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‘I’m willing to testify’

“And willing to take any punishment I am due.” — Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, on war crimes of Bush and Cheney.

Bill O’Reilly

Using local cops to get even with your (almost) ex-wife’s boyfriend? Stay classy, Bill-O!

Look how Scott Walker saves money

Instead of union contracts, Wisconsin teachers now have to abide by local handbooks suggested by Gov. Scott Walker. What does refusing to allow workers to help a sick colleague or longer skirts have to do with saving money? And just listen to the nasty wingnuts in the audience at the New Berlin school board meeting. Via the Blue Cheddar blog:

The “tools” Walker has handed to local governments are supposedly meant to help cut costs. However the changes to the New Berlin school workplace approved August 29 don’t look like mere cost-savings to me. New Berlin Education Association President Diane Lazewski agrees in MJS: “I would be surprised to see any other handbook as punitive as ours,” I should note that all details aren’t available until 9/8 and changes occur 10/1 according to a document from the blog Teachers Against Walker

Update: This 51 page Draft of School District of New Berlin Employee Handbook – Parts A and B states that it goes into effect 9/1/11

A few of the changes:

A ‘sick bank’ which allows teachers to donate sickleave to seriously ill colleagues will be eliminated.
–No set pay for overtime; only stipends
–Elementary teachers work an added 205 hours without added pay.
–Secondary teachers work an added 95 hours without added pay.
and there are odd restrictions such as
–Dress Code: Skirts below knee, no sweatshirts, no jeans, no large logos, no open shirts, etc. and
–The loss of all microwaves, refrigerators, and coffeemakers.

I called a young teacher, E., from Racine just before the meeting. E. said New Berlin’s handbook is the worst of a new crop of handbooks he’s seen. Handbooks now serve in lieu of contracts for public school employees where contracts have expired.

E. says: “This turns back the clock. It keeps teachers on call until 5PM for I.E.P meetings (Individualized Education Programs). This is eating into the time of people. Making them do more work for less money”. More details are HERE.

E. pointed out that clearly not all school boards are heavy-handed. The Shorewood School Board has opted for a collaborative approach to its handbook.

I gathered through tweets the meeting attracted 500-600 people, with incoming drivers having to park very far away. At the very beginning of the meeting, the board met privately for a time, sending complaints of undemocratic process and even illegal meeting practices through social media [claims I have not checked into.] I got conflicting reports on the composition of the crowd. A MJS reporter tweeted that there was a 50% pro-handbook and 50% anti-handbook audience.

A mass of anti-teacher residents booed and catcalled the teachers and their allies while they gave public testimony. And I’ve now seen three reports via social media that candy pacifiers were used to taunt teachers – supposedly an idea of the Queen of mean radio ranters, Vicki McKenna.* According to WEAC, at least 3 other right wing tak radio personalities called for citizens to oppose teachers: Belling, Wagner & Charlie Sykes.

Wikileaks

Obama blocked war crimes prosecutions.

This probably isn’t news to you. I already wrote about how the administration pressured the Spanish judiciary over possible prosecutions.

A disease

Called “being poor.”

There’s something in the water

And we (the official “we”) are all pretending it’s not there:

The fear is palpable on the docks from Galveston to Panama City. Commercial fishermen working the waters hardest hit by the BP oil spill are worried sick about their future. It keeps them up at night. Many are convinced the 200 million gallons of crude that spewed into the Gulf last year have done irreparable damage to the fragile fisheries that provide their livelihood. According to a new CBS News segment, Gulf fishermen “have started catching fish with sores, fin rot, and infections at a greater frequency than ever before.”

It would seem BP’s oil is coming home to roost in an epidemic of sick fish and devastated lives. An Aug. 15 CBS News video – that’s going viral as we speak – captures the uncertainty of tens of thousands of commercial Gulf fishermen: “I don’t think we’ll be fishing in five years,” says Lucky Russell. “My opinion. …Everybody is worried.”

Everybody includes LSU oceanography Professor Jim Cowan, who has been studying the Gulf ecosystem for years:

“When one of these things comes on deck, it’s sort of horrifying,” Cowan said. “I mean, there these large dark lesions and eroded fins and areas on the body where scales have been removed. I’d imagine I’ve seen 30 or 40,000 red snapper in my career, and I’ve never seen anything like this. At all. Ever.”

