A legislative committee looking to pin the blame for Wisconsin?s lackluster job creation statistics on someone else other than Scott Walker has found a new scapegoat: Wisconsin high schools. Yep, it is all the high schools' fault for not properly preparing students for the business world of today.
Manufacturers in southeastern Wisconsin say they have a problem. They claim that jobs are going unfilled because they can?t attract suitably trained employees, and they blame the public schools for inadequately preparing students for the ?real world? of work.Uh-huh ? these would be the same manufacturers who don?t want to pay taxes that go towards paying for our schools.
They complain about job applicants not arriving at an interview on time or being able to pass a drug test or having a felony conviction on their record. They also complain about a poor work ethic among job seekers. But they don?t have any actual data or evidence to back up these claims. They are all just strongly and oft-asserted opinions.Funny thing?I seem to remember those same complaints about my generation when we graduated from high school. As a matter of fact I am willing to bet you would hear this same complaint about every generation since the dawn of time:
?Ugh, grunt, ughgh.?
Loose translation: ?These kids today ? they just have no work ethic. They never show up on time for the mammoth hunt, they don?t take care of their atlatl, are nothing but a bunch of thieves and spend too much time smoking leaves.?
Of course saying, ?Back in my day we worked for a living,? is not enough for these corporate welfare shills.
Walker signed [a] law that shifts the labor and training costs of a probationary employee at a private company onto the public by tapping unemployment insurance and state worker compensation funds should the worker get injured on the job.So let me get this straight ... now the state takes on the cost of an employee during what would normally be considered a probationary period? Seriously? Whatever happened to keeping government out of business?
Here?s how it works: The state compensates a worker for their probation period at a private corporation with a paltry amount of unemployment insurance. The corporation receives the value of the workers? labor, and gets a chance to vet the worker before deciding if they actually want to offer them a job. Since the worker is not actually employed by the company, they have no rights with regards to injury, working conditions or grievance processes. They are covered under the State of Wisconsin?s workers compensation policy.
Now in the words of the late pitchman Billy Mays, ?But wait, there?s more!?
The Special Committee on Improving Educational Opportunities in High School [?] is directed to develop legislation to create and enhance opportunities for both lower and higher achieving students in high school [?] the committee shall: evaluate current options available to high school students for both career and technical education and post-secondary enrollment, including the Youth Options Program; examine both career and technical education and post-secondary enrollment options available to high school students in other states; and determine how to promote coordination between high schools, technical colleges, universities, and employers to ensure that high school students have the skills necessary to meet the workforce needs of employers in this state.Or as Progressive magazine writer Rebecca Kemble so eloquently put it:
In other words, they will work on developing laws that use the public education system to orient, train, and track kids into the corporate working world at a young age. Rep. Farrow mentioned that he would like that tracking to begin in first grade. But Tim Sullivan, who appeared before the committee as Scott Walker?s recently appointed ?Special Consultant for Business and Workforce Development,? has even more ambitious ideas: ?In workforce development we say, you begin at birth and end at the grave.?You begin at birth and end at the grave ... that is the future the Republican Party has for our children. They are just a commodity to be bought and sold to our corporate masters. There will be no more artists, philosophers, writers (unless it is business related), or free spirits who go the ways of the wind. No, the future the GOP wants is one where our destiny is decided at birth and we work in that job until the day we die.
In the wake of a shooting tragedy, it is only because of the dedicated work of gun control supporters that the implement used in the tragedy even gets mentioned. The President in his remarks this morning on the incident in Aurora, Colorado, referred to[...]
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In the early hours after the horrific movie theater massacre in a Denver suburb on Friday, small details were trickling out about the life of suspect James Holmes.
Authorities said Holmes is 24 years old and was living in a third-story apartment in Aurora, Colo., in the same city where the shooting took place. A police spokesman told CNN that he was arrested in the parking lot of the movie theater. His white sedan there was still being searched later in the morning.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said the suspect's apartment appeared to be rigged with "sophisticated" booby traps and it could be hours or days before law enforcement could get into the unit to investigate.
Late in the morning, Denver television station KMGH aired a photo it said was Holmes. He appeared smiling with short, messy hair and sideburns.
Despite rumors, there was no credible information about Holmes' possible motives for the shooting. Various news outlets, citing anonymous law enforcement sources, said Holmes had no history of criminal activity and appeared to only have a local traffic ticket on his record.
A spokesperson for the University of Colorado Denver confirmed to TPM that Holmes had been a student there. The Denver Post reported that he was in the process of withdrawing from a graduate program in neurosciences.
In California, police were called to the house of a San Diego family who appeared to be related to the suspect after reporters started gathering outside. A police spokeswoman, Lt. Andra Brown, said the family was asking for privacy and that a man was escorted from the house earlier in the morning.
"It is my understanding that that is the shooting suspect's father," Brown said.
The U-T San Diego reported that the family also released a statement.
"Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved," it said. "We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time. Our family is cooperating with authorities in both San Diego, California, and Aurora, Colorado. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy."
Eric Lach contributed to this report.
Still piecing together the background of the alleged gunman in Denver. [...]
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If I had to pick one photo ... this one. [...]
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Thomas Lewis, a professor of Religious Studies at Brown, provides an excellent summary of the prayer banner controversy. He points out that Frank Lombardi, whose terrible judgement (IMHO) in the prayer banner controversy helped to fuel the fight with the ACLU, will be squaring off against Gene Dyszlewski, an ordained minister who defended Jessica Ahlquist, for the Rhode Island Senate District 26 seat. More on that to come.
Mitt Romney's Bain story takes another hit (Richard Carson/Reuters)The thing that makes this story so interesting isn't so much that there's anything surprising about Mitt Romney's role at Bain while he was running the Salt Lake Olympics; it's that Mitt Romney has spent so much time and effort denying it.
