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2/27/1997 - More African-American Women Enter College Than African-American Men

A progress report on the status of African-Americans in higher education has shown that fifty percent more African-American women than men enroll in college. Since the mid-1970's, the number of African-American women entering college has increased by 55 percent; the rate of African-American men enrolled has increased by only 20 percent. In the areas of law and medicine, the number of African-American women entering graduate schools has increased by 219 percent, but only 5 percent for African-American men. While gender gaps in enrollment also occur among the overall population, they are not nearly as large. Overall, enrollment of African-Americans has increased, but African-Americans are still underrepresented in colleges and universities in proportion to their overall population.

2/27/1997 - Senate Votes for Unrestricted Release of International Family Planning Funds

The Senate has voted 53-46 in favor a joint-resolution granting President Clinton’s request to release $385 million for international family planning on March 1 instead of July 1. Eleven Republicans joined 42 Democrats in supporting the measure on February 25. In January, Clinton requested the early release and certified that the delay in the release of funds was harming family planning programs. The February 25 Senate vote came almost two weeks after the House voted 220-209 in favor of the measure. Senate Democrats blocked immediate consideration of restrictions that would have linked the release of funds to restrictions against U.S. funds going to organizations that perform abortions. The House had voted in support of the restrictive language, a policy imposed by President Reagan and lifted by President Clinton. The issue of restricting the funding may yet surface again, however, as Sen. Tim Hutchinson has introduced a similar bill on which Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said he will seek a vote later this year. Such a debate is likely to lead to a Democratic filibuster. Though the close vote demonstrated that the 105th Congress has a strong anti-choice element, abortion rights advocates praised the decision to release funds March 1.

2/26/1997 - Report Says Lesbians and Gay Men Are Targeted for Abuse

According to “Breaking the Silence,” a report by Amnesty International, lesbians and gay men are killed, tortured and imprisioned on the basis of their sexual orientation and face prosecution in up to 60 countries. The report cited death squads that kill gay men and transvestites in the name of social cleansing in Columbia and the use of the death penalty and public stoning as punishment for homosexuality in Iran. Homosexuality remains illegal in Nigeria, Romania, and India. Amnesty International called for the decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide, and it praised South Africa for including sexual orientation in its constitution’s anti-discrimination provision, the first country to take such a step. The groups also lauded policies in 10 U.S. states that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

2/26/1997 - Owner of Bombed Atlanta Nightclub is Sister of Abortion Doctor

The owner of the lesbian and gay Atlanta nightclub that was bombed February 21 is the sister of the late Dr. James McMahon, an abortion doctor who had been targeted for anti-abortion protests and hate mail. The FBI is investigating the link between Dr. McMahon and his sister Beverly McMahon who owns The Otherside Lounge where a nail-laden bomb injured five people Friday night. A second, larger bomb was found and detonated by officials using a robot. In 1983, Dr. McMahon helped develop the intact dilation and extraction procedure known as the D&X late term abortion. McMahon called the method a safer alternative for women in the later stages of a problem pregnancy and said it would improve their chances of bearing children again. The Army of God, known for its manuals on terrorizing abortion clinics, has written a letter claiming responsibility for the club bombing as well as the double-bombing of an Atlanta abortion clinic in January which the FBI is also investigating. Dr. McMahon died of a brain tumor in 1995.

2/26/1997 - Sen. Lautenberg and Feminists Criticize Efforts to Gut Domestic Violence Gun Ban

Feminst Majority President Eleanor Smeal joined Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) and other domestic violence advocates in condemning proposed legislation that would gut the 1996 Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, which currently prohibits individuals convicted on misdemeanor domestic violence offenses from owning or using firearms.

"Putting guns back in the hands of wife beaters and child abusers is outrageous. The Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban is a significant step forward in the drive to end domestic violence. We strongly oppose any attempt to weaken this pathbreaking law. Allowing those who already have been convicted of domestic violence to possess guns places the lives of women and children in needless jeopardy," Smeal stated.

S. 262 and H.R. 26 eliminate retroactive application of the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban. H.R. 350 exempts police officers and the military from the law’s coverage, allowing personnel convicted of domestic violence to have guns.

Smeal continued, "Batterers fall into a category of criminals that are likely to reoffend. Guns are often the weapon of choice for those who commit acts of domestic violence. And studies have found higher rates of domestic violence within police families -- 40% of police families experience physical marital violence compared to 16% of the general population. Knowing this, how can we accept any change in the law that would allow abusers to have guns?" Smeal pointed out that one half all 911 calls are related to domestic violence. “Victims of domestic violence should expect a sympathetic officer responding to 911 calls, not one who has committed domestic violence himself,” she said.

The Feminist Majority played a leading role in passage of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Its sister organization, The Feminist Majority Foundation, sponsors the National Center for Women in Policing, an organization of women police officers committed to improving police response to domestic violence and increasing the representation of women in law enforcement.

