Seeking Reparations

SNOW: Now some good stuff from the "Wartime Grapevine.

USA Today is reporting that three corporations are about to be sued by black Americans seeking reparations for slavery. The lawsuit is expected to be filed tomorrow in federal court in New York. It names as defendants the Aetna insurance company, CSX Railroad and FleetBoston, a financial services firm. The plaintiffs claim that those companies profited from slavery and they want as restitution for unpaid slave labor a share of corporate profits derived from slavery.

The lawsuit asks the court to bring the case to jury on behalf of all African-Americans who can claim slaves as ancestors. The suit comes less than a week after Mary Francis Barry, chair of the U.S. commission on civil rights, touted the cause of racial reparations to an audience in Georgia.

Former D.C. Mayor and current city council candidate Marion Barry says he is not guilty of using illegal drugs, despite allegations the U.S. Park police found traces of marijuana and cocaine in his car last week. A police spokesman says Barry wasn't arrested because the amount discovered was too small to merit prosecution.

Police say Barry was sitting in his car in a -- quote -- "remote area of the city," and appeared to be, again, quoting, "ingesting something." An officer on the scene says Barry appeared to have a powdery substance under his nose. A subsequent car search turned out the traces of marijuana and cocaine. Barry says he's clean and sober. His lawyer says his client consented to the search because he has nothing to hide.

The Maryland legislature is considering a law that would let socially disadvantaged white men qualify for minority business preferences. Last week the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill that would give consideration individuals based on environment rather than just race, for small business contracts. The Maryland Senate hasn't yet approved the bill.

Finally, the Marines soon will have a new weapon in their arsenal: slime. Researchers have developed a foam that is as slippery as ice and can be used to transform potential enemies into slapstick characters, skidding and falling on foam-coated surfaces. Developers say the slime could cover stairs and sidewalks at an American embassy under siege. The slippery stuff will be ready for distribution next year.

But there's more. The Pentagon also developing another weapon straight from the cartoons. Scientists are working on developing a stink bomb so powerful that it can disable or repel, but not kill, those who get downwind of the weapon.

Operation Anaconda may be over, but U.S. forces still have plenty of work to do. At the top of the task list: finding al Qaeda loyalists, many of whom are believed to be hiding in caves. Fox News correspondent Steve Harrigan took a look at some of these potential hideouts near Zhawar Kili, Afghanistan.


STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trucks and camels move at the same speed along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Traders, smugglers, nomads, gunmen make their way past a series of caves. Caves that are deep and dark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Subordinates all around here.

HARRIGAN: Caves that were bombed by the Soviet Union in one century, and by the U.S.-led coalition in the next.

(on camera): As you can see, most of the caves that the Taliban, the al Qaeda were fighting out of are carved right into the side of a mountain. That means that even when a bomb falls right next to the cave, as one did here just a short time ago, just a few feet away, the cave itself is still intact.

(voice-over): The black holes that once housed the Mujahedin, then the Taliban and al Qaeda, are empty now, except for scavengers and government soldiers, who patrol the rocky heights of a region. Where players change, the war, almost a part of the geography, remains constant. In Zhawar Kili, Afghanistan, Steve Harrigan, Fox News.


SNOW: As we've noted. The Catholic Church has been under fire lately for allegations of sexual abuse by priests. But another equally threatening problem looms: a financial crisis. As Fox News correspondent Jeff Goldblatt tells us, the normally joyous season of Easter is bittersweet for some black Catholics in Chicago.


JEFF GOLDBLATT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Palm Sunday was marked by unparalleled reflection for Linda Shannon, and teemed with unprecedented emotion. Her relationship with her church of 20 years will end this summer.

LINDA SHANNON, PARISHIONER: It hurts. You know, we don't want to just go to another church. We want to stay here.

GOLDBLATT: For four Catholic churches in the city of Chicago, this is the final Easter holiday. All are predominantly black, financially ailing congregations, with fewer than 300 parishioners regularly attending services.

BISHOP JOSEPH PERRY, ARCHDIOCESE OF CHICAGO: The choice really comes down to two things: shrinking congregations and the shrinking ability to maintain the huge structures that they're in.

GOLDBLATT (on camera): But the archdiocese itself is financially strapped and cannot help like it once did. This summer it will start phasing out grants to parishes without parochial schools, grants that

Catholic schools in the city will continue. But 275 of them will be sharing $6 million annually, a sum of roughly half of what it was two years ago.

PERRY: We have to be as responsible with our use of those resources to the best of our ability, and try to not waste it.

GOLDBLATT (voice-over): This decision represents the largest single closure of black churches in more than a decade in Chicago. With about 70 percent of the city's 374 parishes operating at deficit levels, it was a move supported by a task force of black Catholic leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are the church. This is just a structure.

GOLDBLATT: It was a Palm Sunday homily with added meeting for Linda Shannon. She took the message of resurrection to heart.

SHANNON: I'm going to keep serving God until I can't serve him no more. I'm going to go to another church and worship. But that doesn't make it any easier.

GOLDBLATT: Neither does the reality at play in Chicago and other big cities, that dwindling finances may soon force more parishioners to pray elsewhere. In Chicago, Jeff Goldblatt, Fox News.


SNOW: Christopher Columbus and Cesar Chavez hold important but different places in American history. Columbus reportedly discovered the Americas and Chavez founded the first successful farm worker's union. Now labor leaders in Los Angeles are pushing for a holiday honoring Chavez. City leaders say it could happen, but perhaps at the expense of Columbus Day. Fox News correspondent Adam Housely has details.


ADAM HOUSELY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The halls of government are quiet. Nearly 10,000 Los Angeles city employees are at home. Their day off, at the expense of Christopher Columbus.

JOE CERRELL, NAT'L ITALIAN AMERICAN FNDN.: Columbus represents all those wonderful things that Italians and Italian-Americans have done for this country.

HOUSELY: Columbus' holiday ship has been sunk in favor of Hispanic labor activist, Cesar Chavez. This year, L.A. city workers get the last Monday in March off in honor of Cesar Chavez, instead of Columbus Day in October. Some say political correctness is tossing aside tradition, especially those who have adopted Columbus Day as a time to celebrate all things Italian.

CERRELL: We're supposed to be getting away from ethnicity battles and pitting one organization versus another organization. This is what we've been getting away from.

ANDRES IRLANDO, CESAR CHAVEZ FNDN. EXEC DIR.: Cesar Chavez was an American hero. He is someone who epitomizes the very basic and fundamental ideals that, as Americans, we cherish.

HOUSELY: Los Angeles city employees already get 12 paid days off a year. But their union was pressuring to add Cesar Chavez Day. That would have cost taxpayers more than $5 million a year, so the city told them to choose: the farmer or the navigator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Certain people, for ethnic or cultural reasons, see Cesar Chavez as more of a hero than Christopher Columbus, which is understandable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not appropriate to dishonor our historic heroes by removing them in place of honor and replacing them with someone else.

HOUSELY (on camera): Los Angeles decision makers predicted a storm, making this a temporary holiday, with time to update or reverse their decision by next year's calendar. And a leading proposal so far to diffuse this holiday hero debate, letting city workers decide for themselves which day to take. In Los Angeles, Adam Housely, Fox News.


SNOW: Well, Fox All-Stars are coming up next. Wait until you hear what they have to say about a plan to pay ransom for kidnapped Americans in the Philippines.