Thursday, August 28, 2014

Consult, Command, Control, Contract: Adding a Fourth “C” to NATO’s Cyber Security

The lines between civilian and military are increasingly blurred, creating ambiguity under international law when private contractors engage in offensive cyber-security operations on behalf of states. These private security companies (PSCs) are being contracted for cyber security to engage in offensive cyber operations, but states should not contract PSCs for offensive cyber operations. The next instalment of the 2014 Jr. Fellows Policy Briefs recognizes the benefits of cyber-security contracting and maintains that a transparent distinction should be established between PSCs and state militaries, whereby private actors would only be involved in defensive and supportive operations. The authors address the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to implement a contracting protocol that delineates appropriate classifications for the tasks and personnel required for private cyber-security contracts. They conclude that establishing an oversight organization and submitting a proposal to the International Law Commission to consider the roles of private security actors would create greater transparency and accountability for contracting.

Source: Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)

Download full policy brief | Read more online at the CIGI

Social Media, Political Issues, and the ‘Spiral of Silence’

From the summary:

A major insight into human behavior from pre-internet era studies of communication is the tendency of people not to speak up about policy issues in public—or among their family, friends, and work colleagues—when they believe their own point of view is not widely shared. This tendency is called the “spiral of silence.” Some social media creators and supporters have hoped that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter might produce different enough discussion venues that those with minority views might feel freer to express their opinions, thus broadening public discourse and adding new perspectives to everyday discussion of political issues. We set out to study this by conducting a survey of 1,801 adults. It focused on one important public issue: Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations of widespread government surveillance of Americans’ phone and email records.

Source: Pew Research Internet Project

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What Happens Before? A Field Experiment Exploring How Pay and Representation Differentially Shape Bias on the Pathway into Organizations

Little is known about how discrimination against women and minorities manifests before individuals formally apply to organizations or how it varies within and between organizations. We address this knowledge gap through an audit study in academia of over 6,500 professors at top U.S. universities drawn from 89 disciplines and 259 institutions. We hypothesized that discrimination would appear at the informal “pathway” preceding entry to academia and would vary by discipline and university as a function of faculty representation and pay. In our experiment, professors were contacted by fictional prospective students seeking to discuss research opportunities before applying to a doctoral program. Students’ names were randomly assigned to signal gender and race, but messages were otherwise identical. Faculty ignored requests from women and minorities at a higher rate than requests from Caucasian males, particularly in higher-paying disciplines and private institutions. Counterintuitively, the representation of women and minorities and discrimination were uncorrelated.
Authors: Milkman, Katherine L. and Akinola, Modupe and Chugh, Dolly,
Source: Social Science Research Network (SSRN)

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Predictors of depression, stress, and anxiety among non-tenure track faculty

Nationwide in the United States, 70% of faculty members in higher education are employed off the tenure-track. Nearly all of these non-tenure-track (NTT) appointments share a quality that may produce stress for those who hold them: contingency. Most NTT appointments are contingent on budget, enrollment, or both, and the majority of contingent faculty members are hired for one quarter or semester at a time. Significant research has investigated the effects of contingency on teaching, students, departments, colleges, and universities; however, little research has focused on the psychological experiences of NTT faculty. The current study examined perceptions of workplace stressors and harm, organizational commitment, common coping mechanisms, and depression, anxiety and stress among NTT faculty using a longitudinal design that spanned 2–4 months. Results indicate that NTT faculty perceive unique stressors at work that are related to their contingent positions. Specific demographic characteristics and coping strategies, inability to find a permanent faculty position, and commitment to one's organization predispose NTT faculty to perceive greater harm and more sources of stress in their workplaces. Demographic characteristics, lower income, inability to find a permanent faculty position, disengagement coping mechanisms (e.g., giving up, denial), and organizational commitment were associated with the potential for negative outcomes, particularly depression, anxiety, and stress. Our findings suggest possibilities for institutional intervention. Overall, we argue that universities would be well-served by attending to the needs of NTT faculty on campus in order to mitigate negative outcomes for institutions, students, and faculty.
Authors: Reevy Gretchen Maria, Deason Grace    
Source: Frontiers in Psychology: Educational Psychology

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The “Militarization” of Law Enforcement and the Department of Defense’s “1033 Program” -August 20, 2014

