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Archive for February, 2013

For Fourth Year, Hawaii No. 1 in Wellbeing, W.Va. Last

February 28, 2013 Comments off

For Fourth Year, Hawaii No. 1 in Wellbeing, W.Va. Last
Source: Gallup

Hawaii residents have the highest wellbeing in the nation for the fourth consecutive year, with a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index score of 71.1 in 2012 — up from 70.2 in 2011. Colorado, Minnesota, Utah, and Vermont rounded out the top five states with the highest wellbeing scores last year. West Virginia residents have the lowest overall wellbeing for the fourth year in a row, with a Well-Being Index score of 61.3 in 2012 — slightly lower than the 62.3 in 2011. Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas also had among the five lowest wellbeing scores in the country.

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New From the GAO

February 28, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

Broadcast and Cable Television
Requirements for Identifying Sponsored Programming Should Be Clarified
GAO-13-237, Jan 31, 2013

Defense Logistics
A Completed Comprehensive Strategy is Needed to Guide DOD’s In-Transit Visibility Efforts
GAO-13-201, Feb 28, 2013

Department Of Justice
Executives’ Use of Aircraft for Nonmission Purposes
GAO-13-235, Feb 26, 2013

Homeland Defense
DOD’s Aerospace Control Alert Basing Decision Was Informed by Various Analyses
GAO-13-230R, Feb 28, 2013

Prescription Drugs
The Number, Role, and Ownership of Pharmacy Services Administrative Organizations
GAO-13-176, Jan 29, 2013

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Workforce Participation Requirement Waivers
GAO-13-423T, Feb 28, 2013

The Relationship of Sugar to Population-Level Diabetes Prevalence: An Econometric Analysis of Repeated Cross-Sectional Data

February 28, 2013 Comments off

The Relationship of Sugar to Population-Level Diabetes Prevalence: An Econometric Analysis of Repeated Cross-Sectional Data

Source: PLoS ONE

While experimental and observational studies suggest that sugar intake is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes, independent of its role in obesity, it is unclear whether alterations in sugar intake can account for differences in diabetes prevalence among overall populations. Using econometric models of repeated cross-sectional data on diabetes and nutritional components of food from 175 countries, we found that every 150 kcal/person/day increase in sugar availability (about one can of soda/day) was associated with increased diabetes prevalence by 1.1% (p <0.001) after testing for potential selection biases and controlling for other food types (including fibers, meats, fruits, oils, cereals), total calories, overweight and obesity, period-effects, and several socioeconomic variables such as aging, urbanization and income. No other food types yielded significant individual associations with diabetes prevalence after controlling for obesity and other confounders. The impact of sugar on diabetes was independent of sedentary behavior and alcohol use, and the effect was modified but not confounded by obesity or overweight. Duration and degree of sugar exposure correlated significantly with diabetes prevalence in a dose-dependent manner, while declines in sugar exposure correlated with significant subsequent declines in diabetes rates independently of other socioeconomic, dietary and obesity prevalence changes. Differences in sugar availability statistically explain variations in diabetes prevalence rates at a population level that are not explained by physical activity, overweight or obesity.

Twitter as a Reporting Tool for Breaking News

February 28, 2013 Comments off

Twitter as a Reporting Tool for Breaking News

Source: Digital Journalism

This study focuses on journalists Paul Lewis (The Guardian) and Ravi Somaiya (The New York Times), the most frequently mentioned national and international journalists on Twitter during the 2011 UK summer riots. Both actively tweeted throughout the four-day riot period and this article highlights how they used Twitter as a reporting tool. It discusses a series of Twitter conventions in detail, including the use of links, the taking and sharing of images, the sharing of mainstream media content and the use of hashtags. The article offers an in-depth overview of methods for studying Twitter, reflecting critically on commonly used data collection strategies, offering possible alternatives as well as highlighting the possibilities for combining different methodological approaches. Finally, the article makes a series of suggestions for further research into the use of Twitter by professional journalists.

Hat tip: Journalist’s Resource

The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration

February 28, 2013 Comments off

The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration

Source: Sentencing Project

From 2000 to 2009 there was a dramatic shift in the racial composition of the women’s prison population. In 2000, African American women were incarcerated at 6 times the rate of white women. By 2009, that disparity had dropped by half, to less than three times the white rate.

The factors contributing to these changes include: sharply reduced incarceration of African American women for drug offenses in some states; declining rates of arrest of black women for violent, property, and drug offenses; and, cumulative social disadvantages that are increasingly affecting less educated white women.

Recommendations for addressing these issues include conducting state-based analyses of racial disparity, enacting proactive racial impact statement legislation, and engaging practitioners in projects to reduce disparities in local jurisdictions.

How Teachers Are Using Technology at Home and in Their Classrooms

February 28, 2013 Comments off

How Teachers Are Using Technology at Home and in Their Classrooms

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

A survey of teachers who instruct American middle and secondary school students finds that digital technologies have become central to their teaching and professionalization. At the same time, the internet, mobile phones, and social media have brought new challenges to teachers, and they report striking differences in access to the latest digital technologies between lower and higher income students and school districts.

Asked about the impact of the internet and digital tools in their role as middle and high school educators, these teachers say the following about the overall impact on their teaching and their classroom work:

  • 92% of these teachers say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching
  • 69% say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to share ideas with other teachers
  • 67% say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to interact with parents and 57% say it has had such an impact on enabling their interaction with students

The survey finds that digital tools are widely used in classrooms and assignments, and a majority of these teachers are satisfied with the support and resources they receive from their school in this area. However, it also indicates that teachers of the lowest income students face more challenges in bringing these tools to their classrooms…

Recession Depression: Mental Health Effects of the 2008 Stock Market Crash

February 27, 2013 Comments off

Recession Depression: Mental Health Effects of the 2008 Stock Market Crash

Source: Russell Sage Foundation

How do sudden, large wealth losses affect mental health? Most prior studies of the causal effects of material well-being on health use identification strategies involving income increases; these studies as well as prior research on stock market accumulations may not inform this question if the effect of wealth on health is asymmetric. We use exogenous variation in the interview dates of the 2008 Health and Retirement Study to assess the impact of large wealth losses on mental health among older U.S. adults. We compare cross-wave changes in wealth and health for respondents interviewed before and after the October 2008 stock market crash. We find that the crash reduced wealth and increased depressive symptoms and the use of anti-depressants. These results suggest that sudden wealth losses cause immediate declines in mental health; for example, a loss of $50,000 of non-housing wealth increases the likelihood of feeling depressed by 1.35 percentage points, or by 8%.

New From the GAO

February 27, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

COMBATING AUTISM ACT
HHS Agencies Responded with New and Continuing Activities, Including Oversight
GAO-13-232, Feb 27, 2013

FEDERAL REAL PROPERTY
High-Risk Designation Remains due to Persistent Management Challenges
GAO-13-422T, Feb 27, 2013

KC-46 TANKER AIRCRAFT
Program Generally Stable but Improvements in Managing Schedule Are Needed
GAO-13-258, Feb 27, 2013

MANAGING FOR RESULTS
Data-Driven Performance Reviews Show Promise But Agencies Should Explore How to Involve Other Relevant Agencies
GAO-13-228, Feb 27, 2013

New From the GAO

February 27, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS
Long History of Management Challenges Raises Concerns about VA’s and DOD’s New Approach to Sharing Health Information
GAO-13-413T, Feb 27, 2013

GAO’S 2013 HIGH-RISK UPDATE
Medicare and Medicaid
GAO-13-433T, Feb 27, 2013

INDIAN AFFAIRS
Management Challenges Continue to Hinder Efforts to Improve Indian Education
GAO-13-342T, Feb 27, 2013

STRATEGIC SOURCING
Improved and Expanded Use Could Provide Procurement Savings for Federal Information Technology
GAO-13-408T, Feb 27, 2013

The data shows: Top H-1B users are offshore outsourcers

February 27, 2013 Comments off

The data shows: Top H-1B users are offshore outsourcers
Source: Computerworld

The largest single users of H-1B visas are offshore outsourcers, many of which are based in India, or, if U.S. based, have most employees located overseas, according to government data obtained and analyzed by Computerworld.

