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Obama Makes a Push To Add Time To the School Year 1073

N!NJA sends in a proposal that is sure to cause some discussion, especially among students and teachers. Obama and his education secretary say that American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage in comparison to other students around the globe. "'Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas,' the president said earlier this year. 'Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom.' 'Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today,' Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. ... 'Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here,' Duncan told the AP. 'I want to just level the playing field.' ... Kids in the US spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the US on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days)."

Congress Mulls Research Into a Vehicle Mileage Tax 792

BJ_Covert_Action writes to let us know that an Oregon congressman has filed legislation to spend $154.5M for a research project into tracking per-vehicle mileage in the US, and asks: "Do we really want the government to track our movement and driving habits on a regular basis?" "US Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) introduced H.R. 3311 earlier this year to appropriate $154,500,000 for research and study into the transition to a per-mile vehicle tax system... Oregon has successfully tested a Vehicle Miles Traveled fee... the [Oregon] report urged a mandate for all drivers to install GPS tracking devices that would report driving habits to roadside RFID scanning devices." Here is the bill (PDF). The article notes that the congressman's major corporate donors would likely benefit with contracts if such a program were begun.

Submission + - Congress Considers Funding for Vehicle Mileage Tra ( 3

BJ_Covert_Action writes: According to thetruthaboutcars website, the House of Representatives is looking into legislation to divert $154,500,000 in tax dollars for a research project that involves tracking per vehicle mileage in the U.S. From the article:

US Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) introduced H.R. 3311 earlier this year to appropriate $154,500,000 for research and study into the transition to a per-mile vehicle tax system

The article goes on to describe how Oregon already has done some research and testing of of such a tracking system. Tracking the mileage per vehicle in the United States via a GPS-RFID reader technology combination would allow the federal government to accurately tax motorists based on how far they actually drive. Currently, motorist taxes are levied at the gas pump. The bill being discussed would invest nearly $155 million in developing a system that tracks vehicles based on a unique GPS unit installed in each car. The GPS unit would communicate the data it gathers to RFID readers placed along roadsides at a particular interval. The U.S. Treasury Department would be in charge of the research program and would, thus, receive the appropriated tax money for research.

Like all fun government surveillance legislation, this funding and, if implemented, the program itself raises more questions about American's right to privacy. Do we really want the government, or any other agency for that matter, to track our movement and driving habits on a regular basis?

There is a pdf of the bill available for download on the article page.


Geeks In Asia Use Clever Hacks To Get Slashdot 154

Daedius writes "My comrade Hugh Perkins is living in Asia and he has been without reliable internet connectivity for many days. He uses l33t hacks to get his daily dose of Slashdot in desperate times." From the posting: "The Taiwan earthquake has brought telecommunications in the Taiwan/Hong Kong region to a standstill. I am living in Shenzhen and am unable to read Slashdot directly for several days. Gmail and Google have privileged bandwidth and local servers and both continue to work perfectly from the region. Could there be some way to use Google or Gmail to read Slashdot? A solution was to upload an executable to my web hosting in America that would receive zipped executables by email, execute them, then email me the results."

All Finagle Laws may be bypassed by learning the simple art of doing without thinking.