Welcome To The Afrocentric News Network

Newspaper Edition


Leaders Cite Perils to Minority and Family-Owned Businesses From Tax That Collects Little Revenue

WASHINGTON, May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Leading business groups today called for Congress to put an end to estate taxes -- or "death taxes" -- that unfairly penalize minority and family-owned businesses, while making only minuscule contributions to the federal coffers.

Among those calling for an end to the tax at a Washington, D.C., press conference today were the:

* Food Marketing Institute * National Association of Women Business Owners

* National Black Chamber of Commerce * National Indian Business Association

* National Newspaper Publishers Association * Newspaper Association of America

* U.S. Chamber of Commerce * U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The "death tax" is levied against the government-assessed value of the deceased's estate. Death taxes contribute barely more than 1 percent of federal revenue, and of each dollar collected, 65 cents is spent on collecting the tax. Estate tax rates in the U.S. are higher than many other industrialized nations. Rates start at 37 percent and climb to 55 percent.

Though some believe eliminating this tax would serve only the wealthy, family- owned businesses in all economic strata would see tangible benefits. In fact, a report from the White House Conference on Small Business identified estate taxes as one of the most pressing challenges facing small businesses.

"One might say that the only answer to the oxymoron statement, 'The only things in life that are certain are death and taxes -- not necessarily in that order,' is that one really can't afford to die and expect her business to live," said Terry Neese, past president and corporate and public policy adviser to the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Neese, who started her personnel business in 1975, brought her daughter into the firm about a year ago. "After paying taxes on the business for 24 years, she will be faced with paying death taxes. Will my daughter be able to carry on my legacy?" Neese asked.

"The total net worth of African Americans is only 1.2 percent of the total -- versus 14 percent of the population," noted Harry C. Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. "We have been stuck at that number since the end of the Civil War in 1865. Getting rid of the 'death tax' will start to create a needed legacy and begin a cycle of wealth building for blacks in this country. Eliminating the 'death tax' will be a great start."

Leonard L. Harris, an FMI board member, is a first-generation owner of Chatham Food Center on Chicago's South Side, one of the fewer than 20 black- owned supermarket companies in the U.S. With at least one of his sons, ages 15 and 12, interested in the business, Harris already is taking resources from his store to start planning a living trust.

"My focus has been putting my earnings back in to grow the business," Harris said. "For this reason, cash resources to pay federal estate taxes, based on the way valuation is made, would force my family to sell the store in order to pay the IRS within 9 months of my death. Our yearly earnings would not cover the payment of such a high tax. I should know, I started my career as a CPA."

"The entrepreneurial spirit behind Native American-owned businesses is the foundation upon which economic security for future generations of Native American families is built," commented Pete Homer, president and CEO of the National Indian Business Association. "Many Native Americans have toiled hard in building their family businesses so their children, grandchildren and future generations can enjoy some level of economic security, only to discover that well over half of it is taken away in the form of the death tax.

"The current federal estate and gift tax, which taxes each estate at a rate of 55 percent, is an unfair and onerous burden on Native American-owned family businesses," Homer added. "In many instances, small and even medium family- owned businesses have had to be sold simply to pay the death tax."

The death tax also threatens to quell the voices of minority communities -- the minority press.

"The impact of the estate tax has been particularly damaging to African American newspapers," explained Alexis Scott, publisher of the Atlanta Daily- World and a member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

Scott noted that recently, "The heirs to the Chicago Daily Defender -- one of the oldest black-owned daily newspapers in the United States -- were unable to keep the newspaper in their family, due to financial burdens imposed by the estate tax. They sought a buyer or investor who would keep the newspaper in the **African American** community. Because of the impact on its members, the National Newspaper Publishers Association is pushing for the repeal of the death tax."

Newspapers, however, face a double threat from the death tax. Not only are family-owned newspaper companies imperiled by the tax, but their customers -- both local advertisers and readers -- are hit hard by this tax as well.

"It's incredible that the government would continue to levy a tax that brings in just over 1 percent of total federal revenues, yet each year literally wipes out a considerable number of family-owned businesses -- the lifeblood of our economy," commented NAA board member Alejandro Aguirre, deputy editor/publisher, Diario Las Americas, Miami. "Repeal of this tax is important to our nation's newspapers and to their advertisers, be they local car dealers, real-estate agents, bakeries, florists or shopkeepers."

Numerous bills currently are pending in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate that would repeal or phase out the death tax. Bills to repeal the death tax have generated 200 co-sponsors in the House (HR 86) and 24 in the Senate (S 56). Bills to phase out the tax have collected 185 co- sponsors in the House (HR 8) and 14 in the Senate (S 38).

"The estate and gift tax should be killed. It discourages savings, investment and job growth. It unfairly penalizes small businesses, it fails to redistribute wealth in any meaningful way and it raises little revenue for the federal government," said Cecelia Adams, director for congressional and public affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Additional information about the death tax can be found online at www.deathtax.com, an Internet site created and maintained by the Seattle Times, one of the last family-owned and operated metropolitan newspapers in America.

The History of black South African pop music

(Africa News Service 5/25/99
Johannesburg - South Africa is distinguished by the most complex musical history, the greatest profusion of How far have we come. South Africa is distinguished by the most complex musical history, the greatest profusion of styles and the most intensely developed recording industry anywhere in Africa. Despite many regional and stylistic variations, its music - deeply influenced by Europe and America - is different from what you you'll hear anywhere else on the continent, even from the nearby central African region.

The local record industry speaks for itself. It has trailed close behind the music industries of Europe and America for the last 50 years, producing thousands of 78s, 45s, LPs, cassettes, CDs and now interactive CDs.

Although the licensing of foreign recordings has always been important, the home market has also fed on the country's own musical output. This, from the early days of marabi, through pennywhistle, to the development of mbaqanga as performed by Mahlatini and the Mahotella Queens. The vocal and choral traditions have been moving out of purely church-orientated styles to mbube and iscathamiya, a sound made popular by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Today, kwaito has taken over the airwaves, Busi Mhlongo has made maskanda accessible to European ears and Enoch Sontonga's composition Nkosi Sikele Afrika, has been included in the South African national anthem. It has been a long road, longer than most kwaito stars could possibly imagine.

Before Jan van Riebeeck

The clicks made famous by Miriam Makeba in The Click Song, were already an integral part of San - also known as Bushmen - chants about 4 000 years ago. Then some 2 000 years ago, another group called the Khoi developed these chants into a much more complex music. Vasco da Gama noted in 1497 that his Khoi hosts greeted his arrival with a five-men ensemble of reed flutes. The vocal tradition that this country is renowned for, really started around 200 AD, with the arrival of the Bantu-speaking peoples in the region. Each tribe had its distinct and characteristic songs, tonalities and harmonies, but the musical structure remained the same. The call and response structure of many African- American styles including Gospel and its later derivatives could have been a Bantu invention. It was definitely an African one.

The Gold Rush

The rapid growth of Johannesburg after the discovery of gold, led to the creation of the first black urban music called marabi. Originally, marabi was banged out on battered pianos to the percussive sound of pebble-filled cans in shebeens. By the late 30s it was being played on guitars, banjos and concertinas, but the underlying structure remained the same. The music grew out of the city of gold and by the '50s, three-chord marabi patterns were being played and sung in different languages and on a variety of instruments in townships throughout southern Africa. That was the birth of the African jive.

In retrospect, jive, could easily be considered as the foundation of modern black music in South Africa, since it led to the birth of kwela music (Pennywhistle jive), African jazz (a combination of jive and American swing) and to some extent, mbaqanga (where the pennywhistle was replaced by the saxophone and neo-traditional sounds were added).

