Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Criminalization of Food-Sharing Practices

Description:
The new report, "Share No More: The Criminalization of Efforts to Feed People In Need," documents the recent known cases of food-sharing restrictions throughout the country. Since January 2013, 21 cities have restricted the practice of sharing food with people who are experiencing homelessness while at least ten others have introduced ordinances that are pending approval.
 Source: National Coalition for the Homeless

Download full pdf publication | Learn more

Premiums and Stability in the Individual Health Insurance Market

Key Findings
  1. Eliminating the Affordable Care Act's premium tax credits would substantially increase premiums and reduce overall enrollment in the individual market.
  2. Reduced enrollment of young adults in the individual health insurance market would lead to modest premium increases.
  3. Alternative types of subsidies — such as vouchers — could cause premiums to become more sensitive to the age mix of enrollees.
  4. Eliminating the individual mandate would cause small increases in premiums but large declines in enrollment.
Source: RAND Corporation

Download full pdf publication | Read online at RAND Corporation

Obama’s Internet Neutrality Stance: Net Positive or Negative?

Introduction:
President Obama recently came out strongly in favor of net neutrality, sometimes referred to as an open Internet. It is an idea that would, notably, prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from giving preferential high-speed lanes —fast-tracking for those willing to pay the extra toll costs —to some companies or groups over others. His support is likely to strongly influence a looming FCC decision on the matter.

Is it the right call?

Reed Hundt, a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 1993 until 1997 under President Clinton, thinks it is. Hundt, who also was on Obama’s transition team, advising him on telecommunications, called the President’s statement “a game-changer moment,”because if Obama’s view is adopted by the FCC, it would offer the market needed certainty.
Source Knowledge @ Wharton

Read online interview with Reed Hundt [video option also available]

America's Youngest Outcasts.

Description:
America's Youngest Outcasts documents the number of homeless children in every state, their well-being, their risk for child homelessness, and state level planning and policy efforts. Using findings from numerous sources that include well-established national data sets as well as our own research, we rank the states in four domains, and then develop a composite of these domains to rank the states from 1 (best) to 50 (worst). A page about the District of Columbia is also available. 

Download full pdf report | View interactive map


Drones and Aerial Surveillance: Considerations for Lawmakers

Introduction:
The looming prospect of expanded use of unmanned aerial vehicles, colloquially known as drones, has raised understandable concerns for lawmakers. Those concerns have led some to call for legislation mandating that nearly all uses of drones be prohibited unless the government has first obtained a warrant. Privacy advocates have mounted a lobbying campaign that has succeeded in convincing thirteen states to enact laws regulating the use of drones by law enforcement, with eleven of those thirteen states requiring a warrant before the government may use a drone. The campaigns mounted by privacy advocates oftentimes make a compelling case about the threat of pervasive surveillance, but the legislation is rarely tailored in such a way to prevent the harm that advocates fear. In fact, in every state where legislation was passed, the new laws are focused on the technology (drones) not the harm (pervasive surveillance). In many cases, this technology centric approach creates perverse results, allowing the use of extremely sophisticated pervasive surveillance technologies from manned aircraft, while disallowing benign uses of drones for mundane tasks like accident and crime scene documentation, or monitoring of industrial pollution and other environmental harms.
 Source: Brookings Institution

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Women in Academic Science: A Changing Landscape

From the abstract:
In this monograph, we undertake extensive life-course analyses comparing the trajectories of women and men in math-intensive fields with those of their counterparts in non-math-intensive fields in which women are close to parity with or even exceed the number of men. We begin by examining early-childhood differences in spatial processing and follow this through quantitative performance in middle childhood and adolescence, including high school coursework. We then focus on the transition of the sexes from high school to college major, then to graduate school, and, finally, to careers in academic science.
Source: Psychological Science in the Public Interest

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Is academic science sexist?

There has never been a better time for women to enter academic careers in math-intensive science fields. That’s the message Cornell University psychologist Stephen Ceci says he was hoping to get across in last Sunday’s controversial op-ed inThe New York Times, “Academic Science Isn’t Sexist,” co-authored by Wendy Williams, also a psychologist at Cornell. But that’s not how the article, which attempts to summarize a 67-pagepaper they co-authored with economists Donna Ginther of the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and Shulamit Kahnof Boston University, came across to some readers.

