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10/30/1997 - New "Magic Bullet" Cancer Treatment

New Scientist Magazine described a genetically engineered "magic bullet" that may effectively many common cancers. Initial tests reveal that the "magic bullets" effectively treated adenocarcinomas, which are found in cancers of the lung, ovary, breast, colon, and prostate. The bullets injecting tumors with a deadly bacterial toxin, killing the cancerous cells without harming the healthy surrounding tissue.

The "magic bullet" was developed by Jerusalem-based Medical Targeting Recognition Technologies. Clinical trials with colon cancer patients may commence by early 1999.


10/30/1997 - U.S. Census to Record Multi-Racial Ancestry

Franklin Raines, director of the U.S. government's Office of Management and Budget, announced Wednesday that the next U.S. census will not include a "multi-racial" category. Respondents will instead be allowed to check all the racial categories that make up their heritage. OMB officials believe that this change, along with the creation of new racial categories and the reclassification of others, will result in a more specific and accurate analysis of the U.S. population.

Past census questionnaires allowed respondents to list only one racial category. Growing numbers of mixed-race citizens prompted government officials to change this policy. The number of children in bi- or multi-racial families increased over 4 times from 1970 to 1990, from less than 500,000 to 2 million children.

The OMB's new policies will govern the census of 2000 and will be used in all federal statistical programs by 2003. Census statistics are used to determine district seats in Congress and legislatures and to verify enforcement of civil rights measures. The statistics are also used widely by private and public researchers to measure social and economic patterns.


10/29/1997 - ABC Again Puts Parental Advisory on Ellen

Lesbian and gay rights supporters are once again criticizing ABC after the network reversed its earlier decision to discontinue the use of parental advisory warnings on the TV show Ellen. Two weeks ago, activists protested the use of the advisory warnings, claiming ABC's application of the warnings was unfair and discriminatory. ABC backed down from its position and removed the warnings from Ellen's next episode. ABC has now stated that it will use parental advisory warnings on future episodes. Arguing that other heterosexual TV shows are far more sexually explicit, The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is protesting ABC's decision, maintaining that the advisory sets a double standard for gays and lesbians.


10/29/1997 - Women in the Military: British Women To Serve On Front Lines, American Women's Fitness Standards Raised

Britain's women soldiers will now be allowed to have certain jobs on the front lines, Defense Secretary George Robertson said. Seventy percent of jobs will now be opened to women, up from 47% previously. New job opportunities include forward radio operators, combat engineers and artillery gunners.

"If we are to properly modernize our armed forces, we must also bring our personnel policies up to date. The armed forces must represent the society they defend if they are not to become isolated from it," said Robertson.

Women comprise about 6.3% of the British Army. Robertson has also launched a study into whether or not women should be allowed to fight in combat.

In another military policy decision, the U.S. Army announced it will raise the minimum physical fitness standards for women in order to reflect the better athletic performances of women today.

Men's requirements will not change, but the increased minimums for women will bring the different requirements closer together. For example, both sexes will be required to do the same number of push-ups and sit-ups in two minutes.


10/29/1997 - Dutch Panel Supports Gay Marriage

A Parliamentary committee in the Netherlands recommended yesterday that full civil marriage and parenting rights be granted to same-sex couples.

They found that "same sex couples can only be afforded equal treatment if they are allowed to enter into civil marriage. These members do not view the new type of marriage as a break with tradition. After all, marriage has always been a flexible institution which kept pace with social change."

The recommendation could be enacted in early 1998, at the same time that same-gender partner registration will go into effect. This registration will recognize couples but does not allow parental and adoption rights.


10/29/1997 - Women's Groups Demand NIKE End Sweatshop Labor

The Feminist Majority, along with the National Organization for Women, the Ms. Foundation, and other women's groups, held a news conference deploring the use of sweatshops in Vietnam, Indonesia and China by NIKE. NIKE has spent hundreds of millions marketing to women with empowering advertising about women and girls in sports, but at the same time has used sweatshops to produce their sports products. Over a dozen women's groups and individual women, including the Coalition of Labor Union Women and author Alice Walker, signed a letter to NIKE president Philip Knight asking him to use just 10% of NIKE's advertising budget to improve working conditions for factory workers, 80% to 90% of whom are women.

