Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Study examines the factors underlying suicides in the Army National Guard

March 13, 2013

Perspectives on suicide in the Army National Guard

From Armed Forces & Society

Studies report that since 2004, suicides rates in the U.S. Army have been on the rise. While researchers debate the cause, this study finds that among suicide cases from 2007 – 2010, young white males were more at risk than any other demographic. The authors analyzed data from the Army National Guard’s (ARNG) personnel data system, from a routine data collection of ARNG soldiers returning from deployment, and Army reserve soldiers’ responses to the 2009 Status of Forces Questionnaire. They found that 17-24 year-olds were an average of 1.59 times more likely to have committed suicide than their older peers, that males were 3.05 times more likely to have committed suicide than females, and that white soldiers were 1.85 times more likely to have committed suicide than other race groups. Researchers offered explanations for each of the three suicide patterns among ARNG soldiers. Researchers stated that they hoped their findings would help identify those who are at risk for suicide and concluded, “after identifying those at risk, soldiers need to be managed and provided appropriate support and care.”  Nevertheless, they also noted that this is complicated for reservists who spend most of their time in “part-time” or civilian status. As reservists now number about one-half the active duty Army, the researchers argued for more deliberate thought on how best to screen reserve soldiers who are at risk.

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The failures of governance that have led to the “Great Recession” and the end of public trust

February 7, 2013

Plutocracy, bureaucracy, and the end of public trust

From Administration & Society

This article examines the failures of governance in the American financial system that contributed to the financial and economic crisis of 2007-2008. it offers critical insight about immense concentration of power and wealth, decades of deregulation and failures of governance, and resulting mistakes and misdeeds in government agencies and private firms that have led to a loss of public trust. The analysis here draws heavily from two recent government reports – the “Final Report of the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States” and a U.S. Senate report titled “Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse”. It is a complex story worth exploring in some detail for the sake of understanding how things went so terribly wrong in a system so vital to the livelihood of a nation and its millions of inhabitants.

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At what price does traffic divert from toll roads to alternative routes?

January 24, 2013

Empirical evidence of toll road traffic diversion and implications for highway infrastructure privatization

From Public Works Management & Policy

Toll road programs were introduced in the USA to reduce congestion on America’s transportation network. Congestion pricing uses tolls to alter demand, using road pricing to manage congestion. Many tolls are used as a means to fund new and existing roadways and transfer control of infrastructure to private firms. This study asks important questions such as how do truckers respond to pricing signals? As price increases, how extensively do truckers divert from limited-access highways to secondary roads? At what price does this diversion impose costs on secondary highways? The article explores the elasticity of demand for truck traffic over time for an existing toll road it uses empirical data to evaluate the extent to which tolls divert traffic from existing highways to alternative routes. It concludes that further research could help determine whether or how to set tolls to foster good decisions by road users.

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New York City street cleaning policy increases car usage for those without off-street parking

January 8, 2013

Duet of the Commons: The Impact of Street Cleaning on Car Usage in the New York City Area

From Journal of Planning Education and Research

Street cleaning is a common practice in many communities. Street cleaning encourages car usage for households without off-street parking and discourages car usage for households with off-street parking. The process requires that street parking be temporarily removed from the stock of available parking spaces, which affects parking and travel decisions. Local governments normally adopt three residential street parking policies, parking permit, time limits, and street cleaning. This article tests the impact of street cleaning on driving using a random sample of five hundred households in the New York City area. The policy implications of street cleaning in particular and residential street parking in general are discussed through the frameworks of property rights and social equity. The net effect is an increase of vehicle miles traveled by 7.1 percent, at least 27 percent of which is not a mere redistribution from non-street-cleaning days. The overall impact on weekly car usage is significant. These findings have direct implications on street parking policy in general and street cleaning operation in particular.

 

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Climate change and the emergence of new organizational landscapes

December 11, 2012

Special Issue

From Organization Studies

Climate change for many is a critical issue. There appears to be a general consensus among the countries that constitute the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that a 2° Celsius warming of the planet will have dangerous, perhaps even catastrophic, consequences. More than 20 years after climate change was recognized as a critical problem, efforts to address it show a record of failure. Despite high-level efforts by states under the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, there is still no legally binding agreement to effectively cut carbon dioxide emissions globally.

This special issue recognizes that climate change is not just an environmental problem requiring technical and managerial solutions; it is a political issue where a variety of organizations – state agencies, firms, industry associations, NGOs and multilateral organizations – engage in contestation as well as collaboration over the issue. Given the urgency of the problem and the need for a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy, there is a pressing need for organization scholars to develop a better understanding of apathy and inertia in the face of the current crisis and to identify paths toward transformative change. The seven papers in this special issue examine strategies, discourses, identities and practices in relation to climate change at multiple levels.

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Making sense of the ‘Big Society’: Social work and the moral order

November 7, 2012

From Journal of Social Work

The practice of social work has always been strongly influenced by political ideology, and its organization shaped by public policy. This article examines social work in the UK during the New Labour administrations and outlines how the idea put forward by the subsequent Coalition of the ‘Big Society’ evolved as a response to New Labour failings with consideration of possible future influence on the profession. It argues that two sides of the program are relevant for social work, the first focused on the public spending cuts and the second on increased empowered communities and collective action.  This agenda poses challenges and opportunities for a practice which is less individualistic, formal and desk-bound; but it also raises issues about the wider solidarities upon which equality and social justice depend.

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China’s nuclear dilemma

October 18, 2012

Making China’s nuclear war plan

From The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The authors of this study believe that this is the first comprehensive non-governmental study on how China’s nuclear-war plan was developed. They examine the evolution of China’s overall defense strategy, with a focus on central elements of today’s nuclear war plan and how they are operationalized.  It highlights the risk of escalation to nuclear war from a conflict beginning with conventional weapons, due to the unusual structure of the nation’s military. They conclude that China’s unique deployment of modern conventional ballistic missiles had a decisive effect on its war plan. The possibility of combining or sequentially launching conventional and nuclear missiles is deemed a fundamental source of political and military strength – but also generates critical uncertainties.

Beijing’s overall defence strategy has evolved significantly in recent decades. Step by step, the ever-more complex command-and-control mechanisms of the People’s Liberation Army adopted and refined new roles for its nuclear and conventional missiles to support peacetime diplomacy, to manage military crises, and to pursue combat readiness. Nuclear deterrence strategies finally came of age in 2006 with the official endorsement of the terms ‘nuclear deterrent force’ and ‘strategic deterrence’ in a defence white paper.

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How close were we to Armageddon? Fifty years on, why still study the Cuban Missile Crisis?

October 12, 2012

Special Issue: Fifty years beyond the brink: Writing the Cuban Missile Crisis

From International Relations

Why, fifty years on, is the Cuban Missile Crisis still a subject of considerable fascination for academics and professionals alike? Should we still be studying it, and if so, how? As one of the most intensely studied events of the twentieth century, the Cuban Missile Crisis could suffer from “over examination”, yet as the Guest Editor of this special issue remarks: “While all historiography may be revisionist in intent, the missile crisis provides much ammunition for those who question whether ‘the truth’ can be found’”. While new information has clarified or changed our understanding fundamental debates remain over key issues, the interpretations of historians and the models of political scientists. As such these interpretations require revisiting and revising. Much of what has been learned over the past few decades has reinforced the view that we were closer to the brink of nuclear Armageddon than realised, and this is what is argued deserves our attention moving forwards.

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How Afghanistan was broken: The disaster of the Soviet intervention

October 4, 2012

From International Area Studies Review

As the US-led, NATO-organized and UN-mandated operation in Afghanistan draws to an uncertain end there is no point in looking back at the protracted disaster of the Soviet intervention to try and draw parallels with the wars. No retrospective analysis can establish with any certainty whether the war with the USSR had a ‘military solution’ or not, but it is quite clear that the USSR in its autumnal decade had neither the Stalinist determination nor the Leninist ingenuity to find one. The Soviet military machine was not over-burdened by the peripheral war and could have absorbed the defeat, but the consequences of the Mujahedin victory for Afghanistan were truly devastating.

This article seeks to combine historical and strategic analysis in examining that war as an evolving contradiction between nonsensical political aims and insufficient military means, and focusing on the shortcomings in projecting power that caused the escalation of rebellion and the subsequent defeat of the most powerful, but fast crumbling, military organization in the world. The aim is not to compile a list of mistakes, incompatibilities and limitations but rather to examine how their interplay condemned the intervention to disaster and the Afghan state to failure.

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What are the effects of the great recession on local governments?

September 19, 2012

Special issue: The new normal: local governments after the Great Recession

From State and Local Government Review

This special issue documents the crisis affecting city and county governments following the Great Recession.  It examines the severity and potentially lasting changes brought about by the economic downturn and presents new data collected from local government administrators. The lead article documents the profound challenges facing local governments in this new era. In a survey of 580 city and county governments, nearly half cited budget shortfalls as a top problem.  This important new research sheds light on the challenges faced by city and county governments that must provide most basic services. Other articles in this Special Issue take up complementary themes. This Special Issue is a collaboration between SLGR and the National Association of Counties and National League of Cities.

 

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