HOMESTEAD, Pa.: Thousands ‘step it up’ vs. global warming & for jobs

In over 1,400 cities, towns, villages, national parks and beaches across the country, tens of thousands united April 14 to demand that Congress “step it up” against global warming, reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.

In Western Pennsylvania, where once environmentalists and blue collar workers could not talk to each other, steelworkers and the Sierra Club joined together for the first time in the Blue/Green Alliance for good jobs, a clean environment and efforts to reverse global warming. Over burgers and tofu sandwiches, 130 steelworkers and environmentalists, including scores of students, traded stories and jokes and agreed that clean energy could create at least 42,600 desperately needed jobs across the state, including 2,300 in Allegheny County. The mayors of Homestead and Braddock — the latter home to U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson steel mill — signed onto the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Blues and Greens formed teams to deliver energy efficient light bulbs and information door to door to Homestead residents.

There were more firsts in the Step It Up campaign, the largest ever grassroots day of action in response to global warming. In Boise, Idaho, over 1,000 residents heard Mayor David Beiter pledge city efforts to reduce dependence on gasoline and other fuels.

A Festival of Rappers in Lenox, Mass., captured the energy of “street rhyme” calling for action.

The Community Christian Church in Kansas City, Mo., was jammed with 500 people of faith and scientists discussing effective stewardship of “God’s creation, the planet.”

A bald eagle flew over 250 people in Kalispell, Mont., (population 14,000) as they heard Steve Thompson, associate regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, describe the impact of global warming on Glacier National Park.

Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” drew hundreds in Columbus, Ohio; Oxford, Miss., and Fairbanks, Alaska.

Marchers filled the streets of Barrow, Ark.; Fredericksburg, Va.; Arlington, Mass.; Salina, Kans. and Big Stone City, S.D., to name a few. In Athens, Ga., environmentalists marched and rallied at an Exxon station, calling for fuels other than gasoline to control gases fouling the atmosphere.

Step It Up, the online coalition initiating the events, has a full plan of action. Joining with, they are circulating an online petition. And they are organizing Climate Voter in time for the 2008 elections. For more info:

CHICAGO: Gas prices skyrocket

At $3.19 a gallon, the Citgo at South Lafayette and 79th St. is one of the cheapest places for city motorists to fill up. Suburban Oak Forest gas stations are averaging $2.88 a gallon.

For the past 11 weeks, federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) numbers show, motorists have been experiencing sticker shock at the pump as prices surged an average of 71.1 cents per gallon. That is an increase of 33 percent, from a national average of $2.17 on Jan. 29.

With an average of $3.20 per gallon, West Coast gas stations lead the country in the cost of driving to work.

Oil industry spokesmen are stuttering, trying to explain the sharp spike. In April 2006, a barrel of crude oil sold for $75, but in April 2007, the same barrel is $63.61.

The EIA says that after unplanned breakdowns, U.S. refineries are running at 87 percent of capacity, and claims that increasing international tensions contributed to the price increases at the pump.

MONTGOMERY, Ala.: Legislature debates apology for slavery

Birmingham Rep. Mary Moore has introduced a two-page resolution that says lawmakers “apologize for the wrongs inflicted by slavery and its aftereffects in the United States of America.” If the measure passes, Alabama will join Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland which enacted similar resolutions earlier this year.

Rep. Moore’s resolution does not relegate the impact of slavery to the history books. One of the resolution’s first clauses says, “the Legislature and citizens of Alabama are deeply concerned about the persistent and growing racial discrimination, related intolerance and acts of violence.”

“The intent is for us in this state to begin to address the problems that are racial that exist,” said Moore.

Moore said racial discrimination is across the board and rising against workers of color trying to get jobs, small business owners applying for loans, Black children striving to get an education, and African Americans working to move up the corporate ladder.

Speaker of the House Seth Hammett believes the lower body will pass the resolution after it returns to work on April 24.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696 @