Archive for February, 2011

CRS — Contested Election Cases in the House of Representatives: 1933 to 2009

February 28, 2011 Comments off

Contested Election Cases in the House of Representatives: 1933 to 2009 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

From 1933 to 2009 (the 73rd Congress through the 111th Congress), the U.S. House of Representatives considered 107 contested election cases. The vast majority of these cases were resolved in favor of the contestee, a term referring to a Member or Member-elect of the House of Representatives whose election was challenged. The term contestant refers to an individual who challenged the election of a Member-elect of the House of Representatives. It appears that of the 107 contested election cases considered by the House since 1933, in at least three cases, the House ultimately seated the contestant, and in at least one case, the House ultimately refused to seat any individual, declaring a vacancy. In the majority of the other cases, the contest was dismissed based on reasons including lack of evidence; a determination that voting irregularities, fraud, or misconduct was insufficient to affect the results of the election; failure to sustain the burden of proof necessary to award the contested seat to the contestant; and improper initiation of a contest or other procedural failures.

With regard to procedures followed on the first day of a new Congress, of the 107 contested election cases considered by the House since 1933, it appears that in at least 15 cases, the Member-elect was asked to “step aside” or “remain seated” while the oath of office was collectively administered to the other Members-elect. Of those 15 cases where a Member-elect was asked to step aside, it appears that in at least two instances, the Member-elect was subsequently administered the oath on an expressly provisional basis. In at least two of the 15 cases where a Member-elect was asked to step aside, the House declined to administer the oath of office to that Member-elect, until after the committee to which the question was referred had conducted an investigation and issued a report. In the remaining 11 of the 15 cases where a Member-elect was asked to step aside, in most instances, the House adopted a resolution providing merely that the Member-elect “be now permitted” to take the oath of office, with no specific reference to final determination of the right to the seat nor any express reference to a filed election contest.

As has been noted by House Parliamentarians, the seating of a Member-elect does not prejudice a contest pending under the Federal Contested Elections Act (FCEA) regarding the final right to a seat. The summaries of contested election cases contained in this report focus primarily on the nature of the contest and the disposition of the case. For more detailed information regarding each contest, it is important to consult relevant House records. This report examines only cases considered by the House of Representatives involving the question of whether a Member-elect was duly elected, that is, questions regarding elections and returns, not questions regarding qualifications (age, citizenship, and inhabitancy). Cases decided at the state level are beyond the scope of this report. Furthermore, information contained in this report is derived solely from findings made by the reporting congressional committee or as documented in the Congressional Record; CRS did not make any of the findings independently.

Injuries Associated With Cribs, Playpens, and Bassinets Among Young Children in the US, 1990–2008

February 28, 2011 Comments off

Injuries Associated With Cribs, Playpens, and Bassinets Among Young Children in the US, 1990–2008
Source: Pediatrics

This study is the first to use a nationally representative sample to examine injuries associated with cribs, playpens, and bassinets. Given the consistently high number of observed injuries, greater efforts are needed to ensure safety in the design and manufacture of these products, ensure their proper usage in the home, and increase awareness of their potential dangers to young children.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

CRS — Perjury Under Federal Law: A Brief Overview

February 28, 2011 Comments off

Perjury Under Federal Law: A Brief Overview (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

Although it now covers more than court proceedings, the definition of perjury has not changed a great deal otherwise since the framing of the Constitution. Blackstone described it as “a crime committed when a lawful oath is administered, in some judicial proceeding, to a person who swears wilfully, absolutely and falsely, in a matter material to the issue or point in question.”

There are three general federal perjury laws. One, 18 U.S.C. 1621, outlaws presenting material false statements under oath in federal official proceedings. A second, 18 U.S.C. 1623, bars presenting material false statements under oath before or ancillary to federal court or grand jury proceedings. A third, 18 U.S.C. 1622 (subornation of perjury), prohibits inducing or procuring another to commit perjury in violation of either Section 1621 or Section 1623.