Pennywhistle jive was one of the first musical styles to become a commercial phenomenon in South Africa, and the very first to be known internationally. In 1954, Spokes Mashiane's Aces Blues, backed by the Kwela Spokes became the biggest African hit of the year. Over a thousand pennywhistle discs were released in the following decade, with Mashiane as the undisputed leader in the field. It was precisely the song Big Joe Special, Mashiane's first recording on the saxophone, that symbolised the beginning of the end of kwela music. After the success of Big Joe Special, sax jives became the most popular black music genre. A jazz musician named Michael Xaba disdainfully referred to the new style as mbaqanga (quick money). The name still stands today.

The electric bass provided the musical foundation for the new style but what really separated mbaqanga from its predecessors was its vocal component. The vocal styles made famous by groups such as the Manhattan Brothers and the Skylarks in the 50s had been copied from African-American models, but local musicians Africanised the sound to create a distinctively South African synthesis. The classic vocal mbaqanga output was the groaning (ultra-bass male vocals that contrasted with softer all-female harmonising). Although the style was invented by Aaron Jack Big Voice Jack Lerole, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens took ownership of it and made it famous all over the world.

Sophiatown, King Kong nd Protest Music

The connection between jazz and the cultural and political fermenting of post-World War 2 South Africa is largely due to Drum, the black illustrated magazine that documented the era. Most jazz musicians came from urban backgrounds and were products of mission school education. For the most part, their enthusiasm for jazz had a lot more to do with attitude, style and aspirations than the music itself. Tribalism, traditionalism and ruralism were rejected in favour of the apparent success and sophistication of the African- American lifestyle; printed orchestrations, films and recordings providing the sole source of inspiration. The cities in the Cape province were particularly jazz-oriented.

Unless they were reading an imported score, most jazz bands played a mix of American swing and marabi. Arguably the most imaginative and technically advanced jazz musician of his era, Kippie Moeketsi was the first to introduce touches of bop and cool jazz into the local jazz music scene. This was also the great era of female African jazz vocalists, who modelled their styles on the likes of Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan. Leading this group, were Dolly Rathebe, Dorothy Masuka and Miriam Makeba, with Makeba probably being the most significant one. She exploded onto the world scene after taking the lead role in King Kong, a local musical, billed as a Jazz Opera. At the apogee of this success, Makeba left the country for the US. The outward rush of South Africa's artistic talent had begun.

At home, a new type of jazz was evolving, that emulated the American avant garde led by Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane and strove for a more self- conscious artistry. It also incorporated an overtly political dimension as protest music, a wordless assault on apartheid and all that it symbolised. Trumpeter Hugh Masekela, trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, pianist Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) and that most forward-thinking of the older generation jazzmen, Kippie Moeketsi constituted the core of this progressive new wave. They called themselves the Jazz Epistles. The departure of three of the Epistles left a large gap in the local jazz scene, but a new generation had been inspired by their example. Musicians such as Dudu Pukwana, Dr Philip Tabane (and his band Malombo Jazz Men), Winston Mankunku Ngozi and Basil Mannenburg Coetzee carried the flame of progressive jazz until it dried up because of lack of audience in the late '70s.

The jazz scene in South Africa today seems more vibrant than at any time since the halcyon days of the early '70s. Many of the jazz exiles who survived the experience of dislocation have now returned home to revitalise the music. Singers like Sibongile Khumalo are making the art of jazz singing popular again, while young and talented musicians such as Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, Jimmy Dludlu, Don Laka, McCoy Mrubata and others are also taking the music back to its African roots and making it accessible to the youth.

The song Mbube composed by Solomon Linda and performed with his band the Original Evening Birds in 1939, could be identified as the start of iscathamiya (Zulu a capella). Mbube was the first recording in Africa to sell over 100,000 copies and it later provided the basis for two American number one hit records, Wimoweh by the Weavers in 1950 and The Lion Sleeps Tonight by the Tokens in 1961. Mbube later became the generic term for a new vocal style incorporating Linda's main innovations: uniforms for the group, highly polished but softly executed dance routines and the vocal style. The name was later changed to iscathamiya, a Zulu term describing the dance routines performed by the various groups.

One of those groups stood out from the lot in the early 70s: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, led by Joseph Shabalala . Their initial album Amabuthu sold over 25,000. There was a rash of copycats when Ladysmith Black Mambazo caught success (most of them managing to incorporate Ladysmith in their names), but by the mid-80s, the audience for iscathamiya was again reduced to its original migrant-proletarian core. Paul Simon then discovered iscathamiya, recorded with LBM on two tracks (co-composed by Joseph Shabalala) featured on the legendary Graceland. The album sold over seven million copies and provided unprecedented exposure for a South African act in the international arena. LBM later released a Grammy-winning album titled Shaka Zulu, produced by Simon. Iscathamiya is now one of the most widely recognised form of South African music, and LBM, the country most famous musical ambassadors.

Weekend Special The popular sound of mbaqanga was replaced by American soul and disco in the hearts of black and coloured teenagers by the late 70s. Although the Soul Brothers have today returned to the mbaqanga style, they were among the pioneers (with a group called the Movers) of the soul movement here.

Another hugely successful band, the Flames, covered exclusively American soul and mainstream pop. Stimela, a band led by a young guitarist named Ray Phiri (famous for his collaboration with Paul Simon), later updated the style with more contemporary Afro-jazz influences. The next superstar in the genre was to come later in the mid-80s, his name was Sipho Hotstix Mabuse. With mega- hits such as Burnout and Jive Soweto, Mabuse achieved the perfect synthesis of mbaqanga, pop and soul. Bubblegum was born.

Sello Chicco Twala was the undisputed king of the new genre. He and his muse, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, produced a string of gold and platinum successes. By the early 90s Chaka Chaka had become South Africa's most successful export to the rest of Africa. But the most successful bubblegum star remains the controversial Brenda Fassie. She hit the scene with Weekend Special a decade ago, but has managed to keep a prominent place in newspaper headlines since then. Her latest album Memeza (produced by Chicco) sold more than 500 000 copies only two months after its release.

Mandela going, going, gone

The sound of the new South Africa so far, has undeniably been kwaito. If you haven't heard Tkzee's Shibobo by now, you are probably reading this article in Australia. Like mbaqanga in the 60s, it's a music strongly rooted in the townships. Like their predecessors, kwaito artists are heavily influenced by current popular African-American music (hip hop, R&B, house). The self- proclaimed King of kwaito, Arthur, was the first star in the genre. His song Oyi Oyi was voted song of the year by the South African public a year ago. His fame has since then started to fade and he's been replaced by forward-thinking groups like Boom Shaka, Tkzee and Bongo Maffin.

Although Bongo Maffin has re-mixed some of Miriam Makeba's favourite hits in their last two albums, the music has frequently been criticised for its lack of connection with the music traditions in this country. It also hasn't enjoyed the same international appeal as mbaqanga, iscathamiya and even African jazz. But a new chapter in black South African music has been started. Lets continue the road.

Jean-Noel Ntone is a freelance music writer and presents an African music show on Bush Radio in Cape Town.

(Copyright 1999 Screen Africa.) Distributed via Africa News Online by Africa News Service.

(Copyright 1999 Africa News Service)


RNs Welcome 'First Step' on Delay of Kaiser Oakland Closure;
'Community- Imposed Moratorium's Medical Redlining Suit Nears

(Business Wire; 05/26/99)

OAKLAND, CALIF. HEALTHWIRE -May 26, 1999--The California Nurses Association welcomed Kaiser Permanente's announcement late Tuesday that it will delay -- at least for the duration of this year -- the closure of its Kaiser Oakland hospital and emergency room.

This is "a community, RN-imposed moratorium" and "an important first step to protecting public safety in the East Bay," said CNA executive director Rose Ann DeMoro.

