Arguments

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Age of Online Shopping Could Mark the Beginning of "Retail Apocalypse"

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 at 12:29 PM

COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Courtesy of Creative Commons
Choosing where you spend your money is kind of like casting a ballot every time you make a purchase. Yes, your dollars do make a difference; a difference that could mean life or death for many retail stores as we know them.

Opting out of a trip to the mall to shop online is nothing new, neither is the shifting of the retail scene, but the growing trend that favors FedEx over Forever 21, could mark the end of physical shopping experience: the 'retail apocalypse.'

"The difference this time is how much power consumers now have in affecting change through their choices and the feedback they're able to provide retailers online," said Sabrina Helm, a UA associate professor in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Helm and her colleagues decided to survey over 400 consumers about their shopping habits and perceptions of today's retail environment. They also "analyzed over 1,600 comments made on online news articles written about store closures or the evolving retail environment," according to the press release.

The results were published in the Journal of Retailing and Customer Services Navigating the 'retail apocalypse': A framework of consumer evaluations of the new retail landscape.

According to the press release, respondents who preferred online shopping report not liking poor customer service, long lines, and items being out of stock. Some even admit that they avoid the social interaction.

On the other hand, some like shopping in stores for the social experience that they like to share with family and friends. Some even like interacting with strangers, unlike their online shopping opposites. "Others even said that shopping was important to their physical health, as it was their primary source of exercise," the press release reported. 
"There's a sense that brick-and-mortar stores are part of the social fabric of our society. If they disappear, many are concerned about the economy and what this will do for jobs and revenue for communities. Many people also said stores were vital to their quality of life. There are also fears that come from the closure of store spaces: What happens with all that empty space? Is crime going to increase because now we have all these empty areas? Crime rate was also a concern with regard to increased online shopping: Are there going to be more home invasions because there are all these packages on door fronts?" Helm wrote. 
The study concluded that closing all retail would be bad for society; so really, when it comes to the fate of our society as consumers, have more power than ever.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

UA Climate Adaptation Science Center receives $4.5M

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2018 at 12:38 PM

click image SOUTHWEST CLIMATE ADAPTATION SCIENCE CENTER
  • Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center

The Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, SW CASC, at the University of Arizona received a $4.5 million grant from the United States Geological Survey to support research on climate science and adaptation in the Southern Arizona region.

SW CASC was originally established in 2011 and is responsible for researching the adaptation impacts of land, water and wildlife in the southwest.

With the grant, the SW CASC will be able to continue its seven-year research in partnership with the United States Geological Survey, USGS, to assess the southwest's scientific needs. 
click image UA Climate Adaptation Science Center receives $4.5 M for research - SOUTHWEST CLIMATE ADAPTATION SCIENCE CENTER
  • Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center
  • UA Climate Adaptation Science Center receives $4.5 M for research


Researchers at the SW CASC will be able to use the funds to research topics including vegetation conversion, the theory that after destructive natural events such as wildfires and pathogen outbreaks, new species will appear in the landscapes effected. 

The center also announced that it will continue research on drought, the steady increase of summer and winter temperatures and flood risks due to increases in rainfall.

Stephen Jackson is the USGS director of the SW CASC and adjunct professor of geoscience and natural resources and environment at UA. Jackson said that the research would also be able to help other parts of the country.

"The entire world is going to be and already is facing impacts of climate change, but in the southwest, we're seeing it faster and more intensely," Jackson said. "Seeing this first puts us in a good position to tell people in other parts of the country what challenges might be coming to them and pass along information about how to adapt."

To read more about the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, click here.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Migrants Explain Why They Make The Trek

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2018 at 4:35 PM

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Asylum from gang violence and opportunity to work are among the reasons cited in an article by Daniele Volpe and Kirk Semple of the New York Times as to why thousands of migrants from central and South America are making their way north.

“We’re traveling to find a better future for my daughters,” said Fanny Rodríguez, who was with her husband, Edil Moscoso, 26, and their two daughters Daily Edith, 2, and Yarice, 9 months old. “We’re not going because we want fancy things.”

She added: “I don’t have to give them luxuries, only what’s necessary — that my daughters don’t lack food, that my daughters don’t lack clothes. Things like that.”
With news of the growing caravan headed through Mexico, President Trump has tweeted about sending the military to the southern border of the United States. He also tweeted about the countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

“We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing the massive foreign aid routinely given to them,” Trump said.

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Really? Charter School Cheerleaders Are Going To Reform Charters All By Themselves?

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2018 at 3:14 PM

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Oh please.

According to an AZ Republic article which gives off only the faintest odor of skepticism, we're about to get significant improvements in Arizona's charter school oversight and transparency courtesy of all those people who have shielded charters from oversight and transparency in the past: Republican legislators and statewide officeholders. We're supposed to believe the people who have always coddled charters and condemned school districts are going to take charters to task for their corruption and profiteering. And they'll do it after the elections are over, when they have a years-long window before they face voters again.

If you believe that, I've got some beach-front property in Marana you can buy with all the money you get back from Trump's middle class tax cuts.

The Republic article begins with the Arizona Charter Schools Association, the state's biggest cheerleader for charter schools, which is very influential in state Republican circles. After seeing all the bad publicity charters have gotten from recent investigative reporting, Eileen Sigmund, the association's CEO, has decided it's the right time to say, some changes should be made.

In 2016, the ACSA got a $1.6 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation. It's a yearly contribution from the multi-billionaire family which owns Walmart, and the money amounts to half the association's budget. The Foundation gave out $190 million in K-12 education grants that year, the majority of which either went to organizations with the word "charter" in their name or to privatization/"education reform" groups. There's no bigger financial supporter of charter schools in the country than the Walton family. Sigmund isn't about to anger her benefactors. Post elections, she will make it her prime mission to be sure any changes to charter regulations happens around the edges, if they happen at all.


Continue reading »

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Migrant Families Being Housed in Tucson Motels

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2018 at 2:26 PM

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Tucson Sector Border Chief Patrol Agent Rodolfo Karisch ride along the Southern Arizona wall and talk security, back in March. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Tucson Sector Border Chief Patrol Agent Rodolfo Karisch ride along the Southern Arizona wall and talk security, back in March.

Hundreds of migrant families are being housed in low-budget Tucson motels after being processed and released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a report by the New York Times.

Catholic Community Services and volunteers from churches, synagogues and throughout the community have been helping provide food, clothes and medical services.

The flow of migrants fleeing violence and extreme poverty from Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador is increasing, leading to a record 16,658 people in family units apprehended by Border Patrol in September.

“The reality is that conditions in countries of origin continue to push
people to migrate,” said Joanna Williams, advocacy director of the Kino
Border Initiative, which works with migrants along the Arizona border.
As families continue to migrate, President Trump continues attempts to strong arm the situation, tweeting out threats to stop financial aid to these three countries, as well as blaming Democrats for those countries' exodus. 

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Parents: VOTE! (For Education)

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 3:30 PM

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No one has a greater stake in Arizona education than parents of school-aged children. No one. Except maybe parents of children too young to attend school who will be in kindergarten in a few short years (It'll be sooner than you can imagine!). And people who are planning to have kids, whose future children will enter school within a decade. All of you are going to gain or lose based on the results of the upcoming elections.

So, my advice to parents is, VOTE! If you have a mail-in ballot sitting around beginning to gather dust, pick it up, fill it out and mail it in. No stamp required. If not, there's early voting at the polls. And there's November 6.

Vote for your children, which means, vote education — whatever that means to you. More on that later.

I figure there are about 400,000 of you parents with school-aged children registered to vote. (I'll explain how I arrived at that ballpark figure at the end of the post.) If you vote at 35 percent, which is typical for non-presidential elections, that's 140,000 ballots cast. Some of you who normally sit on the sidelines could, and should, decide this election is important enough to make the extra effort. If the number goes to 50 percent, that's 200,000. If you double your voting rate, you'll be pushing a quarter million.

Parents are an electoral force to be reckoned with. If you split along party lines as usual, not much will change. But if you vote for candidates who are long-time supporters of public education, not candidates-come-lately who, after years of bashing "failing schools" and "failing teachers," have decided it's politically expedient to say our schools deserve a little more money and support, you can be game changers.

I know what it means to me when I say, "Vote for education," but it may mean something different to you. Here's a thumbnail guide you can use to decide what you think "Vote for education" means.

Vote Democratic if you believe our public education should be fully funded, that Arizona should no longer occupy the nation's bottom rung in per-student funding.

