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Of the 3.66 million workers in the U.S. who are paid the minimum wage of $4.25 an hour, 63 percent are women. The debate to raise the minimum wage 90 cents over a two year period is currently dividing Congress by party lines. Republicans have generally opposed an increase, fearful that it will contribute to a loss of jobs, but have recently expressed a willingness to compromise with the Democrats, who have been hoping to pass an increase this year. A poll conducted by The New York Times and CBS News shows that 84 percent of Americans support an increase in the minimum wage. Since the last time the minimum wage was raised, in 1991, its buying value has dropped by 50 cents.
4/19/1996 - AIDS Rates Increased For Women in 1995
In 1995, the number of women diagnosed with AIDS increased to its highest percentage yet: 19 percent of all adult and adolescent cases. Nationwide, the AIDS rate has declined. Last year the number of people diagnosed with the disease dropped seven percent. There have been over half a million AIDS cases reported since 1981.
On April 13, a group of 60 members from the Concerned Parishioners of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington gathered outside of the National Cathedral to protest the local appearances of Jane Holmes Dixon, one of six female assistant Episcopal bishops in the U.S. The protesters oppose the Church's liberal policy towards ordaining women, and gay men and lesbians. The group claims the Church is more concerned with political theology than adhering to a traditional belief of the Holy Scriptures.
4/18/1996 - Adult Men Responsible for Teen Pregnancies
According to a study in Thursday's (4-18) American Journal of Public Health, adult men are responsible for two thirds of the babies born to teenage mothers in California in 1993. The men averaged four to six years older than the girls they impregnated. The study by Mike Males of UC Irvine concurs with findings from a 1995 study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute which combined birth certificates with the results of an overlooked 1998 federal survey of 10,000 women. School-age male peers fathered only 34.5 percent of the babies born to California girls aged 10 to 19 in 1993. About 27 percent of the births to 10 to 14 year-old girls were fathered by men aged 20 to 24. Males commented that the men at fault are not in schools or targeted for programs to combat teen pregnancy but said that California is airing public service announcements to target such men and has started an effort to prosecute more men for statutory rape.
A ruling by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission has found the American Legion's California division guilty of discriminating against gay men and lesbians. The city commission concluded that the division of the largest veterans' organization in the United States distributed homophobic literature opposing gays in the military, lied to a gay veteran's group, and deliberately prevented gay veterans from expressing their point of view. A city law in San Francisco prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but state law supersedes the ordinance in this case, inhibiting the commission to order the Legion to make changes
Concord City Manager Rita Hardin won her sexual harassment suit against Concord and its former mayor, Byron Campbell. A federal court jury in San Francisco heard the seven-week retrial and awarded Hardin $1.3 million, concluding that Campbell had sexually harassed Hardin and forced her to resign in retaliation for her pursuing an investigation into his behavior. The jury also ruled against the city of Concord, who Hardin said tolerated Campbell's alleged behavior and made her work conditions unbearable when she spoke out against it.
In an amended federal complaint filed Wednesday (4-17) with the U.S. District Court in Peoria, Ill., attorneys for the women suing Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing claim that male management and union workers at the plant organized and promoted sex parties several times since 1994, circulating throughout the plant pictures of male employees involved in sex acts with women they had hired.
The company, who is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission for the sexual harassment of some 500 women employees, has warned employees that they could lose their jobs if the allegations cause a decrease in sale. The company is providing free buses, a day of full pay and a free lunch for employees who attend a rally outside the Chicago EEOC planned for Monday (4-22) to deny the allegations. Lawyers for the women in the original suit filed in December 1994 say that women have been threatened for suing. A Mitsubishi attorney has asked the court for personal documents on the women, including gynecological records, information on abortions, divorce records, credit card records, and the names and addresses of people with whom they have lived, with the plan to make the documents available to 13 of Mitsubishi's top executives.
A group of 15 lawyers' groups called the Join Bar Coalition planned a news conference for Thursday to announce its efforts to defeat the anti-affirmative action measure on the California November ballot, the self-titled "California Civil Rights Initiative." California Secretary of State Bill Jones announced Tuesday that the Initiative, filed on February 21, had collected 770,484 valid signatures, just 12,000 more than the required number. Responding to claims by Initiative chair and UC regent Ward Connerly, president of the National Lawyers Guild Cynthia Anderson-Baker said, "The measure (CCRI) is not going to bring anyone together...It is programs like affirmative action that have helped bring diversity to groups like bar associations."
On Monday (4-15), the California Supreme Court ruled that a parent with child custody can relocate despite objections from the other parent and without having to prove that the move is essential for a new job. Michael Maroko, lawyer for mother Wendy Burgess, said, "Women are now free at last to relocate with their children as long as the move does not prejudice the rights or the welfare of the children."
Burgess' ex-husband had objected to her desire to move 40 miles for a career-advancing position. Burgess had to go to court to prove the move was necessary, and a Court of Appeal had overturned a decision of a trial court that had ruled in her favor. In light of the Monday decision, a parent with primary custody will only have to prove that relocation is in good faith, and an objecting parent will have to prove that the relocation will severely injure the child. Dorothy Jonas, a Feminist Majority board member, played a key role in bringing this case to trial
After the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a huge sexual harassment case against Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, top officials at the company's Normal, Illinois plant called a meeting of employees to warn them that they could lose their jobs if sales drop as a result of the allegations. Officials also said phones would be installed at the plant so that employees could call Congress and the President for free to tell them the charges are false. Also planned is an employee march on the Chicago offices of the EEOC who the plant says "affects their job security."
Mistubishi denies the claims of the 30 women who filed a suit against the company in December 1994 as well as the EEOC's claim at least 300 women were subjected to sexual harassment and intimidation at the 4,000-person plant. One man, who admitted he himself sexually harassed women at the plant, reported seeing numerous photos handed out at the plant of naked men and women having sex at a party. Patricia Benassi, attorney for the women in the original suit, said women at the plant are being threatened for suing and that the wall of a men's locker room reportedly has a warning that a man will "go hunting" for women if he loses his job.
4/17/1996 - Women's Age, Genes Affect Ovarian Cancer
Research appearing in the Wednesday (4-17) Journal of the National Cancer Institute links the gene BRCA1 with ovarian cancer in ten to 20 percent of the cases involving women under 50. The gene, also linked to breast cancer in young women, tells the body how to build a protein that blocks cancer, unless the gene mutates. A patient's age at the onset of ovarian cancer is a key factor in determining whether she inherited the faulty gene, the report states. According to Johnathan Lancaster, researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, women who have the gene mutation have a 90 percent chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer. The findings, which Lancaster said need more study, could change the way doctors treat and counsel women with ovarian cancer.
4/17/1996 - Cardinals Push for Override of Abortion Ban Veto
Eight Roman Catholic cardinals have written a three-page letter to President Clinton condemning his decision to veto a bill banning an abortion procedure used to save the life, health, or future fertility of a woman. The cardinals pledged to make their concern a public issue on the same day House Republicans postponed a vote to override the veto. The override would likely pass easily in the House but is short of the needed two-thirds in the Senate. There was no indication of when the measure, sent to the Judiciary Committee, would be voted on
4/17/1996 - Texas Suspends Minority Scholarships
University officials in Texas, worried about the legality of affirmative action programs after recent blows, have suspended a statewide scholarship program for minority students. A recent decision by a federal court forbids affirmative action programs for people of color in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Higher education officials feel the ruling might have implications far beyond the three-state region. The University of Texas has filed an appeal.
The scholarship program now being dismantled was created to combat federal criticism of the low rates of minority enrollment. Its $1.5 million benefit about 1,300 minority students in Texas
4/16/1996 - Women in Few Front Page Stories
According to a survey sponsored by Women, Men and Media, women are only involved in 15 percent of front-page news stories. The figure decreased from last year’s 19 percent. The survey looked at twenty newspapers in February for references to and photos of women and for bylines by women on front pages, opinion pages, and the first pages of business and local sections. Of the small number of women covered, over half were either victims or perpetrators of crimes or misconduct. Women in power received little coverage overall, and women made up less than one percent of references in front-page political stories.
As in 1995, women were in 33 percent of the photos, and women’s bylines increased slightly to 35 percent. Stories about the economy included very little coverage of Laura Tyson, President Clinton’s top economic advisor, New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, or other leading female economists and analysts. Women, Men and the Media, co-chaired by Betty Friedan and Nancy Woodhul,l is financed primarily by the Arlington-based Freedom Forum.
4/16/1996 - Suit Against UC Regents, Gov. Wilson Proceeds
On Monday (4-15), San Francisco Superior Court Judge William Cahill allowed a lawsuit to proceed against California Gov. Pete Wilson and University of California regents. The defendants allegedly violated the state’s meeting law when they voted last July to dismantle affirmative action in the UC system. Lawyers for the UC Santa Barbara Daily Nexus claim that Wilson secretly gathered "yes" votes over the telephone prior to the vote at the July 20 meeting, which leads groups such as the ACLU to charge that the meeting’s decision should be nullified. A state law, the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, requires public officials, including UC regents, to conduct most meetings in public.
Judge Cahill rejected Wilson’s claim that the lawsuit was not filed in time, noting that the 30-day time period cannot hold if the government conceals its action from the public.
4/16/1996 - Soy Protein Diet Could Prevent Breast Cancer
On Tuesday (4-16), British scientists announced that a bioactive substance found in soy protein could block estrogen from causing breast cancer. Isoflavonoids may work like the popular breast cancer drug Tomoxifen, indicating that women eating a diet high in soy proteins could reduce their risk of breast cancer. Announcing the findings in remarks for a meeting of the Biochemical Society at Liverpool University, Dr. Helen Wiseman of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College in London said studies were being done to enhance the anti-cancer properties of soy proteins.
A jury convicted a San Francisco police officer Monday (4-15) of forced copulation and kidnapping by use of police authority but acquitted him of aggravated kidnapping for the purpose of rape. Francis Hogue faces up to 11 years in state prison and will be sentenced May 6. On March 18, 1994, the employee of a South of Market massage spa said, Hogue took drove the woman to a secluded spot and told her she would not be arrested for an earlier misdemeanor warrant if she had sex with him. She said Hogue then forced himself on her. Hogue’s lawyer said he will appeal the decision in a trial that weighed heavily on DNA analysis.
4/15/1996 - Thousands Join NOW "Fight the Right" March
Uniting to "Fight the Right," an estimated 45,000 marchers flocked to San Francisco Sunday (4-14). Organized by the National Organization for Women (NOW), the march was at once a show of support for affirmative action, reproductive freedom, and gay and lesbian rights, and a protest against racism, violence against women, and the war on poor women. Among the speakers were Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and author Gloria Steinem.
Activists came from around the country and joined members of over 500 organizations to the march NOW organizers held in California to draw attention to the anti-affirmative action initiative on the state's November ballot. Steinem said the measure makes it clear that supporters of affirmative action and women's rights need to "get out the vote." NOW president Patricia Ireland cited the 1994 Republican gains in Congress as proof that supporters of the march's causes need to "unify and stand together." NOW estimated that 40,000 people came and went throughout the day.
Another popular speaker at the pre-march rally was Paul Rockwell, founder of "Angry White Guys for Affirmative Action" who said, "There are two kinds of preferences in America. Favoritism for white men of power and socially patriotic preferences for the good of all Americans."
4/15/1996 - May 2nd Trial Set for Woman Seeking Asylum
On May 2, the Board of Immigration Appeals will hear the asylum request of Fauziya Kasinga who has spent the last two years in jail awaiting asylum from Togo where she escaped female genital mutilation. The decision of the court, the highest administrative tribunal in the U.S. immigration system, will likely set a precedent that could influence future decisions toward women seeking asylum. While persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinions or membership in a social group is considered reason for asylum by law, gender is not included in the statute.
Last August, Kasinga's case was dismissed by a judge who said her story, argued by a law student, was not credible. The student convinced her professor, Karen Musalo of American University's Washington College of Law to appeal the case pro bono. In addition to bringing attention to the issue of female genital mutilation, the case has also brought to light patterns of abuse in jails and specifically toward I.N.S. detainees.
On Friday (4-12) the Food and Drug Administration approved an application by Advanced Technology Laboratories to use its ultrasound equipment to help determine if lumps in women's breasts are cancerous. The screening could reduce the number of biopsies - over 700,000 annually - by almost 40 percent. ATL's high-definition machines allow doctors to distinguish between benign and cancerous lumps. Long used to view developing fetuses, the procedure could spare hundreds of thousands of women the cost and ordeal of having a biopsy.
4/15/1996 - Women's Brains Last Longer
According to Ruben C. Gur, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, men lose brain tissue as they get older at a rate almost three times that of women. The loss of tissue could reduce their memory, concentration and reasoning power even in the 18 to 45 age range. The most dramatic loss of tissue occurs in the frontal lobes which control attention, abstract reasoning, mental flexibility and inhibition of impulses as well as in the temporal lobe, which governs memory. Men's brains also maintain a consistent rate of metabolism while that of women slow with age.
4/14/1996 - Enforcement of Megan’s Law Resumed in New Jersey
New Jersey Attorney General Deborah Poritz wrote a letter to the state’s 21 prosecutors Friday (4-12) directing them to resume enforcement of Megan’s Law. By the end of the month, prosecutors will begin notifying communities of the whereabouts of sex offenders. The law, adopted in 1994 after 7-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and murdered by a twice-convicted sex offender living in her neighborhood, was challenged last month by sex offender Alexander Artway. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the challenge but made no final decision about the constitutionality of the law
Former Detective George W. Irvine of Ventura Police Department, may seriously jeopardize the prosecution of accused rapist Peter A Stocks. Surrounded by controversy regarding his own misconduct, the former California detective who lead the Stocks investigation may not be able to testify in the Stocks rape trial.
The 47-year-old officer resigned last fall after being accused of sexually molesting two teenage girls over a nine year period. One of the victims was 12 years of age at the time of the first molestation. The case against serial rapist Stocks, who has confessed to the crime, would be severely weakened without Irvine’s testimony.
4/14/1996 - New Hope For At-Risk Pregnant Women
Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, uncovered new hope for mothers-to-be with high blood pressure. By taking calcium supplements, women can reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia. The common disorder effects seven percent of fetuses in the latter half of the pregnancy, causing fetal fluid retention, dangerous seizures, and in possibly death of the fetus. The discovery reportedly will lower health care costs by $4 billion annually.
4/14/1996 - Kidnapped Woman Frees Herself After One Month
On March 1, Eula Chiles from Tulsa Oklahoma, was abducted by ex-boyfriend Velzo Harrison and handcuffed to a bed in his apartment. After using a pair of scissors to free her feet and hands, Chiles escaped on April 8. Harrison is now in jail after keeping her imprisoned for the last month and routinely beating her with an electrical cord. Last fall, Harrison was charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon.