Monday, February 5, 2024

The NFL embraces sports gambling for fans but not for players

 The Superbowl is in Las Vegas, and gambling is being embraced by the NFL for fans, but not for players and other NFL employees.

The NYT has the story:

N.F.L.’s Rapid Embrace of Gambling Creates Mixed Signals. The league is pushing to popularize and benefit from sports betting while still trying to guard against the potential pitfalls for its players, employees and fans.  By Jenny Vrentas

"Since the Supreme Court struck down, in 2018, a federal law that effectively banned sports betting outside Nevada — a prohibition once backed by the N.F.L.’s commissioner, Roger Goodell — the N.F.L. has embraced the gambling industry. It has forged partnerships reportedly worth nearly $1 billion over five years with sports betting companies, and permitted a sports book to operate inside one of its stadiums. Now it even has a team in Las Vegas, which the league shunned for decades because any affiliation was seen as a threat to the integrity of the game.

"Yet the embedding of sports gambling so quickly into the culture of the league has resulted in jarring contradictions. The N.F.L. is pushing to popularize and benefit from sports betting while still guarding against the potential pitfalls that it long condemned. While the league donates money to promote responsible gambling, its broadcasts are peppered with advertisements for sports betting companies. The N.F.L. is part of a growing apparatus that encourages casual fans to regularly place wagers on games, while punishing league employees — most notably players — who might do the same.


"Americans legally wagered more than $115 billion on sports in 2023, according to the American Gaming Association, the national trade group for the gambling industry. Nearly 25 million more Americans bet on sports last year than in 2018, the group said, and the number of states where betting on sports is legal will reach 38 this year.


"[A] report projected that around $1.5 billion would be legally wagered on next Sunday’s Super Bowl, more than 1 percent of the money bet legally on all sports last year.


"n 2021, the year the N.F.L. struck deals with its three sports book partners, it gave the National Council on Problem Gambling a three-year, $6.2 million grant that was used in part to modernize the help line that appears at the bottom of betting ads. The league’s contribution is a small fraction of what gambling companies pay to be part of the N.F.L.’s marketing apparatus, but it is the largest grant in the council’s history and exceeded the nonprofit’s grant total over the previous four years, according to tax filings.


"The league’s approach to gambling violations within its own ranks, though, remains punitive. For decades, sports leagues have believed that gambling could damage the integrity of results — with worries over a player’s throwing a game because of a bet, for instance — so the focus has been on enforcement and punishment over prevention and treatment.

"The N.F.L. prohibits league and team personnel from betting on any sport, while players are allowed to bet on sports other than the N.F.L., as long as they do not do so at the team facility or while on team or league business. While in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl, members of the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers and the hundreds of league employees, many staying at Caesars Palace, are not permitted to play casino games and may enter a sports book only if passing through to another part of the hotel."

Sunday, February 4, 2024

How is immigration policy working on the US-Mexico border?

 Yesterday's post linked to a paper about immigration policy, and today let's look at a report on the results of existing policy:

After a Decade of Decline, the US Undocumented Population Increased by 650,000 in 2022  by Robert Warren, Journal on Migration and Human Security,  OnlineFirst

Executive Summary: This report describes estimates of the undocumented population residing in the United States in 2022 compiled by the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS). The estimates are based on data collected in the American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the US Census Bureau (Ruggles et al. 2023). The report finds that the undocumented population grew from 10.3 million in 2021 to 10.9 million in 2022, an increase of 650,000. The increase reverses more than a decade of gradual decline. The undocumented populations from 10 countries increased by a total of 525,000: Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and India; El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in Central America; and Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela in South America. The undocumented population in Florida increased by about 125,000 in 2022, Texas increased by 60,000, New York by 50,000, and Maryland by 45,000.

"Kerwin and Warren (2023) summarized the reasons why apprehensions by DHS do not translate directly into undocumented population growth: “[S]ome migrants are apprehended multiple times, some are trying to return to a permanent residence in the United States after a visit to their communities of origin, some are seasonal workers, and some are coming temporarily to visit family. None of these cases would add a new resident to the undocumented population . . .The fact that the Border Patrol prevents most attempted entries has not received wide media coverage. In 2017, DHS estimated that it interdicted 80 percent of attempted entries in the 2014 to 2016 period” (citation omitted).

