Monday, September 28, 2009

Women, Power & Money — The Female-Driven Economy

In an effort to shed some light on the American woman and how to reach her, Fleishman-Hillard, in conjunction with The Harrison Group, conducted a pre- and post-economic meltdown survey, “Women, Power & Money — The Shift to the Female Driven Economy.” The objective? To define the female consumer’s role in purchasing decisions, her influence on the economy and what it means to marketers. Central to the eye-opening results was a clear revelation that this “new world of women calls for a new world of communication.”

Download pdf : Women, Power & Money — The Female-Driven Economy
Link to Fleishman-Hillard

Nonprofit Pay In 2008

How Much the Leaders of America's Biggest Charities and Foundations Make

Leaders of nonprofit groups saw their pay increase by a median of 7 percent last year, The Chronicle's survey found, but now many chief executives are taking pay cuts in response to the recession.

Data available to search and download tables

Source: Chronicle of Philanthropy (Subscribers only)

Link to online article

Social Networking and Constituent Communication: Member Use of Twitter During a Two-Week Period in the 111th Congress

During the past 15 years, the development of new electronic technologies have altered the traditional patterns of communication between Members of Congress and constituents. Many Members now use e-mail, official websites, blogs, Youtube channels, and Facebook pages to communicate with their constituents--technologies that were either non-existent or not widely available 15 years ago. These technologies have arguably served to potentially enhance the ability of Members of Congress to fulfill their representational duties by providing greater opportunities for communication between the Member and individual constituents, supporting the fundamental democratic role of spreading information about public policy and government operations. In addition, electronic technology has reduced the marginal cost of constituent communications; unlike postal letters, Members can reach large numbers of constituents for a fixed cost. Despite these advantages, electronic communications have raised some concerns. Existing law and chamber regulations on the use of communication media such as the franking privilege have proven difficult to adapt to the new electronic technologies. This report examines Member use of one specific new electronic communication medium: Twitter. After providing an overview and background of Twitter, the report analyzes patterns of Member use of Twitter during two one-week periods in July and August 2009. This report is inherently a snapshot in time of a dynamic process. As with any new technology, the number of Members using Twitter and the patterns of use may change rapidly in short periods of time. Thus, the conclusions drawn from this data can not be easily generalized nor can these results be used to predict future behavior. The data show that 158 Representatives and Senators are registered with Twitter (as of August 2009) and issued a total of approximately 1,187 "tweets" during the data collection periods in July and August 2009. With approximately 29% of House Members and 31% of Senators registered with Twitter, Members sent an average of 85 tweets per day collectively. House Republicans sent the most tweets (54%), followed by House Democrats (27%), Senate Republicans (10%), and Senate Democrats (9%). The data also suggest that more tweets were sent on Thursday than any other day of the week. Members' use of Twitter can be divided into six categories: position taking, press or web links, district or state activities, official congressional action, personal, and replies. The data suggest that the most frequent type of tweets were press and web link tweets, which comprised 43% of in- session and 46% of recess tweets. This is followed by official congressional action tweets during session (33%) and position-taking tweets during recess (14%).

Source: Congressional Research Service

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The 2009 Influenza Pandemic: An Overview

From Online Overview:
On June 11, 2009, in response to the global spread of a new strain of H1N1 influenza ("flu"), the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak to be an influenza pandemic, the first since 1968. WHO said that the pandemic declaration was based on the geographic spread of the new virus, not on increasing severity of the illnesses it causes. Officials now believe the outbreak began in Mexico in March, or perhaps earlier. The novel "H1N1 swine flu" was first identified in California in late April. Health officials quickly linked the new virus to many of the illnesses in Mexico. Since then, cases have been reported around the world. On July 16, WHO said it was suspending worldwide case counts of illnesses caused by the virus, and that it no longer wanted member nations to report individual cases. WHO said that tracking in this way was no longer helpful in monitoring the pandemic, but was unnecessarily burdensome for reporting countries. In the final WHO case count of July 6, almost 100,000 cases, and more than 400 deaths, had been reported around the world, on all continents but Antarctica. Early in the outbreak, most of the cases were in North America, and then Europe and Asia. This was followed by increasing spread in countries in the Southern Hemisphere during their winter, when flu transmission is more efficient. Transmission continued at low levels in North America throughout the summer. U.S. health officials and others are preparing for a resurgence of infections in the fall, with the onset of cooler temperatures. When the outbreak began in late April, U.S. federal agencies adopted a response posture under the overall coordination of the Secretary of Homeland Security. Among other things, officials have released antiviral drugs from the national stockpile, developed and released diagnostic tests for the H1N1 virus, and developed guidance for the clinical management of patients and the management of community and school outbreaks. The Obama Administration requested about $9 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to address the situation. On June 26, the President signed P.L. 111-32, the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009, which provided $1.9 billion immediately, and an additional $5.8 billion contingent upon a presidential request documenting the need for, and proposed use of, the additional funds. U.S. health officials have procured millions of doses of pandemic flu vaccine, which is expected to become available in stages over a period of a few months, beginning in October. Plans for a voluntary nationwide vaccination campaign are underway, to be coordinated by state health officials and carried out through public clinics, private health care providers, schools, and others. The Secretary of Health and Human Services has implemented waivers of liability and an injury compensation program in the event of unforeseen vaccine safety problems. Allocation schemes have been developed to give priority for limited vaccine doses to high-risk groups. This report first provides a synopsis of key events, actions taken, and authorities invoked by WHO, the U.S. federal government, and state and local governments. It then discusses the WHO process to determine the phase of a flu pandemic, selected activities by the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, and selected activities by state and local authorities. Next, it lists congressional hearings held to date, and provides information about appropriations and funding for pandemic flu activities. Finally, it summarizes U.S. government pandemic flu planning documents and lists sources for additional information about the situation. This report will be continually updated to reflect unfolding events.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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Hispanics, Health Insurance and Health Care Access


