Thursday, December 06, 2012

Explore Government Subsidies Data by State

 From the New York Times:
The New York Times spent 10 months investigating business incentives awarded by hundreds of cities, counties and states. Since there is no nationwide accounting of these incentives, The Times put together a database.
 Explore Government Subsidies Data by State

UNESCO Freedom of Expression Toolkit

From the Summary:

The Freedom of Expression Toolkit builds on the premise that freedom of expression, as well as press freedom and freedom of information, are indispensable elements in the attainment of all human rights. Throughout this Toolkit there will be an emphasis on the four key elements of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely the right to hold opinions without interference, the right to seek information, the right to receive information and the right to impart information to others.
 Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Download pdf of UNESCO Freedom of Expression Toolkit

New Resource from Census Bureau uses ACS Data

 The Census Bureau updated its popular QuickFacts site with the new American Community Survey statistics, making it even easier for people to find information about a town, county or state.

The American Community Survey (ACS) data released includes the combined years from 2007 to 2011, providing the only statistics down to the neighborhood level on school enrollment, jobs, housing and many other measures.

These estimates are ideal for measuring trends for areas with populations of less than 20,000. The Census Bureau has also launched "Easy Stats," a tool that allows users to build their own tables by selecting a desired topic and geography. Early next year, the Census Bureau will release "Dwellr," a mobile app designed to put Census Bureau statistics directly in the hands of new users in an engaging way.


Easy Stats:

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Overview of substance use disorders and incarceration of African American males


Incarceration affects the lives of many African American men and often leads to poverty, ill health, violence, and a decreased quality of life. There has been an unprecedented increase in incarceration among African American males since 1970. In 2009, the incarceration rate among black males was 6.7 times that of white males and 2.6 times of Hispanic males. Substance abuse in African American males leads to higher mortality rates, high rates of alcohol-related problems, more likely to be victims of crimes, and HIV/AIDS. African Americans comprised only 14% of the U.S. population but comprised 38% of the jail population. The cost of incarcerating persons involved in substance related crimes has increased considerably over the past two decades in the U.S. A reduction in the incarceration rate for non-violent offences would save an estimated $17 billion per year. Substance use disorder makes the individual more prone to polysubstance use and leads to impulse control problems, selling drugs, and other crimes. The high rate of incarceration in U.S. may adversely affect health care, the economy of the country, and will become a burden on society. Implementation of good mental health care, treatment of addiction during and after incarceration will help to decrease the chances of reoffending. Therapeutic community programs with prison-based and specialized treatment facilities, cognitive behavioral therapy treatment for 91–180 days, and 12-step orientation with staff specialized in substance abuse can be helpful. It is essential for health care professionals to increase public awareness of substance abuse and find ways to decrease the high rates of incarceration.
Source: doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2012.00098 Frontiers in Forensic Psychiatry

Read:  Overview of substance use disorders and incarceration of African American males

Human Performance Modification: Review of Worldwide Research with a View to the Future

From the Summary: 
The development of technologies to modify natural human physical and cognitive performance is one of increasing interest and concern, especially among military services that may be called on to defeat foreign powers with enhanced warfighter capabilities. Human performance modification (HPM) is a general term that can encompass actions ranging from the use of “natural” materials, such as caffeine or khat as a stimulant, to the application of nanotechnology as a drug delivery mechanism or in an invasive brain implant. Although the literature on HPM typically addresses methods that enhance performance, another possible focus is methods that degrade performance or negatively affect a military force’s ability to fight.

Advances in medicine, biology, electronics, and computation have enabled an increasingly sophisticated ability to modify the human body, and such innovations will undoubtedly be adopted by military forces, with potential consequences for both sides of the battle lines. Although some innovations may be developed for purely military applications, they are increasingly unlikely to remain exclusively in that sphere because of the globalization and internationalization of the commercial research base.
Based on its review of the literature, the presentations it received, and on its own expertise, the Committee on Assessing Foreign Technology Development in Human Performance Modification chose to focus on three general areas of HPM:
  • Human cognitive modification as a computational problem (Chapter 2), 
  • Human performance modification as a biological problem (Chapter 3), and 
  • Human performance modification as a function of the brain-computer interface (Chapter 4).
 Source: Committee on Assessing Foreign Technology Development in Human Performance Modification, Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council.

Read: Human Performance Modification: Review of Worldwide Research with a View to the Future

Nielsen Social Media Report 2012: Social Media Comes of Age

Social media and social networking are no longer in their infancy. Social media continues to grow rapidly, offering global consumers new and meaningful ways to engage with the people, events and brands that matter to them. According to Nielsen and NM Incite’s latest Social Media Report, consumers continue to spend more time on social networks than on any other category of sites—roughly 20 percent of their total time online via personal computer (PC), and 30 percent of total time online via mobile. Additionally, total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PCs and mobile devices increased 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012, compared to 88 billion in July 2011. The recent proliferation of mobile devices and connectivity helped fuel the continued growth of social media. While the computer remains as the predominant device for social media access, consumers’ time spent with social media on mobile apps and the mobile web has increased 63 percent in 2012, compared to the same period last year.
 Source: NielsenWire

View Nielsen Social Media Report 2012: Social Media Comes of Age online

Congressional Salaries and Allowances

From the Summary:

This report provides basic information on congressional salaries and allowances.

First, the report briefly summarizes the current salary of Members of Congress, limits on their outside earned income and honoraria, available life and health insurance, and retirement benefits.

Second, the report provides information on allowances available to Representatives and Senators to support them in their official and representational duties. These allowances cover official office expenses, including staff, mail, travel between a Member’s district or state and Washington, DC, and other goods and services.

Third, the report lists the salaries of Members, House and Senate officers and officials, and salary limits for committee staff.
Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress (Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress)

Download full pdf report: Congressional Salaries and Allowances

Addressing the Long-Run Budget Deficit: A Comparison of Approaches

From the Summary:

A small share of federal spending is for direct provision of domestic government services, which many people may think of when considering federal spending. Since this spending is normally about 10% of total federal spending and about 2% of GDP and deficits excluding interest are projected to be as much as 7.7% of GDP by 2037, cutting this type of spending can make only a limited contribution. Transfers and payments to persons and state and local governments constitute most of federal spending, about 70%. Defense spending, currently accounting for about 20% of spending, has declined over the past 35 years, but also tends to vary depending, in part, on the presence and magnitude of international conflicts.
Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress (Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

Download full pdf report: Addressing the Long-Run Budget Deficit: A Comparison of Approaches by Jane G. Gravelle, Senior Specialist in Economic Policy