Here's an idea for a reality TV show. The contestants will be drawn from the U.S. Congress. To start, they'll have their credit cards, cellphones, computers and cars confiscated. Next, they'll be sent to live in rural villages and urban shantytowns in poor countries. Each will be assigned a menial job in his new home, for which he will receive $1 a day. They'll be instructed to make their way to a distant country, but they won't be provided with money, a passport or transportation. Hardships along the route will include fording flood-prone rivers, crossing dangerous deserts on foot and evading the armed gangs of smugglers and traffickers who will attempt to rob, rape and kidnap them. Contestants will then have to covertly cross a border into a country guarded by armed agents. Those who make it will then have to find food, shelter and employment in a place where they don't know the language and are in constant danger of being detected, detained and deported by the authorities. The only jobs available to them will be low-paying and often backbreaking labor. Any contestants who manage to survive a full season will be offered the opportunity to draft a new immigration-reform bill for the United States. Read the full story.
Police departments around the country are contending with a shortage of officers and trying to lure new applicants with signing bonuses, eased standards, house down payments and extra vacation time. More than 80% of the nation's 17,000 law enforcement agencies, big and small, have vacancies that many can't fill. A confluence of demographic changes and social trends have precipitated the shortage. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have siphoned off public-service-minded people to the military. Hundreds of law enforcement officers have handed in their badges to take higher-paying positions in the booming homeland security industry. And each year an increasingly large number of baby-boomer officers, hired in the 1970s, retires. Read the full story.
S. Mitra Kalita, Krissah Williams | Washington Post
Here lies the dilemma facing Congress as it attempts an immigration overhaul. Businesses say it is hard to persuade Americans to perform the unskilled jobs that immigrants easily fill. Significantly higher wages might work, but that increase would be passed on to unhappy consumers, forcing Americans to give up under-$10 manicures and $15-per-hour paint and lawn jobs. Yet against a backdrop of heightened scrutiny of those who cross U.S. borders and the estimated 12 million migrants already here illegally, most everyone agrees that the current immigration system warrants a severe makeover. Read the full story.
So they say--some of them, anyway--that discrimination is not a problem in America anymore? Don't tell that to the tens of thousands of people who filed complaints last year with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 75,428 filings at EEOC field offices across the country, people described unfair and illegal treatment in private sector workplaces on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, religion and other factors. The EEOC, the federal agency in charge of enforcing federal civil rights laws, filed 383 lawsuits against alleged offenders last year, garnering $107.7 million for victims through litigation. The agency helped obtain $271.6 million for victims without going to trial, often through settlements or mediation. Read the full story.
Music is hitting a high note in the office. Portable music players such as iPods are increasingly showing up on the job, a trend that's being praised as a boon to productivity as well as criticized as a safety risk and employee distraction. Music at the office is nothing new--Walkmans first began showing up in the workplace in the 1980s and radios have been a staple for generations. But MP3 players are becoming ubiquitous because they can be as small as a pack of gum. They're easy to transport everywhere from factory floors to corner offices, and they allow employees to take advantage of their computers by downloading songs right from the Internet. The use of MP3 players isn't music to everyone's ears. Read the full story.
After working for 76 years at public transit agencies, bus maintenance attendant Arthur Winston celebrated his first day of retirement and his 100th birthday Wednesday at a party in the cavernous Los Angeles MTA garage named after him. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president, Winston had missed just one day of work: the day in 1988 that his wife, Frances, died. In 1924, Winston started his transit career cleaning trolley cars for what was the Los Angeles Railway Co. Every workday he rose at 4:30 a.m. and drove to the bus yard. MTA records show that he was never late. Read the full story.
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