodge the tyrant in power.
Towards a people's economy. Macedonia needs micro-loans to help people start their own businesses. It needs cooperative business ventures. Lift the sanctions against their largest trading partner, Yugoslavia. Prevent Macedonia from sliding into a long-term dependence on foreign aid. The banking structure within Macedonia should be supported to help local economics, not be complicit in creating more dependent economies.
Women can move society from violence towards caring. Women's energies and creativity, if focused, can help people move away from violence: personal connections, educational means, writing, the media, and community development are all pathways to be taken. Harness this power of bonding and reaching out beyond oneself in caring: channel it into the education of children, the reweaving of community, and the rejection of violence as a means to resolve the conflicts inherent in all living.
Create a culture of forgiveness. People need support to create a culture of forgiveness throughout society. Dedicated peace activists have to make small groups. The groups must be two types.One would be specific religious peace group, the other would be multi-religious peace group, the latter also including non-religious, spiritually developed persons. Let's call them People's Peace Action Group of Macedonia, but people of all religions and ethnic status must be included. Its task would be to formulate nonviolent peacebuilding actions with a view to establishing a culture of reconciliation and forgiveness. In short, create a land of peace for our children.
Provide a basis for mutual learning. I know that with the current situation it is too much to expect that Albanians and Macedonians live together in 'peace and harmony', but I think it's possible to have them respect each other, or at least not disrespect each other. This might be done by teaching children about both cultures, so they can get an idea about the points of view of 'the others'. I have been to the country and I think a lot of Macedonians have never even really met or talked with an Albanian, and it is very easy to scaffold a group of people when you don't know anyone of them. Getting them into personal encounters can soften the opinions of both sides.
Exchange of journalists and have Europeans learn about this cradle of culture. The ideas in PressInfo 79 - to exchange journalists, establish innovative institutions, respect Macedonia's sovereignty - are important. Maybe this can start by having Greece accept the name of Macedonia so it stops calling it FYROM? People must have stake in their own future; we can help by investing more in this small Balkan state - and in the whole Balkan region: it's a cradle of culture that many people in the West have no idea of.
Regional self-reliance: don't be a client of the West It would be of great importance to stop this senseless race towards the West. These countries were put in a very difficult situation and they had to fight for their own development and survival. Be fair: if sanctions, sanctions for all. If help, help for all. Maybe it sounds odd, but the Balkan is a rich part of the world; it has its own food, fuel, energy and human resources; Balkan countries should strive to depend on each other -- if they are suppressed to count on food from Hungary, Bulgaria and Macedonia, energy from Serbia, Rumanian fuel and Montenegrin and Croatian ports, they will certainly develop respect for each other, and develop mutual needs. If we don't wake up, NATO will spread all over the Balkans towards Russia and "Pax Americana" will come. Eventually, this could mean wars in Rumania, Moldavia, Ukraine and so on.
Call conferences all over Europe to generate good ideas. Why should the Swedish - or any government for that matter - not gather labour unions, church groups, peace and women NGOs, humanitarian organisations, area experts, religious groups, media people etc and have an inspiring debate on what they can do now to help, and not harm? After almost ten years of 'experimenting' with conflict-management, it's time to learn some lessons and avoid future mistakes.
We need a U.N. TV News channel and 'good' news. It should enlighten people on complexities, underlying issues, violence-preventive options and not just do war-reporting. Good news about peace activities too, not only 'bad' news about wars, earthquakes and other suffering. We could have global media brainstorms where viewers would call in or e-mail their ideas for peace.
Reform and strengthen the United Nations now. The fact that UNPREDEP was forced to leave Macedonia as the result of a 'game' between Macedonia, the US, China and Taiwan should be a lesson learnt: it must not be manipulated that way ever again. We need UN reforms, including reforms of the Security Council but also a new supportive attitude among member states - and a willingness to pay for peace.
10.000 peace monitors to the region. If Macedonia can host all these soldiers and serve as a NATO base, why should it not also host some 10.000 people from all over the world, citizens trained in peace dialogue, education, conflict-handling and human rights? They could be present there and elsewhere in the region. Countries who know that their own citizens are on the ground would be less likely to bomb...Macedonia could become a treasure for international peace efforts - something of what Switzerland is for capitalism.
Treat the traumas. We can learn from what has happened in ex-Yugoslavia that old traumas, when hidden deep down, will pop up at some point with very dangerous consequences. 'Armies' of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, priests and - simply - fellow-human beings, would be more useful to peace than all these soldiers and 'security' structures.
Exchange of students and others. The EU ought to give the countries in the Balkans opportunities similar to those of, say, the Erasmus program: for students, union leaders, journalists, parliamentarians, cultural workers etc. We've all still got a long way to go to really learn from each other and stop all the one-way Western aid.
Prepare them now for EU membership. Promise all the Balkan countries a future EU membership and start helping them now; in short, divert their attention from negative ethnic divisions to positive integrative projects.
Norms and campaigns against ethnic cleansing. If we can do campaigns and develop norms against the Holocaust, Nazism, discrimination and slave labour - why not against ethnic cleansing?
Focus on cultural and other types of autonomy. Stop talking about 'nationalities.' Why don't you (foreigners) let common people rule, here and in your own countries? History is no proof that the bigger guy is more clever than the small guy. So too for nations. Creative, tailor-made solutions for minorities in each country, particularly various types of autonomy, could help us a good part of the way to peace.
Decide the country's name and make better neighbours The formal name now is the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM. Macedonia is problematic for Greece, it can't just be 'Macedonia' in the future. This is part of a larger problem: for peace to develop in FYROM/Macedonia, it must make ever better relations with its neighbours, Bulgaria and Greece in particular.
