Page -The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, January 2, a1990
Students vie for laughs, prizes
by Jody Weinberg
Ten University comedians will
compete tonight at the University
Club in hopes of winning lots of
laughs as well as a spot in a national
A tape of the winner's act will be
sent to a regional competition,
where judges will select a regional
victor to compete nationally.
There will be four regional win-
ners from across the country, and
these four finalists will compete for
the national prize - the opportunity
to perform at a popular New York
"We have some people who can
really do it (win the regionals)," said
LSA senior Kerry Birmingham, the
co-committee chair of Laugh Track.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Sup-
porters for imposing the death
penalty in Michigan will have to
show they're willing to work long
hours if a petition drive has any
hope of success, the lawmaker spon-
soring the effort said yesterday.
"People have to -show us they
mean business and will get out and
work," said Sen. Gilbert DiNello (D-
"I know what I'm getting myself
into," he said. "We're going to tell
them our position, tell them we
have a great task on our hands."
DiNello made his comments a
few hours before a scheduled meeting
in East Detroit to organize the pro-
posed petition drive. It aims to place
the issue on the November 6 general
DiNello said he planned to offer
the petition language, explain the
process of collecting signatures and
discuss the strategy of the campaign.
But he said it's crucial to have many
"If there's a light turnout, it's not
a good indication," he said. "The
more the better."
Supporters will need to collect
239,657 valid signatures over a six-
month span to place the issue on the
DiNello said he's attracting sup-
port from across the state. "We're
getting calls all the time. They
know it's out there."
He said 18 of 38 senators and
about 30 of the 110 House members
have signed on to support the effort.
DiNello says he believes Michi-
gan residents favor the death penalty.
Michigan banned capital punishment
in an 1848 law. "If it's on the bal-
lot, we think people will vote for
DiNello said his proposal would
permit the death penalty in cases of
first-degree murder or other crimes as
spelled out by the Legislature.
"We're using it as retribution
against the person who committed
the crime," he said.
DiNello said he has the support
and some assistance - although not
the direct involvement - of former
Oakland County Prosecutor L.
Brooks Patterson, who led a petition
drive in 1986 to place a similar pro-
posal on the ballot.
The finals will be aired from
Daytona on the MTV Spring Break
The competitors were selected as
a result of prior appearances at
Laugh Track - the weekly comedy
show at the U-Club.
The competitors will be judged
by a panel brought in by U.S. Con-
cepts, the company organizing the
Certs-sponsored U.S. College Com-
edy Competitions throughout the
The contestants' routines must be
from three to five minutes long, in
addition to being "clean" - accept-
able to a television audience.
Last year, former University stu-
dent and.-current professional come-
dian Peter Berman was the winner of
the University competition. Berman
won the regional prize, and then
went on to the national competition,
where he finished second.
The nine other student competi-
tors are: Tom Franck, junior art stu-
dent and usual host of Laugh Track;
Jason Allington, LSA senior; Rich
Eisen, LSA senior; Sandra Wells,
When asked why one should at-
tend the competition at the U-Club
tonight, first year LSA student and
competing comedian Jennifer Bala-
ban said, "The same reason you
might go to a Psych. film on un-
conscious motivation... no one
A tape of the winner's act will be sent to a
regional competition, where judges will
select a regional victor to compete nationally.
LSA sophomore; Eric Kurit, LSA
sophomore; Jeff Goad, sophomore
engineering student; Dana Nesse!,
LSA junior; Mike Bloomfield, LSA
sophomore; and Ken Polsky, LSA
The competition will be hosted
by professional comedian Pat Mc-
Greal at 10 p.m. Birmingham ad-
vised those who plan to attend to ar-
rive early because the event is tradi-
tionally a sell-out.
