- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Donna hosts dissident

A former Clinton Cabinet member is pressing the case for democracy in Cuba.

Donna E. Shalala, now president of the University of Miami, who served as secretary of health and human services during both of President Clinton's terms in the White House, has invited Cuban rights activist Oswaldo Paya Sardinas to receive an honorary doctorate at next spring's university commencement.

A letter from Miss Shalala was presented to Mr. Paya on Friday in Havana during a meeting of Todos Unidos, an umbrella group of Cuban opposition leaders who support Project Varela. The letter was delivered by James C. Cason, head of the U.S. Interest Section in Havana.

"It is a privilege to recognize Oswaldo Paya's courage and significant contributions to human rights in Cuba and the world," says Miss Shalala. "We will be honored by his presence at the ceremony."

In recent months, Mr. Paya has received international recognition for his coordination of the Varela Project, a referendum initiative to bring about democratic change in Cuba. He has been named this year's winner of the Sakharov Prize, an award given annually by the European Union for human rights.

Charmed lives

"Last Saturday afternoon," writes Bruce F. Webster of Washington, "my 16-year-old daughter, Emily, was walking up 17th Street from the Corcoran, where she has a ceramics class, when she came upon a small knot of anti-war protesters.

"One young woman had a large fluorescent green poster displaying the 'peace' symbol. Emily stopped and pointed out to the woman that the symbol was missing its middle lower segment and what the poster actually displayed looked pretty much like the Mercedes-Benz logo. The protester seemed embarrassed.

"I suspect this is not an uncommon occurrence; young protesters today have probably seen the Mercedes-Benz logo hundreds of more times than they have seen an actual peace symbol."

Lap counselor

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest AIDS-prevention "expert" is a porn star.

"With prevention 'experts' like this, I suppose it is not surprising that the agency has been unable to reduce annual HIV incidence for over a decade," Roland Foster, a House Government Reform subcommittee staff member, tells this column. "What's next, drunk drivers running Alcoholics Anonymous meetings?"

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that former homosexual-porn actor Edgar Gaines, a.k.a. Bobby Blake, is the object of a complaint that a local AIDS agency misspent federal money.

The St. Louis Health Department is investigating whether Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS known as BABAA improperly spent part of a $96,000 federal grant that was intended to prevent the spread of syphilis.

Mr. Gaines, who is described as a Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS actor who worked "in the sex industry in gay black porn flicks," was paid to speak in June to a gathering of homosexual men, held at a private residence.

Bruce Hopson, a lawyer representing BABAA, asks, why all the fuss?

"Edgar Gaines did not engage in any inappropriate activity," he says. "There was no sexual contact or stripping."

Mourn at the polls

The AFL-CIO is banking on a silver lining anti-Bush votes in the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone.

"If somebody like Paul Wellstone was willing to give so much, can we not do a little, or even a lot?" asks the nation's largest labor coalition, urging members to get out the vote Tuesday for Democratic candidates.

"His life and death remind us that this election is worth fighting for," says the AFL-CIO, noting the union movement lost a "powerful leader" in a plane crash on Friday.

The group's advisory on Mr. Wellstone's untimely passing says to really "understand the threat, the AFL-CIO's 'BushWatch' Web site has the facts behind George W. Bush's record on working-family issues."


Hispanics immigrating in large numbers to the United States aren't in a big hurry to learn English, which seems to be OK with the major political parties who are desperately seeking their votes.

Spanish-language campaign broadcast advertising continues to break records in 2002, with more than $9 million spent by gubernatorial, Senate and House candidates on nearly 14,000 Spanish-language television spots, reveals Adam Segal, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

An additional $2 million has been spent on advertising in down-ballot races and ballot initiatives.

If that's not enough, Mr. Segal says, candidates nationwide are promising "accelerated spending on Spanish-language television and radio ads in the final days of the campaign."

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