Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Librarians Vs. The Patriot Act

Can't help laughing at what the FBI thought librarians were up to...
Once called the "library provision," Section 215 of the Patriot Act forced libraries to become headliners in the battle waged to protect American freedoms. Producer Karen Duffin tells the origin story of the clash that began over a decade ago.
Source: "On the Media"

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A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America

While both states and the federal government invest in early learning, these efforts have fallen short of what is needed to ensure that all children can access a high-quality early education that will prepare them for success. 
Significant new investments in high-quality early education are necessary to help states, local communities, and parents close the readiness gap that exists between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers.
Source: U.S. Department of Education

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Strengthening Trust Between Police and the Public in an Era of Increasing Transparency

Events in recent months have focused national attention on profound fractures in trust between some police departments and the communities they are charged with protecting. Though the potential for such fractures is always present given the role of police in society, building and maintaining trust between police and the public is critical for the health of American democracy. However, in an era when information technology has the potential to greatly increase transparency of police activities in a variety of ways, building and maintaining trust is challenging. Doing so likely requires steps taken by both police organizations and the public to build understanding and relationships that can sustain trust through tragic incidents that can occur in the course of policing — whether it is a citizen's or officer's life that is lost. This paper draws on the deep literature on legitimacy, procedural justice, and trust to frame three core questions that must be addressed to build and maintain mutual trust between police and the public: (1) What is the police department doing and why? (2) What are the results of the department's actions? and (3) What mechanisms are in place to discover and respond to problems from the officer to the department level? Answering these questions ensures that both the public and police have mutual understanding and expectations about the goals and tactics of policing, their side effects, and the procedures to address problems fairly and effectively, maintaining confidence over time.
Souce: RAND Corporation

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The Processing and Treatment of Mentally Ill Persons in the Criminal Justice System: A Scan of Practice and Background Analysis

Mentally ill offenders possess a unique set of circumstances and needs. However, all too often, they cycle through the criminal justice system without appropriate care to address their mental health. Their recurring involvement in the criminal justice system is a pressing concern. This report provides a national landscape on the processing and treatment of mentally ill individuals in the criminal justice system. It also highlights challenges involved in the reintegration of mentally ill offenders into society, the diversity of policies and protocols in state statutes to address such challenges, and promising criminal justice interventions for mentally ill offenders.
Source: Urban Institute

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Global Publics Back U.S. on Fighting ISIS, but Are Critical of Post-9/11 Torture

The rise of ISIS has generated strong concerns in nations around the world, and a new Pew Research Center survey finds broad global support for American military efforts against the terrorist group. And unlike the Iraq War a decade ago, the current U.S. air campaign in Iraq and Syria is backed by majorities in America’s European allies and endorsed by publics in key Middle Eastern nations.

Source: Pew Research Center

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Raising Lower-Level Wages: When and Why It Makes Economic Sense

As the United States emerges from the Great Recession, concern is rising nationally over the issues of income inequality, stagnation of workers’ wages, and especially the struggles of lower-skilled workers at the -bottom end of the wage scale. While Washington deliberates legislation raising the minimum wage, a number of major American employers—for example, Aetna and Walmart—have begun to voluntarily raise the pay of their own lowest-paid employees.

In this collection of essays, economists from the Peterson Institute for International Economics analyze the potential benefits and costs of widespread wage increases, if adopted by a range of US private employers. They make this assessment for the workers, the companies, and for the US economy as a whole, including such an initiative’s effects on national competitiveness. These economists conclude that raising the pay of many of the lowest-paid US private-sector workers would not only reduce income inequality but also boost overall productivity growth, with likely minimal effect on employment in the current financial context. 
Source: Peterson Institute of International Economics

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EFF Report Charts Companies on Next Frontier of User Privacy — Annual Survey Delves Deeper into Practices of Apple, Google, Twitter, and More


Our digital lives are leaving data trails through social networking sites, email providers, Internet service providers, and mobile apps. But which companies fight the hardest to protect their customers from government data grabs of this sensitive information? Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released its fifth annual “Who Has Your Back” report, charting tech companies’ commitment to the next frontier of user privacy.

