WASHINGTON, D.C.:Death penalty is an act of racism

The death penalty in the United States remains an act of racial injustice, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) said in a report on the continuing role of race in capital cases in the U.S. African Americans account for only 12 percent of the U.S. population, but are more than 40 percent of those on death row and one in three of those executed.

Eighty percent of people executed since judicial killing resumed in 1977 were put to death for murders involving white victims, although Blacks and whites are murder victims in almost equal numbers in the U.S., according to the report.

“At least one in five of the African Americans executed since 1977 were tried in front of all-white juries,” said William Schulz, executive director of AIUSA. “What are the odds that this happened for entirely non-discriminatory reasons?”

PITTSBURGH: Bring ‘em home to healthcare and jobs

Demands for peace and for diverting federal spending to meet human needs echoed through the Steel City April 26 as hundreds of families marched from their neighborhoods into downtown. Anger at Bush administration lies and the war’s cost in Iraqi and American lives sent marchers to the federal building, looping around to Market Square.

Marchers condemned U.S. “empire building” and “corporate invasion.” They called for education, health care and jobs in the U.S.

Weekly peace vigils at five busy intersections have continued as well as teach-ins, prayer meetings, religious services and community forums.

TALLAHASSEE: Equal Rights Amendment is back

Speaking before over 100 activists, State Rep. Arthnia Joyner (D-Tampa) said that although Florida was the state where the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) died in 1982, Florida will be the state that launches a new drive to include women in the Constitution.

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox joined Rep. Joyner on the Capitol steps, saying, “Aren’t we just saying a very simple statement that our daughters should be treated as well as our sons?”

In 1982, Congress set a June deadline for state legislatures to pass the constitutional amendment. When time ran out, the ERA had achieved passage in 35 states, 3 short of the mandated 38.

Although legislation calling for passage of an equal rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not expected to pass in Florida this session, the movement is under way.

The Sunshine State is not alone. The National Organization for Women is building ERA coalitions in Illinois, Arizona and Missouri as well.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Union nurses: ‘Let us do the work we love’

Capitol Hill will be a sea of pink May 6 as nurses from around the country, organized by the AFL-CIO, demand passage of legislation setting safe staffing levels in hospitals.

“If you talk to any nurse, they will tell you they love their jobs,” said 30-year veteran RN Ann Converso of Buffalo. “But many of them leave [nursing] because of the working conditions. One nurse for every 12 or 15 patients, you can’t work like that.”

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported recently that when the number of surgical patients a nurse had to care for was reduced from eight to four, the risk of death in the first 30 days following surgery was reduced by one-third.

“Nurses are fed up with hospital staffing conditions that put our patients at risk,” said Diane Lataille, of Pittsburgh Allegheny General Hospital. “We’re determined to do something about it.” The lobbying action will include nurses from eight unions.

FORT WORTH, Tex.:Machinists win at Lockheed Martin

It took shutting down this 15,400-worker complex for two weeks, but 4,000 members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM), who make the tools for the aircraft plant, saved their health care, including dental, increased their pension and wages, and assured that 400 workers whose jobs will be combined will be re-located within the facility. Workers were angry that Lockheed Martin demanded that the ceiling on the prescription drug co-pay be eliminated. “That was a big thing,” said IAM aerospace coordinator John Crowdes, “but we won it.” The union settled on a maximum $50 per prescription co-pay. Most medications will be less.

“The cost of health care is more and more being shifted to employees from companies,” said local union president Pat Lane. “We have to take a stand. … our membership was solid.”

IAM members average between $440 and $880 before taxes per week.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards(dwinebr696@aol.com)