Daily Digest: Wisc. Republicans win, heavy-duty House hearing, Minn. was home to huge fraud ring

Katherine Lymn

Your Daily Digest for Thursday, March 10:

A mob of more than 7,000 people rushed the Wisconsin State Capitol Wednesday night after Republicans pushed through a plan to vote on the bargain bill that would strip collective bargaining rights from public workers, according to the Associated Press. The Republicans used a “procedural maneuver” to get to vote on the bill this morning despite a number of Democrats are still out-of-state. They removed parts of the bill that were “technically related” to appropriating funds, thus lifting a requirement that 20 senators were present for a vote. The Senate’s 19 Republicans approved the measure, 18 to 1, “without any debate on the floor or a single Democrat in the room,” according to the New York Times. Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the chief author of the bill, said the cuts are necessary to bridge the $3.6 million hole in the state’s budget for next year. Dems and unions say it’s a political move to weaken the labor unions, a pillar of strength for the democratic party. One of the Democrats that fled the state in an attempt to flee the vote, Sen. Jon Erpenbach, said the situation will likely end up in court, alleging the Republicans violated some state open meetings laws. Back at the Capitol, police have given up fighting the protesters in order to avoid confrontation.

Rep. Keith Ellison is the star witness as he reps Minnesota at the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee hearings on the extent of radicalization of American Muslims. Ellison, a Muslim America himself, teared up at times during his testimony defending Muslims in America. See his interview with MinnPost here. At the hearing, he reeled off numerous stories of Muslims that have been persecuted or killed in America for their beliefs. Rep. Peter King, Rep-N.Y., chairman of the committee, clashed with colleagues at the committee, and faced controversy leading up to the hearing because of accusations of McCarthyism. Muslims and law enforcement officials fear the hearing would be “explosive” and would serve as a catalyst to action for extremists, the New York Times reported.  Muslims fear the hearings will result in further stereotypes and persecution. The hearings began this morning and are expected to continue until about 1 p.m. today.

A federal indictment Wednesday shows Minnesota was a foothold of a national bank scam, the Strib reports. Prosecutors charged a dozen people in Minnesota, New York and California in connection to a “highly organized” fraud ring which relied on bank employees, among others, to steal money from their own institutions. Since 2006, the accused had been stealing identities, corrupted employees and spent hundreds of thousands with fraudulent credit cards. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and TCF Bank are among the victims. Seven of the 12 defendants were in Minnesota when arrested for their connection in “Operation Starburst.”