Thursday, November 30, 2006

Migration as a Matter of Time: Reasons for Migration and its Meaning for Children and Youth

Abstract: "Studies of immigrant children and youth rely upon limited temporal and spatial frameworks of analysis. These narrow frames present a fragmented view of children’s immigrant experience that is limited to life after arrival in the U.S. and to their experiences within schools. These frames also assume an unproblematic journey of migration and ignore what children experience prior to migration. Using transnational literature about immigrant families and motherhood as well as fictional work, I demonstrate the weaknesses of these narrow frames, and argue that in order to understand the complexities of immigrant children’s lives, analysis of the process of migration must include a consideration of their lives beyond the school and their experiences before they physically make the move." Source: Institute for the Study of Social Change. U.C. Berkeley, ISSC Fellows Working Papers. Paper ISSC_WP_17.

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"But I Want That One": Consumer Citizenship and the Politics of Exclusion, Public Space and Homelessness in the Gay Ghetto

Abstract: "In this paper I will first describe how commodities are ‘promiscuously’ displayed by homeless queer youth in San Francisco in their attempts to pass as not only normal, but affluent. I will argue that when a youth successfully displays the signs of these commodities, they become part of a prosthetic shield that wraps around him or her. These shields protect homeless queer youth from the status degradation inherent in being classified as homeless. Thereby, homeless queer youth use the sign of the commodity to prevent being continually marked by spoiled identities. Their struggles reveal contradictions in the differential allocation of citizenship in which those who pass as ‘normal’ are granted the right to consume public space unmolested. I will conclude by suggesting that there has been a primarily unobserved convergence of neoliberal social policies within both San Francisco and gay politics detrimental to poor and otherwise marginal people." Source: Institute for the Study of Social Change. U.C. Berkeley, ISSC Fellows Working Papers. Paper ISSC_WP_16.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Trends in the Use of School Choice

"Opportunities for school choice in the United States have expanded since the 1990s. This report uses data from the National Household Surveys Program (NHES) to present trends that focus on the use of and users of public schools (assigned and chosen), private schools (church- and non church-related), and homeschoolers between 1993 and 2003. The percentage of students enrolled in their assigned public school decreased from 80 percent to 74 percent between 1993 and 2003, while this decrease was nearly offset by an increase in chosen public school enrollment from 11 to 15 percent between 1993 and 2003. During this same time period, enrollment in church-related private schools remained stable at 8 percent and enrollment in non church-related private schools increased from 1.6 to 2.4 percent. This report also presents data on parental perceptions of public school choice availability and associations between the public and private school types children were enrolled in and parental satisfaction with and involvement in the schools. About one-half of all students have parents who reported that public school choice was available in their community, with one-quarter of students attending assigned public schools having parents who considered enrolling them in a school other than the one they were currently attending, while 17 percent of all students and 27 percent of Black students attended a school other than their parent’s first-choice school. Generally, there were no parental involvement differences detected between students enrolled in assigned and chosen public schools. Parents of students in private schools reported more direct involvement in their children’s schools than parents of students enrolled in other types of schools." Source: National Center for Education Statistics.

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Reforming Teacher Education : Something Old Something New

"Teacher education has been subject to both scathing criticism and innumerable efforts designed to reform it or to save it from being dismantled. One of the latest and most well funded efforts aimed at teacher education reform is boldly titled Teachers for a New Era (TNE). Eleven colleges and universities of various types nationwide were selected to participate in TNE. The TNE initiative emphasizes evidence-based decisionmaking, close collaboration between education and arts and sciences faculty, and teaching as an academically taught clinical-practice profession. The RAND Corporation and the Manpower Research Demonstration Corporation followed and evaluated the TNE initiative from October 2002 to September 2005, conducting on-site interviews with TNE grantees. The authors place TNE in the larger context of teacher education reform and critically examine the process by which reform will result in highly qualified teachers capable of producing improvements in student learning. They also examine TNE’s contributions to the grantee institutions’ teacher education programs and organizational culture and assess the sustainability of TNE beyond the life of the grant." Source: RAND

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Monday, November 27, 2006

The Information Economy Report 2006

"Broadband in the business world in developed countries has become a common utlility. But broadband availability is still very poor in developing countries, says the Information Economy Report 2006 released today. This is but one example of how information and telecommunication technologies are widening the digital divide."

"The Development Perspective provides unique data on the adoption of ICT by enterprises in developing countries. It also explores ICT policy options in a developing-country context and proposes a framework for national ICT policy reviews and for the design and assessment of pro-poor e-strategies.

The Report´s analysis of trends in core ICT indicators such as the use of Internet and mobile phone, as well as the role of broadband in promoting the information economy, concludes that the diffusion of ICT in developing countries still needs government intervention in areas where private providers might be discouraged to go because of costs associated to geographic hurdles or the absence of a critical mass of customers. Other conclusions are that broadband is key to developing an information economy, and that industrial and trade policies in ICT-producing developing countries should support the creation of business opportunities in ICT-related industries. UNCTAD´s research on measuring the impact of ICTs on GDP in developing countries reveals a positive contribution even in poorer countries. But countries that already have a certain level of ICT uptake seem to benefit most from the new technologies. " Source: United Nations

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Rumsfeld war crimes complaint [CCR]

"War crimes complaint against former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top US officials and advisors filed with the German Federal Prosecutor on behalf of eleven former Abu Ghraib detainees and one Guantanamo detainee all claiming to have been victims of US torture, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and others, November 14, 2006. Read the full text of the complaint in German:"

pdf documents : part 1 | part 2

English Translation from The Center for Constitutional rights

Source: Jurist

Seeking Science in Cyberspace

A Pew Internet/Exploratorium project finds wide use of the internet by science seekers

"Forty million Americans use the internet as their primary source of news and information about science and 87% of online users have at one time used the internet to carry out research on a scientific topic or concept.

As a primary source for science information, the internet is second only to television among the general population. For Americans with high-speed internet connections at home, the internet is as popular as TV for news and information about science. And for young adults with high-speed connections at home, the internet is the most popular source for science news and information by a 44% to 32% margin over television." Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project and The Exploratorium

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Pew Report : Podcast Downloading

Some 12% of internet users say they have downloaded a podcast so they can listen to it or view it at a later time. However, few internet users are downloading podcasts with great frequency; just 1% report downloading a podcast on a typical day.

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

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Election Night 2006 :An Evening in the Life of the American Media

For the blogosphere, a fairly smooth election night made things something of a disappointment. For top newspaper Web sites, finding the balance between speed and offering a rich narrative still has to be reconciled. For television, slow results and a lack of prepared material tilted coverage toward chatter, especially for the cable networks.

Perhaps the destinations best suited to Election Night 2006 were the Web sites of TV news operations, plus one aggregator. They offered a combination of quick access to results plus the ability of users—largely through access to exit poll data or Associated Press material—to plumb a wealth of statistical information on their own.

These conclusions—plus five lessons about the media—are among the findings of a widespread review of media outlets on Election Night 2006. Source: Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism

Download PDF Report | Link to online article : you ask. philosophers answer.

Created by Alexander George, chair of philosophy at Amherst College and staffed by a panel of philosophy professors, the site is aimed at the general public rather than fellow academics. You can browse through the questions and answers by topic or look at all the submissions from a particular panelist. An interesting mix of public discussion and academic expertise.

Link to site

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Academic Pathways, Preparation, and Performance

A Descriptive Overview of the Transcripts from the High School Graduating Class of 2003-04

"This report uses transcript data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) to provide nationally representative information about the level of academic preparation the high school graduating class of 2003-04 had when leaving high school. The report supplies a brief examination of the coursetaking patterns of 2003-04 graduates, with a focus on their participation in mathematics, science, and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses. Additionally, the report links these coursetaking patterns with test achievement in mathematics, grade point average, and expectations for future educational attainment. Major findings in the report are that: the high school graduating class of 2003-04 earned an average of 25.8 course credits (measured in Carnegie units), 19.0 in academic subjects. Overall, about 30 percent of the class earned at least a credit in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses. Among the graduates, 5 percent got no further than basic math or pre-algebra courses, 45 percent completed at least algebra I or II, 36 percent completed at least one trigonometry, statistics, or precalculus course, and 14 percent calculus, as their highest level mathematics in high school. Ninety one percent of graduates who completed an academic curriculum and 46 percent of students who completed an occupational curriculum demonstrated mastery at proficiency level 3 on the ELS:2002 12th grade mathematics assessment, which is simple problem-solving, requiring low-level mathematical concepts." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Opportunity in a Democratic Society: Race and Economic Status in Higher Education

In July 1995, the University of California\'s Board of Regents voted to ban consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions and employment—a ban that was extended to all state agencies when the voters of California approved Proposition 209 in November 1996. This paper discusses the national controversy over affirmative action and analyzes the experience of the University of California as a case study in how an elite public university responded to the end of nearly three decades of affirmative action. It concludes that profound social and demographic change in American society since the 1960s, especially the growth of income inequality, requires a rethinking of affirmative action, and of how the goal of diversity can be achieved in elite public universities. Source: Center for Studies in Higher Education. U.C. Berkeley

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Experiencing Imminence: The Presence of Hope in a Movement for Equitable Schooling

Critical scholarship on reform-oriented interventions has emphasized the normalizing, capitalist power of reformist discourses, institutions and technologies. Whereas care is often taken to account for the agency of reform’s subaltern targets, scant research has attended to the subjective experiences of implicated reformers. This paper examines the ascent of a movement for small, equitable schools in Oakland, California in order to explore the hopes and aspirations of its most ardent advocates. I begin by contrasting the movement’s assertion of its equity-centered strategy with the complex race and class hierarchies that grounded power relations within the movement. The question that emerges from this discontinuity is how reformers come to experience the movement as equitable and unequivocally progressive. I find that the gap between reformers’ ideals and their material circumstances is bridged by the movement’s ample production of hope. Source: Institute for the Study of Social Change. ISSC Fellows Working Papers. Paper ISSC_WP_11. U.C. Berkeley

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Decade of Rising Poverty in Urban China: Who Are More Likely to Fall Under?

This paper focuses on a small portion of the overall picture of rising inequality in China; the emerging trend and underlying patterns of poverty in Chinese cities. We ask and then attempt to answer the question of "who are more likely to fall under the poverty line." By examining the prevalence of poverty and especially the characteristics of those who fall within this group, we intend to gain some insights about the capabilities of those falling into the poor category, and about the durability of inequality. Falling under the lowest end of income distribution itself is significant, but the characteristics of those who fall into the poor category provide useful hints about the production and the reproduction of poverty. Source: Center for the Study of Democracy U.C. Irvine. [via eScholarship Repository]

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Islamist Movements in the Arab World and the 2006 Lebanon War

Recent electoral successes by Islamist parties throughout the Arab world have shown those movements to be viable political opposition to many undemocratic regimes. Most analyses examine those movements only within their individual domestic political environments. Yet equally important is the impact of broader, regional issues on domestic politics and the resulting tensions with ruling regimes. The 2006 Lebanon War was such an issue and one that had a profound impact on Islamist political movements, testing their respect for pluralism and tolerance, and reframing their relations with their own domestic leadership.

In a this Carnegie paper, Islamist Movements in the Arab World and the 2006 Lebanon War, Amr Hamzawy and Dina Bishara examine the reaction of two Islamist movements – the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Jordanian Islamic Action Front (IAF) – to the War and its impact on domestic politics in Egypt and Jordan respectively. The authors find that these Islamist movements framed the war within an ideological reading of the Arab-Israeli conflict as an existential struggle between Muslims and Jews, increasing the widespread anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment among their popular bases.

The authors also observe that the reaction of the Islamist movements further polarized the domestic scene in Egypt and Jordan and compromised the potential for consensual politics. Vehement criticism of official government policy by these Islamist movements may have resulted in a new escalation of conflict with these ruling regimes. Source: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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Employers’ Views On Incremental Measures To Expand Health Coverage

"This paper examines employers’ views on the importance of health benefits and their perspective on policies aimed at expanding health coverage, reducing administrative expenses, and improving the quality of care. Employers of all sizes hold a positive view of the value of health benefits in attracting and retaining workers and in improving workers’ health and productivity. Small employers support strategies that would make coverage more affordable; large employers support policies that reduce administrative costs and improve quality. Both support policies that would require additional administrative action as opposed to greater financial commitment on the part of firms in expanding coverage." Source: Health Affairs [via The Commonwealth Fund]

Link to PDF publication
| link to online abstract

Election '06: Big Changes in Some Key Groups

"Post-mortems on the election have rightly focused on a few big themes: the impact of the war, opinions about President Bush, and the strong Democratic performance among moderates and independents. But the shifting allegiance of some other important voter groups has gotten relatively less attention. One of the biggest stories is about young people. Another is what really happened to "The God Gap." And a third is about the one-fifth of voters who aren't white. " Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

Link to online report

Public Cheers Democratic Victory

The Democrats' big win on Nov. 7 has gotten a highly favorable response from the public. In fact, initial reactions to the Democratic victory are as positive as they were to the GOP's electoral sweep of Congress a dozen years ago. Six-in-ten Americans say they are happy that the Democratic Party won control of Congress; in December 1994, roughly the same percentage (57%) expressed a positive opinion of the GOP's takeover.

Half of Americans approve of the Democrats' plans and policies for the future, which also is comparable to approval of the GOP's proposed agenda in 1994. However, there is one important area where the parallels to 1994 do not hold: By 51%-29%, more Americans want Democratic leaders ­ rather than President Bush ­ to take the lead in solving the nation's problems. Twelve years ago, the public was divided over whether GOP congressional leaders (43%), or President Clinton (39%), should take the lead in addressing national problems. Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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Waiting for Work: An Ethnography of a Day Labor Agency

"This paper addresses the shifting temporal dimensions of work brought about by the flexibilization of employment. Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork in a corporate day labor agency located in a West Coast city, I examine the way in which uncertainty is both produced and experienced in an effort to analyze the mode of domination captured by Bourdieu’s concept of “flexploitation.” Specifically, I examine the organization of the hiring and job allocation process, workers’ experience and understanding of this temporally uncertain employment relationship, and the way in which management manipulates this temporal experience as a technique of labor control. I argue that the enforced waiting period that is endemic in this industry is not only a strategy of externalizing risk (through “time funneling”) but of manufacturing a reserve army of labor that is highly disciplined." Institute for the Study of Social Change. ISSC Fellows Working Papers. Paper ISSC_WP_15.

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"The Procedural Attack on Civil Rights: The Empirical Reality of Buckhannon for the Private Attorney General"

In 2001, in Buckhannon Board & Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the Supreme Court rejected the catalyst theory for recovery of attorneys’ fees in civil rights enforcement actions. In doing so, the Court dismissed concerns that plaintiffs with meritorious but expensive claims would be discouraged from bringing suit, finding these concerns “entirely speculative and unsupported by any empirical evidence.” This article presents original data from a national survey of more than 200 public interest organizations that call into question the Court’s empirical assumptions. These data indicate that organizations that take on
paradigmatic public interest cases, such as class actions seeking injunctive relief against government actors, are the most likely to be negatively affected by Buckhannon. In addition, our respondents report that Buckhannon encourages “strategic capitulation,” makes settlement more difficult, and discourages attorneys from representing civil rights plaintiffs. We argue that these far reaching effects herald a shift away from private rights enforcement and toward more government power, both to resist rights claims and to control the meaning of civil rights.

Catherine R. Albiston and Laura Beth Nielsen (CASBS fellow 2006), Center for the Study of Law and Society Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program. JSP/Center for the Study of Law and Society Faculty Working Papers. Paper 45.

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The Internationalization of Public Interest Law

"This Article is an account of profound changes in the organization and practice of public interest law that have emerged over the past 25 years against the backdrop of globalization. Its central claim is that as the United States has become more globally interdependent, the institutional context of public interest law has been transformed, elevating transnational mobility as a basic feature of legal practice. The Article specifically examines three vectors of global change that have reshaped the terrain of US public interest law: the increasing magnitude and scope of undocumented immigration; the growth of free trade and its governing institutions; and the heightened political influence of human rights. It suggests that each of these trends has contributed to important institutional revisions within the US public interest system: the rise of immigrant rights as a distinctive category of public interest practice; the emergence of transnational advocacy as a response to the impact of US economic policy abroad; and the movement to promote domestic human rights, both as a way to resist the deregulatory thrust of market integration at home and to defend civil rights and civil liberties in the face of domestic conservatism and the War on Terror. After mapping the institutional scope and density of these changes, the Article appraises their influence on the goals public interest lawyers pursue, the tactics they deploy, and the professional roles they assume in the modern era." Source: UCLA School of Law. UCLA Public Law Series

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Placing College Graduation Rates in Context: How 4-Year College Graduation Rates Vary With Selectivity and the Size of Low-Income Enrollment

"This report uses data primarily from the 2004 Graduation Rate Survey (GRS), a component of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), to provide a systemwide overview of how graduation rates of comparable 4-year institutions vary with institution selectivity and the size of the low-income population enrolled. The report clearly shows that graduation rates dropped systematically as the proportion of low-income students increased, even within the same Carnegie classification and selectivity levels. Variations by gender and race/ethnicity also were evident. Women graduated at higher rates than men, and in general, as the proportion of low-income students increased, so did the gap between female and male graduation rates. The gap in graduation rates between White and Black students and between White and Hispanic students, on the other hand, typically narrowed as the as the proportion of low-income students increased." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Academic Libraries

"The selected findings and tables in this report, based on the 2004 Academic Libraries Survey, summarize services, staff, collections, and expenditures of academic libraries in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report includes a number of key findings: During fiscal year (FY) 2004, there were 155.1 million circulation transactions from academic libraries’ general collection. During a typical week in the fall of 2004, 1.4 million academic library reference transactions were conducted, including computer searches. The nation’s 3,700 academic libraries held 982.6 million books; serial backfiles; and other paper materials, including government documents at the end of FY 2004. Academic libraries spent $2.2 billion on information resources during FY 2004." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Monday, November 13, 2006

The Role of Noncognitive Skills in Explaining Cognitive Test Scores

“This paper examines whether noncognitive skills – measured both by personality traits and economic preference parameters – influence cognitive tests performance. The basic idea is that noncognitive skills might affect the effort people put into a test to obtain good results. We experimentally varied the rewards for questions in a cognitive test to measure to what extent people are sensitive to financial incentives. To distinguish increased mental effort from extra time investments we also varied the questions’ time constraints. Subjects with favorable personality traits such as high performance-motivation and an internal locus of control perform relatively well in the absence of rewards; consistent with a model in which trying as hard as you can is the best strategy. In contrast, favorable economic preference parameters (low discount rate, low risk aversion) are associated with increases in time investments when incentives are introduced, consistent with a rational economic model in which people only invest when there are monetary returns. The main conclusion is that individual behavior at cognitive tests depends on noncognitive skills.” Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

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Obligations of Privilege

"Little attention is paid to the nature of the high incomes of the rich nor to legal or norm-based obligations the rich owe society. This popular and scholarly inattention reflects the general acceptance of the idea that the rich have earned their high incomes and owe society little. By looking at income equations revealing society's role in high incomes and the obligations of the rich, the Article urges a strengthening of the obligations of the rich and rejects the argument that the legal community ought not consider the moral demands associated with high incomes.Source: New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 31, 2007 Available at SSRN:

The Robert Gates File

"The Iran-Contra Scandal, 1991 Confirmation Hearings, and Excerpts from new book Safe for Democracy"

"A career intelligence officer, Robert M. Gates has emphasized the number of presidents he served and the long sweep of history he witnessed. The sixty-three year old Gates indeed worked under every U.S. president from Richard M. Nixon to George Herbert Walker Bush, and has now been nominated by the second President Bush as secretary of defense. His resume includes some key periods in contemporary history, serving in a White House role as Deputy National Security Adviser during the first Gulf War, leading the U.S. intelligence community in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, being implicated in the Iran-Contra affair, taking an active role in directing CIA intelligence analysis during the Reagan administration, fulfilling assignment as a staff aide to National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski during the Carter administration, working on U.S. national intelligence estimates on the Soviet Union, and playing a peripheral role in nuclear arms limitation talks during their early years. Gates holds a PhD from Georgetown University, graduated from the University of Indiana, and was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. His only direct military experience was as a young officer in the United States Air Force, where he worked primarily as an intelligence analyst, including for the Minuteman ICBM missile wing stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri." Source: National Security Archives.

Link to site

New enrollment of foreign students in the U.S. climbs in 2005/06

"In 2005/06, the number of international students enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions remained steady at 564,766, within a fraction of a percent of the previous year's totals, according to Open Doors 2006, the annual report on international academic mobility published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This marks the seventh year in a row that America has hosted more than half a million foreign students, with a peak of 586,323 three years ago followed by declines of 2.4% and 1.3% in the past two years. The new Open Doors report shows total international student enrollments that are virtually flat compared to the previous year, along with a rise in new international enrollments for 2005/06, suggesting that international enrollments have stabilized and are poised to rebound." Source: Institute of international education.

Link to more information and data tables

Alliance of Civilizations

"To advance the Alliance of Civilizations, the UN Secretary-General established a High-level Group of eminent personalities and tasked this Group with generating a report containing an analysis of the rise in cross-cultural polarization and extremism and a set of practical recommendations to counter this phenomenon. The High-level Group met five times from November 2005 to November 2006, at the conclusion of which it produced a report which takes a multi-polar approach within which it prioritizes relations between Muslim and Western societies.

The report is structured in two parts: Part I presents an analysis of the global context and of the state of relations between Muslim and Western societies. It concludes with a set of policy recommendations, indicating the High-level Group's belief that certain political steps are pre-requisites to any substantial and lasting improvement in relations between Muslim and Western societies. Part II of the report reflects the High-level Group's view that tensions across cultures have spread beyond the political level into the hearts and minds of populations. To counter this trend, the Group analyzes and presents recommendations in each of four thematic areas: Education, Youth, Migration, and Media. The Report concludes with the High-level Group's suggestions for the implementation of its recommendations.

The Report of the High-level Group was presented to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to Prime Ministers José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 13 November 2006 at the final meeting of the High-level Group in Istanbul, Turkey." Source: United Nations

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Scholarpedia, the free peer reviewed encyclopedia written by scholars from all around the world.

"Welcome to Scholarpedia, the free peer reviewed encyclopedia written by scholars from all around the world.

