Monday, April 30, 2007

Both Sides Reject Compromise in Iraq Funding Fight

Campaign '08: Analysis of Key Voter Groups

"With battle lines drawn over legislation funding the Iraq war, the public is showing little appetite for compromise. Overall, a solid majority of Americans (59%) continue to say they want their representative to support a bill calling for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq by August 2008, while just a third want their representative to vote against such legislation." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act: A Legal Analysis

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, (P.L. 109-248, H.R. 4472), emerged from Congress following the passage of separate bills in the House and Senate (H.R. 3132 and S. 1086 respectively). The act's provisions fall into four categories: a revised sex offender registration system, child and sex related amendments to federal criminal and procedure, child protective grant programs, and other initiatives designed to prevent and punish sex offenders and those who victimize children. Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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Immigration of Foreign Workers: Labor Market Tests and Protections

"Many business people have expressed concern that a scarcity of labor in certain sectors may curtail the pace of economic growth. A leading legislative response to skills mismatches and labor shortages has been to increase the supply of foreign workers. While the demand for more skilled and highly-trained foreign workers has garnered much of the attention in recent years, there has also been pressure to increase unskilled temporary foreign workers, commonly referred to as guest workers. Those opposing increases in foreign workers assert that there is no compelling evidence of labor shortages. Opponents maintain that salaries and compensation would be rising if there is a labor shortage and if employers wanted to attract qualified U.S. workers."

"The foreign labor certification program in the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is responsible for ensuring that foreign workers do not displace or adversely affect working conditions of U.S. workers. President George W. Bush has stated that comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority of his second term. His principles of reform include a major overhaul of temporary worker visas, expansion of permanent legal immigration and revisions to the process of determining whether foreign workers are needed. These issues were addressed in legislation (S. 2611) passed by the Senate in the 109th Congress and are emerging again in the 110th Congress. The challenge inherent in this policy debate is balancing employers' hopes to increase the supply of legally present foreign workers without displacing or adversely affecting the working conditions of U.S. workers."

Source: Congressional Research Service

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Greenhouse Gas Emission Drivers: Population, Economic Development and Growth, and Energy Use

"In the context of climate change and possible responses to the risk associated with it, three variables strongly influence the levels and growth of greenhouse gas emissions: population, income (measured as per capita gross domestic product [GDP]), and intensity of emissions (measured as tons of greenhouse gas emissions per million dollars of GDP)." Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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Refusing to Engage: Political Competence and the “Don’t Know” Response on Surveys

"Pierre Bourdieu’s theories of political competence and the political field have not been used widely in studies of political life in the United States. But these concepts offer a more theoretically grounded and coherent way of understanding how people in this country do and do not engage with politics than most conventional approaches to political participation. I argue that Bourdieu’s notion of “political competence” (1979:126; 1984:405-6) allows us a much more full understanding of the ways that disenfranchised people relate to the political process. I use analyses of the full (1978 – 2004) General Social Survey to do three things: first, to challenge commonly accepted renditions of the causes of the “don’t know” response to political questions; second, to explore the relationship between “don’t know” response and income and education; and finally to argue that don’t know response is indicative of low “political competence” – not simply a lack of resources or knowledge. I find that education and income are significant and important in predicting no response levels for political questions of various types but are insignificant and/or unimportant for other types of questions; and that political question response levels are substantively and significantly associated with the probability of voting in a presidential election." Source: Center for the Study of Democracy. Symposium, U.C. Irvine.

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Does Social Capital Lead to Support for Democracy in East Asia?

Abstract: "This paper considers the origins and conceptualizations of social capital, particularly the effects of interpersonal trust and participation in voluntarily associations on support for democracy. In so doing, the study introduces a “two-step process” proposition, suggesting that while a causal relationship exists between social capital and democratic support, this link is mediated by intervening variables in the form of knowledge and skills resulting from trust and participation. Empirical tests are conducted on survey data from seven countries covered by the East Asian Barometer to examine the validity of this hypothesis." Source: Center for the Study of Democracy. Symposium: Democracy and Its Development. U.C. Irvine

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Voices of Civil Rights

"AARP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), and the Library of Congress have teamed up to collect and preserve personal accounts of America's struggle to fulfill the promise of equality for all. We invite you to explore this site, a tribute to those who were a part of the civil rights experience and to the continuing quest for equality."