"The message in NIKE's women's empowerment ads is strong," said Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal at a press conference to release the letter, "but there's a disconnect between that message and the way NIKE pays and treats it workers."

The campaign against NIKE, organized by Global Exchange, reveals that sweatshop workers are paid less than a livable wage, are forced to work 12 hours a day, six days a week as well as frequent overtime, and are subject to verbal and physical abuse, unsafe working conditions, and sexual harassment. For example Vietnamese workers are paid $1.60 per day, when three basic Vietnamese meals cost $2.10 a day. The workers often live six to a small, cramped room and receive food from their relatives in the countryside in order to survive. Many of the workers are teenagers. Workers are often prohibited from talking and are allowed only one bathroom break per eight-hour shift, and only two drinks of water. Workers who break rules or make mistakes are punished by fines and/or by corporal punishment: being made to stand or run in the sun, being made to kneel down with hands in the air. Workers lose fingers and hands in unsafe machinery, and are regularly exposed to the carcinogenic chemical benzene, which has been banned in the U.S.

"These girls can't even eat three square meals or go to school, let alone wear NIKE shoes and play sports," said Smeal. "NIKE is robbing them of their lives."

A letter to NIKE, signed by the women's groups, demands that workers to be paid at least $3.00 per day. It also calls for workers to meet regularly with independent monitors who would make sure the factory is obeying safety and overtime laws. For more information or to sign on to the letter, contact Kim Miyoshi at Global Exchange: 415-255-7296. Or see the Global Exchange Web site: http://www.globalexchange.org.


10/29/1997 - Japan May Legalize The Pill

A government panel recommended Tuesday that Japan end its decades-old ban and legalize birth control pills.

Because of a legal loophole that allows birth control pills to be prescribed for menstrual pain, an estimated 200,000 Japanese women already use them. However, they must take higher-dose pills than ones that are made in the U.S., which leads to a higher risk of side effects.

Japan may legalize birth control pills next year, but remains worried that the use of oral contraceptives would decrease the use of condoms and therefore lead to an increase in AIDS. Japan is the only industrialized country that bans birth control pills for the purpose of contraception, although they have a huge abortion industry. Studies show that most Japanese women are ignorant about oral contraceptives.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.


10/29/1997 - Federal Domestic Partnership Benefits Bill To Be Introduced

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) will introduce the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act tomorrow at a press conference. The bill would make benefits such as health insurance and retirement benefits available to the domestic partners of federal employees.

Some of the bill's co-sponsors, Nita Lowey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Furse (D-Ore.) Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Bob Filner (D-Calif.), among others, will be present, as well as representatives from supporting organizations. Supporters include federal employee labor unions, gay, lesbian and bisexual rights groups, religious and educational groups and businesses in the private sector.

The bill would allow domestic partners who are financially responsible for one another to participate in retirement programs, have access to life and health insurance, and receive compensation for work-related injuries -- things which are all currently available to spouses of federal employees.


10/29/1997 - "Gender Canyon" Faces GOP, Says Poll

Republicans recently surveyed middle-aged voters and discovered that "the gender gap is a significant electoral problem," said pollster Linda DiVall.

The polls were commissioned to help Republicans understand why women vote for Democrats more often than men. The poll found that among all voters, women support Democrats 47%-35%, while men favor Republicans by 47%-37%. Among voters between age 35 and 59, women support Democrats by a margin of 53%-33%, while men favor Republicans 51%-33%. DiVall told a group of Republicans seeking office that women think that education, health care and environmental protection are important. Women also think any budget surplus should be used to help working families, while men think it should go towards reducing the deficit, she said. The GOP needs to "understand how women react to some of our policies," said DiVall.

The gender gap has had an increasingly significant electoral impact, and will probably play a significant role in the next House elections, where the GOP only holds a slim majority and 19 incumbents are retiring.


10/29/1997 - Lesbians' Killer Gets Death Penalty

Robert Acremant, who murdered Roxanne Ellis and Michelle Abdill two years ago, has been given the death penalty.

