Monday, June 29, 2009

Strong Public Interest in Iranian Election Protests

The dramatic events in Iran last week captured the attention of both the public and the media as Americans tracked news about post-election protests in Tehran nearly as closely as they followed news about the troubled U.S. economy.

Two-in-ten say they followed news about the street protests over disputed election results – and the government bid to contain them – more closely than any other major story last week. That’s about the same as the 22% that say they most closely followed news about the economy, the week’s other top story.

Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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

Political Science Faculty Salaries at the University of California

Combining salary data for permanent non-emeritus faculty at seven departments of political science within the University of California system with lifetime citation counts and other individual level data from the Masuoka, Grofman and Feld (2007) study of faculty at Ph.D. granting political science departments in the United States, we analyze determinants of faculty salaries. For the full data set our main finding are that (1) base salaries of UC political science faculty are slightly more strongly correlated to citation rates (annualized or total lifetime citations) as a measure of research visibility than they are to seniority measured by years since receipt of the Ph.D; and (2) that gender differences and subfield differences in salary essentially vanish once we take into account both year of Ph.D. and research visibility (as measured by annualized citation counts), while gender inequities would appear to exist if we did not control for both variables and thus may appear in the kinds of simpler gender equity comparisons commonly done within the UC system that lack any performance control variable. Also (3) looking across the seven campuses, despite the philosophy of common academic personnel standards across campuses, we find differences in average compensation levels even after we control for cross-campus difference in seniority and faculty research visibility. In particular, the three nationally highest ranked UC political science departments (UCB, UCLA and UCSD) collectively attach considerably less relative weight to seniority relative to citation record in determining faculty salaries than do the other four UC departments, have greater salary variation among those roughly the same time past Ph.D., and, on average, pay higher salaries even after seniority and citations are controlled.

Source: Center for the Study of Democracy. Paper 09-04. U.C. Irvine

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Helping Each Other in Times of Need Financial Help as a Means of Coping with the Economic Crisis

One way that U.S. households are coping with the global economic downturn is by reaching out to each other via financial help. This paper reports survey results from late 2008 and early 2009 that detail patterns of giving and receiving financial help among households in response to the economic crisis, and how these patterns vary by age and income. Among the key findings are that many more households are giving financial help than receiving it and that help most frequently flows from parents to children.

Source: RAND Corporation

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How Much Does President Obama’s Budget Redistribute Income?

From the introduction:

Throughout last year's presidential campaign and continuing through President Obama's first two quarters in office, income redistribution has been a hot-button topic among policymakers, the media, and the general public. The issue was explicitly brought to the forefront of the campaign debate during the now infamous exchange between then-candidate Obama and "Joe the Plumber," who asked why the candidate wanted to tax people like him who own a business that makes $250,000. Obama replied, "... I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

How much should the nation's tax and spending programs move money down the income scale? Unfortunately, the basic questions needed to inform that debate have not been answered: "How much are we actually redistributing right now?" and "How would President Obama's proposals change the amount of redistribution?"

Answering those questions is the purpose of the Tax Foundation's fiscal incidence project, whose initial products are this Special Report and the accompanying working paper. Here we focus on 2012 because that is the first fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2011 - Sept. 30, 2012) during which the full Obama policy agenda is scheduled to be in effect, including his treatment of the expiring Bush tax cuts. That is also the first year in which Obama wants significant tax revenue deposited into his proposed health reform reserve fund. It is also when his climate revenues proposal kicks in. The projected budget deficit for FY 2012 is large, $557 billion, but it is actually much smaller than what the administration's budget predicts for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, both of which exceed $1 trillion.

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| Link to the Tax Foundation

Created Equal: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the US. Criminal Justice System

The prevalence of disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in the U.S. is assessed. Sections comprising this report are: introduction; methodology; arrests; court processing -- pretrial decisions, convictions, and sentencing; new admissions to prison; incarceration in prisons (federal or state) and local jails; probation and parole; death penalty; total control; recidivism; juveniles; and conclusion.

Source: National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) (Oakland, CA)

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| Link to Library of NCCD

SREB Fact Book on Higher Education

The SREB Fact Book on Higher Education is one of the nation’s most comprehensive collections of comparative data on higher education. For decades, state leaders, policy-makers, researchers and journalists have used the Fact Book to find useful data quickly — and to learn more about long-term trends and developments in SREB states and across the nation.

