Thursday briefing and open thread

Today in talk.


  • Graduate students are fighting back after the Lansing Republicans took away their rights to negotiate.

    Following two years of organizing and months of hearings, this month Michigan’s state labor board was set to rule on whether to reverse a 1981 decision that stripped union recognition from the state university’s graduate student research assistants (GSRAs). That ruling never happened. Instead Michigan’s House and Senate passed a bill declaring GSRAs ineligible for union recognition, and Governor Rick Snyder signed it into law on March 13.

    “We were clearly disappointed – disturbed, even – that our rights as graduate employees were attacked in this manner…” says Graduate Employees Organization President Samantha Montgomery. “To have the Michigan legislature pre-empt their ability to have an election in this way is very disheartening.” GEO, also known as Local 3550 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), has represented University of Michigan graduate student employees since 1975.

    Montgomery says the union will push back against the law on multiple fronts: filing a legal challenge, pushing for a constitutional amendment, and continuing to tackle workplace issues facing research assistants and other graduate student employees

    I hope they continue to push back on this.

  • Speaking of University of Michigan, President Mary Sue Coleman is wondering why they are getting so little in the budget.

    The governor proposes that the $36 million increase be tied to a formula that recognizes universities for increasing graduation rates, the number of degrees awarded in critical skill areas, the number of Pell Grants awarded to enrolled students and tuition restraint.

    With a six-year graduation rate of 89.7 percent —a rate that’s already one of the highest in the country and not likely to significantly improve,— the lowest rate of Pell Grants at any university in the state and an average yearly tuition increase of 5.5 percent over the past 10 years, U-M doesn’t fare well under Snyder’s formula.

    “If that’s the metric then we’re sunk,” Coleman said bluntly.

    In fact, U-M is to receive a 1.4 increase if Snyder’s proposal is passed as-is, the second-lowest incremental increase in the state. The highest increase, a 7.6 percent bump, is planned for Grand Valley State University.

    All part of the GOP plan to turn Michigan red. Squeeze out the folks most likely to be *gasp* liberal.

  • The state of Michigan is one of ten states that has gun laws similar to the Florida license to kill. In fact Michigan was most similar to the license to kill, than any other state:

    The analysis was able to detect striking similarities and identical phrases across multiple bills, including the phrase, “[a] person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm …,” which is just one of the provisions of the law that is intended to protect people who may have killed another person from being arrested or prosecuted.

    Michigan’s House Bill 5153 that passed the state legislature in 2006 was the most similar to Florida’s bill, according to the analysis. When compared to the Florida bill it returned the highest rate of matches than any other bill did at 146 fragments matched. The state bill with the lowest matching rate to Florida was Mississippi Senate Bill 2426 at 20 matching fragment counts.

    (emphasis mine)

    ALEC has been at work here for a long time.

  • Governor Snyder will most likely be signing a law to remove helmet requirements. He hasn’t said one way or another, but he pretty much does what they want. The rider will have to have $20,000 in health insurance coverage in order to go without a helmet. $20,000 is the going rate for a head injury these days.
  • Pigs.

    Some pig farmers in Michigan say they fear the state now is in league with major influences in the pork industry and are gunning, literally, for their small-time family operations to take away any potential competition to “Big Pork.”

    The issue is a program adopted by the state Department of Natural Resources, which has by administrative order declared one swine species an invasive species and made it illegal to own.

    But the farmers say the description of the outlawed swine species makes it possible that their farm-raised and farm-confined animals also could be banned.

    Officials with the Bakers Green Acres farm said their operations “may be shut down by a government entity who (sic) has passed a law stating that the breed of hogs they are raising are a threat to neighboring croplands.”

    The statement continued, “In truth, the Big Pork Industry has been planning this campaign to take down all family farms with hopes to eventually [seize] complete control of the American food supply.

    At Natural News, Mike Adams explained, “The state has said it will ‘destroy’ these pigs beginning in April, potentially by raiding local farms with government-issued rifles, then shooting the pig herds while arresting the members of the family and charging them with the ‘crime’ of raising pigs with the wrong hair color.”

    The whole thing hurts my head.

  • And the ‘Michigan Truth Squad’ calls foul on an ad attacking Senator Stabenow. Here’s the ad:

    Overall impression:

    The 60 Plus Association is a 504(c)(4) nonprofit tax-exempt organization that is not required to disclose the source of its funding, and it does not. It was founded in 1992 in Virginia by James L. Martin, a one-time journalist and former Republican operative, according to The organization says it has a “free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues.”

    The group is running ads against five Democratic senators who voted for the Affordable Care Act and are up for re-election this year: Stabenow, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jon Tester of Montana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

    Truth Squad call:

    This ad is full of exaggerations, distortions and factual inaccuracies. It represents fear-mongering designed to build support for overturning the Affordable Care Act.

    Foul or no foul: Flagrant foul for blatant disregard of facts.

Census Daily –

Profile America — Thursday, March 29th. Even with the economic downturn, one consumer product that is advertised in every possible medium — television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and billboards — is the automobile, reflecting the huge role that cars and trucks play in our lives. The first advertisement for an automobile in a general consumer publication appeared in an issue of the Saturday Evening Post this month in 1900. The car was the short-lived product of the W.E. Roach Company of Philadelphia, and the ad’s theme was “Automobiles that give satisfaction!” Recent expenditures for car and truck advertising reflect the slowly brightening picture for the U.S. auto industry. In 2010, some $168 billion was spent on all forms of advertising.

Solidarity forever, brothers and sisters!!!

There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Follow me on Twitter - @christinebarry
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