September 10th, 2012
06:08 PM ET

Comments: Union teachers striking when other people can't even find work?

Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. Here's some comments we noticed today.

In a tight economy, the sight of striking teachers in Chicago has many readers seeing red. On CNN iReport, we're seeing photos from the picket lines. Should teachers be asking for more when people have less? Sam Chaltain writes in an education opinion piece that the issues in this situation apply well beyond the heartland.

My View: The whole world is watching Chicago, once again

Some readers who posted comments wondered if teachers see themselves as above the standards of other professions, while others wondered how performance should be measured.

Chris: " 'Teachers want job security.' – That says it all. Why should teachers get job security while the rest of the working world has to *perform* to achieve job security? And sometimes performance isnt even enough... Sometimes the way a system works is just ineffective, and it takes a dislocation of employees onb the journey to make it right, regardless of how effective those employees are individually. I've seen this happen in the business world- fantastically effective colleagues have lost their positions, and it's broken my heart to watch it happen- but then I've watched the business gets stronger and more effective as a result. 'Job security' is a figment of the past. Get over it, and work to make yourself relevent assuming you lose your job tomorrow."

Shelly: "No one debates accountability and evaluation. It is the terms of what does it mean to be an effective teacher? If we hold teachers accountable to student performance on a standardized assessment given on one day, shouldn't we also hold doctors accountable to patient wellness rate on a checkup day, regardless of if the patient took the advice to lose weight or exercise or take their medications? Shouldn't we blame farmers' poor yields in a drought on the farmers' incompetence? People hate teachers lately. If teaching is such a cake-walk job, please go to college and earn your degree so you can join in!"

daveyoung: "When you work for the taxpayers, you have no right to unionize. End of story."

This commenter applauded the efforts of teachers. CNN iReport is asking educators to share why they teach.

aflarend: "Great job, Chicago Teachers! You are standing up for what is right in the classroom. You know that tests are narrowing the curriculum and that they only measure a small part of what a child learns academically in school. As a graduate of a Chicago Public school in the 1980s and one on the far South Side, I know first hand the challenges that you face. And I know your successes since I earned advanced degrees in engineering, thanks in part to several inspiring teachers. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication. And thank you for standing up for students and teachers."

Some said the schools are poorly managed, and parents need to step up and do their jobs.

Barbra & Jack Donachy: "By and large, Chicago's public schools have been a mess for a very long time as one reform after another has ultimately gone nowhere. Like his friend President Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel seems to be taking a tack that puts too much emphasis on standardized test scores and places too much blame on teachers for the failure many of Chicago's schools. It is frustrating that, like Mr. Obama, the mayor has given up attempts to get to the root of the problems in our education system (horrible leadership from school and district administrators and the school boards that supposedly oversee that leadership) and is instead desperately hacking at the leaves around the fringes of meaningful school reform while pointing a wrongly accusatorial finger at teachers. No company, no team, no military unit, no group of teachers can rise above the level of their leadership for any length of time, and until we make positive changes in terms of getting better superintendents, better principals, and better school boards our public schools will continue to founder.

J: " 'The real problem' are parents, not district administrators, not school boards, and not teachers, when it comes to test scores. Parents are a child's real teacher and most are no where involved in their children's academic life. Stop making excuses that other people are responsible for educating our children. PARENTS PARENTS PARENTS. I am so tired of people making excuses on this subject – get involved with your children's education and recognize that you, the parent, are ultimately responsible and you only have yourself to blame."

The main story about the strike got thousands of comments from readers angry about the news. FULL POST

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Filed under: Comments • Economy • Education • Illinois • Taxes • U.S.
September 10th, 2012
01:47 PM ET

Detainee dies at Guantanamo Bay

A detainee at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, died over the weekend, U.S. Southern Command announced Monday.

The detainee was found unresponsive Saturday afternoon during a routine check, Southern Command said in a news release.

Medical personnel were summoned and provided emergency treatment before taking the detainee to Naval Hospital Guantanamo.

"After extensive lifesaving measures had been performed, the detainee was pronounced dead by a physician," the Southern Command statement said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Cuba • Guantanamo • U.S.
September 10th, 2012
01:44 PM ET

No massacre of Indians by gold miners in Venezuela, group says

Survival International, the nonprofit that pushed last month for Venezuelan officials to investigate reports of a massacre in an Amazon indigenous community, said Monday that it now believes there was no attack by miners there.

"Having received its own testimony from confidential sources, Survival now believes there was no attack by miners on the Yanomami community of Irotatheri," said Stephen Corry, director of Survival International.

Previous reporting:

Venezuela to investigate reports of massacre of Indians by gold miners

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Filed under: Venezuela
September 10th, 2012
12:01 PM ET

What are key issues in Chicago public school strike?

Chicago public school teachers began manning picket lines instead of classrooms Monday, launching the first teacher strike in the city in 25 years.

The strike, announced Sunday night, left about 350,000 students without schools to attend and parents scrambling to find alternatives. The union that represents nearly 30,000 teachers and support staff in the nation's third-largest school district called the strike after negotiators failed to reach a contract agreement with school administrators despite 10 months of negotiations.

Below, we break down the key issues that are keeping the teachers out of the classroom, what the teachers are asking for and what the schools are willing to offer.

Compensation and health care benefits

One of the key issues is salaries and benefits for teachers and their families.

What the teachers want: to maintain their existing health benefits, as well as salary increases.

"Recognizing the Board’s fiscal woes, we are not far apart on compensation,"  the Chicago Teachers Union said in a news release. "However, we are apart on benefits."

What the Chicago Board of Education is offering: a deal that would increase salaries 16% over four years. The average teacher salary in Chicago was $74,839 for the 2011-12 school year, according to the district. The total salary increase would equal $380 million over four years. That includes "modified step increases that both reward experience and provides better incentives for mid-career teachers to help keep them serving in the Chicago Public School system," according to a news release from the school system.

"The Board is calling for a modification to the health care plan funding that will freeze all employee health care contributions for single and couple plans with a small increase in family contributions of no more than $20 a pay period in addition to a small increase in emergency room co-pays," the school system says. "67% of all CTU members will not see a change to their healthcare."

FULL POST

September 10th, 2012
11:56 AM ET

Florida police, community mourn officer killed in presidential motorcade

A police cruiser draped in black banners and topped with a rose sat in front of the Jupiter, Florida, police department Monday morning, paying testament to 20-year department veteran killed Sunday while helping escort President Barack Obama through Palm Beach County.

Officer Bruce St. Laurent, 55, was traveling with the presidential motorcade around 4:45 p.m. Sunday along Interstate 95 through West Palm Beach when a Ford 150 pickup hit his motorcycle, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Therese Barbera said. Jupiter Police Chief Frank Kitzerow said St. Laurent was transported to nearby St. Mary's Medical Center, where he died Sunday

Kitzerow visited St. Laurent's family Monday morning to discuss funeral services, and memorial information will be made public when it is finalized, Jupiter police spokesman Sgt. Scott Pascarella said Monday. He added that in addition to the squad car memorial in front of the Jupiter police station, radio station 103.1 WIRK Country was there, raising money for St. Laurent's family. The Jupiter Police Department was working on setting up an account at a local bank to gather money for the slain officer's family as well, Pascarella said.

Palm Beach County sheriff's spokesman Eric Davis said Monday that his office and the Florida Highway Patrol still were investigating the incident. Barbera said Sunday that authorities were investigating the crash as a vehicular homicide, but she stressed it was still very early in the probe.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Florida
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's second in command killed, Yemen says
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's branch assistant commander Said al-Shihri, pictured on October 6, 2010.
September 10th, 2012
11:17 AM ET

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's second in command killed, Yemen says

Yemeni forces have killed Said al-Shihri, second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni Defense Ministry said Monday.

An official military website cited a senior source saying al-Shihri was killed in an operation in Hadramawt Valley.

A Yemeni government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN an operation took place and a body appears to be that of al-Shihri, but that officials are waiting for DNA confirmation.

The military statement said al-Shihri was killed along with "six other terrorists who were with him."

FULL STORY
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Filed under: World • Yemen
FBI arrests mayor of Trenton, New Jersey, in corruption case
Mayor Tony Mack speaks in Trenton, New Jersey, in August.
September 10th, 2012
11:17 AM ET

FBI arrests mayor of Trenton, New Jersey, in corruption case

FBI agents arrested Trenton, New Jersey, Mayor Tony Mack in connection with a corruption case Monday, a spokeswoman said.Mack was arrested early Monday according to Barbara Woodruff, a spokeswoman for the agency's Newark field office.

The 46-year-old mayor is charged with conspiracy to corrupt commerce by extortion, according to a complaint filed in federal court Monday.

The complaint accuses the mayor, his brother Ralphiel Mack, and Joseph A. "JoJo" Giorgianni of corruption in connection with a project to build a parking garage on city property.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: New Jersey
September 10th, 2012
11:07 AM ET

I didn't recognize bin Laden, SEAL who wrote 'No Easy Day' says

The new book "No Easy Day" by former U.S. Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who wrote under the name Mark Owen, gained widespread attention because of his firsthand account of how he and other members of SEAL Team Six killed Osama bin Laden.