The US can contribute, but not as it does now. We should recruit Cyrus Vance and Henry Kissinger, a Democrat and a Republican and both highly skilled diplomats who are well regarded in the international community. They could be special envoys to the UN. They could help select a UN high commissioner for the region. Their main role should be to get religious and civil society leaders together. And CIA must be kept out of the country!
Face the facts! Big troubles appear where big powers go. Unfortunately, Macedonia accepted NATO's military machine, hoping for the NATO membership. Instead it got the roaring machine of the NWO, the New World Order. Somebody planned these dirty wars long before. People with good ideas must also fight the real causes of this expansionism, particularly that of the US and NATO here.
Peacebuilding and work for all. The word "peacebuilding" refers to the economic and social work that is required after a peace has been negotiated - and is often a good way of avoiding an armed conflict in the first place, if it is used well before a violent conflict takes place. Work for all who need it must be seen as an integral part of peacebuilding everywhere in post-war societies. The role of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) should be enhanced in reconstruction after a conflict. And mass media should be encouraged to give greater coverage of this type of reconstruction
Full employment is a human right. The Depression provided the opportunity for Hitler's rise. Therefore, it was decided that the UN should have the promotion of "full employment" as one of its tasks (Article 55 of the Charter). Many of the disputes underway today have economics as one of the basic causes. People may use, say, religious or ethnic labels, but often the underlying cause is unemployment. If everyone is doing well, there is little need for civil unrest because the citizens are too busy enjoying the fruits of their labour. But if there is a major economic downturn, then there is a search for scapegoats - people to blame.
Ex-fighters need an incentive to help rebuild society. Macedonia has not seen war, but Kosovo has. Soldiers and paramilitaries there have just had a major status in their community. Peace brings the risk of losing that status - and the prospect of unemployment. Work will enable them to achieve social inclusion. If this is not secured, they could run to the neighbouring countries and create troubles there.
Re-federating the region. Everybody can see that nationalism and small ethnic projects were a disaster here as well as for the former Soviet Union. We must find new structures and do new things but ALSO not throw out what did work in the past: federation, confederations and local autonomies. Injecting capital into such structures under new circumstances might help bring about peace.
Human shields. It's essential that international solidarity with suffering and threatened minorities find expression in time. Being present and do international people-to-people projects together with the locals is peace in terms of both ends and means. Thus, for instance, we could build an organisation with prominent and non-prominent, well-educated peace workers who are a) trained professionally in solving conflicts without violence, b) have knowledge and skills about international information policy, so that they are able to get publicity for their field peace work, c) are able to educate other peace workers in the villages and towns and who d) are trained to cooperate with other responsible groups, civilian as well as military.
[Editor's Note: Dr. Jan Oberg is Director of the TFF Conflict-Mitigation team to the Balkans and Georgia in Lund, Sweden. His Email is - email@example.com].
LOS ANGELES -- Disappointment with Congress and deep ambivalence about President Clinton are creating the conditions for a tumultuous election year, even in a period of widespread satisfaction with the economy, a new Times Poll has found.
In their early preferences for next year's congressional and presidential races, voters are voicing a sentiment rarely heard in American political history: Times are good, so throw the bums out.
Even with more than 80% of Americans saying the economy is doing very or fairly well, voters today would give Democrats the edge in congressional elections and Republican presidential front-runner George W. Bush the advantage in the presidential race, the survey found. If those preferences hold, they could invert the current Washington balance of power, which has Republicans controlling Congress and Democrats the White House.
Behind that impulse for change are clear signs of frustration with both President Clinton and the Republican Congress after a legislative year that opened with a bitter battle over impeachment and closed with stalemate on most major issues. Only 4% of voters say Congress has accomplished "a great deal" over the past three years, while nearly 10 times as many--38%--say it has accomplished "not much or nothing at all." (About 55% say Congress has accumulated "some" accomplishments.)
When voters who said Congress hasn't accomplished much were asked why, 56% blamed both Clinton and the Republicans. Yet even amid this frustration at gridlock, a little more than half of voters still say they prefer to divide control of Congress and the White House between the parties, so that each can act as a check on the other.
That reluctance to give either party unified control is especially strong among independents--and could emerge as a wild card factor in the election as voters sort through their choices in the congressional and presidential campaigns.
The Times Poll, supervised by Poll Director Susan Pinkus, surveyed 1,800 adults, including 1,430 registered voters, from Nov. 13 through Nov. 18. Both groups have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The battle for control of Congress is a decentralized struggle shaped by local conditions, fund-raising success and the quality of the candidates in dozens of competitive races around the country. Yet these races all float on a sea of shifting national attitudes about the two parties, and changes in those currents can be crucial to the outcome. That's especially true in races for the House, where candidates often aren't as well known as Senate contenders.
For instance, when Democrats gained House seats in the 1996 and 1998 elections, they led in national surveys that asked voters which party they would back in the congressional races; Republicans led on that question before their breakthrough victory in 1994.
In the Times Poll, Democrats have now taken a 47% to 41% lead over the GOP when voters are asked which party they intend to support in next year's congressional election. Likewise, Democrats now have a 38% to 33% advantage when voters are asked which party they believe can "do a better job handling the major problems facing the country."
The contrast between the presidential and congressional races spotlights some of the reasons why Vice President Al Gore trails Bush by 55% to 40% in the survey.
Gore is suffering substantial defection to Bush even among elements of the traditional Democratic coalition that, for now, are uniting behind the party's congressional candidates. To take three examples: Voters older than 65 give 55% of their votes to Democrats for Congress but only 46% to Gore against Bush; union members prefer Democrats for Congress by 16 percentage points, but Bush by 6; and while only 8% of moderate and conservative Democrats say they will vote Republican for Congress, 28% say they would pick Bush over Gore.
