NASHVILLE, Tenn.: Hundreds demand “Fire Bush”

While the grotesque amounts of money the Bush administration is spending on this campaign captures headlines, the grassroots movement to dump Bush is out at every stop, every photo-op and every day of the week. Nashville is no exception. Hundreds of hand-made signs saying “Bush Sold America Down the River to Halliburton and Saudi Arabia,” and “Out of Iraq Now” lined Bush’s motorcade route May 27.

“I’m 57 years old. I don’t want my grandsons to die in unprovoked war,” Joe B. Scott told reporters after police released him. Scott had refused to stay within the “protest pen” and had taken his “Fire Bush” sign to where it was more visible.

In a statement, Randy Button, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party slammed the visit. “George Bush hasn’t spent any time with the No. 1 crisis of skyrocketing gas prices,” he said. “Yet he has plenty of time to raise hundreds of millions of dollars at fund raisers.” Bush took $1.7 million out of Tennessee.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.: Co. puts profit before public welfare

Looking for work is tough, but McWane Pipe, owned by one of Alabama’s richest families, is toxic. On May 25 a federal grand jury here handed down a 25-count indictment charging McWane with illegal dumping into this city’s drinking water and other environmental crimes. The indictment names four top executives in the $2-billion-a-year corporation.

“The big message is that these environmental laws are on the books for a purpose,” said Alice H. Martin, U.S. Attorney in Birmingham. “McWane put pipes and profits before the public welfare.”

The investigation into McWane started in 2003 following a series of articles in the New York Times that exposed more than 4,600 injuries among the corporation’s workers. According the indictment, McWane conspired to routinely dump thousands of gallons of wastewater, lied to investigators, intimidated workers and altered accident scenes.

JACKSON, Miss.: City Council votes to condemn Patriot Act

By a 4-1 vote May 25, the Jackson City Council became the first city in Mississippi to oppose the USA Patriot Act. “The vote by the City Council says that we need not sacrifice freedom to be secure,” said Nsombi Lambright, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi. “Mississippi’s history shows what happens when those in control have an expansive array of powers at their disposal.”

Jackson joins 319 other municipalities acting to protect the democratic rights and privacy of their residents. The movement to protect the Constitution from Bush and Ashcroft now represents over 51 million U.S. residents and is expanding.

SACRAMENTO: Californians unite to enact health care

A coalition of more than 100 labor, medical, consumer, religious and community organizations, Health Access California, on May 26 kicked off its campaign to enact Senate Bill 2, requiring companies with 200 or more workers to provide family medical coverage or pay into a state fund. If the campaign is successful in the November referendum, California would join Hawaii as the only states in the country where employer-based health coverage is the law.

“Everybody who works hard and plays by the rules deserves affordable health insurance,” said Anthony Wright, spokesman for the state-wide coalition. Wright pointed out that with the California Medical Association supporting the measure, this effort represents the first time medical providers and consumers are on the same side.

“At least a dozen states are considering this kind of legislation, so what happens in California, obviously, will be very relevant to the discussion at the state level,” said health benefits expert Patricia Butler.

Art Pulaski, president of the California AFL-CIO, added that the law will relieve overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms. “You and I are paying for that in the concept of cost-shifting.”

WASHINGTON: Vets advance rights of gays in military

Representatives on Capital Hill looked out into their waiting rooms to see dozens of gay and lesbian military veterans and supporters demanding an end to the ban on gays in the armed services.

The more than 60 people from 22 states included Patricia and Wally Kutteles, parents of slain Army private Barry Winchell, Brigadier Gen. Keith Kerr, Brigadier Gen. Virgil Richard and retired Rear Admiral Alan Steinman. According to a December 2003 Gallup poll, 79 percent of Americans support lifting the ban on gays in the military.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner-Edwards ( Gary Dotterman, Judith Le Blanc and Julia Lutsky contributed to this week’s clips.