IAEA Tracks Nuclear Trafficking: The International Atomic Energy Agency has recorded 1,340 confirmed incidents of illegal trade or movement of illicit nuclear or radioactive materials between 1993 and the end of 2007. Not all of these are trafficking—some are related to theft, unauthorized disposal, or other irregularities in handling radioactive materials. According to a public fact sheet that provides the latest update to the IAEA's Illicit Trafficking Database, the data reveal that two thirds of the materials reported lost or stolen has not been found, and the fact sheet says that "unauthorized activities" like those reported may indicate that weak security procedures are being exploited. "Financial gain," the IAEA concludes, is more often the reason for these incidents than any "malicious intent."
Media Coverage of Immigration: "The U.S. media have hindered effective policymaking on immigration for decades" with a divisive tone that makes policy compromise difficult, concludes a new report from the Brookings Institution. Researchers looked at press coverage of immigration since 1980 and found that the news cycle is driven by periodic crises, leading to "breathless, on-and-off coverage." Stories often lack nuance about larger societal factors around immigration and have thus "mischaracterized a massive demographic event that has developed over decades and mostly through legal channels." Recent years have seen a rise in "advocacy journalists" who view the issue from one extreme or the other and are sometimes able to block policy proposals in what the report deems a "triumph of no." Noting that most Americans fall at the middle of the spectrum on immigration policy, the study's authors wonder if the media's approach to the issue may have "rendered the enactment of new immigration policies ever more elusive."
Spending on Prekindergarten Programs: Even with the ongoing financial downturn, over 20 states and the District of Columbia have already committed to spending more money on prekindergarten programs for the 2009 fiscal year. Another nine states anticipate being able to increase spending on pre-K programs, according to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The report "Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2009" finds that only two states that currently provide prekindergarten programs decreased their spending. With this overall spending increase, about 46,000 more children will be able to participate in prekindergarten programs in the United States. Twelve states, however, continue to have no state-funded pre-K effort.
Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World: A new report examines the impact of an emerging "green economy" on global labor and investment. The study was produced by the Green Jobs Initiative, a joint initiative between the United Nations Environment Program, the International Labor Organization, the International Employers Organization, and the International Trade Union Confederation. Key highlights of the study include clean technologies as the third-largest sector for venture capital in the United States (behind information and biotechnology),and the finding that renewable energy generates more jobs than the fossil fuel industry.