Romney has said in financial disclosure statements that he ?was not involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way? after Feb. 11, 1999. But he was still legally the CEO, with numerous duties and obligations that were his alone, until early 2002.According to the story, Romney was not a partner in investment funds launched by Bain while he was at the Olympics in 2000 and 2001, but he retained full ownership and therefore control of the business through 2002. Aside from signing documents and filings, his primary focus during that stretch was negotiating his retirement package:
Interviews with a half-dozen of Romney?s former partners and associates, as well as public records, show that he was not merely an absentee owner during this period. He signed dozens of company documents, including filings with regulators on a vast array of Bain?s investment entities. And he drove the complex negotiations over his own large severance package, a deal that was critical to the firm?s future without him, according to his former associates.
Indeed, by remaining CEO and sole shareholder, Romney held on to his leverage in the talks that resulted in his generous 10-year retirement package, according to former associates.The story here is pretty much exactly what you would have expected: After leaving for the Olympics, Romney's day-to-day role with Bain was dramatically diminished. However, he maintained his stake in the firm and used his ownership leverage to drive as good a deal for his retirement as he could. Although he wasn't responsible for initiating new investments, because he was CEO and owner, they could not have been made without his support. And of course he supported those investments, as his financial future was directly linked to the firm's.
?The elephant in the room was not whether Mitt was involved in investment decisions but Mitt?s retention of control of the firm and therefore his ability to extract a huge economic benefit by delaying his giving up of that control,? said one former associate, who, like some other Romney associates, spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the company.
Again, none of that is surprising. What's surprising is that the Boston Globe had to do so much digging in order to put the pieces of the story together. And the reason they had to do so much digging is that Mitt Romney has staked his personal narrative on the clearly false claim that after Feb. 11, 1999 he had nothing to do with running Bain Capital. Clearly, however, he did. The question is: Why did he lie?
The controversy over Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) Islamophobic witch-hunt was kicked off by a series of letters from her and colleagues demanding that the Inspectors General of four government agencies investigate “deep penetration” by the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. government. But during an interview with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), CNN’s Anderson Cooper reported that two of the agencies have no intention of launching investigations.
During the interview, Cooper said:
We called the inspectors general involved here. Two of the five [sic] agencies, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, told us they had no plans to investigate. And both were clear that a request like this is outside the inspectors general mandate, saying that they look at the effectiveness of programs. They look for waste, fraud, abuse.
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Bachmann, though, isn’t backing down. Yesterday on Glenn Beck’s show, she doubled down on her allegations — despite a rising tide of Republican and right-wing repudiations of her Islamophobic attacks.
Two weeks after reports first emerged about Shell?s failure to receive Coast Guard certification for its Arctic oil spill recovery barge, delays continue to stall the project. The Los Angeles Times reports:
?Coast Guard officials said Thursday that several important systems remained to be installed before they could certify the oil spill containment vessel. Sources familiar with the multimillion-dollar refurbishing underway in Bellingham, Wash., said it was clear that the 38-year-old barge would not be ready for sea trials by July 23?a date recently set after a previous schedule was scrapped.?
The barge is designed to be a first responder for a potential oil spill in the region, including carrying equipment designed to cap and siphon oil from a blown out well in the event of an accident. As of this week, it still lacked operational anchors and required further work to its piping, catwalks, electrical wiring, and lifeboats, ?all theoretically simple, but time-consuming? to install. Equally troubling is the current lack of necessary weights ?that would anchor the containment dome over the top of an oil spill.?
Furthermore, Shell has sought to reduce the necessary standard for the barge from a ?100 year storm,? to a ?10 year storm,? on the basis that it can be repositioned more easily than a drilling ship in the event of such a storm.
Though Shell continues to state that they are ?not going to cut corners and move quickly where it doesn?t make prudent sense,? the company has faced setbacks that suggest it has overestimated its fleet?s ability to minimize environmental impacts in such an extreme environment.
After Shell?s drilling rig, the Noble Discoverer, ran adrift last weekend, this latest report marks yet another setback to Shell?s efforts to drill in Alaska this summer. Due to the challenging and remote nature of the Arctic, Shell has had to assemble a spill response team that is self-contained. With one full month of summer gone and the centerpiece of Shell?s response plan still docked in Washington State, and the icepack taking longer than expected to retreat, this latest setback raises serious concerns about their response readiness.
If such setbacks continue, at some point, Shell and the federal government will have to reevaluate whether it will be possible for the company to meet operating requirements in the region at all this year.– Ben Bovarnick
Republicans have consistently denounced President Obama’s plan to allow the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000 to expire at the end of the year. “We ought not raise taxes on anyone at the end of the year,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said of the Obama plan, which would raise taxes on roughly 2.1 million high-income earners (while still preserving a piece of the tax cut for them).
A new Senate GOP tax plan released by McConnell and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), however, raises taxes on nearly 10 times as many Americans by allowing certain tax breaks signed into law by President Obama expire at the end of the year. Putting an end to those three tax breaks — the Child Tax Credit, a tax break on college tuition, and a more generous Earned Income Tax Credit — would raise taxes on 20 million families, as shown by this chart from Seth Hanlon, the director of fiscal reform at the Center for American Progress:
According to Hanlon, 13.1 million families would see higher taxes if the enhancements to the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit are allowed to expire. Another 9.1 million benefited from the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a break on college tuition.
The Senate GOP claims it wants to prevent tax hikes on Americans at the end of the year. The McConnell-Hatch plan, however, is yet another example of the fact that the only tax hikes Republicans can stomach are those that only hit the poor.