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6/16/1997 - Study Shows Fewer Women Directors Hired

The Directors Guild of America's annual report shows that 91 percent of film directors hired in the United States in 1996 were men and 93 percent were white. The guild's president, Jack Shea, commented on the findings, "Employment levels for DGA women and minorities are simply unacceptable. The producers must find more effective ways to bring talented females and individuals with a diversity of ethnic backgrounds into our business." The number of days worked by DGA women declined from 22.76 percent in 1995 to 22.63 percent in 1996. The guild's vice president, Martha Coolidge, added, "These statistics are an embarrassment to our industry. It is bad enough to see how small the growth is in working days for minorities, but it is particularly disheartening to see the percentage of days worked by women actually dropping."


6/16/1997 - German Law Criminalizes Marital Rape

A law approved on June 13th in Germany makes marital rape a crime punishable by up to five years in jail. Female ministers and women's rights activists have lobbied for over 25 years to get the law changed; previously rape was a crime only when the woman was not married to her attacker. Legislators were successful in dropping a clause from the legislation which would have allowed for withdrawl of the woman's charges. Critics charged that the clause weakened the law because it allowed the husband to pressure his wife into dropping the charges. A study conducted by German authorities shows that, since 1993, 350,000 men have raped their wives.


6/13/1997 - Promise Keepers Hold No Promise for Women

On June 13th, the Feminist Majority Foundation, joining other national women's rights, religious, lesbian/gay/bisexual, and domestic violence organizations, condemned the hidden agenda of the all-male, religious right organization, the Promise Keepers. "Some reactionary male want-to-be-patriarchs -- the so-called Promise Keepers -- are preaching to football stadiums of men that men must resume their rightful place at the head of their household," said Alice Cohan, Feminist Majority Foundation Director of National Programs, "The submission of women is at the core of all these attacks on women's rights and is a backlash to the changed role of women in every facet of our society."

"Despite their best attempts to hide an anti-women, anti-abortion agenda, one must only examine the major leaders and funders of the Promise Keepers' movement to uncover their real goals. Their empires have been built on misogyny, not 'brotherly love.' Pat Robertson, the religious right media mogul and founder of the Christian Coalition, provides major coverage of the Promise Keepers through the 700 Club. James Dobson, whose organization Focus on the Family is one of the largest religious right entities in the country, kept Promise Keepers afloat financially in the early years. Bill Bright's Campus Crusade for Christ empire has lent at least 85 full-time staffers to Promise Keepers' national headquarters in Colorado. Another leading supporter is Gary Bauer, head of the anti-abortion and anti-lesbian/gay Family Research Council," said Cohan.

Serving as Promise Keepers National Spokesperson is Mark DeMoss of the DeMoss family, whose foundation pours millions of dollars into religious right causes including the anti-abortion Life, What A Beautiful Choice advertisements. Finally, there is Bill McCartney, former football coach and founder of Promise Keepers. McCartney is militantly opposed to women's reproductive freedom, and has been a featured speaker at events of the anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue. During an Operation Rescue rally, which was trying to close a local women's clinic, McCartney declared that abortion had become 'a second Civil War.'


6/13/1997 - Mary Robinson Named U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has appointed Irish President Mary Robinson to serve as the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. Robinson, who will end a seven-year term as Ireland's head of state in December, will travel to New York in July to begin discussions on her post, which is based in Geneva. The United Nations begins its annual General Assembly at the end of September.


6/13/1997 - Groups Challenge Legality of Virgnia Parental Consent Law

Planned Parenthood of Virginia, along with four other state Planned Parenthood affiliates, three health clinics and two physicians, has filed suit claiming that Virginia's new parental consent law is unconstitutional. The parental consent law requires girls under the age of 18 to notify a parent at least 24 hours before obtaining an abortion. The law is scheduled to take effect on July 1st. The groups are claiming that law denies young girls their privacy and due process rights. Simon Heller, a lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy of New York commented on the lawsuit, "In its eagerness to limit access to abortion services, the Virginia legislature has trampled on the constitutional rights of young women. The majority of young women already involve their parents without the government's interference. Forcing the others to do so will have dire consequences."


6/13/1997 - After Fleeing for Eight Years, Alex Kelly Convicted of Rape

For eight years Alex Kelly lived in Europe, off his wealthy parent's money, avoiding a United States trial for raping two women. On June 12th, a Connecticut jury convicted him of raping a girl over a decade ago. Kelly turned himself in to authorities in Switzerland in 1995 when authorities closed in on his location and his passport was close to expiring. A 1996 rape trial ended in a 4-2 deadlocked jury in favor of conviction.

The 1997 jury's foreman Robert Derleth said of the conviction, "We just reviewed the evidence and the evidence spoke for itself." The husband of the women who was raped read a statement on her behalf, "I am grateful that the jury was able to focus on the truth, and hope that what I have done will help other women who have been raped to obtain justice."

Kelly's lawyer promised to appeal and commented, "I consider this just a chapter in this long litigation." Kelly could face 20 years in prison; he will be sentenced on July 24th. He also faces another trial in the case of a second woman who accused him of rape four days after the first accuser came forward.


6/12/1997 - Eleven Abortion Opponents Found Guilty of Blocking Clinic

A federal judge has convicted Reverend Norman Weslin, the head of the so-called Lambs of Christ, and ten other of the group's members of blocking entrances at a Planned Parenthood in Rochester, New York. Wesson and three others were sentenced to four months in jail from U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer. Four others were placed on four months of supervised release and required to do 120 hours of community service. The defendants had, on December 7, 1996, resorted to super gluing the entrance of the clinic, and entangling themselves in a device called a "stove" to block the entrance. The bench trial of the defendants is first in New York tried under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.


6/12/1997 - Military Court Convicts U.S. Army Sgt. in Germany of Rape

U.S. Army Sgt. Paul Fuller of the Darmstadt Germany training center has been convicted by a military court of raping a subordinate, indecent assault, and three counts of forcible sodomy. Though Fuller could have faced life in prison for the rape charge alone, he was sentenced to only five years in prison and given a dishonorable discharge. A second rape charge was downgraded to the indecent assault charge, and Fuller was also found guilty of three counts of cruelty and maltreatment, fraternization, kidnapping and a reduced charge of unlawful entry. Another count of rape and an indecent exposure charge were dismissed on technicalities earlier this week. Six soldiers sat on the jury.

Fuller denied all charges, and his lawyers argued that the sex was consensual while prosecutors said Fuller used his rank to intimidate the women. Last week, the same military court cleared another soldier at Darmstadt of six counts of rape but sentenced Sgt. Julius Davis to two years in prison on a conviction of multiple counts of indecent assault. Davis also was reduced in rank and got a bad-conduct discharge. Fuller, Davis, and a third sergeant also under investigation have been relieved of their duties at Darmstadt.


6/12/1997 - Women Flyers Gather at Smithsonian for Opening of Special Exhibit

Pioneer female pilots gathered at the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C. on June 10th for the opening of an exhibit dedicated to the history of women in flight. At the opening, Fay Gillis Well, 88, handed Doris Lockness, 87, Amelia Earhart's blue flag. Both of the women flew with Earhart in the early part of this century. Lockness, who still pilots her own plane, will carry that flag to Kansas where Earhart's 100th birthday anniversary will be held in late June. Gayle Ranney, a bush pilot in Alaska, was another member of the large group of women pilots who attended the opening. She talked of the self-reliance necessary to fly in Alaska. She commented, "[if a 60-knot storm blows up] you have to tie that puppy down…I've had moments when I've said: 'Hey if I get out of this, I'm not coming back.' But I always did." Smithsonian photographer Carolyn Russo compiled the exhibit, which includes photos and biographies of more than 35 female aviators.


6/12/1997 - First Syrian Female Pilot Begins Work

Wadad Shujaa, 18, Syria's first female pilot, will shortly begin working as a co-pilot with Syrian Airways. Shujaa graduated from the Aviation Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma after completing 190 hours of flying time. She took her first solo flight after only twelve hours of training.