Indeed, the pattern of defection to Bush raises intriguing questions about whether Gore's current weakness owes more to Clinton's troubles or to his own.
Voters continue to give Clinton strong grades for his job performance, with 57% approving and 40% disapproving. When voters are asked directly if their feelings about Clinton will affect their willingness to support Gore, the president emerges as a modest, but tangible, drag: 78% say attitudes toward Clinton will have no effect, 16% say it will make them less likely to support Gore, and 3% say more likely.
Yet other questions pinpoint a much more complex assessment of Clinton--as well as a subtle interplay between judgments about Clinton and his vice president. The question that perhaps best captures the ambivalence about the president asked voters to choose among four options to describe their views on Clinton and his policies.
Given that choice, 29% said they liked Clinton personally and liked his policies, while a mirror image 29% said they disliked him and his policies. A small group (7%) said they liked Clinton personally while disliking his policies, and the largest swing group--exactly one-third of voters--said they liked Clinton's policies but didn't care for him personally. Combining those groups produces a striking result: Overall, 62% of voters say they dislike Clinton personally. The exact same percentage--62%--say they like his policies.
Bush likes to joke that he's inherited half his father's friends and all of his father's enemies, yet that notion seems to describe more precisely Gore's inheritance from Clinton. Gore loses 17% of those who like Clinton and his policies while attracting just 7% of those who dislike the president on both counts. Even more important, among those who dislike Clinton personally but like his policies, 55% prefer Bush, and just 41% favor Gore--the man who promises the most obvious continuity with Clinton's agenda.
Is that a measure of disillusionment with Clinton or with Gore? One hint is that only 41% of that swing group (those who like Clinton's policies but dislike the president personally) say Gore has strong leadership qualities. Fully 69% of those same voters apply that label to Bush. Those numbers suggest Gore may face a more urgent need to rehabilitate his own image than Clinton's.
Returning to Congress, two factors appear to create risk for the GOP. One is the prominence of issues on which Democrats traditionally hold the advantage. When voters were asked what issues they want to hear most about in next year's presidential campaign, the top finisher was education, followed by health care and Social Security.
Only 9% cited taxes--even though Republicans made a push for massive tax cuts their major policy thrust this year in Congress. Indeed, when asked whether they would prefer to devote most of the federal budget surplus to tax cuts (as Republicans proposed) or to spend it primarily on Social Security, Medicare and education with a small tax cut (as Clinton proposed), 80% of voters said they preferred Clinton's approach. Just 15% favored tax cuts.
The second ominous trend for the GOP is Congress' slumping approval rating. Among all adults, just 42% give Congress positive marks, while 48% say they disapprove of its job performance. That's Congress' worst showing in a Times Poll since the budget showdown in fall 1995. And among registered voters, the picture is even bleaker: Just 39% approve of Congress' performance, while 53% disapprove.
Still, the news isn't all bad for congressional Republicans. While independents give Congress negative marks, they aren't sold on Democrats either: Independents still lean toward the GOP when asked their preference in the congressional race, with 43% backing Republicans and 37% Democrats.
Otherwise, after this year of unremitting partisan hostility, the picture in the congressional races, not surprisingly, is one of intense polarization. More than 90% of voters in each party say they will support candidates from their own side for Congress; the Democrats lead overall because the Times Poll, like most other national surveys this year, found that more Americans once again identify themselves as Democrats than Republicans.
Times assistant poll director Jill Richardson contributed to this report.
Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times
FREMONT, CA. -- This year shopping has become a quick and efficient hyperlinked holiday experience. Expect to find huge price discounts and real savings, endless product selection, gift services and in some cybermalls, live customer online help. All this without leaving your own living room you ready? Click your mouse!
If you choose to buy gifts online, you will be clicking into an all-out e-tailing war among the dot.coms, whose numbers have multiplied since the last holiday season. As these companies scramble to build sales fast and establish themselves as category leaders, they are throwing in shipping for free, giving away gift certificates and, yes, holding down prices.
InteriorDeco.com is the simplest online home products mall for window coverings, this year. Clear and away it has the best price and as an added incentive, it offers free shipping with nearly 2000 window covering options.
InteriorDeco.com CEO, Laurie Kobliska prefers to focus on the prestige quality manufacturers of wood and fabric window coverings. She opened two months ago and e-sales have already exceeded all expectations. Part of the reason for Kobliska's stunning success is that her online mall store offers top quality products, a slick digital catalog with shopping-basket and quick secure financial transaction and checkout features for processing major credit-cards. Need I say more? Best of all, InteriorDeco.com has real-time customer service through two regional customer service centers. InteriorDeco.Com has a pull-down menu bar making it easy to refine searches by selecting favored product lines. Online hoppers are able to get a live customer service agent on the phone or by using InteriorDeco.com instant e-mail system.
The bnottom-line is sales volume, and a slim profit margin. Economists are forecasting a huge run-up in online holiday spending over last year. Jupiter Communications predicts up to $6 billion in holiday spending by the close of December.
Many Internet retailers are watching to see whether they can handle the expected Thanksgiving sales volume and avoid Web site break-downs, poor product display and online salesd glitches that wrecked some onlibne stores last season.
There are indications this week that Internet traffic at online shopping malls is generating a holiday rush so huge that many online servers have been unable to accommodate the millions of shoppers who are attempting to log in during the rush-hour. The number of people shopping on Internet cybermalls this week jumped more than 70 percent, to a whopping 53,570,894 according to Nielsen/NetRatings on November 17, 1999. There are na record 113.0 million U.S. households online.
