BRUNSWICK, Ga.: Protesters ‘unwelcome’ G-8 Summit

Caravans of military Humvees patrolled the cobblestone streets in this coastal town starting June 5. Legions of Secret Service agents and an estimated 10,000-20,000 federal, state and local police roamed the area. The mechanical beat of helicopter blades drowned out the soothing surf. Concrete barriers, wire mesh fencing and military checkpoints replaced magnolias.

This was the state of emergency declared by Gov. ‘Sonny’ Perdue. This was the opening of the G-8 Summit, June 8, where George W. Bush met with leaders from seven other nations to discuss the world’s economy. The summit ended June 10.

Thousands of protesters from 32 organizations lined up June 8 behind “United for Peace and Justice” banners demanding an end to the occupation of Iraq, one of three permitted marches. The following day, marchers highlighted the devastation to the environment by corporations running the global economy. June 10 was devoted to calling for an end to the U.S.-backed occupation of Palestine.

The increasingly aggressive role of the Bush administration in world events brought P.J. D’Amico to Brunswick from Atlanta. “I am overwelmingly fatigued when I read the paper about this country and its shifts and the brutality at Abu Ghraib,” he said. “I just can’t be a spectator anymore.”

Demonstrations also occurred in Savannah, Ga., organized by the Labor and Action Research Project.

WASHINGTON: Gov’t workers fight for right to vote

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) plans to ignore a letter from the Bush administration’s Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and continue to register federal workers on the job. In a May 28 statement, the union said it would sue any federal agency that denied workers the right to register to vote.

AFGE sued the Clinton administration 30 times to protect workers’ jobs from downsizing and other infringements on federal workers’ rights.

AFGE General Counsel Mark Roth blasted the OSC decision, saying, “This opinion is total nonsense. This agency should be ashamed.”

BUFFALO, N.Y.: Patriot Act sweeps up artists

University of Buffalo art professor Steve Kurtz is a member of the Critical Art Ensemble, which produces artwork to bring the politics of biotechnology to millions. Kurtz and fellow artists Beatriz da Costa and Steve Barnes face a federal grand jury, June 15, because the FBI, under expanded powers of the Patriot Act, claims the trio violated a section of the law prohibiting possession of “any biological agent, toxin or delivery system” without justification “of prophylactic, protective, bona fide research or other peaceful purpose.”

The CAE’s exhibits, which often resemble science projects, utilize bacteria and laboratory equipment commonly available to high school and college students.

“I have no idea why they’re continuing to investigate,” said da Costa, who is a professor at the University of California, Irvine. “It was shocking that this investigation was ever launched. That it is continuing is positively frightening and shows how vulnerable the Patriot Act has made freedom of speech in this country.”

A demonstration is planned on June 15, at 9:00 a.m. outside the courthouse.

AIKEN, S.C.: Cruel Bush trick imperils drinking water

Cleaning up Cold War-era nuclear bomb-making waste is expensive. In a supposed cost-cutting move, the U.S. Senate voted June 2 to ease the storage regulations of such toxic waste. Critics charge the new rules, if implemented, could destroy drinking water for millions.

The bill’s supporters claim that only the Savannah River facility is affected by the change, which allows 51 tanks containing 31 million gallons of weapons radioactive waste to remain in the ground here. The plan adopts a Bush administration proposal to cover the toxic waste with concrete. Strict regulations, supporters claim, would still apply to other nuclear weapons facilities, including Hanford in Washington state. Hanford’s 177 tanks hold 53 million gallons of weapons-generated waste, and tanks in Idaho Falls, Idaho, hold 900,000 gallons.

The action split South Carolina’s senators and drew sharp criticism from officials in Washington state and Idaho, and from environmental activists. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) tacked the provision on to the $447 billion defense spending bill, arguing that it would save $16 billion. But Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) charged that the Bush Energy Department is rolling the dice on the region’s drinking water.

Karen Wayland, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “It is a cruel trick that allows the Bush administration to leave a legacy of radioactive pollution that could endanger drinking water for millions of Americans.”

The bill now goes to a House-Senate conference committee.

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

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