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what it would be like to teach a course based on decisions of women judges… September 28, 2013

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A thought experiment prompted (in part) by reading this article.

more uk anti-union moves September 19, 2013

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Business good, unions bad. Deloitte wins a Big Society award. On top of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14 (latest version here), the UK Government issues a call for evidence about what is characterized as a huge waste of resources in paying trade union representatives who are teachers for time off to do union work. The actual call for evidence is drafted in relatively moderate terms but the press release states:

There is also evidence that taxpayers are funding a large number of union representatives who are paid as teachers but do not spend any of their contracted time, whether they are full or part time, teaching. This creates additional work for the very many hardworking teachers across the country. Some of these local, regional and national union representatives have therefore not taught in a school for many years. Some are nominally employed as ‘home tutors’ by their local authority, while others receive large salaries on the teachers’ scale (in some cases up to £70,000 a year) but have no teaching timetable or leadership responsibilities. This represents a significant cost to the taxpayer of many millions of pounds.

uk lobbying regulation bill – second reading September 3, 2013

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The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14 is having its second reading in Parliament today (Richard III, fracking, BSkyB, and tobacco have featured in the debate). The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee issued a call for, and received, written evidence about the regulation of consultant lobbyists under the Bill. Many of the submissions argued that the Bill would create uncertainty and risked reducing rather than enhancing transparency with respect to lobbying. The Committee took oral evidence today. Meanwhile, charities and even MPs have expressed concern about the Bill. The NCVO published legal advice it obtained about the Bill from Helen Mountfield QC which identifies a number of problems of uncertainty. For example:

Much of the activity which charities and VSOs undertake is, by its nature, policy-orientated and therefore ‘political’ in the widest sense. In my view, many materials produced by charities and VSOs compatibly with the guidance in the Charity Commission Guidance CCR9 are capable of falling within the definition of ‘election materials’ (in s85(3) PPERA as it stands), or of being for an ‘election purpose’ (in s85 (2A) and s85(3) PPERA as prospectively amended by clause 26 of the Bill)… For example, an anti-poverty charity which advocates continuing to spend a particular proportion of GDP on overseas aid and publishes material saying so during the relevant period could ‘reasonably be regarded’ as intending to promote or procure electoral success for a party or parties or candidates who advocate the same in connection with future elections, even though such material could reasonably be regarded as also intended to achieve another purpose such as maintaining a high level of public expenditure on poverty reduction abroad. Thus, expenditure on materials of this kind during the year before a general election could well fall within the definition of ‘election materials’ in PPERA as it stands.

september is hunger action month September 2, 2013

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You can help Feeding America or one of the local offshoots such as Feeding South Florida which states:

In South Florida, 949,910 individuals don’t know from where they will get their next meal. More than 296,000 of those individuals are children and over 150,000 are older adults.