Our Common Good
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Solidarity with Michigan workers - Overpass Light Brigade

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

Solidarity with Michigan workers - Overpass Light Brigade

More than 12,000 workers from throughout Michigan and the U.S. Midwest crowded into the state Capitol and marched outside in freezing temperatures on Tuesday as the legislature began debating a “right-to-work” law restricting unions in a stronghold of organized labor.

Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyk said the Capitol building was closed to visitors when it reached capacity of 2,200. An estimated 10,000 people demonstrated outside.

Protesters lined the railings of the inner rotunda of the Capitol in Lansing as the Republican-majority Michigan House of Representatives began debate on a law that would strike a heavy blow against unions by prohibiting them from compelling workers to be members and pay dues.

The pro-union forces earlier had chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, right-to-work has got to go,” and “What’s disgusting, union busting,” inside the building where police had arrested eight protesters last Thursday as Republicans gave preliminary approval to the laws.

Supporters of the right-to-work legislation also were inside the Capitol and on the grounds nearby, although they were heavily outnumbered by opponents. Security was tight with police dressed in riot gear, carrying long batons and with spray canisters on their belts.

Outside, where a nearby bank sign showed the temperature at 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 Celsius) and light snow fell, four inflatable rats dubbed the “Rat Pack” depicted Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the party leaders who have led the right-to-work effort.

A man dressed as Santa Claus stood on the Capitol steps holding a sign saying that Republicans had stolen Christmas.

That’s the line of Michigan State Police cars lined up and ready for confrontation action.
Tomorrow’s rally at the Michigan Capitol Building is going to be HUGE. Seriously, check this out.



CATA, the city bus service is detouring some of their routes.
They’re also increasing the number of officers that will be on duty and they will use force if needed to remove protesters:



If demonstrators attempt to occupy the Capitol — as happened in Wisconsin two years ago amid protests over collective bargaining legislation — Adamcyzk said they will remove them “as professionally as possible” when the Capitol closes Tuesday evening.
The Capitol closes 30 minutes after the House and Senate have adjourned for the day, but no earlier than 5 p.m.
“If you’re a passive protester, we’ll just carry you out of here and you will be arrested. If you’re an aggressive protester, we will use force as necessary to remove you,” Adamcyzk said. “We do not want to arrest anyone. It doesn’t serve any purpose to allow yourself to be arrested. Voice your opinion, leave when you’re supposed to leave and come back to protest another day.”



Also, some schools are shutting down tomorrow because so many of their teachers — members of a public employees union — have notified them they will be absent:



At least two Michigan school districts have announced plans to cancel classes Tuesday – the same day some teachers and other union protesters are expected to converge at the state Capitol to protest right-to-work legislation.
Warren Consolidated Schools in southeast Michigan is canceling school “due to the number of staff who has notified us that they will be absent” Tuesday, according to a letter from Superintendent Robert Livernois posted on the district website.



Meanwhile, a group of Michigan Democratic Congressmen and U.S. Senator Carl Levin met with Governor Rick Snyder today to voice their outrage at the actions being taken by him and his Republican colleagues.



Calling the fast-moving ‘right-to-work’ legislation moving through the Michigan Legislature a “Michigan cliff,” the Democratic members of Congress said they urged Gov. Snyder to put a stop to it.
The Democratic Michigan delegation, including Sen. Carl Levin, and Reps. John Dingell, John Conyers, and Sander Levin, and other members of the delegation attended the meeting with Snyder.
They held an hour-long private meeting with him about the ‘right-to-work’ legislation this morning. {…}
Michigan Sen. Carl Levin said the delegation was blunt with the Governor in their urging to veto the bill.
“We’re not sure he understood how these unions worked,” said Levin during a press call with reporters after the meeting.
Gov. Snyder has said the ‘right-to-work’ issue is about workers freedom to choose.
“I believe most Michiganders and most Americans believe [that workers should] have the ability to choose whether they want to belong to an organization or not.” Snyder said during an interview with Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press last week.
“That is absolutely false,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D) on the call with reporters. “There is no requirement that people join a union.”
Union membership is not a requirement in a ‘union shop.’ But all workers do have to support the union financially.
Sen. Levin said he pointed out to Gov. Snyder that unions are required to provide equal benefits to everyone in the workplace, even though not all employees are required to join the union.
“The governor said it incorrectly. And today, I don’t think he understands what it is really about,” said Rep. Levin.