In addition to the provocative headline, statements such as “the experiences of young and midcareer women in math-intensive fields are, for the most part, similar to those of their male counterparts” and that female underrepresentation in some fields is “rooted in women’s earlier educational choices, and in women’s occupational and lifestyle preferences” sparked outcry from the blogosphere and on Twitter and prompted heated discussion within the scientific community. Those discussions have focused on whether the findings are valid, the potential implications, and the best way to move forward.
Source: Science

Read the whole story on Sciencemag.org

Will MOOCs be Flukes? : Why MOOCs are failing the people they are supposed to help

From the introduction:
On July 23rd, 1969, Geoffrey Crowther addressed the inaugural meeting of the Open University, a British institution that had just been created to provide an alternative to traditional higher education. Courses would be conducted by mail and live radio. The basic mission, Crowther declared, was a simple one: to be open to people from all walks of life. “The first, and most urgent task before us is to cater for the many thousands of people, fully capable of a higher education, who, for one reason or another, do not get it, or do not get as much of it as they can turn to advantage, or as they discover, sometimes too late, that they need,” he told his audience. “Men and women drop out through failures in the system,” he continued, “through disadvantages of their environment, through mistakes of their own judgment, through sheer bad luck. These are our primary material.” He then invoked the message emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty: Open University wanted the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. To them, most of all, it opened its doors.

The mission Crowther described is the same one that has driven the proliferation of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, during the past few years. (Open University has often served as a sort of inspirational model forsuch ventures, which Nathan Heller wrote about last year in the magazine.) The premise of the MOOC movement is as commendable as it is democratic: quality education should not be a luxury good. MOOCs are flexible and they can be free; if people want an education, MOOCs can give it to them.
Source: New Yorker

Read the whole story

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure

 Introducation
The Standards of Conduct Office of the Department of Defense General Counsel’s Office has assembled the following selection of cases of ethical failure for use as a training tool. Our goal is to provide DoD personnel with real examples of Federal employees who have intentionally or unwittingly violated the standards of conduct. Some cases are humorous, some sad, and all are real. Some will anger you as a Federal employee and some will anger you as an American taxpayer.
Please pay particular attention to the multiple jail and probation sentences, fines, employment terminations and other sanctions that were taken as a result of these ethical failures. Violations of many ethical standards involve criminal statutes. Protect yourself and your employees by learning what you need to know and accessing your Agency ethics counselor if you become unsure of the proper course of conduct. Be sure to access them before you take action regarding the issue in question. Many of the cases displayed in this collection could have been avoided completely if the offender had taken this simple precaution.
The cases have been arranged according to offense for ease of access. Feel free to reproduce and use them as you like in your ethics training program. For example – you may be conducting a training session regarding political activities. Feel free to copy and paste a case or two into your slideshow or handout – or use them as examples or discussion problems. If you have a case you would like to make available for inclusion in a future update of this collection, please email it to OSD.SOCO@MAIL.MIL or you may fax it to (703) 695-4970.
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of General Counsel

Download encyclopedia (word document)

Federal Taxation of Marijuana Sellers, CRS Legal Sidebar

From the introduction:

As several states have permitted the use of marijuana for medical and recreational uses, one question that arises is what are the federal income tax consequences for businesses that sell marijuana?

There is no question that income from selling marijuana is taxable to the seller, regardless of whether such sale is legal or not under federal or state law. The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) uses a very broad definition of income, and income is taxable whether it comes from legal or illegal activities. Further, it can be taxed even if the proceeds are forfeited to the government.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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Online tool created by UCLA provides health information by ZIP code, city and legislative district

From the press release
For the first time, anyone can easily access comprehensive California health statistics by ZIP code, city and legislative district thanks to a new web tool created by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The easy-to-use AskCHIS Neighborhood Edition, or AskCHIS NE, enables users to customize searches, compare and “pool” small geographic areas, and map and chart their results.
AskCHIS NE covers a wide range of health topics, including rates of health insurance, chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes, and behaviors like smoking and physical activity; quality of children’s health; and access to health care and mental health care; and much more.
Source:  UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

Visit AskCHIS NE (free registration required)

UNESCO has launched World Library of Science free university-level resource.

