ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.: Amid protests, Bush signs energy bill

President Bush signed his 1,724-page energy bill Aug. 8 as scores of environmental and peace activists here protested the measure as corporate welfare. They also denounced the Iraq war.

That same day, crude oil prices topped $60 a barrel, with no relief at the pump in sight. The Energy Department reported that retail gasoline skyrocketed to an average of $2.37 per gallon.

The energy bill provides $14.5 billion in corporate tax breaks to companies like Exxon Mobil, who are drowning in cash.

The Columbia, S.C., newspaper The State observed, “There’s plenty in here that mainly will help the bottom line of oil and coal companies. With energy prices so high now, these companies don’t need the help. Their profitability, while Americans are paying more for energy, has made them darlings of Wall Street in the past year. … Their lobbyists have struck gold for them in Washington.”

The bill will also enable energy conglomerates to grow even larger and become even more monopolized.

DEARBORN, Mich.: Racism isn’t funny or free speech

“We must defend our community. We’ve been down this road in the past and, thanks to our elders for their persistence and hard work, we can now stand up and fight,” said Elena Herrada of Fronteras Nortenas. Herrada’s group was one of 30 organizations from across Detroit that protested Aug. 4 in front of the offices of the Dearborn Press and Guide for running a racist cartoon attacking Mexican immigrants in the newspaper’s June 19 edition.

A busload of schoolchildren joined the informational picket line and held signs reading, “The USA, a proud nation of immigrants” and “Press and Guide racism leads to violence.”

Ismael Ahmed, executive director of ACCESS, an Arab American social services group, cited research studies that show immigrant workers are crucial to the nation’s economic development. Immigrant workers pay between $90 billion and $140 billion each year in taxes in the U.S.

“One of the things we are trying to do now with this informational picket line,” said Ahmed, is to show “immigrants pay taxes and contribute to society.”

The anti-racist coalition met with the publisher of the Dearborn Press on June 24, who, after agreeing to apologize, stormed out of the meeting. The coalition said it also wanted a meeting with the paper’s CEO, Jim Williams.

CUMBERLAND, Ky.: Two miners die on job

It took over three days and the use of trained dogs, but rescue workers finally recovered the bodies of two coal miners Aug. 7 inside a mine owned by the Stillhouse Mining Co. in Harlan County.

Brandon Wilder, 23, and Russell L. Cole, 39, died when a roof collapsed.

Stillhouse, owned by Cumberland Resources, had been using a controversial technology, retreat mining, where the pillars holding up the roof are removed as the coal seam is dug.

So far, four miners, including Wilder and Cole, have died in Kentucky mines using the retreat mining process.

“Four deaths are simply unacceptable,” said state Environmental and Public Protection Secretary LaJuana Wilcher. “It is time to re-examine retreat mining to ensure these operations are being conducted as safely as possible and determine if the human costs are too great a price to pay to extract a few more tons of coal.”

Through the end of July this year, 12 coal miners have died underground in the U.S.

INDIANAPOLIS: NCAA bars racist mascots

It took years of protest, but the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which sponsors 88 championships, including the March Madness basketball tournament, adopted a policy banning college teams from championship play if they display “hostile, abusive racial, ethnic, national origin mascots, nicknames or imagery.” The policy takes effect next Feb.1.

“Colleges and universities may adopt any mascot that they wish, as it is an institutional matter,” said Walter Harrison, chair of the NCAA executive committee and president of the University of Hartford. “But as a national association, we believe that mascots, nicknames or images deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin should not be visible at the championship events that we control.”

Eighteen schools are subject to special scrutiny. They include the University of Illinois, Florida State and the University of Utah.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (

Barbara Russum contributed to this week’s clips.