More.

That’s the line of Michigan State Police cars lined up and ready for confrontation action.

Tomorrow’s rally at the Michigan Capitol Building is going to be HUGE. Seriously, check this out.

CATA, the city bus service is detouring some of their routes.

They’re also increasing the number of officers that will be on duty and they will use force if needed to remove protesters:

If demonstrators attempt to occupy the Capitol — as happened in Wisconsin two years ago amid protests over collective bargaining legislation — Adamcyzk said they will remove them “as professionally as possible” when the Capitol closes Tuesday evening.

The Capitol closes 30 minutes after the House and Senate have adjourned for the day, but no earlier than 5 p.m.

“If you’re a passive protester, we’ll just carry you out of here and you will be arrested. If you’re an aggressive protester, we will use force as necessary to remove you,” Adamcyzk said. “We do not want to arrest anyone. It doesn’t serve any purpose to allow yourself to be arrested. Voice your opinion, leave when you’re supposed to leave and come back to protest another day.”

Also, some schools are shutting down tomorrow because so many of their teachers — members of a public employees union — have notified them they will be absent:

At least two Michigan school districts have announced plans to cancel classes Tuesday – the same day some teachers and other union protesters are expected to converge at the state Capitol to protest right-to-work legislation.

Warren Consolidated Schools in southeast Michigan is canceling school “due to the number of staff who has notified us that they will be absent” Tuesday, according to a letter from Superintendent Robert Livernois posted on the district website.

Meanwhile, a group of Michigan Democratic Congressmen and U.S. Senator Carl Levin met with Governor Rick Snyder today to voice their outrage at the actions being taken by him and his Republican colleagues.

Calling the fast-moving ‘right-to-work’ legislation moving through the Michigan Legislature a “Michigan cliff,” the Democratic members of Congress said they urged Gov. Snyder to put a stop to it.

The Democratic Michigan delegation, including Sen. Carl Levin, and Reps. John Dingell, John Conyers, and Sander Levin, and other members of the delegation attended the meeting with Snyder.

They held an hour-long private meeting with him about the ‘right-to-work’ legislation this morning. {…}

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin said the delegation was blunt with the Governor in their urging to veto the bill.

“We’re not sure he understood how these unions worked,” said Levin during a press call with reporters after the meeting.

Gov. Snyder has said the ‘right-to-work’ issue is about workers freedom to choose.

“I believe most Michiganders and most Americans believe [that workers should] have the ability to choose whether they want to belong to an organization or not.” Snyder said during an interview with Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press last week.

“That is absolutely false,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D) on the call with reporters. “There is no requirement that people join a union.”

Union membership is not a requirement in a ‘union shop.’ But all workers do have to support the union financially.

Sen. Levin said he pointed out to Gov. Snyder that unions are required to provide equal benefits to everyone in the workplace, even though not all employees are required to join the union.

“The governor said it incorrectly. And today, I don’t think he understands what it is really about,” said Rep. Levin.

More.

In the last few years, conservatives have made significant contributions to political organizations that have pushed the state to the right on core economic issues, and explicitly pushed right to work as a top goal (see the graph above):

Americans for Prosperity–Michigan, the group founded by the billionaire Koch brothers, has a relatively new chapter in Michigan that has produced pamphlets extolling right-to-work reforms. This week, the group set up a heated tent outside the capital to support Snyder’s law and bused activists to Lansing to counter labor protesters.

