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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 02:31 PM
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“In order to restore trust ... our nation’s police must collectively apologize”


A Police Chief Turned Pastor, Working to Heal the Nation’s Racial Rifts

NORTH LAKE, Wis. — In the days leading up to Christmas, the aging pastor of a small Episcopal church set amid the glacial hills here began to write a parable. It came neither from Scripture nor from yuletide tradition, but rather from the priest’s very different earlier life. The Rev. David Couper, 77, recalled the predawn hours of a March day nearly a quarter-century ago. A fire had broken out at a housing project in Madison, Wis., where he was the chief of police. A police sergeant, hearing about the blaze from a 911 dispatcher, jauntily sang of the apartment complex, “Sommerset Circle is burning down.”

Five black children, the oldest 9 and the youngest 20 months, died in the fire, and revelations about the sergeant’s song prompted protests against the seeming racial insensitivity of the Madison police and fire departments. There were demands that the sergeant be fired, or at least punished beyond the five-day suspension that Mr. Couper meted out.


When Mr. Couper recounted the events last month in his blog, he did so in the aftermath of the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice at the hands of police officers, and in recognition of a vast chasm between law enforcement officers and minority populations. And he did so as a police veteran and a minister who has devoted both parts of his career to closing that rift.

“In order to restore trust between police and the communities they serve, our nation’s police must collectively apologize,” he wrote. “It is what we need today to begin to heal the relationships between blacks and police. It is the only way to move past events of Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland and the residual effects we all have inherited from slavery, Jim Crow, and pernicious and residual racial discrimination.”

Scott Walker Presidential run shifts into high gear after campaign manager is released from prison


Tim Russell is back, baby!

After two years in the slammer, the mastermind behind the criminal scheme to steal taxpayer dollars to fund Scott Walker's 2010 gubernatorial campaign is no longer prisoner #00597584.

And this isn't the old sourpuss who went into prison* two years ago No, this is Tim Russell version 2.0-- complete with a cocky smile that seems to be letting all the various players in Wisconsin politics know that he's ready to resume his place as Walker's Karl Rove.

* A cushy minimum security facility on the shores of Lake Winnebago where he was able to leave during the day to go to work for a wealthy Walker donor.

Imagine Charter Hospitals, staffed not by real doctors, but folks who just want to give it a shot


Why does Scott Walker want to dumb down Wisconsin’s teachers?

Those interested in becoming a teacher in Wisconsin could soon be able to rely more on their own life experiences, rather than going through the process the state currently requires to obtain a teaching license.
Part of a Workforce Readiness Imitative Governor Scott Walker announced Thursday morning includes a proposal that “Creates alternative pathways to allow a candidate with real life experience to pass a competency test to gain a teacher license.” A spokesperson for the governor said it would be up to the Department of Public Instruction to determine what that competency test would look like.

The concept is raising some concerns among state education officials. DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said in a statement, “The critical need for Wisconsin educators at this very moment is an increase in respect and support for their profession. You need more than textbook knowledge to be the kind of teacher that connects with students and helps all kids learn. Like a skilled surgeon or a master electrician, high-quality teaching requires both skills and content knowledge.”

McCarthy also pointed out that finding qualified teachers is about more than just making it easier to become licensed in the state. “Increasing the number of licensed teachers only addresses one side of the equation when it comes to finding and retaining the best teachers. People with skills and training in areas of like CTE and STEM fetch competitive salaries in other employment sectors which our current teacher salaries cannot always match.”

Primary qualifications for one of the new licenses will likely include "working on a Republican campaign" and "donating to Republican campaigns."

New study says that under Walker, everyone in Wisconsin pays higher taxes than the wealthiest


RICH GET RICHER: New study says that under Walker, everyone in Wisconsin pays higher taxes than the wealthiest one percent

Scott Walker frequently gabs about how his tax-cut policies are benefitting many taxpayers when, in reality, Wisconsin's middle class and poor pay are now paying higher tax rates than the wealthiest state residents.
If you're not among the top 20 percent of Wisconsin taxpayers, you're paying a higher, combined state and local tax rate than those wealthiest state residents. And the state's very most wealthy residents -- the top one percent -- pay a measley 6.2% in those taxes, less than everyone else and nearly three points lower than the poorest state taxpayers are made to hand over.

The study shows that every state in the nation takes a higher percentage of income in local and state taxes from middle class and poor taxpayers than from the wealthy, who benefit through what amounts to an upward income redistribution scheme. McNally relayed the numbers for Wisconsin:

The lowest 20% in income in Wisconsin pay 8.9% of their family income in state and local taxes. The second lowest 20% pay 10%. The mid 20% pay 10.2%. So does the fourth 20%. That’s 80% of taxpayers.

Now look what happens to the top 20% in family income. The lowest 15% of that wealthy group pay 9.2% in state and local taxes.

The next 4% pay 7.8%. And the top 1% pays only 6.2% in state and local taxes.

There’s a simple explanation for the gross—in every sense of the word—disparity. Most state revenue everywhere is raised through sales and excise taxes hidden in the price of every purchase.

Who wants a free "Ready for Warren" bumper sticker?


"I'm not a scientist. But luckily, gynecology isn't a science."

"I'm not a scientist. But luckily, gynecology isn't a science."

