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Updated: 2 hours 11 min ago

Social Media Info Guide to Tumblr

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 19:04

The Social Media Information Blog Investigator’s Guide to Tumblr – “Founded in 2007,  Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking website. The platform, which was acquired by Yahoo in 2013, allows users to share text, images, quotes, links, video, audio, and chats. Tumblr’s appeal is that it allows users to be creative and build independent content on a personalized page with little effort. How does Tumblr work? A large part of Tumblr’s appeal to its users is the simplicity and ubiquity of the features it offers. In fact, they claim on their website that “Tumblr is so easy to use that it’s hard to explain.” Despite that statement, we will give it a try anyway. Registering for Tumblr requires only a valid email address. After creating a username & password, users are provided a URL for their blog which is associated with “” Depending on how the user wishes to utilize Tumblr, they are now able to follow other users and post original content to their tumblelog. Social interactions between users may vary widely. While there is certainly overlap, most Tumblr users fall into one of two categories:

  1. Social Networking – These users are primarily interested in using Tumblr to curate content. Their usage is concentrated on interacting with other users and the content they’ve shared – commenting and connecting.
  2. Self-Publishing – These users value Tumblr’s low barrier to entry for microblogging. Their activities typically focus on publishing content to their personal pages.

Both categories of user share potentially valuable information on Tumblr. Investigators should be aware of the differences and temper their expectations based on which grouping their subject aligns themselves…”

Categories: Research

Using data and design to compare corruption and transparency across 50 U.S. states

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 18:48

Storybench article: “With Senate confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks happening this week, questions of conflicts of interest and financial disclosure are top of mind. Northeastern University journalism professors John Wihbey and Mike Beaudet, along with Information Design and Visualization professor Pedro Cruz and graduate student Irene de la Torre Arenas, recently published an analysis and visualization comparing the extent of corruption and transparency at the state level. “The State Financial Disclosure Project,” which was referenced today in The Washington Post and last October in an op-ed in The New York Times, marries the complex investigation of accountability in state politics with the creative, representational side of information design. “What we did was try and show the relationship between transparency and corruption across the 50 U.S. states,” says Wihbey, who together with Cruz sat down with Storybench to discuss the project’s origins and development…”

Categories: Research

Brookings – Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 11:40

“The states with the highest mortality rates from drugs, alcohol and suicide, among white non-Hispanics aged 45-54, are geographically scattered. In 2000, the epidemic was centered in the southwest. By the mid-2000s it had spread to Appalachia, Florida, and the west coast. Today, it’s country-wide. The authors suggest that the increases in deaths of despair are accompanied by a measurable deterioration in economic and social wellbeing, which has become more pronounced for each successive birth cohort. Marriage rates and labor force participation rates fall between successive birth cohorts, while reports of physical pain, and poor health and mental health rise. Case and Deaton document an accumulation of pain, distress, and social dysfunction in the lives of working class whites that took hold as the blue-collar economic heyday of the early 1970s ended, and continued through the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent slow recovery.”

Categories: Research

Organization & Structure of Open Source Software Development Initiatives

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 22:51

Berkman Klein Center – Development Initiatives – Challenges & Opportunities Concerning Corporate Formation, Nonprofit Status, & Governance for Open Source Projects. March 22, 2017

“Freely available and open to anyone to contribute to or use, open source software is regularly at the heart of exciting and impactful innovation. Much of this innovation is a result of the ethos of the open source community and its dispersed structure. At the same time, some of the attributes that give open source projects their flexibility and spark passion in open source development communities can hinder a project’s success in the long term. To help open source projects navigate these foundational questions, this report addresses a number of key considerations that those managing open source software development initiatives should take into account when thinking about structure, organization, and governance. The guide elucidates reasons why institutional structure and internal governance processes are important and walks the reader through several models of each, explaining how they might benefit or impact the open source development initiative, and is also replete with case studies and diagrams to illustrate these ideas in practice. More than prescribing one solution to answer open source projects’ questions or treating the “open source community” as a monolithic whole, the authors seek to offer a range of possibilities and encourage those who manage and participate in open source development initiatives to actively think about available models and consciously adopt approaches that the work support they work they aim to do and the communities they hope to create.”

