Crowdsourcing for Cognitive Science – The Utility of Smartphones

September 2, 2014 Comments off

Crowdsourcing for Cognitive Science – The Utility of Smartphones
Source: PLoS ONE

By 2015, there will be an estimated two billion smartphone users worldwide. This technology presents exciting opportunities for cognitive science as a medium for rapid, large-scale experimentation and data collection. At present, cost and logistics limit most study populations to small samples, restricting the experimental questions that can be addressed. In this study we investigated whether the mass collection of experimental data using smartphone technology is valid, given the variability of data collection outside of a laboratory setting. We presented four classic experimental paradigms as short games, available as a free app and over the first month 20,800 users submitted data. We found that the large sample size vastly outweighed the noise inherent in collecting data outside a controlled laboratory setting, and show that for all four games canonical results were reproduced. For the first time, we provide experimental validation for the use of smartphones for data collection in cognitive science, which can lead to the collection of richer data sets and a significant cost reduction as well as provide an opportunity for efficient phenotypic screening of large populations.

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Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2014

September 2, 2014 Comments off

Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2014
Source: Asian Development Bank

The Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2014, the 45th edition of this series, includes the latest available economic, financial, social, and environmental indicators for the 48 regional members of the Asian Development Bank. It presents the latest key statistics on development issues concerning the economies of Asia and the Pacific to a wide audience, including policy makers, development practitioners, government officials, researchers, students, and the general public. Part I of this issue is a special chapter—Poverty in Asia: A Deeper Look. Parts II and III are composed of brief, nontechnical analyses and statistical tables on the Millennium Development Goals and eight other themes.

DHS OIG — OIG Finds Improved Conditions at Detention Centers for Alien Children

September 2, 2014 Comments off

OIG Finds Improved Conditions at Detention Centers for Alien Children (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), today cited improved living conditions in the second in a series of reports on detention centers being used by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to temporarily house Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC).

The latest report is based on 60 unannounced site visits by OIG agents – to 41 CBP facilities and one other Federal site in Texas and New Mexico – conducted July 17 to August 20. The OIG’s findings are contained in a memorandum from Inspector General John Roth to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson (see attached).

+ Full Report (PDF)

Categories: Uncategorized

Some Tax-Exempt Organizations Have Substantial Delinquent Payroll Taxes

September 2, 2014 Comments off

Some Tax-Exempt Organizations Have Substantial Delinquent Payroll Taxes
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS
While tax‑exempt organizations are generally not required to pay income taxes, they are generally required to pay other taxes such as payroll taxes. If tax-exempt organizations do not pay their taxes and thereby abuse the Federal tax system, the Federal Government could lose millions of dollars in revenue.

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT
The overall objectives of this review were to determine if, and to what extent, tax‑exempt organizations have known Federal tax debt and to identify actions the Exempt Organizations function has taken to address this noncompliance.

WHAT TIGTA FOUND
IRS records indicate that the majority of tax‑exempt organizations pay their Federal taxes. However, a small percentage are not paying their taxes. TIGTA determined that more than 64,200 (3.8 percent) tax‑exempt organizations had nearly $875 million of Federal tax debt as of June 16, 2012. While some organizations owed minor amounts, approximately 1,200 tax exempt organizations owed more than $100,000 each. Unpaid taxes were often associated with multiple tax periods. For example, nine organizations each had Federal tax debt spanning 10 or more years that collectively totaled more than $5.5 million.

TIGTA reviewed 25 tax‑exempt organizations – all Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) – that appeared to be among the worst examples involving unpaid Federal tax but are not representative of the population of all tax‑exempt organizations with unpaid tax. TIGTA determined that these organizations generally received government payments over a three‑year period of $148 million, including Medicare, Medicaid, and government grants; had annual revenue of almost $167 million; and owned assets of more than $97 million—but continued to not remit payroll and other taxes, including penalties and interest, totaling more than $25 million. The Internal Revenue Code does not authorize the IRS to revoke tax‑exempt status based on an organization’s failure to pay payroll taxes, and substantially all of the organizations that TIGTA reviewed were still recognized by the IRS as tax‑exempt as of May 2013. The Exempt Organizations function had completed several examinations but was generally not aware of the behavior of the organizations because another IRS business unit is responsible for collecting the delinquent tax debt.

WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED
TIGTA recommended that the Director, Exempt Organizations: 1) coordinate with Small Business/ Self‑Employed Division management to receive relevant collection information, 2) periodically complete analyses to identify tax‑exempt organizations that potentially abuse their tax‑exempt status for examination (if necessary), and 3) work with the Department of the Treasury to evaluate whether a legislative proposal is warranted to strengthen the IRS’s ability to enforce payroll tax noncompliance by tax‑exempt organizations.

In their response to the report, IRS management disagreed with the first two recommendations and agreed to apprise the Department of the Treasury of our third recommendation. TIGTA believes that the Exempt Organizations function should do more to oversee tax‑exempt organizations that repeatedly fail to remit payroll taxes, which include Medicare, Social Security, and Federal income taxes withheld from employees. This is particularly important because these organizations have the benefit of charitable status, and the Government has paid them millions of dollars of Medicare and Medicaid funds.

2013 Annual Survey of Public Pensions: State-Administered Defined Benefit Data

September 2, 2014 Comments off

2013 Annual Survey of Public Pensions: State-Administered Defined Benefit Data
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Provides a comprehensive look at the financial activity of the nation’s state-administered defined benefit pension systems, including cash and investment holdings, receipts, payments, pension obligations and membership information. Statistics are shown at the national level and for individual states. The total cash and investment holdings of the nation’s state-administered defined benefit pensions systems totaled $2.7 trillion in 2013. By comparison, total cash and investment holdings totaled $2.5 trillion in 2012, yielding a 7.8 percent increase from 2012 to 2013.

Americans Serving Their Communities Gain Well-Being Edge

September 2, 2014 Comments off

Americans Serving Their Communities Gain Well-Being Edge
Source: Gallup

Americans who actively work to better their communities have higher overall well-being than those who do not. U.S. adults who agree that they have received recognition for helping to improve their communities in the last year have an average Well-Being Index score of 70.0, while those who disagree have an average of 58.5. Importantly, this relationship between well-being and receiving recognition for community involvement persists even after controlling for the effects of age and income — two factors that are related to higher community well-being.

New Report Shows Continued Pattern of Voting Rights Discrimination—African American, Latino, Asian American and Native American Voters More Vulnerable Than Ever

September 2, 2014 Comments off

New Report Shows Continued Pattern of Voting Rights Discrimination—African American, Latino, Asian American and Native American Voters More Vulnerable Than Ever
Source: National Commission on Voting Rights

On the anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act and a year after the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v Holder decision gutted a vital protection of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the National Commission on Voting Rights has released a new report showing where and how minority voters continue to be harmed by racial discrimination in voting. The report, Protecting Minority Voters: Our Work is Not Done, challenges the Court’s rationale that improvements in minority citizens’ rates of voting and voter registration and the success of minority candidates indicated that the coverage formula protecting minority voters was unconstitutionally outdated.

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