We tend to pay a lot of attention to what teachers’ unions spend on politics, but even that lofty amount pales in comparison to what they what they spend on themselves. Like teaching, union work is a labor-intensive enterprise. Unlike teaching, the structure of union benefits resembles an inverted pyramid, where a lot of people receive similar perks and only the lowest level employees receive standard workplace accommodations. Wage amounts are usually public record, but are perilously difficult to pin down. What a union executive makes can be inflated in the record by sick leave accrua
Right now, Republicans are running scared in the “fiscal cliff” standoff — and Democrats know it. As Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) crowed last week: “You can smell the winds. When so many Republicans say, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to give in to the Democrats,’ that’s how it works around here.” Congressional Republicans need to buck up — Obama and the Democrats are overplaying their hand. The Democrats think they are in a win-win situation. If they bully Republicans into agreeing to raise tax rates before the end of the year, they win —
Los Angeles - Do not call it a comeback and don´t even think of it as a farewell tour. After more than four decades making music and a 2010 tour, Fleetwood Mac will hit the road again next year. But it won´t be its last tour, singer Stevie Nicks vowed, dismissing any notion that the band could be packing away their instruments in the near future. "It´s never going to be a final tour until we drop dead," Nicks told Reuters. "There´s no reason for this to end as long as everyone is in good shape and takes care of themselves." The 34-city tour with dates in the United States and Canada will begin on April 4 in
Camp Pendleton - In a ceremony replete with praise for their courage and resourcefulness, four members of an elite Marine special forces squad received medals Monday for their actions during a lengthy firefight in Afghanistan. But one key squad member, whose dedication and coolness under fire were noted in the official after-action report, was not in attendance: Posha, the military working dog. The German shepherd was with the Marines when they landed in a helicopter-borne assault to clear out a Taliban command post and quickly found two pressure-plate bombs on the main route to
Bangkok - Worries about the U.S. economy following the release of a disappointing manufacturing report sent oil prices lower Tuesday. Benchmark crude for January delivery was down 27 cents to $88.82 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract finished up 18 cents at $89.09 a barrel on the Nymex on Monday. Manufacturing the U.S. shrank in November to its weakest level since July 2009, a trade group said Monday, because companies are worried about the "fiscal cliff" — sharp tax increases and spending cuts that take effect
Jerusalem - Britain, France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their countries on Monday to protest Israel’s plans for increased settlement construction, an unusually sharp diplomatic step that reflected the growing frustration abroad with Israel’s policies on the Palestinian issue. After the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly last week to upgrade the status of the Palestinians at the United Nations, Israel announced plans for 3,000 more housing units in contested areas east of Jerusalem and around the West Bank. Israel raised particular alarms with
WASHINGTON — Plans for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in January are in full swing. A reviewing stand is under construction in front of the White House, congressional offices are taking ticket requests and planners are mapping out parade logistics and street closures. But if a crush of well-wishers is hoping to descend on the nation’s capital as it did four years ago, when 1.8 million people crowded into the city to be a part of his history-making swearing-in, their preparations are off to a much more leisurely start.
Australia´s central bank cut interest rates a quarter point to a record-matching low on Tuesday, stepping up efforts to safeguard the rich world´s most resilient economy from the risk of recession as a mining boom peaks. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut its main cash rate to 3 percent following its monthly policy meeting, bringing the easing since May to 125 basis points and matching the trough hit during the darkest days of the global financial crisis. "While the full effects of earlier measures are yet to be observed, the Board judged at today´s meeting
Thelma Smith was visiting her mother´s South Side home Friday night to talk about a birthday party in memory of her son, Samuel Clay, 25, who was shot and killed in April. After several shots rang out on the next block, Smith rushed over and discovered to her horror that another son, William Lee Martin, 30, had been slain. The father of six became the latest sad statistic as a violent November came to an end. Shootings jumped to 192 for the month, up 49 percent from 129 a year earlier, according to Police Department records.
Anchorage, Alaska - A strong earthquake Monday was felt over a 175-mile swath of Alaska, including the state´s largest city, but there were no immediate reports of damage beyond items knocked off shelves. The Alaska and West Coast Tsunami Warning Center said the magnitude-5.8 earthquake occurred at about 4:45 p.m. and was centered about 30 miles northwest of Anchorage. The Alaska Earthquake Information Center said the center was 27 miles west of Anchorage. Guy Urban, a geophysicist at the tsunami warning center, said the quake wasn´t expected to generate a tsunami.
President Barack Obama is considering nominating Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, to be either his next ambassador to the U.K. or France, as he looks to reward his biggest fundraisers with embassies that never seem out of fashion, according to two people familiar with the matter. Wintour, 63, may have some competition for the London posting, with Matthew Barzun, the finance chairman o Obama’s presidential campaign, also interested in the job, officially known as ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, said the people, who requested anonymity.
