NATIONWIDE: Struggle for peace continues

With U.S. bombs falling on Iraq, the list of municipalities and counties enacting peace resolutions continues to grow. After March 20, the first day of the Bush war, Orange County, North Carolina, home to the University of North Carolina, and Isle au Haut, Maine, a small island off the coast, both called on the government to bring the troops home and place the reconstruction of Iraq under United Nations control.

As of April 8, 163 counties, cities and municipalities have taken official action for peace. Over 50 high school and college student councils have said “Books Not Bombs” including the University of Texas, the largest university in Bush’s home state. Student councils at the Universities of Iowa, Michigan, Ohio (both OSU and OU), Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and UCLA have voted for peace. Students at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia added their voices, officially.

ALBANY, N.Y.: 40,000 workers say: Patient care, not cuts

Mayor Gerald Jennings looked out his window recently and saw 40,000 angry health care workers in the streets demanding that the state budget be balanced by taxing the corporations and super rich, not cutting live or death health care. He said it was the largest political demonstration in the city’s history.

Workers marched on the state Capitol behind banners of their union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1199, New York City, and flags from the Greater New York Hospital Association and the League of Voluntary Hospitals. Their message to Republican Governor George Paktaki was clear: We care about our patients; we work to feed our families; tax the rich to plug the $2 billion hole in the state budget.

The coalition of health care workers and hospitals is proposing that the state place a 0.7 percent surcharge on incomes over $100,000. and closing tax loopholes. Their plan would restore vital health care services to thousands of working families.

“This many people? I’m not surprised,” said Diane Hinsch, a New York City nurse. “I’m glad, but not surprised. People are very upset with the governor. They know he doesn’t care about the people, about their health care.”

There were actually two rallies that preceded the march. When 25,000 workers jammed the Pepsi Arena, the legal limit, another 15,000 had their own rally in the parking lots surrounding the arena. When the rallies ended, workers lined up to deliver their case directly to the governor.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.: Civil liberties victories

The Minneapolis City Council overwhelmingly agreed April 4 not to use city resources to enforce some homeland security measures enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The resolution, which passed 11 to 2, contends that the USA PATRIOT Act threatens constitutionally guaranteed rights and liberties. The resolution said the law gave the FBI broad access to sensitive medical, mental health, financial and library records. City resources, personnel and administrative or law enforcement funds cannot be used “to advance such unconstitutional activities,” the resolution said.

Another victory came when the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in favor the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) striking down a Department of Public Safety requirement that the expiration of visas be noted on the driver’s licenses of non-citizens.

ADC and the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union, Jewish Community Action, Somali Justice Advocacy Center, Somali Community of Minnesota, National Lawyers Guild and others argued that differentiating the drivers’ licenses of citizens and non-citizens was unconstitutional. The Appeals Court agreed citing the 14th Amendment adding that a driver’s license shows that a person is a qualified driver and was never intended to show their immigration status.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas: Honoring Chavez

Four to five thousand people participated in the seventh annual march celebrating the birthday of Cesar Chavez, on March 29. The event, one of the largest in the country, was marked by the enthusiastic participation of various labor unions, who came out to celebrate the life and work of the late Chicano labor leader.

The Service Employees International Union took advantage of the gathering to announce their campaign to fight for a contract that would raise the salaries of their members to the equivalent of state public workers.

Many of the march’s participants held up anti-war signs like “Send us to school, not to war.” Many speakers such as Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, Patti Radle, 5th district city council candidate, and Gabe Quintanilla, president of the Bexar County Democratic Party, reminded the crowd of the Cesar Chavez philosophy of non-violence.

PHILADELPHIA, Pa.: War protests

More than 2,000 rallied and marched in pouring rain on March 30 in opposition to the war in Iraq. One protestor carrying a sign that read “I love my marine but I fear my government,” told the press, “My husband is over there. This is not what he signed up for – he signed up to defend the Constitution.”

The next day more than three hundred protestors gathered across from the Philadelphia Coast Guard building where George W. Bush spoke about homeland security.

One demonstrator commented that what it cost in security and transportation to bring Bush for a 20 minute speech could fund all the cutbacks to the Philadelphia libraries.

Roberto Botello, Dan Margolis, Erwin Marquit and Rookie Perna contributed to this week’s clips. Denise Winebrenner

Edwards compiles national clips and can be reached at dwinebr696@aol.com

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