Unions Prepare for Protest at Michigan Capitol

ABC NEWS: By ED WHITE Associated Press

More than 200 activists attended training Saturday in preparation for a protest at the Michigan Capitol, where lawmakers are putting the final touches on legislation that would allow workers to stop paying union dues.

Between chants, cheers and applause, organizers warned those at the training to be prepared for insults and obstruction Tuesday in Lansing. The volunteers lined up on opposite sides of a long hall at UAW Local 600 in suburban Detroit and took turn turns portraying protesters and union critics.

“Humanize the situation. Be clear with your intentions. Introduce yourself,” national labor activist Lisa Fithian, of Austin, Texas, said through a megaphone. “They’re going to do everything they can to criminalize us.”

Republicans who control the Michigan Legislature passed legislation Thursday that would allow workers to opt out of paying union dues at businesses where employees are represented by a union. The final version is expected to win approval soon and be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Republican. Protests and possible civil disobedience are planned because the law would pose a major financial blow to organized labor.

“We are not the violent ones,” Fithian told the crowd. “What is it that the police are going to do? What is it that the governor is going to order? … We have to remember: The police are not our enemy in this fight. They’re doing a job. It’s our job to convince them that they should put their guns down and join the people.”

The meeting, which was attended by UAW President Bob King, lasted more than two hours, but reporters were allowed to watch just a portion.

Mark Coco, 27, a graduate student at Wayne State University, said he would protest in Lansing. He recently worked on a failed campaign to put collective bargaining rights in the state Constitution.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been involved in this. I’m trusting that it pay dividends,” Coco said in an interview. The legislation “is a way to divide workers, divide colleagues.”

Katie Oppenheim, the head of a union local that represents 4,500 nurses at University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, said workers whose pay and benefits are negotiated by a union should pay dues.

She believes her members appreciate the fruits of collective bargaining and will keep paying. But she acknowledged “the reality that people like things for free.”

The legislation has already been challenged in court by a union activist who claims the state Open Meetings Act was violated when Michigan State Police barred the doors to the Capitol on Thursday. Ari Adler, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger, told the Detroit Free Press the lawsuit was “baseless and frivolous” and “more about receiving attention than getting justice.”

A hearing on the lawsuit has been scheduled for Thursday, but union activist and Highland Park school board member Robert Davis told the newspaper he would request an earlier date.

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Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap

Judge rejects bid to block Washington state “stoned driving” rules

(Reuters) - A judge on Friday rejected a request by a medical marijuana user to block Washington state from enforcing tougher “stoned driving” rules after it became one of the first U.S. states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Washington state voters last month approved marijuana legalization by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent, making the state, along with Colorado, the first in the country to legalize recreational pot use.

The new rules, which for most marijuana smokers would put them over the legal driving limit for a couple hours after taking two or three hits from a joint, took effect on Thursday.

The legal challenge came from Arthur West, an Olympia-based lawyer and medical marijuana patient who said the ballot initiative’s title wrongly left out any mention of the DUI provisions.

He also argued that those provisions will enable police to target medical marijuana users, who typically have higher residual blood levels of THC–the active ingredient in marijuana–for car stops.

“I don’t think it’s fair that the tens of thousands of patients in the state of Washington have to choose between whether they take their medicine or be subject to arrest for driving under the influence every time they get in their cars,” he said.

In rejecting West’s request for a preliminary injunction, Judge Lisa Sutton noted that police have long been empowered to pull over drivers they suspect of impaired driving.

“That is the same case today, after the passage of this initiative, as it was before,” Sutton said.

Though the hearing Friday dealt primarily with the DUI provisions, West’s lawsuit also asserts that the initiative wrongly earmarks tax money raised by regulating marijuana for unrelated services such as primary health and dental care, and that state legislators improperly advocated its passage.

West said he will push ahead with his case, taking it all the way to the state’s supreme court if necessary.

Assistant Attorney General Bruce Turcott, who defended the new marijuana law in court, said he was satisfied with the ruling.

“I would have been very surprised” if the judge had ruled differently, Turcott added.

Alison Holcomb, an attorney with the Washington state ACLU who led the legalization campaign, declined to comment on the case.

