Edited By Lauri Apple, Fri., Nov. 30, 2001
The U.S. House Republican leadership has scheduled a Dec. 6 vote on Fast Track trade legislation and the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Describing the measures as "another example of the free-market fundamentalism ... threatening the environment, families' livelihoods, human rights, and democracy," local opponents ask citizens to call their congressional reps and request they vote against the measures. For more info, contact Juliette Beck at Global Exchange, 800/497-1994 (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Jere Locke of the Austin-based Texas Fair Trade Coalition, 416-7170 (email@example.com).
The Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will hold its annual statewide conference Saturday, Dec. 1, at St. Mary's Catholic Center in College Station. The keynote speaker is Dianne Rust-Tierney of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project in D.C. Other speakers or workshop presenters include Amnesty International's Efia Nwagaza, Jeannette Popp of Murder Victims for Reconciliation, UT Professor Bob Jensen, and Austin attorney Walter Long, who worked on behalf of Karla Faye Tucker and Napoleon Beazley. For more info, check www.tcadp.org, or call Marjorie Loehlin at 327-2159 (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
Is Mexico's quality of life any better now than it was before Vicente Fox became president? Human rights and environmental experts will examine the current state of the country following the recent murder of human rights activist and lawyer Digna Ochoa and other events at a free forum tonight (Nov. 29) at 7pm on the UT campus, in Room 3.02 of the T.S. Painter Building, 103 W. 24th. On Friday, Nov. 30, a rally and protest against Ochoa's murder will take place at the Mexican Consulate, Sixth and Brazos, 11:30 am-1pm.
Getting treatment for mental illness in Austin will get considerably harder after Saturday. St. David's Pavilion plans to reduce its bed count from 40 to 20 and only accept patients 65 and older, leaving Seton Shoal Creek as the only all-ages private mental health facility. "St. David's and Seton didn't work out a transition plan," complains Pam Brown, president of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill-Austin, adding that reduced options are creating a major dilemma to treatment-needy people. Other factors include shorter hospital stays and difficulties obtaining appropriate payment from insurance companies.
The Austin alumnae of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority are holding free college prep workshops for high school students preparing to take the SAT or ACT college entrance exams. Workshops will be held on 6-8pm Tuesday and Thursday, Dec. 4 and 6, at the DST house, 1190 San Bernard in East Austin. From January through April, classes will be held every Tuesday and Thursday (with the exception of the third Tuesday each month), same time, same place. No sign-up or registration is required, said LaDeitra Lee, chairwoman of the sorority's alumnae educational development committee, but students are asked to show up ready to learn. For more info, check out the DST alumnae Web site at www.austinalumnae.org.
Riding the Pink Cadillac To Heaven: Cosmetics magnate Mary Kay Wagner Ash died at her Dallas home Thursday from complications associated with a stroke she suffered in 1996. Ash started the Mary Kay cosmetics company in 1963 with a hand cream formula developed by a tanner and built the business into a $1.3 billion enterprise. Ash was 83.
If you want to command instant respect in Texas, having football connections never hurts. In the case of former Texas Longhorn and NFL lineman Ed Cunningham, who is running as a Democrat for departing Phil Gramm's U.S. Senate seat, old gridiron buddies also make fabulous fundraising helpers. As a lawyer, Cunningham represents several NFL players, including Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman John Welbourn and Washington Redskins defensive end Dorian Boose. In September, Welbourn formed the Eagles Political Action Committee to assist Cunningham's campaign, and Boose's wife Brenda Boose is organizing a Dec. 3 "America & the Gridiron" fundraiser for Cunningham in Washington, D.C.
The third annual Computer Report Card, which evaluates how electronics manufacturers fare in areas of clean production, protecting workers' health, and producing environmentally superior products, has named Round Rock's Dell Computer Corp. on its list of "laggards." Out of 68 possible points, Dell earned a meager 19. "Electronic waste is one of the fastest-growing and most toxic waste streams -- threatening human health and the environment," Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Executive Director Ted Smith said in a press statement. The coalition released the report this week in conjunction with the national launch of the Computer TakeBack Campaign, a cooperative recycling effort. The complete Report Card and more info on the recycling campaign can be found at www.svtc.org.
The long arm of Austin law is reaching out to help needy families have a merry Christmas through two annual volunteer campaigns. The APD's Blue Santa and Travis Co. Sheriff's Office's Brown Santa await your help and/or donations. Each year, the two Santas gather food, toys, and other items to deliver to thousands of area families. For more on Blue Santa, call APD at 220-2583, or visit www.ci.austin.tx.us/police. For Brown Santa info, call 247-2682, or check out www.brownsanta.org.
Also feeling warm and generous this holiday season are the elves at the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, who have contributed $4 million to three area nonprofits assisting homeless people. Announced last week by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, the aid package will go to Community Partnership for the Homeless, SafePlace, and the Capital Area Homeless Alliance.
In other cosmetics news, the Estée Lauder company has announced that their "Lauder Leading Lipstick Index" (an anecdotal term coined by company Chairman Leonard Lauder) shows that lipstick sales are up, even though the economy is sagging (Note to the Invisible Hand of the Market: use moisturizer!). E.L. spokeswoman Janet Bartuci says the 50-year-old make-up maker has noted that in times of economic uncertainty, women turn to lipstick as a quick pick-me-up. A new outfit or pair of shoes can seem like too much of a splurge, but a small cylinder of petroleum-based sunshine is always affordable. "In times of a recession, women pick up on the immediate style that lipstick offers," she said.