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TPM Reports: On The Ground In Madison: Wisconsin’s Labor Tradition

“MADISON, WI — It has been a wild first day for me reporting in Madison, Wisconsin, where protests have been going non-stop at the state Capitol against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal, which would not only require greater employee contributions to state benefits packages but also strip state employees of most of their collective bargaining and union rights.”

Read More: Scott Walker To Democrats: Come Home Or The Workers Get It
Read More: Santorum: WI Protesters Are ‘Acting Like Their Drug Is Being Taken Away’
Read More: Mitch Daniels Calls On State GOP To Abandon Union-Busting Bill
Read More: Joining Wisconsin, Montanans Protest Tea Party Assault On Workers And Environment
Read More: Cheat Sheet: What’s Really Going On With Wisconsin’s Budget

Federal Judge In D.C. Upholds Health Care Reform, Says Some Arguments ‘Ignore Reality’

“A federal judge on Tuesday upheld the health care reform law signed last year by President Barack Obama and found that Congress had the clear authority to regulate health insurance under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler’s 64-page ruling (below) takes aim at the argument espoused by many conservatives which holds that the passive act of not purchasing health insurance does not constitute an activity that can be regulated under the Commerce Clause.”

Dems And Republicans Up The Ante For Government Shutdown

“Democrats and Republicans can’t even agree on the size of a stopgap measure to fund the government for one month — let alone until the end of the fiscal year on Sept 30. But they have just a handful of working days to bridge that impasse because, if they don’t, the government will shut down on March 4.

While top Republican and Democratic staffers from both chambers negotiate longer-term federal spending legislation, House and Senate Democrats say that the government should continue to operate at current spending levels until April.”

Read More: Scott Brown Claims ‘No Republicans’ Are Talking About Shutting Down The Government — 9 GOPers Disagree

Koch Industries Front Group Americans For Prosperity Launches Ad To Support Walker’s Union Busting

“As ThinkProgress has reported, the global conglomerate Koch Industries not only helped elect Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), but is the leading force orchestrating his union-busting campaign. Koch gave Walker over $43,000 in direct donations and its allies aired millions of dollars worth of attack ads against his Democratic opponent. Then, Koch political operatives pressured Walker to crush labor unions as one of his first priorities. Tim Phillips, a former lobbying partner to Jack Abramoff and current president of Americans for Prosperity, a front financed by David Koch, told the New York Times that Koch operatives “had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown.” A Koch-financed front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, has prepped Wisconsin GOP lawmakers with anti-labor legislative ideas.

Today, the Koch group Americans for Prosperity announced that it will air an ad smearing the protesters in Madison and calling on the state to support Walker’s power grab. As we noted on Friday, Koch has demanded that collective bargaining rights be curtailed for both private and public sector unions, a step beyond Walker’s already extreme move. The ad disparages the pro-labor protesters for allegedly bringing in “out of state political protesters.” In fact, the small pro-Walker demonstration orchestrated by Koch operatives last Saturday included a number of out of state conservative activists, including Herman Cain (from Georgia), Jim Hoft (from Missouri), and Phillips (from Virginia).”

Priorities? GOP Governors Shift Burden To Poor, Middle Class To Pay For Tax Breaks For Rich, Corporations

“State budgets across the country are in disarray as a weak economy, the end of tens of billions in Recovery Act funds, and a GOP-led House that is pushing for deep cuts to many programs that benefit state and local governments set the stage for massive in shortfalls over the next two years. Instead of making the tough choices necessary to help their states weather the current crisis with some semblance of the social safety net and basic government services intact, Republican governors are instead using it as an opportunity to advance several longtime GOP projects: union busting, draconian cuts to social programs, and massive corporate tax breaks. These misplaced priorities mean that the poor and middle class will shoulder the burden of fiscal austerity, even as the rich and corporations are asked to contribute even less.”

General Remembers Her ‘Different’ Military Days

“When Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught joined the Air Force in 1957 and started her first day of training, she was unsure about a lot of things, even the basics.

“I was trying to find the building I was supposed to go to and I saw someone walking along in uniform — a woman — and she saluted me and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to salute. It was a very embarrassing thing,” Vaught says.

The one thing Vaught did know is that she wanted to be in charge. “I wanted to lead,” she says. And she’s been doing just that ever since.”

Money For Sandbaggers? No Go, Says Fargo

“It’s sandbag season in North Dakota and Minnesota, where communities are banding together to keep the coming spring thaw from overrunning riverbanks and swamping towns. But one town’s plan to pay sand-baggers has sparked anger across the river.

That’s the story in Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., towns separated by the Red River. As reported by Minnesota Public Radio, the announcement that Moorhead would spend around $160,000 to pay workers to fill sandbags caused a Fargo newspaper to bemoan its neighboring city’s “apparent disdain for the community-building” that sandbags bring.”

New Report: ‘Higher Hate Group Count Than Ever’

“The bad economy, the wide reach of the Internet and changing racial patterns in the U.S. add to the growing number of active extremist groups in the U.S., according to a new study from the Southern Law Poverty Center.”

Read More: Obama Makes Blacks, Hispanics Upbeat, Whites Less So, On Economy

Rahm Emanuel To Be Chicago’s Next Mayor

“Emanuel will be Chicago’s next mayor, winning more votes than he had to and overcoming suspicions. Because he won so decisively, limiting the well known black candidate, Carol Moseley Braun, to a weak third place showing, he can reasonably make the claim of being mayor of all Chicago.”

Defiant Gaddafi vows to die as martyr, fight revolt

“TRIPOLI (Reuters) – A defiant Muammar Gaddafi said on Tuesday he was ready to die “a martyr” in Libya, vowing to crush a growing revolt which has seen eastern regions break free of his 41-year rule and brought deadly unrest to the capital.”

Read More: Qaddafi’s Grip on the Capital Tightens as Revolt Grows

Rescuers Press Search for New Zealand Quake Survivors

“Emergency crews were withdrawn from a large part of central Christchurch over safety concerns on Wednesday, a day after an earthquake killed scores of people.”


Good (in a Bittersweet Way) News: Woman Pitches Batting Practice To Cleveland Indians

“When she was a kid, Justine Siegal dreamed of playing baseball for her hometown Cleveland Indians. The idea stuck with her for about 10 years. “It wasn’t until I was 15 when I knew it wasn’t going to happen,” she told The New York Times.

But Siegal got to live out part of that dream Monday, when she threw batting practice to the Indians at their training camp in Arizona. And her daughter, Jasmine, was there to see it all happen.”

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