Sunday, June 29, 2008

Warming Up to User-Generated Content

" The most significant copyright development of the twenty first century has not arisen through any law enacted by Congress or opinion rendered by the Supreme Court. Instead, it has come from the unorganized, informal practices of various, unrelated users of copyrighted works, many of whom probably know next to nothing about copyright law. In order to comprehend this paradox, one must look at what is popularly known as "Web 2.0," and the growth of user-generated content in blogs, wikis, podcasts, "mashup" videos, and social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Although users often create new works of their own, sometimes the works are "remixed" with copyrighted content of others." Source: Social Science Resource Network (SSRN)

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Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact.

"In PHR’s new report, Broken Laws, Broken Lives, we have for the first time medical evidence to confirm first-hand accounts of men who endured torture by US personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay. These men were never charged with any crime." Source: Physicians for Human Rights

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| Download pdf executive summary | Link to Physicians for Human Rights

Arresting Children: Examining Recent Trends in Preteen Crime

"Are juvenile offenders getting younger? The American public often hears policymakers and justice practitioners assert that young people are committing crimes at younger and younger ages. Is this true? This analysis explores this question by examining data collected by law enforcement agencies across the country. It tracks juvenile crime patterns from 1980 through 2006 and finds that the age profile of juvenile offenders has not changed substantially in 25 years. Crime rates among children under age 13 have generally followed the same crime patterns exhibited among older youth. In a few offense categories, however, increases in preteen crime have outpaced increases among older juveniles, particularly sexual offenses, assaults, and weapons possession (not necessarily firearms). The fact that school authorities and family members often report these offenses suggests a possible hypothesis to explain increases in some preteen crimes: The juvenile justice system today may be dealing with child behavior problems that were once the responsibility of social welfare agencies, schools, and families." Source: Chapin Hall Center for Children, University of Chicago

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World Drug Report 2008

"The World Drug Report presents comprehensive information on the illicit drug situation. It provides detailed estimates and trends on production, trafficking and consumption in the opium/heroin, coca/cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants markets. The drug problem is being contained but there are warning signs that the stabilisation which has occurred over the last few years could be in danger. Notable amongst these is the increase in both opium poppy and coca cultivation in 2007,some growth in consumption in developing countries and some development of new trafficking patterns. There have also been encouraging contractions in some of the main consumer markets. This year, almost one hundred years since the Shanghai Opium Commission in 1909, the Report presents an historical review of the development of the international drug control system." Source: United Nations office on drugs and crime

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The Role of Schools in the English Language Learner Achievement Gap

"Students designated as English language learners (ELL) tend to go to public schools with low standardized test scores. However, these low levels of assessed proficiency are not solely attributable to poor achievement by ELL students. These same schools report poor achievement by other major student groups as well, and have a set of characteristics associated generally with poor standardized test performance--such as high student-teacher ratios, high student enrollments and high levels of students who live in poverty or near poverty. When ELL students are not isolated in these low-achieving schools, their gap in test score results is considerably narrower." Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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CRS Report: Boumediene v. Bush: Guantanamo Detainees' Right to Habeas Corpus

In the consolidated cases of Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. United States, decided June 12, 2008, the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 opinion that aliens designated as enemy combatants and detained at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus. The Court also found that � 7 of the Military Commissions Act (MCA), which limited judicial review of executive determinations of the petitioners' enemy combatant status, did not provide an adequate habeas substitute and therefore acted as an unconstitutional suspension of the writ of habeas. The immediate impact of the Boumediene decision is that detainees at Guantanamo may petition a federal district court for habeas review of the circumstances of their detention. This report summarizes the Boumediene decision and analyzes several of its major implications for the U.S. detention of alien enemy combatants and legislation that limits detainees' access to judicial review. Source: Congressional Research Service

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Conversation in Aid of a “Conspiracy” for Truth

Conversation in Aid of a “Conspiracy” for Truth: A Candid Discussion about Jesuit Law Schools, Justice, and Engaging the Catholic Intellectual Tradition

"This essay responds to the critique of Jesuit legal education developed by John Breen in two recent articles. I endorse Breen’s call for a candid discussion of how Jesuit Catholic law schools might go about embodying a characteristic that should be at the heart of their mission: a commitment to engaging the Catholic intellectual tradition in the intellectual life of the law school. Law schools that wish to be taken seriously as Jesuit law schools must in fact be places where engagement with the Catholic intellectual tradition is part of the air that gives life to the academic mission of the institution. I reject, however, Breen’s stark conclusion that Jesuit legal education must be characterized as an “abysmal failure” as Jesuit education. His conclusion is rooted in a mistaken understanding of what the Jesuit commitment to higher education as an apostolate is about. My reflections suggest two points in the hope of furthering the discussion Breen desires. First, we need to look more carefully at what might be meant by references to the “Catholic intellectual tradition,” and then explore what engagement with the tradition might actually look like in the contemporary Jesuit law school. Second, we need to recognize that the tone and style of engagement that one adopts with respect to this issue is critical. We need to invite our colleagues into a genuine conversation about two central issues: (1) What this unfolding, as-yet-unfinished project of the Catholic intellectual tradition is really about; and (2) Why the participation of a diverse community of scholars in this project is central to realizing a richer and more life-giving intellectual environment in the Jesuit Catholic law school (richer and more life-giving as a law school, precisely because it is a Jesuit Catholic law school)."Author: Gregory A. Kalscheur SJ, Source: Boston College Law School. Boston College Law School Faculty Papers. Paper 225.

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Trends Among High School Seniors

Using questionnaire and transcript data collected in 1972, 1980, 1982, 1992, and 2004, this report presents information on five cohorts of high school seniors. The analysis addresses overall trends, as well as trends within various subgroups defined by sex, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES). Key findings of the report include the following: The proportion of Black seniors who were in the highest SES quartile doubled from 1972 to 1992 (from 5 percent to 10 percent), and increased overall from 5 percent in 1972 to 14 percent in 2004. The percentage of seniors enrolling in calculus during their senior year grew from 6 percent to 13 percent between 1982 and 2004. The percentage of seniors taking no mathematics courses during their senior year declined from 57 percent to 34 percent over this time period. Seniors increased their senior-year enrollment in advanced science courses (chemistry II, physics II, and advanced biology) from 12 percent in 1982 to 25 percent in 2004. In each class of seniors, most of those who planned further schooling intended to attend four-year postsecondary schools, with the proportion of students planning to attend four-year schools rising from 34 percent in 1972 to 61 percent in 2004. In all years, higher percentages of Asian high school seniors, and lower percentages of Hispanic seniors (except in 1992), compared to other racial/ethnic groups, planned attendance at four-year institutions No difference was observed between 1972 and 2004 between the percentage of seniors expecting a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of education. Instead, growth between these two time points was greatest in expectations for a graduate or professional degree: 13 percent of seniors expected to attain this level of education as their highest in 1972, compared to 38 percent of seniors in 2004. In 1972, males expected to earn a graduate degree as their highest educational level in greater proportions than did females (16 percent versus 9 percent); however, in 2004, females expected to earn a graduate degree more often than males (45 percent versus 32 percent). Seniors increasingly expected to work in professional occupations (growing from 45 percent of seniors in 1972 to 63 percent of seniors in 2004 expecting to work in a professional field). Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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National Indian Education Study

Part II: The Educational Experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native Students in Grades 4 and 8

"This report presents information about the educational, home, and community experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) fourth- and eighth-grade students that was collected during the National Indian Education Study (NIES) of 2007. AI/AN students represent about 1 percent of the student population in the United States. Approximately 10,000 AI/AN students in 1,700 schools at grade 4 and 11,000 AI/AN students from 1,800 schools at grade 8 participated in the study. Students, their teachers, and their school administrators completed the surveys." Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Under-privileged children also disadvantaged in the classroom

Entitled A View Inside Primary Schools, the report presents the results of a unique survey undertaken in 11 countries* in Latin America, Asia and North Africa. As part of the World Education Indicators (WEI) programme, the countries were involved in developing and conducting the survey to examine the factors shaping the quality and equality of primary education.

Fourth grade teachers and principals from more than 7,600 schools responded to detailed questionnaires on how schools function, how teachers teach, learning conditions and the support available to teachers and principals.

