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10/11/1995 - Law to Keep Repeat Sex Offenders off the Streets
Recently passed and signed legislation in California keeps repeat sex offenders off the streets if they have mental disorders. The legislation requires inmates to receive in-patient treatment for mental disorders before they are released back into soc iety. The legislation aims to keep repeat sex offenders from committing more crimes once released from prison. The California Department of Corrections reports that currently 13,000 repeat sex offenders serve time in CA's state prison with approximately 3,000 released annually
10/10/1995 - Abortion Foes Gearing Up for Congressional Battles
National Right to Life members flooded fax machines and e-mail boxes with a clear and simple message, "defeat the $243 billion defense bill" -- the bill contained a single clause relating to abortion. The House, torn between increasing Pentagon spendi ng or voting down an abortion provision, chose the latter, thus setting the stage for future abortion fights in the House.
Abortion rights face many threats on the U.S. House agenda: the House D.C. appropriations bill is expected to restrict abortion funding; the House version of the foreign aid bill denies grants to organizations which attempt to legalize abortion in dev eloping countries (the Senate bill allows the grants); the House has included provisions in the health and human services spending bill which prohibit federal funding of embryo experimentation, allow medical schools which don't provide abortion training t o receive federal funds, and allow states to refuse Medicaid support for abortion. Many observers also expect that the full House will soon take up a bill to limit all abortions. This would be the first such attempt since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
10/10/1995 - Judge Approves Breast Implant Settlement
U.S. District Judge Sam Pointer approved yesterday the new settlement arrangement agreed to by three breast implant companies and women in a class-action lawsuit. Women who can prove that they had implants from one of three companies -- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Baxter International Inc., and 3M Co., may now receive from $10,000 to $750,000 each, depending on their health and age. The boards and insurers of the three companies must now approve the settlement. Women who are dissatisfied with the agre ement have the option of dropping out of the class-action suit and filing their own suit.
Students in the nine-campus University of California system will protest, on Thursday, the Board of Regents' summer decision to end affirmative action for the university system. Student protesters hope to involve administrators, faculty and also some regents in their day long protest across campuses and march at the Sacramento Capitol. Student leaders expect over 10,000 to protest at UC Berkeley and plan an all day teach-in at UC Davis. At UCLA students have held daily protests since last week, and at UC Riverside, students burned copies of the new decision in garbage cans.
10/9/1995 - MEDICARE CUTS TO SERIOUSLY AFFECT ELDERLY WOMEN
Currently, Medicaid covers nearly half (48%) of all nursing home costs. Proposed cuts in the Medicare and Medicaid system will seriously disadvantage those who now benefit from the programs, especially elderly women who comprise 75% of nursing home residents. Congress' proposal would nullify guaranteed health care insurance for elderly, poor and disabled Americans and turn care into a voucher system.
The proposed changes to Medicare include an increase in premiums and a reduction in coverage. Congress plans to increase the premium rate by 50%, from $100 to $150. This would dangerously affect the roughly 75% of Medicare beneficiaries who receive less than $25,000 in annual income. Women compromise two-thirds of the persons on Medicare living below the poverty level and proposed changes would make health care unaffordable to many of them. Indeed, the increase in premiums would force many to request Medicaid benefits.
In an attempt to decentralize power, the budget bills drafted by both houses of Congress would repeal tough federal standards on nursing home care. The industry has not formally asked for a repeal of the standards enacted in 1987 after a study by the National Academy of Science found that "shockingly deficient care" in some homes mandated federal intervention. The Federal standards regulate nurse-to-patient ratios and mandate treatment standards which do not allow staff to tie down or drug patients. Under the new plans, states would create and enforce their own standards, which could be far less stringent than current federal standards. Women, who comprise approximately 75% of all nursing home patients, will be disproportionally affected by the repeal.
