TPM News

A public employee union leader in Wisconsin has declared that organized labor will dedicate its efforts to recalling state Senate Republicans this year, and recalling Gov. Walker next year, in response to Walker's newly-passed bill curtailing public employee unions. He says they are not talking about strikes.

Rich Abelson, executive director of AFSCME Council 48 in Milwaukee, appeared Friday on the local public affairs show UpFront with Mike Gousha, with guest host Kent Wainscott.

"Obviously this was a very disappointing loss for us, with regards to the collective bargaining changes that were made. However, it's not the end of our fight," said Abelson. "We have -- we're a union. What we do is we represent workers at the workplace, give them a voice, and we will continue to do so. It is our mission, it is what we believe, it is who we are.

"And now it's time to redirect those efforts, it is time to take back the Wisconsin Senate. We are very much engaged in the recall efforts that are taking place with the eight Republican senators. We think a significant number of those are gonna be successful recalls, we think by summer we will have changed the face of the Wisconsin Senate."

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1||March 14, 2011: In the wake of the largest earthquake to strike Japan in recorded history, the island nation now faces a humanitarian crisis. The tsunami triggered by the massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake washed away neighborhoods, claiming thousands of lives and causing widespread devastation.



Debris floating in a bay in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture completely blotted the water from view. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

2||The force of the earthquake bent a section of train track in Fukushima, Japan. ||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

3||Waves up to 30 feet tall slammed coastal towns, completely leveling buildings. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

4||Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said it was the worst crisis to befall Japan since World War II. ||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

5||Cars and trucks were swept into a heap in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. ||pa9/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

6||In Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, a large fishing boat lay flipped over on its side. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

7||Several nuclear reactors were damaged by the earthquake, prompting fears of a potential nuclear meltdown. This picture, taken in 2008, shows the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station. ||KYODO/Xinhua/Newscom&&

8||The cooling system was knocked offline at the Fukushima plant, causing a buildup of pressure and, ultimately, the explosion of one of the reactors. These still images from Japanese television station NHK show the plant before (below) and after (above) the explosion. ||NHK/CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom&&

9||Television footage showed smoke billowing from the plant following the explosion. There have been two hydrogen explosions at the plant, sparking fresh concerns about possible radiation leaks. ||CNN&&

10||At least 10,000 people have been confirmed killed in the disaster, with the death toll rapidly rising, and tens of thousands of people still missing. ||CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom&&

11||Houses in Kamaichi, Iwate, Japan were reduced to heaps of rubble. ||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

12||The 8.9 magnitude earthquake was the fifth largest in the past century. ||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

13||||Kyodo/Newscom&&

14||The tsunami swept away passenger trains in Shinchi, Fukushima Prefecture. ||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

15||||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

16||A few homes stood surrounded by the wreakge in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture. ||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

17|||Kyodo/Newscom&&

18||||Kyodo/Newscom&&

19||In some places, the tsunami waves reached as far as three miles inland. ||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

20||A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force trooper sifted through the wreckage at the Sendai Airport. ||Natsuki Sakai/ABACAUSA.COM/Newscom&&

21||||Liu Xingzhe/FEATURECHINA/Newscom&&

22||||jn1/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

23||||KAM KA/CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom&&

24||A woman walked through the remains of a neighborhood in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture. ||KAM KA/CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom&&

25||Japanese troops conducted a search and rescue operation in Miyagi Prefecture. ||Natsuki Sakai/AFLO/Newscom&&

26||Waves pushed vehicles into a pile at the Sendai Airport. ||Natsuki Sakai/AFLO/Newscom&&

27||The tsunami flooded the Sendai Airport, washing away planes and vehicles and splintering structures. ||Natsuki Sakai/AFLO/Newscom&&

28||||Natsuki Sakai/AFLO/Newscom&&

29||||FOREST LU/FEATURECHINA/Newscom&&

30||||x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

31||Black smoke rose over Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture one day after the earthquake hit. The quake sparked widespread fires across the region. ||Kyodo/Newscom&&

32||||FOREST LU/FEATURECHINA/Newscom&&

33||||FOREST LU/FEATURECHINA/Newscom&&

34||||Kyodo/Newscom&&

35||||Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

36||||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

Via Media Matters, former Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino called out President Obama and his staff for teasing House Speaker John Boehner's ... unusual skin-color at public events: It betrays his speechwriters' lack of originality that they always recycle the same material -- oh, and they should know better than to make skin color jokes with a black president in the White House.

To wit, in a speech at the Gridiron Club Dinner, Obama jested, "I've made a few jokes over the years about John's unusual coloring. I used to think that it was a tan. But after seeing how often he tears up, I've come to realize: That's not a tan. That's rust!"

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Scott Walker may have won the legislative battle over collective bargaining, but the political damage from the Wisconsin standoff as well as similar battles in other states could follow Republicans all the way to 2012.

Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana are each embroiled in battles with unions, each are considered battleground presidential states, and each swung hard right in the midterm elections after going for Obama in 2008. Political observers suggest that a newly re-energized union vote could have a profound impact in all three states the next time around -- and perhaps across the country.

"Given the intensity of emotion that Wisconsin has generated, supplemented by actions in other states, it's very possible that there will be ripple effects all the way to November 2012," Larry Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, told TPM. "Unions see this struggle as life-or-death, so they are bound to put extra resources into the swing states that are the epicenter of this controversy."

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President Barack Obama has weighed into the gun-control debate two months after the mass shooting in Arizona.

In an op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star over the weekend, Obama writes that "like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. And the courts have settled that as the law of the land."

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Senate Republican leaders in recent days have escalated a showdown that has been lurking in the background of the more immediate fight over funding the federal government through September. While the funding issue remains unresolved, Congress will soon have to turn its attention to the need to raise the national debt limit, or the country will default in just a few weeks.

"There are 53 Democrats and 47 Republicans. My prediction is not a single one of the 47 Republicans will vote to raise the debt ceiling unless it includes with it some credible effort to do something about our debt," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Fox News Sunday. "I think to get any of the 47 Republicans, you've got to do something credible -that the markets believe is credible, that the American people believe is credible, that foreign countries believe is credible -- in addition to raising the debt ceiling."

One of McConnell's top lieutenant's, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), was more direct about this. On Twitter, he wrote "[d]ebt ceiling vote is ultimate leverage to get fiscal reform."

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New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley on Friday tried to calm people's nerves about rising food prices by reminding them that other products -- like iPads -- are getting cheaper.

"Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful," Dudley said in Queens, Reuters reports. "You have to look at the price of all things."

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U.S. Nuclear Industry Faces New Uncertainty The New York Times reports: "The fragile bipartisan consensus that nuclear power offers a big piece of the answer to America's energy and global warming challenges may have evaporated as quickly as confidence in Japan's crippled nuclear reactors."

Obama's Day Ahead At 10:20 a.m. ET, President Obama will visit a classroom in Arlington, Virginia, and deliver a speech on education reform at 10:40 a.m. ET. He will meet with senior advisers at the White House at 11:55 a.m. ET. He will meet at 1:45 p.m. ET with Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, and they will deliver statements to the press at 2:25 p.m. ET. Obama will meet at 3 p.m. ET with General David Petraeus. At 7:30 p.m. ET, he will attend a DNC fundraising event at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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