Kobliska told Daily Republican reporters, "The huge popularity in mall traffic tells me that people want like the experience and enjoy the value and efficiency that the InteriorDeco.com offers."
For retailers who are not as enterprising and e-savvy as Kobliska, other Internet portals like America Online, Yahoo, and MSN.com offer a less sophisticated shopping experience where e-store space can be rented by the week.
Internet retailers are offering photo-real and a 3-D look to their storefronts. At SharperImage.com, shoppers can listen to music by clicking on the "play" button on a 3-D model of a portable compact disc player. At the sportswear site Boo.com, a cartoon shopping assistant named Miss Boo gives advice about clothes.
At Victoria's Secret, waiting for the graphics to download to your computer seems an eternity. And ToysRUs.com has been turning away millions of shoppers because their e-store's Web server capacity can't accommodate the huge pre-Christmas surge.
Tom Hobbs, CEO at WebPortal.com said online customers will be able to access most stores in the cybermalls but might see increasing delays during peak periods over the next three weeks such as 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Before clicking the "buy" button, shoppers should check shipping and handling rates, as well as the time it takes to make deliveries. Look for retailers like InteriorDeco.com, which offers free shipping deals.
1999 Copyright, The Daily Republican Newspaper. All rights reserved.
WASHINGTON - A United Nations report just released provides a chilling admission that on July 6, 1995, as Bosnian Serb forces began their assault on the town, senior U.N. commanders rejected appeals from the Dutch peacekeepers for NATO air support.
The U.N.'s local officer also refused to release weapons to the Bosnian Muslims to defend themselves. Thousands of fleeing Muslims were gunned down or summarily executed.
The remains of 2,500 victims, mostly boys and men, have been recovered from mass graves, and thousands of others are missing, the report says.
Secretary General Kofi Annan writes in the report, "It was with the deepest regret and remorse that we have reviewed our own actions and decisions in the face of the assault on Srebrenica."
Annan concludes, "Through error, misjudgment and an inability to recognize the scope of evil confronting us, we failed to do our part to save the people of Srebrenica from the Serb campaign of mass murder."
Richard C. Holbrooke, the U.S. ambassador to United Nations and the architect of the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the Bosnian war, told reporters. "Srebrenica was the greatest collective failure of the West since the 1930s."
Holbrooke then attempted to soften his criticism saying, "I'm very pleased the U.N. is making an effort to come to terms with one of the great disgraces of the international system."
1999 Copyright, The Daily Republican Newspaper. All rights reserved.
NEW YORK - President Clinton's scheduled visit to Greece on Friday may be sharply curtailed according to a White House spokesperson, as 10,000 Greek protesters marched in front of the U.S. Embassy, many carrying banners branding Clinton a murderer in the wake of recent U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia.
Greece established camps for the Kosovar refugees in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, and provided other substantial humanitarian relief. The Greek government has taken a key leadership role in regional peace-making and peacekeeping initiatives using a sophisticated mix of economic and diplomatic incentives.
The same humanitarian concerns that underlay Greece's opposition to the Clinton administration's bombing of Yugoslavia resulted in the outpouring of support by Greeks for the victims of Turkey's devastating August earthquake, ushering in the much-heralded seismic thaw in Greco-Turkish relations.
Greek sentiments have consistently opposed an excessive and unnecessary use of force that targeted civilians and razed a neighboring country's infrastructure under the pretext of humanitarian intervention.
In the land where democracy was born, Greeks continue to share a deeply-held allegiance to America and its democratic vision for our world. Current Greek frustration with the US stems from the fact that our foreign policy has increasingly served to undermine this vision for the sake of short-sighted, parochial and decidedly un-American agendas.
[Editor's Note: P. D. Spyropoulos is Executive Director of the American Hellenic Media Project in New York, the e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org ].
1999 Copyright, The Daily Republican Newspaper. All rights reserved.
SAN DIEGO -- Beijing's WTO entry means those who call for a hard look at hedge funds and global capital flows should be heard. No one can say exactly what the new economic order will look like in fifteen years -- but, like it or not, a brave new world it will most certainly be.
Almost no one, at least in Southeast Asia, could imagine history moving happily forward if China were to be left behind, in a position to weigh everyone down. So for this region, which has only recently begun to put itself back together after the terrorizing Asian financial crisis, the news earlier this week out of Beijing -- that U.S. objections to China's admission to the World Trade Organization have been removed -- means that the region will not have to endure seeing a quarter of the world's population, living on its doorstep, left behind as the new economic order arrives without them.
Both Jiang Zemin and Bill Clinton, who do not always look terribly presidential to the experienced eyes of a region that has seen many would-be world leaders come and go, have saved their regional reputations with this historic mutual compromise.
That a WTO deal should have been reached months, indeed years, ago -- instead of in this cardiac-arresting last minute spasm of negotiation -- is neither here nor there for Southeast Asians. They are resigned to the Byzantine ways of a Chinese political system that takes forever to make a single decision -- and to our American one that makes too many decisions too quickly, then changes many of them the next day.
For Southeast Asians, especially, the notion that the world is now one large community, and, like it or not, they are unavoidably part of it, was brought home in July of 1997. That was their world-economic order epiphany -- when the value of the Thai currency evaporated like puddles of summer rain and people all across the region, not just in Thailand, started defaulting on loans, losing jobs, facing unexpected horror.
The main certainty in the world today is that everything happens fast and doesn't slow down enough for us to understand it fully. Two years ago, few Asians -- or Americans, for that matter -- believed that Singapore or Japan or Korea or anyone in this region would be looking at positive economic growth before the millennium. But now a recovery is in swing and China has a WTO deal.
