WASHINGTON: Millions More Movement marches

Along with Hurricane Katrina came the reality that racism and poverty are still very evident in the U.S. It fueled outrage and charged up civil rights and justice activists and leaders.

“Because Katrina put it out there, no one can play the pretend game any more that there isn’t poverty and inequality in this country,” said Urban League president and march sponsor Marc Morial, former mayor of New Orleans.

Minister Louis Farrakhan organized the Million More March set for Oct. 15 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the historic Million Man March, but Katrina has changed the agenda. “The need to save our people — it’s so much bigger than the personality or the baggage that has been heaped on Louis Farrakhan or others. Katrina has focused this agenda,” said Farrakhan.

The sponsors list includes the Congressional Black Caucus and Dr. Dorothy Height, who hailed the inclusion of women in the Millions More Movement.

There are organizing committees in 29 states, D.C. and the United Kingdom.

WASHINGTON: Bush threatens veto of Senate action outlawing torture

The U.S. Senate, against the president’s wishes, adopted an amendment to the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act on Oct. 5. It requires U.S. military personnel to only employ interrogation practices authorized by the new Army Field Manual. The amendment, barring the use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” against anyone in U.S. custody, received a 90-9 vote. All but nine Republicans defied Bush to vote for the measure.

The nine who supported torture were Sens. Allard of Colorado, Bond of Missouri, Coburn of Oklahoma, Cochran of Mississippi, Cornyn of Texas, Inhofe of Oklahoma, Roberts of Kansas, Sessions of Alabama and Stevens of Alaska. Sen. Corzine (D-N.J.) did not vote.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan slammed the Senate’s action as “unnecessary and duplicative.” McClellan added, “If it’s presented, then there would be a recommendation of a veto, I believe.”

The measure is on its way to the Republican-controlled House where it is expected to meet with stiff resistance.

TRENTON, N.J.: Counter-terrorism agents profile Muslims

The state’s “crime fighting” database included at least 140 people because of their Muslim faith, an in-house report compiled by the U.S. Justice Department concluded. The New Jersey Office of Counter-Terrorism made the computer entries.

“The submissions, as presented, neither described any specific terrorist or other criminal activity nor contained the necessary factual information on which a determination of reasonable suspicion could have been determined,” the report said.

The state police removed 14 troopers assigned to the Counter-Terrorism (C-T) unit and barred C-T officials from using the database on Oct. 3. Police patrol cars with laptops are able to access data from the Department of Motor Vehicles and other information.

MIAMI: Budget cuts batter hurricane research

While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a subdivision of the Department of Commerce, has been sending up red flags to warn about powerful and deadly hurricanes, hurricane researchers charge that their budget has been stagnant for a decade.

“We are the world’s experts on hurricanes, but we’re desperate. We need help,” said research meteorologist Mike Black, a 20-year veteran. Black has to study and store vital information on a rigged personal computer that is less effective and slower than a child’s handheld game.

Former Hurricane Research Division Director Hugh Willoughby quit in 2002 after seven years of frustrating budget denials.

With the lack of funding, a documented history of storms and hurricanes is awaiting analysis and conclusions to provide clues to where hurricanes will make landfall, their projected rainfall and why they suddenly can become deadly.

The department currently has only 31 workers, down from 38. Slots for seven more scientists remain empty. Its total budget is $3.5 million and has remained at that funding level for 20 years.

In 2001, five former directors of the Hurricane Research Division appealed directly to Congress for additional funding. Congress denied their appeal. There is no new money in Bush’s 2006 budget request for hurricane research.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.: Romance amid the ruins

Katrina and Rita scattered families across the country, but for New Orleans residents Howard Chenevert, 52, and Julie Morgan, 48, it was a trip to the Lake Charles courthouse for a marriage license.

The newlyweds met after Katrina’s floodwaters forced them from their homes. After Chenevert carried Morgan’s bag onto an evacuation bus bound for Houston, they sat beside each other, talking for the entire seven-hour trip. And after spending a week in a Houston shelter, Chenevert proposed.

After being offered a place to stay by Chenevert’s relatives, the couple was married on Sept. 19. Days later, Rita hit and relatives dropped the Cheneverts off in Birmingham. FEMA paid for their hotel room.

Chenevert, a carpenter, promised to make the furniture for the couple’s new home as soon as they are able to return to New Orleans.

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