“This survey offers a wealth of data. On the one hand, we see the extent to which schools lack the most basic elements - running water or electricity – that are taken for granted in the developed countries,” says Hendrik van der Pol, director of the Institute. “But the data also reveal how social inequality affects a child’s opportunity to learn. And clearly, no country – rich or poor – is immune to these disparities.” Source: UNESCO

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Generations of Struggle

"Debt has become the common denominator of American life: in 2007, more than a million people filed for bankruptcy. In this paper, researchers Deborah Thorne of Ohio University, Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School, and Teresa A. Sullivan of the University of Michigan analyze data from the 1991, 2001, and 2007 Consumer Bankruptcy Project surveys. Their findings reveal grim news for older adults. The rate of bankruptcy filings among those ages 65 and older has more than doubled since 1991, and the average age for filing bankruptcy has increased." Source: AARP

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Revitalizing Arts Education Through Community-Wide Coordination

"For more than 30 years, arts education has been a low priority in the nation’s public schools. During fiscal crises in the 1970s and 1980s in America’s urban centers, arts teaching positions were cut. More recently, arts education in schools has dwindled as schools try to increase test scores in mathematics and reading within the time constraints of the school day. Some communities have responded with initiatives aimed at coordinating schools, cultural institutions, community-based organizations, foundations, and/or government agencies to promote access to arts learning for children in and outside of school. The objective of this study was to investigate this phenomenon in six urban U.S. communities — Alameda County (which includes Oakland and Berkeley) in Northern California, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles County, and New York City — descriptively and comparatively analyzing how these efforts started, how they evolved, what kinds of organizations became involved, what conditions fostered or impeded coordination, and what strategies were used to improve both access to and quality of arts education. The evidence gathered (through a comparative case-study analysis based on site visits, a document review, and interviews with 120 experts across the six sites) is positive in that it documents signs of progress in promoting access to arts learning experiences for children, but it is also cautionary. When seen in light of the historical factors that have impeded access to arts learning in the past, the six efforts are, generally speaking, fragile. To succeed in the long run, coordinated efforts such as these must have committed and sustained leadership, supportive policy, and sufficient resources." Source: RAND Corporation

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A Comparison of the Health Systems in China and India

"The world's two most populous countries, China and India, are undergoing dramatic demographic, societal, and economic transformations. However, the health status of residents of China and India still lags behind relative to other populations, and the health gains in each country have been uneven across subpopulations. Although they have achieved substantial advances in life expectancy and disease prevention since the middle of the 20th century, the Chinese and Indian health systems provide little protection against financial risk, and patient satisfaction is a lower priority than it should be. This paper compares the health systems of China and India to determine what approaches to improving health in these two countries do and do not work. In particular, the authors compare the health systems in China and India along three dimensions: policy levers, intermediate outcomes, and ultimate ends. The authors conclude that both countries must (1) restructure health care financing to reduce the burden of out-of-pocket medical care costs on individual patients; (2) increase access to care, especially in rural areas; (3) reduce dependence on fee-for-service contracts that promote overutilization of medical care; (4) build capacity for addressing and monitoring emerging diseases; and (5) match hospital capabilities with local needs."Source: RAND Corporation

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Children and armed conflict in Somalia

"The report stresses that the level of grave violations against children in Somalia has been increasing over the past year, particularly with regard to the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict; the killing, maiming and rape of children; and the denial of humanitarian access to children." Source: United Nations

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Friday, June 20, 2008

More See America's Loss of Global Respect as Major Problem

"More Americans now say that the United States is less respected in the world than it has been in the past, and a growing proportion views this as a major problem for the country. More than seven-in-ten Americans (71%) say that the United States is less respected by other countries these days, up from 65% in August 2006.

For the first time since Pew began asking this question in 2004, a majority of Americans now sees the loss of international respect for the United States as a major problem. The percentage of Americans saying the loss of international respect is a major problem has risen from 43% in 2005 to 48% in 2006 and 56% currently." Source: Pew Research Center for people and the press.

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United Nations System Efforts to Address Violence Against Women

The United Nations (U.N.) system supports a number of programs that address international violence against women (VAW). These activities, which are implemented by 32 U.N. entities, range from large-scale interagency initiatives to smaller grants and programs that are implemented by a range of partners, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), national governments, and individual U.N. agencies. U.N. member states, including the United States, address VAW by ratifying multilateral treaties, adopting resolutions and decisions, and supporting U.N. mechanisms and bodies that focus on the issue. Many U.N. activities and mechanisms address VAW directly, while others focus on it in the context of broader issues such as humanitarian assistance, U.N. peacekeeping, and global health. U.N. entities do not specifically track the cost of programs or activities with anti-VAW components. As a result, it is unclear how much the U.N. system, including individual U.N. agencies, funds, and programs, spends annually on programs to combat violence against women. The U.S. government supports many activities that, either in whole or in part, work to combat international violence against women. Some experts argue that when considering the most effective ways to address VAW on an international scale, the United States should take into account the efforts of international organizations such as the United Nations. Were Congress to decide to use U.N. mechanisms to combat VAW, a number of programs and options might be considered. Congress has appropriated funds to the U.N. Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence Against Women, for example, as well as to U.N. agencies, funds, and programs that address types or circumstances of violence against women and girls. These include the World Health Organization (WHO), U.N. Development Program (UNDP), the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Senate has also given its advice and consent for U.S. ratification of treaties that address international violence against women and girls -- including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Source: Congressional Research Service.

