Years of labour peace between the government of Ontario and teachers came to an end this year. Like their colleagues in British Columbia
, Ontario teachers and support staff are complaining of unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional legislation -- the Putting Students First Act, 2012
-- that gives the Education Minister, Laura Broten
, unchallenged power to ban strikes, job actions, set compensation and benefits, and to take over local school boards who are non-compliant
. Ontario school boards are unanimously opposed
to the Act, which reduces their power, and so are teachers and support staff, who feel the government is manufacturing a crisis
. Most see this as a cynical ploy to capture public support for two by-elections
this week that could nudge the Liberal government into majority status. ETFO and OSSTF, two of the teacher unions involved, have repeatedly pointed out that "the school year is not in jeopardy"
, that they had already accepted a wage freeze, and that local bargaining is proceeding well.
As legislation looms aheads, teachers, support staff, and labour activists are wondering: is this the end of collective bargaining for the public sector? [more inside]
posted by The Hyacinth Girl
on Aug 31, 2012 -
824,273 disabled veterans are currently awaiting a response on claims from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. On average, it takes the government 257 days to respond, and there has been a 7.2% growth in claims over the last 1.3 years -- so the delays are growing. While they wait, veterans often cannot access health care from the agency or receive disability compensation. Plus, the backlog on claim appeals is at least 3.5 years. So how can veterans avoid the backlog? A special investigation by the Bay Area Citizen shows that processing speed is a matter of geographic location: veterans in sparsely populated areas have their claims filled faster than those living in urban centers.
Interactive Map: Where is Worst Backlog
? Related video and transcript
posted by zarq
on Aug 30, 2012 -
Tunneling in any dense urban environment is an expensive proposition, but the $5 billion price tag for just the first two miles of the Second Avenue subway cannot be explained by engineering difficulties. The segment runs mainly beneath a single broad avenue, unimpeded by rivers, super-tall skyscraper foundations or other subway lines.
American taxpayers will shell out many times what their counterparts in developed cities in Europe and Asia would pay. In the case of the Second Avenue line and other new rail infrastructure in New York City, they may have to pay five times as much.
Amtrak is just as bad. Its $151 billion master plan for basic high-speed rail service in the Northeast corridor is more expensive than Japan’s planned magnetic levitating train line between Tokyo and Osaka, most of which is to be buried deep underground, with tunnels through the Japan Alps and beneath its densest cities.
- U.S. Taxpayers Are Gouged on Mass Transit Costs
posted by beisny
on Aug 28, 2012 -
Twiplomacy is the first-ever global study of world leaders on Twitter. The governments of almost two-thirds of the 193 UN member countries have a presence on Twitter: 45% of the 264 accounts analysed are personal accounts of heads of state and government, but just 30 world leaders tweet themselves and very few on a regular basis.
This study shows that while the social network invites direct interaction between users, few world leaders take advantage of this opportunity to develop connections.
posted by infini
on Aug 18, 2012 -
Last year, The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU's Law School released a report
) detailing new, more restrictive state laws that affect voting rights and are likely to impact the outcome of the 2012 elections. The restrictions "fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities." On August 3rd, 2012, they updated their analysis
with a pdf
of passed and pending State government legislation. Their conclusion: after a century in which the United States "expanded the franchise and knocked down myriad barriers to full electoral participation... that momentum [has] abruptly shifted." [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Aug 17, 2012 -
"[T]he corrupting influence of money is the first problem facing this nation. That unless we solve this problem, we won’t solve anything else... The Framers, Lessig says, had just one kind of dependence in mind for members of Congress: a dependence on the people. He quotes The Federalist (the then-anonymous essays by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay that are often used as a contemporary account of the Framers’ intentions) to make this point: number 52 describes the House of Representatives as that “branch of the federal government which ought to be dependent on the people alone” (emphasis added).
But in the last two decades, Lessig writes, members of Congress have developed a fearsome dependency: campaign cash. The total amount spent on campaigns by all candidates for Congress in 2010 was $1.8 billion. Fundraising has become a way of life..." (via 3 Quarks Daily)
posted by caddis
on Aug 1, 2012 -
In less than an hour, the Supreme Court will hand down its final judgment in what has become one of the most crucial legal battles of our time: the constitutionality of President Obama's landmark health care reform law.
The product of a strict party line vote following a
of debate, disinformation
, and tense legislative wrangling, the Affordable Care Act
would (among other popular reforms
) require all Americans to buy insurance coverage by 2014, broadening the risk pool
for the benefit of those with pre-existing conditions.
