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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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In a major victory for low-wage workers, New York state has cleared the way to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for the state’s 200,000 fast-food workers. A special wage board recommended the hike Wednesday, which is expected to be approved by the state’s labor commissioner. The wage hike will be phased in by 2018 in New York City and by 2021 across the state. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo praised the recommendation.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “When New York acts, the rest of the states follow. That is the New York way. We’ve always been different. We’ve always been first. We’ve always been the most progressive. And this statement today is going to radiate all across the country. And SEIU and the community organizations can go all across the country and say, 'If New York can do it, why can't you do it?’”
The move comes three years after fast-food workers in New York City launched the Fight for 15 campaign, which quickly spread across the country.
In related news, the University of California also announced Wednesday that it too would be raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next three years. The move will affect both employees and subcontractors. The university is the state’s third-largest employer, with approximately 200,000 workers. The announcement was made by University of California President Janet Napolitano, former secretary of homeland security.
The Obama administration has issued two permits to allow Shell to begin oil drilling in the Arctic’s remote Chukchi Sea. Earlier this year, a report by the Department of the Interior calculated that there would be a “75 percent chance of one or more large spills” in the Chukchi Sea if Shell drills there.
A grand jury has indicted accused Charleston shooter Dylann Roof on federal hate crime charges for massacring nine African Americans inside the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June. Roof was indicted on 33 federal counts total and could face the death penalty. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the indictment Wednesday.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch: “We are here today to announce that a federal grand jury in South Carolina has returned a 33-count indictment against Dylann Storm Roof, charging him with federal hate crimes and firearms charges for killing and attempting to kill African-American parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, because of their race and in order to interfere with their exercise of their religion.”
In Ferguson, Missouri, officials have appointed the first African American to head the city’s predominantly white force. Andre Anderson, a 24-year veteran of the Glendale, Arizona, police force, will become the interim Ferguson police chief. The appointment comes four months after a Justice Department probe found widespread discrimination by Ferguson police.
In news from Greece, the Parliament has approved a second round of austerity measures, which have been demanded by European creditors as a condition of the country’s bailout. On Wednesday, lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the measures, despite last-minute fears of a rebellion within Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ left-leaning Syriza party. Outside, hundreds rallied against austerity.
In Turkey, the government has announced new plans to tighten security along its border with Syria, two days after a suicide bomb killed more than 30 youth activists in the Turkish city of Suruc. According to government officials, the suspected bomber is a Turkish citizen with possible ties to the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
New York City has backed down on plans to curb the rapid expansion of the Wall Street-backed ride-sharing firm Uber. The City Council has dropped a measure to cap the number of Uber vehicles while the city studies Uber’s impact. Uber had pushed back with a stable of lobbyists and former government officials. Now the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has backed down, dropping the vehicle cap, for now.
Meanwhile, hundreds gathered in New York City to honor Sandra Bland.
KaLisa Moore: “We are demanding an end to white supremacy. We’re going to be on the streets. We’re going to continue fighting. We’re done with the terror. And we’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to — by any means necessary, we’ll be out here. Another person dies, we’ll be out here. We’re going to continue the fight until it’s done.”
At least a dozen people were arrested after sitting down and locking arms in the street. Protesters also raised questions about the death of Kindra Chapman, an 18-year-old African American found dead in her jail cell in Alabama just one day after Sandra Bland was found dead. Chapman was arrested July 14 on accusations of stealing a cellphone. Just like in Bland’s case, authorities have claimed she hanged herself, but her family does not believe it. At the protest in New York, demonstrators also mourned a 25-year-old African-American transgender woman who was found beaten to death in Tampa, Florida, Tuesday.
Protester: “I’m here today representing India Clarke. She was the 10th trans woman of color murdered in this country this year. Say her name.”
Crowd: “India Clarke!”
Protester: “Say her name!”
Crowd: “India Clarke!”
Protester: “Say her name!”
Crowd: “India Clarke!”
India Clarke is at least the 10th transgender woman murdered in the United States this year, part of what experts are calling an “epidemic.”