In most cases, the courts abbreviate their description of the elements and state that to prove perjury under Section 1623 the government must establish that the defendant “(1) knowingly made a (2) false (3) material declaration (4) under oath (5) in a proceeding before or ancillary to any court or grand jury of the United States.” The courts generally favor the encapsulation from United States v. Dunnigan to describe the elements of Section 1621: “A witness testifying under oath or affirmation violates this section if she gives false testimony concerning a material matter with the willful intent to provide false testimony, rather than as a result of confusion, mistake, or faulty memory.” Section 1622 outlaws procuring or inducing another to commit perjury: “Whoever procures another to commit any perjury is guilty of subornation of perjury, and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both,” 18 U.S.C. 1622.

The false statement statute, 18 U.S.C. 1001, is closely akin to the perjury statutes. It outlaws false statements in any matter within the jurisdiction of a federal agency or department, a kind of perjury with oath prohibition. Moreover, regardless of the offense for which an individual is convicted, his sentence may be enhanced as a consequence of any obstruction of justice in the form of perjury or false statements for which he is responsible, if committed during the course of the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing for the offense of his conviction. The enhancement may result in an increase in his term of imprisonment by as much as four years.

This report is available in abbreviated form–without footnotes, quotations, or citations–as CRS Report 98-807, Perjury Under Federal Law: A Sketch of the Elements. Both versions have been excerpted from CRS Report RL34303, Obstruction of Justice: An Overview of Some of the Federal Statutes That Prohibit Interference with Judicial, Executive, or Legislative Activities. Excerpted portions of RL34303 are also available as follows. CRS Report RS22783, Obstruction of Justice: An Abridged Overview of Related Federal Criminal Laws; CRS Report RL34304, Obstruction of Congress: A Brief Overview of Federal Law Relating to Interference with Congressional Activities; and CRS Report RS22784, Obstruction of Congress: An Abridged Overview of Federal Criminal Laws Relating to Interference with Congressional Activities. All are by Charles Doyle.

See also: Perjury Under Federal Law: A Sketch of the Elements (PDF)

New From the GAO

February 28, 2011 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Correspondence (PDFs)
Source: Government Accountability Office
28 February 2011
+ Reports
1. 401(k) Plans: Improved Regulation Could Better Protect Participants from Conflicts of Interest
2. Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Potential Effects of Changing Comparability Requirements
3. Defense Health: Management Weaknesses at Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Require Attention
4. Surface Freight Transportation: A Comparison of the Costs of Road, Rail, and Waterways Freight Shipments That Are Not Passed on to Consumers
5. National Archives: Framework Governing Use of Presidential Library Facilities and Staff

+ Correspondence
1. Motor Carrier Safety: FMCSA Has Devoted a Small but Increasing Amount of Resources to Develop the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program but Is Requesting a Significant Increase for Full Implementation

CRS — Committee Types and Roles

February 28, 2011 Comments off

Committee Types and Roles (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

Congress divides its legislative, oversight, and internal administrative tasks among more than 200 committees and subcommittees. Within assigned areas, these functional subunits gather information; compare and evaluate legislative alternatives; identify policy problems and propose solutions; select, determine, and report measures for full chamber consideration; monitor executive branch performance (oversight); and investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

The 1946 Legislative Reorganization Act (60 Stat. 812) sets the framework for the modern committee system. The act organized the Senate and House committees along roughly parallel lines, but divergences have emerged over time. Within the guidelines of chamber rules, each committee adopts its own rules addressing organizational, structural, and procedural issues. As a consequence, there is considerable variation among panels and across chambers. At the beginning of the 111th Congress, there were 20 standing committees in the House with 98 subcommittees, and two select committees.

At the beginning of the 111th Congress, there were 20 standing committees in the House with 98 subcommittees, and two select committees.

CRS — Points of Order, Rulings, and Appeals in the House of Representatives

February 28, 2011 Comments off

Points of Order, Rulings, and Appeals in the House of Representatives (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

The Speaker usually does not take the initiative to prevent the House from considering proposals or taking actions that would violate the House’s rules.1 Instead, whenever a Member believes that the House’s legislative procedures are being violated in some way, or are about to be violated, that Member may insist that the House’s procedures be enforced by making a point of order against the alleged violation. Points of order against measures or amendments may be waived in the House by unanimous consent, pursuant to a special rule reported from the Rules Committee and adopted by majority vote on the floor, or via suspension of the rules.

