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10/15/1997 - Anti-Abortion Criminal Jailed

James F. Nerdrum, who confessed to making 350 bomb threats and committing vandalism and property destruction in Eau Claire, Wis., has been sentenced to up to 60 years in a mental institution and 40 years in prison. Nerdrum surrendered and confessed his guilt after a shoot-out with polive Police say most of his crimes, including 278 felonies, reflected his opinions against abortion and pornography.

Nerdrum vandalized a Planned Parenthood facility, and robbed stores that carried adult videos. Police say he caused over $182,000 in property damage and investigative costs, and that he was not charged for all the crimes. Although originally charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery, Nerdrum only pleaded guilty to one charge of armed robbery, and was found innocent on two other armed robbery charges by reason of mental defect.


10/15/1997 - University of Michigan Affirmative Action Programs Challenged

The organization responsible for ending affirmative action at the University of Texas, causing a steep decline in minority enrollment, is now attacking the University of Michigan for policies that doubled its minority population in the past decade.

The Center for Individual Rights filed a class-action lawsuit against the highly competitive school for denying admission to two white students, saying the university violated civil rights laws. They claim the school's affirmative action policies discriminate against white students and favor unqualified blacks and Hispanics.

Confidential admissions policy guidelines released under the Freedom of Information Act show standardized test scores and grades being applied differently to non-whites. University president Lee Bollinger said the guidelines are one set among many, and not rigid.

"For almost 200 years, public universities have unlocked the doors to social and economic opportunity to students from many different backgrounds. We believe it is absolutely essential to do so," Bollinger said.


10/15/1997 - Information and Time Would Increase Women's Voting, Study Says

A survey sponsored by The Women's Vote Project, a coalition of 110 national women's groups, found that women who did not vote in 1992 or 1994 lacked information about candidates and issues, and faced difficulty in finding the time and mobility to vote.

The survey of 620 women from five states was done to find out what motivates and discourages women from voting. Many said that getting information about a candidate was a problem, as well as not having the time to take off work, find a babysitter, or wait in line to vote. The issues the women were most interested in were family and child issues, education, and equal pay.


10/15/1997 - Breast, Ovarian Cancer Research Advancing

According to a study published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, identifying women more likely to carry genetic mutations linked to breast and ovarian cancers may now be easier to do.

"This study will assist physicians in determining which patients are at highest risk for having a .. mutation and will help those women and their family members to seek care that may save lives," said Donna Shattuck-Eidens of Myriad Genetics. Her research, in collaboration with 20 international institutions, created a model to identify at-risk women, which looks at factors such as family history, age and ethnicity to predict the presence of the gene BRCA1. When mutated and inherited, BRCA1 and 2 cause between 5-10% of breast cancers.


10/15/1997 - Death Penalty Waived for Lesbian Nurses

The brother of an Australian nurse murdered by two British nurses in Saudi Arabia has waived his right to seek the death penalty, in exchange for financial compensation. In return for his clemency, he made a deal for a 1.2 million settlement.

The case made international headlines because the strict Islamic law in Saudi Arabia would have permitted the nurses to be beheaded in public. One nurse has been sentenced to eight years in prison and 500 lashes, a punishment that angers human-rights advocates. The other is awaiting sentencing. The settlement will be split -- over $720,000 to the hispital to build a day surgery center in the victim's name, $6,000 to the victim's mother, and about $37,000 to her brother. The rest will go to pay legal costs.

The details of the murder are still unclear, but it appears the victim was fighting with the two women over a lesbian relationship.


10/14/1997 - Washington Voters Test Gay Rights Bill

Gay rights activists have written an anti-discrimination measure that would prevent discrimination against lesbians and gay men in the workplace. If passed, it will be the first gay rights initiative passed by voters rather than legislators.

Despite the fact that the ballot measure also specifically forbids preferential treatment, quotas, and domestic partner benefits and exempts religious organizations and businesses with less than 8 employees in an effort to counter claims by gay rights opponents,anti-gay activists continue to fight the the initiative. Residents will vote on the measure on November 4.

The Washington Association of Churches, the state's largest organization of Protestant and Catholic churches, has endorsed the initiative. Rev. Dr. Ellis H. Casson, senior pastor of a Seattle First AME Church, said "Today, the people of the state of Washington live in a community where it is legal to deny or remove someone from their job simply because of sexual orientation. We find this principle to be morally wrong."