Source: Southern Regional Education Bureau

Link to site to download SREB Fact Book

Strategies and Models for Promoting Adolescent Vaccination for Low-Income Populations

There is new and growing interest in adolescent immunization. Since 2005, three new vaccines for older children have been licensed in the United States and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the majority of 13–17-year-olds have received recommended vaccines, rates remain below 2010 targets, and the coverage rates for low-income adolescents and minority youth are likely to be lower. The authors discuss barriers to expanded adolescent immunization and develop recommendations to address those barriers. Some recommendations — such as creating concrete, actionable, and active messaging for adolescents and their parents and fostering school accountability for administering vaccines — can be accomplished within the existing legal framework. Others — such as making parental consent time-enduring and administering consent through a Web portal — have tremendous potential to improve coverage rates among adolescents and children but require modernization of current consent laws.

Source: RAND Corporation

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New Materials from Nixon Administration

The Nixon Presidential Library has opened approximately 154 hours of tape recordings from the Nixon White House recorded in January and February 1973 and consisting of approximately 994 conversations. The conversations cover topics such as the conclusion of a peace settlement between the United States and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the return of American POWs, President Nixon’s second inauguration, the U.S. and Europe, the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, energy policy, the reorganization of the executive branch, the creation of a “New Majority” for a reinvigorated Republican Party, and the first Watergate trial.

Source : The Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

Link to listen to the Nixon tapes | Link to library main site

Census Bureau Reports World’s Older Population Projected to Triple by 2050

From the Press Release

The world’s 65-and-older population is projected to triple by midcentury, from 516 million in 2009 to 1.53 billion in 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In contrast, the population under 15 is expected to increase by only 6 percent during the same period, from 1.83 billion to 1.93 billion.

In the United States, the population 65 and older will more than double by 2050, rising from 39 million today to 89 million. While children are projected to still outnumber the older population worldwide in 2050, the under 15 population in the United States is expected to fall below the older population by that date, increasing from 62 million today to 85 million.

These figures come from the world population estimates and projections released... through the Census Bureau’s International Data Base. This latest update includes projections by age, including people 100 and older, for 227 countries and areas

Link to Census Bureau's International Database

Chicago Anarchists on Trial: Evidence from the Haymarket Affair, 1886-1887

This collection showcases more than 3,800 images of original manuscripts, broadsides, photographs, prints and artifacts relating to the Haymarket Affair. The violent confrontation between Chicago police and labor protesters in 1886 proved to be a pivotal setback in the struggle for American workers' rights. These materials pertain to: the May 4, 1886 meeting and bombing; to the trial, conviction and subsequent appeals of those accused of inciting the bombing; and to the execution of four of the convicted and the later pardon of the remaining defendants. Of special interest and significance are the two dozen images of three-dimensional artifacts, including contemporary Chicago Police Department paraphernalia, labor banners, and an unexploded bomb casing given to juror J. H. Brayton by Chicago Police Captain Michael Schaack. The cornerstone is the presentation, as images and searchable text, of the transcript of the 3,200 pages of proceedings from the murder trial of State of Illinois v. August Spies, et al.

Source: Library of Congress and Chicago History Museum

Link to Haymarket Affair site

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Sotomayor Record : Criminal Justice

As the report observes, Judge Sotomayor's criminal law record "reveals the temperament of a former prosecutor who understands the real-world demands of prosecuting crime and fundamentally respects the rule of law while remaining alert to the rights of criminal defendants."

Judge Sotomayor's long tenure on the bench and her service in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office gives her more experience with criminal law than any of the current Supreme Court justices. She has been endorsed by eight national law enforcement groups and her extensive record in criminal law "proves her to be a careful, prudent jurist who adheres strictly to precedent."

Source: Alliance for Justice

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| Link to

Social Science for Counterterrorism

The authors report on an aggressively interdisciplinary project to survey and integrate the scholarly social-science literature relevant to counterterrorism. They draw on literature from numerous disciplines, both qualitative and quantitative, and then use high-level conceptual models to pull the pieces together. In their monograph, they identify points of agreement and disagreement and point out instances in which disagreements merely reflect difference of research context or perspective. Priorities for further research are suggested and improved ways to frame questions for research and analysis are identified. The questions addressed relate to how terrorism arises, why some individuals become terrorists, how terrorists generate public support, how terrorist organizations make decisions, how terrorism declines, why individuals disengage, and how strategic communications can be more or less effective.

Source: RAND Corporation

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Fathers' Alcohol Use and Substance Use among Adolescents

Alcohol dependence or abuse—and even moderate alcohol use—among fathers living with adolescents (i.e., youths aged 12 to 17) may increase the risk of substance use among those children. Increasing public awareness of the association between paternal alcohol use and adolescent substance use may help to focus attention on providing treatment for affected fathers and support for their children to prevent or reduce adolescent substance use. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) gathers information that can help to provide a better understanding of the relationship between paternal alcohol use and adolescent substance use.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

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| Link to online summary

Ups and Downs: Does the American Economy Still Promote Upward Mobility?

