Monday, September 24, 2007

How We Got into the Subprime Lending Mess

"When mortgage default rates started to climb earlier this year, many experts thought the damage would be confined to the minority of issuers that had binged on subprime lending.

It's turning out much worse. Consumer spending is off, the credit crunch is spreading, the housing market is in a slump and the stock market has been shaken.

The economy is so threatened that the Federal Reserve set aside its worries about inflation and on September 18 cut short-term interest rates by half a percentage point for the first time in four years, hoping a shot of stimulus would head off a recession. The Fed pointed to worries about "tightening of credit conditions" that could deepen the drop in housing prices and the recent pullback in homebuilding." Source: Knowledge@Wharton

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Related: The Housing Finance Revolution

Divorce Better for Children than Living with Unhappily Married Parents

"While the public strongly prefers the traditional mother-and-father home, this endorsement has some clear limits - -by a margin of 67% to 19%, Americans say that when there is a marriage in which the parents are very unhappy with one another, their children are better off if the parents get divorced. Similarly, by a margin of 58% to 38%, more Americans agree with the statement that "divorce is painful, but preferable to maintaining an unhappy marriage" than agree with the statement that "divorce should be avoided except in an extreme situation." Thus, public attitudes toward divorce and single parenting have taken different paths over the past generation. When it comes to divorce, public opinion has become more accepting. When it comes to single parenting, public opinion has remained quite negative. Yet rates of divorce, after more than doubling from 1960 to 1980, have declined by about a third in recent decades, despite this greater public acceptance. On the other hand, the rates of births to unwed mothers have continued to rise, despite the steadfast public disapproval." Pew Research Center

Download full report on marriage | Link to online analysis

The Oprah Factor and Campaign 2008

Do Political Endorsements Matter?

"Hillary Clinton continues to lead Barack Obama by a wide margin in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But Obama has something Clinton doesn't have – the support of Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey endorsed Obama in May of this year and recently held a fundraiser for him at her Malibu, Calif. home. While political endorsements generally have little impact on voter preferences, there is no telling whether Winfrey can do for Obama what she has done for the countless books and products she's endorsed over the years." Source: Pew Research Center for people and the press

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Distinguishing Spurious and Real Peer Effects: Evidence from Artificial Societies, Small-Group Experiments, and Real Schoolyards

"In a variety of important domains, there is considerable correlational evidence
suggestive of what are variously referred to as social norm effects, contagion effects, information cascades, or peer effects. It is difficult to statistically identify whether such effects are causal, and there are various non-causal mechanisms that can produce such apparent norm effects. Lab experiments demonstrate that real peer effects occur, but also that apparent cascade or peer effects can be spurious. A curious feature of American local school configuration policy provides an opportunity to identify true peer influences among adolescents. Some school districts send 6th graders to middle school (e.g., 6th-8th grade "junior high"); others retain 6th graders for one additional year in K-6 elementary schools. Source: Center for the Study of Law and Society Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program. U.C. Berkeley

download full pdf publication | Link to eScholarship Repository

Public Regulation and Private Lawsuits in the American Separation of Powers System

"I investigate causes of the legislative choice to mobilize private litigants to enforce statutes. I specify the statutory mechanism, grounded in economic incentives, that Congress uses to do so, and I present a theoretical framework for understanding how certain characteristics of separation of powers structures, particularly conflict between Congress and the president over control of the bureaucracy, drive legislative production of this mechanism. Using new and original historical data, I present the first empirical model of the legislative choice to mobilize private litigants, covering the years 1887 to 2004. In addition to testing separation of powers hypotheses, this new data allows me to evaluate four additional hypotheses concerning legislative mobilization of private litigants that have long appeared in the scholarly literature but have never been tested due to lack of appropriate data. The findings provide robust support for the proposition that interbranch conflict between Congress and the president is a powerful cause of congressional enactment of incentives to mobilize private litigants." Author: Sean Farhang Source: Center for the Study of Law and Society Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program. U.C. Berkeley [via eScholarship Repository]

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Japan's Currency Intervention: Policy Issues