Six-in-ten Hispanic adults living in the United States who are not citizens or legal permanent residents lack health insurance. The share of uninsured among this group (60%) is much higher than the share of uninsured among Latino adults who are legal permanent residents or citizens (28%), or among the adult population of the United States (17%).

Hispanic adults who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents tend to be younger and healthier than the adult U.S. population and are less likely than other groups to have a regular health care provider. Just 57% say there is a place they usually go when they are sick or need advice about their health, compared with 76% of Latino adults who are citizens or legal permanent residents and 83% of the adult U.S. population.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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Law and Economics from a Moderate Islamic perspective (LEMI)

Economic science is a high powered analytical discipline as such that can explain and predict the human and social behavior. Production and extension of law and economics is one of such developments. Religious oriented behaviors are, in my view point, amongst other dimensions of human life. In this paper I am going to analyze Law and Economics from a Moderate Islamic perspective, LEMI. Contract law is our case study in this regard. By using “moderate” term, we are excluding the religious extremist view points. One further fact which inspired me to insist on LEMI, was recent combating of two distinct Islamic view points (extremist and moderate) during current Iranian election (June 2009). In developing this paper, we are using a coherent synthesis of law and economic theories at one hand and moderate Islamic teaching at the other. I
maintain on one or two points (or arguably one or two contributions) in this paper;the sacredness of humanity in LEMI, and its remarkable compatibility with conventional law and economics. Analyzing the interrelationship between economics and law from Islamic perspective, and comparing LEMI with other schools of economics and law, are possibly some new scientific debates.

Source: Berkeley Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series. Paper 240. [via eScholarship repository]

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The Aging Workforce and Paid Time Off

From the introduction:
"... the subject of this article, is the need among older workers for occasional, temporary, work interruptions. As I will elaborate below, older workers have a higher risk of health complications, and as a corollary to this, may need to miss work. If such leaves require a suspension of pay, they can impose economic strain on the workers who take leave and their families. In this chapter, I argue that policies to accommodate the need for income security during temporary work interruptions may be desirable for a number of reasons: first, they might alleviate economic strain on older workers who need time off, as well as similar strains on younger workers who must interrupt work to care for elderly parents. In addition, by responding to a heightened need for flexibility, they have the potential to encourage extended workforce participation by older citizens, which for reasons mentioned earlier, might be desirable as a matter of social policy."

Source: Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Working Paper Series. Paper iirwps-186-09.

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Whither the Keiretsu, Japan's Business Networks? How Were They Structured? What Did They Do? Why Are They Gone?

From the introduction:
It is our view, supported by wide-ranging and consistent evidence, that the Japanese postwar keiretsu system is mostly a thing of the past. In the face of powerful forces of
institutional and economic change, the groups have “withered away,” such that they no longer represent a significant feature of the Japanese economic landscape, despite having been so from the 1950’s to the early 2000’s.

Source: Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Working Paper Series. via eScholarship Repository

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Dignity, Rank, and Rights: The 2009 Tanner Lectures at UC Berkeley

Author: Waldron, Jeremy J.:
In the first of these lectures, I present a conception of dignity that preserves its ancient association with rank and station, and (following Gregory Vlastos, James Whitman and others) a conception of human dignity that amounts to a generalization of high status across all human beings. The lectures argue that this provides a better understanding of human dignity and of the work it does in theories of rights than the better-known Kantian conception. The second lecture focuses particularly on the importance of dignity - understood in this way - as a status defining a person's relation to law: their presentation as persons capable of self-applying the law, capable of presenting and arguing a point of view, and capable of responding to law's demands without brute coercion. Together the two lectures also illuminate the relation between dignity conceived as the ground of rights and dignity conceived as the content of rights; they also illuminate important ideas about dignity as noble bearing and dignity as the subject of a right against degrading treatment; and they help us understand the sense in which dignity is better conceived as a status than as a kind of value.

Source: New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers. Paper 151.

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Competing Theories of Blackmail: An Empirical Research Critique of Criminal Law Theory

From Abstract:
Blackmail, a wonderfully curious offense, is the favorite of clever criminal law theorists. It criminalizes the threat to do something that would not be criminal if one did it. There exists a rich literature on the issue, with many prominent legal scholars offering their accounts. Each theorist has his own explanation as to why the blackmail offense exists. Most theories seek to justify the position that blackmail is a moral wrong and claim to offer an account that reflects widely shared moral intuitions. But the theories make widely varying assertions about what those shared intuitions are, while also lacking any evidence to support the assertions.

This Article summarizes the results of an empirical study designed to test the competing theories of blackmail to see which best accords with prevailing sentiment. Using a variety of scenarios designed to isolate and test the various criteria different theorists have put forth as “the” key to blackmail, this study reveals which (if any) of the various theories of blackmail proposed to date truly reflects laypeople’s moral judgment.

Source: Scholarship at Penn Law. Paper 290.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Inside the Creative Class: A Closer Look at U.S. Unemployment Rates

From Introduction

The effects of an economic downturn are felt unequally by different groups, a phenomenon we have examined in earlier Insights (see Unemployment on the rise: Who’s hit most by the recession?). Those in creative class occupations – high-autonomy occupations where workers are paid to think such as artists, senior managers, doctors, and architects – experience a much lower rate of unemployment than other workers in both good times and bad. Our time series analysis of United States labour data finds that while some sub-groups of the creative class exhibit consistently higher unemployment, all of them typically outperform the national unemployment rate.

Source: The Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management

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The Meaning(s) of Happiness

An examination of emotions reported on 12 million personal blogs along with the results of three experiments reveal that the meaning of happiness is not fixed; instead, it shifts as people age. Whereas younger people are more likely to associate happiness with excitement, older people are more likely to associate happiness with feeling peaceful. This change is driven by increased feelings of connectedness (to others and to the present moment) as one ages.

Source: Stanford University Graduate School of Business

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Why Do People Give? The Role of Identity in Giving

Why do people give to others? One principal driver involves one’s identity: who one is and how they view themselves. The degree to which identities are malleable, involve a readiness to act, and help make sense of the world have significant implications determining whether and how much people give. Drawing on the Identity-Based Motivation model (IBM; Oyserman, 2009), we provide a tripartite framework to help advance the research on the psychology of giving.

Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business Research papers

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Real Property and Corporate Social Responsibility

This paper provides the first systematic analysis of the choice by organizations to occupy green office space. We develop a framework of ecological responsiveness, and we formulate five propositions to explain why specific firms and industries may be more likely to lease green space. We test these propositions by analyzing the decisions of more than 11,000 tenants to choose office space in green buildings or in otherwise comparable non-green buildings located nearby. We find that corporations in the oil and banking industries, as well as government-related and non-profit organizations, are among the most prominent green tenants. After appropriately controlling for building quality and for location within one quarter mile, our empirical analysis shows that firms in mining and construction and organizations in public administration are relatively more likely to lease green rather than conventional office space. Furthermore, organizations employing higher levels of human capital (as measured by skills and compensation) are more likely to lease green office space.

Source: University of California Energy Institute. Policy & Economics. Paper EPE-024.[via eScholarship repository]

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Does Customer Auditing Help Chinese Workers?

Auditing by a downstream firm of a Chinese supplier does not affect that the supplier’s blue-collar employees’ wages, probability of belonging to a union, or likelihood of working overtime. However, auditing makes it more likely that rural migrant workers receive pensions, business medical insurance, and unemployment insurance.

Source: Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Working Paper Series. [via eScholarship Repository]

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The Impact of Living Wage Laws on Urban Economic Development Patterns and the Local Business Climate: Evidence from California Cities

Traditional local economic development policies entice private businesses to create highpaying jobs in a given jurisdiction through direct subsidies or by projecting a positive “business climate” within regional and global arenas. Since 1994 however, “living wage” ordinances have emerged as an alternative response to labor market polarization in urban areas. However, these laws raise labor costs for employers and thus have the potential to reduce economic growth. I assess the impact of living wage laws on employment and establishment levels in the cities that pass them. I provide separate estimates for government contractors and other firms that may be indirectly signaled by a change in the local political environment. I use the National Establishment Time-series database to construct a panel dataset that tracks employment and establishment levels for all California jurisdictions. I produce difference-in-difference estimates that indicate that living wage laws have no significant impact on employment or establishment growth. Additionally, I find no evidence that the passage of living wage laws sends a negative “signal” to businesses about a potentially harmful local business climate.