A study published today in the journal Nature Genetics found that one percent of American Jewish women of Ashkenazi descent carry a mutation of the gene, BRCA1, associated with breast cancer. The discovery has great promise of allowing scientis ts to gain a better understanding of the incidence of breast cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer and the mutated gene, 185delAG, have an eighty to ninety percent chance of getting the disease. They also have a forty to fifty percent chan ce of getting colon cancer. A new study is beginning immediately to determine exactly how much of a cancer risk the mutation signifies for Jewish women without a history of breast cancer in their family. Unfortunately, no known cure exists for cancer and genetic testing raises questions of what therapy to provide for persons with positive results.
Last night, the Senate Finance Committee declined attempts to ensure that poor, elderly and disabled persons receive coverage from Medicare and Medicaid programs. Committee Chairman, William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.) has proposed that the federal government grant states the right to determine eligibility and benefits. The committee voted down an amendment which would have restored entitlements to the poor. The committee also passed a change, requested by New York among other states, which would lower the amount they must contribute to Medicaid programs by ten percent.
The Senate Finance Committee moved through twelve of forty amendments and then recessed for the night. Because of technical and drafting delays, it has extended the date of their final mark-up to October 9, approximately three weeks beyond their deadl ine.
An annual survey released on Thursday by the College Board indicates that College tuition and fees rose by six percent this school year. The increases in college costs is rising faster than inflation and comes at a time when Congress plans to reduce b oth student loan and grant programs. The increases in costs and cut in grants are coming together in such a way that, "many young people in our society face a deeply mortgaged future," said Donald M. Stewart, president of the College Board.
Citing its offensiveness to some shoppers, a Wal-mart store close to Miami stopped selling a t-shirt which proclaimed, "Someday A Woman Will Be President." The store had sold roughly two-thirds of its stock of 204 shirts, but decided to stop selling them when the store received a complaint from one customer. A buyer of women's clothes for the national office, Sharon Higginbotham, told the t-shirt's designer, Ann Moliver Ruben, that the store would not carry the shirt nationwide because its message, "goes against Wal-Mart's family values."
9/27/1995 - Clinton Backs Lawsuit Against Bosnian Leader
The Clinton Administration has filed a brief supporting a lawsuit against Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb Leader. Two women, victims of the Balkan war, have filed the lawsuit in an attempt to hold him liable for Bosnian Serb war crimes. One woman says she was raped and mutilated by Serbian soldiers, the other says she witnessed Bosnian Serb soldiers rape and eventually murder her mother. The case is now before an appeals court, which will consider whether or not to overrule a lower court's ruling that Karadzic cannot be tried.
9/26/1995 - Country Opposes G.O.P. Medicare Plan, Expresses Dissatisfaction with Republican Leadership
A CNN/USA Today poll of 1,011 Americans conducted Sept. 22-24 found that fifty-one percent oppose Republicans' plan to reform Medicare while only thirty-two percent favor it. Fifty-three percent felt that the elderly would be worse off if the reforms came into effect. Furthermore, forty-four percent indicated that the Republican leadership in Congress was moving the country in the wrong direction, up from thirty-seven percent in March of 1995 and twenty-seven percent in November of 1994.
In general, the Medicare reform would raise premiums for individuals (many admit that premiums would double) and slow payments to doctors and hospitals. Republicans also hope that beneficiaries will voluntarily switch to other types of health maintenance organizations. Democrats have strongly criticized the reforms and Republican handling of them, arguing that they are attempting to move the reforms through Congress without disclosing them fully to the American public.
Prior to a book signing in San Francisco, retired Gen. Colin Powell spoke out in favor of affirmative action programs, saying it is necessary for society to provide corrections for racist practices. Powell also warned that candidates should not use the issue as a "political football." Rather, Americans should come together and talk the issue through to come up with fair solutions for everyone.