The fate of this "individual mandate," bitterly opposed by Republicans despite its similarity to past plans touted by conservatives
(including presidential contender Mitt Romney
) is the central question facing the justices today
. If the conservative majority takes the dramatic step
of striking down the mandate, the law will be toothless, and in danger of wholesale reversal, rendering millions uninsured
, dealing a crippling blow to the president's re-election hopes, and possibly endangering the federal regulatory state
But despite the pessimism of bettors
, some believe
the Court will demur, wary of damaging
its already-fragile reputation
with another partisan 5-4 decision
. But those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know
. Watch the SCOTUSblog liveblog
for updates, Q&A, and analysis as the truth finally comes out shortly after 10 a.m. EST.
posted by Rhaomi
on Jun 28, 2012 -
In Praise of Leisure
- "Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren
.' Its thesis was simple. As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all... He thought this condition might be reached in about 100 years — that is, by 2030." (via
) [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Jun 22, 2012 -
"Dwarfing even the $2 trillion borrowed for the Railway Ministry’s high-speed networks since 2008, and the thousands of kilometres of 4–6 lane toll roads with barely a vehicle on them, China’s building binge is the most striking example of what Prime Minister Wen Jiabao famously, but impotently, denounced in 2007 as the country’s “unbalanced, unstable, uncoordinated and unsustainable” model of economic development. Now, with house prices and sales sagging in response to government restrictions aimed at deflating history’s biggest ever property bubble, and with local governments as deep in bad debt as the developers, I asked the businessman what was to prevent the bubble actually bursting
, in a spectacular financial explosion? "
posted by vidur
on Jun 21, 2012 -
This weekend, TAL ran an episode
on the massacre at Dos Erres
. What they didn't mention was that this happened as part of the "Silent Holocaust
" -- a "systematic campaign of genocide against the Mayan people." An estimated 83% of the massacred people were indigenous Maya
. Throughout the period of the genocide, the USA continued to provide military support
to the Guatemalan government, mainly in the form of arms and equipment, despite knowing that the Guatemala military was responsible
for the killings. Horatio Castellanos Moya
, an exiled Honduran writer, wrote Senselessness
, his first book to be published in English, based on the testimonies taken by the Catholic Church's Recuperation of History project, which led to Bishop José Gerardi Conedera
releasing the Guatemala: Never Again!
report. Two days later, he was bludgeoned to death.
posted by Felicity Rilke
on May 28, 2012 -
Collusion, vandalism and violence—all for something as banal as snowplowing. If you think it seems too extreme, you don’t understand how public contracting in Montreal works, said the former employee of the major company. The same tactics are used throughout the city, even in the tiniest industries; it’s a culture, a way of life. “I have seen a guy get threatened when he bid on a grass-mowing contract in Ville St. Laurent. They don’t care. It’s just about maintaining control over those areas,” he explained. “The people that talk about corruption in the construction industry don’t realize it’s not just construction. It’s everywhere in public works.”
posted by vidur
on Apr 19, 2012 -
Why Nations Fail
- In a nutshell
: "Proximately, prosperity is generated by investment and innovation, but these are acts of faith: investors and innovators must have credible reasons to think that, if successful, they will not be plundered by the powerful
. For the polity to provide such reassurance, two conditions have to hold: power has to be centralised and the institutions of power have to be inclusive." [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Mar 15, 2012 -
With a “chief scientist” specializing in consumer behavior, an “analytics department” monitoring voter trends, and a squad of dozens huddled at computer screens editing video or writing code, the sprawling office complex inside One Prudential Plaza looks like a corporate research and development lab — Ping-Pong table and all. But it is home to the largely secret engine of President Obama’s re-election campaign, where scores of political strategists, data analysts, corporate marketers and Web producers are sifting through information gleaned from Facebook, voter logs and hundreds of thousands of telephone or in-person conversations to reassemble and re-energize the scattered coalition of supporters who swept Mr. Obama into the White House four years ago.
posted by Trurl
on Mar 9, 2012 -
is a site giving public access to datasets from the Australian federal, state and territory governments. It was created in response to the Declaration of Open Government
, which aims to get more citizen collaboration in policy and service delivery design. People are encouraged to use these datasets to produce apps or conduct research. So far the little-publicised site has resulted in apps such as Dunny Directory
, Convict Records of Australia
, a public transport planner for the nation’s capital. If you’re interested in more online government participation in Australia, Craig Thomler is tracking developments on his eGov AU blog
posted by harriet vane
on Mar 7, 2012 -
... it was notable for the nation’s top law enforcement official to declare that it is constitutional for the government to kill citizens without any judicial review under certain circumstances. ... “Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces,” Mr. Holder said. “This is simply not accurate. ‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.” [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Mar 6, 2012 -
During a recent visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., I was reeducated in the power of branding — especially as applied to poster design — at the special exhibition, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, which demonstrates how the Nazi party used carefully crafted messages, advertising and design techniques, and then-new technologies (radio, television, film) to sway millions with its vision for a new Germany. (related)
posted by Trurl
on Feb 2, 2012 -
If you believe the US government is too heavily influenced by corporations, perhaps apps like No More SOPA
are the future of "voting". Will technology enable us to directly push back on corporations influencing government policy?
posted by sarah_pdx
on Jan 12, 2012 -