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Wisconsin Governor Threatens To Replace Union Workers With National Guard

winsconsin union protests
© Associated Press
State workers in Wisconsin are protesting a statement by Republican Governor Scott Walker that, union reps say, amounts to a threat to use the National Guard to help break the public union.

Citing a $137 million budget deficit, Walker announced a plan last week which would essentially take away the public union's collective bargaining rights and slash benefits for state employees. Meanwhile, the share of corporate tax revenue funding the state government has fallen by half since 1981 and, according to Wisconsin Department of Revenue, two-thirds of corporations pay no taxes.

In the case of a walkout, Walker has put the National Guard on alert. Last week, he told reporters that the guard is "prepared" for "whatever the governor, their commander-in-chief, might call for," such as staffing prisons if guards go on strike.

Comment: Read also: People Power! US, Wisconsin Teachers Protest Ed Budget, Union Cuts


Megaphone

Algeria tried to block internet and Facebook as protest mounted

Algerian protesters
© EPA
Algerian protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in Algiers
Internet provision was blocked in parts of Algeria and there were claims of Facebook accounts being deleted as thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested in violent street demonstrations.

The Algerian government was blamed by protesters for preventing access to internet providers across much of the capital, Algiers, and other cities including Annaba for much of Saturday morning and afternoon in an attempt to prevent planned demonstrations gathering pace.

Plastic bullets and tear gas were used to try and disperse large crowds in major cities and towns, with 30,000 riot police taking to the streets in Algiers alone.

There were also reports of journalists being targeted by state-sponsored thugs to stop reports of the disturbances being broadcast to the outside world.

Black Cat

US: Two TSA agents arrested at JFK Airport for stealing $39K from passenger's bag

TSA thief
© Todd Maisel
Port Authority police arrested to TSA employees for allegedly stealing about $160,000 worth of property from plane passengers over a period of time.
Two TSA officers were busted Wednesday for stealing $40,000 from a bag at Kennedy Airport they thought belonged to a drug dealer, a law enforcement source said.

Under questioning, the pair also admitted swiping up to $160,000 from other unsuspecting passengers.

Rogue agents Davon Webb, 30, and Persad Coumar, 36, were busted after a sharp-eyed colleague blew the whistle.

They were charged with grand larceny, possession of stolen property, conspiracy and official misconduct. Each was held in lieu of $15,000 bail after their arraignment Wednesday night.

"TSA has a zero tolerance policy for theft in the workplace," the Transportation Security Administration said.

"The disgraceful actions of a few should not reflect negatively on the ... 50,000 TSA officers across the country who work each day to keep the traveling public safe."

Coumar X-rayed luggage destined for an American Airlines flight to Argentina on Jan. 30. Then he phoned Webb, who was assigned to the baggage belt area. Webb confirmed there was cash inside, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Brown said Coumar found $170,000 wrapped in tape. He took $40,000 and met Webb in a bathroom, where the employees hid the loot in their clothing, Brown said.

A TSA agent tipped off a supervisor, triggering an investigation by Port Authority cops.

Alarm Clock

UK: Baby boomers 'must pay for their own elderly care'

elderly woman hands
© Press Association
17 million Britons alive today will live to be 100, placing strain on the NHS and care systems
The post-war baby boom generation "has done pretty well for itself" and should be prepared to use its property wealth to pay for care in old age, a government adviser has said.

Lord Warner, who is drafting plans to reform the elderly care system, said it would be unfair to expect the working population to foot the bill for looking after their parents' ageing generation.

He warned that the "squeezed" middle-classes face potentially the greatest burden, amid concerns that it is already too late to help ease the "catastrophic" costs likely to hit the recently retired.

The former health minister called on insurance firms to develop "creative" new products to allow pensioners to protect themselves against being forced to sell their homes to pay for care and support.

But he warned that the independent commission drawing up reforms for the Coalition would have to consider how to exploit the "big chunk of potential" funding currently locked up in housing.

Economists suggested that a future system would see more pensioners who own their homes denied state funding to help them pay for care in old age.

A place in a nursing home costs an average of £36,000 a year but anyone with assets worth more than £23,250 receives no help at all from the state.

Britain's ageing population is projected to strain public finances further in the coming decades. An estimated 17 million people in Britain alive today will live to the age of 100. Experts predict that by 2026, the long term care and support system will have a funding shortfall of £6 billion without urgent reforms.

Briefcase

Hillary Clinton donors indicted

A federal grand jury indicted two Virginia men on Wednesday for allegedly trying to illegally reimburse donors who gave to Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate and presidential campaigns.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has accused the two men, William Danielczyk and Eugene Biagi, of paying back $186,600 in contributions to the Senate and presidential campaign committees of a candidate for federal office, and obstructing the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the FBI.

Crusader

Pennsylvania, US: Baldwin Man Refuses To Take Down Crosses

Baldwin cross
A Baldwin man is refusing to take down his lighted crosses.

Carl Behr said he isn't going down without a fight at a Baldwin Borough Council.

"They're not coming down," he said. "Somebody's gotta make a stand against these people and I'm here to make it."

He pleaded his case at the meeting after they issued an order on Monday for the 25-foot cross to come down from his property within five days.

"It's been about the Lord since the beginning and if anyone tries to make me remove them, they will only anger the Lord," Behr said.

Handcuffs

US: Two TSA agents busted at JFK Airport for stealing $160,000 from checked bags

TSA agents
© Associated Press
Two TSA agents were busted for stealing $39,000 from a traveler's checked bag
Two TSA agents were busted today at Kennedy Airport for stealing $160,000 in cash from bags, authorities said.

Davon Webb, 30, and Couman Perad, who turned 36 today, were arrested after admitting they had regularly stolen from checked bags, sources said.

In one instance, Perad, who joined the Transportation Security Administration in 2002, and Webb, who has been an agent since 2004, stole $39,000 on Jan. 30 from a bag at Terminal 8, sources said.

The passenger whose money was stolen was on his way to Argentina, sources said.

Light Sabers

Hezbollah threatens Israelis 'anytime, anywhere'

Nasrallah
© Agence France-Presse
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, seen here in 2006, urged his Shiite fighters to stand ready to take Galilee in any future Lebanon-Israel war and threatened Israelis "anytime, anywhere" to avenge a top operative's killing
Hezbollah's chief on Wednesday urged his Shiite fighters to stand ready to take Galilee in any future Lebanon-Israel war and threatened Israelis "anytime, anywhere" to avenge a top operative's killing.

"I say to the fighters of the Islamic Resistance: Be ready. If a new war is imposed on Lebanon we may ask you to take Galilee, to free Galilee," Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech to mark his Shiite party's martyrs' day.

He vowed that the death of Imad Mughnieh, killed in a February 2008 car bombing in Damascus that Iranian-backed Hezbollah has blamed on Israel, would not be forgotten or go unpunished.

Arrow Down

Chicago Population Sinks to 1920 Level

chicago population decline
A larger-than-expected exodus over the past 10 years reduced the population of Chicago to a level not seen in nearly a century.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that during the decade ended in 2010, Chicago's population fell 6.9% to 2,695,598 people, fewer than the 2.7 million reported back in 1920.

After peaking at 3.62 million people in 1950, Chicago underwent a half century of decline that ended only when the 1990s boom years produced a small gain in the 2000 count. At that time, the city loudly celebrated its comeback.

But the recent recession accelerated a migration both to the metropolitan area's farthest suburbs and to the Southern U.S. Chicago nonetheless is expected to remain the nation's third-largest city, behind New York and Los Angeles and just ahead of Houston, for which final census numbers aren't in yet.

Stormtrooper

US: Mother of 3 Arrested for Taking Pictures of Tourist Attraction at Airport

Image
This case is a frightening example of what can happen when a photographer encounters ignorant bullies with badges. According to the complaint filed in Federal Court, Nancy Genovese, a mother of three, was driving home on County Road 31 past Gabreski Airport in Suffolk County. Gabreski Airport displays a decorative helicopter shell by the roadway to the public, which is visible to all who pass by.

Nancy Genovese stopped her car on the side of the road across the street from the airport in an area that is open and accessible to the public, and crossed over the road to the airport entryway that is also open and accessible to the public to take a picture of the helicopter display. While still in her car, she took a picture of the decorative helicopter shell with the intention of posting it on her personal "Support Our Troops" web page.

As Nancy Genovese was preparing to drive away, she was stopped and approached by Robert Iberger, a lieutenant with the Southampton Town Police. Lieutenant Iberger demanded to know why she was taking photographs. Nancy showed the lieutenant her camera, but Lieutenant Iberger grabbed her camera and handled it "without care". In an attempt to prevent the lieutenant from damaging the camera, Nancy removed her memory card, which Lieutenant Iberger confiscated. To date, Nancy's memory card still has not been returned to her.

Lieutenant Iberger demanded that Nancy remain where she is, and he refused to allow her to leave. At this time, Lieutenant Iberger notified the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office and the authorities at Gabreski Airport of Nancy's presence outside the airport, and falsely and wrongfully informed them that she posed a terrorist threat.