"The numbers arriving illegally across the border and the numbers overstaying temporary visas each year are offset by the numbers leaving the undocumented population. From 2011 to 2021, an annual average of more than 500,000 left the undocumented population through voluntary emigration, removal by DHS, adjustment to legal status, or death (Warren 2023, Table 2)."

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Report card on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration

 Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration sounds like a good goal for border control in the U.S.  It isn't what is happening, but there's been some progress.  The Center for Migration Studies brings us up to date with a report and a report card.

US Compliance with the Global Compact on Migration: A Mixed Record. Center for Migration Studies of New York, February 2, 2024

"When the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM)[1] was agreed to in December 2018, the United States (US) was not a party to the agreement, as the Trump administration did not formally participate in its formation. In 2021, however, the Biden administration retroactively supported[2] the nonbinding GCM and began participating in its implementation.

"Since that time, the US has achieved a mixed record of adhering to the provisions of the GCM, a document which creates a multilateral framework for the international community to humanely manage migration flows. Moreover, proposed changes to US border policy threaten to further sully the US record on migration. The following is an examination of US immigration policies and how they measure up to the provisions of the GCM.


"III. Conclusion

"Since it signaled support for the GCM in 2021, the United States has deployed several policies which are consistent with its goals. However, the use of restrictive enforcement policies, particularly at the US-Mexico border, has tainted its record. Should Congress adopt several additional restrictive enforcement policies in the near future, it would severely undermine, if not eviscerate, the progress the US has made in implementing humane and lawful immigration policies over the past few years. It also would send a message to the world that such restrictive policies are acceptable and appropriate, leading to a global retrenchment from the goals of the GCM in the years ahead.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Picking the wrong pony: wolves and people in Europe

 The Guardian has the story, within the larger story of controversy about wolves, and endangered species.

A wolf killed the EU president’s precious pony - then the fight to catch the predator began. After being hunted to near extinction, wolves have returned to Europe. But when one killed Ursula von der Leyen’s family pony, it ignited a high-stakes battle. Are the animals’ days numbered? by Patrick Barkham

A wolf killed a pony at night...

"Unluckily for the wolf, and perhaps for the entire wolf population of western Europe, Dolly was a cherished family pet belonging to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, one of the most powerful people in the EU. Last September, a year after Dolly’s death, von der Leyen announced plans that to some wolf-defenders looked like revenge: the commission wants to reduce the wolf’s legal protection.

"Action had already been taken against Dolly’s killer. DNA evidence harvested from the pony’s carcass revealed that the wolf was an individual known as GW950m. This mature male wolf, which heads a pack (a wolf family usually numbering eight to 10) living around the von der Leyen residence, appears to have developed a taste for livestock. DNA tests on other carcasses implicates him in the deaths of about 70 sheep, horses, cattle and goats. Experts believe younger pack members might have copied his hunting methods. Because GW950m was now classified as a “problem wolf”, a permit was issued to allow hunters to shoot him legally (wolves can only be killed under exceptional circumstances, according to EU law). It was the seventh such licence to be issued in Lower Saxony, a state the size of Denmark with a thriving population of at least 500 wolves...

"Against the odds, more than a year after the licence to kill was first issued, GW950m remains at large, living quietly on a diet of mostly deer in forests east of Hanover.


"Wolves have adapted swiftly and surely to human-dominated landscapes. But people are struggling to adjust to the wolves. The concentration of packs, von der Leyen declared when announcing the commission’s review of wolf protection laws, “has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans”. In December, the commission proposed to reduce the wolf’s status under the Bern Convention from “strictly protected” to “protected” in order to introduce “further flexibility” – potentially enabling wolves to be hunted and populations reduced across the EU.... “Wolves are a subject that might change elections,” says one German conservationist.


"The wolf’s revival in western Europe is actually an interesting accumulation of accidents. Before its return, EU member states including Germany pushed to ensure that this disappearing species was given the highest protection under the EU’s habitats directive in 1992. When the cold war ended, many eastern European farms were abandoned, meaning that Russian populations found it easier to pad westwards. When the wolf reached Germany, it found hiding places on disused military bases – and, initially, sympathy.

