LITTLE EGG HARBOR, N.J.: National Guard plane strafes school

As cleaning workers were preparing Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School for students, Nov. 3, they heard what they thought were footsteps on the roof. They called 911 and police discovered the school had been strafed by a fighter plane.

According to Col. Brain Webster, commander of the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey National Guard, the pilot, whom he did not identify, mistakenly fired a burst of 27 shells from the F-16 jet’s 20-millimeter cannon that hit the school. The pilot was three miles off target. Five-inch shells lodged in a desk in a third grade classroom and in the roof.

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) demanded a suspension of training and a complete investigation. The Air National Guard agreed.

Wayne Schwartz, owner of a fishing supply store near the school, said, “We were in shock when we heard about it. It’s a good thing that it wasn’t in the day when school would have been full of children in the third to sixth grades.”

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.: Casino workers win new contract

Throughout the month of October, 10,000 members of Local 54 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees held the line outside the casinos. The blackjack tables, slot machine parlors and crap tables grew quieter and lonelier. The casino owners finally gave in.

“The way this union pulled together is the reason we are here today voting on such a good contract,” said Local 54 member Michele Hartman, 34, mother of two who works as a cocktail waitress at Harrah’s. Workers voted to approve their new contract, Nov. 3, by a 96 percent margin. Over 6,000 union members jammed Boardwalk Hall for their ratification meeting and vote.

Over the five-year agreement, workers won a 28.3 percent wage increase and company paid health care and pension contributions.

LOUISVILLE, Ky.: Unbowed, still fighting for peace

Kentucky is a so-called red state, having gone 3-to-2 for George Bush on Election Day.

But that didn’t stop hundreds of antiwar demonstrators from filling the city’s downtown streets Nov. 7, holding candles, handmade signs and demanding the U.S. end the occupation of Iraq.

Mike Gramig, a Vietnam-era veteran, said the local peace group, the Louisville Peace Action Community, was disappointed by the outcome of the Nov. 2 election, but not demoralized. “It’s easy to be discouraged,” he said. “But no one who ever made a difference quit because of discouragement.”

Another Vietnam vet, Harold A. Trainer, called the Iraq war “illegal and unjust,” adding, “Despite President Bush’s so-called mandate, there are people who don’t agree with him. In fact, there are probably about 55 million people who don’t agree with him and that’s hardly a mandate.”

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.: Judicial election results – good and bad

Voters in Birmingham elected the first African American woman to a full term in civil court. When she was a young woman, Helen Shores Lee was so frustrated with segregation in Birmingham she packed her bags and left, vowing never to return. But in 1971, she and her husband came home.

Thirty-three years later, voters awarded her a seat on the civil bench in Jefferson County (Birmingham) Court. “It’s been a long fight,” said Lee. “It’s gratifying to know that we are not just being judged on the basis of color, but hopefully on the content of our character and qualifications.”

Lee was elected countywide and is one of five Black judges serving on the bench of 39. Judges serve six-year terms.

In contrast, voters sent Republican Tom Parker, who distributed Confederate flags during his campaign and honored the founding of the Ku Klux Klan, to the state Supreme Court.

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