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Russia's Economic Performance and Policies and Their Implications for the United States

The Russian economy has grown impressively since 1999 and, by some measures, has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The growth has brought an improvement in the standard of living of the average Russian citizen and has brought economic stability that Russia had not experienced in at least a decade. This strong performance is a major factor in the popular support that former President (now Prime Minister) Putin enjoys� some 70%-80% of the population view him favorably. The improvement in the Russian economy is also arguably a factor in the boldness with which the Putin leadership has reasserted Russia's status as a world power, challenging the United States, Europe, the other former Soviet states in economic and national security areas. The Russian economy is highly dependent on the production and export of oil, gas, and other natural resources. Its success has largely been the result of recordbreaking world energy prices, although prudent fiscal policies have also helped to promote economic stability. However, oil dependence could prove to be a doubleedged sword. The Putin regime's failure to complete important economic reforms and its penchant for re-asserting government control over key economic sectors also loom among the possible roadblocks down the road. How Putin's successor, President Dmitriy Medvedev, will proceed is still a matter of speculation. Although its influence has been greatly diminished since the Soviet period, Russia remains a formidable force on the global stage, and its influence seems to be growing. Russia's economy is large enough to influence global economic conditions. Many European countries and former Soviet states are highly dependent on Russian natural gas. Russia is a significant player on a number of issues critical to the United States, for example, nuclear proliferation by Iran and North Korea. Russia's perceived national interests do not always match those of the United States, creating an environment for disagreement if not conflict. While U.S. exports to Russia are still relatively small, for some producers, such as poultry, energy equipment, and technology, Russia is an important market. Russia is also an important supplier of a number of raw materials that are critical to U.S. manufacturers. These links have drawn the attention of some Members of Congress. Hearings have recently been held on Russian economic performance and policies. Congress may consider in the near future whether to extend permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status to Russia as Russia pursues accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This report on Russian economic conditions and policies will be updated as events warrant. Source: Congressional Research Service

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Justice, the Bretton Woods Institutions and the Problem of Inequality

"The Bretton Woods Institutions are, together with the WTO, the preeminent international institutions devoted to managing international economic relations. This mandate puts them squarely in the center of the debate concerning development, inequality and global justice. While the normative analysis of the WTO is gaining momentum, the systematic normative evaluation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund is comparatively less developed. This essay aims to contribute to that nascent inquiry. How might global justice criteria apply to the ideology and operations of the Bank and Fund? Political theory offers an abundance of perspectives from which to conduct such an analysis; this essay will focus on Rawls' theory of Justice as Fairness adapted to international institutions by the author in connection with the WTO, and extend it to the remaining "legs" of the Bretton Woods "stool." This essay will ask what difference it would make for the Bank and Fund if an explicit global justice framework informed their international lending activities." Author: Source: Boston College Law School. Boston College Law School Faculty Papers. Paper 224.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Controlling Unauthorized Immigration from Mexico: The Failure of “Prevention through Deterrence” and the Need for Comprehensive Reform

"A briefing with experts recently featured in the PBS series “Frontline,” who have interviewed thousands of experienced and potential migrants, studied U.S. immigration enforcement up close at the border, and reached important conclusions about our current border-enforcement efforts." Source: Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, U.C. San Diego.

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Global Economic Gloom - China and India Notable Exceptions

"Five years after the start of the war in Iraq, the image of the United States abroad remains far less positive than it was before the war and at the beginning of the century. However, the latest survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project finds some encouraging signs for America's global image for the first time this decade.

