“Law enforcement working at the Capitol has been impressed with how peaceful and courteous everyone has been. As has been reported in the media, the protesters are cleaning up after themselves and have not caused any problems. The fact of that matter is that Wisconsin’s law enforcement community opposes Governor Walker’s effort to eliminate collective bargaining in this state, and we implore him to not do anything to increase the risk to officers or the public. Security cannot come at the cost of conflict.”—Wisconsin Professional Police Association Executive Director Jim Palmer in a statement released by AFL-CIO today.
From inside the Wisconsin State Capitol, RAN ally Ryan Harvey:
“Hundreds of cops have just marched into the Wisconsin state capitol building to protest the anti-Union bill, to massive applause. They now join up to 600 people who are inside.”
From his Facebook page earlier today:
“Police have just announced to the crowds inside the occupied State Capitol of Wisconsin: ‘We have been ordered by the legislature to kick you all out at 4:00 today. But we know what’s right from wrong. We will not be kicking anyone out, in fact, we will be sleeping here with you!’ Unreal.”
In recent weeks, Madison has been the scene of large demonstrations against the governor’s budget bill, which would deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers. Gov. Scott Walker claims that he needs to pass his bill to deal with the state’s fiscal problems. But his attack on unions has nothing to do with the budget. In fact, those unions have already indicated their willingness to make substantial financial concessions — an offer the governor has rejected.
What’s happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab — an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.
For example, the bill includes language that would allow officials appointed by the governor to make sweeping cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process.
And then there’s this: […] The state of Wisconsin owns a number of plants supplying heating, cooling, and electricity to state-run facilities (like the University of Wisconsin). The language in the budget bill would, in effect, let the governor privatize any or all of these facilities at whim. Not only that, he could sell them, without taking bids, to anyone he chooses. And note that any such sale would, by definition, be “considered to be in the public interest.”
If this sounds to you like a perfect setup for cronyism and profiteering — remember those missing billions in Iraq? — you’re not alone. Indeed, there are enough suspicious minds out there that Koch Industries, owned by the billionaire brothers who are playing such a large role in Mr. Walker’s anti-union push, felt compelled to issue a denial that it’s interested in purchasing any of those power plants. Are you reassured? […]
Union-busting and privatization remain G.O.P. priorities, and the party will continue its efforts to smuggle those priorities through in the name of balanced budgets.
“Unless the administration seriously envisages a future that includes the continued private ownership of Libya and its people by Qaddafi and his terrible offspring, it’s a sheer matter of prudence and realpolitik, to say nothing of principle, to adopt a policy that makes the opposite assumption. Libya is—in point of population and geography—mainly a coastline. The United States, with or without allies, has unchallengeable power in the air and on the adjacent waters. It can produce great air lifts and sea lifts of humanitarian and medical aid, which will soon be needed anyway along the Egyptian and Tunisian borders, and which would purchase undreamed-of goodwill. It has the chance to make up for its pointless, discredited tardiness with respect to events in Cairo and Tunis. It also has a president who has shown at least the capacity to deliver great speeches on grand themes. Instead, and in the crucial and formative days in which revolutions are decided, we have had to endure the futile squawkings of a cuckoo clock.”—Christopher Hitchens
When Congress and the President can’t reach an agreement on the budget and federal agencies run out of funding, the government is required to shut down all non-essential services. When that happens, by law, federal employees aren’t allowed to work, except in emergency situations. This forces government activities to stop and affects a variety of services the general public receives from the government.
During past shutdowns, the longest of which ran for 21 days from 1995 into 1996, there were delays in issuing Social Security, Medicare and veterans’ checks, and passport and visa applications couldn’t be processed. All national parks and museums were closed, and clean-up at toxic waste sites stopped.
During shutdowns in the past, the postal service continued to operate, and government employees who handle national security continued to work as usual.
Congress and the President have until March 4 to pass a budget. If they do not come to an agreement, government agencies will run out of funding and shut down until a new budget is passed.
I wanted to take a minute from the many issues at hand to express my personal and sincere appreciation to President Barack Obama for his administration’s decision to stop defending the unjust and unfair Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.
The right of any person to marry the person they love must be an inalienable right, and I look forward to the eventual removal of this discriminatory law from federal books.
This decision follows on the heels of a decision to end another discriminatory policy, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I applauded the president for his leadership on that effort, as well.
President Obama’s courage and clarity of vision is a testament to his commitment to civil rights for all Americans. As a public servant first, and as a gay man second, I wholeheartedly thank the President, U.S. Attorney General Holder and the men and women of the U.S. Department of Justice for this important step forward.
You can read more about the President’s decision here
The Pentagon aims to add $8 billion to its 2011 budget and a 3 percent increase in baseline spending for 2012. The military wants $553 billion and that doesn’t even count what we spend for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or our nuclear budget. More than half of discretionary spending – the money Congress controls – goes to the military.
U.S. military spending should have everyone in the country angry and up on their feet. Here’s the message to unite populists of various persuasions: "No Taxation without Demilitarization."
May the best promoter win? I don’t like where all this is going. Curation is important in our information overloaded world, but it devalues the actual producer or reporter. The Internet is an accelerator, so all of this is happening too fast for most of us to notice. Originators of stories are already getting lost in the firehose. It’s just going to get worse, and get worse faster.
Michigan state education officials Monday ordered Detroit Public Schools to close half its schools and consolidate operations to close the budget deficit. State officials told Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager for the Detroit Public School District, to immediately implement a restructuring plan that would increase class sizes to 60 students at whichever high schools remain after the closures, The Detroit News reported Monday.
"We are moving forward with the plan. Right now my focus is on my transition plan and the DEP (deficit elimination plan)," Bobb said Friday. Bobb filed the plan in January, saying it would eliminate a $327 million deficit by 2014. The plan would reduce the district to 72 schools to serve an estimated 58,570 students.
The district has lost 83,336 students in the past 10 years, taking with them more than $573 million in state funding, the News said. The district’s budget is saddled with $53 million in pension costs, $45 million for healthcare and $27 million for utilities.