Vote Republican if you don't want to "throw money" at failing schools and failing teachers because more money doesn't translate to better schools.

Vote Democratic if you think charter schools need more oversight and regulation to get rid of the bad actors and profiteers.

Vote Republican if you think the current lax charter rules and regulations are just fine, that we should let the "invisible hand of the marketplace" work its magic.

Vote Democratic if you think our two backdoor private school voucher programs, Tuition Tax Credits and Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, take money away from public education and favor wealthy families who would send their children to private schools anyway.

Vote Republican if you like the idea of vouchers for everyone who wants them.

Whatever you decide, parents, VOTE!

A Number-Of-Voting-Parents Note: Maybe the numbers are out there somewhere, but I didn't find them. So here's how I got to 400,000 Arizona parents of school-aged children who are registered voters.

Start with a million K-12 students. Estimate 2.5 children per family, figuring the range from big families and those with one child. That comes to 400,000 families. Estimate 1.5 parents per family. Now we're at 600,000 parents. Estimate a third of the parents either didn't make the effort to register or aren't citizens and can't vote. That leaves 400,000 parents of school-aged children who are registered voters.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Teachers: VOTE! (For Education)

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 2:47 PM

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Apologies to fellow teachers. (I know, I've been out of the profession for 15 years, but once a teacher, always a teacher, even after you lose your class [badum-ching!]). I know how much teachers hate being told what to do. I always did. I keep promising I won't give teachers advice, but I keep doing it anyway. My excuse is, I spent 30-plus years in the classroom, so I'm cutting myself a little slack.

My advice to teachers is, VOTE! If you have a mail-in ballot sitting around beginning to gather dust, pick it up, fill it out and mail it in. No stamp required. If not, there's early voting at the polls. And there's November 6.

Teachers, vote for education, whatever that means to you. More on that later.

Arizona has about 50,000 K-12 teachers. Roughly 40,000 of them work in school districts, and most of the remainder work in charter schools. That's a whole lot of people whose lives revolve around governmental decisions. Include an equal number of non-teaching staff, and it adds up to nearly 100,000 potential education-based voters in statewide races, 3,000 per legislative district. That's more than enough to make the difference in close races.

For some reason I've never understood, teachers aren't reliable voters. I've heard figures as low a 35 percent show up for elections, which astounds me. Anything lower than 80 percent from a group of people who dedicate themselves to serving the public interest, who perform their civic duty every working day, seems wrong. Maybe some teachers feel like they use up their quotient of public service in the classroom, then when it comes time to vote, they think, "Screw it, it's time for the rest of you to step up while I work on tomorrow's lesson plan for your kids!"

OK, so this year, don't think about voting as another civic chore to add to your physically and emotionally draining teaching schedule. This year, vote out of self interest.

Continue reading »

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Nothing Scares Republicans More Than Angry Democrats

Posted By on Mon, Oct 15, 2018 at 3:41 PM

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"Channel your fury." That was the subject line of one of the hundred-plus Democratic fundraising emails in my inbox on Sunday. Was it from MoveOn? Nope. From Bernie Sanders 2020? Nope again. It was from the Democratic Governors Association.

And that's why Republicans are making such a big deal about Democrats being angry, or one of the reasons anyway. Sure, they want to use the "Democrat angry mob" attack to rally their base by conflating the Democratic Party with their usual grab bag of scary people, the immigrants and gangs and just about any people of color — you know, the usual suspects in the Republican "Be very afraid, they're coming to get you!" campaign. But as important, they don't want Democrats to use anger to rally their base. The DGA email says Democrats have to "channel all our fury into fighting as hard as we can for the next 23 days until Election Day," so Dems will vote in large enough numbers, they'll win close races. Republicans expect that kind of talk from lefties like MoveOn and Bernie Sanders. But when it comes from the usually staid, measured Democratic Governors Association, that's scary.

Anger and vitriol are supposed to be exclusive Republican weapons used to pummel Democrats into submission, according to Republicans anyway. They know anger works. It gets voters' adrenalin pumping. It's especially effective when Democrats respond as they have historically, with measured tones, using logic to explain why Republican anger isn't justified.

"See?" the aggressors crow after a weak Democratic response. "Republicans are strong, we know how to fight! Democrats are wusses."

Continue reading »

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