New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Human Capital: DOD Needs Complete Assessments to Improve Future Civilian Strategic Workforce Plans. GAO-12-1014, September 27.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648918.pdf
2. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Additional DHS Actions Needed on Foreign Worker Permit Program. GAO-12-975, September 27.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648908.pdf
3. Civilian Service Contract Inventories: Opportunities Exist to Improve Agency Reporting and Review Efforts. GAO-12-1007, September 27.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648940.pdf
4. Community Reinvestment Act: Challenges in Quantifying Its Effect on Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Investment. GAO-12-869R, August 28.
5. Managing for Results: Key Considerations for Implementing Interagency Collaborative Mechanisms. GAO-12-1022, September 27.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648935.pdf
6. Medical Devices: FDA Should Expand Its Consideration of Information Security for Certain Types of Devices. GAO-12-816, August 31.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/647766.pdf
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau today released a 2010 Census special report, The Emergency and Transitional Shelter Population: 2010, providing information on people counted at emergency and transitional shelters (with sleeping facilities) for people experiencing homelessness.
In the 2010 Census, emergency and transitional shelters were defined as places where people experiencing homelessness stay overnight. Examples include missions; hotels and motels used to shelter people experiencing homelessness; shelters for children who are runaways, neglected or experiencing homelessness; and similar places known to shelter people experiencing homelessness.
The emergency and transitional shelter population is one of many types that make up the total group quarters population. People in emergency and transitional shelters were enumerated in the 2010 Census as part of the Service-Based Enumeration Operation, which also included enumeration at soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans and targeted nonsheltered outdoor locations.
The Census Bureau stresses that this special report presents statistics for people enumerated at emergency and transitional shelters only, and should not be misconstrued as a count of the entire population experiencing homelessness. The Census Bureau does not produce or publish a total count of the homeless population. Further, it is important to recognize that there is no standard or agreed upon definition of what constitutes homelessness. Also, people experiencing homelessness can be counted and included in the census through various operations, but those operations do not separately identify, or even collect information to separately identify, people who might be experiencing homelessness.
Source: PLoS ONE
Adaptation aftereffects have been found for low-level visual features such as colour, motion and shape perception, as well as higher-level features such as gender, race and identity in domains such as faces and biological motion. It is not yet clear if adaptation effects in humans extend beyond this set of higher order features. The aim of this study was to investigate whether objects highly associated with one gender, e.g. high heels for females or electric shavers for males can modulate gender perception of a face. In two separate experiments, we adapted subjects to a series of objects highly associated with one gender and subsequently asked participants to judge the gender of an ambiguous face. Results showed that participants are more likely to perceive an ambiguous face as male after being exposed to objects highly associated to females and vice versa. A gender adaptation aftereffect was obtained despite the adaptor and test stimuli being from different global categories (objects and faces respectively). These findings show that our perception of gender from faces is highly affected by our environment and recent experience. This suggests two possible mechanisms: (a) that perception of the gender associated with an object shares at least some brain areas with those responsible for gender perception of faces and (b) adaptation to gender, which is a high-level concept, can modulate brain areas that are involved in facial gender perception through top-down processes.
In U.S., Trust in State, Local Governments Up
Americans’ trust in their state and local governments has increased this year, with 74% expressing a great deal or fair amount of trust in local government and 65% in state government. Trust in state government has now essentially returned to levels seen before the financial crisis, after falling to as low as 51% in 2009.
The results are based on Gallup’s annual Governance survey, conducted Sept. 6-9. Americans’ trust in the federal government’s ability to handle international and domestic issues and their trust in the three branches of the federal government are all up at least marginally this year.
Americans typically trust local government more than state government, but a majority have expressed trust in each every time Gallup has measured trust. The public’s trust in local government has been more stable over time, and thus appears to be affected less by state or national political and economic factors than trust in state government is.
State government trust dipped to 53% in 2003 amid the California recall of Gov. Gray Davis, largely due to the influence of Californians’ trust on the national numbers. Trust quickly rebounded to 67% in 2004, then held steady at that level through 2008. Then the 2008-2009 financial crisis caused state governments to face financial hardships of their own, with many struggling to pay their obligations, and trust sank to 51% in 2009.
But with the economy improving somewhat and states apparently on better financial footing after making cutbacks in recent years, trust in state government has improved, a total of 14 percentage points since 2009.
Source: Migration Policy Institute
For many people in repressive, autocratic, or conflict-embroiled nations, migration is a means of survival. Refugees and asylees seek protection in another country — whether neighboring or distant, familiar or foreign — in order to escape persecution based on their beliefs, personal attributes, or membership in a certain group.
The United States grants humanitarian protection on a limited basis to refugees and asylees from diverse countries throughout the world (see Definitions box) This Spotlight examines the data on persons admitted to the United States as refugees and those granted asylum in 2011. It also provides the number of refugees and asylees who received lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in 2011.
The data come from the 2011 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, the 2011 Annual Flow Report on Refugees and Asylees, and the 2011 Annual Flow Report on US Legal Permanent Residents, published by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS).
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing and release a staff report on how online moving companies have successfully taken advantage of many consumers. The hearing will explore complaints that some “moving” companies quote a low dollar rate to move goods but then charge a sharp markup in order to physically deliver and unload the goods.
“Far too many consumers are duped by abusive moving companies in tactics that should be, and in some cases are, against the law,” said Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV. “Companies that take advantage of Americans during moves, whether they are across the country or across town, must be held accountable. That’s the purpose of this hearing.”
Archived hearing webcast available.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The number of people aged 18 to 25 who used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the past month declined 14 percent — from 2.0 million in 2010 to 1.7 million in 2011 — the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced today, during the 23rd annual national observance of National Recovery Month. Non-medical use of prescription drugs among children aged 12 to 17 and adults aged 26 or older remained unchanged.
In addition, the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a survey conducted annually by SAMHSA, showed that the rates of past month drinking, binge drinking and heavy drinking among underage people continued a decline from 2002. Past month alcohol use among 12 to 20 year olds declined from 28.8 percent in 2002 to 25.1 percent in 2011, while binge drinking (consuming 5 or more drinks on a single occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days) declined from 19.3 percent in 2002 to 15.8 percent in 2011, and heavy drinking declined from 6.2 percent in 2002 to 4.4 percent in 2011.
Overall, the use of illicit drugs among Americans aged 12 and older remained stable since the last survey in 2010. The NSDUH shows that 22.5 million Americans aged 12 or older were current (past month) illicit drug users — (8.7 percent of the population 12 and older in 2011 versus 8.9 percent in 2010).
Marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illicit drug. In 2011, 7.0 percent of Americans were current users of marijuana — up from 5.8 percent in 2007. Among youths aged 12 to 17, the rate of current marijuana use remained about the same from 2009 (7.4 percent) to 2011 (7.9 percent). Increases in the rate of current marijuana use occurred from 2007 to 2011 among adolescents (ages 12-17), young adults (ages 18 to 25), and adults (ages 26 or older). Additionally, the number of people aged 12 and older who used heroin in the past year rose from 373,000 in 2007 to 621,000 in 2010 and 620,000 in 2011.
Is dignity therapy feasible to enhance the end of life experience for people with motor neurone disease and their family carers?
Source: BMC Palliative Care
Development of interventions that address psychosocial and existential distress in people with motor neurone disease (MND) or that alleviate caregiver burden in MND family carers have often been suggested in the research literature. Dignity therapy, which was developed to reduce psychosocial and existential distress at the end of life, has been shown to benefit people dying of cancer and their families. These results cannot be applied to people with MND. The objectives of this study are to assess the feasibility, acceptability and potential effectiveness of dignity therapy to enhance the end of life experience for people with motor neurone disease and their family carers.
This is a cross-sectional study utilizing a single treatment group and a pre/post test design. The study population will comprise fifty people diagnosed with MND and their nominated family carers. Primarily quantitative outcomes will be gathered through measures assessed at baseline and at approximately one week after the intervention. Outcomes for participants include hopefulness, spirituality and dignity. Outcomes for family carers include perceived caregiver burden, hopefulness and anxiety/depression. Feedback and satisfaction with the intervention will be gathered through a questionnaire.
This detailed research will explore if dignity therapy has the potential to enhance the end of life experience for people with MND and their family carers, and fill a gap for professionals who are called on to address the spiritual, existential and psychosocial needs of their MND patients and families.
Near-Roadway Pollution and Childhood Asthma: Implications for Developing “Win-Win” Compact Urban Development and Clean Vehicle Strategies
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives
Background: The emerging consensus that exposure to near-roadway traffic-related pollution causes asthma has implications for compact urban development policies designed to reduce driving and greenhouse gases.
Objectives: We estimated the current burden of childhood asthma-related disease attributable to near-roadway and regional air pollution in Los Angeles County (LAC) and the potential health impact of regional pollution reduction associated with changes in population along major traffic corridors.
Methods: The burden of asthma attributable to the dual effects of near-roadway and regional air pollution was estimated, using nitrogen dioxide and ozone as markers of urban combustion-related and secondary oxidant pollution, respectively. We also estimated the impact of alternative scenarios that assumed a 20% reduction in regional pollution in combination with a 3.6% reduction or 3.6% increase in the proportion of the total population living near major roads, a proxy for near-roadway exposure.
Results: We estimated that 27,100 cases of childhood asthma (8% of total) in LAC were at
least partly attributable to pollution associated with residential location within 75m of a major
road. As a result, a substantial proportion of asthma-related morbidity is a consequence of nearroadway
pollution, even if symptoms are triggered by other factors. Benefits resulting from a
20% regional pollution reduction varied markedly depending on the associated change in nearroadway
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that there are large and previously unappreciated public health consequences of air pollution in LAC and probably in other metropolitan areas with dense traffic corridors. To maximize health benefits, compact urban development strategies should be coupled with policies to reduce near-roadway pollution exposure.