9.11 Newsbits


INS Terrorizes Legal Immigrants in Texas

On a day when Austin's Central American and Mexican communities should have been celebrating traditional holidays (the 15th and 16th of September) many families were mourning the deportations of their loved ones by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). La Migra (the US immigration police) made aggressive raids on construction sites across the Texas communities of Austin, Round Rock, and Georgetown. A local news crew interviewed the spouse of one of the deportees. She is in the US legally, as is her one week old baby and her spouse-yet the INS had no qualm about taking her husband away. Her tragic story about dealing with a newborn without any support was quite compelling, yet it seemed to fall on deaf ears of immigration officials. According to a local resident, "those picked up by the INS were hard-working people-people literally building these growing communities. And when the INS makes such extensive sweeps, they inevitably pick up immigrants who are in the country legally, as well. They fail to recognize that many immigrants are legal, and that all of them are faithful and dedicated workers."

Japanese Protest Rape and US Military Presence

Hundreds of people protested Monday in Okinawa, Japan to demand that American forces withdraw from Japan, as diplomats met to discuss the legal status of three US servicemen alleged to have raped a 12-year-old girl. About 800 people gathered in a park in Naha, capital of the southern Japanese island, and called for the servicemen to be turned over immediately to Japanese authorities. One woman held a banner reading, "The American military's savage acts can never be forgiven." Authorities have been granting Japanese investigators access to the three-Marine Pfc. Rodrico Harp, 21, of Griffin, Ga.; Pfc.Kendrick M. Ledet, 20, of Waycross, Ga.; and Navy Seaman Marcus D. Gill, 22, of Woodville, Texas. The three are to be turned over to Japanese police as soon as any charges are filed. If charged, they will face trial and punishment under Japanese law. [Associated Press]

Sri Lankan Government Bombs Tamil School, Killing 71

Twenty-five school going children were among forty Tamil civilians killed on the spot when Sri Lankan Pucara Planes bombed the Nagerkoil Central School in the Jaffna peninsula on Friday September 22nd. Nearly 100 others were injured, most of them students in the same school. Elsewhere in the area, 15 other civilians were also killed in the course of the same bombing raids. The bombing of the school happened during the school's lunch break, when several of the school children were gathered under a shade tree in the school compound. Pieces of human flesh were strewn around the area including on tree branches, making identification impossible. Earlier that day, Pucara bombers targeted Manalkadu and Katkovalam in the Vadamardchi area of Sri Lanka killing six persons. A small Catholic church was also damaged in the bombing. In another incident also on the same day, intense shelling from the Palaly army camp killed seven members of the same family including four children of varying ages. This shelling began at 3.00 a.m. and continued until 7.00 a.m. The intensified aerial bombing and shelling on this island republic south of India by Sri Lankan government forces came about within hours of the government's imposition of Press Censorship at midnight, September 21. [Political Committee, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam]

Tacoma News Tribune Carries Smear Campaign

Dropping all pretense of journalistic objectivity, The News Tribune of Tacoma, Washington printed a political dossier on its own employee, journalist Sandy Nelson, after she participated in a press conference opposing the financial support that Seattle newspapers and radio stations are giving to the campaign for a new baseball stadium. On Friday, September 8, the newspaper devoted nine inches of space to an article listing Nelson's political activities. The paper also gave a one-sided description of a lawsuit against it brought by Nelson and the ACLU. The suit charges the paper with violating Nelson's rights by retaliating against her for off-hours participation in a campaign to protect the civil liberties of lesbians and gays. The sidebar titled "Worker's Views Don't Represent News Tribune," states "The News Tribune removed [Nelson] as an education reporter and assigned her to the copy desk after she refused to end her political activities." The story reported selective highlights of Nelson's past 15 years of life as a socialist activist for the rights of women, gay men and lesbians, people of color, and workers. It noted her support for a new trial for imprisoned Black journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and her efforts to end the US embargo of Cuba. Nelson retorts, "What they really object to are my radical political activities which conflict with management's pro-establishment political activities-that's political discrimination!" Cathy Kaufmann, of the OutFront Labor Coalition, the labor affiliate of Hands Off Washington, said "Anyone who knows Sandy Nelson's reputation as a human rights advocate knows that she's an asset to the community. She brings something the paper desperately needs-a connection with the real world. That's a key reason this case has drawn such huge support from labor and the gay movement." For more information about the case, contact the Sandy Nelson Defense Committee at (206) 756-9971 in Tacoma and (206) 524-9353 in Seattle or E-mail hnoble@eskimo.com.

Congress Postpones Attack on Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Youth

During the last session of Congress, Lou Sheldon, Chairman and founder of the "Traditional Values Coalition" (TVC), extracted a promise from House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) that a Congressional hearing would be held on promotion of homosexuality in the schools. Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has agreed to hold it this month, tentatively October 13. Lou Sheldon has made a career out of vilifying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. He professes that homosexuality is the most pernicious evil today and has long raised money for his organization by creating fear of LGBT Americans. He has written that gays and lesbians live perverted twisted lives that feed upon the unsuspecting and the innocent, like our children. And he has widely disseminated a piece called They Want Your Children which claimed that the TVC is on the threshold of revealing the face of his enemy-homosexuals. He also claims that educational programs which discuss homosexuality or AIDS are designed to facilitate recruitment. His letter targets specific programs that teach tolerance for investigation. This hearing will only serve to legitimize the intolerance of organizations like TVC that have a long history of hatred and bigotry. A major concern is that Sheldon has requested this hearing to set the stage for unconstitutional legislation he has promoted that would cut off federal funding to any schools that have any program or activity which has the purpose or effect of addressing homosexuality in a positive or otherwise accepting manner. The legislation, which was offered unsuccessfully as an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act last year, at Sheldon's request, is so broad and invasive that it would require federal authorities to censor curricula, classroom discussions, library books, school plays and private counseling sessions. Schools would be unable to create a safe and secure learning environment for much at-risk LGBT students. What you can do: contact Representative Peter Hoekstra at (202) 225-4401 and insist that his subcommittee CANCEL the hearing. Or, send email to tellhoek@hr.house.gov (the committee) or usavoice@hr.house.gov (the House of Representatives). [alt.journalism.gay-press]

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