Congress lifts ban
People at risk of chronic, terrifying and often terminal diseases that are transmitted through vital fluids -- diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C -- might be a little healthier in years to come, thanks to Congress. As part of its 2010 federal budget, the House and Senate ended a 1988 ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs and disregarded a proposal to keep such clinics at least 1,000 feet from a broad array of public facilities.
King County's five needle-exchange sites operate with city, county and state funding, says Public Health spokesperson Matias Valenzuela. Services like them can play a key role in the nation's public health system, says the New York-based Harm Reduction Coalition, which estimates that 6 in 10 cases of HIV among women spring from using injection drugs like heroine, cocaine, or meth, or from intercourse with someone who contracted the virus through those drugs.
ACORN: No illegal conduct
It's not exactly a clean bill of health, but an independent review of ACORN -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- has cleared the nonprofit of any wrongdoing.
After staff members at several of ACORN's 75 offices across the nation were caught on hidden camera by two right-wingers posing as a pimp and a prostitute seeking advice on how to set up their business and, in another office, how to qualify for a mortgage ("Sex, lies, videotape and ACORN," Sept. 23-29), the group hired former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger to look into its practices.
In his report, released last week, he states that some of the advice given by staff and volunteers "was clearly inappropriate and unprofessional," but "there is no evidence that action, illegal or otherwise, was taken by any ACORN employee on behalf of the videographers." The report includes nine recommendations that ACORN can follow to strengthen oversight and regain public trust.
Judge denies Lorig motion
On Dec. 9, a Superior Court judge denied a motion by Lorig Associates for a temporary restraining order to stop its ex-employee Patricia Milton and the Seattle Solidarity Network from picketing the company over Milton's claim of racial discrimination. An article in the Dec. 2-8 issue of Real Change ("Developer sues activists over pickets for ex-employee") stated the motion had already been denied.
Judge Laura Inveen ruled that Lorig is unlikely to win its lawsuit against SeaSol because prohibiting the pickets "would be an impermissible prior restraint against SeaSol's first amendment rights to free speech." Milton, however, signed a severance agreement prohibiting her from making disparaging statements about Lorig and is likely to lose, the judge said.