CNA will "now work to make this a permanent decision to remain in Oakland," said DeMoro. That effort begins as early as Wednesday morning at which CNA will join elected officials in a press conference at 9:30 a.m. outside Kaiser Oakland to promote AB 421, that would expand the authority of counties to block emergency room closures or service reductions.

DeMoro noted the announcement coincides with the approach of a landmark CNA lawsuit opposing the closure of Kaiser hospitals in Oakland and Martinez. The case challenges the practice of medical redlining, noting the closures have a disproportionate effect on African-American and Latino communities. A September trial date is set in Contra Costa Superior Court in Martinez.

Kaiser has been planning since 1995 to terminate acute care services and to close its hospital and emergency services in its flagship Oakland hospital, as early as this June.

CNA has challenged the closure from the outset, with an emphasis on Kaiser members' access to hospital and emergency services, the larger impact on overcrowding of other private hospitals and the potential dumping of patients on an under funded public health system.

With the shut down rapidly approaching, CNA has stepped up efforts, working many community groups and activists alarmed at the loss of a hospital and emergency room that records 61,000 emergency visits and 40, 000 patient days yearly.

A CNA petition drive this spring netted over 10,000 signatures of Kaiser members, many of whom were unaware of the pending closure and very concerned with access to care at a time when other local hospitals are routinely overcrowded and under staffed. In early May, CNA sponsored a community speak out at Kaiser Oakland, joined by dozens of leaders of community groups opposed to the closure.

"Today's announcement demonstrates the power of our partnership with the public," said DeMoro.

(Copyright 1999)


(Florida Today; 05/23/99) The state's black Democratic leadership gathered to "unify interests, not to highlight division" in discussing the 2000 election and redistricting.

The statewide conference, organized by Rep. Carrie Meek of Miami, was an attempt to mend fences with disaffected black voters and party leaders following strong state Republican gains in the 1998 election year.

There was a three percent decline -- nearly 50,000 votes -- in black voter turnout between the 1994 and 1998 elections, according to Democratic pollster Ron Lester.

Nearly 250 Democrats plotted strategies behind closed doors at the Orlando International Airport Marriott Hotel with designs on rebuilding party organizational structure before an attempt to recapture the U.S. Senate seat occupied by retiring Republican Sen. Connie Mack.

"There's been a slippage in our base after the Willie Logan incident," Meek said, referring to the January 1998 ouster of the black speaker-designate of the House Democratic Caucus. "We have to send a message to the Democratic party that African-American voters are to be respected and that means Democrats need to be educated and unified on issues important to us."

Logan, who attended the conference but who was not invited to speak, has hinted at making a run for the U.S. Senate.

"The best thing that happened to the Florida Democratic party in the last 10 years may have been the discussion about Willie Logan, but we are here to unify interests, not to highlight division," said state party chairman Charlie Whitehead.

The Democrats discussed possible strategies for redistricting in the state to favor black representation in political office.

Meek said the 2000 census -- especially a systematic head count of black families -- is crucial to the best interests of Florida blacks.

"We know where the blacks are, we can get organized and make sure the people know about the census forms, how and why to fill them out and be counted."

Florida black voters are realigning with Democrats, Lester said, despite a drift toward the Republicans and Jeb Bush in 1998. His research indicates a national trend away from Republicans since that party gained control of Congress under House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1994.

"Democratic identification is up," Lester said. "To Bush's credit, he made a concerted effort to get black votes, but many Republicans don't even try."

Education issues, such as the debate about school choice and the availability of vouchers, have overtaken drugs and crime as the leading concern among black voters, Lester said.

(Copyright 1999)


In the Boston Metropolitan Area Acquisition Is the Company's First in This Top-10 Market
LANHAM, Md., May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Radio One, Inc. (Nasdaq: ROIA) announced today that it has entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with KJI Broadcasting, LLC to acquire all of the assets of radio station WCAV-FM, licensed to Brockton, Massachusetts, for approximately $10 million.

This acquisition is the Company's first in the Metropolitan Boston radio market, which is the country's 8th largest radio market (based on 1998 radio advertising revenue).

Commenting on the announcement, Radio One's Chief Executive Officer, Alfred C. Liggins, III stated, "We are excited to enter one of the country's largest radio markets at an attractive purchase price. This acquisition enables us to continue our strategy of acquiring and operating radio stations in the top-30 African-American markets."

Radio One, Inc., founded in 1980, is the nation's largest radio broadcasting company primarily targeting African-American listeners. Pro forma for the completion of all announced acquisitions, the Company owns 26 radio stations, 25 of which are located in nine of the top-20 African-American markets in the United States.

This press release may include forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Because these statements apply to future events, they are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially, including the absence of a combined operating history with an acquired company or radio station and the potential inability to integrate acquired businesses, need for additional financing, high degree of leverage, granting of rights to acquire certain portions of the acquired company's or radio station's operations, variable economic conditions and consumer tastes, as well as restrictions imposed by existing debt and future payment obligations.

Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially are described in the Company's reports on Forms 10-K and 10- Q and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. SOURCE Radio One, Inc.

(Copyright 1999)

St. Louis sues gun industry

ST. LOUIS, May 1 (UPI) - St. Louis has joined other city governments taking legal action against the gun industry.

Mayor Clarence Harmon announced a lawsuit filed Friday in St. Louis Circuit Court against gun makers, trade associations and retailers, with the aim of recovering millions of dollars the city claims to have spent responding to gun violence.

Harmon says the suit was filed to force manufacturers to accept responsibility for their products.

``The gun makers are aware that their products are used frequently in crimes and accidental killings,'' he said, ``yet they refuse to build in safety features that would drastically reduce gun violence.''

Such safety measures, Harmon says, could be as simple as a combination lock incorporated into the grip of a handgun.

Harmon holds weapon makers responsible for a range of city expenses, including increased **police** protection, emergency services, **police** pension benefits, judicial costs and medical care.

The suit also claims the city has lost tax revenue due to ``lost productivity.''

The St. Louis Post-Disptach said the lawsuit names 27 defendants but does not include a specific amount in damages because research is ongoing.

Other large cities that have sued the gun industry include Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta and Detroit.

Copyright 1999 by United Press International.

Court lets schools be sued

(News Observer Raleigh NC; 05/25/99) WASHINGTON -- In a bitterly divided decision that affects every public school and most colleges in the nation, the Supreme Court on Monday allowed school districts to be sued in federal court when they know of flagrant sexual harassment between students but do little or nothing about it.

The justices ruled 5-4 that U.S. civil-rights law protects students who are victims of sexual harassment by other students.

Such incidents are common in the nation's 15,000 public school districts. Four of every five girls recalled experiencing some form of sexual harassment in school, according to several studies.

"This decision will lead to better schools for both boys and girls," said Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, which represented a girl who was repeatedly harassed by a fifth-grade boy in Georgia. "It's a wake-up call to school districts to develop policies against sexual harassment and to enforce them."

{In the Triangle, the Wake school board already has toughened its policy governing sexual harassment among students, and the Durham school board is revising its policy.

{The changes in Wake, approved in August, added students to a policy that had been limited to employees. The revised policy spells out what constitutes harassment, and outlines procedures for reporting and investigating it.

{"I don't think this will be any large departure from Wake's policy," Ann Majestic, the school board's lawyer, said of the Supreme Court ruling. "Wake already requires staff to report any knowledge of student-on-student harassment."

{The policy also provides a mechanism for a student to bring a complaint, she said. "I'm sure that we'll be looking at {the policy} to make sure that our wording is clear enough, but it is already strong enough requiring staff to report these things."

{Majestic said the Durham school board is involved in a yearlong effort to adjust all of its policies, including the one governing sexual harassment.}

Many education experts say schools in general are ill-equipped to deal with the problem of dividing schoolyard antics from harassment. In some cases, they worry educators may act too fast to punish an alleged harasser and ask questions later. Or some educators may wait until harassment becomes as severe as that described in the Supreme Court case before acting.