A Federal Shutdown Could Derail the Recovery

February 28, 2011 Comments off

A Federal Shutdown Could Derail the Recovery (PDF)
Source: Moody’s Analytics (via Washington Post)

+ Odds are uncomfortably high that the federal budget impasse will prompt a government shutdown.

+ The Obama administration has shown significant spending restraint in its recent budget, but House Republicans want deeper cuts.

+ While cuts and tax increases are necessary to address the nation’s long-term fiscal problems, cutting too deeply before the economy is in full expansion would add unnecessary risk.

+ The House Republicans’ proposal would reduce 2011 real GDP growth by 0.5% and 2012 growth by 0.2%. This would mean some 400,000 fewer jobs created by the end of 2011 and 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012.

+ A government shutdown lasting longer than a couple of weeks would do much more damage to the economy.

+ Lawmakers are likely to split the difference between the administration and House Republican proposals. This isn’t ideal fiscal policy, but the economy will be able to manage through it.

+ A compromise could send an encouraging signal about the more serious budget battles to come.

CRS — Guide to Individuals Seated on the House Dais

February 28, 2011 Comments off

Guide to Individuals Seated on the House Dais (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

The House of Representatives meets in the House chamber of the Capitol. In the front of the chamber is a three-tiered, elevated dais. Seated or standing at a sizable lectern (the height of which is adjustable) on the top level of the dais is the presiding officer. Members of the House sit in one of 448 unassigned seats arranged in a semicircle facing the presiding officer. Facing the dais, Republicans traditionally sit to the right of the center aisle, Democrats to the left. A photograph of the House dais can be found on the Internet at by placing a cursor on the “Legislative Activities” button on the top navigation bar, which will cause a color photograph of the Speaker’s dais to appear.

CRS — The Legislative Process on the House Floor: An Introduction

February 28, 2011 Comments off

The Legislative Process on the House Floor: An Introduction (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

The daily order of business on the floor of the House of Representatives is governed by standing rules that make certain matters and actions privileged for consideration. On a day-to-day basis, however, the House usually decides to grant individual bills privileged access to the floor, using one of several parliamentary mechanisms. The standing rules of the House include several different parliamentary mechanisms that the body may use to act on bills and resolutions. Which of these will be employed in a given instance usually depends on the extent to which Members want to debate and amend the legislation.

In general all of the procedures of the House permit a majority of Members to work their will without excessive delay. The House considers most legislation by motions to suspend the rules, with limited debate and no floor amendments, with the support of at least two-thirds of the Members voting. Occasionally, the House will choose to consider a measure on the floor by the unanimous consent of Members. The Rules Committee is instrumental in recommending procedures for considering major bills, and may propose restrictions on the floor amendments that Members can offer or bar them altogether. Many major bills first are considered in Committee of the Whole before being passed by a simple majority vote of the House. The Committee of the Whole is governed by more flexible procedures than the basic rules of the House, under which a majority can vote to pass a bill after only one hour of debate and with no floor amendments. Although a quorum is supposed to be present on the floor when the House is conducting business, the House assumes a quorum is present unless a quorum call or electronically recorded vote demonstrates that it is not. However, the standing rules preclude quorum calls at most times other than when the House is voting. Questions are first decided by voice vote, though any Member then may demand a division vote. Before the final result of a voice or division vote is announced, Members can secure an electronically recorded vote instead, if enough Members desire it or if a quorum is not present in the House.

The constitutional requirements for making law means that each chamber must pass the same measure with the identical text before transmitting it to the President for his consideration. When the second chamber of Congress amends a measure sent to it by the first chamber, the two chambers must resolve legislative differences to meet this requirement. This can be accomplished by shuttling the bill back and forth between the House and Senate, each proposing amendments to the position of the other, or by establishing a conference committee to try to negotiate a compromise versions of the legislation.

