Students at the University of Michigan held a Migrant and Immigrant Rights Awareness and Labor Law Roundtable conference here Jan. 17-19. The gathering, organized by the students of MIRA (Migrant and Immigrant Rights Awareness) and the Labor Law Roundtable, with the support of UM faculty and other sponsoring organizations, was projected as the first of a series of conferences that will address issues of immigration and social justice.
Two more mine workers were killed in separate accidents in West Virginia Feb. 1, prompting Gov. Joe Manchin to call on all coal companies to cease production until safety checks can be conducted. “We’re going to check for unsafe conditions, and we’re going to correct any unsafe conditions before we mine another lump of coal,” Manchin said.
One day after an unsuccessful filibuster attempt, the Senate confirmed Bush Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito, widely opposed for his extreme right positions, by a 58-42 vote. It was the second closest Supreme Court confirmation vote in 100 years, topped only by the 52-58 vote approving Clarence Thomas in 1991. This time four Democrats — Robert Byrd (W.Va), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Tim Johnson (S.D.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) — voted with the Republicans, while moderate Republican Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) broke ranks to vote no.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez told a packed crowd at the Poliedro Stadium here, “The people of the United States are indispensable to saving to world, united with the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.” He said capitalism is destroying the world, and that unless the planet goes socialist, “I’m afraid it may not see the 22nd century.” His remarks, which evoked thunderous applause, were part of a long-awaited speech to the participants of the sixth World Social Forum on the evening of Jan. 27.
Over 1,900 Ford employees here will soon be out of a job. As part of a broad restructuring effort, dubbed ‘Way Forward,’ Ford Motor Company plans to idle production and begin laying off workers by March 10.
Peace activist Cindy Sheehan had a special vantage point for the State of the Union address Jan. 31. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) had given her a ticket for a gallery seat. But she never got to hear the address. When she took off her jacket, revealing a T-shirt that said, “2,245 dead. How many more?” she was yanked out of her seat by a guard who called out, “Protester!” By the time the president was telling Congress to approve the USA Patriot Act, Sheehan was in jail.