The World Library of Science is a free online resource for a global community. Developed as a partnership between UNESCO and Macmillan Science and Education, this online Library offers quality Nature Education content in short eBooks and articles, serving a mission to equalize access to high quality resources for science education for all communities across the globe. All offerings are digital, allowing easy access to online tools and networks. The content of the World Library of Science is meant to inspire more learning and curiosity, and help train students and teachers alike, both in the content and cultural impacts of scientific discovery. Future plans involve expansion of life and physical science subjects, as well as translation of resources into multiple languages. 

Source UNESCO

Visit World Library of Science

Unauthorized Immigrant Totals Rise in 7 States, Fall in 14

From the overview:
The U.S. unauthorized immigrant population has leveled off nationally after the Great Recession, but state trends have been more volatile. From 2009 to 2012, according to new Pew Research Center estimates, the population of unauthorized immigrants rose in seven states and fell in 14.

 Five East Coast states were among those where the number of unauthorized immigrants grew from 2009 to 2012—Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Numbers also rose in Idaho and Nebraska, according to the center’s estimates.
Source: Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project

Download full pdf publication  | View Map

New College Board Trends in Higher Education Reports: College Prices Increase at a Slower Pace While Student Borrowing Declines for the Third Consecutive Year

From the press release:
While published tuition and fees at colleges and universities continue to rise more rapidly than the rate of inflation, the rate of increase has slowed. Between 2013-14 and 2014-15, the percentage increases in published tuition and fees (in all sectors) were smaller than the average annual increases over the previous five, 10, and 30 years, according to the College Board’s 2014 Trends in Higher Education reports — Trends in Student Aid and Trends in College Pricing — released today. Total education borrowing fell by 8% between 2012-13 and 2013-14, and by 13% over three years. Borrowing per student declined by 6% in one year and by 9% between 2010-11 and 2013-14.
Source: College Board

Download the full report, data or presentation from Trends in College Pricing 2014.
Download the full report, data or presentation from Trends in Student Aid 2014.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Leaders & Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education

Introduction:
This report identifies the best and worst performing states—the leaders and laggards— in public postsecondary education. It focuses on the performance of the institutions over which state governments have the most influence: public colleges and universities. In an effort to systematically measure the most important factors being watched by policymakers, business leaders, and concerned citizens, we graded state performance and policy in the following six areas:
  1. Student Access & Success
    • Do state institutions retain and graduate a high percentage of their students within a reasonable amount of time?
    • Do they ensure access for low-income students?
  2. Efficiency & Cost-Effectiveness
    • How much money do public institutions spend on education and related expenses per degree produced?
    • How much does it cost, in state and local spending, to produce degrees?
  3. Meeting Labor Market Demand
    • How much better do college graduates fare than their less-educated peers in terms of employment and wages?
  4. Transparency & Accountability
    • Do states measure learning and labor market outcomes? Do they routinely make information on the performance of the higher education system available to the public?
  5. Policy Environment
    • Do states have policies in place that provide incentives to promote degree completion and allow students to transfer course credits freely within the system?
  6. Innovation
    • Have states made efforts to embrace innovative ways of delivering college instruction?
    • Do states encourage innovative providers to serve nontraditional students who may be underserved by the existing system?

Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Download full pdf publication | View online interactive map

Improving Strategic Competence: Lessons from 13 Years of War

Abstract:
This report contributes to the ongoing debate about the lessons from the past 13 years of war and the requirements for addressing future conflicts. It addresses a particular disconnect in the current debate on the future of national security strategy and the role of landpower caused by an inadequate examination of the national level of strategy made by the U.S. government. The disconnect exists because there has been no systematic effort to collect and analyze insights from those who have been actively engaged in making policy and strategy from 2001 to 2014. A RAND Arroyo Center workshop provided a mechanism for eliciting insights from policymakers and academic experts involved in the formation of national-level strategy and its implementation over the past 13 years. This study analyzes and develops those insights in the context of the debate on future national security strategy. It applies those insights to the future operating environment, which will include irregular and hybrid threats, and identifies critical requirements for land forces and special operations forces to operate successfully in conjunction with other joint, interagency, and multinational partners.
Source: RAND Corporation

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U.S. Workers’ Diverging Locations: Policy and Inequality Implications