"Read extraordinary stories of hope and courage by ordinary people and experience civil rights history as it's never been told before.

Discover how far the nation still has to go to achieve equality in this essay by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights’ executive director.

Hear how civil rights veterans like Eleanor Holmes Norton, a woman at the forefront of various social causes, are connecting the past with the present."

Source: AARP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), and the Library of Congress.

Link to online Resource

Scholars at Risk Network

"Scholars at Risk members save lives by providing sanctuary to professors, lecturers, researchers and other intellectuals who suffer threats in their home country. Through temporary academic positions, SAR members help scholars to escape dangerous conditions and to continue their important work. In return, scholars contribute to their host campuses through teaching, research, lectures and other activities." Source: Scholars at Risk, New York University

Link to online resource

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Behind the Pay Gap

Pay Gap Exists as Early as One Year out of College,Says New Research Report

"New research released in April 2007 by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation shows that just one year out of college, women working full time already earn less than their male colleagues, even when they work in the same field. Ten years after graduation, the pay gap widens." Source: American Association of University Women

Link to download site (Report is free but registration required)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Most Web 2.0 Users Are Really Just Couch Potatoes.

from BusinessWeek's Bruce Nussbaum: "A study by Bill Tancer, an analyst with Hitwise, which measures Web 2.0 audiences, shows that only a tiny fraction of people using social media actively participate. A miniscule 0.16 percent of visits to YouTube actually involve people putting a video up on it, according to his online surfing data. All the rest are visits by people watching the videos of that tiny fraction."

Read full BusinessWeek Article

Get copy of Hitwise Web 2.0 Audience Report (free, registration required)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The NRA's Image Improves as Support for Gun Control Slips

"Public opinion surveys taken before the Virginia Tech shootings, showed that over time Americans had become less disposed to support gun control measures than they were in the years surrounding the Columbine school shootings in 1999." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

Link to online report

After the Tragedy: Va. Tech Shootings Revive Debate over Gun Control

"The rampage at Virginia Tech that left at least 33 people dead Monday touched a nerve over gun control on college campuses, including among Virginia lawmakers who had recently sparred over a firearms ban at the Blacksburg, Va., campus.

The most recent legislative debate in Virginia, one of 48 states that issue permits allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms, arose after Virginia Tech disciplined an unnamed student who brought a firearm to class in 2005.

State Del. Mark Cole (R) this spring failed to push through a measure that would have let students with concealed-carry permits bring firearms on campus, trumping the school’s policy prohibiting them. The legislation languished in a subcommittee after a hearing. A similar measure failed last year." Source:

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Reasons vs. Causes: Emergence as experienced by the human agent

Abstract: "Because they are in constant interaction with each other, human beings are often agents within emergent collective processes. Although they are then acting as particles in a field-type phenomenon, their awareness of what they are part of entails that they hold views about why they’re acting the way they do, these, they call “reasons.”

Should physicists dismiss such “reasons” as being illusory causes of events? “Reasons” are actually important explanatory factors of emergent phenomena involving human beings. Awakening and then responding to a catastrophic process will often signal a bifurcation in the physical emergent process. Coordinated behavior can interrupt a positive feedback by generating a counteracting negative feedback.

“Natural” laws were called after “legal” laws; in return, compliance to legal laws by human agents allows their behavior to appear organized, as if by a “natural” law. “Following a rule” conflates the logic of “causes” with that of “reasons” as it connects in phase space the “cause” at the origin (efficient cause) and the “reason” (final cause), the goal that is a representation of the end." Source: Structure and Dynamics: eJournal of Anthropological and Related Sciences: Vol. 2: No. 1, Article 1.

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Teens, Privacy & Online Social Networks

Managing online identities and personal information in the age of MySpace

"Much of the media coverage surrounding young people and online social networks has focused on the personal information teens make available on these internet spaces, where users can create a profile and connect that profile to others to create a personal network. Are teenagers sharing information that will harm their future college or job prospects? Or worse, are they sharing information that puts them at risk of victimization?