“If wolves had returned 50 years ago, they wouldn’t have stood a chance, because our view of nature was very different to today,” says Kenny Kenner, a wolf expert who collects sightings and DNA data on wolves for the Lower Saxony government, and leads walks to educate people about this fascinating, complicated animal. “We see ourselves as part of nature and, much more importantly, as dependent on nature. This led to the possibility that a species as difficult for us as the wolf could come back.”

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Art sales by brokers

 High priced art sold by Sotheby's isn't all sold at auction. Sometimes it is privately brokered.

The Financial Times has the story of how a trial is shedding light on the process.

Sotheby’s trial provides a peek behind the curtain of private art sales. Testimony in New York case pitting wealthy oligarch against the famed auction house has shed new light on high-end transactions. by Madison Darbyshire 

"While Sotheby’s is known for its prestigious public art auctions, a significant part of its business is brokering private deals directly between buyers and sellers. Those private sales are a particularly shrouded corner of the art market, where work changes hands through dealers such as Sotheby’s and identities are concealed on both sides of the purchase.

"Often an owner will have no idea to whom they are selling, and the buyer little clue from where the art is coming. Sometimes works are never even displayed — instead living in storage, passing from hand to hand.


" "For private sales Sotheby’s dealers search for works their clients are seeking, working internally to find willing sellers and negotiate a price. Emails showed Valette asking a colleague to have her client name a price for a René Magritte painting that Bouvier wanted. While the painting had initially been estimated by Sotheby’s to be worth less than $10mn based on previous auction data, the client was willing to part with it for $25mn. Bouvier purchased it from Sotheby’s for $24mn, and sold it to Rybolovlev shortly afterwards for $43.5mn."

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Hiring former Supreme Court Clerks (is expensive)

 The Washington Post has the story:

Clerks for hire: The Supreme Court recruiting race. Supreme Court clerks are offered bonuses of up to $500,000 to join law firms  By Tobi Raji

"Only around three dozen law clerks work for the justices during each one-year term, which means these lawyers — and their unparalleled knowledge of the court — are in incredibly high demand. Jones Day, the leader in the race to recruit and hire as many clerks as possible, announced last month that it snagged 8 law clerks, all of whom worked for conservative justices during the term that began in October 2022.


"The recruitment is so competitive that signing bonuses for Supreme Court law clerks have reached a new high — $500,000, according to a spokeswoman for law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Such a sum far exceeds the salaries paid to the justices — the clerks’ former bosses — who are paid slightly less than $300,000 a year.

"The bonuses — alongside annual starting salaries of more than $200,000, which alone are nearly triple Americans’ median household income — are the product of a decades-long competition among elite law firms seeking any advantage they can find in arguing high-profile cases before the Supreme Court. They view the clerks’ experience and knowledge of the court as profitable assets that attract clients in a highly specialized sector of the law, and they see clerkships as effective filtering devices in identifying promising hires, according to interviews with former Supreme Court clerks, lawyers and experts."

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Refugees in the middle east, since 1949

 Al Jazeera provides some interesting statistics and graphics in a story about UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which was founded in 1949 to provide aid to Palestinian refugees from the war that followed Israel's independence.  While Palestinians who left the middle east are of course no longer refugees (just as Jews who were refugees from Arab countries at that time are now citizens of the countries in which they settled) that's not the case for the Palestinians who fled to neighboring Arab countries, nor for their children or grandchildren. See the map below. 

Here's the Al Jazeera story:

Which countries have cut funding to UNRWA, and why?. The UN urges continued funding to UNRWA’s ‘lifesaving’ aid in Gaza, after several Western countries cut aid to the agency.  28 Jan 2024

"The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), considered a lifeline for two million people in the besieged enclave, has suffered funding cuts after several of its staff were accused by Israel of involvement in the October 7 Hamas attack."


And here are all my posts on the successes and failures of refugee resettlement.

Monday, January 29, 2024

"There are tradeoffs everywhere" Alfred Spector on artificial intelligence.