Previously, Holcomb told Reuters that she included the DUI provisions in the initiative after an internal poll in May showed that 62 percent of 602 likely voters said a pot-impaired driving standard would make them more likely to vote for legalization

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Andrew Hay)

Tibet’s Desperate Toll Keeps Climbing

New York Times
Dec. 4, 2012
By MARK MCDONALD

HONG KONG — What pushes them to do it, these desperate Tibetans, more than 90 of them, dozens in recent days and another one on Monday, the ones drenching themselves in gasoline, sometimes even drinking the fuel beforehand, and then setting themselves on fire, their robes bursting into pennants of flame as they die such painful deaths, why, what is happening here? Are they killing themselves because of politics, sadness, despair, religion, what?

We don’t yet know what drove Lobsang Gedun, 29, a Buddhist monk who burned himself to death on Monday in the western Chinese province of Qinghai. My colleague Edward Wong reported on the death, and Radio Free Asia quoted an account of the immolation: “With his body on fire, he walked about 300 steps with hands folded in prayer posture, and raised slogans before he collapsed dead on the ground.”

Lobsang Gedun’s slogans were likely in praise of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, or condemnations of Beijing’s harsh, militarized rule in Tibet and the Tibetan areas of western China. Foreign reporters, United Nations investigators and many international relief groups are almost universally barred by the Chinese authorities from entering Tibet.

“The Chinese still blame everything on us,” the Dalai Lama said in an interview with The Hindu newspaper. “If the Chinese have the confidence, they must allow the international community to see the truth. That is very important. If they do not allow, it is an indication that they have the feeling of guilt, that they have something to hide.”

“The Chinese propaganda always says the Tibetan people are very happy, that they were liberated from the feudal system under the Dalai Lama,” he said. “So now their propaganda is on shaky ground.”

The full interview, conducted in July at the Dalai Lama’s residence in the Indian hill-station town of McLeod Ganj, in Dharamsala, can be seen here.

A harrowing and deeply reported piece in National Geographic by Jeffrey Bartholet examines the final days and fiery death of one self-immolator, a young exile named Jamphel Yeshi, who burned himself to death in a Tibetan enclave of New Delhi in March.

He was known as Jashi to his friends. He had a couple of dragon tattoos on his muscular body, and he was known as a strong swimmer. During the winter back home in Tibet he loved to go sledding on makeshift toboggans.

He fled Tibet on foot in 2006 and eventually made his way to Dharamsala, home of the Tibetan government in exile, “where every newcomer gets an audience with the Dalai Lama, and everyone gets free schooling,” Mr. Bartholet writes.

As the World Burns 001 Gangnam Psy Apologizes for Anti-Imperialist Views

Sat, 8 December 2012

Click here to view this episode’s show notes! 

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On this episode, I discuss:

Direct download: PNN_ATWB_001_2012-12-08.mp3
Category:Podcast — posted at: 10:00 PM

Philly East Coast Bitcoin Summit 2012

I will be attending the East Coast Bitcoin Summit in Philadelphia next weekend. Join me!

East Coast Bitcoin Summit
Free the currency. Free the people.

Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012
1 to 5:00 PM • FREE

Underground Arts
1200 Callowhill St., Philadelphia

• Introduction to Bitcoin, by Joshua Harvey
• Currency of the Revolution, by Danny Panzella
• Advancing Your Business by Accepting Bitcoin, by Zach Harvey
• Elliptic Curve Cryptography, the Foundation of Bitcoin, by Matt Whitlock
• Plus: Round Table Discussion, How-to Demonstrations, a Surprise Guest via Skype and high quality adult beverages.

Presented by:
Truth, Freedom, Prosperity
Valley Forge Revolutionaries
Free State Bitcoin Consortium

Does your business accept Bitcoin? Ask for a free promotional table. Call 610-574-1222 or email jamesbabb@mac.com for more information.

RSVP: www.tinyurl.com/BitcoinSummit

Also check out: http://PeaceNewsNow.com and http://youtube.com/FR33MANTV

The Daily Peace 001 – Strip-Search & Right-to-Work

The Daily Peace is a new 5-minute podcast featuring 2 peaceful resistance stories every Monday through Friday. This is the first episode of The Daily Peace, the newest podcast produced by Peace News Now. It is hosted by DerrickJ.

Read more about these stories:

Student Strip-Searched @ High School, Parents suing school & police


Right-to-Work passes in Michigan despite protests

Michigan GOP approves right to work amid union protests

Tribune wire report
10:07 a.m. CST, December 7, 2012

LANSING, Mich. — Republicans slammed right-to-work legislation through the Michigan House and Senate Thursday, drawing raucous protests from throngs of stunned union supporters, whose outnumbered Democratic allies were powerless to stop it.
Just hours after they were introduced, both chambers approved measures prohibiting private unions from requiring that nonunion employees pay fees. The Senate quickly followed by voting to impose the same requirement on most public unions.

Although rumors had circulated for weeks that right-to-work measures might surface during the session’s waning days, the speed with which the GOP-dominated Legislature acted Thursday caught many onlookers by surprise. Details of the bills weren’t made publicly available until they were read aloud on both floors as debate began.

The chaos drew raucous protests from hundreds of union supporters, some of whom were pepper-sprayed by police when they tried to storm the Senate chamber.

Because of rules requiring a five-day delay between votes in the two chambers on the same legislation, final enactment could not take place until Tuesday at the earliest. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who previously had said repeatedly that right-to-work was “not on my agenda,” told reporters Thursday he would sign the measures.

Democrats denounced the bills as an attack on worker rights, but the GOP sponsor insisted they would boost the economy and jobs. A House vote on public-sector unions was expected to come later.

A victory in Michigan would give the right-to-work movement its strongest foothold yet in the Rust Belt region, where organized labor already has suffered several body blows. Republicans in Indiana and Wisconsin recently pushed through legislation curbing union rights, sparking massive protests.

Even before the Michigan bills turned up, protesters streamed inside the Capitol preparing for what appeared inevitable after Snyder, House Speaker Jase Bolger and Senate Minority Leader Randy Richardville announced at a news conference they were putting the issue on a fast track.

“This is all about taking care of the hard-working workers in Michigan, being pro-worker and giving them freedom to make choices,” Snyder said.

“The goal isn’t to divide Michigan, it is to bring Michigan together,” Snyder said.

But Democrats said the legislation — and Republicans’ tactics — would poison the state’s political atmosphere.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley repeatedly gaveled for order during the Senate debate as Democrats attacked the legislation to applause from protesters in the galley. At one point, a man shouted, “Heil Hitler! Heil Hitler! That’s what you people are.” He was quickly escorted out. Another later yelled, “We will remember in November.”

Eight people were arrested for resisting and obstructing when they tried to push past two troopers guarding the Senate door, state police Inspector Gene Adamczyk said.

Protesters waved placards and chanted slogans such as “Union buster” and “Right-to-work has got to go.” Adamczyk said the troopers used pepper spray after the people refused to obey orders to stop.

The Capitol, which was temporarily closed because of safety concerns, reopened Thursday afternoon, sending hundreds of protesters streaming back inside with chants of, “Whose house? Our house!” Adamczyk said a judge ordered the building reopened.

The decision to push forward in the waning days of the Legislature’s lame-duck session infuriated outnumbered Democrats, who resorted to parliamentary maneuvers to slow action but were powerless to block the bills.

House Democrats did walk out briefly Thursday in protest of the Capitol being closed.

Adamczyk estimated that about 2,500 visitors were inside the Capitol, where their shouts reverberated off stone halls and frequently could be heard inside the ornate chambers.

After repeatedly insisting during his first two years in office that right-to-work was not on his agenda, Snyder reversed course Thursday, a month after voters defeated a ballot initiative that would have barred such measures under the state constitution.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Snyder said he had kept the issue at arm’s length while pursuing other programs to bolster the state economy. But he said circumstances had pushed the matter to the forefront.

“It is a divisive issue,” he acknowledged. “But it was already being divisive over the past few weeks, so let’s get this resolved. Let’s reach a conclusion that’s in the best interests of all.”

