ST. PAUL, Minn.: Young workers say ‘Hands off Social Security’

Young workers from this university community jammed to overflowing the 150-seat room at the Episcopal Homes for a Feb. 12 forum on Social Security.

With Congress poised to consider several bills to privatize Social Security and President Bush barnstorming to create “private retirement accounts” at the expense of retirement security, Meghan Mohs, 33, told the crowd that her generation is cynical and frustrated.

“Keep the promise [of Social Security]. Don’t let our cynicism be fulfilled,” Mohs said. “The number one crisis is not Social Security, it’s access to affordable health care.”

Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) hosted the meeting, which featured panelists from the Minnesota AFL-CIO, the Minnesota State Retirees Council and the American Association of Retired Persons.

RICHMOND, Va.: State strengthens strip mining rules

Just two weeks after the state Legislature convened here, lawmakers have passed a bill strengthening strip mine regulation, Feb. 10. Unfortunately, it comes too late for the family of Jeremy Davidson.

In August 2004, 3-year-old Jeremy was crushed when a 1,000-pound boulder crashed into his bedroom. The A&G Coal Company was widening a road in the middle of the night and accidentally launched the boulder over a 650-foot cliff and into the Davidson home.

Virginia legislators only acted following demonstrations by hundreds of people in the rural communities of this state’s coal mining region.

While residents are pleased with the new bill, they say more needs to be done to protect the families who live and work in the mountains.

WASHINGTON: Clergy protest attack on environment

More than 1,000 members of the clergy from 35 states have signed onto and are circulating a statement condemning the Bush administration’s environmental policies on global warming, toxic emissions from coal-fired plants generating electricity and the destruction of over 100 years of conservation.

The religious leaders’ Feb. 14 statement, “God’s Mandate: Care for Creation,” stated, “There was no mandate, no majority, or no values ‘message’ in this past election for the president or the Congress to roll back and oppose programs that care for [the earth].”

An additional 250,000 religious leaders are discussing the statement. Father Chris Bender, an Orthodox priest and contributing author of the statement, countered those who believe that the end of the world is at hand.

“Some people say that the environment doesn’t matter because the second coming of Christ will usher in the end of the world as we know it,” he said. “To make such a statement is the height of arrogance. We don’t know when the Lord is coming back but we do know that one day we will have to give an account for making the environment unlivable for those who come after us.”

NEW YORK: Civil rights lawyer convicted

The right of attorney-client privilege was delivered a stunning blow Feb. 10 when an anonymous jury, after 13 days of secret deliberations, convicted veteran human rights defense lawyer, Lynne Stewart, 65, of conveying messages between her client and his supporters.

Stewart was the lawyer for Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind sheik sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for conspiring to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and to destroy several New York landmarks, including the UN building and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.

Prosecutors said Stewart carried messages between the sheik and senior members of an Egyptian-based terrorist organization, helping spread Abdel-Rahman’s call to kill those who did not subscribe to his extremist interpretation of Islamic law.

During Stewart’s trial prosecutors played a tape of Osama bin Laden urging support for her client.

“When you put Osama bin Laden in a courtroom and ask the jury to ignore it, you’re asking a lot,” said Stewart. “I know I committed no crime. I know what I did was right.”

Stewart will appeal. She remains free on bond until her sentencing hearing, scheduled for July.

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