On Sunday night, Bissonnette shared more of the intimate details of the mission in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes."

Bissonnette wore heavy makeup and his voice was disguised as he described what he said was not just a "kill-only" mission, but a chance to capture the mastermind of the September 11 attacks alive, if possible.

FIRST ON CNN: Pentagon double checked actions of SEALs during bin Laden raid

"We weren't sent in to murder him. This was, 'Hey, kill or capture,'" he told interviewer Scott Pelley.  Bissonnette said that in the weeks leading up to the mission, the SEALs trained on a full-size model of the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where they would eventually kill bin Laden. It was rare, Bissonnette said, to get 100 chances to train on a mock-up like that for three weeks.

Bissonnette said that while it was the most important mission he would ever be a part of, much of what the team members did was routine, until the moment they could finally exhale, knowing they had killed their biggest target.

Below are some of the most interesting exchanges between Bissonnette and Pelley, according to CBS transcripts, about the preparation for the mission, the raid itself and his reaction to it all when it was finally over.

On how they cleared the house as they hunted for bin Laden after taking early fire:

Matt Bissonnette: Guys start making their way up the stairs. And it's quiet. It's pitch black in the house. No lights. All night vision. Get to the second floor. Intel had said, "Hey, we think that Khalid, his son, lives on the second floor."

Scott Pelley: This is Osama bin Laden's son?

Bissonnette: Yeah. The guy in front of me who is point man, he sees the head pop out and disappear really quick around the corner. He's like, "OK, you know, what who is it? What do you think?" "Yeah, I don't know." He literally whispers, not amped up, not yelling, not anything. He whispers, "Hey, Khalid. Khalid." He whispers Khalid's name. Doesn't know if it's Khalid or not. Khalid literally looks back around the edge of the hall. And he shoots him. What was Khalid thinking at that time? Look around the corner. Curiosity killed the cat. I guess Khalid too.

Pelley: Somebody started shooting at you from inside the house? And the bullets were coming through the door?

Bissonnette: Yep. Immediately, my buddy who was standing up started returning fire. I could yeah, I kind of rolled away from the door, blindly returned fire back through. You couldn't see what was on the other side. And then it went quiet. Thankfully, the SEAL that was there with me, that initially returned fire with me spoke Arabic. So he immediately started calling out to the people inside. Started hearing the metal latch on the inside of the door. Are they gonna come out with a suicide vest? Are they gonna throw a hand grenade out? Are they gonna, you know, spray their AK? Door opens up, a female holding a kid, couple kids right behind her.

Pelley: You got your finger on your trigger and you're looking at a woman with her children?

Bissonnette: Yeah, yeah. Split second. I mean, we had just received fire. My buddy's speaking Arabic. And he's asking her, you know, "Hey, where's your husband? What's going on?" She and and she replies back to him, "He's dead. You shot him."

On how they killed bin Laden,  but weren't sure it was him:

Pelley: Khalid is dead on this landing. The point man is stepping past Khalid. And now, you're No. 2 in the stack. You're right behind the point man?

Bissonnette: Yep. I'm kinda trying to look around him. Hear him take a couple shots. Kind of see a head somebody disappear back into the room.

FULL POST

September 10th, 2012
07:46 AM ET

Monday's live events

The conventions have come to a close, and the candidates are back on the campaign trail.  Watch CNN.com Live for all the latest coverage from the presidential election.

Today's programming highlights...

12:30 pm ET - White House briefing - The Chicago teacher strike, the election and spending will likely dominate Press Secretary Jay Carney's briefing with the White House press corps.

FULL POST


Filed under: Elections • On CNN.com today • Politics
September 10th, 2012
12:57 AM ET

Millions plunged into darkness as power goes out in Havana, other parts of Cuba

Cubans are used to the mundane inconvenience of brief, localized power outages that regularly hit the country's aging electricity grid, but the large blackout that plunged the western part of the Caribbean island into darkness Sunday night was unusual.

Power remained down early Monday in the capital, Havana. The city's more than 2 million residents were without electricity, except for those at hospitals and other places with generators, according to a government spokesman, who was not identified per government policy.

Residents elsewhere in the socialist-ruled nation - including in Ciego de Avila in central Cuba - also said they didn't have any power, except for a few pockets of light.

"Western Cuba is without power," a pro-government blogger known as Yohandry Fontana tweeted.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Cuba • Energy • Latin America