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Now Is Not The Time To Talk About Coronavirus, Morrison Says

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/01/2020 - 8:19am in

Talking about coronavirus while millions of people are at threat from it, is completely inappropriate, the Prime Minister says.

Asked this morning what his government was doing to prepare for a possible outbreak of the virus, Mr Morrison said “No, sorry not today,” before taking a question about Australia’s chances in the upcoming T20 series in South Africa.  

Pressed further for an explanation, Mr Morrison said it was insensitive to victims and those at risk to talk about potential solutions.

“Once all of this is over and Australia has been devastated by this virus, then let’s talk about how we might address it. But to talk about how we might combat this now, before the virus has even properly taken hold, is frankly inappropriate”.

He sent his thoughts and prayers to those affected.

‘The Anti-Experts Guide To Everything’ – 2020 Australian Tour ON SALE NOW

Jess fails to impress: so what’s next for Labour’s right? – weekly briefing

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/01/2020 - 2:38am in

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Lindsey German on post-Corbynism and the realities of Brexit  

Yes, There’s Hope for Good Government in the U.S.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/01/2020 - 1:26am in

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A year ago this month – with little fanfare, and in the middle of the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history (35 days!) – the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act was signed into law.

It was more than a little ironic: A bipartisan bill to make the U.S. government work better became law against the backdrop of a bitter partisan dispute between the President and Congress over how to spend taxpayer dollars.

But one year later, the new law – better known by its shorthand, the Evidence Act – is quietly accelerating a transformation within U.S. federal agencies, putting evidence and data at the center of efforts to improve government.

The Evidence Act requires agencies to designate Chief Data Officers and Evaluation Officers, and to develop multi-year Learning Agendas and Evaluation Plans, ensuring that agencies have both the personnel and policies in place to better collect, share and use evidence and data in budget, policy and management decisions.

The law also directs federal agencies to create Open Data Plans and establishes a presumption that all U.S. government datasets should be made open (in machine-readable format) unless there is a national security reason that prevents disclosure. While improving access to data for policymakers, researchers and the public, the Evidence Act also includes strong protections to help safeguard citizens’ private information.

Although the implementation of the act is just beginning, there’s reason for early optimism. Federal agencies have been naming their CDO’s and Evaluation Officers. The White House Office of Management and Budget released guidance to support agency efforts. At many federal agencies, committed civil servants are treating the law as an opportunity for innovation rather than simply a check-the-box compliance exercise.

Just last week, the U.S. Department of State announced the launch of the Center for Analytics, the agency’s first official data and analytics hub to help strategically leverage its data. At the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, officials are using the Evidence Act to revamp the agency’s Research Roadmap and strengthen efforts to learn more about programs as a way to help improve them.

Smaller federal agencies are showing progress, too. The Corporation for National and Community Service, the U.S. government agency for national service and volunteering, released its evaluation plan and increased its investment in evaluations to over one percent of its annual budget. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a foreign assistance agency, invested over 5% of its annual budget on evaluation work and created easy-to-read evaluation briefs to showcase what’s working in global anti-poverty efforts. 

As a national not-for-profit organization devoted to improving results through evidence and data, Results for America is helping policymakers take the more difficult next step – to leverage what they’re learning from the evidence to shift public investments toward the most effective programs and policies. And we’re seeing some encouraging results. 

For example, thousands more students across the United States are getting access to evidence-based interventions because of a policy change at the Corporation for National and Community Service that prioritized evidence of effectiveness in the allocation of AmeriCorps national service funds. In Nevada, state education leaders steered over U.S. $200 million in federal and state education funds in one year toward results-driven solutions, which helped one rural school nearly double the number of third graders who were proficient in reading.

There’s much more U.S. policymakers can do to advance these efforts. They can learn from the best practices of other federal agencies, as highlighted in Results for America’s 2019 Investing What Works Federal Standard of Excellence. They can learn from the data-driven innovations of leaders in U.S. states and cities. And they can learn from the evidence-based efforts of other countries, which were promoted at the Evidence Works 2016 global forum co-hosted by RFA and the Alliance for Useful Evidence.