 Alfred Spector has written an article called : Gaining Benefit from AI and Data Science: A Three-Part Framework. Among other things, he argues that neither technologists alone, nor ethicists alone, will find themselves automatically well equipped to think about the tradeoffs involved in developing, deploying, and regulating artificial intelligence.  

Here's a short (5 min) video produced by the ACM in which he calls for a broad approach.

Gaining Benefit from Artificial Intelligence and Data Science: A Three-Part Framework from CACM on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Experiments for organ allocation (an idea whose time may be coming)

 Experiments to improve how deceased donor organs are allocated to waiting patients seem like a good idea...

OPTN Task Force sets goal of achieving 60K transplants by 2026Jan 26, 2024 

“we need to move quicker, be more responsive, and deliver results for the patients we serve,” said Dianne LaPointe Rudow, DNP, president of the OPTN Board of Directors. “The reality is that while the number of transplants continues to grow, so does the non-use of available organs and allocations of organs out of the intended sequence of offers.


"The need is clear. In the case of kidneys, the most transplanted organ, the number of kidneys recovered from deceased donors increased by 56 percent between 2018 to 2023. Yet the number of kidney transplants only increased by 44 percent, meaning that approximately one quarter of kidneys recovered were not transplanted.


"Under a proposed variance for expedited placement, currently out for public comment, the task force intends to develop a series of rapid, small-scale tests of innovative organ placement approaches and assess their outcomes to evaluate whether they could be incorporated into future OPTN policies. The task force also has committed to prioritizing studies that evaluate potential frameworks for allocating hard-to-place organs to increase the number of transplants and lower non-use rates."

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Open source intelligence purchases that would require a warrent to be collected directly

 The NYT has the story:

N.S.A. Buys Americans’ Internet Data Without Warrants, Letter Says By Charlie Savage, January 25

"The National Security Agency buys certain logs related to Americans’ domestic internet activities from commercial data brokers, according to an unclassified letter by the agency.*


"In [a different] letter, General Nakasone wrote that his agency had decided to reveal that it buys and uses various types of commercially available metadata for its foreign intelligence and cybersecurity missions, including netflow data “related to wholly domestic internet communications.”

"Netflow data generally means internet metadata that shows when computers or servers have connected but does not include the content of their interactions. Such records can be generated when people visit different websites or use smartphone apps, but the letter did not specify how detailed the data is that the agency buys."


"Law enforcement and intelligence agencies outside the Defense Department also purchase data about Americans in ways that have drawn mounting scrutiny. In September, the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security faulted several of its units for buying and using smartphone location data in violation of privacy policies. Customs and Border Protection has also indicated that it would stop buying such data."


*Here is the letter referred to above. It is not in fact a letter "by the agency," but is from a senator to the Director of National Intelligence.

"As you know, U.S. intelligence agencies are purchasing personal data about Americans that would require a court order if the government demanded it from communications companies.  


"The FTC notes in its complaint [against the data broker X-Mode Social] that the reason informed consent is required for location data is because it can be used to track people to sensitive locations, including medical facilities, places of religious worship, places that may be used to infer an LGBTQ+ identification, domestic abuse shelters, and welfare and homeless shelters. The FTC added  that the sale of  such data poses an unwarranted intrusion into the most private areas of consumers lives. While the FTC's -Mode social complaint and order are limited to location data, internet metadata can be equally sensitive. Such records can identify Americans who are seeking help from a suicide hotline or a hotline for survivors of sexual assault or domestic abuse, a visit to a telehealth provider focusing on specific healthcare need, such as those prescribing and delivering abortion  pills by mail, or reveal that someone likely suffers from a gambling addiction."

Friday, January 26, 2024

The DOJ on competition for workers

 A lot of market design is done by regulators, and some of that is done to enforce existing laws.  Here's a report from the Department of Justice, focusing on four cases involving payment to workers (including authors of books).

Athey, Susan, Mark Chicu, Malika Krishna, and Ioana Marinescu. "The Year in Review: Economics at the Antitrust Division, 2022–2023." Review of Industrial Organization (2024): 1-20.

