n e w s bites

 
AIDS Memorial Quilt Back to DC in 1996

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has made the first major
contribution of $20,000 to help bring the entire NAMES Project AIDS
Memorial Quilt to Washington, D.C. October 11-13, 1996. This marks the
first time in four years that the Quilt will be shown in its
entirety. The display will be approximately twice as large as the last
showing of the entire Quilt, and over 23 times larger than the first
display in 1987. The Quilt will weigh 60 tons and occupy an area the
size of 27 football fields.
	During Columbus Day weekend next year, the litany of the names
of the dead will echo unbroken for three days as 2,000 readers. The
AIDS Memorial Quilt is seen by more than one million people annually
at nearly 2,000 displays. Money raised at Quilt displays is granted to
organizations that provide direct service to people everywhere who are
living with HIV and AIDS. To date, some five million people have
visited the AIDS Memorial Quilt. (Source: lbg-local-talk)


Protest '96

The Atlanta Olympics Protest Committee is calling for progressive
alternative music acts, political hip-hoppers, radical poets and music
performers of all types from around the world to come to Atlanta,
Georgia, USA during the 1996 Olympics to take part in a music
concert/political protest against the Olympics. The theme of the
concert is "Rock Against Racism/Rap Against the State"-although
reggae, folk and all other forms of music are welcome. This concert is
to be political forum to expose the commercial nature of the Olympics,
the warlike nation-state basis of the “competition,” the police
state activities of Atlanta and the United States government to
prepare for the Olympics, the farce of the 1996 American elections,
and the deteriorating economic/poltical condition of the U.S.A. and
the world in general, which the Olympics is designed to cover up.
	The concert is a benefit for the Foundation for Radical Social
Change, a nonprofit funding organzation which will disperse the
proceeds to pre-designated organizations fighting racism, for human
rights, for prisoner support and other issues. (Prison Activist
Resource Center)



Tibetan Women Stage Silent Protest

Nine Tibetan women exiles, mouths gagged with colourful scarves,
staged a bold silent protest last Friday at the Non-Governmental
Organizations Forum on Women in Beijing on Friday, while dozens of
women surrounded them in the pouring rain, shouting, chanting, singing
and holding candles. The nine members of the Tibetan Women's
Delegation have been watched closely by security police during their
entire time at the conference. Most Tibetan activists who applied for
Chinese visas were refused entry to the country. After standing silent
for about 15 minutes, the women ended their unprecedented protest by
Tibetan exiles on Chinese soil by marching into a conference tent. The
protest coincided with the 30th anniversary of 30 years of formal
Chinese rule in the rebellious Himalayan region. About 1.2 million
Tibetans have because of Chinese occupation of their land. (Reuter)



Students Rally at Berkeley  

As students at University of California at Berkeley began the fall
semester, opponents of UC's rollback of affirmative action began
agitating. A broad coalition turned out for a 700 person rally kicked
off a campaign to build pressure on the UC board of regents who made
the anti-affirmative action decision. Many Organizers hope that
through protests and demonstrations of civil disobedience, they will
convince the regents to reverse their decision to end the use of
racial or gender preferences in admission, hiring, or contracting.
	Several union representatives claim that the regents' vote has changed the atmosphere for UC workers, even though the university says it has put its new hiring rules on hold, fearing the loss of billions of dollars in federal funds. The change in practice creates a climate that is unsafe for those who dare cry 
	"We need stronger-not weaker—affirmative action employment
programs here at the University of California,'’ said Libby Sayre,
local president of the University and Technical Employees Union, which
represents 4,000 workers who are trying to negotiate their first
contract with UC.
	A mass demonstration is also planned for September 14 in San
Francisco, when the regents meet at UCSF's Laurel Heights campus. A UC
spokesman said yesterday that until further notice, all regents
meetings will be held at the campus, where it is easier and cheaper to
maintain security. (San Francisco Chronicle)



Polynesian Canoe Heads Home After Mururoa Visit

After travelling thousands of nautical miles to waters off France's
main South Pacific nuclear test site, the crew of the Cook Islands
twin-hulled canoe Te-Au-O-Tonga spent only seven hours in the area
last Wednesday before sailing home, having only enough time for a war
dance in support of the protest. The canoe’s farewell radio
message, audible to the four French warships circling the flotilla of
nine protest ships near the test site, accused France of polluting the
South Pacific, recalling times when the ocean was pristine.
	France plans to hold seven or eight underground nuclear tests
between September 1 and May 1996 at two sites in the South
Pacific. (Reuter)



Student Health Program Covers Your Partner

Now MIT students and affiliates can enroll same-gender
spousal-equivalents and dependents of spousal-equivalents under the
MIT Student Health Program and the MIT Affiliate Health Program. The
benefits will be the same as those currently provided under family
contracts for the spouses and dependents of MIT students and
affiliates. The new eligibility rules apply to both parts of the MIT
Student and Affiliate Health Programs: both the Spouse/Child Health
Service fee which covers most services at MIT Medical, and the MIT
Student/Affiliate Blue Cross Blue Shield Hospital Insurance. The
enrollment deadline for the fall semester is September 30.

For more information on eligibility criteria, cost, and enrollment
contact the MIT Student and Affiliate Health Program office, E23-308,
telephone 617-253-4371.
 (MIT Medical)





Danish Police Charge TV Crew After Mass Jailbreak

Police in Denmark charged a television crew with complicity on August
26 for filming the biggest jailbreak in Danish history when a
bulldozer smashed a 13 meter wide hole in a prison wall. The prisoners
were having a party in the prison yard when the literal jailbreak
occurred. With only two prison guards on hand, twelve of the coutry's
most dangerous inmates were able to storm out. Many of the prisoners
opted to stay and finish their steaks rather than join the escape.
	The crew had received an anonymous tip that some sort of
"happening" would occur at the prison. Putting their cameras in place,
they filmed the entire scene.
	Police believe that Lars Hitchinson, a convicted narcotics
trafficker, devised the escape. Hitchinson has a history of
imaginative jailbreak, including scaling a prison wall with a homemade
ladder one year ago. He is also the wealthiest inmate in the prison.




Prison Population Triples Since 1980

At the end of 1994, 5 million people in this nation were under the
control of the criminal justice system, as 1.5 million inmates of
federal, state and local prisons and jails and 3.5 million on
probation or parole. This number continues to increase and will soon
surpass the number of full-time undergraduates enrolled in colleges or
universities, which stands at 6 million. By the year 2000,
approximately 7.3 million people will be under corrections
control. Prison population increased at an average rate of 1600 per
week in 1994.
	The Contract on America provides billions of dollars for more
prisons and mandates that 85% of the length of prison terms be
served. Federal and state incarceration rates increased 9% from 1993,
with 958,704 in state prisons at 1994 years end and 95,034 in federal
prisons.  Another 483,717 were locked up in city and county jails by
the end of last year. Drug related incarcerations in state prisons
rose from 8% to 26% from 1980 to 1994, and in federal prisons from 25%
to 60%.
	From 1990 to 1993, the percentage of inmates in federal and
state prisons who were Black rose from 46.5% to 50.8%, and the
percentage for Latinos nearly doubled from 7.7% to 14.3%. Among new
inmates, 75% are either Black or Latino. If this trend continutes, by
2010 the majority of Black men between 18 and 40 will be behind
bars. (Prison Activist Resource Center)



Medical Journal Threatened by Anti-Abortion Group

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) tightened security last
Thursday after Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group, sent a nasty
fax to their Boston office, objecting to a published study on a
procedure that could enable women to have abortions without
surgery. The study, written by Dr. Richard Hausknecht of the Mount
Sinai School of Medicine in New York, found that a common anti-cancer
drug combined with an anti-ulcer medicine induces abortions in women
in the early stages of pregnancy.
	Dr. Jerome Kassirer, editor of the NEJM, said it would have
been irresponsible of him not to hire extra security given past
violent episodes linked to the abortion debate. Past attacks include
last December's murders of two workers at women’s health clinics in
Brookline, as well as 66 acts of violence reported by abortion clinics
in the first six months of this year. The offices of Dr. Hausknecht
and the owners of the NEJM, the Massachusetts Medical Society, have
also beefed up security.
	"Tell them to stop whining," says Randall Terry, Operation
Rescue activist and author of the aforementioned fax. Hausknecht's
work could result in a major setback for abortion foes who fear the
development of a safe, easy, readily accessible abortion procedure.



BC Denies Equal Rights to Queers

Boston College has once again officially prevented gay, lesbian, and
bisexual students from organizing on campus. College President
J. Donald Monan, S.J. denied Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community
(LGBC) from gaining status as a registered student organization. In a
June 15th letter addressed to the club's officers, Monan states that
sexual orientation is essentially a "private matter" and that it is
“reductionist” to have institutional structures which categorize
students according to sexual orientation. Such a stance ignores the
ongoing public violence against gays, lesbians and bisexuals, whether
physical, verbal or emotional. The President’s position also
ignores the substantial contribution made by LGBC members to the
entire B.C. community.
	This marks the third time that LGBC has been denied registered
status, thereby preventing them from being listed in the Student Guide
and demonstrates publicly that gay, lesbian and bisexual students are
not welcome at B.C. LGBC has existed informally for over ten years,
and has proven itself in the eyes of many leading community members to
be an integral and accepted part of campus life. The group has 60
registered members and functions to provide support, information, and
a social outlet for lesbian, gay and bisexual students at Boston
College.



Arkansan Said to be Retarded is Put to Death

Arkansas executed 41 year old Barry Lee Fairchild last Thursday night,
August 31 night. The execution of retarded defendants is illegal in
Arkansas, but according to a US District Judge, Fairchild had not
proven his retardation. A federal appeals court did not reverse that
decision, and on Thursday afternoon the US Supreme Court rejected the
convict's petition for a stay of execution.
	Fairchild was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder
of a young nurse near Little Rock, Arkansas in 1983 who was kidnapped,
raped, robbed, then shot to death. In a police statement, Fairchild
admitted being present during Mason's rape but said he did not
participate in her murder and did not know it would occur. Later at
his trial he retracted this confession, maintaining that he had no
connection to the crime. Fairchild’s attorneys charge that he was
duped into confessing.
	At the time of his execution, 60 people staged a demonstration
against capital punishment outside the governor's mansion in Little
Rock. (Reuter)



Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes

	The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a
Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, has released its final report
on anti-Muslim hate crimes resulting from unfounded links between
Muslims and the April 19 bombing of Oklahoma City's Murrah Federal
building. The updated report, entitled "A Rush to Judgment," details
more than 200 incidents of stereotyping, harassment, assault, property
damage, and at least one death resulting from an attack on a Muslim
home in Oklahoma. These hate crimes included a suspected arson attack
on a mosque, drive-by shootings at Islamic centers, and assaults on
Muslim students. Many Islamic institutions around the US reported
phoned bomb threats, and in one case, a fake bomb was thrown at a
Muslim day care facility. Individual Muslims reported a great increase
in harassment by co-workers and in public, creating an atmosphere of
fear and intimidation in the Muslim community.
	According to a CAIR survey of Islamic communities, American
Muslims reported that many women were afraid to appear in public
wearing Islamic dress and that Muslim parents feared for their
children's safety, some to the point of keeping their children home
from school. Islamic leaders blamed anti-Muslim hysteria on
unsubstantiated media reports linking Muslims and "Middle
Eastern-looking" suspects to the Oklahoma City blast. (Council on
American-Islamic Relations) 

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