In the past, Foxconn's workers union didn't represent workers. It was controlled by upper management. Now because of pressure from Apple, Foxconn's workers will vote for better representation.
"They're requiring us to take control of the union, which is great. But how much of a voice will we really have once we've done that?" says Li Shihong, who assembles iPads at one of Foxconn's largest factories in Shenzhen.
Auret Van Heerden heads the Fair Labor Association, whose audit of Foxconn is directing these changes. Van Heerden wonders if workers will even bother to vote:
"Workers might see it as an inconvenience, you know? One thing we need to get clear is why should I vote? What can they do for me? And will it be worth it?" says Van Heerden.
According to Van Heerden, it's possible one of the first demands of the new union will be to work more overtime hours. Apple has reduced hours for its Chinese suppliers -- an unpopular move with many Foxconn workers.
The Federal Communications Commission will hold the first in a series of field hearings on phone outages during natural disasters on Tuesday. The hearing, in New York and New Jersey, will focus on the blow Hurricane Sandy inflicted on communications networks.
Sandy knocked out about a quarter of the cellphone towers in the hardest-hit states. Andrew Adam Newman lives in New York’s Greenwich Village. He just had time to post a horrifying video and pictures of rising water on his Facebook page before his phone went dead. Most of his neighbors were in the same boat. Newman says many of them wandered around like zombies, trying to get a signal.
“I saw people walking around the neighborhood just staring at their phones," he says. "They looked like people who get metal detectors out and walk all over a football field looking for a nickel.”
Harold Feld, senior vice president of Public Knowledge, a non profit in Washington, says it doesn’t have to be this way. He wants the FCC to force cellphone companies to sometimes share their networks.
“These providers are used to competing with each other," he explains. "So the answer in this case may be, OK, when an emergency comes down, you’re all going to have to work together whether you like it or not.”
The FCC is expected to consider that issue at the hearing. And also look at how well cellphone companies prepared for Hurricane Sandy.
When President Obama has trouble saving a document to his network drive, well let's just say, he doesn't call Todd Park. Park is the Chief Technology Officer of the United States, and his job is -- shall we say -- a bit more large scale:
"The U.S. Chief Technology Officer is a position that President Obama created when he came to office. It's really about creating and executing projects," explains Park. "One of the initiatives is something called the Open Data Initiatives program. This is a program that essentially seeks to liberate data, in machine readable form, from the vaults of the government as fuel for entrepreneurship, innovation and scientific discovery."
To help tackle the job of releasing all this new information as well as other big projects, the government launched a program last summer to bring in a group of techies from the business world as so-called Innovation Fellows.
"We have been tremendously excited by the success of round one of Presidential Innovation Fellows program, and so we are very excited today to be launching round two," says Park. "We've actually identified a set of game-changing projects to apply technology to do massive public good. We are going to market with those projects and then seeking the best people on the planet to come and serve in government working on those projects."
Park's team will be accepting applications for the next six weeks. You can read more about the Presidental Innovation Fellows program here.
There are growing calls for Syria's leaders to face war crimes charges for the assaults against rebel targets and civilian areas. If that happens, veterans of past war crimes prosecutions say, Syrians will have one big advantage: the widespread gathering of evidence across the country.
Labor organizations say the Family and Medical Leave Act is too restrictive and that workers often have to choose between their family and their livelihood. Now, there are calls for Congress to expand the law and provide paid leave.
Life in Puerto Rico is tougher than ever. The U.S. territory — popularly known as "the island of enchantment" — faces a decaying economy and escalating violent crime rate. Many residents are leaving the island in record numbers and embracing the mainland as home.
In Chicago, one mother has lost four children to gunfire — the first was murdered about 18 years ago. The last of the siblings was buried Monday. Shirley Chambers says something must be done, but she's not sure new gun restrictions or more police on the streets will make a difference.