10/14/1997 - Kenyan Woman Fights to Criminalize Wife-Beating

Defying Maasai tradition that says women are property and can be beaten, Agnes Siyiankoi is enlisting the help of Nairobi lawyers to change Kenya's constitution and outlaw wife-beating.

Siyiankoi's brother, a lawyer, lodged a High Court application seeking the equivalent of $150 in damages for Agnes Siyiankoi's abuse by her husband. He also asked that wife-beating be declared unconstitutional. Sinyianko lives with her brother and three of her four children in Nairobi, where she has accused her husband in court of repeated assault over 13 years. She said the practice of polygamy caused him to beat her constantly.

Women lawyers have recommended several reforms to Kenya's attorney general, including outlawing wife-beating and marital rape. They want to criminalize wifebeating because, even when a man beats his wife to death, he is not prosecuted. Millie Odhiambo of the International Federation of Women Lawyers reports that "...almost every tribe in Kenya practices wife-beating."


10/14/1997 - Report Predicts Decline in Minority College Enrollment

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education published a report that predicts a 50 to 80% drop in minority college enrollment if affirmative action is banned on campuses and SAT scores continue to carry a lot of weight.

"The reality of standardized test scores is that they are not only culturally biased, but are biased against those persons of lower socioeconomic status," said Percy Hintzen, UC-Berkeley African American Studies chair. The study said that the mean SAT scores at institutions like Yale and Caltech were unfair to blacks, since less than half of one percent of blacks meet the median scores for students to be accepted. At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, applicants who receive less than 28 on the MCAT do not receive interviews; the median score for blacks is 23.5. Minority enrollment plummeted this fall at several Texas and California campuses after affirmative action was banned.

The SAT also has been found to be biased against women.


10/14/1997 - Friday National Mammography Day

Friday, October 17 is National Mammography Day. Free or reduced-fee mammograms will be offered by over 1,200 radiology facilities around the country on Friday and throughout October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

National Mammography Day is meant to educate women about the importance of finding breast cancer early, and how mammograms can help to achieve early detection. An estimated 180,200 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 44,000 will die from it. Regular mammograms can reduce breast cancer deaths by up to 30% for women over 50, and are recommended for all women over 40 by the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the American Colege of Radiology.

To find a participating facility in your area, call the ACS at 1-800-227-2345, or the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations at 1-800-719-9154.


10/14/1997 - GOP Targets Three Female Senators

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have been targeted by Republicans as the most vulnerable women senators for next year's re-election campaigns.

The three all support abortion rights and fight against welfare cuts, stances which conservatives plan to publicize in order to portray them as radically liberal. Republican pollster Tony Fabriuzo took cheap shots at the Senators, calling Murray "an empty suit," and attesting that Boxer "grates people the wrong way." Republican Chairman Tom Schroeder called Boxer an "extremist" on the abortion issue, and criticized her opposition to anti-affirmative action measure Proposition 209. In response to conservative charges that the women were too liberal for their constituents, Murray, a working mother, said "I probably am much more typical of a United States citizen than many of my colleagues."

Murray and Moseley-Braun said they weren't surprised by the GOP attacks. "It speaks straight to the gender gap problem that the Republicans have," said Murray. Moseley-Braun said "Republicans have failed to understand that women can be as accomplished and effective and hard-working as their male colleages. If they think the women they've targeted are pushovers, they've got another thing coming."


10/14/1997 - Washington Voters Test Gay Rights Bill

Gay rights activists have written an anti-discrimination measure that would prevent discrimination against lesbians and gay men in the workplace. If passed, it will be the first gay rights initiative passed by voters rather than legislators.

Despite the fact that the ballot measure also specifically forbids preferential treatment, quotas, and domestic partner benefits and exempts religious organizations and businesses with less than 8 employees in an effort to counter claims by gay rights opponents,anti-gay activists continue to fight the the initiative. Residents will vote on the measure on November 4.

The Washington Association of Churches, the state's largest organization of Protestant and Catholic churches, has endorsed the initiative. Rev. Dr. Ellis H. Casson, senior pastor of a Seattle First AME Church, said "Today, the people of the state of Washington live in a community where it is legal to deny or remove someone from their job simply because of sexual orientation. We find this principle to be morally wrong


10/14/1997 - Kenyan Woman Fights to Criminalize Wife-Beating

Defying Maasai tradition that says women are property and can be beaten, Agnes Siyiankoi is enlisting the help of Nairobi lawyers to change Kenya's constitution and outlaw wife-beating.