The Mackinac Center is a right-wing think tank in Michigan that issues pro-“right to work” reports, sponsors an anti-labor legal foundation and produces an array of other content, from a Pininterest page to short videos explaining why Michigan should adopt right-to-work. The center has gone on a media tour, touting Snyder’s move this week on CNN, Fox Business and much of the Michigan press. Notably, the group recently started two of its own media outlets, Michigan Capitol Confidential and Watchdog Wire Michigan.

These organizations are part of a more aggressive political force that is adept at controlling the twenty-four-hour news cycle and managing coalitions. Unlike ordinary business lobbies that simply support right-to-work, these advocacy groups go out and shape public opinion through broad messaging and content development, which in turn is used for organizing around policies.

Both AFP and the Mackinac Center are backed financially by the billionaire DeVos family, which has sought to control public policy debates through state-level nonprofits. Donors Trust, the nonprofit foundation used by wealthy conservative donors to anonymously finance activism on the right, has heavily funded AFP and Mackinac in the last three years. Doug DeVos chairs a nonprofit that has mobilized influential executives in the state to support right to work in Michigan.

The model isn’t new. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) relied heavily on Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin and a state-based think tank called the MacIver Institute to build political support for his effort to curtail union rights. In Ohio, Governor John Kasich (R-OH) worked closely with another business-backed group, the Buckeye Institute, for his attempt to crush local unions.

On the left, the only comparable group in Michigan is Progress Michigan. Progress Michigan, which is backed by several local unions, brought together a coalition of progressives to oppose right-to-work, and demonstrated at the capital in Lansing this week. Although Progress Michigan has leveraged a sizable local union membership base to make up for its small budget, as the chart I created above shows, it hasn’t been able to compete financially with the right.

Now that the right-to-work fuse has been lit, establishment groups on both sides of the ideological divide have entered the fray, including local chambers of commerce and the Tea Party on the right, and unions on the left. Working America, the AFL-CIO affiliate, has helped mobilize people for protests today. But in terms of shaping the ideological debate—it’s important to realize that the anti-labor forces have worked for years through groups like Mackinac and AFP to set the stage.

Workers locked out of the Capitol are on the way to the MI Chamber of Commerce.
Michiganders: Call Your State Senator Today to Oppose the ‘Right to Work’ for Less Bill

The “right to work” for less bill is now “on the table” in Michigan. 
If you’re in Michigan, please call your state representative at 888-979-7280 to save the rights of Michigan’s workers. Tell your senator to vote NO on Michigan’s “right to work” bill.
Follow the Michigan State AFL-CIO Twitter account for live updates.
. @aftmichigan Pres. Hecker: “They have Devos, they have the Koch brothers, but we have each other. #NoRTWMI #1u #p2


Background Story: New union fight erupts in Michigan over “right-to-work” law

Workers locked out of the Capitol are on the way to the MI Chamber of Commerce.

Michiganders: Call Your State Senator Today to Oppose the ‘Right to Work’ for Less Bill

The “right to work” for less bill is now “on the table” in Michigan. 

If you’re in Michigan, please call your state representative at 888-979-7280 to save the rights of Michigan’s workers. Tell your senator to vote NO on Michigan’s “right to work” bill.

Follow the Michigan State AFL-CIO Twitter account for live updates.

. @aftmichigan Pres. Hecker: “They have Devos, they have the Koch brothers, but we have each other. #NoRTWMI #1u #p2

Background Story: New union fight erupts in Michigan over “right-to-work” law

State legislators in Michigan held a hearing on Tuesday to consider House Bills 5684 and 5685, which would allow taxpayers to receive tax relief for unborn fetuses past 12 weeks’ gestation. The proposed legislation is an odd push for Michigan Republicans, partly because the state slashed tax credits for children last year — meaning that although parents living in Michigan do not qualify for tax breaks to offset the cost of caring for their own children, they could soon be able to claim a tax credit for an unborn fetus.