People from across the U.S. political spectrum want their government leaders to make decisions based on what works – not hunches or partisan politics. According to a recent poll, 89 percent of Americans think policymakers should seek out the best evidence when putting their policies in place. But the poll found that only 8 percent think government decisions about how to spend taxpayer dollars are currently driven by evidence of what works.

If policymakers seize on the promise of the Evidence Act and invest in the most effective solutions, they will not only improve results – they will help restore the public’s faith in government’s ability to tackle our biggest challenges.

Views expressed are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent those of the Alliance for Useful Evidence. Remember you can join us (it’s free and open to all) and find out more about the how we champion the use of evidence in social policy and practice.

The post Yes, There’s Hope for Good Government in the U.S. appeared first on The Alliance for Useful Evidence.

The civil service doesn’t just need more scientists – it needs a decision-making revolution

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/01/2020 - 11:40pm in

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In the UK, the election of a new government has seen a renewed focus on research policy and the use of evidence in policymaking. In this repost, David Rose, Mark Burgman and William Sutherland, draw on their experiecnces of working within different government departments, to consider how evidence is currently used by the civil service and to set out an … Continued

Does Further Education need a What Works Centre?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/01/2020 - 8:50pm in

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Last week saw the publication of the Social Mobility
Commission’s evidence review on “Improving
attainment among disadvantaged students in the FE and adult learning sector
”.
This review is welcome – education plays a vital role in social mobility, and
it is possible to put undue focus on pre-16 education, or on higher education,
failing to recognise first that most people are already outside of those
groups, and second that for many people, especially those with disadvantaged or
traumatic childhoods, mobility is a lifelong journey with many twists and turns
along the way.

The review also recommends the establishment by the government of a What Works Centre  (WWC) for Further Education, with £20million of funding over 5 years. At £4million a year, this would establish this centre as one of the best funded of the government’s 13 (then 14) WWCs – smaller only than the Youth Endowment Fund, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), the Youth Futures Foundation (YFF), and the Centre for Ageing Better.

The idea of a WWC for Further Education is one close to our
hearts. As directors of two WWCs – the Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes
(TASO, Hume), and What Works for Children’s Social Care (WW-CSC,
Sanders), we’re firm believers in the cause of the What Works movement, and
have experienced the highs and lows of establishing a new centre from scratch.
We were also, as the Chief Scientist and Head of Skills at the Behavioural
Insights Team, heavily involved in further education research, most prominently
in the Adult Skills and Knowledge What Works Centre
(Hume et al 2018), where we conducted some of
the largest randomised trials in further education in the UK.

The arguments for a WWC for FE are finely balanced. There is
an argument that, instead of a new organisation, any money should simply be
given to the EEF to expand their remit to include FE and adult learning, or
perhaps the Youth Futures Foundation, recently established to look at the
employment outcomes for the young people who are furthest from the labour
market. It is also fair to say that the last few years have seen the proliferation
of many new WWCs, with an accompanying complexity of which organisation is
covering which issue – adding another for FE could intensify this problem and
reduce the opportunity for cross-pollination that would come from housing FE
within another WWC.

We have some sympathy with this view, but there are good reasons to disagree. We’d argue that TASO is more effective at what it does because it speaks directly to the Higher Education sector, and the myriad widening participation practitioners working within it – rather than trying to adjust a discussion that is fundamentally about school education to fit a different audience. One of the challenges that government faces, evident in the Department for Education, is the need to manage and trade off stakeholders across different sectors and to try – inevitably in vain – to be all things to all people. In this environment, FE is frequently overshadowed by school and higher education – just take, for example, the relative awareness of the UCAS HE and FE offers.

What about expertise? Here again, the answer is difficult. A
lot of skills, and back office processes, are similar between WWCs – grant
management, tendering, a good understanding of RCTs, GDPR, and research ethics
are all essential. With these skills being in short supply, a single WWC is
attractive organisationally – and probably more cost-effective. There are also
economies of scope – understanding the education system as a whole, from
school, to college and university, to adult education, could seed innovation
and build expertise. Further, to the extent that there is less developed
subject and academic expertise in FE – with some exceptions like CVER
gaining access to the researchers and academics who are attached to the EEF,
for example, could be invaluable.

