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3/5/1996 - Anti-Choice Measures Rejected in Virginia
In a setback for antiabortion forces in Richmond, the Virginia House of Delegates defeated a measure Monday to make the killing of a fetus a criminal act of murder. "Feticide" would have become a crime punishable by 20 years to life in prison. Pro-choice voices said the measure would begin to erode the legal right to abortion. Twenty-five other states have already extended legal protection to the fetus in criminal cases.
In another defeat for anti-choice factions, the Senate Education and Health Committed voted down a bid which would require doctors to notify parents if they perform abortions on patients younger than 18. Although this measure was defeated for the second time this year, both sides predicted that some form of the legislation would emerge from the General Assembly this year. Anti-abortion forces plan to add parental notification to another bill and prompt a fight on the Senate floor. Introduced every year in Virginia since 1979, these bills have already moved further this session than ever before.
3/5/1996 - Defense Witnesses Say Salvi Heard Voices
In the abortion clinic murder trial of John Salvi, defense witness Dr. Phillip Resnick was cross-examined Monday. The psychiatrist acknowledged that Salvi only revealed some of his paranoid delusions after learning that his lawyers planned an insanity defense. Salvi did not bring up certain topics during two interviews with Resnick following the December 1994 attacks.
It was only on the day before the trail started that Salvi talked about a conspiracy to force birth control on Roman Catholics and said it was "justifiable" to kill people interfering with a currency system just for Catholics. Resnick acknowledged that Salvi never talked about justifiable homicide until the day before the trial.
The defense attempted to show that Salvi was insane with testimony from a friend who said Salvi heard voices when he read the Bible.
In an appeal Monday, the Supreme Court said that a 90-minute sex education and AIDS education program held at a school assembly did not violate religious freedom or parents’ right to raise their children as they saw fit. Two former Massachusetts high school students and their parents had objected to the program; their lawsuit had been thrown out by a federal judge and the First Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the dismissal. The appeals court ruled that parents do not have the right to "dictate the curriculum at the public school to which they have chosen to send their children." A state court lawsuit is still pending.
Suzi Landolphi of the Hot, Sexy, and Safer production company said she has made the presentation more than 5,000 times and had never been sued. In 1992, she was a guest speaker at Chelmsford High School where she combined humor, audience participation and explicit references to warn students about the danger of contracting AIDS through sexual intercourse. Jason Mesti and Shannon Silva, both aged 15 at the time, were in the audience.
The claims regarding "freedom of religion" were rejected when the appeals court noted that the plaintiffs "do not allege the one-time compulsory attendance at the program threatened their entire way of life." The case is Brown vs. Hot, Sexy and Safer Productions 95-1158.
3/5/1996 - Clinton Proposes Funding Decrease for Military, Increase for Education and the Environment
President Clinton announced a proposal Monday to reduce the fiscal 1997 military budget by $9.2 billion to $242.6 billion. His plan includes reductions in spending on both new weapons and operations and maintenance.
Clinton also said Monday he will veto a spending bill needed to keep the government open past March 15 if Congress does not provide more money for education and environmental protection this year. Vetoing the spending bill could result in another government shutdown.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Phillip Resnick testified last week that accused murderer John Salvi suffered delusions brought on by paranoid schizophrenia when he killed two and wounded five at two Brookline, Mass. abortion clinics in December 1994. Resnick’s defense testimony contradicted the evidence of Salvi’s careful planning provided by the prosecution. Two witnesses testified to watching Salvi practice shooting his rifle at close range days before the shootings, and a hairstylist testified that Salvi had his long curls cut off shortly after the killings, altering his appearance.
While the public seems outraged by rising crime rates and worried that some guilty people do get away with murder, Salvi’s trial is one of several currently using the insanity defense. Resnick testified that Salvi did know the legal ramifications of his actions and tried to prevent his capture, but that Salvi’s delusions governed his mind such that he could not understand the "moral wrongfulness" of his acts and was therefore legally insane.
If convicted, Salvi would serve a mandatory life sentence in jail. If acquitted by reason of insanity, he would be confined to a mental hospital but could be freed if doctors later conclude he is sane.
