MILWAUKEE: Immigrant worker voter registration drive kicks off

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) chose the backyard of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) for their annual convention, which closed with attendees taking to the streets to register voters.

Sensenbrenner is the author of the notoriously anti-immigrant HR 4437, which passed the House last December, igniting massive protests around the U.S.

“Rep. Sensenbrenner has been no friend to the Latino community,” said Mickey Ibarra, who served in the Clinton administration. He urged attendees to support Bryan Kennedy, the Democratic candidate, for Sensenbrenner’s seat.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson brought the convention to its feet saying, “Don’t take Bush’s agenda lightly. The Confederates have risen again.”

Scores of volunteers, affiliated with Voces de la Frontera, fanned out in the Milwaukee neighborhoods signing up new voters. Voces de la Frontera is part of the national Democracy Summer campaign to register 1 million new voters.

TRENTON, N.J.: State shuts down, thousands laid off

For the first time in state history, New Jersey closed the doors to 31 agencies, including the Motor Vehicle Commission, laying off 45,000 state workers July 1. The shutdown continued as the week began with casinos and racetracks closing because they cannot operate without state inspectors.

Beaches, parks and historic sites padlocked their gates after the Fourth of July holiday.

About 35,000 state police, prison employees and children and youth service workers will remain on the job, without a paycheck, during the shutdown.

The dispute is focused on the governor’s budget, which includes a regressive sales tax increase, from 6 percent to 7 percent.

“While I don’t think [the shutdown] is a good outcome, we ought to get budgets done well before deadlines,” said Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine.

There is a billion dollar hole in the budget.

Led by veteran legislator Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts, a Democrat from Camden, legislative opposition to Corzine’s budget crossed party lines.

The state budget has been reeling since former Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman slashed taxes on the state’s wealthiest corporations and residents by 30 percent.

WASHINGTON: OK to coastal drilling provokes fury

The House of Representatives passed a bill allowing energy corporations to drill off the Atlantic coast and expand the drilling area on the Pacific and Gulf coasts. The measure lifted a 25-year ban on the expansion of ocean oil and natural gas drilling. The House vote was 232-187. The bill now goes to the Senate.

“Americans already believe that their Congress lacks the guts to stand up to Big Oil,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope. “They billed this as ‘energy week,’ but sadly, the only idea they could muster is sticking more oil and gas rigs off our coasts.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi charged the bill is fiscally and environmentally irresponsible. “The Republican answer to our energy crisis is to drill in protected areas and provide tax breaks to Big Oil,” she said. “In my home state of California, we have learned from bitter experience that a large oil spill can cause long lasting damage to the marine ecosystem at all levels.”

DURHAM, N.C.: $2 million hush money offered to rape victim

Only the African American press is reporting that a group called the “Alums of Duke” had quietly approached the woman who charged that three university lacrosse players raped her with $2 million to drop the case. The university quickly said it had no information about the offer.

Jakki, a cousin of the victim who concealed her last name to protect the victim and both their families, told the Wilmington Journal and Carolinian newspapers that her relative had received the offer but rejected it.

“She told me that they wanted her to make the case go away,” Jakki told the media. “It’s not about money to her. It’s about her [being] brutally raped, sodomized, and called a n———. Can you imagine being choked and held down? The thought of it — it reminds me of slavery days when the women were brutally raped by the masters — makes me furious because they want to make these [guys] out to be golden boys.”

Since March, the victim’s family has been harassed and received death threats.

Three Duke lacrosse players, Colin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans, are charged with first-degree rape, first-degree sexual assault and first-degree kidnapping. The trial is scheduled to begin in 2007.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (