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Fast-food workers fight McDonald's as battle for better wages heads to court

McDonald's workers go to courtRichard Eiker has worked for McDonald's for 25 years. For the last 18 he has been at the same Kansas City restaurant working in maintenance, mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, scrubbing grease out of the deep fat fryers. He has no illusions about who he works for: McDonald's. The burger chain begs to differ.

Over the last 30 years fast food jobs have come to take an ever larger part of the US labour market. In 2013 3.6 million people worked for fast food restaurants in the US. But most – 76% – worked for franchisees and not directly for the companies whose logos adorn the restaurants. Wages, hours, benefits – increasingly hot topics in this low-paying industry – have to be negotiated with the franchisee. That may be about to change.

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Federal defenders barred from massive clemency drive

federal defenders barred from appealsThe Obama administration’s ambitious plan to extend clemency to thousands of prisoners suffered a serious blow Thursday after the agency that oversees the federal courts said that hundreds of federal public defenders and other court-appointed attorneys were not authorized to represent inmates in the process.

The decision, laid out in a memorandum written by the top lawyer for the Administrative Office of the Courts, effectively bars such lawyers from drafting or submitting clemency petitions because the Constitution does not guarantee inmates the right to legal representation in such procedures.

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Arizona inmate was injected 15 times with execution drugs

Arizona executionAs Joseph Wood lay on the gurney in Arizona’s death chamber, gasping and gulping, prison officials kept pumping execution drugs into the convicted killer’s system.

By the time Wood died, after nearly two hours, he had been injected with 750mg each of midazolam and hydromorphone: 15 times the amounts called for in the state’s execution protocol.

Wood’s death, on 23 July, was the third highly problematic execution in the US this year, following those of Dennis McGuire in Ohio in January and Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma in April, which were also drawn-out and led to accusations that the inmates may have endured a level of distress prohibited by the US constitution’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishment”.

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Colorado begins granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants

Colorado drivers licenseImmigrants living in the United States illegally have to go through an interview before they can get a Colorado driver's license, officials said.

About 10,000 people are seeking licenses or identification cards under the law that took effect Friday. Only five Division of Motor Vehicle offices in the state will be processing them.

In addition to the interview, the immigrants must provide more documentation than citizens and legal residents.

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Ku Klux Klan recruitment drive raises old fears in South Carolina

KKK in So. CarolinaSunday afternoon after church, youth pastor Demond Dawson was rounding up a van load of kids dressed in their Sunday best. The group had stopped at the Dollar General in Abbeville for snacks and cold drinks.

As the kids teased each other on the sidewalk outside the store, a weekend rally of the Ku Klux Klan taking place at the very same time in this county was weighing heavily on Dawson’s mind. A recently formed branch of the KKK — the New Empire Knights — held a three-day “KKK Jam” rally over the weekend in an undisclosed location in Abbeville, which it calls its national headquarters.

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Over 100 Faith Leaders, Immigrant Activists Arrested At White House For Protesting Deportations

Faith leaders arrested at white houe protestMore than 100 faith leaders and immigration activists participated in a demonstration and were arrested at the White House on Thursday to protest the daily deportations of undocumented immigrations.

The demonstration opened with a prayer service and press conference at 12pm in Lafayette Park followed by a protest along the White House fence to call attention to what a Church World Service (CWS) statement referred to as President Obama's "inhumane immigration enforcement policies." After refusing to leave White House sidewalk, the activists were arrested and charged with blocking passage, according to CWS's statement.

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Voter ID law upheld by Wisconsin Supreme Court

voter id lawThe Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a state law requiring voters to have photo identification to cast a ballot, although the law remains blocked by an earlier ruling by a federal judge that it is unconstitutional.

The court wrote in its decision that providing a photo identification at the ballot box does not create a substantial burden to the voter, as claimed by the plaintiffs in the case.

"Photo identification is a condition of our times where more and more personal interactions are being modernized to require proof of identity," the court wrote.

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