WASHINGTON -- The Twin Cities were one of three muncipalities in the country that will participate in a pilot program to boost outreach in the Islamic community in effort to combat recruitment of naturalized Americans by the terrorist group ISIL, Department of Justice officials said Wednesday.
The pilot project will "bring together important Minnesota law enforcement, religious, and community leaders to expand outreach to Minnesotans," according to Sen. Al Franken's office, which has urged the Obama administration to deliver additional resources to Minnesota.
Two men with Minnesota ties were killed fighting for ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, in the Middle East.
Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat who represents Minneapolis, has also encouraged administration officials to work with the Somali community because they can be allies in identifying vulnerable young people who can become radicalized, he said.
US Attorney for Minnesota Andy Luger, issued a statement late Wednesday:
"The Somali community in Minneapolis and St. Paul will benefit greatly from the additional resources we expect to receive as part of the pilot program," he said. "Our Somali friends deserve to prosper in Minnesota in peace and security, and this program seeks to make that happen, and create a blueprint for the country for how to prevent the radicalization of vulnerable youth."
WASHINGTON -- President Obama outlined a campaign Wednesday to launch airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq. Obama said he doesn't believe he needs Congressional approval for this military action, which will be conducted with allies. He will seek Congressional support and additional money to finance the operation.
Here are comments from some of Minnesota's Congressional delegation after the speech:
Sen. Al Franken, Democrat: "I want to find out more about the potential ramifications of these actions on the civil war in Syria, for more specifics about the coalition the administration intends to build, and about their ongoing efforts to stifle terrorist recruitment activities in Minnesota and around the country."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Democrat: "I support targeted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria as well as training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition, and I also think it's critical that we work with our allies in the international community so we are united in our effort defeat this terrorist organization."
Rep. John Kline, Republican: "It's never a good strategy to telegraph to the enemy what options are off the table. As a 25-year Marine Corps veteran, the father of a son who has served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a member of the House Armed Services Commmittee, I will continue to ensure our allies and personnel in Iraq and around the globe are receiving the support they need to combat terrorism, while carefully reviewing additional military actions taken by the president."
Rep. Tim Walz, Democrat: "The president has the authority to expand strategic airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq. I believe he should exercise that authority. Before taking any warranted action against ISIL in Syria, however, I believe the president should consult with Congress."
Rep. Michele Bachmann, Republican (via Twitter)
"The president gave a poll driven speech that has nothing in common with defeating a brutal enemy that has declared war on the United States."
"The president's so-called strategy offered virtually nothing new, and it's clear he doesn't understand the threat of Islamic jihad."
Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said he is “proud to stand” with fast-food workers protesting nationwide to demand a $15 minimum wage and the right to form a union.
Strikers gather Thursday in more than 100 cities, including Minneapolis, where Ellison joined workers in pre-dawn demonstrations.
A number of fast-food workers make close to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or roughly $15,000 annually. Some say that is not a living wage, especially for workers who are supporting families.
“Thousands of fast food workers will be out in the street today, demanding a living wage and the right to organize,” said Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“They’re doing it because they have families to feed and parents to look after. They’re doing it because they have basic needs that can’t be met at $7.25 an hour. They’re standing for the possibility of a better future and an economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy few. I’m proud to stand with them.”
The National Council of Chain Restaurants, an industry trade group, took issue with the protests, which led to arrests in several cities.
"There are millions of workers in the food retail industry who find personal satisfaction in their work and appreciate the opportunities provided by the restaurants that hire them,” executive director Rob Green said in a statement. "The activities being coordinated, financed and facilitated by labor unions - desperate for new membership dues - accomplish absolutely nothing."
The strike comes just days after President Obama voiced his support for the movement at a Labor Day speech in Wisconsin.
"All across the country right now, there's a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to life wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity," Obama said.
According to Federal Election Commission data, Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District race has attracted the most money from outside groups so far.
The contest between Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills has already seen nearly $1.4 million in PAC spending, with much of it coming from Nolan supporters, such as the House Majority Fund and the AFSCME union.
In contrast, the race for the Seventh Congressional District seat, which Republican Torrey Westrom hopes to snatch from longtime Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, has only seen $245,000 in independent expenditures. Interestingly, the last filing documenting outside spending in that race was from eight months ago.
Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, so far, has drawn relatively little interest from independent spenders. According to FEC filings, outside groups have spent about $140,000 to weigh in on the battle between Democratic Sen. Al Franken and Republican Mike McFadden.
The FEC calculations only include expenditures that represent, "spending by individual people, groups, political committees, corporations or unions expressly advocating the election or defeat of clearly identified federal candidates."
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U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison supports a Congressional Black Caucus letter urging the Justice Department to conduct a complete, stand-alone investigation of the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
The caucus signed sent a letter to Attorney General Eric. H. Holder Jr., that expressed gratitude for the Justice Department investigation already underway regarding the incident, in which a Ferguson policeman shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Police have said the teen tried to take an officer’s gun, but at least one witness said the teen was shot without cause.
“Press reports suggest that Mr. Brown’s shooting may be symptomatic of larger racial tensions in Ferguson,” the letter to Holder read.
“We ask the Department to dedicate sufficient resources to investigate the legal and civil rights ramifications of the shooting and surrounding circumstances,” the letter writers said.
"First, the St. Louis County Police Department may not be the most objective or credible body to investigate civil rights matters involving law enforcement given evidence of racial profiling in the past year,” they continued. “Second, only the federal government has the resources, the experience, and the independence to give this case the close scrutiny that the citizens of Ferguson and the greater St. Louis area deserve.”
Ellison used his Twitter account earlier this week to call for a “full, transparent investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown” and added that “Thoughts and prayers are with his family.”