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ALEC and "Tort Reform"

On October 23, 2009, Harrison "Harry" Kothari celebrated his second birthday by blowing out candles on a cake decorated with a giant airplane. At age two, Harry could ride a tricycle, stack blocks, and say words like "mama," "airplane," and "thank you." A month earlier, surgeons at a Houston hospital had removed a benign cyst from Harrison's head without problems. In follow-up visits, nurses drained cerebrospinal fluid to test for infection, and following normal protocol, wiped the area around the drain with what they assumed were sterile alcohol wipes. On December 1, Harry was dead, his tiny brain swollen by a Bacillus cereus infection apparently caused by contaminated alcohol wipes.

Strangling Dissent: David Prosser Accused of Attacking Fellow Justice

David ProsserThe Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Wisconsin Public Radio broke the latest blockbuster from Wisconsin. The story alleges that recently-elected Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser grabbed fellow Justice, Ann Walsh Bradley, in a chokehold earlier this month. The incident took place on June 13, the day before as the Justices issued their split ruling on Wisconsin's controversial collective bargaining bill. Bradley released a statement late Saturday to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel confirming the incident. Prosser's defense? An unnamed source said that Bradley had charged Prosser with fists raised and somehow her neck fell into his hands. Bradley responded by saying, "You can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that's only spin." According to news reports, Bradley was asking Prosser to leave her office after he made disparaging remarks about the Chief Justice. In March, the Journal Sentinel reported that Prosser had called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a "total bitch," threatening to "destroy her." The story dropped like a bombshell into a hotly contested Supreme Court race that was widely considered a referendum on the governor's anti-union policies. Prosser was declared the victor after a recount and investigation into the discovery of 7,300 misplaced votes in Waukesha County. The latest incident involving Prosser's abusive behavior has been brought to the attention of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission and the Capitol Police. While calls for Prosser resignation rolled in, FOX News anchor and Wisconsinite Greta Van Susteren had a unique take on Prosser's behavior. She called upon the Chief Justice Abrahamson to step aside for not keeping control in her court.

No

Florida Governor Rick Scott's Shameless Self-Promotion

Florida Governor Rick ScottFlorida Governor Rick Scott now has a page on his campaign website, RickScottforFlorida.com, asking people to send pre-written letters of praise about him to the editors of Florida's major newspapers. Scott's campaign staff wrote the flattering form letter lionizing Scott and his performance in office. It says in part, "I voted for Rick because he's always been a businessman, not a politician. While politicians usually disappoint us and rarely keep their promises, Rick is refreshing because he's keeping his word." Visitors to RickScottforFlorida.com can click to send the letter to one of seven major Florida newspapers, including the Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel, and the Tampa Tribune. They can alter the letter, if they wish, or just sent the suggested pre-written version. The effort to create an appearance of a groundswell of public support for Scott and his actions in office comes shortly after Quinnipiac University released a poll showing 57 percent of Florida voters now disapprove of Scott's performance as governor -- the lowest score of any governor the University surveyed. Scott's record low approval rating comes just five months after he took office.

No

Charles G. Koch Foundation Hires and Fires Economists at Public University

According to news reports, the Charles G. Koch Foundation has bought "the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university." Kris Hundley of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the elder Koch brother's foundation "pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University's economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting 'political economy and free enterprise.'"

GOP's Medicare Plan Would Be a Windfall for Insurers

Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare would accelerate a trend started several years ago by corporate CEOs and their political allies to shift ever-increasing amounts of risk from Big Business and the government to workers and retirees.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin)If enacted, the Ryan plan would represent a windfall of unprecedented proportions for insurance corporations and other businesses.

For millions of average Americans, many of whom already are finding it impossible to save for retirement, it would represent financial calamity. The nation's middle class would pay dearly for Ryan's proposed shredding of the social safety net that Medicare currently provides.

Martial Law Now a Reality in Michigan

The week of April 10-16 saw the layoff of every public school teacher in Detroit, and the initial fruition of the highly-contested bill that allows emergency financial managers to have unconditional control over a city in a financial emergency. The city of Benton Harbor, Michigan, declared to be in a financial emergency by Governor Rick Snyder, now knows that, according the Snyder, the voter's voice doesn't really matter anymore.

Map of Benton Harbor, MIJoseph Harris, the city's new Emergency Financial Manager (EFM), dismantled the entire government, only allowing city boards and commissions to call a meeting to order, approve of meeting minutes and adjourn a meeting.

The law that allows Harris to "exercise any power or authority of any office, employee, department, board, commission, or similar entity of the City, whether elected or appointed," was passed in March after the urging of Governor Snyder, and despite thousands of protesters who came to the Lansing capitol throughout February and March.

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