6/12/1997 - Woman Catches Flasher with a Flash

On May 23rd, Myko Kona was flashed by a handyman who had stopped to ask her for directions. Jimmy Robert Jewell exposed himself and also began masturbating. Kona, however, had a disposable camera ready and quickly took pictures of him, his actions and the license plate on his van. Jewell tried to grab her through the passenger side window of his van after she took the pictures, but she broke free and ran away. With her pictures, the police were able to identify Jewell and track him down to his home in San Pedro, California. Jewell, already on parole for a drug conviction, was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon (the van) and indecent exposure. He told police that he had exposed himself ten to twelve other times since he had been released from prison.


6/11/1997 - Mifepristone Introduction in US Possibly Delayed

A dispute between the European company which agreed to manufacture mifepristone (formerly known as RU-486) and the Population Council, the U.S. sponsor of the pill, could delay the pill’s introduction into the U.S. The Population Council commented, "What we want to say is that there's a dispute [with the manufacturer] and we're continuing to talk to them, and our commercial partners are very actively looking for other manufacturers." The Population Council did not know why or whether this would delay the pill's introduction to the U.S. market.

Mifepristone is a drug which offers women an alternative to surgical abortion. It has been legal and popular in the European community for years, and won conditional U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval only in the fall of 1996.


6/11/1997 - Bill to Prevent Discrimination Against Lesbians and Gay Men Introduced in Congress

A bi-partisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation which would make employment discrimination against lesbians and gay men illegal. Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT), the bill's chief Republican sponsor in the Senate, has yet to schedule a date for considering the bill in the Labor Committee, which he chairs. The House did not take up the legislation last year, and there are no assurances that it will take up the bill this year. Senator Max Cleland (D-GA), however, who replaced Sam Nunn, said he would vote for the legislation. Nunn voted against the measure in 1996 when it failed in the Senate by only one vote. The bill's sponsors have also modified it in order to reflect some concerns from last year's opponents. This bill will not allow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to collect information on employees’ sexual orientation. It also will not allow the government to require quotas for hiring lesbians and gay men. The bill also specifically excludes religious organizations.


6/11/1997 - Sex and Race Bias Exist in Federal Court, Study Finds

A task force drafted to study sex and race bias in the federal courts in New York, Connecticut and Vermont has concluded its three-year study and concluded that bias does exist in the federal court system. The task force's report found that bias occurred in many ways and during all aspects of legal proceedings. The bias included ethnic slurs, patronizing behavior and imitation of the language of people of color. The report expressed concern of "stereotyped thinking about the seriousness or the reality of sexual harassment claims." The report cited an unnamed judge who said in open court that a plaintiff's sexual harassment claim was not serious because, "her employer only stared at her breasts, rather than touching them, and 'most women like that.'" The nine-member task force was composed of six women and three people of color, six judges and three lawyers. Charles Ogeletree, professor of law at Harvard Law School, hoped that the study would "serve as a wake-up call that not only are incidents of bias widely perceived by participants, but there's enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that bias really does exist in the system."


6/11/1997 - Randy Tate Named as Christian Coalition Director

Former U.S. Congressional Representative Randy Tate (R-WA) has been chosen to replace Ralph Reed as the Director of the Christian Coalition. Tate lost re-election in 1996 after having served only one term in the House. Tate was recently tagged by Washington state's Democratic Chair as the "poster boy of the radical right." Tate was also known as one of House Speaker Newt Gingrich's closest allies in the Class of 1994. Tate will have a lot to deal with as the Christian Coalition is in the process of answering a federal suit filed in July of 1996 by the Federal Election Commission. The suit alleges that the Coalition violated its tax exempt status by spending thousands of dollars to promote Republican candidates.


