A Turn For The Worse

Grind for January 18th, 2019
“Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them.”

– Napoleon Bonaparte

Deja Vu

The Headline

ISIS attack in Syria kills soldiers and civilians

The Grind

At least three US soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber last week while conducting a routine control in the Syrian city of Manbij – which for months has been the focus of intense conflict from all sides involved in the war.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred in Kurdish-controlled territory. The blast also killed a handful of Kurdish fighters and civilians.

News of the attack comes less than a month after Trump claimed ISIS was defeated and announced the total withdrawal of troops stationed in Syria.

The Details

The attack highlights the need for a slow, coordinated withdrawal rather than a quick pullout, as Trump had suggested.

During a trip to Israel earlier this month, National Security Advisor John Bolton made it clear the Trump Administration would withdraw troops in a manner that ensures the defeat of ISIS and the safety of our allies.

“The President has been fully briefed and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Syria,” said WH spokesperson Sarah Sanders.

A Cry For Help

The Headline

LA teachers on strike amid impasse with city officials; thousands absent from school Monday and Tuesday

The Grind

Members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) called a strike on Monday after failing to negotiate a deal with the LA Unified School District.

The district serves over half a million students, making it the second-largest in the nation.

Teachers are demanding higher pay, additional staff, smaller class sizes, and accountability for charter schools. Last week, teachers rejected the district’s offer to allocate an additional $130 million towards the union’s objectives.

“So here we are on a rainy day in the richest country in the world, in the richest state in the world, in a state as blue as it can be, in a city rife with millionaires, where teachers have to go on strike to get the basics for our students,” said UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl.

The Details

Despite the absence of its teachers, the school district managed to keep its 1,000+ schools open with the help of substitute teachers and 12,000 volunteers.

To mitigate the effects of the strike on parents, the city has extended hours at recreation centers, boosted staffing at libraries, and is offering free admission at the Natural History museum.

In South LA, volunteer groups arranged lunch for poor families and have offered free tutoring for high school kids working on college applications.

The strike is unsurprising considering the conditions for teachers living in Los Angeles.

Wages are stagnant, the cost-of-living is out of control, infrastructure is crumbling, taxes are high, energy is expensive, traffic is a nightmare, and affordable housing is scarce.

Schools lack adequate staffing and the average class size has swelled to 42. Some schools don’t have a full-time counselor, nurse, or librarian.

To make matters worse, the high number of absences caused by the strike could make it even harder for schools to obtain funding – because funding is linked to attendance.

According to Superintended Austin Beutner, the strike has already cost the district over $25 million in funding. Teachers themselves lost $10 million.

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