CRAWFORD, Texas: Sheehan returns to Camp Casey

“Last summer I made a commitment to be here every time George Bush was supposed to be on vacation,” said Gold Star peace mother Cindy Sheehan last week. Her son Casey, 24, was killed in 2004 while on duty in Iraq. “The troops are still in Iraq,” she said.

Sheehan stood in the blazing sun with religious and peace activists continuing their vigil to end the war and occupation of Iraq, now in its third year. Thousands of people are expected to join Sheehan on the recently purchased 5 acres of land known as Camp Casey.

Last year, the county commissioners enacted ordinances prohibiting roadside camping and parking, formerly a common practice in rural Texas.

Unlike last year, Bush will only be on vacation at the compound for only 10 days. The administration drew heated criticism for staying on vacation in the wake of Katrina.

COLUMBUS, Ohio: ‘Culture of corruption’ takes down Ney

Not even voters in the so-called “ruby red” rural south central 18th Congressional District of Ohio could tolerate the stench of corruption emanating from the office of their Republican Rep. Bob Ney, in his sixth term. Ney announced Aug. 7 that he would not seek re-election, although he has not yet filed a withdrawal notice.

Ney is tied to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Accused of selling legislative goodies, Ney’s former chief of staff Neil Volz has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. In late June, three of Ney’s senior staff resigned. Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed them.

Zack Space is the Democratic candidate for Ohio’s 18th, a nationally targeted district where Bush received 57 percent of the vote in 2004.

PITTSBURGH: GOP donors support Green candidate

Slumping in the polls, Sen. Rick Santorum, Republican Senate leader, resorted to slipping money to the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate Carl Romanelli, allegedly to siphon off votes from Democratic challenger Bob Casey Jr.

Answering a call from Santorum, traditionally Republican donors kicked in at least $66,000 to the Green Party of Luzerne County. They used the money to hire Florida based JSM Inc. to collect about 100,000 signatures to get Romanelli on the ballot, according to press reports.

“It’s no surprise to anyone that when you’re an incumbent, having more people on the ballot benefits,” said Santorum to the media in a Pittsburgh suburb. “This is politics.” He fell silent when asked why he did not encourage Republican donors to contribute to the campaign of conservative Constitution Party candidate Carl Edwards or Libertarian Party candidate Tom Martin.

Meanwhile, Republicans have launched a “swift boat” campaign against Democratic Rep. John Murtha, outspoken critic of the Iraq war. Republican operatives held a rally Aug. 3 in Johnstown, Pa., defaming the decorated Marine officer and member of Congress for 32 years. Although Murtha was campaigning for another Democrat, over 200 of his supporters staged a demonstration supporting him. Republican Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey, a real estate developer, is running against Murtha in Pennsylvania’s 12th CD.

TOPEKA, Kan.: ‘Great day for Kansas’

The state school board became the target of late night comedians last year when they voted 6-2 to change public school science standards, recommending alternative theories to evolution. Voters changed that Aug. 1 when they ousted creationist supporter Connie Morris. Creationism is a religious-based idea pushed to rival evolution.

West Kansas Republican moderate Sally Cauble defeated Morris in the state’s primary. The door is now open to reverse the policy and restore science to Kansas’ public schools with a 6-4 moderate majority on the state board.

“This is a great day for Kansas,” Cauble said.

“I’m hoping this shows Kansas, politically, wants to return to the center,” said Kansas Citizens for Science leader Jack Krebs.

The state school board has seesawed between right-wing and moderate leadership since 1998. Voters removed the right wing in 2000. However, they came roaring back in 2004.

RALEIGH, N.C.: Tarheel State sets up innocence commission

With the mounting number of convictions overturned on DNA evidence, the North Carolina state Legislature took action. By a margin so wide that the money is already in the state budget, they voted to establish the country’s first Innocence Commission, Aug. 3. Signing the measure into law, Gov. Mike Easley said, “Its creation gives our criminal justice system yet another safeguard by helping ensure that the people in our prisons in fact belong there.”

With a budget of $210,700, the eight-member commission will begin accepting claims from inmates in November.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (