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El Chapo faces life in prison; 12 defendants are on trial in Madrid for their roles in the Catalan independence movement.
El Chapo convicted on 10 counts
- Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, 61, faces life in prison after a three-month trial ended Tuesday in New York. Guzmán was found guilty on 10 charges relating to his business running a drug cartel worth billions of dollars. [NYT / Alan Feuer]
- This isn’t Guzmán’s first time in prison. He was convicted in Mexico and sent to a Mexican prison, but escaped — twice. Now it’s the US’s turn to try to contain him. [Vox / German Lopez]
- For nearly 30 years, Guzmán led the Sinaloa cartel, which is still in operation. Now the US will try to seize $14 billion in illegal drug profits. Prosecutors have evidence that Guzmán’s operations transported cocaine and other drugs via tunnels, trains, ships, and, in one case, a submarine. [WSJ / Nicole Hong and Katie Honan]
- More than 50 witnesses testified to Guzmán’s violent practices against his challengers in the dramatic trial. He will be sentenced in June. [NPR / Sasha Ingber]
- 29-year-old Emma Coronel Aispuro, Guzmán’s wife and the mother of their two daughters, was present for every day of the three-month trial. She did not testify against her husband, and their children have visited their father in jail since he was extradited by the US in 2017. [NYT / Emily Palmer]
- It’s still too soon to tell whether Guzmán’s conviction is a win for officials trying to stop the flow of drugs into the US. Another leader is likely to take his place, and even if the Sinaloa cartel were dissolved, another organization would likely pick up the pieces of the profitable drug trade. [Vox / German Lopez]
- Tunnels were the secret to El Chapo’s success. This video by Vox’s Mac Schneider shows how an underground network included railways and elevators to transport narcotics — and help Guzmán break out of prison. [Vox / Mac Schneider]
Twelve Catalan separatists on trial
- A dozen people went on trial before the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid Tuesday for their roles leading the failed 2017 Catalan secession movement. [NYT / Raphael Minder]
- In October 2017, Spanish courts declared that an independence referendum by the Catalan government was illegal. Catalan separatists didn’t back down, made an illegal declaration of independence, and confronted Spanish forces sent by the national government to quell the movement. Madrid deemed the result of the referendum illegitimate. [NYT / Raphael Minder]
- Some of those on trial include the former Catalan vice president, the regional economy minister, and the former speaker of the Catalan Parliament — but former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont won’t be present. A ruling by a German court helped Puigdemont avoid extradition after he fled in 2017 to Belgium, where he remains. [The Local Spain]
- Vox, a Spanish right-wing political party (no relation!) and two other parties called on thousands of people to protest Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez prior to the trial. These parties are asking for new elections after Sánchez accepted 21 demands by separatists. [El País / Natalia Junquera and Elsa García de Blas]
- Sánchez’s administration is doing everything it can to get the approval of the international community. In one of the most decentralized countries in the world, the independence of the Spanish judiciary in the Catalan trial has raised skepticism. [Politico Europe / Diego Torres]
- Negotiations over teachers’ baseline salary continued in Denver on Tuesday. It was day two of the citywide teachers strike, but some teachers who receive bonuses for working at “high-priority” schools aren’t participating. [Chalkbeat / Philissa Cramer]
- The Warsaw summit co-hosted by the US and Poland this week may be the first major meeting between Israel and Arab states like Saudi Arabia. The fundamentally divided participants will discuss an agenda for potential peace in the Middle East. [BBC News / Jonathan Marcus]
- Americans have more confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller than in President Trump, according to a new poll. Nearly all respondents said they would want to see the results of Mueller’s probe into the 2016 presidential election. [Politico / Matthew Choi]
- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is planning a statewide “listening tour” to engage various communities on the topic of race. The Democratic governor has reasserted a new agenda after a photograph of a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan outfit in Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook resurfaced. [BuzzFeed News / Darren Sands]
- The life of Shannon Kent, who served five overseas combat deployments, was the mother of two sons, and battled cancer, shows that female service members do as much dangerous military work as men. [NYT / Richard A. Oppel Jr.]
“I unequivocally apologize. At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA, or the fossil-fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.” [A Twitter statement by Rep. Ilhan Omar regarding her recent comments about the influence of AIPAC funding in US politics, via the Atlantic]
Watch this: The 70% top tax rate, explained with potatoes
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for a 70 percent top tax rate on the superrich. [YouTube / Alvin Chang, Kim Mas, and Mallory Brangan]
Beto O’Rourke fact-checked Trump’s rally life from across the street in El Paso
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Oakland teachers strike: Union calls strike for pay, smaller classes
Teacher frustration keeps spreading.
Public school teachers in Oakland, California, said they will strike on Thursday, following 18 months of tense negotiations with district officials over pay raises and classroom sizes.