CRS — The Legislative Process on the Senate Floor: An Introduction

February 28, 2011 Comments off

The Legislative Process on the Senate Floor: An Introduction
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

The standing rules of the Senate promote deliberation by permitting Senators to debate at length and by precluding a simple majority from ending debate when they are prepared to vote to approve a bill or other matter. This right of extended debate permits filibusters that can be brought to an end if the Senate invokes cloture, usually by a vote of three-fifths of all Senators. Even then, consideration can continue under cloture for an additional 30 hours. The possibility of filibusters encourages the Senate to seek consensus whenever possible and to conduct business under the terms of unanimous consent agreements that limit the time available for debate and amending. Except when the Senate is considering appropriations, budget, and certain other measures, Senators also may propose floor amendments that are not germane to the subject or purpose of the bill being debated. This permits individual Senators to raise issues and have the Senate vote on them, even if they have not been studied and evaluated by the appropriate standing committees. These characteristics of Senate rules make the Senate’s daily floor schedule potentially unpredictable unless all Senators agree by unanimous consent to accept limits on their right to debate and offer non-germane amendments to a bill. Also to promote predictability and order, Senators traditionally have agreed to give certain procedural privileges to the majority leader. The majority leader enjoys priority in being recognized to speak, and the majority leader (or a Senator acting at his behest) alone is able to successfully propose what bills and resolutions the Senate should consider. Thus, the legislative process on the Senate floor reflects a balance between the rights guaranteed to Senators under the standing rules and the willingness of Senators to forego exercising some of these rights in order to expedite the conduct of business.

CRS — Impeachment: An Overview of Constitutional Provisions, Procedure, and Practice

February 28, 2011 Comments off

Impeachment: An Overview of Constitutional Provisions, Procedure, and Practice (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

For the first time since the judicial impeachments of 1986-1989, the House of Representatives has impeached two federal judges. On June 19, 2009, the House voted to impeach U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The impeachment trial of Judge Kent before the Senate was dismissed after Judge Kent resigned from office and the House indicated that it did not wish to pursue the matter further. The impeachment inquiry with respect to U.S. District Court Judge G. Thomas Porteous, Jr., from the Eastern District of Louisiana was initiated in the 110th Congress and continued in the 111th Congress. H.Res. 1031, a resolution impeaching Judge Porteous for high crimes and misdemeanors, was introduced on January 21, 2010. On March 11, 2010, the House impeached Judge Porteous. In four unanimous votes, the House approved each of four articles of impeachment, then agreed to the impeachment resolution by a voice vote. On March 17, 2010, the House Managers presented these articles of impeachment before the bar of the Senate. Pursuant to S.Res. 457, the Senate issued a summons to Judge Porteous to respond to the articles of impeachment. Under S.Res. 458, the Senate created an Impeachment Trial Committee to take and report evidence in the case. After completing its work, the committee submitted a certified record of its proceedings to the Senate and filed its report summarizing the articles of impeachment and the evidence received. On December 7, 2010, the full Senate heard arguments on pending motions and on the merits of the case, then went into closed door deliberations on the motions and the articles of impeachment. On December 8, 2010, the Senate, sitting as a Court of Impeachment, voted to convict Judge Porteous on all four of the articles of impeachment brought against him. A judgment of removal from office flowed automatically from his conviction. In a rare additional judgment, the Senate disqualified him from holding federal office in the future.

The impeachment process provides a mechanism for removal of the President, Vice President, and other federal civil officers found to have engaged in “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Constitution places the responsibility and authority to determine whether to impeach and to draft articles of impeachment in the hands of the House of Representatives. Should the House vote to impeach and vote articles of impeachment specifying the grounds upon which impeachment is based, the matter is then presented to the Senate for trial. Under the Constitution, the Senate has the sole power to try an impeachment. The decision whether to convict on each of the articles must be made separately. A conviction must be supported by a two-thirds majority of the Senators present. A conviction on any one of the articles of impeachment brought against an individual is sufficient to constitute conviction in the trial of the impeachment. Should a conviction occur, the Senate must determine what the appropriate judgment is in the case.

The Constitution limits the judgment to either removal from office or removal and prohibition against holding any future offices of “honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.” Under the precedents in the Senate since 1936, removal from office flows automatically from conviction on an article of impeachment. However, a separate vote is necessary should the Senate deem it appropriate to disqualify the individual convicted from holding future federal offices of public trust. Such a vote requires a simple majority. Conviction on impeachment does not foreclose the possibility of criminal prosecution arising out of the same factual situation. The Constitution does not permit the President to extend executive clemency to anyone in order to preclude his or her impeachment by the House or trial or conviction by the Senate. The President has no power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States in cases of impeachment.

