CHARLESTON, W.Va.: War costs could pay for kids’ health care

West Virginia Patriots for Peace and a host of faith and civil groups told a press conference, Aug. 15, that the Iraq war has cost each state taxpayer $4,100.

“Today is VJ Day, the 62nd anniversary of the surrender of Japan on the battleship Missouri that ended the Second World War,” said Rick Wilson of the American Friends Service Committee. “It’s hard to believe, but the Bush administration’s unnecessary war in Iraq has actually lasted longer than U.S. involvement in WWII.”

Sam Hickman, president of the West Virginia chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said 36,000 of the state’s children do not have health care coverage. Just one day of spending on the Iraq war would provide health care for 423,000 children across the country.

In Texas, responding to a call by MoveOn, Dallas activists protested the cost of the war on Aug. 16. Religious and community leaders said the invasion and occupation had already cost $456 billion, and another $12 billion is being added every month.

JENA, La.: Hundreds demand justice for Jena 6 students

Hundreds drove to this tiny town of 3,000 residents from around the South, Aug. 13, protesting the conviction of Mychall Bell, 16, an African-American high school student facing 22 years in prison, and indictments of five other Black students. The case stems from a school fight following a series of racist incidents, including white students hanging nooses from a tree that they declared “whites only.”

“To us those nooses meant the KKK, they meant we are going to kill you, hang you till you die,” said Caseptia Bailey, local NAACP president and mother of one of the accused youth.

LaSalle Parish, where Jena is located, has a population of 14,000, approximately 12 percent African American. Pastor Brian Moran of Antioch Baptist Church said that in the entire parish only one African American has worked as a police officer in eight years, one Black person works in a bank and there are only two Black teachers.

Bell’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 22.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.: Town hall meets ‘take a stand’ vs. war

From this city to Erie, Pa., and Albuquerque, N.M., voters mobilized by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, a national peace coalition, and are hosting Aug. 28 town hall meetings aimed at Republican members of Congress, insisting they support withdrawal from Iraq. The groups have set Aug. 28, right before Congress heads back to D.C., as “National Take a Stand Day.” The date also marks the 44th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, where hundreds of thousands heard Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

AAEI is launching TV ads in Kalamazoo and other areas, entitled “Draft.” Here, the ads denounce Rep. Fred Upton’s support for Bush’s war and expose efforts by the administration to reinstate the draft.

Bob Weir of the Kalamazoo Peace Department, a local peace coalition, said, “Americans to deserve to know: Do congressional Republicans agree with Gen. Petraeus’ plan to keep our troops in Iraq for the next 10 years?”

MEMPHIS, Tenn.: Heat kills 13 in state, more throughout South

With temperatures soaring over 100, setting new records, 13 people died throughout this state in homes that lacked air conditioning. In Midwestern states, 44 died because of the excessive heat.

In Memphis, one man, 74, died after working in his yard, Aug. 18, and another man, 60, who suffered from asthma, was discovered dead in his home, said the county medical examiner.

Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton established a heat wave hot line, opened air conditioned cooling centers and issued free fans for seniors.

In Alabama, eight people died over the first two weeks in August due to the heat. The state’s schools opened this month, and students are riding buses without air conditioning. One Elmore County person anonymously donated 20,160 bottles of water for students to drink on their way to school. “The kids were so thrilled,” said county schools spokeswoman Judy Caton.

Alabama is providing free cab rides to seniors to cooling centers.

Heat killed four people in Georgia and Arkansas, two in South Carolina, one in Mississippi, nine in Missouri and the numbers are growing.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr606


Denise Winebrenner Edwards
Denise Winebrenner Edwards

Denise Winebrenner Edwards is a long-time trade union and community activist. She lives in western Pennsylvania.