Compiled from Associated Press and staff reports
State considers withdrawal
from toxic waste compact
LANSING - Opponents of burying low-level radioactive waste in
Michigan jammed a Senate hearing yesterday to listen as colleagues
pressed for withdrawal from the Midwest Low-level Radioactive Waste
State and compact nuclear waste disposal leaders, warned that Michigan
would gain little from withdrawal, and criticized the legislation to pull the
state from the group.
The panel took no action, leaving the controversial low-level waste is-
sue unchanged for now, except for the venting of more citizen anger.
The Senator Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee
is considering three bills, two pulling Michigan out of the compact and
the other calling for negotiations with other states to consolidate dump
The state has tentatively selected Lenawee, St. Clair and Ontonagon
counties for the dump site.
Soviet unrest remains 'tense'
MOSCOW - Extremists ambushed a military convoy in Azerbaijan,
killing two reserve soldiers and a woman bystander, Soviet media said
yesterday. The KGB said the republic was on the brink of anarchy, and lo-
cal politicians pushed for secession.
Radio Moscow said the situation in the Soviet Caucasus, where Ar-
menians and Azerbaijanis have been battling for 11 days, remained "very,
very tense" yesterday.
It said leaders of Soviet Azerbaijan and Armenia continued negotiations
to end the ethnic violence, but little progress was reported.
Azerbaijan's KGB expressed alarm in its appeal to residents of the re-
public for calm, Radio Moscow said.
"Azerbaijan is on the edge of the abyss, beyond which lie chaos and
anarchy," the KGB warned. The public appeal was virtually unprecedented
for the usually secretive state security agency.
Judge will sentence Florida
police officer Lozano today
MIAMI - Many Blacks want William Lozano to spend a long
time behind bars for the deaths of two unarmed young Black men that
sparked riots a year ago, but the police officer's backers hope to persuade a
judge to let him stay free.
Dade Circuit Judge Joseph Farina was scheduled to sentence Lozano on
two counts of manslaughter today.
The suspended officer, free on $10,000 bond, faces from 12 to 17 years
in prison under state sentencing guidelines, but could serve anything from
probation to the maximum penalty of 45 years in prison.
The deaths led to Miami's fourth major outbreak of racial strife in the
1980s, all linked to police incidents involving Blacks. Acquittals of white
police officers accused of killing Blacks twice sparked violence.
Miami had no problems when Lozano was convicted Dec. 7. Police did
not anticipate any trouble after the sentencing and made no plans to mobi-
lize the entire force, as was done prior to the verdict.
FBI searches for bomb clues
ENTERPRISE, Ala. - A junk dealer offered prayers and cooperation
as FBI agents searched his warehouse yesterday looking for an old type-
writer that could help solve the mail bomb killings of a judge and a civil
Wayne O'Ferrell ate lunch with FBI agents and accompanied them to
his warehouse yesterday afternoon, one day after about 100 agents scoured
O'Ferrell's home, warehouse and abandoned store, about 75 miles from
Montgomery in southeastern Alabama.
O'Ferrell, a one-time rural preacher, said he asked several members of
his church "to pray for my family that we can get through this thing and
I've asked them to pray for the FBI to find whatever they are looking for."
Court records show O'Ferrell lost a lawsuit heard on appeal by U.S.
Circuit Judge Robert Vance. The judge was killed Dec. 16 when a package
bomb sent through the mail exploded at his home.
France honors comic canine
PARIS - The French celebrated Snoopy yesterday, saying that
happiness is a warm puppy - even one that's 40 years old.
The beguiling beagle who appears in Charles Schulz's comic strip
"Peanuts" was honored with a blockbuster retrospective worthy of the
World War I flying ace, bird-lover and faithful friend to that round-headed
Schulz, by the way, also was honored. He was named Commander of
Arts and Letters, one of France's highest awards for excellence in the arts.
Ceremonies took place at the Decorative Arts Museum, which is
honoring the whimsical dog with a retrospective featuring Snoopy
Schulz, beaming but appearing slightly embarrassed by the attention,
said that during Snoopy's war years when he battled the Red Baron, he
once explained how he learned to speak French.