Barack Obama may have won another four years as president, but it´s his wife Michelle that may lead the country beyond his second term if Samuel L. Jackson has his way. The Snakes on a Plane star got behind the first lady in a recent interview, saying that Michelle Obama would make a fine president - or a Supreme Court justice ´if she wants.´ Despite little indication that she has political aspirations - not to mention that the next election is four years away - Mrs Obama is getting support for her own White House run.
If Rahm Emanuel were a Republican mayor, he would be pilloried in the media as heartless, and become the number one enemy of organized labor. But with barely a yawn from either faction, the Chicago mayor has been carrying out a program of privatizing city jobs, laying off unionized municipal employees and contracting out the work to vendors, who hire nonunion people to do the jobs of a few dollars an hour less than the city employees earned. If Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had done something like this, imagine the uproar.
The defense team for George Zimmerman, charged with killing unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in February, released a color photo of Zimmerman with a bloody nose. (Snip) The photo was published on GZlegalcase.com, a website created by Zimmerman and his defense attorneys. Although the same picture was made public earlier this year as black-and-white photocopy, this high-resolution version comes shortly after the same website announced a "thank you" card defense fund to raise money for Zimmerman. Lawyers on both sides of the case disagree on the picture´s significance.
WASHINGTON — House Republicans sent a counterproposal to avert the "fiscal cliff" to the White House on Monday outlining a $4.6 trillion deficit reduction proposal without raising tax rates. (Snip) The Republicans´ proposal is based on a framework outlined last year by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, who co-chaired Obama´s debt commission, and included an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare benefits. Republicans did not offer specific language on raising the age in their proposal, but Bowles has supported raising the age to 67. Boehner called it a "la-la land
As Washington debates whether to cut federal retirement programs as part of a deal to tackle the nation’s debt, one of the most powerful advocates for preserving them could have millions of dollars riding on the outcome. AARP, the highly influential lobby for older Americans, is fiercely opposing any Medicare or Social Security cuts and emphasizes that it is fighting for the good of its members. But the proposals for changing Medicare also could affect AARP’s bottom line. AARP has long played a dual role. It advocates for the interests of seniors, and it makes money allowing its name
“My administration,” President Obama wrote on his first day in office, “is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government.” Those were strong and hopeful words. Four years later, it is becoming more and more clear that they were just words. On Monday afternoon, open-government advocates assembled in a congressional hearing room to ponder what had become of the Obama administration’s lofty vows of transparency. “It’s been a really tough slog,” said Anne Weismann of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “The lack of effective leadership in the
IN THE SPRING of 2005, Senate Democrats were in an uproar. Republicans, infuriated over what they perceived as the Democratic minority’s abuses of the filibuster to block judicial nominees, were threatening to deploy the so-called nuclear option: changing the filibuster rules by a simple majority vote, rather than requiring the 67 votes ordinarily required for a rules change. “The current Senate majority intends to do what the majority in the Senate has often done — use its constitutional authority .?.?. to reform Senate procedure by a simple majority vote,” Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said
The New York Times published a piece Monday attacking Texas for giving financial incentives to companies to encourage them to move to the southern state. This article follows only one day after the Times published a piece that attacked states in general for “crony capitalism” while ignoring the massive crony capitalism of the Obama Administration. Author Louise Story notes that Texas gives out more of the incentives than any other state. Of course, the Times ignores the fact that Texas, unlike leftist states like California, is not going bankrupt and is a Republican stronghold. Texans are not shy
President Obama this afternoon took time to flatter a girl with purple hair today after she asked a question about her student loans. “Cuts w/out revenue = reductions in student loans; work/study & college tax credits expire,” he wrote in response to her question. “Bad for growth. like your hair!” The girl’s apparently voted for Obama judging by the banner on her photo. Her profile explained that she was a “Linguistics fanatic. Liberal. Atheist. Humanist. ND. I worship the beauty of Benedict Cumberbatch. I have permanent gay-goggles on.” After the President responded to her, she wrote,
Illinois has a reputation for being an expensive and difficult place to do business, a big reason why the state has the ninth-highest unemployment rate in the country, higher than every state that borders it. Employers want to locate where they are welcome. So you might expect that the people who write laws in Illinois — land of 8.8 percent unemployment, $96 billion pension debt, $8 billion in unpaid bills — would be falling all over themselves to welcome business.
Now that former NBC News president Jeff Zucker is set to take over as president of CNN, the fate of the cable news network is an open question. In a Sunday discussion about the transition, CNN media critic Howard Kurtz and his guests passed over the network´s left-of-center reporting, implying instead that CNN is somehow devoid of bias compared to its primary competitors, MSNBC and Fox News. During a segment on “Reliable Sources,” panelist David Zurawik -- media critic for the Baltimore Sun newspaper -- asserted that the news organization is “the nation´s last bastion of television journalism.”
The White House stressed that the offer made to congressional Republicans last week is similar to the proposals that President Barack Obama made in his fiscal year 2013 plan – a proposal that was defeated unanimously in the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House last year. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also referenced that unemployment is higher under Obama than under President George W. Bush. “What is remarkable – and I was struck by this even on the Sunday shows – to this day, December 2012,