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1/7/1998 - Stress Linked to Fight Against Breast Cancer

A study issued in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports a link between anxiety and a weakened immune system in breast cancer patients. Researchers interviewed 116 women after surgery for invasive breast cancer, but before starting radiation or chemotherapy. The researchers first conducted psychological tests to determine levels of stress related to the disease and then tested the women’s blood for immune cell levels. Those with high stress had weakened immune systems. The study is the first in several designed to determine if lowering stress can aid in the fight against cancer. Researchers noted, “it is hard to ignore” that support can favorably affect the course of some cancers.


1/7/1998 - Prisoner Mothers Separated from Family

Two hundred and forty female inmates are being transferred from the D.C. corrections facility this month to facilities 300 miles away in Connecticut. Part of a federal financial rescue plan for the District, the transfer will weaken the already-fragile bond between the women, the majority of whom are single mothers, and their children. Cynthia Seymour of the Child Welfare League of America said about 150, 000 children in the U.S. have mothers in jail or prison. “...To move the mother so far away really makes the possibility of visiting even less likely. That’s the most devastating piece of this,” Seymour said.


1/7/1998 - Disney’s Eisner Not Distressed By Boycott

Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner stated in an annual letter to Disney’s shareholders he “always will defend the right” of the company to produce entertainment that some might find offensive. Eisner alluded to the recent Disney boycott by the conservative Southern Baptist Convention. The Baptists denounced Disney’s policy of offering benefits to partners of Gay and Lesbian Disney employees and ABC’s Ellen show which is the first primetime show to feature a Lesbian. “We are all fortunate to be in a country that protects ... free expression. We will not let a mayor, or a congressman, or a senator, or a particular interest group or even a President control our content,” Eisner stated. The annual report reflects no impact from the boycotts, with record-breaking revenues of $22.5 billion in 1997.


1/7/1998 - G.O.P Chairman Implores: Don’t Punish Candidates Who Oppose Abortion Ban

Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson urged party members to vote against a resolution that would deny funds to “any candidate or nominee of this party who opposes measures to end so-called partial-birth abortion.” Nicholson said that the party needs to remain broad enough for moderates, reacting to recent worries that a stance on such a controversial issue might drive away moderates and women. Last October, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly, 217 to 8, to pass a ban on the procedure. Although Congress has yet to override President Clinton’s veto on a ban of partial-birth abortions, Republicans promise to continue pressing the issue.


1/7/1998 - Woman Freed After 13 Years Shackled in Deserted Hut

Chalauy Prathumasuth, a 41-year-old Thai woman, was set free Tuesday after being chained in a deserted hut for 13 years by her parents. The parents told the police that Chalauy began acting unusually when her husband left her, and took her baby son. They believed she was under the influence of black magic left by her husband. Prathumasuth was taken from the hut, located in Uthong village, 75 miles north of Bangkok, and is now in a hospital, police said.


1/6/1998 - New Web Site for Women Entrepreneurs Launched by SBA

Vice President Al Gore and Aida Alvarez, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, launched the SBA's Online Women's Business Center (www.onlinewbc.org) yesterday. The new Internet site provides information and free training to novice and established women business owners. Structured to "provide women the means of working together in creating possibilities and opportunities," its services include a marketing mall, finance center, management institute, technology tower and procurement place.

Alvarez said, "I am committed to increasing women business owner's opportunities for success with innovations such as this online center." According to the National Foundation of Women Business Owners, businesses owned by women in the United States number 8 million, provide jobs to one in five workers and grow faster than all other businesses.


1/6/1998 - Nowen Wins Alpine Skiing World Cup

Sweden's Ylva Nowen celebrated her 28th birthday and placed first in the women's Alpine skiing World Cup slalom Monday. After seven years on the circuit with no wins, Nowen won the fourth successive World Cup slalom in which she competed with a combined time of one minute, 27.81 seconds. Nowen commented, "The snow was just perfect today, especially on the first run. I was fortunate to start third when the condition really couldn't have been better." Germany's Hilde Gerg took second with 1:28.53, Slovenia's Spela Pretnar finished third with 1:28.58 and America1s Kristina Koznick, along with Switzerland's Karin Roten claimed fourth with 1:28.67.