A new survey and a series of focus groups conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project explore questions of teen online privacy protection from several perspectives: by looking at the choices that teens make to share or not to share information online, by examining what they share, by probing for the context in which they share it and by asking teens for their own assessment of their vulnerability." Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

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Most Say Imus's Punishment Was Appropriate

Whites Say Imus Story Has Been Overcovered, Blacks Disagree

"Americans, both black and white, generally agree with the punishment radio host Don Imus received for the racist and sexist remarks he made about the Rutgers University's women basketball team. Nonetheless, there are substantial racial differences in views of Imus's punishment, and an even bigger gap in opinions about news media's coverage of the story.

FigureMajorities of both whites (53%) and African Americans (61%) who have been following the Imus story say that the punishment he received was appropriate. But roughly twice as many whites as blacks believe his punishment was too tough (35% vs. 18%). On April 12, the talk show host's morning radio program was cancelled by CBS. A day earlier, a cable television simulcast of the program on MSNBC was cancelled by NBC." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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Public Knowledge of Current Affairs Little Changed by News and Information Revolutions

"Since the late 1980s, the emergence of 24-hour cable news as a dominant news source and the explosive growth of the internet have led to major changes in the American public's news habits. But a new nationwide survey finds that the coaxial and digital revolutions and attendant changes in news audience behaviors have had little impact on how much Americans know about national and international affairs." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Why Has the Economy Become Less Volatile?

"Congress is concerned with the health of the U.S. economy, which affects the living standards of all Americans. The 2001 recession was unusually mild and brief by historical standards. At 120 months, the expansion that preceded it had been the longest in U.S. history. Is this a coincidence? A body of research concludes that it is not. Since 1984, the volatility of economic growth has fallen by more than half. Before 1984, the fluctuations in quarterly growth rates were much more extreme from one quarter to the next. After 1984, the changes from quarter to quarter have become much smoother. Economists have coined this phenomenon the "great moderation." There are three competing theories for what has caused it. One theory is that structural changes within the economy have made it less volatile. Changes in the structure of the economy include a smaller manufacturing sector, better inventory management, financial innovations, and deregulation. Most economists have concluded that the shift in production across different sectors since 1984 has not been large enough to account for most of the great moderation. A second theory is that improved policy is the cause of the great moderation. In particular, some economists blame the deep and long recessions of the 1970s and 1980s on bad monetary policy; they credit improved monetary policy for the subsequent improvement in economic performance. They point to the simultaneous decline in the volatility of price inflation as evidence supporting their theory. But better policy is usually credited with creating longer economic expansions and shallower recessions. A smoother business cycle is only part of the great moderation; it can also be seen in terms of lower volatility from one quarter to the next. The third theory is that the great moderation is simply a case of better luck, while the 1970s and early 1980s were filled with bad luck, in the form of a series of economic shocks that barraged the economy." Source: Congressional Research Service

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Regulation of Health Benefits Under ERISA: An Outline

"The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) sets certain federal standards for the provision of health benefits under private-sector, employment-based health plans. These standards regulate the nature and content of health plans and include rules on health care continuation coverage, guarantees on the availability and renewability of health care coverage for certain employees and individuals, limitations on exclusions from health care coverage based on preexisting conditions, parity between medical/surgical benefits and mental health benefits, and minimum hospital stay requirements for mothers following the birth of a child. This report discusses certain health benefit requirements under ERISA, as well as proposed legislation in the 110th Congress that would affect the provision of health benefits." Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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The Constitution and Racial Diversity in Elementary and Secondary Education: A Legal Analysis of Pending Supreme Court Cases

The diversity rationale for affirmative action in public education has long been a topic of political and legal controversy. Many colleges and universities have established affirmative action policies not only to remedy past discrimination, but also to achieve a racially and ethnically diverse student body or faculty. Although the Supreme Court has recognized that the use of race-based policies to promote diversity in higher education may be constitutional in two recent cases involving the University of Michigan's admissions policies, the Court has never considered whether diversity is a constitutionally permissible goal in the elementary and secondary education setting. To resolve this question, the Supreme Court agreed to review two cases that involve the use of race to maintain racially diverse public schools. Specifically, the Court will consider whether the school plans at issue violate the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment. The cases are Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education and Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, and the Court's decision is expected to be issued during its 2006-2007 term. This report provides an overview of the lower court decisions in the two cases, coupled with a discussion of the factors that the Supreme Court is likely to consider on review. Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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Juvenile Justice: Rights During the Adjudicatory Process

