AROUND THE COUNTRY –

In the first 12 days of war, vigils, teach-ins, conferences, art and music events, public prayer meetings and protests continued in cities, towns, and neighborhoods in the heartland and on the coasts. Residents of Ogden, Utah; Shepardstown, W.V.; Naples, Fla.; Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Ruidoso, N.M.; Seattle, Wash.; Baton Rouge, La.; Martinsville, N.J.; Louisville, Ky., and Youngstown, Ohio, demonstrated their demand for peace, often amid pro-war rallies and provocations organized by corporate radio stations, including Clear Channel.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Midwest says no to Bush first-strike policy

In the city’s largest peace demonstration since the war began, over 2,500 jammed into Forest Park, March 30, funneling in from nine separate college, religious and neighborhood-based peace marches. Rallying beneath the flags of 37 countries whose governments oppose the Bush administration first-strike policy and invasion of Iraq, marchers carried signs condemning the president.

Hundreds of children, elementary and high school students, formed the core of the rally with a colorful display of hand made peace signs. Ringing them, adults held banners saying, “Pro-life? Stop bombing children.”

“I feel the world just isn’t the same when it isn’t in peace,” said Kreian Connelly, 8, who attended with his parents. “There’s a lot of innocent people, probably just my age, who are over in Iraq becoming victims of war.”

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. –Killing is not liberation

Carol Bruner, 52, and Adria Fernandez, 21, joined 1,000 of their neighbors winding their way through city streets March 29 chanting, “You can’t kill Iraqis to liberate them.”

“He’s (Bush) killing innocent people – innocent people – and that’s not OK,” said Bruner, a computer specialist. “He’s killed a lot more than Hussein.”

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. –Bush speech draws hundreds in protest

It was a photo-op for President Bush to announce additional federal funding under Homeland Security for the Coast Guard, but hundreds, cordoned off by fencing and police, showed up Monday to condemn his war on Iraq.

Marine Vietnam veteran, Cesar Alvarez-Moreno, 51, told reporters, “I’ve heard all this before. We believed all this before. We got there (Vietnam) and found those people hated our guts.”

PITTSBURGH, Pa. –March for peace gets maced

Hundreds stopped traffic in the city’s East End neighborhood March 30, raising their voices, banners and candles for peace. They were surrounded by cops from five different departments, including Pittsburgh.

Marchers stepped off from Frick Park determined to win hearts and minds and they were successful. Motorists, stopped because of the march, honked, flashed the ‘V’ peace sign, held up children to see and patiently waited for the demonstration to end. There was no road rage despite the major artery being the only access to the Parkway surrounding the city.

Despite the snow, residents came out onto their porches cheering the march, applauding and offering coffee.

Marchers filed onto the sidewalk as they left the city and entered Edgewood, another town. As they did, police maced, tear gassed, kicked and arrested three people.

DENVER, Colo. – Nuns face 30 years in prison for protest

The Federal trial of Sisters Carol Gilbert, 55, Jackie Hudson, 68, and Ardeth Platt, 66, opened March 31. They face charges stemming from an October 6, 2002, entry onto the Minuteman III missile site where they painted crosses on the concrete silos.

All three nuns are educators, and Platt served on the Saginaw, Mich. city council.

They are charged by the U.S. military with “willful injury, interference or obstruction of national defense causing more than $1,000 in damage.” The three women cut a hole in the chain-link fence surrounding the missile complex, used a ball peen hammer on a concrete silo and painted crosses in their own blood on railroad tracks and missile silos. As they sang hymns and prayed, military and local cops encircled them, weapons drawn, a helicopter hovering over head.

The nuns took action as Citizen Weapons Inspection Team and chose this site because it contains U.S. first strike nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

Their attorney Walter Gerash said with irony, “They didn’t interfere with national defense unless you think painting crosses on concrete does that.”

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. –Profit by any means necessary: Health care robbery

HealthSouth employs 52,000 people at 1,900 hospitals and other facilities in all 50 states and five countries, serves 100,000 patients daily, provides health care to 50 professional sports teams and 125 colleges, is the largest rehabilitation HMO in the U.S. and is ranked 374 on the Fortune 500. It also cooked its books to the tune of $1.3 billion, just like Enron, is in default to JP Morgan Chase and was barred from public trading by the New York Stock Exchange.

As March ended, its CEO Richard Scrushy resigned. Scrushy ordered accountants to “fudge” balance sheets. He is now facing 20 years in jail and a $5 million fine under the Sarbanes/Oxley Bill passed by Congress last year.

The Department of Justice is investigating charges that the corporation stole hundreds of millions of dollars in medicare fraud.

In their mission statement, posted on the corporate web site, HealthSouth proudly proclaims, “We are profit oriented.”

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – US Steel: Guilty as charged. Fined $250 million

In just 90 minutes, the jury returned with a guilty verdict fining the US Steel Corporation $250 million for knowingly using asbestos which causes lung disease.

The case was brought by Roby Whittington, 70, who worked at the Gary Works, the corporation’s largest single mill, from 1950 to 1981. In 2001, Whittington was diagnosed with mesolthelioma, lung cancer, resulting from working with asbestos.

US Steel said that instead of appealing the award, it reached a settlement with Whittington for an undisclosed amount.

Meanwhile, on April Fool’s Day, US Steel added to its growing Balkan Division with the purchase of another Serbian steel company, Sartid located in northern Serbia. The mill makes raw iron and steel with 2.4 million tons of sheet and tin as end products.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards
(dwinebr696@aol.com).

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