GREENVILLE, N.C.: Residents fight for holiday

The Rev. Jesse Jackson was back in his hometown in February, marching with 500 residents to County Council chambers to declare Jan. 20 a holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In their hands were petitions signed by 10,000 registered voters in this rural county demanding that Pitt County join the rest of the country in celebrating King Day.

After residents sat in all night, the council appointed a citizens’ task force to study the issue.

Meanwhile in nearby Laurens, the town council voted to celebrate Dr. King Day as an official holiday. Communities throughout the area have been passing resolutions adding Dr. King Day to the official holiday roster.

DETROIT, Mich.: UAW stands up for diversity

United Auto Workers President Ron Gettlefinger announced Feb. 18 that the union was participating in an amicus brief supporting the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policies.

The UAW’s participation in the University of Michigan case began in 2001, when it was the only union to file an amicus brief with the Sixth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals in support of the university’s admissions policies. The appellate court upheld the university’s admissions policies in May 2002.

The UAW leader added that President Bush, who has joined with plaintiffs attempting to overturn the university’s admissions policies, was “out of bounds” in claiming the U of M used a “quota” system.

CHICAGO: Former MP returned to Ireland

Irish activist and former Member of Parliament Bernadette Devlin McAliskey was detained by immigration officials in Chicago, Feb. 21, and denied entry into the United States allegedly on “national security” grounds.

According to her daughter, Deidre, two INS officers threatened to arrest, jail and even shoot the civil rights campaigner when she arrived at O’Hare airport. Denied access to a lawyer, McAliskey was photographed, finger-printed and returned to Ireland against her will.

McAliskey has been frequent visitor to the U.S. for the past 30 years, although this was her first visit since passage of the Patriot Act.

McAliskey is now in the process of filing a formal complaint with the U.S. consulate in Dublin.

CARSON CITY, Nev.: State Patriot Act in trouble

A veteran lobbyist testified before the State Senate that a bill to make terrorism a crime in Nevada is so poorly written that she could be busted for picketing in front of a Department of Motor Vehicles office.

Someone who tries to “disrupt, affect or influence the conduct or policy of a government entity by intimidation” is defined as a “terrorist” in one section of the bill.

Sen. Valerie Wiener (D-Las Vegas) added that the “outraged parents” who show up at school board meetings to protest would be terrorists under the definitions of the bill.

The State Senate has scheduled hearings around the state.

WILLIAMSBURG, New student lobby

In April 2002, six students, most of whom are too young to buy a beer, decided that the over 300,000 students in the state’s colleges needed a political voice to mobilize voters and lobby the General Assembly.

The Students of Virginia Political Action Committee (SVPAC) began at William and Mary with the goal of persuading voters to approve a $900 million state bond issue for college construction and renovation. The students reached out to other schools to hold voter-registration drives and political rallies.

As the 2003 General Assembly session ended Feb. 21, members of SVPAC were congratulating themselves on their victories, including passage of the bond by a 2-1 margin.

With tuition hikes and cuts looming in most states, SVPAC leaders are convinced college students need to “get a seat at the table.” Their web site is:

SALEM, Ore.: Governor convenes hunger summit

With 14 percent of the state’s people relying on food pantries and almost 6 percent hungry, Oregon ranks as the worst in feeding its people. Oregon beat out Mississippi and North Dakota, which have higher poverty rates. Most of the hungry people are children and a startling 32 percent are in two-parent households

“I think you have to actually use the pulpit of the governor’s office to put this issue in the laps of the citizens,” Governor Kulongoski said announcing the first ever Hunger Summit in the state.

At least three hunger-relief bills being introduced in the legislature aim to bring in more than $1 million in federal money for programs that feed children and senior citizens.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards. Joel Wendland and Jeanne Clark contributed to this week’s clips.

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