Also influencing his decision, he said, were reports that some 90 companies had decided to locate in Indiana since that state adopted right-to-work legislation. “That’s thousands of jobs, and we want to have that kind of success in Michigan,” he said.

Snyder and the GOP leaders insisted the legislation was not meant to weaken unions or collective bargaining, saying it would make unions more responsive to their members.

Senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer said she was “livid.”

“These guys have lied to us all along the way,” she said. “They are pushing through the most divisive legislation they could come up with in the dark of night, at the end of a lame-duck session and then they’re going to hightail it out of town. It’s cowardly.”

Republicans have commanding majorities in both chambers — 64-46 in the House and 26-12 in the Senate. Under their rules, only a simple majority of members elected and serving must be present to have a quorum and conduct business. For that reason, Democrats acknowledged that boycotting sessions and going into hiding, as some lawmakers in neighboring Indiana and Wisconsin have done in recent years to stall legislation unpopular with unions, would be futile in Michigan.

Throngs of protesters spent weeks outside capitol buildings in those states, clashing over union rights.

“We will not have another Wisconsin in Michigan,” Adamczyk said. “People are allowed to protest, but they need to do in a peaceful manner.”

Associated Press

Parents Of Teen Strip-Searched At School Sue Police, Assistant Principal

CHICAGO (CBS) – The parents of a 15-year old boy who was allegedly strip-searched at a high school last month have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Public Schools.

In an exclusive interview with CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman, the boy and his outraged parents described what happened.

“He came home crying. So I asked him why he was crying,” said the boy’s father, Anthony Woodman. “And he was like hysterical. He tells me he’s been strip-searched.”

It allegedly happened at Taft High school last month.

His mother, Michelle Woodman said she contacted the CBS2 Investigators “so this doesn’t happen to anyone else. No one should go through what our son went through.”

The student said two security guards, a Chicago police officer and a female assistant principal took him from an room where he was serving an “in school suspension” to a nearby washroom on the second floor.

Asked if the officer or assistant principal said anything, the student said, “They told me they had an anonymous tip. They were looking for drugs.”

He said, while the others watched, one of the security guards put him up against the wall of a bathroom stall so his back was to the guards.

“And then he searched me with my clothes on,” the boy said. “Then he told me to remove my belt. As I undid my belt he pulled my pants and underwear down to my knees.”

After that, “He started grabbing and searching my privates,” the boy said.

He said they did not find any drugs.

Records the Woodmans provided said CPS staff diagnosed their son with an emotional disorder and learning disability. He requires special education services.

Misconduct reports detail behavioral problems leading to numerous suspensions, some contested by his parents.

As for the strip search, his father said “there needs to be consequences for what they did to him.”

Now his parents are suing everyone allegedly involved, and Chicago Public Schools and City of Chicago.

“What we are claiming is that his civil rights were violated when he was strip searched without cause and unreasonably,” said Julie Herrera, the Woodman’s attorney.

“The way it was done was outrageous,” Herrera said. “Having a 15-year-old boy have to have a woman – an older woman – watch him with his pants down, while he is touched by another man. I think is horribly humiliating and embarrassing.”

His mother said it was humiliating for her son, and it has adversely affected him.

“He is very withdrawn. He sleeps with his clothes on. He’s had nightmares,” said Michelle Woodman. “He is very angry. He’s depressed. He is just not the same person.”

The assistant principal who allegedly watched the strip search declined to comment, referring questions to the Chicago Public School’s law department.

A CPS spokeswoman said their policy is that “under no circumstances are strip searches of students allowed on CPS premises.”

The CPS policy manual also prohibits “washroom searches.”

Spokeswomen for both CPS and the Chicago Police Department said they cannot comment on this case until their investigation is complete.

Ron Paul breaks up with Congress, Awkward…

If you follow my blog with any regularity, you know that I produce the comedy news show, ADAM VS THE MAN. Yesterday was one of the most hated and negatively rated videos of my career with AVTM. The reason? I wrote a piece ever so slightly critical of Libertarian golden calf, Ron Paul:

Check out the viewer sentiment shared in the comments section of the video by clicking the thumbnails below: