NATIONAL CLIPS: Sept. 22

WASHINGTON: Thousands march against the war

Congressional hearings on the status/benchmarks of “progress” in Iraq just ended as thousands converged on the capital demanding the president and Congress act to bring U.S. troops home.

Army veteran Justin Cliburn, 25, of Lawton, Okla., marched with a contingent of Iraq veterans, stopping long enough to tell reporters, “We’re occupying a people who do not want us there. We’re here to show that it isn’t just a bunch of old hippies from the ’60s who are against this war.”

Garett Reppenhagen, 32, of Colorado, who was a sniper in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, marched with the same group. “The Iraqi people do not see us as peacemakers. They see us as occupiers and murderers.”

Starting at the White House, the march ended at the Capitol where many staged a “die-in,” lying on the lawn with the names of military personnel killed in Iraq pinned to their shirts. Police took no immediate action until some tried to climb a barricade at the foot of the Capitol steps. Police then pepper-sprayed demonstrators, arresting more than 190.



MILWAUKEE: Workers jam park vs. crackdown on undocumented

Isauro Blas, 41, a construction worker, took a day’s vacation to add his voice to nearly 10,000 people demanding a halt to deportations and “no-match” letters sent to companies from the Social Security Administration saying that Social Security numbers do not match an employee’s name. Immigration and Customs Enforcement then uses these letters as a basis for raids and deportations.

“We all have to lend our support,” said Blas. “I’m an immigrant and we are all paisanos. I want to help families who are here.”

Busy signing up volunteers from the United Steelworkers union Rapid Response program, Douglas Drake, an organizer for the USW, called for unity, saying, “All workers must speak up with one voice and say no to Social Security match.”

A federal judge issued a temporary order blocking the no-match rule. A hearing on the temporary injunction will be held on Oct. 1.

Milwaukee joined 15 other cities hosting rallies to stop the crackdown. “We want to send a message that we want the new rule stopped,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, director of Voces de la Frontera, a worker and immigrant rights group that organized the rally. “It would create social and economic crises for millions of workers, documented and undocumented.”



TUSCALOOSA, Ala.: School ‘resegregation’ plan protested

In February 2005, a group of white parents here told the school board that the middle school their children attended was overcrowded and suffered discipline problems. Their children had been bused from a mostly white enclave to an integrated school. The parents demanded a new school in their neighborhood.

In May, the board adopted a rezoning plan over the objections of three board members (two African American and one white), which forced hundreds of Black students to move from the integrated school to all-Black schools. There are 10,000 students in the Tuscaloosa school system.

Black parents and residents jammed school board meetings and are preparing to go into court using the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law to overturn the rezoning decision. “We’re talking about moving children from good schools to low-performing ones, and that’s illegal,” said Kendra Williams, a hospital worker whose two children were rezoned. “And it’s all about race. It’s as clear as daylight.”

“This is a case study in resegregation,” said Gerald Rosiek, who studied the Tuscaloosa rezoning plan while at the University of Alabama. Rosiek currently teaches at the University of Oregon.



TRENTON, N.J.: State sues over children’s health insurance

With a showdown looming between the president and Congress over enactment of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine is taking the Bush administration to court to save health insurance for some 10,000 middle-income children.

Calling the new federal rules “onerous,” Corzine, in a letter, said New Jersey would not obey the new income requirements.

“I am deeply concerned about the devastating impact that this misguided policy will have on our efforts to address the growing problem of the uninsured,” he said.

New Jersey is going to court to restore full funding.

The state also argues that the Bush administration broke the law by imposing the income changes without going through process, which includes public comment.

Under the new rules, 14 states face elimination or drastic cuts in their SCHIP programs.

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