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Mr. Farrakhan leads the Chicago-based Nation of Islam, which published two books last year on what Mr. Farrakhan calls the “anti-black behavior” of Jews.

Leaders of two dozen churches and synagogues signed a statement condemning this Friday’s keynote choice as “offensive” and noting Mr. Farrakhan’s past statements on Roman Catholicism, Judaism and homosexuality.

During the civil rights struggles of the 1960s in Mississippi, Christian and Jewish leaders played critical roles.

A spokesman for the Nation of Islam wasn’t available for comment. Owen Brooks, director of the Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

MISSOURI

Group: End disparity in cocaine sentences

KANSAS CITY | More than a dozen states should eliminate the disparities they maintain in sentencing people charged with crack and powder-cocaine crimes, gaps that persist despite changes to federal law last year, a national group that advocates for criminal justice reform said Thursday.

The Sentencing Project said in a report that treating the two types of the same drug differently is not only a fairness issue, but a monetary one.

The disparity is unfair to black drug users who are more likely to be charged with crack-cocaine offenses and end up with longer prison terms than cocaine users of other races, the Washington, D.C.-based group said. It also leads to long sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders that cost cash-strapped states millions of dollars in prison expenses that could be saved if the disparities were removed.

Until August, the federal government had a 100-to-1 ratio in sentencing people for possession of the two cocaine types. That meant someone caught with 5 grams of crack cocaine was sentenced the same as someone caught with 500 grams of powder. The Fair Sentencing Act signed by President Obama reduced the federal ratio to 18-to-1.

OHIO

Funeral home sues to liquefy bodies

COLUMBUS | The first U.S. funeral home to publicly offer a cremation alternative that dissolves bodies with lye and heat has filed a lawsuit alleging Ohio regulators don’t have authority to block it from using the procedure.

The National Funeral Directors Association says Edwards Funeral Service in Columbus is the only U.S. funeral business offering alkaline hydrolysis.

A state board recently determined that’s not an acceptable way to dispose of bodies, and the Ohio Department of Health issued a memo that blocks the funeral process if that method is used.

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