ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.: Slackers unite — and vote!

It was standing room only as “Fahrenheit 9/11” filmmaker Michael Moore hit town on his 60-city “Slacker Uprising Tour” Oct. 10. Organizers expected 5,000 people, but more than 7,500 showed up to hear his stand-up political comedy routine.

The tour’s purpose, said Moore, is to “get my fellow slackers and young people out to vote.”

“Yeah, I’ll describe myself as a slacker,” said Adam Watts, 22. “I didn’t vote in the last election, but it just wasn’t as big as it is this year.”

Moore had flown in from Milwaukee, where 2,700 waited 90 minutes for the controversial filmmaker to arrive. Republican protesters who demonstrated outside were invited in.

“Fahrenheit 9/11” hit the shelves on the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Oct. 5, and is selling like hot cakes at a maple syrup festival. “Stars and Stripes” reports that on the first day, over 200 copies of the DVD were sold in Giessen, Germany.

“I’m about to buy it,” Specialist Sylvester Charles of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, told the military newspaper. “I heard it was good.”

MIAMI: Seniors defy Bush drug ban

Retirees boarding a train bound for Canada isn’t news here. But when the purpose of the trip is to purchase prescription medications at a savings of 30 percent to 60 percent — and when the Bush administration’s prescription drug law specifically forbids importation of medications from Canada — that’s not only news, it’s a political statement.

Over 25 seniors boarded Amtrak #98, the Silver Meteor bound for Canada at 6:30 a.m. here Oct. 11. Stops in Orlando, Jacksonville, Savannah (Ga.), Philadelphia, New York City, Albany, Schenectady, Syracuse and Buffalo, N.Y., picked up additional “drug runners” and included rallies and press conferences. The two train cars arrived in Toronto Oct. 14.

A similar train carrying seniors to Canada to purchase prescription drugs snaked its way up the West Coast in August. The average savings on medications for seniors on that trip was about 59.8 percent, or $2,000 per customer.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), organizer of the trips, said that the medications purchased in Canada are the same as those in the U.S., but Canada enjoys national health care and is able to buy medications in bulk. FTCR estimates that U.S. residents currently spend $700-$850 million annually filling prescriptions in Canada.

In 2003, drug corporations like Bayer had a profit margin of 23 percent. On Dec. 8, 2003, President Bush signed HR1, the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, which outlaws government programs like Medicare or Medicaid from using their bulk purchasing power to reduce the cost of medications.

NEWARK, N.J.: Residents win free speech

Passage of the Patriot Act in 2001 emboldened local right-wing politicians, but residents here would have none of it. After a long legal battle, New Jersey Peace Action, the Organization for Progress and the American Civil Liberties Union-New Jersey won, in Superior Court, the right to demonstrate without taking out a $1 million insurance policy and the right to distribute flyers on the street.

“We hope this serves as a victory for all small and grassroots organizations that seek to engage in their constitutional right to speak,” said Madelyn Hoffman, president of New Jersey Peace Action. “Free speech should be free, and should not be only for those wealthy enough to afford it.”

The Newark City Council had passed an ordinance that mandated arrest for persons handing out flyers on city streets without a permit. A permit required that the person be fingerprinted, meet moral standards set by the chief of police and submit two photographs to the police. In light of the ruling by the Superior Court rejecting the $1 million insurance cost, the City Council decided not to defend its ordinance in court, restoring free speech to residents of this city.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards ( Terrie Albano contributed to this week’s clips.