As Americans face rising unemployment rates and greater uncertainty about the future in this current economic downturn, this report investigates the extent to which the American economy promotes upward economic mobility (in the form of income growth) and prevents downward economic mobility (in the form of income declines), and whether it does so to the same degree as in the past. There is widespread consensus that the current recession is likely to affect more families than any since the Great Depression. But more fundamental than the impact of any one recession is whether the United States has entered an era in which families must permanently lower their expectations for income growth and brace themselves for more and bigger income losses.

Source: Pew Economic Mobility Project

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Can Science and Religion Co-Exist in Harmony?

Some of the nation’s leading journalists gathered in Key West, Fla., in May 2009 for the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s Faith Angle Conference on religion, politics and public life.

Francis S. Collins, the former director of the Human Genome Project, discussed why he believes religion and science are compatible and why the current conflict over evolution vs. faith, particularly in the evangelical community, is unnecessary. Collins, an evangelical Christian, talked about his path from atheism to Christianity and his belief that science provides evidence of God. He cited the Big Bang theory and the fact that the universe had a beginning out of nothing. He added that the laws of physics have precisely the values needed for life to occur on earth and argued that would seem to point to a creator.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty, the religion correspondent for National Public Radio, discussed how the brain reacts to spiritual experiences. She talked about the current debate over whether transcendent experiences are merely physiological events or whether they reflect encounters with another dimension. Bradley Hagerty said she believes that “God is a choice,” that people can look at scientific evidence and conclude that everything is explained by material means or that they can look at the universe and see the hand of God.

Source : Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

Link to full event transcript

2008 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons

Forced population displacement has grown in size and complexity in recent years, and the 2008 Global Trends report reflects many of the major humanitarian developments between January and December 2008. The report analyses the statistical trends and changes in the global populations for whom UNHCR has been entrusted with a responsibility by the United Nations General Assembly. These include refugees, returnees, stateless persons and certain groups of internally displaced persons (IDPs), collectively referred to in this report as “persons of concern”.

Source: United Nations [via UN Pulse]

Download full pdf report | Link to News Release

Access to Broadband Networks: The Net Neutrality Debate

As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major point of contention is the question of whether action is needed to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, to ensure equal access and non-discriminatory treatment, is referred to as net neutrality. There is no single accepted definition of net neutrality. However, most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network. Concern over whether it is necessary for policymakers to take steps to ensure access to the Internet for content, services, and applications providers, as well as consumers, and if so, what these steps should be, is a major focus in the debate over telecommunications reform. Some policymakers contend that more specific regulatory guidelines may be necessary to protect the marketplace from potential abuses which could threaten the net neutrality concept. Others contend that existing laws and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policies are sufficient to deal with potential anti-competitive behavior and that additional regulations would have negative effects on the expansion and future development of the Internet.

Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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The Role of the Department of Defense During A Flu Pandemic

A flu pandemic is a worldwide epidemic of an influenza virus. As such, the United States response to a flu pandemic would have both international and domestic components. Additionally, the domestic response effort would include contributions from every governmental level (local, state, tribal, and federal), non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. This report will focus largely on the role of the Department of Defense (DOD) in supporting the nations domestic response effort, although it will also touch on DODs international role. The Department of State would lead the federal governments international response efforts, while the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services would lead the federal governments domestic response. The Department of Defense would likely be called upon to support both the international and domestic efforts.

Source: Congressional Research Service, Library Of Congress

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Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America: An Overview and Selected Issues

The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) is a trilateral initiative that was launched in March 2005 to increase cooperation and information sharing for the purpose of increasing and enhancing security and prosperity in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The SPP is a government initiative that was endorsed by the leaders of the three countries, but it is not a signed agreement or treaty and, therefore, contains no legally binding commitments or obligations. It can, at best, be characterized as an endeavor by the three countries to facilitate communication and cooperation across several key policy areas of mutual interest. Although the SPP builds upon the existing trade and economic relationship of the three countries, it is not a trade agreement and is distinct from the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Some key issues for Congress regarding the SPP concern possible implications related to private sector priorities, national sovereignty, transportation corridors, cargo security, and border security.

Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Internet Use Triples in Decade, Census Bureau Reports

Press Release:
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 62 percent of households reported using Internet access in the home in 2007, an increase from 18 percent in 1997, the first year the bureau collected data on Internet use. (See Table 1.)

