Teacher strike ends
Teacher strike ends
Oklahoma teachers ended a nine-day statewide strike last week after winning the largest pay hike in state history. But they failed to compel lawmakers to reverse a decade’s worth of steep cuts to education funding. The walkout started on April 2, just after Oklahoma lawmakers voted to grant teachers an average raise of $6,000, with educators hoping to win more concessions. Lawmakers later passed an additional $40 million in education funding, though that figure fell well short of educators’ demands. Union leaders still called for the strike’s end, urging teachers to shift their efforts to electing sympathetic legislators in the midterm elections. “There comes a time, when if what you’re doing is not getting the results you seek, there is wisdom in shifting focus,” said Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association. “While the walkout is ending today, and we’re going back to school, we are not just giving up and going home.”
Barbara Bush dies
Tributes poured in this week for former first lady Barbara Bush, who died at her home in Houston two days after deciding not to seek further medical treatment. The 92-year-old had been struggling with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure. Bush is the only woman besides Abigail Adams to have been married to one president and parent to another, as wife to George H.W. Bush and mother to George W. Bush. Politicians on both sides of the aisle hailed Bush’s lifelong commitment to volunteerism and literacy. Former President Obama called Bush “the rock of a family dedicated to public service,” while Sen. Mitch McConnell lauded her “renowned toughness.” Her 73-year marriage is the longest in presidential history. “[George Sr.] held her hand all day today and was at her side when she left this good earth,” said family spokesman Jim McGrath.
Jefferson City, Mo.
Calls intensified this week for Republican Gov. Eric Greitens to resign, after an investigation into an affair he had with his hairdresser in 2015 detailed lurid claims of physical violence and blackmail. The unnamed woman testified to a Missouri House committee that her sexual encounters with Greitens weren’t always consensual and were occasionally violent. She said the first time they were together he took a photo of her blindfolded and tied to exercise equipment, then threatened to release the picture if she exposed their relationship. Greitens, who has admitted to the affair, denied the allegations and attacked the investigation as a “political witch hunt.” But all the state’s Republican leaders called on him to stand down. His legal woes increased this week, when Missouri’s attorney general said he had evidence Greitens used his charity’s donor list for political fundraising—a possible felony.
North Korea trip
CIA Director Mike Pompeo secretly traveled to North Korea, where he met with Kim Jong Un to prepare for face-to-face talks between the dictator and President Trump, the White House confirmed this week. “Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed,” Trump tweeted of the clandestine talks over the Easter weekend, which are the highest-level contact the two countries have had since 2000. The president told reporters that he expects to meet with Kim in early June. U.S. officials have signaled that Kim is willing to negotiate the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, though what exactly that means is not clear. In the past, North Korea has insisted that denuclearization should include not only the dismantling of Pyongyang’s nuclear program but also the removal of U.S. troops from South Korea, and an end to the U.S. nuclear security umbrella for the region. The U.S. has long rejected such terms.
Starbucks under fire
Starbucks announced this week that it will close more than 8,000 U.S. stores for several hours next month to give staff “racial bias” training, after the arrests of two black men in a downtown Philadelphia outlet sparked widespread outrage. The men had asked to use the store’s bathroom; when the manager told them they had to purchase something, they refused and sat down, saying they were waiting for someone. The employee asked them to leave and called the police when they declined to do so. The two men were arrested for trespassing and held for nearly nine hours before being released without charge. Footage of the arrests went viral and sparked days of protests at the store. The coffee chain’s CEO, Kevin Johnson, apologized for the “reprehensible” incident and met the two men to offer a personal apology. Starbucks said the employee responsible was no longer with the company.
A Southwest Airlines jet was forced to make a harrowing emergency landing in Philadelphia this week after an engine explosion sent shrapnel through one of its windows, resulting in the death of a passenger who was partially sucked out of the aircraft. The plane carrying 149 people was 20 minutes into a flight from New York City to Dallas when passengers heard a loud boom from the left side and oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. Jennifer Riordan, a Wells Fargo executive from Albuquerque, was pulled partly out of the blown-out window as the cabin depressurized. Several passengers pulled her back inside, but she was bleeding and badly injured and was later pronounced dead at a hospital. It’s the first U.S. airline passenger death since 2009. Passengers praised pilot Tammie Jo Shults, a former Navy fighter pilot, for preventing an even worse tragedy. “She has nerves of steel,” passenger Alfred Tumlinson said. Investigators said they found signs of “metal fatigue” in the left engine.