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FRIDAY THE 13TH

For a span of several hours on Friday (the 13th), Portland will be the axis of the nation's hottest political battle. Both President George W. Bush and presidential hopeful Senator John Kerry will be in town! With only seven electoral votes, Oregon is a B-list swing state. In 2000, the state went to Democratic candidate Al Gore by 6,000 votes.

So how will you spend your day? Screaming for Kerry, or standing outside the small business conference screaming at Bush? Choose wisely! PB

Kerry will appear at Waterfront Park (near SW Columbia). Gates open at 10 am, free and open to the public. Bush will appear at a "small business conference." Closed to the public. At press time, the GOP is unwilling to disclose location. PB

PEPPER SPRAY: NOT JUST FOR COPS!

In terms of excessive force, a local security company, Portland Security Services, may be giving the police some competition. Just after midnight last Sunday, an art opening at New American Casuals under the Morrison Bridge was interrupted by an altercation between partygoers and pepper spray-happy security guards in the parking lot adjacent to the clothing shop.

According to eyewitnesses, a young man from the party made the mistake of wandering into the lot to urinate. There, he was accosted and pinned down by two guards. When revelers crowded around to pull the man away, one of the guards apparently became intimidated and let loose with a can of pepper spray, hitting a dozen bystanders in their faces.

Members of the crowd dispersed and called the police, who later questioned the security guards and escorted at least one of them away in a bulletproof vest.

NAC owner Jason Brown said the altercation was a product of a longstanding dispute between Walt Pelett--the owner of the parking lot and the neighboring City Liquidators--and the landlord of the space occupied by NAC.

This is not the first time the two businesses have tussled over lot security. In each case, witnesses said the security guards claimed to be police officers, threatening arrest and confiscation of possessions. SCOTT MOORE

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