Tuesday morning news: January 15, 2019

LA teachers strike » AUDIO: UTLA! UTLA!

Union leaders from United Teachers Los Angeles leading demonstrations Monday, after tens of thousands of teachers in the LA Unified School District walked out. The strike came after contract negotiations broke down on Friday.

Union president Alex-Caputo Pearl called it a fight for the soul of public education.

PEARL: On a rainy day in the richest country in the world, in the richest state in the country, in a state as blue as it can be, and in a city rife with millionaires where teachers have to go on strike to get the basics for our students. 

Schools remain open during the strike, with the district hiring hundreds of substitutes to fill in for teachers and other staff.

Superintendent Austin Beutner said the district is committed to resolving the dispute.

BEUTNER: We made our last proposal to UTLA on Friday, which was rejected. They walked away from bargaining. We would encourage them, we urge them to resume bargaining with us anytime, anywhere, 24/7. We’d like to resolve this. 

The district’s latest offer included adding nearly 1,200 new teachers, counselors, nurses, and librarians. The district also proposed capping classes at between 32 and 39 students along with a previously proposed 6 percent pay raise over a few years. The union wants an immediate 6.5 percent hike, effective retroactively to fiscal year 2017.  

The district says that demand would bankrupt the school system.

Trump threatens sanctions against Turkey if its military attacks U.S. allies in Syria » President Trump this week warned that if Turkey attacks U.S. backed Kurdish forces in Syria, the U.S. will—quote—“devastate Turkey economically.”

The sanctions threat drew a sharp response from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, who said “Terrorists can’t be your partners & allies.” The Turkish government considers the Kurdish militia known as YPG to be a terrorist group even though it is allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS.

President Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria leaves the group vulnerable to an attack from Turkey.

The U.S. withdrawal began last week with shipments of military equipment. In the coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 troops is expected to depart.

Judge freezes contraceptive mandate rules » A federal judge in California has blocked new Trump administration rules in more than a dozen states that would have expanded the number of companies that can opt out of the Obamacare contraceptive and abortifacient mandate. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. granted a request for a preliminary injunction by 13 Democrat-governed states and the District of Columbia.

All of them are suing the Trump administration over the rules.

For now, the injunction applies only to the states involved in the lawsuit. But a different federal judge could issue a nationwide injunction in a Pennsylvania case any day.

Obamacare requires employee health plans to include free contraceptives and abortifacients. But the Trump administration rules would allow more employers—including publicly traded companies—to opt out if they have religious or moral objections.

Houses of worship and certain privately held companies are already exempt.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announces White House bid » Another White House hopeful is making an early push for the Democratic presidential nod. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has officially announced her candidacy.

The 37-year-old Iraq War veteran told CNN…

GABBARD: There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I’m concerned about and that I want to help solve. 

She listed healthcare, criminal justice reform and the environment as a few of the issues she’ll focus on.

Gabbard is the first Hindu elected to Congress and the first member born in the U.S. territory of American Samoa.

Pacific Gas and Electric files for bankruptcy » One of the largest utility providers in the country said Monday it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the face of massive potential liabilities from deadly California wildfires.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company CEO Geisha Williams resigned on Sunday and the company’s share price plunged by 50 percent Monday morning.

PG&E provides natural gas and electricity to about 16 million people in most of the northern two-thirds of California. State fire investigators have blamed the company for wildfires that broke out in Northern California in October 2017. The company also faces potential liability for wildfires in 2018.

China sentences Canadian man to death in rare retrial » A Chinese court on Monday sentenced a Canadian man to death, ratcheting up tensions between the two countries. WORLD Radio’s Leigh jones has that story.

LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: Following a rare and sudden retrial, the court announced it had sentenced Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death. That reversed a 2016 ruling sentencing him to 15 years in prison in a drug smuggling case.

Schellenberg’s new sentence comes as China continues to demand that Canada release Chinese business executive Meng Wanzhou. Canadian officials detained her late last year on behalf of the United States.

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made clear he thinks the two things are connected. He said “all countries around the world” should be concerned that Beijing is acting arbitrarily with its justice system, especially when it comes to the death penalty.

China also recently detained two other Canadian citizens.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) In this Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, photo, United Teachers Los Angeles, UTLA president, Alex Caputo-Pearl, left, joins teachers at a rally next to the Broad Museum downtown Los Angeles. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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