1/6/1998 - New Panel to Investigate Corporate Child Care

Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin has named a six-member panel to investigate and report on child care in the workplace. The group, comprised of business and labor leaders, will report to President Clinton this spring with examples of successful corporate child care programs and will also work to publicize those efforts. Panel member Sandy Weil said, "It's important that we surface what different companies or communities are doing so people can see it can be done." President Clinton plans to address the issue of child care in his State of the Union Address, proposing tax credits for businesses that offer child care, administration officials have said.


1/6/1998 - Welfare Reform Changing Women's Lives on Reservations

Welfare reform is changing the lives of women on Native American reservations. In the 61,000 Native American households on welfare in the U.S., recipients are now required to work a minimum of 20 hours a week or risk deductions in their checks. For many women on reservations finding work poses a challenge. Many of the largest reservations are located in the nation's most isolated areas, where unemployment is as high as 80 percent. Although many Native Americans have moved off welfare, how they are able to survive economically is still not apparent. Albert Hale, President of the Navajo Nation, worries recipients are leaving the reservations and moving to the cities to find work.


1/5/1998 - Scientists Grow Breast Tissue From Patient's Own Cells

Great Britain's Times newspaper reported Sunday that scientists at the U.S. company Reprogenesis have successfully grown nipples and associated breast tissue using human cells and expect to create whole breast implants in the next five years.

The nipples were created using fat and blood vessel cells from the buttock or thigh. These cells were grown on pre-shaped scaffolding made of polymer plastic with the help of growth factors that promote cell division. The cells grew rapidly until the scaffolding was full and the tissue was complete.

Reprogenesis will begin transplanting nipples on patients sometime next year. Since the nipples are created from the patient's own cells, there is no chance that the patient's body will "reject" the tissue, as often happens when tissue from another individual is donated.

The "living tissue" implants will be available for women seeking breast reconstruction after surgery as well as for cosmetic purposes. Researchers hope that these implants will constitute a safer alternative to dangerous silicone implants, which have been linked to lupus, rhumatoid arthritis, and other diseases of the immune system.


1/5/1998 - Tennis Star Helen Wills Dies

Helen Wills, the winner of 8 Wimbledon singles titles, seven U.S. Open crowns, and four French Open tournaments died on New Year's Day at age 92.

Helen Wills, who later adopted the surnames Moody and Roark through marriage, dominated women's tennis in the 1920s and 1930s, winning a total of 19 major singles titles and 12 doubles titles. Her 8 Wimbledon wins, the last in 1938, remained unchallenged until Martina Navratilova surpassed her with 9 victories.

Wills was born in California and started playing tennis at age 14. She was never formally trained in tennis and learned by imitating adults. At age 17, she became the youngest-ever winner of the U.S. women's singles championship and, at 18, won an Olympic gold medal in Paris.

Wills suffered a back injury in 1935 and retired in 1938. She wrote three books, including a biography published in 1937. She moved to a quiet oceanside resort in Carmel in the 1950s and lived there until her death, when she bequeathed her entire estate to the University of California-Berkeley, her alma mater.


1/5/1998 - Ban on Female Genital Mutilation Upheld in Egypt

Egypt's State council on December 28th upheld a July 1996 Health Ministry ban on female genital mutilation, a destructive and painful operation in which all or part of a young girl's genitalia is removed. The procedure is often euphemistically referred to as "female circumcision" and is performed to rob women of sexual pleasure and ensure their chastity.

An administrative court in Cairo overturned the Health Ministry's ruling in June 1997, but the Health Ministry appealed the decision to the State council, which is Eqypt's highest administrative court. The state council ruled that female circumcision is illegal except in cases of "medical necessity." "Circumcision thus falls under penal codes forbidding operations on the human body except when medically necessary," read the court's decision.

Violators of the law may be incarcerated for up to three years, regardless of whether permission to perform the procedure was granted by the patient or the patient's parents. In December of 1997, 32-year-old Egyptian doctor Rabih Ibrahim Mahjub was convicted of "gross negligence and wrongful death" when his 14-year-old patient died after she was circumcised.

Female genital mutiliation is often performed without anesthesia and in unsanitary conditions. It can lead to shock, hemorrhage, infection, urinary incontinence, painful sexual intercourse, infertility, and childbirth complications.


1/5/1998 - Canadian Newspaper Receives Second Anti-Abortion Package; Link to Shootings Explored

The Hamilton Spectator of Ontario, Canada, has received a second anonymous anti-abortion package threatening the murder of a local abortion provider.

During the past four years, three Canadian abortion providers have been shot and seriously injured by violent anti-abortion extremists. In each instance, the victim was shot through a window in his home around the time of Canada's Remembrance Day.