Powell commented that, "I'm a great believer in affirmative action and equal opportunity. I've seen it work in the military." Unfortunately, men are the primary beneficiaries of the military affirmative action programs Powell used as an example. Women make up only eleven percent of the armed forces, due in part to quota systems which limit, rather than expand, their involvement. The military closes many job opportunities and promotions to women who otherwise meet the necessary qualifications. The Clinton administration opened a record number of positions for women in the military, but women still do not have the same opportunities men enjoy to succeed in and benefit from full active service.
Hours before the Senate welfare vote, which in effect cuts benefits to millions of poor American families by giving states block grants, House Speaker Newt Gingrinch suggested block granting the Medicaid program. Medicaid provides health care coverage for 36 million poor Americans, the vast majority of whom are single women with children. His proposal would eliminate a thirty year-old safety net which guarantees certain groups automatic health care coverage. Furthermore, block grants could give the states a vast amount of leeway to save on their current Medicaid spending, thus increasingly cutting back benefits to the poor. Destitute mothers and their children, who make up the majority of current recipients, stand to lose the most from these, in President Clinton's words, "Draconian Cuts."
G.O.P. leaders in the House also issued a 60-page report yesterday regarding the overhaul of Medicare. In discussing Medicare, G.O.P. leaders have announced that their plan would gradually double health insurance premiums for the elderly. Already, approximately fifteen percent of an elderly personís income goes towards health care. This plan would drive up that percentage thus causing grave financial and medical hardship for many elderly persons struggling with reduced social security benefits and increasing life spans. This negatively affects millions of Americans and it disproportionately harms women, who compromise the majority of the elderly population. And, because women receive significantly smaller pension payments and on average only 2/3rds of the amount men receive in Social Security payments, they also make up a disproportionate number of the elderly poor.
9/22/1995 - Wells Fargo Opens Credit Line for Businesswomen
Wells Fargo Banks has announced plans to open a one billion dollar credit line for women who have run profitable businesses for at least two years. Bank officials said they hoped to tap into an important resource within the economy. Annually, women-o wned firms in the United States generate $1.4 trillion and employ 15.5 million workers.
9/22/1995 - Helms Amendment Fails
The Senate voted yesterday against an amendment proposed by Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) which would ban U.S. aid to the United Nations Population Fund. By a vote of 91 to 9 the Senate passed a foreign aid bill which would provide $12.3 billion, $2.4 bi llion less than what President Clinton had requested, for international programs. On a vote of 57 to 43 rejecting Helm's proposed ban, the Senate appropriated $35 million of that amount to the U.N. agency responsible for family planning. Although the bi ll prohibits any of the funding from being used to pay for abortions, the Senate did delete anti-abortion language within the bill that the House had earlier passed.
9/21/1995 - New Study Published on Mammogram Testing
A study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that it's cost-effective for women to begin yearly mammograms at the age of forty and then have bi-annual tests after the age of fifty. Dr. John Rosenquist and Dr. Karen Lindfors, co-authors of the recently published study, found that it costs $2,972 for women to receive mammograms every year from the ages of 40 to 79. The outcome is generally an addition of forty days to a woman's life. However, yearly mammog rams from the age of forty to forty nine and bi-annual tests after fifty would cost $1,915 and add an average of thirty-five days to a woman's life. The averages generally mean that for women who don't have breast cancer, the lifespan remains the same. But, Rosenquist indicates that for women who do have breast cancer could add years to their lives.
9/21/1995 - Welfare Reform: The Senate and House Versions
Now that the Senate has passed its version of the Welfare bill, it goes to a conference committee so that both houses can reach a consenus. Below is a description of the similarities and differences between the House and Senate bills.
Both versions abolish the Federal entitlement program, thereby eliminating any guarantee that all poor families who qualify will receive benefits. Instead, the Federal government will give states block grants with which they can design their own welfare programs. Both bills also require recipients to work after two years.
The House bill does not have any requirements on what states must spend, prohibits teen-age, single mothers from receiving benefits and prohibits women who have more children while on welfare from receiving additional benefits. The Senate bill requires that for five years states spend at least eighty percent of the block grants on welfare. The Senate bill allows the states to decide whether or not to give teenage, single mothers and mothers who have additional children aid.
