In the early years of the twenty-first century, a bipartisan consensus arose about educational policy in the United States. Right and left, Democrats and Republicans, the leading members of our political class and our media elite seemed to agree: Public education is broken. Our students are not learning enough. Public schools are bad and getting worse. ... There is only one problem with this narrative. It is wrong.
... pointed to a study that showed employers are less likely to hire the long-term unemployed.There is a circumstance under which this could be a reasonable position. Namely, if receiving unemployment insurance benefits caused people not to look for work. However, the reverse is true. Studies have shown that people receiving unemployment look for work more, not less. Not only that, according to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress:
"When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you're causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy. And it really - while it seems good, it actually does a disservice to the people you're trying to help," Paul said.
... since Congress enacted federal unemployment benefits, time spent looking for a job has tripled among the long-term unemployed who are out of work as a result of job loss.It's hard to get work, though, in the face of pervasive employer discrimination against the long-term unemployed, not to mention the fact that there are nearly three job seekers for every job opening.
So, yes, Sen. Paul. Long term unemployment is bad. But unemployment insurance is not causing it. If you're looking for the real causes, you might look in the mirror, and around the room during a meeting of your fellow congressional Republicans. Because Republicans blocking any meaningful job creation measures—that's really doing a disservice to jobless Americans.
Accused tells jury: 'We planned a military attack', which involved … the death of a soldier.'
One of the men accused of murdering Lee Rigby has said in court for the first time that he killed the fusilier, telling the jury that he was "obeying the command of Allah".
Michael Adebolajo described himself as a "soldier of Allah" and said he killed Rigby on 22 May outside Woolwich military barracks in south London.
Asked by prosecutor Richard Whittam QC whether he planned to kill Rigby on that date, Adebolajo answered: "Yes."
Giving evidence from the witness box of the Old Bailey, Adebolajo said: "I am a soldier of Allah and as I've explained part of fighting jihad sometimes it tells killing the enemy soldier."
He added: "As I said we planned a military attack which obviously involved – sadly, it's not something enjoyable – the death of a soldier."
When asked whether the killing was political, he told the jury: "Jihad by its very nature is political."
Giving evidence from a witness box in front of the soldier's family, Adebolajo told the jury he was "a soldier of Allah" and that he had had "no choice" in attacking Rigby outside Woolwich barracks in May this year.
"Allah commands that I fight those militaries that attack the Muslims," he said. "I don't feel that I have any choice. I obey Allah and I commit my affairs into his hands. This is all I can do."
Amid strict security, Adebolajo, wearing a black zipped top, was handcuffed when being taken to the witness box, and surrounded by five security guards while giving evidence, while plainclothes police officers wearing wires sat elsewhere in the court.
His co-accused, Michael Adebowale, watched from the dock, also surrounded by prison guards.
Both men deny murder, though Adebolajo, who addressed passersby filming him with camera phones immediately after the killing, openly admitted attacking Rigby in his evidence.
Asked by his barrister, David Gottlieb: "What is your defence to the charge of murder?", he said: "I am a soldier. I am a soldier. I am a soldier of Allah. I understand that some people might not recognise this because we do not wear fatigues and we do not go to the Brecon Beacons to train.
"But we are still soldiers in the sight of Allah and to me this is all that matters. If Allah considers me a soldier then I am a soldier."
Asked about his feelings towards Rigby's family, the 28-year-old, who referred to himself in the witness box as Mujaahid Abu Hamza, said he had "no animosity or bad feeling towards them, because every soldier has family, and his family love him just like me. My family did not stop loving me the moment I became a soldier so I don't blame them.
"I killed somebody who they love and who is dear to them. At the same time, people who I love who are dear to me are killed as well. We are not the only ones who feel pain in this country. Muslims feel pain too. We love people too."
Asked about earlier comments that his actions had been part of an "ongoing war", Adebolajo said: "Basically it's a war between Islam and those militaries that invade Muslim lands. One of them just happens to be British military and therefore the war continues even to this day."
The 28-year-old mumbled frequently during his evidence and had to be told to speak directly into his microphone, but nodded when Gottlieb led him through the procedures of the court. Told not to speak when Mr Justice Sweeney, referred to as "his lordship", was speaking, he said: "I agree. I don't believe he is a lord, but I agree."
The barrister, who had warned him he would be stopped if he tried to embark on "political speeches", interrupted his answers a number of times. "I'm going off a bit, forgive me," Adebolajo said at one point.
Asked by his barrister to outline his views on British foreign policy since 1997, the accused said: "I am wholeheartedly against it … When I speak to the average non-Muslim, even they don't agree with foreign policy and their government since 1997, so I don't believe I am the only one."
Describing himself as a "mujahid" or jihadist fighter, Adebolajo said he was "wholeheartedly against" British foreign policy since 1997, adding that he blamed Tony Blair for the death of a schoolfriend who had been killed in the Iraq war.
Adebolajo told jurors that he was "wholeheartedly against" British foreign policy and that he was "disgusted" by television coverage of the US-led shock and awe operation in Iraq in 2003.
"The Iraq war probably grated on me the most when I was in college. I remember watching the news, watching Trevor McDonald, I remember I saw Operation Shock and Awe unfold on the news. I was disgusted.
"They were reporting it as if it was something praiseworthy … the might of the west. It disgusted me. I wasn't Muslim at the time but it disgusted me."
Gottlieb asked what he believed should happen to him after the trial, whether he is found guilty or innocent of the charge, he said: "As an enemy soldier I believe either I should be ransomed to my Mujihadeen brothers … either ransomed back to the Mujihadeen or I should be set free or I should be killed."
Killed by whom, asked Gottlieb. "I don't know how it typically works, but from what I have read from previous wars, maybe the military, maybe a court."
He was asked why, in the moments after the killing, he had assured horrified pedestrians who had witnessed the attack that they were not in danger.
"Because at the best of times people can be afraid of black men," he said. In addition to these "unfortunate stereotypes", he acknowledged, there was "the fact that I had blood on my hands and face, that I had bloodied weapons".
He paid tribute, however, to the firearms officers who gave him and Adebowale first aid after disarming them, saying: "With regards to the firearms officers, you can have nothing but admiration for somebody who has the kindness to attempt to preserve the lives of two men who on the surface he must have thought I was going to kill them. So for him to perform first aid, I respect that."
As for the medical team that had treated his injuries, he said: "I believe that this country perhaps going by what I experienced at King's College hospital, perhaps we have the best nurses on the planet. They were so kind … I told my family that anyone who heard of these people … should bring them chocolates and flowers. I respect them very much indeed."
Adebolajo also said that he considered al-Qaida his "brothers in Islam" and that he was radicalised in part by television coverage of the Iraq invasion.
Asked by his Gottlieb how he could be certain that Rigby was a soldier before the attack, Adebolajo told the court: "Well, I don't believe there is a way to know 100% he was a soldier. However, there was some steps we took before we set out on the day.
"I stayed up worshipping Allah, begging him that he make the mission a success, that we strike a soldier and a soldier only.
"As well as that, while we were waiting we continued to beg Allah to ensure that we did not target anyone outside the permissibility of Islam. I saw the soldier, he was carrying this type of bag they all carry in Woolwich.
"Then we waited to ensure he was going towards the entrance of the barracks. These things combined made me certain that he was a soldier."
Asked the same question by Whittam, Adebolajo said: "The truth is we targeted a soldier and we killed a soldier. He was not a medic, he was a professional soldier."
Adebolajo, who appeared to have some of his front teeth missing, described how he was raised by Christian parents and would attend church every Sunday.
He said he converted to Islam in his first year at the University of Greenwich and that it was his "everything".
"My religion is everything," he said. "When I came to Islam I realised that … real success is not just what you can acquire, but really is if you make it to paradise, because then you can relax."
Asked for his opinion on al-Qaida, Adebolajo said: "al-Qaida I consider them a mujahid group. I love them. They are my brothers. I never met them but I love them. I consider them my brothers in Islam."
He later told jurors that he realised he might end up killing a soldier when he converted to Islam.
"I never, obviously growing up I never thought about killing a man. It's not the type of thing the young child thinks about," he said.
"But when the soldier joins the army he knows he will likely kill a man in his tour of duty … When I became a Muslim I realised I might end up killing a soldier."
Adebolajo said it was "childish" to ask how he believes his own views compare with those of the average British Muslim.
"I love every Muslim," he said. "Allah said it's my duty to protect them even if they hate my guts right now because of my actions. That's not my concern. My concern is does Allah love me."
He said he believed that the British people have become "so arrogant" that they believed that "only our lives are valuable".
"The love for my mother is not greater than an Afghanistan man for his mother," he said. "Why is that greater than an Afghanistan man for his mother? I don't believe this."
Adebolajo told the court that he tried to go to Somalia in 2010 because he wanted to live in accordance with sharia law, but was detained by Kenyan police.
The 28-year-old, who grew up in Romford in London, said he was arrested unjustly on two counts of assault against police officers after attending a demonstration. It was while being held in the police cells after his arrest, he said, that he began to see political protest as "impotent rage".
"It allows you to let off steam. The reality is no demonstration will make a difference. Even the 1 million people [who] marched against the Iraq war it did not change a single thing."
The case continues.