3/4/1996 - Buchanan’s Supporters Want to Ban Abortion
According to a new CNN-TIME Election Monitor, a clear majority of Pat Buchanan’s supporters want the Republican platform to include a call for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. In contrast, of supporters of the other major Republican candidates, less than a quarter want such an amendment. The survey interviewed 1,002 registered Republicans between February 24 and 27.
News sources reported last week that co-chair of Buchanan’s national campaign Michael Farris attended a January event that honored people convicted of killing abortion clinic workers and of bombing abortion clinics, and advocated using violence to prevent abortion. The organizer of the event, Michael Bray, has signed a "justifiable homicide" petition and acknowledged Farris from the podium.
Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal was quoted last week in the Kansas City Star as saying "It’s chilling that one of the national co-chairs of a presidential candidate attended a banquet where convicted felons, including murderers, were honored and praised. The people in his campaign are hanging out with people who are extreme not only on race but on sexual equality issues," said Smeal. Although Farris maintains he left the event early, Smeal pointed out that he "never denounced it or said These people are going too far.’"
3/4/1996 - Most Sex Offenders Assault Children
The Justice Department released a report Sunday showing that two-thirds of state inmates imprisoned for rape had committed their crime against a child. Three out of four of the victims in the sexual assaults were girls, and 88 percent were known to the assaulter.
"This high rate of child victims is behind the heightened concern and the growing number of states passing laws that provide for notifying neighborhoods when sexual predators move in," said David Beatty, acting director of the National Victims Center. As part of the largest state prisoner survey ever undertaken, the findings were based on interviews with more than 14,000 convicts in 277 prisons in 45 states. The prisoners were serving time for violent crime in 1991. The study found that 13 percent of the total number of these prisoners had raped or sexually assaulted children.
Across the nation, women’s rights groups and civil rights groups are galvanizing support to defeat an initiative on the November ballot in California which would end state and locally sponsored affirmative action programs. At a press conference last week after the initiative supporters filed more than their required signatures, the Campaign to Save Women’s Rights and Civil Rights announced that the initiative would not only harm women and people of color in hiring, contracting, and college admissions but would also gut laws prohibiting sex discrimination.
Prema Mathai-Davis said, co-chair of the anti-initiative Campaign that consists of a coalition of 100 groups, said "Those who would steal our rights and confiscate our opportunities have made their move and we are here to tell them that this is as far as they’ll go." Mathai-Davis is national executive director of the YWCA of the U.S.A., one of the backers of the Campaign which also includes the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, said that five other states -- Florida, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Illinois -- have similar initiatives as do the U.S Congress and 17 state legislatures. Organizers of the anti-initiative Campaign say their greatest challenge is educating the public on what the initiative, deceptively called the "California Civil Rights Initiative" will do. The words "affirmative action" appear nowhere in the text, and the media has given little coverage to the Clause C which says discrimination on the basis of sex is permissible if it is "reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education, and public contracting."
Opponents of the initiative say many programs are at risk as a result of this language, including those that target girls for science classes and ones that select women for jobs like firefighters. To demonstrate the potential effect on girls’ sports opportunities, five local high school girls on the basketball team dribbled a ball at the news conference.
Since polls show college students largely in favor of affirmative action, opponents of the initiative are planning to mobilize student votes to defeat the CCRI. Smeal said that students from around the country are planning to spend the summer in California while others will work phones, canvass and distribute information on the negative effects of the initiative and the impact California could have on other states and the federal government. "We are up against a well-fueled, deceptive machinery, but what we’ve got is people power," Smeal said.
Scientists have concluded that BRCA1, the human breast cancer gene, is a true "suppressor gene" and causes cancer only when it mutates to yield to a faulty protein. Two research teams have discovered that the same genes can halt or shrink the growth of human breast and ovarian cancers, and even make some tumors disappear. The experiments used human cancer cells transplanted into laboratory mice but were considered a major advance raising new possibilities to drugs and gene therapy for types of breast and ovarian tumors.
