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Civil rights leaders oppose U.S. court nominee
Wed Aug 31, 2005 06:42 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leading civil rights and women's rights groups opposed U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts on Wednesday in an uphill bid to deny the 50-year-old conservative confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
With the Senate Judiciary Committee set to begin confirmation hearings on Tuesday, they cited Roberts' record, primarily as a lawyer in the Reagan administration two decades ago, to portray him as a threat to equal justice who should be denied a seat on the nation's highest court.
"John Roberts' record is extensive and troubling," Debra Ness of the National Partnership for Women & Families told a Capitol Hill news conference.
"John Roberts consistently has taken the most narrow, restrictive views of civil rights and women's rights," Ness added.
She was joined by leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and National Women's Law Center.
A parade of liberal groups have come out against Roberts in recent days, and more plan to do so. Many are particularly concerned that Roberts might seek to reverse the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Roberts' defenders, including fiscal and social conservatives, have dismissed the criticism while applauding the nominee as a "mainstream conservative" who recently received the American Bar Association's highest rating.
Heading into the hearings, expected to last about a week, Roberts seems to enjoy broad support in the Senate, which Republicans control, holding 55 of 100 seats.
No Senate Democrat has announced opposition, but a number of them have voiced concerns. Others have spoken glowingly of the Harvard-educated family man who has served the past two years as a federal appeals court judge.
"It's an uphill battle," NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said of the effort to convince the Senate to reject Roberts.
"Some senators seem overcome by his attractiveness, his cute children, his attractive wife, his pleasant demeanor," Bond said in a brief interview. "But the issue is his record, which raises grave concerns."
In recent weeks, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library has released ten of thousands of pages of documents stemming from Roberts' work in the Reagan administration.
Record show Roberts embraced and pushed many of Reagan's most conservative efforts, which critics charged threatened decades of progress in civil rights and women's rights.
The Reagan Library on Wednesday released an additional 420 pages of documents that were earlier withheld.
One showed a 1983 letter he wrote while working in the Reagan White House counsel's office about legislation proposed in Congress to create a new federal appeals court, an idea he and others in the administration had opposed.
"Our only hope is that Congress will continue to do what it does best -- nothing," Roberts wrote. The measure never became law.
The Reagan Library also scrambled to make public other Roberts' records discovered earlier this week.
The National Archives ordered personnel from other presidential libraries to help the Reagan Library conduct needed reviews before these materials could be released.
Katrina's casualties include gay Southern Decadence festival
'Wicked' party blamed for hurricane
By ANDREW KEEGAN | Aug 31, 9:12 PM - Houston Blade
With winds topping 140 miles per hour as it roared ashore Aug. 29, Hurricane Katrina devastated portions of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. Early news reports indicated that the French Quarter, home to many of the gay bars in New Orleans, would be spared from catastrophic damage.
Starlight by the Park, a gay bar near the French Quarter, was damaged by Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing flood waters. (Photo courtesy C.W. Stambaugh)
But subsequent levee breaks along Lake Pontchartrain flooded the city that traditionally would be gearing up to host thousands of mostly gay men celebrating Labor Day Weekend.
In addition to flooded streets, a lack of fresh water, and no electricity, New Orleans Council member Jackie Clarkson told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the French Quarter has been "attacked" and "looting is out of control."
In light of recent events, the city's 34th annual Southern Decadence festival was cancelled Aug. 31, according to one of the event's organizers, Johnny Chisholm.
The celebration, which began as a Labor Day party among friends 34 years ago, was expected to draw more than 100,000 participants from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5.
"I regret to inform you that due to Hurricane Katrina, Southern Decadence in New Orleans has been officially cancelled," Chisholm wrote in an e-mail Wednesday. Chisholm noted that festival goers that were charged for weekend passes will receive refunds.
Chisholm owns Oz, New Orleans' largest gay dance bar, which is located on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. He stated in the email that the bar suffered damage, and the club hopes to reopen by Halloween.
In addition to the thousands expected for Southern Decadence, more than 600 people had pre-registered for Convergence 2005, an event during Southern Decadence for plus-sized gay men and their admirers.
In a posting on its Web site, convergence2005.com, the group cancelled its "Big & Easy" celebration. The organization notes that it may take time to issue any refunds, as it needs to contact venues on cancellation policies. The group suggests donating any refunds to the Red Cross/New Orleans Disaster Relief Fund.
The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau posted information on its Web site stating the city is under a mandatory curfew. At press time Wednesday, the Web site said the situation in New Orleans continues to deteriorate, with an additional "9 to 15 feet of water expected to flow into the city," threatening the French Quarter.
Looters are also damaging the historic area, according to news reports. No one from outside of New Orleans is being allowed to enter the city for at least the next week, according to the site.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said Wednesday that it will be at least three months before any citizen will be allowed to return to the city. The airport is under water and hotels are being used as shelters to house victims of the monster storm, the Web site says.
A travel agent at All Points Travel in Atlanta said customers who booked air/hotel packages for Southern Decadence hoped for a miracle, but in reality "lot of folks have given up."
Steve Kay planned on having a great time at the largest gay Labor Day celebration in the South. Now, having a good time is far from his mind. Kay suggested that people who purchased passes to many of the parties donate their refunds to building a "better Southern Decadence" next year.
Customers who booked hotels at locally owned properties should "have sympathy first," said Tom Nibbio, North American sales manager for the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.
"We need to be considerate of their immediate situation," he said. "If you're not in immediate need of a refund, put it on the back burner." But Nibbio noted that direct bookings through airlines should be dealt with immediately.
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines issued a statement that customers scheduled to fly into or from affected cities can make a one-time change with no additional fee. Changes have to be made by Sept. 1. American Airlines announced the same policy, but customers have until Oct. 31 to reschedule.
Customers who booked rooms at franchise hotels, such as a Marriott or Hyatt, should contact corporate offices of the hotels for refunds, according to Nibbio. Calls to Marriott and Hyatt corporate offices were not returned by press time.
While gay Internet sites have been inundated with postings exhibiting concern for the city, one anti-gay organization seized upon the calamity to promote its agenda. Philadelphia-based Repent America issued a statement calling Hurricane Katrina an "Act of God" that destroyed a "wicked city" just days before Southern Decadence.
The group blames the city's previous three mayors, and every citizen in New Orleans, for tolerating and welcoming such "wickedness" as Southern Decadence and Mardi Gras.
When officials in New Orleans issued a mandatory evacuation order prior to the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, tens of thousands of evacuees ended up in Houston in hotels, shelters or housed with relatives and friends.
By Wednesday morning, Houston city officials confirmed that New Orleans evacuees who had been housed at the Super Dome would be transferred to the Houston Astrodome. Red Cross officials said they planned for 23,000 evacuees to be housed in the Astrodome.
Gay and HIV groups in Houston said they are gearing up to help as well.
Officials of the Montrose Counseling Center announced Wednesday that a special group counseling session has been set up for Sept. 6 for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender refugees from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
At the Montrose Clinic and the Assistance Fund, officials said they would make every effort to provide medical and medication assistance to those living with HIV/AIDS who have been displaced by the hurricane. Clinic officials said it is crucial for continuity of care to be maintained.
"It is important to provide individuals displaced by Katrina access to health care services and medications they require," said Katy Caldwell, executive director of the Montrose Clinic. "We estimate the need for services to be great and will make every effort to provide assistance."
Gay Houston resident John Szewczyk has also organized a Sept. 2 meeting to coordinate a relief effort for gay refugees from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, particularly those from New Orleans.
"I'm just sort of putting out feelers to see what kind of committees we can set up," Szewczyk said. "We need to do what we can to help our sister community. They have all provided many of us with great times at Southern Decadence, Mardi Gras and for vacations."
Binnie Fisher contributed to this report.
少女の妊娠相談、連日３０件 上海 (東京 2005/09/01)
［エイズ・アジアの今］（９）感染者新聞 地方にも情報（連載） (読売 2005/08/31朝刊)
英字新聞形式のニュースレターの名称は「Ｔｈｅ ＨＩＶ Ｐｏｓｔ」。ネパールのエイズ感染者グループが毎月５００部発行し、感染者やエイズ関連機関などで購読されている。７月号の１面には「南アジアの指導者は行動を」と見出しがつけられ、エイズ対策の強化を政府に求めている。
写真＝ネパールの感染者グループメンバーで、「Ｔｈｅ ＨＩＶ Ｐｏｓｔ」の編集主幹を務めるシブ・ギリさん
［エイズ・アジアの今］（８）中国、５年後に感染者１０００万増も（連載） (読売 2005/08/24朝刊)