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Memphis to hike minimum wage over $15 an hour

What was once an idea on paper will be official as early as next month.

>> Watch the news report here

According to WHBQ, 420 employees of the city of Memphis, Tennessee, are about to get a raise to an hourly rate that is more than twice the state and federal minimum wage average. 

>> University of Memphis to offer free tuition to fallen service members' children, spouses

“I think it's real nice, real good,” said taxpayer Clifford Joseph

The raise comes thanks to a resolution that passed the budget committee to give every city employee a base minimum wage of $15.50 an hour. 

Council found the $1 million needed to fund the extra salaries by making small cuts to other departments.

>> Read more trending news 

No tax increase is necessary either, even though Joseph said he would be OK with one if needed. 

“It would be worth it to me; I think they deserve it. They're out there working hard in this hot sun, rain, sleet, snow,” he said.

Mayor Jim Strickland’s budget proposal allocated $1.4 million to bring some employee salaries up to industry standards. 

The rest of that money will go to the minimum wage increase, which is an idea first thought up by Councilman Edmund Ford Jr. who said, “If we want to talk about living wage we have to do more than talk we have to actually do something.” 

>> On Fox13Memphis.com: SCS to raise minimum wage to $15

The money will also cover something called compression. 

That will ensure supervisors make more than the employees they oversee. 

“Let’s say that I’m your boss, you're the subordinate. I'm making $15 now, you're making $12 now. Well, according to this resolution, if I just did a flat $15.50, you and I would be making the same salaries,” Ford added. 

>> On Fox13Memphis.com: How many employees make $15 or more an hour at Memphis' 25 largest employers?

The budget is expected to be voted on and passed next week

The raises would go into effect on July 1, 2018. 

Ford will make a resolution next week to get all part-time workers to $15.50 an hour. 

He said that would cost about $6 million but says the time to start that debate should start now for possibly a year or two down the road. 

Border Patrol checkpoint in New Hampshire nets 9 arrests on Memorial Day weekend

Nine people were arrested during a Memorial Day weekend Border Patrol checkpoint on I-93 in Woodstock, New Hampshire.

>> Watch the news report here

A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection told WFXT that those arrested were charged with violations of immigration law.

>> Reports: 1,500 immigrant children missing; feds say they’re not responsible

Ginna Schonwald was on her way home with a friend on Sunday when they came across the checkpoint. 

"We were kind of, like, scrambling to get out documents, but they didn't ask for them," Schonwald told WFXT

Schonwald said the Border Patrol agent looked in their car and asked if they were U.S. citizens. When they replied that they were, he said "OK" and let them continue on their way.

>> Oregon teen sues school district after suspension over pro-border wall T-shirt

Schonwald said she found the checkpoint disturbing. 

"I hate to think of the way our country has been demonizing immigrants lately. We're all immigrants. My family was from Ireland and they got treated just the same way, but I like to think we're better than that now," Schonwald said.

Here is the full statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

>> Read more trending news 

"Border Patrol immigration checkpoints are a critical tool for the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws and are part of our defense-in-depth strategy to accomplish the border security mission. Although most Border Patrol work is conducted in the immediate border area, Section 1357 of Title 8 of the United States Code, along with several sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act, give Border Patrol agents broad law enforcement authorities, including the authority to question individuals, make arrests, and take and consider evidence.

"At a Border Patrol checkpoint, an agent may question a vehicle’s occupants about their citizenship, place of birth, and request document proof of immigration status, how legal status was obtained and make quick observations of what is in plain view in the interior of the vehicle. 

"During the course of the immigration inspection, if an occupant refuses to answer an agent’s questions, the agent may detain the driver for a reasonable amount of time until he or she can make a determination regarding the occupant’s immigration status. CBP is committed to the fair, impartial and respectful treatment of all members of the trade and traveling public, and policy prohibits the consideration of race or ethnicity in law enforcement, investigation and screening activities, in all but the most exceptional circumstances.”

Read more here.

President Trump marks Memorial Day

President Donald Trump took to Twitter Monday morning to mark the Memorial Day holiday.

>> Read more trending news 

In a video message, Trump reflected on the "fallen soldiers who have paid the ultimate price for our country." Trump also talked about Christian Jacobs, who he met at Arlington National Cemetery last year. The young boy was dressed in full uniform while he visited his father's grave. Trump said Jacobs was special and meeting him was a moment he'll never forget.

In a separate tweet, Trump wished everyone a happy Memorial Day and made reference to positive economic and unemployment statistics.

Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery Monday morning to participate in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

Vice President Mike Pence also paid tribute to fallen soldiers, as did first lady Melania Trump and the president’s daughter Ivanka.

Trump appears on 'Fox and Friends,' talks MS-13, immigration, North Korea in taped interview

President Donald Trump discussed MS-13, immigration, North Korea and the NFL’s new policy on national anthem protests in an interview that aired this morning on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”

>> Jamie Dupree: Trump renews attacks on Russia probe as lawmakers see documents

Here are the latest updates:

Update 6:44 a.m. Thursday: 

  • On a possible summit with North Korea: “If that happens, it’ll be a great thing for North Korea. Most importantly, it would be a great thing for the world,” Trump said, adding that he’d like denuclearization to be “done immediately, but physically, a phase-in may be a little bit necessary.”

  • On former FBI Director James Comey: “I would actually say, how is he going to explain to his grandchildren all of the lies, the deceit, all of the problems he has caused this country,” Trump said, adding: “I’ve done a great service for this country by getting rid of [Comey], by firing him.”

Update 6:15 a.m. Thursday: 

  • On MS-13: Trump called members of MS-13 “stone cold killers” and said Democrats are “sticking up” for the gang.
  • On immigration: “The whole system is corrupt,” Trump said, adding that he would only approve a congressional plan to bring back DACA if “it includes a wall, a real wall.”   
  • On the economy: "We have a great economy – probably the best economy the country's ever had."
  • On NFL national anthem protests: “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Otherwise, you shouldn’t be playing; you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

ORIGINAL STORY: President Donald Trump will discuss North Korea, immigration and the NFL's new policy on national anthem protests in an interview airing this morning on Fox News' "Fox and Friends."

>> PREVIOUSLY: Trump slams Comey, DOJ in wide-ranging 'Fox &amp; Friends' interview

Brian Kilmeade's interview with Trump was taped Wednesday in Bethpage, New York, after the president appeared at a forum about MS-13, The Hill reported

Trump tweeted about the interview Wednesday night.

>> Read more trending news 

"Will be interviewed on @foxandfriends tomorrow morning at 6:00 A.M. Enjoy!" he wrote.

>> See the tweet here

Please return for updates.

Jared Kushner gets permanent security clearance: reports

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has gotten a permanent security clearance months after he lost access to top secret documents because of his failure to pass an extensive FBI background check, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The background check was completed after more than a year, allowing Kushner to get his permanent clearance, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing an unidentified source.

White House officials have said that it’s not unusual for background checks to take so long for officials with complicated financial histories or with the sprawling foreign connections that Kushner has, The New York Times reported. Trump was not involved in the process to clear his son-in-law, according to the newspaper.

>> Report: Jared Kushner’s security clearance downgraded

“As we stated before, his application was properly submitted, reviewed by numerous career officials and underwent the normal process,” Kushner’s personal attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement obtained by the Post. “Having completed all of these processes, he’s looking forward to continuing to do the work the president has asked him to do.”

Lowell said his client has been cooperating with the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He told the Times that Kushner has met twice with Mueller’s investigators with both meetings running for several hours.

>> More on Robert Mueller's investigation

“In each occasion, he answered all questions asked and did whatever he could to expedite the conclusion of the investigations,” Lowell said.

Kushner and several other White House officials in February had their temporary security clearances downgraded after reports surfaced that a number of staffers had regular access to top secret U.S. documents despite only having interim clearances.

Trump can't block people on Twitter, judge rules

A federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump can’t block people from his Twitter feed because doing so would violate their First Amendment rights, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The ruling was issued by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in response to a lawsuit filed in July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and others, Reuters reported.

The president has more than 52 million followers on his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. He has frequently used the platform to interact with the public both before and during his presidency.

Buchwald ruled Wednesday that Trump’s account constitutes a public forum “and blocking people who reply to his tweets with differing opinions constitutes viewpoint discrimination” in violation of the First Amendment, The Hill reported.

Trump argued that blocking people from his account did not violate the Constitution because of his own First Amendment rights, according to The Hill.

Stacey Abrams wins Georgia Democratic primary, seeks to become nation's 1st black female governor

Former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams won the Democratic nomination for the state's top office on Tuesday, defeating ex-state Rep. Stacey Evans and advancing her quest to become the nation’s first black female elected governor. 

>> Watch the news report here

She will face one of two Republicans in November in the race to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal, a competition that will test whether the state is truly competitive after more than a decade of GOP rule. 

>> Midterm 2018: Here are the Senate races that you should be watching

“We are writing the next chapter of Georgia history, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired,” a jubilant Abrams said, adding: “And I know for the journey ahead, we need every voice in our party – and every independent thinker in the state.”

Abrams attracted national attention, big-name endorsements and millions of dollars in outside spending with her “unapologetic progressive” platform to flip the Georgia governor’s office for the first time since 2002. 

>> On AJC.com: Cagle, Kemp headed to runoff for GOP nomination

She overcame a stiff challenge from Evans, who tried to frame herself as the more ardent progressive. Evans fueled her campaign with nearly $2 million of her own money, pummeling Abrams with criticism for supporting a 2011 Republican-backed measure that cut awards to the HOPE scholarship. 

Each of the Democratic and Republican candidates tried to carve out his or her niche in a race that attracted more than $22 million in campaign contributions – and flooded the airwaves with more than $13 million in TV ads. 

>> Midterm 2018: House races you should be watching

Though her Republican opponent is not yet known – Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle will face Secretary of State Brian Kemp in a July 24 showdown – the Georgia GOP quickly attacked her over her financial background. 

“I’ve tried to make sense of her personal and professional finances, and my head is spinning,” said Georgia GOP chair John Watson, who called on her to release her tax returns and other financial records. 

Abrams owes more than $200,000 in debts, including about $54,000 to the IRS. She has said she’s on payment plan to pay back the debt, and has sought to frame her struggles as evidence she understands the problems that Georgians face.

>> Midterm elections 2018: When are the primaries? A state-by-state list

Evans, meanwhile, quickly endorsed Abrams and vowed to help Democrats form a united front against President Donald Trump and state Republicans.

"The Democratic Party is trying to find a unified voice to rally against Trump,” said Evans. “We must do that." 

Shifting strategy 

The Democrats largely abandoned centrist talk to appeal instead to left-leaning voters with a promise of implementing gun control, increasing financial aid for lower-income families and taking steps toward the decriminalization of marijuana.

That’s a stark contrast from more moderate appeals from a generation of Democratic candidates for governor, who often sought the National Rifle Association’s endorsement and touted fiscally conservative policies.

They are echoing many in the party’s base who insisted on that shift. Claudia Colichon, who lives in north Atlanta, said she demands candidates who embrace mass transit funding and fight for gun control.

>> Midterm 2018: What should you do if you are denied the right to vote? Here are some tips

“There needs to be a progressive change,” said Colichon. “People are seeing that conservative policies aren’t working.”

Abrams drew support from Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and a string of other high-profile Democrats and raised about two-thirds of her campaign funds from outside the state. National groups chipped in another $2 million worth of ads supporting her. 

Evans mounted a lower-key campaign focused on local endorsements and smaller gatherings. The election-eve activities highlighted their differences. While Abrams held a large get-out-the-vote rally, Evans slung beers for supporters at an Atlanta bar. 

United and divided 

Both Abrams and Evans united around a host of issues, including expanding Medicaid, growing the medical marijuana program and continuing Deal’s criminal justice overhaul. And both are outspoken opponents of “religious liberty” measures they say amount to state-sponsored discrimination. 

The two attorneys also both were the products of hardscrabble childhoods that shaped their views of government, served together in the state House in their 30s and had up-close views of the tragic toll of substance abuse on their families with siblings who faced legal trouble.

But they’ve clashed on other issues, including how aggressively they oppose the NRA, how they would handle the state’s $26 billion budget and even how they would address Stone Mountain and other Civil War monuments

The biggest policy divide, however, centered on the HOPE scholarship, which provides tuition aid to Georgia college students who maintain a “B” average. 

Evans said Abrams betrayed her party by working with Republicans seeking cost-cutting moves to reduce the program’s awards in 2011. Abrams countered that more “seasoned” Democrats sided with her in that vote because they knew negotiating with the GOP would prevent deeper cuts. 

A new philosophy 

The other central disagreement in the race involved strategy. 

Evans banked on a more conventional Democratic plan to win over independent voters and moderates, particularly suburban women, who have fled to the GOP. Abrams staked her campaign on energizing left-leaning voters, including minorities who rarely cast ballots. 

The two competed for support in an increasingly diverse electorate and at times racial tensions surfaced. 

There was the moment last year when Abrams supporters shouted down Evans at an Atlanta conference of progressive activists with chants of “support black women.” Evans, who is white, drew scorn with a video at Ebenezer Baptist Church that faded her face into the image of Martin Luther King Jr.