Scholarpedia feels and looks like Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Indeed, both are powered by the same program - MediaWiki. Both allow visitors to review and modify articles simply by clicking on the edit this article link.

However, Scholarpedia differs from Wikipedia in some very important ways:

  • Each article is written by an expert (invited or elected by the public).
  • Each article is anonymously peer reviewed to ensure accurate and reliable information.
  • Each article has a curator - typically its author -- who is responsible for its content.
  • Any modification of the article needs to be approved by the curator before it appears in the final, approved version.

Herein also lies the greatest differences between Scholarpedia and traditional print media: while the initial authorship and review processes are similar to a print journal, articles in Scholarpedia are not frozen and outdated, but dynamic, subject to an ongoing process of improvement moderated by their curators. This allows Scholarpedia to be up-to-date, yet maintain the highest quality of content."

Scholarpedia seems to be currently focused on three main documents: Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience, Encyclopedia of Dynamical Systems and Encyclopedia of Computational Intelligence.

Link to Scholarpedia

RAND Voices of Jihad Database

This online database is a compilation of speeches, interviews, statements, and publications of jihadist leaders, foot soldiers, and sympathizers. Nearly all content is in English translation, and has been collected from publicly-accessible websites. Original links are provided, along with excerpts and full-text content when available. Source: RAND Corp

Link to online database (searchable)

Covert Action: Legislative Background and Possible Policy Questions

Published reports have suggested that in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Pentagon has expanded its counter-terrorism intelligence activities as part of the global war on terror. Some observers have asserted that the Department of Defense (DOD) may be conducting certain kinds of counterterrorism intelligence activities that would statutorily qualify as "covert actions," and thus require a presidential finding and the notification of the congressional intelligence committees. Defense officials assert that none of DOD's current counter-terrorist intelligence activities constitute covert action as defined under the law, and therefore, do not require a presidential finding and the notification of the intelligence committees. Some of these DOD's activities have been variously described publicly as efforts to collect intelligence on terrorists that will aid in planning counter-terrorism missions; to prepare for potential missions to disrupt, capture or kill them; and to help local militaries conduct counter-terrorism missions of their own. Senior U.S. intelligence community officials have conceded that the line separating CIA and DOD intelligence activities has blurred, making it more difficult to distinguish between the traditional secret intelligence missions carried out by each. In some of their public comments, however, these officials have not specifically addressed the issue of whether Pentagon counter-terrorist activities meet the legal definition of covert actions. This report examines the statutory procedures governing covert action and associated questions to consider. This report will be updated as warranted. Source: Congressional Research Service

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Immigrant and Migrant Farm Workers in the Santa Maria Valley, California

Immigrant and migrant farm workers from Mexico and other countries are large and growing in number and in importance to U.S. agriculture, but they often are not counted in the decennial census due to high mobility, illegal status, and/or unconventional housing. This report is based on ethnographic research conducted in California's Santa Maria Valley, an active agricultural area rich in labor-intensive cultivation of prime vegetable and fruit crops. Calculations of crop acreage, man-hours of labor required for each crop, and full- and part-time agricultural employees are verified and augmented by information gained from comprehensive interviews with immigrant and migrant agricultural workers concerning their migratory and employment histories, housing arrangements, and relationships to Mexican communities.

The report concludes that routine census procedures can only result in a significant under-reporting of numbers of immigrant and, particularly, migrant farm workers in Santa Maria and, by extension, in other regions of the country which rely heavily upon imported labor; that many immigrant and migrant farmworkers have good reason to fear exposure to government representatives and thus will attempt to remain hidden from them; and that lack of adequate housing contributes to difficulties in locating and enumerating this population. The most important step toward resolution of these problems and many related issues would be reform of U.S. immigration policy which would recognize, legalize, and protect imported migrant workers. Absent such enlightenment, however, more accurate enumeration and description of this population can be accomplished if bilingual and bicultural census workers are trained to patiently and repeatedly approach their households and unconventional dwellings using ethnographic research methods. Under current conditions, this will require a radical redefinition of the terms "residence" and "household" in the context of the census. And, although the timing of the national census is not ideal for identification of the largest number of migrant farm workers, follow-up studies should be performed at peak employment periods. Such surveys, thoroughly performed, would yield rich rewards in information about the farm-working population as well as provide an essential cross-check to standard census data. Source: Center for Chicano Studies. U.C. Santa Barbara

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The Election Pundits...Who Got Closest?

With each election cycle come more websites and more political predictions. With a Democratic surge apparent, and more competitive contests this year, the race for prognostications was even more intense than usual. Who fared best in the 2006 midterm elections?