"It is a real dilemma for schools," said Marion Gindes, a New York City psychologist whom schools and businesses consult on sexual harassment. "Some schools will get into trouble because they don't evaluate a situation correctly and either act too quickly or not quickly enough."

* * *

Actions limited:

But while the court's four dissenters predicted public schools would now face an "avalanche" of lawsuits and potentially crippling damages, lawyers for school administrators predicted the results would not be nearly so dire.

They noted that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in writing the majority opinion, drew lines that sharply limited the types of cases that could result in federal damages against school districts.

To be liable, she said, a school board must have "actual knowledge" of student-on-student harassment and be "deliberately indifferent" to it. In addition, the harassment must be so severe and pervasive that it deprives the victims of access to the benefits of education, O'Connor said. She was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

A single instance of harassment could not trigger a suit, nor would damages be available for "simple acts of teasing and name- calling among children," even when based on gender differences, O'Connor said.

Those restrictions pleased lawyers for national associations of school boards and administrators, who said the ruling would not be disastrous for the nation's 15,000 public school districts.

"It will increase litigation against school districts, no doubt," said Lisa A. Brown, a Houston lawyer who represents school administrators. "But Justice O'Connor set a very demanding standard, and school districts will be able to get rid of many of the suits without the need for a trial."

"We can live with it," said Julie Underwood, chief lawyer for the National School Boards Association. "We were worried about litigating and re-litigating student disciplinary matters and that it would paralyze the schools. But O'Connor's standard is so high that I don't think we're in that position."

O'Connor, in fact, made a point of saying that "courts should refrain from second-guessing the disciplinary decisions made by school administrators."

* * *

Flood of suits foreseen:

The four dissenters, though, forecast big trouble.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who caustically read parts of his blistering 34- page dissent from the bench, said the majority had erected a fence "made of little sticks" that could not contain an "avalanche" of suits to come. He noted that since there is no ceiling on federal damages, some school districts could be financially crippled.

Kennedy, joined by the court's conservative wing (Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas), forecast "a climate of fear" that would encourage school administrators to label as sexual harassment "even the most innocuous of childish conduct."

The ruling, Kennedy said, "clears the way for the federal government to claim center stage in America's classrooms ... after today, Johnny will find that the routine problems of adolescence are to be resolved by invoking a federal right to demand assignment to a desk two rows away."

Consider the way schools have bungled this sensitive issue so far:

Three years ago, Johnathan Prevette, 6, from Lexington, N.C., kissed a little girl in his first grade class on the cheek. She complained, and the school's principal decided Johnathan had violated the district's policy against sexual harassment. Johnathan was separated from his class for a day. His plight became a national lightning rod, and the school changed its policy to prohibit punishing children younger than the sixth grade for sexual harassment, except in serious cases.

The next year, prosecutors in Arlington, Va., charged a 9-year-old boy with aggravated sexual battery after he allegedly rubbed his crotch against a 9-year- old girl in the lunch line. The boy's lawyer said the contact was accidental. Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges.

Nevertheless, noted Robert J. Shoop, a professor of educational law at Kansas State University, school children face many instances of serious sexual harassment - such as kids getting their pants pulled down or having other students masturbate in front of them, and kids who are called sluts and threatened with rape - when school officials do nothing.

* * *

Staff writer Todd Silberman contributed to this report.

* * *

Other action:

The Supreme Court on Monday:

- Ruled unanimously that **police** violate "the right of residential privacy at the core of the Fourth Amendment" when they take journalists into a person's home to witness a search or arrest.

- Turned down the appeal of a Maine dentist sued for refusing to treat a woman because she has the AIDS virus.

- Made it easier for disabled workers to sue employers over alleged discrimination after seeking Social Security disability benefits.

- Ruled 5-4 in a California case that people at least sometimes can get a jury trial when they invoke a civil rights law and sue in federal court over local land-use regulations.

(Copyright 1999)


The Family Practice *** Local family going on seven generations of doctors in its history

(Advocate Baton Rouge LA; 05/16/99) When Josh Billings graduates from LSU Medical School in Shreveport in the year 2002, he will join ranks with six successive generations of American doctors in his family.

The son of Dr. Frederic Tremaine Billings III, Josh can trace his family tree back to ancestor Dr. John Julius LeMoyne, who was born near Paris in 1760 and trained as a physician before he moved to this country in 1790.

"I never felt any pressure to become a doctor," said Frederic Billings, a medical oncologist at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. "Of course, I was aware there were a lot of doctors in my family. When I was in seventh grade, I was sure I'd be an astronaut. When I was a teen-ager, I wanted to be a nuclear physicist, but in college, I decided on medicine.

"I've worked hard not to pressure my own children (to become doctors). The work is too hard if you don't want to do it. But I have found medicine to be rewarding. It's an honorable, fulfilling profession and I'm delighted that my son chose to go to medical school."To hear the Billings' family history, as related by Frederic Billings through family records, is to take a journey through the annals of medicine for the past two centuries. Billings' collection of artifacts includes old photographs, correspondence, genealogies, newspaper clippings, other documents and a book about his great- great-grandfather, Dr. Francis Julius LeMoyne, titled "Fearless Advocate of the Right," by Margaret C. McCulloch.

Dr. John Julius LeMoyne (1760-1847)

The son of a French physician and botanist, John Julius LeMoyne de Villiers studied medicine in the late 1700s and had begun his practice in the French army. A Royalist who was present at the storming of the Bastille, he fled from his homeland during the French Revolution and immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Washington, Pa., not far from Pittsburgh.

"Doctor John," as he was called, built a large, Colonial stone house in Washington in 1812, which also served as his office and apothecary. Today, the LeMoyne House is home to the Washington County Historical Society.

"There were no clinics or hospitals on the frontier," McCulloch wrote. "Anesthetics and antiseptics were yet to be discovered; surgery was a rough business and a painful one and many a patient needed nursing care.

"The doctor's wife, therefore, took them in and, as the years passed and the doctor's reputation grew, they added to the household young men who wished to study medicine under his direction and instruction, as was the custom in the days before medical schools," she wrote. LeMoyne was also a skilled botanist and was passionately fond of music and art; he died an old man in 1847.

Dr. Francis Julius LeMoyne (1798-1879)

Doctor John's only child, Francis Julius LeMoyne, "a boy of good mind, exemplary conduct and fine business talent," according to a genealogy of the LeMoyne family, was expected to follow in his father's footsteps.

Upon his graduation from Washington College (now Washington and Jefferson College), he began his apprenticeship. He served as clerk, laboratory assistant and medical and surgical aide, learning the business, clinical and pharmacological aspects in on-the-job training.

After five years, he went on to medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, the country's first and oldest medical school. In a letter to his father, Francis LeMoyne wrote, "There is now in the city a very simple instrument invented by a French physician, by the use of which the precise situation of tubercules in the lungs can be ascertained.

"The instrument is a tube nearly resembling the lower end of a claronett - made of wood - the mode of applying it is to place the large end upon the patient's breast and applying the ear to the other end...The discoverer calls it the Stethoscope.""Francis was probably the family's only genius," Dr. Frederic Billings III said. "Medicine was just one of his many interests. He ran as a vice presidential candidate with James G. Birney on an Abolitionist platform."In 1835, LeMoyne founded and presided over the Washington County Anti- slavery Society and his house served as an underground railway station for the American Missionary Association in its work assisting escaping slaves.

After the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, LeMoyne made a $20,000 contribution to form a school in Memphis, Tenn., to educate "freedmen of color." It later came to be called LeMoyne-Owen College - an institution that is still providing higher education to a predominantly African-American student body.