"Japan's intervention to slow the upward appreciation of the yen has raised concerns in the United States and brought charges that Tokyo is manipulating its exchange rate in order to gain unfair advantage in world trade. This coincides with similar charges being made with respect to the currencies of the People's Republic of China and South Korea. In the 109th Congress, S. 377 (Fair Currency Enforcement Act of 2005) would require negotiation and appropriate action with respect to certain countries that engage in currency manipulation. H.R. 3283 (United States Trade Rights Enforcement Act) would require the Secretary of the Treasury to provide to Congress a periodic assessment of countries -- including Japan -- that intervene to influence the value of their currency. Japan intervened (bought dollars and sold yen) extensively to counter the yen's appreciation in 1976-1978, 1985-1988, 1992-1996, and 1998-2004." Source: Congressional Research Service

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Study Challenges Assumption that Private Colleges Make Better Faculty Workplaces

"Faculty at public colleges and universities rate tenure clarity, the clarity of performance expectations, and the reasonableness of those expectations higher than faculty at private institutions, according to a survey of nearly 7,000 junior faculty members from across the country. Early-career faculty at public institutions also expressed greater satisfaction than those at private institutions with work/life balance. The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE), a research project based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, compiled and compared trends between public and private institutions of higher education based on responses from junior faculty members at 77 colleges and universities." Source: Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, Harvard University Graduate School of Education

Download Survey Highlights | Link to online report

Adolescents, Neighborhoods, and Violence

"Although some adolescents are more violent than others, and some neighborhoods experience more crime and violence than others, the factors that mitigate violent and criminal behavior are largely unknown. The NIJ Research in Brief Adolescents, Neighborhoods, and Violence: Recent Findings From the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods describes the results of a study that examined the neighborhood conditions, individual characteristics, and family characteristics that contribute to adolescent violence. Results from the study work to erase misleading stereotypes about race and violence, emphasizing the importance of neighborhood conditions and social processes in contributing to adolescent violence." Source: (U.S.) National Institute of Justice

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U.S. Health Care Spending: Comparison with Other OECD Countries

The United States spends more money on health care than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD consists of 30 democracies, most of which are considered the most economically advanced countries in the world. According to OECD data, the United States spent $6,102 per capita on health care in 2004 -- more than double the OECD average and 19.9% more than Luxembourg, the second-highest spending country. In 2004, 15.3% of the U.S. economy was devoted to health care, compared with 8.9% in the average OECD country and 11.6% in second-placed Switzerland. Why does the United States spend this amount on health care? Economists break health care spending into two parts: price and quantity (which includes the number of visits to health care providers and the intensity of those visits). In terms of quantity, OECD data indicate that the United States has far fewer doctor visits per person compared with the OECD average; for hospitalizations, the United States ranks well below the OECD and is roughly comparable in terms of length of hospital stays. The intensity of service delivery is a different story: the United States uses more of the newest medical technologies and performs several invasive procedures (such as coronary bypasses and angioplasties) more frequently than the average OECD country. In terms of price, the OECD has stated that "there is no doubt that U.S. prices for medical care commodities and services are significantly higher than in other countries and serve as a key determinant of higher overall spending." Source: Congressional Research Service

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Petraeus' Proposals Favored, But No Lift in War Support

"Last week's congressional testimony by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, followed by President Bush's address to the nation, has not changed bottom-line public attitudes toward the war in Iraq. However, there has been a modest increase in positive views about the U.S. military effort, accompanied by largely positive public reactions to General Petraeus' recommendations." Source: Pew Center for People and the Press

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ethnic Identity and Immigrant Homeownership

"Immigrants are much less likely to own their homes than natives, even after controlling for a broad range of life-cycle and socio-economic characteristics and housing market conditions. This paper extends the analysis of immigrant housing tenure choice by explicitly accounting for ethnic identity as a potential influence on the homeownership decision, using a two-dimensional model of ethnic identity that incorporates attachments to both origin and host cultures. The evidence suggests that immigrants with a stronger commitment to the host country are more likely to achieve homeownership for a given set of socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, regardless of their level of attachment to their home country." Source: Institute for the study of labor

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The long-run impact of orphanhood

"This paper presents unique evidence that orphanhood matters in the long run for health and education outcomes, in a region of Northwestern Tanzania. The paper studies a sample of 718 non-orphaned children surveyed in 1991-94, who were traced and re-interviewed as adults in 2004. A large proportion, 19 percent, lost one or more parents before the age of 15 in this period, allowing the authors to assess the permanent health and education impacts of orphanhood. The analysis controls for a wide range of child and adult characteristics before orphanhood, as well as community fixed effects. The findings show that maternal orphanhood has a permanent adverse impact of 2 cm of final height attainment and one year of educational attainment. Expressing welfare in terms of consumption expenditure, the result is a gap of 8.5 percent compared with similar children whose mother survived till at least their 15th birthday." Source: World Bank

Download pdf report | Link to World Bank

When a Black Tee Shirt Is More than a Black Tee Shirt: Why Brands Aren't Losing Their Luster

"Several years ago, VF Corporation, the world's largest apparel manufacturer, embarked on an aggressive growth strategy that rests heavily on branding, including opening new retail outlets. The company, which had been known for producing intimate apparel and everyday Wrangler and Lee jeans, is building on a group of brands that symbolize an entire lifestyle.

The model is based on North Face, a label that encompasses products ranging from jackets and shoes to shorts and tents, all communicating an outdoors-oriented lifestyle. Since it acquired North Face in 2000, VF has gone on to buy Reef -- which is aimed at surfers -- high-end jeans maker 7 for All Mankind and lucy, a women's active apparel brand focusing on the loose-fitting yoga look. VF also sold off its long-time intimate apparel divisions, which manufactured the Vanity Fair and Vassarette labels, because research showed that consumers viewed those lines simply as products, not as a symbol of a broader lifestyle, according to VF CEO Mackey McDonald.

"Our capability today is in building brands," he says. "That is what I believe is driving our growth and success."

If VF's strategy is any indication, brands don't seem to be losing their luster. Despite serious challenges from private label manufacturers and low-price global production, branding remains an important way for consumers to choose among products in a crowded marketplace. At the same time, brands are also taking on a growing role in building consumers' own identities, according to Wharton faculty and marketing analysts. But, these experts add, with little room to compete on cost, brands will need to be vigilant when it comes to differentiating themselves from increasingly sophisticated competitors." Source: Knowledge@Wharton, Univ. of Penn.

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A Nation of "Haves" and "Have-Nots"?

Far More Americans Now See Their Country as Sharply Divided Along Economic Lines

"Over the past two decades, a growing share of the public has come to the view that American society is divided into two groups, the "haves" and the "have-nots." Today, Americans are split evenly on the two-class question with as many saying the country is divided along economic lines as say this is not the case (48% each). In sharp contrast, in 1988, 71% rejected this notion, while just 26% saw a divided nation." Source: Pew Research Center

Note: Quotes work of 2007-08 Fellow Emmanuel Saez

Link to online report

Peru: Political Situation, Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations

"Peru, a coca-producing country in the Andean region of South America, has had a turbulent political history. Despite its tumultuous past, Peru has recently taken steps to consolidate its democracy and pursue market-friendly economic policies. For the past six years, Peru, a leading mineral exporter, has posted some of the fastest economic growth rates in Latin America. GDP growth reached 8% in 2006 and, despite damage caused by a recent earthquake, is expected to exceed 7% in 2007. In June 2006, former president Alan Garc�(1985-1990) was elected president in a close race. Since taking office, Garc�has embraced the proposed United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) and launched an aggressive coca eradication campaign. The United States enjoys strong ties with Peru, with trade issues a key U.S. priority. The proposed PTPA was ratified by the Peruvian legislature in June 2006, and amended to include labor and environmental provisions in June 2007. After a trip to Peru in August 2007, congressional leaders indicated that consideration of the proposed PTPA would likely occur this fall." Source: Congressional Research Service

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‘Martyrdom culture’ not major cause of Afghan suicide attacks, UN reports

"Suicide attackers in Afghanistan, including children, are being coerced or duped into carrying out such operations, and seemed to be motivated by a variety of grievances such as foreign occupation, anger over civilian casualties and humiliation rather than a “martyrdom culture,” according to a new United Nations report." Source: united Nations

Download pdf report | Link to online press release

Sudanese children still enduring grave human rights violations – UN report

"Sudanese children continue to face grave violations of their human rights, from being recruited and used by armed forces and groups to suffering rape or sexual abuse at their hands, according to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on children and armed conflict in the African country." Source: United Nations

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| Link to press release

New Census Bureau Data Reveal More Older Workers, Homeowners, Non-English Speakers

From the Census Bureau Press Release: "released annual data on key social, economic and housing characteristics for the nation, states, and geographic areas with populations of 65,000 or more. Covering topics ranging from language to education, from family size to work commute, the American Community Survey (ACS) provides annual data that help decision makers and planners better respond to change.

