Many Americans Say Made-Up News Is a Critical Problem That Needs To Be Fixed

Many Americans Say Made-Up News Is a Critical Problem That Needs To Be Fixed. Pew Research Center. Amy Mitchell et al. June 5, 2019.

Politicians viewed as major creators of it, but journalists seen as the ones who should fix it

Many Americans say the creation and spread of made-up news and information is causing significant harm to the nation and needs to be stopped, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of 6,127 U.S. adults conducted between Feb. 19 and March 4, 2019, on the Center’s American Trends Panel.

Indeed, more Americans view made-up news as a very big problem for the country than identify terrorism, illegal immigration, racism and sexism that way. Additionally, nearly seven-in-ten U.S. adults (68%) say made-up news and information greatly impacts Americans’ confidence in government institutions, and roughly half (54%) say it is having a major impact on our confidence in each other. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 72 pages].

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The National Popular Vote (NPV) Initiative: Direct Election of the President by Interstate Compact

The National Popular Vote (NPV) Initiative: Direct Election of the President by Interstate Compact. Congressional Research Service. Thomas H. Neale, Andrew Nolan. Updated May 9, 2019

The National Popular Vote (NPV) initiative proposes an agreement among the states, an interstate compact that would effectively achieve direct popular election of the President and Vice President without a constitutional amendment. It relies on the Constitution’s grant of authority to the states in Article II, Section 1 to appoint presidential electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct…. ” Any state that joins the NPV compact pledges that if the compact comes into effect, its legislature will award all the state’s electoral votes to the presidential ticket that wins the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of who wins in that particular state. The compact would, however, come into effect only if its success has been assured; that is, only if states controlling a majority of electoral votes (270 or more) join the compact. By early May 2019, 14 states and the District of Columbia had joined the compact. After early momentum—eight states and the District of Columbia joined the NPV Compact between 2007 and 2011—the pace of state accessions slowed through 2018. Since then, four additional states joined, bringing the total number of electoral votes controlled by NPV member states to 189. During the same period, legislation to join the compact had been introduced during the current session in at least one chamber of the legislature in 14 additional states that control an additional 150 electors.

[PDF format, 32 pages].

Democratic Defense Against Disinformation 2.0

Democratic Defense Against Disinformation 2.0. Atlantic Council. Alina Polyakova and Daniel Fried. June 2019

This Atlantic Council paper is the second edition of “Democratic Defense Against Disinformation.” The first edition was published in February 2018.

Foreign interference in democratic elections has put disinformation at the forefront of policy in Europe and the United States. The second edition of Democratic Defense Against Disinformation takes stock of how governments, multinational institutions, civil-society groups, and the private sector have responded to the disinformation challenge. As democracies have responded, our adversaries have adapted and evolved. As the speed and efficiency of influence operations increase, democratic societies need to further invest in resilience and resistance to win the new information war. Democratic Defense Against Disinformation 2.0 is a report card on efforts and a roadmap for policymakers and social media companies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 32 pages].

SBA Office of the National Ombudsman: Overview, History, and Current Issues

SBA Office of the National Ombudsman: Overview, History, and Current Issues. Congressional Research Service.  Robert Jay Dilger. Updated April 4, 2019

The Office of the National Ombudsman was created in 1996 as part of P.L. 104-121, the Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996 (Title II, the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 [SBREFA]). Housed within the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the office’s primary purpose is to provide small businesses, small government entities (those serving populations of less than 50,000), and small nonprofit organizations that believe they have experienced unfair or excessive regulatory compliance or enforcement actions (such as repetitive audits or investigations, excessive fines, and retaliation by federal agencies) a means to comment about such actions.

[PDF format, 19 pages].

Free Speech and the Regulation of Social Media Content

Free Speech and the Regulation of Social Media Content.  Congressional Research Service.  Valerie C. Brannon. March 27, 2019

As the Supreme Court has recognized, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become important venues for users to exercise free speech rights protected under the First Amendment. Commentators and legislators, however, have questioned whether these social media platforms are living up to their reputation as digital public forums. Some have expressed concern that these sites are not doing enough to counter violent or false speech. At the same time, many argue that the platforms are unfairly banning and restricting access to potentially valuable speech.

[PDF format, 46 pages].

Secular Divergence: Explaining Nationalism in Europe

Secular Divergence: Explaining Nationalism in Europe. Brookings Institution. Carlo Bastasin. May 2019

The doctrine of nationalism will continue eroding Europe’s integration until its hidden cause is recognized and addressed. In order to do so, Europe’s policymakers must acknowledge a new, powerful, and pervasive factor of social and political change: divergence within countries, sectors, jobs, or local communities.

The popularity of the nationalist rhetoric should not be underestimated. Nationalist parties—like the Italian “Lega,” the French “Rassemblement National,” or the German “Alternative für Deutschland”—present themselves as a response to the damages inflicted by globalization in terms of impoverishment and inequality. Their rhetoric claiming that borders must be closed is simple and attractive. In fact, empirical evidence does not confirm a direct relation between open borders and impoverishment in Europe; there is also no univocal relation between economic inequality or stagnation and the rise of consensus for nationalist or anti-European parties. Finally, inequality seems to have increased more within countries than between them. Therefore, none of the reasons underpinning the claims for closing borders is watertight.

This paper offers a different explanation of the increasing unease in European societies leading to the popularity of nationalism: the development of two persistent social dynamics, the first trend driving individuals to fear their irreversible decline, and the second dynamic leading more prosperous parts of society to protect their increasing economic advantages and well-being. These dynamics lead to what I call “secular divergence,” a trend that does not coincide with the obvious inequalities, and not even only with regional inequalities. It is rather a protracted sense of marginality felt by those who fear the unstoppable decline of their profession, community, or family, and a sense of detachment among those who instead protect their growing well-being in an unstable world. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 16 pages].

Catalyzing Neighborhood Revitalization through Strengthening Civic Infrastructure: Principles for Guiding Place-Based Initiatives

Catalyzing Neighborhood Revitalization through Strengthening Civic Infrastructure: Principles for Guiding Place-Based Initiatives. Urban Institute. Aaron Shroyer, Joseph Schilling, Erika C. Poethig. April 16, 2019

Place-based revitalization initiatives seek to make every neighborhood safe and healthy and to connect them to high-quality services. These initiatives share a few common characteristics. They concentrate resources in a specific geography; combine physical revitalization with the provision of services (e.g., health, education, and job training programs); leverage existing institutions, networks, and capital; and engage local leaders and residents. However, they have a mixed track record on whether and how much current residents benefit from such redevelopment. To address these and other limitations, more place-based initiatives are starting to marry physical revitalization with intentional efforts to build civic infrastructure. Civic infrastructure incorporates a broad view of community assets and therefore seeks to improve physical and civic assets as well as the processes, practices, and interactions those assets enable. By strengthening civic infrastructure, revitalizing physical assets can help create equitable outcomes for residents and increase community benefits. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 42 pages].