HONOLULU: Sit-in to halt war research

Students and community residents continue to occupy Bachman Hall, the administrative building, protesting the University of Hawaii Board of Regents’ decision to open college doors to military research by University Affiliated Research Center, a Navy project to develop new weapons. As we went to press, the sit-in was in its sixth day.

In an April 25 letter to Interim UH President David McClain, the peace coalition said their main concern is “the health and safety of our public institution of higher learning, and the community it serves.”

The coalition said that weapons research, in addition to violating the UH mission, “compounds the historical injustices committed by U.S. forces against Native Hawaiians and fuels military expansion and its negative impacts on the land and people of Hawaii.” McClain said he referred the letter to the university’s lawyers and plans to respond.

Supporters are bringing food, books, notes from classes and news from home to the activists.

SALT LAKE CITY: Reject ‘No Child’ law

Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman drew a line in the sand, May 2, in defiance of the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind education law, when he signed legislation that declares Utah’s education standards supersede federal education mandates.

Despite continuing threats from Education Secretary Margaret Spellings that the Legislature’s action might cost the state $76 million in federal aid, lawmakers passed a measure in April that allows state education officials to ignore NCLB. The governor signed the bill into law at an elementary school in Rep. Margaret Dayton’s (R-Utah) district. Dayton has been leading the fight in Congress to overturn NCLB.

States are struggling with the unfunded mandates (programs with no money to implement them) required by NCLB and 15 have filed suit against the Bush education law. Utah’s legislative action is the strongest taken by a state so far.

ARVADA, Colo.: Recruiter caught in lie

With the Army failing to reach its monthly enlistment goals, high school honor student David McSwane, 17, decided to see “how far the Army would go during a war to sign up one more soldier.”

McSwane contacted the local recruiter, saying that he was a high school dropout. McSwane recorded the phone call. The recruiter said, “No problem,” and suggested that the honor student go online and get a fake high school diploma from Faith Hill Baptist School or another cyber-school. McSwane paid $200 to Faith Hill Baptist, received a diploma and a full high school transcript. That sleight of hand apparently met the Army’s requirements for high school certification.

McSwane also told the recruiter on the phone that he had a drug problem. Recounting his story to the press, complete with an audiotape, McSwane said, “The recruiter said, ‘Not a problem,’” and directed him to a detox kit and offered to pay for half of the cost. McSwane’s friend videotaped a second recruiter driving McSwane to a store where he bought the detox kit.

A local television station played the tapes to Lt. Col. Jeffery Brodeur, in charge of recruiting for the region. “Let me sum up all of this with one word: unacceptable,” he said. An Army investigation is underway, Brodeur said.

“I was shocked,” McSwane said. “I’m sitting there looking at a poster that says ‘Integrity, Honor, Respect’ and this recruiter is lying to me.”

WASHINGTON: Secret Service racial profiling

The Bush Secret Service requested journalists attending an April 30 White House reception to provide their race along with their name, address, date of birth and Social Security number.

The Secret Service said that adding a journalist’s race “allows for quicker and more accurate searches of criminal databases.”

“It’s offensive on the face of it,” said Edwin Chen of the Los Angeles Times.

The Arizona Daily Star reported in 2004 that a Bush-Cheney campaign boss made the same request during the presidential campaign. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said ditto, as did the Rocky Mountain News.

In March, the Orange County Register said Vice President Cheney asked for both race and gender before he would meet with the newspaper’s editorial staff.

HARTFORD, Conn.: Same-sex civil unions

Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell (R) signed into law a bill that permits same-sex couples to enjoy the same rights and obligations as their heterosexual counterparts. The new law stops short of legalizing same-sex marriage, but calls for medical coverage, hospital visitation, legal and property rights to be applied to same-sex couples.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, hailed the bill’s passage, saying, “Connecticut has taken a significant step giving families the rights and protections they need.” He promptly added that the struggle for full marriage rights will continue in the state.

CHICAGO: Seniors’ summer cooling plan

Irate consumers have proposed to the city a low-cost plan to provide cooling relief from the deadly effect of summer’s hot weather.

Elder Energy, the senior fighters from the Affordable Power to the People Campaign, asked the city to use the interest on the sale and/or lease of the Chicago Skyway to guarantee that those most affected by the hot weather will be safe and comfortable.

Maria Majic, co-chair of the campaign, said in 1995, 733 people, mostly elderly, died from the heat. “There hasn’t been one institutional change in 10 years,” she charged.

High electrical rates are to blame for most seniors deciding to not turn on or even have an air conditioner.

Raymundo Lopez, a grandfather from the Back of the Yards neighborhood, said the group would solicit support from unions, other grassroots organizations, schools and churches. People can get involved by calling (773) 254-3718, Lopez said.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com). Jen Barnett, Curly Cohen and Julia Lutsky contributed to this week’s clips.