Thursday, December 21, 2006

Guide to public opinion poll Web sites: Polling data from around the world

Since their beginnings in the 1930s with Gallup, Roper, Harris and others, scientific polling organizations have grown dramatically in number, scope, and stature to their worldwide presence today. This compilation focuses on significant Internet sites concerning general public opinion polls, especially those providing polling results in usable formats. Like other professions dealing with public affairs, pollsters have found the Internet to be a great boon both for advertising services and for offering survey results. Professional organizations, university research centers, and data archives all use the Web to enhance access to public opinion polls. Source: College and Research Libraries News, October 2006.

Note: Most resources listed are free and open to the public but some poll databases are noted as "subscription required," many academic institutions have a paid subscription to at least one of these valuable tools.

Link to online article

Facebook as a Tool for Learning Engagement

Thoughtful blog post by Fred Stutzman provides practical advices for Faculty members interested in using facebook as a learning tool.

Link to online article

Immigration and the 2006 Elections

"The 2006 midterm elections were widely seen as a debacle for those members of Congress who campaigned against illegal immigration aiming to win the national debate on this issue and preserve Republican majorities on Capitol Hill. Instead, prospects for the sort of immigration reform favored by the President and a bipartisan coalition in the Senate are believed to have notably improved, as the leadership of both houses and all legislative committees changes hands for the 110th Congress. Mixed messages sent by candidates and leaders in both parties, however, call into question any notion that the election produced a mandate for a particular immigration policy solution." Source: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

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Education Trust : Funding Gaps 2006 Report

"Funding Gaps 2006, builds on the Education Trust’s annual studies of funding gaps among school districts within states. "

Goodwin Liu, Assistant Professor of Law at Boalt Hall School of Law and co-director of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity at the University of California at Berkeley, analyzed the distribution of Title I funds and shows that the program’s state allocation formula reinforces rather than reduces funding gaps between wealthy and poor states." Source: Education Trust

Download full PDF Report | link to press release | Download pdf Technical Appendix

New UN Chief Heads an Organization That Faces Both Skepticism and Support

"Surveys in 15 Countries Find Most Have Favorable Views of the Agency - Though Not in the Middle East

When Ban Ki-moon of South Korea placed his left hand on the Charter of the United Nations and was sworn in as its eighth Secretary General, he assumed control of an organization viewed with dramatically varying degrees of respect, skepticism and indifference by the countries of the world, according to surveys conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project." Source: Pew Research

Link to Online Report

The ball drops here: new laws for '07

"After the ball drops in Times Square, California public colleges no longer will be able to censor their student journalists, Missouri will end all limits on campaign contributions and Ohio pet owners will be able to set up trust funds for their furry and feathered friends." Source:

Link to online article

Season's greetings from the Governors

What do California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen have in common?

They both painted the images on their holiday greeting cards.

"Governors spiced up their annual greeting cards with a mix of sacred and secular themes, personalizing holiday messages with family recipes, Bible verses and even some original artwork."

View the greeting cards online at

Free Trade Agreements Get a Mixed Review

51% Say U.S. Has Responsibility to "Do Something" in Darfur

"The American public continues to have a mixed opinion about free trade agreements such as NAFTA and the WTO. On balance they are seen as a good thing for the country, but Americans are divided over the impact of free trade agreements on their own personal financial situations. About as many people think they are helped by them (35%) as believe they are hurt (36%).

Many Americans worry that free trade has had a negative effect on jobs and wages. Nearly half (48%) believe that free trade agreements lead to job losses in the U.S., while just 12% say that trade agreements have created jobs. A comparable number (44%) says that free trade has led to lower wages for American workers." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press.

Download Full Report | Link to online summary

Online Maps of War

Beautifully designed, "Maps of war" presents historical battles with short animated clips that illustrate the chronology and geography of disputes. You can see "how the geography of religion has evolved over the centuries" Viewing "5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds."

Link to site : Maps of War

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Puzzling Evolution of the Home Bias, Information Processing and Financial Openness

ABSTRACT:"This paper presents a rational expectations model of asset prices with rationally inattentive investors that, unlike previous papers, can explain both the substantial amount of equity wealth invested domestically and the puzzling time series behavior of the home bias - an initial plateau before 1985, then a decrease until 1994 followed by stabilization on another plateau. When there is a financial liberalization, investors exploit past information to predict current asset payoffs. The resulting endogenous local information advantage generates a gradual decrease of the home bias until its steady state. In the long run, the home bias remains large due to the interaction of the optimal attention allocation with the optimal portfolio choice. Using measures for information capacity, informational advantages and ?financial openness as explanatory variables, we are able to explain at least 46.8% of the variation of the home bias for 19 developed countries from 1988 until 2004. Our estimates show that both variables are significant, with home bias decreasing with financial openness and increasing with information capacity, as predicted by our model." Source: Santa Cruz Center for International Economics.

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| Link to eScholarship Repository

Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Report into the allegation of conspiracy to murder Diana, Princess of Wales..."

"...documents the findings of the criminal investigation into an
allegation made by Mohamed Al Fayed of conspiracy to murder the Princess of Wales
and his son Dodi Al Fayed." Source: TimesOnline

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| Download PDF Summary

Israel targeted killings ruling

The Public Committee against Torture in Israel et al. v. The Government of Israel et al., The Supreme Court of Israel Sitting as the High Court of Justice, December 14, 2006 [ruling that not all Israeli targeted killings of Palestinian militants are prohibited by international law]. via the Jurist

Link to full text of Ruling

Public to '08 Contenders - It's Too Early

"Politicians and political reporters are scrambling to book flights for New Hampshire and other presidential primary states, but the public is far from engaged in the jockeying for 2008. About a quarter of Americans (23%) say they have given a lot of thought to candidates who may be running for president, while another 36% say they have given some thought to the candidates.

Even most Americans who have given some thought to the 2008 candidates could not actually name one they have considered supporting. Nearly three-quarters (74%) could not name a Republican whom they have thought most about possibly voting for; when asked the same question about Democratic candidates, 61% did not name a candidate." Source: Pew Center for People and the Press.

Download full PDF repor
t| Download Topline Questionnaire | Link to online summary

The Christmas Wars: Religion in the American Public Square

"Every year as the holiday season gets underway, debates break out across the country over the appropriateness of religious displays in public spaces, such as crèches and menorahs placed in town halls. But the so-called "Christmas wars" are only a small part of a much larger debate concerning the proper place of religion in public life, a debate that began at the nation's founding. How did America's founders view religion and its role in our country's development? And how does the debate over church and state continue to inform politics today?

The Pew Forum invited Jon Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek and author of American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation, and Michael Novak, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Washington's God: Religion, Liberty and the Father of Our Country, to shed light on these questions.

Jon E. Meacham, Managing Editor, Newsweek

Michael Novak, George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy and Public Policy, American Enterprise Institute

Luis Lugo, Director, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life"

Link to full online transcript of event

Internet Users In Search of a Home

"The number of Americans who have looked online for information about a place to live has doubled since 2000

"The number of internet users who go online to look for information about a place to live has grown steadily over the past six years. Now, nearly two in five adult internet users in the U.S. (39%) have done this, up from 34% in 2004 and 27% in 2000.

This means that overall, more than a quarter of all adults in the U.S. (27%) have looked online for information about housing, double the overall number of Americans who had done so in 2000 (13%).

Also, more than half (51%) of the youngest adult internet users, 18 to 29 years old, have searched online for housing information. This compares with 43% of internet users 30-to-49 years old; 27% of internet users ages 50 to 64; and 15% of internet users ages 65 and older.

Perhaps reflecting their transient stage of life as well as their remarkably intensive use of the internet, 9% of online Americans ages 18 to 29 reported in August that they looked for housing information on a typical day, more than double the percentage (4%) in this age group who said the same thing two years earlier." Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

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| Link to online summary

Party Influence in Congress and the Economy

"To understand the extent to which partisan majorities in Congress influence economic policy, we compare financial market responses in recent midterm elections to Presidential elections. We use prediction markets tracking election outcomes as a means of precisely timing and calibrating the arrival of news, allowing substantially more precise estimates than a traditional event study methodology. We find that equity values, oil prices, and Treasury yields are slightly higher with Republican majorities in Congress, and that a switch in the majority party in a chamber of Congress has an impact that is only 10-30 percent of that of the Presidency. We also find evidence inconsistent with the popular view that divided government is better for equities, finding instead that equity valuations increase monotonically, albeit slightly, with the degree of Republican control." Source: Zitzewitz faculty page at Stanford

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Partisan Impacts on the Economy: Evidence From Prediction Markets and Close Elections,

