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BUDDHIST CONFAB STILL ON

Everybody knows that Arizona's failure to establish a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday has cost the state millions of bucks in convention revenue.

Ironically, the mass murder of nine people in a Buddhist temple west of Phoenix earlier this month apparently has had little effect on a Buddhist convention scheduled for later this week in the Valley.

On Friday, August 30, about 150 budding Buddhists--most of them high school students from Southern California--are scheduled to descend upon the Doubletree Suites Gateway hotel in east Phoenix. The teen conventioneers, members of the Junior Young Buddhist Association, are expected to spend most of their four days in Phoenix attending ministries, workshops and seminars.

The August 10 bloodbath at the Wat Promkunaram on Cotton Lane, which still is unsolved, rocked the Buddhist community worldwide. But convention organizers downplayed the tragedy's impact on the Buddhist youth confab. "There have been no cancellations because of this," says Fumi Okabayashi, adviser of the Phoenix chapter of the Buddhist youth group. "None at all."

Okabayashi won't say whether, in the wake of the massacre, there was any discussion about moving this year's convention to another city or canceling it altogether. "Phoenix hosts the event every five to seven years," she says. "This year it was our turn to have it."

Okabayashi acknowledges that members of several Buddhist churches have expressed concern about security at the Doubletree, but she says she doesn't foresee any problems. She won't reveal whether hotel security has been beefed up for the convention.

At the convention organizers' request, the Doubletree declines to answer questions about this weekend's Buddhist gathering. "They're really lying low on this one," says a hotel spokesperson.-

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Dewey Webb