From the introduction:
Over the past three decades, the earnings of workers with a college education have substantially increased relative to those with less education. In 1980, the average college graduate earned 38% more than the average high school graduate. By 2000, the college-high school graduate wage gap increased to 57%, and by 2011 it rose to 73%.1 At the same time, workers have become increasingly spatially segregated by education. Cities that initially had a large share of college graduates in 1980 increasingly attracted larger shares of college educated workers from 1980 to 2000, while cities with relatively less educated populations in 1980 gained few college grads over the following 20 years. The increasingly “highly educated cities” also experienced higher wage growth for both low- and high-skill workers and substantially larger increases in housing costs. The economic trajectories of these increasing high skill cities are diverging from those with fewer college graduates (Moretti, 2013).
Source: Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

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Lots of Sizzle, Not Enough Steak in U.S. News Media

Introduction:
One might expect that today’s 24-hour news cycle should have room for everything. When the news never stops coming, it stands to reason that there’s sufficient bandwidth to leave no topical stone unturned… in theory. But of course, that doesn’t mean that every sort of story gets the same level of coverage. When provided with several types of news stories and asked which are under-, over-, or appropriately covered, three-fourths of U.S. adults (76%) say celebrity gossip/scandal stories are over-covered, while half (49%) say the same about general entertainment news and 44% believe sports news gets too much coverage. And perhaps the midterms are to blame, but a third of Americans (33%) feel U.S. elections are over-covered in U.S. news media. 
Source: Harris Interactive

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Use of Selected Nonmedication Mental Health Services by Adolescent Boys and Girls With Serious Emotional or Behavioral Difficulties: United States, 2010–2012

Key findings

Data from the National Health Interview Survey, 2010–2012
  • About 4% of adolescents aged 12–17 had a serious emotional or behavioral difficulty and received nonmedication mental health services in the past 6 months.
  • Nearly 71% of adolescents with serious emotional or behavioral difficulties received nonmedication mental health services in the past 6 months.
  • Among adolescents with serious emotional or behavioral difficulties, boys were more likely than girls to receive nonmedication mental health services.
  • Boys with serious emotional or behavioral difficulties were more likely than girls to receive services in school settings.
  • The percentage of boys and girls with serious emotional or behavioral difficulties receiving nonschool services was similar for all settings except for the emergency department.
Mental health is a key component of a child’s overall wellbeing. Previous research using data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that about 6% of adolescents have serious emotional or behavioral difficulties. Both medication and nonmedication services have been found to be effective for treatment. Two recent reports from the National Center for Health Statistics have presented estimates of medication use among U.S. adolescents ). The use of prescription medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties was higher among boys than girls. This report describes differences between boys and girls in the use of nonmedication mental health services in various school and nonschool settings among adolescents aged 12–17 with serious emotional or behavioral difficulties.

Source: Center for Disease Control.

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Trafficking in human beings 2010-2014: eradicating the slave trade

Introduction:
During the years 2010-2012, EU Member States registered 30 146 victims of trafficking in human beings. Behind this number are human tragedies, broken hopes and destroyed plans for a better life. During the same period, 8 551 prosecutions against traffickers were reported across the EU. 80 percent of victims of trafficking were female, and over 1 000 child victims were registered as trafficked for sexual exploitation. This data is part of a statistical report on victims and perpetrators of trafficking released today by the European Commission. A report also shows that many concrete measures against this severe human rights violation have been undertaken during 2010-2014, such as better cooperation with civil society, and guidelines issued to border authorities and other stakeholders on how to better identify victims.
Source: European Commission

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Legislative Procedure in Congress: Basic Sources for Congressional Staff

From the description:
Written for congressional staff, this report identifies and provides details on how to obtain official government sources of information on the legislative process and the rules and procedure of the House and Senate. The report provides references to selected CRS products and offers information on the CRS legislative institutes. A listing of selected supplementary materials is also provided.
Source: Congressional Research Service

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How Does Government Borrowing Affect Corporate Financing and Investment?

Abstract:
Using a novel dataset of accounting and market information that spans most publicly traded nonfinancial firms over the last century, we show that U.S. federal government debt issuance significantly affects corporate financial policies and balance sheets through its impact on investors’ portfolio allocations and the relative pricing of different assets. Government debt is strongly negatively correlated with corporate debt and investment, but strongly positively correlated with corporate liquidity. These relations are more pronounced in larger, less risky firms whose debt is a closer substitute for Treasuries. Indeed, we find a strong negative relation between the BAA-AAA yield spread and government debt, highlighting the greater sensitivity of more highly rated credit to variation in the supply of Treasuries. The channel through which this effect operates is investors’ portfolio decisions: domestic intermediaries actively substitute between lending to the federal government and the nonfinancial corporate sector. The relations between government debt and corporate policies, as well as the substitution between government and corporate debt by intermediaries, are stronger after 1970 when foreign demand increased competition for Treasury securities. In concert, our results suggest that large, financially healthy corporations act as liquidity providers by supplying relatively safe securities to investors when alternatives are in short supply, and that this financial strategy influences firms’ capital structures and investment policies.
Source:National Bureau of Economic Research via Social Science Research Network

Download full pdf publication | Read abstract online

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Depression in Mothers: More Than the Blues

Description:
Equips providers with information and strategies for use in working with mothers who may be depressed. Includes facts about depression; screening tools for more serious depression; and referrals, resources, and handouts for mothers who are depressed. 

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Download full pdf report | Learn more about SAMHSA

Unconscious discrimination of social cues from eye whites in infants

From the abstract:
The human eye with its prominent white sclera is thought to facilitate social and cooperative interactions among humans. While there is evidence for brain mechanisms that allow for the unconscious detection of eye cues in adults, it is not known whether this ability of the human brain emerges early in ontogeny and can therefore be considered a key feature of human social functioning. The current study provides neural evidence for the unconscious detection of emotion and gaze cues from the sclera in 7-mo-old infants. Our findings demonstrate the existence of fast, efficient, and reliable social cue detection mechanisms in the human infant brain that likely provide a vital foundation for the development of social interactive skills.
Source :PNAS 2014 111: 16208-16213.

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Religion and Electronic Media: One-in-Five Americans Share Their Faith Online

From the overview:
In an average week, one-in-five Americans share their religious faith online, about the same percentage that tune in to religious talk radio, watch religious TV programs or listen to Christian rock music. And nearly half of U.S. adults see someone else share their religious faith online in a typical week.
Source: Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project

Download full pdf report | Download topline questionnaire | Read online overview

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Ranking Twitter Discussion Groups

Abstract:
A discussion group is a repeated, synchronized conversation organized around a specific topic. Groups are extremely valuable to the attendees, creating a sense of community among like-minded users. While groups may involve many users, there are many outside the group that would benefit from participation. However, finding the right group is not easy given their quantity and given topic overlap. We study the following problem: given a search query, find a good ranking of discussion groups. We describe a random walk model for how users select groups: starting with a group relevant to the query, a hypothetical user repeatedly selects an authoritative user in the group and then moves to a group according to what the authoritative user prefers. The stationary distribution of this walk yields a group ranking. We analyze this random walk model, demonstrating that it enjoys many natural properties of a desirable ranking algorithm. We study groups on Twitter where conversations can be organized via pre-designated hashtags. These groups are an emerging phenomenon and there are at least tens of thousands in existence today according to our calculations. Via an extensive collection of experiments on one year of tweets, we show that our model effectively ranks groups, outperforming several baseline solutions.
Source: Microsoft Research

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Inequality in a Lower Growth Latin America

Forward:
This semiannual report produced by the Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) of the World Bank reviews the economic and financial outlook for the LAC region at a time when growth in the region and most of the world has decelerated significantly. As usual in this series, Chapter 1 reviews the configuration of global risks and assesses the outstanding short term opportunities and challenges facing the LAC region. We document the significant slowdown in economic activity across the region, and explore the possibility of this being the ‘new normal’. In Chapter 2 we assess if the major social gains achieved during the ‘Golden Decade’, in particular the decline in inequality, will hold in this less supportive environment, and discuss alternative policy responses to preserve and further the equity gains in the region
Source: World Bank

Download full pdf report | Read the press release

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

State Considers Amendment to Protect Human Life at Any Stage of Development, CRS Legal Sidebar

From the introduction:
If adopted, the North Dakota constitution would state: “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” The amendment was proposed by state Senator Margaret Sitte, who has indicated that the amendment “is intended to present a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.” Whether such an amendment would have an impact on a woman’s ability to terminate a pregnancy, however, is not certain. Similar federal legislation that would recognize the right to life for the unborn has been criticized by legal scholars who have maintained that Congress cannot displace the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
Source: Congressional Research Service

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Cell Phones, Social Media and Campaign 2014

From the key findings:
Cell phones and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are playing an increasingly prominent role in how voters get political information and follow election news, according to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center. The proportion of Americans who use their cell phones to track political news or campaign coverage has doubled compared with the most recent midterm election: 28% of registered voters have used their cell phone in this way during the 2014 campaign, up from 13% in 2010. Further, the number of Americans who follow candidates or other political figures on social media has also risen sharply: 16% of registered voters now do this, up from 6% in 2010.

Source: Pew Research Internet Project

Download complete pdf report | Download pdf topline questionnaire | Read all key findings

The Chapman University Survey on American Fears

Chapman University has initiated a nationwide poll on what strikes fear in Americans. The Chapman Survey on American Fears included 1,500 participants from across the nation and all walks of life. The research team leading this effort pared the information down into four basic categories: personal fears, crime, natural disasters and fear factors. According to the Chapman poll, the number one fear in America today is walking alone at night.

Source: Chapman University

Download full pdf publication | Learn more on Chapman Research Center website

Can the President Bar Foreign Travelers from Ebola-Stricken Countries from Entering the United States?, CRS Legal Sidebar

The recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has prompted concern over the risk that foreign travelers may carry the virus to the United States — a concern that has grown since an infected Liberian national who traveled to the United States infected two nurses who cared for him at a Dallas hospital. On Monday, October 21, the Department of Homeland Security announced new screening procedures at U.S. ports of entry for travelers from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa. Several Members of Congress have gone further and suggested a blanket ban on the admission into the United States of foreign nationals who reside in or have recently traveled to Ebola-stricken countries – a suggestion that the Obama Administration has thus far opposed. Although it has never been used for such purposes, section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) seems to confer the President with authority to bar foreign travelers from Ebola stricken countries from entering the United States, if he deems such a restriction necessary to protect U.S. interests, regardless of whether there is a reason to believe that a particular traveler is infected with the Ebola virus.
Source: Congressional Research Service

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Backgrounder: Media Censorship in China

Introduction:
The Chinese government has long kept tight reins on both traditional and new media to avoid potential subversion of its authority. Its tactics often entail strict media controls using monitoring systems and firewalls, shuttering publications or websites, and jailing dissident journalists, bloggers, and activists. The severity of media censorship grabbed headlines in early January 2013 when Southern Weekly, a liberal-leaning paper based in Guangzhou, staged a week-long confrontation with the government after local propaganda authorities rewrote a front-page pro-reform editorial. Google's battle with the Chinese government over Internet censorship in China, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee's awarding of the 2010 Peace Prize to jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo, have also increased international attention to media censorship in the country. At the same time, the country's burgeoning economy has allowed for greater diversity in China's media coverage, and experts say the growing Chinese demand for information is testing the regime's control.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

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2013-14 Privacy Act Annual Report to Parliament

From the Report:
In a year where perhaps unprecedented attention was paid to public sector data breaches, the 228 separate data breaches voluntarily reported across the federal government in 2013-2014 were more than double those from the previous fiscal year. This marked the third consecutive year where a record high was reached for such reports. Accidental disclosure was provided as the reason indicated by reporting organizations behind more than two-thirds of the breaches.
Source: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

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Infant, control thyself: Infants’ integration of multiple social cues to regulate their imitative behavior

From the Press Release:
The latest I-LABS research shows that toddlers who watch an argument use that emotional information to avoid making adults angry.

The study, led by I-LABS' Betty Repacholi and Andrew Meltzoff, shows that children as young as 15 months can detect anger when watching other people's social interactions and then use that emotional information to guide their own behavior.

"Through studying the roots of social-emotional learning we are illuminating an important aspect of human personality and what helps kids succeed in life and school," said Meltzoff, co-director of I-LABS. "There's been a lot of attention on child problem-solving, but if we want to understand what makes kids tick, we need to study their social emotional lives, too."
Source: Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences

Learn more  | Download paper published online in Cognitive Development (subscription required)

Salaries of Members of Congress: Congressional Votes, 1990-2014

From the introduction:
The U.S. Constitution, in Article I, Section 6, authorizes compensation for Members of Congress “ascertained by law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.” Throughout American history, Congress has relied on three different methods in adjusting salaries for Members. Specific legislation was last used to provide increases in 1990 and 1991. It was the only method used by Congress for many years.

The second method, under which annual adjustments took effect automatically unless disapproved by Congress, was established in 1975. …

A third method for adjusting Member pay is congressional action pursuant to recommendations from the President, based on the recommendations of the Citizens’ Commission on Public Service and Compensation established in the 1989 Ethics Reform Act. Although the Citizens’ Commission should have convened in 1993, it did not and has not met since then.
Source: Congressional Research Service

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bridging the Entrepreneurship Gender Gap: The Power of Networks

Fromt the overview:
It’s often been said that women are the most underutilized asset in the world. Studies have shown that the economic inclusion of women is fundamental to reducing gender inequality and spurring overall economic growth. Women’s economic participation has been shown to have a multiplier effect: the economic empowerment of one woman ripples meaningfully to her children and family—even to entire communities and nations.

Still, women face a range of challenges—such as restrictions on the hours they can work and the types of jobs they’re allowed to take—that keep them from accessing opportunities in the traditional economy and being fully productive members of the workforce. Entrepreneurship thus provides an important means for women to empower themselves and define their own economic participation when other employment opportunities may not be available. The broader economic impact is substantial; in fact, if women and men participated equally as entrepreneurs, global GDP could rise by as much as 2 percent or $1.5 trillion, according to research by The Boston Consulting Group.
Source: Boston Consulting Group

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Women in National Parlaments

Description:

189 countries are classified by descending order of the percentage of women in the lower or single House. Comparative data on the world and regional averages as well as data concerning the two regional parliamentary assemblies elected by direct suffrage can be found on separate pages. You can use the PARLINE database to view detailed results of parliamentary elections by country.

Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union

View data table / results

The Equity Solution: Racial Inclusion Is Key to Growing a Strong New Economy

America is quickly becoming a majority people of color nation. At the same time, inequality is skyrocketing and racial inequities—from the homogeneity of the tech sector to the segregated suburbs of St. Louis—are wide, persistent, and glaring. Equity—just and fair inclusion of all—has always been a moral imperative in this country, but a new consensus is emerging that equity is also an economic imperative. Scores of economists and institutions like Standard & Poor’s and Morgan Stanley now believe that rising inequality and low wages for workers on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder are stifling growth and competitiveness, and that racial inequities threaten economic growth and prosperity as people of color become the majority.

This brief offers new research to inform the debate about equity and the future of the American economy. Using data on income by race, we calculate what total earnings and economic output would have been for the nation in 2012 if racial differ en ces were eliminated and all groups had similar average incomes as non-Hispanic whites. This analysis does not assume that everyone has the same income, rather that the income distribu-tions do not differ by race and ethnicity. We also examine how much of the income gap is attributable to wage differences versus employment differences (measured by hours worked). 
Source: PolicyLink

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Ending Violence Against Women and Girls: The World’s Best Laws and Policies

From the Press Release:
At the World Future Council, we strive to bring the interests of future generations to the centre of policy-making. With our annual Future Policy Award, we highlight the world’s best solutions and we encourage policy-makers around the world to implement them.

In 2014, the Future Policy Award celebrates laws and policies that contribute to ending one of the most pervasive human rights violations: violence against women and girls. One in three women worldwide suffers some form of violence in her lifetime. By restricting women’s choices and limiting their ability to act, the persistence of violence against women has serious consequences for peace and security, economic development and poverty reduction. Thus, it hampers all efforts towards a future just society. International experts from academia, civil society and international organisations have nominated twenty-five policies from around the world which were implemented to improve the lives of women. Together, they reflect the broad scope of existing policy responses at local, national and transnational levels. 

Source: World Future Council, UN Women

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People outside the labour market

Description:
This article analyses labour market participation in the European Union (EU), broken down by sex and age, on the basis of the results of the EU Labour force survey (EU-LFS). In 2013, the number of inactive persons as a percentage of the working age population in the EU-28 reached a new low of 28.0 %, continuing the downward trend of the previous years. This positive development is largely due to the increased participation of women in the labour market. The economically inactive population remains a heterogeneous group, e.g. as regards age, reasons for inactivity and the level of attachment to the labour market.
Source: EuroStat

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Exploring Gender Imbalance Among STEM Doctoral Degree Recipients

From the description:
Gender imbalance in doctoral education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields raises important questions about the extent to which women experience differential access, encouragement, and opportunity for academic advancement. Through primary school and middle school, girls and boys typically indicate an equal interest and demonstrate equivalent levels of achievement on several science and mathematical indicators, but girls’ interest in pursuing scientific degrees and careers wanes by high school.

