Monday, August 21, 2006

Early California Population Project

"The Early California Population Project (ECPP), a database developed by the Huntington Library, provides public access to all the information contained in the California mission registers from 1769 - 1850. Within the baptism, marriage, and burial records of each of the California missions sits an extraordinary wealth of unique information on the Indians, soldiers, and settlers of Alta California. But the vast potential of California’s mission records has in many ways remained unexploited. The original registers are scattered across California and too old and too brittle to handle. Microfilm copies of the registers exist in archives but are of poor quality and often hard to locate. Understanding the registers--written as they are in eighteenth-century Spanish script--demands rare skills and enormous effort. Lacking adequate staff and resources to facilitate genealogical and historical research, libraries, archives, missions, and dioceses each year turn away countless individuals who are eager to study early California’s Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo-American inhabitants." (free registration required)

Link to site

Are Levels of Democracy Influenced by Mass Attitudes? Testing a Central Premise of the Political Culture Approach

"Most research on political culture is driven by the assumption that mass attitudes impact on democracy. Despite the centrality of this premise, evidence showing that attitudes affect the level of democracy a society attains and sustains is rare and inconclusive in major points. This article presents the most comprehensive such evidence to date, testing attitudinal variables from three main schools in the political culture literature, as predictors of six different measures of democracy, using data from almost 70 societies. The results are remarkably consistent. Regardless of which measure of democracy is used, emancipative attitudes outperform other types of attitudes, giving the best predictions of later measures of democracy. This finding holds controlling for the impact of structural societal factors, such as economic development, world market integration, ethnic fractionalization, and prior democracy. Further specifications of the causal mechanism show that emancipative attitudes help both to attain and to sustain high levels of democracy. I conclude that a pro-democratic political culture is most firmly rooted in emancipative attitudes." Source: Center for the Study of Democracy. U.C. Irvine

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Friday, August 18, 2006

NSA domestic surveillance constitutionality ruling [US DC]

"ACLU v. NSA, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, August 17, 2006 [rejecting the government's assertion of the state secrets privilege, holding that the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program is unconstitutional and ordering the government to immediately cease using warrantless wiretaps to intercept communications of suspected terrorists when one party to the communication is outside the US]." via the Jurist

Download the PDF full text of the opinion | Download the PDF of the judgment and permanent injunction order.

Imad Mugniyah, Hezbollah’s Elusive Mastermind

"Relatively little is known about Imad Fayez Mugniyah, considered one of the most influential members of Hezbollah's inner circle. He is thought to be the organization's chief international operator, a shadowy figure behind its leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and he has been linked to nearly every major terrorist operation executed by Hezbollah over the last twenty-five years. Mugniyah was the most wanted terrorist in the world before Osama bin Laden came onto intelligence radar screens, and he remains a prime target of U.S. counterterrorism forces." Source: Council on Foreign Relations

Link to online backgrounder

Why Does Ethnic Diversity Undermine Public Goods Provision?

"A large and growing literature links high levels of ethnic diversity to low levels of public goods provision. Yet while the empirical connection between ethnic heterogeneity and the underprovision of public goods is widely accepted, there is little consensus on the specific mechanisms through which this relationship operates. To gain analytic leverage on the question of why ethnicity matters, we identify three families of mechanisms – what we term preference, technology, and strategy mechanisms. Our empirical strategy is to identify and run a series of experimental games that permit us to examine these mechanisms in isolation and then to compare the importance of ethnicity in each. Results from experimental games conducted with a random sample of 300 subjects in Kampala’s slums reveal that successful collective action among homogenous ethnic communities in urban Uganda is attributable to the existence of norms and institutions that facilitate the sanctioning of non-contributors. We find no evidence for a commonality of tastes within ethnic groups, for greater degrees of altruism toward co-ethnics, or for an impact of shared ethnicity on the productivity of teams." Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

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Americans See Weight Problems Everywhere But In the Mirror

"Americans believe their fellow Americans have gotten fat. They consider this a serious national problem. But when they think about weight, they appear to use different scales for different people.

Nine-in-ten American adults say most of their fellow Americans are overweight. But just seven-in-ten say this about "the people they know." And just under four-in-ten (39%) say they themselves are overweight." Source: Pew Research Center

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Understanding Global Imbalances

"Two contemporary issues provide reason to focus on national saving and investment: the debate over public pensions, and pensions more generally, in all rich countries; and the large global current account imbalances, conceptually the difference between national savings and domestic investment. Are we all saving enough to provide adequate retirement income for rapidly ageing populations—especially Americans, whose household savings seems to have disappeared altogether in 2005? And are the countries with large external deficits—notably the United States—mortgaging the income of future generations inappropriately, not to mention courting financial calamity in the meantime?" Source: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Statistics Calculators

UCLA provides online statistics calculators to the public.

Link to site

Defense Department shelves proposal to increase restrictions on foreign scientists

Report from Chron. of Higher Ed. (Subscription Required): "The U.S. Defense Department has backed off a proposal to require significant new controls, including security badges and restricted laboratory space, for foreign researchers working with sensitive technology at American universities. Instead, the agency said it would require researchers working on its contracts to follow existing "export control" rules of the U.S. Commerce and State Departments.

Instead, the agency said it would require researchers working on its contracts to follow existing "export control" rules of the U.S. Commerce and State Departments, which are designed to keep technology and weapons important to national security from falling into the hands of terrorists or spies."

Link to: Department of Defense announcement in Federal Register

Why money doesn’t bring happiness

from the Press Release: "For the article, titled "Would you be happier if you were richer? A focusing illusion," Princeton University psychologist Daniel Kahneman (CASBS fellow 1978) and colleagues, including University of Michigan psychologist Norbert Schwarz (CASBS fellow 2001), analyzed the link between money and happiness, presenting new evidence showing that what they call "the focusing illusion" affects how people respond when asked how happy or how satisfied they are with their lives.

"When people consider the impact of any single factor on their well-being—not only income—they are prone to exaggerate its importance," they wrote."

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American Attitudes Hold Steady in Face of Foreign Crises

"The public is paying a great deal of attention to major overseas events - the reported terrorist plot against U.S. trans-Atlantic jet liners, the war in Lebanon, as well as the ongoing violence in Iraq. However, there is little indication that these dramatic stories have materially changed public attitudes. Worries about another terrorist attack have not surged. The public continues to express high levels of support for Israel, even as a sizable minority views Israel as mostly responsible for the civilian casualties arising from the fighting. And while more Americans say the U.S. is losing ground in preventing a civil war in Iraq, basic attitudes about the conflict are largely unchanged." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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International AIDS Conference Materials Online

The 2006 International AIDS Conference official website offers A five-page fact sheet to go along with the address of World Health Organization's (WHO) HIV/AIDS Director Dr Kevin De Cock's address.

Download PDF fact sheet | Download PDF full text WHO Director's Address

Friday, August 11, 2006

California History Lectures

The Bancroft Library is pleased to present a series of seven lectures of California history, first recorded before a live audience in its Edward H. Heller Reading Room on the University of California, Berkeley campus and broadcast on KQED FM. These one-hour lectures include a 10-minute question and answer period with the audience, moderated by Dr. Charles Faulhaber, Director of The Bancroft Library. In announcing the broadcasts on KQED FM, Ms. Jo Anne Wallace, Vice President and General Manager of KQED Public Radio stated, "We are delighted to be joining with an esteemed institution like The Bancroft Library to demonstrate that history can be exciting. We believe our KQED listeners will find these talks both extremely interesting and highly educational." Dr. Faulhaber added, "We hope the programs will stimulate interest in and support of The Bancroft Library, which contains indispensable resources for understanding the history of California and western North America. These programs will help us develop the public's understanding of the depth of resources at Bancroft. We hope this will be the first in a long series of interesting and informative Bancroft programs with KQED Public Radio." Source: Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Link to lectures

The Arts and State Governments

Even though a majority of Americans claim to support public funding of the arts, state government spending on the arts is minimal — and may be losing ground relative to other types of state expenditures. Moreover, most state arts agencies, or SAAs, have not succeeded in convincing state government leaders that the arts should be integral to their planning for their states’ futures. This report, the second in a series commissioned by The Wallace Foundation to cover the findings of a multiyear RAND Corporation study of SAAs’ changing roles and missions, examines SAA leaders’ efforts to more firmly establish their agencies’ value to state government in a changing political and fiscal environment. Case studies of two SAAs are used to illustrate a more strategic approach to public management, and to clarify some of the risks and rewards of bringing the arts and political worlds closer together. Source: RAND Corporation

Download full PDF Report | Download PDF Summary

Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms

“Despite the efforts of law firms to expand diversity efforts, Hispanic, African-American, Native American and Asian-American women lawyers in law firms nationwide report a lack of networking and access to significant billable hours, being skipped over for client development opportunities and desirable assignments, and being subjected to demeaning comments or harassment and unfair performance evaluations.” Source: American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession

Download PDF Report | Link to press release

Waking Up on the Wrong Side of the Desk: The Effect of Mood on Work Performance

"The researchers found that both positive and negative moods affect employee productivity, but that positive moods are more potent. Most importantly, they discovered, the mood you bring with you to work has a stronger effect on the day's mood -- and on work performance -- than mood changes caused by events in the workplace. This finding, according to Rothbard, suggests that a business's performance might be enhanced by efforts to help employees cope with mood-affecting influences in their private lives -- including advising employees on how to best handle commuting hassles or offering counseling for family problems." Source: Knowledge@Wharton

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International Terrorism: Threat, Policy, and Response

This report examines international terrorist actions, threats, U.S. policies and responses. It reviews the nation's use of tools at its disposal to combat terrorism, from diplomacy, international cooperation, and constructive engagement to physical security enhancement, economic sanctions, covert action, and military force.

A modern trend in terrorism appears to be toward loosely organized, selffinanced, international networks of terrorists. Increasingly, radical Islamist groups, or groups using religion as a pretext, pose a serious threat to U.S. interests and to friendly regimes. Of concern as well is the growing political participation of extremist Islamist parties in foreign nations. Also noteworthy is the apparent growth of cross-national links among different terrorist organizations, which may involve combinations of military training, funding, technology transfer, or political advice. Source: Congressional Research Service

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Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

The official cite of the convention is part of the United Nations' Division of the Advancement of Women. Here you can find the full text of the convention, information on its history, and various country reports. Source: United Nation

Link to site

In Great Britain, Muslims Worry About Islamic Extremism

"Concerns Pre-Date Airplane Plot"

"A Pew Global Attitudes Project survey conducted this spring found 43% of British Muslims "very concerned" about the rise of Islamic extremism among Muslims living in that country. That's twice the proportion that expressed similar fears in Spain (21%) and significantly more than in Germany (23%) or France (26%).

In Great Britain, Muslim worries about Islamic extremism were broadly shared by the general public, which expressed more concern in 2006 than it did in a comparable survey conducted in spring 2005, prior to the London subway bombings on July 7, 2005."

Source: Pew Research Center

Link to online report

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Growth in the Foreign-Born Workforce and Employment of the Native Born

Rapid increases in the foreign-born population at the state level are not associated with negative effects on the employment of native-born workers, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center that examines data during the boom years of the 1990s and the downturn and recovery since 2000.

An analysis of the relationship between growth in the foreign-born population and the employment outcomes of native-born workers revealed wide variations across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. No consistent pattern emerges to show that native-born workers suffered or benefited from increased numbers of foreign-born workers. Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Download PDF Report | Link to online summary

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Public Holds Conflicting Views of Press Reports about Government Monitoring Bank Records

The public is of two minds about news reports that the government has been secretly examining the bank records of American citizens who may have ties to terrorist groups. By a margin of 50%-34%, Americans think that news organizations have hurt rather than helped the interests of the American people with these reports. However, an even larger 65%-28% majority believes that these news accounts told citizens something that they should know about.

Partisanship is strongly related to how people think about these questions. Democrats are almost unanimous (82%) in believing that the public needed to know about the government's bank monitoring program. Republicans are evenly divided on this question – 45% say it was something the public should know about, 47% say the public did not need to know. Source: Pew Research Center

Download full PDF report | link to summary

Pragmatic Americans Liberal and Conservative on Social Issues

Americans cannot be easily characterized as conservative or liberal on today's most pressing social questions. The public's point of view varies from issue to issue. They are conservative in opposing gay marriage and gay adoption, liberal in favoring embryonic stem cell research and a little of both on abortion. Along with favoring no clear ideological approach to most social issues, the public expresses a desire for a middle ground on the most divisive social concern of the day: abortion.

