National Clips

ANN ARBOR, Mich.: Marching for equal opportunity

On April 1, the Supreme Court will hear not only lawyers defending the University of Michigan Law School affirmative action admission policies against attorneys arguing to close the doors of equality, but thousands of voices who are signing up for buses, planes, trains and cars in solidarity with the university. Students, trade unionists, professionals, elected officials and religious leaders from across the country will converge on the high court steps in Washington, D.C., behind the banners of civil rights, democracy and equality.

The Civil Rights March to the Supreme Court unites 37 civil rights organizations, 48 labor organizations, 16 religious organizations, members of Congress, state legislatures, city councils and school boards, mayors, and hundreds of student governments and groups from New York to Miami to Michigan to California. For march information: National Black Law Students Association: www.nblsa.org





TERRA HAUTE, Ind.: Gulf War vet executed

President Bush and the Supreme Court denied requests by lawyers representing Louis Jones, Jr., to stop his execution, March 17. Mark Corello, spokesman for the Justice Department, offered no explanation.

In March 1991, Jones was part of an Army unit that followed up after a U.S. bombing of an arms depot during the Gulf War. The U.S. bombing exploded bins of serin, a deadly nerve gas. Jones received an honorable discharge and was decorated for bravery.

In December 2000, Jones and 130,000 soldiers received notice from the Pentagon that “you may have been exposed to low levels of nerve gas during your service in the Gulf War.” Jones’ attorneys presented evidence that he suffered “irreparable brain damage” resulting from his exposure to nerve gas and requested life imprisonment. The Bush administration rejected the appeal and executed Jones March 17.

Jones who was convicted of murder, became the third person to be executed by the federal government since 1963.





DENVER, Colo.: Violence begets violence

Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Dallagher and Brig. Gen. Sylvanus Taco Gilbert are under fire after at least 54 women cadets charged they had been raped by fellow cadets. Even ultr-right Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) has called for their resignation

“If there are rapists serving on active duty, like the one accused of raping my constituent, I find that reprehensible,” Tancredo wrote in a letter to Air Force Secretary James Roche. “I have lost all confidence in the ability of the current command structure at the academy to resolve this matter. This is the most serious scandal to confront any of the nation’s academies. It requires dramatic, serious, decisive remedies.”

Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) said that 25 female cadets reported to him that they had been raped at the Academy. Some said they were ostracized, punished or forced to leave the academy if they reported the attacks to military authorities.

Results of an internal Air Force investigation of the charges are expected by the end of March. Allard is calling for an outside, criminal investigation.





SAN FRANCISCO: Low-wage workers sue high-fashion brands

Sales associates, mostly minimum wage workers, at the Gap, Abercrombie and Fitch and Polo Ralph Lauren stores are suing the retail clothing owners for forcing them to purchase the expensive clothes and wear them to work as a condition of employment. They are asking for elimination of the policy and that they be reimbursed for what it has cost them.

The cost is dramatic. Aneta Chmielewska worked at Abercrombie and Fitch until the company told her that not only did she have wear Abercrombie clothes to work, but they had to be the latest fashion. Soon, she was spending half of her $300 bi-weekly wages, just to be able to work. She quit, saying, “Some people don’t need much money – they can work there (Abercrombie).”

The suit is based on state laws mandating that if uniforms are required, the company has to provide them, free, and companies cannot coerce workers to buy products; and on laws that set minimum wage standards.

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