"As more attention is being focused on juvenile offenders, some question whether the justice system is dealing with this population appropriately. Since the late 1960s, the juvenile justice system has undergone significant modifications resulting from U.S. Supreme Court decisions, changes in federal and state law, and the growing belief that juveniles were increasingly involved in more serious and violent crimes. Consequently, at both the federal and states levels, the juvenile justice system has shifted from a mostly rehabilitative system to a more punitive one, with serious ramifications for juvenile offenders. Despite this shift, juveniles are generally not afforded the panoply of rights afforded to adult criminal defendants. The U.S. Constitution requires that juveniles receive many of the features of an adult criminal trial, including notice of charges, right to counsel, privilege against selfincrimination, right to confrontation and cross-examination, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and double jeopardy. However, in McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, the Court held that juveniles do not have a fundamental right to a jury trial during adjudicatory proceedings." Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Training module on documentary scriptwriting now available online

"UNESCO, in partnership with the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) of India, has just released a training module entitled "How to write a documentary script", an easy-to-use self-training tool providing basic knowledge for potential content creators.

The tool, prepared by Trisha Das, analyses the two stages of documentary scriptwriting, the pre-shoot or shooting script and the post-shoot script, providing basic knowledge and useful advice for those being initiated in documentary making.

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U.K. Social Trends 37

"An established reference source, Social Trends draws together social and economic data from a wide range of government departments and other organisations; it paints a broad picture of British society today, and how it has been changing.

There are 13 chapters each focusing on a different social policy area, described in tables, figures and text: population, households and families, education and training, labour market, income and wealth, expenditure, health, social protection, crime and justice, housing, environment, transport, lifestyles and social participation.

The pdf file provides links to Excel spreadsheets which contain the data for each table, figure and map."

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| Link to download site

Canada Study: Year end review of the economy

" In retrospect, the most surprising development in Canada’s economy last year was not that a surge in oil prices or the bursting of the American housing bubble failed to dampen growth, according to a year-end review of the economy.

Instead, the surprise was that so many people continued to underestimate the ability of Canadians to react and adapt to fast-changing or unexpected circumstances, the review suggests.

The theme that really stands out is the adaptability of Canadians faced with rapid changes in their economy, it concludes. The most dramatic example of this was the increased migration of people to oil-rich Alberta during the past year.

The study, published today in the online edition of Canadian Economic Observer, concludes that Alberta’s dominant role in economic growth was the biggest economic story of the year.

Going back several years, the economy has been hit with a number of shocks which in the past could well have triggered a slowdown or even recession. Instead, growth has been remarkably stable since 2003."

Source: Canadian Economic Observer

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Short-term and long-term effects of United Nations peace operations

"Earlier studies have shown that United Nations peace operations make a positive contribution to peacebuilding efforts after civil wars. But do these effects carry over to the period after the peacekeepers leave? And how do the effects of UN peace operations interact with other determinants of peacebuilding in the long run? The author addresses these questions using a revised version of the Doyle and Sambanis dataset and applying different estimation methods to estimate the short-term and long-term effects of UN peace missions. He finds that UN missions have robust, positive effects on peacebuilding in the short term. UN missions can help parties implement peace agreements but the UN cannot fight wars, and UN operations contribute more to the quality of the peace where peace is based on participation, than to the longevity of the peace, where peace is simply the absence of war. The effects of UN missions are also felt in the long run, but they dissipate over time. What is missing in UN peacebuilding is a strategy to foster the self-sustaining economic growth that could connect increased participation with sustainable peace." Source: World Bank Policy Research Working Papers

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IZA - The Power of the Family