Together, the results of the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggest that the public remains reluctant to move too far from current policies and practices on many key social policy questions. Despite talk of "culture wars" and the high visibility of activist groups on both sides of the cultural divide, there has been no polarization of the public into liberal and conservative camps. Source: Pew Research Center

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Friday, August 04, 2006

The aging of the homeless population: fourteen-year trends in San Francisco

"The homeless population is aging by about two thirds of a year every calendar year, consistent with trends in several other cities. It is likely that the homeless are static, aging population cohort. The aging trends suggest that chronic conditions will become increasingly prominent for homeless health services. This will present challenges to traditional approaches to screening, prevention, and treatment of chronic diseases in an aging homeless population." Source: UCSF ? Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Qualifications of Public Secondary School

Abstract: "Previous studies of the qualifications of elementary and secondary school teachers have focused on whether teachers have educational backgrounds (a postsecondary major/minor or equivalent) and state certification that match the subjects they teach. If not, they are commonly considered “out-of-field.” This Issue Brief reports the combination of certifications and majors and minors to which secondary-level history students are exposed and how these qualifications vary across schools with differing levels of student poverty. Data from the NCES 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) teacher and school questionnaires indicate that students in the lowest poverty schools were the least likely to have a teacher with both an out-of-field certification and an out-of-field major or minor." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Qualifications of Public Secondary School

Abstract: "Previous studies of the qualifications of elementary and secondary school teachers have focused on whether teachers have educational backgrounds (a postsecondary major/minor or equivalent) and state certification that match the subjects they teach. If not, they are commonly considered “out-of-field.” This Issue Brief reports the combination of certifications and majors and minors to which secondary-level history students are exposed and how these qualifications vary across schools with differing levels of student poverty. Data from the NCES 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) teacher and school questionnaires indicate that students in the lowest poverty schools were the least likely to have a teacher with both an out-of-field certification and an out-of-field major or minor." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Risk Taking and Gender in Hierarchies

Abstract: "If promotion in a hierarchy is based on a random signal of ability, rates of promotion are affected by risk-taking. Further, the statistical properties of the surviving populations of risk-takers and non-risk-takers will be different, and will be changing throughout the hierarchy. I define promotion hierarchies with and without memory, where memory means that promotion depends on the entire history of success. In both types of hierarchies, surviving risk-takers have lower average ability than surviving non risk-takers at any stage where they have a higher probability of survival. However, that will not apply in the limit. With a common set of promotion standards, risk-takers will survive with lower probability than non risk-takers, and will have higher average ability. I give several interpretations for how these theorems relate to affirmative action, in light of considerable evidence that males are more risk-taking than females." Source: Economics Department, University of California, Berkeley, Working Paper

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Transcultural Battlefield: Recent Japanese Translations of Philippine History

Abstract: "This essay discusses the transnational tensions that emerged in recent Japanese translations of studies of Philippine history. It focuses on an anthology of eight essays written by historians Reynaldo C. Ileto, Vicente L. Rafael and Floro L. Quibuyen, as well as on the Japanese edition of Reynaldo C. Ileto’s seminal text, Pasyon and Revolution: Popular Movements in the Philippines, 1840-1910. By reflecting on the process of translating the works of Filipino scholars into a Japanese context, this essay shows how translation becomes a kind of transcultural intellectual battlefield, revealing the different stakes of Filipino and Japanese writers in their approach to Philippine history." Source: UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies

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Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah: The Current Conflict

"This report analyzes the current conflict between Israel and two U.S. State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), the Lebanese Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah and the radical Palestinian Hamas organization. On July 12, 2006, what had been a localized conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip instantly became a regional conflagration after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a surprise attack along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Israel has responded by carrying out air strikes against suspected Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, and Hezbollah has countered with rocket attacks against cities and towns in northern Israel. Fighting on the ground has also started. Meanwhile, Israeli clashes with Hamas and other Palestinian militants have continued unabated in the Gaza Strip." Source: Congressional Research Service

