RICHMOND, Va.: Cities defy Patriot Act

One hundred forty years ago, this city was the capital of slavery. On March 8, the City Council voted to protect Bill of Rights freedoms from pressures and attacks from the USA Patriot Act, Attorney General John Ashcroft’s sledgehammer attack on civil liberties in the wake of 9/11.

The city councils in Milwaukee, Washington, and Elko, Nev., joined Richmond and acted in early March to protect civil and privacy rights of their residents.

Richmond is one of a score of southern cities, including Dallas; Atlanta; Sarasota and Broward County, Fla.; Huntington, W.Va.; Austin, Texas; and Chapel Hill, N.C., to act against the Patriot Act.

Across the country, as of March 11, a total of 264 states, counties, cities, towns and municipalities representing over 46 million people have voted to curtail, reject or condemn the act. The grassroots movement started when the city council of Ann Arbor, Mich., voted to protect their residents’ rights on Jan. 7, 2002.

ATLANTA: No jobs here

Despite the hype, metro Atlanta officials announced that what is being touted as a job growth area of the country in fact lost 84,700 jobs in 2003. How could the initial numbers have been so wrong? According to John Lawrence of the state’s Labor Department, officials did not count the number of businesses that failed.

That only provoked tears from Lisha Naylor, 29. She’s been unemployed since the summer when the restaurant where she worked went belly up. “There is not only a line (at the unemployment office),” she said. “But each week it is just longer and longer; people more and more sad.”

SAN FRANCISCO: Earth Day call for ‘Green investing’

On the heels of a victory where the mega-bank Citigroup agreed to consider environmental impacts before deciding to invest in oil, gas and coal companies, along with a report from the Pentagon and the World Bank that concedes global warming is as “serious as terrorism,” the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) announced that it has sent letters to 10 multinational U.S.-based banks demanding they phase out funding for fossil fuel projects. The campaign calls for letters to the banks and an online petition, The deadline for the drive is Earth Day, April 22.

“The jury is no longer out on the effects of global warming and deforestation,” said Michael Brune, RAN’s executive director. “The Earth’s ancient forests and their indigenous communities are victims of the vicious cycle of devastation caused by the global dependence on fossil fuels. Destroying pristine old-growth forests for a few weeks’ supply of dirty energy is a barbaric practice and key catalyst in the rapid destabilization of our global climate. The time has come to redefine capital and redirect its flow away from environmentally fatal projects. The era of investments that reap short-term profits while bankrupting our environmental is over.”

WASHINGTON: Health care conference set for April 16

More than a score of sponsors have organized an April 16-17 national conference in Washington, D.C., to build a movement for House Bill 676, the National Health Insurance Act. This legislation, introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), would establish a universal, single-payer health care system called “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.” Conyers and Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, will speak at the conference at Howard University Hospital & Towers, 2041 Georgia Avenue, NW.

This “How-to Organizers Conference” will include a Capitol Hill briefing, skills and strategy sessions, and workshops. The American Medical Students Association, Gray Panthers, National Welfare Rights Union, National Coalition of the Homeless, Jobs with Justice of Washington, D.C., Health Care for All San Francisco Chapter, and Push-NOW of Pennsylvania are among the conference endorsers.

Registration is free for seniors, $15 for students, $35 for healthcare advocates, $50 for doctors and other health professionals. Further details on the conference are available from Rick Tingling-Clemmons ( or Joel Segal, (202) 225-5126 ( Further information on the HR 676 can be found at

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