"The structure of family relationships influences economic behavior and attitudes. We define our measure of family ties using individual responses from the World Value Survey regarding the role of the family and the love and respect that children need to have for their parents for over 70 countries. We show that strong family ties imply more reliance on the family as an economic unit which provides goods and services and less on the market and on the government for social insurance. With strong family ties home production is higher, labor force participation of women and youngsters, and geographical mobility, lower. Families are larger (higher fertility and higher family size) with strong family ties, which is consistent with the idea of the family as an important economic unit. We present evidence on cross country regressions. To assess causality we look at the behavior of second generation immigrants in the US and we employ a variable based on the grammatical rule of pronoun drop as an instrument for family ties. Our results overall indicate a significant influence of the strength of family ties on economic outcomes." Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

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National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: Legal Background and Recent Amendments

"Five federal statutes authorize intelligence officials to request certain business record information in connection with national security investigations. The authority to issue these national security letters (NSLs) is comparable to the authority to issue administrative subpoenas. The USA PATRIOT Act expanded the authority under four of the NSL statutes and created the fifth. Thereafter, the authority has been reported to have been widely used. Prospects of its continued use dimmed, however, after two lower federal courts held the lack of judicial review and the absolute confidentiality requirements in one of the statutes rendered it constitutionally suspect." Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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Entrapment and Terrorism

"The thesis of this article is that the unique nature of terrorist crime requires a tweaking of the entrapment rules. The entrapment defense is our legal system's primary mechanism for regulating government sting operations. I argue that sting operations and surveillance are conceptually distinct (or rival) methods of law enforcement, which compete for resource allocation. If an enforcement agency favors one method, it shifts resources away from the other. To the extent that we dislike panoptic government surveillance, we can steer enforcement agencies away from it by encouraging targeted stings; and we can achieve this, in part, by adapting the rules for the entrapment defense as applied to terrorism prosecutions. Due to the unique nature of terror-related crimes, combating them with surveillance necessitates non-specific, panoptic surveillance, something much more invasive than was necessary with traditional victimless crimes like trafficking in drugs or sex, etc. This changed circumstance results from the greater emphasis on prevention, as opposed to punishment, and the nature of the organizations involved. In order to be effective against terrorism, surveillance would have to be so intrusive, expansive, and expensive that it warrants a consideration of alternative methods in this context. Adapting the legal rules surrounding entrapment would facilitate a beneficial and efficient shift in methodologies" Source: Social Science Resource Network and Boston College Law Review, Vol. 49, 2008 [forthcoming]

Link to Download site on SSRN

Counting the Homeless: Homeless Management Information Systems

In 1998, Congress directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to develop a process for collecting data about the homeless. Together with local communities, HUD began in 2001 to implement a series of Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS). Two categories of federal fund recipients are required to participate in HMIS: organizations that receive grants through the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program and organizations that receive HUD Homeless Assistance Grants. The HOPWA program provides housing and supportive services for persons living with AIDS, while the Homeless Assistance Grants fund transitional and permanent housing, as well as services, for homeless individuals. Local jurisdictions called "Continuums of Care" (CoCs) -- typically cities, counties, or combinations of both -- are the entities that implement HMIS. Homeless service providers in these CoCs collect and store information about homeless individuals they serve, and the information is aggregated in computer systems at the CoC level. HUD anticipates that information about homeless individuals from CoCs across the country eventually will help it to better serve the needs of the homeless. HUD released the first analysis of data from a sample of participating HMIS jurisdictions -- the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) -- in February 2007. The AHAR used HMIS data from a sample of 64 communities to derive national-level estimates of the number of homeless at two points in time in 2005, and over a three-month period from February to April 2005. The report also provided point-in-time estimates of homeless individuals from counts done by local communities in January 2005. It is expected that data from HMIS eventually will provide an unduplicated count of the number of homeless from communities across the country. Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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Does Technology Improve Learning in the Classroom?

"Educational technology has become increasingly commonplace in classrooms, and Congress has spent billions to give schools access to technology and online learning opportunities. But research on educational technology's effectiveness has lagged behind technology's growth. A new report to Congress presents results from a national evaluation of 15 computer-based reading and math products to determine their effectiveness. The report notes that after one year, products did not increase or decrease test scores by amounts that were statistically different from zero. In addition, effects were correlated with some classroom and school characteristics. Source: Mathematica Policy Research

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Abstinence Education Programs: New Report Examines Behavioral and Other Impacts

"A recent study of four abstinence education programs, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., finds that the programs had no effect on the sexual abstinence of youth. But it also finds that youth in these programs were no more likely to have unprotected sex, a concern that has been raised by some critics of these programs.