Although Acremant's original motive was robbery of the women's property management business, when he discovered Ellis and Abdill were lesbians, he said it "made it easier" to kill them. He thought that lesbians would have no family to miss them. Ellis' daughter Lorri said "I know he doesn't have any remorse for what he did. Now it may put a little fear in him for what my mom felt the day he killed her."

Acrement has also confessed to an earlier murder of a bisexual man. He claimed that the victim, Scott George, had made advances towards him. The trial for that slaying has not been set yet. Acrement has sought the death penalty since his arrest, and told police that he had plans to kill others.


10/28/1997 - Feminist Leader Toni Carabillo Dies

Toni Carabillo, long-time feminist leader and a co-founder and Vice President of the Feminist Majority, died early this morning at the age of 71.

A pioneer of the modern day women's movement, Ms. Carabillo was a founding member of the National Organization for Women, founded and was the first-ever president of the Los Angeles Chapter of NOW, served on NOW's National Board from 1968 to 1977 and as a National NOW Vice President from 1971-1974, chaired NOW's National Advisory Committee from 1975-1977, led west coast efforts for ratification of the federal Equal Rights Amendment from 1980-1982, and co-edited with Judith Meuli the National NOW Times from 1977-1985.

Ms. Carabillo co-founded the Feminist Majority and Feminist Majority Foundation with Eleanor Smeal, Peg Yorkin, Judith Meuli and Katherine Spillar in 1987 to encourage women's empowerment. She served as the Feminist Majority's Vice President.

In addition to being considered an influential founder and leader of the feminist movement, Ms. Carabillo became known as the "historian" of the movement. Ms. Carabillo co-authored with Judith Meuli The Feminization of Power and The Feminist Chronicles, 1953-1993. At the time of her death she was completing a new book, The Feminist Chronicles of the 20th Century, which will be completed by her co-authors Judith Meuli and Eleanor Smeal.

Professionally, Ms. Carabillo was a writer and graphic designer. She earned her A.B. degree from Middlebury College, Vermont, and an M.A. from Columbia University. In 1969, she co-founded the Women's Heritage Corporation, a publishing company that produced the Women's Heritage Calendar and Almanac and a series of paperbacks on such figures as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone. In 1970, she formed a graphic arts firm with Judith Meuli in Los Angeles.

As a feminist advocate, Ms. Carabillo appeared on both national and local television and radio. She authored many Op-Ed articles, a number of which were nationally syndicated. Her biography appears in Who's Who in America and Who's Who of American Women.

Ms. Carabillo was diagnosed with Lymphoma and lung cancer in 1990. She died at home on October 28, 1997, in her sleep, in Los Angeles. Beside her throughout the illness and at her death was her life partner of 30 years, Judith Meuli.

Private services will be held on November 11, 1997 in Los Angeles. A public reception will follow at the L.A. office of the Feminist Majority. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Feminist Majority Foundation.


10/28/1997 - Women's Groups Urge Nike to Put Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

The Feminist Majority joined the National Organization for Women and other women's organizations in deploring Nike's use of overseas sweatshops which exploit women workers, paying them as little as 20 cents per hour or $1.60 a day in Vietnam - hardly enough to eat on, let alone pay rent, clothing, health care and more. Nike women's empowerment ads aimed at the US market are in sharp contrast to the treatment of women workers in these sweatshops. Eighty to ninety percent of the workers in these sweatshops of Vietnam, Indonesia, and China are women.

Women's groups have applauded the women's empowerment messages of Nike ads. However, young women in Nike subcontracted factories in Southeast Asia also have a right both to self-empowerment and a decent wage.

"The message in Nike's women's empowerment ads are strong," said Feminist Majority President, Eleanor Smeal, "but there's a disconnect between that message and the way Nike pays and treats its workers, especially its women workers. Sweatshops, which all of us thought were a thing of the past, are back again. And just like the feminists at the turn of the century fought sweatshops, it's incumbent on us to do the same."