One research team was led by University of Washington geneticist Dr. Mary-Claire King, who pinpointed the location of the breast cancer gene five years ago in a lab at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Jeffery Holt , a cell biologist at Vanderbilt University, lead the other team. Their findings are reported in the March issue of the journal Nature Genetics
According to the American Political Network, the Republican Congress that reconvenes Tuesday after a winter break will follow a strategy that is "far less aggressive" than last session’s 100-day "forced march" centered around the "Contract with America." House Speaker Newt Gingrich and GOP leaders are reportedly moving on a "more patient agenda with fewer issues, instead of trying to change the political landscape in one swoop." One intention is to introduce a new batch of spending bills stripped of the social riders on abortion and other issues that last year were political "flash points" with the White House and Democratic leaders.
Congres is expected to vote on legislation protecting parents from "government intrusion" in issues such as their children’s sex education and medical treatment, according to the Christian Coalition’s Brian Lopina. Congress plans to send previously-passed legislation banning the late-term D&X abortion procedure to Clinton and hopes to override his expected veto. (See news item: 2-28-96: Change in Abortion Bill Urged by Clinton). Some anti-choice opponents will also "switch... tactics in hopes of broadening support" and will push for adoption legislation, including a $5,000 adoption tax credit and a measure promoting interracial adoption. Both measures were part of the vetoed budget.
According to Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council, "A lot of issues with a values component are going to be front and center all through this year."
The defense called former New Hampshire state Sen. Robert Preston to the stand Thursday to testify that he remembered accused murderer John Salvi screaming in a Roman Catholic church on Christmas Eve 1994, two days before he attacked two abortion clinics. Preston testified that Salvi ranted that the church wasn’t doing enough to help Catholics, who Salvi said were being persecuted and were in danger of losing their homes. During Preston’s testimony, Salvi pressed his hands together as if in prayer.
Witnesses said Salvi shouted at the priest and the congregants attending the 5 p.m. Mass at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Seabrook, N.H. Salvi’s lawyers say that Salvi was insane at the time he killed two and wounded five others at two abortion clinics in Brookline, Mass. The prosecution maintains that Salvi was sane and that he was a man angry at his father who attended the church with him.
Salvi’s father, a key witness for the defense, says he thought his son would "grow out of" his bizarre behavior and that he regrets not seeking help when his son withdrew into Bible reading and spoke of watching people turn into vampires. Prosecutors implied that Salvi’s father had a well-documented history of protecting his son, and that he would say anything to that end. The judge refused to allow testimony on that subject.
Salvi would face a mandatory life sentence if convicted. If acquitted by reason of insanity, he would be confined to a mental hospital but could be released if authorities later find him sane.
2/29/1996 - Navy Cook Sentenced for Sexual Harassment
On Tuesday, Chief Petty Officer George Powell was convicted of indecent assault, simple assault, and drunk and disorderly conduct for sexually harassing an enlisted woman on a commercial jet in October of 1995 and another woman on a flight in November. The 23-year-old woman on the October flight had testified that Powell, 49 grabbed her breast and said "honk" and put his hand between her legs while she slept in the seat next to his.
Powell was sentenced by a military judge in San Diego to 89 days in the brig, demotion one rank, and reduced pay. He faces additional loss of rank and pay if he does not complete alcohol treatment. Powell has testified that he is an alcoholic suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome and that he was so drunk he does not remember the assault.
Two antiabortion activists, Rae Powell and Carol McAdoo, were taken into custody Wednesday after refusing to answer some questions of a federal grand jury investigating abortion clinic violence. At least one of these questions related to the Army of God manual. Federal officials have called the Army of God a terrorist group and describe its manual as a handbook on crimes against abortion clinics and workers.
Powell and McAdoo were among four Virginia residents alleged to be involved in abortion protests who were subpoenaed to appear before the panel in Newport News. The other two apparently answered questions and were not detained
2/29/1996 - Judge Denies Custody to Lesbian Mother
Judge William G. Boice Tuesday upheld an earlier ruling and denied a lesbian custody of her four-year-old son. Sharon Bottoms had argued that her son, Tyler Doustou, is not developing well under his grandmother’s care and that she could give the boy more loving care. The 1993 custody decision was upheld by the State Supreme Court last year.