Categories: Research

Brief – Who Gains and Who Loses under the American Health Care Act

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 22:46

Brief – Who Gains and Who Loses under the American Health Care Act, Linda J. Blumberg, Matthew Buettgens, John Holahan, Gordon B. Mermin, Frank Sammartino. March 22, 2017.
“Congress is currently considering passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). This bill would repeal large portions of the Affordable Care Act, including most of its sources of revenue, and would introduce significant changes to the Medicaid program and the private nongroup insurance market. We use the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center Microsimulation Model and The Urban Institute Health Policy Center’s Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model (HIPSM) to allocate changes in taxes and federal health benefits across families grouped by income. We find that the AHCA’s changes to federal taxes and health care benefits would be very regressive: that is, taking both tax reductions and benefit reductions into account, the average high-income family would be significantly better off and the average low-income family would be significantly worse off under the AHCA.

Categories: Research

Share your trips and real-time location from Google Maps

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 22:41

Google Blog: ““Where are you now?” and “What’s your ETA?” Whether you’re heading to a party or meeting up for dinner, you probably hear questions like this pretty often from family and friends. Soon Google Maps users worldwide will be able to answer those questions in just a few taps, without ever leaving the app. On both Android and iOS, you’ll be able to share your real-time location with anyone. And the people you share with will be able to see your location on Android, iPhone, mobile web, and even desktop…”

Categories: Research

Politico – Federal staffers panicked by conservative media attacks

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 22:08

Politico – A spate of stories in Breitbart and other outlets have singled out individual career employees, questioning their loyalty to Trump – “Conservative news outlets, including one with links to a top White House official, are singling out individual career government employees for criticism, suggesting in articles that certain staffers will not be sufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump by virtue of their work under former President Barack Obama. The articles — which have appeared in Breitbart News, the Conservative Review and other outlets — have alarmed veteran officials in both parties as well as current executive branch staffers. They say the stories are adding to tensions between career staffers and political appointees as they begin to implement Trump’s agenda, and they worry that the stories could inspire Trump to try purging federal agencies of perceived enemies…”

Categories: Research

Innovations in Federal Statistics: Combining Data Sources While Protecting Privacy

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 20:28

“Federal government statistics provide critical information to the country and serve a key role in a democracy. For decades, sample surveys with instruments carefully designed for particular data needs have been one of the primary methods for collecting data for federal statistics. However, the costs of conducting such surveys have been increasing while response rates have been declining, and many surveys are not able to fulfill growing demands for more timely information and for more detailed information at state and local levels. Innovations in Federal Statistics examines the opportunities and risks of using government administrative and private sector data sources to foster a paradigm shift in federal statistical programs that would combine diverse data sources in a secure manner to enhance federal statistics. This first publication of a two-part series discusses the challenges faced by the federal statistical system and the foundational elements needed for a new paradigm.”

Categories: Research

House GOP amended health care bill, but CBO estimates of coverage losses are not likely to meaningfully improve

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 20:04

Follow up to previous postings included in CBO Health Score – 14 million more uninsured next year under GOP plan – via Brookings – “Late Monday night (March 20, 2017) Republican leaders unveiled a “manager’s amendment” that makes several changes to the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The House is currently scheduled to vote on an amended version of the AHCA sometime on Thursday. It remains unclear whether a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score of the revised legislation will be available before the House vote, and a score is very unlikely to be available before the bill’s markup in the House Rules Committee. In this analysis, we use CBO’s score of the earlier version of the AHCA as well as other CBO analyses to assess how the changes made in the manager’s amendment are likely to change CBO’s estimates of the effect of the AHCA on health insurance coverage. We conclude that the changes made by the manager’s amendment will not meaningfully alter CBO’s earlier prediction that the AHCA would substantially reduce insurance coverage. While one provision of the manager’s amendment would slightly relax the “per capita cap” on state Medicaid spending created under the AHCA and thereby modestly increase CBO’s estimate of insurance coverage under the AHCA, the work requirement and block grant options created by the manager’s amendment have the potential to cause additional coverage losses that largely or more than offset this improvement, at least if states take up these options…”

