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The Future of Driving in Developing Countries

July 17, 2014 Comments off

The Future of Driving in Developing Countries
Source: RAND Corporation

The level of automobility, defined as travel in personal vehicles, is often seen as a function of income: The higher a country’s per capita income, the greater the amount of driving. However, levels of automobility vary quite substantially between countries even at similar levels of economic development. This suggests that countries follow different mobility paths. The research detailed in this report sought to answer three questions: What are the factors besides economic development that affect automobility? What is their influence on automobility? What will happen to automobility in developing countries if they progress along similar paths as developed countries? To answer these questions, the authors developed a methodology to identify these factors, model their impact on developed countries, and forecast automobility (as defined by per capita vehicle-kilometers traveled [VKT]) in four developing countries. This methodology draws on quantitative analysis of historical automobility development in four country case studies (the United States, Australia, Germany, and Japan) that represent very different levels of per capita automobility, in combination with data derived from an expert-based qualitative approach. The authors used the latter to assess how these experiences may affect the future of automobility in the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. According to this analysis, automobility levels in the four BRIC countries will fall between those of the United States (which has the highest per capita VKT level of the four case studies) and Japan (which has the lowest). Brazil is forecasted to have the highest per capita VKT and India the lowest.

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UK Wages Over the Past Four Decades, 2014

July 15, 2014 Comments off

UK Wages Over the Past Four Decades, 2014
Source: Office for National Statistics

This report looks at changes in earnings in the UK over the past forty years. It makes use of distributional and cohort analysis to assess the impact of the recession on real earnings as well as looking at the impact of the introduction of the national minimum wage.

CRS — The U.S. Secret Service: History and Missions (updated)

July 8, 2014 Comments off

The U.S. Secret Service: History and Missions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The U.S. Secret Service has two missions—criminal investigations and protection. Criminal investigation activities have expanded since the inception of the Service from a small anticounterfeiting operation at the end of the Civil War, to now encompassing financial crimes, identity theft, counterfeiting, computer fraud, and computer-based attacks on the nation’s financial, banking, and telecommunications infrastructure, among other areas. Protection activities, which have expanded and evolved since the 1890s, include ensuring the safety and security of the President, Vice President, their families, and other identified individuals and locations.

Department of State Announces Online Publication of 2013 Digest of United States Practice in International Law

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Department of State Announces Online Publication of 2013 Digest of United States Practice in International Law
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State is pleased to announce the release of the 2013 Digest of United States Practice in International Law, covering developments during calendar year 2013. The Digest provides the public with a record of the views and practice of the Government of the United States in public and private international law. The official edition of the 2013 Digest is available exclusively on the State Department’s website at: http://www.state.gov/s/l/c8183.htm. Past Digests covering 1989 through 2012 are also available on the State Department’s website. The Digest is edited by the Office of the Legal Adviser.

The Digest traces its history back to an 1877 treatise by John Cadwalader, which was followed by multi-volume encyclopedias covering selected areas of international law. The Digest later came to be known to many as “Whiteman’s” after Marjorie Whiteman, the editor from 1963-1971. Beginning in 1973, the Office of the Legal Adviser published the Digest on an annual basis, changing its focus to documentation current to the year. Although publication was temporarily suspended after 1988, the office resumed publication in 2000 and has since produced volumes covering 1989 through 2012. A cumulative index covering 1989-2006 was published in 2007, and an updated edition of that index, covering 1989-2008, was published in 2010.

CRS — Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables (updated)

July 7, 2014 Comments off

Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Congress is required by Article I, Section 6, of the Constitution to determine its own pay. Prior to 1969, Congress did so by enacting specific legislation. From 1789 through 1968, Congress raised its pay 22 times using this procedure. Members were initially paid per diem. The first annual salaries, in 1815, were $1,500. Per diem pay was reinstituted in 1817. Congress returned to annual salaries, at a rate of $3,000, in 1855. Specific legislation may still be used to raise Member pay, as it was most recently in 1982, 1983, 1989, and 1991; but two other methods—including an automatic annual adjustment procedure and a commission process—are now also available.