The analysis comes as supporters of the skilled-worker visa program are trying to hike the H-1B cap to 300,000. Supporters of the raised cap, though, face opposition from critics who contend that H-1B visas undermine American tech workers and shouldn’t be expanded.

Based on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data analyzed, the major beneficiaries of the proposed increase in the cap would be pure offshore outsourcing firms.

Most of the largest H-1B users easily account for more than 35,000 H-1B visas under the "initial" visa plan, which includes new H-1B visa holders or those who work second concurrent jobs with a different employer. H-1B visa holders who change employers altogether are not counted as new approvals. The government data could also include visa applications filed in 2011 but not approved until 2012.

"This is just affirmation that H-1B has become the outsourcing visa," said Ron Hira, a public policy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and researcher of tech immigration issues.

Field Guide to Fixed Layout for eBooks

February 27, 2013 Comments off

Field Guide to Fixed Layout for eBooks

Source: Book Industry Study Group

In the fast moving world of digital content, one hot-button issue is the creation of static, fixed e-book "pages" called fixed layout. The popularity of fixed-layout e-books is growing, but many people are still unsure why and when fixed layout is a good idea. To make matters worse, there is no single standard for creating fixed-layout products and information on creating them is rapidly changing and sometimes hard to find.

To help address these challenges, the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), through its Content Structure Committee’s Fixed Layout for E-Books Working Group, has created a Field Guide to Fixed Layout for E-Books.

The Field Guide is intended to be a brief introduction to fixed layout, including when it’s the most appropriate format to use–and when it’s not. In addition, the Field Guide offers practical guidance on the basics of creating fixed-layout formats, current retailer standards for supporting fixed layout, and issues of accessibility to consider before creating content in fixed-layout format.

Alcohol and energy drinks: a pilot study exploring patterns of consumption, social contexts, benefits and harm

February 27, 2013 Comments off

Alcohol and energy drinks: a pilot study exploring patterns of consumption, social contexts, benefits and harm

Source: BMC Research Notes

Background

Young people around the world are increasingly combining alcohol with energy drinks (AEDs). However, as yet, limited research has been conducted examining this issue, particularly in terms of exploring patterns of consumption, social practices and the cultural contexts of AED consumption. We sought to understand how AEDs are used and socially constructed among young people.

Methods

We conducted 25 hours of observation in a variety of pubs, bars and nightclubs, as well as in-depth interviews with ten young people who regularly consumed AEDs during a session of alcohol use.

Results

In this pilot study, participants were highly organised in their AED consumption practices and reported rarely altering this routine. Some young people consumed upwards of eight AEDs on a typical night, and others limited their use to between three and five AEDs to avoid unpleasant consequences, such as sleep disturbances, severe hangovers, heart palpitations and agitation. Wakefulness and increased energy were identified as the primary benefits of AEDs, with taste, reduced and increased intoxication, and sociability reported as additional benefits. Young AED users were brand sensitive and responded strongly to Red Bull imagery, as well as discounted AEDs. Finally, some young people reported substituting illicit stimulants with energy drinks.

Conclusions

Combining energy drinks with alcohol is now a normalised phenomenon and an integral and ingrained feature of the night-time economy. Despite this, many young people are unaware of recommended daily limits or related harms. While some young people consume AEDs to feel less drunk (consistent with motivations for combining alcohol with illicit stimulants), others report using AEDs to facilitate intoxication. While preliminary, our findings have relevance for potential policy and regulatory approaches, as well as directions for future research.

Journal of Homosexuality — Special Issue: Evolution of Government Policy Toward Homosexuality in the U.S. Military

February 27, 2013 Comments off

Special Issue: Evolution of Government Policy Toward Homosexuality in the U.S. Military

Source: Journal of Homosexuality

The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) marked the end of another era in the ongoing social evolution of the U.S. armed forces. So, when the editor of the Journal of Homosexuality, John Elia, asked us to guest edit a special issue to commemorate it, not only were we honored by the invitation, but we also recognized the importance this issue would likely have for researchers in the decades to come.

We approached our task of creating a definitive collection of leading thought on homosexuality in the U.S. military in much the same way we approached our previous volume, Attitudes Aren’t Free (Air University Press, 2010) (prior to DADT repeal). In that book, we sought to showcase the complexity of contemporary social issues by bringing the brightest voices from both sides of the debates. Likewise, in this special issue, we have brought together leading advocates, scholars, and experts analyzing the history, context, issues, and challenges that came to define government policies toward gay and lesbian service members during the latter half of the twentieth century up through early post-DADT repeal.

We’ve organized this issue into three primary sections: “Agents for Change,” “Policy Evolution,” and “Organizational Implications.” In “Agents for Change,” we offer key perspectives from some of the most prominent advocates of policy change over the previous decade. As the American political system grappled with the issue of open homosexuality in the U.S. military, these advocates played key roles in the efforts to align government policy with evolving societal attitudes and achieve social justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBTQ) service members. In the following paragraphs, we provide a brief overview of the articles, authors, and key ideas contained in this special issue.

New Study: Teen Driver Deaths Increase in 2012

February 27, 2013 Comments off

New Study: Teen Driver Deaths Increase in 2012
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association

A report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reveals that the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths in passenger vehicles increased dramatically for the first six months of 2012, based on preliminary data supplied by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Overall, 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths increased from 202 to 240 – a 19 percent jump.

The new report – the first state-by-state look at teen driver fatalities in 2012 – was completed by Dr. Allan Williams, a researcher who formerly served as chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Dr. Williams surveyed GHSA members, who reported fatality numbers for every state and D.C. The increase in teen driver deaths coincides with a projection from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in which all traffic deaths increased by 8 percent. It is particularly concerning that 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths appear to have increased at an even greater rate.

Deaths of 16-year-old drivers increased from 86 to 107 (a 24 percent change), while the number for 17-year-old drivers went from 116 to 133 (a 15 percent change), a cumulative increase of 19 percent. Twenty-five states reported increases, 17 had decreases, and eight states and the District of Columbia reported no change in the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths.

Comparison of Normative and Diagnosed Dissociation on Attachment to Companion Animals and Stuffed Animals

February 26, 2013 Comments off

Comparison of Normative and Diagnosed Dissociation on Attachment to Companion Animals and Stuffed Animals (PDF)

Source: Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy

Companion animals can serve as sources of love and attachment during times of stress. Stuffed animals, too, can provide comfort and stability. However, little research has examined companion animal attachment in highly dissociative trauma survivors, and no studies have systematically assessed stuffed animal attachment in dissociative adults. College student samples with either high or low dissociation levels and a sample of women with dissociative identity disorder (DID) completed questionnaires about attachment to companion animals and stuffed animals. The DID group was more attached to companion animals than were either of the student groups. High-dissociating students and DID participants were more attached to stuffed animals than were low-dissociating students. Implications for further research and therapeutic interventions are discussed.

Mobile News Adoption among Young Adults: Examining the Roles of Perceptions, News Consumption, and Media Usage

February 26, 2013 Comments off

Mobile News Adoption among Young Adults: Examining the Roles of Perceptions, News Consumption, and Media Usage (PDF)

Source: Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

Using the frameworks of innovation diffusion and technology acceptance model, this study examines the predictors of mobile news consumption among young adults. The results show that the perceived relative advantage (especially content), utility, and ease of use of mobile news are positively related to its adoption. The young adults’ news consumption patterns and preferences, as well as media usage, all play a role in the adoption of mobile news. This study also validates the importance of examining the adoption outcome from multiple perspectives.

Hat tip: Journalist’s Resource

Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First

February 26, 2013 Comments off

Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First

Source: International Journal of Press/Politics

The goal of this article is to place the role that social media plays in collective action within a more general theoretical structure, using the events of the Arab Spring as a case study. The article presents two broad theoretical principles. The first is that one cannot understand the role of social media in collective action without first taking into account the political environment in which they operate. The second principle states that a significant increase in the use of the new media is much more likely to follow a significant amount of protest activity than to precede it. The study examines these two principles using political, media, and protest data from twenty Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority. The findings provide strong support for the validity of the claims.