He also founded and gave $20,000 to the Washington Public Library.

Another subject that he became interested in was cremation, which was virtually unknown in the United States. LeMoyne designed and built the first crematorium in this country on a hill on his property, known as Gallows Hill. He wrote a lengthy paper published in 1878 supporting the argument that "cremation is preferable to inhumation (burial) of dead human bodies."LeMoyne and his wife raised eight children in the house his father built, which was also where he practiced medicine. He died in 1879, and his body was the third to be cremated on Gallows Hill. His youngest son was to become a doctor.

Dr. Frank LeMoyne (1839-1913)

A "happy child blessed with an uncommonly sunny disposition," Frank LeMoyne also received his medical education at the University of Pennsylvania. Of his anatomy class, he wrote that he "found it pretty hard to stand the odor of the dissecting room at first."During the spring of 1861, he interrupted his studies to enlist in the Union army as an assistant surgeon. During his years of service, he wrote numerous letters home.

Following a harsh battle in Virginia in 1862, he wrote to his sister, Jane, "You can imagine that the Medical Department was busily employed for several days after the battle and I had opportunities of operating and witnessing operations that could not occur under any other circumstances. The stories which you see in the papers depreciating the courage of the Rebels in battle and their fortitude are false. They fight well and in common with our own men bear their misfortune like heroes."On Aug. 15, 1863, he wrote again to his sister from camp near Rappahonnock Station. "We have 30 patients, some of whom are very sick. One died yesterday morning. He was a Sergt. in one of our Regts .. I was struck at once with the severity of his disease and his fortitude in bearing his sufferings. I do not remember a patient in whom I took more interest."To his father, in a letter dated Feb. 12, 1865, LeMoyne wrote more dispassionately, "I performed two amputations at the junction of the middle and upper third of the thigh and a number of minor operations ... We had a great many interesting cases, but of course in the hurry of a fight only the most important ones could receive proper attention immediately."At the end of the war, LeMoyne returned to Pennsylvania and established his medical practice primarily as a pediatrician in Pittsburgh. He also served as president of the Allegheny County Medical Society.

In 1883, he and his 11-year-old son, Kirk, set out to raise $3,000 to endow a pediatric bed at West Penn Hospital. From that initiative, which was dubbed the "Cot Club," came the idea to open an entire hospital devoted exclusively to the care of children.

LeMoyne's dream was realized, and the first patients were admitted to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh on June 5, 1890. The LeMoyne Society is today the foundation for the hospital's development efforts.

Dr. Frederic Tremaine Billings (1873-1933)

Dr. Frank LeMoyne's daughter, Romaine, married Frederic T. Billings in 1909. An admiral's son, Billings was educated at the U.S. Naval Academy and then Yale University Medical School.

During World War I, he was medical chief of the Naval Unit in Philadelphia.

As an internist, Billings specialized in diseases of the heart and lung and was instrumental in establishing a heart clinic at the Western Pennsylvania Hospital in 1920.

Billings was the first to bring an electrocardiograph machine west of the Alleghenies and, in a lecture to members of the Monongahela Medical Society, he discussed the "electric-graphic tracing by delicate apparatus ... on sensitized paper" and heart block.

Describing Billings' presentation, the president of the society wrote of recent advances in medicine.

"Few of us even stop to think what a wonderful thing the development of diphtheria antitoxin has been to us ... Also, we drop into a drugstore, call for a tube of 914 without even being thankful in our souls for the tenacity of that German who had tried 914 times to get a non-toxic antisyphilitic ... We advance as it were over the dead bodies of those gone before using all of the useful things left us, discarding the useless ones. "The practical everyday part, we are unable to use, but it is just such advanced teachings that finally lift us all out of the ruts and low places of our calling and we are carried forward to better things."

Dr. Frederic Tremaine "Josh" Billings Jr. (1912- )

In an interview that was part of a series chronicling 100 outstanding physicians, Dr. Frederic T. "Josh" Billings Jr. recalled going on rounds with his father and feeling inspired, but not obliged, to follow in his footsteps.

Actually, he said, "I knew I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was 5 years old. I never had an idea of doing anything else. My father tried to give me a broader view - he wanted me to work in a bank one summer - but I got around it somehow."Billings went to Princeton University, where he distinguished himself as an athlete - he was captain of the football team and lettered in lacrosse and wrestling - and as a scholar - he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa his junior year. He went on to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

While at Oxford, Billings was struck with polio and was hospitalized for six months - an experience he regards as "positive" because he experienced medicine first-hand through a patient's eyes.

On his return to the United States, Billings went to Johns Hopkins Medical School and married in 1942. A month later, he left for the Southwest Pacific during World War II as an Army captain attached to the Hopkins medical unit.

Away for three years, Billings wondered if he would ever get home to his bride. In 1945, he wrote that he "lucked home by bringing 2,000 snails infected with shistosomiasis (a tropical parasitic disease) to the Public Health Services for study regarding the nature of the disease and more effective treatment." He spent another year in Washington, D.C., before coming back to Vanderbilt University as a professor of medicine and, subsequently, dean of students.

While at Vanderbilt, Billings also served as chairman of the department of medicine at nearby Meharry Medical College, one of two medical schools for African Americans in the country then, continuing his great-grandfather's avocation. He worked with Vanderbilt's Center for Health Services to initiate a health program for poor rural areas in Appalachia and organized another project to involve medical students with nursing home patients.

He talked about the advances in medicine he had seen during his lifetime. In the days his father practiced medicine, there were no antibiotics and few medications or procedures, he said in a telephone interview.

"The emphasis was on diagnosis and prognosis, not treatment. The history and physical were very important, as was the doctor/patient relationship. Doctors laid hands on their patients and spent hours with them. In some cases, they could smell what was wrong; typhoid is said to smell like mice ... but, in most cases, they had little to offer but their support."Sulfa drugs were first used during Billings' senior year of medical school, and penicillin was administered on a very restricted basis, he said. Over the next half century of practicing medicine, he reported seeing an explosion of new treatments and medical technologies.

"But sometimes I think the doctor/patient relationship has suffered as a result. Today, a doctor may never even have to touch his patient or get to know him as a person at all."Still, Billings said he was both pleased and surprised when his son and then his grandson chose medicine as a career. "I know that some doctors today discourage their children from going into medicine, but it's still a marvelous career, and the most fundamental element - which is taking care of your patients - hasn't changed.

Billings retired four years ago and lives in Nashville, Tenn., and volunteers with a local literacy program.

Dr. Frederic Tremaine Billings III (1946- )

As a physician who works with cancer patients, Dr. Frederic T. Billings III said he is grateful to be able to alleviate suffering.

"But sometimes I feel a little like an 'also ran' when I consider the work my father and ancestors did," he said modestly.

Like his father, Billings graduated from Princeton University, where he was a varsity oarsman. He received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University Medical School. While in fellowship at Case Western Reserve University Hospital, he was contacted by Dr. Jed Morris and accepted an invitation to join the Baton Rouge Clinic.

"I moved here in 1978 and have been here ever since," he said. "Baton Rouge had a unique situation that was particularly attractive to me as an oncologist. Cancer patients were discussed in a weekly, multimodality forum. All of the doctors involved with cancer patients, regardless of specialties, were working together to accomplish the best possible diagnostic evaluation and therapeutic plan. At that time, very few places, even academic centers, had anything like an open, noncompetitive dialogue."The treatment of cancer and, indeed, the face of medicine, have changed dramatically in the past two decades, he said. As an oncologist, Billings said he has many more weapons in his treatment arsenal to offer patients today.

One of his more interesting cases over the years was a young girl who had sickle cell disease and leukemia. Billings wanted her to undergo a bone marrow transplant and found that her brother matched. She underwent the transplantation at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and, as a result, was cured of both diseases.

