Friday, April 6, 2007

North Carolina Senate Apologizes for Slavery

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The North Carolina Senate apologized Thursday for the legislature's role in promoting slavery and Jim Crow laws that denied basic human rights to the state's black citizens.

Following the lead of lawmakers in neighboring Virginia, the Senate unanimously backed a resolution acknowledging its "profound contrition for the official acts that sanctioned and perpetuated the denial of basic human rights and dignity to fellow humans."

"This is a way to reflect upon this and express our understanding and our regret for official actions of our state," said Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand (D), the bill's primary sponsor.

The North Carolina House must approve the measure for it to be formalized. A similar resolution is pending in the state House, which adjourned for the Easter holiday weekend on Thursday without taking any action.

In February, Virginia lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution apologizing for slavery. Maryland lawmakers approved an apology for slavery last week, and lawmakers in Georgia and Missouri are considering similar legislation.

Florida Lets Felons Regain Their Rights

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida moved to allow felons to get back their civil rights more easily after they serve their sentences, moving a step away from what some called an unfair remnant of a bad past.

Gov. Charlie Crist (R) pushed the change, saying the rights to vote, hold office and serve on a jury are fundamental to being part of a democratic society.

With a 3 to 1 vote by Crist and the other members of the state's clemency board, state officials will automatically begin the restoration process for felons once they complete their sentences.

Florida is one of three U.S. states, along with Kentucky and Virginia, to require felons to take action to regain their civil rights no matter how long they have been out of prison. Other states have waiting periods before restoration; most restore rights automatically when felons complete their sentence.

The change, which took effect immediately, does not include the right to have a gun, which is still not restored automatically for people with felony convictions. It does make it easier for released felons to get occupational licenses, which are denied to people who have not had their civil rights restored.

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· NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Yale University's faculty has approved major changes to the process for granting tenure to professors in an effort to attract more talented junior professors. The changes, the first in more than a decade, include reducing the tenure process by one year from the current 10-year limit, removing from the tenure decision the question of whether money is available to pay a higher salary, and abandoning a practice in which untenured faculty members were required to participate in an open search with external candidates for tenured positions.

· TACOMA, Wash. -- Everything including the kitchen sink was stripped from a rental home after an Internet classified ad invited people to take whatever they wanted -- free. But landlord Laurie Raye says the ad, posted last weekend on the Craigslist Web site, was fake. Raye had cleaned out the rental after evicting a tenant. Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said that the ad was posted last Friday and was on the site for less than two hours before users flagged it down.

· CONCORD, N.H. -- A spring storm brought more than a foot of snow to parts of the upper Northeast, closing schools, tangling traffic and knocking out power to more than 180,000 homes and businesses. At least one death was blamed on the wintry weather.

-- From News Services

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