National Technical Reports Library Newsletter — Special Edition: Digitized Legacy Documents

June 27, 2014 Comments off

National Technical Reports Library Newsletter — Special Edition: Digitized Legacy Documents (PDF)
Source: National Technical Information Service

Welcome to our 6th anniversary edition of the National Technical Reports Library (NTRL) Newsletter. Over the past six years, this newsletter has focused on highlighting the federally funded science and technology research outcomes that often result in Technology Transfer, between academia, government and corporate America in support of economic growth. Currently the NTRL provides access to over 3 million records with more than 800,000 digitally available. The goal for NTIS is to continually increase online access to the full-text of legacy documents in the collection. This special edition features a sampling of NTIS’ Digital on Demand requests that have been fulfilled over the past year. This service allows NTRL subscribers to request digitization of documents that are not yet available “full text” in the NTRL. Digitization usually takes 3-5 business days, and the content is uploaded to the NTRL. Subscribers are allowed up to 5 digitization requests per week.

Facts for Features — The Fourth of July 2014

June 27, 2014 Comments off

Facts for Features — The Fourth of July 2014
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As always, this most American of holidays will be marked with red, white and blue flags, fireworks, parades and backyard barbecues across the country.

Changes in Tax Revenue Since 1929

June 18, 2014 Comments off

Changes in Tax Revenue Since 1929
Source: Tax Policy Center (Urban Institute and Brookings Institution)

This Tax Fact examines sources of federal and state & local tax revenue, from 1929 to the present. The composition of revenues at all levels of government changed dramatically with World War II, but has remained roughly stable since. At the federal level, payroll taxes have grown dramatically, and individual income taxes remain a major source of revenue. At the state and local level, sales and property taxes account for about one-third of revenues.

Major League Baseball and World War II: Protecting The Monopoly by Selling Major League Baseball as Patriotic

June 16, 2014 Comments off

Major League Baseball and World War II: Protecting The Monopoly by Selling Major League Baseball as Patriotic
Source: University of New Orleans (thesis – Stephen)

The Green Light letter from President Franklin Roosevelt to Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis gave MLB permission to continue throughout World War II. The team owners felt relief that MLB is the only professional sport to survive during the years of World War II (1941-1945). MLB became a primary contributor toward the war effort. While war-supporting efforts were conducted, team owners positioned themselves to benefit from the bond between baseball and the American people. MLB portrayed itself through the commissioner’s office policy as a patriotic partner by providing entertainment for American factory workers and contributing equipment to servicemen overseas. MLB also remained a monopoly without Congressional inquiries or public challenge. Since MLB was exempt from anti-trust laws, team owners operated within MLB’s anti-trust exemption and strengthened position for the post war period.

New Report Shows Climate Change Putting Landmark U.S. Historic Sites at Risk

June 13, 2014 Comments off

New Report Shows Climate Change Putting Landmark U.S. Historic Sites at Risk
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

Sea level rise, worsening wildfires and floods are putting at risk landmark historic sites around the United States, according to “National Landmarks at Risk,” a report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

The report lists 30 at-risk sites, including places where the “first Americans” lived, the Spaniards ruled, English colonists landed, slavery rose and fell, and gold prospectors struck it rich. Some of the sites also commemorate more modern “firsts,” such as the race to put the first man on the moon.

CRS — The Presidential Records Act: Background and Recent Issues for Congress

June 9, 2014 Comments off

The Presidential Records Act: Background and Recent Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Presidential documents are historical resources that capture each incumbent’s conduct in presidential office. Pursuant to the Presidential Records Act ((PRA) 44 U.S.C. §§2201-2207), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) collects most records of former Presidents and former Vice Presidents at the end of each Administration. They are then disclosed to the public—unless the Archivist of the United States, the incumbent President, or the appropriate former President requests the records be kept private.

The PRA is the primary law governing the collection and preservation of, and access to, records of a former President. Although the PRA has remained relatively unchanged since enactment in 1978, successive presidential Administrations have interpreted its meaning differently. Moreover, it is unclear whether the PRA accounts for presidential recordkeeping issues associated with increasing and heavy use of new and sometimes ephemeral technologies, like email, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, by the President and his immediate staff.

Presidential records are captured and maintained by the incumbent President and provided to NARA upon departure from office. The records are then placed in the appropriate presidential repository—usually a presidential library created by a private foundation, which is subsequently deeded or otherwise provided to the federal government. According to data from NARA, the volume of records created by Presidents has been growing exponentially, and the platforms used to create records are also expanding.