“We have had it. Enough is enough, bargaining with our school district has not worked,” said Keith Brown, a middle school teacher and president of the Oakland Education Association, during a press conference on Saturday. “Our schools have been starved of resources for years.”
If they don’t reach a deal before Thursday, about 3,000 teachers won’t show up to work in one of the state’s largest school districts, which has struggled from years of budget cuts and poor student performance.
Teachers say the lack of investment in city schools is hurting student performance. The cost of living in Oakland has also skyrocketed in recent years, due to an influx of high-skilled workers unable to afford housing across the bay in San Francisco, making it impossible for teachers to live there on their current salaries, Keith said. Teachers want a pay raise, smaller class sizes, and more counselors and nurses.
The strike in Oakland would come a month after teachers in Los Angeles walked off the job with similar demands — and ended up getting a lot of what they wanted. At the time, LA officials said the same thing Oakland officials are now saying: We just don’t have the money.
Oakland schools are facing a $56 million budget deficit in the next two years, so the school board wants to cut school spending, not increase it. School officials are trying to get more money from the state, but teachers are ready to walk out. And they know they have leverage.
It’s just the latest strike in what’s becoming a national trend. More than 100,000 public school teachers in six states have walked out of class in the past year, rebelling from years of stagnant wages, crumbling infrastructure, and deep budget cuts to education. The strikes in Arizona, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, California, and Colorado had broad public support, forcing state lawmakers to raise pay and fueling a national movement to boost investment in public education.
So far, that momentum shows no signs of slowing down.
Funding for public schools in California is a mess
Oakland teachers share a lot of the same frustrations that led LA teachers to walk out of class in January. They say school districts are spending too much money on privately run charter schools that have little public oversight. They also believe they are paid too little working in a state with much wealth.
California is among states spending the least on each student (adjusted for the cost of living), largely because of the state’s strict limits on property tax rates.
The Oakland Education Association, a labor union representing 3,000 educators, has been trying to negotiate a new contract since the last one expired in 2017. Teachers want a 12 percent pay raise over three years, smaller classes, and more support staff. One school counselor for every 600 students is not conducive to a student’s success, says Keith Brown, the group’s president.
The district has offered a 5 percent raise over three years.
Teachers rejected the offer.
“Unless there are dramatic changes to the district’s approach, including spending more money on students and for nurses and counselors, lower class size, and a living wage that will keep Oakland teachers in the classrooms, we will strike,” Brown said.
The school district has said it is willing to keep negotiating for a better deal to avert the strike, and would consider some recommendations from an independent panel, which found that low teacher pay, large class sizes, and school privatization were hurting Oakland schools. The report also acknowledges the state’s “complicated, flawed” system for funding public education.
“Despite our challenges, we are prepared with a comprehensive proposal to reach an agreement. If both sides are committed to settling the contract before a strike occurs —and we are — an agreement can certainly be reached without disrupting the educational experience for students, families and staff,” Oakland Schools Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said in a statement Saturday.
They have three days to try and reach a deal.
Teachers are leading a national workers revolt
A record number of US workers went on strike or stopped working in 2018 because of labor disputes with employers, according to new data released last week by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. A total of 485,000 employees were involved in major work stoppages last year — the highest number since 1986, when flight attendants, garbage collectors, and steelworkers walked off the job.
Frustrated public school teachers were behind the year’s largest walkouts, but hotel housekeepers and steelworkers also organized strikes that lasted for days.
There are no signs that worker angst has subsided. So far, in 2019, teachers in two major cities have launched their own strikes. And in January, the Los Angeles teachers strike shut down the nation’s second-largest school district for more than a week.
As part of their deal with city officials, teachers agreed to a 6 percent raise and slightly fewer students in each classroom, according to Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, a labor union that represents about 34,000 public school teachers, nurses, librarians, and support staff in the city.
Last week, more than 2,000 teachers in Denver went on strike for three days. The school district ended up giving educators and extra $23 million in pay and agreed to overhaul the compensation system, which relied heavily on annual bonuses.
Now Oakland teachers are prepared to walk out, and Sacramento teachers may follow.
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Kamala Harris’s 2020 presidential campaign: news and updates
The longtime lawmaker announced her candidacy at a rally in Oakland, California, on January 27.
Kamala Harris, a California lawmaker and longtime prosecutor, is running for the Democratic nomination for president. She made her announcement during an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019.
Harris is only the second African-American woman to serve in the Senate, and her entry into the 2020 race is potentially historic: If she secures the nomination, she’d be the first African-American woman and the first Asian-American woman to become a major-party nominee.
The lawmaker has a long record of public service. She served as California attorney general and San Francisco district attorney for a combined 12 years before she was elected to the Senate in 2016, and buzz about her potential presidential run has been building ever since. She’s considered a prominent champion for racial equality, though some have questioned her past approach to criminal justice. She has backed some progressive policies within the Democratic Party, including Medicare-for-all and marijuana legalization.
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