Perhaps Larry Sabato really does have a crystal ball, which happens to be the name of his website. While there are still a few extremely close House races to be resolved, the Nov. 7 results reveal the University of Virginia political science professor probably came closer than any other of the 10 top political predictors this cycle.

Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism

Link to site

Friday, November 03, 2006

North Korea's Nuclear Test: Motivations, Implications, and U.S. Options

"On October 9, 2006, North Korea announced it conducted a nuclear test. After several days of evaluation, U.S. authorities confirmed that the underground explosion was nuclear, but that the test produced a low yield of less than one kiloton. As the United Nations Security Council met and approved a resolution condemning the tests and calling for punitive sanctions, North Korea remained defiant, insisting that any increased pressure on the regime would be regarded as an act of war. China and South Korea, the top aid providers to and trade partners with the North, supported the resolution, but uncertainty remains as to whether the two countries will strictly enforce the sanctions and/or cut off other economic cooperation and aid considered crucial to the regime. The sanction regime depends heavily on individual states' compliance with the guidelines. Economists argue that the only definitively effective punishment on North Korea would be the suspension of energy aid from China, which reportedly supplies about 70% of North Korea's fuel. Determining the motivations of a government as opaque and secretive as North Korea is exceedingly difficult, but analysts have put forth a range of possibilities to explain why the Pyongyang regime decided to test a nuclear weapon. Possible motivations include an attempt to engage the United States in bilateral talks, to ensure the security of the regime, and to satisfy hard-line elements within the Pyongyang government, as well as technical motivations for carrying out a nuclear test." Source: Congressional Research Service

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The Complete Work of Charles Darwin

"Never before has so much Darwin material, and so many rare and widely dispersed items, been brought together in one place and made available free of charge. This site currently offers more than 50,000 pages of searchable text and 40,000 images of both publications and transcribed manuscripts. Most of the materials are available both as fully formatted electronic text and colour images of the originals. Darwin's works are also available as free machine-read audio mp3 files. The project, designed and directed by Dr John van Wyhe of Christ's College, Cambridge, is hosted by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities at the University of Cambridge. The launch marks the end of the first year of the three-year's funding awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The website also includes the largest Darwin bibliography ever produced, based on the work of R. B. Freeman, and the largest catalogue of manuscripts (with over 30,000 entries) ever published. More than 150 supplementary documents are also provided, from secondary reference works to contemporary reviews, obituaries, published descriptions of Darwin's Beagle specimens and important related works for studying and understanding Darwin and his work. Each work containing illustrations or maps is provided with an overview page of thumbnail images allowing readers to see in seconds all the illustrations which are scattered throughout hundreds of pages. The thumbnails take readers directly to the larger version of the image in its context within the original work."

Source: University of Cambridge

Link to Darwin Online Collection

Leonardo da Vinci's Animated Illustrations

The Victoria and Albert museum translated nine of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings in to mini movies as part of their major exhibit of his books.

"These animations aim to bring some of Leonardo’s visions to life

The animations have been made using various techniques: a combination of traditional drawn animations and computer-generated animations. The biggest task was to bring those two together, and try as far as possible to emulate the drawings in Leonardo’s sketchbooks."

The movies are fascinating - you can watch a human heart throb and a birds wing evolve into a human arm and then a flying machine.

Link to site

The Nexus of Democratization: Guanxi and Governance in Taiwan and the PRC

Abstract: "This paper focuses on the extent to which, and the ways in which, the rise of one specific segment of the middle class, the bourgeoisie, contributes to a push for the institution of democracy in Taiwan and China. Taiwan appears--more or less--to fit the conventional theory, which alleges a link between economic growth, the emergence of a newly monied class, and demands for democracy, while China does not. The loyalties, allegiances, and resentments of businesspeople that were the product of the aims and behaviors of these two regimes can explain the divergent outcomes. The nature of the social connections of the bourgeoisie--their guanxi--those relations with others that so famously shape social, economic and political life in these two contexts--provides the most succinct and parsimonious explanation for businesspeoples’ role in the movement toward new forms of governance in China and Taiwan. The opportunity for democratization to unfold was in past in Taiwan, and seems presently in China, to be a function of capitalists’ contacts, a matter of which contact mattered most to them as they launched and developed their firms and their ventures." Source: Center for the Study of Democracy. U.C. Irvine Paper 06-13. [via California eScholarship Repository]

Download PDF publication | Link to California eScholarship Repository

An Empirical Study of Types of Democratic Deliberation: The Limits and Potential of Citizen Participation

