Published: Tuesday 18 December 2012
“There is very little support for the idea that concealed carry decreases gun homicides, and significant evidence that increasing the spread of guns leads to more death.”

Teachers and principals may soon be packing heat in the classroom, if Oklahoma State Rep. Mark McCullough (R) has his way. According to a report by The Oklahoman, the lawmaker “pledged to introduce legislation in the upcoming session to allow principals and teachers who go through training to be able to carry firearms on school property.” McCullough made the now-familiar argument that people intent on mass shootings are unlikely to follow the law:

This sacrosanct notion that we cannot do anything but have gun-free zones is just a fallacy. What we’re dealing with here is people who don’t care. They’ve erased their moral compass. They don’t care about the law, and they are intent on horrific acts.

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Published: Sunday 16 December 2012
How many of us would have had to the courage to stand in front of a closet door to keep an armed madman from finding the kids hidden behind it, as one slain teacher died doing?

I’ll be brief here. Let’s just note that the heroic teachers who died while courageously trying to protect their kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and the others who survived but stayed to protect the kids, were all part of a school system where the employees are members of the American Federation of Teachers.

Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. Those teachers, who are routinely being accused by our politicians of being drones and selfish, incompetent money grubbers worried more about their pensions than about teaching our children (though most, even after 10 years, earn less than $55,000 a year for doing a very difficult job that involves at least 12-14 hours a day of work and prep time counting meetings with parents), stood their ground when confronted with a psychotic assailant armed with semi-automatic pistols and an automatic rifle, and protected their kids. The principal too, a veteran teacher herself, stood her ground, reportedly suicidally charging at the assailant along with the school’s psychologist in a doomed effort to tackle him and stop the carnage.

How many of us would have had to the courage to stand in front of a closet door to keep an armed madman from finding the kids hidden behind it, as one slain teacher died doing? How many of us would charge at an armed shooter, to almost certain death, in an effort top stop him from further killing? How many would bravely hide in a bathroom with a class of kids when we could have run away and saved ourselves?

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Published: Wednesday 5 September 2012
The corporate sponsorship appears to fly in the face of the Democrats’ pledge to host a “people’s convention.”

While Democrats have touted their grassroots fundraising efforts for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, deep-pocketed corporate donors are helping underwrite the event.

Among the corporate sponsors at the Charlotte convention: AT&T Inc., Bank of America, Duke Energy, Time Warner Cable, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, UnitedHealth Group, Piedmont Natural Gas, US Airways and law and lobbying firm McGuire Woods.

The corporate sponsorship appears to fly in the face of the Democrats’ pledge to host a “people’s convention.”

The party’s 2012 “host committee” is not accepting contributions from corporations, lobbyists and political action committees. Democrats also capped how much money individuals can give at $100,000.

But the party is accepting in-kind donations from corporate firms. In addition, a second nonprofit, called “New American City” was established in May to “defray” administrative expenses and other costs. New American City does accept corporate money.

The exact levels of these companies’ financial support won’t be known until mid-October when filings will be submitted to the Federal Election Commission.

Like their GOP counterparts, the Democrats received about $18 million in public funding to finance their convention. And both parties raised tens of millions of additional dollars, funneled through nonprofit host committees that help facilitate the events.

Host committees have traditionally relied on corporate funders but top Democratic leaders — including President Barack Obama, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro — all penned ...

Published: Thursday 5 April 2012
Martin Luther King, Jr. argued that labor rights were human rights and civil rights, a message that resonated in Wisconsin during last year’s protests against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for most public workers, as well as slash their pay and benefits.

On the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., we look at his history of activism in Wisconsin, a state that has been central to the history of labor organizing, and beyond. Near the end of his life, King was helping to organize members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which was founded in Wisconsin in 1932. King argued that labor rights were human rights and civil rights, a message that resonated in Wisconsin during last year’s protests against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for most public workers, as well as slash their pay and benefits. "This is not just a battle about economics. It’s not just a battle about wages, benefits and pensions,” says John Nichols, political correspondent for The Nation. "It’s also a battle about that right to organize, that right of individuals who, in and of themselves, may not have immense power but, when they come together, have the potential to challenge the most powerful political and economic figures in the country. Dr. King preached that as a gospel."

Transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: READ FULL POST DISCUSS

Published: Thursday 15 March 2012
“Officials with federal employees’ unions say the legislation would unfairly punish victims of workplace violence and other traumatic injuries — and their families.”

In the space of a minute, federal prison worker Jason Unwin was twice attacked by a furious, muscle-bound inmate on Dec. 21, 2010.

Agitated after a disciplinary hearing, the inmate first punched one of Unwin’s colleagues in the face, knocking him unconscious. He then turned to Unwin, a correctional counselor at the United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colo. “I was hit square in the face,” said Unwin, 51.

With a bloodied Unwin in pursuit, the inmate walked off. Seconds later, with Unwin briefly distracted, the inmate “blindsided me. He hit me with a closed fist, very hard, on the left side of the head. I was knocked unconscious.”

Unwin, a Federal Bureau of Prisons employee for 16 years, hasn’t worked since. He doesn’t have a full range of motion in his right shoulder, he said, and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He has short-term memory problems, sleeps irregularly and faces seizure risks.

The saving grace: He is covered by a 96-year-old compensation program for injured federal workers. Under the Federal Employees Compensation Act of 1916 (FECA), he receives 75 percent of his former salary, tax-free; his monthly income is within a few hundred dollars of his previous salary.

Legislation pending in the U.S. Senate, however, ultimately would cut Unwin’s benefits and could affect many other government workers — especially those with modest incomes — in the future.

The measure, championed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is included in a postal reform bill that may come up for a vote this month. Collins said it would stamp out abuses while saving money.

Yet officials with federal employees’ unions say the legislation would unfairly punish victims of workplace violence and other traumatic injuries — and their families.

“It’s a terrible message we’re sending to a federal law enforcement ...

Published: Monday 8 August 2011
"American Federation for Children (AFC) is a powerful national network of billionaire campaign contributors that has been pouring millions into school privatization fights across the country."

As co-chair of Wisconsin’s powerful legislative Joint Finance Committee, Alberta Darling was charged by Governor Scott Walker with cobbling together the most anti-public education budget in Wisconsin history. And Darling delivered, with a plan to slash $800 million in funding for public schools across Wisconsin while at the same time scheming to shift tens of millions from the state treasury into the accounts of private schools.

 

Darling was not just doing the governor’s bidding, however.

She was delivering for American Federation for Children (AFC),the powerful national network of billionaire campaign contributors that has been pouring millions into school privatization fights across the country.

AFC is not just shaping the agenda in Wisconsin. Like the American Legislative Exchange Council, which produces model legislation designed to shape state agendas on a host of policies,AFC outlines legislative goals, crafts specific proposals and then works with allied legislators and governors to implement it's agenda.

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