CRS — Continuing Resolutions: Latest Action and Brief Overview of Recent Practices

February 28, 2011 Comments off

Continuing Resolutions: Latest Action and Brief Overview of Recent Practices (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

Most routine operations of federal departments and agencies are funded each year through the enactment of 12 regular appropriations acts. Because these bills are annual, expiring at the end of the fiscal year (September 30), regular appropriations bills for the subsequent fiscal year must be enacted by October 1. Final action on most regular appropriations bills, however, is frequently delayed beyond the start of the fiscal year. When this occurs, the affected departments and agencies are generally funded under temporary continuing appropriations acts until the final funding decisions become law. Because continuing appropriations acts are generally enacted in the form of joint resolutions, such acts are referred to as continuing resolutions (or CRs).

CRs may be divided into two categories based on duration–those that provide interim (or temporary) funding and those that provide funds through the end of the fiscal year. Interim continuing resolutions provide funding until a specific date or until the enactment of the applicable regular appropriations acts, if earlier. Full-year continuing resolutions provide funding in lieu of one or more regular appropriations bills through the end of the fiscal year.

Over the past 35 years, the nature, scope, and duration of continuing resolutions gradually expanded. From the early 1970s through 1987, CRs gradually expanded from being used to provide interim funding measures of comparatively brief duration and length to measures providing funding through the end of the fiscal year. The full-year measures included, in some cases, the full text of one or more regular appropriations bills and contained substantive legislation (i.e., provisions under the jurisdiction of committees other than the House and Senate Appropriations Committees). Since 1988, continuing resolutions have primarily been interim funding measures, and included major legislation less frequently. In certain years, delay in the enactment of regular appropriations measures and CRs has led to periods during which appropriations authority has lapsed. Such periods generally are referred to as funding gaps.

Congress did not enact the 12 FY2011 regular appropriations acts by the deadline; therefore, Congress completed and President Barack H. Obama signed the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, P.L. 111-242 (124 Stat. 2607), on September 30, 2010. This measure extends funding for the outstanding regular bills at generally FY2010 enacted spending levels. It also included a December 3, 2010, expiration date. On December 2, 2010, Congress completed a second continuing resolution, since Congress and the President had not finished action on the FY2011 regular appropriations acts. The President signed it on December 4, 2010, P.L. 111-290 (124 Stat. 3063). This act extends funding provided in the initial CR for two weeks, through December 18, 2010. On December 8, 2010, the House adopted a third CR, Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, covering all 12 FY2011 regular appropriations bills. This CR was adopted as a House amendment that replaced the text of H.R. 3082 (111th Congress), which was originally passed by the House and Senate as a Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2010. The final version of this act was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, P.L. 111-117 (123 Stat. 3034).

CRS — Multilateral Development Banks: How the United States Makes and Implements Policy

February 28, 2011 Comments off

Multilateral Development Banks: How the United States Makes and Implements Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

This report analyzes how the United States makes policy towards the multilateral development banks (MDBs) and identifies ways by which Congress can shape U.S. policy and influence the activities of the banks themselves.

In 2011, Congress may be asked to consider legislation that would authorize U.S. participation in capital increases for the MDBs. If Congress agrees that the United States should participate in these new capital increases, the United States will be asked to subscribe to capital stock worth about $56.9 billion over the next several years, of which about $2.2 billion would be “paid in” by the United States. The capital increases will substantially expand the size of the MDBs–in several instances doubling or tripling their resources. The MDBs are planning to double or more their annual volume of lending and to substantially expand the scope of their operations. If the United States participates in the proposed capital increases, its financial commitment to the MDBs will grow. If it does not participate, its level of influence in these institutions will decline. The United States does not have enough voting power to block such increases from taking effect.

In 2009, the MDBs agreed to provide over $114 billion in assistance to developing countries. The United States is the largest or one of the largest members in each MDB and its financial commitments are substantial. However, because the MDBs finance most of their operations with money borrowed in world capital markets, the actual payments the United States and other member countries make to them is relatively small. In fiscal years 2009 and 2010, payments to MDBs averaged about 5% (about $1.5 to $2 billion annually) of all U.S. foreign aid. The executive branch and Congress share responsibility for U.S. policy towards the MDBs and each has primary control over a different part of the policy process. The Administration is responsible for negotiating with other countries and for managing day-to-day U.S. participation in the MDBs. Congress has ultimate authority over the level of U.S. financial commitments and the criteria that govern U.S. participation in these institutions. Congress has authorized the President to direct U.S. participation in the MDBs, and the President has delegated that authority to the Secretary of the Treasury.

Other agencies also have reasons for being concerned about U.S. policy and the MDBs, but there is no formal process by which interagency views on MDB issues is coordinated. Authorizing legislation is managed by the House Financial Services Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs handle the appropriations. Since 1981, MDB legislation has become law through the regular legislative process only once. Usually it is enacted as a rider to other legislation. Congress exercises its influence over MDB policy through its control over authorizations and appropriations and through oversight. The authorizing committees have included in MDB authorizing legislation many directives which affect the goal and direction of U.S. policy. Congress has also used its control over the funding process–its “power of the purse”–to set priorities and encourage the Administration and MDBs to consider changes in their policies or procedures. Congress has used hearings and required reports to get information about U.S. policy and the MDBs onto the public record and to draw the Treasury Department’s attention to issues of pressing concern. Since the Administration knows it must come to Congress for future authorizations and MDB funding, the views expressed by Congress through hearings have often had an impact on the focus and direction of U.S. policy regarding particular concerns.

The Tea Party, Religion and Social Issues

February 27, 2011 Comments off

The Tea Party, Religion and Social Issues
Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

he Tea Party movement clearly played a role in rejuvenating the Republican Party in 2010, helping the GOP take control of the House of Representatives and make gains in the Senate. Tea Party supporters made up 41% of the electorate on Nov. 2, and 86% of them voted for Republican House candidates, according to exit polls. But the precise nature of the Tea Party has been less clear. Is it solely a movement to reduce the size of government and cut taxes, as its name — some people refer to it as the Taxed Enough Already party — implies? Or do its supporters share a broader set of conservative positions on social as well as economic issues? Does the movement draw support across the religious spectrum? Or has the religious right “taken over” the Tea Party, as some commentators have suggested?

A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that Tea Party supporters tend to have conservative opinions not just about economic matters, but also about social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. In addition, they are much more likely than registered voters as a whole to say that their religion is the most important factor in determining their opinions on these social issues. And they draw disproportionate support from the ranks of white evangelical Protestants.

The analysis shows that most people who agree with the religious right also support the Tea Party. But support for the Tea Party is not synonymous with support for the religious right. An August 2010 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that nearly half of Tea Party supporters (46%) had not heard of or did not have an opinion about “the conservative Christian movement sometimes known as the religious right”; 42% said they agree with the conservative Christian movement and roughly one-in-ten (11%) said they disagree.3 More generally, the August poll found greater familiarity with and support for the Tea Party movement (86% of registered voters had heard at least a little about it at the time and 27% expressed agreement with it) than for the conservative Christian movement (64% had heard of it and 16% expressed support for it).

Public Favors Tougher Border Controls and Path to Citizenship

February 27, 2011 Comments off

Public Favors Tougher Border Controls and Path to Citizenship
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

The public continues to favor tough measures to crack down on illegal immigration. Yet Americans see no contradiction in supporting both stepped-up border security and a way for people already in the United States illegally to gain citizenship.

The idea of changing the constitution to bar the children of illegal immigrants from becoming citizens also remains unpopular. Nearly six-in-ten (57%) oppose changing the Constitution for this purpose, a figure that has changed little since 2006.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 2-7 among 1,385 adults, finds that in dealing with illegal immigration 42% say the priority should be to tighten border security and more strictly enforce immigration laws, but at the same time also create a way for people here illegally to become citizens if they meet certain conditions. Somewhat fewer (35%) put priority only on better border security and stronger enforcement, while 21% say the priority should be to find a way for illegal immigrants to become citizens.

At the same time, the public remains supportive of Arizona’s controversial immigration law. Roughly six-in-ten (61%) approve of the law, which would require police to verify the legal status of someone stopped or arrested, if the police suspect that person is in the country illegally. These opinions, like other attitudes about illegal immigration, are little changed from last summer.