The study, conducted for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was authorized by Congress in 1997 to evaluate the effectiveness of programs funded under Title V, Section 510 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Nationwide, more than 700 Title V, Section 510 programs receive up to $50 million annually from the federal government in order to teach youth about abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage. Additional funding from state matching block grants brings annual spending for Title V, Section 510 sexual abstinence education programs to $87.5 million.

The study found that youth in the four evaluated programs were no more likely than youth not in the programs to have abstained from sex in the four to six years after they began participating in the study. Youth in both groups who reported having had sex also had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same average age." Source: Mathematica Policy Research

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National Security and the Threat of Climate Change

"Global climate change presents a serious national security threat which could impact Americans at home, impact United States military operations and heighten global tensions, according to a new study to be released by a blue-ribbon panel of retired admirals and generals from all branches of the armed services.

The study, “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change,” explores ways projected climate change is a threat multiplier in already fragile regions, exacerbating conditions that lead to failed states — the breeding grounds for extremism and terrorism.

The CNA Corporation brought together eleven retired three-star and four-star admirals and generals to provide advice, expertise and perspective on the impact of climate change. CNAC writers and researchers compiled the report under the board's direction and review." Source : CNA corporation

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Monday, April 09, 2007

In the Shadow of the Iraq War: America in Arab Eyes

"It is no secret that the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims outside Iraq strongly opposed the US-led invasion of that country. Most Arab governments shared the view of their public that the war was ill advised, but many felt they could not say 'no' to Washington. There was profound mistrust of American motives and fear that the regional consequences would be devastating. The ultimate judgement on the war would be less over the issue of weapons of mass destruction and more over the consequences of the war for Iraq and the region. Perhaps, some hoped, America could surprise them." Source: Survival [via the Brookings Institution]

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Government Websites and Political Engagement: Facilitating Citizen Entry Into the Policy Process

Previous research shows that in the United States, municipal government websites contain both participatory and consumer elements; however, these websites are generally designed to facilitate consumption of government services rather than participation in the policy process. The research presented here, using an original dataset, empirically analyzes how residents use the websites. The evidence indicates that while use of the Internet to facilitate the consumption of government services is more common than participation, there is reason to believe that the Internet could become a vehicle to foster greater participation. The paper concludes with suggestions on constructing
municipal government websites to facilitate greater participation. Source: Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations. U.C. Irvine

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Friday, April 06, 2007

What They Don’t Know Can Kill Them

Abstract: "Traffic safety researchers have long argued that driver behavior outweighs physical elements (such as road design) as a causal factor in motor vehicle collisions. A fundamental causal component of pedestrian-vehicle collisions is also behavior—that of the driver and that of the pedestrian. One determinant of this behavior may be whether the driver, the pedestrian, or both understand the motor vehicle code, which demarcates right-of-way in pedestrian-vehicle interactions. That is, inappropriate or unlawful behavior may occur because the law is not understood or is misunderstood. Previous studies have shown that drivers and pedestrians have a limited knowledge of pedestrian right-of-way laws. This research expands on these studies by specifically considering knowledge of right-of-way laws related to marked and unmarked crosswalks. Driver and pedestrian knowledge was assessed through intercept surveys and focus groups conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area. Results confirm that a substantial level of confusion exists with respect to pedestrian right-of-way laws. This confusion was exacerbated by intersections which had unstriped, or unmarked, crosswalks. Implications for engineering, education, and enforcement countermeasures in light of these findings are discussed and areas for further research are proposed." Source: U.C. Berkeley Traffic Safety Center.

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First-Run Smoking Presentations in U.S. Movies 1999-2006

"Smoking among American adults fell by half between 1950 and 2002, yet smoking on U.S. movie screens reached historic heights in 2002, topping levels observed a half century earlier. Tobacco's comeback in movies has serious public health implications, because smoking on screen stimulates adolescents to start smoking, accounting for an estimated 52% of adolescent smoking initiation." Source: Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. UCSF [via eScholarship repository

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U.S. HIV/AIDS Efforts Should Shift Focus to Sustainability

"The U.S. government's global HIV/AIDS relief program known as PEPFAR is making significant contributions to addressing the pandemic in hard-hit countries, but it should shift its primary focus from providing immediate, emergency relief to building the capacity of affected nations to sustain their fight against HIV/AIDS over future decades, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council." Source: National Academies

Link to Report online | Download PDF Summary | Link to Project Web Site

Alcohol Use Among Youth

"Alcohol use by persons under age 21 has been identified as a major public health problem. Studies note that it increases the risks for disability, and may be detrimental to the developing brain. Minors who drink are more likely to commit suicide, break the law, or be victims of violence. Alcohol is implicated in nearly one-third of youth traffic fatalities. The total annual cost of underage drinking is estimated at $62 billion. While most laws intended to prevent underage drinking are passed at the state level, there has been legislative activity and interest at the federal level to support states' efforts to curb the problem. This report describes the extent of underage alcohol use, recent legislative activity on this issue, and various policy implications. It will be updated as new data become available." Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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the State of the News Media 2007

The fourth edition of Pew's annual report on the health and status of American journalism.

"Its goal is to gather in one place as much data as possible about all the major sectors of journalism, to identify trends, mark key indicators, note areas for further inquiry and provide a resource for citizens, journalists, and researchers.

For each area we have produced original research and aggregated existing data into a narrative. The statistical data also exists in an interactive area called Charts & Tables where users can customize their own graphics. This year, we also offer a detailed report on the status of online journalism, based on a close quantitative examination of a diverse sample of news websites. “Digital Journalism: A Topography” identifies what qualities of the web are being emphasized and which are not. The study also includes an interactive component that allows users to find the qualities they are looking for and test their favorite sites."

Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism, a non political, non partisan research institute [Pew Research Center]

Link to main report site
| Link to Digital Journalism

Govs call for more control over No Child Left Behind

"Renewal of the oft-criticized No Child Left Behind federal law is supported by the nation’s governors, but they want far more authority to carry out its mandates.

That’s the crux of recommendations the National Governors Association (NGA) sent to Congress Thursday as that body considers what the second iteration of the five-year-old law should look like.

“The governors’ voices when No Child Left Behind was initially written were not present,” said Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), co-chair of the NGA’s lobbying effort, in a conference call Thursday. But now “the states believe that it’s very important that the governors have a voice on this because we truly have a unique view about how this piece of legislation can be implemented.” " Source: [via Pew Research]

Link to online report

Pew Survey Shows Public Has Little Confidence in Military or Press Depictions of Iraq

"Four years into the Iraq war, most Americans say they have little or no confidence in the information they receive - from either the military or the media - about how things are going on the ground. Fewer than half (46%) say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence that the U.S. military is giving the public an accurate picture of the situation, and even fewer (38%) are confident in the press's portrayal of the war."

Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Market Making in the PC Industry

From Introduction: "Although PC makers have become market-makers, retailing PCs to commercial customers and consumers, the PC industry offers a different and interesting twist on the “market makers” theme. In other industries, retailers used their relationship with the final customer to gain leverage over brand name manufacturers. They also developed store brands, essentially coordinating the manufacturing process even though they do not own any factories themselves. In the PC industry, major branded manufacturers became market makers in their own right, primarily by selling directly to the final customer, and also in collaboration with major retailers. PC makers perform market-making activities such as targeting markets, defining products, capturing customers, organizing efficient supply chains, and integrating hardware, software, services and content to deliver new user experiences. Meanwhile, some retailers have developed “store” brands, but most have either lacked the ability to compete directly with brand name vendors, or decided it is not profitable to try to do so." Source: Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations. Globalization of I.T. U.C. Irvine [via eScholarship Repository]

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Establishment Wage Differentials

"Economists have long known that individual wages depend on a combination of employee and employer characteristics, as well as the interaction of the two. Although it is important to understand how employee and employer characteristics are related to wages, little is known about the magnitude and relation of these wage effects. This is primarily due to the lack of microdata which links individuals to the establishments where they work, but also due to technical difficulties associated with separating out employee and employer effects. This paper uses data from the Occupational Employment Statistics program at the Bureau of Labor Statistics that permit both of these issues to be addressed. Our results show that employer effects contribute substantially to earnings differences across individuals. We also find that establishments that pay well for one occupation also pay well for others. This paper contributes to the growing literature that analyzes firms’ compensation policies, and specifically the topic of employer effects on wages." Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Where are Terrorists to Be Tried - A Comparative Analysis of Rights Granted to Suspected Terrorists