Siyiankoi's brother, a lawyer, lodged a High Court application seeking the equivalent of $150 in damages for Agnes Siyiankoi's abuse by her husband. He also asked that wife-beating be declared unconstitutional. Sinyianko lives with her brother and three of her four children in Nairobi, where she has accused her husband in court of repeated assault over 13 years. She said the practice of polygamy caused him to beat her constantly.

Women lawyers have recommended several reforms to Kenya's attorney general, including outlawing wife-beating and marital rape. They want to criminalize wifebeating because, even when a man beats his wife to death, he is not prosecuted. Millie Odhiambo of the International Federation of Women Lawyers reports that "...almost every tribe in Kenya practices wife-beating."


10/14/1997 - Report Predicts Decline in Minority College Enrollment

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education published a report that predicts a 50 to 80% drop in minority college enrollment if affirmative action is banned on campuses and SAT scores continue to carry a lot of weight.

"The reality of standardized test scores is that they are not only culturally biased, but are biased against those persons of lower socioeconomic status," said Percy Hintzen, UC-Berkeley African American Studies chair. The study said that the mean SAT scores at institutions like Yale and Caltech were unfair to blacks, since less than half of one percent of blacks meet the median scores for students to be accepted. At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, applicants who receive less than 28 on the MCAT do not receive interviews; the median score for blacks is 23.5. Minority enrollment plummeted this fall at several Texas and California campuses after affirmative action was banned.

The SAT also has been found to be biased against women.


10/14/1997 - Friday National Mammography Day

Friday, October 17 is National Mammography Day. Free or reduced-fee mammograms will be offered by over 1,200 radiology facilities around the country on Friday and throughout October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

National Mammography Day is meant to educate women about the importance of finding breast cancer early, and how mammograms can help to achieve early detection. An estimated 180,200 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 44,000 will die from it. Regular mammograms can reduce breast cancer deaths by up to 30% for women over 50, and are recommended for all women over 40 by the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the American Colege of Radiology.

To find a participating facility in your area, call the ACS at 1-800-227-2345, or the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations at 1-800-719-9154.


10/14/1997 - GOP Targets Three Female Senators

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have been targeted by Republicans as the most vulnerable women senators for next year's re-election campaigns.

The three all support abortion rights and fight against welfare cuts, stances which conservatives plan to publicize in order to portray them as radically liberal. Republican pollster Tony Fabriuzo took cheap shots at the Senators, calling Murray "an empty suit," and attesting that Boxer "grates people the wrong way." Republican Chairman Tom Schroeder called Boxer an "extremist" on the abortion issue, and criticized her opposition to anti-affirmative action measure Proposition 209. In response to conservative charges that the women were too liberal for their constituents, Murray, a working mother, said "I probably am much more typical of a United States citizen than many of my colleagues."

Murray and Moseley-Braun said they weren't surprised by the GOP attacks. "It speaks straight to the gender gap problem that the Republicans have," said Murray. Moseley-Braun said "Republicans have failed to understand that women can be as accomplished and effective and hard-working as their male colleages. If they think the women they've targeted are pushovers, they've got another thing coming."


10/13/1997 - U.S. Company to Market Emergency Contraception

Gynetics, Inc. announced last Wednesday that it will market a "morning-after pill" in the U.S. They are the first company to do so since the FDA approved the use of six brands of birth control pills for emergency contraception last February.

The FDA's decision to approve the drug was based on years of safe and effective use by over four million European women, and Princeton's Office of Population Research, who convinced the FDA that high rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortions would go down drastically. Dr. James Trussel of the OPR said that for every 100 women who had unprotected sex during the second or third week of their menstrual cycle, eight would become pregnant. Use of emergency contraception would reduce that number to two.

Gynetics, Inc. will package regular birth control pills specifically for the purpose of emergency contraception, something that other U.S. birth control manufacturers have refused to do, citing fear of litigation and political backlash.


10/13/1997 - Clinton Explains Veto of D&X Abortions

Calling the House bill that would ban late-term abortions "consistent with neither the Constitution nor sound public policy," President Clinton explained why he vetoed the bill for the second time.

"As I have stated on many occasions, I support the decision in Roe v. Wade protecting a woman's right to choose. H.R. 1122 does not contain an exception to the measure's ban that will adequately protect the lives and health of the small group of women in tragic circumstances who need an abortion performed at a late stage of pregnancy to avert death or serious injury."