Something Changed: The Social and Legal Status of Homosexuality in America as Reported by the New York Times

May 29, 2014 Comments off

Something Changed: The Social and Legal Status of Homosexuality in America as Reported by the New York Times
Source: Florida State University (Berard – Open Access Honors Thesis)

Homosexuality, though proven to be a naturally occurring phenomenon, has been a recurring subject of controversy: for years, homosexuality was classified as a disease, labeling gay citizens as sick at best, perverts at worst. As recently as fifty years ago, seen the best reception an active homosexual could hope for was to be seen as having a terrible affliction which must be cured. Gay citizens were treated as second-class citizens, with every aspect of their lifestyles condemned by society and the government. This thesis is a history of the changing social and legal status of homosexuality in the United States, from the 1920′s. Something certainly has changed, in law and society, and I propose to explore the change and to explain why and how it happened.

German Jewish Émigrés and U.S. Invention

May 26, 2014 Comments off

German Jewish Émigrés and U.S. Invention (PDF)
Source: Cato Institute

Immigration policy has been the subject of heated debate in the United States. Much of the controversy surrounds low-skill immigration, but high-skill immigration policy is also contentious. One key claim in support of high-skill immigration is that it spurs innovation, but existing evidence is mixed (Hunt and Gauthier-Loiselle 2010, Kerr and Lincoln 2010, and Borjas and Doran 2012).

Our research provides new evidence on this question by examining the impact on innovation of German Jewish scientists who fled from Nazi Germany to the United States after 1932. Historical accounts suggest that these émigrés revolutionized U.S. innovation. In physics, for example, émigrés such as Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, Edward Teller, John von Neumann, and Hans Bethe formed the core of the Manhattan project that developed the atomic bomb. In chemistry, émigrés such as Otto Meyerhof (Nobel Prize 1922), Otto Stern (Nobel Prize 1943), Otto Loewi (Nobel Prize 1936), Max Bergmann, Carl Neuberg, and Kasimir Fajans “soon effected hardly less than a revolution. . . . Their work . . . almost immediately propelled the United States to world leadership in the chemistry of life” (Sachar 1992, p. 749).

Alternative accounts, however, suggest that émigrés’ contributions may have been limited due to administrative hurdles and antisemitism. Jewish scientists met with a “Kafkaesque gridlock of seeking affidavits from relatives in America [and] visas from less-than-friendly United States consuls” (Sachar 1992, p. 495). Once they were in the United States, a rising wave of antisemitism made it difficult for these scientists to find employment; in “the hungry 1930s, antisemitism was a fact of life among American universities as in other sectors of the U.S. economy” (Sachar 1992, p. 498).

Our paper presents a systematic empirical analysis of how German Jewish émigrés affected U.S. innovation. Taking advantage of the fact that patents are a good measure of innovation in chemistry, because chemical innovations are exceptionally suitable to patent protection (e.g., Cohen, Nelson, and Walsh 2002; Moser 2012), we focus on changes in chemical inventions. By comparison, the contributions of émigré physicists (including those who worked on the Manhattan Project) are difficult to capture empirically because they produced knowledge that was often classified and rarely patented.

Preservation of Historical Cemeteries in Selected Countries

May 20, 2014 Comments off

Preservation of Historical Cemeteries in Selected Countries
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report provides an overview of laws, regulations, and court decisions governing the preservation of historic cemeteries in Brazil, China, Egypt, England, Eritrea, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Russia, Spain, and the United States. The country surveys reveal a wide variety of legal and regulatory approaches to this issue and the involvement of an array of actors at various jurisdictional levels.

Mortality Risk and Survival in the Aftermath of the Medieval Black Death

May 17, 2014 Comments off

Mortality Risk and Survival in the Aftermath of the Medieval Black Death
Source: PLoS ONE

The medieval Black Death (c. 1347-1351) was one of the most devastating epidemics in human history. It killed tens of millions of Europeans, and recent analyses have shown that the disease targeted elderly adults and individuals who had been previously exposed to physiological stressors. Following the epidemic, there were improvements in standards of living, particularly in dietary quality for all socioeconomic strata. This study investigates whether the combination of the selective mortality of the Black Death and post-epidemic improvements in standards of living had detectable effects on survival and mortality in London. Samples are drawn from several pre- and post-Black Death London cemeteries. The pre-Black Death sample comes from the Guildhall Yard (n = 75) and St. Nicholas Shambles (n = 246) cemeteries, which date to the 11th–12th centuries, and from two phases within the St. Mary Spital cemetery, which date to between 1120-1300 (n = 143). The St. Mary Graces cemetery (n = 133) was in use from 1350–1538 and thus represents post-epidemic demographic conditions. By applying Kaplan-Meier analysis and the Gompertz hazard model to transition analysis age estimates, and controlling for changes in birth rates, this study examines differences in survivorship and mortality risk between the pre- and post-Black Death populations of London. The results indicate that there are significant differences in survival and mortality risk, but not birth rates, between the two time periods, which suggest improvements in health following the Black Death, despite repeated outbreaks of plague in the centuries after the Black Death.

