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Information and Communication Technologies to Promote Social and Psychological Well-Being in the Air Force

September 1, 2014 Comments off

Information and Communication Technologies to Promote Social and Psychological Well-Being in the Air Force
Source: RAND Corporation

This report presents the findings from a pioneering exploratory survey of 3,479 active-duty, guard, and reserve Airmen on their use of information and communication technology (ICT), the association between ICT use and social and psychological well-being, and the potential for Air Force mental-health professionals to use ICT to meet the needs of Airmen. The survey data were weighted to ensure that the analytic sample would be representative of the gender, age group, rank (officer, enlisted), and affiliation (active, guard, reserve) composition of the U.S. Air Force. Rates of ICT usage by Airmen are presented, along with Airmen’s perceptions of the relationship between social support and ICT use, their attitudes about seeking and receiving health information via technology, and the differences in ICT use, social support, and psychological well-being among different groups of Airmen. Finally, recommendations are presented on ways the Air Force can leverage ICT to promote the social and psychological well-being of Airmen.

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New From the GAO

August 29, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Export-Import Bank: Monitoring of Dual-Use Exports Should Be Improved. GAO-14-719, August 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-719
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665477.pdf

The Federal Debt: All You Need to Know in Three Minutes

August 29, 2014 Comments off

The Federal Debt: All You Need to Know in Three Minutes
Source: Brookings Institution

One of the missions of the new Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution is to improve public—and congressional—understanding of major budget issues confronting the U.S. To that end, we’ve boiled the facts about the outlook for the federal debt down to a three -minute animated video in which I trace the recent ups and downs (yes, downs) of the projections for federal borrowing over the next decade.

It’s tough for people to understand that the debt is a problem—but not now. Yes, we ran up a big debt to fight the recession, but the U.S. economy is not yet fully recovered and the U.S. Treasury is able to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars every month at very low interest rates. The problem lies in the future after the economy and the job market and interest rates return to normal: The trajectory of government borrowing after the economy simply isn’t sustainable. We’re looking for ways to help people understand both the short-term and the long-term picture.

Transporting Crude Oil by Rail: State and Federal Action

August 29, 2014 Comments off

Transporting Crude Oil by Rail: State and Federal Action
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Technological advances such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are driving the increase in oil and natural gas extraction and allowing access to shale resources in Canada and the U.S. that were previously uneconomical to develop.

In fact, the United States became the No. 1 producer of oil in the world in 2014—overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia. The U.S. produced 8.4 million barrels per day of oil in April 2014, which is the highest monthly production volume in more than 25 years—with North Dakota and Texas supplying almost half of the total U.S. crude oil production. The rapid expansion of crude oil production in North America has increased the use of rail, truck, barge and pipeline to carry crude to refineries.

Upon extraction, crude oil is transported to refineries to be processed into useful petroleum products—such as heating oil, diesel fuel or gasoline. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in 2009 70.2 percent of crude oil and petroleum products were transported by pipeline while 23.1 percent were shipped by oil tankers, 4.2 percent by truck and just 2.6 percent by rail. In 2013, crude oil accounted for just 1.4 percent of the commodities carried by rail. Although oil makes up a small percentage of rail freight, this proportion is increasing rapidly.

What is the Result of States Not Expanding Medicaid?

August 29, 2014 Comments off

What is the Result of States Not Expanding Medicaid?
Source: Urban Institute

In states not expanding Medicaid, 6.7 million residents will remain uninsured in 2016 as a result. These states are foregoing $423.6 billion in federal Medicaid funds from 2013 to 2022, lessening economic activity and job growth. Their hospitals are also losing $167.8 billion in Medicaid revenue. Every comprehensive state-level fiscal analysis that we could find concluded that expansion helps state budgets, generating savings and revenues that exceed increased Medicaid costs. Future federal cuts to ACA’s high federal match rate are unlikely. Of more than 100 federal Medicaid cuts since 1980, just one lowered the federal share of Medicaid spending.

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence

August 29, 2014 Comments off

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence
Source: RAND Corporation

All roads lead to Damascus and then back out again, but in different directions. The financial and military aid flowing into Syria from patrons and neighbors is intended to determine the outcome of the conflict between a loose confederation of rebel factions and the regime in Damascus. Instead, this outside support has the potential to perpetuate the existing civil war and to ignite larger regional hostilities between Sunni and Shia areas that could reshape the political geography of the Middle East. This report examines the main factors that are likely to contribute to or impede the spread of violence from civil war and insurgency in Syria, and then examines how they apply to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan.

Washington’s Marijuana Legalization Grows Knowledge, Not Just Pot

August 29, 2014 Comments off

Washington’s Marijuana Legalization Grows Knowledge, Not Just Pot
Source: Brookings Institution

Voters in Washington state decided in November 2012 to legalize marijuana in their state, inspired by a campaign that emphasized minimizing the drug’s social costs and tightly controlling the legal recreational market. Joined to this drug policy experiment is a second innovative experiment that emphasizes knowledge: the state will fund and develop tools necessary to understand the impact of legalization on Washington’s law enforcement officials, communities, and public health.

This second reform, though less heralded than the attention-grabbing fact of legalization, is in many ways just as bold. Washington’s government is taking its role as a laboratory of democracy very seriously, tuning up its laboratory equipment and devoting resources to tracking its experiment in an unusually meticulous way, with lessons that extend well beyond drug policy.

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