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JUNE 28, 2001 ************************************************************************************ 

Conservative Raises Tax-Cut Issue in NJ Race

( - The anti-tax mantra of a New Jersey conservative helped him seize the Republican nomination in New Jersey gubernatorial race Tuesday, toppling an established moderate and former congressman. Bret D. Schundler paints himself as a modern Ronald Reagan, who opposes abortion, supports the Second Amendment and detests taxes -- an issue topping the list of concerns among New Jersey voters. 

Environmental Group Suing Bush Over Arsenic

( - Environmental activists plan to sue the Bush administration Thursday for suspending a rule that would have required stricter standards for arsenic in drinking water. Three days before leaving office, President Clinton essentially laid a land-mine for incoming President Bush, by announcing a ten parts-per-billion standard for arsenic in drinking water. The Bush administration suspended the rule until it has time to gather more information, which means the current 50 ppb arsenic standard remains in effect. That was the cue for Democrats to launch radio ads blasting Bush for poisoning America's drinking water. And now the Natural Resources Defense Council says it will sue the administration for ignoring a congressional deadline to adopt lower arsenic levels. Erik Olson, an attorney with NRDC, is quoted as saying, "There is absolutely no scientific or legal excuse for delaying or weakening protection of the public from arsenic." The Bush administration says it fully intends to comply with the congressional deadline for lowering the arsenic standard, but first it wants more information on much arsenic is too much, before adopting a rule that could have a adverse financial impact on America's cities and states.

ABC Considers How to Fill Hole in Environment Report

( - After deleting interviews with children from a television report on environmental education that is set to air Friday, ABC News is considering how to fill a hole in an hour-long show in a way that will not be seen as caving in to the demands of environmental activists. "We are not going to use the images or the voices of the children, but we may paraphrase what they're saying, or we may try to find other children to interview," ABC spokesman Todd Polkes told The New York-based network suggested activists persuaded parents to withdraw their permission to use the segment with their children after they learned the interviewer was John Stossel, a conservative who has argued that environmental claims are exaggerated. 

Bush Pushing His Energy Plan; Teamsters Like It

( - President Bush will send his energy legislation to Congress on Thursday, and congressional Republicans will fan out across the country during next week's Fourth of July recess to make the case for spurring domestic energy production by lowering regulatory barriers for new power plants and pipelines, The Washington Post reported. The newspaper said the Bush administration and congressional Republicans are increasingly worried that the president's energy plan faces trouble on Capitol Hill and could end up hurting Republicans in next year's election. But the Teamsters union, not a traditional GOP ally, supports the Bush energy plan and it is calling on Congress to pass the legislation. At its annual convention in Las Vegas this week, the Teamsters resolved to support the enactment of a national energy policy that includes opening a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and building 1,200 new power plants. "We must find a way to maintain affordable energy sources for working families," said Teamsters President James Hoffa. "The Teamsters are working to achieve a responsible balance between the economy and the environment."

Gephardt Slams GOP on Energy Price Controls

( - House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) accused the Republican leadership Wednesday of stonewalling the capping of California energy prices and announced he would try to get a Democratic bill imposing price caps to the House floor for consideration. "We have had a horrible time here in the House getting consideration of a temporary price cap bill that we have been trying to get on the floor for weeks," Gephardt said. He added the Democrats planned to announce a discharge petition to get that bill up later Wednesday. Gephardt asserted that Republicans were delaying action on the bill because of contributions from oil companies and their lobbyists. 

Pro-Life Convention in Charlotte to Urge Legal Protection for Unborn

Charlotte, N.C. ( - The abortion debate will intensify Thursday as pro-lifers gather in Charlotte, North Carolina for the National Right to Life Committee's 29th annual convention, one dedicated to restoring "legal protection to the most vulnerable among us," according to convention organizers. Among the speakers at this year's three-day conclave will be singer Pat Boone, abortion and breast cancer researcher Dr. Joel Brind, nationally recognized medical ethicist and author Wesley Smith, and conservative television talk show host Sean Hannity. 

Cloning Ban Raises Constitutional Issues

( - Policy makers are making a federal issue out of human cloning this summer as the technological potential for such an event becomes ever more likely. In the midst of congressional hearings, competing bills, and advocacy forums on the ethical and logistical problems associated with cloning, some are questioning the federal government's constitutional authority to impose a ban on human cloning. As the issue gains political momentum, conservatives may find themselves at odds with libertarians, their sometime allies, over the constitutional question. 

Suspect in Abortion Doctor's Murder Can Be Extradited

( - A French court ruled Thursday that James Kopp may be extradited to the United States to stand trial for murdering an abortion doctor in New York three years ago. Kopp, 46, made the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list for allegedly shooting Barnett Slepian as he stood inside his suburban Buffalo home. Wire services say the French court cleared the way for Kopp's extradition after U.S. authorities said Kopp would not face the death penalty if he is convicted. France refuses to extradite suspects in cases where they face execution. Kopp, who was arrested in France in March, is expected to appeal today's court ruling, something that could delay his extradition.

Teamsters Call For Navy Withdrawal From Vieques

( - Delegates at the Teamsters 26th International Convention Wednesday passed a resolution demanding the complete U.S. military withdrawal of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. "There is no need for the U.S. military to continue these exercises in Vieques," said Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa. "All working families deserve the right to live in safe and healthy environments." The Teamsters allege that military exercises on the island have led to high rates of cancer and other diseases related to environmental contamination caused by the use of explosives and bombs. They believe the presence of the military in Vieques has stunted its economic development, especially agriculture, fishing and tourism and led to high unemployment and poverty. "Teamsters believe there are no more important rights than human rights," Hoffa said. "We urge the Bush administration to halt all military exercises in Vieques immediately, so that our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters may live in peace and prosperity."

Left is 'Right' in Philadelphia

( - A coalition of liberal groups is gathering in Philadelphia this coming weekend, with the goal of revamping America's voting laws. Specifically, the groups are calling for a "Voter's Bill of Rights," which includes the abolition of the Electoral College; voting rights for former prisoners; and statehood for the District of Columbia, among other things. Organizers say the focal point of discussion will be the 2000 election in Florida and its impact upon African-American, Haitian-American, Jewish and Latino voters. A website set up by the Pro-Democracy Convention says the organization is "determined that what happened during the 2000 presidential election will never occur again in our country." 

'Stop' and 'Go' Traffic

( - A former traffic light installer is suing Palm Beach County, Fla., for firing him because he is colorblind and couldn't distinguish between red and green wires, press reports said. Cleveland Merritt's $20,000-a-year job required him to work on traffic lights containing wires of 19 different colors. Merritt claims that his 1997 firing violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and he is seeking lost wages. The EEOC previously ruled that the county discriminated against Merritt by firing him. His attorney, Sandra Bosso-Pardo, told the Palm Beach Post, "The county could have kept him on the job by assigning him to other duties not affected by his color-blindness." The county wants to have the case dismissed.

High Bidding for Yates Web Address on eBay

( - A Web address bearing the name of the Houston woman accused of drowning her five children last week had received bids up to $752,011 before eBay halted the auction. Bids for started Tuesday at $500,000 and closed 6 bids by Wednesday. Charles H. Ziegler III of Penndel, Pa., said he was surprised that he had gotten the bids and had put up the address name to guide potential bidders to another auction site where he was selling another Web site,, named after the slain wife of actor Robert Blake. EBay reports that the web site address was judged inappropriate because of a May 17 decision to prohibit the auction of things associated with killers and notorious crimes.

Powell Says Sharon Will Make Key Decision on Violence Level

Jerusalem ( - It will be up to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to decide when Palestinian violence and terrorism has subsided enough to declare the start of a "cooling-off" period, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Israel on Thursday.
Meeting with Israel's ceremonial head of state President Moshe Katsav in Jerusalem, Powell said that there had not been enough progress towards calming the situation on the ground since CIA chief George Tenet brokered a ceasefire understanding two weeks ago. The Secretary, who will meet Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser in Ramallah and then Sharon later in the day, urged the two sides to do everything in their power to stop the violence that has claimed more than 550 lives over the last nine months. 

Clinton Says Arafat Made Him A Failure

Jerusalem ( - Former President Clinton blames Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat for his failure to bring peace to the Middle East. Speaking at a party hosted by former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrook this week, Clinton told the guests that three days before his term of office ended Arafat called to wish him well, according to Newsweek. "You are a great man," said Arafat. "The hell I am," Clinton said he answered. "I'm a colossal failure, and you made me one." Clinton openly blamed Arafat last year for the collapse of the Camp David summit. Arafat rejected the far-reaching concessions offered him by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Clinton also said he told Arafat bluntly that he knew the ancient Jewish Temple was buried under the Muslim shrine on the Temple Mount. The issue of Jerusalem and specifically the Temple Mount, holy to both Jews and Muslims, was thought to have been the main stumbling block in the talks. But Clinton said it was actually the issue of the return of Palestinian refugees that scuttled the peace process. Two months after Camp David the current Palestinian uprising broke out.

BBC Ends Short-Wave Broadcasts To North America, Pacific

London ( - Sixty-nine years after it first took to the airwaves, the World Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation will no longer be available on short-wave radio in North America and Australia, effective at the end of this week. The BBC says its decision to scrap the service follows a shift in media consumer trends in highly developed countries. From now on, the World Service will be available in developed countries only on the Internet and, in some areas, it will be relayed by local FM radio stations. It will also be available at some point and in some areas on digital satellite radio.The announcement caused a storm of protest from listeners in the affected regions, and it prompted an Internet-driven campaign for the decision to be reversed. 

CIA Warns Of Bin Laden Asian Bombing Plans

New Delhi ( - The Central Intelligence Agency reportedly has warned the Indian government that Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden may be preparing to bomb a range of American installations in India. Officials of the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) agency Wednesday confirmed receiving a message from the CIA saying that bin Laden was incensed by the recent arrest of several of his associates by New Delhi police and was planning to attack U.S. embassies and other facilities in retaliation. Following the CIA communication, Indian intelligence operatives said they have been monitoring telephone numbers of suspected associates of bin Laden's Al-Qaida group. 

AIDS-Hit South Africa Running Out Of Graveyard Space

Durban, South Africa ( - While world leaders at the United Nations Conference on AIDS in New York look for ways curb the spread of the disease, in South Africa authorities are faced with the grim task of finding burial space in overflowing graveyards for the more than 250,000 AIDS victims who die each year. More than four million of South Africa's 40 million people are infected with AIDS and the death toll is likely to double by 2008. With the increase in AIDS deaths local cemeteries are filling up, forcing officials to resort to unusual techniques like grave recycling and upright coffins. 


World Court Rules Against US In Death Penalty Case

London ( - The International Court of Justice in The Hague -- the U.N.'s highest legal body -- ruled Wednesday that the U.S. had ignored the international legal rights of two German-born brothers executed in 1999 for killing a bank manager during a 1982 robbery. Germany took the U.S. to court that year, alleging American officials has violated the Vienna Convention by not informing consular officials of the arrest and murder convictions of Walter and Karl LaGrand. Had they done so, it argued, consular representation might have saved their lives. Walter LaGrand was gassed to death in Arizona just hours after the court issued an emergency order to stop the execution from going ahead. His brother had been executed earlier, before the case began. 


"A call to action" from UN Secretary-General in fight against HIV/AIDS


By Serge Beaulieu
UN Bureau Chief

United Nations, June 22, 2001 (CNS NEWS)
More than 15 African heads of state, prime ministers, and ministers will join other dignitaries at the UN for a three-day conference from Monday, June 25 to Wednesday, June 27. This conference was called as a matter of urgency to discuss the problem of human immunodeficiency virus in all its aspects.

The conference will call upon governments, with the assistance from UNAIDS and donors, to ensure that by 2005 at least 90 percent of the worldís population will have access to information, education, and services to reduce their vulnerability to this infection.

After 20 years, the world has suddenly become fully aware of this catastrophe that has been devastating the continent of Africa. Countries like Botswana, with more than 38 percent of its population infected, are on the verge of a major disaster. Other countries in line are Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, and Djibouti.

A total of 36.1 million adults and children are estimated to be living with HIV. 

The Sub-Saharan Africa region alone is estimated at 25.3 million. 
South and Southeast Asia 5.8 million 
North America 920,000
The Caribbean 390,000 
Latin America 1.4 million
Western Europe has been calculated at 540,000
Eastern Europe and Central Asia 700,000
North Africa and the Middle East 400,000
East Asia and the Pacific 640,000
Australia and New Zealand 15,000


So far, no definite cure has been discovered, but some medicines have been found to alleviate the suffering and prolong the life of the patient.

One of the missions of the United Nations has been to encourage the pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of the vaccine in order to enable the African continent to use the drugs. So far, the pharmaceutical companies have decided to go along with this. Experiments have already started, particularly in Botswana, where the crisis is severe.

In the meantime, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) is calling upon world leaders to make womenís roles central in the fight against HIV/AIDS. They claim there is a direct correlation between the low status of women, the violation of their human rights, and HIV transmission. 

Noellen Hayzer, executive director of UNIFEM, said, "This is not simply a matter of social justice. Gender inequality is fatal. The reason that AIDS has escalated into a pandemic is that inequality between women and men continues to be pervasive and persistent. Too often, women and girls cannot say no to unwanted and unprotected sex without fear of reprisal."

The statistics are alarming

Last year 1.3 million women died of AIDS. 
Nearly half of all new HIV infections occur in women.

UNIFEM calls for a guarantee of womenís equal access to prevention and treatment and that research be made gender sensitive. It even placed a call to make female and male condoms affordable and accessible to all.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, almost 1.8 million people live with HIV, including the 210,000 adults and children infected in the year 2000..

At 5 percent, Haiti has the highest HIV adult prevalence rate in the world outside Sub-Saharan Africa. The rate in five other Caribbean countries hovers around 2 percent of the adult population. It was perhaps for this reason that Haitiís first lady, Mrs. Mildred Aristide, was chosen by the United Nations Development Program to be part of a panel to discuss the implications for poverty reduction and the impact of HIV/AIDS.

Points to be discussed: 

What can countries do to respond to the poverty creating impact of the epidemic?

How can essential public services be maintained when human resources are lost, public revenues reduced, and budgets diverted?

How can economic prosperity be achieved notwithstanding the impact of the epidemic?

Among the other panelists will be Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the UNDP; Rev. Gideon Byamugisha, Diocese of Namirembe, Rwanda; Ernest Yonly, Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, Burkina Faso; and Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

It will be the first diplomatic assignment for Haitiís First Lady, who is a member of the bar in Washington, D.C., where she met Jean Bertrand Aristide while he was in exile. The couple was later married in Haiti.

All eyes will be on the performance of Haitiís first lady.

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