MONROE, Mich.: Marching for jobs and clean air

As President Bush addressed a captive audience at Detroit Edison’s coal-fired electrical generation plant Sept. 15, hundreds of environmentalists rallied outside the complex protesting the administration’s “Clear Skies” initiative and rule changes in environmental protection laws.

“The government’s own data show that nearly 300 people a year will die prematurely from this plant’s pollution alone, and thousands will suffer asthma attacks, hospital visits and lost workdays,” said Megan Owens, field coordinator for Public Interest Research Group Michigan.

“According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s own analysis of the president’s Clear Skies plan, the Monroe plant will not reduce its emissions of sulfur dioxide,” said Vicki Levengood of the National Environmental Trust. Faithful implementation of the Clean Air Act would result in a 90 percent reduction in emissions, she said.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.: State to get drugs from Canada

The war over prescription drugs heated up Sept. 14 when Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced that the state would purchase prescription medications for 240,000 state workers and retirees from Canadian suppliers.

Illinois joins thousands of U.S. residents crossing the border daily, including bus trips organized by their unions, to buy their medications. The savings is that dramatic, as high as 80 percent per prescription.

The announcement drew immediate attacks from the Bush administration’s Food and Drug Administration, which has tried to use the Patriot Act to halt the prescription drug express.

DENVER, Colo.: Peltier parole demand

Leonard Peltier, 59, leader of the American Indian Movement, has never had a parole hearing. On Sept. 19 the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether or not the U.S. Parole Commission erred when it denied the civil rights leader a parole hearing until 2008.

In 1975, Peltier was convicted of killing two FBI agents on the South Dakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Peltier denies the murder.

“Under federal guidelines, someone convicted of murder is considered for parole at 200 months [Peltier has served 204 months],” said the AIM leader’s attorney, Barry Bachrach. “There is no evidence in the record which supports that he [Peltier] ambushed and executed two FBI agents,” Bachrach continued.

In 1986, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St

Louis found “inconsistencies casting strong doubts upon the government’s case” but did not order a new trial.

PITTSBURGH: AK Steel charged with racism

African American steelworkers are suing AK (Armco Kawasaki) Steel for discrimination, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency, is taking their case.

About 1,950 steelworkers who are members of an independent union, not the United Steelworkers of America, work in the Butler complex. Less than 20 AK steelworkers are African American.

Gerald Patterson of Lyndora, Pa., filed charges on behalf of all Black steelworkers at the mill. Among the many racist acts committed at that plant were the display of Confederate flags on cars in company parking lots, nooses hung over doorways and KKK videos shown in lunch rooms.

“Title VII [of the 1963 Civil Rights Act] as been the law of the land for 38 years, but you would not know it from the facts of this case,” said Jacqueline McNair, EEOC’s regional attorney.

AK Steel could face federal penalties of up to $300,000 for allowing the racist behavior.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.: College teacher fired for antiwar remarks

Forsyth Technical College fired English instructor Elizabeth Ito on May 15 for her comments on the Iraq war. On Sept. 12, the first-year teacher filed an appeal to get her job back.

On March 28 Ito spent 10 minutes at the beginning of her business writing class voicing concerns with the call-up of an additional 30,000 troops for the Iraq war. She asked students their reaction to the possible re-institution of the draft. After the class ended, two students complained to Susie Keener, Ito’s boss. Within a week, Ito was called before the college dean and Keener, and the incident was discussed for over two hours. A disciplinary letter issued by the department ended with the statement, “This matter is resolved.”

At the end of term, Keener fired Ito.

“It is clear that Elizabeth didn’t lose her job because she expressed a personal opinion in the classroom,” said Ito Defense Coalition member Liz Seymour. “She lost her job because of the opinion she expressed.”

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