ZEB MOUNTAIN, Tenn.: Activists take over mountain

Stopping a strip mine company from blasting off the top of a mountain is just what over 30 environmental activists and scientists accomplished Aug. 15 when they occupied the entrance to National Coal Corp.’s Zeb Mountain operations near Knoxville. The group is part of the Mountain Justice Summer project (mountainjusticesummer.org), which has mobilized thousands throughout the Appalachian region to save the area’s mountains.

Reached by cell phone at the site, Monica Moquee, spokeswoman for MJS, said that by early afternoon nine activists had been arrested, but that mountain-top blasting had been halted.

County police knocked down 30-foot platforms with scientists still sitting on them. Activists chained themselves to equipment and cars to block the roadway. Police pushed a car to the side, with a young woman still chained to it. Strip miners drove huge trucks by, coming within inches of her. “The police stood there [and] laughed,” said Moquee. “They thought it was funny watching a person nearly crushed by a truck.”

One activist from Kingsport, Tenn., Maria Johnson, said, “Coal companies bend and break the laws in order to blow apart Tennessee’s mountain headwaters. Since regulatory agencies refuse to protect our mountains, nonviolent citizen intervention has become necessary. We stand for the preservation of the mountains, water, forests and communities of Appalachia.”

HOOVER CITY, Ala.: City Council evicts Latino resource center

“Not in my neighborhood” is racist code language used by the city council of this predominantly white suburb of Birmingham to move an immigrant cultural and services center operated by the Catholic Church out of a municipal building, Aug. 6. In a statement, the council claimed that the Multicultural Resource Center was more of a pick-up center for day laborers than a cultural and service center.

Since 2003, the center has offered education, health care

and other support services to immigrants.

Census estimates indicate that about 70,000 Latinos live in the Birmingham area. The same estimates for 2004 show that about 98,000 Latinos live in the state.

Center volunteer Wes Goodenough, who was loading boxes onto a truck, said, “It’s certainly the nature of our society to have a lot of people who are suspicious and fearful of immigrants. So many people just don’t have any insight into the value this community has for our overall community.”

The center found a temporary site near the municipal building and is searching for a permanent location.

PHILADELPHIA, Miss.: Convicted Klan terrorist released on bail

Residents of Mississippi felt justice was served when in June Edgar Ray Killen, 80, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, was convicted of the 1964 murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

The brutal KKK murders shocked the country and contributed to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

But on Aug. 12, Judge Marcus Gordon released Killen on $600,000 bail. Five friends and a family member of Killen put up property to make bail. Local activists and national civil rights leaders reacted with outrage.

Rita Bender, widow of Michael Schwerner, said, “To me this indicates a lack of understanding of the seriousness of, and conveying the seriousness of, crimes of racial violence.” Killen’s release, she continued, “raises the risk of violence by people who get the message once again that there is no control over them.”

WASHINGTON: Federal workers stop Bush union-busting

A coalition of unions representing 160,000 federal workers in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stopped Bush administration’s blatant union-busting in its tracks. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) led

the coalition. On Aug. 12, Federal District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer cancelled a move by DHS slated to remove contractual and workplace rights and slash wages on Aug. 15.

The ruling could protect an additional 750,000 workers who are subject to the new National Security Personnel System (NSPS) in the Defense Department, which is seeking to impose a similar union-busting regime.

“This is a truly astronomical win,” as the case most probably will set the precedent for other government workers, said AFGE President John Gage.

Mark Roth, AFGE’s general counsel, fully expects the Bush administration to appeal the decision, but for now federal workers who risk their lives day in and day out protecting the country have union protection of their wages and working conditions.

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