Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wisc. Senate Passes Collective Bargaining Ban Without Democrats

The Blaze

In a quick turn of events, Republican state senators in Wisconsin have successfully pushed through a provision stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights by separating it from Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial budget bill.

The stand-alone measure passed Wednesday evening by a vote of 18-1. No Democrats were present.

In effect, the vote renders Democrats attempts to withhold the provision from the budget bill moot.

With the bill’s most controversial provision removed, Republicans hope Democrats will now return to continue the debate of the rest of the budget proposal.

As you’ll recall, all 14 state Senate Democrats fled the state in an attempt to prevent passage of the budget bill. With the collective bargaining provision included in the budget bill, the GOP needed at least one Democrat to be present for a quorum to allow a vote. But with the provision voted on as a stand-alone measure, the GOP successfully passed the policy with no Democrats present.

The collective bargaining provision was put into its own bill hastily created during a joint conference committee Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald shepherded the bill through the process as Democratic Rep. Peter Barca objected, claiming the committee‘s meeting was in violation of the state’s open meetings law.

At press time, Senate Democrats were reportedly meeting to decide how best to respond to the GOP’s decisive action.

The Senate-passed stand-alone provision now heads to the state Assembly for approval.

As the Senate voted Wednesday evening, demonstrators gathered at the state capitol building erupted in a roar of protest. Spectators in the Senate gallery screamed “You are cowards.”

Rhode Island School Keeps prayer Banner Up Despite ACLU Threats

Tue, Mar. 08 2011

A Rhode Island school district has decided to legally fight, if necessary, to keep a prayer banner hanging inside a public school despite threats from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Cranston School Committee voted 4-3 Monday to continue displaying a banner of the Cranston West prayer. About 200 people came to the Monday meeting to witness the vote, with much of the crowd supporting the banner.

Committee member Michael Traficante said the banner models the morals on which the country was founded. He and fellow committee member Frank Lombardi proposed the recommendation approved Monday.

The battle over the banner began last July when the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU asked the school district to remove the prayer, saying it violates the First Amendment and the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

The R.I. chapter of the ACLU took special offense to the prayer’s opening and closing statements, “Our Heavenly Father” and “Amen.” The group says having the prayer in school is proselytizing.

However, school officials say the prayer is meant to be non-denominational.

The beginning of the prayer banner reads, “Gant us each day the desire to do our best, to grow mentally and morally as well as physically; to be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers; to be honest with ourselves as well as with others. Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of true friendship. Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.”

The prayer, which is no longer said out loud, has hung in Cranston West for 50 years.

Still, the R.I. ACLU chapter urged the school to reword the prayer, take it down altogether, or face legal action.

Residents reacted to the threat by circulating a petition to protect the banner. More than 4,000 people signed the petition to keep the prayer banner, FOX News reported.

Local supporters praised the decision to keep the school prayer banner up in the school’s auditorium. However, the school committee has to decide who will pay if a legal fight actually ensues.

Mayor Allan Fung says he supports keeping the banner up inside Cranston West. But local television station NBC-10 reported that a city spokesperson said the money isn't there for a legal battle. The Rhode Island Affiliate of the ACLU has not announced any action as of yet.

In the past, there has only been one complaint against the prayer banner, said school Superintendent Peter L. Nero and former Cranston West principal Edmund J. Lemoi. However, district officials resolved the conflict without going to court and the prayer was allowed to remain.

Read More From The Christian Post

ABC's New Show "Good Christian Bitches" Has Many In Uproar

Published March 04, 2011

An ABC pilot called “Good Christian Bitches” has religious and women’s groups up in arms over what they describe as an extremely offensive and distasteful show title.

The dramedy, based on Kim Gatlin’s novel of the same name, will be brought to life by famed “Sex and the City” and “90210” executive producer Darren Star. The plot centers on the life of reformed “mean girl” Amanda, played by “Talladega Nights” actress Leslie Bibb, who returns to her hometown of Dallas to find herself fodder for malicious gossip from the women in the Christian community.

Still in the early stages, the pilot has not been guaranteed a spot on ABC’s lineup. And though the show’s title may change before it goes to broadcast, “Good Christian Bitches” is already causing uproar.

Christian publisher Tessie DeVore told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column that the show, which features the tagline “For Heaven’s sake, don’t let God get in the way of a good story!” could put Christians in an unfairly bad light.

“I find the title offensive. I don’t think those two words should be combined,” she said. “A show like this can damage perceptions [of Christians in this country].”

It also could be a slippery slope for future shows, said Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education for the Parents’ Television Council tells Tarts.

“In the past, we’ve raised concerns about changing language standards for television," Henson said. "Once a particular profanity or obscenity has been embraced by a particular show, it quickly becomes mainstream.”

And Yana Walton from the Women’s Media Center said Christians aren't the only ones who should be upset.

“It is not an appropriate term to use to describe any woman, regardless of their faith,” Walton said. “Entertainment media, especially music and films, have been normalizing misogynistic language for years.”

But despite the seemingly outrageous title, Dan Gainor, head of the Culture and Media Institute, is not surprised that the pilot has gone this far already.

“ABC is doubling down on the offensive by also approving ‘Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23,’ following up on the CBS show ‘$#*! My Dad Says.’ And this continued decline is unsurprising,” he said.

North Korea Nears Completion Of New Electromagnetic Pulse Bomb

North Korea appears to be protesting the joint U.S. and South Korean military maneuvers by jamming Global Positioning Devices in the south, which is a nuisance for cell phone and computers users -- but is a hint of the looming menace for the military.

Since March 4, Pyongyang has been trying to disrupt GPS receivers critical to South Korean military communications apparently in protest of the ongoing joint military training exercises between South Korean and U.S. forces. Strong jamming signals were sent intermittently every five to 10 minutes.

The scope of the damage has been minimal, putting some mobile phones and certain military equipment that use GPS signals on the fritz.

Large metropolitan areas including parts of Seoul, Incheon and Paju have been affected by the jamming, but "the situation is getting wrapped up, no severe damage has been reported for the last two days," Kyoungwoo Lee, deputy director of Korea Communications Commission, said.

The jamming, however, has raised questions about whether the Korean peninsula is bracing for new electronic warfare.

The North is believed to be nearing completion of an electromagnetic pulse bomb that, if exploded 25 miles above ground would cause irreversible damage to electrical and electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers, radio and radar, experts say.

"We assume they are at a considerably substantial level of development," Park Chang-kyu of the Agency for Defense Development said at a briefing to the parliament Monday.

Park confirmed that South Korea has also developed an advanced electronic device that can be deployed in times of war.

Read More From ABC News

Economist Warns Of Food Riots In UK

A senior economist at the worldwide bank HSBC has warned of civil unrest in Britain if food prices continue to soar. Speaking on Jeff Randall Live, senior global economist Karen Ward cautioned that the UK could experience the kind of food riots seen in other countries.

"Even in the developed world I think we have very, very low wage growth, so people aren't getting more in their pay packet to compensate them for food and energy, and I think we could see social unrest certainly in parts of the developed world and the UK as well."

She went on to highlight the link between high food prices and the escalating cost of crude oil.

"More and more we are seeing that some of these foodstuffs are actually substitutes for energy itself, particularly biofuels. So I think the energy markets are a significant contributor to these food price gains."

The comments come as the United Nations warned the cost of food is now at the highest level for 21 years and set to rise further.

Food costs have gone up for eight months in a row, with the National Farmers Union forecasting the trend will continue for the rest of 2011.

Read More From Sky News

Lawmakers and Grieving Parents Push For New Federal Standards On Teen Driving Licenses

Washington (CNN) -- Flanked by parents whose children were killed in automobile accidents, congressional lawmakers Tuesday again launched a campaign for federal licensing standards for teenage drivers. Holding a poster-sized photograph of his daughter Michelle -- a fatality at the age of 15 -- a sobbing Ray Sanderbeck of Medina, Ohio, told a news conference, "Today I hold her in my arms and ask you to support the STANDUP act."

STANDUP is the acronym for the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection act, and it would raise state licensing requirements to a consistent level nationwide. State governments would implement the requirements the way they see fit, including possible exceptions for farm kids in rural areas.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, were among the lawmakers who announced Tuesday that they would again co-sponsor the legislation to be introduced in coming days.

"Our teens just need to have the opportunity to have the chance to learn," Gillibrand said on Capitol Hill, "to learn in the right circumstances, so they can build their skills, so they aren't taking risks too early, without those skills to protect them."

The bill would withhold a certain amount of federal highway money to states that fail to put the standards into their driving laws.

Three stages of licensing would try to match increased experience behind the wheel with increased responsibility to drive safely. The learner's permit would be available to those 16 and older, and would include restrictions against nighttime driving and limit other youngsters along for the ride.

An intermediate license would be contingent on a safe record and possibly a mandatory period of time learning how to drive.

A full driver's license would not be available to anyone under age 18, nor to those who failed to meet the requirements of the initial license classes.

Similar legislation failed to make it through the last Congress. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, said people have been opposed to rules that could deny their children a driver's license they now can have.

But parents who have suffered the deadly consequences of teenage highway fatalities say it's not worth the risk to put young people in driving situations they don't yet know how to handle.

Read More From CNN

7.2 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Japan Tsunami Alerts Issued

Gadahfi Troops Attack Lybian Rebel City

Saying Farewell To The Space Shuttle Discovery

(CNN) -- The last chapter in the story of the space shuttle Discovery ended Wednesday as the shuttle landed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Discovery touched down just before noon ET as planned.

Crowds of onlookers cheered.

The announcer on NASA TV called it "the end of a historic journey" and added, "To the ship that has led the way time and time again we say, 'Farewell, Discovery.'"

Discovery retires having logged more than 148 million miles in orbit during 39 flights. It spent 365 days in space during its lifetime.

Discovery's first launch was August 30, 1984.

The shuttle undocked from the International Space Station at 8:37 a.m. on Monday, completing a 13-day mission to outfit the space station.

The nearly three-decade shuttle program is scheduled to end later this year.

Read More From CNN