Just 10% of Nike's annual $978 million a year advertising budget would lift Nike's subcontracted workers' wages to a livable level. "The treatment and pay of women workers in Southeast Asia must be higher on Nike's priority list," said Smeal. "Like the economy is global, the women's movement is global. Women in the United States must leverage our consumer power for these exploited women. We cannot tolerate inhumane wages or sexual harassment in the United States or abroad."

Women's groups are calling for an increase in wages for Nike subcontracted workers and for local independent monitors to ensure compliance with local labor laws and Nike's code of conduct. The Feminist Majority, a non-profit organization, works toward achieving political, social, and economic equality for all women. The Feminist Majority is in the forefront of creating innovative feminist research, education, and training programs for women's equality and empowerment both in the United States and abroad.


10/28/1997 - Backlash On Britain's 30th Anniversary of Legalized Abortion

In 1967, Britain passed the Abortion Act, making it the first country in the world to legalize abortion. Other countries quickly followed Britain's lead, but conservative religious forces still threaten abortion rights.

British anti-abortion protesters marked the 30th anniversary of the Abortion Act by forming human chains in cities and towns and carried signs that read "Abortion Kills Children." A right-wing paper published a poll on Sunday that claimed 60% of British women want their right to abortion restricted, but similar polls show that two-thirds of the public favor keeping abortion legal.

Pro-choice Britons are concerned about the growing anti-abortion movement. In 1996, groups such as the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child campaigned against the destruction of thousands of frozen embryos that had passed their expiration date. In another high-profile case, a woman who took fertility drugs and became pregnant with eight babies refused to abort any of them in order to improve the chances of the others surviving. She lost all of the fetuses as a result. In yet another case, a man took his estranged wife to court to prevent her from having an abortion. Although he lost, she was forced by the legal proceedings to delay her abortion until later in her pregnancy.

Despite claims of increasing anti-abortion sentiment in Britain made by conservative groups, the number of abortions actually rose 8.3% last year, the first increase in five years.


10/28/1997 - NY Panel Orders Removal of Sexist, Racist Judge

The Commission on Judicial Conduct in New York ordered on Friday that Judge Lorin M. Duckman be removed, citing years of misconduct.

The panel found evidence that Duckman had abused his powers, purposely misapplied the law, and made insensitive remarks for the past several years. Commission Counsel Gerald Stern stated that Duckman had told a prosecutor that he liked her in short skirts, and another that she had nice legs. In addition, he called a prosecutor "Mr. Nuisance," mocked a blind lawyer by waving some papers in his face, and said that domestic violence should not be a crime.

The impetus for Duckman's removal was his decision on a domestic violence case in which an ex-convict was released and murdered his ex-girlfriend. Benito Oliver, who committed suicide after shooting Galina Komar, had past convictions for rape, drugs and weapons charges. Transcripts of the hearing showed that Duckman focused his attention on Oliver's dog, and doubted Komar's claim that she had been beaten repeatedly at knifepoint by Oliver. "There is no actual physical injury, is there, other than some bruising? I am not suggesting bruising is nice, but there is no disfigurement. There are no broken bones," he said to Komar. Duckman lowered Oliver's bail, and he was released soon after. He then shot Komar at her workplace and later shot himself.

When Komar's mother learned of the commission's recommendation, she cheered. "I'm glad! I'm glad! He put my daughter in the grave. How many people has he put in the grave?"


10/28/1997 - One NY Man Responsible for Dozens of AIDS Infections, Police Say

Police in rural Chautauqua County, NY, have charged Nushawn Williams, 20, with having sex with young women and girls, knowing he had AIDS.

The case came to light when the partner of a female who had sex with Williams became infected with HIV. Nine cases of direct infection through Williams have already been documented, six of whom were infected after he knew he had the HIV virus.

Police speculate Williams may have traded drugs for sex. He hung out in parks and near schools looking for teenage girls. He has 28 known sex partners in the region, ranging from age 13 to 24. Because he traveled frequently, he may have infected many more in other areas. Chautauqua County has issued a warrant for his arrest, charging statutory rape. Williams is currently jailed in New York City on drug charges. District Attorney James Subjack said he will charge Williams with reckless endangerment and first-degree assault for every person he infected. "It takes an individual with no regard for human life to do something like this," he said.