Sixty-four percent of individuals 18 and over used the Internet from any location in 2007, while only 22 percent did so in 1997. (See table 2.)

Among households using the Internet in 2007, 82 percent reported using a high-speed connection, and 17 percent used a dial-up connection. (See Table 1.)

“As access to high speed connections have become more prevalent, so too have the number of people that connect to the Internet at home,” said Thom File, a statistician with the Census Bureau Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division. “These data give us a better understanding of who is using the Internet and from where.”

Among the states, Alaska and New Hampshire residents had among the highest rates of Internet use from any location (home, work or public access) for those 3 and older in 2007. Mississippi and West Virginia had among the lowest rates of Internet use at about 52 percent. (See Table 3.)

Internet usage also varied by education. For individuals 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree, 87 percent reported going online from any location in 2007. For those with only some college, 74 percent reported using the Internet. About half (49 percent) of those with only a high school diploma reported using the Internet, compared with 19 percent for those without a high school diploma.

Internet usage also varied by race and Hispanic origin; 69 percent of whites lived in households with Internet use, while the same was true for 51 percent of blacks, 73 percent of Asians and 48 percent of Hispanics. (See Table 2.)

When looking at age groups, the percentage of 18- to 34-year-olds who accessed the Internet was more than double (73 percent) that of people 65 and older (35 percent). Among children 3 to 17, 56 percent used the Internet. (See Table 2.)

Link to detailed tables for viewing and download

Monday, June 15, 2009

Caste and Wealth Inequality in India

In this paper, we conduct the novel exercise of analyzing the relationship between overall wealth inequality and caste divisions in India using nationally representative surveys on household wealth conducted during 1991–92 and 2002–03. According to our findings, the groups in India that are generally considered disadvantaged (known as Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes) have, as one would expect, substantially lower wealth than the “forward” caste groups, while the Other Backward Classes and non-Hindus occupy positions in the middle. Using the ANOGI decomposition technique, we estimate that between-caste inequality accounted for about 13 percent of overall wealth inequality in 2002–03, in part due to the considerable heterogeneity within the broadly defined caste groups. The stratification parameters indicate that the forward caste Hindus overlap little with the other caste groups, while the latter have significantly higher degrees of overlap with one another and with the overall population. Using this method, we are also able to comment on the emergence and strengthening of a “creamy layer,” or relatively well-off group, among the disadvantaged castes, especially the Scheduled Tribes.

Source: Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

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| Link to online report

CREDO National Charter School Study

From Press Release (June 15, 2009)

A new report issued today by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes
(CREDO) at Stanford University found that there is a wide variance in the quality of the nation’s several thousand charter schools with, in the aggregate, students in charter schools not faring as well as students in traditional public schools.

While the report recognized a robust national demand for more charter schools from parents and local communities, it found that 17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, while 37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts, with 46 percent of charter schools demonstrating no significant difference.

Source: Center for Research on Education Outcomes

Download full pdf report | Download pdf executive summary

The State of Music Online: Ten Years After Napster

In the decade since Napster’s launch, selling recorded music has become as much of an art as making the music itself. The music industry has been on the front lines of the battle to convert freeloaders into paying customers, and their efforts have been watched closely by other digitized industries—newspapers, book publishing and Hollywood among them—who are hoping to staunch their own bleeding before it’s too late.

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

Download pdf report | Link to online overview

Budgets: state-by-state session summaries takes an exclusive look at major developments in state capitols as the country enters the second year of a national recession. Click above to see state-by-state reviews detailing how states are handling budget deficits and the federal stimulus package; the trends developing in key areas, such as education and health care; notable new legislation; and a chart of completed sessions and political control.

Link to major development site

Childhood Abuse, Avatar Choices, and Other Risk Factors Associated With Internet-Initiated Victimization of Adolescent Girls

OBJECTIVE. The objective of the study was to determine the risk factors for Internet-initiated victimization of female adolescents. In particular, it was expected that girls who experienced childhood abuse would show higher vulnerability than their nonabused peers. In addition, the study examined how provocative self-presentations might be related to online sexual advances and offline encounters.

Source: Journal of Pediatrics

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National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in the arts

From the Executive Summary
This report presents the results of the 2008 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in the arts, which was given to a nationally representative sample of 7,900 eighth-grade public and private school students. Approximately one-half of these students were assessed in music, and the other half were assessed in visual arts.