Tsk

I’m always pleased when judges actually uphold our constitutional values. After all, it happens so rarely these days!

Last week, Rep. Steven Chabot (R-OH) banned ordinary citizens from bringing cameras into a town hall meeting — even having police confiscate cameras from citizens who dared to violate this rule. Bizarrely, Chabot still allowed reporters to bring in cameras and record the event.

Coincidentally, just four days after Chabot took this extraordinary measure to prevent embarrassing clips of him from appearing on YouTube, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit handed down an opinion saying citizens have a right to film police engaged in their official duties. The court’s reasoning, however, has very clear implications for Chabot’s camera ban:

Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.” Moreover, as the Court has noted, “[f]reedom of expression has particular significance with respect to government because ‘[i]t is here that the state has a special incentive to repress opposition and often wields a more effective power of suppression.’” […]

The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public’s right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press. […] The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.

Chabot might take some small comfort in the fact that he does not reside in the First Circuit — Ohio is part of the much more conservative Sixth Circuit — but Chabot should not expect the right-leaning judges on his home circuit court to bail him out. As the First Circuit notes, at least three other appeals courts and numerous trial courts agree with their holding that government officials cannot simply ban cameras.

Hmm

So a Republican senator and an asskissing Blue Dog Democratic senator are worried about whether FEMA will have the funds it needs to finish recovery from the Joplin tornado?

Maybe they should just stop supporting the people who are choking off the FUCKING MONEY???

Piece of work

As someone pointed out to me yesterday, if Iran fired a lone missile at Israel, Eric Cantor would immediately sign off on funding yet another war. Solution: Let’s tell him all these flood-ravaged regions are actually in Israel!

The Washington Post reported this morning that FEMA will need more money than it currently has to deal with the storm’s aftermath and is already diverting funds from other recent disasters to deal with the hurricane, but Cantor’s comments suggest Republicans won’t authorize more funds without a fight.

Cantor took the position following the tornadoes that devastated Joplin, Missouri and elsewhere in the spring and summer, and after last week’s earthquake, the epicenter for which was in his district, but the hurricane’s level of destruction is far beyond that of those disasters. Still, Cantor told Fox News that while “we’re going to find the money,” “we’re just going to need to make sure that there are savings elsewhere to do so.”

Cantor referred a bill the Republican-controlled House passed that approves $1 billion in disaster relief, which was financed by a $1.5 billion cut from loan program to encourage the production of fuel-efficient vehicles. But the need in the wake of the hurricane will likelygreatly surpass $1 billion, and that spending package was supposed to be used for tornado recovery efforts, for which several hundred million dollars has already been outlayed.

Oh dear

I don’t think energy companies are used to anyone saying no to them:

NARROWBURG — A Supreme Court judge nullified a gas-drilling lease signed by a Narrowsburg property owner, ruling that the lease violated a ban on commercial uses in the homeowners association’s covenants.

Judge James Gilpatric allowed owner Jeff Klansky to keep a signing bonus paid by Houston, Texas-based Cabot Oil & Gas in his Aug. 18 ruling.

Gilpatric accepted the Weiden Lake Property Owner’s Association argument that Klansky’s lease with the company violated “clear and unambiguous” covenants prohibiting commercial activities like gas exploration and drilling.

“It’s a very pristine environment, and we’re working diligently to try and keep it pristine,” Richard Marcel, the association’s president, said Friday.

The association filed suit after Klansky agreed to give Cabot a five-year right to “explore for, drill for, produce and market oil, gas and other hydrocarbons” on his 66-acre property.

The agreement was dated July 3, 2008, about one month after the board approved and distributed to property owners a resolution reaffirming the ban on commercial activities.

The board cites covenant language limiting property uses to single-family homes or agricultural or recreational use. The covenants also ban any “commercial fishing enterprises or fee-based boat launching facilities or any other commercial uses.”

“If you have to rank fracking, I think that represents a significant threat to the environment,” said Marcel.

Gilpatric also rejected Cabot’s effort to reclaim the $99,255 signing bonus it paid to Klansky. The judged concluded that Cabot “made a calculated and knowing decision” to sign the lease “with full knowledge” of the covenants and the association’s position.

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