“The American Community Survey meets a critical need for timely information,” said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon. “In these fast-paced times, 10 years is too long to wait for detailed census data. These data are vital for the planning, implementation and evaluation of policies ranging from building new schools and roads to establishing initiatives that drive economic development.”

While the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program provides the official estimates of population size, including by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, the ACS looks at a wide range of social, economic and housing characteristics for the population by a multitude of demographic variables. The data are available for more than 7,000 areas, including all congressional districts as well as counties, cities, metro areas and American Indian and Alaska Native areas of 65,000 population or more.

Link to press release and data table links

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities

"...examines the educational progress and challenges that racial and ethnic minorities face in the United States. This report shows that over time larger numbers of minorities have completed high school and continued their education in college. Despite these gains, progress has varied, and differences persist among Hispanic, Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and White students on key indicators of educational performance." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Perceptions and Expectations of Youth With Disabilities.

"Perceptions and Expectations of Youth With Disabilities. A Special Topic Report of Findings From the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2): Scheduled for release on September 11, this report from NCSER provides a picture of the self-representations and expectations of youth with disabilities, how they differ across disability categories and demographic groups, and how they compare with youth in the general population. The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2), funded by IES, was initiated in 2001 and has a nationally representative sample of more than 11,000 students with disabilities. This report presents findings drawn primarily from telephone interviews or self-administered mail surveys collected from youth when they were ages 15 through 19. The report addresses questions such as how youth with disabilities describe their feelings about themselves and their lives, their secondary school experiences, their personal relationships, and their expectations for the future." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Why We Aren't as Ethical as We Think We Are: A Temporal Explanation

"This paper explores the biased perceptions that people hold of their own ethicality. We argue that the temporal trichotomy of prediction, action and evaluation is central to these misperceptions: People predict that they will behave more ethically than they actually do, and when evaluating past (un)ethical behavior, they believe they behaved more ethically than they actually did. We use the want/should theoretical framework to explain the bounded ethicality that arises from these temporal inconsistencies, positing that the "should" self dominates during the prediction and evaluation phases but that the "want" self is dominant during the critical action phase. We draw on the research on behavioral forecasting, ethical fading, and cognitive distortions to gain insight into the forces driving these faulty perceptions and, noting how these misperceptions can lead to continued unethical behavior, we provide recommendations for how to reduce them." Source: Harvard Business School Working Paper Series

Download full pdf publication | Link to online Executive Summary

U.S. Labor Department issues sixth annual report on child labor in trade beneficiary countries

ILAB prepared the department's 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor under the child labor reporting requirement of the Trade and Development Act of 2000. The act requires trade-beneficiary countries and territories to implement their international commitments to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

As defined by the International Labor Organization Convention 182, the worst forms of child labor include any form of slavery, such as forced or indentured child labor; the trafficking of children and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict; child prostitution and pornography; the use of children for illicit activities such as drug trafficking; and work that is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

This report presents information on the nature and extent of the worst forms of child labor in each of the 141 countries and territories and the efforts being made by their governments to eliminate these problems. The bureau's Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking collected data from a wide variety of sources, including U.S. embassies and consulates, foreign governments, nongovernmental organizations and international agencies. In addition, bureau staff conducted field visits to some countries covered in the report. Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor

Download full pdf report | Link to press release

Economic Freedom of the World: 2007 Annual Report,

"The annual peer-reviewed report uses 42 different measures to create an index ranking countries around the world based on policies that encourage economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange of goods and services, freedom to compete and security of privately owned property. The lead authors of the overall report are James D. Gwartney, Professor of Economics at Florida State University, and Robert A. Lawson, Professor of Economics at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio."

Countries’ economic freedom scores are telling as the report has found that nations that are economically free out-perform non-free nations in indicators of well-being.

Source: Cato Institute

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| link to press release

Connecting Kids to Health Coverage: Evaluating the Child Health and Disability Prevention Gateway Program

Three years later, CHCF commissioned research to examine the program’s performance, identify successes and challenges, and create a road map for the future.

The report found that while the CHDP Gateway is succeeding in its goal of pre-enrolling large numbers of children into temporary Medi-Cal coverage, it has had less success moving those children into long-term coverage.