The music portion of the assessment measured students’ ability to respond to music in various ways. Students were asked to analyze and describe aspects of music they heard, critique instrumental and vocal performances, and demonstrate their knowledge of standard musical notation and music’s role in society. One question, for example, asked students to identify the instrument they heard in the beginning solo of “Rhapsody in Blue” that was played for them.

The average responding score for music was reported on a NAEP scale of 0 to 300. Scores ranged from 105 for the lowest-performing students to 194 for the highest-performing students.

The visual arts portion of the assessment included questions that measured students’ ability to respond to art as well as questions that measured their ability to create art. Responding questions asked students to analyze and describe works of art and design. For example, students were asked to describe specific differences in how certain parts of an artist’s self-portrait were drawn. The average responding score for visual arts was reported on a NAEP scale of 0 to 300 with scores ranging from 104 for the lowest-performing students to 193 for the highest-performing students.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Depression in Parents, Parenting, and Children: Opportunities in Improve Identification, Treatment, and Prevention

From Description"

Depression is a widespread condition affecting approximately 7.5 million parents in the U.S. each year and may be putting at least 15 million children at risk for adverse health outcomes. Based on evidentiary studies, major depression in either parent can interfere with parenting quality and increase the risk of children developing mental, behavioral and social problems. Depression in Parents, Parenting, and Children highlights disparities in the prevalence, identification, treatment, and prevention of parental depression among different sociodemographic populations. It also outlines strategies for effective intervention and identifies the need for a more interdisciplinary approach that takes biological, psychological, behavioral, interpersonal, and social contexts into consideration.

Source: The National Academies Press

Available to read online in sections or to purchase : Link to website.

AfriMAP, the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project

"AfriMAP, the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project, is an initiative of the Soros Foundation Network's four African foundations, and works with national civil society organizations to conduct systematic audits of government performance in three areas: the justice sector and the rule of law; political participation and democracy; and effective delivery of public services."

Link to AfriMAP

The Impact of Adequate Prenatal Care in a Developing Country: testing the WHO recommendations


Deficient birth outcomes entail greater mortality risks, and higher probabilities of poor future health. This study is the first statistical examination of the effect of the World Health Organization’s recommended number of prenatal care visits for developing countries on birth outcomes. This study accounts for the endogenous nature of prenatal care decisions by using an instrumental variables approach based on the accessibility of prenatal services. Using the CLHN Survey I construct a measure of prenatal care which involves both timing and intensity and that shows positive impacts for the combination of both. The results are highly robust to changes in measures of birth outcome but are only significant for urban areas. The lack of impact on rural areas could be due to the inferior quality of prenatal care services received there. This theory is corroborated when controlling directly for care quality.

Source: California Center for Population Research [via eScholarship Repository]

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Late High School Dropouts: Characteristics, Experiences, and Changes Across Cohorts

This report presents information about selected characteristics and experiences of high school sophomores in 2002 who subsequently dropped out of school. It also presents comparative data about late high school dropouts in the years 1982, 1992, and 2004. The findings address only dropping out in late high school and do not cover students who dropped out before the spring of 10th grade. For this reason, the reported rates are lower than those based on the students’ entire high school or earlier school career.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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| Link to online summary

Monday, June 08, 2009

UN : The report of the Commission on the Status of Women

The fifty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 2 to 13 March 2009.

The session was attended by representatives of Member States, UN entities and of ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world.

The Commission on the Status of Women considered the theme: “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS”

Source: United Nations

Download full pdf report | Link to Commission site with video and audio files of sessions

Latin America and the Caribbean: economic situation and outlook, 2008-2009


Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Latin America and the Caribbean stood at 4.2 per cent in 2008, which was the sixth consecutive year of expansion, yet at the same time marking the end of a period which has very few precedents in the economic history of the region.

The projected growth rate for 2009 points to an increase in the regional unemployment rate, from an estimated 7.5 per cent in 2008 to as much as 8.6 per cent in 2009. Trends in the world prices of foodstuffs and fuels, however, are likely to bring
about a marked fall in inflation, from 8.3 per cent in 2008 to 5.5-6 per cent in 2009.

What started out as a problem in the subprime mortgage market in the United States of America in mid-2007 became, just over a year later, a systemic crisis that crippled the credit markets of the developed countries and is already having an extremely negative impact on the real economy. Although the region is better prepared to face this crisis than previous ones, there are a number of channels through which the economies are being affected. First, the slowdown in the world economy is lowering the volume and prices of the region’s exports, bringing down remittances and cutting foreign direct investment and demand for tourism services. The countries are also faced with more difficult access to external credit, the cost of
which has increased.

In 2009, growth in Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to fall to a growth
rate of -0.3 per cent. The Governments of the region should make every effort to deploy countercyclical policies in order to ward off an even sharper economic decline.

Source: United Nations

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Rising Giants: Industrial Clusters Are Changing the Face of Chinese Manufacturing

Over the past 30 years, most economists have come to believe that advanced economies are less likely to be driven by strong, lone companies than by complex ecosystems, or clusters, centered in a particular industrial sector. The evidence shows that outsized economic growth often requires an outsized pool of talent and specialized capital in a single geographical region. Intuitively, this makes sense -- the public might like the idea of the heroic entrepreneur, but from Wall Street to Madison Avenue to Silicon Valley, the biggest success stories in American business are often less about an individual's or company's triumphs than the strength of interdependent, regional communities within an industry.

Teaching each other, helping each other, pushing each other -- the evidence all suggests that companies tend to profit from proximity, though what is good for business in general may not always maximize the fortunes of a particular company.

Source: Knowledge@Wharton

Download article in pdf format | Link to online article

The 2009 H1N1 \"Swine Flu\" Outbreak: An Overview

On April 29, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its influenza (flu) pandemic alert level to Phase 5, one level below declaring that a global influenza pandemic was underway. According to WHO, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short. The WHO has increased the pandemic flu alert level in response to the spread of a new strain of influenza A subtype H1N1 virus. First identified in Mexico in March 2009, the novel flu strain has quickly spread to the United States, where, as of April 29, there are 91 confirmed cases of illness, including one death. Additional cases have been confirmed in several other countries. The new flu strain was initially dubbed swine flu because it contained genetic material from flu strains that normally circulate in swine. However, there has been no evidence to date that pigs are involved in the transmission of this virus. There have been concerns that the term swine flu has had unwarranted trade implications for swine and pork products, among other concerns. On April 30, 2009, WHO began referring to the new strain as influenza A(H1N1). Federal agencies have adopted a pandemic response posture, under the overall coordination of the Secretary of Homeland Security. The Obama Administration has requested $1.5 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to address the threat, and congressional committees in both chambers have convened emergency hearings to assess the situation. This report provides an introduction to the situation regarding the potential of a global human influenza pandemic caused by the new H1N1 flu strain; a brief chronology of events; a discussion of key actions taken and authorities invoked by the WHO and the U.S. government; information about key U.S. government pandemic flu planning documents; and sources for additional information about the situation as it unfolds.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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Show me the money! The geography of contributions to California's Proposition 8

This paper provides an overview of disclosure with regard to contributions in favor of and against California's Proposition 8 measure that banned same-sex marriage. Using publicly available data, out-of-state and in-state contributions are mapped, and the geography of California state politics and the consequences of disclosure are discussed.

Source: California Center for Population Research. On-Line Working Paper Series. Paper CCPR-013-09. [via eScholarship Repository]

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Environmental Protection for Developing Countries: The Polluter-Does-Not-Pay Principle

The polluter-pays principle stipulates that the person who damages the environment must bear the cost of such damage. A number of developing countries have recently extended this principle creating an obligation on the state to compensate the victims of environmental harm. This variation of the polluter-pays principle is aimed at ensuring victims’ compensation when polluters cannot be identified or are insolvent. These regimes hold state and local governments primarily or jointly-and-severally liable for environmental damage and allow the government to act in subrogation against the polluters. In this paper we study the effect of this form of governmental liability which we describe as the polluter-does-not-pay regime on the polluters’ incentives and on aggregate levels of environmental harm. We develop an economic model to study the polluter-does-not-pay principle, identifying the conditions under which this regime may be a more effective instrument for environmental protection. We conclude suggesting that this regime may be desirable in environments characterized by widespread poverty, high interest rates, judicial delays and uncertainty in adjudication.

Source: Berkeley Program in Law & Economics. Latin American and Caribbean Law and Economics Association (ALACDE) Annual Papers. Paper 060509-01. [via eScholarship repository]

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Warrantless Wiretapping, FISA Reform, and the Lessons of Public Liberty

From the abstract:
Through the lens of the recent amendment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), this Essay analyzes a number of Holmesian concepts through. Its Part I describes the background of FISA, the National Security Agency’s (NSA) warrantless surveillance program in violation of this statute, and the amendments to this law in the Protect America Act of 2007, a short term statutory “fix” that has expired, and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which remains in effect. Its Part II turns to an analysis of the challenges to private and public liberty posed by the NSA’s surveillance. This Part is organized around three topics: (1) past wisdom as codified in law; (2) the impact of secrecy on government behavior; and (3) institutional lessons. As we shall see, a Holmesian search for the wisdom previously collected in law proves quite difficult. FISA regulated some aspects of intelligence gathering and left the intelligence community entirely free to engage in others. Over time, moreover, technological innovations and altered national security concerns transformed the implications of the past policy landscape. As a result, the toughest questions, which concern surveillance of foreign-to-domestic communications, do not receive an easy answer from the past.