Source: Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Working Paper Series.

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Collective Management of Copyrights and Human Rights: An Uneasy Alliance Revisited


This essay analyzes the “creators’ rights” provisions of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in the context of the collective administration of copyright and neighboring rights and the policies and practices of collective management organizations (CMOs). It also addresses other human rights treaties and international court rulings relevant to collective rights management.

The essay begins with an overview of the ICESCR Committee’s General Comment on ICESCR Article 15(1)(c), “the right of everyone to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.” It then analyzes the key provisions of the General Comment relevant to the collective administration of copyright and neighboring rights. The essay next considers two legal and policy issues with important human rights implications: whether membership in CMOs should be mandatory, and whether CMOs should promote national culture. The essay concludes by evaluating the practical implications of adopting a human rights framework to analyze collective management issues.

Source: Duke Law School Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 187.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Knowledge@Wharton Marketing Research Article View Article on Knowledge@Wharton Mobile Time vs. Money: Analyzing Which One Rules Consumer Choices

"'The Time vs. Money Effect': Shifting Product Attitudes and Decisions through Personal Connection," abstract:

The results of five field and laboratory experiments reveal a “time versus money effect” whereby activating time (vs. money) leads to a favorable shift in product attitudes and decisions. Because time increases focus on product experience, activating time (vs. money) augments one’s personal connection with the product, thereby boosting attitudes and decisions. However, because money increases the focus on product possession, the reverse effect can occur in cases where merely owning the product reflects the self (i.e., for prestige possessions or for highly materialistic consumers). The time versus money effect proves robust across implicit and explicit methods of construct activation.

Source: Journal of Consumer Research via Knowledge@Wharton and Stanford GSB

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The Disney/Marvel Marriage: Will They Live Happily Ever After?

"Trying to picture the edgy, ultra-macho characters of Marvel Comics (like Spider-Man or the Hulk) teaming up with Walt Disney's fairy tale princesses and cheery spokesmouse is not an easy task. Nonetheless, Wharton faculty and entertainment analysts predict Disney's $4 billion acquisition of Marvel will overcome some major challenges and help the company enter a key market where its presence has traditionally been weak."

Source: Knowledge@Wharton, University of Pennsylvania

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Financial Market Supervision: European Perspectives

From Online Overview:
"This report addresses the European perspectives on a number of proposals that are being advanced for financial oversight and regulation in Europe. The European experience may be instructive because financial markets in Europe are well developed, European firms often are competitors of U.S. firms, and European governments have faced severe problems of integration and consistency across the various financial structures that exist in Europe."

Source: Congressional Research Service

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Projections of Education Statistics to 2018

This publication provides projections for key education statistics. It includes statistics on enrollment, graduates, teachers, and expenditures in elementary and secondary schools, and enrollment and earned degrees conferred expenditures of degree-granting institutions. For the Nation, the tables, figures, and text contain data on enrollment, teachers, graduates, and expenditures for the past 14 years and projections to the year 2018. For the 50 States and the District of Columbia, the tables, figures, and text contain data on projections of public elementary and secondary enrollment and public high school graduates to the year 2018. In addition, the report includes a methodology section describing models and assumptions used to develop national and state-level projections.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Ethics in Business: Interview with Richard Kauffman, CEO, Good Energies (Transcript)

Introduction by Julia Kennedy:

Richard Kauffman, CEO of Good Energies. His company invests in renewable energy and energy efficiency firms at all stages of development. Good Energies has more than $2 billion invested in solar and wind assets. The company's foundation supports projects that bring renewable energy to the core, with an emphasis on communities who are receiving electricity for the first time.

Richard Kauffman has a long history in finance. Before coming to Good Energies, he was a partner at Goldman Sachs and, prior to that, a longtime executive at Morgan Stanley. Kauffman's education includes graduate degrees in international relations and management from Yale University. He currently serves on the advisory board for Yale's Center for Business and the Environment, in addition to a number of other board positions.

Source: Carnegie Council

Link to online transcript

Crime in the United States : By offense, by region, by state, by local agency

From the Press Release:
According to figures released today by the FBI, the estimated number of violent crimes in the Nation declined for the second year in a row. Property crimes also declined in 2008, marking the sixth straight year the collective estimates for these offenses dropped below the previous year’s total.

The statistics show that the estimated volume of violent crimes declined 1.9 percent, and the estimated volume of property crimes decreased 0.8 percent in 2008 when compared with 2007 estimates. The 2008 violent crime rate was 454.5 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants (a 2.7 percent decrease from the 2007 rate), and the property crime rate was 3,212.5 per 100,000 persons (a 1.6 percent decrease from 2007).

The data are presented in the 2008 edition of the FBI’s annual publication Crime in the United States, a statistical compilation of offense and arrest data as reported by law enforcement agencies voluntarily participating in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

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Access to Government Information In the United States

The U.S. Constitution makes no specific allowance for any one of the three branches of the federal government to have access to information held by the others. No provision in the U.S. Constitution expressly establishes a procedure for public access to government information. Congress has legislated various public access laws. Among these laws are two records access statutes, • the Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act or FOIA; 5 U.S.C. § 552), and • the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. § 552a), and two meetings access statutes, • the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA; 5 U.S.C. App.), and • the Government in the Sunshine Act (5 U.S.C. § 552b). The American separation of powers model of government may inherently prompt interbranch conflicts over the accessibility of information. These conflicts are neither unexpected nor necessarily destructive. Although there is considerable interbranch cooperation in the sharing of information and records, such conflicts over access may continue on occasion. This report offers an overview of the four information access laws noted above, and provides citations to additional resources related to these tools.
Source: Congressional Research Service

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Press Accuracy Rating Hits Two Decade Low : Public Evaluations of the News Media: 1985-2009

From Overview:

The public’s assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades of Pew Research surveys, and Americans’ views of media bias and independence now match previous lows.

Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate. In the initial survey in this series about the news media’s performance in 1985, 55% said news stories were accurate while 34% said they were inaccurate. That percentage had fallen sharply by the late 1990s and has remained low over the last decade.

Source: Pew Research Center for People and the Press

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

Title A Response to the Critics of Corporate Criminal Liability


This essay responds to critics of corporate liability and to the claim that elimination or limitation of such liability should be a priority for law reform. It discusses four points. First, imposing criminal liability on corporations makes sense, because corporations are not mere “fictional” entities. Rather, corporations are very real–and enormously powerful–actors whose conduct often causes very significant harms both to individuals and to society as a whole. Second, in evaluating the priorities for law reform it is critical to recognize that most of the problems with corporate liability are endemic to U.S. criminal law, rather than unique. The problems of corporations are neither special and distinctive, nor the most serious problems facing the criminal justice system. Third, a comparative review reveals something that may come as a surprise: corporate criminal liability is neither an embarrassing historical vestige nor a uniquely troubling feature of U.S. criminal law. To the contrary, in other countries the focus in the past several decades has been on the creation of corporate criminal liability in jurisdictions in which it did not exist, and where such liability already existed the modern reforms have included modifications intended to make it easier, rather than harder, to prosecute corporations criminally. Finally, what about the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, which may wreck havoc on innocent parties including shareholders, employees, and creditors? Critics have mistakenly assumed that these collateral consequences are intrinsically tied to criminal liability. They are either necessarily related to criminal liability nor are they limited to corporations. Accordingly, these collateral consequences should be considered by prosecutors on a case-by-case basis, but they should not affect the policy questions addressed here. The critics are right that there are serious problems with corporate criminal liability in the United States. But any agenda for reform should acknowledge that those problems are generally endemic to the criminal justice system (and especially the federal criminal justice system), rather than unique to corporations. In addition, the agenda for reform should include the question whether corporate criminal liability (and/or other mechanisms such as civil liability and regulatory oversight) needs to be strengthened or expanded.

Source: Duke Law School Faculty Scholarship Series

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Migration and the Global Recession


The global financial crisis that began in September 2008 can be viewed as having a deeper and more global effect on the movement of people around the world than any other economic downturn in the post-World War II era of migration, finds a new MPI report commissioned by the BBC World Service. The report explores how the recession has affected the movement of some of the world's more than 195 million migrants and their remittances in locations around the globe. It provides data on migration, remittances, employment, and poverty rates for immigrants and the native-born alike; and examines the policy changes some countries have enacted to suppress migrant inflows, encourage departures (including through recent "pay-to-go" plans), and protect labor markets for native-born workers.

Source : Migration Policy Institute

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Healthy Older Brains Not Significantly Smaller Than Younger Brains, New Imaging Study Shows


The belief that healthy older brains are substantially smaller than younger brains may stem from studies that did not screen out people whose undetected, slowly developing brain disease was killing off cells in key areas, according to new research. As a result, previous findings may have overestimated atrophy and underestimated normal size for the older brain.

The new study tested participants in Holland’s long-term Maastricht Aging Study who were free of neurological problems such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease or stroke. Once participants were deemed otherwise healthy, they took neuropsychological tests, including a screening test for dementia, at baseline and every three years afterward for nine years.

According to the report in the September Neuropsychology, published by the American Psychological Association, participants were also given MRI scans at Year 3 to measure seven different parts of the brain, including the memory-laden hippocampus, the areas around it, and the frontal and cingulate areas of the cognitively critical cortex.

After examining behavioral data collected from 1994 to 2005 (with scans taken between 1997 and 1999 depending on when people entered the study), the researchers divided participants into two groups: one group with 35 cognitively healthy people who stayed free of dementia (average starting age 69.1 years), and the other group with 30 people who showed substantial cognitive decline but were still dementia-free (average starting age 69.2 years).

Source : APA

Download full pdf publication : The Prevalence of Cortical Gray Matter Atrophy May Be Overestimated In the Healthy Aging Brain

Views of Religious Similarities and Differences

From the online overview
Muslims Widely Seen As Facing Discrimination

Eight years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Americans see Muslims as facing more discrimination inside the U.S. than other major religious groups. Nearly six-in-ten adults (58%) say that Muslims are subject to a lot of discrimination, far more than say the same about Jews, evangelical Christians, atheists or Mormons. In fact, of all the groups asked about, only gays and lesbians are seen as facing more discrimination than Muslims, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of the public saying there is a lot of discrimination against homosexuals.

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Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States

From the Press Release:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that real median household income in the United States fell 3.6 percent between 2007 and 2008, from $52,163 to $50,303. This breaks a string of three years of annual income increases and coincides with the recession that started in December 2007.

The nation’s official poverty rate in 2008 was 13.2 percent, up from 12.5 percent in 2007. There were 39.8 million people in poverty in 2008, up from 37.3 million in 2007.

Meanwhile, the number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million in 2008, while the percentage remained unchanged at 15.4 percent.

These findings are contained in the report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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| Link to press kit

Link to Health Insurance Data
Link to Income Data
Link to Poverty Data

The Influentials : New Approaches for Analyzing Influence on Twitter

"Using a new methodology based on the content and responses of 12 popular users, we determined measurements of relative influence on Twitter. We examined an ecosystem of 134,654 tweets, 15,866,629 followers, and 899,773 followees, and in response to the 2,143 tweets generated by these 12 users over a 10-day period, we collected 90,130 responses published by other users."
Source: Web Ecology Project

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Budget Woes Take Toll on Views of State Governments

With the economy wreaking havoc on state budgets, the favorability ratings of state governments have declined from a year ago. Overall, 50% of the public now holds a favorable opinion of their state government, down from 59% in April 2008. The falloff in positive views has been greater in states with large and moderate budget shortfalls than in states with smaller budget gaps.

Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

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Improving Quality and Value in the U.S. Health Care System

The U.S. health care system faces significant challenges that clearly indicate the urgent need for reform. Attention has rightly focused on the approximately 46 million Americans who are uninsured, and on the many insured Americans who face rapid increases in premiums and out-of-pocket costs. As Congress and the Obama administration consider ways to invest new funds to reduce the number of Americans without insurance coverage, we must simultaneously address shortfalls in the quality and efficiency of care that lead to higher costs and to poor health outcomes. To do otherwise casts doubt on the feasibility and sustainability of coverage expansions and also ensures that our current health care system will continue to have large gaps — even for those with access to insurance coverage.

Source: Brookings Institution

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2009 Back-to-School Forecast -- Record Numbers of Students

More students are entering and returning to the nation’s schools and colleges than ever before, according to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES).

In fact, as America's youth head back to classes, public elementary and secondary schools are preparing to serve a record 50 million students this fall with another 5.8 million attending private schools.

Colleges and universities anticipate an enrollment record of 18.4 million students, a projected increase of about 3.1 million since fall 2000. Among those are unprecedented numbers of African Americans and Hispanics. Driving the overall surge has been increases in both the traditional college-age population and rising enrollment rates.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Link to online report | Link to NCES Back To School "Fast Facts"

Finding Needles in a Haystack A Resource Allocation Methodology to Design Strategies to Detect Terrorist Weapon Development

Detecting terrorist weapon development is a fundamental goal of the intelligence and law enforcement communities. Achieving this goal can be quite difficult as many of the actions taken by terrorists can be executed covertly or may be seemingly innocuous against a background of non-terrorist related activities. This dissertation presents a systematic resource allocation methodology to design strategies to detect terrorist weapon development. First, a framework to approach the problem of detection of terrorist weapon development is introduced. Then, weapon pathways are generated, which define the target set of potential evidence the intelligence and law enforcement communities could pursue to discover terrorist weapon development. Finally, Bayesian networks are used to create a logical structure for how potential observations would affect our belief a weapon is being developed. Information entropy measures how much uncertainty is present in a system and can be used to assess the relative information content of potential evidence in the Bayesian networks. Resource allocations can be guided by these information-theoretic measures. The dissertation then shows how these methods might be used to detect terrorist development of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and radiological dispersal devices (RDDs). This method is an example of how expert judgments made prior to observations can guide collection and analytic resource allocations.