2/25/1997 - Extremist "Army of God" Group Takes Credit for Atlanta Bombings, Promises to Attack Again

An anti-abortion extremist group calling itself the "Army of God" has claimed responsibility for the bombs which exploded at an Atlanta abortion clinic and lesbian nightbar. The Army of God first gained visibility in 1982 with the kidnapping of Dr. Hector Zevallos, an abortion provider, and his wife in Granite City, Illinois. Members of the Army of God claimed responsibility for and were later convicted of the kidnapping. In 1994, an Army of God manual, which outlines how to bomb clinics and commit other acts of terrorism, was found in the backyard of Shelley Shannon, who was later convicted of shooting Dr. George Tiller and 30 counts of arson and bombings.

A unit of the group claimed responsibility in a letter it sent to an Atlanta news agency. The letter contains knowledge of what materials where used to create the bombs and promises to bomb again. The letter also calls for a "total war" against the U.S. government. Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, commented on the letter, "For some time, we have believed that a group of people have been acting in concert to terrorize abortion clinics. We have been saying that these extremists are not single issue and that they believe in justifiable homicide against lesbians and gay men and adulterers as well as abortion providers."

2/25/1997 - Archeological Excavation Discovers Remnants of Female Warrior Class

American and Russian archeologists have found skeletons of women buried with swords and daggers in Pakrovka. According to historic accounts, Greek soldiers on a campaign in the Black Sea region found themselves in combat against female warriors. Archeologists excavating graves in the Eurasian steppes have now found conclusive evidence that female warriors indeed existed. Among the skeletons recently found, one bow-legged woman, who obviously rode horses, had an iron dagger at her right, a quiver holding more than 40 arrows tipped with bronze at her left, and wore a leather pouch containing a bronze arrowhead around her neck. Dr. Jeannine Davis-Kimball who led the excavations commented, "[the nomad women seemed] to have controlled much of the wealth, performed rituals for their families and clan, rode horseback and possibly hunted saiga, a steppe antelope, and other small game." She also wrote that in times of crisis, "the women took to their saddles, bows and arrows ready, to defend their animals, pastures and clan."

These women lived 1,000 miles east of where the Amazons supposedly encountered by the Greeks, and Dr. Davis-Kimball suggests the groups may have been counterparts. The new discoveries have led anthropologists to reconsider the status and role of women in the Eurasian nomad societies. Three categories of women seem to have existed: warrior women, priestesses, and women who primarily tended to their families. Dr. Nicola DiCosma a historian at Harvard University said that the findings show, "women in early nomadic societies could have had a higher profile in their cultures than women in sedentary societies at the same time."

2/25/1997 - Domestic Violence Biggest Health Threat to Chicago Women

The Chicago Department of Public Health study shows that domestic violence is Chicago women's top health problem. According to the report, domestic violence affects significantly more women than breast cancer, sexually transmitted diseases or tuberculosis. The researchers used Chicago Police Department data and found that detectives investigated 36,628 counts of domestic abuse in 1995. The second most common problem, gonorrhea, affected 7,374.

2/25/1997 - FDA Ok's Morning After Pill Procedure

In response to a call from women's rights groups, the FDA has published the proper morning dosages for six brands of pills currently on the market. The FDA's action is essentially of preapproval, pending the filing of the correct paperwork, for contraception manufacturers to advertise morning-after contraception. Commissioner of the FDA, David Kessler commented on the report, "The best-kept contraceptive secret is no longer a secret. Women should have the information that this regimen is available." For years, European women have had contraception pills available in packages that contain the right does to take after unprotected sex in order to prevent pregnancy. U.S. manufacturers citing legal hurdles, however, have refused to sell the pills for "morning after" use and doctors have had trouble knowing what doses to prescribe for safe and effective use. Many women don't even know that they can take regular birth control pills in concentrated amounts to avert an unwanted pregnancy.

2/24/1997 - Police Pioneer Adelina Raducha Dies at Age 50

One of Chicago Police Department's first women patrol officers, Adelina Raducha, died February 21st at age 50. In 1980, she became the first Hispanic woman promoted to serve on the force as a detective after having worked undercover in the prostitution and narcotics divisions. Raducha retired from the force to become the superintendent of the 25th Ward. Sgt. Gillian McLaughlin, who began working with Raducha as one of the first fourteen women on the force in 1974, said of her, "She was a very dynamic individual, a fighter and a self-starter. She has been a role model for all us and an example of what a human being should be and strive for."

2/24/1997 - Atlanta Lesbian and Gay Club Bombed

Federal investigators are looking into the possibility of a serial bomber in Atlanta after a February 21st explosion at a lesbian and gay night club injured at least five people. Police detonated a second bomb, found in the parking lot, using a remote-controlled robot. The use of the second bomb, placed to injure police and medical personnel who arrived on the scene, resembles the placing of bombs at an Atlanta abortion clinic earlier this year. The bombs used at the clinics and at the July 27, 1996 Centennial Olympic Park, all used nails as shrapnel, as did this most recent attack. Further, in the Olympic and club bombings, a backpack was used to deliver the bomb. In response to these similarities, FBI agent Woody Johnson commented, "We will be searching out the possibility that we have a serial bomber." Atlanta gay rights activist Lynn Cothren responded to the bombing by commenting, "Maybe this was something to scare us in our place. We will not let this bomb or any kind of hate send us back into the closet."

2/24/1997 - Women's Basketball League All the Rage

It started after Anne Cribbs and Gary Cavalli walked into a mall and spotted Molly Goodenbour selling socks for minimum wage. Goodenbour, who had led her Stanford University's basketball team to winning two NCAA championships in the early 1990s, inspired Cribbs and Cavalli to raise $4 million to start the American Basketball League. The year-old pro-women's professional league has already attracted a fifteen percent larger audience than originally expected. Goodenbour commented, "For me, the important thing is just to be able to play. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I can't believe I get paid to play basketball."

Fans are excited that the league has players working on the fundamentals of basketball, and not just the slam dunks and fast breaks often displayed by the male's NBA, "The game is what I can relate to," says Bob Crist, an NCAA football official, "It's playing below the rim, seeing the floor, finding the open player. This is the game I know. There's no thugs, no attitude. I don't even have daughters. I have two sons and they love this." Though women's leagues in the past have not always been successful, Robert Madrigal, professor of sports marketing at the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business, believes this time corporate sponsorships will back the league. He commented, "Most purchases are made by women, and that's not going to be lost on Madison Avenue. And the women make very compelling role models." A Women's NBA will debut next year and already has a television deal with NBC and large amounts of corporate endorsements.

2/24/1997 - Saudi Arabia Funds Taliban in Afghanistan

The fundamentalist regime in Saudi Arabia continues to monetarily support the Islamic Fundamentalist regime Taliban in its quest to occupy more land. Taliban has banned women from working, punished them for not covering themselves from head to foot and has prohibited girls from attending school. With strong financial support, the Taliban is looking to capture Northern Afghanistan, and many fear that it will attempt to spread its brand of extremism to neighboring Muslim states.

2/24/1997 - Kentucky Study Urges Supervision After Release of Sex Offenders

A new study of Kentucky's sex-offender treatment program recommends that released offenders receive at least two years of state supervision after they leave prison. Katherine Peterson, the program's administrator, commented that most sexual offenders who commit another offense do so within two years of being released from prison. Kentucky House Judiciary Chairman Mike Bowling commented, "I support these tougher requirements because government's number one mission is public protection."

2/24/1997 - Kentucky Study Urges Supervision After Release of Sex Offenders

A new study of Kentucky's sex-offender treatment program recommends that released offenders receive at least two years of state supervision after they leave prison. Katherine Peterson, the program's administrator, commented that most sexual offenders who commit another offense do so within two years of being released from prison. Kentucky House Judiciary Chairman Mike Bowling commented, "I support these tougher requirements because government's number one mission is public protection."

2/21/1997 - Clinton Urges Hearings For Herman

President Clinton told reporters yesterday that the Senate should schedule hearings for his nominee to serve as Secretary of Labor, Alexis Herman. Clinton commented, "There has still not been a hearing. I think that’s a big mistake. She has wide support among labor -- labor unions endorsed her yesterday – and she has wide support among business." He went on to say, "She is clearly well qualified…and if she gets a hearing, she will be confirmed." Herman, Clinton’s only African-American female nominee, is also the only nominee who does not yet have a scheduled hearing.

2/21/1997 - Portugal Narrowly Rejects Abortion Rights Bill

After a long, heated national debate, Portuguese lawmakers yesterday narrowly defeated a bill which would have allowed unrestricted abortions during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. The bill lost by a 112 - 111 vote with three abstentions. The lawmakers did however, vote to extend the period for abortion in cases of rape or incest. Odete Santos, one of the many sponsors of the bill, commented after the vote, "Portuguese women were the big losers. Deputies will not have a lot of responsibility and a lot weighing on their conscience. Their vote means that women will have to continue risking their lives with illegal abortions." Approximately 16,000 illegal abortions are performed each year in the predominately Roman Catholic country.

2/21/1997 - Army Investigates Overseas Sexual Misconducts; Citadel Hazing Hearings Begin

Following allegations of widespread sexual harassment on a German Army base, the Army is examining how widespread sex crimes are at bases in Western Europe and Bosnia. The allegations at the training center in Darmstadt, Germany included rape, sodomy and cruelty. The Army has relieved the commander of the training base of his duties because of the allegations that three of his instructors sexually assaulted or harassed female trainees. At least some of the alleged incidents occurred after the Aberdeen sex scandal case broke.

