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Good fortune, dire poverty, and inequality in Baltimore: An American story

May 13, 2015 Comments off

Good fortune, dire poverty, and inequality in Baltimore: An American story
Source: Brookings Institution

The unrest in Baltimore has fostered nationwide discussion about the root causes of the tensions in the city’s poor neighborhoods that led to an outbreak of riots and mass protests. While criminal justice policy and police-community relationships are arguably at the core of the present debate, the economic and social context in which those actions took shape matters greatly too. Yet media coverage has obscured a few key facts about economic and social conditions in Baltimore and other major American cities. The charts below situate the distress affecting neighborhoods like Freddie Gray’s Sandtown-Winchester against the backdrop of wider dynamics in Baltimore City and its metropolitan area, and in comparison to other cities and regions around the country.

CFR Backgrounder: Europe’s Migration Crisis

May 13, 2015 Comments off

CFR Backgrounder: Europe’s Migration Crisis
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The growing numbers of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing turmoil in Africa and the Middle East poses complex challenges for European policymakers still grappling with weak economic growth and fractured national politics. Europe, according to a 2014 report from the International Organization for Migration, is currently the most dangerous destination for irregular migration in the world, and the Mediterranean Sea the world’s most dangerous border crossing. To date, the European Union’s collective response to its growing migrant crisis has been ad hoc and, critics charge, more focused on securing the bloc’s borders than on protecting the rights of migrants and refugees. With nationalist parties ascendant in many member states and concerns about Islamic terrorism looming large across the continent, it remains unclear if political headwinds will facilitate a new climate of immigration reform.

CFR Backgrounder: Nicaragua’s Grand Canal

May 12, 2015 Comments off

CFR Backgrounder: Nicaragua’s Grand Canal
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

In December 2014, workers broke ground on the Nicaragua Grand Canal, a planned 175-mile-long canal through Nicaragua. Three times the length of the Panama Canal, engineers say Nicaragua’s canal could eventually serve 5 percent of the world’s cargo traffic. Proponents of the canal argue that it will bring much-needed jobs and commerce to the country. However, critics charge that few details of the deal have been made public and say that the environmental and social costs of constructing the canal could be catastrophic.

Respect and Legitimacy — A Two-Way Street Strengthening Trust Between Police and the Public in an Era of Increasing Transparency

May 8, 2015 Comments off

Respect and Legitimacy — A Two-Way Street Strengthening Trust Between Police and the Public in an Era of Increasing Transparency
Source: RAND Corporation

Events in recent months have focused national attention on profound fractures in trust between some police departments and the communities they are charged with protecting. Though the potential for such fractures is always present given the role of police in society, building and maintaining trust between police and the public is critical for the health of American democracy. However, in an era when information technology has the potential to greatly increase transparency of police activities in a variety of ways, building and maintaining trust is challenging. Doing so likely requires steps taken by both police organizations and the public to build understanding and relationships that can sustain trust through tragic incidents that can occur in the course of policing — whether it is a citizen’s or officer’s life that is lost. This paper draws on the deep literature on legitimacy, procedural justice, and trust to frame three core questions that must be addressed to build and maintain mutual trust between police and the public: (1) What is the police department doing and why? (2) What are the results of the department’s actions? and (3) What mechanisms are in place to discover and respond to problems from the officer to the department level? Answering these questions ensures that both the public and police have mutual understanding and expectations about the goals and tactics of policing, their side effects, and the procedures to address problems fairly and effectively, maintaining confidence over time.

Millennial Childbearing and the Recession

May 6, 2015 Comments off

Millennial Childbearing and the Recession
Source: Urban Institute

This brief is part of an Urban Institute study of the Millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 1995, exploring its diversity, demographics, and policy implications. Between 2007 and 2012, birth rates among twenty-something women declined more than 15 percent. A dramatic decline in birth rates among unmarried women is the most important factor in the overall reduction in childbearing among African Americans and Hispanics. It remains to be seen whether the Millennial women who eschewed childbearing from 2007–12 will compensate by exhibiting higher birth rates later or if this generation will have fewer children than its older counterparts.

Spring 2015 Brookings Panel on Economic Activity

May 3, 2015 Comments off

Spring 2015 Brookings Panel on Economic Activity
Source: Brookings Institution

New research findings at the Spring 2015 BPEA conference by leading academic and government economists include: a cause of growing inequality; the possible outcomes of an early Federal Reserve boost in the interest rates; public sentiment concerning redistributive fiscal plans; the economic welfare impacts of the fracking boom; an assessment of Chinese government-sponsored firms; and the possible consequences of anonymizing big data.

Is Ridesharing Safe?

April 30, 2015 Comments off

Is Ridesharing Safe?
Source: Cato Institute

Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft are facing predictable complaints as they continue to grow. Many of these complaints concern safety, with some in the taxi industry claiming that ridesharing is less safe than taking a traditional taxicab.

Ridesharing safety worries relate to the well-being of drivers, passengers, and third parties. In each of these cases there is little evidence that the sharing economy services are more dangerous than traditional taxis. In fact, the ridesharing business model offers big safety advantages as far as drivers are concerned. In particular, ridesharing’s cash-free transactions and self-identified customers substantially mitigate one of the worst risks associated with traditional taxis: the risk of violent crime.

An analysis of the safety regulations governing vehicles for hire does not suggest that ridesharing companies ought to be more strictly regulated. It does highlight, however, that in many parts of the country lawmaker sand regulators have not adequately adapted to the rise of ridesharing, which fits awkwardly into existing regulatory frameworks governing taxis. There will be many real and substantive issues to sort out as the rideshare industry continues to develop. In particular, heavily regulated taxi drivers have a valid point when they complain that they have to compete on an unlevel playing field with less regulated rideshare companies. But the appropriate response to this problem is to rationalize and modernize the outdated and heavy-handed restrictions on taxis—not to extend those restrictions to ridesharing.

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