In the News ~ March 27

‘Dirty Jobs’ star salutes Ottawa building trades

LaSalle News Tribune – March 27, 2014 –

OTTAWA — Mike Rowe of the television show “Dirty Jobs” posted on his foundation’s Web site Tuesday a video dedicated to the students who protested the closing of the building trades program at Ottawa Township High School.

 

‘Dirty Jobs’ host creates tribute video to OTHS trades program

The Times (subscription) - ‎ March 27, 2014

The Ottawa Township High School building trades program got another boost from Mike Rowe, the media personality known for hosting the television series “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel. A tribute video titled “I Am a Woodshop” dedicated to the …

 

SETA: Teachers’ group responds to SES statement
(Streator Times-Press © 03/27/2014)

To the Editor: In response to the March 20, 2014 statement from Mr. Wilkinson, Superintendent of SES 44: The Streator Elementary Teachers’ Association would like to clarify inaccurate information from that article. Mr. Wilkinson stated administration incurred a pay freeze to help lessen the impact of financial struggles in the district. He is accurate, with the exception of one principal

 

Area schools testing on Common Core standards
(Galesburg Register Mail © 03/27/2014)

GALESBURG — Students in a number of area schools will be taking practice exams this week in preparation of next year’s new statewide learning standards. About 125,000 students in 1,800 Illinois public schools are taking tests developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

 

Dozens of School Employees Affected by RIF’s
(WHBF (CBS) 4 Quad Cities © 03/27/2014)

Many school districts have been feeling the pressure to do more with less, and for the Galesburg School District, that means letting go of 52 employees this year. “Those are the people that are helping make a difference. They’re the one that are helping kids in need,” says Bart Arthur, Galesburg Superintendent.

 

Editorial: Celebrating teachers who help us reach full heights
(Quad Cities Dispatch Argus Leader © 03/27/2014)

“Teachers are heroes, not villains, and it’s time to stop demonizing them.” That was the first line of a column by the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson published on Sept. 17, 2012. It was drawn to our attention by a longtime Q-C teacher grown weary of her profession taking it on the chin for the ills of the state and the nation. Teachers have been getting a lot of grief.

 

Is this how we thank our teachers?
(Chicago Sun Times © 03/27/2014)

Imagine you are in your mid-70s and retired from the Chicago Public Schools for over a decade. You have a comfortable pension because you dedicated 39 years of your life to serve as a teacher and administrator in the school district. When you finished college, you entered the profession you had dreamed about as early as you can remember. You taught in the inner city for most of your career.

 

Good Samaritan bus driver is fired by District 33C
(Trib-local Romeoville © 03/27/2014)

Homer Community Consolidated School District 33C has fired a bus driver who let students exit her bus to shovel out a snowbound car. The school board voted 4-2 to dismiss LuAnn Matejcak over the objections of two parents and a former student. “I believe we’re sending

 

IHSA’s Heart of the Arts Award Winner: Meridian High School’s Jordan Brewer
(WAND (NBC) 17 Decatur © 03/27/2014)

The Illinois High School Association works with high school athletics across the state. It also recognizes a student who puts in the same dedication, passion and hard work it takes to excel at a sport, but has overcome adversity in the classroom. State nominee and winner Jordan Brewer is from Meridian High School. A standout on the field or court can be easy to pick out,

 

 

Parents blast CPS for questioning students about not taking state tests
(Chicago Tribune © 03/27/2014)

Drawing an emotional response from the audience, more than a dozen Chicago Public School parents voiced complaints at Wednesday’s school board meeting over how the district questioned their children about their decision to not to take the Illinois Standards Achievement Test when it was administered earlier this month. Parents who didn’t want their children to take the

 

 

District 299: The Inside Scoop on CPS

 

Folks are upset about the doubled $10M CPS furniture budget — but not Emanuel. Closings worked over all, says Byrd-Bennett — the Trib editorial Board agrees (especially on school safety) but Catalyst not so much. Drummond parents and CTU expressed dismay at the ISAT opt out situation in which their children were asked about why they opted out. Only 3 of 50 closed schools are occupied, reports WTTW.  Schools nationwide are segregated racially, according to a new report whose author somehow blames charter schools.

 

FURNITURE COSTS
Emanuel defends CPS decision to spend $9.5 million on furniture Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has questioned the rationale of doubling the furniture budget to outfit the new central office and eight satellite offices in a system still reeling from 50 school closings and devastating cuts to school ..

 

Parents Slam CPS Plans To Spend Nearly $10M On Office Furniture CBS Local: Protesters outside Wednesday’s board meeting were upset the district plans to double its furniture budget at the same time CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett has proposed a major overhaul known as a “turnaround” at three schools next year.

 

CLOSINGS WORKED!?

 

So far, so good Tribune editorial: A Chicago police spokesman tells us there have been “no major incidents involving students on Safe Passage routes during the program’s operational hours.” Students have reached their new schools safely, with the help of thousands of Safe Passage escorts. That’s no guarantee something won’t happen in the future — no student anywhere has such a guarantee. But so far, so good. Give credit to CPS, to Chicago police and especially to the 1,200 hardy Safe Passage escorts who shepherd students every day along 92 routes.

 

Byrd-Bennett declares school closing process a success Chicago Sun-Times:Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, reminded board members that the transition has not been entirely seamless. “There are still 800 students unaccounted for from the entire move last year,” she said.

 

CPS touts minute improvements for students from closed schools Catalyst: In her first update on what has happened to the roughly 12,000 students whose schools were closed at the end of last school year, Byrd-Bennett told board members on Wednesday that dire predictions of chaos did not come true.“We’re stronger today than we were before and better positioned than we were before,” she said. “Students impacted by the consolidations are making academic gains.”But the CEO’s preliminary report does not show substantial gains.

 

Closed School Buildings Chicago Tonight: The timeline also calls for walk-throughs in the closed schools.  The walk-throughs were canceled after CPS decided the request for real estate brokers to submit proposals on how they would sell the vacant buildings was not ready. “What we discovered after we put the RFP out, it didn’t really capture the unique nature of what we were asking the real estate community to do so we basically pulled it back,” Tyrrell said.

 

TESTING / PARENTS

 

Parents blast CPS for questioning students about not taking state tests Tribune: Chicago Tribune: Some teachers also launched a boycott of the test, officials with the Chicago Teachers Union said at the time. A coalition of anti-testing advocates said parents at more than 70 district schools submitted letters telling administrators they don’t want …

 

ISAT boycott controversy boils over at Chicago Public Schools board meeting ABC7Chicago:  ”We are obliged to investigate allegations of staff misconduct around ISAT testing in a handful of situations,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Earlier this month, teachers at Saucedo Academy refused to administer the Illinois Standard Achievement …

 

ISAT Probe Prompts ‘Livid’ Parents, Teachers to Berate School Board DNAinfo: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called the ISAT a “meaningless” test, but basically threw up her hands in addressing the board on the matter, saying, “Do what you have to do.” CTU has previously made it clear it will defend any teacher …

 

CPS In Hot Water Over ISAT, AUSL & Plan To Spend $10M On Furniture Progress IL: “This investigation has backfired at you,” said Anne Carlson, a parent of a Thomas Drummond Montessori School student. She also teaches at the school. “Parents and teachers are livid with you … that CPS would bully 8 year-olds in a witch hunt.”

 

MISC

 

South Side Schools Thread CPS Obsessed: My name is Maureen Kelleher and I spent 10 year covering CPS for Catalyst Chicago, mostly focused on high schools. For this post I’m going to list schools by neighborhood that are (or perhaps should be) getting buzz on the blog and invite South Side readers to add, comment and share their impressions.

 

For more Chicago jobs, fix Chicago’s schools Chicago Tribune: In our series on a new Plan of Chicago, we’ve focused on how Chicago can spread the prosperity of wealthier precincts of the Loop and Near North Side to all neighborhoods.

 

Report Looks at Most Racially Segregated U.S. Schools NBC Chicago: In New York City, Orfield said, a system of unscreened “choice” schools would foster more diversity than the current New York City high school choice system, which sees entrance tests at top schools excluding most black and Latino students.

 

NATIONAL

 

Early response to Smarter Balanced field tests encouraging LA School Report: As the Smarter Balanced field tests got underway yesterday in California and 21 other states, officials are receiving positive feedback from the schools that are participating. The testing starts in LA Unified next Tuesday. By mid-morning yesterday, 16,633 students completed the test and 19,677 students had begun but had not yet finished it.

 

Calif. Testing Waiver Draws Civil Rights Concerns Education Week: In remarks March 14 to the National Association of State Boards of Education at its conference in Arlington, Va., U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defended the decision, saying that allowing millions of California students to participate in the .

 

Report: NY schools are most racially segregated AP: New York state has the most segregated public schools in the nation, with many black and Latino students attending schools with virtually no white classmates, according to a report released Wednesday….

 

Conflict in Laws Could Mean “Double-Testing” for Some Eighth-Graders Texas Tribune: Currently Texas school districts are left with two options for the roughly 23 percent of eighth-graders — about 86,000 students last school year — who take algebra I before they reach high school. The districts could either ignore federal law, which could subject them to penalties, or test them twice — once in algebra I to fulfill state requirements and once under the eighth-grade-level math assessment used for federal accountability purposes.

 

Michelle Obama visits with Chinese students in Chengdu UPI: First lady Michelle Obama spent Tuesday speaking with students about education at the No. 7 School in Chengdu, as a continuation of her education tour of China. She is accompanied by daughters Malia and Sasha and mother Marian Robinson.

 

Why is this Common Core math problem so hard? Supporters respond to quiz that went viral Hechinger Report: Why is the problem so difficult? The Hechinger Report asked a couple of the lead writers of the Common Core math standards, Jason Zimba and William McCallum. Their response? Don’t blame Common Core. Blame a poorly written curriculum.

 

OTHER CITIES

 

With Melendez gone, Garcetti not sure about replacing her LA School Report: A week after his education liaison left to join LA Unified, Mayor Eric Garcetti is reconsidering whether he will even have an education deputy on his staff. Jeff Millman, spokesman for Garcetti, told LA School Report the mayor’s office “has not decided” if it will seek a replacement for Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, who left her post as director of education and workforce development after only seven months on the job.

 

Can The Success Of D.C.’s Best Middle Schools Be Replicated? WAMU: Mayoral contender and D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser said she wants to replicate the educational successes of Alice Deal Middle School. But does the school really offer a model for the whole city?

 

Detroit Parents Can Use New Website to Compare School Ratings, Programs EdWeek: Excellent Schools Detroit, a local coalition of philanthropic, education, and city leaders, in partnership with GreatSchools, a national nonprofit that assists parents find schools and educational resources, developed GreatSchoolsDetroit.org to give parents the ability to compare school ratings, services, and programs, according to a news release. Detroit Deputy Mayor Ike McKinnon helped introduce the website during a press conference Tuesday at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

 

Study Examines How School Boards Contribute to ‘Beat the Odds’ Districts EdWeek:  A new report finds that school board elections and board member characteristics can impact student achievement within districts.

 

Education groups lobby against building aid for charter schools ChalkbeatNY: A coalition of the state’s seven biggest education organizations are “vigorously opposing” a proposal to provide state building aid to charter schools. “Anything that is going to detract from getting aid to the public schools is a problem for us and that certainly is the case for the building aid,” ECF Chair John Yagielski said in an interview.

 

The Montessori Mafia – Ideas Market – WSJ.

It may seem like a laughable “only in New York” story that Manhattan mother, Nicole Imprescia, is suing her 4-year-old daughter’s untraditional private preschool for failing to prepare her for a private school admissions exam.

 

 

Political News

 

State education spending would remain generally flat in budget
(Decatur Herald and Review © 03/27/2014)

Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to extend the temporary income tax would not translate into big gains for schools and universities next year. Under the governor’s budget proposal, public schools would see an additional $236 million over the current budget, which is less than a quarter of the ambitious funding request put forth by the Illinois State Board of Education earlier this year.

 

Madigan to Call Vote on Tax Increase This Spring
(WIFR (CBS) 23 Rockford © 03/27/2014)

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says he plans to call a vote on making the state’s tax increase permanent. Madigan is chairman of the state Democratic party and has served as speaker for nearly 30 years. He made the comments during an interview for the public television show Illinois Lawmakers following Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget address

 

Rep. Brady: Cut spending before makig tax hike permanent
(WJBC AM 1230 Bloomington © 03/27/2014)

State Rep. Dan Brady is calling for lawmakers to reject an extension of the 2011 income tax increase. (WJBC file photo) By Eric Stock BLOOMINGTON – It appears Gov. Pat Quinn wants the state’s 67 percent income tax increase to continue in 2015 when it’s due to expire. He’s expected to call for the tax hike to be made permanent when he delivers his budget address in Springfield on Wednesday.

 

Quinn wants tax hike permanent for property tax credit
(WREX (NBC) 13 Rockford © 03/27/2014)

Governor Pat Quinn rolls out a new budget for Illinois that includes making a temporary tax hike permanent. That should also mean property tax relief. But some of the local lawmakers say they are not buying it.   The income tax hike extension which is at 5-percent is set to expire at the end of the year. That would leave the state with more than a billion…

 

Full Audio: Governor Quinns 2014 Budget Address
(WUIS 91.9 PBR (Springfield) © 03/27/2014)

Governor Pat Quinn delivered his annual budget address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly….

 

Quinn on cuts: extreme and radical
(Champaign News Gazette © 03/26/2014)

Gov. Pat Quinn outlined his case Wednesday for making Illinois’ temporary income tax increase permanent, predicting “extreme and radical” budget cuts to schools and services without “stabilized” revenue.

 

No big gains for schools, universities under Quinn budget
(Bloomington Pantagraph © 03/27/2014)

Under the governor’s budget proposal, public schools would see an additional $236 million over the current budget, which is less than a quarter of the ambitious funding request put forth by the Illinois State Board of Education earlier this year. Universities, for the most part, would receive the same amount of money they are getting this year, even though that amount remains less than what they…

 

Local coalition leaves for Springfield to fight for more education spending

A group of local unions and organizations will head to Springfield to try and convince state leaders to spend more on schools. The group says a major reason for school district’s all across the state firing staff and cutting programs is because the state hasn’t funded education the way it should.

 

Breaking Down Quinns State Budget Address
(Progress Illinois © 03/27/2014)

After months of being mum on the issue, Gov. Pat Quinn used his budget address Wednesday to announce his desire to keep the state’s temporary income tax hike in place — an idea many Republicans and business groups oppose. The Chicago Democrat, who is up for re-election this year and faces what is expected to be an intense battle against Republican venture capitalist Bruce

 

Kadner: School, taxes and a little truth
(Chicago Daily Southtown © 03/27/2014)

“For too long, Illinois has underfunded its schools and overburdened its property taxpayers,” Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday. Well, it’s hard to argue with a man who repeats a message that I’ve been sending to readers of this column for 20 years. The property tax is the most unfair tax of all and not based on ability to pay,

 

How would Quinn’s property tax break work?
(Chicago Daily Herald © 03/27/2014)

A proposed $500 property tax break in Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget plan would replace an existing credit and would give the least additional help to people in relatively wealthy areas like some suburbs. Illinois lets you claim an income tax credit of 5 percent of your property taxes now. So, for example, a homeowner who pays $5,000 in taxes in a year can get a $250 credit …

 

Brown: Quinn’s ‘guaranteed’ property tax refund costly for some homeowners
(Chicago Sun Times © 03/27/2014)

Leave it to Gov. Pat Quinn to tout a “guaranteed $500 property tax refund” for “every homeowner in Illinois” without mentioning that it’s actually a tax increase for some of those homeowners. Quinn makes it difficult to be in his corner sometimes. The governor proposed the property tax refund Wednesday as the sweetener to help Illinoisans swallow his decision to make permanent the “temporary” in…

 

Many Illinois voters with memories won’t trust Gov. Quinn’s tax plan
(Chicago Tribune © 03/27/2014)

In outlining his budget blueprint Wednesday in Springfield, Gov. Pat Quinn surprised no one when he called for the permanent extension of current income tax rates. Yes, those are the rates that, according to the law Quinn signed Jan. 13, 2011, are to start receding on Jan. 1. He surprised no one when he blamed other people’s poor fiscal practices “that I inherited” for this state’s disastrous fin…

 

Area lawmakers mostly dismiss Quinn’s tax plan
(Decatur Herald and Review © 03/27/2014)

Even before Gov. Pat Quinn outlined his budget blueprint Wednesday, his fellow Democrats were looking at other options to fill a gap left by the looming rollback of the state’s temporary income tax increase. In a meeting held an hour before Quinn unveiled his plan, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, convened a closed-door meeting of Democrats in the House

 

Quinn budget speech lacks plan for infrastructure
(Decatur Herald and Review © 03/27/2014)

Missing from Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget blueprint Wednesday was a plan to keep improving Illinois roads, bridges and schools. With the state’s current $31 billion capital construction program coming to an end this year, the Democrat from Chicago offered up no ideas Wednesday on how to keep the bulldozers running. Instead, Quinn said he wants to form a bipartisan committee to come up …

 

Quinn address springs no surprises on area lawmakers
(Effingham Daily News © 03/27/2014)

Area legislators weren’t surprised by anything Gov. Pat Quinn had to say during his annual budget address. There were no real surprises, said Rep. David Reis, R-Ste. Marie. We’re not surprised they (Quinn and the Democratic majority in the General Assembly) have continued to expand government programs at an alarming rate.

 

Quinn: Extending income tax hike is ‘tough choice’
(Jacksonville Journal Courier © 03/27/2014)

Gov. Pat Quinn knows trying to make the state’s temporary income tax increase permanent will be a “tough choice” for Illinois lawmakers, but the issue could be even tougher for voters who’ll decide if the Chicago Democrat gets another term. Extending the tax increase – which is scheduled to roll back in January, leaving a roughly $1.6 billion revenue hole –

 

Chuck Sweeny: Rockford-area lawmakers skeptical on Gov. Pat Quinn tax extension
(Rockford Register Star © 03/27/2014)

Rockford-area lawmakers reacted with some skepticism to Gov. Pat Quinns call to make his 67 percent income tax increase permanent. Put in place three years ago, the 5 percent income tax is supposed to shrink to 3.75 percent at the end of the year. Quinn made the pitch Wednesday in his budget speech to the General Assembly. I dont know if thats the best way to go, said state Rep. Chuck Jefferson, D…

 

Our View: Support of tax hike likely to haunt governor
(DeKalb Daily Chronicle © 03/27/2014)

There were some glaring contradictions in Gov. Pat Quinns budget speech in Springfield on Wednesday. Quinn talked about Illinois being in a stronger position now than five years ago, despite an 8.7 percent unemployment rate, 13 reductions in the states credit rating, and interest payments on unpaid obligations at an all-time high at $318 million a year. He touted reforms to the states pension …

 

Editorial: Governor only weakening his own credibility
(Arlington Heights Daily Herald © 03/27/2014)

The promise that Illinois’ largest income tax increase in history would be rolled back next year has become its thinnest since being delivered nearly four years ago. Even then many believed the 5 percent tax would be here to stay. But as we learned from Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget proposal on Wednesday, the way he wants to rescue Illinois’ economy from drowning is to keep

 

Two longtime friend cross swords in gov race
(Chicago Sun Times © 03/27/2014)

Two long-time Democrats – and old friends – crossed swords this week in the Tribune. They grew up together and clerked on the Supreme Court together. Newt Minow, FCC chairman under President Kennedy, explained why he would be voting for Bruce Rauner for governor. Abner Mikva, former congressman and chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote that Newt was “wrong, wrong, wrong.”

 

Another Democrat for Rauner
(Chicago Tribune © 03/27/2014)

Abner Mikva makes a decent case today for re-electing Gov. Pat Quinn while taking umbrage with a fellow Democrat, Newton Minow, for the latter’s support of Bruce Rauner for governor. I, too, am a Democrat and like Mr. Minow, will probably vote for the Republican. Here is why: As reported in the March 26 Tribune, Quinn announced his budget, which includes a continuation of the 5 percent …

 

Letter: IEA calls didnt have an impact
(Champaign News Gazette © 03/27/2014)

I don’t think that a recent letter writer, Vince Koers, is completely accurate in some of the facts in his letter. He said that scores of Democratic poll workers were sufficiently uninformed about the election laws to resist the baited offer to ask for a Republican ballot in the March 18 primary election and vote for Kirk Dillard, as directed by a phone call from the Illinois Education Association…

 

 

National News


Northwestern ruling could ‘rattle the universe of universities’

Chicago Tribune

The National Collegiate Athletic Association and universities set the rules and cut the lucrative deals with TV networks and sponsors, exerting near total control over the activities of players known as “student athletes.” But now those football players, at least at …

 

Union ruling comes at bad time for NCAA
(Bloomington Pantagraph © 03/27/2014)

They’re battling in courtrooms, and could one day meet over a bargaining table. About the only things the two sides in the debate over big-time college athletics agree on is that things are changing. Schools bringing in hundreds of millions in bloated television contracts. Coaches making the kind of salaries that late UCLA legend John Wooden wouldn’t recognize. Athletes insisting on basic rights,…

 

College Athletes Can Unionize, Federal Agency Says
(Chicago WMAQ (NBC) 5 © 03/26/2014)

The National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday ruled college athletes are considered employees, a decision that moves Northwestern University football players a step closer to forming the nation’s first college athletes’ union. …

 

Labor board: Northwestern University football players can unionize

CNN

Last week, Northwestern University’s president emeritus said that if the football players were successful forming a union, he could see the prestigious private institution giving up Division I football. “If we got into collective bargaining situations, I would not take …

 

Reaction to ruling on college athletes’ union

Washington Post

Reaction to the ruling by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board that football players at Northwestern University can create the nation’s first union of college athletes.

 

 

1. Baxter to split into 2 companies

Baxter International plans to split into two companies: one for developing and marketing biopharmaceuticals, and one for medical products. More on the breaking story from Chicago Health Care Daily.

2. Northwestern union decision: What’s next?

The Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board made history yesterday by declaring Northwestern football players employees of the school, but Crain’s Danny Ecker points out there are other hurdles to clear before we see players begin to collectively bargain.

3. Population in Chicago area lags other big cities

The metropolitan Chicago region only added an estimated 23,230 residents last year, census figures show. Meanwhile, big cities like Houston, Dallas, New York and Los Angeles are booming. Crain’s Greg Hinz has more.

4. Cook County to award $1.8B contract for CountyCare

The Cook County Health & Hospitals System is seeking approval for a mammoth deal with IlliniCare Health Plan to run the day-to-day operations of its Medicaid managed care initiative, CountyCare. Chicago Health Care Daily has details.

5. Northern Trust returning up to 90% of earnings to shareholders

The Chicago bank hiked its dividend and share-buyback program above what Wall Street had forecast, after the Federal Reserve Board allowed Northern Trust’s capital plan to go forward. Crain’s reports.

6. Kentech: Take two

Ken Coats was forced to scrap his original business model for River North-based Kentech after he ran up against a powerful lobby: attorneys. “As an entrepreneur, sometimes you have to pivot,” he says. Today Mr. Coats has one of the fastest-growing security companies in the U.S. Read Crain’s profile.

7. 1970s cans making Miller Lite cool again

It turns out, all Chicago-based MillerCoors had to do to revive its struggling Miller Lite brand was look backward. The limited edition 1970s-era packaging that began late last year has proven so successful that the brand is making it the cornerstone of its 2014 marketing plans, writes Ad Age.

8. How Walgreen ended up competing with itself

As Walgreen announces plans this week to shutter 76 stores — some of which are located near other Walgreen stores — Fortune asks: Why were they opened in the first place?

9. ANA splits $16B order between Boeing, Airbus

The order is significant for Boeing after losing a $9.5 billion deal by Japan Airlines Co. to Airbus last year that enabled the European company to gain a foothold in Japan, where the Chicago-based company has had a near-monopoly since World War II, writes Bloomberg.

10. Taco Bell’s new star? Ronald McDonalds

It’s not that Ronald McDonald. The Ronald McDonalds starring in Taco Bell’s new ads lack the bright red hair and yellow jumpsuit of McDonald’s pitchman. Instead, Taco Bell tracked down everyday men who also happen to have the name “Ronald McDonald” to promote its new breakfast menu. Read the story from Ad Age here.

 

 

TIME.COM

 

Christie’s Lawyers ‘Clear’ Gov

A two-month investigation by a team of lawyers hired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has determined he wasn’t at fault for the lane closure scandal last year that disrupted his presidential prospects, but other investigations are ongoing

 

Inside Facebook’s $2 Billion Virtual Reality Machine

How a 19-year-old hacker behind Oculus Rift set out to invent a gaming headset but ended up reviving a dead technology and building a global communications platform, worth $2 billion to Facebook in a surprise deal announced this week

 

These Ronald McDonalds Love Taco Bell’s Breakfast

A clever ad for its new breakfast options, an aim to hit at McDonald’s domination of the market, includes a bunch of people who share the same name as Ronald McDonald but proclaim their love for Taco Bell’s new morning offerings

 

Exclusive: McConnell Would Govern Like This Democrat

The Senate Minority Leader tells TIME who he would aim to emulate the most should he become Senate Majority Leader next year and also talks partisanship, the importance of congeniality and how Kentucky has changed over the last 29 years

 

Powerful Pals Rally Around Putin Despite Sanctions

The Russian President’s childhood judo buddies, the Rotenberg brothers, felt the sting from the U.S. blacklist. But like other members of his St. Petersburg circle, as well as the Kremlin elite more generally, they’re not likely to change their ways

 

Pair of Boston Firefighters Die in Massive Blaze

Lt. Ed Walsh and Michael Kennedy were killed battling a nine-alarm fire that raged in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood for hours late Wednesday. Eighteen people overall were taken to nearby hospitals with injuries connected to the fire

 

 

The Washington Post

 

Big-time college football players are paid employees, says historic ruling. Here’s why.

A federal labor official ruled Wednesday that big-time college football players on a full ride are exactly what many critics always thought they were: paid employees of their universities. They get compensated not for attending school but for playing football. Unlike students on scholarship, they thus are legally entitled to form a union.
Secret Service incident in Netherlands was on heels of car wreck during Obama’s Miami trip

As the U.S. Secret Service arrived in the Netherlands last weekend for a presidential trip, managers were already on high alert to avoid any further em­barrassing incidents involving agents.
Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sissi declares intent to run for presidency

CAIRO — Three years ago, Abdel Fatah al-Sissi was a mostly unknown member of a council of Egypt’s top military officers. On Wednesday, the field marshal, whose image is now plastered on billboards and chocolate bars, declared what everyone in this nation was expecting — that he would run for president, a position he is virtually certain to win.
India’s middle class increasingly rejects motorcades, perks for VIPs

NEW DELHI — A prominent Indian lawyer was stuck in traffic for nearly two hours, waiting for dozens of VIP motorcades to sail by on their way to a politician’s funeral. If he ever got out of the jam, Harish Salve vowed, he would do something about a phenomenon that has spun out of control.
Relisha Rudd’s difficult past comes into focus

Relisha Rudd’s absences piled up at Daniel A. Payne Elementary School, topping 30 days this year before someone notified the D.C. Child and Family Service Agency on March 13. But it took an additional six days before the city agency took action. By then, Relisha, 8, had gone missing.
Obama, in Brussels speech, prods Europe to stand up to Russia, bolster NATO

BRUSSELS — President Obama attempted Wednesday to rouse Europe to confront Russia’s military seizure of Crimea, framing the West’s dispute with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a clash of ideologies lingering from the Cold War.

 

 

Word of the Day  Thursday, March 27, 2014

 

plash

\ plash \  , noun; 

 

1. a gentle splash.

2. a pool or puddle.

 

verb:

1. to splash gently.