NASHVILLE, Tenn.: Bush jeered on campaign trail

Doris J. Blue, a nurse at the Veteran’s Hospital, was fed up. She and 20 of her co-workers drove from Birmingham, Ala., Sept. 8, to join hundreds of protesters, many from conservative Vanderbilt University, who lined Bush’s entire route to a campaign fund raiser.

“We love our veterans,” said Blue, “and it really puts us in a crisis when we have to compromise care [due to Bush budget cuts]. We want to send a strong message. We’re just fed up.”

Hand made signs, megaphones and loud jeers channeled protester’s anger at the Bush administration’s “war on federal workers” and “war on women.” Signs included “Bush’s legacy: unemployment and deployment” and “God told me Bush is a liar.”

Kirkpatrick Elementary School was a photo-op for the president, but educators raised deep concerns about the administration’s “No Child Left Behind” education law. Nashville School Board Chairman George Blue heard an impassioned Bush speech which did not include a question and answer segment. “I wished he had addressed the scoring method [mandated by federal law] because to me, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “That I’m either 100 percent or I fail. He didn’t talk about it at all, and I know that 64 percent of the schools in our district are not failures.”

School Board member Pedro Garcia voiced concerns over aspects of the law that ignore English as a second language for many students and its neglect of special needs children.

HARTFORD, Conn.: Machinists fight to save jobs

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) has not only filed suit to keep union jobs in Connecticut, but hit the streets Sept. 10 with a mass picket line protest at the headquarters of defense contractor Pratt & Whitney (P&W).

The union mobilized 150 delegates and members to its aerospace conference. The focus was on the struggle to preserve contract language that prevents contracting out of jobs. P&W is the state’s largest manufacturing employer.

Union International President Tom Buffenbarger spoke to the workers and their supporters who are filing the lawsuit, alleging that P&W has broken the contract. The suit charges that the company has a secret plan to globally outsource tool-making without consulting the workers.

Members of the Connecticut congressional delegation are supporting the IAM.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas: Texans debate USA Patriot Act

Austin and San Antonio could soon join four states and 157 counties, cities and municipalities in either condemning or curtailing the USA Patriot Act. The act, which has been touted in a national tour by Attorney General John Ashcroft, has been widely denounced as unconstitutional and as a violation the Bill of Rights.

Just weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks, Congress enacted the 340-page Patriot Act which greatly expanded government surveillance and police powers.

Austin City Council will consider a resolution condemning for “threatening fundamental rights and liberties” the Act this month and the San Antonio City Council will debate a similar resolution.

“It (the Act) just communicates to people, ‘Shut up and mind your own business,’” said San Antonio Peace Committee member David Plylar, a critic of the Patriot Act.

Commenting on events in Texas, Duke University law professor Scott Silliman said, “I think the attorney general recognized some congressional sentiment, some frustration, over the fact that we are not necessarily wining the war on terrorism in the way that we thought we might, quickly.” Silliman is executive director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security.

Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Vermont have all taken action against the Patriot Act. Oxford, Ohio and Bozeman, Montana are the latest towns to join the growing list. All together about 19 million people are represented by state or local governments opposing the Act.

WASHINGTON: Farmers demand safe milk

The National Farmers Union (NFU) delivered 3,398 petitions to the Food and Drug Administration Sept. 9 demanding that the agency retain the current definition of milk.

The National Cheese Institute, Grocery Manufacturers of America, National Food Processors Association and the American Diary Products Institute are requesting the FDA change the definition of milk to allow them to use substandard milk substitutes in dairy products.

“Dairy farmers have worked to develop an identity of milk and dairy products as pure and wholesome in the eye of the American consumer,” said NFU president Dave Frederickson. “Any change in the definition of milk would seriously compromise decades of work and investment by the nation’s dairy farmers and cheese makers and would be serious deception to our nation’s consumers.”

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards ( Jack Blaine
and Joelle Fishman contributed to this week’s clips.