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The LA teacher strikes continue; a North Korean official visits Washington.


Day four of the LA teachers strike

 Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Negotiations resumed Thursday between the LA teachers union and district leaders. Hundreds of teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District have been on strike since Monday after talks with officials over contract changes stalled last week. [LA Times / Howard Blume]
  • The teachers union has pretty clear demands: a 6.5 percent pay raise, smaller class sizes, reduced standardized testing and increased support staff, such as full-time nurses. Officials agree with teachers that the system needs to change but reject such a high spending increase. [Vox / Amanda Sakuma]
  • The union and the school district have been negotiating these terms for two years, and it’s grown increasingly personal on both sides. Teachers have made direct accusations that the school system has the money but refuses to spend it. Meanwhile, the district unsuccessfully tried to get federal courts to block teachers from striking. [Vox / Amanda Sakuma]
  • Schools are open, but without teachers in the classroom, student absences are increasing each day. This is a problem for schools because state funding depends on attendance numbers. So far, schools are losing $10 million to $15 million per day. [LA Times / Howard Blume]
  • A strike happened in LA 30 years ago for similar reasons. One big difference is a 287 percent increase in the number of charter schools, which compete with traditional public schools for students, teachers, and resources. [Al Jazeera]
  • This movement isn’t alone. Teachers from the Chicago International Charter School announced today that they would go on strike at the start of February if their contract demands aren’t met. [Chicago Tribune / Juan Perez Jr.]
  • The strike has even drawn celebrity attention. Musician Steven Van Zandt was seen picketing yesterday. The school district heavily relies on charity donations such as those provided by Van Zandt’s TeachRock program. [Rolling Stone / David Browne]

A visit from a North Korean official

  • North Korean official Kim Yong Chol will arrive in Washington to meet with President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tomorrow. The meeting comes a day after Vice President Mike Pence said North Korea had taken no steps to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. [NYT / David E. Sanger]
  • Chol reportedly will deliver a letter from Kim Jong Un to Trump. Presidential spokespeople have yet to officially confirm the exchange, but Pompeo unexpectedly shortened his visit to Kuwait and is returning to Washington today. [Washington Post / Josh Rogin]
  • Trump is meeting with North Korean representatives during the day Thursday and will likely call for another summit with Kim Jong Un. The president says his dialogue with North Korea last year in Singapore was productive, but there are no visible resolutions to show for it. [Washington Post / Anne Gearan and John Hudson]
  • Denuclearization talks come on the heels of Trump’s announcement today of his intention to renew the Missile Defense Review, a Cold War-era program. His goal is to deter enemy states such as Iran from using their own arsenals. [NYT / William J. Broad and Annie Karni]
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed Kim Jong Un last week, and it’s likely the two coordinated on a strategy to bolster North Korea’s economic priorities. Kim’s denuclearization agenda is removing the threat of using his nuclear weapons, not eliminating their presence altogether. The US wants Kim to completely dismantle his country’s nuclear weapons. [BBC News]
  • Kim could demand that the US lift sanctions on his country in order to bargain on a nuclear agreement. North Korea has yet to make it clear how many weapons it even has, but Kim may use this information to draw concessions from Trump. [Washington Post / Josh Rogin]

Miscellaneous

  • Facebook’s 10-Year Challenge might not just be a harmless meme. Giving photos of yourself in 2009 and 2019 may actually be helping the platform’s facial recognition software. [Wired / Katie O’Neill]
  • We might think all athletes are in perfect shape, but the NFL has a strikingly high obesity rate. [NYT / Ken Belson]
  • Tech companies are often the culprit of skyrocketing living costs. Now Microsoft has pledged $500 million for affordable housing in Seattle. [NYT / Karen Weise]
  • Three Chicago police officers were charged with covering up the 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. After years of controversy, a judge unexpectedly acquitted the officers today. [Chicago Tribune / Megan Crepeau, Christy Gutowski, Jason Meisner, and Stacy St. Clair]
  • On Monday, we wrote about a confidence vote in Greece — the president survived but the future of his country is unclear. [WSJ / Nektaria Stamouli]

Verbatim

“I feel like we need to take some action. I don’t know what type of action, because that’s not what I do, but bitch, I’m scared. This is crazy. And I really feel bad for these people that gotta go to fucking work to not get motherfucking paid.” [Rapper Cardi B in a viral Instagram post addressing the partial government shutdown]


Watch this: Video gambling: not a great way to fun the government

What happened when Illinois legalized machines known as “the crack cocaine of gambling.” [YouTube / Ranjani Chakraborty]


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