Progress Michigan’s executive director points out that the proposed legislation is a dangerous step toward endowing fetuses with the same rights as human beings while disregarding the real economic needs of Michigan’s children, 341,000 of whom currently live in high-poverty areas:

“It’s clear Lansing Republicans have the wrong priorities by wasting time on these extreme bills,” said Zack Pohl, Executive Director of Progress Michigan. “This is really a backdoor way of passing extreme personhood legislation, which has been rejected by voters in states across the country. Even worse, this would create a special new tax credit for unborn fetuses, after Lansing Republicans eliminated the tax credit for living, breathing children last year. It’s time for our elected leaders to get their priorities straight and start working together to create good jobs and improve education.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures believes this type of legislation could represent the first of its kind, although they acknowledged that the issue of states providing tax credits for fetuses has not been widely studied.

The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency has estimated that allowing Michigan residents to claim a tax credit for unborn fetuses would cost the state between $5 million and $10 million annually in lost tax revenue.

Though Obama’s win was secured even without the state’s electoral votes, Florida’s results put all eight swing states — including Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire — in the president’s column.

Four Days Later, Florida Declares For Obama

NPR

In a victory for unions and grassroots organizers, Michigan voters struck down a law that allowed state-appointed emergency managers to renegotiate union contracts, change pension agreements and sell public assets to right the finances in fiscally-troubled communities. Michiganders voted 52 percent to 48 percent, with 94 percent of precincts reporting, to strike down a referendum on Public Act 4. The law has been suspended since August, when opponents of the bill won a court decision to have the referendum placed on the ballot.

The Michigan Democratic Party announced Monday that it planned to file a complaint against the Michigan Republican Party and state Supreme Court candidate Colleen O’Brien over a “fraudulent” robocall that allegedly violated federal law.

[…]

The O’Brien campaign later admitted that it was behind the robocall, but insisted the automated message complied with federal law. The robocall urged Democrats to vote for O’Brien.

“Hi, my name is Amanda and I’m calling today to ask our fellow Democrats to support Judge Colleen O’Brien for Michigan Supreme Court,” the automated message said. “Colleen O’Brien deserves our support. Remember the ‘O’ for O’Brien. Democrats should vote November 6 for Judge Colleen O’Brien for Michigan Supreme Court.”

Judicial positions in Michigan are non-partisan. However, O’Brien was nominated to the ballot by Republicans — not Democrats. Michigan Democrats nominated law professor Bridget McCormack, Southfield District Judge Shelia Johnson and Wayne County Judge Connie Kelley for the state’s Supreme Court.

Both parties have spent millions to support their state Supreme Court nominees this year.

Alvanitakis said another robocall targeting Democratic voters urged them to cast their ballot for all three Republican-backed Michigan Supreme Court candidates. The automated message, which claimed to be from a Democrat, also did not identify who was behind the call or provide a telephone number.

Almost exactly a year ago, Stanford University took a bold step. It opened up an online version of three of its most popular Computer Science classes to everyone around the world, for free.

Within weeks, close to 100,000 students or more were enrolled in each of these courses. Cumulatively, tens of thousands of students completed these courses and received a statement of accomplishment from the instructor. This was a real course experience. It started on a given day, and the students would watch videos weekly and do homework assignments. These were real homework assignments for a real grade, with a real deadline.

One of those classes was taught by my co-founder, Andrew Ng. In his on-campus Stanford class, he reaches 400 students a year. It would have taken him 250 years to reach the number of students he reached through that one online course.

The Stanford endeavor showed what is possible. It showed that it is possible to produce a high quality learning experience from some of the top instructors in the world at a very low cost.

[…]

This Stanford project led to the founding in early 2012 of Coursera, a social entrepreneurship company that hosts around 200 free courses from 33 of the world’s best universities, including Princeton, Stanford, Penn, Michigan, Caltech, Duke, Illinois, Washington and others.