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Earnings Inequality and Market Work in Husband-Wife Families

Abstract: Constructing pseudo-panel data from successive Current Population Surveys, this paper analyzes earnings inequality in husband and wife families over the life cycle and over time. Particular attention is devoted to the role of labor supply in influencing measures of earnings inequality. Compact and accurate descriptions of earnings inequality are derived that facilitate the analysis of the effect of the changing market employment of wives on earnings inequality. The growing propensity of married women to work for pay has mitigated the increase in family earnings inequality. Alternative measures of earnings inequality covering people with different degrees of attachment to the labor market are constructed. Inferences about the extent and changes in earnings inequality are sensitive to alternative labor supply definitions especially in the case of wives. Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

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The Patriot Act and Civil Liberties: A Closer Look

“This paper examines the provisions of the Patriot Act which were designed to increase information sharing between intelligence and law enforcement agencies underscores the implications of their broader investigative scope with respect to our nation’s civil liberties and provides recommendations to improve future versions of this legislation. The following analysis maintains that the Patriot Act, with respect to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), designed to improve and increase information sharing between intelligence and law enforcement agencies, goes too far in its reach and includes unnecessary provisions. It is another example of legislative overcompensation enacted in a time of crisis similar to those of the 1950’s anti-Communist era and the 1960’s civil rights movement. The Patriot Act’s broader investigative scope invades our nation’s civil liberties and once again unsettles the delicate balance between our nation’s strategy on domestic security and the civil liberties that we as a nation and people protect and embrace.” Source: U.S. Army War College

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Health Service Delivery in China: A Literature Review

Summary: The authors report the results of a review of the Chinese-language and English-language literatures on service delivery in China, asking how well China's health care providers perform, what determines their performance, and how the government can improve it. They find current performance leaves room for improvement in terms of quality, responsiveness to patients, efficiency, cost escalation, and equity. The literature suggests that these problems will not be solved by simply shifting ownership to the private sector, or by simply encouraging providers-public and private-to compete with one another for individual patients. In contrast, substantial improvements could be (and in some places have already been) made by changing the way providers are paid-shifting away from fee-for-service and the distorted price schedule toward prospective payments. Active purchasing by insurers could further improve outcomes. Source: World Bank

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Americans and Their Cars: Is the Romance on the Skids?

"Any nation with more passenger vehicles than licensed drivers has a pretty serious love affair with the automobile. But the romance seems to be cooling off a bit -- a casualty of its own intensity.

Today 69% of American drivers say they like to drive, down from 79% in a 1991 Gallup survey. And just 23% say they consider their car "something special -- more than just a way to get around," barely half of the 43% who felt this way in 1991." Source: Pew Research Center

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Americans' Support for Israel Unchanged by Recent Hostilities

"Israel's offensive into Lebanon has not resulted in a public opinion backlash in the U.S. so far. A new Pew poll conducted July 6-19 finds little change in public sympathy for Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians. A 44%-plurality of U.S. adults say they sympathize more with Israel, while 9% sympathize with the Palestinians, figures that have remained largely unchanged in polls taken since late 2001. One in five (20%) say they sympathize with neither side, while a similar number (22%) say they don't know with whom to sympathize." Source: Pew Research Center

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity

Abstract: Childhood obesity around the world, and particularly in the United States, is an escalating problem that is especially detrimental as its effects carry on into adulthood. In this paper we employ the 1979 Child-Young Adult National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to estimate the effects of fast-food restaurant advertising on children and adolescents being overweight. The advertising measure used is the number of hours of spot television fast-food restaurant advertising messages seen per week. Our results indicate that a ban on these advertisements would reduce the number of overweight children ages 3-11 in a fixed population by 10 percent and would reduce the number of overweight adolescents ages 12-18 by 12 percent. The elimination of the tax deductibility of this type of advertising would produce smaller declines of between 3 and 5 percent in these outcomes but would impose lower costs on children and adults who consume fast food in moderation because positive information about restaurants that supply this type of food would not be banned completely from television. Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

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