He said while the procedure "appears inhumane," he said "to eliminate it without taking into consideration the rare and tragic circumstances in which its use may be necessary would be even more inhumane."

Illustrating his consistent stance, Clinton said that as Governor of Arkansas, he signed a bill banning third-trimester abortions except in cases where it was necessary "to avoid serious health consequences." Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. said "The Republicans could have sent the president a signable bill. They refused to compromise because they want a political issue they can use in the next election year."


10/13/1997 - Million Woman March Planned

On October 25, hundreds of thousands of women plan to march in Philadelphia in order to revitalize black families and communities.

The event, an entirely grassroots endeavor, is being publicized on the internet and has organized garage sales and car washes for fundraising. It is open to all people regardless of race or gender. Spokeswoman Wessita McKinley said, "This is going to be a historical event. They're just coming to support their sisters, to see what they can do as a collective effort to better ourselves, our race, our families and our community." Minnesota coordinator Carol Soto said, "My 13-year-old, she is extremely excited about going to the march. That's all she talks about."

The event will feature Winnie Mandela as keynote speaker, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and singer Sister Souljah.


10/13/1997 - Breast Cancer, Chemicals Linked

According to Jim Hightower's new book "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos," the chemical industry has been profiting from both manufacturing chemicals that have been linked to breast cancer, as well as making money from cancer treatments.

Journalist Molly Ivins quoted Hightower in her Saturday column, saying "first they make money from the organochlorines that some say are linked to breast cancer; then they urge us all to go out and get mammograms to detect the cancer; then they make money trying to cure it. This is an entirely new kind of vertical monopoly."

Organochlorines are man-made chemicals often found in our environment and food, like dioxins, DDT, benzene and CFCs. Ivins cited a study at the Institute of Chemical Toxology at Wayne State University that found a combination of organochlorines caused breast cells to proliferate at a high rate. Breast cancer victims often have high levels of organochlorines in their bodies, and chemical and farm workers who have close contact with organochlorines have high rates of breast cancer. Israel recently reported a 30% drop in breast cancer rates after banning three cancer-causing pesticides.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month was originally sponsored by Imperical Chemical Industries, manufacturers of organochlorines. They were found responsible for dumping toxic chemicals in the St. Lawrence River, and have been accused by the federal government of dumping DDT and PCBs into the L.A. and Long Beach harbors.


10/13/1997 - Modern Women Disfiguring Bodies with Corsets, Footbinding

Women in Britain and the U.S. are now wearing corsets to reduce their waistlines, and metal devices to bind their feet, in a practice known as "body training."

The "waist training" regimen requires wearing an increasingly tighter corset over a period of months in order to reduce the waist by 2-6 inches, by displacing the intestines, stomach and bladder. Increasing pressure in the abdomen pushes the contents of the stomach upwards, leading to heartburn. By pushing on the stomach, corsets also prevent the woman from eating as much as usual, which leads to weight loss. Urinary and circulatory problems are also a risk.

UK women say they do it to feel powerful and more feminine. "It's telling people you're a woman of power," said Pandora Gorey, who went from a 25-inch to 19-inch waist over two years. "As far as I'm concerned, every woman should do it." Karen Wright, a Manchester University student, said "I've never been into feminism -- I'm old-fashioned. I'm the sort of women who believes men should always open doors for women and I body train solely to increase my femininity." Wright now has 37-inch hips and an 18-inch waist, and also says that it makes her feel "powerful."

In California, Fakir Musafar teaches "foot bending and binding" with a metal device used to make the foot smaller. San Franciscan Sharon Nickle has made her feet two sizes smaller this way, hoping for the "lotus-flower" look. Musafar said "In the long run, there will be more and more people wanting to modify their feet and torso. Body training is here to stay."


10/13/1997 - Modern Women Disfiguring Bodies with Corsets, Footbinding

Women in Britain and the U.S. are now wearing corsets to reduce their waistlines, and metal devices to bind their feet, in a practice known as "body training."

The "waist training" regimen requires wearing an increasingly tighter corset over a period of months in order to reduce the waist by 2-6 inches, by displacing the intestines, stomach and bladder. Increasing pressure in the abdomen pushes the contents of the stomach upwards, leading to heartburn. By pushing on the stomach, corsets also prevent the woman from eating as much as usual, which leads to weight loss. Urinary and circulatory problems are also a risk.

