Source: Brookings Institution
Last November, Colorado and Washington voters approved ballot initiatives to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana—decisions that put them at odds with federal law, which continues to ban marijuana. The states are moving ahead with implementation of their unprecedented laws in the face of uncertainty regarding the response of the federal government. What exactly have the states voted to do? Given current federal law, how might the Obama administration respond? What are the trends in U.S. public opinion on marijuana policy?
Chart — United States Border Patrol — Total Illegal Alien Apprehensions By Fiscal Year (Oct. 1st through Sept. 30th)
Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Homeland Security: An Overall Strategy Is Needed to Strengthen Disease Surveillance in Livestock and Poultry. GAO-13-424, May 21.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654750.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/654743
2. Funding for 10 States’ Programs Supported by Four Environmental Protection Agency Categorical Grants. GAO-13-504R, May 6.
1. Immigration Enforcement: Preliminary Observations on DHS’s Overstay Enforcement Efforts, by Rebecca Gambler, director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, House Committee on Homeland Security. GAO-13-602T, May 21.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654753.pdf
2. Telecommunications Networks: Addressing Potential Security Risks of Foreign-Manufactured Equipment, by Mark L. Goldstein, director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-13-652T, May 21.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654764.pdf
3. Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Request: U.S. Government Accountability Office, by Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, before the Subcommittee on Legislative Branch, Senate Committee on Appropriations. GAO-13-617T, May 21.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654758.pdf
GAO — Federal Government Has Taken Some Steps but Could Do More to Combat Elder Financial Exploitation
Source: Government Accountability Office
Older adults are being financially exploited by strangers who inundate them with mail, telephone, or Internet scams; unscrupulous financial services professionals; and untrustworthy in-home caregivers. Local law enforcement authorities in the four states GAO visited indicated that investigating and prosecuting the growing number of cases involving interstate and international mass marketing fraud–such as "grandparent scams," which persuade victims to wire money to bail "grandchildren" out of jail or pay their expenses–is particularly difficult. In addition, older adults, like other consumers, may lack the information needed to make sound decisions when choosing a financial services provider. As a result, they can unknowingly risk financial exploitation by those who use questionable tactics to market unsuitable or illegal financial products. Local officials also noted that it is difficult to prevent exploitation by in-home caregivers, such as home health or personal care aides, individuals older adults must rely on.
GAO identified several ways the federal government is, or could be, supporting state and local efforts to combat elder financial exploitation.
- With regard to mass marketing scams, GAO has recommended that the Department of Justice reach out to law enforcement authorities in states to clarify how they can obtain the federal assistance needed to handle interstate or international mass marketing fraud.
- To help prevent exploitation by financial services professionals, the Securities and Exchange Commission links to a public website where the qualifications of individual financial services providers can be found, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued guidance on how best to convey this information to older adults.
- To prevent exploitation by in-home caregivers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides grants that fund background checks for employees of agencies that provide these services.
Other federal efforts are broader in scope and help combat all types of elder financial exploitation. For example, each of the seven federal agencies GAO reviewed has independently undertaken activities to increase public awareness of this exploitation; however, GAO has recommended that the federal government develop a more strategic approach to these efforts. Further, recognizing the importance of collaboration among those interacting with older adults, GAO has recommended measures to educate bank staff on how to identify potential exploitation and improve collaboration among social service and law enforcement agencies, among others, as they respond to reports of exploitation. GAO has also noted the need for more data on the extent and nature of elder financial exploitation, some of which can be collected from consumer complaints filed with federal agencies. Finally, preventing and responding to elder financial exploitation calls for a more cohesive and deliberate national strategy. To this end, GAO has recommended that the Elder Justice Coordinating Council–a group of federal agency heads charged with setting priorities and coordinating federal efforts to combat elder abuse nationwide–develop a written national strategy for combating elder financial exploitation.
Safety Report on Eliminating Impaired Driving
Source: National Transportation Safety Board
On May 14, 2013, the 25th anniversary of our nation’s deadliest drunk-driving crash, which killed 24 children and three adults in Carrollton, Ky., the NTSB’s five-member board voted unanimously to issue bold recommendations to help the United States reach zero and eliminate alcohol-impaired driving.
Bold steps are needed: On average, every hour, one person dies in a crash involving a drunk driver and 20 more people are injured, including three with debilitating injuries. That adds up quickly to yearly totals of nearly 10,000 deaths, 27,000 lives forever altered and another 146,000 injured.