10/28/1997 - Eating Disorders Surface in Asia

Anorexia and bulimia are becoming more common among affluent young women, say health authorities in Korea and Japan.

Retired epidemiologist Hiroyuki Suematsu says that one in 100 Japanese women have an eating disorder. While Korea and Japan have been hit the hardest by self-starvation, affluent women in the Philippines, India and Pakistan are also becoming victims.

"Appearance and figure has become very important in the minds of young people. Thin is in, fat is out. This is interesting, because Asians are usually thinner and smaller-framed than Caucasians, but their aim now is to become even thinner," said Dr. Ken Ung of Singapore.

Pills, teas and creams for weight loss have become a huge industry in Asian countries. Advertisements feature skinny models who say things like "My face is too fat!" and popular t-shirts read "I've got to get into that dress. It's easy. Don't eat." Fashionable clothes come only in size 4, said Park Sung Hye, a fashion editor at a young women's style magazine in Korea. "They make just one size so skinny girls will wear it and it will look good. They think, 'We don't want fatty girls wearing our clothes because it will look bad and our image will go down.' If you're a little bit fatty girl, you cannot buy clothes. All of society pushes women to be thin. America and Korea and Japan all emphasize dieting."

A study in Korea in 1995 showed that 21% of adult women were underweight. A survey the year before showed that 90% of normal-weight schoolgirls thought they were overweight. Dr. Kim Cho Il in Korea says "The 'be slim' trend starts earlier now, even in elementary school. They shun overweight boys and girls -- especially girls -- as their friends." She predicts an increase in osteoporosis when this generation of females reach menopause. She added that, besides bone loss, dieting "will also result in weaker physiques and lessened resistance against disease."


10/28/1997 - Cop Charges Fellow Officers With Harassment

New York police officer Michael Ortiz is suing the city's police department for harassment. Ortiz alleges that he was threatened with revenge, called names and given less desirable assignments after reporting that a superior, Sgt. Daniel Engel, had harassed two lesbian women last March.

According to Ortiz, the two women were stopped at a DWI checkpoint last March. When the women asked for directions to a gay bar, Engel asked them about their sexual habits and whether or not they were lesbians. When they said yes, he ordered them to kiss each other. The women protested, but eventually complied after Engel said he would not allow them to leave until they did. Engel said "That was excellent," after the women kissed.

Ortiz recorded the incident on a tape recorder that he carried with him. Ortiz said he had carried a tape recorder ever since Engel once tried to coerce him into giving a traffic ticket to an innocent driver.

When Ortiz revealed the tape that proved the harassment, he was punished for violating the "Blue Wall" of silence that requires officers to stay quiet about fellow officers' misdeeds. Ortiz claims that the resulting harassment from other police officers caused him severe stress. His lawyer, Colleen Mennan, said that the other officers at the scene were never questioned. "At the very least, it rises to the level of misconduct," she said.


10/28/1997 - Women's Groups Urge Nike to Put Its Money Where Its Mouth Is: Low Wages for Women Workers in Southeast Asian Sweatshops Deplored

Washington DC -- The Feminist Majority joined the National Organization for Women and other women's organizations in deploring Nike's use of overseas sweatshops which exploit women workers, paying them as little as 20 cents per hour or $1.60 a day in Vietnam - hardly enough to eat on, let alone pay rent, clothing, health care and more. Nike women's empowerment ads aimed at the US market are in sharp contrast to the treatment of women workers in these sweatshops. Eighty to ninety percent of the workers in these sweatshops of Vietnam, Indonesia, and China are women.
Women's groups have applauded the women's empowerment messages of Nike ads. However, young women in Nike subcontracted factories in Southeast Asia also have a right both to self-empowerment and a decent wage.

"The message in Nike's women's empowerment ads are strong," said Feminist Majority President, Eleanor Smeal, "but there's a disconnect between that message and the way Nike pays and treats its workers, especially its women workers. Sweatshops, which all of us thought were a thing of the past, are back again. And just like the feminists at the turn of the century fought sweatshops, it's incumbent on us to do the same."

