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All the President’s Psychologists

April 30, 2015 Comments off

All the President’s Psychologists (PDF)

Lead authors:
Stephen Soldz, Ph.D.
Nathaniel Raymond
Steven Reisner, Ph.D.

Co­authors:
Scott A. Allen, M.D. 
Isaac L. Baker
Allen S. Keller, M.D.

Reviewer:
Jean Maria Arrigo, Ph.D.

This report analyzes emails from the accounts of deceased RAND Corporation researcher and apparent CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) contractor Mr. Scott Gerwehr.1 Sixteen emails were selected for detailed analysis from a larger collection of 638 emails that were obtained by Mr. James Risen, author of Pay Any Price and a reporter for the New York Times. The emails were provided to the authors for analysis with the approval of the original sources of the emails, and with the agreement that only those selected as most relevant to the scope of the report would be released. All 638 emails were reviewed by the authors.

No findings of this report were in any way contradicted by the emails not included. The time frame of the emails analyzed in this report spans 2003 to 2006. (See more on methods and sources of data in Appendix I.) This report also includes publicly available information obtained from a variety of sources including the American Psychological Association’s website, released government documents, and reports in the media

Emails were selected for detailed analysis because they are evidence of the George W. Bush Administration’s integral role in shaping American Psychological Association (APA) ethics policy on psychologist participation in national security interrogations after September 11, 2001. Other emails were chosen because they either conflict with or contradict past public statements made by APA officials, as well as disclose new information related to this issue that the APA appears to have concealed. (See Appendix II for all primary source emails cited in this report.)

Based on analysis of the Gerwehr emails and reference to related open source documents, the authors note five key findings related to the APA:

1. The APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House, and the Department of Defense to create an APA ethics policy on national security interrogations that comported with then­classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program.

2. A US government research scientist, who had recently served as President Bush’s behavioral science advisor, is reported to have secretly drafted “language related to research” inserted by APA officials into the 2005 APA ethics policy on interrogations. While the exact language of the alleged contribution is not known, the section on research aligned that policy with the then­-classified Bradbury “torture memos.” The Bradbury memos directed health professionals to research and assess the supposed safety, efficacy, and health impacts of the “enhanced” interrogation techniques. The memos were introduced at a time when CIA Office of Medical Services (OMS) personnel were protesting the expanded involvement of health professionals in helping determine the legality of the techniques.

3. The APA had numerous contacts with CIA contract psychologists Drs. James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen starting in at least 2003, including contacts related to interrogation techniques; at least one senior APA official was informed of their clandestine role at the CIA related to interrogations; yet APA has consistently denied such contacts.

4. APA did not disclose Dr. James Mitchell’s past APA membership when it released its 2007 statement in response to journalists’ revelations regarding Mitchell’s role in abusive interrogations. Nor did APA include such information in its letter to the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists in 2010; APA staff sought to obscure past contacts with the CIA and with Mitchell and Jessen and their firm, Mitchell Jessen and Associates.

5. Despite substantial contact between the APA, the White House and CIA officials, including the over 600 emails noted in this report, there is no evidence that any APA official expressed concern over mounting reports of psychologist involvement in detainee abuse during four years of direct email communications with senior members of the US intelligence community.

See: American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says (New York Times)

American Society of Magazine Editors Guidelines for Editors and Publishers

April 25, 2015 Comments off

ASME Guidelines for Editors and Publishers
Source: American Society of Magazine Editors

The true value of a print or digital magazine brand lies in its relationship with its readers. The unique relationship between magazine media and media consumers is founded on the reader’s trust in the magazine’s editorial integrity and independence.

The purpose of the ASME Guidelines for Editors and Publishers is to sustain that trust by articulating basic principles for the conduct of magazine journalists. The guidelines also summarize industry practices, drawn from those principles, concerning editorial content and advertising and include information about federal regulations relevant to magazine media.

In a rapidly changing media marketplace, no one set of guidelines can answer every question. The ASME Guidelines address only the critical challenges encountered by print and digital journalists working in today’s advertising-supported media. The basic principles that inform the guidelines, especially transparency, are also applicable to other forms of magazine media, including conferences and events.

Review of the Use of Confidentiality Agreements by Department of State Contractors

April 9, 2015 Comments off

Review of the Use of Confidentiality Agreements by Department of State Contractors (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of State, Office of Inspector General

All of the 30 contractors with the largest dollar volume of Department of State contracts used some variation of a confidentiality agreement or confidentiality policy. Some of the contractors had policies or agreements that might have some chilling effect on employees who are considering whether to report fraud, waste, or abuse to the government, such as nondisparagement clauses or provisions requiring notice to the company after receiving an inquiry from a government official. However, none of the companies reported that they had ever enforced any of these provisions against an employee or former employee who disclosed wrongdoing to the government. All 30 contractors also reported that they had a policy in place that encourages the reporting of fraud or legal and ethical violations and provides one or more ways for employees to do so.

From its review of the contractor responses and relevant legal and social science literature, OIG found that several practices are useful in encouraging employees to report fraud, waste, or abuse. These include use of an internal hotline with anonymous option; display of hotline posters in the workplace; a policy that advises employees of their right to contact the government directly if they have knowledge of fraud, waste, or abuse; notification to employees of the statutory protections against retaliation; and a corporate policy that endorses cooperation with a government audit or investigation.

Warren Buffett’s mobile home empire preys on the poor

April 8, 2015 Comments off

Warren Buffett’s mobile home empire preys on the poor
Source: Center for Public Integrity

Buffett’s mobile home empire promises low-income Americans the dream of homeownership. But Clayton relies on predatory sales practices, exorbitant fees, and interest rates that can exceed 15 percent, trapping many buyers in loans they can’t afford and in homes that are almost impossible to sell or refinance, an investigation by The Center for Public Integrity and The Seattle Times has found.

Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers 2015

March 23, 2015 Comments off

Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers 2015
Source: Scholarly Open Access (Jeffrey Beall)

Each year at this time I formally release my updated list of predatory publishers. Because the list is now very large, and because I now publish four, continuously-updated lists, this year’s release does not include the actual lists but instead includes statistical and explanatory data about the lists and links to them. Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers: This year, 2015, marks the fifth annual release of this list, which is also continuously updated. The list this year includes 693 publishers, an increase of 241 over 2014.

Legalized Tax Fraud: How Top US Corporations Continue to Profit Through Offshore Tax Havens

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Legalized Tax Fraud: How Top US Corporations Continue to Profit Through Offshore Tax Havens
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget (Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, today called on America’s leading corporations to stop sheltering profits in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens. He also urged them to stop lobbying Congress for additional tax breaks as the Business Roundtable, an organization representing some of the largest corporations in the country, is expected to do tomorrow.

Sanders issued a new report that provides a fresh glimpse into the far-reaching corporate tax avoidance strategies of large and profitable companies represented by the Business Roundtable, including what he calls the “legalized tax fraud” of sheltering profits in offshore tax havens.

The report shows for the first time how more than 50 percent of the companies represented by the Business Roundtable are collectively holding more than $1 trillion in profits in offshore tax haven countries where it is not subject to U.S. taxes.

The report also shows that several of the companies have been profitable for years but pay nowhere near the 35 percent income tax rate that nominally applies to corporate profits. In fact, according to a report last year by the Government Accountability Office, the effective tax rate for large, profitable corporations was just 12.6 percent in 2010, a figure that Sanders is asking the GAO to update today. The report also points out that a number of huge corporations – including General Electric, Boeing, Duke Energy and Verizon – not only have paid nothing in federal income tax in recent years, they received refunds from the IRS.

Research Misconduct Identified by the US Food and Drug Administration: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of the Peer-Reviewed Literature

February 13, 2015 Comments off

Research Misconduct Identified by the US Food and Drug Administration: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of the Peer-Reviewed Literature
Source: JAMA Internal Medicine

Importance
Every year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects several hundred clinical sites performing biomedical research on human participants and occasionally finds evidence of substantial departures from good clinical practice and research misconduct. However, the FDA has no systematic method of communicating these findings to the scientific community, leaving open the possibility that research misconduct detected by a government agency goes unremarked in the peer-reviewed literature.

Objectives
To identify published clinical trials in which an FDA inspection found significant evidence of objectionable conditions or practices, to describe violations, and to determine whether the violations are mentioned in the peer-reviewed literature.

Design and Setting
Cross-sectional analysis of publicly available documents, dated from January 1, 1998, to September 30, 2013, describing FDA inspections of clinical trial sites in which significant evidence of objectionable conditions or practices was found.

Main Outcomes and Measures
For each inspection document that could be linked to a specific published clinical trial, the main measure was a yes/no determination of whether there was mention in the peer-reviewed literature of problems the FDA had identified.

Results
Fifty-seven published clinical trials were identified for which an FDA inspection of a trial site had found significant evidence of 1 or more of the following problems: falsification or submission of false information, 22 trials (39%); problems with adverse events reporting, 14 trials (25%); protocol violations, 42 trials (74%); inadequate or inaccurate recordkeeping, 35 trials (61%); failure to protect the safety of patients and/or issues with oversight or informed consent, 30 trials (53%); and violations not otherwise categorized, 20 trials (35%). Only 3 of the 78 publications (4%) that resulted from trials in which the FDA found significant violations mentioned the objectionable conditions or practices found during the inspection. No corrections, retractions, expressions of concern, or other comments acknowledging the key issues identified by the inspection were subsequently published.

Conclusions and Relevance
When the FDA finds significant departures from good clinical practice, those findings are seldom reflected in the peer-reviewed literature, even when there is evidence of data fabrication or other forms of research misconduct.

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