"In this review article, we report on five enforcement matters that expanded the scope of enforcement by the Division. The first four enforcement matters highlight a number of the Division’s actions to protect labor market competition in criminal and civil merger and non-merger cases. These include: criminal enforcement against a provider of contract health care staffing services that allocated nurse employees through a no-poaching agreement and agreed to fix the wages of those nurses; civil enforcement to stop an e-Sports league from effectively imposing a salary cap on its players; civil enforcement to stop a conspiracy among poultry processors to share information about worker compensation; and the successful challenge of a merger between two of the largest book publishers in the U.S., which preserved competition for books that will benefit authors."

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Call for nominations: Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research.

 Here's the call for the Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research. (I've finished a term and am no longer on the jury...)



APRIL 30, 2024
(10:00 pm UTC)

→ Submit online


The annual €500,000 Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research in cooperation with the BIH Quest Center for Responsible Research is inviting applications and nominations again. The international award is open to any researcher, or group of researchers, institution, organization, and early career researcher around the globe whose work helps to fundamentally advance the quality, transparency, and reproducibility of science and research. We warmly welcome applications and nominations from marginalized and underrepresented groups.

The Award will honor successful candidates in the following three categories: 

I Individual Award (€200,000): Individuals or small teams who have outstandingly contributed to fostering research quality can be nominated. Nominators are strongly encouraged to consider a diverse set of criteria, including gender, race/ethnicity, geography, and career stage.

II Institutional Award (€200,000): Governmental and non-governmental organizations, institutions, or other entities that have notably enhanced research quality can apply or be nominated. Successful governmental organizations or institutions will not receive any funds in addition to the award itself.

III Early Career Award (€100,000): Individuals or teams can submit a project proposal that seeks to foster research quality and value. Eligible candidates must hold a doctorate or have equivalent research experience and should not have been working as an independent researcher for more than five years. In the case of a team entry, the majority must be Early Career Researchers.

The deadline for entries is April 30, 2024. The awardees will be announced by the end of 2024.

Learn more about all past winners and finalists here.

An international, interdisciplinary, and diverse panel of researchers and research quality activists will evaluate submissions and select awardees. Meet the jury here

For questions, please contact Einstein Foundation Award Coordinator Dr. Ulrike Pannasch.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Guns and drugs on the U.S. Mexico border

 Here are two stories about some of the illegal traffic on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

First, the war on drugs is fought with American guns on both sides:

The NY Times has the story:

Appeals Court Revives Mexico’s Lawsuit Against Gunmakers. The decision, which is likely to be appealed, is one of the most significant setbacks for the gun industry since passage of a federal law that provided immunity from some lawsuits.  By Glenn Thrush  Jan. 22, 2024

"A federal appeals panel in Boston ruled on Monday that a $10 billion lawsuit filed by Mexico against U.S. gun manufacturers whose weapons are used by drug cartels can proceed, reversing a lower court that had dismissed the case.

"The decision, which is likely to be appealed, is one of the most significant setbacks for gunmakers since passage of a federal law nearly two decades ago that has provided immunity from lawsuits brought by the families of people killed and injured by their weapons.

"Mexico, in an attempt to challenge the reach of that law, sued six manufacturers in 2021, including Smith & Wesson, Glock and Ruger. It contended that the companies should be held liable for the trafficking of a half-million guns across the border a year, some of which were used in murders.


" lawyers for Mexico, assisted by U.S. gun control groups, claimed that the companies “aided and abetted the knowingly unlawful downstream trafficking” of their guns into Mexico.

"Gun violence is rampant in Mexico despite its near-blanket prohibition of firearms ownership.

"About 70 to 90 percent of guns trafficked in Mexico originated in the United States, according to Everytown Law, the legal arm of the gun control group founded by the former mayor of New York Michael R. Bloomberg.

"Gun control advocates hailed the decision on Monday by a three-judge panel, describing it as a milestone in holding the gun industry accountable."


As for drugs, it turns out that harm reduction drugs are highly controlled in Mexico, so illegal drugs also flow both ways.

Here's that story, from the Guardian:

Carriers sneak life-saving drugs over border as Mexico battles opioid deaths  People forced to bring overdose-reversal drug naloxone from US, as critics accuse Mexican government of creating shortage. by Thomas Graham in Tijuana, Tue 23 Jan 2024 

"Every day, people cross the US-Mexico border with drugs – but not all of them are going north. Some head in the opposite direction with a hidden cargo of naloxone, a life-saving medicine that can reverse an opioid overdose but is so restricted as to be practically inaccessible in Mexico.