Police have investigated a possible link between the mailings and the shootings, but now believe the crimes were committed by separate parties. "The evidence seems clear to me that these letters aren't from the shooter," said Inspector David Bowen of the Hamilton-Wentworth police.

The first package contained messages threatening an unnamed abortion doctor and police, as well as other articles symbolizing war and the Apocalypse. The second package described anti-abortion extremists as an "army" in a war against abortion and promised death for doctors providing abortions. It also included pictures of Norman Schwarzkopf and Saddam Hussein and refers to the Army of God, a violent U.S. anti-abortion group that advocates murdering abortion providers.


1/5/1998 - Ferraro Announces She Will Seek U.S. Senate Seat

Democrat Geraldine Ferraro, former vice-presidential candidate and co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" program, announced at a press conference today that she has quit her "Crossfire" job and will seek Republican Alfonse D'Amato's U.S. Senate seat.

Ferraro has served three terms in Congress representing Queens, New York. She challenged D'Amato in 1992 and was narrowly defeated. Ferraro faired well in the cities of Buffalo and Albany during the '92 election and plans to campaign heavily there.

A poll conducted by the New York Post/Fox 5 showed D'Amato was ahead of the other Democratic candidates, Rep. Charles Schumer (Brooklyn) and city Public Advocate Mark Green, but trailed Ferraro by eight points.


1/4/1998 - French Day Care Thrives Despite Social Service Cuts

Despite cuts in social services in France, high-quality subsidized day-care has grown. Unlike in the U.S. where parents are unsure whether day care is good for children, French parents believe day care helps children become more outgoing and better socialized. Recent studies have shown that children who attended day care and pre-school do better in elementary school.

French day care centers receive enough funding to properly staff and equip the centers. For example, one Paris day care center has 25 trained employees for 88 children -- a ratio of one adult to 3.5 children. Parents usually pay on a sliding scale depending on their salaries.

Although more and more day care centers have opened in recent years, demand continues to outstrip supply, with parents waiting up to a year for a spot in a day care center.


1/4/1998 - Republic National Committee Will Vote on D&X Abortion

At their winter meeting in January, the RNC will vote on whether to deny financial support to Republican candidates who oppose the official Republican position of banning the D&X abortion procedure. The U.S. Congress has voted twice to ban the procedure, called "partial-birth abortion" by those opposed to abortion -- and both times the law has been vetoed by President Clinton, because it did not include an exemption to save a woman's health, only her life.

If the RNC votes to deny funding to Republican pro-choice candidates, it would mean denying funding to people like New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, who just vetoed a law banning D&X abortion in her state. That veto was overturned by the New Jersey state legislature, but implementation of the law is on hold pending a trial on June 3. Many Republican women candidates are pro-choice.


1/4/1998 - Army Combat Ban Keeps Women from Good Jobs, Not From Danger

In a three-part series, the Washington Post revealed that although women in the Army are prohibited from combat jobs, they are frequently in positions of danger -- sometimes more danger than a combat job would entail. In addition, although some combat-related support jobs have been opened to women, there are very few women in those jobs. And because women cannot officially serve in combat positions, their job prospects are curtailed.

Although 20,000 new combat-related jobs in the Army are now open to women, only 1,367 women fill such positions. Women candidates are sometimes rejected from these and other jobs precisely because they have not had combat experience. One job that women are routinely exluded from is "aide-de-camp" to a general, which provides invaluable experience in military leadership. But women, because of lack of combat experience and because most generals, being men, prefer a male aide-de-camp, are rarely chosen for this position.

Yet women often informally perform dangerous assignments, even combat assignments, if their skills are needed. For example, in Bosnia, women cannot work inside battalion headquarters, which are protected by barbed wire and guarded by armed troops and electronic early-warning systems. Yet they can be part of military police platoons which travel in isolated areas and frequently encounter armed mobs.

When the Army decided to open combat-related jobs to women but not actual combat jobs, it released a memo stating that an all-male combat environment was necessary for troops to bond while engaged in dangerous combat.


1/2/1998 - Army Combat Ban Keeps Women from Good Jobs, Not From Danger

In a three-part series, the Washington Post revealed that although women in the Army are prohibited from combat jobs, they are frequently in positions of danger -- sometimes more danger than a combat job would entail. In addition, although some combat-related support jobs have been opened to women, there are very few women in those jobs. And because women cannot officially serve in combat positions, their job prospects are curtailed.

