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Parades, Prayers and Protests
"Reaching Abortionists" and "Sexual Health in the Hood" are among the topics when the American Life League holds its second annual Celebration of Life World Family Conference in New Orleans July 10-14. The Stafford, Va.-based group chose New Orleans as the host city due to the "popularity of the pro-life philosophy in the state and in New Orleans," says Judie Brown, president of the largely Catholic organization.

Meanwhile, officials at Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta are preparing for an influx of anti-abortion activism surrounding the conference. "Some of the groups that are coming have been involved in demonstrations and picketing around the country," says Julie Redman, president and CEO of the local chapter. "Our primary concern is of the physical and emotional safety of our patients." The organization is training volunteers to escort patients at local clinics that offer abortions, as well as at local Planned Parenthood offices, which do not provide the procedure but refer patients to facilities that do.

Brown says she expects conference attendees to be involved in "activity at all the abortion clinics, [including] prayer and sidewalk counseling." Other events at the conference, held at the Hyatt Regency Louisiana Superdome, include a daily mass, a jazz parade, a luncheon with former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, and a tribute to retired Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans. Scheduled speakers include U.S. Rep. David Vitter, R-La., and the Rev. Elden F. Curtiss, Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb.

Those interested in taking Planned Parenthood's clinic escort training should contact Christina Kucera at 821-5423 ext. 205. For more information about the American Life League, visit the organization's Web site at

Remembering the Pan-Am Crash
A memorial service is scheduled for next week to honor the 154 people killed 20 years ago in the crash of Pan-American Flight 759 on July 9, 1982, shortly after takeoff from New Orleans International Airport. The crash claimed the lives of 146 passengers and crew, and eight residents of the nearby Roosevelt subdivision.

The ecumenical service will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 9, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 1908 Short St. in Kenner. The Kenner Police Department is organizing the service. Police Chief Nick Congemi, who was a lieutenant at the scene of the crash, is urging all state and local agencies that were part of the disaster recovery effort to take part in the service. "It is one of the most horrific days in our city's history, an event that will be forever etched into the memories of those who served at the scene," Congemi says.

Spears Raises $100K
The campaign of Sonja Spears, judge of First City Court Section "C" and a candidate for one of two open seats on the state Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, raised $100,000 at her fundraiser June 14 at the Praline Connection, Spears spokesman Allan Katz says.

Spears is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Judge Miriam Waltzer. Also expected to qualify for Waltzer's seat: outgoing City Attorney Mavis Early and Criminal District Court Judge Leon Cannizzaro Jr.

In the race for the seat being vacated by retiring Judge Steven Plotkin, Clerk of Criminal Court Ed Lombard, who was re-elected Feb. 2 to a four-year term, and Sidney Cates III, former chair of the New Orleans Civil Service Commission, are both mounting campaigns. Cates resigned in May to run for the appellate court seat. Qualifying is Aug. 22-24 for the Oct. 5 primary election.

Political Dada
Dale Atkins, Clerk of Civil District Court, is campaigning for district attorney in the fall with an eye-catching slogan: "D.A. for D.A." Atkins recently raised $75,000 at a June 20 fundraiser at Restaurant August, according to campaign media consultant Renee Lapeyrolerie.

On June 13, more than 400 people attended Atkins' first fundraiser for district attorney, a crawfish boil at Parkway Tavern. Attendees included Republican stalwarts state elections commissioner Suzie Terrell and former Gov. Dave Treen. Atkins, who was re-elected Feb. 2 to a four-year term as the $85,000-a-year legal custodian of Civil Court, told the League of Women Voters then: "My top priority is to continue technological improvements in the office."

Other candidates running to replace retiring District Attorney Harry Connick include Chief Deputy City Attorney Franz Zibilich, attorney James Gray and former U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan. Connick, who took office in 1974, will mark his last day as district attorney on Jan. 10, 2003.

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