HARRISBURG, Pa.: State House passes minimum wage increase

For the past year, at every meeting, rally or political event, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and its allies, like ACORN, have pushed raising the state’s minimum wage. Finally, on April 5, the Republican-dominated State House passed the bill, 146-50. It would boost the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.15 by July 2007.

The measure now goes to the Senate. If it is approved, Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, has said he will sign it. The State Department of Labor and Industry estimates that 423,000 Pennsylvania workers are paid between $5.15 and $7.14 an hour.

In a letter to the state’s union members, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO leaders William George and Richard Bloomingdale wrote, “Despite months of obstruction by leaders of the Republican Party, your efforts paid off. … In the nine years since the federal minimum wage was last adjusted, the price of food increased by 21 percent, rent by 28 percent, child care and pre-school by 48 percent, gasoline by 81 percent and natural gas has doubled.”

The unions urge workers to turn up the heat on their state senators to pass HB 257. For more information, visit paaflcio.org.

ATLANTA: Work stoppage protests anti-immigrant state law

When Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a punitive anti-immigrant state law April 17, it “prompted a daylong work stoppage by thousands of immigrants,” The Associated Press reported.

The law, set to take effect, July 1, 2007, forces applicants for state benefits to show proof they are in the U.S. legally, turns police into immigration enforcers by empowering them to check immigration status of people they arrest, mandates that companies with state contracts verify workers’ immigration status and sanctions companies who hire undocumented workers.

Charging the law is “unjust and unfair,” Tisha Tallman, attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said, “We believe this legislation does nothing to move us forward in the direction we need to be moving economically, culturally and socially.” MALDEF is preparing a lawsuit.

There are an estimated 250,000-800,000 undocumented workers in Georgia.

DURHAM, N.C.: Duke lacrosse players indicted

A grand jury issued sealed indictments April 17 charging two Duke University lacrosse players with the March 13 rape of an African American mother of two who had been hired to dance for a bachelor party.

On Easter Sunday, Bishop John Bennett of the Church of the Apostolic Revival led a prayer rally at the site of the alleged rape. He said his congregation responded to a cry from that house that has not been answered. “This young lady is poor. She doesn’t have $700-an-hour lawyers to help her, so we’ve got to pray so that justice is served. We want to pray for the victim. We want to pray for the accused. We want to pray for their families. We want to pray for this neighborhood.”

On Easter morning some Durham residents found white supremacist literature thrown in their driveways. Liz Paley, who is white, called the police. “It’s an outrage!” she said. “How does one describe how offensive this is. It’s racist. It’s anti-Semitic. It’s pages and pages of disgusting hate and lies.”

The police reported that scores of residents brought the racist material to their local stations.

The North Carolina NAACP has pledged to monitor the case.

MERCURY, Nev.: Protest vs. nuke tests

This Good Friday was no different from 2001, when the faith-based Nevada Desert Experience held its eighth peace walk against nuclear weapons testing. The U.S. put the testing on hold in 1992. But now, the military wants to set off a massive non-nuclear blast on June 2. The Nevada Department of Environment Protection has held up issuing permits until it is convinced that the explosive, 700 tons of ammonium-nitrate fuel oil mixture, will not contaminate the air when it is detonated.

“Certainly there is a lot of concern,” said Amy Schultz, director of the Nevada Desert Experience. “The main thing that comes to mind is health and environmental effects.”

“We hope to be a symbol of hope and nonviolence,” she said. “We want to support dialogue and reconciliation but want to continue against systems that cause oppression, poverty and war.”

Nearly two-dozen protesters were cited for trespassing when they crossed the boundary line around the test site.

Between 1951 and 1992, 928 full-scale nuclear explosions were conducted at the 1375-square-mile site.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com).