Abstract: "Political economists interested in discerning the effects of election outcomes on the economy have been hampered by the problem that the economy also influences elections. We sidestep these problems by analyzing movements in economic indicators caused by clearly exogenous changes in expectations about the likely winner during Election Day. Analyzing financial fluctuations on November 2 and 3 in 2004, we find that markets anticipated higher equity prices, interest rates and
oil prices and a stronger dollar under a Bush presidency than under Kerry. We also found a similar pattern holds for the 2000 Bush-Gore contest. Prediction market based analyses of elections from 1880 to 2000 also suggest that electing a Republican President raises equity valuations by roughly 2.5 percent. Source: Eric Zitzewitz, Stanford University upcoming in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 2007

Download PDF Report | Link to Zitzewitz

Public Attitudes toward Corruption and Tax Evasion: Investigating the role of gender over time

"In recent years the topics of illegal activities such as corruption or tax evasion have attracted a great deal of attention. However, there is still a lack of substantial empirical evidence about the determinants of compliance. The aim of this paper is to investigate empirically whether women are more willing to be compliant than men and whether we observe (among women and in general) differences in attitudes among similar age groups in different time periods (cohort effect) or changing attitudes of the same cohorts over time (age effect) using data from eight Western European countries from the World Values Survey and the European Values Survey that span the period from 1981 to 1999. The results reveal higher willingness to comply among women and an age rather than a cohort effect."Source: Berkeley Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series. Paper 196.

Download full PDF publication | Link to eScholarship repository

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

America's Next Top Model: The Philippines and the U.S. Empire

"U.S. policymakers and pundits have often trumpeted U.S. policy in the Philippines as a model -- of colonialism, of democracy, of counter-insurgency -- that could be applied world wide. In fact, however, the Philippine model was always based on misrepresentation, and the lessons that we should take from the Philippine case are rather different from those usually mentioned. The Philippine model is examined during the period of the conquest at the turn of the last century; in 1946, when formal independence was achieved; during the anti-Huk campaign of the early 1950s; during martial law; and during the People Power revolt of 1986. In all these versions, the U.S. government stood as an opponent of the democratic aspirations of the Philippine people." Source: UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies via eScholarship Repository

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| link to eScholarship Repository

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Crime, Violence, Discipline and Safety in U.S. Public Schools

"This report presents national-level information about crime and safety in U.S. public schools as reported by school principals, including the frequency of criminal incidents at school, the use of disciplinary actions, and efforts to prevent and reduce crime at school. Data come from the 2003–04 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS:2004). Eighteen percent of public schools reported at least one serious violent incident during the 2003–04 school year; two percent of public schools reported hate crimes; five percent of public schools reported gang-related crimes." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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| Link to online abstract

Friday, December 08, 2006

MLA Task Force on Evaluating Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion

from Executive Summary : "In 2004 the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association of America created a task force to examine current standards and emerging trends in publication requirements for tenure and promotion in English and foreign language departments in the United States. The council’s action came in response to widespread anxiety in the profession about ever-rising demands for research productivity and shrinking humanities lists by academic publishers, worries that forms of scholarship other than single-authored books were not being properly recognized, and fears that a generation of junior scholars would have a significantly reduced chance of being tenured. The task force was charged with investigating the factual basis behind such concerns and making recommendations to address the changing environment in which scholarship is being evaluated in tenure and promotion decisions." Source: Modern Language Association.

Download full PDF Report | Download Executive Summary (PDF)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Intrinsic Value of Obeying a Law: Economic Analysis of the Internal Viewpoint

Abstract: "Economic theory distinguishes sharply between what a person wants and what he can have. “Preferences” describe what a person wants, and “constraints” describe the limits of what he can have. The collision of preferences and constraints yields the choices that economists study. The meaning of both terms is broad and flexible. Preferences and constraints help to distinguish between the internal and external viewpoints that H. L. A. Hart made famous. The internal viewpoint concerns preferences to perform legal obligations. A person who prefers to obey a law is willing to give up something to perform his legal obligation. The preference is intrinsic, not an instrument for securing something else of value. Conversely, a person who is indifferent to a legal obligation takes a purely instrumental approach towards obedience—he obeys only when doing so secures something else of value. What explains the distribution of preferences among people to obey a law? I will sketch part of the answer that emerges from economic and psychological studies. Finding an answer is important because when laws are reasonably just and many citizens intrinsically prefer to obey them, government is easier, and life is better than when most citizens are indifferent towards obeying the law." Source: Berkeley Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series. Paper 187

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What Shapes Attitudes Toward Paying Taxes? Evidence from Multicultural European Countries

Abstract: "Considerable evidence suggests that enforcement efforts cannot fully explain the high degree of tax compliance. To resolve this puzzle of tax compliance several researchers have argued that citizens’ attitudes toward paying taxes defined as tax morale helps to explain the high degree of tax compliance. However, most studies have treated tax morale as a black box without discussing which factors shape it. Additionally, the tax compliance literature provides little empirical research that investigates attitudes toward paying taxes in Europe. Thus, this paper is unique in its examination of citizen tax morale within three multicultural European countries, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain, a choice that allows far more detailed examination of the impact of culture and institutions using datasets from the World Values Survey and the European Values Survey."Source: Berkeley Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series. Paper 190.

Download full PDF Report | Link to eScholarship Repository

Building the Case: Why Should We Care About Police-Community Relations? Current Research

"This presentation was given at "Improving Police/Community Relations Through Mediation and Dialogue", a Symposium on Police-Community Relations, sponsored by the Western Justice Center Foundation (WJCF) and the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC) on 1 December 2006." Source: Center on Police Practices and Community University of California, Santa Barbara

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U.N. Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lebanon

[report recommending that Israel be made to compensate Lebanon for damages the Israeli military inflicted during its 33-day campaign against Hezbollah]

"The report describes the terms of reference, methodology, approaches and activities of
the Commission. It provides an overview of the 33-day long conflict with an historical
background and addresses the qualification of and the law applicable to the conflict. The report then concentrates on the various substantive issues the Commission considered it should address in detail in accordance with its mandate. The report further provides an analysis on the various aspects of the impact of the conflict on life in Lebanon. Finally, the report presents the conclusions of the Commission and its recommendations." Source: United Nations [via the Jurist]

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Electronic voting machines report [US NIST]

Draft report, National Institute of Standards and Technology, December 2, 2006 [finding that software-dependent voting machines, "are not viable for future voting systems" and "in practical terms cannot be made secure"].Source: NIST

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The Putin Popularity Score

Increasingly Reviled in the West, Russia's Leader Enjoys Broad Support at Home

"Is Vladimir Putin a new breed of postmodern, post-communist populist or an old-style dictator in democratic clothing? It's a question currently being debated with even more urgency as the investigation widens into the bizarre poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Soviet spy and outspoken critic of the Russian president." Source: Pew Research Center Backgrounder

Link to online report

As Home Prices Cool Down, Homeowners Temper Their Optimism

Despite a record drop this past year in the median sales price of existing homes, more than eight-in-ten homeowners expect the value of their homes to go up either "a little" (55%) or "a lot" (26%) in the future.

However, these anticipated levels of future gains are not nearly as great as the gains that homeowners say they've experienced in recent years.
About twice as many homeowners (46%) say their house increased "a lot" in value over the past few years as say they expect similar increases in the future, according to a nationwide Pew Research Center telephone survey of a random sample of 2,000 adults, including 1,500 homeowners, taken from October 18 through November 9, 2006.

Meantime, just 10% say they expect the value of their houses to decline.

This moderated optimism among homeowners comes at a time when there has been a flurry of reports about a housing slump. Last week the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that the median price of an existing home sold in October of this year was $221,000, down a record 3.5% from October of 2005.1 It was the third straight month that the industry group recorded a year-to-year decline. Prior to this August, the NAR had not reported such an annual decline since 1995" Pew Research Center

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Dropout Rates in the United States

"This report builds upon a series of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports on high school dropout and completion rates that began in 1988. It presents estimates of rates for 2004, and provides data about trends in dropout and completion rates over the last three decades (1972–2004), including characteristics of dropouts and completers in these years. Among other findings, the report shows that in students living in low-income families were approximately four times more likely to drop out of high school between 2003 and 2004 than were their peers from high-income families. Focusing on indicators of on-time graduation from public high schools, the averaged freshman graduation rate for the 3 most recent years for which data are available shows an increase from 72.6 percent for 2001–02 to 73.9 percent for 2002–03 to 74.3 percent for 2003–04." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download PDF Report | Link to NCES

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Iraq Study Group Report

from the Press Conference transcript:

"Our three most important recommendations are equally important and reinforce one another. First, a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly. Two, prompt action by the Iraqi government to achieve milestones, particularly on national reconciliation. And three, a new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and in the region."

Source: United States Institute for Peace

Download full PDF Report | Link to download Site

Sunday, December 03, 2006

African American and Latino Families Face High Rates of Hardship

A range of measures suggest that many black and Latino families face hardship of some type. Between one-fourth and one-third of families with children headed by blacks or by Latino citizens experience overcrowded living conditions, difficulties paying for food, or lack of needed medical care. Hardship rates rise further — to as many as half of black families with children — when additional types of hardship are considered.