Just 10% of Nike's annual $978 million a year advertising budget would lift Nike's subcontracted workers' wages to a livable level. "The treatment and pay of women workers in Southeast Asia must be higher on Nike's priority list," said Smeal. "Like the economy is global, the women's movement is global. Women in the United States must leverage our consumer power for these exploited women. We cannot tolerate inhumane wages or sexual harassment in the United States or abroad."

Women's groups are calling for an increase in wages for Nike subcontracted workers and for local independent monitors to ensure compliance with local labor laws and Nike's code of conduct.

The Feminist Majority, a non-profit organization, works toward achieving political, social, and economic equality for all women. The Feminist Majority is in the forefront of creating innovative feminist research, education, and training programs for women's equality and empowerment both in the United States and abroad.


10/27/1997 - Link Found Between Fertility Treatment, Breast Cancer

Coming a month after the death of British journalist Ruth Picardie, who died of breast cancer two years after giving birth to twins conceived by in vitro fertilization, a study has been released that shows a link between fertility treatments and breast cancer.

The report studied 38 women who had received in vitro fertilization (IVF) and developed breast cancer within an average of three years after the treatment. Another unpublished Israeli study supports the British study's conclusions that IVF could trigger the growth of cancer cells, but says that the risk is still minimal.

Researchers suggest that the gonadotrophin hormone given to women to stimulate egg production could also cause existing cancer cells to proliferate. "It is possible that if the cancer already exists, IVF treatment may accelerate its development. I think doctors should examine women before giving them treatment," said head researcher Olivier Jourdain.

The study provoked a nationwide call for cancer screening for women who want IVF treatment, especially women with a family history of breast cancer. Mary Croughan Minihane, a researcher at the University of California who is studying cancer among women treated for infertility between 1965 and now, said "If I was a patient with a history of breast cancer or with a family history of it, I wouldn't take the risk of having infertility treatment; I would go for adoption instead."

Many researchers say that the risk is insignificant, and stress that more long-term studies need to be done. Dr. Nancy Phillips of St. Louis University Hospital said that because women who have their first pregnancies at a later age have slightly increased breast cancer risks anyway, studies of this type "need to use as statistical controls women with a similar infertility history who have not undergone the drug therapy. Cautious concern, not panic, is called for at this time."


10/27/1997 - Special Domestic Violence Court Doubles Convictions

The first court in Connecticut designed to deal specifically with domestic violence cases has resulted in the doubling of domestic violence convictions.

In the past, because domestic violence cases were part of the criminal docket, they were often dropped and pushed aside by robberies and other assaults.

The court's goals are to stop violence, protect victims and demand accountability from abusers, said Judge Lawrence Hauser, one of the founders of the special court. As a result of the specialized court, domestic violence convictions have quadrupled in the region and have more than twice the rate of convictions compared to the state overall.

The court follows cases from beginning to end, with periodic check-ins with Judge Hauser, who evaluates defendants' progress in court-ordered programs. Once a week, the prosecutor, the victim's advocate, probation and family relations officers and bail commissioner meet and discuss the cases. Even if the victim decides not to prosecute, the state uses her testimony anyway. Immediate intervention and criminal protective orders are important, said Hauser. Defendants also must attend mandatory domestic violence programs, which can result in a jail term if not completed successfully.


10/27/1997 - Million Woman March Empowers Black Women

Countless women went home from the Million Woman March in Philadelphia on Saturday with a renewed feeling of sisterhood and a newfound purpose.

"It was a great moment for all women across America. It was a chance to express themselves, and to feel their power," said Sister Gloriastine Muhammed of Macon, Ga. Adriene Breckenridge of Baltimore said "The march is instilling a lot of hope in a lot of women who were losing hope in society."

The crowd at Benjamin Franklin Parkway was estimated at between 300,000 and 1.5 million by police officers, and over 2 million by organizers. The speakers, including Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, emphasized emotional strength, the value of motherhood and solidarity.

Marchers hope that the spirit of the march will be carried back to black communities. Yvonne Tillery of Chester, Pa. said "It had to start somewhere. Now it's time to put some heads together and do positive things."


10/27/1997 - U.S. Oil Company Has Largest Stake in Afghan Pipeline

U.S. oil company Unocal reportedly has the largest stake -- 36.5% -- in a consortium of multinational companies just formed to build a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan.

The consortium also includes Saudi Arabia's Delta, Russia's Gazprom, Japan's Itochu Corp and Inpex, Pakistan's Crescent Group, and South Korea's Hyundai. The consortium says it wants to start building the pipeline next year and have it completed by the year 2000. The major roadblock is the continued fighting in northern Afghanistan, through which the pipeline will run. The extremist group the Taliban, which has banned women from working and girls from going to school, is battling for control of northern Afghanistan. In the Taliban-occupied territories, women cannot leave their homes unless they are covered from head to toe and escorted by a close male relative. The Taliban recently restricted women's medical care by prohibiting women from being treated in the same hospitals as men, or by male doctors. Women must now go to a hospital building with no running water, no operating room, and staffed by only a few women who have been permitted to work.

Robert Todor, head of Unocal's transport projects in the ex-Soviet states, has said the pipeline construction will not start until Afghanistan has an internationally-recognized government. The Taliban, which controls 2/3 of the country, is attempting to gain international recognition and a United Nations seat. The Feminist Majority and other women's groups are asking the United States government and the United Nations not to recognize the Taliban as long as it continues its gender apartheid.

So far the Taliban has appeared immune to international pressure regarding its treatment of women, and none of the factions fighting in Afghanistan have shown interest in a diplomatic settlement despite the efforts of the head of the U.N. special mission in Afghanistan, Norbert Holl of Germany.


10/27/1997 - Women May Be Allowed to Climb Omine

After almost 700 years of forbidding women from climbing the sacred mountain Omine in western Japan, the Japanese temple Ominesanji is considering permitting women climbers.

The temple sits on top of the 5,640-foot Omine Mountain, one of only two Japanese shrines that forbid women. Ominesanji is a temple for male followers of the Shugendo sect, a mix of Shintoism, Buddhism and Taoism. Women can neither enter the temple nor climb more than halfway up the mountain, where their trails stop. All other trails read "No Women Allowed."

Until the 19th century, Japan banned women from sacred mountains, saying females were unclean and an insult to mountain goddesses. The ban on Omine is not legal, but is observed by tradition. In response to many requests and the increasing awareness of women's rights in Japan, Ominesanji is considering celebrating its 700th birthday in 2000 by lifting the ban.


10/24/1997 - Houston Citizens to Vote on Affirmative Action Ban

On Nov. 4, Houston voters will decide whether or not to abolish the city's affirmative action plan. California citizens voted to ban state affirmation action programs last year.

An Oct. 2 poll said that only 29% of voters want to ban the program. The 13-year-old program states that 20% of city contracts must go to women and people of color. Last year, only 21% of city contracts went to women- or minority-owned businesses, despite the fact that African-Americans and Hispanics make up 39% of Houston's population. Lenoria Walker, who runs the program, said "Everybody's eyes are on Houston. If Houston is overtaken, then that will be a trend for the rest of the state to do the same thing."


10/24/1997 - Congress Considers Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Congressional hearings began yesterday for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would outlaw work place discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill was narrowly defeated in the Senate last year by a vote of 50-49.

Gays and lesbians who were fired because of their orientation described the hostile work environments and blatant discrimination they faced. An assembly-line worker was called "fag" and "queer" at work for over a decade. A woman who played soccer for the Gay Games on her vacation was fired upon her return. A restaurant worker who had been recommended for a management position at a new restaurant was abruptly fired when a co-worker reveal the man's sexual orientation to their boss. When he sought legal recourse, he was told that there were no laws protecting gays and lesbians from job discrimination in his state.

Executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, Elizabeth Birch, said "Today, it is perfectly legal under federal law to fire a person simply because he or she is gay, lesbian, or bisexual." ENDA seeks to prevent gays and lesbians from unfair job treatment simply because of their orientation.