The but here – and
it’s pretty substantial – is that further education is profoundly different to
both pre-16 education, and higher education although FE colleges teach both
GCSEs and Higher Education Courses. In our careers we’ve been fortunate enough
to run experiments with sixth form colleges, further education colleges,
apprenticeship providers and large employers. All these contexts are different,
in important ways, to research in schools or higher education. Further
education colleges, for example, can be very large, averaging more than 6000
students, and offer a wide range of courses at different levels. Reflecting the
diversity of their student body, they’re also often more flexible – making some
interventions, and some evaluations, harder to administer. Data are also
usually more complex to work with.

Further education colleges can make for straightforward
evaluations, however, compared to working with employers own internal offerings
or support of adult education. Adult learners live complex lives, and might be
reluctant to take part in an evaluation. Even finding employers that have a
large enough adult education offering to facilitate a randomised trial is challenging.
These challenges are not insurmountable – as we’ve seen in our own research –
but they are very substantial, and they require focus to overcome them.

The challenge posed by the crossover between What Works
Centres is also real. The EEF already works in with GCSE resit students in FE
colleges, and TASO partners with FE colleges that offer higher education
courses. The Youth Futures Foundation will also need to work with FE colleges
and employers to support NEETs into employment. However, siting FE in one of
the other centres doesn’t necessarily solve this problem, which is one of
coordination. The WWCs already work together to share expertise and experience,
and the need to coordinate approaches to the same beneficiaries or partners is
something the network recognises and is working on.

Further and adult education research are important enough to warrant a larger, stronger evidence base behind them, and certainly too important to be a mere adjunct to someone’s existing job. Whether a new what works centre is created, or further education becomes the focus of an existing centre, it deserves attention and dedication.

Views expressed are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent those of the Alliance for Useful Evidence. Remember you can join us (it’s free and open to all) and find out more about the how we champion the use of evidence in social policy and practice.

The post Does Further Education need a What Works Centre? appeared first on The Alliance for Useful Evidence.

Prince Andrew Says He Can’t Talk To FBI Due To Rare Vocal Cord Disorder

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/01/2020 - 1:29pm in

Prince Andrew has used a series of hand-written signs to reveal that he has a rare vocal cord condition which prohibits him from being interviewed by FBI investigators.

The disorder ­– which has only surfaced in the
last month ­– means he has been unable to comply with the FBI’s repeated
requests for him to provide evidence for their Jeffery Epstein investigation.

Aides for the Prince say the condition first emerged at a Pizza Express in Woking, when the Prince tried to order a garlic bread with Mozzarella, but found he couldn’t speak. “He remembers it clearly, because it is very unusual for a Prince to order garlic bread. Usually he goes for the dough balls,” a spokesperson said.  

The Prince revealed the condition at a press conference, where he used signs to answer journalists’ questions. Asked what he thought of Epstein’s conduct, Prince Andrew held up a piece of paper which read: “He conducted himself in a manner unbecoming”.

The FBI said this morning that it would be happy to conduct an interview via email, however Prince Andrew says that is not possible due to a new rare condition which means he doesn’t have any fingers.

Tanya Plibersek Calls For Australian School Children To Recite Key Research Outcomes From Labor Party Focus Groups

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 26/01/2020 - 2:02pm in

Saying Australians had lost touch with the key drivers influencing the 55-79 year-old outer-suburban voting demographic, Labor minister Tanya Plibersek has called for all school children to pledge their loyalty to Labor Party focus group talking points each morning.

Under the proposal, every school child in grades one to six would recite the dot points from that week’s research findings, as they look up at seat-by-seat polling figures written on the white board.

“Understanding what makes ordinary mums and dads in Western Sydney tick is an important part of growing up in Australia,” Ms Plibersek said. “It’s an elegant expression of what it takes to be a good citizen”.

She said she has made the pledge herself every morning for years. “Everything I do is based on focus groups. It’s a simple but powerful way to live your life”.

The former deputy leader released a
draft version of the daily pledge, which reads:

“I pledge my loyalty to
the findings of the most recent Labor Party research findings, and to the
insights of ordinary, quiet, fair dinkum, hard-working mum-and-dad voters,
whose values I share.

“I understand that, at the time of the latest research, 61% of voters in the important 55-79 year-old demographic say they are uncertain about Labor policies – particularly with regards to franking credits – and may respond better to US-style jingoistic bullshit.