UK women say they do it to feel powerful and more feminine. "It's telling people you're a woman of power," said Pandora Gorey, who went from a 25-inch to 19-inch waist over two years. "As far as I'm concerned, every woman should do it." Karen Wright, a Manchester University student, said "I've never been into feminism -- I'm old-fashioned. I'm the sort of women who believes men should always open doors for women and I body train solely to increase my femininity." Wright now has 37-inch hips and an 18-inch waist, and also says that it makes her feel "powerful."

In California, Fakir Musafar teaches "foot bending and binding" with a metal device used to make the foot smaller. San Franciscan Sharon Nickle has made her feet two sizes smaller this way, hoping for the "lotus-flower" look. Musafar said "In the long run, there will be more and more people wanting to modify their feet and torso. Body training is here to stay."


10/13/1997 - U.S. Company to Market Emergency Contraception

Gynetics, Inc. announced last Wednesday that it will market a "morning-after pill" in the U.S. They are the first company to do so since the FDA approved the use of six brands of birth control pills for emergency contraception last February.

The FDA's decision to approve the drug was based on years of safe and effective use by over four million European women, and Princeton's Office of Population Research, who convinced the FDA that high rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortions would go down drastically. Dr. James Trussel of the OPR said that for every 100 women who had unprotected sex during the second or third week of their menstrual cycle, eight would become pregnant. Use of emergency contraception would reduce that number to two.

Gynetics, Inc. will package regular birth control pills specifically for the purpose of emergency contraception, something that other U.S. birth control manufacturers have refused to do, citing fear of litigation and political backlash.


10/13/1997 - Clinton Explains Veto of D&X Abortions

Calling the House bill that would ban late-term abortions "consistent with neither the Constitution nor sound public policy," President Clinton explained why he vetoed the bill for the second time.

"As I have stated on many occasions, I support the decision in Roe v. Wade protecting a woman's right to choose. H.R. 1122 does not contain an exception to the measure's ban that will adequately protect the lives and health of the small group of women in tragic circumstances who need an abortion performed at a late stage of pregnancy to avert death or serious injury."

He said while the procedure "appears inhumane," he said "to eliminate it without taking into consideration the rare and tragic circumstances in which its use may be necessary would be even more inhumane."

Illustrating his consistent stance, Clinton said that as Governor of Arkansas, he signed a bill banning third-trimester abortions except in cases where it was necessary "to avoid serious health consequences." Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. said "The Republicans could have sent the president a signable bill. They refused to compromise because they want a political issue they can use in the next election year."


10/13/1997 - Million Woman March Planned

On October 25, hundreds of thousands of women plan to march in Philadelphia in order to revitalize black families and communities.

The event, an entirely grassroots endeavor, is being publicized on the internet and has organized garage sales and car washes for fundraising. It is open to all people regardless of race or gender. Spokeswoman Wessita McKinley said, "This is going to be a historical event. They're just coming to support their sisters, to see what they can do as a collective effort to better ourselves, our race, our families and our community." Minnesota coordinator Carol Soto said, "My 13-year-old, she is extremely excited about going to the march. That's all she talks about."

The event will feature Winnie Mandela as keynote speaker, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and singer Sister Souljah.


10/13/1997 - Breast Cancer, Chemicals Linked

According to Jim Hightower's new book "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos," the chemical industry has been profiting from both manufacturing chemicals that have been linked to breast cancer, as well as making money from cancer treatments.

Journalist Molly Ivins quoted Hightower in her Saturday column, saying "first they make money from the organochlorines that some say are linked to breast cancer; then they urge us all to go out and get mammograms to detect the cancer; then they make money trying to cure it. This is an entirely new kind of vertical monopoly."

Organochlorines are man-made chemicals often found in our environment and food, like dioxins, DDT, benzene and CFCs. Ivins cited a study at the Institute of Chemical Toxology at Wayne State University that found a combination of organochlorines caused breast cells to proliferate at a high rate. Breast cancer victims often have high levels of organochlorines in their bodies, and chemical and farm workers who have close contact with organochlorines have high rates of breast cancer. Israel recently reported a 30% drop in breast cancer rates after banning three cancer-causing pesticides.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month was originally sponsored by Imperical Chemical Industries, manufacturers of organochlorines. They were found responsible for dumping toxic chemicals in the St. Lawrence River, and have been accused by the federal government of dumping DDT and PCBs into the L.A. and Long Beach harbors.