Fat Taxery in Ontario

The government of Ontario has added two lines to its forthcoming budget that the health minister hopes will help dissuade smokers and junk food junkies. The government will rachet up the cigarrette tax, pull high sugar and fatty foods out of school cafeterias and revoke the sales tax exemption currently enjoyed by fast food vendors who sell meals costing less than $4 ('1.80) Estimates suggest that the government stands to raise as much as $200 million from the tax.Childhood obesity is a ...

Posted by on 15 Apr 2004
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(Public) Space Invaders

Hmm. Walked over to the Royal Festival Hall today to buy my lunch, only to find the whole building closed, surrounded by barricades and a pretty impressive police presence.It turns out that BP have taken over for the day, to hold their AGM. I couldn't help feeling that this was a little inappropriate: the RFH is very much a public space, with shops, caf's, a bar, exhibitions, live music and - generally - an area where children are encouraged to play, as well as a wide outdoor area fa...

Posted by on 15 Apr 2004
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personal services

The promise of personalised public services, which are tailored to fits the needs of individual users, could transform the public sector in a way we haven't seen since privatisation in the 1980s. This is the view of Demos associate Charles Leadbeater who writes in today's SocietyGuardian. Demos publishes his new pamphlet Personalisation through Participation which develops the argument further.

Posted by on 14 Apr 2004
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News Map

[via Blackbelt Jones]This is brilliant - a visual representation of Google News. Have a play.

Posted by Paul Miller on 13 Apr 2004
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Yer What?

Gavin Esler confronts a problem I've been mulling over for a while in today's Newsnight email... afraid I don't have any simple answers.""Shows promise: but must try harder" - the rather schoolmarm-ish conclusion of a report into the government's efforts at sustainable development. Eh? Sustainable development? Hardly trips off the tongue, does it? Not likely to compete for tabloid headlines with Posh 'n' Becks or Iraq, and in fact too long to fit in the...

Posted by Paul Miller on 13 Apr 2004
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The Multiplayers and Marx

It's a story we've seen crop up occasionally over the past twenty months. Perhaps David Brooks' piece on the Sims in the New York Times magazine defines the genre. Whatever the case, immersive multiplayer online gaming is not only becoming the most popular western form of entertainment, its sprouting a new kind of economy. Real world rents are being paid by hardened players who, sweating their thumbs on virtual labours, are converting their "gaming goods" on eBay for r...

Posted by on 09 Apr 2004
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Candidate Walmart

To the officials in the California town of Inglewood, it was an unprecedented and blithe display of corporate power. When councillors rejected an application by Walmart to build a new 200,000 sq ft. supercentre, the irate mega-retailer decided to take its plan to the voters. Spending $1 million to convince the residents of Inglewood that their plan matched their interests, city and union officials were left scrambling to mount a defense, explaining to voters that the proposition would exempt ...

Posted by on 08 Apr 2004
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Moving Targets?

As an earlier post by Eddie mentioned, last week Demos and MMO2 hosted a seminar to explore the opportunites and risks that mobile phones pose to children.John Naughton gives a good account of the main issues to emerge from the conversation in his most recent Observer column

Posted by on 08 Apr 2004
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The Self-creating Society

As Tom's a bit jet-lagged I thought I'd alert the world to the essay he's got in Renewal at the moment called The Self-creating Society. Here's a taster:"The next generation of domestic politics is likely to revolve partly around a politics of public behaviour. Behind the traditional issues of macroeconomic management, public service improvement and law and order, we can now see clearly emerging a new set of political issues which have a huge and direct influence on quali...

Posted by Paul Miller on 06 Apr 2004
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Open Source Learning?

Where does plagiarism stop and open source learning begin? A report from the Joint Council for Qualifications suggests today that 'They [students] would not be able to make extensive alterations without an understanding of the subject,' arguing that re-working (albeit small) exerts of existing text can be a valuable tool in self-teaching. The process as important as the final product?

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 05 Apr 2004
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