HOOVER, Ala.: Residents defend immigrant workers

Since April 14, over 50 immigrant workers have been “detained” here, kicking residents into action in defense of immigrant rights and protesting racial profiling.

According Chip Lollar of the Birmingham office of the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the arrests resulted from an “ongoing investigation by the Bureau, not complaints from local residents or businesses.”

Isabel Rubio, director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, said, “When something like this happens, it’s very disturbing, but our only real concern is they’re making blanket arrests and not checking documents. These things happen very quickly. You can just fall into the black hole of missing people.”

Once a person is “detained” and moved from a local jail to a federal jail, Rubio continued, it is hard to find them.

Unlike other countries, the U.S. is not required to contact the respective consulates when a foreign-born person is arrested. Under U.S. law, the person arrested must contact their country’s consulate.

NAPLES, Fla.: Bush “green” policy puts profits first

“When it comes to the Bush administration’s wetlands policy, hypocrisy reigns supreme,” said Frank Jackalone, spokesman for the Sierra Club in Florida.

Wetlands provide not only invaluable habitat for countless birds, mammals, fish and insects, but naturally clean the water of pollutants.

On his way to a $25,000-a-plate lunch, April 23, President Bush stopped off at the Rookery National Estuarine Research Reserve, boasting of his administration’s efforts to restore vital wetlands.

The reality is totally opposite, according to Jackalone. In January 2003, the Bush administration ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to halt Clean Water Act enforcement for up to 20 million acres of wetlands, including southwest Florida. Jackalone cites the granting of building permits to Barron Collier Company, a developer, to build golf courses and houses on 2,000 acres of wetlands near the headwaters of the Everglades National Park near Naples.

In a related Sierra Club development, the oldest and largest environmental group defeated a threat from the right wing to destabilize its mission of preservation of the country’s natural resources. The votes are in for the leadership board of the 757,058 member organization, and right-wing forces calling for an anti-immigrant policy to be installed were defeated 141,407 to 13,090.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.: Defies ‘Drug Lords, Inc.,’ saves $2 million

Health care in the U.S. makes big profits, run by private industry and costs more than any other in the world, but Springfield, Mass., defied the drug companies and the Bush administration and saved taxpayers $2 million.

For the past nine months, Springfield has been purchasing prescription medications from Canada, which has a public national health care system. In a voluntary program established in July, city workers, retirees and their dependents have enrolled to get prescriptions filled in Canada. The $2 million in savings is only the beginning as only 3,000 workers, or 15 percent, have signed up so far.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino plans to launch a similar program for Boston in July 2004.

Skyrocketing drug costs and the success in Springfield caught the attention of federal legislators, Republican and Democrat. On April 21, Senators Kennedy (D-Mass.), Daschle (D-S.D.), Dorgan (D-N.D.), McCain (R-Ariz.) and Snowe (R-Maine) introduced legislation enabling U.S. residents to immediately import medications from Canada and Europe.

“All of the fear mongering and rhetoric of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), all of the obstacles are being completely removed,” said Andy Troszok, president of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Corporations break the law, get a contract in Iraq

At least 10 corporations with $7 billion in contracts from the Bush administration for Iraqi reconstruction and services to U.S. troops had a history of bid-rigging, fraud, delivery of faulty military parts and environmental damage. The 10 were dirty before the Iraq war and paid more than $300 million in fines before 2000 for breaking the law.

A report released by the Associated Press, April 26, is based on a survey of government documents and showed a pattern of criminal activity by Bechtel, Halliburton, AMEC, a British corporation, American International Contractors, Inc., Fluor Corp, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, and Northrop Grumman.

In 2001, the Bush administration repealed regulations enacted by the Clinton administration making it illegal for corporations convicted of criminal activity to be awarded government contracts.

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