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Air Base Attacks and Defensive Counters: Historical Lessons and Future Challenges

July 16, 2015 Comments off

Air Base Attacks and Defensive Counters: Historical Lessons and Future Challenges
Source: RAND Corporation

Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. dominance in conventional power projection has allowed American airpower to operate from sanctuary, largely free from enemy attack. This led to a reduced emphasis on air-base defense measures and the misperception that sanctuary was the normal state of affairs rather than an aberration. The emergence of the long-range, highly accurate, conventional missile (both ballistic and cruise) as a threat to air bases is now widely recognized in the U.S. defense community, and, with that recognition, there is a growing appreciation that this era of sanctuary is coming to an end. Consequently, there is renewed interest in neglected topics, such as base hardening, aircraft dispersal, camouflage, deception, and air-base recovery and repair.

This report is intended to provide a reference on air-base attack and defense to inform public debate, as well as government deliberations, on what has become known as the anti-access problem, specifically as it applies to air-base operations. The report explores the history of air-base attacks in the past century and describes the American way of war that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union. It then argues that emerging threat systems are disruptive to this way of war and will require new concepts of power projection. Finally, the report identifies five classes of defensive options that have proven valuable in past conflicts and offers recommendations on how best to win the battle of the airfields.

Donor Governance and Financial Management in Prominent U.S. Art Museums

June 29, 2015 Comments off

Donor Governance and Financial Management in Prominent U.S. Art Museums
Source: Social Science Research Service

I study “donor governance,” which occurs when contributors to non-profit firms place restrictions on their gifts to limit the discretion of managers. In a study of U.S. art museums, I find that this practice has grown significantly in recent years, and it represents the largest source of permanent capital in the industry. When donor restrictions are strong, museums shift their cost structures away from administration and toward program services, and they exhibit very high savings rates, retaining in their endowments 45 cents of each incremental dollar donated. Retention rates are near zero for cash generated from other activities. Restricted donations appear to stabilize non-profits and significantly influence their activities, but they reduce management flexibility and may contribute to lower profit margins. Rising donor governance in U.S. art museums may represent a reaction by contributors to the industry’s high rates of financial distress, weak boards of trustees, and large private benefits of control enjoyed by managers.

Qualifying for Disability Benefits in Puerto Rico Based on an Inability to Speak English

June 20, 2015 Comments off

Qualifying for Disability Benefits in Puerto Rico Based on an Inability to Speak English
Source: Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five-step sequential evaluation process for determining whether a claimant qualifies for disability benefits. In claims that reach the last step in the process, adjudicators use medical-vocational guidelines (grids) developed in the 1970s to guide them in deciding a claimant’s physical and vocational abilities to adjust to work in the national economy.

When deciding a case under the grids, adjudicators evaluate a claimant’s physical capacity to work along with age, education, and work experience. The ability to speak, read, write, and understand English is considered an educational factor. A claimant’s inability to communicate in English can lessen the relevance of work experience and education, potentially making it more likely the claimant will receive disability benefits.

The objective of our audit was to analyze the effect of regulations requiring that disability adjudicators allow a disability claim based on a claimant’s inability to understand the English language for claimants residing in Puerto Rico.

The evolution of popular music: USA 1960–2010

June 18, 2015 Comments off

The evolution of popular music: USA 1960–2010
Source: Royal Society Open Science

In modern societies, cultural change seems ceaseless. The flux of fashion is especially obvious for popular music. While much has been written about the origin and evolution of pop, most claims about its history are anecdotal rather than scientific in nature. To rectify this, we investigate the US Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 2010. Using music information retrieval and text-mining tools, we analyse the musical properties of approximately 17 000 recordings that appeared in the charts and demonstrate quantitative trends in their harmonic and timbral properties. We then use these properties to produce an audio-based classification of musical styles and study the evolution of musical diversity and disparity, testing, and rejecting, several classical theories of cultural change. Finally, we investigate whether pop musical evolution has been gradual or punctuated. We show that, although pop music has evolved continuously, it did so with particular rapidity during three stylistic ‘revolutions’ around 1964, 1983 and 1991. We conclude by discussing how our study points the way to a quantitative science of cultural change.

Bin Ladin’s Bookshelf

June 9, 2015 Comments off

Bin Ladin’s Bookshelf
Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence

On May 20, 2015, the ODNI released a sizeable tranche of documents recovered during the raid on the compound used to hide Usama bin Ladin. The release, which followed a rigorous interagency review, aligns with the President’s call for increased transparency–consistent with national security prerogatives–and the 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act, which required the ODNI to conduct a review of the documents for release.

The release contains two sections. The first is a list of non-classified, English-language material found in and around the compound. The second is a selection of now-declassified documents.

The Intelligence Community will be reviewing hundreds more documents in the near future for possible declassification and release. An interagency taskforce under the auspices of the White House and with the agreement of the DNI is reviewing all documents which supported disseminated intelligence cables, as well as other relevant material found around the compound. All documents whose publication will not hurt ongoing operations against al-Qa‘ida or their affiliates will be released.

Top Languages Spoken by English Language Learners Nationally and by State

June 3, 2015 Comments off

Top Languages Spoken by English Language Learners Nationally and by State
Source: Migration Policy Institute

While the languages spoken by English Language Learner (ELL) students in the United States are very diverse, Spanish is the most common first or home language, spoken by 71 percent of ELL students. This fact sheet, drawing upon data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) and the U.S. Department of Education, describes the home languages spoken by ELL students at national and state levels.

Chinese was the second most common language spoken in ELL students’ homes representing 4 percent of ELLs, followed by Vietnamese (3 percent) and French/Haitian Creole (2 percent). A language other than Spanish was the top language spoken by ELLs in five states: Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, and Vermont. In 19 states and the District of Columbia, more than three-quarters of all ELL students spoke Spanish.

An accompanying spreadsheet provides the top five languages of ELLs by state, as well as their number and share by language.

Examining Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Plight of Vietnam Veterans

May 15, 2015 Comments off

Examining Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Plight of Vietnam Veterans (PDF)
Source: Iowa Historical Review

Human beings have been afflicted by the lasting mental effects of warfare for thousands of years. Over twenty – four hundred years ago, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of a soldier at the battle of Marathon who, after witnessing the death of the soldier next to him, went completely blind, despite being “wounded in no part of his body.” William Shakespeare, too, saw the effects of war on the minds of its survivors. After her husband’s return from war in King Henry IV, Lady Percy wonders of him, “What is’t that takes from thee thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep?” Both of these writings reference a mental disorder seemingly caused by the intense traumas of war. This disorder has gone by many different names, including shell shock, the thousand – yard stare, and war neurosis. Today, we classify this disorder as post – traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

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