Source: Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. Law and Technology Scholarship (Selected by the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology). Paper 67. [via eScholarship repository]

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Transforming Our Schools : report captures best practices.

" in-depth look at the challenges facing today’s school superintendents as they work to transform the nation’s public schools. The report summarizes discussions held among the country’s top public school superintendents at the 2008 National Superintendent of the Year Forum, an intensive, three-day leadership event hosted by AASA, ARAMARK Education and the ING Foundation, the program’s sponsors.

At the forum, the 2008 State Superintendents of the Year from urban, suburban and rural school systems participated in interactive discussions on best practices for transforming their schools to meet the needs of all students."

Source: American Association of Schoool Administrators

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| Link to online press release

The Future of YouTube: Critical Reflections on YouTube Users’ Discussion over Its Future

This paper examines how the sociopolitical and educational potentials of YouTube have been exercised by analyzing users’ discussion practices by posting videos. Compared to literature that deals with the Internet’s sociopolitical impact, I argue that YouTube has played a key role in implementing the democratization of media spectacles. Different forms of Internet use are discussed with regard to YouTube’s contributions. First of all, the discursive practices of YouTube validate Habermas’s notion of the public sphere by suggesting video communication as a new perspective of participatory democracy. Creating community is another key notion that users consider to be the future of YouTube; users believe it facilitates interactive and creative communication among different cultures, races, and societies. However, there is little consideration of how individuals make critical use of YouTube as a means for sociopolitical engagement. Analyzing the users’ arguments in their video responses, this paper examines the strengths, as well as the limitations, of discourses on the future of YouTube, and reconsiders its sociopolitical potential. It ultimately indicates the necessity of critical pedagogic interventions to make full use of YouTube.

Source: InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Modern Scientific Visualization is more than Just Pretty Pictures

While the primary product of scientific visualization is images and movies, its primary objective is really scientific insight. Too often, the focus of visualization research is on the product, not the mission. This paper presents two case studies, both that appear in previous publications, that focus on using visualization technology to produce insight. The first applies "Query-Driven Visualization" concepts to laser wakefield simulation data to help identify and analyze the process of beam formation. The second uses topological analysis to provide a quantitative basis for (i) understanding the mixing process in hydrodynamic simulations, and (ii) performing comparative analysis of data from two different types of simulations that model hydrodynamic instability.

Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Paper LBNL-1450E.

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| Link to online abstract

Monday, June 01, 2009

One on One with Neel Kashkari


Last October, when the financial crisis was wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy, Congress approved a $700 billion bailout package to prevent major firms from going belly up. The government official in the eye of that storm was Neel Kashkari, a former investment banker from Goldman Sachs, who had followed his previous boss, Henry Paulson, into the Treasury department. Kashkari was responsible for building a team to oversee the bailout and also for deploying government aid to stabilize the financial system.

How did the Treasury department work with the Federal Reserve to make the decisions it did? What kind of regulations should derivatives be subjected to in the future? In an exclusive interview at Wharton San Francisco with Knowledge@Wharton, Kashkari, who left the Treasury two weeks ago, discusses these issues and more.

Source: Wharton School of Business

Download pdf of transcript | Link to online transcript and video of interview

Where the Most Private Becomes Public: Policy Making for Sexual Health

...the burden of morbidity and mortality from STDs is only one aspect of sexual health. Formerly considered under the umbrella of reproductive health by policy makers, sexual health was identified as a topic meriting attention in its own right by the World Health Organization in 2004 [3]. The International Planned Parenthood Foundation (, a leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, has endorsed the United Nations definition of sexual health: “the notion of sexual health implies a positive approach to human sexuality and the purpose of sexual health care should be the enhancement of life and personal relations and not merely counselling and care related to reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases.”

Source: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

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| Link to Public Library of Science (PLoS)

The Academic Experience of Students in English Universities 2009 Report

From Background document:
This report follows two previous surveys of the academic experience of students in English universities, in 2006 and 2007. Those reports covered a wide range of issues, including the amount of contact students had with their staff, the amount of private study they undertook, the number of other students in their lectures and seminars and the extent of their use of facilities, as well as more qualitative issues like their satisfaction with the value for money of what they received.

Source: Higher Education Policy Institute

Download full pdf report | Link to HEPI

Assistance to the Family and the College Achievement of Young Adults

This investigation examined the assistance that approximately 630 college—bound young adults from Asian, Latin American, and European backgrounds provided to their families and the implications of that assistance for their postsecondary educational progress. Students from Filipino and Latin American backgrounds spent more hours helping their parents and siblings on a daily basis as compared to their peers from East Asian and European backgrounds. Those from Latin American backgrounds provided financial support to their families at a higher rate than those from East Asian and European backgrounds, and males provided more financial support than females. Young adults who provided daily and financial assistance to their families were less likely to pursue or obtain bachelor’s degrees and more likely to pursue or obtain an associate’s degrees. This association did not vary across subgroups of adolescents and group differences in family assistance did not account for group differences in postsecondary degree persistence.

Source: California Center for Population Research. On-Line Working Paper Series.

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Ambulation: a tool for monitoring mobility patterns over time using mobile phones


An important tool for evaluating the health of patients who suffer from mobility-affecting chronic diseases such as MS, Parkinson’s, and Muscular Dystrophy is assessment of how much they walk. Ambulation is a mobility monitoring system that uses Android and Nokia N95 mobile phones to automatically detect the user’s mobility mode. The user’s only required interaction with the phone is turning it on and keeping it with him/her throughout the day, with the intention that it could be used as his/her everyday mobile phone for voice, data, and other applications, while Ambulation runs in the background. The phone uploads the collected mobility and location information to a server and a secure, intuitive web-based visualization of the data is available to the user and any family, friends or caregivers whom they authorize, allowing them to identify trends in their mobility and measure progress over time and in response to varying treatments.

Source: Center for Embedded Network Sensing. Univ. of California.

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Social Work Education, Training and Employment in Africa: The case of Zimbabwe


Social work education in Zimbabwe commenced with the establishment of the School of Social Work in Harare in 1964 by the Catholic Jesuit Fathers. The School was initially called the School of Social Service. Prior to this, the country’s social workers were mainly trained in British, South African and Zambian Social Work Colleges. The first students were trained as group workers for clubs, welfare centres, and urban conditions where the clientele were more visible. The major strength of colonial social work education was that it formed the basis for professional social work practice resulting in the creation of a three year diploma in 1966. In 1969 the school changed its name to the School of Social Work and became the first associate college of the University of Rhodesia (now University of Zimbabwe), with students awarded a university diploma in Social Work after a three year program. In 1975 the School established the first bachelor’s degree programme in Social Work (BSW), which was followed later by the Honours and Masters degree. The school, which is the only social work training institution in the country, is now an affiliate of the University of Zimbabwe. Since the attainment of independence, the School of Social Work has transformed into a dynamic institution making social work education more responsive to the development needs of the country. The government in Zimbabwe remains the largest employer of social workers with a few employed by private and charitable organisations (NGOs). The single greatest challenge facing social work education in Zimbabwe today is making it more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe. In this vein however, it has become imperative for the institution to prepare social workers capable of addressing local structural problems, as well as maintaining an international flavour in line with the current trends of globalization in which there is rapid movement of social workers across international frontiers.

Source: Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies: Vol. 35: No. 1, Article 3. [via eScholarship Repository]

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Latino Children: A Majority Are U.S.-Born Offspring of Immigrants

Hispanics now make up 22% of all children under the age of 18 in the United States--up from 9% in 1980--and as their numbers have grown, their demographic profile has changed.

A majority (52%) of the nation's 16 million Hispanic children are now "second generation," meaning they are the U.S.-born sons or daughters of at least one foreign-born parent, typically someone who came to this country in the immigration wave from Mexico, Central America and South America that began around 1980. Some 11% of Latino children are "first generation"--meaning they themselves are foreign-born. And 37% are "third generation or higher"--meaning they are the U.S.-born children of U.S.-born parents.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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Who’s Hispanic?

Is Sonia Sotomayor the first Hispanic ever nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court? Or does that distinction belong to the late Justice Benjamin Cardozo, who served on the court from 1932-1938 and whose ancestors may or may not have come from Portugal?

Unscrambling Cardozo's family tree is best left to historians and genealogists.1 Here we take a stab at a more daunting question. Just who is a Hispanic?

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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Public Tracks Economy, Media Focuses on Terror Debate

"Americans continued to closely track news about the struggling economy and the spread of the swine flu last week, though the media devoted the largest share of coverage to the sharp debate in Washington over how best to protect the nation from terrorism."

Source: Pew Center for People and the Press

Download full pdf report | Download topline questionnaire (pdf) | Link to online summary