“I acknowledge the
importance of an ongoing commitment to values, except when internal polling
suggest I should abandon those values, in which case I will say or do whatever
the fuck is necessary to gain an extra vote”.

“Credit Where It’s Due: Bettina Arndt’s Work For Men’s Rights Means Men Finally Have Influence In Australia”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 26/01/2020 - 1:00pm in

EDITORIAL: The decision to award men’s rights activist Bettina Arndt an Order Of Australia for services to gender equality has been met with much criticism. But the evidence of her achievements is there for all to see.

Since Arndt began her tireless campaign for men’s
rights, men have finally been given a voice in this country. In fact, many of
the positions of power in Australia are now held by men.

Encouragingly, our last three Prime Ministers have been men. You don’t have to go too far back to remember a time when that role was dominated by women. In fact, between June 2010 and June 2013 not a single man was in a Prime Ministerial position.

Many of our top CEOs are now men. Just last year, Westpac – one of the nation’s biggest banks – announced a man in its top role, unthinkable in 2013 when 100% of CEOs at Westpac were women. But that was before Arndt’s #MenToo movement hit full flight.

Of course, it’s not just in boardrooms and the houses of parliament where the impact of Arndt’s work can be felt. She is a rare public voice speaking on behalf of men everywhere. Who else is standing up for convicted paedophiles? Who else is tirelessly running ‘fake rape’ tours. Who else is fighting back against the sexually provocative young girls who are ruining the lives of adult men?

True gender equality may still be a way off, and there is still work to be done. Some government ministries are held by women, and in some industries, men only get paid slightly more than their female counterparts. But thanks to Ardnt’s work, young boys can grow up knowing that they too may one day enjoy the opportunities their mothers and sisters take for granted.

Today I am supposed to feel proud – so why am I so angry?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 26/01/2020 - 9:53am in

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Today I am supposed to feel proud.  I am supposed to celebrate what it means to be Australian – how we treat each other, our contribution to global efforts to do what is right, our pristine environment and our unique flora and fauna. A safe place to raise our children where all are given the…

The post Today I am supposed to feel proud – so why am I so angry? appeared first on The AIM Network.

Book Review: Resist: Stories of Uprising edited by Ra Page

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/01/2020 - 1:54am in

In Resist: Stories of Uprising, editor Ra Page brings together contributors to offer an anthology of short stories and critical essays that narrate a rich counter-history of resistance in the UK, spanning from the Boudicca Rebellion to the protests in response to Grenfell Tower. Positioning fiction as a radical medium, this is a valuable book that will be of particular interest to participants and scholars of social movements, writes Chris Waugh

Resist: Stories of Uprising. Ra Page (ed.). Comma Press. 2019.

Writing towards the end of his life, Michel Foucault identified the importance of ‘counter-history’ as a tool for radicals. Counter-history refers to ‘the ability to identify omissions, to listen to silences, to play with discursive gaps and textual interstices as a crucial part of our critical agency for resisting power/knowledge frameworks’ (José Medina, 2011, 6) – that is, to draw attention to, and learn from, the aspects of a collective history that are overlooked, and provide resources and knowledge for contemporary strategies of resistance. With this in mind, Resist: Stories of Uprising, an anthology of short stories and critical essays about resistance in the UK, is an excellent example of such a counter-history. The book not only draw conceptual links between seemingly disparate occurrences of political uprising throughout the history of the British Isles – from Boudicca’s rebellion via the Cato Street Conspiracy to the protests in response to Grenfell Tower – but also offers a sense of historical and collective solidarity for radicals today.

In Ra Page’s excellent and concise introduction, he makes the prescient point that throughout history, protesters are ‘othered’. Media narratives have fixated on peculiar specificities about protesters – ‘the strangeness of [their] clothes, their hairstyles, or other aspects of their lives’ – and positioned protesters outside of the bounds of acceptable society: the protester is always seen as ‘outside the law’, an alien entity or an intruder. One can see this clearly in contemporary politics in the panicked discourse around Antifa movements, with the often-repeated anti-Semitic myths of ‘Soros-funded’ protesters: that is to say, permanent outsiders unwilling to participate in some vaguely defined ‘social contract’. Dominant powers will, according to Page, always seek to portray protesters as un-relatable and dangerous figures. Similarly, across the years, times of insurrection are accompanied by a fetishisation of law enforcement, and an increasing willingness to take decisive measures against those ‘other’ figures – protesters included. Thus, protesters and activists become excluded from the ‘social contract’ – and their motivations, their narratives and their stories become lost.

