MORGANTOWN, W.Va.: ‘War begins with Dubya’

Grills and fireworks were the order of the day July 4, but over 300 residents braved police and heat and brought their handmade signs demanding impeachment when Bush stopped here as part of his road show to sell the Iraq war.

Despite a nationally televised speech the last week of June, public support for Bush’s Iraq war and occupation continues to erode.

“War begins with Dubya,” read the sign held aloft by student Rachel Spero. “I just thought on the Fourth of July, of all days, it was important to come and make your political views known,” she said.

Unlike most demonstrations “greeting” Bush, protesters were penned up only 100 yards from the president. Their shouts of “Bush lies, thousands die,” was picked up by television broadcasts of the speech.

ST. PAUL, Minn.: ‘Halt state gov’t shutdown’

Nine thousand state workers were laid off here on July 1 because the governor and the Legislature failed to enact a budget. About 6,000 more state workers, including police, were expecting pink slips by the end of the week in the first government shutdown in Minnesota’s history.

Workers at scores of nonprofit agencies delivering services from day care to elder care, also funded by the state, found themselves without paychecks and no way to pay their bills.

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5 rallied in front of the State Capital July 6, demanding the government act. In a letter to Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the union condemned the inaction and demanded that lawmakers and Pawlenty stay at their desks until a budget is passed. “Shutdown equals failure,” wrote Eliot Seide, the union’s executive director. “That is irresponsible!”

LANSING, Mich.: Social Security ‘Truth Truck’

Congresspersons may have sought recreation over the Fourth of July weekend, but here, on July 5, retired workers, their families and friends from the AFL-CIO delivered a million signatures on petitions to save Social Security to Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.). Before the meeting with Rogers, a member of his staff told the Alliance of Retired Americans (ARA) that Rogers continues to support the privatization of the country’s most successful social program.

The stop here was part of the third multistate tour by the ARA’s “Truth Truck,” bringing the million-signature petition directly to members of Congress, urging them to reject privatization.

“During our ‘Truth Truck’ tours the president’s privatization proposal has failed to gain the support of a majority of Americans, not to mention seniors,” said ARA President George Kourpias. “We feel that our message — don’t privatize Social Security — has resonated throughout the country.”

SACRAMENTO, Calif.: Stop spying on your mom

Peace activists from the women’s group Code Pink had no idea that National Guard members were spying on their plans for a Mother’s Day demonstration against Bush’s Iraq war, and that the Guard spied on the protest itself. E-mails obtained by the San Jose Mercury News revealed that a newly created unit of the National Guard, reputedly designed to address terrorist threats, attended meetings and investigated Code Pink members.

The e-mails also revealed that the Guard unit investigated the pro-peace Raging Grannies, whose average age is 72, and Gold Star Mothers for Peace, a group of parents whose children have been killed in Iraq.

“What has this country come to when our National Guard is off fighting in Iraq instead of home protecting us from natural disasters, and the few Guardsmen and women who are still here are assigned to investigate women who are calling for peace?” said Code Pink spokesperson Medea Benjamin. “We want an apology from the guard and action by Gov. Schwarzenegger to recall the guard from Iraq and keep it focused on real threats to the state rather than imaginary ones.”

SAN FRANCISCO: Boycott Gallo wine

On the steps of City Hall, the United Farm Workers (UFW) union, joined by dozens of religious, labor and Latino organizations, kicked off a boycott June 14 in solidarity with workers at the E&J Gallo Winery, demanding a contract that includes improved housing. Gallo is the largest wine corporation in the country.

UFW president Arturo Rodriguez charged that the Gallos “abuse, cheat and deny the majority of the workers benefits, job protections and humane living conditions” in the heart of California’s fabled wine country.

The first boycott of Gallo Wine began in 1973 as part of a broader labor organizing and political campaign. It successfully ended in 1978 after the union won a string of victories including the passage of the Agricultural Workers Labor Relations Act.

For more information, visit www.ufw.org.

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

Paul Kaczocha, Julia Lutsky and Roberta Wood contributed to this week’s clips.

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