NATIONAL CLIPS: September 29

RICHMOND, Va.: Insurance cos. tell amputees: ‘Legs a luxury’

When members of the state Legislature’s insurance commission convened their fall meeting, they did not expect the more than 30 people who had suffered amputations, including Iraq veterans, would get to Richmond urging lawmakers to force insurance companies to pay for prosthetics.

“Legs are a luxury,” Lisa Riiber told legislators, describing how the insurance company denied her husband a $100,000 pair of C-Leg prostheses following a double amputation a year ago. The insurance industry believes the C-Leg, a computerized prosthetic, is experimental.

Dr. Fred Duckworth lost his leg to cancer at 15. He had to sue his insurance company for a prosthetic. He won, but is back in court to get a replacement.

J. Douglas Call owns Virginia Prosthetics, a company making replacement legs. He testified that over the past seven years, more and more insurance are denying or limiting coverage.

Sen. Patricia Dicer has introduced a bill that would force insurance companies to pay for prosthetics. In October, the insurance commission will decide whether or not to send the legislation up to the full Legislature.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.: Council votes to bring troops home

On a 5-2 vote, city councilors here enacted the “Raging Grannies” resolution calling for “the orderly withdrawal of American troops from Iraq to commence immediately,” to fully fund the troops’ benefits and to re-appropriate funding for cities’, towns’ and communities’ needs. The local Raging Grannies are part of a loose national group of grandmothers who have rallied, sung their protests and offered to serve the military in place of their grandchildren. Albuquerque grannies lobbied the City Council to pass the peace resolution.

To facilitate discussion of the resolution, the City Council extended their meeting twice. An amendment watering down the language was rejected 5-2.

Arguments for the resolution pointed out that New Mexican Guard members serving in Task Force Cobra were victims of racial profiling, prompting the state’s congressional delegation to call for an investigation.

The state’s ability to address local disasters and emergencies has been compromised because half of its Guard is expected to remain in Iraq until 2010, the resolution said. The National Priorities Project estimates that the war and occupation has drained nearly $400 million from the state, money that is needed for infrastructure, public safety, housing and other human needs.

HOMER CITY, Alaska: Down with the king, impeach!

The honks of support far out numbered the signs of anger as 30 members of Homer Citizens for Impeachment lined the main street of the 5,300-resident town. The event was a demonstration and a petition campaign, with over 60 people signing on the dotted line, calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

“Homer Citizens for Impeachment does not seek revenge for the wrongs of Bush and Cheney,” said the group’s chairwoman, Amy Bollenbach. “Instead, we want to remove Bush and Cheney from their jobs as a lesson to future presidents: we citizens of this country will not tolerate an executive branch that acts like royalty.” They plan to present the petitions to City Council and ask for a resolution of support.

COLLEGE PARK, Md.: U of M investigates noose

In early September, a noose was hung from a tree in front of the Nyumburu Cultural Center, home to the Black Faculty and Staff Association, several African American student organizations and other institutions at the University of Maryland.

University President C.D. Mote immediately initiated an investigation of the incident, calling it a hate crime. In a letter to the campus, he wrote, “The University of Maryland will not tolerate discrimination, harassment or acts of hate. The possibility that this act appears intended to bring to mind the horrific crime of lynching, which is a terrible and tragic part of our nation’s past, is particularly abhorrent.”

Within a week, hundreds of students, African American, Asian, Latino and white, attended a “speak out” on the incident organized by the Black Student Union.

Bonnie Thornton Dill, head of Women’s Studies, said the issue was of concern to all students, and that “students wanted to find ways to build more unity, solidarity between the races.”

In 2006, of the 25,000 students at U of M, 3,250, or 13 percent, were African American.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696 Emil Shaw contributed.