WASHINGTON: Families say ‘protect miners’ lives’

It has been three and half months since 12 coal miners died in West Virginia’s Sago Mine. There have been congressional, state and public hearings and investigations. The West Virginia Legislature enacted stronger safety measures within two weeks of the disaster.

The only thing that has changed is 14 more miners have died mining coal, making the first three months of 2006 more deadly than all of 2005.

West Virginia families brought their case directly to the halls of Congress, May 16, demanding action on stalled mine safety legislation, increased enforcement and stringent fines on corporations when they break the law.

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) union President Cecil Roberts was scheduled to join the families. Miners at Sago were not members of the UMWA.

Families oppose the nomination of Richard Stickler, a former mine boss and executive with Bethlehem Steel Corp., to become the new head of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd heard their voices and forced the Senate to put the Bush nominee on hold.

PITTSBURGH: Moms demand ‘Bring ’em home’

Just after the restaurant dinner, flowers, and calls from kids hither and yon, scores of moms filled Frick Park to celebrate Mother’s Day by returning to its roots — demonstrating for peace.

Organized by Code Pink, moms lit up the waning twilight with candles calling for immediate withdraw of their sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, sisters, moms and aunts from Iraq. Many carried signs that read, “Impeach Bush,” drawing honks of support from passing motorists.

Mother’s Day dates to 1870, when Julia Ward Howe, abolitionist, suffragist and author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” issued the Mother’s Day Proclamation urging women to rise up with calls of “Disarm! Disarm!” and to find “the means whereby the great human family can live in peace.”

Code Pink took out full-page ads in major Iraqi newspapers reading in part, “We have seen in poll after poll that the majority of Americans and Iraqis want the U.S. troops to return home.”

In Washington, actress Susan Sarandon, Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan, Ann Nelson, wife of singer Willie Nelson, and hundreds of moms and their supporters held a 24-hour vigil in front of the White House, demanding an end to the war.

MARYVILLE, Tenn.: Aluminum workers authorize strike

With Alcoa, the world’s largest aluminum corporation, demanding concessions and cuts in health care for active workers and retirees, 9,000 members of the United Steelworkers union (USW) have given a green light to strike the company.

Meanwhile, at its web site, Alcoa is boasting of a jump in first quarter profits for 2006.

Since February, USW members in 16 local unions in 10 states have held informational picket lines, sticker days and plant gate leafleting to mobilize co-workers for a showdown to protect benefits they have worked a lifetime to earn.

Local 309 President Brickley Beasley in Maryville, Tenn., said only one union member voted not to strike.

On April 21, USW Alcoa retirees, union leaders and worker representatives from Alcoa plants in Mexico and Brazil attended the corporation’s annual meeting in Pittsburgh to defend health care.

The contract expires May 31. Negotiations began May 18 in St. Louis.

DURHAM, N.C.: Three Duke lacrosse players indicted for rape

Amid a united “town and gown” cry for justice and dignity, a Durham County grand jury has indicted Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Falls, N.J., Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., and David Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md., for the March 13 rape of a 27-year-old college student and mother of two.

The three men are white. The victim is African American. The indictments stem from sexual assault at a Duke University lacrosse team party that put the woman in the hospital. The party was held at an off-campus home rented by Evans from the university.

Since March, nearly daily marches, forums and vigils, including one on Easter Sunday, forced law enforcement and university officials to act. Duke suspended play for their highly ranked lacrosse team and Durham county police conducted an investigation into the victim’s charges. The coach of the lacrosse team resigned.

A trial is not yet scheduled.

Detroit: Immigration raid denounced

In response to a May 12 raid by Federal agents on undocumented workers and their families, immigrant rights supporters rallied outside the Detroit U.S. Immigration offices the following Monday.

Seventeen people, including children, were arrested in the raid on three homes in southwest Detroit, the site of the city’s largest immigrant community.

Latinos Unidos activist Elena Herrada said, “The people taken are workers, not criminals. We will not tolerate human beings being criminalized, rounded up and deported.”

Father John Nowlan, pastor of St. Hilary Church and a leader of the Detroit Metropolitan Interfaith Committee on Workers Issues, said he was demonstrating because every religious tradition welcomes human beings, and when workers are being abused, “we must stand with them.”

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

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