Source: RAND Corporation

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Investigation of Failure of the SEC To Uncover Bernard Madoff's Ponzi Scheme

From the Executive Summary

The OIG investigation did not find evidence that any SEC personnel who worked
on an SEC examination or investigation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities,
LLC (BMIS) had any financial or other inappropriate connection with Bernard Madoff or
the Madoff family that influenced the conduct of their examination or investigatory work.

The OIG also did not find that former SEC Assistant Director Eric Swanson's romantic
relationship with Bernard Madoffs niece, Shana Madoff, influenced the conduct of the
SEC examinations of Madoff and his firm. We also did not find that senior officials at
the SEC directly attempted to influence examinations or investigations of Madoff or the
Madofffirm, nor was there evidence any senior SEC official interfered with the staffs
ability to perform its work.

Source; U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

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Raising Rigor, Getting Results: Lessons Learned from AP Expansion

From the Press Release:

The report looks at the efforts of six states—Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Nevada and Wisconsin—that received funding as part of the NGA Center’s Advanced Placement Expansion project toincrease the participation of minority and low-income students in AP courses at 51 pilot high schools in rural and urban school districts.

Source: National Governors Association

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Low-Income Women’s Experiences With Food Programs, Food Spending, and Food-Related Hardships: Evidence From Qualitative Data

This study examines the economic coping strategies of low-income families, using data collected through qualitative interviews conducted in 2006-08 with 35 low-income women residing in the Detroit metropolitan area. Three rounds of interviews found that the majority of the sample were employed at least some of the time, and most had children living with them. Despite careful shopping practices, rising food prices forced cutbacks in purchase of certain foods, including milk, cereal, fruits, and meat. Just under half reported running out of food at some point during the year. As for government assistance, the then named Food Stamp Program, and now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), was their mainstay. Even when eligible for benefits, many of the families did not receive cash assistance, unemployment benefits, or workers’ compensation due to perceived access barriers.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service

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Strengthening the Health Insurance System: How Health Insurance Reform Will Help America’s Older and Senior Women

From Executive Summary

While all Americans shoulder the burden of rising health care costs and increasingly inadequate health insurance, the 17 million older women (ages 55-64) and 21 million senior women (ages 65 and older) in America have unique situations and health care needs that make them particularly susceptible to rising costs – at a time in their lives when access to affordable health care is increasingly important. Health insurance reform will remove these hurdles to ensure that older and senior women, along with all other Americans, get the quality, affordable health care they deserve.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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A Snapshot of U.S. Physicians : Key Findings from the 2008 Health Tracking Physician Survey

From Press Release:

Almost 75 percent of physicians were accepting all or most new Medicare patients, the vast majority of physicians contracted with managed care plans, and slightly fewer than six in 10 physicians provided charity care in 2008, according to findings released today from the nationally representative Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) 2008 Health Tracking Physician Survey.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the 2008 Health Tracking Physician Survey covers a wide variety of physician and practice dimensions, from basic physician demographic information, practice organization and career satisfaction to insurance acceptance, compensation arrangements and charity care provision. The 2008 survey includes responses from more than 4,700 physicians who provide at least 20 hours per week of direct patient care, and had a 62 percent response rate. Because of changes in survey administration, results from the 2008 physician survey cannot be compared to findings from earlier HSC Community Tracking Study Physician Surveys. However, the 2008 physician survey establishes a new baseline that will allow future tracking of how physicians organize and practice medicine.

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Executions, Deterrence and Homicide: A Tale of Two Cities

We compare homicide rates in two quite similar cities with vastly different execution risks. Singapore had an execution rate close to 1 per million per year until an explosive twentyfold increase in 1994-95 and 96 to a level that we show was probably the highest in the world. Then over the next 11 years, Singapore executions dropped by about 95%. Hong Kong, by contrast, has no executions all during the last generation and abolished capital punishment in 1993. Homicide levels and trends are remarkably similar in these two cities over the 35 years after 1973, with neither the surge in Singapore executions nor the more recent steep drop producing any differential impact. By comparing two closely matched places with huge contrasts in actual execution but no differences in homicide trends, we have generated a unique test of the exuberant claims of deterrence that have been produced over the past decade in the U.S.

Source: Boalt Working Papers in Public Law. Paper 08312009.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pew Survey Report: The Internet and Civic Engagement

Online Overview:
Political and civic involvement have long been dominated by those with high levels of income and education, leading some advocates to hope that internet-based engagement might alter this pattern. However, a new report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that the internet is not changing the fundamental socio-economic character of civic engagement in America. When it comes to online activities such as contributing money, contacting a government official or signing an online petition, the wealthy and well-educated continue to lead the way.

