NEW ORLEANS: Marchers ‘mourn’ second term

On Inauguration Day more than 1,500 people, mostly dressed in black, lined up behind a horse-drawn coffin carrying copies of the Patriot Act and the Constitution for a traditional New Orleans funeral procession to mourn the demise of democracy and justice.

“We should not be inflicting ‘democracy’ in other parts of the world when we don’t have democracy here in America,” said Buddy Spell, organizer of the January 20 Coalition. Many wore white armbands, a symbol of the movement to bring the troops home now.

SEATTLE: Students evict recruiters from campus

Students in cities around the state walked out of class Jan. 20, protesting the Bush administration’s agenda for the next four years.

In Seattle, the mid-day demonstration swelled to over 1,000 when students from Seattle Central Community College took to the streets. Before they left their campus, one group confronted military recruiters in the student union and forced them to leave.

Susan Livingston, 27, a member of Military Families Speak Out, said her brother, Spc. Joseph Blickenstaff, 23, was killed in Iraq Dec. 8, 2003. “My brother will always be in my heart, but today is about standing up and saying no to pre-emptive war,” she told the students. “It’s about saying no to tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths.”

WASHINGTON: Push to bring troops home grows in House

When Congress approved war powers for President Bush two years ago, only one member of the House of Representatives, Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), said no.

On Jan. 16 – after the Republican gains in the House – 16 members sent a letter to Bush urging him to “to take immediate steps to begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.”

“It has become clear that the existence of more than 130,000 American troops stationed on Iraqi soil is infuriating to the Iraqi people – especially because Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction and did not have a connection to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 or to the al Qaeda terrorist organization,” the letter said.

ATLANTA: African Americans challenge Waffle House

Sharon Perry, 31, stopped in the Waffle House in Savannah, Ga., and gave her order. When she finished, the server told her she had to pay for her meal up front, before the order went into the kitchen.

“I was shocked,” said Perry. “I was disgusted by her attitude. When she spoke to us it was like we shouldn’t have been there.”

Currently there are 24 lawsuits against Waffle House in six Southern states. The suits charge servers used racial slurs, deliberately served unsanitary food to minority customers, ignored Black patrons while providing prompt service to whites and verbally abused Black diners.

Waffle House owns 1,400 restaurants in 25 states. In the last five years, similar suits against Denny’s and Cracker Barrel restaurant chains have been successful, and expensive for the chains.

HARRISBURG, Pa: Republicans cut unemployment benefits

The deepening economic crisis may be invisible to politicians and the media, but it is very real to families in this state. For the first time, the state has cut unemployment compensation. Starting Jan. 1, the state Legislature, dominated by Republicans for over a decade, cut unemployment checks by 2.3 percent.

“Because of recession-related job losses, the [Unemployment Compensation] Trust Fund has fallen from a record high of $3 billion in 2001 to a projected $440 million by the end of 2004,” said Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Secretary Stephen M. Schmerin.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com).
Julia Lutsky and John Thompson contributed to this week’s clips.

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