New Avian Influenza Virus (H5N1) in Wild Birds, Qinghai, China

February 27, 2011 Comments off

New Avian Influenza Virus (H5N1) in Wild Birds, Qinghai, China
Source: Emerging Infectious Diseases

In May 2005, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus (H5N1) caused a disease outbreak in wild birds in the Qinghai Lake region of the People’s Republic of China (1). Subsequently, this virus (QH05, clade 2.2) disseminated from Asia to Europe and Africa, which has led to great concern and energetic debates about the role of migratory birds in influenza epidemics (1–5). In 2006, this virus was detected in migratory birds in Qinghai (6,7). In 2007, viruses similar to QH05 were isolated from surveyed anseriformes in Qinghai and showed only a short evolutionary distance from earlier viruses (8). Genetic diversity of avian influenza viruses (H5N1) was not detected in wild birds in Qinghai before 2008 (7,8). We report evidence that a second lineage of viruses, in addition to clade 2.2, has emerged in wild birds in Qinghai.

Chlorine inactivation of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1)

February 27, 2011 Comments off

Chlorine inactivation of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1)
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Homeland Security Research)

Two Asian strains of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus were studied to determine their resistance to chlorination. Experiments were conducted at two pH levels (pH 7 and 8) at 5 oC. CT (chlorine concentration x exposure time) values were calculated for different levels of inactivation. Results confirm that free chlorine concentrations typically used in drinking water treatment would be sufficient to inactivate the virus.

+ Full Paper (CDC: Emerging Infectious Diseases)

Supreme Court of Canada — Bulletin of Proceedings: Special Edition Statistics 2000 to 2010

February 27, 2011 Comments off

Bulletin of Proceedings: Special Edition Statistics 2000 to 2010
Source: Supreme Court of Canada
From Introduction:

This special edition of the Bulletin sets out a statistical view of the work of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2010 with comparisons to the previous ten years’ work.

Beyond OER: OPAL Report 2011 released

February 27, 2011 Comments off

Beyond OER: OPAL Report 2011 released
Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

The Open Educational Quality Initiative (OPAL) releases its Report 2011, entitled Beyond OER: Shifting Focus to Open Educational Practices. Among its conclusions is the fact that OER are more widely used where programmes or initiatives for open resources exist at the institutional level. The lesser the fear, insecurity or discomfort towards OER, the higher the frequency of their use. The report thus advocates building trust in OER in order to increase their actual usage and to build open learning architectures to transform learning.
As a member of OPAL Initiative, UNESCO contributed to the international dimensions of the Report, especially policy development and institutional capacity building, and will also be responsible for its wide dissemination.

Institutional policies for OER are still a long way from impacting on educational institutions, according to findings from the OPAL quantitative survey. The perception by respondents that OER lead to institutional innovation still does not translate into implementation at the organization level. This is further compounded, on the one hand, by the very modest levels of support to factors that induce or enable the implementation of Open Educational Practices (OEP) in educational institutions, and on the other hand, by the level of importance attached by respondents to institutional policy barriers to the use of OER.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Recognition of Novel Faces After Single Exposure is Enhanced During Pregnancy

February 26, 2011 Comments off

Recognition of Novel Faces After Single Exposure is Enhanced During Pregnancy (PDF)
Source: Evolutionary Psychology

Protective mechanisms in pregnancy include Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy (NVP) (Fessler, 2002; Flaxman and Sherman, 2000), increased sensitivity to health cues (Jones et al., 2005), and increased vigilance to out-group members (Navarette, Fessler, and Eng, 2007). While common perception suggests that pregnancy results in decreased cognitive function, an adaptationist perspective might predict that some aspects of cognition would be enhanced during pregnancy if they help to protect the reproductive investment. We propose that a reallocation of cognitive resources from nonessential to critical areas engenders the cognitive decline observed in some studies. Here, we used a recognition task disguised as a health rating to determine whether pregnancy facilitates face recognition. We found that pregnant women were significantly better at recognizing faces and that this effect was particularly pronounced for own-race male faces. In human evolutionary history, and today, males present a significant threat to females. Thus, enhanced recognition of faces, and especially male faces, during pregnancy may serve a protective function.


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