Abstract: "Following more than a decade of theorizing and widespread practical application, political scientists have begun empirical research on democratic deliberation. For the most part, this research has focused on individual or collective outcomes of deliberation, paying relatively little attention to the deliberative processes themselves. Here an attempt is made to study these processes themselves. First, a typology of the different ways people talk to one another is offered. Four types of discourse are defined: (1) proto-discourse, (2) conventional, (3) cooperative, and (4) collaborative. The last two types are of the kind presumed by deliberative democratic theory, with more liberal versions assuming that deliberations are cooperative and rational and more critical versions assuming that deliberation are collaborative and transformative. Research is then reported on two deliberative groups of parents who met seven times to consider improvements in the delivery of K-12 education in their area. An analysis of their deliberations indicates that their interaction was overwhelmingly conventional or proto-discursive. The participants rarely engaged one another in the way assumed by liberal democratic theory and never engaged one another in a more critical or emancipatory manner. The paper concludes with a discussion of the impact of different types of discursive interaction on the construction of democratic citizenship. At issue here is how different kinds of discourses enable participants to be different kinds of political actors in those situations." Source: Center for the Study of Democracy.U.C. Irvine Paper 06-12 [via California eScholarship Repository]

Download pdf publication | Link to California eScholarship Repository

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Seeking Health Online

"Most of the millions of Americans who turn to the web for health information are pleased by what they find - though few check the quality check of what they find"

"On a typical day some 10 million Americans now turn to the web for health information - about as many as those who pay bills online, read blogs or look up a phone number or address. At one time or another, about 80% American internet users, or some 113 million adults, have searched for information on at least one of seventeen health topics. Most start by employing a search engine and are looking for information on behalf of someone other than themselves. Most are pleased by what they find - although the great majority, about three-quarters -- do not consistently check the source and date of the health information they find online." Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project Report

Download Full Report | Read online summary

The G-Rated Job Market: Occupational Aspirations for Girls and Boys in Children's Films

"Among characters in the most popular G-rated films, there is significant
divergence between occupations held by movie characters and those held by
real people. Both male and female characters also tend to closely follow
gender stereotypes in occupations, and virtually no male characters engage
in stereotypically female work.

These conclusions are drawn from the most in-depth content analysis of
popular G-rated movies ever conducted. Researchers from the Annenberg
School for Communication at the University of Southern California (USC)
studied the 101 top-grossing G-rated films released from 1990 through
2004, analyzing a total of 4,249 speaking characters in both animated and
live-action films. “The G-Rated Job Market” is the third report in a series
drawing on this research." Source: Annenberg at USC [via seeJane]

Download PDF Report | Link to SeeJane organization

Related reports:

Where the Girls Aren't: Gender Disparity Saturates
G-Rated Films

G Movies Give Boys a D: Portraying Males as Dominant,
Disconnected and Dangerous.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How Schools Can Help Students Recover from Traumatic Experiences

A Tool Kit for Supporting Long-Term Recovery

"Many changes in students’ performance and behavior stem from their experience of, for example, witnessing violence, undergoing assault or abuse, living through natural disasters, or experiencing acts of terrorism. This tool kit describes how such changes appear in the school setting and provides a compendium of programs available to schools that help support the long-term recovery of traumatized students. The tool kit describes how to select students for such programs and possible ways to fund those programs. It compares the programs with one another according to the types of trauma they address, the problems they target, the requirements for training and implementation, and evidence for a program’s effectiveness. Finally, it gives a one-page information sheet on each selected program, summarizing the objective, intended population, and format of the program and providing details on implementation, personnel training and materials, and contact information." Source: RAND

Download full PDF Report | Link to RAND

Caring for Depression and Comorbid Pain

Evidence from the Health and Retirement Survey and the Healthcare for Communities Survey

"Depression that occurs along with painful physical symptoms has not been fully understood. Serious investigation into the interaction of depression and pain and its impact on the labor market, disability, and on financial aspects of health insurance and medication costs among Americans ages 55 to 65 is long overdue. This study found that depression and comorbid pain is associated with worse labor markets and worse financial, insurance, and disability outcomes compared to depression alone; and found that these adverse effects were attributed disproportionally to individuals whose depression included comorbid pain. Those individuals were less likely to take antidepressants, and pain comorbidity was associated with a heavier burden on total medication costs and prescription drug costs. Moreover, depression along with comorbid pain predicted early retirement for female workers, whereas depression alone did not predict early retirement for male or female workers. This study furthers the understanding of depression and pain comorbidity in terms of its prevalence in the general population and its effect on treatment and access to care." Source: RAND

Download PDF Report | Link to RAND