Archive

Archive for the ‘documents in the news’ Category

National Income and Product Accounts — Gross Domestic Product: Second Quarter 2014 (Advance Estimate)

July 30, 2014 Comments off

National Income and Product Accounts — Gross Domestic Product: Second Quarter 2014 (Advance Estimate)
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 4.0 percent in the second quarter of 2014, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP decreased 2.1 percent (revised).

About these ads

Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality, and the Great Recession

July 30, 2014 Comments off

Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality, and the Great Recession
Source: Russell Sage Foundation

The Great Recession caused an unprecedented decline in wealth holdings among American households. Between 2007 and 2009, average housing prices in the largest metropolitan areas fell by nearly one-third, as measured by the Case-Shiller home price index. Stock prices also collapsed, with the Dow Jones Index losing nearly half of its value between mid-2007 and early 2009. These developments were exacerbated by a doubling in the unemployment rate from 5 to 10 perent between December 2007 and October 2009 and a large reduction in earnings due to increased unemployment, wage and hour cuts, and furloughs.

The housing, stock, and job markets have all improved since 2009, but at very different rates. The stock market rebounded relatively quickly and returned to the prerecession levsls by the middle of 2013. The Juy 2013 unemployment rate of 7.4 percent was below the recession peak of 10.0 percent, but was still substantially higher than the 4.7 perent rate of mid-2007. However, the most important source of wealth for most Americans is their home, and by mid-2013 home prices were still 20 percent below their mid-2007 values.

This reserch brief assesses two questions about the extent to whih the Great Recession altered the level and distribution of wealth through 2013 — the most recent year of data available on wealth held by American families.

1. By how much did wealth levels decline during the Great Recession, and by how much did they recover through 2013?

2. Did walth inequality increase, decrease, or remain steady during the Great Recession?

Uterine Pathology in Women Undergoing Minimally Invasive Hysterectomy Using Morcellation

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Uterine Pathology in Women Undergoing Minimally Invasive Hysterectomy Using Morcellation
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association

Our data demonstrate that uterine cancers occurred in 27 per 10 000 women undergoing morcellation. Other malignancies and precancerous abnormalities were also detected. Although morcellators have been in use since 1993, few studies have described the prevalence of unexpected pathology at the time of hysterectomy.2- 4 Prevalence information is the first step in determining the risk of spreading cancer with morcellation. Although data are limited, women with apparent uterine-confined neoplasms at the time of morcellation have been found to have intraperitoneal tumor dissemination at the time of reexploration.3,6

We recognize a number of limitations including the inability to verify pathological findings, possible misclassification of pathology, potential undercapture of morcellation, and the fact that our findings may not be generalizable to all hospitals. Last, we lack data on long-term follow-up, and the outcome of women with pathological abnormalities who underwent morcellation requires further study. Patients considering morcellation should be adequately counseled about the prevalence of cancerous and precancerous conditions prior to undergoing the procedure.

Today’s Rising Terrorist Threat and the Danger to the United States: Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of The 9/11 Commission Report

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Today’s Rising Terrorist Threat and the Danger to the United States: Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of The 9/11 Commission Report
Source: Bipartisan Policy Center

Ten years ago today, we issued The 9/11 Commission Report, the official report of the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001. As we wrote in that report, we were acutely mindful of the responsibility we bore to the American people—and the families of the victims—to provide the most complete account possible of the events leading up to that terrible day. We used what we learned from that awful history to make recommendations as to how to make America safer. Most of those recommendations have been enacted into law or adopted as policy.

A decade later, we are struck by how dramatically the world has changed. In the United States, federal, state, and local authorities have implemented major security reforms to protect the country. Overseas, the United States and allies went on the offensive against al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Ten years ago, many feared that al Qaeda would launch more catastrophic attacks on the United States. That has not happened. While homegrown terrorists struck Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon, with tragic results, and while major attempted attacks on aviation have been disrupted, no attack on a scale approaching that of 9/11 has taken place.

U.S. Sentencing Commission Authorizes Delayed Retroactive Sentence Reductions for Drug Offenders

July 19, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Sentencing Commission Authorizes Delayed Retroactive Sentence Reductions for Drug Offenders (PDF)
Source: United States Sentencing Commission

On July 18, 2014, the Commission voted unanimously to apply a reduction in the sentencing guideline levels applicable to most federal drug trafficking offenders retroactively. Unless Congress disapproves the amendment, beginning November 1, 2014, eligible offenders can ask courts to reduce their sentences. Offenders whose requests are granted by the courts can be released no earlier than November 1, 2015.

+ Retroactivity Amendment and Synopsis (PDF)
+ Chair’s Remarks on Retroactivity Vote (PDF)
+ Public Comment on Retroactivity
+ Impact Analysis: Retroactive Application of 2014 Drug Guidelines Amendment (PDF)
+ Recidivism Analysis: Offenders Receiving Retroactive Sentence Reductions (PDF)

Privacy and Civil Liberties Board Releases Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

July 3, 2014 Comments off

Board Releases Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
Source: Privacy and Civil Liberties Board

The Board’s report will contain a detailed analysis of the Section 702 program, with a focus on increasing transparency to the public regarding the surveillance program. It will address the Section 702 program’s development and operation, statutory basis, constitutional implications, and whether it strikes the right balance between national security and privacy and civil liberties, and will make recommendations for policy reforms. The report will be unclassified and available to the public. Previously, on January 23, 2014, the Board released a separate unclassified report regarding operation of the telephone records program under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, as well as on the operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Board’s review of these surveillance programs has included three public meetings, receipt of dozens of public comments, meetings with congressional committee staff, advocates and private sector representatives, analysis of classified materials, and briefings by government agencies.

The Employment Situation — June 2014

July 3, 2014 Comments off

The Employment Situation — June 2014
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 288,000 in June, and the unemployment rate declined to 6.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains were widespread, led by employment growth in professional and business services, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and health care.

Screening Pelvic Examination in Adult Women: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians

July 1, 2014 Comments off

Screening Pelvic Examination in Adult Women: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine

Description:
The American College of Physicians (ACP) developed this guideline to present the evidence and provide clinical recommendations on the utility of screening pelvic examination for the detection of pathology in asymptomatic, nonpregnant, adult women.

Methods:
This guideline is based on a systematic review of the published literature in the English language from 1946 through January 2014 identified using MEDLINE and hand-searching. Evaluated outcomes include morbidity; mortality; and harms, including overdiagnosis, overtreatment, diagnostic procedure–related harms, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, pain, and discomfort. The target audience for this guideline includes all clinicians, and the target patient population includes asymptomatic, nonpregnant, adult women. This guideline grades the evidence and recommendations using the ACP’s clinical practice guidelines grading system.

Recommendation:
ACP recommends against performing screening pelvic examination in asymptomatic, nonpregnant, adult women (strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence).

Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks

July 1, 2014 Comments off

Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. Emotional contagion is well established in laboratory experiments, with people transferring positive and negative emotions to others. Data from a large real-world social network, collected over a 20-y period suggests that longer-lasting moods (e.g., depression, happiness) can be transferred through networks [Fowler JH, Christakis NA (2008) BMJ 337:a2338], although the results are controversial. In an experiment with people who use Facebook, we test whether emotional contagion occurs outside of in-person interaction between individuals by reducing the amount of emotional content in the News Feed. When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks. This work also suggests that, in contrast to prevailing assumptions, in-person interaction and nonverbal cues are not strictly necessary for emotional contagion, and that the observation of others’ positive experiences constitutes a positive experience for people.

Recommendations And Report Of The Stimson Task Force On US Drone Policy

June 26, 2014 Comments off

Recommendations And Report Of The Stimson Task Force On US Drone Policy
Source: Stimson Center

Few recent national security developments have been as controversial as the increased US reliance on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more colloquially known as “drones.” While UAVs have multiple peaceful and commercial applications, heated debates about the use of lethal UAV strikes away from traditional, territorially bounded battlefields have tended to crowd out a broader and more nuanced discussion of US UAV policy. This report represents a preliminary effort to offer analysis and recommendations that could help shape and guide US UAV policy going forward. It looks at the military and national security benefits of UAV technologies, analyzes our current approaches to UAV development and export, and seeks to contextualize the strategic questions relating to the use of lethal UAVs outside traditional battlefields. Ultimately, it offers eight detailed recommendations for overhauling UAV strategy; improving oversight, accountability and transparency; developing forward-looking international norms relating to the use of lethal force in nontraditional settings; and devising sound UAV export control and research and development policies.

Just Released — Supreme Court decision — Riley v. California (cell phone searches)

June 25, 2014 Comments off

Riley v. California
Source: Supreme Court of the United States

In No. 13–132, petitioner Riley was stopped for a traffic violation,which eventually led to his arrest on weapons charges. An officer searching Riley incident to the arrest seized a cell phone from Riley’s pants pocket. The officer accessed information on the phone and noticed the repeated use of a term associated with a street gang. At the police station two hours later, a detective specializing in gangs further examined the phone’s digital contents. Based in part on photographs and videos that the detective found, the State charged Riley in connection with a shooting that had occurred a few weeks earlierand sought an enhanced sentence based on Riley’s gang membership.Riley moved to suppress all evidence that the police had obtained from his cell phone. The trial court denied the motion, and Riley was convicted. The California Court of Appeal affirmed.

In No. 13–212, respondent Wurie was arrested after police observed him participate in an apparent drug sale. At the police station, the officers seized a cell phone from Wurie’s person and noticed that the phone was receiving multiple calls from a source identified as “my house” on its external screen. The officers opened the phone, accessed its call log, determined the number associated with the “my house” label, and traced that number to what they suspected was Wurie’s apartment. They secured a search warrant and found drugs,a firearm and ammunition, and cash in the ensuing search. Wurie was then charged with drug and firearm offenses. He moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of the apartment. The District Court denied the motion, and Wurie was convicted. The First Circuit reversed the denial of the motion to suppress and vacated the relevant convictions.

Held: The police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested. Pp. 5–28.

Just Released — Supreme Court decision — American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo, Inc.

June 25, 2014 Comments off

American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo, Inc.
Source: U.S. Supreme Court

The Copyright Act of 1976 gives a copyright owner the “exclusive righ[t]” to “perform the copyrighted work publicly.” 17 U. S. C. §106(4). The Act’s Transmit Clause defines that exclusive right to include the right to “transmit or otherwise communicate a performance . . . of the [copyrighted] work . . . to the public, by means of any deviceor process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance . . . receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.” §101.

Respondent Aereo, Inc., sells a service that allows its subscribers towatch television programs over the Internet at about the same timeas the programs are broadcast over the air. When a subscriber wants to watch a show that is currently airing, he selects the show from a menu on Aereo’s website. Aereo’s system, which consists of thousands of small antennas and other equipment housed in a centralized warehouse, responds roughly as follows: A server tunes an antenna, which is dedicated to the use of one subscriber alone, to the broadcast carrying the selected show. A transcoder translates the signals received by the antenna into data that can be transmitted over the Internet. A server saves the data in a subscriber-specific folder onAereo’s hard drive and begins streaming the show to the subscriber’sscreen once several seconds of programming have been saved. The streaming continues, a few seconds behind the over-the-air broadcast, until the subscriber has received the entire show.

Petitioners, who are television producers, marketers, distributors,and broadcasters that own the copyrights in many of the programs that Aereo streams, sued Aereo for copyright infringement. Theysought a preliminary injunction, arguing that Aereo was infringing their right to “perform” their copyrighted works “publicly.” The District Court denied the preliminary injunction, and the Second Circuit affirmed.

Held: Aereo performs petitioners’ works publicly within the meaning of the Transmit Clause. Pp. 4–18.

Risky Business Report Finds That U.S. Regions and Business Sectors Face Significant Economic Risks From Climate Change

June 24, 2014 Comments off

Risky Business Report Finds That U.S. Regions and Business Sectors Face Significant Economic Risks From Climate Change
Source: Risky Business Project

The American economy could face significant and widespread disruptions from climate change unless U.S. businesses and policymakers take immediate action to reduce climate risk, according to a new report released today. The report, “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States,” summarizes findings of an independent assessment of the impact of climate change at the county, state, and regional level, and shows that communities, industries, and properties across the U.S. face profound risks from climate change. The findings also show that the most severe risks can still be avoided through early investments in resilience, and through immediate action to reduce the pollution that causes global warming.