Although 20,000 new combat-related jobs in the Army are now open to women, only 1,367 women fill such positions. Women candidates are sometimes rejected from these and other jobs precisely because they have not had combat experience. One job that women are routinely exluded from is "aide-de-camp" to a general, which provides invaluable experience in military leadership. But women, because of lack of combat experience and because most generals, being men, prefer a male aide-de-camp, are rarely chosen for this position.

Yet women often informally perform dangerous assignments, even combat assignments, if their skills are needed. For example, in Bosnia, women cannot work inside battalion headquarters, which are protected by barbed wire and guarded by armed troops and electronic early-warning systems. Yet they can be part of military police platoons which travel in isolated areas and frequently encounter armed mobs.

When the Army decided to open combat-related jobs to women but not actual combat jobs, it released a memo stating that an all-male combat environment was necessary for troops to bond while engaged in dangerous combat.


1/2/1998 - Taliban Leader Denounces Women's Freedom as "Obscene"

In response to United Nations demands that the Taliban ruling militia improve women's and girls' access to education in Afghanistan, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar said that education for women "is a big infidel policy which gives such obscene freedom to women."

Currently, the Taliban controls two-thirds of Afghanistan, and has banned women and girls from working, going to school, and leaving their homes without a close male relative. Omar said that more rights for women would result in adultery and the destruction of Islam.


1/2/1998 - Republic National Committee Will Vote on D&X Abortion

At their winter meeting in January, the RNC will vote on whether to deny financial support to Republican candidates who oppose the official Republican position of banning the D&X abortion procedure. The U.S. Congress has voted twice to ban the procedure, called "partial-birth abortion" by those opposed to abortion -- and both times the law has been vetoed by President Clinton, because it did not include an exemption to save a woman's health, only her life.

If the RNC votes to deny funding to Republican pro-choice candidates, it would mean denying funding to people like New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, who just vetoed a law banning D&X abortion in her state. That veto was overturned by the New Jersey state legislature, but implementation of the law is on hold pending a trial on June 3. Many Republican women candidates are pro-choice.


1/2/1998 - French Day Care Thrives Despite Social Service Cuts

Despite cuts in social services in France, high-quality subsidized day-care has grown. Unlike in the U.S. where parents are unsure whether day care is good for children, French parents believe day care helps children become more outgoing and better socialized. Recent studies have shown that children who attended day care and pre-school do better in elementary school.

French day care centers receive enough funding to properly staff and equip the centers. For example, one Paris day care center has 25 trained employees for 88 children -- a ratio of one adult to 3.5 children. Parents usually pay on a sliding scale depending on their salaries.

Although more and more day care centers have opened in recent years, demand continues to outstrip supply, with parents waiting up to a year for a spot in a day care center.


1/1/1998 - French Day Care Thrives Despite Social Service Cuts

Despite cuts in social services in France, high-quality subsidized day-care has grown. Unlike in the U.S. where parents are unsure whether day care is good for children, French parents believe day care helps children become more outgoing and better socialized. Recent studies have shown that children who attended day care and pre-school do better in elementary school.

French day care centers receive enough funding to properly staff and equip the centers. For example, one Paris day care center has 25 trained employees for 88 children -- a ratio of one adult to 3.5 children. Parents usually pay on a sliding scale depending on their salaries.

Although more and more day care centers have opened in recent years, demand continues to outstrip supply, with parents waiting up to a year for a spot in a day care center.


12/31/1997 - Taliban Leader Denounces Women's Freedom as "Obscene"

In response to United Nations demands that the Taliban ruling militia improve women's and girls' access to education in Afghanistan, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar said that education for women "is a big infidel policy which gives such obscene freedom to women."

Currently, the Taliban controls two-thirds of Afghanistan, and has banned women and girls from working, going to school, and leaving their homes without a close male relative. Omar said that more rights for women would result in adultery and the destruction of Islam.