Favorable views of the United States have increased modestly since 2007 in 10 of 21 countries where comparative data are available. Perhaps more importantly, the polling finds many people around the world paying close attention to the U.S. presidential election. Moreover - except in countries that are extremely anti-American - those who are paying attention generally believe the next president may well change U.S. foreign policy for the better. In nearly every country surveyed, greater numbers express confidence in presidential candidate Barack Obama than in John McCain." Source: Pew Global Attitudes Project

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U.S. Mortality Drops Sharply

"Age-adjusted death rates in the United States declined significantly between 2005 and 2006 and life expectancy hit another record high, according to preliminary death statistics released today by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The 2006 age-adjusted death rate fell to 776.4 deaths per 100,000 population from 799 deaths per 100,000 in 2005. In addition, death rates for 8 of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States all dropped significantly in 2006, including a very sharp drop in mortality from influenza and pneumonia." Source: Center for Disease Control National Center for Health Statistics

Download pdf publication | Link to Press Release at the CDC Center for Health Statistics

Boumediene v. Bush

From the Washington Post: "A deeply divided Supreme Court yesterday ruled that terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have a right to seek their release in federal court, delivering a historic rebuke to the Bush administration and Congress for policies that the majority said compromised, in the name of national security, the Constitution's guarantee of liberty." Source: Supreme Court | Washington Post

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Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives

"Corruption is increasingly being challenged as unacceptable across Asia and the Pacific. This Report shows how why eliminating corruption that plagues people’s daily lives must become a priority. The police, social services, and environment are areas countries should consider focusing on. Now is the time to seize the moment, to combine pressure from above, in government and the private sector, with the voice of the people from below. Successes are emerging, alongside growing international commitment - history does not have to become the region’s destiny." Source: United Nations

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Missing Girls in India: Infanticide, Feticide and Made-to-Order Pregnancies? Insights from Hospital-Based Sex-Ratio-at-Birth over the Last Century

There are 44 million missing women in India. Gender bias; neglect of girls, infanticides and feticides are responsible. The sex ratio at birth can be used to examine the influence of antenatal sex selection on the sex ratio.

Records from 321,991 deliveries at one hospital over 11 decades were utilized. The middle year in each decade was taken as representative of the decade. Data from 33,524 deliveries were then analyzed. Data for each decade was combined with that of previous decades and compared to the data of subsequent decades to look for any change in the trend. Sex ratio in the second children against sex of the first child was studied separately. Source: Public Library of Science One

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Baseball and the Rule of Law Revisited

"This is a revised and updated version of my 1999 article "Baseball and the Rule of Law." In both articles, I argue that baseball is a highly legalistic game that can be used to help us understand how the rule of law operates in courts. The article notes that baseball is the only sport that requires a judicial ruling - a ruling by an umpire - for every play. No player is out or safe, no pitch is a strike or a ball until the umpire makes a ruling that is, in effect, a judicial determination. The article explains how the interpretation of baseball rules (umpires who call high strike zones or low strike zones for example) teach players and fans the nature of judicial interpretation. The article also examines briefly the controversy over the ownership of valuable baseballs caught by fans, the legal issues surrounding stadium franchises, baseball and antitrust, and the way in which baseball affected civil rights through the integration of the Major Leagues starting with Jackie Robinson in 1947." Author: Finkelman, Paul, Source: Thomas Jefferson Law Review via SSRN

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Harnessing the Power of Information for the Next Generation of Environmental Law

Despite the ubiquity of information, no one has proposed calling the present era the Knowledge Age. Knowledge depends not only on access to reliable information, but also on sound judgment regarding which information to access and how to situate that information in relation to the values and purposes that comprise the individual's or the social groups larger projects. This is certainly the case for wise and effective environmental governance. A regulator needs accurate information to understand the nature of a problem and the consequences of potential responses. Likewise, the regulated community needs information to decide how best to comply with adopted rules, and the public needs information in order to accept the credibility and legitimacy of the regulatory regime. But governance also requires judgment regarding how to manage information itself-how to structure burdens of proof in light of goals such as public safety or promotion of economic growth, how to balance the public's interest in disclosure against competing aims such as national security or the protection of trade secrets, whether to withhold information in the belief that it may actually be harmful to the recipient, and so on. This paper, written as a foreword for the Texas Law Review's symposium issue, Harnessing the Power of Information for the Next Generation of Environmental Law, provides a model to understand the role of information in environmental law-how it is generated, utilized, and disseminated within regulatory processes. Drawing on the diverse and significant insights of the symposium articles, the paper attempts both to make sense of the role of information in environmental protection and to highlight significant questions and concerns. Authors: James Salzman and Douglas A. Kysar Source:Duke Law School Working Paper Series. Duke Law School Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 119.

