Thursday, December 22, 2005

Baby Boomers turn 60

"In 2006, the oldest of the baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964, will turn 60 years old. Among the Americans celebrating their 60th will be our two most recent presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Other well-known celebrities reaching this milestone include Cher, Donald Trump, Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton. To commemorate this occasion, the Census Bureau has compiled a collection of facts relating to, perhaps, our most celebrated generation." Source : U.S. Census Bureau

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Electronic Surveillance Laws

The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a summary of federal and state laws on electronic surveillance. "Electronic Surveillance involves the traditional laws on wiretapping--any interception of a telephone transmission by accessing the telephone signal itself--and eavesdropping--listening in on conversations without the consent of the parties." The site includes a table and links to other NCSL reports.

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Knowledge Base Social Sciences in Eastern Europe

"The Knowledge Base Social Sciences in Eastern Europe is designed to provide an ongoing overview of the development of social sciences in Central and Eastern Europe. It intends to offer a living and long term mapping of the disciplines in the region. It gives access to facts and background information and serves as a meeting point for experts." It is maintained jointly by The Social Science Information Centre (IZ)in Bonn and GESIS in Berlin. This valuable service offers access to reports on the social sciences (political science, sociology, empirical social research, the development of social science data archives), to academic networks, journals and events.

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Creative Thought as a nonDarwinian Evolutionary Process

ABSTRACT:Selection theory requires multiple, distinct, simultaneously-actualized states. In cognition, each thought or cognitive state changes the 'selection pressure' against which the next is evaluated; they are not simultaneously selected amongst. Creative thought is more a matter of honing in a vague idea through redescribing successive iterations of it from different real or imagined perspectives; in other words, actualizing potential through exposure to different contexts. It has been proven that the mathematical description of contextual change of state introduces a non-Kolmogorovian probability distribution, and a classical formalism such as selection theory cannot be used. This paper argues that creative thought evolves not through a Darwinian process, but a process of context-driven actualization of potential.
Source : Journal of Creative Behavior. 39 (4), pp. 65-87. [via U.C. eScholarship repository]
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Fertility of American Women

" This report describes fertility patterns of American women and is based on data collected in the June 2004 supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). Unlike fertility statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHA), which are compiled from birth certificates, CPS data are collected from two survey questions asked of women 15 to 44 years old: (1) "How many children have you ever had?" and (2) "What is the date of birth of your last child?" The report provides estimates of recent fertility and nonmarital childbearing, highlighting differences among women by race, Hispanic origin, and nativity status." Source : U.S. Census Bureau

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How Deployments Affect Service Members

"The authors undertook the preparation of this monograph with the objective of offering insights into the challenges faced by active-duty service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, the resiliency they and their families have shown in coping with these challenges, and the adequacy of defense manpower policy in assisting members and families. The monograph draws on the perspectives of economics, sociology, and psychology; provides a formal model of deployment and retention; reviews published work; reports on the results of focus groups conducted in each of the services; and presents findings from an analysis of survey data. The focus groups and survey data relate to the period from 2003 to early 2004." Source: RAND Corporation

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Nieman Reports: Intelligent Design

Collection of essays intended for journalists reporting on intelligent design:

Table of Contents:

Science and Journalism Fail to Connect by Dan Fagin
Strengthening the Line Between News and Opinion by Jeff Bruce
Editorial Pages and Intelligent Design by Cynthia Tucker
In Kansas, the Debate about Science Evolves by Diane Carroll
When the Conflict Narrative Doesn't Fit by Diane Winston
Courtroom Testimony Offers and Excellent Road Map for Reporters
Probing Beneath the Surface of the Intelligent Design Controversy by Gailos Totheroh
Intelligent Design Has Not Surfaced in the British Press by Martin Redfern

Source: The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University

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Improving End of Life Care: Why Has It Been So Difficult?

"For this project, The Hastings Center invited some of the country’s experts on end of life care to explore the significance of changes in end-of-life care. The final report, Improving End-of-Life Care: Why Has It Been So Difficult? features essays on subjects ranging from disability rights to public policy, examining where we have been, and where we have yet to go. Each essay asks us to consider what we believe to be true about end-of-life care, to consider what is actually true, and to envision a different approach to concerns such as personal autonomy, advance directives, disability rights, and the legal system. Free registration required to access report. Source: The Hastings Center

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Will the Euro Eventually Surpass the Dollar as Leading International Reserve Currency?

"Might the dollar eventually follow the precedent of the pound and cede its status as leading international reserve currency? Unlike the last time this question was prominently discussed, ten years ago, there now exists a credible competitor: the euro. This paper econometrically estimates determinants of the shares of major currencies in the reserve holdings of the world’s central banks. Significant factors include: size of the home country, inflation rate (or lagged depreciation trend), exchange rate variability, and size of the relevant home financial center (as measured by the turnover in its foreign exchange market)." Source : Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, Faculty Research Working Paper Series

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Air Power Against Terror: America’s Conduct of Operation Enduring Freedom

"The terrorist attacks of 9/11 plunged the United States into a determined counteroffensive against Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network. This report details the initial U.S. military response to those attacks, namely, the destruction of al Qaeda’s terrorist infrastructure and the removal of the ruling Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It first outlines the efforts of the Bush administration to prepare for war, including pulling together an effective coalition, crafting a war strategy, moving forces and materiel to the region, forging alliances with indigenous anti-Taliban elements in Afghanistan, laying the groundwork for a target-approval process, and planning for humanitarian relief operations. It then follows the unfolding of Operation Enduring Freedom from its beginning, starting with air strikes against Taliban early warning radars, airfields, ground force facilities, and other fixed targets. The author also explains how allied Special Operations Forces (SOF) were successfully inserted into Afghanistan and how those forces, enabled by U.S. air power, were eventually able to work with indigenous friendly Afghan fighters in defeating and routing the Taliban. He then outlines problems that were later encountered in Operation Anaconda — an initiative by U.S. Army forces to push into the high mountains of Afghanistan where hard-core al Qaeda holdouts were known to be regrouping. This was to be a conventional ground force operation, but unexpected resistance and resultant fierce fighting required the emergency summoning of fixed-wing air power. This air involvement proved pivotal in producing a successful outcome and, in hindsight, pointed to the failure of Operation Anaconda’s planners to make the most of the potential synergy of air, space, and land power that was available to them. The author describes some of the friction and conflicts that arose within U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) over how best to use air power in the war. Perhaps the most serious inefficiency had to do with strict rules of engagement and a resultant target-approval bottleneck at CENTCOM that often allowed many important but fleeting attack opportunities to slip away. The author emphasizes, however, several distinctive achievements in this war, including the use of SOF-enabled precision weapons that were effective irrespective of weather, the first combat use of Predator unmanned aerial vehicles armed with Hellfire missiles, and the integrated employment of high-altitude drones and other air- and space-based sensors that gave CENTCOM unprecedented round-the-clock awareness of enemy activity."
Source: RAND Corporation

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Katrina Index: Tracking Variables of Post-Katrina Reconstruction

"Three months since Hurricane Katrina it remains difficult to ascertain what progress has been made in rebuilding New Orleans and its region. Using a wide array of about 50 economic and social indicators, the Metropolitan Policy Program has compiled the first in a series of monthly snapshots of economic and both short term and long term reconstruction trends, finding that the area remains mired in a state of emergency still." Source: The Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program

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The State of the World's Children 2006: Excluded and Invisible

"Hundreds of millions of children are suffering from severe exploitation and discrimination and have become virtually invisible to the world, UNICEF said today in a major report that explores the causes of exclusion and the abuses children experience." Source: UNICEF

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Government Secrecy: Is Too Much Information Kept from the Public?

"An unusually comprehensive account of current issues in government secrecy policy has been published by Congressional Quarterly's CQ Researcher. The growth in classification, the state of the Freedom of Information Act, the declining culture of openness, and the problem of leaks are among the topics explored by CQ writer Kenneth Jost. A copy of the 24 page publication is available here through January 2006, courtesy of CQ Press..." Source: CQ Researcher (via Federation of American Scientists)

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Foundation Giving Trends Preview

"This two-page snapshot report provides a first look at 2004 grantmaking patterns. The detailed analysis will be published in February in the 2006 edition of Foundation Giving Trends. Among the Preview's key findings: giving by the largest private and community foundations rose 8.1 percent between 2003 and 2004, following two years of decline." Souce : The Foundation Center

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Russia and the Information Revolution

"This work, the result of a six-year study, sheds light on Russia’s role in the global Information Revolution. It examines Russia’s increasing reliance on information and communications technologies (IT) to improve its government institutions, modernize business and industry and stimulate economic growth, broaden information access, and enhance the quality of life for Russian people. The author examines Russia’s emerging IT sector, how businesses in Russia are seeking to use IT to enhance productivity and profitability, the impact of IT on government, and the course of the Information Revolution in Russian society." Source: RAND Corporation

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Assimilating Immigrants: Why America Can and France Cannot

"The United States and France differ greatly in their responses to mass immigration. The U.S. adapts its own culture and that of the immigrants, most recently with Latinos. France wants the immigrants to do it all. As a result, the Muslim North Africans of France’s first wave of mass immigration are not assimilating well. The author compares the two current cases and briefly discusses the policy implications: The U.S. seems on its best course, but France needs policy changes to at least keep the peace." Source: RAND Corporation

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Harry Potter and the Unforgivable Curses: Norm-formation, Inconsistency, and the Rule of Law in the Wizarding World

The astounding success of the Harry Potter series of children's fantasy novels is an unexpected cultural phenomenon, but a welcome one for lawyers and legal academics: Harry's story is a story about law, and about a society trying to establish a rule of law. There is law in every chapter, and on almost every page, of all six books. Sometimes the legal questions hang in the background, while at other times they are the focus of the story: We see numerous trials, and the author gives us statutes, regulations, school rules, and even international agreements to consider.

Harry's world is administered, ineptly, by the Ministry of Magic. The Ministry of Magic's muddling misrule is not quite dictatorship, but it is not fair and just, either. Under the stress of the first war against Voldemort's Death Eaters the Ministry regime, like some Muggle governments in similar circumstances, adopted an ad hoc and inconsistent approach to justice. It imprisons people, and sometimes executes them, without a trial. It keeps careful tabs on law-abiding citizens, but is unable to track down terrorists. It reaches inaccurate results in about half of its criminal trials, in large part because defendants are not represented by counsel. This article attempts to examine the problems with the wizarding word's legal system by focusing on one particular problem: the Unforgivable Curses, three spells whose use on humans is punishable by life imprisonment. The three Unforgivable Curses are the Cruciatus Curse, which causes unbearable pain; the Imperius Curse, which allows the user to control the actions of the victim; and the Killing Curse, which causes instant death.

There are inconsistencies both in the application of the law and in the selection of certain curses as Unforgivable. The choice to outlaw these three spells, and not others that may be even worse, reflects something about the values of both Harry's world and ours. The article explores the moral assumptions underlying this choice, examining the legal treatment of these spells under the Ministry's regime as well as under relevant British (Muggle) and international law. Author: Schwabach, Aaron Thomas Jefferson School of Law Source: Roger Williams University Law Review via Social Science Resosurce Network

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Myths and Realities of American Political Geography

The division of America into red states and blue states misleadingly suggests that states are split into two camps, but along most dimensions, like political orientation, states are on a continuum. By historical standards, the number of swing states is not particularly low, and America's cultural divisions are not increasing. But despite the flaws of the red state/blue state framework, it does contain two profound truths. First, the heterogeneity of beliefs and attitudes across the United States is enormous and has always been so. Second, political divisions are becoming increasingly religious and cultural. The rise of religious politics is not without precedent, but rather returns us to the pre-New Deal norm. Religious political divisions are so common because religious groups provide politicians the opportunity to send targeted messages that excite their base. Source : NBER

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New Evidence on the Causal Link Between the Quantity and Quality of Children

A longstanding question in the economics of the family is the relationship between sibship size and subsequent human capital formation and economic welfare. If there is a “quantity-quality trade-off,” then policies that discourage large families should lead to increased human capital, higher earnings, and, at the macro level, promote economic development. Ordinary least squares regression estimates and a large theoretical literature suggest that this is indeed the case. This paper provides new evidence on the child-quantity/child-quality trade-off. Our empirical strategy exploits exogenous variation in family size due to twin births and preferences for a mixed sibling-sex composition, as well as ethnic differences in the effects of these variables, and preferences for boys in some ethnic groups. We use these sources of variation to look at the causal effect of family size on completed educational attainment, fertility, and earnings. For the purposes of this analysis, we constructed a unique matched data set linking Israeli Census data with information on the demographic structure of families drawn from a population registry. Our results show no evidence of a quantity-quality trade-off, though some estimates suggest that first-born girls from large families marry sooner. Source : NBER

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A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21st Century

The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) measures the English literacy of America's adults (people age 16 and older living in households and prisons). NAAL builds on the previous national assessment of literacy completed in 1992. The 2003 assessment defines literacy as “using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.” Results are reported in terms of scale score averages and literacy levels on three literacy scales: prose, document, and quantitative. The literacy levels were described as below basic, basic, intermediate, and proficient. Each level corresponded to a specific range of scale scores and was described in terms of the abilities associated with each level and the types of tasks that adults could complete at that level. An additional component comprising 5 percent of the adult population was the non-literate in English. The non-literate in English included the 2 percent who could not be tested because they could not communicate in English or Spanish, and the 3 percent who took an alternative assessment because they were unable to complete a minimum number of simple literacy screening questions. Results showed that the average quantitative literacy scores of adults increased 8 points between 1992 and 2003, though average prose and document literacy did not differ significantly from 1992. Among Blacks, average prose literacy scores increased by 6 points and average document literacy scores rose by 8 points between 1992 and 2003 (figure 1). The average prose scores of Asians/Pacific Islanders increased as well, rising 16 points between 1992 and 2003.The average prose literacy scores of Hispanics fell 18 points from 1992 to 2003, while average document literacy scores decreased by 14 points. Average prose and document literacy scores among Whites did not change significantly. Source : National Center for Education Statistics

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Can Publishers Survive The Shift From Print To Online

"For most scholarly journals, the transition away from the print format and to an exclusive reliance on the electronic version seems all but inevitable, driven by user preferences for electronic journals and concerns about collecting the same information in two formats. But this shift away from print, in the absence of strategic planning by a higher proportion of libraries and publishers, may endanger the viability of certain journals and even the journal literature more broadly — while not even reducing costs in the ways that have long been assumed.

Although the opportunities before us are significant, a smooth transition away from print and to electronic versions of journals requires concerted action, most of it individually by libraries and publishers." Source : Inside HigherEd

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Guide to Journalist Shield Laws

The online Guide to Journalist Shield Laws is provided by the Poynter Institute, a school for current and future journalists, as well as teachers of journalists, based in St. Petersburg, Florida. The guide provides a state-by-state listing of what protections are available for journalists under state law. For each state, the guide indicates whether there are common-law or statutory protections. Specific code sections are indicated and code section text is excerpted. Relevant cases are also noted with complete citations. If a state does not have a shield law, relevant
state constitutional provisions are listed. Source : Poynter Institute

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Government Gazettes Online

"Government Gazettes, which are published by federal governments worldwide, are the means through which the government can communicate to officials and the general public. Although most countries publish a gazette, their regularity and content varies widely, which is noted in the description of each gazette. Gazettes are useful not only to monitor the actions of the government, but also as primary source documentation in research."

"This website attempts to list all online government gazettes and their characteristics to aid researchers. A description of the contents and coverage are included for each gazette. Anyone wishing to do further research on foreign law will find useful resources in the bibliography."

Source : University of Michigan Documents Center

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Characteristics of U.S. 15-Year-Old Low Achievers in an International Context: Findings From PISA 2000

"This report analyzes results of reading literacy among 15-year-olds based on the 2000 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and carried out in 32 countries, including the United States. It focuses on the characteristics of students who perform at the lowest levels of reading literacy. The report has two objectives: first, to explore how the demographic and educational characteristics of low performing students compare to other students within the United States; second, to analyze if the United States differs from the other PISA countries in terms of the characteristics of its low performing students. It describes the extent to which a particular characteristic is more or less likely to be observed among the low performers than on average." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Inside The Black Box of Doctoral Education: What Program Characteristics Influence Doctoral Students' Attrition and Graduation Probabilities?

"In this paper, we go inside the 'black box' of graduate education to investigate what characteristics of graduate programs in the humanities and related social sciences actually influence PhD students’ attrition and graduation probabilities. We make use of data from the Graduate Education Survey; a retrospective survey of all graduate students who entered PhD programs in the treatment and control departments during the 1982-1997 period that was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. for the Mellon Foundation." Source: Cornell Higher Education Research Institute

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Survey of Mexican Migrants, Part Three

"The vast majority of undocumented migrants from Mexico were gainfully employed before they left for the United States. Thus, failure to find work at home does not seem to be the primary reason that the estimated 6.3 million undocumented migrants from Mexico have come to the U.S.... Once they arrive and pass through a relatively brief period of transition and adjustment, migrants have little trouble finding work. Family and social networks play a significant role in this.... They easily make transitions into new jobs, even though most find themselves working in industries that are new to them. Also, many are paid at minimum-wage levels or below, and it is not uncommon for these workers to experience relatively long spells of unemployment." Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Executive Summary
| Part Three

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Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?

"The report finds that current food and beverage marketing practices puts children's long-term health at risk. If America's children and youth are to develop eating habits that help them avoid early onset of diet-related chronic diseases, they have to reduce their intake of high-calorie, low-nutrient snacks, fast foods, and sweetened drinks, which make up a high proportion of the products marketed to them." Source: Institute of Medicine (National Academies)

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Bicultural identity integration (BII): Components and psychosocial antecedents

Abstract : The present study examines the underresearched topic of bicultural identity; specifically, we: (1) unpack the construct of Bicultural Identity Integration (BII), or the degree to which a bicultural individual perceives his/her two cultural identities as "compatible" versus "oppositional," and (2) identify the personality (Big Five) and acculturation (acculturation stress, acculturation attitudes, bicultural competence) predictors of BII. Differences in BII, acculturation stress, and bicultural competence were measured with new instruments developed for the purposes of the study. Using a sample of Chinese American biculturals, we found that variations in BII do not define a uniform phenomenon, as commonly implied in the literature, but instead encompass two separate independent constructs: perceptions of distance (vs. overlap) and perceptions of conflict (vs. harmony) between one's two cultural identities or orientations. Results also indicated that cultural conflict and cultural distance have distinct personality, acculturation, and sociodemographic antecedents. Source : Journal of Personality. 73 (4) via California Digital Repository eScholarship.

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Electronic Democracy America: Civil Society, Cyber Society and Participation in Local Politics

"Internet diffusion and use is growing faster than any communications technology in history, and for many sectors of the population, it is becoming indispensable (ITU 2002,Hoffman, Novak, and Venkatesh 2004). Of Americans online, eighty-eight percent say the Internet plays a role in their daily routines (Fallows 2004). Given these trends, social scientists have begun exploring the political and social implications of Internet use (e.g., Hampton 2003, Hill and Hughes 1998, Bimber 2003, Norris 2001, Davis 1999, Wellman and Haythornthwaite 2002). Of particular interest are comparisons between offline and online modes of political engagement and whether Internet users engage the political system differently. In general, this body of research seeks to understand Internet use in relation to political and community life offline. That is, the question this literature generally seeks to answer is, what does the advent of the Internet mean for offline politics and community life. This research, by contrast seeks to understand what is politics and “community” life like on the Internet as a medium distinct from a variety of offline mediums where politics and “community” life take place? In doing so, we engage in a comparative analysis of politics and interactions with various groups both offline and online." Source : Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations. I.T. in Government. Paper 362.

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A virtual reality platform for modeling cognitive development

We present a virtual reality platform for developing and evaluating embodied models of cognitive development. The platform facilitates structuring of the learning agent, of its visual environment, and of other virtual characters that interact with the learning agent. It allows us to systematically study the role of the visual and social environment for the development of particular cognitive skills in a controlled fashion. We describe how it is currently being used for constructing an embodied model of the emergence of gaze following in infant-caregiver interactions and discuss the relative benefits of virtual vs. robotic modeling approaches.

Source : Biomimetic Neural Learning for Intelligent Robots: Intelligent Systems, Cognitive Robotics, And Neuroscience. 3575

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pet ownership and human health: a brief review of evidence and issues

Summary points:
+ Over 90% of pet owners regard their pet as a valued family member.
+ Reluctance to part with a pet may lead to non-compliance with health advice.
+ Pets may be of particular value to older people and patients recovering from major illness.
+ The death of a pet may cause great distress to owners, especially when the pet has associations with a deceased spouse or former lifestyle.
+ Many people would welcome advice and support to enable them to reconcile or manage pet ownership and health problems whenever possible."
Source: British Medical Journal

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Why China's Banking Sector Isn't as Weak as It Might Look -- and Other Myths

China's transformation from a stagnant, government-controlled economy to a more international free market system has been accelerated by banking and other financial reforms, according to speakers at a conference on China sponsored by the Global Interdependence Center, a non-profit organization based at the University of Pennsylvania and focused on increasing global trade. Jeffrey R. Williams, president of Shenzhen Development Bank (SDB), described three main elements of banking reform, while Ted Chu, senior manager of economic and industry analysis at General Motors, debunked what he sees as current misconceptions about the Chinese economy.Source: Knowledge@Wharton, University of Pennsylvania

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New media/Internet research topics of the association of Internet researchers

Abstract: This study summarizes prior reviews of new media and Internet research, and the growth of the term Internet in academic publications and online newsgroups. It then uses semantic network analysis to summarize the interests and concepts of an interdisciplinary group of Internet researchers, as represented by session titles and paper titles and abstracts from the 2003 and 2004 Association of Internet Researchers conferences. In both years, the most frequent words appearing in the paper abstracts included Internet, online, community, social, technology, and research. The 2003 papers emphasized topics such as the social analysis/research of online/Internet communication, community, and information, with particular coverage of access, individuals, groups, digital media, culture; role and process in e-organizations; and world development. The 2004 papers emphasized topics such as access; news and social issues; the role of individuals in communities; user-based studies; usage data; and blogs, women, and search policy, among others. Source: Ronald E. Rice, University of California, Santa Barbara

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Seeking the Roots of Terrorism: An Islamic Traditional Perspective

"This article analyzes the associational relationship between Islam and terrorism as embedded in the current popular culture. Two questions are examined: (a) whether from a historical and political perspective current organizations that are terror threats and Bin Laden are natural outgrowths of the Islamic tradition; (b) whether the Muslim popular tradition has historically interpreted some Qur'anic terms such as Jihad and Kuffar "allegedly infidels" to promote hate and violence against non-Muslims. In view of this discussion, the article suggests that the current terror treats is due to the politicization of the Muslim faith, rather than rooted in Islamic teachings." Source: Journal of Religion and Popular Culture

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Marriage Not Enough to Guarantee Economic Security

"More than one in four children with married parents is low income. The majority of low-income children in rural and suburban areas live with parents who are married, and most single parents were formerly married as well. The majority of married low-income parents are employed, and 41 percent of their children have two employed parents. Illness and disability are commmon reasons for unemployment. Low wages, lack of employee benefits, frequent moves, and low levels of education are common among these parents, and their need for public health insurance and food stamps is rising." Source: National Center for Children in Poverty (Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health

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Who Picks the President?

"FairVote's Who Picks the President report tracks television spending and campaign visits by major candidates during the height of the 2004 presidential election. The report seeks to ascertain just how wide the gulf between swing and non-swing states has become in a modern election, and the conclusion--vast-- is hardly reassuring for supporters of American Democracy." Source: FairVote

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State Rankings

"In general, we know that online learning develops through interaction and that it’s a collaborative process where students actively engage in writing

"In general, we know that online learning develops through interaction and that it’s a collaborative process where students actively engage in writing and reading messages among themselves and with the instructor. However, it’s also well known that in any online community, not all users are equally active, and there are indeed people who never take an active part -- the so-called lurkers. This article focuses on the lurkers; the authors ran extensive experiments to demonstrate whether there’s a relationship between the writing and reading behavior of online students and whether active participation influences learning efficiency. An interesting related result that emerged from the study is that the effort of the instructor in terms of reading and writing posts is higher than that of the learners themselves!" Source : Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

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Adolescent Angst

"The Priory Group recently commissioned independent research among 1,000 young people aged 12 – 19 nationwide to understand their attitudes and behaviours toward a wide range of issues ranging from schoolwork and relationships to sex, drugs, suicidal ideation and self-harm. The results confirm what the medical profession has known for years: an unacceptably high proportion of British youngsters suffer from a wide range of mental health issues that adversely affect family life, friendships, development and academic achievement. Priory's research also reveals that young people today are experimenting with sex, alcohol and drugs, dealing with violence in the home and in relationships and contemplating suicide at ever-decreasing ages, fuelling a mental health crisis in this vulnerable population." Source: The Priory Group (UK)

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National Strategy for Victory in Iraq

"The following document articulates the broad strategy the President set forth in 2003 and provides an update on our progress as well as the challenges remaining." Source: National Security Council

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Housing Tenure and Wealth Distribution in Life-Cycle Economies

"Common practice in the housing and wealth distribution literature has proceeded as if the modeling of housing rental markets was unnecessary due to renters’ relative low levels of wealth and the small fraction they represent in the total population. This paper shows, however, that their inclusion matters substantially when dealing with wealth concentration over the life cycle. Renters are concentrated in the poorer and younger groups. This concentration results in a pattern of housing wealth concentration over an agent’s life that is decreasing, with a slope as steep as that of nonhousing (or financial) wealth. The author constructs an overlapping-generations economy with a housing rental market that is consistent with this fact." Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

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Friday, November 25, 2005

The Course of Social Change Through College Admissions

"In his informative but often vexing new book, Jerome Karabel, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, looks at the admissions process at the so-called Big Three and how the criteria governing that process have changed over the last century in response to changes in society at large." Source :New York Times Book Review

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When academics post online, do they risk their jobs?

"Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of academics keep blogs these days, posting everything from family pictures to scholarly works-in-progress. While few are counting on their Web publications to improve their chances at tenure, many have begun to fear that their blogs might actually harm their prospects" Source : The Slate

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Contexts of Asian Democracy: A Cross-National, Within-Nation Analysis of Asian Nations

ABSTRACT : This paper examines relative impacts of cultural socialization and interactions with government on support for democracy, democratic pluralism, regime legitimacy, and trust in government across eight Asian nations based upon surveys of populations in these countries. Results show that cultural socialization has more impact than Mishler and Rose observed in a study of institutional trust in Central Europe, but interactions with government also produce differences in attitudes. Inclusion of dummy variables indicates that identification of individual indicators allows substitution for country contexts. Source : Center for the Study of Democracy, U.C. Irvine

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Do people know how their personality has changed? Correlates of perceived and actual personality change in young adulthood

ABSTRACT: How much do we think our personality changes over time? How well do our perceptions of change correspond with actual personality change? Two hundred and ninety students completed measures of the Big Five personality traits when they first entered college. Four years later, they completed the same measures and rated the degree to which they believed they had changed on each dimension. Participants tended to view themselves as having changed substantially, and perceptions of change showed some correspondence with actual personality change. Perceived and actual change showed theoretically meaningful correlations with a host of variables related to different aspects of college achievement and adjustment. Source : Richard W. Robins, University of California, Davis

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Self-esteem development across the lifespan

After decades of debate, a consensus is emerging about the way self-esteem develops across the lifespan. On average, self-esteem is relatively high in childhood, drops during adolescence (particularly for girls), rises-gradually throughout adulthood, and then declines sharply in old age. Despite these general age differences, individuals tend to maintain their ordering relative to one another: Individuals who have relatively high self-esteem at one point in time tend to have relatively high self-esteem years later. This type of stability (i.e., rank-order stability) is somewhat lower during childhood and old age than during adulthood, but the overall level of stability is comparable to that found for other personality characteristics. Directions for further research include (a) replication of the basic trajectory using more sophisticated longitudinal designs, (b) identification of the mediating mechanisms underlying self-esteem change, (c) the development of an integrative theoretical model of the life-course trajectory of self-esteem. Source : University of California eScholarship Digital Repository

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Preschool children with and without developmental delay: behaviour problems, parents' optimism and well-being

Children with intellectual disability are at heightened risk for behaviour problems, and these are known to increase parenting stress. This study explored the relation of behaviour problems to less child-related domains of parent well-being (depression and marital adjustment), as well as the moderating effect of a personality trait, dispositional optimism. Participating children (N = 214) were classified as developmentally delayed, borderline, or nondelayed. Mothers' and fathers' well-being and child behaviour problems were assessed at child ages 3 and 4 years. Parents of delayed and nondelayed preschoolers generally did not differ on depression or marital adjustment, but child behaviour problems were strongly related to scores on both measures. Optimism moderated this relationship, primarily for mothers. When child behaviour problems were high, mothers who were less optimistic reported lower scores on measures of well-being than did mothers who were more optimistic. Interventions for parents that aim to enhance both parenting skills and psychological well-being should be available in preschool. It may be beneficial for such programmes to focus not only on behaviour management strategies aimed at child behaviour change, but also on parents' belief systems, with the aim of increasing dispositional optimism. Source: University of California eScholarship Digital Repository

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Dynamic responsiveness in the US senate

"I develop a theory of dynamic responsiveness that suggests that parties that win elections choose candidates who are more extreme and parties that lose elections choose candidates who are more moderate. Moreover, the size of past victories matters. Close elections yield little change, but landslides yield larger changes in the candidates offered by both parties. I test this theory by analyzing the relationship between Republican vote share in U.S. Senate elections and the ideology of candidates offered in the subsequent election. The results show that Republican (Democratic) victories in past elections yield candidates who are more (less) conservative in subsequent elections, and the effect is proportional to the margin of victory. This suggests that parties or candidates pay attention to past election returns. One major implication is that parties may remain polarized in spite of their responsiveness to the median voter." J H. Fowler, University of California, Davis

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Drug use among female sex workers in Hanoi, Vietnam

Aims To describe the drug use practices among female sex workers (FSWs) in Hanoi and to identify factors associated with their drug injecting. Design, setting and participants A two-stage cluster survey of 400 FSWs was conducted from June to September, 2002. Participating FSWs were both establishment- (160) and street-based (240), who were practising in seven urban and one suburban districts of Hanoi. Measurements Subjects were interviewed face to face using a structured questionnaire. Findings Among the middle-class FSWs, 27% used drugs, of whom 79% injected. Among low-class FSWs, 46% used drugs and 85% injected. Among drug-using FSWs, 86% had started using drugs within the past 6 years. Among drug-injecting FSWs, 81% had started injecting within the past 4 years. Cleaning of injecting equipment was not common among those who shared. Having drug-injecting 'love mates', drug-using clients, longer residence in Hanoi, more clients and not currently cohabiting were found to be independently associated with drug injecting among FSWs. Conclusions The high prevalence of injecting drug use among FSWs makes them susceptible to HIV infection, and is a threat to their clients. There is a strong relationship between drug-using FSWs and male drug-using clients and non-client partners. Intervention to prevent drug use initiation among non-drug-using FSWs and harm reduction among drug-using FSWs are urgently needed. Source: University of California eScholarship digital depository.

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Who Bears the Burden? Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Military Recruits Before and After 9/11

"This paper reports the results of summary research into the demographic composition of two groups of recruits: those who enlisted between October 1998 and September 1999 and those who enlisted between January 2003 and September 2003. These groups are referred to as the 1999 and 2003 recruit cohorts, respectively. Nationwide Census data for citizens ages 18-24 were used as a baseline for comparison. Comparisons of these three different groups highlight the differences not only between the general population and military volunteers, but also between recruits who volun­teered for the military before 9/11 and those who volunteered after 9/11." Source: The Heritage Foundation

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WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women

"The first-ever World Health Organization (WHO) study on domestic violence reveals that intimate partner violence is the most common form of violence in women’s lives - much more so than assault or rape by strangers or acquaintances. The study reports on the enormous toll physical and sexual violence by husbands and partners has on the health and well-being of women around the world and the extent to which partner violence is still largely hidden." Source: World Health Organization

Report is downloadable in sections.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Rising Wage Inequality: The Role of Composition and Prices

"Our analysis reveals that shifts in labor force composition have positively impacted earnings inequality during the 1990s. But these compositional shifts have primarily operated on the lower half of the earnings distribution by muting a contemporaneous, countervailing lower-tail price compression. The steady rise of upper tail inequality since the late 1970s appears almost entirely explained by ongoing between-group price changes (particularly increasing wage differentials by education) and residual price changes." Source: Harvard Institute of Economic Research (Autor, Katz, Kearney)

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Top 10 Art Crimes

* 7,000-10,000 looted and stolen Iraqi artifacts, 2003
* 12 paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft, 1990
* 2 Renoirs and 1 Rembrandt stolen from Sweden's National Museum, 2000 (Recovered)
* Munch's The Scream and The Madonna from the Munch Museum in Oslo, 2004
* Benevenuto Cellini Salt Cellar from Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum, 2003
* Caravaggio's Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francesco from Palermo, 1969
* Davidoff-Morini Stradivarius violin from a New York apartment, 1995
* Two Van Gogh paintings from Amsterdam's Vincent Van Gogh Museum, 2002
* Cezanne's View of Auvers-sur-Oise from Oxford's Ashmolean Museum, 1999
* Da Vinci's Madonna of the Yarnwinder from Scotland's Drumlanrig Castle, 2003

Source: FBI

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Justifying Intellectual Property Protection: Why the Interests of Content-Creators Usually Wins Over Everyone Else's

Abstract : I attempt to show that the law should, as a matter of political morality, provide limited protection of intellectual property interests. To this end, I argue that the issue of whether the law ought to coercively restrict liberty depends on an assessment of all the relevant competing interests. Further, I argue that the interests of content-creators in controlling the disposition of the content they create outweighs the interests of other persons in using that content in most, but not all, cases. I conclude that, in these cases, morality protects the interests of content-creators, but not the interests of other persons and hence would justify limited legal protection of the former interests. Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. Law and Technology Scholarship (Selected by the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology). Paper 13.Author : Kenneth Himma, Seattle Pacific University

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The Mosaic Theory, National Security, and the Freedom of Information Act

"The first work to explore the 'mosaic theory' in detail, this Note documents the theory's evolution in FOIA national security law and highlights its centrality in the post-9/11 landscape of information control. After years of doctrinal stasis and practical anonymity, federal agencies began asserting the theory more aggressively after 9/11, thereby testing the limits of executive secrecy and of judicial deference. Though essentially valid, the mosaic theory has been applied in ways that are unfalsifiable, in tension with the purpose and text of FOIA, and susceptible to abuse and overbreadth. This Note therefore argues, against precedent, for greater judicial scrutiny of mosaic claims." Source: Yale Law Journal (via Social Science Research Network)

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Sharing and Reducing the Financial Risks of Future "Mega-Catastrophes"

"Among the many impacts of Katrina, one is especially relevant to this essay. In effect, by the nature and magnitude of its response, the federal government post-Katrina resolved a debate that simmered among policy makers and academic scholars during the 1990s: whether the federal government should provide some kind of backstop insurance to the private market for large disasters. Clearly, the answer to that question after Katrina, is 'yes', although the post-Katrina "backstop" is informal and ad hoc. This essay will argue that this ad hoc or de facto insurance system is also inefficient because it provides inadequate incentives for loss prevention and unfair because those most at risk from future catastrophes do not bear a disproportionate amount of the costs to repair and rebuild, as they should." Source: The Brookings Institution

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How We Pay Professors and Why It Matters

"Universities that pay professors based on merit, rather than seniority, outperform other universities, says a C.D. Howe Institute study released today. The study...was written by John Chant, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Simon Fraser University. Chant demonstrates that universities using a merit-based salary structure attract better students, obtain more research funding and generate more widely cited research than their counterparts that use a seniority-based approach. 'A university’s failure to put in place salary structures that provide incentives for productivity represents a breakdown of governance,' says Chant." Source: C.D. Howe Institute

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New journal publishing models: an international survey of senior researchers

"A comprehensive new global survey of 5,513 senior researchers who publish in scholarly journals shows strong support for many aspects of the current publishing model. In selecting where to publish, the key factor for authors is the prestige of the publishing outlet, as indicated by the journal's reputation, readership or its impact factor. In contrast, the research community attaches the least importance to retaining copyright to the published article or to the ability to deposit pre- or post-prints in repositories." Source: Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research (CIBER)

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National Summit on Campus Public Safety: Strategies for Colleges and Universities in a Homeland Security Environment

"Colleges and universities are among our most vulnerable and exploitable targets for individuals and organizations seeking to cause harm and fear. In some jurisdictions, threat assessments have cited colleges and universities as potential targets of terrorist activity, while other jurisdictions have ignored them in homeland security planning. In a COPS-sponsored project led by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Community Policing Institute, a national summit on campus public safety held in late 2004 established direction and made recommendations for developing a national strategy, programs, information sharing resources, funding, and other initiatives for protecting our colleges and universities." Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

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Racially Biased Policing: A Principled Response

"This report, funded by COPS and produced by PERF (Police Executive Research Forum), will assist agencies in meeting the challenge of eradicating racially biased policing. It provides the first step in assisting law enforcement professionals, in collaboration with the community to consider the issues and develop approaches for their community’s specific needs. The report guides law enforcement agencies in their response to racially biased policing and to the perceptions of its practice, thereby helping to strengthen citizen confidence in the police and improve police services in the community." Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Community Oriented Policing Services

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From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, A Survey of Students and Teachers

"The online survey, conducted between January 13 and January 31, 2005, reveals that bullying is common in America’s schools, and that some students are frequent targets for verbal and physical harassment.... The reason most commonly cited for being harassed frequently is a student’s appearance, as four in ten (39%) teens report that students are frequently harassed for the way they look or their body size. The next most common reason for frequent harassment is sexual orientation. One-third (33%) of teens report that students are frequently harassed because they are or are perceived to be lesbian, gay or bisexual." Source: Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Setting Priorities for Health Disparities

Press Release : "The Public Health Policy Advisory Board (PHPAB) today released a report calling for a better understanding of the underlying reasons for health differences among subpopulations. The report...acknowledges that varying patterns of death and disease are seen in subpopulations defined by age, gender, race or ethnicity, geographic location, education or income, disability, immigration status, and sexual orientation. Often these differences become the basis of demands for social change. The federal government has made the reduction of health disparities a priority." Source: Public Health Policy Advisory Board

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A Recipe for Overeating: Studies Outline Dangers of Mixing Stress, Deprivation and Tempting Foods

"Two studies in the October issue of Behavioral Neuroscience show that when animals are stressed, deprived and exposed to tempting food, they overeat, with different degrees of interaction. The powerful interplay between internal and external factors helps explain why dieters rebound and even one cookie can trigger a binge if someone’s predisposed to binge." Source: Behavioral Neuroscience (via the American Psychological Association)

Study 1 : Various Aspects of Feeding Behavior Can Be Partially Dissociated in the Rat by the Incentive Properties of Food and the Physiological State [download PDF]

Study 2 : Combined Dieting and Stress Evoke Exaggerated Responses to Opioids in Binge-Eating Rats [download PDF]

East Asia Update - Countering Global Shocks

"Emerging East Asia grew at just over 6 percent in 2005 as the region's economies countered a series of threats, including rising oil prices and interest rates, the high-tech slowdown, and the end of preferential export quotas for garments, according to the World Bank's latest East Asia Update. Avian flu, which is endemic in the poultry flocks of many East Asian countries, is a growing concern, however, for regional economies as the disease spreads among birds and as health experts look for signs of human-to-human transmission." Source: The World Bank

Summary (PDF) | Full PDF Report | Indicators for all countries (PDF)

Bioethics and Public Policy: Conservative Dominance in the Current Landscape

"The Women's Bioethics Project, a non-partisan, public policy think tank, announced today the release of a report detailing a concerted effort by conservative groups to dominate so-called 'bioethical issues' surrounding emerging technologies. The report...analyzes the involvement of both progressive and conservative bioethics centers, including traditional think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute, as well as religious groups such as James Dobson's Focus on the Family." Source: Women's Bioethics Project

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There is No Constitutional Right to Smoke

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. More than 12 million premature deaths over the past 40 years were attributable to smoking.1 Today, smoking causes approximately 440,000 deaths each year and results in over $150 billion in annual health-related economic losses.2 Smoking not only injures nearly every organ of the smoker's body,3 but it inflicts considerable damage on nonsmokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke is estimated to kill more than 52,000 non-smokers in the United States each year.4In an attempt to limit the extraordinary harm that tobacco smoke inflicts on individuals and communities, advocates across the country are supporting enactment of state and local smoke-free laws. These advocates have seen their efforts rewarded with a wave of state and local workplace restrictions that prohibit smoking in offices, restaurants and bars.5 Moreover, various cities have passed smoking restrictions that cover targeted locations, such as playgrounds, parks, beaches, and public transit vehicles.6 In addition, some local government agencies, such as police and fire departments, have adopted policies requiring job applicants or employees to refrain from smoking both on and off the job.7Advocates promoting smoke-free legislation often encounter opponents who make the ominous legalsounding argument: "You are trampling on my right to smoke." The purpose of this law synopsis is to debunk the argument that smokers have a special legal right to smoke. If there were a legal justification for a special right to smoke, it would come from the U.S. Constitution.8 The Constitution lays out a set of civil rights that are specially protected, in that they generally cannot be abrogated by federal, state, county and municipal laws. Section I of this law synopsis explains that neither the Due Process Clause nor the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution creates a right to smoke. As a result, the Constitution leaves the door wide open for smoke-free laws and other tobacco-related laws that are rationally related to a legitimate government goal. Section II highlights two types of state laws that may create a limited right to smoke. Section II shows that in the absence of a constitutionally protected right to smoke, advocates can seek to amend or repeal these laws, thus taking away any safeguards the laws afford to smokers. Source : Samantha K. Graff, Tobacco Control Legal Consortium | U.C. San Francisco

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Comparing the Dynamics and Direction of American and French Industrial Societies: From the Late Nineteenth Century to the Early 2000s: A Narrative and

This article is part of a forthcoming volume The Origins and Evolution of American and French Industrial Societies, by Monique J. Borrel.