Categories: Research

The 2017 Brown Center Report on American Education

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 19:56

Brookings: “This Brown Center Report (BCR) on American Education is the sixth and final edition in the third volume and the 16th issue overall. The series began in 2000. As in the past, the report comprises three studies. Also in keeping with tradition, the first section features recent results from state, national, or international assessments; the second section investigates a thematic topic in education, either by collecting new data or by analyzing existing empirical evidence in a novel way; and the third section looks at one or more education policies.

Categories: Research

Official Corruption Prosecutions Decline: February 2017

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 19:54

“The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during February 2017, the first complete month under the new Trump Administration, there were only 24 new official corruption prosecutions filed by federal prosecutors. During the last two fiscal years of the Obama Administration, federal prosecutors filed an average of 43 official corruption cases each month. Unless the pace of prosecutions turns around, FY 2017 will reach a record low of federal criminal prosecutions of corrupt government officials. These results are based upon case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. These detailed records were obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. Nearly half (46%) of official corruptions prosecutions during the first five months of FY 2017 involved corrupt acts at the federal level. Corruption prosecutions of local level officials accounted for more than one out of three (35%) of these cases, while state corruption accounted for just 5 percent. For more details, including a twenty-year timeline of prosecutions and lead investigative agencies in these cases, see the report at:”

Categories: Research

Research – bioengineers detect early signs of damage in connective tissues

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 19:50

Newswire – “By the time someone realizes they damaged a ligament, tendon or cartilage from too much exercise or other types of physical activity, it’s too late. The tissue is stretched and torn and the person is writhing in pain. But a team of researchers led by University of Utah bioengineering professors Jeffrey Weiss and Michael Yu has discovered that damage to collagen, the main building block of all human tissue, can occur much earlier at a molecular level from too much physical stress, alerting doctors and scientists that a patient is on the path to major tissue damage and pain. This could be especially helpful for some who want to know earlier if they are developing diseases such as arthritis or for athletes who want to know if repeated stress on their bodies is taking a toll…But a team of researchers led by University of Utah bioengineering professors Jeffrey Weiss and Michael Yu has discovered that damage to collagen, the main building block of all human tissue, can occur much earlier at a molecular level from too much physical stress, alerting doctors and scientists that a patient is on the path to major tissue damage and pain…The team’s research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published this week in the latest issue of Nature Communications…”

Categories: Research

National Bank Charters for Fintech: Back to the Future?

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 22:19

National Bank Examiner: “After a long and deliberate process of soliciting public input through multiple discussion documents and a forum on responsible innovation, Tom Curry, the Comptroller of the Currency, has just released his agency’s draft Licensing Manual Supplement called Evaluating Charter Applications from Financial Technology Companies and a companion document titled OCC Summary of Comments and Explanatory Statement: Special Purpose National Bank Charters for Financial Technology Companies. Exploring Special Purpose National Bank Charters for Fintech Companies…”

Categories: Research

Retirement Policy Directions in 2017 and Beyond

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 20:16

Retirement Policy Directions in 2017 and Beyond, February 2017, Vol. 38, No. 4, Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2017.

“With a new Congress and a new president in Washington, how are U.S. retirement policies likely to change? Possibly quite radically, and for two main reasons. First, because of the new majority’s plans to overhaul the entire U.S. tax structure and federal budget in ways that could fundamentally change how private-sector retirement plans are treated in the tax code. Retirement, as a stand-alone issue, is no longer a high legislative priority in Washington. And second, because of the drive to simplify and lower income tax rates, tax-favored retirement provisions in the tax code are vulnerable. As one of the top sources of “revenue foregone” by the federal government, ending or reducing current tax breaks for employment-based retirement plans (particularly 401(k)s) would free up revenue for other things the new Congress and president want to do.”

Categories: Research

Supreme Court Appointment Process: Consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 20:11

Supreme Court Appointment Process: Consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barry J. McMillion, Analyst in American National Government. March 17, 2017.
“The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an event of major significance in American politics. Each appointment is of consequence because of the enormous judicial power the Supreme Court exercises as the highest appellate court in the federal judiciary. To receive appointment to the Court, a candidate must first be nominated by the President and then confirmed by the Senate. Although not mentioned in the Constitution, an important role is played midway in the process (after the President selects, but before the Senate considers) by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specifically, the Judiciary Committee, rather than the Senate as a whole, assumes the principal responsibility for investigating the background and qualifications of each Supreme Court nominee, and typically the committee conducts a close, intensive investigation of each nominee.Since the late 1960s, the Judiciary Committee’s consideration of a Supreme Court nominee almost always has consisted of three distinct stages—a pre-hearing investigative stage, followed by public hearings, and concluding with a committee decision on what recommendation to make to the full Senate. During the pre-hearing investigative stage, the nominee responds to a detailed Judiciary Committee questionnaire, providing biographical, professional, and financial disclosure information to the committee. In addition to the committee’s own investigation of the nominee, the FBI also investigates the nominee and provides the committee with confidential reports related to its investigation. During this time, the American Bar Association also evaluates the professional qualifications of the nominee, rating the nominee as “well qualified,” “qualified, ” or “not qualified.” Additionally, prior to hearings starting, the nominee pays courtesy calls on individual Senators in their offices, including Senators who do not serve on the Judiciary Committee…”

Categories: Research

Paper – Ranking New York’s Banks

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 19:36

Brescia, Raymond H. and Scunziano, Ralph, Ranking New York’s Banks: Comparing the Products and Services of the Nineteen Largest Banks Serving Consumers in the Empire State (March 20, 2017). Albany Law School Research Paper No. 12. Available at SSRN:
“New York State is one of the financial capitals of the world, and individual consumers of banking services have a wide range of commercial banks to choose from, all of which provide a dizzying array of products and services. With the details of many of these products and services buried in the fine print of consumer agreements or in the back pages of bank websites, the consumer is sometimes at a loss when choosing which bank to use as his or her primary bank when looking to open a checking account, use an ATM, send a remittance, or open a credit card account. The New York Bank Ranking Index (NYBRI) attempts to take some of the guesswork out of choosing a bank. It evaluates the nineteen largest banks in New York State by awarding points to each bank based on how well the banks meet consumer needs in twenty consumer-focused categories. In its current form, the NYBRI weighs each of these categories equally. The index then ranks the banks by giving a cumulative score under each category and lists them out highest to lowest. Consumers can also go to the accompanying website, to customize a ranking based on their own preferences in terms of the categories to use in scoring the banks and the relative weights to assign these categories. This report provides background information on the NYBRI, explains the process by which we completed the ranking and scoring for the nineteen largest banks serving individual bank customers in New York State, scores the banks and offers the final ranking, and then supplies the individualized data for each bank in an appendix. While we focus on New York State in this study, other jurisdictions can utilize the methodology used here for their own communities.”

Categories: Research

Paper – Carbon Taxation by Regulation

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 19:34

Rossi, Jim, Carbon Taxation by Regulation (March 20, 2017). Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 102 (2018 Forthcoming). Available at SSRN:

“This Article argues that, even though a carbon tax remains politically elusive, “carbon taxation by regulation” has begun to flourish as a way of financing carbon reduction. For more than a century, energy rate setting has been used to promote public good and redistributive goals, akin to general financial taxation. Various non-tax subsidies in customer energy rates have enormous untapped potential for promoting low-carbon sources of energy, while also balancing broader economic and social welfare goals. While carbon taxation by regulation offers many benefits, regulators’ narrow fixation on consumer protection and economic goals has hobbled realization of its potential. In comparison to a national carbon tax, customer subsidies in regulation are piecemeal, isolated in focus, and fragmented. They also have not been sufficiently attentive to revenue shortfalls and burden allocation, important fairness and equity issues, or negative and positive jurisdictional spillovers. Using a carbon tax as a benchmark, this Article identifies some principles to help guide efforts to reform, recalibrate and scale up customer rate subsidies to promote low-carbon sources of energy. State and federal agencies can better promote efficiency and social welfare in modern energy markets by aligning customer rate subsidies with the same principles that would inform optimal design of a carbon tax.”

Categories: Research

Banking Standards Board Statement of Good Practice

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 19:14

“The Banking Standards Board has today (Tuesday 28 February 2017) published good practice guidance for banks and building societies putting in place procedures to assess the fitness and propriety of staff under the new Certification Regime. Download the Statement of Good Practice 1 on the Certification Regime: Fitness and Propriety Assessment Principles  and Supporting Guidance to Statement of Good Practice 1 on the Certification Regime: Definitions, Sources of Information and Assessment Record Template.

Recognising the opportunity presented by the new regime to help to promote professionalism across the banking sector, the BSB set up a member firm working group2 to share experiences and facilitate the identification of good practice to help to achieve a fair and effective implementation. The working group met regularly throughout 2016, and following a three-month consultation process, the BSB is now publishing two documents: a Statement of Good Practice on the assessment of fitness and propriety within the Certification Regime, and more detailed Supporting Guidance on implementation. The published documents consist of:

BSB Statement of Good Practice – Fitness & Propriety Assessment Principles

This takes the form of a high-level set of principles surrounding the assessment of fitness and propriety and is designed to encourage and help firms to use the Certification Regime as a means to raise professional standards and ensure that F&P assessments are fair, consistent and transparent.

BSB Supporting Guidance

This is practical guidance, which represents a pooling of knowledge and experience by BSB member firms from which the whole industry can learn. It contains;

  • comprehensive definitions of each element of F&P; honesty and integrity, reputation, competence and capability, and financial soundness
  • potential sources of information that could be taken into account when carrying out the assessments
  • example assessment record template to support consistent recording of the outcome of F&P decisions across firms.”
Categories: Research

Banking agencies issue joint report to Congress under Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 18:59

“Continuing their efforts to reduce regulatory burdens while ensuring the safety and soundness of the nation’s financial institutions, member agencies of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) today issued a joint report to Congress detailing their review of rules affecting financial institutions. The review was conducted as part of the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996 by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and in conjunction with the National Credit Union Administration. EGRPRA requires the federal banking agencies, along with the FFIEC, to conduct a review of their rules at least every 10 years to identify outdated or unnecessary regulations. While NCUA is not required to participate in the EGRPRA review, the agency’s Board chose to participate to enhance its own regulatory review process. In particular, the agencies’ review focused on the effect of regulations on smaller institutions, such as community banks and savings associations. The federal banking agencies published four requests for written comment in the Federal Register and hosted six public outreach meetings across the country. NCUA, which regulates credit unions, routinely conducts town-hall meetings, listening sessions, and other outreach activities to hear and discuss stakeholders’ views. Altogether, the agencies received more than 250 comment letters from financial institutions, trade associations, and consumer and community groups, as well as numerous comments obtained at the outreach meetings.

The report describes several joint actions planned or taken by the federal financial institutions regulators, including:

Simplifying regulatory capital rules for community banks and savings associations;
Streamlining reports of condition and income (Call Reports);
Increasing the appraisal threshold for commercial real estate loans; and
Expanding the number of institutions eligible for less frequent examination cycles.

The report also describes the individual actions taken by each agency to update its own rules, eliminate unnecessary requirements, and streamline supervisory procedures. The federal financial institutions regulators will continue their efforts to tailor regulations to the size and risks posed by financial institutions while ensuring the safety and soundness of the nation’s financial institutions and banking system.

Joint Report to Congress: Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act (PDF)”

Categories: Research