6/10/1997 - Supreme Court Refuses to Hear F.A.C.E. Challenge

In a decisive victory for pro-choice supporters, the United States Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The court, without comment, refused to hear an appeal by leading abortion opponents. In 1994 when President Bill Clinton signed the law, which prohibits the use of force, threats or blockades that interfere with access to reproductive health, Randall Terry and Reverend Patrick Mahoney filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. They claimed that the law prohibited the expression of their beliefs and assembly. A federal judge and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia disagreed, finding that the law "prohibited conduct, and not speech." The appeal also claimed that Congress did not have the authority to enact the law because the anti-abortion activities were not related to interstate commerce. Again, the courts disagreed with the abortion opponents and sided with the government. The government had argued that, "The evidence before Congress demonstrated that the campaign to eliminate abortion services through violence and obstruction was succeeding and had forced many clinics to close…Interference with abortion services is a problem of national scope."


6/10/1997 - FBI Releases Sketches of Possible Atlanta Bombing Suspects

Leaders of the task force investigating the bombings of Atlanta Northside Family Planning Services clinic and the Otherside Lounge, a lesbian and gay night-club, held a press conference on June 9th to ask for the public’s help in locating possible suspects. The multi-agency task force released photographs of two men who were spotted at the abortion clinic the night before and the morning of the bombing. The agency also released parts of a letter, in which a group called The Army of God claimed responsibility for the bombings and promised that they would bomb more places. The investigators are certain that the people who wrote the letter committed the bombings because of details contained in the letter but not publicly available. They called special attention to phrases in the letter, which includes many grammatical and spelling mistakes, such as the reference to the Otherside Lounge as the "sodomite bar" and a statement that the abortion clinic bomb was "aimed at agents of the so-called Federal government, i.e. A.T.F. F.B.I. Marshall’s etc." The letter also threatened to "wage total war on the ungodly communist regime in New York and your legislative bureaucratic lackey’s in Washington."

If anyone has any information which could help the agency, or recognizes phrases in the letter or the men in the photographs, they should call 1-800-ATF-BOMB.


6/10/1997 - Ralston Withdraws From Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Consideration

Air Force General Joseph Ralston has withdrawn his name for consideration as the next Chair of the Joint Chief of Staff, the highest non-civilian military post. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s decision to consider him for the post came under heavy criticism after the Pentagon revealed that Ralston had had an extra-marital affair. Members of Congress and the military saw a double-standard applied to Ralston because of his rank and gender. Recently, First Lt. Kelly Flinn faced a possible court-martial and was forced into a general discharge, because she, who is single, had an affair with a married civilian man. Ralston had a prolonged extra-marital affair thirteen years ago while he was married and trying to reconcile with his wife. Ralston eventually divorced, and court records show that his inability to end the affair was a prime reason.

Representative Nita Lowey (NY-D), who led the Congressional outrage at the military’s double-standard, commented on Ralston’s decision, "Gen. Ralston did the right thing and now we can focus on the policy rather than just on this case, and hopefully the panels will come up with recommendations that make sense. The Pentagon has two options – either change the rules or apply them consistently."


6/10/1997 - Some U.N. Officials Hiding Behind International Law to Avoid Paying Child Support and Alimony

U.S. Congress Representative Rick Lazio (R-NY) has charged that some United Nations Officials are refusing to pay alimony and child support to families they abandon in the United States, and he charges that the officials are hiding behind international law and U.N. personnel policies to avoid the payments. Diana Boernstein of the U.N. Family Rights Committee has reported that her group has received over 40 letters from ex-wives of U.N. employees complaining that their husbands are not paying U.S. court-ordered support. The husbands either claim diplomatic immunity, which protects them from civil and criminal prosecution, or they rely on international agreements that protect their salaries from garnishments. Representative Lazio has sponsored legislation which would block $10 million in back payments to the United Nations, by the United States, until the organization addresses the problem.


