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Worth noting.

* Environmental pioneers were honored in May by the Whitley Fund for Nature. In addition to Manfred Epanda Aime, who establishes nature preserves to protect chimpanzees and gorillas in West Africa, and Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung and Suprabha Seshan for their work in Asia against the trafficking of plants and animals for traditional medicine, top honors went to Patricia Majluf who has spent twenty-five years researching Peru's marine wildlife and leading efforts to protect ecological hotbeds along Peru's coast.

* In a country where 3,000 people die weekly of AIDS-related illness, Zimbabwe is running out of anti-retroviral drugs to treat the 20,000 people who depend on them. Zimbabwe has the highest annual rate of inflation in the world--more than 900 percent--and the lowest life expectancy at less than forty years.

* While Africa suffers the heaviest toll due to AIDS, Eastern Europe and Central Asia have the fastest growing HIV epidemic--1.6 million cases by the end of 2005. People under age thirty account for 75 percent of those infected, and Ukraine and Russia have most of the region's cases. In May, Moscow hosted the first European and Central Asian AIDS conference, and HIV/AIDS will be a topic of discussion when the G8 summit is held in Russia in July.

* May 18, 2006, became a historic day for the people of Nepal as parliament signed the declaration officially changing the country from a Hindu Kingdom into a secular state. Expected to ensure equal rights for all, particularly for the nation's indigenous people and minorities, the change also stripped the king of most of his powers and placed the army under the control of parliament. While the new constitution likely won't be ratified until 2007, opportunities for women are expected to broaden almost immediately.

* In state legislatures and school boards across the United States the push is on to promote the "literary and historic importance of the Bible." Thanks to a new textbook, The Bible and Its Influence (published by Bible Literacy), eight hundred high schools are currently considering introducing the course. But it isn't the only effort in progress. The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools of Greensboro, North Carolina, claims that school districts in thirty-seven states use its curriculum.

* Bush to the rescue? Despite an unsuccessful seventeen year legal fight and facing $5,000 a day in fines if the Mount Soledad cross isn't removed, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and Republican State Senator Duncan Hunter haven't conceded yet. Unhappy with the court rulings that the cross violates the California constitution, they've now asked George W. Bush to wield his presidential powers to save the cross by using eminent domain to declare the half acre site a war memorial federal parkland.

* Religious liberals have been stepping up efforts to counter the religious right's political influence as over 1,000 spiritual progressives from thirty-nine states and many different faiths met in Washington DC from May 17-20 for a Spiritual Activism Conference, organized by the Network for Spiritual Progressives. Attendees participated in workshops, networked with activist groups, met with members of Congress, and held a "Pray-in for Peace" in front of the White House.

* Religious leaders are also calling for an end to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, charging that true faith is "free and voluntary" while in practice Bush's faith-based initiative has been "nothing more than the cash cow of the Christian right:' The Interfaith Alliance held a press conference in Washington DC on April 26 calling the president's effort to fund religious organizations an "ill-conceived, unconstitutional experiment that creates government sponsored religion, and threatens the integrity of democracy and the sanctity of religion." The Reverend Amos Brown, senior pastor of the "[laird Baptist Church in San Francisco, said, "The whole faith-based initiative, to use a biblical term, was born of sin and conceived in iniquity. It was established as a ploy and a tool to get the African-American community away from its prophetic witness."

* Federal legislation to protect a woman's right to choose to have a child or end a pregnancy was introduced into Congress on April 4, 2006. Sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the Freedom of Choice Act (S. 2593; H.R. 5151) would guarantee all women's access to reproductive health care, forbid government interference in a woman's right to make private, personal family planning and reproductive health decisions, and invalidate harmful laws enacted due to political machinations and special interest pressure

Karen Ann Gajewski is a freelance editor and an editorial consultant to the Humdnist.
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Title Annotation:aids rate in the world; National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools promotes "The Bible and Its Influence " as new text book; Freedom of Choice Act
Author:Gajewski, Karen Ann
Publication:The Humanist
Geographic Code:90ASI
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Previous Article:Gandhi in question.
Next Article:Murray Gell-Mann (1929-present) 2005 Humanist of the Year.

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