Accurately identifying the nature of the imbalance is an important first step in addressing it. The alternate method used in this brief to account for the gender breakdown among undergraduate degree recipients provides a more reliable gauge of gender imbalance at the doctoral level.
Source: American Institutes for Research (AIR)

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PTSD Research Quarterly — Impact of Mass Shootings

From the report:
Norris (2007) provided an excellent introduction to the literature on mass shootings. Our goal is to provide an update on this literature. Norris focused on individual, as well as broader community factors in examining responses to mass shootings. Our guide focuses solely on quantitative studies examining factors at the level of the individual that appear to be related to adjustment following a mass shooting.

Our definition of a mass shooting involves an individual (with few exceptions, a male), acting alone and with generally personal rather than political motivation, entering a densely populated space and shooting as many people as possible. In addition, while not required in the definition, the shooter typically takes, his or her, own life. Our guide to the literature proceeds chronologically, with an emphasis on studies that use longitudinal data.
Source: National Center for PTSD

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Big Data and the Future for Privacy

Abstract:
In our inevitable big data future, critics and skeptics argue that privacy will have no place. We disagree. When properly understood, privacy rules will be an essential and valuable part of our digital future, especially if we wish to retain the human values on which our political, social, and economic institutions have been built. In this paper, we make three simple points. First, we need to think differently about “privacy.” Privacy is not merely about keeping secrets, but about the rules we use to regulate information, which is and always has been in intermediate states between totally secret and known to all. Privacy rules are information rules, and in an information society, information rules are inevitable. Second, human values rather than privacy for privacy’s sake should animate our information rules. These must include protections for identity, equality, security, and trust. Third, we argue that privacy in our big data future can and must be secured in a variety of ways. Formal legal regulation will be necessary, but so too will “soft” regulation by entities like the Federal Trade Commission, and by the development of richer notions of big data ethics.
Source: Social Science Research Network

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Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2014

Introduction:
This report lists hundreds of instances in which the United States has used its Armed Forces abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes. It was compiled in part from various older lists and is intended primarily to provide a rough survey of past U.S. military ventures abroad, without reference to the magnitude of the given instance noted. The listing often contains references, especially from 1980 forward, to continuing military deployments, especially U.S. military participation in multinational operations associated with NATO or the United Nations. Most of these post-1980 instances are summaries based on presidential reports to Congress related to the War Powers Resolution. A comprehensive commentary regarding any of the instances listed is not undertaken here.
Source: Congressional Research Service

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Alternative Futures for Syria

Abstract: The civil war in Syria poses a thorny problem for U.S. policymakers. The conflict has morphed from a popular uprising against an autocratic regime into a multi-sided battle involving government forces, pro-government militias, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shi'ite militias, secular/moderate rebels, Kurdish separatists, traditional Islamist rebels, nationalist Salafi-jihadist rebels, and the transnational Salafi-jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) movement. Most neighboring states and several Persian Gulf states have sent arms and money to one or more of the factions in this war. Iran and Russia have consistently supported the Assad regime, including providing advanced weaponry, since the onset of the conflict. The outcome of the conflict will affect Middle East stability and regional political dynamics for years — perhaps decades — and could exacerbate a wider Shi'a-versus-Sunni sectarian conflict in the region.

Momentum has shifted several times during the course of the conflict. Defections from the Syrian army, rapidly growing rebel ranks, and the regime's loss of key ground convinced many observers early on that the Assad's demise was only a matter of time. The Assad regime has exploited rebel weaknesses and its own superior weaponry and external support to shift the momentum once again in its favor. The lineup of antagonists is complex and confused. While still seeing the Assad regime as an adversary based on its patron-client relationship with Iran and its implacable hostility toward Israel, U.S. decisionmakers are also dealing with the threats caused by the dramatic recent gains made in Iraq by ISIS and the influence it wields within the Syrian rebel movement. To examine these challenges, this perspective draws on a December 2013 RAND workshop to assess four possible future scenarios for the conflict in Syria: prolonged conflict, regime victory, regime collapse, and negotiated settlement. The authors update and reassess these scenarios based on developments in Syria and Iraq through August 2014 and explore the implications that each has for Syria, the region, and the United States.

Source: RAND Corportation

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