From the introduction:
Recent clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson, MO, have raised questions about the “militarization” of law enforcement. Such concerns have focused almost exclusively on the expanding role of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. Congress has also turned its attention to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) “1033 Program” and what role it might play in the militarization of law enforcement.
Source: Congressional Research Service

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Work-Family Conflict: The Effects of Religious Context on Married Women’s Participation in the Labor Force

Past work shows religion’s effect on women’s career decisions, particularly when these decisions involve work-family conflict. This study argues that the religious context of a geographic area also influences women’s solutions to work-family conflict through more or less pervasive normative expectations within the community regarding women’s roles and responsibilities to the family. We use the American Community Survey linked with community-level religious proportions to test the relationship between religious contexts and women’s participation in the labor force in the contiguous United States–2054 census geographic areas. Using spatial analysis, we find that community religious concentration is related to the proportion of women who choose not to work. Communities with a higher proportion of the population belonging to conservative religious traditions also have a greater proportion of married women choosing not to work outside the home.
Authors: Rogers J, Franzen A
Source: Religions
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CDC Digital Press Kit: Ebola Outbreak – 2014

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is rapidly increasing its ongoing efforts to curb the expanding West African Ebola outbreak and deploying staff to four African nations currently affected: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.
Facts about Ebola from the CDC
Infographic from the CDC
  • This is the largest Ebola outbreak in history and the first in West Africa. The outbreak in West Africa is worsening, but CDC, along with other U.S. government agencies and international partners, is taking active steps to respond to this rapidly changing situation.
  • CDC elevated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to a Level 1 activation, its highest level, because of the significance of the outbreak in West Africa.
  • CDC is surging our response with the current challenges that we are facing. CDC is sending additional CDC disease control specialists into the four countries.
Source: Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Learn more and view the entire press kit at the CDC

How Poor Are America's Poorest? U.S. $2 A Day Poverty In A Global Context

An important study on U.S. poverty by Luke Shaefer and Kathryn Edin gently challenges this assumption. Using an alternative dataset from the one employed for the official U.S. poverty measure, Shaefer and Edin show that millions of Americans live on less than $2 a day—a threshold commonly used to measure poverty in the developing world. Depending on the exact definitions used, they find that up to 5 percent of American households with children are shown to fall under this parsimonious poverty line.

This brief is organized into two parts. In the first part, we examine the welfare of America’s poorest people using a variety of different data sources and definitions. These generate estimates of the number of Americans living under $2 a day that range from 12 million all the way down to zero. This wide spectrum reflects not only a lack of agreement on how poverty can most reliably be measured, but the particular ways in which poverty is, and isn’t, manifested in the U.S.. In the second part, we reexamine America’s $2 a day poverty in the context of global poverty. We begin by identifying the source and definition of poverty that most faithfully replicates the World Bank’s official poverty measure for the developing world to allow a fairer comparison between the U.S. and developing nations. We then compare the characteristics of poverty in the U.S. and the developing world to provide a more complete picture of the nature of poverty in these different settings. Finally, we explain why comparisons of poverty in the U.S. and the developing world, despite their limitations and pitfalls, are likely to become more common. 
Authors: Laurence Chandy and Cory Smith
Source: Brookings Institution
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E-Readers Are More Effective than Paper for Some with Dyslexia

E-readers are fast rivaling print as a dominant method for reading. Because they offer accessibility options that are impossible in print, they are potentially beneficial for those with impairments, such as dyslexia. Yet, little is known about how the use of these devices influences reading in those who struggle. Here, we observe reading comprehension and speed in 103 high school students with dyslexia. Reading on paper was compared with reading on a small handheld e-reader device, formatted to display few words per line. We found that use of the device significantly improved speed and comprehension, when compared with traditional presentations on paper for specific subsets of these individuals: Those who struggled most with phoneme decoding or efficient sight word reading read more rapidly using the device, and those with limited VA Spans gained in comprehension. Prior eye tracking studies demonstrated that short lines facilitate reading in dyslexia, suggesting that it is the use of short lines (and not the device per se) that leads to the observed benefits. We propose that these findings may be understood as a consequence of visual attention deficits, in some with dyslexia, that make it difficult to allocate attention to uncrowded text near fixation, as the gaze advances during reading. Short lines ameliorate this by guiding attention to the uncrowded span.
Authors: Schneps MH, Thomson JM, Chen C, Sonnert G, Pomplun M
Source:  PLoS ONE

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Racial Disparities in Incarceration Increase Acceptance of Punitive Policies

During the past few decades, punitive crime policies have led to explosive growth in the United States prison population. Such policies have contributed to unprecedented incarceration rates for Blacks in particular. In this article, we consider an unexamined relationship between racial disparities and policy reform. Rather than treating racial disparities as an outcome to be measured, we exposed people to real and extreme racial disparities and observed how this drove their support for harsh criminal-justice policies. In two experiments, we manipulated the racial composition of prisons: When the penal institution was represented as “more Black,” people were more concerned about crime and expressed greater acceptance of punitive policies than when the penal institution was represented as “less Black.” Exposure to extreme racial disparities, then, can lead people to support the very policies that produce those disparities, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle.
Authors: Jennifer L. Eberhardt (Resource Connection Subscriber), Rebecca C. Hetey
 Source: Psychological Science via APS
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Monday, August 25, 2014

The NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition

From the introduction:
The internationally recognized New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report series and regional NMC Technology Outlooks are part of the NMC Horizon Project, a 12-year effort established in 2002 that annually identifies and describes emerging technologies likely to have a large impact over the coming five years in every sector of education around the globe. This volume, the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition , examines key trends, significant challenges, and emerging technologies for their potential impact on academic and research libraries worldwide. While there are many local factors affecting libraries, there are also issues that transcend regional boundaries and common questions; it was with these questions in mind that this report was created. The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition was produced by the NMC in collaboration with University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Chur, Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) Hannover, and ETH- Bibliothek Zurich.
Source: New Media Consortium

Download full pdf publication | Learn more on the NMC website.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cues of working together fuel intrinsic motivation


What psychological mechanisms facilitate social coordination and cooperation? The present research examined the hypothesis that social cues that signal an invitation to work with others can fuel intrinsic motivation even when people work alone. Holding constant other factors, participants exposed to cues of working together persisted longer on a challenging task (Experiments 1 and 3), expressed greater interest in and enjoyment of the task (Experiments 1, 3, and 5), required less self-regulatory effort to persist on the task (Experiment 2), became more engrossed in and performed better on the task (Experiment 4), and, when encouraged to link this motivation to their values and self-concept, chose to do more related tasks in an unconnected setting 1–2 weeks later (Experiment 5). The results suggest that cues of working together can inspire intrinsic motivation, turning work into play. The discussion addresses the social–relational bases of motivation and implications for the self and application.

Priyanka B. Carr, Gregory M. Walton, Cues of working together fuel intrinsic motivation, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 53, July 2014, Pages 169-184, ISSN 0022-1031,

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Neglected boys may turn into violent adolescents

From the introduction:
Parents who physically neglect their boys may increase the risk that they will raise violent adolescents, according to Penn State sociologists.

In a study of currently incarcerated male adolescents, physical neglect during childhood arose as the strongest predictor of violent behavior, said William McGuigan, associate professor of human development and family studies at Penn State Shenango. Researchers are just beginning to acknowledge the powerful role of neglect in influencing adolescent violence, he added. "One of the problems with studying neglect is that it is an act of omission, rather than one of commission. In other words, it is characterized as the absence of an act, rather than an actual act of mistreatment," said McGuigan. "However, now we have better measures and larger databases to document neglect." Examples of physical neglect include not taking a sick or injured child to the doctor, improperly clothing a child and not feeding a child, according to the researchers who will present their findings today (Aug. 18) at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco.
Source: Penn State Shenango

Learn more about the study and results

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Examination of University Speech Codes’ Constitutionality and Their Impact on High-Level Discourse

The First Amendment – which guarantees the right to freedom of religion, of the press, to assemble, and petition to the government for redress of grievances – is under attack at institutions of higher learning in the United States of America. Beginning in the late 1980s, universities have crafted “speech codes” or “codes of conduct” that prohibit on campus certain forms of expression that would otherwise be constitutionally guaranteed. Examples of such polices could include prohibiting “telling a joke that conveys sexism,” or “content that may negatively affect an individual’s self-esteem.” Despite the alarming number of institutions that employ such policies, administrative and student attitude toward repeal or ensuring their free-speech rights are intact is arguably lax. Some scholars even suggest that colleges’ prohibitions are welcome, and are a product of a generation of students rejecting the tolerance of hate speech. Court cases and precedent disagree, though, and various prominent rulings are discussed that have shaped the landscape of conduct codes in today’s academia. Also described are examples and outcomes of academic prosecution of students by school officials for constitutionally protected speech, opinion, expression or conduct. More research is imperative before occurrence of a culture shift that eradicates expression and topics of discussion and criminally prosecutes speech outside of the talking points of an ivory tower echo chamber of approved opinions.