"This humanitarian contraband is necessary because Mexico’s border cities have their own problems with opioid use – problems that activists and researchers say are being made more deadly by government policy.

“Mexico has long seen itself as a production and transit country, but not a place of consumption,” said Cecilia Farfán Méndez, a researcher at the University of California at San Diego. “And a lot of the conversation is still around that being a US problem – not a Mexican one.”


"The situation has been exacerbated by a government policy that, aside from cutting budgets for harm reduction services like PrevenCasa, has also created shortages of life-saving medicines for opioid users.

"In response to the fentanyl crisis, authorities in the US made naloxone available without a prescription. Naloxone vending machines have proliferated across the country.

"But in Mexico naloxone remains strictly controlled – despite the efforts of some senators from Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s own party, Morena, who proposed a law to declassify it.

"The president, popularly known as Amlo, has criticised naloxone, asking whether it did any more than “prolong the agony” of addicts, and questioning who stood to profit from its sale."



Sunday, January 22, 2023

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The war on drugs is a war

The war on drugs doesn't begin at U.S. borders.

Here's a dispatch from Ecuador, in the WSJ:

Ecuador Is at War With Drug Gangs, President Says. Troops patrolled the country’s largest city a day after a series of attacks against the new government  By Kejal Vyas and Ryan Dubé

"Ecuador is at war with drug gangs, President Daniel Noboa said Wednesday, as troops patrolled the country’s largest city, Guayaquil, a day after gunmen took over a TV studio and launched a series of attacks against the Andean nation’s new government.

“We are in a noninternational armed conflict,” Noboa said in a radio interview. “We are in a state of war. We cannot give in to those terrorist groups.”

"The armed forces and national police scrambled to bring order to Guayaquil, and shops and schools were closed after a series of coordinated attacks Tuesday on shopping centers, hospitals and a university left at least 11 people dead.

"Drug-trafficking gangs in recent years have turned Ecuador into one of the world’s most violence-plagued nations as they battled over the cocaine trade.
" Once relatively peaceful, Ecuador has seen the homicide rate shoot up from less than six per 100,000 in 2018 to more than 40 in 2023, said police."

And here's one from Belgium, in the Washington Post:

Belgian customs officers seized three times as much cocaine in the port of Antwerp last year as U.S. customs and border officials seized in all of the United States.  By Gerrit De Vynck

"The head of Belgium’s customs service said in an interview that especially big seizures in the fall appeared to have prompted a violent backlash, along with a new issue: Authorities haven’t always been able to destroy what they’ve confiscated before drug gangs try to steal it back.

“Attacking the police, attacking the customs, this is not something you see in Europe,” said Kristian Vanderwaeren, director general of Belgium’s customs agency. “I was really afraid that my people would be killed if this would continue.”
"“The criminal organization was not afraid to come to a facility and capture their cocaine, even if it meant they would kill a customs officer,” Vanderwaeren said.
"According to Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, Ecuador and its main port of Guayaquil have been the biggest sources of cocaine destined for Europe, reflecting how Mexican and Albanian gangs have infiltrated the country. This month, the president of Ecuador declared a “state of war” against drug gangs, after a series of assassinations, prison breaks and bombings there."

Monday, January 22, 2024

Reporting and misreporting from Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs)

 Because there are shortages of organs for transplant, it is important to measure how successful Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) are at recovering and transplanting organs.  But sometimes definitions can get in the way, and this was the case in islet transplants from deceased donors, into patients with diabetes.  Pancreatic islets are the cells that produce insulin, and it was (and I think still is) regarded as an experimental procedure to transplant islets from a deceased donor's pancreas, rather than the whole pancreas.  So islet transplantation was classified as a research activity.

To encourage this use of deceased donor pancreases, recovery of a pancreas "for research" was counted as a transplant. But some OPO's have heavily gamed this, reporting that they recovered a pancreas when the "research" wasn't connected to transplantation.  That loophole is now being closed.