6/9/1997 - FBI Releases Army of God Atlanta Bombings Letter

At a press conference held in Atlanta, Georgia, investigators of the Atlanta abortion clinic and lesbian and gay bar bombings have released an Army of God letter claiming responsibility for the bombings. The Federal Bureau of Investigation hopes that someone will recognize the writing style or wording of the letter and provide clues as to who committed the bombings. The letter was sent they day after the attack on the lesbian and gay bar in February. Members of the self-proclaimed Army of God took responsibility for the bombings in the letter and claimed that more bombings would occur. On January 16th, a family planning clinic in Atlanta was bombed, and, on February 21st, a lesbian and gay clubbed named the Otherside Lounge was bombed. At both sites, a second bomb was planted, it was designed to explode after law enforcement personnel arrived on the scene.


6/9/1997 - New Hampshire Governor Signs Lesbian and Gay Rights Law

New Hampshire's first female Governor, Jeanne Shaheen, has signed a bill which offers lesbians and gay men protection against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation. At the bill-signing ceremony, Shaheen commented, "If we are to be true to our belief that all people are created equal, we must ensure that all of our people enjoy the same basic rights under the law." May Bonauto, an attorney for the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders commented, "This locks up New England as a region which condemns discriminatory treatment on the job. It is also a step forward for the business community, which recognizes that discriminatory business practices don't pay." New Hampshire becomes the eleventh state to offer lesbians and gay men protection against discrimination. The law takes effect on January 1, 1998.


6/9/1997 - New Hampshire Governor Signs Lesbian and Gay Rights Law

New Hampshire's first female Governor, Jeanne Shaheen, has signed a bill which offers lesbians and gay men protection against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation. At the bill-signing ceremony, Shaheen commented, "If we are to be true to our belief that all people are created equal, we must ensure that all of our people enjoy the same basic rights under the law." May Bonauto, an attorney for the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders commented, "This locks up New England as a region which condemns discriminatory treatment on the job. It is also a step forward for the business community, which recognizes that discriminatory business practices don't pay." New Hampshire becomes the eleventh state to offer lesbians and gay men protection against discrimination. The law takes effect on January 1, 1998.


6/9/1997 - Female Citadel Cadet Hazed Because She Did Not Know Particulars of the KKK

A female cadet of The Citadel, who left the military college because of excessive hazing, says she was starved for weeks because she failed to answer questions about the Knights of the Golden Circle, a faction of the Ku Klux Klan. Jeannie Mentavlos claims there was an "obsession" with the Klan at the school. She told the news magazine 60 Minutes that "I could not come up with the answer. So for two weeks straight, I sat there in front of a full plate of food and I was not allowed to eat [by higher-ranked students] because I didn't know who they were. There was a certain degree of obsession with the KKK." CBS plans to air photographs and video of Nazi paraphernalia during the spring. The network claims that the KKK and the Nazi have been glorified at the Citadel for decades. Citadel interim President Clifton Poole has ordered an investigation of the school's mottos and symbols to be completed by September 1, 1997.


6/9/1997 - 2nd U.S. Army Sgt. in Germany Tried for Rape and Sexual Harassment

Sergeant Paul Fuller has become the second sergeant at the Darmstadt, Germany training center accused of rape or sexual harassment. Fuller is charged with 17 counts, including rape and attempted rape. The trial opened with prosecutor Captain Christopher Hellmich telling the court of he will prove "the devastating impact that one out-of-control noncommissioned officer can have." He also said that one of the rape victims would describe "a night of horrors that none of us can imagine."


6/5/1997 - Candidate for Chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff Had Affair

In what same are decrying as proof that a double-standard for women and men exists in the military, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen has told key lawmakers that one of his candidates to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff had an adulterous affair. Air Force General Joseph Ralston, now the vice-chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had an affair thirteen years ago, but was never charged or reprimanded for the affair. Cohen claims the affair was outside of military law; Ralston was separated at the time of the affair and later divorced. Yet, earlier this week, an Army two-star general has announced his retirement in light of the revelation that he had an affair with a civilian woman while separated from his wife. Recently, the Air Force had threatened to court-martial Lt. Kelly Flinn, who is not married, for her affair with a civilian married man. Flinn was drummed out of the military with a general discharge late last month. Cohen has not yet decided who he will pick as his candidate to serve as the chair of the Joint Chiefs; two other men are being considered in addition to Gen. Ralston.