The judge ruled that Bottoms’ lesbian lifestyle makes her an unfit parent and denounced plans for a TV movie about the custody battle. Bottoms’ lawyers said she and partner April Wade cooperated with the producers of "For the Love of Tyler" having been told the ABC movie would be made with or without their help.
2/29/1996 - Governors and White House Clash on Welfare, Medicaid; Shalala Says Conflicts Can Be Worked Out
Despite differences in governors’ plan for welfare and Medicaid and the White House vision, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala said Wednesday that conflicts could be fixed "in 24 hours if everyone got to the table." She told the Senate Finance Committee that Congress must make a number of changes to win approval from President Clinton. The plans were adopted unanimously by governors on February 6; they are based on a bill passed by Republicans but vetoed by Clinton.
"Let’s pass needed Medicaid and welfare reforms. Let’s cut the deficit. But let’s not mix up the two and pretend that one is the other," Shalala said. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), an expert on welfare, argued that almost 5 million of the 10.2 million children expected to be receiving Aid to Dependent Children in 2005 would be cut off from assistance under the five-year time limit being considered. Of that 5 million, almost half would be African American. Sen. Carol Mosley-Braun (D-Ill.) said, "Clearly there is a disparate impact ... on African Americans."
Among Shalala’s other concerns about the plan were eliminating mandatory coverage of children between 13 and 18 and allowing states to set their own definitions for who would qualify as disabled.
Catalyst, a women’s professional support organization, has released a study on female executives that shows women at the top in business are characterized by long work hours and being flexible. Women indicated that the best explanation for their success was they deliver results superior to male colleagues, consistently exceeding expectations. The study showed that 85 percent of female executives are optimistic about women’s promotional potential.
A majority of the women reported having to adjust their personal style so that male executives would not feel threatened. Many indicated that taking up sports such as golf let them in on an inside track that they were otherwise excluded from due to the fact that they were women, with 49 percent of the respondents indicating "exclusion from informal networks" acted as a barrier to career enhancement. Senior vice president and chief financial officer for Avon Products, Inc. Edwina Woodbury, commented on the pervasiveness of male corporate culture, stating, "It’s there all the time. How many business conversations, business decisions, are made in the men’s room … or on a golf day?"
The study polled 1,250 women executives from Fortune 1,000 companies by mail in September of 1995. Thirty-seven percent, or 461 women responded, and their responses were compared to responses from 325 male executives. More than half of the women, and only 25 percent of the men indicated that "male stereotyping and preconceptions of women" were top factors in holding back their careers. Male CEOs cited "lack of significant general management or line experience" as the chief factor holding back women’s advancement, while women ranked it third. The report stated, "Until more women become plant managers, heads of sales and marketing, vice presidents for operations and division presents … with substantial profit and loss responsibilities, the pipeline to corporate leadership will continue to lack a critical mass of women."
The average income for respondents was $248,000, and 91 percent were white. Three quarters of them are married, and 64 percent have children. The study was funded by Seagram Co.
On Tuesday, prosecutors rested their case in the murder trial of John Salvi, accused of murdering two women in an attack on two abortion clinics in Brookline, Mass. They concluded their case with graphic testimony from Dr. Richard Evans, the chief Massachusetts medical examiner, describing the damage to the bodies of Lee Ann Nichols, shot 10 times, and Shannon Lowney, shot twice. The jury was prevented from seeing part of a videotape showing Lowney’s body shortly after the shooting.
The defense opened its case with the testimony of Harvard University psychiatrist Dr. Donald Goff, an expert on schizophrenia who described the disease’s symptoms. Dr. Goff has not examined Salvi. Defense lawyers say Salvi was insane at the time he committed the crimes, and they are expected to bring in half-a-dozen mental health workers. Prosecutors will rebut with state psychiatrists testifying that Salvi is sane by legal standards.
If convicted, Salvi would face a mandatory life sentence in prison. An acquittal by reason of insanity would confine him to a mental hospital, but he could be released if authorities later conclude he is sane.