The Risky Business report shows that two of the primary impacts of climate change—extreme heat and sea level rise—will disproportionately affect certain regions of the U.S., and pose highly variable risks across the nation. In the U.S. Gulf Coast, Northeast, and Southeast, for example, sea level rise and increased damage from storm surge are likely to lead to an additional $2 to $3.5 billion in property losses each year by 2030, with escalating costs in future decades. In interior states in the Midwest and Southwest, extreme heat will threaten human health, reduce labor productivity and strain electricity grids.

Conversely, in northern latitudes such as North Dakota and Montana, winter temperatures will likely rise, reducing frost events and cold-related deaths, and lengthening the growing season for some crops.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides: The CHARGE Study

June 24, 2014 Comments off

Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides: The CHARGE Study
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives

Background:
Gestational exposure to several common agricultural pesticides can induce developmental neurotoxicity in humans, and has been associated with developmental delay and autism.

Objectives:
To evaluate whether residential proximity to agricultural pesticides during pregnancy is associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or developmental delay (DD) in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment (CHARGE) Study.

Methods:
The CHARGE study is a population-based case-control study of ASD, developmental delay (DD), and typical development. For 970 participants, commercial pesticide application data from the California Pesticide Use Report (1997-2008) were linked to the addresses during pregnancy. Pounds of active ingredient applied for organophophates, organochlorines, pyrethroids, and carbamates were aggregated within 1.25km, 1.5km, and 1.75km buffer distances from the home. Multinomial logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) of exposure comparing confirmed cases of ASD (n = 486) or DD (n = 168) with typically developing referents (n = 316).

Results:
Approximately one-third of CHARGE Study mothers lived, during pregnancy, within 1.5 km (just under one mile) of an agricultural pesticide application. Proximity to organophosphates at some point during gestation was associated with a 60% increased risk for ASD, higher for 3rd trimester exposures [OR = 2.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) = (1.1, 3.6)], and 2nd trimester chlorpyrifos applications: OR = 3.3 [95% CI = (1.5, 7.4)]. Children of mothers residing near pyrethroid insecticide applications just prior to conception or during 3rd trimester were at greater risk for both ASD and DD, with OR’s ranging from 1.7 to 2.3. Risk for DD was increased in those near carbamate applications, but no specific vulnerable period was identified.

Conclusions:
This study of ASD strengthens the evidence linking neurodevelopmental disorders with gestational pesticide exposures, and particularly, organophosphates and provides novel results of ASD and DD associations with, respectively, pyrethroids and carbamates.

Department of Veterans Affairs Access Audit– System-Wide Review of Access: Results of Access Audit Conducted May 12, 2014, through June 3, 2014

June 9, 2014 Comments off

Department of Veterans Affairs Access Audit– System-Wide Review of Access: Results of Access Audit Conducted May 12, 2014, through June 3, 2014 (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

1. Efforts to meet needs of Veterans (and clinicians) led to an overly complicated scheduling process that resulted in high potential to create confusion among scheduling clerks and front-line supervisors.

2. Meeting a 14-day wait-time performance target for new appointments was simply not attainable given the ongoing challenge of finding sufficient provider slots to accommodate a growing demand for services. Imposing this expectation on the field before ascertaining the resources required and its ensuing broad promulgation represent an organizational leadership failure.

3. The concept of “desired date” is a scheduling practice unique to VA, and difficult to reconcile against more accepted practices such as negotiating a specific appointment date based on provider availability, or using a “return to clinic” interval requested by providers.

4. Overall, 13 percent of scheduling staff interviewed indicated they received instruction (from supervisors or others) to enter in the “desired date” field a date different from the date the Veteran had requested. At least one instance of such practices was identified in 76 percent of VA facilities. In certain instances this may be appropriate (e.g., a provider-directed date can, under VA policy, override a date specified by a patient), but the survey did not distinguish this, nor did it determine whether this was done through lack of understanding or malintent unless it was clearly apparent.

5. Eight percent of scheduling staff indicated they used alternatives to the Electronic Wait List (EWL) or Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) package. At least one of such instance was identified in 70 percent of facilities. As with desired date practices, we did not probe the extent to which some of these alternatives might have been justified under VA policy. The questionnaire employed did not isolate appropriate uses of external lists.

6. Findings indicate that in some cases, pressures were placed on schedulers to utilize inappropriate practices in order to make waiting times (based on desired date, and the waiting lists), appear more favorable. Such practices are sufficiently pervasive to require VA re-examine its entire performance management system and, in particular, whether current measures and targets for access are realistic or sufficient.