Source : University of California International and Area Studies Digital Collection

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Active Military Sonar and Marine Mammals: Events and References

Summary : The deployment of active sonar by the U.S. Navy and its potential impacts on marine mammals has been an ongoing issue of intense debate; regulatory, legislative, and judicial activity; and international concern. Some peacetime use of military sonar has been regulated under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and other statutes due to concerns that active military sonars are operated at frequencies used by some cetaceans (i.e., whales, porpoises, and dolphins), and their highintensity sound pulses may travel long distances in the ocean. There is also concern that sonar transmissions of sufficiently high intensity might physically damage the hearing in cetaceans or cause them to modify their behavior in ways that are detrimental. Although mid-frequency sonar has been implicated in several beaked whale strandings, there is scientific uncertainty surrounding the totality of the effects active sonar transmissions may have on marine mammals. This report summarizes legal and political events related to active sonar and marine mammals since 1994. Prior to the late 1990s, concerns focused primarily on the use of underwater sound as a research tool. While strandings and mortality of marine mammals, primarily beaked whales, have been observed in concurrence with mid-frequency sonar operation, additional controversy has focused on the development of low-frequency active (LFA) sonar. Environmental interests are concerned with LFA sonar because low-frequency sound travels farther than midfrequency sound and is closer in frequency to those known to be used by baleen whales. Additional questions involve how to balance obligations of the military to comply with MMPA provisions (as well as provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act) with national security concerns. Generally speaking, concern about the environmental effects of ocean noise is now principally focused on three activities -- military sonar exercises, oil and gas exploration, and commercial shipping. This report summarizes some of the more significant recent events pertaining to active military sonar, in particular. It will be updated as events warrant. Source : Congressional Research Service

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Education Delayed or Education Denied? Evidence on the Historically Variable Role of Delayed Educational Careers in Former Communist Countries

Abstract : This paper explores why previous research failed to find any empirical evidence confirming the success of "Communist affirmative action" in reducing inequality in access to secondary and tertiary education in Bulgaria, the Czech republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia between 1948- 1989. I argue that scholars have too narrowly focused on ultimate educational attainment of each cohort and have thus overlooked important life-course and historical dynamics of educational stratification in former socialist countries. In this paper I study detailed information on educational careers from the Social Stratification in Eastern Europe after 1989 survey, distinguish the stratification of early and delayed school transitions and compare the differential degree of stratification of early and delayed transitions across cohorts. I show that delayed school transitions were usually stratified less on socioeconomic background than delayed transitions, yet this life-course differential was by no means stable over time. It turns out that delayed school transitions were stratified more strongly in cohorts, in which early transitions were stratified less as a result of the "Communist Affirmative Action". These two offsetting tendencies were overlooked by previous research and combined to produce and overall stable effect of SES on school transitions. I conclude that delayed education careers worked against the success of the egalitarian policies and offered a highly selective second chance for socioeconomically advantaged and politically disadvantaged students. This finding is statistically robust and is identified even in models that control for unmeasured individual-level heterogeneity. I argue that scholars should pay more attention to detailed educational careers and should not only study highest degree completed as otherwise their results may be biased and/or incomplete. Source : California Center for Population Research. On-Line Working Paper Series. Paper CCPR-047-05.

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Equity within Reach: Insights from the Front Lines of America's Achievement Gap

"This report is the result of a survey of nearly 2,000 of these teachers finishing their first and second years in the classroom, along with almost 200 incoming corps members who were just beginning their training. The survey addressed corps members’ beliefs about causes of and solutions to the achievement gap, as well as their own experiences in the classroom." Source: Teach for America

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Sex differences in brain activation elicited by humor

Abstract: With recent investigation beginning to reveal the cortical and subcortical neuroanatomical correlates of humor appreciation, the present event-related functional MRI (fMRI) study was designed to elucidate sex-specific recruitment of these humor related networks. Twenty healthy subjects (10 females) underwent fMRI scanning while subjectively rating 70 verbal and nonverbal achromatic cartoons as funny or unfunny. Data were analyzed by comparing blood oxygenation-level-dependent signal activation during funny and unfunny stimuli. Males and females share an extensive humor-response strategy as indicated by recruitment of similar brain regions: both activate the temporal-occipital junction and temporal pole, structures implicated in semantic knowledge and juxtaposition, and the inferior frontal gyrus, likely to be involved in language processing. Females, however, activate the left prefrontal cortex more than males, suggesting a greater degree of executive processing and language-based decoding. Females also exhibit greater activation of mesolimbic regions, including the nucleus accumbens, implying greater reward network response and possibly less reward expectation. These results indicate sex-specific differences in neural response to humor with implications for sex-based disparities in the integration of cognition and emotion. Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Testing Press Privilege in the CIA Leak Case

News reports and features analyzing the events related to the federal grand jury investigation into "the leak of a CIA operative's name [which, in October 2005] charged Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby with obstruction of justice, making a false statement and perjury." Includes audio of programs, documents from the case, opinion pieces, and links to related stories Source: PBS Online Newshour

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Report on the Manipulation of the Oil-for-Food Programme

630-page final report of the Independent Inquiry Committee investigating the administration and management of the United Nations Oil-for-Food program, documenting the extensive manipulation of the Oil-for-Food Programme by Saddam Hussein, whose regime diverted $1.8 billion in illicit surcharges and kickbacks from the humanitarian purposes of the Programme. More than 2000 companies were involved in illicit payments. Source : United Nations

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Games Parents and Adolescents Play: Risky Behaviors, Parental Reputation, and Strategic Transfers

Abstract : This paper examines reputation formation in intra-familial interactions. We consider parental reputation in a repeated two-stage game in which adolescents decide whether to give a teen birth or drop out of high school, and given adolescent decisions, the parent decides whether to house and support his children beyond age 18. Drawing on the work of Milgrom and Roberts (1982) and Kreps and Wilson (1982), we show that the parent has, under certain conditions, the incentive to penalize older children for their teenage risky behaviors in order to dissuade the younger children from the same risky behaviors. The model generates two empirical implications: the likelihood of teen risky behaviors and parental transfers to a child who engaged in teen risky behaviors will decrease with the number of remaining children at risk. We test these two implications, using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 Cohort (NLSY79). Exploiting the availability of repeated observations on individual respondents and of observations on multiple siblings, we find evidence in favor of both predictions. Source : California Center for Population Research. On-Line Working Paper Series. Paper CCPR-039-05.

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New Claims about Executions and General Deterrence: Deja Vu All Over Again?

A number of papers have recently appeared claiming to show that in the United States executions deter serious crime. There are many statistical problems with the data analyses reported. This paper addresses the problem of “influence,” which occurs when a very small and atypical fraction of the data dominate the statistical results. The number of executions by state and year is the key explanatory variable, and most states in most years execute no one. A very few states in particular years execute more than 5 individuals. Such values represent about 1% of the available observations. Re-analyses of the existing data are presented showing that claims of deterrence are a statistical artifact of this anomalous 1%. Richard A. Berk, UCLA Department of Statistics

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Made in America: Communicating With Young Latinos

"Confirming a major paradigm shift in the understanding of language preference among US-born Hispanics, a new study finds that English is the overwhelming language choice among 2nd generation Latinos, and becomes nearly absolute among third generation Hispanics. The study, authored by David Morse, President and CEO of the multicultural market research firm New American Dimensions, looks at language preference for TV viewing and commercials, and concludes that U.S. Hispanics overwhelmingly prefer English language TV, and are more inclined to buy a product if an ad featured Hispanics speaking English. The study also finds that, despite their preference for English, many Hispanics still watch certain types of Spanish language entertainment." Source: New American Dimensions

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Kansas Denied Use of National Science Education Standards

"The National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Teachers Association have refused to grant copyright permission to the Kansas State Board of Education to make use of publications by the two organizations in the state's science education standards. According to a statement from the two groups, the new Kansas standards are improved, but as currently written, they overemphasize controversy in the theory of evolution and distort the definition of science. NAS and NSTA offered to work with the board to resolve these issues so the state standards could use text from the National Research Council's "National Science Education Standards" and NSTA's "Pathways to Science Standards." Source : The National Academies

* Joint Statement (PDF)
* Letter from President Cicerone (PDF)
* Review of the Kansas Science Education Standards (PDF)
* "National Science Education Standards "
* Letter from the National Science Teachers Association
* "Pathways to the Science Standards"
* Statement from the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Poll: Americans Idealize Traditional Family, Even as Nontraditional Families Are More Accepted

"In a recent poll on religion and the family conducted for RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc., almost three quarters of all Americans agree that 'God's plan for marriage is one man, one woman, for life.' A strong majority of Americans (71%) idealize the traditional family even as divorce, cohabitation, and nontraditional family situations are becoming more accepted across religious groups. Only 22% of Americans think that divorce is a sin and almost half (49%) say that cohabitation is acceptable. According to the survey, the growing acceptance of divorce is also occurring among religious conservatives. Only 34% of evangelical Christians and 30% of traditional Catholics say that divorce is a sin." Source: Religion & Ethics Newsweekly (PBS)
Summary (PDF; 899 KB) | Questionnaire (PDF; 331 KB) | Methodology (PDF; 44 KB) | Demographics (PDF; 85 KB)

Trends in Manufacturer Prices of Prescription Drugs Used by Older Americans

"These AARP Public Policy Institute reports present the results of studies of changes in manufacturers' prescription drug list prices (i.e., the prices set by drug manufacturers to charge wholesalers and other direct purchasers for drug products) for roughly 200 brand name and 75 generic prescription drugs most widely used by Americans age 50+. Specifically, the reports compare price changes with the rate of inflation from one year to the next and, beginning in 2004, show changes on a quarterly basis. They also present differences in average price changes by manufacturer and by major therapeutic category." Source: AARP

Link to online report

Two Studies on Pre-K Education

"In two studies appearing in a special issue of Developmental Psychology, researchers show the benefits of universal pre-K programs (serving 4 year-olds) and Early Head Start programs (serving infants, toddlers, and their families) on children's cognitive and language development, but especially for those children who are from low-income families. The study of pre-K documented benefits in several aspects of school readiness, and the Early Head Start study showed gains in social-emotional development and benefits for parents as well." Source: Developmental Psychology/American Psychological Association

The Effects of Universal Pre-K on Cognitive Development : Download PDF Report

The Effectiveness of Early Head Start for 3-Year-Old Children and Their Parents: Lessons for Policy and Programs : Download PDF Report

Information on Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Nominee for Justice of the Supreme Court.

information about and writings by Samuel A. Alito, Jr. They are categorized and are arranged in reverse chronological order within each category

Categories include:Biographical information, Majority Opinions (3rd Circuit Court of Appeals) Organized by broad subject, Per Curiam Opinions (3rd. Circuit), Concurring and Dissenting Opinions (3rd. Circuit), Amicus Briefs, Party Briefs, Oral Arguments Before the Supreme Court, Articles By Alito.

Please Note: This web page is continuously being updated as new information becomes available.

Source : University of Michigan Law Library

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween Facts

"The observance of Halloween, which dates from the Dark Ages, has long been associated with thoughts of witches, ghosts, devils and hobgoblins. In the United States, the first recorded instance of a Halloween celebration occurred in Anoka, Minn., in 1921. Over the years, the customs and rituals associated with Halloween have changed dramatically. Today, many of the young and “young-at-heart” take a more light-hearted approach — donning a scary disguise or one that may bring on smiles when they go door-to-door for treats or attend or host a Halloween party."

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Foreign Policy : Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

"Albert Einstein claimed he never thought of the future. “It comes soon enough,” he said. FOREIGN POLICY decided to not grant 16 leading thinkers that luxury. Instead, to mark our 35th anniversary, we asked them to speculate on the ideas, values, and institutions the world takes for granted that may disappear in the next 35 years. Their answers range from fields as diverse as morals and religion to geopolitics and technology. We may be happy to see some of these “endangered species” make an exit, but others will be mourned. All of them will leave a mark."

Contributors include Peter Singer, Lawrence Lessig, Shintaro Ishihara, Jacques Attali and many others.

Link to Site

Encyclopedia of Statistics in Behavioral Science : Select Entries

Source : Department of Statistics, UCLA.

The following are select entries from the Encyclopedia of Statistics in Behavioral Science published in 2005. Click on entry titles to download PDF entries.

Unidimensional Scaling

Monotone Regression

Shepard Diagram

Multidimensional Unfolding

Linear Multilevel Models

High-dimensional Regression

Superstars and Rookies of the Year

Hiring new colleagues is a matter that engages individual faculty members intensely, for peer control of admission to the professoriate has been a highly successful source of academic quality in American higher education. "Super Stars and Rookies of the Year" analyzes the fixation on research acclaim as a negative version of academic hiring practices which has become embedded within the academic psyche. This fixation tends to be aroused by the rituals of recruitment and retention that take place on all campuses. But when recruitment becomes an exercise in what some economists have called "the-winner-take-all" mentality of our culture, departments, and programs can become unhealthy environments. When faculty and administrations insist on the extremely volatile criteria of early promise or current fame in choosing new colleagues, their efforts to build a community of scholars can become an exercise in professional pathology. When they neglect excellent current members of their departments to recruit outsiders at higher pay and richer benefits, they risk alienating their own excellent faculties. The antidote is a wise consideration of the total identity and mission of institutional departments in all recruitment efforts. Source: Center for Studies in Higher Education, U.C. Berkeley

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Developing a Practical Forecasting Screener for Domestic Violence Incidents for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

In this paper, we report on the development of a short screening tool that deputies in the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department could use in the field to help forecast domestic violence incidents in particular households. The data come from over 500 households to which sheriff?s deputies were dispatched in the fall of 2003. Information on potential predictors was collected at the scene. Outcomes were measured during a three month follow-up. The data were analyzed with modern data mining procedures in which true forecasts were evaluated. A screening instrument was then developed based on a small fraction of the information collected. Making the screening instrument more complicated did not improve forecasting skill. Taking the relative costs of false positives and false negatives into account, the instrument correctly forecasted future calls for service about 60% of the time. Future calls involving domestic violence misdemeanors and felonies were correctly forecast about 50% of the time. The 50% figure is especially important because such calls require a law enforcement response and yet are a relatively small fraction of all domestic violence calls for service.Source : Department of Statistics, UCLA. Department of Statistics Papers.

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The Value of Higher Education: Individual and Societal Benefits

"Putting money into a four-year college education turns out to be a better financial investment – to the tune of $1 million more over one’s lifetime than people who have just a high school education. The rate of return on the money spent to earn a bachelor's degree is 12 percent per year, compared with the long-run average annual return on stocks of 7 percent. The net return is overall costs, including individual contribution and state appropriations, as well as income sacrificed while earning that degree. Despite the high return on investment, just 25 percent of the U.S. adult population has at least a bachelor’s degree. In comparison, more than 50 percent of Americans invest in the stock market, according to the American Shareholders Association." Source: Productivity and Prosperity Project, W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University

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Completed Suicide and Psychiatric Diagnoses in Young People: A Critical Examination of the Evidence

"Suicide rates of young people are increasing in many geographic areas. There is a need to recognize more precisely the role of specific mental disorders and their comparative importance for understanding suicide and its prevention. The authors reviewed the published English language research, where psychiatric diagnoses that met diagnostic criteria were reported, to reexamine the presence and distribution of mental disorders in cases of completed suicide among young people worldwide." Source: American Journal of Orthopsychiatry

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The Parable of the Hare and the Tortoise: Small Worlds, Diversity, and System Performance

"Whether as team members brainstorming, or cultures experimenting with new technologies, problem solvers communicate and share ideas. This paper examines how the structure of these communication networks can affect system-level performance. We present an agent-based model of information sharing, where the less successful emulate the more successful. Results suggest that where agents are dealing with a complex problem, the more efficient the network at disseminating information, and the higher the velocity of information over that network, the better the short run and lower the long run performance of the system. The dynamic underlying this result is that an inefficient network is better at exploration than an efficient network, supporting a more thorough search for solutions in the long run. This suggests that the efficient network is the hare-the fast starter-and the poorly connected network is the tortoise—slow at the start of the race, but ultimately triumphant."
Source: Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, Faculty Research Working Paper Series

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Prisoners in 2004

"Reports the number of persons in State and Federal prisons at yearend, compares the increase in the prison population during 2004 with that of the previous year, and gives the prison growth rates since 1995. The report also provides the number of male and female prisoners on December 31, 2004. It includes incarceration rates for the States and the 5 highest and 5 lowest jurisdictions for selected characteristics, such as the growth rate, number of prisoners held, and incarceration rates. Tables present data on prison capacities and the use of local jails and privately operated prisons. Estimates are provided on the number of sentenced prisoners by age, gender, race, and Hispanic origin." Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Who people live with, not where, gives different picture of immigrants in U.S.

"Immigrants are more dispersed and far more entwined with American-born people when measured by the households in which they live rather than counted individually on the traditional basis of census tract, neighborhood, metropolitan area or state. Using federal Census Bureau data from 1997 through 2001, geographers Mark Ellis of the University of Washington and Richard Wright of Dartmouth College, found that there are about 17 million third-generation or more Americans living in households with immigrants or children of immigrants." Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (via University of Washington)

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Federal and State Laws Regarding Pharmacists Who Refuse to Dispense Contraceptives

"This report provides an analysis of federal and state laws that govern whether or not pharmacists may refuse to fill valid prescriptions for birth control and emergency contraceptives. Such laws are sometimes referred to as "conscience clause" laws because they allow medical providers to refuse to provide services to which they have religious or moral objections." Source : Congressional Research Service

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Ranking Law Schools: Using SSRN to Measure Scholarly Performance

"There are several methods for ranking the scholarly performance of law faculties, including reputation surveys (U.S. News, Leiter); publication counts (Lindgren & Seltzer, Leiter); and citation counts (Eisenberg & Wells, Leiter). Each offers a useful but partial picture of faculty performance. We explore here whether the new 'beta' SSRN-based measures (number of downloads and number of posted papers) can offer a different, also useful, albeit also partial, picture." Source: Indiana Law Journal (Black, Caron)

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Growth, Poverty and Inequality in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union

"Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union have witnessed a significant decrease in poverty since the Russian financial crisis of 1998-99. Almost 40 million people moved out of poverty from 1998-2003. Three key factors contributed to poverty reduction: growth in wages, growth in employment, and more adequate social transfers. But poverty and vulnerability persist: more than 60 million people live on less than $2 a day. In their recommendations, the report's authors urge countries to continue with enterprise sector reforms, boost rural growth, promote opportunities in lagging regions, increase access to good quality basic services, and produce better social safety nets especially for the working poor and children." Source: The World Bank

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Future Health and Medical Care Spending of the Elderly

"Policymakers face the challenge of understanding and managing future Medicare spending. Under current projections, it will rise from 2.6 percent of gross domestic product today to 9.2 percent in 2050. Demographics will be a key factor: The first wave of baby boomers turns 65 in 2010. But what if some biomedical advance revolutionizes medical practice? What if a cure were found for one of the deadliest diseases? What if the health status of the elderly continues to improve? Would such changes ease Medicare’s financing problems?

To answer such questions, a team of economists and physicians from the RAND Corporation, Stanford University, and the VA [Veterans Affairs] Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System explored how changes in medical technology, disease, and disability would affect health care spending for the population age 65 and older. Their key findings: Medical innovations will result in better health and longer life, but they will likely increase, not decrease, Medicare spending. Eliminating any one disease won’t save a great deal of money, but obesity might be an important exception."

Source: RAND Corporation

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Process Evaluation of Project Public Health Ready

An evaluation of the pilot year of Project Public Health Ready (PHR), which aims to prepare local public health agencies to respond to bioterrorism and to protect the public’s health-this report delineates PHR benefits and challenges. The program is voluntary and participants receive recognition for their efforts. Overall, PHR deadlines and requirements led agencies to become prepared earlier than if they had not participated in the program." Source: RAND Corporation

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Placing a Value on the Health Care Benefit for Active-Duty Personnel

"Using conservative estimates, the authors find that the value of military health care benefits can be quite considerable, ranging from hundreds of dollars per year for healthy single members, who use little health care but would face health insurance premiums in the civilian sector that they do not face in the military, to thousands of dollars for military families." Source: RAND Corporation

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Crime-Facilitating Speech

"Any attempts to suppress crime-facilitating speech will be highly imperfect, especially in the Internet age. Copies of instructions for making explosives, producing illegal drugs, or decrypting proprietary information will likely always be available somewhere, either on foreign sites or on American sites that the law hasn’t yet shut down or deterred. The Hit Man contract murder manual, for instance, is available for free on the Web, even though a civil lawsuit led its publisher to stop distributing it. (If the civil lawsuit that led the publisher to stop selling the book also made the publisher more reluctant to try to enforce the now-worthless copyright, the suit might thus have actually made the book more easily, cheaply, and anonymously available.) Source: Stanford Law Review (Volokh)

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Should Top Universities Be Led By Top Researchers and Are They?

"This study documents a positive correlation between the lifetime citations of a university's president and the position of that university in the global ranking. Better universities are run by better researchers. The results are not driven by outliers. That the top universities in the world -- who have the widest choice of candidates -- systematically appoint top researchers as their vice chancellors and presidents seems important to understand." Source: Cornell Higher Education Research Institute

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The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Biological Resources

"Winds, storm surge, and associated flooding from Hurricane Katrina appear to have had substantial impacts on the biological resources of the affected region. Some impacts caused by Katrina included wetland and timber loss, and declines in fisheries and wildlife populations. This report discusses the reported and potential impacts of Hurricane Katrina on the biological resources in the affected region. Most of the impacts reported have been anecdotal and estimated; few biological surveys have be done and little quantitative information is available. Several state and federal science agencies were initially involved in humanitarian efforts such as providing transport for victims and cleaning debris before investigating damage to biological resources. This report will summarize the known and estimated impacts of Hurricane Katrina on coastal ecosystems, forests, freshwater and marine bodies, fisheries, and wildlife. Questions for specifying the impacts on biological resources are listed and possible restoration activities are discussed." Source : Congressional Research Service

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The Retirement of Justice O'Connor: Quorum Requirements, Rehearings and Vote Counts in the Supreme Court

"Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's announcement that she will retire from the Supreme Court of the United States effective upon the confirmation of her successor has raised questions regarding the conditions under which her vote may or may not be counted in certain cases. This report provides an overview of quorum requirements, rehearing procedures and vote count practices in the Supreme Court, with a focus on their application in relation to Justice O'Connor's pending retirement." Source : Congressional Research Service

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Ensuring (and Insuring?) Critical Information Infrastructure Protection

"To understand the obstacles for protecting critical information infrastructure and to consider solutions, over 25 experts from industry, government and academia met for the fifth annual Conference on Information Law and Policy for the Information Economy, organized by Professors Lewis M. Branscomb and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, with the support of Swiss Re, from June 16-18, 2005 at the Swiss Re Center for Global Dialogue in Rueschlikon, Switzerland. The meant not only as an analytical summary of the discussion, but also as a roadmap for future work." Source: Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, Faculty Research Working Paper Series

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Papers of Harry A. Blackmun (1908-1999)

"Harry A. Blackmun was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1970 by Richard Nixon. In May 1997, Justice Blackmun gave his papers to the Library of Congress, where they joined the papers of thirty-eight other justices and chief justices in the Library of Congress. Because an individual's papers can best yield their riches when studied in conjunction with other related collections, Justice Blackmun's decision to place his papers in the Library of Congress should greatly facilitate historical research. At the time of the gift, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington stated, 'The papers of the justices are among our most treasured collections. Our holdings will be considerably enhanced by the Blackmun papers. We are honored that Justice Blackmun has placed his trust in the Library.'"

In anticipation of high research demand, selected materials from the collection -- including the 38-hour oral history video interviews and associated transcript -- have been digitized and are now publicly available online. Source : Library of Congress.

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The Legacy of Apartheid: Racial Inequalities in the New South Africa

Abstract : The legacy of 350 years of apartheid practice and 50 years of concerted apartheid policy has been to create racial differences in socioeconomic position larger than in any other nation in the world. Whites, who constitute 11 percent of the population, enjoy levels of education, occupational status, and income similar to and in many respects superior to those of the industrially-developed nations of Europe and the British diaspora. Within the White population, however, there is a sharp distinction between the one-third of English origin and the two-thirds of Afrikaner origin. Despite apartheid policies explicitly designed to improve the lot of Afrikaners at the expense of non-Whites, the historical difference between the two groups continues to be seen in socioeconomic differences at the end of the 20th century. Still, the disadvantages of Afrikaners are modest compared to those of non-Whites, particularly Coloureds and Blacks, who bear the brunt of apartheid policies. Ethnic penalties are especially large for people with lower levels of education. For those with less than a tertiary education, there appears to be an occupational floor under Whites and an occupational ceiling over non-Whites. For the small minority of Blacks and Coloureds with tertiary education, the likelihood of being employed and the kinds of jobs available differ relatively little from the opportunities of Asians and White; but for the vast majority lacking tertiary education the ethnic penalty is very large, particularly for Blacks. Most are unable even to find work, with about 40 percent of Black men and more than half of Black women unemployed; and those who are employed are relegated largely to semiand unskilled jobs. Although tertiary education minimizes racial differences in occupational opportunities, it has little effect on racial differences in income, which are large even among the well educated and even among those working in similar occupations. Source : California Center for Population Research, U.C.L.A. On-Line Working Paper Series. Paper CCPR-032-05.

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