"She was the first sickle cell patient in the world to be cured," he said. "The case was written up in the 'New England Journal of Medicine.'" Bone marrow transplants have not become a standard treatment for sickle cell patients, however, because, in order to be effective, they have to be performed early in life and, at that time, it is impossible to predict whether the patient will be seriously affected by the disease. The transplant is too dangerous to perform if it is not necessary.

Billings has served as chief of staff of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and has served as a member of the boards of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge and Hospice of Baton Rouge. In his spare time, he designed and built a large barn and planted numerous live oaks and other trees on his farm in Mississippi.

Frederic Tremaine "Josh" Billings IV (1976- )

Now finishing up his second semester at LSU Medical School in Shreveport, Josh Billings is a graduate of Episcopal High School and Washington and Lee University.

He is aware of his ancestry, which includes not only a long, unbroken history of distinguished physicians but predecessors who go back to the Mayflower and the historic Society of the Cincinnati as well.

"I feel lucky to be a part of all that," he said. "Unlike my grandfather, who always knew he wanted to be a doctor, I didn't decide until my junior year in college. I knew I was interested in science, and I was on a pre-med track, but that's when I decided definitely."Again, he said, he never felt any pressure to follow in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, etc. "I only recently found out how many generations of doctors there were. I think it's kind of neat, actually."Like his grandfather, who cited major advancements in medicine over the course of his practice, Josh Billings said he thinks he will see "lots of changes - especially in the area of genetic therapy" during his practice.

Medicine, like family, "is a continuum," Dr. Frederic T. Billings III said. Tracing its history is fascinating, but predicting the future is impossible. "That my son has chosen to practice medicine is rewarding to me, but what's really important - in the grander scheme - is the continuum."

(Copyright 1999 by Capital City Press)

Fight against abuse begins with doctors

(Morning Star Wilmington NC; 5/25/99) Maybe they are biased. Maybe they are too busy. Maybe they don't want to get involved. Maybe they just don't recognize what they are seeing.

Whatever the reason, America's family physicians still are not doing enough to identify and aid the victims of domestic violence, a University of Miami medical professor says.

They need to look harder for subtle symptoms of early battering, talk more to their patients and listen harder for clues that tip off abuse, says Dr. Panagiota Caralis, a professor of primary care medicine.

And above all, get in the habit of asking the question, simply and directly, to every patient if she has any history of abuse.

"It has to be part and parcel of your daily care for your patients, just like high blood pressure and diabetes," she told several hundred family doctors and nurses at a conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Despite the American Medical Association spotlighting the need for more attention to domestic violence, too many doctors still assume -- incorrectly -- that it doesn't happen to "normal" families.

The reality is that the nation's 250,000-plus domestic batteries cut across all income, race and social lines. African-American women are more likely to speak up than others.

Dr. Caralis calls the abuse statistics an epidemic: Women sustain more injuries from battering than mugging and car crashes combined; the health care cost of spouse abuse is $44 billion a year; 20 to 30 percent of women coming to emergency rooms have a history of being battered.

South Florida doctors have gotten better at reporting domestic violence and working with victims in the past five years, says Barbara Sponder, an administrator at Women in Distress shelter in Fort Lauderdale. That's because of a Florida law requiring medical professionals to take classes as part of renewing their licenses, she says. But doctors still are not good at talking to women about it, Mrs. Sponder says. "They have to get comfortable with the topic so they can converse with the patient about it, not just treat the specific injuries," she says.

Many women will say nothing out of shame or low self-esteem.

"When we don't find a problem through typical diagnoses, we label them as a crock," Dr. Caralis says. "If you wait for the black eye and the broken bone, you will miss most of the patients."

Some telltale signs: 40 percent of women with gastrointestinal problems are abused; battered women are likely to have headaches, sinus trouble, hearing and vision loss, damaged teeth and depression.

But just asking is not enough. Many doctors are too quick to report the case to authorities and refer the woman to a counselor without giving good advice about what can be done and following up, she says.

Doctors should take a few minutes and helpthe patient make a "safety plan" for getting out of the house. If not, the woman may be at even greater risk from a battering mate. Studies show that 75 percent of domestic violence murders happen just after the woman has tried to leave.

Doctors should help her work with an abuse shelter to arrange the details, such as gathering belongings and deciding what to do with the children, Dr. Caralis says.

Easier said than done, doctors say. In countless cases, emergency room and family physicians watch as battered women get treatment and then go home with their abusive mates.

But doctors shouldn't give up, Dr. Caralis says, and don't judge harshly. Some women need repeated encouragement before they gain the nerve to make a move. "We can't just say, 'Oh, she won't get out,' " she says. "Health care professionals have to help prevent patients from becoming another statistic."

(Copyright 1999)



FREMONT, Calif., May 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The Broderbund Home Productivity unit of Mattel, Inc. (NYSE: MAT), developers of www.genealogy.com, today welcomed this week's announcement by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as it joined existing online entities by making part of its genealogical data collection available via the Internet. More than 100 million Americans are interested in their family history, and they're turning to the Internet in record numbers to try to find information about their own families

"As longtime leaders in genealogy research, we're pleased to see the growing consumer interest in family history, and are equally pleased that The Church has made their data accessible online," said Rob Armstrong, General Manager and Vice President of The Broderbund Home Productivity's Genealogy products. "We hope that this announcement encourages even more people to go online in search of their roots, thereby further increasing the growing popularity of genealogy."

Earlier this month, the Broderbund Home Productivity unit of Mattel, Inc. launched www.genealogy.com, an entirely free Web site which enables users to create their own family tree online. It helps users trace their family tree using fine-tuned Internet genealogy search engines. Plus, it teaches the basics of computer and online genealogy to beginners, and advanced research techniques and tricks to seasoned genealogists. www.genealogy.com is the first- ever free site that offers interactive tools and expansive yet simple resources to create a family tree in a fun and easy environment on the World Wide Web.

The Mattel unit also produces a subscription-based site that offers important genealogy data that cannot be found on The Church's new site or anywhere else online. The subscription-based site, www.genealogylibrary.com, offers access to tens of thousands of Census microfilm images, millions of Census indexes, and thousands of family history reference books and other databases. Currently 200,000 images from the 1850 U.S. Census are easily available at the site, and the company is rapidly making more available. What makes the 1850 Census particularly unique is the fact that earlier censuses captured only names of the head of household, while the 1850 Census includes names of all the people living in the household, giving users the opportunity to find many family members from this great primary resource.

More About www.genealogy.com: Create and Share an Instant Family Tree

Online -- FREE

Instant Family Tree provides a fun and easy way to create a family tree without any previous experience or special software. Instant Family Tree helps users quickly input information about their immediate family, parents, and any other relatives, then display their family tree online. They can edit and change the family tree on screen to share it with others via the Internet. They'll be able to automatically create a free family home page that includes their tree, then send a "FamilyGram" to relatives to direct them to their new home page. If they wish, they can also make the data private.

Users who need help gathering information and stories from their relatives can start with the Biography Writing Assistant. This tool offers questions and ideas to help people record special family memories, stories, legends, jokes and other personal memoirs.

Learn How to Do Genealogy With Free Online Instruction

The Family Explorer section of www.genealogy.com provides beginning genealogists with an enlightening overview of computer genealogy. It will help users with no previous experience learn how to use computers and the Internet to track down their roots and publish their family history.

The Genealogy University teaches the fundamentals of family history research in self-paced, step-by-step classes. Topics include Tracing Immigrant Origins, Beginning Internet Genealogy, and more. Plus, users can access hundreds of how- to articles written by professional genealogists, with topics spanning African American or Immigration Research; Military Records; Family Traditions; Census Records; and dozens more, all available for free.