The courses span a spectrum of topics: physics, biology, computer science, engineering, medicine, literature, sociology, poetry, business and many more. The courses are full courses complete with short video lectures, quizzes and assignments. For some courses, papers or projects are assessed through a peer grading system. They serve a rich community of learners from all over the world, crossing geographic, ethnic and language boundaries. More than 1.4 million students have enrolled to take these great courses, opening new intellectual horizons as well as opportunities.

One of the greatest opportunities of this technology, one that is yet untapped, is the window that it opens into understanding human learning. The data that one can measure is unprecedented in both the level of detail and in its scale.

The article focuses on classes from more ‘elite’ educational institutes, but the success of the Khan Academy also illustrates how the Internet can feed the desires of people the world over for an excellent education. 

A couple of weeks ago, a young single mother I work with was expressing her fears of not passing a college class she was enrolled in because her math skills were so rusty.  I directed her to the Khan Academy and on Monday she came in ecstatic after spending most of the weekend with one of the Khan classes.  After a couple of hours with the class, she talked her mother into watching her children so she could better concentrate on what she was learning and then spent the rest of the weekend bringing her skills back up.  Now she feels confident she will do well in her current college class and intends to also continue with the Khan class.

The opportunities the Internet bring for education - and for educators to test new ways of teaching, really are a bright way forward for our world.

Obama leads Romney by 14.2 points, 52 percent to 37.8 percent, in the Detroit News/WDIV Local 4 poll, a solid improvement from August pre-convention polls in which the president held a six-point advantage, 48 percent to 42 percent. In this month’s poll, 8.7 percent of voters were undecided.

When I interviewed Michigan Supreme Court candidate and University of Michigan law professor Bridget Mary McCormack earlier this week, I told you that today was going to be a big day for her. And it is. In addition to receiving the coveted endorsement from Democracy for America, the McCormack campaign released a new online ad. But this isn’t just any ad. This ad was filmed with cast members from The West Wing and looks like an episode of the blockbuster show.

The ad talks about a national emergency that’s in progress: people are voting in the partisan section of the ballot but NOT in the non-partisan section where they judges are elected and the ballot initiatives are voted on. It also highlights the amazing background and work done by McCormack.

[…]

This came about because McCormack’s sister, Mary McCormack, was on The West Wing from 2004-2006. One of the funniest bits in the video is when characters ask, “Who is Mary McCormack?” McCormack walks in the door and says, “No clue but something tells me she’s delightful! And whip smart! And possibly hot!”

When the cast came to Ann Arbor to film the ad, it generated buzz that there was going to be a West Wing movie forthcoming. When you have big names like Martin Sheen and Lily Tomlin in town, it turns heads.

The cast of the West Wing reunites to walk and talk about why it’s important to vote on the nonpartisan section of the ballot — and why Bridget Mary McCormack should be on the Michigan Supreme Court. (by Bridget McCormack)

If the election were held now President Obama’s chances of victory would be 91.6 percent according to Nate Silver’s model.

Further, his estimated margin in the electoral college would be 319 to 219. Both the margin of victory and the percentage chance of victory are all-time highs for Nate’s “Nowcast.”

The longer range forecast is also good, but with 50+ days to go, and chances for Mitt Romney topull his head outimprove his position reduce Obama’s winning odds to 80.8 percent and an electoral total of 315.4.

The improvement in tonight’s nowcast is likely due to:

- Obama’s Gallup lead growing to +7  (50 for O, 43 for R)
- A Fox poll with Obama +5 (48 for O, 43 for R)
- A blowout New Mexico poll  (Obama +11)

Also tonight, new polls in Michigan with great news. EPIC-MRA says Obama is up ten, 47 to 37.  Further, Debbie Stabenow is up 11 over Pete Hoekstra.