WASHINGTON: Yes, you’re being robbed at the pump

On Sept. 23 ExxonMobil announced a whopping 32 percent increase in its profits for April, May and June — before Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. In hard cash, that is $7.64 billion in three months. That approaches the estimates to clean up the Texas coast in the wake of Rita.

Interviews of oil industry analysts by the Washington Post showed that when prices at the pump skyrocketed to over $3 a gallon, 99 cents of that was direct profits to oil corporations, including ExxonMobil. Some call that gouging.

“They obviously are experiencing windfall or excess profits,” said North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, who has introduced legislation to tax profits not devoted to exploration or development. “They are profiting in an extraordinary way at the expense of the American consumer.” Dorgan’s is one of a host of bills in Congress aimed at oil corporation robbery.

ATLANTA: Kids’ education sacrificed to oil company greed

Oil corporations jacked up gasoline and diesel prices in this state, in some areas to $5 a gallon. When Rita hit, they closed pipelines. To save money, Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue could think of no better idea than calling on school districts to close schools Sept. 26-27.

Only four school districts stayed open on Sept. 26. Atlanta children spent the day at recreation centers opened by the mayor.

Tim Callahan, spokesman for the 61,000-member Professional Association of Georgia Educators, called the governor’s actions “extremely disruptive.” Referring to the 10,000 children who are now in Georgia because of Hurricane Katrina, Callahan said angrily that closing schools would only worsen the crisis for these children “just as they were starting to get a bit of normalcy in their lives.”

Parents protested throughout the state.

HARRISBURG, Pa.: Parents sue to defend science

When evangelical Christian William Buckingham and his followers were elected to the Dover School Board in 2004, the first thing they did in a 6-3 vote is mandate that “intelligent design,” a synonym for creationism, be taught as science in the 2,800-student district. The debate and the vote were so acrimonious that board members Carol and Jeff Brown resigned in protest. “We have a vocal group within the community who feel very strongly in an evangelical Christian way that there is no separation of church and state,” said Carol Brown. “Our responsibility is to represent the viewpoints of all members of the community.”

Eight families sued the Dover school district to lift the “intelligent design” mandate, charging that it violates the separation of church and state. The case opened here Sept. 26 before U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones.

“The intelligent design movement is an effort to introduce creationism into the schools under a different name,” said Eric Rothschild, an attorney representing the families.

President Bush has weighed in, saying that school districts should teach both evolution and creationism.

CURRITUCK, N.C.: Secret Service questions student

Ever vigilant, Secret Service agents based in Raleigh went to Currituck High School and a student’s home during the week of Sept. 19, inquiring about a class project on freedom. The student’s project included a picture of Bush thumbtacked to the display with a “thumbs down” image across the photograph of the president.

It was the thumbtack that caught the eye of the company that developed the student’s film. They believed that the thumbtack represented a potential threat to the president. That company notified the Secret Service.

The Secret Service said it closed the case following interviews of school officials and the student.

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