Fine-Tuned Search Engines and Valuable Databases Point to Family Information Online

Much of the genealogy information online is published at small independent sites which are difficult to find. The Internet FamilyFinder is a fine-tuned search engine that indexes more than 325 million names found on three million genealogy-focused pages and hundreds of CD-based resources. It saves users hundreds of hours scanning the Web following useless links, and focuses their efforts on sites with information that's relevant to their family name. In addition, it points to CD-ROM resources which can also help users continue their research efforts in the comfort of their own homes.

www.genealogy.com visitors have free access to the Social Security Death Index, one of the most valuable genealogy research tools. Users can find out the birth and death dates, Social Security number, and locations for ancestors who are recorded in these government death records spanning decades of information. They can also generate an automatic form letter to request a photocopy of their relative's application for a Social Security card.

The Genealogy SiteFinder helps users quickly find sites focused on a specific topic such as Adoption, or a specific ethnicity or location. This directory includes over 50,000 links to selected genealogical and historical Web sites, all organized in a comprehensive directory with searchable descriptions. It is regularly updated by Matt Helm, Internet genealogy pioneer and author of Genealogy Online for Dummies.

Family History Enthusiasts From Around the World Share Information Online

The Message Boards located at www.genealogy.com are the largest online genealogy message boards available. They are made possible and maintained through a partnership with the developers of GenForum, the most popular genealogy message boards. More than 6,000 new messages are posted every day! Users can search the messages for a specific word or name, or they can browse boards devoted to topics that interest them. These Boards offer an open forum for family history researchers from around the world to connect and share success stories, swap research tips, and find others who are researching the same family lines. This sharing of information and leads can save users months, even years, of research time.


www.genealogy.com is available absolutely free. Users on both the Mac and Windows platforms can utilize all of its features. www.GenealogyLibrary.com is accessible now, and customers can buy all subscriptions online. Monthly subscriptions are available for $9.99, and annual subscriptions are available for $99.99 -- a savings of almost 20%. www.GenealogyLibrary.com supports standard browsers for both Windows and Macintosh. Both sites are published by The Broderbund Home Productivity unit of Mattel, Inc.

(Copyright 1999)


(Jane's Defence Weekly; 05/26/99) The new Zambakro school is the major focus of France's African training initiative, le Renforcement des Capacites de Maintien de la Paix en Afrique, or RECAMP. The initiative is, in turn, part of a much larger international effort designed to enhance the capabilities of African peacekeepers. The aim is to enable African soldiers to participate in international, regional and sub- regional peacekeeping operations.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed concern for African security in his November 1995 report, "Improving Preparedness for Conflict Prevention and Peacekeeping in Africa", in which he suggested Africa, "should seriously endeavour to develop and enhance its capacity to participate in the field of peacekeeping". Released in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when African armies were unable to respond to the crisis due to a lack of experienced personnel, insufficient material resources and the slow deployment of troops, he appealed to the international community to help enhance the capacity of African peacekeepers.

According to the report, "the most important element of any peacekeeping operation on the ground is trained and adequately equipped personnel". Aside from an absence of transport vehicles, many African soldiers lacked basic equipment such as uniforms, boots and even water bottles. The report suggested assessing African countries' equipment needs and possibly pre-positioning equipment to avoid delays when deploying.

It also recommended developing joint peacekeeping seminars for mid- and senior-level military and civilian officers, which "could include command post exercises and related simulations".

France, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the Nordic countries, Russia, the UK, the USA, Spain, and other countries have all expressed an interest in participating in a broad training initiative, co- ordinated with the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the UN.

The French, British and Americans began discussions in 1996, shifting to a multilateral UN forum in May 1997. They agreed to consult each other in an effort to develop complementary bilateral training initiatives, avoiding duplication and competition. Subsequent meetings, organised by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO), were held in December 1997, May 1998 and, most recently, January this year.

The French RECAMP concept, introduced in 1997, responded to its African partners' desire to enhance their capacity to prevent conflict in Africa as well as to the observations and recommendations of the Secretary General's 1995 Report. "RECAMP entails providing instruction, training and partial equipment of an African peacekeeping capability at the sub-regional level, with the aid of donor countries," says RECAMP Ambassador Gabriel de Bellescize.

French trainers provide instruction to about 1,500 senior-level African military personnel in training facilities in France and a number of inter- African and national facilities in Africa, which France helps to fund. By the end of 1999 there will be 10 or 11 training facilities located mostly in West Africa. A significant portion of RECAMP's Ffr 200 million ($32 million) annual budget has gone towards RECAMP's priority project, a new regional peacekeeping school at Zambakro, Cote d'Ivoire. Opening in June, its first course is scheduled to run in August with students from all over West Africa.

Instructors from West African and non-African countries will instruct officials and military officers of captain's rank and above, from all services, in international humanitarian and human rights law, logistics, communications, intelligence-gathering, codes of conduct, rules of negotiation, civil affairs and the role of military observers. Battalion- and brigade-level headquarters training will concentrate on operational matters such as area control, logistics, relations within the chain of command, and language training in operational English. The courses will each accept 14 to 20 students.

Another training element of RECAMP is a multinational and sub-regional training brigade-level headquarters exercise held every two years. Exercise 'Guidimakha '98' was held in February 1998, in co-operation with Senegal, Mauritania and Mali. Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Cape Verde and Guinea also took part, bringing the total number of African soldiers participating to almost 3,000. About 500 US, UK and Belgian soldiers attended; the USA and UK provided one aircraft each for the exercise. The next large-scale exercise is planned for next year in Gabon and will concentrate on exercising Central African countries.

France pre-positioned military equipment in Dakar, Senegal in January 1998. "We sent light armoured vehicles with 90mm cannon and 75 trucks to equip motorised infantry companies, some equipment for mobile field hospitals and some communications assets. We mostly send equipment for platoon or company level," said Lt Col Erik Bonnemaison of RECAMP. The equipment is maintained in operational condition by France's 23rd Marine Infantry Battalion and is intended for use by UN or sub-regional peacekeepers.

British training in West Africa is carried out by a small team of officers from the British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT) West Africa, established in 1996, and fully operational since 1997. Members of the BMATT are an integral part of the command structure of the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra. BMATT instructors, of Lt Col rank and above, assist the Ghanaian directing staff in running the year-long joint services senior command and staff course.

The course is open to Majors and Lt Colonels (or equivalent rank in other services) throughout Africa. Up to eight countries, mainly anglophone, are represented on each course. Lt Col Simon Diggins, a UK member of the Directing Staff in Ghana, describes the course as "a significant career milestone" for its participants.

A four week module, about 10% of the course, focuses on the planning of peacekeeping campaigns at the operational level by senior officers. The course begins with theoretical discussions, seminars, and lectures from both internal and external speakers. The module culminates in a four-day desktop exercise starting at the UN level, with the participants acting as military commanders advising the Security Council. The module includes a humanitarian package and, beginning next month, a new element on the rights of children.

Ghana introduced a three-week international "stand-alone" peace support operation (PSO) course in August/September last year, effectively a shortened version of the four-week Staff College module. Forty-three participants from 13 different countries participated in the course, including Ghanaian **police** officers, a civilian from South Africa and a civilian from Ethiopia who represented the OAU. The Ghanaians, and their British co-sponsors, selected officers who had previously undergone battalion training with the US African Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI) programme, or who had some sort of peacekeeping training or experience. The next PSO course will be held in November.

Since the middle of 1997, the USA has trained battalions in Senegal, Uganda, Malawi, Mali, Ghana and Benin, and they plan to train in Cote d'Ivoire in October.

All training is conducted in the soldiers' home countries by trainers from the 3rd Special Forces Group, based at Ft Bragg, North Carolina, with some support from logistics experts from 18th Airborne Corps and US Army Europe. ACRI is a five-year programme, with a budget of $15 million in 1997 and $20 million each successive year.