“Who Has Your Back” evaluates 24 companies, awarding up to five stars in categories like “tell users about government data requests” and “publicly disclose the company’s data retention policies.” Nine companies earned stars in every category available to them: Adobe, Apple, CREDO, Dropbox, Sonic, Wickr, Wikimedia, WordPress.com, and Yahoo. 

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

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The Behavioral Economics Guide 2015

CONTENTS
Introduction by Dan Ariely
Part 1 – Editorial
  • Behavioral Science: Theory and Practice
  • Selected Behavioral Economics Concepts
Part 2 – Resources
  • TED Talks on Behavioral Science
  • Scholarly Journals with Behavioral Economics Content
  • Postgraduate Programs in Behavioral Economics and
    Behavioral/Decision Science
  • Other Resources
Part 3 – Applied Perspectives
Behavioral Science in Practice
Appendix – Author and Contributing Organization Profiles
Source: BehavioralEconomics.com
 

Measuring Think Tank Performance: Updated with 2014 Data

In 2013, our CGD colleagues Julia Clark and David Roodman designed a low-cost quantitative approach to ranking think tank performance. We applied their methodology in early 2015 to produce an updated ranking of US and international development think tanks on the basis of 2014 data. The rankings aim to provide a transparent and objective method of assessing the influence of select think tanks. We use citations in traditional and new media as well as academe to evaluate think tanks’ ability to garner public attention. Thus, the rankings are best understood as an indicator of public profile. While policy impact is hard if not impossible to measure, the strength of a think tank’s public profile is likely to be a good marker of its influence and potential for impact: ideas need to be noticed to be adopted (Clark and Roodman, 2013). Our methodology helps reduce the biases inherent in expert-perception based rankings and provides think tanks with clear strategies based on concrete metrics to improve their performance. In addition, by incorporating the size of a think tank, in terms of operating expenses, our rankings benefit from an added efficiency (‘bang-for-your-buck’) dimension that other approaches lack. The comparison of rankings between 2013 and now indicates considerable continuity of the measured public profile over time, with only moderate changes in aggregate rankings; although there is more variability in individual indicators. 

Source: Center for Global Development

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Identifying Technology and Other Needs to More Effectively Acquire and Utilize Digital Evidence

This report describes the results of a National Institute of Justice (NIJ)-sponsored research effort to identify and prioritize criminal justice needs related to digital evidence collection, management, analysis, and use. With digital devices becoming ubiquitous, digital evidence is increasingly important to the investigation and prosecution of many types of crimes. These devices often contain information about crimes committed, movement of suspects, and criminal associates. However, there are significant challenges to successfully using digital evidence in prosecutions, including inexperience of patrol officers and detectives in preserving and collecting digital evidence, lack of familiarity with digital evidence on the part of court officials, and an overwhelming volume of work for digital evidence examiners. Through structured interaction with police digital forensic experts, prosecuting attorneys, a privacy advocate, and industry representatives, the effort identified and prioritized specific needs to improve utilization of digital evidence in criminal justice. Several top-tier needs emerged from the analysis, including education of prosecutors and judges regarding digital evidence opportunities and challenges; training for patrol officers and investigators to promote better collection and preservation of digital evidence; tools for detectives to triage analysis of digital evidence in the field; development of regional models to make digital evidence analysis capability available to small departments; and training to address concerns about maintaining the currency of training and technology available to digital forensic examiners.
Source: RAND Corporation

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Early Childhood Education by MOOC: Lessons From Sesame Street

Sesame Street is one of the largest early childhood interventions ever to take place. It was introduced in 1969 as an educational, early childhood program with the explicit goal of preparing preschool age children for school entry. Millions of children watched a typical episode in its early years. Well-designed studies at its inception provided evidence that watching the show generated an immediate and sizeable increase in test scores. In this paper we investigate whether the first cohorts of preschool children exposed to Sesame Street experienced improved outcomes subsequently. We implement an instrumental variables strategy exploiting limitations in television technology generated by distance to a broadcast tower and UHF versus VHF transmission to distinguish counties by Sesame Street reception quality. We relate this geographic variation to outcomes in Census data including grade-for-age status in 1980, educational attainment in 1990, and labor market outcomes in 2000. The results indicate that Sesame Street accomplished its goal of improving school readiness; preschool-aged children in areas with better reception when it was introduced were more likely to advance through school as appropriate for their age. This effect is particularly pronounced for boys and non-Hispanic, black children, as well as children living in economically disadvantaged areas. The evidence regarding the impact on ultimate educational attainment and labor market outcomes is inconclusive.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

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Orphan Works and Mass Digitization: A Report of the Register of Copyrights

The Copyright Office is reviewing the problem of orphan works under U.S. copyright law in continuation of its previous work on the subject and to advise Congress on possible next steps for the United States. The Office has long shared the concern with many in the copyright community that the uncertainty surrounding the ownership status of orphan works does not serve the objectives of the copyright system. For good faith users, orphan works are a frustration, a liability risk, and a major cause of gridlock in the digital marketplace. The issue is not contained to the United States. Indeed, a number of foreign governments have recently adopted or proposed solutions.
Source: U.S. Copyright Office

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Agencies Release Guide on LGBT Discrimination Protections for Federal Workers

From the Press Release:
...four Federal Government agencies with roles in ensuring fairness in the federal workplace released a guide on the rights and processes available to applicants and employees who allege sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination. The guide is being reissued after more than a decade and has been substantially revised to reflect major developments in the law.

The guide provides federal workers with a description of employee rights and agency responsibilities under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, and other agency and union procedures. It also offers a comparison table showing differences between procedures available at the EEOC and OSC. The goal of the publication is to assist LGBT employees make more informed choices about how best to pursue their individual claims when they believe they have suffered from discrimination.

This resource guide is a general introduction to the possible avenues available for addressing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 
Source: Office of Personnel Management
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Fact Sheet: Protecting Students from Abusive Career Colleges

Over the past six years, the Education Department has taken unprecedented steps to hold career colleges accountable for giving students what they deserve: a high-quality, affordable education that prepares them for their careers. The Department established tougher regulations targeting misleading claims by colleges and incentives that drove sales people to enroll students through dubious promises. The Department has cracked down on bad actors through investigations and enforcement actions. The Department also issued “gainful employment” regulations, which will help ensure that students at career colleges don’t end up with debt they cannot repay. The Department will continue to hold institutions accountable in order to improve the value of their programs, protect students from abusive colleges, and safeguard the interests of taxpayers. 

Source: U.S. Department of Education

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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Investment Climate Statements 2015

Investment Climate Statements provide country-specific information and assessments prepared by U.S. embassies and diplomatic missions abroad on investment laws and practices in those countries. Select a report below to learn about the investment climate in that economy.

Source: 
Link to page for downloading country-specific reports

Central Asia in a Reconnecting Eurasia: U.S. Policy Interests and Recommendations

Today, with combat operations in Afghanistan winding down, U.S. policy toward the states of Central Asia is transitioning to a third era. The United States now has an opportunity to refashion its approach to the region. In doing so, it should capitalize on trends already underway, in particular the expansion of trade and transit linkages, to help integrate Central Asia more firmly into the global economy, while also working to overcome tensions both within the region itself and among the major neighboring powers with interests in Central Asia. Central Asia in a Reconnecting Eurasia: U.S. Policy Interests and Recommendations examines the full scope of U.S. national interests in Central Asia and puts forward the broad outlines of a strategy for U.S. engagement over the coming years. 

