So it came as no surprise to many Aboriginal activists here when the federal government informed Australians that it would be cutting off federal funding for ‘remote’ communities effective June this year. This means that the responsibility for refuse collection, water and lights and so on, will soon be the responsibility of state governments. Many (though not all) of the people who live in these communities are Aboriginal people, and most of them have very small populations – less than 100 people in some instances. Despite this for some Aboriginal people life in remote areas is premised on their connection to country; to the land of their ancestors.
Based on the decision by the federal government, the conservative government of Colin Barnett in Western Australia (WA) immediately announced that it does not have the money to take on this responsibility after the once-off payment the federal government has given it runs out. The state government has indicated that it will consult with the affected communities in the next few months, and it has tried to allay fears saying that people will not be forcibly removed from their homes, but it is likely that their plans to stop services – effectively closing communities – will have that effect.
While other Australians will be affected, the primary target for the actions are understood to be Indigenous people. This was made clear when the Prime Minister Tony Abbott defended the decision that would see up to 150 communities in Western Australia closed. His words were instructive. He was quoted as saying, “What we can’t do is endlessly subsidize lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have.”
Abbott’s statement caused uproar because it reflects the attitude that successive Australian governments have taken to Aboriginal people. The summary of this attitude across time is essentially this: ‘If only they could just change how they live, they wouldn’t be such a menace to all of us.’ Implicit in the statement is this idea that Aboriginal people are holding the nation back. Never mind that it makes sweeping generalizations about a series of communities and people that are diverse in multiple ways.
Husted’s office would not provide any information about the 27 people it referred to the Attorney General’s office for further review. But in 2013, his office sent 17 potential cases — .0003 percent of total ballots cast in the state — to the AG who eventually referred them to county prosecutors. Most reports of voting irregularities were dropped by the county prosecutors because the “voter fraud” problems were determined to have been caused by simple mistakes and confused senior citizens, according to a Cleveland Plain Dealer investigation.
Voter fraud in Ohio is a fifth-degree felony and could carry up to a year in prison. But of the cases referred to prosecutors’ offices in 2013, most irregularities were caused by voter confusion or mistakes made by elections officials and not deliberate attempts to commit fraud, the investigation found.
This week’s topics are Hillary Clinton’s campaign announcement, the HIV outbreak in Indiana, the state of Fukushima nuclear reactors, Iran nuclear negotiation legislation in Congress, and the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement and the fast track legislation being introduced in Congress.
Though labor often boasts that it helped codify the two-day work break—witness the popular pro-labor bumper sticker, “Unions: the folks that brought you the weekend”—a day of rest is protected by law in only a fraction of the states. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, thirteen states have laws mandating a day of rest for some or all workers. In states that mandate a day of rest only for certain categories of workers, those workers are often in jobs where fatigue could lead to increased accidents or deaths.
Now that might be about to come to an end in Wisconsin.
Currently, the law in Wisconsin requires that workers employed in a “factory or mercantile establishment” must receive “at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in every 7 consecutive days.” If an employer would like a worker to work seven days in a row for a limited period of time, then the two can jointly petition the Department of Workforce Development for a waiver. According to the office of Republican Representative Mark Born, who is introducing this bill in the State Assembly, there were 169 waivers requested in 2013 and 232 in 2014, and all of them were granted. Under the current system, the waiver requests must state the necessity for the waiver, and they are granted only for a limited period of time.
The new bill, which is being sponsored by Republican Van Wanggaard in the State Senate alongside Born in the Assembly, would add a provision to the “day of rest” law that could effectively nullify it. The bill would create an exemption that would allow employees to “voluntarily choose” to slave away for seven days in a row without at least twenty-four hours of rest.
The West Virginia legislature has passed a bill that scales back regulations meant to protect state waterways from storage tank spills, a piece of legislation that some worry could leave the state’s water more vulnerable to the kind of spill that contaminated the water of 300,000 state residents last year.
The bill, which was passed by the state Senate early Saturday morning, rolls back portions of a law passed last year in response to January’s spill, which occurred due to a leak in a chemical storage tank along the banks of the Elk River. Under the law, known as the Aboveground Storage Tank Act, nearly 50,000 aboveground storage tanks in the state were subject to registration and regulation. Now, under the new bill, the number of regulated tanks will fall to about 12,000. Those 12,000 are tanks that are located in “zones of critical concern,” which means they’re situated along a waterway and about five hours away from a drinking water intake. They also include tanks that hold more than 50,000 gallons, tanks that hold hazardous substances and tanks that are in the “zone of peripheral concern,” which are those located 10 hours away from a drinking water intake.
That number could drop even further, said Evan Hansen, president of West Virginia think tank Downstream Strategies.
This week’s topics are the nuclear agreement framework agreement with Iran, an update on the religious freedom law in Indiana, Hillary Clinton and the Left adopting the litmus test mentality of the Right, and developments in municipal broadband law.
Scott County, Indiana, the center of an exploding HIV outbreak, has been without an HIV testing center since early 2013, when the sole provider — a Planned Parenthood clinic — was forced to close its doors. The clinic did not offer abortion services.
The Scott County clinic and four other Planned Parenthood facilities in the state, all of which provided HIV testing and information, have shuttered since 2011, in large part due to funding cuts to the state’s public health infrastructure. Those cuts came amid a national and local political campaign to demonize the health care provider. Now, the state is scrambling to erect pop-up clinics to combat an unprecedented HIV epidemic caused by intravenous drug use.
The fact that Scott County was “without a testing facility until a few weeks ago is a glaring example of the kind of public health crisis that results when prevention and testing are left unfunded,” said Patti Stauffer, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky’s vice president for public policy.
Indiana’s GOP-led state legislature was one of the first to declare war against Planned Parenthood in 2011, when it passed a bill that defunded the family planning provider because some of its clinics offer abortion services.
This week’s topics are Senator McConnell’s efforts to undermine EPA regulations about coal and the global treaty on climate change, Indiana’s religious freedom law and the disingenuousness of Governor Pence, the state of the Loretta Lynch confirmation, and an update on the Iran nuclear negotiations.
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Bibi and Likud might be in for a rude shock at the United Nations. On Tuesday, moderate Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN that it was “hard to imagine” there would be no consequences from Netanyahu’s new one-state views.
Bibi has placed all his chips on the Republican Congress, which has no say over how the U.S. votes in the U.N. Schiff—who often reflects the view of the White House—hinted that the Obama administration might consider selectively lifting the American veto in the Security Council that has protected Israel for more than six decades.
While the U.S. will no doubt continue to veto the most obnoxious U.N. resolutions, others (like those based on comments of U.S. officials about the need for a two-state solution) are now more likely to pass with the tacit support of the U.S., opening a new chapter in international pressure on Israel.
Beset by European boycotts, rebuked by international tribunals, estranged from the president of the United States—it’s not a pretty picture of the fate of America’s closest ally in the region.
But that might be the fallout from the most bruising and consequential Israeli election in many years.
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