Source: California Health Care Foundation

Download pdf Report | Link to online Summary

Clinton and Giuliani Seen as Not Highly Religious; Romney's Religion Raises Concerns

"So far religion is not proving to be a clear-cut positive in the 2008 presidential campaign. The candidates viewed by voters as the least religious among the leading contenders are the current frontrunners for the Democratic and Republican nominations – Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, respectively. On the other hand, the candidate seen as far and away the most religious – Mitt Romney – is handicapped by this perception because of voter concerns about Mormonism." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press.

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| Download full pdf questionnaire |Link to online Summary

Congress and the Internet: Highlights

"The relationship between Congress and the Internet is complex and multifaceted. Today, scores of technology measures are introduced in the House and Senate, influencing the work of nearly all congressional committees and Members and spawning the growth of a new array of interest groups. The Internet's influence is evident within and between the chambers of Congress. Despite widespread discussion about how the Internet will revolutionize legislative politics and policymaking, Congress usually reacts cautiously to the use of new technologies. This report explores how new technologies are introduced to Congress; discusses the impact of the Internet on two key centers of institutional power -- committees and political parties -- and provides a number of summary observations about the internet and congressional governance. This report will be updated only if warranted by new developments." Source: Congressional Research Service.

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Income Inequality and the U.S. Tax System

"While the extent of income inequality is debated periodically, one rarely discussed aspect of inequality is its impact on the tax system. Given the nature of the U.S. federal tax system, changes in the distribution of income can have significant implications for who pays the taxes, how much they pay, and federal tax revenues. One common measure to characterize inequality or the dispersion of income is the Gini coefficient, which varies from 0 to 1. A Gini coefficient of 0 indicates that income is evenly distributed among the population (that is, everyone has the same income) while a value of 1 indicates perfect income inequality (that is, one individual has all the income). Between 1980 and 2004, the Gini coefficient for household income increased from 0.403 to 0.466 -- a 15.6% increase. The Gini coefficient for earnings increased by 22.4% from 0.331 in 1980 to 0.405 by 2004. Inequality has, therefore, increased over the past 25 years." Source: Congresional Research Service

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| Link to online summary

More than half of U.S. black workers earn low wages and lack advancement options

"A new report by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education finds that more than half of black workers in the United States have jobs that don’t pay well, provide retirement and health benefits, or offer avenues for advancement. The report, “Job Quality and Black Workers: An Examination of the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York,” analyzes low‐wage jobs among black workers, using data from the 2000 U.S. Census." Source: U.C. Berkeley Center for Labor Research

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| Download pdf Executive Summary | Link to Labor Center

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Unwanted Fertility, Contraceptive Technology and Crime: Exploiting a Natural Experiment in Access to The Pill

Abstract: Donohue and Levitt (2001) claim to explain a substantial part of the recent decline in U.S. crime rates with the legalization of abortion undertaken in the early 70s. While the validity of these findings remains heavily debated, they point to unwanted fertility as a potentially important determinant of a cohort’s criminality. In that spirit, I exploit a natural experiment induced by policy changes during the 60s and .70s. After the introduction of the contraceptive pill in 1960, single women below the age of majority faced restricted access to this new contraceptive method. Mostly as a by-product of unrelated policy changes, these access restrictions were lifted deferentially across states during the .60s and .70s. This deferential timing of contraceptive liberalization induces exogenous variation that can be used to identify the causal effect of unwanted fertility on crime. Preliminary results are consistent with the arguments of Donohue & Levitt. They indicate that greater flexibility to avoid unwanted pregnancies (through better contraceptive technology) reduces crime about two decades later, when undesired children would have reached their criminal prime. Source: California Center for Population Research. On-Line Working Paper Series

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| Link to online abstract

Thursday, September 06, 2007

"Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan"

The purpose of this report is to present the findings of the 2006 human rights field monitoring activity conducted between January and December 2006 by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This report also provides recommendations aimed at strengthening the observation of economic and social rights in Afghanistan, atpromoting their advancement and protection. Source: United Nations and Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

'Best of Palo Alto' - Results of annual poll of local area resources

Readers of the local Palo Alto Daily Newspaper voted for their pick in a variety of categories including: Restaurants, Services, Shopping and "Fun Stuff."

A good place to find new dinner sites, a dry cleaner, book and toy stores etc.

Palo Alto Daily 'Best of 2007' list online.

Challenged and Banned Books

"Banned Books Week emphasizes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them." Source: American Library Association

Link to online resource | Link to list of 100 most frequently challenged books

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Report of the Virginia Tech Review Panel

"On April 16, 2007, Seung Hui Cho, an angry and disturbed student, shot to death 32 students and faculty of Virginia Tech, wounded 17 more, and then killed himself. The incident horrified not only Virginians, but people across the United States and throughout the world. Tim Kaine, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, immediately appointed a panel to review the events leading up to this tragedy; the handling of the incidents by public safety officials, emergency services providers, and the university; and the services subsequently provided to families, survivors, care-givers, and the community."

"As reflected in the body of the report, the panel has made more than 70 recommendations directed to colleges, universities, mental health providers, law enforcement officials, emergency service providers, law makers, and other public officials in Virginia and elsewhere." Source: Virginia office of the Governor.

Download full pdf report | download executive summary (pdf)

Census Bureau Report: Household Income Rises, Poverty Rate Declines, Number of Uninsured Up

"Real median household income in the United States climbed between 2005 and 2006, reaching $48,200, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the second consecutive year that income has risen."

"Meanwhile, the nation’s official poverty rate declined for the first time this decade, from 12.6 percent in 2005 to 12.3 percent in 2006. There were 36.5 million people in poverty in 2006, not statistically different from 2005. The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 44.8 million (15.3 percent) in 2005 to 47 million (15.8 percent) in 2006." Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Download pdf : Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States

FBI director notes from March 2004 Ashcroft-Gonzales meeting

"FBI Director Robert Mueller's personal notes, Federal Bureau of Investigation, August 14, 2007 [released personal notes revealing that former US Attorney General John Ashcroft was "feeble, barely articulate, and clearly stressed" during a confrontation with then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales at Ashcroft's hospital room in March 2004]." Source: House Jucdiciary Committee via the Jurist (Pitt Law School)

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States, colleges work to cut textbook costs

"College students across the country are experiencing sticker shock at their bookstores. At the University of Maryland, a new Understanding Business book sells for $139. At the University of North Carolina, Tar Heels could shell out $153.35 for Principles of Economics. And at the University of Wisconsin, Chemistry and Chemical Reactivity goes for $109.90 – used.

But relief may be on the way as states and university officials move to lower the cost of college textbooks by taking aim at some publisher and faculty practices blamed for raising prices.

This year – when students at four-year public universities spent an average of $942 on books and supplies, the College Board reported – there were 86 bills in 27 states that dealt with textbook affordability, according to the National Association of College Stores (NACS).

Some of the bills proposed direct relief through sales-tax exemptions or credits and deductions, but the seven states that enacted laws – Arkansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington – largely targeted the behavior of publishers and college faculty. They follow the lead of Connecticut and Virginia, which in the last two years passed bills to cut textbook costs." Source: Pew Research |

Read online report

P.L. 110-55, the Protect America Act of 2007: Modifications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

"On August 5, 2007, P.L. 110-55, the Protect America Act of 2007, was signed into law by President Bush, after having been passed by the Senate on August 3 and the House of Representatives on August 4. The measure, introduced by Senator McConnell as S. 1927 on August 1, makes a number of additions and modifications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), as amended, 50 U.S.C. วง 1801 et seq., adds additional reporting requirements, and sunsets in 180 days. This report describes the provisions of P.L. 110-55, discusses its possible impact on and parallels to existing law, and summarizes the legislative activity with respect to S. 1927, H.R. 3356, and S. 2011." Source: Congressional Research Service

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The Changing Racial and Ethnic Composition of U.S. Public Schools

"The 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June to strike down school desegregation plans in Seattle and Louisville has focused public attention on the degree of racial and ethnic integration in the nation's 93,845 public schools. A new analysis of public school enrollment data by the Pew Hispanic Center finds that in the dozen years from 1993-94 to 2005-06, white students became less isolated from minority students while, at the same time, black and Hispanic students became slightly more isolated from white students." Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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Michael Vick Case Draws Large Audience

"Michael Vick's legal troubles attracted a large news audience last week. One-in-four Americans followed the Vick story very closely and 18% said it was the single news story they followed more closely than any other. Overall, the public believes Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback, has been treated fairly by the press, but there is a sharp racial divide on this issue. While 69% of whites say the press has been fair in the way it has covered this story, only 38% of blacks agree. A narrow majority of blacks (51%) say Vick has been treated unfairly by the media." Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

Download full pdf report | download topline questionnaire | Link to online summary