National Clips

CHICAGO: Residents campaign for winter heating

Coming off a victory that brought $10 million in Summer Cooling funds for those affected by Chicago’s intense heat wave, the Affordable Power to the People Campaign and the Coalition of 100 are planning a campaign for the winter heating season opening Sept. 1 to prevent gas cutoffs before the weather turns cold.

“We’re sick of showing freezing families huddled by dangerous space heaters,” said Maria Majic, APTP co-chair. “The group picketed the mayor’s office and the governor’s office Aug. 22 so no families will go through winter with no heat. Last year, 13,000 households went through winter shut off. Our goal is to get everyone turned on by Oct. 15.”

WASHINGTON: Station fires host for anti-Islam tirade

In July, Chris Berry, president and general manager of WMAL-AM, reprimanded right-wing talk show host Michael Graham for inflammatory remarks about Islam. On July 25, Berry suspended Graham, and on Aug. 22, he fired him.

“Some of Michael’s statements about Islam went over the line — and this isn’t the first time he has been reprimanded for insensitive language and comments,” said Berry. “I asked Michael for an on-air acknowledgment that some of his remarks were overly broad and inexplicably he refused.”

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islam Relations, said, “Although we are saddened that Michael Graham would not take responsibility for his hate-filled words, we do welcome WMAL’s action as a step toward removing some of the harmful anti-Muslim rhetoric that fill our nation’s airwaves.”

ASHLAND, Ala.: Poultry workers fight Tyson Jim Crow

A dozen African American workers filed suit Aug. 11 in federal court, charging giant multinational food corporation Tyson with racism.

Workers said that in July 2003, Tyson renovated a bathroom that remained locked, with only a white supervisor and several white employees having keys. Soon a “whites only” sign went up.

“When I was young, my mother used to tell me stories about segregated bathrooms,” said Henry Adams, one of the suing workers. “I never thought her reality of 71 years ago would become my reality today.”

In their suit, the workers wrote that when they complained to their supervisor in August 2003, “the plant manager pounded the table and angrily stated that the workers were ‘nasty,’ ‘dirty’ and behaved like children and stated that the bathroom had been locked for those reasons. The plant manager continued that if the bathroom was not kept clean, it would be torn down and workers would have to soil themselves.”

Plant workers said the only thing nasty and dirty in the plant is the racism and harassment. Tyson, which is nonunion, owns 300 plants around the world, including 12 in Alabama.

SAN FRANCISCO: Children of same-sex couples win equal rights

“The California Supreme Court made legal history Aug. 22 by holding in three separate decisions that children born to same-sex couples must be treated equally to other children and thus have a legally protected relationship to both partners,” said Courtney Joslin, senior staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “These decisions are a tremendous victory for children, for parental responsibility and for common sense.”

In all three cases, relationships ended. The decisions mean that both parents continue to be responsible for the children, just as in heterosexual marriage.

HARTFORD, Conn.: State sues feds over unfunded mandate

In the first state challenge to the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act, Connecticut sued the federal government Aug. 22, charging the state is being illegally required to spend its own money to carry out NCLB’s requirements.

“No matter how good its goals, and I agree with NCBL’s goals, the federal government is not above the law,” said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

State education officials estimate that complying with NCLB will cost Connecticut an additional $50 million because the state received inadequate federal dollars to implement the federal law. Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell supports the suit.

The Connecticut suit charges that the U.S. Department of Education’s insistence on the standardized tests is “unsupported by significant scientific research and is arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law.”

PITTSBURGH: Police use dogs and tasers on peace marchers

A picture is worth 1,000 words, especially if the pictures on television are of police using a taser on a woman already on the ground, subdued by two cops. Or of a 67-year-old woman being bitten by a police dog. The police arrested four marchers.

The Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG), an antiwar organization, marched on a military recruitment station in the Oakland community Aug. 20, protesting the “poverty draft.” Police said they reacted when marcher Edris Robinson bumped a TV camera held by Thomas Sypula, freelancer for a local station.

At an Aug. 22 meeting attended by members of the Pittsburgh Civilian Police Review Board as well as marchers, POG demanded an independent investigation of police brutality. “To respond to messages of peace with outright violence is outrageous,” said James Kleissler, executive director of the Thomas Merton Center, an umbrella progressive center, who hosted the meeting.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696 @