Hat tip: Journalist’s Resource

IOM — Evaluation of PEPFAR

February 26, 2013 Comments off

Evaluation of PEPFAR

Source: Institute of Medicine

Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States has provided an unprecedented level of health and development assistance and health diplomacy around the world. PEPFAR has saved and improved the lives of millions of people; supported HIV prevention, care, and treatment; strengthened systems; and engaged with partner countries to facilitate HIV policy and planning for sustainable responses to their epidemic.

The IOM evaluation drew upon a variety of data sources, including quantitative data, extensive document review, and primary qualitative data collection through more than 400 interviews, including some site visits, with diverse stakeholders in 13 PEPFAR partner countries, at PEPFAR’s headquarters, and at other institutions and agencies involved in the global HIV response.

PEPFAR has been globally transformative. Across partner countries, PEPFAR was described as a lifeline, and people credit PEPFAR for restoring hope. The initiative’s future contributions will be informed by its past achievements and lessons learned from challenges it has faced. PEPFAR will continue a new direction as it supports partner countries in taking on more central roles in accountability and setting strategic priorities for investment in their HIV response.

Figuring Faith | What Do American Catholics Want From the New Pope?

February 26, 2013 Comments off

Figuring Faith | What Do American Catholics Want From the New Pope?

Source: Public Religion Research Institute

In the coming weeks, debates over next pope will be not only about the person who will embody the office but about how the church will wrestle with shifting demographics and the relationship between tradition and modern culture. A look at these shifts and tensions among American Catholics provides a microcosm into the larger global dynamics at play.

First, the Catholic Church has been experiencing significant demographic and geographic transformations over the last century. In the American context, the demographic changes began relatively recently. In 1990, nearly 8-in-10 (78 percent) Catholics were white, while less than 1-in-5 (14 percent) were Hispanic. Today, less than two-thirds (63 percent) of Catholics are white, while nearly 3-in-10 (29 percent) Catholics are Hispanic. In other words, in the span of two decades, the ratio of white to Hispanic Catholics has dropped from 5-to-1 to 2-to-1. This shift has also had considerable impact on the Catholic political engagement, given the decidedly different profiles of white Catholics and Hispanic Catholics: in the 2012 election, 75 percent of Hispanic Catholics voted for Barack Obama, while 59 percent of white Catholics voted for Mitt Romney.

Contagion of Violence: Workshop Summary

February 26, 2013 Comments off

Contagion of Violence: Workshop Summary

Source: Institute of Medicine

The past 25 years have seen a major paradigm shift in the field of violence prevention, from the assumption that violence is inevitable to the recognition that violence is preventable. Part of this shift has occurred in thinking about why violence occurs, and where intervention points might lie. In exploring the occurrence of violence, researchers have recognized the tendency for violent acts to cluster, to spread from place to place, and to mutate from one type to another. Furthermore, violent acts are often preceded or followed by other violent acts.

In the field of public health, such a process has also been seen in the infectious disease model, in which an agent or vector initiates a specific biological pathway leading to symptoms of disease and infectivity. The agent transmits from individual to individual, and levels of the disease in the population above the baseline constitute an epidemic. Although violence does not have a readily observable biological agent as an initiator, it can follow similar epidemiological pathways.

On April 30-May 1, 2012, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Forum on Global Violence Prevention convened a workshop to explore the contagious nature of violence. Part of the Forum’s mandate is to engage in multisectoral, multidirectional dialogue that explores crosscutting, evidence-based approaches to violence prevention, and the Forum has convened four workshops to this point exploring various elements of violence prevention. The workshops are designed to examine such approaches from multiple perspectives and at multiple levels of society. In particular, the workshop on the contagion of violence focused on exploring the epidemiology of the contagion, describing possible processes and mechanisms by which violence is transmitted, examining how contextual factors mitigate or exacerbate the issue. Contagion of Violence: Workshop Summary covers the major topics that arose during the 2-day workshop. It is organized by important elements of the infectious disease model so as to present the contagion of violence in a larger context and in a more compelling and comprehensive way.

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