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Rise of the Machines: The Effects of Labor-Saving Innovations on Jobs and Wages

February 25, 2015 Comments off

Rise of the Machines: The Effects of Labor-Saving Innovations on Jobs and Wages (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

How do firms respond to technological advances that facilitate the automation of tasks? Which tasks will they automate, and what types of worker will be replaced as a result? We present a model that distinguishes between a task’s engineering complexity and its training requirements. When two tasks are equally complex, firms will automate the task that requires more training and in which labor is hence more expensive. Under quite general conditions this leads to job polarization, a decline in middle wage jobs relative to both high and low wage jobs. Our theory explains recent and historical instances of job polarization as caused by labor-replacing technologies, such as computers, the electric motor, and the steam engine, respectively. The model makes novel predictions regarding occupational training requirements, which we find to be consistent with US data.

A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality

February 24, 2015 Comments off

A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

This guide consists of four sections. The first describes the commonly used sources and statistics on income and discusses their relative strengths and limitations in understanding trends in income and inequality. The second provides an overview of the trends revealed in those key data sources. The third and fourth sections supply additional information on wealth, which complements the income data as a measure of how the most well-off Americans are doing, and poverty, which measures how the least well-off Americans are doing.

CRS — The Presidential Libraries Act and the Establishment of Presidential Libraries (February 6, 2015)

February 19, 2015 Comments off

The Presidential Libraries Act and the Establishment of Presidential Libraries (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the federal government currently operates and maintains 13 presidential libraries, and is currently engaging with representatives seeking to construct a presidential library for President Barack Obama. The libraries, which primarily serve as archival repositories and museums in which the records and memorabilia of the former Presidents are held and made available to researchers and the public, are privately constructed on behalf of former Presidents. Before construction on a presidential archival facility can begin, the Archivist must approve a plan, and Congress must be provided 60 days of continuous session during which it can disapprove of the plan. If Congress chooses not to act, the land, buildings, and sometimes other amenities for the library may be deeded to or otherwise placed under the control of the federal government.

Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs Release of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977-1980, Volume IX, Arab-Israeli Dispute, August 1978-December 1980

February 17, 2015 Comments off

Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs Release of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977-1980, Volume IX, Arab-Israeli Dispute, August 1978-December 1980
Source: U.S. State Department

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977–1980, Volume IX, Arab-Israeli Dispute, August 1978–December 1980. As part of the Foreign Relations subseries devoted to the foreign policy of the administration of President Jimmy Carter, this volume is the second of two volumes that document U.S. efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement to the Arab-Israeli dispute. This volume begins with the August 1978 acceptance by Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin of President Carter’s invitation to attend a tripartite summit meeting at Camp David. It traces the course of the September 1978 Camp David Summit and the series of negotiations which followed, talks which culminated in the conclusion of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty on March 26, 1979.

During this period, the Arab-Israeli dispute was top on the list of U.S. foreign policy priorities, reflected in President Carter’s direct involvement in the peace process. With the U.S. failure to broaden Arab support for its diplomatic efforts and the pressures caused by a growing number of crises elsewhere, the administration’s engagement with the Arab-Israeli dispute entered a less intensive phase after the spring of 1979. The volume concludes by documenting the administration’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to build upon the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty and address the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. During the last eighteen months of the administration, U.S. diplomacy toward this issue focused on keeping the faltering autonomy negotiations on track, securing the continued goodwill and stability of Egypt, mediating Sadat’s public rivalries with other Arab countries, dealing with the upheaval in Lebanon, and addressing the series of resolutions related to the Arab-Israeli dispute brought before the United Nations.

CRS — Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response (January 23, 2015)

February 12, 2015 Comments off

Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in Roe v. Wade that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy. In Doe v. Bolton, a companion decision, the Court found that a state may not unduly burden the exercise of that fundamental right with regulations that prohibit or substantially limit access to the means of effectuating the decision to have an abortion. Rather than settle the issue, the Court’s rulings since Roe and Doe have continued to generate debate and have precipitated a variety of governmental actions at the national, state, and local levels designed either to nullify the rulings or limit their effect. These governmental regulations have, in turn, spawned further litigation in which resulting judicial refinements in the law have been no more successful in dampening the controversy.

CRS — American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics (January 2, 2015)

January 14, 2015 Comments off

American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report provides U.S. war casualty statistics. It includes data tables containing the number of casualties among American military personnel who served in principal wars and combat actions from 1775 to the present. It also includes data on those wounded in action and information such as race and ethnicity, gender, branch of service, and cause of death. The tables are compiled from various Department of Defense (DOD) sources.

Wars covered include the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, and the Persian Gulf War. Military operations covered include the Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission; Lebanon Peacekeeping; Urgent Fury in Grenada; Just Cause in Panama; Desert Shield and Desert Storm; Restore Hope in Somalia; Uphold Democracy in Haiti; and the ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation New Dawn (OND), and Operation Inherent Resolve.

For the more recent conflicts, starting with the Korean War, the report includes additional detailed information on types of casualties and, when available, demographics. It also cites a number of resources for further information, including sources of historical statistics on active duty military deaths, published lists of military personnel killed in combat actions, data on demographic indicators among U.S. military personnel, related websites, and relevant Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports.

Supercomputers: The Amazing Race

January 13, 2015 Comments off

Supercomputers: The Amazing Race
Source: Microsoft Research (Gordon Bell)

The “ideal supercomputer” has an infinitely fast clock, executes a single instruction stream program operating on data stored in an infinitely large, and fast single-memory. Backus established the von Neumann programming model with FORTRAN. Supercomputers have evolved in steps: increasing processor speed, processing vectors, adding processors for a program held in a single memory monocomputer; and interconnecting multiple computers over which a distributed program runs in parallel. Thus, supercomputing has evolved from a hardware engineering design challenge of the Cray Era(1960-1995) of the monocomputer to the challenging of creating programs that operate on distributed (mono)computers of the Multicomputer Era (1985- present).

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