Still, there are hints that the new forms of civic engagement anchored in blogs and social networking sites could alter long-standing patterns. Some 19% of internet users have posted material online about political or social issues or used a social networking site for some form of civic or political engagement. And this group of activists is disproportionately young.

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

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The Current Financial Crisis: What Should We Learn from the Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century?

Studying the experience of countries that have experienced great depressions during the
twentieth century teaches us that massive public interventions in the economy to maintain employment and investment during a financial crisis can, if they distort incentives enough, lead to a great depression.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and NBER

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Doubly Robust Internal Benchmarking and False Discovery Rates for Detecting Racial Bias in Police Stops

From RAND :
Allegations of racially biased policing are a contentious issue in many communities. Processes that flag potential problem officers have become a key component of risk management systems at major police departments. We present a statistical method to flag potential problem officers by blending three methodologies that are the focus of active research efforts: propensity score weighting, doubly robust estimation, and false discovery rates. Compared with other systems currently in use, the proposed method reduces the risk of flagging a substantial number of false positives by more rigorously adjusting for potential confounders and by using the false discovery rate as a measure to flag officers.We apply the methodology to data on 500,000 pedestrian stops in New York City in 2006. Of the nearly 3,000 New York City Police Department officers regularly involved in pedestrian stops, we flag 15 officers who stopped a substantially greater fraction of black and Hispanic suspects than our statistical benchmark predicts.

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From Twenty-six Lies About H.R. 3200

"A notorious analysis of the House health care bill contains 48 claims. Twenty-six of them are false and the rest mostly misleading. Only four are true."

Read the report online here at 2009 Legislative Review 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 Stateline Legislative Review Section

Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation

NWLC and MALDEF survey Latinas about their aspirations and unique challenges to reaching their goals

"...addresses the challenges facing Latina high school students in the United States and explores ways to overcome obstacles that undermine their chances of graduating from high school. It also brings new voices to the conversation: those of Latina students themselves and of the adults who work with them on a daily basis. The report includes recommendations for schools and policymakers to improve the odds that young Latinas will graduate from high school and lead successful lives."

Source: National Women's Law Center

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Urban Institute Report: The Rough Road to Adulthood


Low-income African American youth engage in fewer risky behaviors than low-income white youth, a new Urban Institute analysis of federal data reveals. This research on young blacks is part of a collection of eight brief studies on vulnerable youth, risky behavior, and the transition to adulthood.

Source: Urban Institute

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List of Briefs (download in pdf):
Low-Income African American Youth
Second-Generation Latinos Connecting to School and Work
Multiple Pathways Connecting to School and Work
Youth from Distressed Neighborhoods
Youth from Low-Income Families
Young Men and Young Women
Youth with Depression/Anxiety
Youth from Low-Income Working Families

America’s Seniors and Health Insurance Reform: Protecting Coverage and Strengthening Medicare

From the introduction:

Since its inception in 1965, Medicare has provided a needed – and respected – health care service to our nation’s senior citizens and certain individuals with disabilities. However, rising health care costs, persistent gaps in the use of recommended services, and the threat of Medicare insolvency all undermine the health care that the program’s beneficiaries need and deserve. Health insurance reform will serve to strengthen the health care that our seniors receive.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Treatment of Noncitizens in H.R. 3200

From the CRS:
This report outlines the treatment of noncitizens (aliens) under H.R. 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. In particular, the report analyzes specific provisions in H.R. 3200, and whether there are eligibility requirements for noncitizens in the provisions. Within the bill, noncitizens are treated differently in several provisions.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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Insurance Regulation: Issues, Background, and Legislation in the 111th Congress


The individual states have been acknowledged as the primary regulators of insurance as far back as 1868. Since the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, this system has operated with the specific blessing of Congress, but has also been subject to periodic scrutiny and suggestions that the time may have come for Congress to take back the regulatory authority that it granted to the states. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, congressional scrutiny was largely driven by the increasing complexities of the insurance business and concern over whether the states were up to the task of ensuring consumer protections, particularly insurer solvency. Prior to the recent financial crisis, congressional interest in insurance regulation focused on the inefficiencies in the state regulatory system. A major catalyst for congressional interest has been the aftermath of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (GLBA), which modernized the regulatory structure for banks and securities firms, but left the insurance sector largely untouched. Many larger insurers, and their trade associations, had previously defended state regulation but consider themselves at a competitive disadvantage in the current regulatory structure. They are now largely arguing for an optional federal charter akin to that available to banks. The increased internationalization of insurance has also brought more pressure on the current U.S. regulatory system. Various pieces of insurance regulatory reform legislation have been introduced in the current and past Congresses, including bills implementing an optional federal charter for insurance and narrower more targeted bills.

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Source: Congressional Research Service

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