Source: Central and Stratigic International Studies

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Top Languages Spoken by English Language Learners Nationally and by State

While the languages spoken by English Language Learner (ELL) students in the United States are very diverse, Spanish is the most common first or home language, spoken by 71 percent of ELL students. This fact sheet, drawing upon data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) and the U.S. Department of Education, describes the home languages spoken by ELL students at national and state levels.

Chinese was the second most common language spoken in ELL students' homes representing 4 percent of ELLs, followed by Vietnamese (3 percent) and French/Haitian Creole (2 percent). A language other than Spanish was the top language spoken by ELLs in five states: Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, and Vermont. In 19 states and the District of Columbia, more than three-quarters of all ELL students spoke Spanish.
Source: Migration Policy Institute

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Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2014

This report analyzes results of the Board’s second Survey of Household Economics and Decision making, conducted in October 2014, and compares them with results from the previous year’s survey. The survey aims to capture a snapshot of the financial and economic well-being of U.S. households, as well as to monitor their recovery from the Great Recession and identify perceived risks to their financial stability.

Source: Federal Reserve Board

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Department of State and Foreign Operations Appropriations: A Fact Sheet on Legislation, FY1995-FY2015

Congress currently appropriates foreign affairs funding through annual Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations.1 Prior to FY2008, however, Congress provided funds for the Department of State and international broadcasting within the Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies appropriations (CJS) and separately provided foreign aid funds within Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs appropriations. The transition between the different alignments occurred in the 109th Congress with a change in appropriations subcommittee jurisdiction. For that Congress, the House of Representatives appropriated State Department funds separately from foreign aid, as in earlier Congresses, but the Senate appropriated State and foreign aid funds within one bill—the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations. By the 110th Congress, funding for both the Department of State and foreign aid were aligned into the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations in both the House and Senate.
Source: Congressional Research Service

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Is There a Research Basis for Requiring Trigger Warnings?

With current concern over incidents of sexual assault on America’s college campuses and with veterans returning to American universities in significant numbers after more than a decade of war in the Middle East, there has been a growing debate over how universities should protect students who may be coping with post – traumatic stress disorder from further injury. Some have argued that faculty should be required to provide “trigger warnings” in course syllabi, alerting students in advance to course content that might be disturbing to traumatized individuals.

Creating a duty by faculty to foresee and warn against possible emotional distress as a reaction to literature or art or ot her course materials raises serious concerns about academic freedom. However, would such warnings help to protect traumatized individuals from further trauma — or those around them from violent reactions to trauma triggers? Research suggests that identifying potential trauma triggers is far more difficult than looking for explicit depictions of violence or rape. Even seemingly neutral images associated with past trauma may evoke painful or violent responses. Before creating a new duty to foresee and warn against trauma triggers, policy make r s need to consider whether research and clinical experience indicate that the utility of trigger warnings would outweigh their chilling effect on free speech and robust scholarly inquiry.
Source: 31st Annual Symposium in Forensic Psychology

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New Eurostat flagship publication - Facts and views about quality of life in the EU - A multi-dimensional measurement of well-being

Traditionally official statistics describe economic and social developments by using indicators such as GDP. However, today it is widely accepted that GDP alone is not enough to show how well or badly people are doing. Quality of life is indeed a broader concept which includes a full range of factors which people value in life and their subjective assessments of these factors.