"He said he had a small tourist phrase book, but he told me you only
really need to know one word, and that is, 'Merci,"' Schulz said in
4 A bin&zI
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ADDRESS: The Michigan Daily, 420 Maynard, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
PHONE NUMBERS: News (313) 764-0552, Opinion 747-2814, Arts 763-0379, Spwrts 747-3336, Cir-
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Ypsilanti resident Mitchell Long makes burgers at the MUG in the Michigan Union.
Prisoner on hunger strike may be
free; court claims lack of evidence
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A
prisoner who has starved himself
since March 3 to protest his drug
convictions rejoiced and praised God
yesterday after the Michigan Court
of Appeals reversed his convictions
and life sentences.
"One time more I say, God gives
me his blessings. Now, I can show
the people the power of our God is
unequaled. He is powerful," said
Rene Acuna, of Detroit.
Acuna, who said he lived on spir-
itual nutrition from God, said he
will continue his hunger strike until
he is released from prison and can re-
turn home to his long-time compan-
ion Anna Sossa and his two daugh-
"I keep my hunger strike. That is
my decision. I will eat in the table
of my house," Acuna said, who now
weighs 112 pounds, down from 180,
in a telephone interview.
The Cuban immigrant insisted he
was innocent of charges of delivery
and conspiracy to deliver more than
two pounds of cocaine. The appeals
court agreed there was too little evi-
dence to support his convictions and
reversed them without ordering a
"I'm ecstatic," said Michael
Schuck, the attorney who handled
"I have to tell you, forgive my
giggle. I am absolutely elated," said
Paul Denenfeld, legal director for the
Michigan chapter of the American
Civil Liberties Union, which de-
fended Acuna's right to hunger
"This has been probably the most
gut-wrenching case I ever handled as
a lawyer, and the system has worked.
We are just really pleased," Denen-
Assistant Macomb County Pros-
ecutor Michael Suhy said he remains
convinced that Acuna, a self-em-
ployed handyperson, is guilty and
will appeal to the Michigan
Preparation for Acuna's appeal
was shortened, he said, "because this
comedian was on a hunger strike"
and the appeals court expedited the
He said he will oppose Schuck's
effort to have Acuna released on
bond pending the new appeal because
of the possibility that someone fac-
ing a life sentence would flee, but
Acuna's lawyer said he should recon-
"We're in a situation where
someone's life is on the line. He has
been on a hunger strike about 10
months now, and his life is in dan-
ger every day," Schuck said.
"The man has suffered enough,"
I ~ WAI -m - -W* a
Acuna began what Michigan De-
partment of Corrections officials
called the system's longest hunger
strike March 3 after a Macomb
County Circuit Court jury convicted
him on the drug charges.
Living on a diet of water and cof-
fee with sugar, Acuna's weight
plunged from 180 pounds to just
over 106 pounds by Sept. 13 when
doctors at the Duane Waters Hospital
next to the prison began force-feed-
Doctors removed the feeding tube
when Acuna's weight rebounded to
about 125 pounds, but Acuna re-
turned to his hunger strike, Sossa,
who was appointed his guardian, said
she will not sign papers permittir~g
forced-feeding to resume.
Acuna contended he was con-
victed solely because he was an His-
panic who happened to be in an all-
white neighborhood when undercover
agents bought drugs from other His-
panics in a hotel parking lot in Au-
The appeals court dismissed the
prosecution's contention that he was
a lookout for the drug dealers.
The ruling stated that Acuna "did
not talk to any of the other co-partic-
ipants that night and made no at-
tempt to signal or communicate
with anyone... He had no gun,
communication device or drugs in
It added that others convicted with
Acuna said they had never heard of
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For highly qualified applicants willing to commit to
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We offer a wide array of teaching opportunities, from
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specializing in Computers, Math/Science, Law and Public Serv-
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Communications. We'll even have a four year, full-time aca-
demically oriented vocational high school.
Editor in Chief
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