11/21/1997 - Statement of Chief Penny Harrington,Director of National Center for Women & Policing,In Support of Bill Lann Lee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

Washington DC -- My name is Chief Penny Harrington, and I direct the National Center for Women & Policing, a Division of the Feminist Majority Foundation. I am the former Chief of Police of Portland, Oregon, and I was the first woman in the nation to become the chief of police in a major city. I have served as a member of the Gender Equity Task Force, a position appointed by the Los Angeles Police Commission, and I have testified before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission on gender issues and policing. I make this statement in support of the nomination of Bill Lann Lee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
For several years I had the opportunity to work with Bill Lann Lee while he represented women and minorities in employment discrimination claims against the Los Angeles Police Department. As a member of the Women's Advisory Council to the Los Angeles Police Commission, I co-chaired both the Sexual Harassment Committee and the Recruitment, Hiring, and Promotion Committee. The committees identified obstacles to the full utilization of female officers in the Los Angeles Police Department and made recommendations for implementing gender equity.

It is well documented that female officers have been subjected to discrimination within the Los Angeles Police Department for several decades. The Christopher Commission report concluded there was widespread gender bias in the department, which resulted in underutilization of female officers. More recently, the Mark Fuhrman Task Force Report documented a hostile work environment for women and minorities, including the operation of the group, "Men Against Women." I, personally, have interviewed dozens of female police officers working for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Bill Lann Lee represented many of these female officers in the Tipton lawsuit, which involved sex discrimination in hiring, promotion, pay, and assignment. The Tipton lawsuit also claimed sexual harassment and retaliation against female police officers. The evidence in that case included a litany of hostile and offensive acts perpetrated by male officers against their female counterparts. These acts included unwelcome sexual advances and propositions, sexual and racial jokes, offensive name-calling, the posting of sexually suggestive photographs and drawings in the workplace, the touching or grabbing of female officers, and even rape. Many, if not all, of the women's complaints of harassment were ignored or never resolved. Female victims who complained were often retaliated against by failing to advance within the department, threatened with misconduct, or subjected to more of the same hostile behavior.

Throughout Bill Lann Lee's representation of the female officers in this lawsuit, he was recognized as a fair-minded, reasonable lawyer who advanced his clients' interests within the confines of the law. Even the opposing counsel in the Tipton lawsuit, Robert Cramer, wrote that he "respected Bill's candor, his thorough preparation, his sense of ethical behavior, and his ability to bring persons holding diverse views into agreement."

I have known Bill Lann Lee for several years and respect his legal skills and his ethical manner of dealing with people. I wholeheartedly support the nomination of Bill Lann Lee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.


11/13/1997 - Shots Ring Out in Canada: Abortion Provider Target of Attempted Murder

Statement of Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal on U.S. Implications of Canadian Anti-Abortion Terrorism

Washington DC -- Dr. Jack Fainman, a Canadian OB/GYN in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was shot through a window in his home just after 9:00pm on November 11, 1997. Officials report that the shot, fired by a sniper hiding outside of Dr. Fainman's home, tore through the doctor's right shoulder. Missing his heart by only inches, the blast reportedly left Dr. Fainman wounded but in stable condition.
These repeated, now predictable, attacks in Canada against abortion providers should serve as a warning to the United States. As we move into our own historically explosive period -- the holiday season -- abortion providers, their staff, and clients; law enforcement officials; and the pro-choice community should be on alert and increase security. Currently, Canadian and American pro-choice groups are calling for greater cooperation between Canadian and United States authorities in combating anti-abortion terrorism and investigating this, the latest attack in a campaign of terror.

"These terrible shootings seem designed to 'take out' specific abortion providers and scare off other doctors who might otherwise provide this legitimate medical procedure for women," said Jo Dufay, the Executive Director of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL). It is a miracle no one has been killed by these vicious attacks," Dufay continued. "Some extremists will go to any lengths to oppose a woman's right to choose," concluded Dufay.

Pro-choice sources in Canada believe the shootings could be caused or inspired by United States anti-abortion terrorists. Canadian laws severely restrict the purchase and/or possession of firearms, including the high-powered rifles used in each of the attempted murders. Our research confirms the anti-choice extremists' broad range of travel. Each of the cities, Vancouver, Hamilton, and Winnipeg are easily reachable from cities near the U.S. border.

This sniper style attack marks the third of its kind in Canada in four years, each surrounding Canada's Remembrance Day. On November 8, 1994, Dr. Garson Romalis was shot in his home in Vancouver with a high-powered rifle by a sniper hiding outside, and on November 10, 1995, Dr. Hugh Short suffered a similar attack. To date, neither of these cases has been solved.

Last year's holiday season, marred by a late December stabbing of an abortion provider in New Orleans, Louisiana, and a New Year's Day bombing of a Tulsa, Oklahoma clinic, launched what has become a year of intense violence, reaching one of the highest levels since 1973.