Month: August 2018

Aug 26

Meghan Markle is ‘playing a dangerous game’ with dad Thomas, royal biographer says

Following a recent interview, in which Thomas Markle claimed he hasn't spoken to his daughter Meghan in months — a royal biographer is encouraging the Duchess of Sussex to "build bridges" with her estranged father.

"The TV interview on ITV GMB certainly won’t heal the rift. I understand that many people who feel he is a sad and attention seeking figure. But I believe Meghan is playing a dangerous game," Robert Jobson — author of "Charles at Seventy: Thoughts, Hopes and Dreams" — told Express.

Jobson went on to say that Thomas, 74, "is not in the best of health" and he would "urge Meghan to make contact with him and to try and build bridges."

"They have both made mistakes," Jobson noted. "Once he is gone, any tears that will flow will be seen as crocodile tears. She will regret not making contact it something happens to him. It’s Christmas, send a card and tell him you hear him."

"But by the look of it his appeal will fall on deaf ears."

On Monday, Thomas appeared on ITV's "Good Morning Britain," where he asked the former "Suits" star, 37, to reach out to him.

"I love my daughter very much and she has to know that. I would really appreciate if she would just call me, reach out somehow to me, send me a text, just say you're there and you're hearing me."

Thomas, who remains "hopeful" that he will one day talk to his daughter, added that it'd be "very nice" if he could also see his grandchild.

"I look forward to that happening," he shared.

In October, Meghan's estranged half-sister Samantha told The Sun she wanted the former actress, who is expecting her first child with husband Prince Harry, “to be happy,” but also urged her to include their father Thomas in her pregnancy.

“It just makes everything that happened over the last year disappear. I want Meghan to be happy and calm and have peace. Everybody needs to be positive,” Samantha said at the time. “I would hope that — for the sake of the baby, the family, the world and my dad — that leaving him out of the statement was not intentional.”

The royal family announced the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be welcoming their first child in spring 2019. The statement added that Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, was “very happy” and looking forward to welcoming her first grandchild — but made no mention of Thomas.

“I hope my dad is included at a proper time. If he is excluded, I won’t be happy. It is in the best interest of the baby for my dad to be included," Samantha said. “A baby changes everything and softens everyone. I would only hope that there would be some adjustment or some way of including him.”

She added that it’s time to “just work toward a positive joyous new life in the world.”

Thomas and Samantha have done several interviews slamming the royal family and the Duchess for their actions since the May 19 wedding. Thomas claimed the royal family shunned him after the staged paparazzi photo debacle just days before Meghan and Harry’s nuptials.

Aug 21

Los Angeles teachers union sets January strike date

LOS ANGELES – Teachers in the nation's second-largest school district will go on strike next month if there's no settlement of their long-running contract dispute, union leaders said Wednesday.

The announcement by United Teachers Los Angeles threatens the first strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District in nearly 30 years and follows about 20 months of negotiations.

The union, which said it would strike on Jan. 10, argues that the district is hoarding a large reserve of $1.8 billion that could be used to pay teachers more, lower class sizes, improve conditions and add more full-time nurses at campuses. The union also is arguing for "common-sense regulation on charter schools."

"We've reached the point where enough is enough," union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said at a news conference announcing the plan to strike.

"We have watched the underfunding and the actions of privatizers undermine our students and our schools for too long," he said. "The civic institution of public education in Los Angeles is worth saving. It needs to be saved for the future of the city."

In a news release on Tuesday, the district said "a strike would harm students, families and communities most in need."

The district, which has more than 640,000 K-12 students, offered $30 million in additional funding to reduce class sizes and hire additional counselors, librarians and nurses, and said the union had agreed to a 6 percent salary raise.

Caputo-Pearl denied agreeing to any terms regarding salary and said the union would be filing an unfair labor practice charge against the district "on that lie."

"By dragging us through this process for 20 months, refusing to invest in our schools, the district has disrespected our students and disrespected us," he said. "For these reasons we have not accepted the district's offer to go back to the table."

The State of California Public Employment Relations Board issued a complaint against the union this week for refusing to bargain in good faith.

Much of the bad blood between the two sides centers around the district's superintendent, Austin Beutner, an investment banker and former Los Angeles deputy mayor without experience in education.

The union argues that Beutner is trying to privatize the district, encouraging school closures and flipping public schools into charter schools. Charters are privately operated public schools that compete with the school system for students and the funds they bring in.

Beutner has said his plan to reorganize the district would improve services to students and families.

Thousands of teachers took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles last weekend to demand a new contract. They wore red shirts, banged drums and carried signs that read "Stand With LA Teachers!" as they marched.

The teachers are tapping into a shift in public sentiment that supports better wages for educators that came with a "Red4Ed" movement that began earlier this year in West Virginia, where a strike resulted in a raise. The movement spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, Arizona and Washington state.