Shortly before attacking two abortion clinics and killing two people, John Salvi portrayed himself as a rebel combating an evil, anti-Christian cabal in a skit he wrote. Prosecutors presented the handwritten script and religious diatribe hoping to show that Salvi was motivated by his anti-abortion views when he attacked the clinics in Brookline, Mass. in December of 1994.
Quotes from the script include: "God bless America’ is a good speech, but God does not bless those for promoting abortion and saying it’s OK" and "In the United States of America, the Supreme Court has killed over 23 million American citizens by ruling on Jan. 22 1973 that abortion is legal." One character, "Tax Collector Bob," is also referred to as "Mr. Clinton" and says his cabal, the "Pentagram" needs taxes to fight the Russians. Character "Peasant John" protests that God gave humans land to live on and did not make other men its owners or give governments the right to collect taxes.
The defense maintains that such passages show delusions of grandeur and belief in a conspiracy against the sufferer, indicators of paranoid schizophrenia. While Salvi’s lawyers do not that deny Salvi committed the murders, they claim he was insane at the time. A verdict of innocent by reason of insanity would confine Salvi to a prison mental hospital, with the possibility that he could be released if authorities determine he is sane.
If convicted, Salvi would face a mandatory life sentence in prison. The prosecution maintains that Salvi planned and executed the clinic attacks, later changing his appearance in an effort to escape detection. FBI agents have testified to finding anti-abortion literature and pictures of aborted fetuses in Salvi’s apartment and truck after his arrest in Norfolk, VA following his alleged shooting at a Norfolk abortion clinic.
2/27/1996 - Abortion Clinic Violence Investigated
A federal investigation into violence against abortion clinics will convene next week in Norfolk, VA. The Norfolk clinic attacked in December, 1994 by John Salvi, accused of murdering two clinic workers in Brookline, Mass., is still having trouble.
According to documents and interviews with military service members and their families, there is widespread confusion over how to implement the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy; some service members are still being subjected to sweeping investigations of their sex lives on the basis of second-hand reports.
The Defense Network was to make a public report Tuesday to say that its monitoring of hundreds of cases showed that the policy was "as bad, if not worse, than its predecessors," with witch hunts of homosexuals prevalent in all branches of the military.
The Defense Network said that women account for a fifth of discharges for homosexuality even though they make up 13 percent of the active duty force, statistics which show that women are being singled out for harassment.
Lawrence J. Korb, assistant secretary of Defense for manpower in the Reagan administration and current senior fellow at the Brookings Institution said that the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy was being violated "all the time" and that women are often accused of being lesbians after they file complaints of sexual harassment or assault against co-workers. "With women in the military," Korb said, "you’re either accused of being promiscuous or of being a lesbian."
Administration officials said Monday that the Clinton administration will soon raise major objections to changes in welfare and Medicaid that were unanimously recommended by the nation’s governors. After studying the proposals for three weeks, administration officials said they had found many reasons for concern. A draft of secretary of health and human services Donna Shalala’s testimony says the federal guarantee of Medicaid coverage under the governors’ plan "does not appear to be real and enforceable for beneficiaries."
The testimony, prepared for a Senate hearing on Wednesday also said that the governors’ proposals are unacceptable because they could harm people who receive welfare, food stamps or Medicaid; children who have been abused or neglected; doctors; hospitals; and the federal government. Shalala explains that "Some long-standing protections would be reduced or eliminated" and "Medicaid would be the sole federal statute conferring benefits on individuals with no possibility of federal enforcement by its intended beneficiaries."
Shalala said that "individuals with HIV, certain physical disabilities or mental illness could be precluded from receiving critically need services under Medicaid" if governors repealed the federal definition of disability and allowed states to set their own eligibility standards. Federal standards for nursing homes could also "be rendered meaningless" without federal monitoring and enforcement, Shalala said.
Shalala objects to block-granting money for child protection services which she says could "jeopardize the ultimate safety net for abused and neglected children. Shalala also said the administration strenuously objects to allowing some states to run their own food stamp programs with lump sum of federal funds and minimal federal standards, another part of the governors’ plan.
