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HeadlinesJuly 23, 2015

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New York to Raise Minimum Wage for Fast-Food Workers to $15 an Hour

Jul 23, 2015

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.

University of California to Raise Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

Jul 23, 2015

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.

Obama Administration Issues Permits to Shell to Drill in Arctic

Jul 23, 2015

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.

South Carolina: Dylann Roof Indicted on Federal Hate Crime Charges

Jul 23, 2015

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.”

Ferguson: City Appoints First African-American Police Chief

Jul 23, 2015

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.

Greece: Parliament Approves More Austerity Measures amid Protests

Jul 23, 2015

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.

Turkey: Government to Tighten Border Security After Deadly Bombing

Jul 23, 2015

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 Backs Down on Bid to Curb Uber’s Expansion

Jul 23, 2015

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.

Texas: Authorities Say Sandra Bland Disclosed Past Suicide Attempt

Jul 23, 2015

In Texas, new information has emerged about the arrest of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old African-American woman found dead in a jail cell in what authorities claim was a suicide by hanging. Bland was stopped for not signaling a lane change. Dash cam video shows Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia forced her from her car, threatening to “light [her] up,” after she failed to put out her cigarette. Now, Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith says Bland told jailers she had previously attempted suicide. But an attorney for Bland’s family said relatives have no evidence of a prior suicide attempt. A local ABC station meanwhile obtained a voicemail Bland left for a friend while in jail.

Sandra Bland: “Hey, this is me. I’m, um — I just was able to see the judge. I don’t really know. They got me set at a $5,000 bond. I’m still just at a loss for words, honestly, about this whole process. How this switching lanes with no signal turned into all of this, I don’t even know. But I’m still here, so, I guess, call me back when you can.”

Video of Bland’s arrest shows her accusing police of slamming her head into the ground and saying, “I can’t even hear.” Texas authorities have denied claims the 52-minute police dash cam video they released was edited, telling Mother Jones the apparent glitches in the video resulted from a YouTube upload error.

New York: Hundreds Honor Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman, India Clarke

Jul 23, 2015

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.”

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