ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, June 18

Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

 Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signs hotly-contested education bill (Orlando Sentinel)

The major bill

tackles everything from recess to teacher bonuses to testing. Backers called it “landmark” and “transformational” legislation, while critics said it will harm public schools and their most vulnerable students. . . . .

The measure includes the “schools of hope” provision [House Speaker Richard] Corcoran championed, which will use state money to lure high-performing charter schools to neighborhoods where students in traditional schools have struggled academically.

“These are kids who are being robbed of dignity and hope,” Corcoran said. “We want every single child to have an opportunity to get a world-class education.”

The bill’s provisions related to charter schools — privately run public institutions — have prompted some of the biggest outcry, with many educators and school advocates urging Scott to veto the bill because they think it will reduce funding for traditional public schools.

Comment: The bill was strongly opposed by teachers’ unions and other supporters of traditional public schools, strongly supported by proponents of charters and private schools.

 Carol Felsenthal has a thoughtful, succinct opinion piece at ZipDialog: Will Trump Ax Mueller?

She thinks there is an excellent chance he will and that the political consequences will be very serious.

 Illinois state comptroller says she cannot pay the bills. State finances are in a “crisis mode” (Associate Press)

[Comptroller Susana] Mendoza says a recent court order regarding money owed for Medicaid bills means mandated payments will eat up 100 percent of Illinois’ monthly revenue.

There would be no money left for so-called “discretionary” spending – a category that in Illinois includes school buses, domestic violence shelters and some ambulance services. –Associated Press

Comment: For years, the state spent lavishly on pensions for unionized state employees, who were so beloved by legislators that they actually wrote into the state constitution that pensions can never be reduced.

On those rare occasions when the Democrats and Republicans agreed on budget cuts, they were struck down by the courts because they reduced future pension benefits, which violates the constitution.

For years, the state has been deep blue, with House Majority Leader Mike Madigan (of Chicago) as the most powerful figure. Several years ago, a tough-minded Republican (Bruce Rauner) won the governorship, but he and Madigan have not been able to strike a deal. 

Unlike Puerto Rico, Illinois and other US states cannot seek bankruptcy protection. But lots of city and state agencies can, and there is a real prospect that some will have to do so if the state cannot pay its share of their budget.

You can easily imagine what the D’s and R’s say. “The other side is intransigent, and what we need to do is (a) raise taxes or (b) cut services.” You can guess who says A and who says B. (The one quirk is that not all Republicans favor being hard on unionized state employees. In some downstate districts, they are vote in large numbers, often for Republicans.)

 “Put down you make-up kit, m’am, and come out of the beauty shop with your hands up.”

Idaho governor vetoed legislation to make it easier to work in cosmetology  (FEE, Foundation for Economic Education) Then, his wife called and asked her usual, unlicensed make-up artist to come and do some work. The make-up artist, Sherry Japhet, told her no.   

Here’s what Ms. Japhet said on Facebook:

Got a call to do [First Lady] Lori Otter’s makeup for a commercial on location and I said…

“I would be more than happy to do it but her husband [Gov. Butch Otter, R] vetoed a bill to make it legal for me or any other makeup artist and stylist to do so. She will have to go to a salon or do it all herself.”

She added in the Facebook post: “That felt so damn good.” –FEE

Comment: Too many people need costly, time-consuming, irrelevant licenses.

Bureaucracies love imposing them. That’s what they live to do. Professionals already in the field often favor them to prevent competition.

So, who loses? Consumers lose, unless the licenses protect health and safety.

Licenses for commercial truck drivers and food handlers are obviously necessary. But many others are unnecessary or are saddled with lots of unnecessary classroom hours. They raise costs and force people to go to unlicensed or blackmarket providers–or do without.

 The answer, my friend, is blowing in the . . . Spark Notes???  (Slate)

Slate asks, “Did the singer-songwriter take portions of his Nobel lecture from SparkNotes?”

Sounds like their lawyer went over that headline, doesn’t it? Anyway, they note the following:

Across the 78 sentences in the lecture that Dylan spends describing Moby-Dick, even a cursory inspection reveals that more than a dozen of them appear to closely resemble lines from the SparkNotes site. And most of the key shared phrases in these passages (such as “Ahab’s lust for vengeance” in the above lines) do not appear in the novel Moby-Dick at all. –Slate

 Bodies of missing US sailors found in ship’s flooded compartment  (New York Times)

The collision occurred in a  crowded shipping lane and the cause of the accident has not yet been determined.

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ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, April 12

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 We’re learning more about one possible connection between Russia and the Trump campaign  The Washington Post reports that last summer the FBI and DOJ obtained a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page, a Trump adviser.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

Page has not been accused of any crimes, and it is unclear whether the Justice Department might later seek charges against him or others in connection with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. …

Page is the only American to have had his communications directly targeted with a FISA warrant in 2016 as part of the Russia probe, officials said.–Washington Post

How involved was Carter Page in the campaign?

In March 2016, Trump identified Page, who had previously been an investment banker in Moscow, as a foreign policy adviser to his campaign. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks later described Page’s role as “informal.” –Washington Post

Comment: Reports are that Page’s connection to the campaign was at a lower level and that he never met Trump. We’ll soon learn more, I wager.

 Close call for Republicans for open Congressional seat in red-state Kansas Mike Pompeo held the seat until he became Trump’s CIA head. Ron Estes, the state’s treasurer, faced a surprisingly sharp challenge from a Democrat. Estes won, 53% to 46% in a district Trump won by 27 points. The New York Times story is here.

Comment: The race was seen as an early test for Trump. He passed, but just barely. 

Florida death-penalty dispute: Gov. takes death-penalty cases away from rogue state prosecutor who refuses to seek the death penalty. She sues him  (Miami Herald) Her legal claim: the governor overstepped his authority in removing the cases from her.

 United Airlines finally grovels and apologizes. Passenger lawyers up.  (Chicago Tribune)

Comment: The airlines initial reaction was to say the passenger was truculent.  The viral video killed them and they changed direction.

 Latinos in US: A “hidden force turbocharging the US economy,” says CNBC

It’s been nearly 10 years since this country was hit with a recession, the likes of which we hadn’t seen for decades. Businesses across the country were closing their doors and unemployment soared. This bleak situation was sharply magnified among Latinos, which reported a 66 percent drop in wealth and a 13 percent unemployment rate.

Yet during this bleak period, Latino entrepreneurs created new businesses at a startling rate, increasing from 2.3 million in 2007 to approximately 4.1 million today. –CNBC

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Zika outbreak spreads to Miami Beach tourist spots

The Zika outbreak seems far way until . . . you meet a couple who came to Chicago to escape it. Met them as I walked our dog, Lola, and they explained the outbreak had hit their Miami neighborhood of South Beach. The husband and wife, in their 30s, came to Chicago to stay with their relatives in Hyde Park. I don’t know if it was for their own health or perhaps for an expected baby. In any case, scary.

Here’s the NPR report.