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Detention and Interrogation in the Post-9/11 World

"Our detention and interrogation policies in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have been a disaster. This paper, delivered as a Donahue Lecture at Suffolk University Law School in February 2008, explores the dimensions and source of that disaster. It first offers a clear and intelligible narrative of the construction and implementation of executive detention and interrogation policy and then analyzes the roles played by the different branches of government and the American people in order to understand how we have ended up in our current situation." Author: Kermit Roosevelt III Source: University of Pennsylvania Law School. Scholarship at Penn Law. Paper 227.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Violence by Teenage Girls: Trends and Context

"Examines the involvement of girls in violent activity (including whether such activity has increased relative to the increase for boys) and the contexts in which girls engage in violent behavior. Increasing arrest rates of girls led the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to convene the Girls Study Group. The Girls Study Group examines strategies to reduce girls’ involvement in violence and delinquency. This OJJDP Bulletin assesses trends of juvenile arrest rates for violent crimes, focusing on simple and aggravated assault." Source: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

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Conflict of Interest Policies at Academic Medical Centers

"The AMSA PharmFree Scorecard 2008 evaluates conflict-of-interest policies at the 150 medical colleges and colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States. Using letter grades to assess schools’ performance in eleven potential areas of conflict, the Scorecard offers a comprehensive look at the landscape of conflict-of-interest policies across American medical education, as well as more in-depth assessment of individual policies that govern industry interaction with medical school faculty and trainees. The Scorecard assesses policies related to potential conflicts of interest created by industry marketing at the level of the individual physician and trainee." Source: American Medical Student Association

Link to AMSA PharmFree Scorecard 2008

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance --- United States

n the United States, 72% of all deaths among persons aged 10–24 years result from four causes: motor-vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide. Results from the 2007 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) indicated that many high school students engaged in behaviors that increased their likelihood of death from these four causes. Among high school students nationwide during 2007, 11.1% had never or rarely worn a seat belt when riding in a car driven by someone else. During the 30 days before the survey, 29.1% of high school students had ridden in a car or other vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol, 18.0% had carried a weapon, and 5.5% had not gone to school because they felt they would be unsafe at school or on their way to or from school. During the 12 months before the survey, 6.9% of high school students had attempted suicide. In addition, 75.0% of high school students had ever drunk alcohol, and 4.4% had ever used methamphetamines. Substantial morbidity and social problems among youth also result from unintended pregnancies and STDs, including HIV infection. Results from the 2007 survey indicated that 47.8% of students had ever had sexual intercourse, 35.0% of high school students were currently sexually active, and 38.5% of currently sexually active high school students had not used a condom during last sexual intercourse. Among U.S. adults aged >25 years, 59% of all deaths result from two causes: cardiovascular disease and cancer. Results from the 2007 national YRBS indicated that risk behaviors associated with these two causes of death were present during adolescence. Among high school students nationwide during 2007, 20.0% had smoked cigarettes during the 30 days before the survey, 35.4% had watched television 3 or more hours per day on an average school day, and 13.0% were obese. During the 7 days before the survey, 78.6% of high school students had not eaten fruits and vegetables five or more times per day, 33.8% had drunk soda or pop at least one time per day, and 65.3% had not met recommended levels of physical activity. Source: Center for Disease Control

Link to online Report

Release of the Eighth Annual Trafficking in Persons Report

"The 2008 report covers more countries than ever — 170 total. It is the most comprehensive global compendium of human trafficking trends and efforts by foreign governments to eliminate this crime. It is the only report of its kind, with no NGO or UN report like it. And as required by Congress, the Trafficking in Persons Report examines both labor slavery and sex trafficking.

For the first time, in this year’s report, we closely examined prosecution data and made a disturbing discovery: Although more countries are addressing sex trafficking through prosecution and convictions, the petty tyrants who exploit their laborers rarely receive serious punishment. We see this as a serious shortcoming, and as we move our efforts forward, we and our allies must remember that a robust law enforcement response is essential." Source: U.S. Department of State

Download full pdf report | Link to U.S. Dept. of State site to download report in smaller sections

Many U.S. Consumers Want Major Changes in Health Care Design, Delivery

Deloitte’s 2008 Survey of Health Care Consumers, an online poll of more than 3,000 Americans ages 18-75, provides an important and timely perspective on health care consumerism. The survey assesses consumers’ behaviors, attitudes, and unmet needs related to health, health care and health insurance. It also points to six discrete segments of the overall consumer market, providing a profile of their key characteristics and differences. Each segment presents opportunities and risks for health care industry stakeholders.

The survey data provides valuable insights into ways health care providers, health plans, life science companies, policy makers and employers can work to close the gaps that exist between what consumers want and what they are currently getting. Source: Deloitte

Download executive summary (pdf ) | Link to related fact sheets for downloading.

nside Fundraising for the 2008 Party Conventions: Party Surrogates Gather Soft Money While Federal Regulators Turn a Blind Eye

"A new CFI analysis finds that both Democrats and Republicans are using local “host committees” in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul as vehicles for unlimited soft money contributions to their respective 2008 party conventions. This analysis is largely based on documents received from freedom of information requests to Governors and Mayors in Colorado and Minnesota which are excerpted extensively in the report and its appendices. Host committees are expected to pay for as much as 80% of the expenses for the conventions, which produce the biggest and longest political ads of the presidential campaign." Source: Campaign Finance Institute (CFI)

Download full pdf report | Link to CFI Press Release

Creating Social Change Through a Two-way Immersion Program: La Escuelita's Efforts to Foster Spanish/English Bilingualism

Abstract: A substantial academic literature suggests that public schools are failing to provide an effective educational program for language minority students. This paper presents an ethnographic study of an independent charter school, “La Escuelita,” which was built by educators and community members who sought alternative educational resources and programs for their Latino children. This study demonstrates how communities as a whole can use schools as foundations upon which to create meaningful social change. By using a Two-Way (Dual Language) Immersion program, which fosters and maintains students’ native languages while teaching students English, the school encouraged student and parent participation in cultural and political events that empowered the entire community and made learning a social activity. Source: Institute for the Study of Social Change. ISSC Fellows Working Papers. Paper ISSC_WP_28. U.C. Berkeley

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Many Say Coverage is Biased in Favor of Obama

"Over the course of the primary campaign season greater numbers heard about controversies associated with Barack Obama than heard about other campaign events. Nonetheless, far more Americans believe that the press coverage has favored Barack Obama than think it has favored Hillary Clinton.

Nearly four-in-ten (37%) say that in covering the Democratic race, news organizations have been biased toward Obama while just 8% say they have been biased toward Clinton; 40% say news organizations have shown no bias in their coverage. Substantial minorities of Republicans (45%) and independents (40%) say the press has been biased toward Obama; somewhat fewer Democrats (35%) see a pro-Obama bias. " Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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Latino Labor Report, 2008: Construction Reverses Job Growth for Latinos

"Due mainly to a slump in the construction industry, the unemployment rate for Hispanics in the U.S. rose to 6.5% in the first quarter of 2008, well above the 4.7% rate for all non-Hispanics. As recently as the end of 2006, the gap between those two rates had shrunk to an historic low of 0.5 percentage points--4.9% for Latinos compared with 4.4% for non-Latinos, on a seasonally adjusted basis.1

The spike in Hispanic unemployment has hit immigrants especially hard. Their unemployment rate was 7.5% in the first quarter of this year,2 marking the first time since 2003 that a higher percentage of foreign-born Latinos was unemployed than native-born Latinos. Some 52.5% of working age Latinos (ages 16 and older) are immigrants. Latinos make up 14.2% of the U.S. labor force." Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

"The Influence of the Gender Gap in Parliamentarian Support for Reproductive Rights: Comparisons across Western Europe"

"I test seven explanations the function of gender in parliamentarian support for abortion policy by comparing the differences in attitudes between women and men national and European parliamentarians across 15 democracies in Western Europe. I consider the influence of the social policy environment of a parliamentarian’s nation, women’s autonomous access to resources in a parliamentarian’s nation, the mass orientations of a parliamentarian’s nation, the party family to which the parliamentarian belongs, the ideology of the parliamentarian, the institutional design elements of the parliamentarian’s nation, and the gender composition of the representational body in which the parliamentarian resides." Author: Amy C. Alexander Source: Center for the Study of Democracy. Symposium: Democracy and Its Development. Paper G08-01.

