ON MY MIND......

Dateline: March 26, 1999 Florida, USA

There is much happening on the international fronts this week. Certainly the NATO authorized air strikes against Serbia are at the top of the news. Somehow killing to stop killing never seemed like the appropriate solution to me.........In Myanmar, opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is facing another heart-wrenching choice between her family and country. Her husband, British scholar, Michael Aris, is dying of cancer, but Myanmar's miliary government has so far refused to let him visit Myanmar to visit her. That leaves her with two options: leave Myanmar to see her husband, recognizing that she may never be able to return to her homeland, or accept the fact that she will never see her spouse again. As you will recall, this 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate was held under house arrest by her own country, formerly known as Burma, from 1989 through 1995. Seems like she is still in prison ...........In Afghanistan, the women can no longer attend school. They are forbidden to hold jobs. If they go outside, they must have a brother or husband at their side, and they must wear a suffocating, head-to-toe garment that looks like a burlap sack, with a mesh screen in front of their eyes. Male doctors cannot examine them, female doctors are no longer allowed to practice medicine, and thus they go without health care. They can be beaten or shot if they dare to show so much as an ankle in public. Such is life under the Taleban, a brutal and extremist Islamic group that took over this country in late 1996. It is hard to believe that there is a nation today that has banned all music, theater, paintings; a place where there is no justice system, where punishments are carried out in public stadiums before crowds of people; where homosexuals are buried alive under rock walls; There are 11.5-million women in Afghanistan living under these horrible conditions. I urge you to visit the Feminist Majority web page for more information.

This big news here in the States? Well, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 200 points just days after the blue-chip index crossed 10,000 for the first time this week. Anybody dumping their Amazon.Com? and how about you folks who made a killing on AOL stock. Seems that they will fire as many as 1,000 employees as a result of their $10-billion acquisition of Netscape Communications. Seems that this pc-involved company isn't so pc after all.........Officials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the most prestigious science and engineering university in the country, have issued a report acknowledging that female professors suffer from pervasive discrimination there.The school through it's President said that a report that was five years in the making indicates a pattern of substantive and demoralizing discimination in areas of hiring, awards, promotions,inclusion on important committees, and the allocation of resources like laboratory space and research money. In another report issued last month,the American Association of University Professors found that although women make up 34 percent of faculties nationwide, up from 23 percemt in 1975, the gap between salaries for male and female professors widened in that period.........The National Abortion and Reproduction Rights Action League (NARAL) has launched a series of television ads this week that accuse presidential hopefuls George W. Bush and Elizabeth Dole of camouflaging strict anti-abortion positions. The ads which began airing Monday in New Hampshire and Iowa, use quotes from the two candidates that indicate that both of them are firmly anti-choice and accuse them of trying to "hide their extreme views," said league director Kate Michelman. "George W. Bush opposes a woman's right to choose. Elizabeth Dole opposes a woman's right to choose. But they both know they must communicate more moderate views in order to be elected."..........and Microsoft released their new browser, Internet Explorer 5.0 this week. It wasn't received with much interest, but those who had their Windows 98 automatic update settings on, woke up to a most disturbing day, as their computers attempted to automatically download the new software. Due to heavy demand, these folks were unable to log on to the Net all day -- Thanks, Bill........The most interesting new feature? your ability to now listen to one of 350 radio stations while you surf the net..........

And here in sunny Florida, watch your back, small business. The insurance industry is trying to convince the Legislature to retreat from a major 1993 law that guaranteed health-insurance coverage to small employers and workers. If the law is gutted, self-employed workers and small-business employees who get sick will end up paying a heavy price. The new law would allow insurers to boost premiums as high as 15 percent a year - an increase that may force small businesses to stop offering coverage at all. The same is true for self-employed people. If the Senate version prevails, they will have no choice but to seek individual coverage - policies that are often very expensive, if they can be found at all. And for the sick worker in businesses with fewer than 10 employees? Under the bill, insurers could no longer use the "composite" rating, making the sick worker's premiums higher just when they are relying on it the most. The secondary effects of such legislation is that employers will think twice before hiring employees with real or perceived health problems, and this would include senior citizens..........The House Education/K12 Committee will hear HB 1773 (school prayer) on Thursday, March 25 in Tallahassee. Hasn't our Governor/Legislature heard of the separation of church and state in this country?............The Senate Criminal Justice Committee unanimously approved a measure that would make people who specifically target women or men as crime victims eligible to be prosecuted under hate crimes laws. The bill sponsored by Sen. Mandy Dawson-White, D-Ft Lauderdale, would add "gender" to the list of hate crimes victims. The list now includes race, color ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, mental or physical disability and advanced age.........And finally, a divided Pinellas County School Board tentatively approved a policy Tuesday that would specifically protect gay and lesbian students from harassment on campus. The Board declined to add similar language to a policy that would ban the same discrimination in the district's hiring and promotion policies. So as I understand it then, it's ok for students to be gay, but they can't grow up to be teachers -- just wanted to get straight on that............