THE COLD WAR IS BACK, BACK, BACK: “Unknown armed men from Kiev have tried to seize the Crimean Interior Ministry overnight, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It's as Crimea's PM urges Russia to help cope with the crisis, ensuring "peace and calm" in the region. ‘Thanks to the decisive action of self-defense squads, the attempt to seize the building of the Interior Ministry was derailed. This attempt confirms the intention of prominent political circles in Kiev to destabilize the situation on the peninsula,’ the statement added. ‘We believe it is extremely irresponsible to further pressure the already tense situation in the Crimea,’ the ministry stated stressing its concerns over the latest developments in the region. Earlier, Crimea's Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov declared that firearms have been used in the clashes in the region, Itar-Tass news agency reported. The PM said the local Ministers' Council and Supreme Court came under an attack. He said he would temporarily manage all national security forces in the region, including police, emergency services and the Interior Ministry. ‘All chiefs of staff should follow my orders. As for those who disagree, I ask them to leave the service,’ Aksyonov said in an urgent statement to the region’s security forces. Aksyonov said he had asked Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to ‘help ensure peace and calm on the territory of the autonomous region.’ The request, the premier said, was due to ‘the understanding of the responsibility for the life and safety of the residents.’” (via Russian Times)
SUCH AN IGNORANT THING TO DO:
IN WHICH SEA WORLD CONTINUES TO PROTEST TOO MUCH: “SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. on Thursday filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, asking the agency to examine the conduct of an investigator who led the probe into SeaWorld's safety practices following the death of an Orlando trainer killed by a park killer whale in 2010. In a complaint lodged with the Labor Department's Office of the Inspector General, SeaWorld accused U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigator Lara Padgett of leaking confidential company documents to the makers of "Blackfish," the controversial documentary that is sharply critical of SeaWorld and killer-whale captivity. SeaWorld alleges Padgett shared materials with ‘Blackfish’ producers that she obtained while investigating the Feb. 24, 2010, death of Dawn Brancheau, who was battered and drowned by the six-ton orca ‘Tilikum.’ That investigation led OSHA to charge SeaWorld with ‘willful’ safety violations — its most severe classification — and to recommend that SeaWorld trainers never again be allowed to perform in close, unprotected contact with the giant marine predators. SeaWorld has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. Brancheau's death is also the subject of ‘Blackfish,’ which contends that abuses in captivity may have led Tilikum to lash out violently against his trainer.” (via Orlando Sentinel)
YOU GUYS, LEGISLATIVE SESSION STARTS THIS WEEK! THAT MEANS MORE BAD DECISIONS ABOUT PUBLIC EDUCATION, AMIRITE?: “Call me picky, but here's what I don't understand: If we're going to circumvent the Florida Constitution, ignore the state Supreme Court, and funnel tax dollars to churches, shouldn't accountability be a larger part of the equation? You know, if only to give the appearance of fiscal responsibility? Because Will Weatherford's plan to radically expand the school voucher system sounds curiously like the kind of entitlement he deplores when it comes to health care. No longer content to limit vouchers to poor families and confine the money source to corporate tax credits, the state House speaker now proposes to expand the pool of eligible students and divert sales tax funds to support them. Or, to put it another way, to continue a systematic decimation of Florida public schools. In case you need a refresher, the Jeb Bush voucher system allows students to leave struggling schools and apply nearly $5,000 in tax money to pay for private school. More than 80 percent end up at religious-based schools. Now, in some ways, this is a noble endeavor because it gives a lot of minorities an alternative. From their vantage point, it's a grand idea. From every other point of view, there are gaping, glaring, potentially calamitous issues. For starters, every dollar that goes to private schools is a dollar not spent on public schools. Even without Weatherford's proposed expansion, the tax money being diverted is expected to exceed $350 million next year. Coupled with more than $1 billion being shipped off to charter schools, that's a crippling budget drain on a system that was already 48th in the nation in per-pupil spending, according to the Census. In essence, we're purposely starving our own public schools.” (via Tampa Bay Times)
NOTHING SAYS I LOVE YOU LIKE DRAFTING BILLS THAT SUPPORT GUNS: “Bills dealing with toaster pastries and insurance policies are just two of more than a dozen gun-related measures lined up for the 2014 legislative session that starts Tuesday. As in previous years, many of them will go nowhere, especially if Marion Hammer, the National Rifle Association’s influential Florida lobbyist, doesn’t like them. In an election year, whether the bills actually pass may not matter as much to politicians as the points they score with voters. ‘Certain legislators will file legislation they know will not pass because they will be able to demagogue during their campaigns and say, ‘I filed it but couldn’t get it passed.’ This happens in every state in the union and on the federal level,’ said Hammer, a former national president of the gun-rights organization. ‘People use bills to accentuate their beliefs on certain issues. And those who want to be able to stand up and say, ‘I support the Second Amendment, I support the rights of law-abiding gun owners,’ are going to want to be able to vote on some pro-gun legislation and sometimes against anti-gun legislation.’ The measures Hammer and the NRA are pushing this year in Florida, a testing ground for some of the group’s most controversial legislation, would bar schools from punishing kids who pretend they’re playing with guns, prevent insurers from asking about gun ownership and ban prosecutors from going after someone who fires a warning shot in self-defense.” (via Florida Times-Union)
DON’T NEED A GUN:
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