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"Is Sunshine the Best Disinfectant? The Causal Relationship between Media Freedom and Democratization"

his article seeks to contribute to the literature on democratization by examining the media’s causal relationship to political liberalization. First, I briefly review the major theoretical research regarding democratization and the media. I then provide an account of why media freedom contributes to democratic development. Specifically, I highlight two causal mechanisms, The Civil Society Function and The Opposition Function. The Civil Society Function, most often carried out in the print media, describes the media’s role in facilitating a public sphere in which elites can communicate. In contrast, in accordance with The Opposition Function, the media furthers political liberalization by increasing the public’s awareness of alternative political candidates. Because of its vast distribution, the broadcast media best performs The Opposition Function. The case of Mexico is examined to provide a concrete illustration of each of these functions of the media in relation to democratization. In the third section, I show the explanatory ability of the media on democratization, tested empirically against competing conventional explanations of democratization. To do so, I use the ordinary least squares method on time-series cross-sectional data of 200 countries measured annually from 1980-2004. The data and methods are described, as are the empirical findings and their theoretical implications. Author: Molly Cohn Source: Center for the Study of Democracy. Symposium: Democracy and Its Development. Paper G08-03.

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The Role of Political Parties in Electoral Competition

"This paper analyzes the role of political parties in electoral competition. A generalization of the Alesina (1988) model of electoral competition is proposed and estimated using data from the U.S. House of Representatives. The main extension is the reconsideration of the role of bargaining in the context of political parties. Results from the axiomatic bargaining literature are used to establish testable hypotheses regarding the effect of party representation on relevant parameters of the model including incumbency advantage. The model is estimated and tested using a regression discontinuity design. The predictions of the theoretical model developed here are only partially supported by the data. In particular, there is an increase in the incumbency advantage of the party at the district level while there does not seem to be any variation in the effect of party affiliation. A related implication of the results presented here is that the effect of election on policy outcomes increases with the representation of the party in congress. These results indicate that further analysis of the bargaining process and the role of political parties in electoral competition may provide a more comprehensive understanding of the effect of elections on policy outcomes. " Author: Juan Carlos Suarez Serrato Source: Center for the Study of Democracy. Symposium: Democracy and Its Development.

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McCain's Negatives Mostly Political, Obama's More Personal

"As the end of the primary season draws near, Barack Obama is the clear favorite of Democratic voters for their party's presidential nomination. He currently holds a wide 54% to 41% lead over Hillary Clinton. But when the Illinois Democrat is tested against John McCain in a general election matchup, he now runs about even against the presumptive Republican nominee. Previously, Obama had led McCain by modest margins in three Pew surveys conducted since late February.

Obama's strong lead over Clinton reflects his more favorable image among voters. The balance of voter opinion about Obama has consistently been more positive than for Clinton. However, the tightening general election matchup between Obama and McCain shows some sullying of Obama's personal image over the past three months, despite his primary victories. Over this period, unfavorable views of McCain have risen as well. " Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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Unauthorized Aliens' Access to Federal Benefits: Policy and Issues

"Federal law bars aliens residing without authorization in the United States from most federal benefits; however, there is a widely held perception that many unauthorized aliens obtain such benefits. The degree to which unauthorized resident aliens should be accorded certain rights and privileges as a result of their residence in the United States, along with the duties owed by such aliens given their presence, remains the subject of intense debate in Congress. This report focuses on the policy and legislative debate surrounding unauthorized aliens' access to federal benefits. Except for a narrow set of specified emergency services and programs, unauthorized aliens are not eligible for federal public benefits." Source: Congressional Research Service

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Youth Transitioning From Foster Care: Background, Federal Programs, and Issues for Congress

"Nearly half of states have laws that explicitly permit the state child welfare system to continue providing foster care for children beyond the age of majority (usually no later than 19). However, the number of states that actually facilitate youth remaining in care beyond their 18th or 19th birthdays is significantly smaller. Over 20,000 young people have been emancipated from foster care annually from FY2002 through FY2006. While most young people have access to emotional and financial support systems throughout their early adult years, older youth in care and those who age out of care often face obstacles to developing independent living skills and building supports that ease the transition to adulthood. Older foster youth who return to their parents or guardians may continue to experience poor family dynamics or a lack of emotional and financial supports, and studies have shown that recently emancipated foster youth fare poorly relative to their counterparts in the general population on several outcome measures. " Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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Hispanics in the 2008 Election: Puerto Rico

This fact sheet contains information on elections in Puerto Rico and data on the size and social and economic characteristics of the Puerto Rican eligible voter population. This fact sheet is based on the Center's tabulations of the Census Bureau's 2006 Puerto Rico Community Survey. Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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