Just in...

Developing a Dream Destination: Tourism and Tourism Policy Planning in Hawaii, by James Mak, professor of economics at the University of Hawaii (UH), covers the development of tourism policy in Hawaii from the 1960s to the present. Chapters discuss the genesis of tourism policy; taxing tourism; promoting tourism; the Hawaii Convention Center (HCC) and the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA); improving Waikiki; the Neighbor Islands; and lessons from Hawaii's experience. 255 pp. (G155 H3 M34 2008) (ISBN 0824832439).

See press release.

In Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair (and What We Can Do About It), author William Poundstone posits the "spoiler effect"--in five U.S. presidential elections, the second most popular candidate won because of a spoiler, a minor candidate who tipped the election from the most popular to someone else (think Ralph Nader). Poundstone also proffers remedies to the problem, favoring range voting, in which voters rank the candidates. Range voting, he says, "has become the favored voting method of the Internet." 338 pp. (JK1976 P68 2008) (ISBN 0809048939).

See NY Times review, 3.20.08

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Recent CRS reports

Recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports from Open CRS:

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: History, Perspectives, and Issues, RL33341 (pdf, 16pp/120kB), May 15, 2008

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was established in 1975 by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA, P.L. 94-163) in response to the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo. CRS discusses its history, the acquisition of crude oil for the SPR, drawdown authorities, and when the SPR should be used. EPCA authorizes drawdown of the SPR if the President finds a "severe energy supply interruption," which is deemed to exist if three condition are met: If "(a) an emergency situation exists and there is a significant reduction in supply which is of significant scope and duration; (b) a severe increase in the price of petroleum products has resulted from such emergency situation; and (c) such price increase is likely to cause a major adverse impact on the national economy."

Basel II in the United States: Progress Toward a Workable Framework, RL34485 (pdf, 10pp/164kB), May 14, 2008

The report begins with a capsule history of the Basel capital accords--international agreements that determine the minimum amounts of capital financial institutions must hold. Basel I was adopted in 1988 by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and in the last decade came to be viewed as insufficient because banks could "game the system." Basel II was published in 2004 and updated in 2005. Basel II has 3 pillars: (1) minimum capital requirements, (2) supervisory review, and (3) public disclosure. In the United States, the 11 largest banks will be "core" Basel II banks, and the remaining banks may continue to use the Basel I framework.

Evaluating the Potential for a Recession in 2008, RL34484 (pdf, 24pp/152kB), May 13, 2008

CRS cites 3 current recessionary pressures: the housing bust, liquidity crunch, and energy shock. To counter these events, Congress has enacted an economic stimulus package (pdf, P.L. 110-185), and the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates and increased direct lending to financial institutions. Despite these measures, according to the report, private sector forecasters peg the chance of a recession in 2008 at 60%.

See earlier FR post, Recession - who decides? 1.30.08

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Uninsured children and SCHIP - Update

On May 15, Peter R. Orszag, Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), gave testimony on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to the Subcommittee on Health, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, substantially similar to his testimony to the Subcommittee on Health Care, U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, that was the subject of a previous FR post.

The additional information Orszag presented on May 15 relates to the August 17, 2007, directive from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). He stated:
On May 7, 2008, in response to inquiries from the states, CMS released a follow-up letter explaining certain aspects of the August 17 directive. The May 7 letter provides the following clarifications:
  • Policies intended to prevent substitution apply only to children entering the program for the first time, not to those already enrolled (unless they leave the program and reapply later);
  • States may submit alternatives to the 95 percent coverage test, which CMS will consider and approve if those states present supporting data showing their effectiveness in reducing crowd-out;
  • CMS believes most states already meet the 95 percent test and will work with states regarding data sources CMS considers acceptable; and
  • The policies stipulated in the August 17 directive do not apply to unborn children.
The clarifications that CMS issued in its letter of May 7 are generally consistent with how CBO originally interpreted the directive of August 17; therefore, CBO has not altered its estimates of the policy’s impact on cost and coverage.

Covering Uninsured Children in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (pdf, 19pp/156kB), May 15, 2008

See also CBO's website on the May 15, 2008, testimony.

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Uninsured children and SCHIP

Peter R. Orszag, Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), testified on coverage of uninsured children in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). SCHIP was established in 1997 for children in families with incomes that are modest but too high for Medicaid. In his testimony, Orszag compares SCHIP with Medicaid, and discusses SCHIP's displacement, or "crowding out," of private coverage, the substitution of SCHIP for employer-sponsored insurance, and the effect on SCHIP of the Administration's August 2007 directive on state coverage of children.

Covering Uninsured Children in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (pdf, 20pp/120kB), April 9, 2008

See also CBO's website on SCHIP.

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Just in...

A Spark Is Struck! Jack Hall and the ILWU in Hawaii by Sanford Zalburg. Jack Hall not only led the ILWU in Hawaii from 1944 to 1969 but made the union a powerful force through one of Hawaii's most transformative eras. This is a new edition of Zalburg's still definitive 1979 biography. 558 pp. (HD6509 H25 Z34 2007) (ISBN 0979064784)

See Star Bulletin review, 2.24.2008

Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawaii? by Jon M. Van Dyke. The author, a University of Hawaii (UH) law professor, presents the complex history of crown lands, almost a million acres, which belonged to the monarchy. Crown lands are part of "ceded lands," a longstanding and contentious issue in the executive, legislative, and judicial arenas. 485 pp. (KFH451 V36 2008) (ISBN hardcover: 0824832100; paperback: 0824832117)

See Advertiser commentary, 2.13.2008

State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources was published by the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) to answer the question, "How trustworthy are state-level primary legal resources on the Web?" Among the report's findings: "No state's online primary legal resources are authenticated or afford ready authentication by standard methods." 241 pp. (KF242 A12 M37 2007)

Also available online (pdf, 256pp/12MB)

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Superferry oversight

Act 2, Session Laws of Hawaii 2007, 2nd Special Session, permits the Superferry to operate pending an environmental impact statement. Part IV of the act established a temporary inter-island ferry oversight task force and requires monthly reports, commencing Dec. 31, 2007 . The task force's agendas, minutes, and reports can be viewed on its website.

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