WASHINGTON: Bush threatens veto of overtime protection

With the stroke of a pen, Bush robbed 6 million workers of overtime pay, Aug. 23. But the Republican-controlled Congress, feeling the heat from the AFL-CIO and other organizations, is poised to pass an overtime protection bill which would restore overtime pay to workers.

In a 16-13 vote, Sept. 15, the GOP-led Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment, already passed by the Republican-dominated House, which would strip funding to the Department of Labor that would implement the White House pay cut. The measure would award workers overtime pay back to Aug. 23.

An immediate threat veto and a barrage of lies issued from the Oval Office. Bush spokesman Alfred Robinson, for instance, said that the administration changes would grant firefighters overtime for the first time.

That charge confused Barry Kasinitz, a Fire Fighters Union governmental affairs official. “I’m at a loss to understand how fire fighters, who have been eligible for overtime since the Fair Labor Standards Act extension of 1986, would suddenly become ineligible.”

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa: 5 women defy Bush protest zone

Sen. John Kerry may draw hecklers, but President Bush draws a crowd of protesters, usually cordoned off into a “free speech pen.” During a campaign stop here in early September, five women tried to escape the free speech pen to get a drink of water. They were promptly arrested and charged with interfering with official acts. Their trials begin Nov. 1. The maximum penalty for the women is a $100 fine and 30 days in jail.

The five women, Alice McCabe, Chris Nelson, Candida Pagan, Pi Nuernberg and Alex Wyrick, all pleaded innocent.

“How do you interfere with an official act, if the act they were committing was perfectly legal?” asked Dave O’Brian, attorney for Nelson and McCabe.

Nelson was wearing a Kerry button and McCabe carried a Bush protest sign. Wyrick is on trial for carrying a sign that read, “No Billionaire Left Behind.” Nuernberg and Pagan were in tree costumes and beating on drums.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.: Ivan kills 7 in Alabama

In the wake of Hurricane Ivan, utility workers from Alabama to North Carolina to Ohio to Pennsylvania were struggling to restore electricity to millions, and the effort cost one worker at Alabama Power his life, Sept. 19. His name was unavailable at press time.

As Ivan roared out of Florida and headed north, 1.2 million Alabamans were in the dark, listening to torrents of rain batter the havens where they sought shelter.

Altogether seven people were killed by the storm in Alabama. Five people were killed in flooding in western North Carolina. Florida’s toll was 20. Nationwide, at least 52 deaths were blamed on the hurricane.

In West Virginia, Weirton’s main street was clogged with mud after the Ohio River surged over its banks.

Ivan dumped 7 inches of rain on Pittsburgh, Sept. 17, and by Sept. 20, parts downtown remained underwater. Dennis Santiago, 35, died in the flooding. Nineteen western counties were declared disaster areas, with the towns of Shaler and Etna nearly wiped out.

Just as the Pittsburgh Labor Day parade ended, the Bush administration laid off 50 workers at the Army Corps of Engineers, who maintain the lock and dam system on the region’s famous three rivers. The lock and dam system was a product of the New Deal and was designed to relieve yearly flooding.

LAS VEGAS, Nev.: Muslim businessmen fight racial profiling

A group of oil and gas executives from Canada, Egypt and Italy boarded a plane in Vancouver flying to an industry convention in Las Vegas in September 2003 when the flight crew on their Air Alaska flight accused them of “causing a disturbance.” The plane made an emergency landing in Reno, where 13 executives were detained and extensively questioned. All 13 are Muslim.

The group filed a suit against Air Alaska in federal district here, Sept. 18. The airline’s actions were prompted “by animosity directed at the plaintiffs’ predominant ethnic and religious group, Arab and Muslim,” the suit charges. Now, all 13 are on terror watch lists and are harassed when they travel to the U.S., according to the lawsuit.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com). Rosalio Muñoz and Roberta Wood contributed to this week’s clips.