Source: University of Nebraska : Thesis

View abstract and download thesis from the University of Nebraska Digital Commons

The State, Parents, Schools, "Culture Wars", and Modern Technologies: Challenges under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of a Child

This paper focuses on some of the core principles of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and their application under U.S. state and federal law. While the United States has not ratified the Convention, it is a signatory. Many of the most intractable cultural issues in the United States involve children and their rights to participation, information, and decision-making. Frequently, primary and secondary education presents a fertile battle ground for “cultural clashes” between parents, schools, and state officials. In the private context, both U.S. law and the U.N. Convention have adopted the “best interests of the child” standard. Despite the usage of identically named or similarly sounding concepts, to what extent U.S. approaches may be aligned or conflict with the Convention remains subject to question. The United States would benefit from more active participation in a global dialogue about children’s issues, especially as brain science and technological change challenge our traditional understanding of what it means to be a “child” and a “parent.”
Source: American Journal of Comparative Law Supplement via Washington & Lee University School of Law

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Bridging Science and Technology through Academic-Industry Partnerships

Scientific research and its translation into commercialized technology is a driver of wealth creation and economic growth. Partnerships to foster the translational processes from public research organizations, such as universities and hospitals, to private firms are a policy tool that has attracted increased interest. Yet questions about the efficacy and the efficiency with which funds are used are subject to frequent debate. This paper examines empirical data from the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation (DNATF), an agency that funds partnerships between universities and private companies to develop technologies important to Danish industry. We assess the effect of a unique mediated funding scheme that combines project grants with active facilitation and conflict management on firm performance, comparing the likelihood of bankruptcy and employee count as well as patent count, publication count and their citations and collaborative nature between funded and unfunded firms. Because randomization of the sample was not feasible, we address endogeneity around selection bias using a sample of qualitatively similar firms based on a funding decision score. This allows us to observe the local effect of samples in which we drop the best recipients and the worst non-recipients. Our results suggest that while receiving the grant does bring an injection of funding that alleviates financing constraints, its core effect on the firm’s innovative behavior is in fostering collaborations and translations between science and technology and encouraging riskier projects rather than purely increasing patenting.
 Source: Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 13-058. via SSRN

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Ebola: 2014 Outbreak in West Africa – CRS Report

Congressional Research Service Report introduction:
An ongoing outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the largest, most persistent ever documented, and the first in West Africa, began in March 2014 in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia (the “affected countries”) and has spread to Nigeria. More people have contracted and died from EVD in this outbreak than in any single prior outbreak. In the current outbreak, the case fatality rate (the estimated percentage of infected persons dying) is about 55%; past outbreak rates have ranged between 41% and 88%.

Prior human EVD outbreaks had occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Sudan, and Uganda, primarily in rural and forested areas (Figure 2). The current outbreak is more geographically extensive and cases are emerging in both urban and rural settings. Health experts are accelerating efforts to contain the outbreak, as transmission in densely populated urban areas may be far more difficult to control and lead to higher death tolls. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), from March through August 6, Ebola was known or suspected to have infected 1,779 persons and caused 961 deaths; of these, 1,134 cases had been confirmed in laboratories. 
Source: US Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

Download pdf: Ebola: 2014 Outbreak in West Africa – CRS Report

Economic Characteristics of Households in the United States

This collection of seven tables for each quarter comes from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. The tables that examine the role of government-sponsored benefit programs and the labor market among the nation’s people and households within the economic climate of each quarter of 2012. Specifically, the tables present statistics on average monthly income, participation in government-sponsored social welfare or social insurance programs, and labor force activity during each period. 
 Source: US Census Bureau

View and download tables: Economic Characteristics of Households in the United States