The safety report and recommendations culminate a year-long effort by the NTSB to thoroughly examine this problem and develop a set of targeted interventions. The recommendations include:
- Reduce state BAC limits from 0.08 to 0.05 or lower
- Increase use of high-visibility enforcement
- Develop and deploy in-vehicle detection technology
- Require ignition interlocks for all offenders
- Improve use of administrative license actions
- Target and address repeat offenders
- Reinforce use and effectiveness of DWI courts
In a Divorce or Dissolution Who Gets the Pension Rights: Domestic Relations Law and Retirement Plans
Source: Pepperdine Law Review
When a marriage begins, it is made in heaven and will last "forever." However, when a marriage is legally over there is the rough sundering of dreams and hopes for the future and the need to sort out amongst the former life companions what is legally the property of each. This article will explore the evolving legal process which divides the property rights acquired during marriage in a retirement plan which was, intended to act as a shield against deprivation of the marriage partners in their mutually shared old age.
Source: Center for Competitive Government (Temple University)
From press release (EurekAlert!):
As states continue to grapple with aging correctional facilities, overcrowding, underfunded retiree obligations and other constraints, new research from Temple University’s Center for Competitive Government finds that privately operated prisons can substantially cut costs – from 12 percent to 58 percent in long-term savings – while performing at equal or better levels than government-run prisons.
Temple economics Professors Simon Hakim and Erwin A. Blackstone analyzed government data from nine states that generally have higher numbers of privately held prisoners (Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas), and Maine, which does not contract its corrections services. The professors calculated both short- and long-run savings per state, finding that contracted prisons generate significant savings without sacrificing quality.
"Contracts between private-prison operators and state governments can be very precise in terms of the outcomes the state expects," said Hakim, director of Temple’s Center for Competitive Government, which is affiliated with the Fox School of Business. "And contractors have an incentive to overshoot the performance metrics established by the state – lest they lose out to a higher-performing company on the next contract bid."
The study uses economic models to determine each state’s avoidable costs, which are compared to the contracted per diem rates charged by the private operators. The study also takes into account underfunded pensions and retiree healthcare costs – a critical issue, with the Pew Center on the States reporting in 2010 of a $1.38 trillion gap between states’ assets and their pension and healthcare retiree obligations.
In California, for example, the researchers estimated that contracted prison facilities save between 32 percent and 58 percent. In Maine, estimated savings in the short run (including operational costs, such as personnel and medical and food services) is 47 percent while long-run savings (which combine short-run costs with capital expenditures, such as facility modernization and financing) is estimated at 49 percent. Researchers said Maine’s substantial estimated savings could be attributed to that state’s lack of private-public competition and its small prisons that cannot exploit economies of scale.
Source: Minnesota Law Review
The Article is organized as follows. Part I describes the databases we use to study the Court’s business decisions. Part II uses these databases to study the pattern over time of the Court’s pro- and anti-business decisions, the ideological implications of the pattern, and, related to ideology, the correlation between coding decisions as conservative or liberal and coding them as business wins or business loses. Part III analyzes the voting behavior of the individual Justices, as distinct from the Court’s actual decisions. We rank the Justices in terms of how favorable or unfavorable they are toward business, and relate each Justice’s leaning for or against business to his preappointment ideology, the lower-court decision in the cases the Justice voted on, the federal government’s participation in the case, and the filing of amicus curiae briefs for or against business. The conclusion summarizes our findings.
FTC Warns Data Broker Operations of Possible Privacy Violations
Source: Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission sent letters to ten data broker companies warning that their practices could violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) after a test-shopping operation by the FTC indicated the companies were willing to sell consumer information without abiding by FCRA requirements.
The test-shopping operation was part of a worldwide privacy protection effort. FTC staff members posed as individuals or representatives of companies seeking information about consumers to make decisions related to their creditworthiness, eligibility for insurance or suitability for employment.
Data broker companies that collect, distribute or sell this information are considered consumer reporting agencies under the FCRA, meaning they must reasonably verify the identities of their customers and make sure that these customers have a legitimate purpose for receiving the information. This requirement ensures that the privacy of sensitive consumer report information is protected. Of the 45 companies contacted by FTC staff in the test-shopper operation, ten appear to violate the FCRA by offering to provide the information without complying with the law’s requirements.
The FTC issued the letters this week in conjunction with an international privacy practice transparency sweep conducted by the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN). The network connects privacy enforcement authorities to promote and support cooperation in cross-border enforcement of laws protecting privacy. Several GPEN members from countries around the world are taking steps this week to ensure that companies meet their obligations related to the privacy of consumers’ personal information.
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway
This factsheet discusses State laws that authorize cross-reporting and information sharing among the agencies that must respond to reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. Typically, reports are shared among social services agencies, law enforcement departments, and prosecutors’ offices. Summaries of laws for all States and U.S. territories are included.
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway
This factsheet discusses State laws and regulations that specify the procedures that State child protection agencies must follow when responding to reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. The issues addressed include individual responsibility to report, content of reports, screening reports, investigation procedures, time frames for completing investigations, and classification of investigative findings. Special procedures for handling child fatalities and drug-exposed children also are addressed. Summaries of laws for all States and U.S. territories are included.
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway
This factsheet discusses State laws that present the factors that courts need to consider when making decisions about a child’s appropriate custody and care. Factors to be considered include parental capacity to provide adequate care, sibling and other family relationships, and the child’s wishes. The factsheet also addresses the definition of best interests and guiding principles of best interest determinations. Summaries of laws for all States and U.S. territories are included.
Source: FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network)
The SAR Activity Review – Trends, Tips & Issues is a product of continual dialogue and collaboration among the nation’s financial institutions, law enforcement officials and regulatory agencies to provide meaningful information about the preparation, use and value of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and other FinCEN reports filed by financial institutions.
The Trends & Analysis section of this issue opens with an article on SAR filing patterns related to elder financial exploitation before and after the publication of FinCEN Advisory FIN-2011-A003 (Advisory to Financial Institutions on Filing Suspicious Activity Reports Regarding Elder Financial Exploitation) in February 2011. In this section we also report on trends related to SAR filings involving accountants and involving insider abuse within depository institutions. We close this section with an article from FinCEN’s Office of Special Programs Development on how financial institutions have made use of, and benefited from, information sharing under Section 314(b) of the USA PATRIOT Act.
The Law Enforcement Cases section includes interesting and informative summaries of cases that demonstrate the importance and value of BSA data to the law enforcement community. Cases in this section highlight how BSA data, and the detection and analysis of suspicious transactions by financial institutions, proved to be of value to law enforcement and prosecutors.
The month of May is Older Americans Month, and in the Issues & Guidance section we include a message from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on efforts by CFPB, FinCEN and others to raise awareness of elder financial exploitation. In this section, we include an additional article with information beneficial to filers of the new FinCEN SAR: SAR Narrative Key Terms: Updated Guidance on the Use of SAR Check Box Items.
See also: SAR Activity Review – By the Numbers – May 2013 (PDF)
Intimate Partner Violence and Incident Depressive Symptoms and Suicide Attempts: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies
Source: PLoS Medicine
Depression and suicide are responsible for a substantial burden of disease globally. Evidence suggests that intimate partner violence (IPV) experience is associated with increased risk of depression, but also that people with mental disorders are at increased risk of violence. We aimed to investigate the extent to which IPV experience is associated with incident depression and suicide attempts, and vice versa, in both women and men.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies published before February 1, 2013. More than 22,000 records from 20 databases were searched for studies examining physical and/or sexual intimate partner or dating violence and symptoms of depression, diagnosed major depressive disorder, dysthymia, mild depression, or suicide attempts. Random effects meta-analyses were used to generate pooled odds ratios (ORs). Sixteen studies with 36,163 participants met our inclusion criteria. All studies included female participants; four studies also included male participants. Few controlled for key potential confounders other than demographics. All but one depression study measured only depressive symptoms. For women, there was clear evidence of an association between IPV and incident depressive symptoms, with 12 of 13 studies showing a positive direction of association and 11 reaching statistical significance; pooled OR from six studies = 1.97 (95% CI 1.56–2.48, I2 = 50.4%, pheterogeneity = 0.073). There was also evidence of an association in the reverse direction between depressive symptoms and incident IPV (pooled OR from four studies = 1.93, 95% CI 1.51–2.48, I2 = 0%, p = 0.481). IPV was also associated with incident suicide attempts. For men, evidence suggested that IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms, but there was no clear evidence of an association between IPV and suicide attempts or depression and incident IPV.
In women, IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms, and depressive symptoms with incident IPV. IPV was associated with incident suicide attempts. In men, few studies were conducted, but evidence suggested IPV was associated with incident depressive symptoms. There was no clear evidence of association with suicide attempts.
Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military 2012
Source: U.S. Department of Defense
In FY12, the Military Services received a total of 3,374 reports of sexual assault involving Service members as either victims or subjects, which represents a 6 percent increase from the 3,192 reports made in FY11.