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News Briefs II

Poor AIDS Patients to Receive $7.8 Million in HUD Grants

The Washington Post

The Department of Housing and Urban Development Friday announced that communities in nine states will receive $7.84 million to help pay for housing services for low-income people with AIDS.

The recipients of funds are programs in: West Hollywood, Calif.; Savannah, Ga.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; Burlington, Vt.; Maryland; New York; Philadelphia; and Seattle. More grants are expected to be announced Saturday and next month.

HUD established the HOPWA program in 1992, allotting $171 million since then to local and state governments. The competitive grants are awarded to local governments or to nonprofit organizations to use for housing assistance and other support services such as job counseling for people who have AIDS or are HIV-positive.

"We know that, for many people with HIV/AIDS, adequate housing can mean the difference between life and death," Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros said during a press conference to announce the grants. "People with AIDS who lose their housing often die within six months. That is why these grants are so critical. They serve people when they're most vulnerable, with limited resources, often less than ideal family and medical support systems."

AIDS activists have hailed the HOPWA program for providing much-needed cash that helps those with AIDS maintain some stability in their lives. They say the program, which survived the budget ax last year, is a critical tool in helping activists provide services among the homeless - a growing segment of AIDS patients.

French Police Storm Church To Remove Illegal Immigrants

The Washington Post

In a rain of tear gas, French riot police stormed into a Paris church Friday morning and removed 300 African immigrants, including nearly 100 children, barricaded inside to resist threatened expulsion from France.

Helmeted security forces waded through a human wall of sympathizers surrounding the St. Bernard Catholic Church in a working-class and heavily ethnic district of Paris. They took hatchets to the church doors and broke through a barricade of chairs and pews held up by the protesters.

The government's abrupt show of force to end the occupation followed an embarrassing summer-long standoff with the Africans, who are without legal residence papers.

The crisis has been a test of the center-right government's resolve on immigration policy, which is no less a hot button to the French electorate than to the American one.

Ten of the immigrants were in their 50th day of a hunger strike that captured the vacationing nation's attention. Most were removed from the church on stretchers. Fellow protesters inside and crowds of Parisians outside chanted "shame" at the police as they dragged and escorted the Africans to security vehicles.

"They talk about liberty and fraternity," said a mother of two young children inside the church, "but it doesn't exist here."

About 50 of the detained Africans will be put on a military plane Saturday to Mali, the former French possession where a majority of them were born, according to French officials. Others will be ushered out of France in a few days.

Judge Orders Boston Latin To Admit White Student

The Washington Post

A federal judge has ordered one of the nation's most prestigious public schools, Boston Latin, to admit a white student who was denied admission last year even though she had higher scores on its entrance exam than many minorities who were accepted.

The case, which could force Boston to scrap racial set-aside policies it has had for some public schools since the 1970s, is being watched by many educators nationwide who also are facing new questions about racial quotas in classrooms.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Garrity Jr., whose landmark ruling to desegregate Boston's public schools two decades ago provoked the nation's most violent battles over busing, on Thursday called the quota system at Boston Latin "constitutionally suspect."

He told school officials to admit 13-year-old Julia McLaughlin while her case against the policy proceeds in court.

Her father, attorney Michael McLaughlin, sued the school system last year because it admitted more than 100 black and Hispanic students who scored the same or lower than she on the entrance exam. The school is one of three selective public schools in the city. It sets aside 35 percent of 2,400 classroom seats for minorities.

Stories of Monstrous Catfish Intrigue Texas Fishermen

The Washington Post

The catfish is not just huge, it is monstrous. To hear Don Allen tell it - and he tells it as often as anyone will listen - it is as big as a small pickup truck, as elusive as a dream, patrolling the deep, clear waters of Lake Livingston like some mustachioed kingpin.

Stories abound about the creature, few of them confirmed, all of them part of the folklore of this fishing country - way out in east Texas, where the pine forests are thick and quiet, and alligators slither up the river banks. Stories about small-airplane pilots looking down to see a thousand-pound bruiser parting the waters, leaving a wake. Stories about divers who vowed never to return after a face-to-face encounter. Stories about heavy fishing hooks straightened as if they were hairpins, trotlines stripped of live bait as if they were pieces of shish kabob.

"A lot of people have no knowledge of these fish - unless we see it, we don't believe it,' " said Allen, 47, who has made it his life's mission to capture a jumbo catfish and put it on display for all the world to see. "I'm on a crusade."