9/20/1995 - Senate Votes to Eliminate Welfare Entitlements
In a bi-partisan assault on the federal welfare system, the Sente voted to pass its version of the Welfare Reform Bill. The following twelve Senators voted against the bill: Akaka (D-HI), Bradley (D-NJ), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerrey (D-NB), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Leahy (D-VT), Moseley-Braun (D-IL), Moynihan (D-NY), Sarbanes (D-MD), Simon (D- IL), Wellstone (D-MN), and Faircloth (R-NC).
9/20/1995 - Study Supports Use of Breast Cancer Drug
A study appearing today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds that the drug tamoxifen helps prevent breast cancer from spreading to the second breast. The study, conducted by Linda Cook a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Rese arch Center in Seattle, found that treatment with the drug reduced the risk of for cancer in the second breast by up to sixty percent. Contrary to some speculation, the study also finds that no association exists between the use of Tamoxifen and the deve lopment uterine or ovarian cancer. That finding clears the way for doctors to conduct clinical trials to test Tamoxifen as a preventive measure for women in high risk categories of developing breast cancer.
A group of female agents have negotiated with officials for nine months in an attempt to bring to light and eradicate widespread discrimination and bias against women agents. The women claim that they are often assigned to lower prestige jobs, passed over for promotion, and denied assignments in the violent and organized crimes divisions -- which often lead to high-profile careers. They implicate the F.B.I. hierarchy of existing as an "old-boys network" where women are not given opportunities to suc ceed and advance in their fields. F.B.I. Director Louis Freech formally acknowledged the negotiations last week in a letter he sent to all female agents, stating that the Bureau is committed to equal opportunity. Those talks, however, are now at a stand still as both sides complete statistical evaluations of disputed practices. Lawyers for the female agents are now considering filing a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as a first step towards a class action civil lawsuit.
9/19/1995 - STATEMENT OF CHIEF PENNY E. HARRINGTON, DIRECTOR
I am the director of the National Center for Women and Policing. I spent 23 years in policing and became the first woman Chief of Police of a major city in the United States. For the past three years, I have volunteered hundreds of hours of my time a s a member of the Women's Advisory Council to the Los Angeles Police Commission to assist in bringing about reform in Los Angeles Police Department through the hiring of more women officers.
Sadly, little progress has been made, and nothing or no one so clearly demonstrates the need for hiring more women officers than the shocking testimony in the O.J. Simpson trial about Detective Mark Fuhrman.
The world has learned what we have been reporting over the past four years -- that there are still police officers in the LAPD who lie, falsify evidence, and take pride in their racist and sexist beliefs. These rogue officers have jeopardized what lit tle faith the citizens of Los Angeles have in their police department. They have severely damaged the reputation of the good people in the LAPD who are trying to provide quality police services.
I am calling today on the City Council, the Major, the Police Commission and the Chief of Police to not delay one day longer in implementing the City Council's 1994 directive to gender balance the ranks of the LAPD. Increasing the numbers of women police will change the culture of the LAPD.
The Christopher Commission found overwhelming evidence that the women of the LAPD do not resort to the use of excessive force. Women officers use a style of policing that is the basis of community policing techniques and are problem solvers. It has c ome as no surprise to us that here has not been one woman officer implicated in the incidents o police abuse bragged about by Detective Fuhrman. Not one woman is among the officers now under investigation for falsifying evidence.
And yet, within the LAPD, women are denigrated, harassed and subjected to many forms of discrimination in employment. Fuhrman literally rages with disdain for women officers who won't give a suspect a shot in the stomach with her baton'.
I am further calling for an an immediate, independent investigation into whether the anti-women, clandestine organization, "Men Against Women" continues to operate inside the LAPD. The LAPD culture that supports men such as Mark Fuhrman, allows them to remain as police officers and regards their behavior by promoting them must be eliminated.