For Democrats, the divisive primary for governor was somewhat novel. Jason Carter, the party’s 2014 nominee, faced no Democratic competition. And former Gov. Roy Barnes steamrolled over opposition in 2010 during his failed comeback bid. 

>> Read more trending news 

The party has also largely avoided fierce primary battles between black and white candidates for governor since the 1990 vote, when then-Lt. Gov. Zell Miller trounced former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young. 

Evans, who represented a Smyrna-based district, faced an uphill battle from the moment she entered the race. Black women form the largest bloc of voters in the Democratic primary, and Abrams’ campaign predicted African-American turnout overall could make up 65 percent of the vote. 

To make inroads, Evans staged a slate of smaller rallies and meet-and-greets, and she relied heavily on prominent black officials to spread her message. She also spent far more heavily on TV than Abrams, inundating the airwaves with a HOPE-themed pitch. 

In her victory speech, Abrams moved to unite the party by praising Evans’ supporters. She pledged to repeal a campus carry law, expand the HOPE scholarship, improve workforce training programs and strengthen labor unions. 

And she tried to appeal to more centrist voters by saying she would be the “state’s public education governor” – emphasis on the word “public.” 

“Together we will shape a future with a boundless belief in the historic investment of children who are at the very core of every decision we make,” she said

– AJC staff writer Ariel Hart contributed to this report.

North Carolina city councilwoman's tweet comparing police to terrorists sparks outrage

Several police officers have contacted WSOC-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina, because they are upset about a tweet from Charlotte City Councilwoman Lawana Mayfield.

>> Watch the news report here

The tweet was posted in March, but it’s getting more attention during National Police Week.

>> On WSOCTV.com: City councilwoman won't resign after Facebook post questioning 9/11

"Being black in America under number 45 has created homegrown terrorist wearing blue uniforms," the tweet read.

>> See the tweet here

The tweet came after an officer-involved shooting in Sacramento, California.

An officer shot and killed an unarmed black man while responding to a call about break-ins.

>> Read more trending news 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers said the tweet from Mayfield was inappropriate especially as they are asking the City Council for a pay raise and are trying to recruit more officers.

Mayfield has been criticized for social media posts in the past.

Last month, she shared an article about a conspiracy theory about the 9/11 terrorist attack.

A petition called for her to resign, but she said the post was taken out of context.

Cheesecake Factory: Employees accused of harassing Trump supporter for MAGA hat no longer employed

The Cheesecake Factory says it has suspended a group of employees accused of harassing a customer who wore a "Make America Great Again" hat to one of the company's Miami restaurants.

According to WFOR-TV, Eugene Joseph, 22, said employees at the chain's Dadeland Mall location taunted and threatened him on Mother's Day when they saw his hat bearing President Donald Trump's campaign slogan. 

Joseph, who was at the restaurant with his girlfriend and her family, told WFOR that staffers made insulting comments and tried to intimidate him, saying they'd hit him and knock off his cap. 

>> Read more trending news 

One guest at the table "felt uneasy due to several employees gathering around her table and cracking their knuckles," a Miami-Dade police report said, later adding that "no threats were made and no physical altercation occurred," WFOR reported.

The restaurant chain issued an apology after Joseph's story, initially reported by the Daily Wire, went viral.

"No guest should ever feel unwelcome in one of our restaurants and we are taking this matter very seriously," the statement read. "Upon learning of this incident, we immediately apologized to the guests in person. The individuals involved have been suspended pending the results of our investigation."

>> See the tweet here

Joseph told WFOR that the Cheesecake Factory has not apologized to him personally.

After the suspension, The Cheescake Factory announced that the two employees who made the comments are no longer employed by the company.

It released the following statement from Alethea Row, the restaurant chain’s senior director of Public Relations:

“We were very disappointed to learn that two staff members made disparaging remarks about Mr. Joseph’s hat that made him and his family feel unwelcome. As a result, as of Tuesday those two individuals are no longer employed with the company. No guest should ever feel unwelcome in one of our restaurants and we are very sorry. Our investigation is ongoing and we have reached out to Mr. Joseph directly to ask for his assistance. We are taking this situation seriously, however, not all of the information reported by the media accurately portrays what occurred. The situation may have been exacerbated by an all-staff meeting that took place during our shift change between our staff members working the lunch and dinner shifts – which may have been perceived as a crowd gathering near the guests’ tables. We look forward to speaking with Mr. Joseph to welcome him back into one of our restaurants.”

Read more here.

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