Quality of life in Europe — facts and views presents different aspects of people's well-being combining for the first time objective indicators with subjective evaluation of individuals' situations and covering various aspects of quality of life. The indicators are analysed together with different elements affecting quality of life such as educational level, activity, health status or family and financial situation. The emphasis in this publication has been placed on the data collected through the 2013 ad-hoc module on subjective well-being, which was added to the statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC). Data are presented for the European Union and its Member States as well as for the EFTA countries. Quality of life in Europe — facts and views provides an overview of the wealth of information that is available on Eurostat's website and within its online databases.
Source: Eurostat

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The changing nature of jobs – World Employment and Social Outlook 2015

Only one quarter of workers worldwide is estimated to have a stable employment relationship, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The World Employment and Social Outlook 2015 (WESO) finds that, among countries with available data (covering 84 per cent of the global workforce), three quarters of workers are employed on temporary or short-term contracts, in informal jobs often without any contract, under own-account arrangements or in unpaid family jobs. Over 60 per cent of all workers lack any kind of employment contract, with most of them engaged in own-account* or contributing family work in the developing world. However, even among wage and salaried workers, less than half (42 per cent) are working on a permanent contract. The first edition of the new, annual flagship report, entitled The Changing Nature of Jobs, shows that while wage and salaried work is growing worldwide, it still accounts for only half of global employment, with wide variations across regions. For example, in the developed economies and Central and South-Eastern Europe, around eight in ten workers are employees, whereas in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa the figure is closer to two in ten.
Source: International Labour Organization

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Estimating the Effect of Intimate Partner Violence on Women’s Use of Contraception: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Abstract:
Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an important global public health problem. While there is a growing literature on the association between IPV and women’s reproductive health (RH) outcomes, most studies are cross-sectional—which weakens inference about the causal effect of IPV on women’s RH. This systematic review synthesizes existing evidence from the strongest study designs to estimate the impact of IPV on women’s use of contraception.
Methods
We searched 11 electronic databases from January of 1980 to 3 December 2013 and reviewed reference lists from systematic reviews for studies examining IPV and contraceptive use. To be able to infer causality, we limited our review to studies that had longitudinal measures of either IPV or women’s use of contraception.
Results
Of the 1,574 articles identified by the search, we included 179 articles in the full text review and extracted data from 12 studies that met our inclusion criteria. We limited the meta-analysis to seven studies that could be classified as subject to low or moderate levels of bias. Women’s experience of IPV was associated with a significant reduction in the odds of using contraception (n = 14,866; OR: 0.47; 95% CI: 0.25, 0.85; I2 = 92%; 95% CII2: 87%, 96%). Restricting to studies that measured the effect of IPV on women’s use of partner dependent contraceptive methods was associated with a reduction in the heterogeneity of the overall estimate. In the three studies that examined women’s likelihood of using male condoms with their partners, experience of IPV was associated with a significant decrease in condom use (OR: 0.48; 95% CIOR: 0.32, 0.72; I2 = 51%; 95% CII2: 0%, 86%).
Conclusions
IPV is associated with a reduction in women’s use of contraception; women who experience IPV are less likely to report using condoms with their male partners. Family planning and HIV prevention programs should consider women’s experiences of IPV.
Source: PLoS One

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Norton Rose Fulbright releases 2015 Litigation Trends Annual Survey

Global legal practice Norton Rose Fulbright today released its 2015 Litigation Trends Annual Survey. This year’s survey is the 11th overall and the most extensive in its history, polling more than 800 corporate counsel representing companies across 26 countries on disputes-related issues and concerns. Survey respondents – primarily general counsel – indicated that the increasing number of class action lawsuits and a more litigious business environment were the most important issues impacting their companies. 

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Selection of Statistical Software for Solving Big Data Problems

The need for analysts with expertise in big data software is becoming more apparent in today’s society. Unfortunately, the demand for these analysts far exceeds the number available. A potential way to combat this shortage is to identify the software taught in colleges or universities. This article will examine four data analysis software—Excel add-ins, SPSS, SAS, and R—and we will outline the cost, training, and statistical methods/tests/uses for each of these software. It will further explain implications for universities and future students. 