No 10 says Ipsa proposal that is due this week and has been widely criticised will be reviewed in first year of next parliament
Downing Street has declined to criticise the idea of a £10,000 pay rise for MPs, saying the issue will not arise until after the next election.
Although a number of ministers and Ed Miliband have condemned the expected proposal, David Cameron's official spokesman appeared to kick the issue into the long grass by insisting no decisions on the matter would be taken until mid-2015.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is preparing to give its verdict on pay rises for MPs this week. It is expected to recommend an 11% increase to £74,000, after almost two years of work on the issue of how much politicians should be paid.
However, Downing Street said on Monday that this would be reviewed in the first year of the next parliament, and therefore the final recommendations were not set in stone.
Cameron's spokesman said: "I don't believe Ipsa have made a formal proposal yet. Any proposal that they make will be reviewed in mid-2015, so it doesn't arise. The prime minister's longstanding position is that the cost of politics should go down, not up. He doesn't think that MPs' pay should go up while public sector pay is being restrained."
Over the weekend senior Tory, Lib Dem and Labour MPs lined up to condemn the idea of giving MPs more money after public sector pay rises have been limited to 1% a year.
Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said the proposed increase was "utterly incomprehensible", and Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, said he would expect the cabinet to take a collective stand against the Ipsa proposal. Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, said he could not see himself telling Labour MPs to accept the money.
However, a number of Tory backbenchers are campaigning for the increase to be accepted, making it difficult for Cameron to dismiss the idea entirely.
It emerged on Sunday that Ipsa would reject calls for restraint in its final plans to reform MPs' pay and pensions, to be published on Thursday. It will recommend they should be paid £74,000 a year after the general election, an 11% increase on the £66,396 a year they get now, or a 9% increase on what their pay would otherwise be in 2015-16 allowing for normal pay rises.
Ipsa first proposed the increase in a consultation in June and said it should be matched by cuts to the value of MPs' pensions. According to one source familiar with the authority's thinking, these proposals have been hardened up since the summer, meaning MPs' pensions will become even less generous. As a result, Ipsa will be able to argue that its proposals would result in no net increase in the cost of MPs' pay and pensions. The June package would have increased their cost by a total of £500,000 a year.
Nevertheless, Alexander told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that increasing MPs' salaries in line with what was being proposed was unacceptable. "Most people will find it utterly incomprehensible that at a time of pay restraint for the public sector, at a time of further squeezes on government spending, that Ipsa should be recommending [this increase]," he said.
Alexander said he would refuse to accept the money. "I think it would be wholly inappropriate for MPs to get such a large pay rise at a time when every other public sector worker sees their pay rises capped at 1%."
Hammond told Radio 5 Live: "So long as I'm the defence secretary presiding over a situation where the troops that serve our country so brilliantly are facing a 1% pay rise, I won't be taking a pay increase."
He said he expected all cabinet ministers to take the same approach. "I suspect that the prime minister would want cabinet ministers to make a clear, collective statement about what they would do. I suspect there will be a strong mood in the cabinet that we all need to say the same thing."
Balls said he would expect Labour MPs to do likewise. Ipsa had produced a report "entirely out of any context of the real world", he said. "How could I possibly say to Labour MPs at this time, with the economy like this, with the economy under real pressure, there's a cost of living crisis, that they should take a pay rise?"
Ipsa was created after the MPs' expenses scandal because it was thought that it was best for MPs to lose the right to set the level of their own pay and expenses. MPs have no power to block the increase unless they pass legislation tearing up the whole Ipsa framework.
There would be nothing to stop MPs who receive the rise after 2015 handing it back to the Commons authorities or donating it to charity, and it appears many MPs will go into the general election promising exactly that. Potentially this could also lead to calls for fresh legislation, making MPs' pay an election issue.
In June all three main party leaders criticised the proposed increase. Miliband and Nick Clegg said they personally would refuse to accept an increase, although Cameron was more guarded.
Downing Street said on Sunday that the government believed the cost of politics should be going down. "The government has submitted its views to Ipsa as part of the body's consultation on MPs' pay. It made it clear that, while Ipsa is an independent body set up by parliament, in future decisions on remuneration it expects Ipsa to take into account the government's wider approach to public service pay and pensions," a spokeswoman said. "We believe that the cost of politics should be going down, not up."
Several MPs said on Twitter that they, like Alexander, would refuse to accept the proposed rise. They included Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, Steve Webb, the Lib Dem pensions minister, the Labour MPs John Mann and John Woodcock and the Conservative Andrew Stephenson. In response to another Twitter user who asked his opinion on the proposals, Burnham wrote: "Wrong. Won't take it. Will destroy what's left of trust in MPs and politics."
But Sir Peter Bottomley, the Conservative MP, said his colleagues should accept Ipsa's ruling. "Each leader will say this is the wrong amount at the wrong time. The fact is, it was the leaders who set up the Ipsa system who are given the responsibility to set the level of pay and people can't interfere with it," he said. "The only way MPs could overturn this is to defy their leaders and pass a law saying Ipsa is abolished or it will be ignored. That's impractical given the public interest in setting up Ipsa in the first place."
A source familiar with Ipsa's thinking said that if MPs were unhappy with the increase they only had themselves to blame. For years, when they were in charge of their own pay, they avoided large salary increases that would be unpopular with the electorate while allowing themselves to recoup the money they were losing through expenses that became ever more generous and hard to justify, the source said.
"MPs, and governments, had decade after decade after decade to deal with this and they never did. They made a mess of it," said the source. "History tells us that they would do it again if they had the chance."
Rivals including TNT are now using more cycles to push mail – so why is the UK's iconic postal service giving up?
The new year will mark the end of an era for the Royal Mail. Its postal staff will stop using the red Pashley Mailstar, once a common sight across the UK. Since 2010 Royal Mail has removed 13,000 to 14,000 bikes from its operation, leaving between 3,000 to 4,000, and in 2014 even these will be phased out entirely.
However, where Royal Mail is retracting its cycles many around the UK are doing just the opposite.
TNT Post, Royal Mail's biggest rival, delivers 95% of its mail by bike (the other 5% vans delivering to out-of-town depots where the bike takes over). Last month it expanded into Greater Manchester from west London, doubling its fleet to 1,000 bikes. Between them, TNT posties now cycle 32,000km per week, an average of 4.4km per round.
Its director of End to End (the collecting, sorting and delivery of post), Gary Robinson, sees the bike as essential to his business. He says: "Bikes are low maintenance, economical and the environmental benefits are obvious. As the roads become more congested cycling becomes more favourable. For instance I couldn't get around London as quickly in a van as I can on a push bike. Ultimately our product lends itself well to being cycled."
He said TNT hopes to have up to 20,000 posties in the next five years.
Royal Mail says the removal of bikes reflects the changing nature of mail: thanks in part to our growing love of online shopping; with more packages and fewer letters modern mailbags are bulkier and heavier. Royal Mail will now mostly deliver on foot using trolleys which, it says, are more efficient than bicycles.
However, cycling charity CTC's campaigns and policy director, Roger Geffen, disagrees. He says: "There are plenty of operators who recognise that bike is an extremely efficient answer, you have just got to find the right bike.
"I cannot see why they think the traditional post bike isn't appropriate for the loads they're carrying. When CTC did our Keep Posties Cycling campaign three years ago, at first [Royal Mail] just ignored us, until we arrived with a very large number of letters delivered by post bike. They had actually done research into different options: there were bikes that met their needs that couldn't be produced in large enough volumes and there were bikes that could be produced but they didn't work well."
He said Royal Mail also looked at e-bikes, though above a certain weight an e-bike falls into the motorbike category.
Outspoken Deliveries, a Cambridge-based cycle delivery company, offers a post collection service from the local Royal Mail depot to guarantee delivery before 9am. Its cargo bikes can deliver up to 140 parcels per day, up to a quarter of a tonne at once. Outspoken's Rob King believes Royal Mail's price increases have helped drive competition. "I think other companies [like TNT] are doing it just because they get more and more sensible in terms of pricing," he says.
Yellow Jersey Post, a Coventry cycle courier, has delivered mail by bike since 2009. Co-director, Richard Hicks, said: "We are now delivering about 50,000 letters a month to 150 local businesses in and around Coventry, which isn't bad for four years. Those are estate agents, doctors, voluntary organisations and law contracts. We also handle a lot of Coventry deliveries for a national mail handler.
"Our standard service is the equivalent of Royal Mail's second class service, which takes one to three days. For us it is absolutely essential to use bikes, it is the only way we can do the job. If you attempted to deliver 350 letters a day by car to 250 addresses it would wear the car out and cost a fortune in petrol."
However, he concedes his operation is inherently different. "Royal Mail have very large volumes of post with each postman going door to door. For us we have only a few houses in a road. I pass five or six postmen on my round," he says.
Despite the changing nature of post Geffen still feels there is a point to prove about what freight bikes can do. He says: "There are plenty of posties that are totally convinced they could use a light freight bike, that they could find a way of spreading out the parcels. They don't like the idea that they are going to be cooped up in a van when they could be outdoors."
"As far as we are concerned this isn't the end of the story; we understand from Royal Mail their vans have a lifespan of about five years, and if they find they are being undercut by these companies or if they find the health of their work force suffers there is time to have a rethink. What they are doing is reversible."