PITTSBURGH: Flowers of peace for Mother’s Day

Lighted candles piercing the twilight and pansies flowering despite a cool spring were symbols of compassionate determination of area moms who gathered on Mother’s Day to demand Congress only fund troop withdrawals from Iraq. The names of 165 Pennsylvanians, men and women who were killed in Iraq, rang out across Frick Park, silencing even outdoor diners across the street from the rally.

In over 50 cities, CodePink held peace rallies on Mother’s Day. The events opened with a reading of Julia Ward Howe’s 1870 Mother’s Day proclamation: “Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.” Howe wrote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

In some cities, like Atlanta, CodePink activists spanned bridges with peace banners; in others, like Casper, Wyo., Salina, Kan., or Wilmington, N.C., women rallied at busy intersections.

LAS VEGAS: Clergy rally to bring the troops home

“Our time to get out of Iraq is now,” the Rev. Marion Bennett, pastor of Zion Methodist Church, told a rally of clergy at the Dula Senior Center in the heart of the city, May 11. “We have a moral obligation to help restore the chaos our country has caused in Iraq.”

Bennett was joined by Rabbi Mel Hecht, Sister Rosemary Lynch and the Rev. Paul Colbert as part of a national faith- based project, America Speaks Out on the War. “Our mission is to wage peace, not war,” said Colbert. “We are reconcilers.”

Nevada Republicans Sen. John Ensign, Rep. Jon Porter and Rep. Dean Heller, all of whom have supported Bush and his war, are targets of the faith-based peace coalition.

ST. PAUL, Minn.: 3M pays $13 million for cleanup

Teflon frying pans are handy, but the chemicals used by the multinational 3M Corp. to create teflon fouled the drinking water. After two weeks of negotiations with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the company has agreed to pay $13 million to clean up a landfill and investigate other sites where the corporation dumped toxic chemicals.

The agreement also forced the corporation to reimburse the state $600,000 for water, soil and fish tissue samples that led to the discovery of the origin of the contaminated drinking water.

The tentative agreement has to be approved by a citizens’ commission before it takes effect. The commission is scheduled to meet May 22.

The full extent of health risks is under investigation by the state. In August 2006, state scientists found chemicals produced by 3M in drinking water servicing six communities. In April 2007, officials issued an advisory, warning residents not to eat bluegills and other fish from local ponds, rivers and lakes.

The initial $13 million to clean up the mess is only the beginning, state officials said. They expect 3M to pay the full cost of cleaning up its environmental pollution over the past 50 years.

MARION, Ala.: Trooper indicted for 1965 shooting of civil rights activist

It has taken 42 years, but finally the family of Jimmie Lee Jackson will see former state trooper James Bonard Fowler standing in front of a judge and a jury.

“We have a very strong case,” said Perry County District Attorney Michael Jackson. “I look forward to presenting the case to jury.”

On the night of Feb. 18, 1965, African Americans in Marion held a march demanding the right to vote. Jimmie Lee Jackson, 26, was a leader in the civil rights movement.

Suddenly the streetlights went out and police attacked marchers, bystanders and news reporters. Jackson’s family says that then state trooper Fowler shot Jimmie Lee Jackson while he was protecting his grandfather and mother from the attack.

The murder of Jackson was a straw that broke the camel’s back, leading to the landmark march on Selma and passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Following an investigation that began in 2005, District Attorney Jackson (no relation) charged Fowler with one count of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder.

Fowler turned himself in on May 10. After two property owners in a neighboring county posted their land as collateral, he was released on $250,000 bail.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696 @aol.com).