Here's a January 18 memo from HHS, CMS, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality

Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) Conditions for Coverage – Definition Clarification 


"The OPO CfCs are intended to drive improvements in organ procurement and transplantation through, among other provisions, the donor and transplantation outcome measures. OPOs are required to report data related to pancreata procured for research, and this data is incorporated into calculations used to assess compliance with the donor and transplant outcome measures and are used for re-certification purposes. To facilitate accurate reporting of data related to pancreata donors, the term “donor” is defined in CMS regulation to specify that, among other requirements, an individual would be considered a donor even if only the pancreas is procured and is used for research or islet cell transplantation.

"CMS has noted a significant increase in the number of pancreata procured since this definitionwas revised in 2020, raising questions about the interpretation of this definition by OPOs and how this definition is applied to reporting data related to donors of pancreata used for islet cell research. There is a concern that the increase in pancreata procured may not reflect a meaningful increase in pancreata being actually used for islet cell research, and instead may reflect pancreata procured for other purposes. This memo is clarifying that the pancreata must be used for islet cell research. 


"In summary, this memo is clarifying that consistent with the Pancreatic Islet Cell Transplantation Act of 2004, only pancreata procured by an OPO and used for islet cell transplantation or research shall be counted"

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Legislative proposals to help living kidney donors

 Martha Gershun brings us up to date on various proposed pieces of legislation to help organ donors and increase access to transplants.

Legislative Efforts to Support Living Kidney Donors,  by Martha Gershun, Guest Blogger

"As a member of the Expert Advisory Panel to the Kidney Transplant Collaborative, I have been honored to provide input during the development of the organization’s priority legislation, the Living Organ Volunteer Engagement (LOVE) Act.  This legislation would help build a comprehensive national living organ donor infrastructure that would support a national donor education program, create a donor navigator system, ensure appropriate donor cost reimbursement, collect essential data, and improve all aspects of living organ donation across the country, substantially reducing barriers that limit participation today.

Key provisions of the LOVE Act would:

  • Provide reimbursement for all direct and indirect costs for living donation, including lost wages up to $2,500 per week.
  • Provide life and disability insurance for any necessary care directly caused by donation.
  • Modify NLDAC rules so neither the recipient’s income nor the donor’s income would be considered for eligibility.
  • Provide for new public education program on the importance and safety of living organ donation.
  • Provide for new mechanisms to collect and analyze data about living organ donation to enable evidence-based continuous process improvement.

Numerous other federal proposals are also currently vying for support to address barriers to living donation on a national level.  They include:

Living Donor Protection Act (H.R. 2923, S. 1384)

  • Prohibits insurance carriers from denying, canceling, or imposing conditions on policies for life insurance, disability insurance, or long-term care insurance based on an individual’s status as a living organ donor.
  • Specifies that recovery from organ donation surgery constitutes a serious health condition that entitles eligible employees to job-protected medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Organ Donor Clarification Act (H.R. 4343)

  • Clarifies that reimbursement to living organ donation is not “valuable consideration” (I.e., payment), which is prohibited under the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA)
  • Allows pilot programs to test non-cash compensation to living organ donors.
  • Modifies NLDAC rules so the recipient’s income would no longer be considered for eligibility.

Living Organ Donor Tax Credit Act (H.R. 6171)

  • Provides a $5,000 federal refundable tax credit to offset living donor expenses.

Honor Our Living Donor (HOLD) Act (H.R. 6020)

  • Modifies NLDAC rules so the recipient’s income would no longer be considered for eligibility.
  • Requires public release of annual NLDAC report.

Helping End the Renal Organ Shortage (HEROS) Act

  • Provides a $50,000 refundable federal tax credit over a period of five years for non-directed living kidney donors.
And here's one more, from the Coalition to Modify NOTA

Saturday, January 20, 2024

AEA's lockbox: recording allegations while reserving the right to report them

The American Economic Association has announced that they have initiated a Reporting Lockbox – Now Available to Members, meant to allow members to record transgressions such as sexual harassment while reserving and preserving the right to report them later, if the same individual is named as an offender by someone else. The idea is to allow repeat offenders to be identified, even if each offense might be too ambiguous to justify an immediate complaint.