Until women officers can sit in roll call and know they are valued members of the group -- until women officers are no longer subjected to derogatory remarks about the abilities of women police -- and until the commanders, supervisors and peers in t he LAPD take immediate action to stop the gender harassment they witness, there is no meaningful "zero tolerance policy" toward discrimination and harassment in the LAPD.
Women leaders in this community are proud of the women who have dedicated their lives to service in their community by becoming LAPD officers. We want the women in the LAPD to know that we are here to support them and that we will not tolerate any fur ther mistreatment of the courageous women officers in the Los Angeles Police Department.
I will be appearing at the City Council hearings this morning to present a FIVE POINT PLAN OF ACTION FOR REFORM
The Mayor and the City Council must demand that unless the Los Angeles Police Department hires 43.4% women, they will not be allowed to fill the positions gained through the crime bill. In other words, half of the police officers hired with crime bill money must be women.
The City Council must immediately implement the Bias Investigation Unit designed by the Police Commission.
The Public Safety and Personnel Committees of the City Council should immediately convene and Implementation Task Force to assist the LAPD in implementing the Christopher Commission reforms and the recommendations of the Women's Advisory Counci l to the Los Angeles Police Commission. This Task Force should consist of the Chief and command level members of the LAPD, Police Commissioners, members of the Public Safety and Personnel Subcommittees of the City Council, City Personnel Department, the Police League and members of the public who have knowledge and expertise in these areas.
The Mayor and the City Council must provide the necessary funds to implement the programs that will bring about reform in the LAPD. No matter what the cost of these reforms, it will be cheaper than continuing to pay out tax payer dollars on police ex cessive force and sex and race harassment lawsuits brought about by the "Mark Fuhrmans" and the officers involved in the Rodney King beating and in the falsifying of evidence.
The Mayor and the City Council must make it clear to Chief Williams that he will be held responsible for any continuing discrimination or harassment against women and the failure to gender balance all future academy classes. It is not enough to issue statements proclaiming a "zero tolerance" policy toward discrimination and harassment. Women officers in LAPD are still subjected to daily harassment and devaluation of their abilities and contributions to policing.
9/19/1995 - Senate Expected to Vote on Welfare Reform
The Senate is expected to vote, and pass, today a compromise welfare proposal which puts an end to Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the federal government's main cash welfare program. Currently, fourteen million Americans, ten million of whom are children, receive benefits from the program. The welfare reform plan eliminates entitlements completely and instead gives states set sums, known as block grants, with which to create and maintain their own welfare systems. States must limit benefits to five years, require beneficiaries to work after two years and actually spend 80% of the block grant on welfare for at least five years. The Senate proposal also includes $1 billion in backup funds should an emergency require states to receive additio nal funding and additional funds for day-care.
The Senate proposal differs in significant ways to the House welfare bill passed earlier this year. The Senate cut House-endorsed provisions which would deny welfare benefits to unwed teen-age mothers and to welfare mothers who have additional childre n. The Senate version would allow the states to decide individually whether or not to make such provisions. After the Senate passes its welfare bill, the two houses must come together to hammer out a compromise bill to send to the President. Though Pre sident Clinton supports the Senate version over the House version, it is still unclear whether or not he will sign or veto a compromise bill.
Dr. Michelle Bloch, Chairwoman of the American Medical Women's Association, reported at a conference last week that women are dying of lung cancer at increasing rates and will soon die of it in greater number than men. At a conference entitled, "Women & Tobacco...There's Nothing Glamorous About It," Block reported that second-hand smoke, especially in the workplace, is endangering women's health. Numerous women work in bars, hotels and restaurants which allow smoking and they are thus inevitably expo sed to its side-effects. Block also pointed out that, in 1993, roughly one third of all women who lacked high school diplomas smoked while only twelve percent of women with college degrees did.