Abstract: Post 9/11, much disagreement and uncertainty remains about one of the seminal issues in counter-terrorism: where to try terrorists. While much discussed, this issue is not resolved. This article will analyze the issue from a comparative perspective by examining American, Israeli, Russian, Indian and Spanish approaches. Though the five nations' judicial and legal regimes differ, a comparative approach enables policy makers, academics and the public to develop a more global perspective on the issue and possibly to adopt other nations' models.

In the context of articulating the most appropriate forum for trying terrorists, the considerations and ramifications are numerous. The guiding principle must be the obligation of civil, democratic society to respect and uphold the rule of law. The analysis will include a discussion of how each of the nations define suspected terrorists, before what court of law are terrorists brought, what alternatives are considered and whether fundamental protections are guaranteed.

A critical issue in determining the appropriate forum is the terrorist-defendant's right to confront his accuser. In the American criminal and constitutional law context, the 6th Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to “be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Should that right be granted to the terrorist-defendant? Bringing terrorists to trial would potentially require the exposing of intelligence sources. This is a major dilemma that will be addressed throughout this article.

Additional issues that must be addressed include: 1) representation—will the defendant be entitled to choose counsel or will counsel be assigned; 2) will the defendant be tried by jury or by a bench trial; 3) will the trial be conducted by an independent judiciary; 4) will the defendant be granted the right to appeal and if yes, 5) to what court.
Source: Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-13 [via SSRN]

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The power of violence in war and peace: Post Cold-War lessons from El Salvador

"The Cold War sanitized the author’s analysis of political violence among revolutionary peasants in El Salvador during the 1980s. A 20 year retrospective analysis of his fieldwork documents the ways political terror and repression become embedded in daily interactions that normalize interpersonal brutality in a dynamic of everyday violence. Furthermore, the structural, symbolic and interpersonal violence that accompanies both revolutionary mobilization and also labor migration to the U.S. inner city follows gendered fault lines. The snares of symbolic violence in counterinsurgency war spawn mutual recrimination and shame, obfuscating the role of an oppressive power structure. Similarly, everyday violence in a neo-liberal version of peacetime facilitates the administration of the subordination of the poor who blame themselves for character failings. Ethnography’s challenge is to elucidate the causal chains and gendered linkages in the continuum of violence that buttresses inequality in the post-Cold War era." Source: Ethnography. 2 (1), pp. 5-37. [via eScholarship Repository]

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Testing Drugs Versus Testing For Drug Use: Private Risk Management in the Shadow of the Criminal Law

"The rule of law is often seen as a formal, governmental alternative to informal, social mechanisms for regulating conduct In this Article, I examine a more indirect manifestation of the rule of law: the indirect effect that the criminal law can have on private efforts at risk management by individuals and corporations. Formal law can encourage private risk regulation, but it can also distort it."

Source: 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 46.

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U.S. Forces in Afghanistan

As interest in troop level deployments continue, recently, President Bush announced in a February 15, 2007 speech, the administration's plans for an increase in U.S. forces in Afghanistan, including a planned gradual increase of 3,200 U.S. troops on the ground in the coming several months. The total troop deployment in this region is expected to reach 70,000 by 2008. Varying media estimates of military forces in Afghanistan have raised concerns about the actual number of U.S. troops currently deployed in the NATO and U.S. missions under Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in that country. This report provides official Department of Defense (DOD) statistical information on U.S. forces now serving in Afghanistan with comparisons to earlier force levels. It also provides brief official information on the military units extended or scheduled for the next rotation of duty into Afghanistan. As of March 1, 2007, according to DOD, the United States had 24,845 troops stationed in Afghanistan -- 21,581 active component and 3,264 National Guard or Reserves. For security reasons, DOD does not routinely report the composition, size, or specific destination of military forces deployed to the Persian Gulf. This report will be updated upon receipt of new DOD data. Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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