The blend of fact and fiction in this volume (or, as the sleeve make it clear, ‘well researched, historical fiction’) offers a useful consideration of the role of narratives in radical politics. Scholars of social movements have, over the years, identified the position of narratives and storytelling in protest movements. Stories in movements tend to concern past examples of insurrection, of interactions with law enforcement, of past splits and attempts at a united front – yet these stories are not simply for entertainment value. As Mattias Wahlström (2011) put it:

Storytelling is thus an important mode of social control in the maintenance of conformity. When told to other movement participants, narratives and protests, and responses to the behaviour of authorities are no exception […they] prescribe the appropriate frames and vocabularies of motive to use.

Activist stories, in this sense, help shape activist mentalities, frame systems of value and contextualise the struggles of today. However, as Francesca Polletta (2006) has argued compellingly, narratives and stories of protest are not exempt from being co-opted, misused and utilised by dominant powers – especially media and state powers – against the movements who authored them – against their own writers and protagonists if you will. Thus, any movement that tells stories will risk those stories being used to damn them, as illustrated by the example Page gives of protesters being ‘othered’.

The utility – and also precarity – of activist narratives is precisely what makes Resist such a valuable book to social movement participants and those of us who study movements. Against a dominant narrative about the apathy of British people, the volume draws together a rich counter-history of resistance from the Boudicca Rebellion to the response to Grenfell Tower. Each story, followed by a brief historical and analytical essay about the events it describes, blurs the boundaries between politics, sociology and history. Indeed, the stories themselves are of a consistently high literary quality, and more importantly, do vital work in finding the human element in mass protests and key historical moments of insurrection. Martin Edwards’s excellent retelling of the Peterloo Massacre, ‘The Cap of Liberty’, for example, not only captures the hope, dreams and despairs of those who assembled in St Peter’s Field in Manchester in 1819, but also functions as a gritty, visceral narrative of revenge and intolerance of intolerance. Similarly, Karline Smith’s ‘The Whistling Bird’ tells a touching love story against the backgrounds of racial tension and the Notting Hill Riots of 1958. In this sense, Resist fits into its own radical tradition of William Morris and others: the use of fiction as its own form of radical medium.

While the literary efforts are excellent throughout, some of the critical essays fall short. Chris Cocking’s essay on the 1996 Newbury Pass protests offers a scant political and historical analysis of an overlooked incidence of resistance, instead focusing more on the author’s own involvement in the protests. This is not to say that activist-scholar narratives aren’t useful – in some cases, extremely useful – but Cocking appears to have overlooked the scholar side of the identity. This is a shame, especially since his essay follows the beautifully told ‘198 Methods of NVDA’ by Gaia Holmes.

Of equal value in the volume is the foregrounding of the idea that what is ‘radical’ is a relational idea, tied to the value system of the current historical moment, as Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou (2019) have compelling argued elsewhere. At the time of writing, the British media is preoccupied in many quarters with the idea that the Labour Party lost the 2019 General Election because it was ‘too radical’; yet Resist draws attention to the fact that for many centuries, the idea of the working class voting, of trade unions, of interracial relationships and so on, were also once ideas considered radical and their proponents subject to verbal abuse, imprisonment and police violence.

The final story of the volume is a retelling of the scandalous and devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017 – a matter which, to this day, has resulted in no criminal prosecutions; many of the families affected by the blaze are still, two years later, in temporary accommodation. That this continues to be a site of resistance and ongoing struggle serves to confirm to the reader that radical battles are still being waged.  In many ways, the volume seeks to remind its activist readers that with many of the struggles and insurrections we fight today – issues which are seen as radical to our era of right-wing populism and nativism – we are never asking the earth. Indeed, future generations will in all likelihood look back on us and wonder why our demands were ever subject for debate.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

Image Credit: Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

 


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