But where and when will the next economic convulsion take place? And what will be the cause? I asked that of Lawrence Summers, the Harvard professor who replaced Robert Rubin not long ago as U.S. treasury secretary. Summers, a strong advocate of the WTO deal for China who recently visited Beijing to that end, believes that the Asian recovery came relatively quickly because both international institutions and national governments returned to economic basics.
"And Asia's further recovery depends on the choices that Asian economies make, including a continuing commitment to strong policy," Summers said.
He went on: "If it's economic policies that shape national economies, then it's politics that shape economic policies. The recent events in Asia weren't the first, second, third or last test of the international system.
What we've shown is the value of the new world economy -- but also the importance of old virtues, including transparency, accountability for policy performance, sound regulation of banks, correct macroeconomic fundamentals and the capacity for the provision of emergency liquidity to troubled economies."
This, then, is the emerging view of the American establishment about what happened here these past two years: That the Asian financial crisis was predominantly Asia's fault; that the havoc was not caused in any large way by hormonally raging short-term capital flows, careering around Asian markets like out-of-control teenagers in a stock-car rally.
Summers' perspective is echoed in the just-published report of a Council on Foreign Relations' task force: "The Future of the International Financial Architecture." This East Coast insider group urges national economies to adopt common-sense policies (stay off the addicting sauce of excessive short-term capital for your investments, and get your domestic economic house in order) while advising everyone to foreswear simplistic explanations for the terror that Asians have just endured.
"Hedge funds are not the villains they are often made out to be," insists the report, published in Foreign Affairs.
American certainty on this and other issues becomes all the more consequential as China integrates into the world economy, inevitably changing the world's financial equilibrium. Can all phenomena be readily explained by the standard catechism of capitalism? A series of pointed dissents from the Council on Foreign Relations majority view illustrate the uncertainty. The great Laura D'Andrea Tyson, former chair of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors and currently dean of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business,remains greatly worried about Western speculative funds.
Former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker calls for nothing less than an overhaul of the entire world economic system. Carla Hills, who was George Bush's trade negotiator, proposes a global summit on economic reform. All these ideas seem more plausible and indeed more urgent, not less, now that China's basic decision to join the world seems less reversible than ever.
Nothing will be the same after this. For the United States, complacency and over-confidence in an age of technology driven change would seem like a prescription for serious miscalculation.
[Editor's Note: Tom Plate is Director and Founder of the Asia Pacific Media Network, a regional alliance of blue-chip news-media institutions. He teaches at UCLA and may be contacted at Email: email@example.com].
1999 copyright, The Asia Pacific Media Network
WASHINGTON - The legal division of WebPortal Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif. had been routinely searching patent & trademark registrations using the United States Patent & Trademark office [USPTO] automated search system for some time. But this week, Tom Hobbs, WebPortal Inc. CEO told The Daily Republican that routine patent and trademark searches are "...taking weeks and months to complete. Because of the delay and the lack of confidence in the system search results are next to worthless. The digital software used by the Commerce Department to operate online database searches cannot be relied on."
Findings of a clandestine internal investigation by the Commerce Department confirm that database searches have been grossly inadequate and next-to-useless for quite some time.
The defects came to light this week when it was learned by Daily Republican reporters that over 400 USPTO examiners joined in grievance filed with the Senate asking for a congressional probe of the agency's floundering high-priced technology.
In a petition filed with the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R), the USPTO employees charged, "...each new generation of automation tools ignores and often deletes the most important and useful features of earlier automated systems. Furthermore, the office generally abolishes old systems at the same time a new system is brought online, with no contingencies for backup or parallel operation to minimize transition impacts."
Governmental Affairs Committee spokesperson Pam Lambo said on Tuesday that Senator Thompson "...asked committee staff to look into the matter and decide what the appropriate role, if any, of the committee might be." The petition, she said, would be handled "like any other piece of correspondence," and the timeline for action on it would depend on what needs to be done.
The petition followed the 9/9/1999 refusal of the General Accounting Office to look into a number of allegations of wrongdoing at the USPTO, including a claim that the new automated system "did not meets users' needs."
In a letter to newly confirmed USPTO Commissioner Q. Todd Dickinson, more than 80 examiners urged the agency to take "immediate action" to address serious problems with the system, they said, which was either not available due to the heavy volume of users, excruciatingly slow, or non-responsive.
A USPTO official acknowledged the system's failings but said the agency was addressing them on both the technical and training fronts.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Nicholas P. Godici told reporters, "...PTO installed a new server in early November to boost performance. While there has been some improvement we're not where we want to be in terms of performance."
Reliable sources at the USPTO have told the Daily Republican that the agency will add new software to increase the search system's speed, and more data storage capacity. Godici defended the need for the new computer scheme, saying the agency's old system did not have enough capacity to meet the needs of an expanding work force, and was not Y2K compliant. "The bottom line is that the system did not perform the way we hoped it would."
A spokesperson for the Committee confirmed the USPTO has been in contact with Senate Committee staffers about the petition, and that a response to the letter had gone out.
The Congress amended [Aug. 5, 1999] the Title 15 sec. 1051 of the United States Code [Trademark Act of 1946] by making it easier to protect a well known or famous trademark or servicemark against infringement by others on grounds of dilution of the business name.
1999 Copyright, The Daily Republican Newspaper. All rights reserved.
WASHINGTON - The Grand Old Party has found a new way to raise revenue—by hanging out its shingle as an ISP.
The Republican National Committee has announced that it will launch what it describes as "the first national party portal/Internet Service Provider" at its January meeting in San Jose, California. Supporters who pay $19.95 a month to use GOPnet.com will not only get unlimited 'Net access but also a calendar of GOP events, political news, legislative alerts and a direct link to each user's state GOP site.