The White House may pursue a two-track strategy, making vague, favorable comments about the intentions of the governors’ plan while objecting to many of the important details of the proposals.
2/26/1996 - Buchanan Appeals to Foes of Homosexuality, Immigration and Big Government in Fundraising
According to Pat Buchanan’s recent direct-mail fundraising letter, there’s a "bloody assault" on the GOP’s stand against abortion, and "liberals in our party are already demanding the addition of a homosexual rights plank in the next Republican platform." Pitched to those who fear recognition for gays, immigrants, and "renegade" federal judges, Buchanan’s fundraising letters offer believers an opportunity to fill out a petition called the "1996 Republican Platform Demand" and send it along with a donation.
A dozen direct-mail letters sent out by Buchanan during this campaign were reviewed by the Associated Press. One letter criticized the "judges and justices who drove prayer and the Bible out of our public schools" as well as the "social radicals and gay rights activists who wish to indoctrinate America’s children in positive attitudes’ toward homosexuality using as propaganda tools, books for first-graders like Daddy’s Roommate and Heather Has Two Mommies.
A favorite populist line of Buchanan’s in fundraising letters is that, if elected, he’ll "run a sword through the ruinous and failed ideology of Big Government Liberalism, and finish it off for once and for all."
The Associated Press report follows Buchanan’s statement last week that he would not allow anyone who was openly gay to serve in his administration. Several campaign staff were also let go last week among allegations that they had ties to the National Association for the Advancement of White People, the Ku Klux Klan and/or the 1992 David Duke Presidential campaign.
Protesting a ban on all extracurricular clubs enacted to get rid of student gay-straight alliances, hundreds of Salt Lake City, Utah high school students walked out of school Friday and marched on the state capitol. About 400 students gathered across the street from East High School shouting We will fight for our rights” and holding signs reading Separate Church and State” to denounce the school board’s 4-3 decision Tuesday to ban all non-academic clubs.
Protesters from East High heeded their principal’s request to end the protest because they felt they had gotten the recognition they sought, according to Vanessa Palme, member of the alliance that sought formal recognition at East.
The march occurred as the Utah Senate passed a bill that would prohibit teachers from condoning illegal conduct in schools, a measure Democratic opponents decry as a swipe at gay clubs and their faculty sponsors.
The march also turned out gay club opponents with signs reading SAFE- Students Against Faggots at East” and resulted in an accident when a protester walking out of West High school fell from a car hood and was pinned underneath the car.
2/24/1996 - Louisiana NAACP Holds Civil Rights March
Ernest Johnson, president of the Louisiana branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called a march for Saturday on the state capitol in response to Republican Gov. Mike Foster’s executive order last month abolishing affirmative action and minority set-aside programs. Foster had also supported a federal court-drawn congressional redistricting plan that eliminates one of the state’s two majority black districts.
The march was expected to draw 20,000 people. We’ve worked hard for a non-violent, peaceful march, and we intend to keep it that way,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, a significantly smaller group of white supremacists--the National Association for the Advancement of White People--planned its own rally at the Old State Capitol. The NAAWP rally was called to support the governor’s actions and will feature as a key speaker David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan leader and founder of the NAAWP.
Two prosecution witnesses testified Thursday that they watched accused abortion-clinic gunman John Salvi engaged in target practice at extremely close range on the day before the December 1994 attacks on two Brookline, Mass. abortion clinics. Salvi's lawyers say that Salvi committed the shootings, which claimed the lives of two women and wounded five others, but that he was insane at the time.
Prosecutors showed jurors videotapes of Salvi demonstrating at two protests at the woman's clinic he later attacked, claiming the tapes reveal Salvi was a purposeful anti-abortion activist.
Another prosecution witness, David Fairbanks, testified last week that Salvi fired at him three times and missed. Fairbanks said that Salvi shouted at victim Lee Anne Nichols, "This is what you get! You should pray the rosary!" while shooting her ten consecutive times. Other prosecution witnesses present during the shootings testified. Salvi has been identified as the gunman by nearly a dozen witnesses.