Testimony Ends in Mumia Abu-Jamal Case

A retrial hearing for journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal recessed Tuesday until final arguments on September 11. Abu-Jamal is seeking a retrial on his 1982 conviction for killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Defense attorney Leonard Weinglass summed up his case, saying he thought he had been successful, but did not expect a favorable ruling from Court of Common Pleas Judge Albert Sabo, who presided over both the original trial and the retrial hearing. Weinglass will appeal an unfavorable ruling from Sabo, who last week granted an indefinite stay of Abu-Jamal's Aug. 17 execution date to allow time to complete his appeals. "I think we were able to show all the things we had set out to show," Weinglass said. "We did show [that in the 1982 trial] Mumia didn't have the resources; he didn't have the experts he needed; he had an ineffective attorney; he had an ineffective appelate attorney." "Then we put on evidence on what the jury should have heard in terms of mitigating witnesses that they didn't hear, and we also put in some evidence of treatment of witnesses, the bias in the investigation, the supression of witnesses, and intimidation of witnesses." (Reuter)

A Woman's Place is in the Basement

A marble statue of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott, suffragists who helped white women win the right to vote, have been stored in the basement of the Capitol, with their faces against a wall. The statue was presented to Congress with great ceremony 74 years ago, but has yet to take its place upstairs in the Capitol rotunda as the sole images of women, along with the monuments to American male leaders. Despite five resolutions to move them upstairs next to the boys, the statue has remained in the basement. The Senate recently passed yet another resolution, but Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has refused to bring up the resolution for a vote in the House. Reportedly, he does not want to be associated with "a bunch of liberal women." (The Phoenix Gazette)

Stereotypes Affect Testing

Stanford University psychologists Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson found that stereotypes play a role in determining how students perform on standardized tests. The results of their seven-year study give weight to the argument that bias exists in academic testing, refuting the idea that biology is behind differences in academic achievement found along racial and gender lines. Steele and Aronson studied students whose scores on the SAT were all comparably high. In one experiment, two groups of Black students were given the same test. Those who were not asked to give their race outperformed, on average, those who were asked to give it. Similarly, white male students about to take a math test were told that the test was difficult and that Asian students usually outperformed whites. Those students performed worse than a group of white males who received no such warning before taking the same test. A third experiment divided women into two groups who were given the same math test. Women performed worse than men when told the test produced gender differences, but performed equal to men when the test was represented as insensitive to gender differences. Steele said the findings should offer insight about how to design academic and affirmative action programs that do not place women and people of color at a psychological disadvantage. "You have to do something to break the sense of being under suspicion in order to allow these students to be less defensive and more openly engaging of their academic work." (San Francisco Chronicle)

Status of Mexican Immigrants Declining

A new report from Teachers College, Columbia University shows a sharp deterioration in the socioeconomic status of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. during the 1980s. The research report, titled "Falling Back: The Declining Socioeconomic Status of the Mexican Immigrant Population in the United States," is part of a series of reports on gender and ethnicity within the 1980s economy. Using data from the 1980 and 1990 U.S. Census, the study-by Francisco Rivera-Batiz, associate professor of economics and education at Teachers College-found that the per-capita income of the Mexican-born population in the U.S. declined, when adjusted for inflation. On average, Mexican immigrants had a household income per person equal to $6,465 in 1979, while in 1989 the corresponding figure was $6,415. The poverty rate among Mexican immigrants also increased sharply, rising from 25.7 percent in 1980 to 29.1 percent in 1990. Also, annual earnings among Mexican immigrants moved downward and unemployment increased. (Resisting and Organizing Against Prop 187 email list)

Working on the Chain

In sweltering heat, 160 inmates from the Limestone Correctional Facility, will crush chunks of limestone with sledgehammers. With leg irons and eight-foot chainlink, the men will be shackled together, in groups of five, the entire time they are outside, even when using make-shift toilets. These medium-risk prisoners will work on prison grounds, wearing white uniforms with the words "Chain Gang" emblazoned on them, while armed guards watch over. Alabama's get-tough Prison Commissioner Ron Jones said chain gangs, revived in May after being abandoned in the 1960s, were so efficient that officials decided to use them for the strenuous task of turning rocks into gravel for roads. "The rock breaking program is our way of finding something meaningful for these inmates to do," said Jones, who has taken away inmate privileges such as TV, weight rooms, orange juice, and even coffee since his appointment in January. Critics denounce the chain gangs as a barbaric, cruel return to slavery, especially noteworthy in a state with a legacy of racial discrimination. Inmates have filed lawsuits against Jones and Alabama Governor Bob James, saying the gangs violate their civil rights. The cases will probably be placed into a class action suit later this year. Florida and Arizona have started their own chain gang programs, while Wisonsin and Michigan are trying to get similar programs started. (Reuter)

Comfort Women Slam Japan Apology

The Philippine President and Senate leaders hailed Japan's apology for its actions during World War Two on Tuesday, but Filipinas who were used by Japanese soldiers as sex slaves called it an empty gesture. Senate President Eduardo Angara and Francisco Tatad, head of the Senate foreign relations committee, backed demands for compensation by Filipina "comfort women" who were used by Japanese soldiers as sex slaves in battlefield brothels. About 20 Filipina comfort women held a protest outside the Japanese embassy in Manila said they were not satisfied with Murayama's apology. The group is demanding $200,000 compensation for each victim. "I'm angry. If he wants to ask for forgiveness but refuses to compensate us, then that's nothing to us," said Maria Rosa Luna Henson, spokeswoman for the comfort women. Nelia Sancho, leader of the Lila Filipina women's group backing the women, estimated up to 20,000 Filipinas were used by Japanese troops as sex slaves during the war, but only 30 percent survived the war. Sancho hopes that the Japanese government will reconsider its position of not providing legal compensation, particularly to the comfort women. (Reuter)
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