In addition, there will be live Web casts from party functions and selections of daily anti-Democratic news reports culled from National Journal's "Hotline" subscription site. "GOPnet.com" will revolutionize the way Republican supporters stay connected with their party," Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson told a Washington D.C. press conference on Tuesday. The Democratic Party was less enthusiastic. Dismissing the new site as "basically old news," Democratic spokesman
Rick Hess told Newsweek.com that his party had run a similar Web-based service during the 1996 election. That password-protected site—offered free to party activists at the time — has since closed and the Democratic National Committee now plans to open its own "comprehensive" political Web site dedicated to keeping supporters active and informed, said Hess. "We use the Internet to disseminate information, not to raise money," he said.
Fundraising, however, was not the GOP's sole concern, countered Republican deputy chief of staff Larry Purpuro. "Our greatest interest is that we become the main street for Republicans with a well-informed site," he told Newsweek.com. "If it was [solely] a fund-raising venture, we wouldn't be charging market-related rates."
SAN DIEGO -- William Jefferson Clinton has been the presider in chief over a fabled economy, and the politician-in-chief who became the first incumbent Democratic president to be re-elected by the American people since F.D.R. But at least for those who care about foreign policy, his departure from the White House, still more than a year away, cannot, alas, come soon enough.
It's sad, really: In the corridors of last weekend's fifth annual retreat of the relatively new Pacific Council on International Policy -- the West Coast answer to the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations in New York -- there was much despair over what a tremendous foreign policy president Clinton might have been, had he only tried harder. From professor to business entrepreneur, from idealistic non-profit leader to Machiavellian political consultant, the informal verdict emerged, not unanimously, but with the sense of a majority view: Clinton's foreign policy on the whole has been less coherent than catch-as-catch-can and at the end of the day it adds up to a policy vision less worthy than the foreign policies of his two Republican predecessors.
In fact, it was difficult in San Diego, among the 200 or so retreaters, to find many Democrats, much less Republicans or independents, who'd go to bat for Clinton's style and approach. Where was the engaged foreign policy president who'd till the domestic soil to suppress the weeds of isolationism?
Where was our explainer-in-chief to publicly unravel the complexities of globalization to encourage public understanding, for instance, of the idea that US businesses wanting to deal with China aren't automatically communist dupes or amoral mercantilists? Where-oh-where was America's battler-in-chief who'd duke it out for a principle, a treaty or a vision he believed in, even if it meant Capitol Hill wrestling, extreme style?
Of course, each member of the Pacific Council speaks only for him or herself: The organization lives by a no-endorsement policy, and only rarely does it take a group stand. Even so, there was a lot of resignation if not anger, about Clinton. Many fumed over the administration's tactic (later abandoned) of labeling anyone opposing its advocacy of the anti-ballistic missile treaty as an idiot isolationist.
Even members who agreed with the administration on the substance of the issue condemned the ploy, viewing it as unworthy of a President's foreign policy, just as they thought the Republican red-baiting months ago on the Chinese spy issue moronic and dangerous.
In California, China matters. So members expressed frustration that at this late date, virtually on the eve of the annual World Trade Organization heads of state meeting in Seattle, Clinton officials are still scrambling to work out a semblance of a deal to have China admitted to WTO. That's the deal we could have had in April when Beijing laid many negotiating concessions on the White House table, but Clinton flinched from the necessary fight with Congress that loomed if he had said "yes."
Although the blunder may still be corrected in a Seattle scramble, it seemed to all too typical of an administration whose attention span on the larger world issues rises and falls with the bellowing headlines of the news media and the swinging mood of public opinion.
It's not all the president's fault, of course. It takes partisanship to have a partisan fight: And so if there was one overwhelming emotion in San Diego, to which almost all delegates would unreservedly agree, it was the hope that the next president, whoever the lucky person might be, will somehow be able to elevate the foreign policy debate and bring the American people closer to a consensus on big issues.
Some members even wondered aloud whether that might have a better chance of happening if the United States were to elect a Republican as the next president, if only because that might neutralize the worst tendencies of the Republican congress presumably to be re-installed next year. Might only a strong Republican drain from congressional corridors the divisive foreign-policy partisanship, not to mention the anti-China GOP poison, in a way that might elude a Democrat, as it tragically has Bill Clinton?That was the question haunting San Diego.
[Editor's Note: Tom Plate is Director and Founder of the Asia Pacific Media Network, a regional alliance of blue-chip news-media institutions. He teaches at UCLA and may be contacted at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org].
1999 copyright, The Asia Pacific Media Network
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Averting a subpoena battle, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson is promising a House Armed Services panel material it has been seeking for nearly eight months in an inquiry into alleged Chinese espionage at a U.S. nuclear weapons laboratory.
Just moments before the military procurement subcommittee met Monday to consider issuing a subpoena, Richardson made the offer in separate phone calls to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the panel's chairman, and Rep. Norman Sisisky, D-Va., the panel's senior democrat, Hunter and Sisisky announced.
At issue is written testimony prepared for an Oct. 6, 1998, meeting of the committee by Notra Trulock, the Energy Department intelligence officer who triggered an investigation into alleged Chinese spying at the nation's nuclear weapons labs.
Trulock, who later resigned, has said he was prevented from sharing information with Congress about the Los Alamos investigation by superiors, including Elizabeth Moler, then deputy energy secretary.
The subcommittee demanded the original, unedited and classified copy of Trulock's testimony in a March 24 letter to Richardson. Hunter contends the testimony he actually gave the committee was heavily edited by the administration.
``I think we've been very patient on this matter,'' Hunter said.
``Dr. Trulock had prepared testimony for this committee. That testimony had been changed,'' Hunter said. ``We don't know what Dr. Trulock was going to tell us.''
Richardson offered to deliver the unrevised, classified version of Trulock's original testimony to the panel today, Hunter and Sisisky said. If the document isn't delivered, Hunter said, ``then we will have another meeting ... and we will issue the subpoena.''
Hunter asserted that Energy Department officials ``didn't tell us the truth'' in October 1998 when they said there were no recent thefts of nuclear missile technology secrets from the Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory in New Mexico.
A former Los Alamos computer scientist, Wen Ho Lee, was fired in March for violating security rules. Although not charged with a crime, he has been the FBI's prime target in the nearly four-year investigation of the alleged theft.
Lee, a Taiwan-born computer scientist who worked with the top-secret weapons design team at Los Alamos since the late 1970s, has denied giving any secrets to China and has accused the government of singling him out because he is Chinese-American.
China has repeatedly rejected any allegations of espionage.
Sisisky cautioned that ``nothing has been proven that anything has been stolen.''
Still, he said, the panel is entitled to the unrevised testimony. ``Some of us might not agree on the need for the document, but that is another matter.''
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press./Font>
NEW YORK - In findings of fact that echo almost every one of the Government's accusations in its sweeping antitrust suit against the big software maker, Judge Jackson has concluded that Microsoft is a monopolist that time and again bullied other companies in the computer industry, harming consumers and hindering innovation.
"It's a bad day for Microsoft," observed William Kovacic, a professor at the George Washington University law school. "The judge relentlessly accepted the Government's story of what happened."
At times, Judge Jackson used carefully calibrated legal prose, but at the end of his findings he shifted to uncommonly blunt language.
Microsoft's actions, he said, conveyed the message that the company would use "its prodigious market power and immense profits to harm any firm" that chooses to compete with the company's mainstay products -- especially its corporate crown jewel, the Windows operating system, which acts as the equivalent of the central nervous system in more than 85 percent of personal computers sold today.
Before the findings of fact were released Friday evening, legal experts had expected that Judge Jackson would generally favor the Government but also nod on occasion in Microsoft's direction. He had suggested in the past that he would prefer to broker an out-of-court settlement between Microsoft and the Government. Such an outcome would relieve the Federal courts of the burden of having to make fine-tuned decisions about products and business practices in the Internet economy.
A settlement is still a possibility -- but only, it seems, if William H. Gates, the company chairman, and his top lieutenants decide that Judge Jackson has done what no industry competitor ever accomplished: brought Microsoft to its knees.
Yet with these findings, antitrust experts say it is more likely that Microsoft will persevere, hoping that Judge Jackson's final ruling is not such a one-sided rout as Friday's document might seem to portend. The company's next step might then be to appeal his decision to a federal appeals court and then perhaps the Supreme Court.
"If the judge's goal was settlement, he would have to leave enough ambiguity in the findings of fact so that neither side sees it as in its self interest to fight this to the bitter end," observed Herbert Hovenkamp, a professor at the University of Iowa law school, who is a leading antitrust scholar and is advising the Government.
`It's a bad day for Microsoft,' says a legal scholar.
There seems little that is ambiguous in Judge Jackson's document. "Having gone this far, I don't see Microsoft settling," said Andrew Gavil, a professor at the Howard University law school.
The judge's findings of fact are preliminary step and not a final ruling. But they form the all-but-unshakable foundation and framework for the outcome of the case -- either a legal judgment or a settlement. A court's legal judgment can be routinely overruled by a higher court on appeal. But findings of fact can be overturned only in the rare instance when the higher court finds a "blatant contradiction" between the written record of the case and a judge's finding.
"Judge Jackson has poured a lot of concrete here," said Kovacic of George Washington University.
The scope of the defeat that Microsoft suffered Friday is illustrated by the way Judge Jackson dealt with one of the Government's main allegations: that Microsoft had tied its Web-browser software to its industry-standard Windows operating system merely to thwart the challenge posed by Internet software makers, especially the Netscape Communications Corporation, the commercial pioneer in software used for browsing the World Wide Web.
Microsoft had replied that it simply made a product-design decision to include browsing software in Windows, rather than make it a separate product. The company noted that it had added new features to Windows over the years, a strategy that it said had helped consumers by making computers easier to use.
Indeed, this product-tying claim by the Justice Department and 19 states who jointly sued Microsoft had appeared to suffer a sharp setback shortly after the suit was filed in May 1998. A month later, a federal appeals court ruled in a related case that Microsoft should be free to blend its browser into Windows as long as it can make a "plausible claim" of business efficiency or consumer benefit from doing so.
Despite the very high hurdle the appeals court had put in the way of a product-tying claim, Judge Jackson proceeded to find one. "In conclusion," he wrote on that subject, "the preferences of consumers and the responsive behavior of software firms demonstrate that Web browsers and operating systems are separate products." After reviewing Microsoft internal e-mail and licensing deals, he concluded that Microsoft had decided to "bind" its browser to Windows and give it away free mainly to hobble its rival Netscape "rather than for any pro-competitive purpose."
As his product-tying finding showed, Judge Jackson has accepted not only the Government's version of events but also its theory of the case. The Justice Department had consistently argued that while Microsoft operated in the high-technology economy, it was an old-fashioned monopolist. The practices at issue, the Government charged, are similar to those used since the turn-of-the-century days of smoke-filled railroad cars -- threats and restrictive business contracts forced on other companies.
Microsoft argued that the Government was launching an assault on the company's right to make its own product decisions, protect its own intellectual property and innovate as it saw fit. And the Government, Microsoft insisted, simply did not understand how the fast-paced software business worked.
