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News and reports

October 5, 2007 | Pages 14 and 15

Vigil for single-payer health care
Anti-immigrant racism at UC-Santa Cruz
Marching against war in Portland

Vigil for single-payer health care
By Alison McKenna

CHICAGO--About 75 people participated in a September 28 protest and vigil for single-payer health care at the State of Illinois Building organized by the Chicago Single Payer Action Network (CSPAN). The event was part of a national day of action initiated by American Patients for Universal Health Care (APUHC), a group started by Donna Smith, who appeared in Michael Moore's movie Sicko.

APUHC's vigil in Washington, D.C., focused on Tracy Pierce, who died from kidney cancer at the age of 37, after being denied the care he needed. There were also similar actions in Kansas City, Mo., Oklahoma City, Okla., Denver, and Louisville, Ky.

Stephen Skvara, a retired member of the United Steelworkers union (USW), spoke at the Chicago CSPAN event about how he and his family lost their health care after LTV Steel in Indiana declared bankruptcy. He had worked at LTV for 34 years.

Illinois State Rep. Mary Flowers, the main sponsor of a statewide single-payer bill known as HB 311, took Gov. Rod Blagojevich to task, explaining that his measures for women's health, which include screening and treatment for breast and cervical cancer, don't provide comprehensive care and that health care cannot be provided piecemeal.

Other notable speakers were Dr. Anne Scheetz from Physicians for a National Health Program, Tom Wilson from Access Living, Helen Redmond from CSPAN, and a Trinity Hospital nurse from the National Nurses Organizing Committee. Other groups represented included Health Care for All Illinois, HealthCare Now! the International Socialist Organization, Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaign, Metropolitan Seniors in Action and the Progressive Democrats of America.

Participants chanted, "Health insurance is a lie! They don't care if people die!" and circulated a petition in support of HB 311.

CSPAN's next action is a town hall meeting in early November with Rep. Flowers to continue building support for HB 311.

The next CSPAN meeting is October 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave. For more information, contact 312-714-5154 or e-mail [email protected].

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Anti-immigrant racism at UC-Santa Cruz
By Jessi Shakarian

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.--Some 50 students at the University of California-Santa Cruz (UCSC) started the school year by protesting an anti-immigrant dodge ball game set up by the College Republicans.

The Republicans sent out an e-mail, proposing a dodge ball game at the annual Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports festival, where students gather to join campus organizations. The game would pit "Team Border Patrol" versus "Team Illegal Immigrants," with Team Illegal Immigrants "outnumbering" Team Border Patrol.

In response, an emergency meeting and coalition was formed, and a picket was assembled when the dodge ball game was supposed to happen. The protesters, carrying signs such as "Fighting racism at UCSC," easily outnumbered the four Republicans. And the Republicans, knowing that the game was over, left the field.

The speed with which this coalition was assembled shows that people want to be involved in the struggle to stop racism and that the struggle has the potential to win.

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Marching against war in Portland
By Paul Dean

PORTLAND, Ore.--A spirited march of more than 600 people weaved through downtown on September 29 to demand an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Protesters also marched to bring the troops home immediately, called for an end to Israel's occupation of Palestine and opposed a U.S. attack on Iran. The march was energized by chants such as "Money for jobs and education, not war and occupation!"

Speakers along the route and at the final rally included Ghourdz Eghtedari, an Iranian man who exposed the lies about Iran peddled by Bush and his media hacks. A former Black Panther spoke about Portland resident Lumumba Ford, a Black Muslim who was sent to prison under the USA PATRIOT Act. ISO member Adam Sanchez spoke for PDXpeace.

This year's march was significantly smaller than a march a few years ago that drew more than 20,000. Nevertheless, there are important ongoing antiwar activities in the city, including counter-recruitment activism and making Portland a sanctuary city for military war resisters.

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