These findings come from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), which will be terminated this year unless Congress provides additional funding in the fiscal year 2007 appropriations bill that provides funding for the Bureau. Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

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| Link to online Summary

The Iran-Contra Scandal: The Declassified History

"provides the 101 most important documents on the policy decisions, covert operations, and subsequent cover-up that created the most serious constitutional crisis of modern times. To enhance this documentat ion, the editors provide contextual overviews of the complex components of the Iran-Contra operations as well as glossaries of the key players, and a detailed chronology of events.

The result is a unique guide to the inner workings of national security policymaking and the shadowy world of clandestine operations--a singular resource for understanding the Iran-Contra affair and the gravity of the government crisis it spawned. "The documents," writes noted Iran-Contra scholar Theodore Draper in the foreword, give the reader "an intimate sense of how the president and his men manipulated the system and perverted its constitutional character." This volume "allows the facts to speak for themselves."

Primary source material, such as the documents in this volume, are often all that is left to study as memories fade and the actual events disappear from the news and become part of history. Now students and scholars have a chance to understand the national security decision-making process through the documents that they were never meant to read." Source: National Security Archive Declassified Documents

Link to online presentation and download site

International comparisons of charitable giving

"...individual philanthropy in 12 countries including the UK, the US, France and Germany, where comparable data was available. The survey identified some of the key cultural and political factors that have a major impact on people’s giving.

Where tax and social insurance contributions are high, for example, giving is a relatively lower proportion of GDP. This is particularly true of France, Turkey and the Netherlands, while in the UK and Republic of Ireland, comparatively lower personal taxation is matched by relatively higher levels of giving.

Tax incentives on giving had a clear impact in countries with the most generous tax breaks like the US and UK. But while the majority of countries surveyed offered some form of tax incentive on giving, the impact of specific benefits is simply not known."
Source: Charities Aid Foundation

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Out and Aging: The MetLife Study of Lesbian and Gay Baby Boomers

From Press Release:
First National Survey Reports a Higher Rate of Caregiving Fear Discrimination in the Health Care Arena

"Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Baby Boomers have more distinct concerns about aging with regard to financial stability, personal support and end-of-life legal issues and are providing care at a higher rate than those in the general population. Men and women both fear outliving their income in retirement, women (60 %) more than men (55 %).

Out and Aging: The MetLife Study of Lesbian and Gay Baby Boomers, the first national survey of its kind, also found that more than a quarter of those polled (27%) fear discrimination as they age. Less than half expressed strong confidence that health care professionals will treat them with "dignity and respect." Yet, 40% believe being LGBT helped them prepare for aging." Source: MetLife

Download PDF | Online Press Release

Iraqi Civilian Deaths Estimates

"This report presents various governmental and nongovernmental estimates of Iraqi civilian fatalities. The Department of Defense (DOD) regularly updates total U.S. military death and wounded statistics from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)"

"Summary of U.S. Casualties. However, no Iraqi or U.S. government office regularly releases statistics on Iraqi civilian deaths. Statistics on these topics are sometimes available through alternative sources, such as nonprofit organizations, or through statements made by officials to the press. No authoritative source has released either an estimate of Iraqi civilians who have been wounded or an estimate of total Iraqi casualties (dead and wounded). Because these estimates are based on varying time periods and have been created using differing methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using these statistics and should look on them as guideposts rather than as statements of historical fact." Source: Congressional Research Service | Library of Congress

Download PDF Report | Link to online summary

Friday, December 01, 2006

Transforming Higher Education: National Imperative—State Responsibility

NCSL commission releases recommendations for state legislatures in new report

From the Press Release:"More Americans must finish college if our country is to prosper in the global society, and it's up to state legislators to make that happen. Those are recommendations from the final report of the National Conference of State Legislatures' Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education, released today.

There is a higher education crisis in this country, the report says. The American system is no longer the best in the world. Other countries are outperforming us. At the same time, tuition and fees are skyrocketing and financial aid and loan programs aren't keeping up. As a result, a post-secondary education is not accessible to many Americans. Student are falling through the cracks. Nationally, for every 100 ninth graders who enter high school, only 18 finish college within six years.

The report, Transforming Higher Education: National Imperative—State Responsibility, says state legislators must: be at the center of a nationwide movement to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current system, determine a public agenda for higher education, set clear goals, and hold institutions accountable." Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Download Full Report | Link to online press release