The protests in Wisconsin against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget have entered an eighth day, with tens of thousands of pro-labor union workers still crowding the streets of Madison. On Saturday, small government activists turned up to support Walker's bill, which would eliminate the collective bargaining rights of many unionized workers. But beyond the political drama, there are plenty of bizarre stories emerging from the protests. Here, five of the weirdest:
1. Doctors handing out sick notes
Teachers who have skipped school to protest may be concerned about how to explain their absence. Doctors sympathetic to the protesters may have found a quasi-legal solution: Bogus sick notes. Doctors, some from the University of Wisconsin, handed out hundreds of notes explaining that public employees were absent due to "stress." It's unlikely the doctors will get away with it, though, says Ford Vox at The Atlantic. The university is looking into the sick note scandal, and outrage is mounting. "These doctors sacrificed a slice of the medical profession's credibility for a political cause." They'll likely pay for this "high-profile infraction of professional ethics."
2. Divided factions united by... beer
After the dueling demonstrations on Saturday, Reuters reports, protesters from both sides of the divide escaped to one of the city center's numerous bars for "remarkably civil" debates on the issues "over pints of Evil Doppleganger Double Mai Bock and Lost Lake Pilsner." Said one bill supporter, "Beer is something we can all agree on."
3. Egypt expresses solidarity through pizza
Some observers have compared the situation in Wisconsin with Egypt's successful revolt against the Mubarak regime, and it appears at least a few Egyptians seem similarities, too. Local pizzeria Ian's on State Street has received contributions from 12 countries, including Egypt, and more than 30 U.S. states, to pay for more than 300 pizza pies served to hungry protesters. This must be encouraging for the protesters, says Jesse Singal at The Boston Globe, both because it boosts morale and "because, well, people need to eat."
4. Raging against the Scott Walker Machine
Chilly protesters in central Madison have been warmed not only by free pizza, but also by a free concert from Rage Against The Machine musician Tom Morello. The anarchic guitarist — who has a long history of supporting liberal politics — performed on Sunday alongside Wayne Kramer of punk band MC5. The two played Woody Guthrie's union anthem "This Land is Your Land." Is it just me, says Dan Amira at New York, or is this the "best union conflict ever!"
5. Fox News viewers hear that "Fox Lies"
It's no surprise that the left-leaning protesters in Wisconsin would target Fox News. But it was surprising that Fox would be forced to broadcast such protests during live coverage of the Madison stand-off. Viewers of Fox News and Fox Business repeatedly saw signs saying "Fox News Will Lie About This," and heard protesters chanting "Fox Lies." Anchor Stuart Varney told drowned-out correspondent Brett Healey that it was "interesting" that the crowd has "such a commitment to free speech that they will shout you down."