In South Carolina, disciplinary hearings for 10 men who allegedly harassed, hazed and assaulted two female cadets at the Citadel have been scheduled for Saturday, February 22. Resembling individual courts-martial, the administrative hearings will be secrective, held before a three-person board. One of the original 12 male cadets originally implicated in the harassment of Jeanie Mentavlos and Kim Messer resigned while another did not return for spring semester. Both Mentavlos and Messer have left the military college.

2/21/1997 - First Woman Appointed to Head State National Gaurd

In Vermont, Lt. Col. Martha Rainville has become the first appointed woman to head a state national guard. Vermont lawmakers appointed her by a 104 to 73 margin over Maj. Gen. Donal Edwards in secret balloting. Vermont is the only state which appoints its adjunct general, the head of the state’s national gaurd..

2/20/1997 - Supreme Court Upholds Fixed Buffer Zones to Protect Abortion Clinics

On Wednesday, February 19th, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Schenk v. Pro-choice Network of Western New York which upholds fixed buffer zones at abortion clinics. The Court upheld two of the three forms of injunctive relief by allowing not only the fixed buffer zones but also by recognizing the right of clinic personnel and patients to wave off anti-abortion "side-walk counselors" within these zones. The Court upheld a 15-foot fixed buffer zone in this case, but also upheld the 1994 Madsen decision of a 36 feet zone and thus makes the zone size dependent on the record of anti-abortion violence and the geographic location of the clinic. The Court did strike down a floating buffer zone in this case, but it left open the possibility of a floating buffer zone in other cases. Chief Justice Rehnquist did not rule out the possibility of floating buffer zones if the record of anti-abortion extremist behavior at a particular clinic warranted this remedy.

Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation commented that, the "Schenck decision upholding fixed buffer zones is a victory for abortion clinics, but the decision to strike down a floating buffer zone in this case could not have come at a worse time."

2/20/1997 - Supreme Court Sets Aside Set-Aside Law

The Supreme Court ruled in Philadelphia v Contractors Assn. Of Eastern Pennsylvania that a set-aside program run by the city of Philadelphia is not constitutional. The program set aside one-fourth of public contracts for women and people of color. A judge's ruling barring the city from enforcing the program until the outcome of the legal case has already left many firms struggling to compete. Carole Robinson, an African American businesswoman in Philadelphia, commented, "It’s had a tremendous impact. Some of these businesses have already gone under. And, unfortunately, it’s going on all across the county." The culmination of the eight-year legal battle, along with rulings rejecting similar program in Columbus, Ohio and Miami, indicates that the Court is dismantling set-aside programs for women and people of color.

2/20/1997 - May Sweeps May Sweep Ellen Out of the Closet

TV Guide reports that writers of the hit t.v. sitcom Ellen have written a special one-hour show during which Ellen reveals that she is a lesbian. The script calls for Ellen to reveal to her psychiatrist, who may be played by Oprah Winfrey, that she is attracted to another woman. ABC and Walt Disney Television must both approve the script before it can air. If approved, the show will air during the May sweeps

2/20/1997 - Labor Leaders Seek Protection Under Welfare Law, Also Back Herman Nomination

Labor leaders, gathered for the annual mid-winter meeting of the AFL-CIO, are demanding that the millions of welfare recipients headed into the workforce receive at least minimum wage. They also demand labor law protections cover the so-called "workfare" recipients. Officials fear that if labor laws do not protect these new workers, state and local governments will use them to replace existing job-holders more cheaply. In a resolution, the AFL-CIO wrote, "Real welfare reform must not take job opportunities away from people who already have them." The Labor Department is currently in the process of determining whether federal labor laws cover welfare recipients who are working in public jobs in exchange for continued benefits.

At the conference, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney also expressed outrage at the continued delay of the Alexis Herman confirmation hearings for Secretary of Labor. He announced that the federation’s executive council had approved a resolution in support of Herman. The executive council resolution said, "The AFL-CIO calls for immediate hearings on the nomination of this African American Woman. It is time for Alexis Herman to be able to stand in an open forum and have her nomination considered by the United States Senate.

2/20/1997 - Falls Church, VA Abortion Clinic Firebombed, Anti-Abortion Extremist Arrested

On February 18th, anti-abortion extremist James Anthony Mitchell, 38, broke into and firebombed a Falls Church, Virginia abortion clinic. Falls Church Vice Mayor David Snyder said that the extremist was clearly, "protesting abortion." Unfortunately for Mitchell, he didn’t leave the clinic before he firebombed it and got trapped inside by the flames. The fire caused major damage to the first floor of the clinic and smoke damage to the second floor.