Top 5 Live-WURD Wednesday April 22
1. Senate deal on trafficking clears way for Loretta Lynch vote
Republicans and Democrats in the Senate reached an agreement Tuesday on an anti-human-trafficking bill, clearing the way for a vote on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch for attorney general.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he expected a vote on Lynch “in the next day or so.”
The trafficking bill had been held up since February because it contained anti-abortion language opposed by Democrats.
The bill and Lynch’s nomination passed committee 54 days ago, an unusually long delay for a vote on the nomination of an attorney general. McConnell linked Lynch’s nomination to passage of the trafficking bill.
Last week, Obama called the delay “embarrassing.”
2. School-funding case dismissed
A seven-judge panel has dismissed a lawsuit filed by school districts, parents, and organizations contending that Pennsylvania’s system of education funding is broken.
Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pelligrini found that school funding is a legislative issue and not a legal matter.
Parents, including two from the Philadelphia School District, and districts including the William Penn system in Delaware County, filed the suit last fall, saying that state officials had “adopted an irrational school funding system that does not deliver the essential resources students need and discriminates against children based on where they live and the wealth of their communities.”
The plaintiffs were represented by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the Education Law Center-Pa.
3. Captain In Deadly Migrant Boat Sinking Charged With Manslaughter
Italian authorities have arrested the captain and a crew member of the boat that capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. The pair is among the boat’s 28 survivors; the United Nations says more than 800 would-be migrants died after cramming themselves onto the 66-foot boat.
Tunisian captain Mohammed Ali Malek, 27, and Syrian crew member Mahmud Bikhit, 25, face charges of multiple manslaughter and aiding illegal immigration in the calamity. Along with some other survivors, they were brought to Catania, Sicily, and are now in custody.
“The survivors said that the trafficker who was at the command of the boat piloted it carelessly in the final moments as he was trying to hide and not be recognized as a smuggler,” sources told Italian news agency ANSA.
4. Justice Dept. opens Baltimore police probe; hundreds protest
The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a fatal spinal-cord injury under mysterious circumstances after he was handcuffed and put in the back of a police van.
After the probe was announced, at least 1,000 people gathered at the site of Gray’s arrest. Protesters marched to a police station while chanting and holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace” — slogans that have come embody mistreatment of blacks by police.
Six officers have been suspended with pay while local authorities and the U.S. Justice Department investigate the death.
Gray, 25, was handcuffed and put in a transport van on April 12. Gray. At some point during his roughly 30-minute ride, the van was stopped and Gray’s legs were shackled when an officer felt he was becoming “irate,” police said.
5. Amid Scandal, DEA Chief Michele Leonhart Will Retire
With her agency embroiled in scandal, DEA chief Michele Leonhart will retire in mid-May.
In a statement, Attorney General Eric Holder said he appreciated Leonhart’s “35 years of extraordinary service …”
In recent weeks, Leonhart has come under fire from lawmakers after an inspector general report found that some DEA agents had “sex parties” in Colombia with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels.
Earlier this month Republican and Democratic members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a statement saying they had “no confidence” in Leonhart.
“From her testimony, it is clear that she lacks the authority and will to make the tough decisions required to hold those accountable who compromise national security and bring disgrace to their position,” the committee wrote.
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon