In our news wrap Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a pivotal case for more than 5 million Americans in public sector unions. The case hinges on whether workers who are not union members should be required to pay dues to cover the cost of collective bargaining. Also, at least 30 people were reportedly killed outside Damascus in the last 48 hours despite a UN call for a 30-day cease-fire.
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In the day's other news, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a pivotal case for more than five million Americans 24 states who are members of public sector unions. At issue, whether workers who are not union members should be required to pay dues to cover the cost of collective bargaining.
Outside the court, the two sides argued about whether the ultimate decision will jeopardize unions or free speech.
Collective bargaining has its place, but let the individual worker choose what they want to do. Don't force them to do something that they may disagree with or they may not want to be involved in.
Their purpose is clearly to hurt unions and it is to give government free rein to act in an authoritarian way with respect to the workplace, to set wages, terms and conditions without input from workers.
Separately, the court declined to hear the Trump administration's appeal to end the DACA program as of March 5. The policy protects immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Lower courts have blocked the president's attempt to abolish the program. He had wanted the Supreme Court to intervene, without waiting for a federal appeals court to rule.
In Syria, a government air assault intensified outside Damascus, despite the U.N. Security Council's call for a 30-day cease-fire. U.N. officials reported at least 30 people killed in the last 48 hours and more than 500 in the last week.
Today, rescue workers in Eastern Ghouta pulled injured from the rubble. Local health officials say some were victims of a chemical attack.
And in Geneva, the U.N. secretary-general demanded action.
Eastern Ghouta cannot wait. It is high time to stop this hell on earth. And I remind all parties of their absolute obligation under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure at all times.
Later, Moscow announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a daily five-hour humanitarian pause in the attacks. Russia has been a key military ally of Syria.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged all sides in Syria to honor a cease-fire in Eastern Ghouta, but he insisted it doesn't apply to Turkey's assault on Syria's Afrin region, where it's targeting U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters.
President Trump suggested today he would be open to talks with North Korea. It came a day after Pyongyang said it is ready for such talks. The Trump administration has said the North must first be ready to give up its nuclear and missile programs.
Today, at a meeting with governors, the president said talks are possible under the right conditions.
President Donald Trump:
Talking about tremendous potential loss of lives, numbers that nobody's ever contemplated, never thought of. So they want to talk, first time. They want to talk. And we will see what happens. That's my attitude. We will see what happens. But something has to be done.
The president also lauded China for doing more to rein in North Korea, but he called out Russia for — quote — "behaving badly."
An arctic storm paralyzed parts of Europe today with record cold. The frigid front blew out of Siberia with driving snow and the lowest temperatures of the season. Several inches of snow even reached Rome, a rarity, that closed schools, disrupted flights and covered roads. Elsewhere, blizzard conditions dumped five feet of snow in the Balkans.
Back in this country, the company co-founded by Harvey Weinstein said it will file for federal bankruptcy protection, after talks to sell the studio fell apart. Weinstein was fired as chairman after he was accused of sexual harassment and abuse by dozens of women. He denies the allegations.
The Trump Organization says it has donated its hotel profits from business with foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury. The company said today it includes profits from all of last year. It wouldn't say exactly how much that was. Watchdog groups said the lack of any details leaves key ethics questions unanswered.
And on Wall Street, stocks surged as interest rates backed down a bit from the four-year highs they set last week. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 400 points to close at 25709. The Nasdaq rose 84 points, and the S&P 500 picked up 32.