Source: Sage Open

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Opportunity for All: Fighting Rural Child Poverty

Small towns and rural communities are home to millions of Americans, are a vibrant part of our nation’s economy, and include some of the most beautiful landmarks in the country. Rural America provides the vast majority of food, energy, and environmental benefits for the rest of the country, is the source of nearly 90 percent of renewable water resources, and is home to important service sector and manufacturing hubs. Despite this critical role in our nation’s economy, too many Americans in rural areas are not sharing in our nation’s economic growth. In 2013, 6.2 million Americans in rural areas lived in poverty, including about 1.5 million children.1 Moreover, in far too many of these communities, high rates of poverty have persisted for generations: over 300 rural counties have had poverty rates of over 20 percent in every Census since 1980.

Source: United States White House

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Family Support in Graying Societies :How Americans, Germans and Italians Are Coping with an Aging Population

The United States is turning gray, with the number of people ages 65 and older expected to nearly double by 2050. This major demographic transition has implications for the economy, government programs such as Social Security and families across the U.S. Among adults with at least one parent 65 or older, nearly three-in-ten already say that in the preceding 12 months they have helped their parents financially. Twice that share report assisting a parent with personal care or day-to-day tasks. Based on demographic change alone, the burden on families seems likely to grow in the coming decades.
 Source: Pew Research

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A Look at the End-of-Life Financial Situation in America

This report takes a comprehensive look at the financial situation of older Americans at the end of their lives. In particular, it documents the percentage of households with a member who recently died with few or no assets. It also documents the income, debt, home-ownership rates, net home equity, and dependency on Social Security for households that experienced a recent death.
Source: Employee Benefit Research Insititute

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bin Ladin's Bookshelf: declassified documents, books and magazines found during the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

On May 20, 2015, the ODNI released a sizeable tranche of documents recovered during the raid on the compound used to hide Usama bin Ladin. The release, which followed a rigorous interagency review, aligns with the President’s call for increased transparency–consistent with national security prerogatives–and the 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act, which required the ODNI to conduct a review of the documents for release.

The release contains two sections. The first is a list of non-classified, English-language material found in and around the compound. The second is a selection of now-declassified documents.

The Intelligence Community will be reviewing hundreds more documents in the near future for possible declassification and release. An interagency taskforce under the auspices of the White House and with the agreement of the DNI is reviewing all documents which supported disseminated intelligence cables, as well as other relevant material found around the compound. All documents whose publication will not hurt ongoing operations against al-Qa‘ida or their affiliates will be released.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What Makes Lawyers Happy?: A Data-Driven Prescription to Redefine Professional Success

This is the first theory-guided empirical research seeking to identify the correlates and contributors to the well-being and life satisfaction of lawyers. Data from several thousand lawyers in four states provide insights about diverse factors from law school and one’s legal career and personal life. Striking patterns appear repeatedly in the data and raise serious questions about the common priorities on law school campuses and among lawyers. External factors, which are often given the most attention and concern among law students and lawyers (factors oriented towards money and status—such as earnings, partnership in a law firm, law school debt, class rank, law review membership, and U.S. News & World Report’s law school rankings), showed nil to small associations with lawyer well-being. Conversely, the kinds of internal and psychological factors shown in previous research to erode in law school appear in these data to be the most important contributors to lawyers’ happiness and satisfaction. These factors constitute the first two of five tiers of well-being factors identified in the data, followed by choices regarding family and personal life. The external money and status factors constitute the fourth tier, and demographic differences were least important. 

Source: George Washington Law Review

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Locked-in on Our Youth: An Inquiry into American Military Recruiting Media

As American military branches continue to encounter challenges associated with filling the ranks, recruitment efforts and corresponding media messages may be inadvertently targeting our nation’s youth. Using existing child-development research, along with relevant theoretical perspectives, this article will explore the strategies used by the military for recruitment and the effects those tactics and media have on a juvenile audience.
Source: American International Journal of Social Science

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Examining Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Plight of Vietnam Veterans

Human beings have been afflicted by the lasting mental effects of warfare for thousands of years. Over twenty – four hundred years ago, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of a soldier at the battle of Marathon who, after witnessing the death of the soldier next to him, went completely blind, despite being “wounded in no part of his body.” William Shakespeare, too, saw the effects of war on the minds of its survivors. After her husband’s return from war in King Henry IV, Lady Percy wonders of him, “What is’t that takes from thee thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep?” Both of these writings reference a mental disorder seemingly caused by the intense traumas of war. This disorder has gone by many different names, including shell shock, the thousand – yard stare, and war neurosis. Today, we classify this disorder as post – traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. 

Source: Iowa Historical Review

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Corporate Speech and the First Amendment: History, Data, and Implications

Abstract:
This Article draws on empirical analysis, history, and economic theory to show that corporations have begun to displace individuals as direct beneficiaries of the First Amendment and to outline an argument that the shift reflects economically harmful rent seeking. The history of corporations, regulation of commercial speech, and First Amendment case law is retold, with an emphasis on the role of constitutional entrepreneur Justice Lewis Powell, who prompted the Supreme Court to invent corporate and commercial speech rights. The chronology shows that First Amendment doctrine long post-dated both pervasive regulation of commercial speech and the rise of the U.S. as the world’s leading economic power – a chronology with implications for originalists, and for policy. Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals decisions are analyzed to quantify the degree to which corporations have displaced individuals as direct beneficiaries of First Amendment rights, and to show that they have done so recently, but with growing speed since Virginia Pharmacy, Bellotti, and Central Hudson. Nearly half of First Amendment challenges now benefit business corporations and trade groups, rather than other kinds of organizations or individuals, and the trend-line is up. Such cases commonly constitute a form of corruption: the use of litigation by managers to entrench reregulation in their personal interests at the expense of shareholders, consumers, and employees. In aggregate, they degrade the rule of law, rendering it less predictable, general and clear. This corruption risks significant economic harms in addition to the loss of a republican form of government.
Source: Social Science Research Network

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Legal Status at the Federal Level of Assisted Human Reproduction in Canada

This paper provides an overview of the many steps that the Canadian federal government has taken to establish a legislative and regulatory framework for reproductive technologies and related research. This background includes a description of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, early attempts at legislation and a discussion of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, in force since 2004, including its list of prohibited activities. The constitutional challenge to the legislation that was brought by the Attorney General of Quebec and ultimately heard by the Supreme Court of Canada is reviewed. Finally, the federal government’s response to the Supreme Court decision in the form of amendments to the Act is summarized. This paper does not examine how activities related to assisted human reproduction may be regulated by the provinces.
Source: Canada Library of Parliament Research Publications

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The rights of LGBTI people in the European Union

The prohibition of discrimination and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons persists throughout the EU, taking various forms including verbal abuse and physical violence.

Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as a ground of discrimination. However, the scope of these provisions is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare, education and access to goods and services, leaving LGBTI people particularly vulnerable in these areas.

Moreover, EU competence does not extend to recognition of marital or family status. In this area, national regulations vary, with some Member States offering same-sex couples the right to marry, others allowing alternative forms of registration, and yet others not providing any legal status for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples may or may not have the right to adopt children and to access assisted reproduction. These divergent legal statuses have implications, for instance, for partners from two Member States with different standards who want to formalise/legalise their relationship or for same-sex couples and their families wishing to move to another Member State.

Combating discrimination has become part of EU internal and external policies and the subject of numerous resolutions of the European Parliament. However, action in this area remains problematic when it touches on issues pertaining to areas traditionally reserved to Member States, such as marital status and family law.
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

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Tackling long-term unemployment in the EU

With the onset of the crisis, unemployment rates have increased sharply throughout Europe and the trend seemed set to continue. However in March 2015, the European Commission reported that, for the first time since 2009, the LTU rate fell slightly. Currently, long-term unemployment (LTU) stands at 4,9% for the EU. LTU remains highest in Greece, Spain, Croatia and Slovakia and lowest in Austria, Sweden and Finland.
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

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Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic


In 2013, the national high school graduation rate hit a record high of 81.4 percent, and for the third year in a row, the nation remained on pace to meet the 90 percent goal by the Class of 2020. This sixth annual update on America’s high school dropout challenge shows that these gains have been made possible by raising graduation rates for students who have traditionally struggled to earn a high school diploma, and focuses on the student subgroups and geographic areas that both contribute to this progress and are key to driving toward the 90 percent goal.

Continuing a pattern seen in earlier years, rates of improvement among states and large districts varied considerably between 2011 and 2013. Some districts, including those with a majority of low-income and minority students, made big improvements, while others lost ground. This is significant because it indicates that high school graduation rates are not increasing because of broad national economic, demographic, and social trends. Rather, the constellation of leadership, reforms, and multi-sector efforts at state, district, and school levels drove this progress, and shows that with focus, graduation rates can be increased for all students in every part of the country.
Source: Alliance for Excellent Education

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Top 10 Baby Names For 2014

From the Social Security Administration:

1 Noah Emma
2 Liam Olivia
3 Mason Sophia
4 Jacob Isabella
5 William Ava
6 Ethan Mia
7 Michael Emily
8 Alexander Abigail
9 James Madison
10 Daniel Charlotte

More info on U.S. Baby Names at the SSA: Look up popularity of names for any year after 1879

Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States

Abstract:
Introduction:
The high rate of unemployment among emerging adults (aged 18 to 25 years) is a public health concern. The risk of depression is higher among the unemployed than among the employed, but little is known about the relationship between unemployment and mental health among emerging adults. This secondary data analysis assessed the relationship between unemployment and depression among emerging adults.

Methods:
Data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) were analyzed. Responses to the Patient Health Questionnaire-8 provided data about the prevalence of depression. Bivariate relationships were assessed using χ2 tests, and multivariable adjusted odds ratios were calculated with logistic regressions. Sociodemographic variables were sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, and education. In addition, logistic regression models adjusted for health insurance status, disability, smoking, and body mass index. The analyses were completed using SAS 9.3 survey procedures to account for the complex sampling design.

Results:
Almost 12% of emerging adults were depressed (PHQ-8 ≥10) and about 23% were unemployed. Significantly more unemployed than employed emerging adults were classified with depression. In the final model, the odds of depression were about 3 times higher for unemployed than employed emerging adults.

Conclusion:
The relationship between unemployment and depression is significant among emerging adults. With high rates of unemployment for this age group, this population may benefit from employment- and mental-health–focused interventions.

Source: Center of Disease Control

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Friday, May 15, 2015

An Introduction to Health Insurance: What Should a Consumer Know?

Congress has seen a renewed interest in the market for private health insurance since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended). This report provides an overview of private-sector (as opposed to government-provided) health insurance.It serves as an introduction to health insurance from the point of view of many consumers under the age of 65. No background in health insurance is assumed, and all terms are defined in the body of the report.
Source: Congressional Research Service

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Money for Something: Music Licensing in the 21st Century

The laws that determine who pays whom in the digital world were written, by and large, at a time when music was distributed mainly via radio broadcasts or physical media, such as sheet music and phonograph records, and when each of these forms of distribution represented a distinct channel with unique characteristics. With the emergence of the Internet, Congress updated some copyright laws in the 1990s. It applied one set of laws to digital services it viewed as akin to radio broadcasts, and another set to digital services it viewed as akin to physical media. Since that time, however, consumers have increasingly been consuming music via digital services that incorporate attributes of both radio and physical media. Under existing law, the companies that compete in delivering music to listeners face very different cost structures, depending on the royalty provisions applicable to their unique business models. The royalties received by songwriters, performers, music publishers, and record companies for one play or sale of a particular song may vary greatly, depending upon the particular business model of the company delivering the music.
Source: Congressional Research Service

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