But Judge Jackson agreed with the Government, and found Microsoft to be an old-fashioned monopolist.
WOODSIDE, Calif. – "Silicon Valley is cautiously cheering," California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced after Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson voted thumbs down on Microsoft Corp. this afternoon.
But it wasn't nearly as simple as that. First of all, Microsoft's foes – and in this booming high-technology haven they're as plentiful as BMWs – weren't being cautious about anything. From their anonymous cubicles in their bland industrial parks, they practically shouted their glee.
"We're very happy," said Michael Morris, general counsel of Sun Microsystems Inc. "I found myself thinking of that famous statement by President Reagan: 'Facts are stubborn things.' I think Microsoft will find these facts stubborn indeed."
Venture capitalist Tim Draper, however, wasn't pleased at all. "Silicon Valley should be furious with the way our government is treating successful companies," he said. "Any would-be entrepreneur is getting a message from Washington that says: 'Become successful but not too successful, or we'll ruin your life.'"
Draper, who has both made deals with Microsoft and competed with it, added: "Bill Gates is a hero, not a villain. Microsoft is the goal we all aspire to be."
Venture capitalist Jay Freidrichs of Cypress Growth Fund agreed: "My gut is, this is not positive for the industry. The less government involvement, the better."
Cheering, grimacing – it all depended where you were coming from. "I feel very vindicated and very happy," said James Barksdale, former head of the browser company Netscape Communications Corp. and a key government witness in the case. The judge agreed with the government that Microsoft used its monopoly powers to crush Netscape, which was purchased by Dulles-based America Online Inc. earlier this year.
"I don't think Microsoft is evil. I think they just got carried away," Barksdale magnanimously added. "Practices that served them well when they were young and growing and aggressive are illegal once you become a monopoly."
Opinion wasn't only split on the merits of the case. No one seemed quite sure what would happen next. "We don't know what the remedies are. I think convicting them was the easy part," said Roger Kay, an analyst for International Data Corp.
Freidrichs, the venture capitalist, believed there would be little immediate change in the industry. "Microsoft is still Microsoft," he said. "They're the same company today they were yesterday."
But the Sun lawyer, Morris, argued that no matter how long the case takes to wind its inevitable way through a final verdict and then any appeals, "having a federal district court render findings like these is bound to affect the atmosphere.
"A couple of years ago, Microsoft was regarded as this inexorable force. There was so much fear," Morris added. "Companies didn't develop products they would have otherwise developed, or they sold out early to Microsoft, or they refused to work with other companies if they thought Microsoft was going to be angry. This opinion will create an atmosphere in which companies will feel they can operate much more independently of Microsoft, and that's bound to benefit consumers."
Robert F. Young, chief executive of Durham, N.C.-based Red Hat Inc., which distributes an increasingly popular operating system called Linux that competes with Microsoft's Windows, said there have already been changes because of the mere existence of the trial. "It created a policeman in the marketplace," he said. "It is causing Microsoft and others to behave much better. Very few businesses in the past recognized that there are competition laws in the marketplace."
In the two years since the Justice Department filed the suit against Microsoft, Linux has seen its share of the market jump – an increase that Young attributed largely to the government investigation.
During the trial, Microsoft officials had waved around a Linux box and argued that the operating system represents credible competition to Windows. Young called that assertion ridiculous, saying it was "a little bit like a giant phone company executive holding up a walkie-talkie and saying there is competition in the telecommunications business. Microsoft owns everything – even the dial tones."
George Vradenburg, senior vice president at AOL, said, "The critical issue now is how to structure a speedy and effective remedy that protects consumers, increases competition and innovation and, importantly, prevents Microsoft from maintaining or using its monopoly power in the future."
The first real-world effect of the findings is likely to be when the stock market reopens Monday.
"Stocks that trade at more than 20 times revenues, as Microsoft does, are vulnerable to bad news," said Peter Ausnit, who follows Microsoft for the San Francisco brokerage Volpe Brown Whelan & Co. "And this is devastating. He's [the judge] done everything but label the company 'evil.'‚"
Many high-tech folks were simply mute. In Silicon Valley, where tomorrow you may suddenly be doing business with your worst enemies – and the day after that, forming a new company with them – most people just didn't want to comment.
Cisco Systems Inc., the highflying maker of Internet infrastructure, said it would be "inappropriate." Intel Corp. spokesman Chuck Mulloy said, "We were neutral before the trial started, we were neutral while the trial was going on, and as the ruling begins to come out we will maintain our neutrality."
But even some of those with more direct involvement in the case were mum. Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, who once compared Microsoft to the Mafia, declined to comment. Andreessen, who is now running his own start-up here, gave no reason.
In anonymous online chatboards, people were less circumspect. On slashdot.org, a discussion-oriented Web site that focuses on high-tech issues, one participant wrote with an enthusiasm that even funky spelling couldn't mask: "All the techs here are singing holleyluya and throwing empty mtn. dew cans and nurf darts all over the place."
Hatred against Gates flowed forth, in fact. "Is it just me or did the world just gain color" wrote another slashdot poster. "I feel like dancing around singing 'Ding Dong the witch is dead!' This means good things for Caldera and any company that's suing Microsoft. They just have to say 'Judge Jackson says Microsoft is a monopoly.'"
A hot-tempered reaction, but according to Ausnit probably an accurate assessment. "Does this open up Microsoft to thousands of lawsuits from every belly-up software firm in the world. . . . Are they going to be set upon like the cigarette industry"
He seemed to think so, and said he would spend the weekend reevaluating his "buy" recommendation on Microsoft stock.
[Editor's Note: Staff writers Ariana Eunjung Cha, Shannon Henry and John Schwartz contributed to this report.]
© 1999 The Washington Post Company