~ Republicans

GOP votes to ban abortion after 20 weeks, except in cases of rape. But only if the rape was witnessed by at least 40 members of Congress.

What’s the difference between Joni Ernst and Sarah Palin?


BREAKING: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah died. Jeb Bush tells reporters he's putting his hat in the ring for the job.


Late Night Comics on the SOTU


Last night was the State of the Union address, and everyone’s excited about the huge special appearance by a guy we haven't seen in a really long time: 2008 Barack Obama. That guy had swagger.


Last night President Obama gave the State of the Union address, and I just have to say that I don't know what union he was describing. But I want to live there. I want to move. It sounds outstanding. There's a middle class. They have small businesses. It sounds great.

"Speech doesn't corrupt, money corrupts. And money isn't speech."

from my email ...

Five years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of the worst decisions in our nation's history, Citizens United. My friend Russ Feingold said it best: "Speech doesn't corrupt, money corrupts. And money isn't speech."

Want proof? Read any of the boilerplate "Road to 2016" stories about potential candidates and read what conservative insiders say when they compare Jeb Bush vs. Chris Christie, or Mitt Romney vs. Scott Walker -- the most important factor for them is which potential candidate has the most millionaire and billionaire supporters. And it's not just presidential candidates -- a whole class of senators was just elected and reelected in 2014 by riding a wave of corporate money -- and one of them is now Senate majority leader.

Washington can't be an auction house for corporate interests. That's why I'm uniting with progressives across the country to demand that congressional leadership slam the door on the corporate wish list of regressive policy like slashing Social Security.

Join me in telling congressional leaders: democracy is not for sale!

We can't let history repeat itself. Back in the 1990s, we saw a different kind of unlimited cash: soft money flowing from corporations to both political parties. And what happened? Both parties sold out on Capitol Hill, voting to deregulate Wall Street and send our jobs overseas. It wasn't just what happened in elections -- it's what happened in the chambers of both the House and the Senate. Vote after vote went to the huge corporate interests whose money my colleagues came to rely on.

We're all working day and night to overturn the lawless Citizens United decision. But it's only half the battle. With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, we must fight every day to stop the wholesale auctioning of our government.

Tell congressional leaders: our democracy is not for sale!

Thanks for uniting as a progressive,

Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senator

"There are too many black people in the store."

from my email ...

Dear Scuba -

I was fired from McDonald's because I don't "fit the profile."

What profile? Well, my boss never said. But she did say:

"There are too many black people in the store."

And she did say: "We need to get the ghetto out of the store."

And: "It's dark in here and needs more lightening."

Today, I'm filing suit against McDonald's, along with 9 of my former coworkers, for firing us on racist grounds. Will you stand with us?

Tell McDonald's: Racist harassment is not legal and simply NOT ok. Pay your workers, fired on racist grounds, back pay and damages today.

I worked hard at McDonald's, working my way up from cashier to manager in just a year and a half. I never had a disciplinary action or write-up filed against me. But then, they fired me just like that. Now I need to figure out a new way to support my two kids.

We asked McDonald's corporate to help us get our jobs back, but the company told us to take our concerns to the franchisee – the same franchisee that just fired us, and that regularly harassed us on the job.

The fact is – this problem is bigger than just our store. It's a problem with the company as a whole when workers at McDonald's have nowhere to turn when facing racism on the job.

If we had a union, we could stand together and demand respect, but on our own, our bosses get away with racist harassment.

Sign the petition: McDonald's must pay back pay and damages to the fired workers like me and make sure that this type of racist harassment never happens again at any McDonald's in the country.

Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and today we find ourselves still fighting Dr. King's fight. It's simply ridiculous that in 2015, we still have to take our bosses to court for racist harassment at the workplace. But we do.

I hope you'll stand with us.

Thanks for all that you do,

Katrina Stanfield
Former McDonald's Employee
Low Pay is Not Ok

Want To Be Happy? Join A Union!


It is well documented that unions bring direct and indirect benefits for its members and the community at large. Union members earn better wages, have better benefits and have safer working conditions. Communities that enjoy a union presence tend to have less poverty and better education systems. A recent study shows yet another benefit from belonging to a union - higher life satisfaction.

From the New York Times:

But a recent study may give some workers reason to reconsider. For those who belong to a union, membership seems to bring a benefit that perhaps surpasses better wages or generous health insurance: higher life satisfaction.

The study authors, Patrick Flavin, an assistant professor at Baylor University, and Gregory Shufeldt, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, used data from five different years between the early 1980s and mid-2000s, conducted in the United States, of the World Values Survey, a research project focusing on people’s beliefs. As they write in the report, they found that “union members are more satisfied with their lives than those who are not members and that the substantive effect of union membership on life satisfaction is large and rivals other common predictors of quality of life.”

Yet as Mr. Flavin and Mr. Shufeldt told Op-Talk in an email: “Labor union membership still has benefits, and that this is true for all union members. Simply put, if one goal of labor unions is to boost the quality of life for their members, our study provides empirical evidence that they are succeeding.”

In their study, they tease out four “pathways” by which being a union member might improve quality of life compared with not being a member: “These include having greater satisfaction with one’s experiences while working, feeling greater job security, being afforded numerous opportunities for social interaction and integration, and enhancing the participatory benefits associated with more engaged democratic citizenship.

Emphasis mine
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