Release of Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume E-15, Part 2, Documents on Western Europe, 1973-1976

May 12, 2014 Comments off

Release of Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume E-15, Part 2, Documents on Western Europe, 1973-1976
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume E-15, Part 2, Documents on Western Europe, 1973-1976.

This volume is part of a Foreign Relations subseries that documents the most important foreign policy issues of the Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford administrations. The focus of this volume is on the relationship between the United States and Western Europe during the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford administrations from 1973 until 1976. It begins by examining the relationship from a regional perspective, focusing on the Year of Europe initiative, U.S. relations with its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies and with the European Communities, and issues such as the rise of Eurocommunism. The volume then explores U.S. bilateral relations with nine countries: Canada, Portugal, Iceland and Norway (paired in a single Nordic countries chapter), Spain, the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, and Italy, which will be added when it is cleared for publication.

Although the volume is meant to stand on its own, for the most comprehensive picture of U.S. relations with Western Europe during the years 1973 to 1976, readers should read this volume in conjunction with several other Nixon-Ford subseries volumes covering the same period, including Greece; Cyprus; Turkey (volume XXX); Foreign Economic Policy (volume XXXI); Energy Crisis, 1969-1974 (volume XXXVI); Energy Crisis, 1974-1980 (volume XXXVII); and European Security, 1969-1976 (volume XXXIX).

Uplifting Manhood to Wonderful Heights? News Coverage of the Human Costs of Military Conflict from World War I to Gulf War Two

May 7, 2014 Comments off

Uplifting Manhood to Wonderful Heights? News Coverage of the Human Costs of Military Conflict from World War I to Gulf War Two (PDF)
Source: Political Communication

Domestic political support is an important factor c onstraining the use of American military power around the world. Although the dynamics of war support are thought to reflect a cost-benefit calculus, with costs represented by numbers of friendly war deaths, no previous study has examined how information about friendly, enemy, and civilian casualties is routinely presented to domestic audiences. This paper establishes a baseline measure of historical casualty reporting by examining New York Times coverage of five major wars that occurred over the past century. Despite important between-war differences in the scale of casualties, the use of conscription, the type of warfare, and the use of censorship, the frequency of casualty reporting and the framing of casualty reports has rema ined fairly consistent over the past 100 years. Casualties are rarely mentioned in American war coverage. When casualties are reported, it is often in ways that minimize or downplay the human costs of war.

Defense Planning for National Security: Navigation Aids for the Mystery Tour

May 1, 2014 Comments off

Defense Planning for National Security: Navigation Aids for the Mystery Tour
Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

The challenge that is defense planning includes: “educated futurology” and the humanities as methodological approaches; futurists and scenarios, trend spotting and defense analysis; the impossibility of science in studying the future; the impossibility of verification by empirical testing of hypotheses; the value of the humanities which are politics, strategy, and history for defense planning; the use and misuse of analogy; learning from history; why and how strategic history works; and recommendations for the Army. What can be learned from history and what cannot are discussed in this analysis.

Monthly Labor Review — The first hundred years of the Consumer Price Index: a methodological and political history

April 25, 2014 Comments off

Monthly Labor Review — The first hundred years of the Consumer Price Index: a methodological and political history
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

From businesses to government agencies to senior citizens, groups with often competing aims and desires use the Consumer Price Index. In attempting to satisfy their disparate needs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics frequently is challenged to produce a statistic that is both timely and accurate. This technical and political history explains both how and why the Bureau has come to produce a family of Consumer Price Indexes to address the challenge.

CRS — Congress’s Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Congress’s Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Congress’s contempt power is the means by which Congress responds to certain acts that in its view obstruct the legislative process. Contempt may be used either to coerce compliance, to punish the contemnor, and/or to remove the obstruction. Although arguably any action that directly obstructs the effort of Congress to exercise its constitutional powers may constitute a contempt, in recent times the contempt power has most often been employed in response to noncompliance with a duly issued congressional subpoena—whether in the form of a refusal to appear before a committee for purposes of providing testimony, or a refusal to produce requested documents.

See also: Congress’s Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: A Sketch (PDF)

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