Republicans Close Convention Without Environmental Pledge
NEW YORK, New York, September 3, 2004 (ENS) - President George W. Bush accepted the Republican nomination for President last night at Madison Square Garden. In his speech to delegates to the Republican National Convention, he said nothing about the environment. He talked about the benefits of the wars he has waged on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He briefly mentioned energy supplies, which have been a major preoccupation of the Bush administration. "To create jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy," is all the President said.
Vice President Dick Cheney said nothing about the environment when he accepted the Republican vice presidential nomination on Wednesday night, nor did he mention energy, although his Energy Task Force and the administration's National Energy Policy it crafted have been among the most controversial aspects of this administration. He talked about the virtues of war.
No other speaker at the Republican National Convention addressed any of the great environmental issues of the day - global warming, oil depletion, nuclear waste, deforestation, species extinctions, genetic modification..
They spoke of war and terror, of tax cuts, of jobs, of education and health care.
Out on the campaign trail in Springfield, Ohio, Democratic Presidential nominee rebutted President Bush's acceptance speech by saying the President has misled the country on the necessity for war, on the economy, on jobs, on health care, and on energy supplies and prices - an environmental issue.
"When it comes to getting gas prices under control, George Bush has misled America," Kerry said. "America is more dependent than ever on Mid-East oil. John [Edwards] and I have a plan to make America energy independent by investing in new technologies and alternative fuels."
Outside Madison Square Garden and across Manhattan, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against the policies of the Bush administration. New York City Police stopped publishing arrest figures on Wednesday, but independent estimates by attorneys for arrestees place the number at about 1,500.
In some places fights broke out between police and protesters, although most of the marches and demonstrations were peaceful.
Police detained hundreds of arrestees without charges, and the National Lawyers Guild and the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys have been engaged in legal battles with the city's attorneys before a State Supreme Court judge to get them released. New York law requires that people not be held longer than 24 hours without being arraigned.
State Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo Thursday ordered the city to release hundreds of people who had spent as many as 48 hours in jail and found the city in contempt of court after it failed to comply. He ordered 470 people freed and imposed a fine that could total nearly half a million dollars.
Most of the people had been arrested on Tuesday, the day of nonviolent direct action to confront the Republican National Convention. Many claimed they were bystanders not connected to any protest.
The National Lawyers Guild filed a writ of habeus corpus late Wednesday demanding that the detainees be brought before a judge and formally charged. The more than 1,100 people arrested on Tuesday had already been held at that point for up to 66 hours without being arraigned, informed of their rights, given access to an attorney, provided medical attention, or given access to adequate food, water, or sleeping facilities.
Documents presented to the court claim the the detainees have been held under "unconscionably unsafe conditions, including the possibility of asbestos contamination" as two affidavits submitted to the court allege.
They passed through an ad hoc detention center at Pier 57 where the National Lawyers Guild says they "had to sleep on a floor slick with motor oil and other toxic residue. Numerous detainees complained of infections, rashes, and chemical burns. By Wednesday night, the detainees had become fed up with their treatment and began to refuse food."
Protests continued during the final day of the convention yesterday, with 26 arrests made by 9:30 p.m.
Three times Judge Cataldo ordered the city of New York to release all detainees, but the city defied each of the orders. Late Thursday, the judge found the city in contempt of court and levied a fine of $1,000 per person held past 24 hours, a fine that amounts to at least $470,000.
City officials say the unusual number of detainees was to blame for the delay in processing them. On Tuesday, nearly 1,200 people were arrested in four hours, one of the largest mass arrests in American history. By contrast, 300 people are arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on an average day.
But the National Lawyers Guild said in court documents that the defendants, including New York Police Chief Raymond Kelly, anticipated numbers of arrests related to the Republican convention as high as 1,000 per day.
The detainees were finally released Thursday night as President Bush was delivering his acceptance speech in Madison Square Garden.
The President mentioned freedom 23 times in his speech.
"The story of America is the story of expanding liberty," he said, "an ever-widening circle, constantly growing to reach further and include more. Our nation's founding commitment is still our deepest commitment: In our world, and here at home, we will extend the frontiers of freedom."
"This moment in the life of our country will be remembered," said President Bush. "Generations will know if we kept our faith and kept our word. Generations will know if we seized this moment, and used it to build a future of safety and peace."
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