ACRI is a training initiative rather than a standby force, aimed at "developing rapidly-deployable, interoperable battalions from stable democratic countries that can help maintain peace in Africa", according to Ambassador Marshall F McCallie, until this month Special Co-ordinator for ACRI (McCallie passed his post on to Ambassador Aubury Hooks on 4 May). ACRI achieves its mission through training and providing non-lethal equipment.

The initial training lasts about 60 days and consists of 50 days of training followed by a five- to 10-day exercise. Trainees first get an optometric evaluation to test the vision of participating soldiers is done first. US forces teach basic soldiering skills such as marksmanship, map reading, first aid and hygiene; as well as more advanced peacekeeping skills including humanitarian protection of refugees, human rights observance, negotiations, dispersing crowds and manning checkpoints.

American trainers then return every six months to do follow-on training at company and battalion levels. There are also plans to train at the brigade level for those countries who require it. African officers participate in leader training, field exercises and a two-week "computer assisted exercise" as part of the follow-on training. This allows them to test the skills that have been developed during initial training and to further develop the basic command and control skills required to work at battalion and brigade levels. Follow-on training also involves local non-governmental organisations, private volunteer agencies and other people, military and civilian, who would be involved in a real operation.

To complement its training, ACRI has provided non-lethal equipment and training ammunition to the countries in which it has trained. ACRI puts emphasis on communications equipment including: HF radios, VHF radios and repeaters, generators, mine detectors, mini-SATCOM units, night vision binoculars, water filtration systems, blivets for water storage, as well as basic load-bearing equipment and uniforms.

Soldiers training in one country, for example, had to make a 200 mile round trip for fresh water. After ACRI supplied them with water filtration systems, they were able to draw drinking water from a nearby stream. Maintenance training is also provided every six months for ACRI-issued equipment as well as organic unit equipment.

Nigeria plays the largest role in support and stability missions in the region, most recently in the three operations conducted by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Monitoring Group (ECOMOG): those in Liberia, Sierre Leone and Guinea-Bissau. As a British MoD official said, "if you are talking about ECOMOG you are talking about Nigeria". Despite Nigeria's deep involvement in regional operations, its past human-rights violations have made it a pariah state, and the resulting economic and defence co-operation sanctions imposed in 1993 by both the EU common position and the USA have cut off training assistance from many countries.

Despite some military successes, Nigeria has displayed serious shortcomings in conducting regional peace operations by displaying behaviour at times which was at odds with that expected from peacekeepers. In Liberia many Nigerian soldiers lacking uniforms and boots were seen looting in the field and demonstrating a lack of discipline. In Sierra Leone there was a recent incident of Nigerian soldiers indiscriminately shooting civilians. It was described by the UN Secretary General as a case of negligence.

"If Western training is going to be successful, it needs to train Nigeria", insists Dr Funmi Olanisakin, a West African defence specialist at the Centre for Defence Studies in London. This need was highlighted during the Liberia operation when Ugandan forces withdrew their troops from the field after one year because of concerns that they would be corrupted by Nigerian soldiers. At the time of writing, the Nigerian army is training the army of Sierra Leone.

A British official said that Britain recognises Nigeria as a key player in West Africa and that they must be included in anything the UK does in the region. Reportedly, the UK is already looking at working with the Nigerians on security-sector reform and military training. Ambassador McCallie said the USA would be "delighted" to talk with Nigerians about training under the ACRI programme. The EU common position which has prevented Western countries from training Nigerians since 1993 is likely to be relaxed after its review on 1 June, three days after power is transferred from the military to a civilian, democratic government and Nigeria is readmitted to the British Commonwealth

West Africans are the first to admit that they lack logistics training. The example of Guinean soldiers in Liberia looting food and shoe polish is only one of many instances where West African soldiers have been unable to sustain themselves in an operation. The Western training programmes have addressed this issue by providing logistics training at the staff level, such as the course modules which are to be used at the peacekeeping school in Zambakro. RECAMP's biennial multinational brigade-level exercises and ACRI's computer-assisted desktop exercises also deal with these issues. Britain has helped to fund UN training team logistics seminars.

The absence of logistical capabilities in West African militaries was glaringly evident during the Rwandan conflict where countries showed a clear willingness to provide assistance, but lacked any strategic airlift to get from their West African bases to Rwanda. This deficiency is seen not only in lack of strategic materiel, but in the absence of basic kit such as uniforms, boots, water bottles and communications equipment. ACRI has tried to ameliorate this problem by providing basic communications equipment, basic load-bearing equipment and uniforms. The pre-positioning of French equipment in Dakar is intended to provide countries with the ability to deploy more rapidly to crisis areas.

This equipment was used for training during exercise 'Guidimakha '98', by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic and is currently being used by ECOMOG forces in Guinea-Bissau. There are plans to pre-position similar equipment in Libreville this year and possibly Djibouti next year.

A significant obstacle to achieving interoperability is the linguistic diversity of the region. More than 500 languages are spoken in West Africa. The common languages among West Africans are English, French and Portuguese. Olanisakin offered an illustrative example from Liberia where the Gambian contingent commander was flanked on the right by a Ghanaian and on the left by a Guinean contingent. The Gambian and the Guinean shared a common language: Mandingo. He would "say the order in English and speak Mandingo to the Guinean, and he would speak English to the Ghanaian and translate in Mandingo to the Guinean."

Just as African peacekeepers must deal with the language issue in operations, Western trainers must deal with language barriers in training. Ambassador de Bellescize referred to basic inconsistencies in the UN doctrine when he said "what we say in French and what we say in English sometimes means different things so when you have people who are not specialists in the doctrine they might find the translations are not accurate." Even when interpreters understand both languages, important ideas can easily be lost in translation; and even when translations are simple, working across a language barrier means extra time taken in repetition and confirmation.

The obvious solution is for the British to teach anglophone countries, the French to teach francophone countries, and the Americans to teach both since, as part of US Special Forces doctrine, the instructors learn local languages. One solution is to establish a common operational language. The French plan to teach operational English at the peacekeeping school in Zambakro.

Military professionalism among West African soldiers has been an issue in the region, especially civilian control of the military and Western standards of military behaviour. The two offences of greatest concern are looting and human rights abuses. These behaviours are not limited to the Nigerian Army, and those soldiers who are innocent of looting often encourage the practice by buying looted goods.

Where the French and American programmes may explicitly interest themselves in professionalism, the British emphatically single out professionalism as the key to their training. A British official emphasised that having a responsible and disciplined military force is an essential component of democratic government. Britain is therefore training civilian control of the military to make sure soldiers are responsible to a democratic government.

West African military culture has developed through many years of army rule and it remains to be seen whether training can counter its deep-seated effects. RECAMP, BMATT West Africa and ACRI each have their merits, but operate on a limited scale.

It is questionable whether training so few African soldiers each year will have a broad effect on the rest of these militaries. Only 37 officers participate in the senior command and staff college course every year and 43 attended the three-week stand alone peacekeeping course last August. ACRI has trained the staff officers of one battalion in five of the 16 ECOWAS nations. The French train about 1,500 Africans a year. "Because of the influence in the home government and the body of the whole military you can't expect to get results training only a few men. They will only go home and be corrupted by the bulk of the armed forces," said Olanisakin.

Creating armies capable of providing and co-ordinating peace support forces might require still more resources from hard-pressed Western governments.

Melanie Bright has been appointed as Features Editor on Jane's Defence Weekly. Before joining JDW, Melanie worked as an editor of Jane's Sentinel Regional Security Assessments focusing on Central Europe and the Baltics; the Balkans; and Russia and the CIS. She holds a MA degree in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada

(Copyright 1999)

Web Site

Copyright 1999 Afrocentricnews