SACRAMENTO, Calif.: Californians say ‘Tax the rich’

The California State Assembly is going where the money is to plug the gaping hole in the state’s budget. Polling in the state showed that 61 percent of residents favored increasing state taxes on the rich. With the release of the data, Assembly Majority Leader Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) introduced a bill, AB 1815, that would generate an estimated $3 billion to help keep medical centers open, books in kids’ hands and services for handicapped residents. The bill increases taxes only on the rich. Twenty-four legislators signed on immediately.

“It is only reasonable that the wealthiest Californians contribute their fair share,” said Chan.

If enacted, the bill would bump the tax rate for those whose income is more than $136,000, from 9.3 percent to 10 percent. Those whose income exceeds $272,000 would see taxes increased to 11 percent. Only 2 percent of Californians would be affected.

LOS ANGELES: City Council, judge oppose Patriot Act

In his State of the Union speech, Bush called for an extension of the Patriot Act. The next day, Los Angeles City Council voted, with only two members saying no, to formally oppose the sweeping federal law.

Resolution sponsor Councilwoman Jan Perry told reporters, “Our country was founded on an ideal of due process. … I believe the Patriot Act undermines these ideals. I do not believe that we are a city that believes police should enforce laws by taking into account someone’s ethnic background.”

Librarian Adele Wallace was thrilled with the council’s action. “I feel there is hope in this country for freedom of expression.”

Los Angeles joins 236 cities, towns and counties representing 34.5 million residents taking action to protect democratic rights and oppose the Patriot Act.

Within days of the City Council action, Federal District Judge Audrey B. Collins struck down a section of the Patriot Act. Judge Collins’ court serves the Los Angeles area and she is a Clinton appointee.

Collins was ruling on a 2003 case brought by five organizations and two individuals who tried to help Kurds in Turkey and Tamils in Sri Lanka. Her 36-page opinion in favor of the groups said that the section of the Patriot Act which bars “expert advice or assistance” was too vague.

“The ruling is significant in that it strikes the statute down as being in violation of the Fifth and Fourth Amendments, said David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who argued the case on behalf of the Humanitarian Law Project.

COLUMBUS, Ga.: Trials begin for 27 School of the Americas activists

Fort Benning is a well-known training ground for thousands of U.S. soldiers. It is also the training center for right-wing terrorists from Central and South America. Its graduates in El Salvador were involved in the El Mozote massacre where 900 civilians were slaughtered, and the attempted 2002 coup in Venezuela, to name just a few alumni “activities.”

The foreign terrorist center operated by the U.S. military was once known as the School of the Americas. But under increased criticism and pressure from U.S. residents, Congress changed the name to Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC).

In November, 10,000 gathered around Fort Benning demanding that WHISC be closed. During the peaceful demonstration, 27 people crossed onto federal property and were charged with trespassing. As the PWW went to press, 18 of the 27 were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to six months, with several receiving $1,000 fines. Chicagoan Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness was given three months in prison.

Judge G. Mallon Faircloth is the presiding judge. A more complete story will appear in next week’s edition.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (
Julia Lutsky contributed to this week’s clips.