7. Staffing challenges were identified in small CBOCs, especially where there were small counts of providers or administrative support.

See also: VA Access Audit (all reports)

Report to the Board of Directors of General Motors Company Regarding Ignition Switch Recalls (“Valukas Report”)

June 6, 2014 Comments off

Report to the Board of Directors of General Motors Company Regarding Ignition Switch Recalls (“Valukas Report”)
Source: Jenner & Block (via Detroit News)

As a whole, from beginning to end, the story of the Cobalt is one of numerous failures leading to tragic results for many. As discussed below, many individuals have substantial responsibility for the delay in recalling the Cobalt. These individuals, as well as the GM committees and groups that had responsibility for the Cobalt, failed to remand action in the face of mounting injuries and fatalities, to make themselves or others accountable, and to marshal the information and expertise at their disposal to solve a problem that brought harm to GM’s customers. This report traces the history of the ignition switch, from GM’s design and production of the ignition switch to its belated recall in 2014, ultimately proposing recommendations to help avoid such a tragedy from ever occurring again.

The Employment Situation — May 2014

June 6, 2014 Comments off

The Employment Situation — May 2014
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 217,000 in May, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in professional and business services, health care and social assistance, food services and drinking places, and transportation and warehousing.

Former Blue Angels’ CO Reprimanded at Admiral’s Mast (includes link to full report)

June 4, 2014 Comments off

Former Blue Angels’ CO Reprimanded at Admiral’s Mast
Source: U.S. Navy (U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs)

At an Admiral’s Mast proceeding on June 2, a former commanding officer of the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron – the Blue Angels – was found guilty of violating Uniform Code Military Justice articles 92 (failure to obey an order or regulation) and 133 (conduct unbecoming of an officer) by fostering a hostile command climate, failing to stop obvious and repeated instances of sexual harassment, condoning widespread lewd practices within the squadron, and engaging in inappropriate and unprofessional discussions with his junior officers.

As a result, Capt. Gregory McWherter was given non-judicial punishment in the form of a punitive letter of reprimand.

Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., convened the Admiral’s Mast after an investigation he ordered found McWherter allowed his officers and senior enlisted personnel to engage in inappropriate and sexually harassing behavior that significantly contributed to an unprofessional command climate during his second command tour as the Blue Angels commanding officer from May 2011 to November 2012.

The investigation concluded that McWherter witnessed, condoned, and encouraged behavior that, while juvenile and sophomoric in the beginning, ultimately and in the aggregate, became destructive, toxic, and hostile. According to the investigation, at no time did the behavior lead to sexual assault.

School Discipline Consensus Report

June 3, 2014 Comments off

School Discipline Consensus Report
Source: Council of State Governments (Justice Center)

The School Discipline Consensus Report presents a comprehensive set of consensus-based and field-driven recommendations to improve conditions for learning for all students and educators, better support students with behavioral needs, improve police-schools partnerships, and keep students out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. More than 100 advisors representing policymakers, school administrators, teachers, behavioral health professionals, police, court leaders, probation officials, juvenile correctional leaders, parents, and youth from across the country helped develop more than two dozen policies and 60 recommendations to keep more students in productive classrooms and out of court rooms. An additional 600 individuals from various disciplines and perspectives shared examples of promising practices that are also presented in the report. The School Discipline Consensus Report draws on real-world strategies and research to promote truly multidisciplinary approaches to reducing the millions of youth suspended, expelled, and arrested each year while creating safe and supportive schools for all educators and students.

EPA Proposes First Guidelines to Cut Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants/Clean Power Plan is flexible proposal to ensure a healthier environment, spur innovation and strengthen the economy

June 3, 2014 Comments off

EPA Proposes First Guidelines to Cut Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants/Clean Power Plan is flexible proposal to ensure a healthier environment, spur innovation and strengthen the economy
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

At the direction of President Obama and after an unprecedented outreach effort, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is today releasing the Clean Power Plan proposal, which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Today’s proposal will protect public health, move the United States toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.

Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While there are limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels.

With the Clean Power Plan, EPA is proposing guidelines that build on trends already underway in states and the power sector to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, making them more efficient and less polluting. This proposal follows through on the common-sense steps laid out in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the June 2013 Presidential Memorandum.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 864 other followers