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In Wisconsin, a jarring new note in discordant debate
February 23, 2011 / 11:16 PM / 7 years ago

In Wisconsin, a jarring new note in discordant debate

MADISON, Wisconsin (Reuters) - It’s going to be a long and noisy fight. And wait until the vuvuzuelas arrive.

As the debate in the Wisconsin state Assembly over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to curb public sector union power entered a second straight day, it was looking like the showdown would be protracted.

Protesters camped out at the state Capitol saw the slow grind of Democracy at work. Democrats in the Assembly tried to stall the proposal by offering more than a hundred amendments, and the state Senate was paralyzed by a walk-out of the chamber’s 14 Democrats.

“We have never taken this long to debate,” Democratic Assembly member Jon Richards, said to protesters, looking bleary-eyed after an all-night debate on the measure. “We are drawing our energy from you, and what you are doing here has implications beyond the state Capitol in Madison.”

Walker’s budget proposal would strip most collective bargaining rights from many state workers. Walker said it is necessary to close a budget deficit of $137 million for this fiscal year.

If the protesters were looking for some peace and quiet, they may not get it soon.

For the past week, the volume of the protests here has been at times deafening, thanks to dozens of drummers who have kept up their pounding and cheering often well into the night.

Now comes word that vuvuzuelas, those long plastic horns so popular among fans at last year’s World Cup in South Africa, are about to add to the din.

Nick Nice, a 41-year-old DJ from Madison, has ordered 100 vuvuzuelas from a company in Utah and plans to distribute them to protesters when they arrive on Thursday.

“I watched 62 of the 64 World Cup games last year because my son was two months old and needed to be fed constantly,” Nice said. “The vuvuzuelas were the most annoying sound ever.”

Nice said he’d heard there was a glut of the one-note horns this year -- a result of overproduction by the Chinese firm that made them coupled with the near universal ban of them following the World Cup -- and he had an idea.

“This is going to be the perfect use for them,” Nice said.

Just as sweet as the deal he got on the vuvuzuelas was the message Nice says the seller told him to pass along to protesters here.

“She told me she supported worker rights and then she said, ‘You show them who’s boss,'” Nice said.

Reporting by James B. Kelleher in Madison; Editing by Greg McCune

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