MINNEAPOLIS: Raise minimum wage

This fall, the Minneapolis City Council will consider raising the minimum wage and a coalition of faith-based groups, community organizations and union members were on the streets June 23 to drum up support. The groups have so far collected 2,000 postcards supporting the living wage ordinance.

“We’re going to work this summer and get a living wage passed this fall,” said Bill McCarthy, president of the Minneapolis Central Labor Council. “Anybody working on a job subsidized by our city’s dollars shouldn’t have to get food stamps to feed their family.”

ISAIAH, a coalition of several churches, is hosting a series of town meetings to promote raising the minimum wage, closing loopholes and beefing up enforcement of the ordinance.

WASHINGTON: 13 senators opposed lynching apology

Although 36 percent of the population in Mississippi is African American, the highest percentage in the country, both the state’s senators, Trent Lott and Thad Cochran, opposed the anti-lynching resolution passed by the Senate last month. Lott and Cochran are Republicans as are the other 11 who took the same stance: Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Robert Burnett (Utah), Michael Enzi and Craig Thomas (Wyoming), Judd Gregg and John Sununu (N.H.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Gordon Smith (Ore.) and John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (Texas).

Eight others signed the lynching apology after the resolution passed. They are Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist blocked a roll call vote but sources on Capitol Hill leaked the names.

“America is the home of the brave, but I’m afraid there may be a few cowards who have to cower to their very narrow-minded and backward, hateful constituency,” said Janet Langhart Cohen, wife of former Maine Republican Sen. William Cohen. Langhart Cohen said a relative, Jimmy Gillenwaters, was lynched in 1917. “They’re hiding out and it’s reminiscent of a pattern of hiding under a hood, in the night, riding past, scaring people.”

PHILADELPHIA, Miss.: No new trial for Klansman

Edgar Ray Killen is on his way to the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility after Judge Marcus Jordan denied his motion for a new trial June 27. Killen, 80, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, was convicted of manslaughter June 21 for the 1963 murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

The three men were registering Black voters. Their murders shocked the country and, two years later, Congress enacted the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Killen’s lawyers are planning an appeal and have applied for an appeal bond, which would allow the convicted Klansman to be freed while the case is reconsidered by a higher court.

DALLAS: Gold Star Mothers admit non-citizen

At their annual convention here June 25, the largest organization of survivors of men and women killed in combat, Gold Star Mothers, overturned their 76-year-old policy by voting to admit Ligaya Lagman into the organization. Although Lagman pays taxes and is a permanent resident, she is not a U.S. citizen.

Lagman’s son, Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Lagman, was killed in Afghanistan in 2004. Gold Star Mothers President Ann Herd had announced in May that Lagman was denied membership because she was not a citizen. “We can’t go changing the rules every time the wind blows,” she said at the time. That set off a storm of protest, including from members of Congress and veterans groups.

TAMPA, Fla.: Sami Al-Arian trial begins

After holding Professor Sami Al-Arian in prison for more than two years, the U.S. government began its trial against him here June 6.

Facing numerous charges, including racketeering, conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists, Al-Arian maintains his innocence and contends the government is seeking to punish him for his political views and pursuit of Arab rights. Al-Arian was a computer science professor at the University of South Florida before being fired in the wake of his arrest.

Prosecutors allege Al-Arian was a key fundraiser for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, labeled by the State Department as a terrorist organization in the late 1990s. However, a significant portion of the indictment stressed Al-Arian’s efforts to raise money for the organization before it was placed on the list. Interestingly, Al-Arian was a major fundraiser and supporter of the George W. Bush 2000 election campaign.

Since the passage of the USA Patriot Act in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, the government has brought charges against a number of Muslim and Arab men, alleging ties to terrorism with lots of media coverage, only to drop the charges later or find them guilty on minor violations.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com). Jesse Kern contributed to this week’s clips.

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