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Report: Black youth more likely to be locked up

April 26, 2000
A black youth is six times more likely to be locked up than a white peer, even when charged with a similar crime and when neither has a record, says a new civil rights report contending that racial bias exists at every step of the juvenile justice process.
     Many policies and practices have led to a "cumulative disadvantage" for black and Hispanic youths, civil rights leaders and youth advocates said yesterday as they released the report by the Youth Law Center. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency did the research.
     Minority youths are more likely than white youths who commit comparable crimes to be referred to juvenile court, be detained, face trial as adults, and be jailed with adults, the report said. 

Open letter to Bush on disability issues

April 19, 2000
Five months ago, I approached you, Vice-President Al Gore, former Democratic Senator Bill Bradley, and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) to learn where the candidates stood on issues affecting people with disabilities... Gore agreed to an interview, and on December 31, he spent 30 minutes with me answering questions. The interview was widely read and widely disseminated on the Internet.
    Senator John McCain's staff told me, "Ride the Straight Talk Express," so I did, going to New Hampshire to ride the bus with the GOP challenger....
    Former Senator Bradley's staff did not have any interest in disability issues. They said that right up front. You see how far it got him.
    Sadly, Governor, last week your staff informed my editor -- after five months of assuring me and Business Week Online that an interview would happen -- that there won't be one after all. 

Fundamentalist Navy chaplains sue for job bias

April 09, 2000
Landlocked in Omaha, Greg DeMarco sweetened his youth by dreaming of the sea and the heavens. At the time, he saw only one way to navigate both: by signing up as a Navy chaplain. After all, Southern Baptist preachers and Navy sailors seemed to him cut from the same cloth--pro-Vietnam War, pro-family, faithful to country and God.
     But 15 years in his chosen profession have made him wiser. By career's end, he'd realized the preacher side of him suffocates in the sailors' company.
     So last month, DeMarco joined 10 fellow chaplains in a class action
lawsuit that claims the Navy discriminates against evangelical Christian
preachers like him.
     The suit alleges that Navy brass effectively run a "religious patronage
system," favoring the denominations they belong to, what the plaintiffs call High Church: Catholics and mainline Protestants. 

Appeals court to reconsider religious discrimination case

March 22, 2000
Under the glare of a media spotlight and perhaps the stern gaze of the U.S. Supreme Court, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday will reconsider last year's controversial ruling that religious landlords can discriminate against unmarried couples.
    Reams of amicus curiae briefs have been filed in the Alaska case, and lawyers were in transit to San Francisco Tuesday, while C-SPAN warmed up its cameras for a rare -- if not unprecedented -- peek at the en banc oral arguments.
    Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, joined by Senior Judge Joseph Farris, upheld in Thomas v. Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, 97-35220, a free exercise clause claim against state and local laws in Alaska barring housing discrimination based on marital status. 

Column: Predatory lenders under fire across US

February 28, 2000
The noose is slowly tightening around the necks of predatory lenders who charge exorbitant fees and rates on mortgages, home improvement loans and home equity loans.
     At the federal level, Rep. John LaFalce (NY), the highest ranking Democrat on the House Banking Committee, is crafting legislation to expand the 1994 law that requires additional disclosures on high-cost loans. 
     In addition, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is working to keep predatory lenders out of the mainstream banking system, and Freddie Mac is advising consumer organizations and industry groups it will no longer purchase loans that are subject to the Home Owners and Equity Protection Act. 
     At the state level, meanwhile, three more states have introduced predatory lender legislation of their own, prompting Robert Lotstein, counsel to the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, to say, "The flood gates have opened to state regulation of high-cost home loans." 

Study: minorities treated more harshly in Calif. juvenile court

February 03, 2000
Minority juvenile offenders in California are much more likely to be transferred to adult courts and sentenced to prison than are whites who commit similar crimes, a study released yesterday shows.
    The report adds to a growing body of work pointing up troubling racial disparities in the nation's criminal justice system that advocates say seem to be widening as the nation's incarceration rate continues to grow.
    The study, completed by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), a criminal justice research group, found that minority youth, particularly Latinos and African Americans, are treated more harshly than whites at each stage of the criminal justice process. 

Site for disabled touts ‘I can’ attitude

February 03, 2000
For the 54 million Americans with a disability, the Internet has been both a blessing and a curse.
    The immense amount of information and resources available has opened up opportunities and support that was previously unavailable. But with increased resources comes misinformation and confusion. For many people with a disability the Net remains a closed-off oasis because so few sites support text-to-speech and other technologies necessary for those who can’t see or type.
    Heidi Van Arnhem wants to change that.
    Van Arnhem was left a quadriplegic at age 16 after a family friend accidentally shot her while playing with a gun. Since then she has dedicated her life to educating people about the needs and abilities of the disabled. Her latest effort is I-Can Online, an Internet portal officially launching this spring. It will provide information and resources for people with disabilities and the friends and employers who assist them.  

Number of homeless double that of a decade ago

February 02, 2000
One of every 100 Americans used a homeless service -- from emergency shelters to soup kitchens -- at some point during 1996, nearly double the number from a decade before, a study estimates.
     From 2.3 million to 3.5 million people were homeless at least once in 1996, the most recent year for which data are available. That compares with 1.4 million-1.8 million in 1987, according to the Urban Institute.
     ''The general trend is that they've gone up,'' says Nan Roman of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. ''That's really a frightening finding.''
     The institute, a liberal-leaning research center, based its findings on information provided by homeless persons and agencies that provide help to the homeless. The data were collected by the Census Bureau. 

More plaintiffs may join LSU suit

January 29, 2000
An appeals court decision that LSU intentionally discriminated against female athletes means thousands of current and former students might join a lawsuit seeking money, a lawyer said yesterday.
     A panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty to reconsider her decision denying class action status to the lawsuit filed by three female soccer players and two softball players.
     If Doherty reverses herself, that means all women who played sports at Louisiana State since 1993 could be added as plaintiffs, said Nancy Rafuse, lawyer for the five players. She said: "Throwing in intramural and club sports, you could be talking thousands." 

Hate site distorts King’s dream

January 26, 2000
It’s a new tactic for white supremacist groups on the Net -- capitalizing on the name of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to preach bigotry and hatred to unsuspecting Web surfers.
     Martinlutherking.org appears to be a benign site dedicated to the life and writings of the man who gave the famous "I Have a Dream" speech during the 1963 March on Washington. It’s actually hosted by Stormfront.org, one of the oldest and largest white supremacist sites on the Internet.
     It appears to be a clear case of cybersquatting, but legal experts agree there is little that can be done to return the name to the King family. Unlike living celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Kenny Rogers, who have recently filed lawsuits under the U.S. Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act passed by Congress last November, Martin Luther King’s name is not protected because he is deceased.


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