"The Reporting Lockbox enables AEA members who are not yet ready to file a formal complaint to log circumstances or conduct by other members that may violate the AEA’s policy against harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. If two or more AEA members log alleged incidents of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation perpetrated by the same person by making entries in this digital archive and indicating a willingness to communicate with other alleged victims, each member who logged an incident will be contacted separately to determine if each would consider communicating with the other members, or to otherwise keep the submission active or withdraw it. A mutual decision to contact the other members who logged an incident about the same alleged perpetrator could lead to their filing a formal complaint with the AEA Ethics Committee or pursuing other options outside of the AEA.

"The AEA will not have access to the Reporting Lockbox, and therefore will not know the identities of members or persons of interest unless action is taken by the members through the filing of a formal complaint to the AEA. Users of the Lockbox can edit or remove entries at any time."

Earlier related post:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Friday, January 19, 2024

Incentives and mis-incentives in science (Freakonomics part II)

 Freakonomics has a second post on fraud in science, and you can listen or read the transcript here:

Can Academic Fraud Be Stopped?

Two quotes stood out for me:

1. VAZIRE: Oh, I don’t mind being wrong. I think journals should publish things that turn out to be wrong. It would be a bad thing to approach journal editing by saying we’re only going to publish true things or things that we’re 100 percent sure are true. The important thing is that the things that are more likely to be wrong are presented in a more uncertain way. And sometimes we’ll make mistakes even there. Sometimes we’ll present things with certainty that we shouldn’t have. What I would like to be involved in and what I plan to do is to encourage more post-publication critique and correction, reward the whistleblowers who identify errors that are valid and that need to be acted upon, and create more incentives for people to do that, and do that well.


2. BAZERMAN: Undoubtedly, I was naive. You know, not only did I trust my colleagues on the signing-first paper, but I think I’ve trusted my colleagues for decades, and hopefully with a good basis for trusting them. I do want to highlight that there are so many benefits of trust. So, the world has done a lot better because we trust science. And the fact that there’s an occasional scientist who we shouldn’t trust should not keep us from gaining the benefit that science creates. And so one of the harms created by the fraudsters is that they give credibility to the science-deniers who are so often keeping us from making progress in society.



Sunday, January 14, 2024

Thursday, January 18, 2024

It's a dominant strategy for deferred acceptance proposers to state true preferences in the marriage problem: simple proof

This post is not entirely self-contained, it is in some sense a continuation of and addition to my talk last year at the Simons Institute, which you can see at this link: 

Simple Proofs of Important Results in Market Design-- (video of my talk at Berkeley's Simons Institute)

In that talk (based on work I'm doing with Mike Ostrovsky) I defined the marriage model of Gale and Shapley, gave necessary definitions,  and following the style of their original article, I showed simple, verbal proofs of a number of results, including the constant employment ("lone wolf") theorem:

Constant employment theorem: In a "marriage market"(M,W, P) with strict preferences, the set of people who are single is the same for all stable matchings.

Now based on that theorem, here's a simple proof of the dominant strategy theorem, inspired by a  very short proof (with attributions to Alex Teytelboym and Ravi Jagadeesan) in Nick Arnosti's recent blog post A Short Proof of the Truthfulness of DA by Nick Arnosti 2023/10/01 

Here's the theorem to be proved:

Dominant Strategy Theorem (Dubins and Freedman, Roth): In the M-optimal stable mechanism for the marriage problem (e.g. when the man-proposing deferred acceptance algorithm is used, which produces the most favorable stable matching for every man) it is a dominant strategy for each man i to state a preference list corresponding to his true preferences ≻.

Notation: for any preference ≻′ of player i, an outcome is ≻′-stable if it is stable when i reports ≻′ and everyone else's preferences remain constant.

Proof (following Arnosti)

Suppose that the theorem is false. That is, suppose there exist preferences for all other agents such that when i reports ≻, the resulting ≻-stable matching μ gives μ(i)=w, and when i reports ≻′ ≠ ≻, the resulting ≻′-stable matching μ′ gives μ′(i)=w′≻w. (Note that the final comparison is ≻, i.e. take ≻ to be i's true preference list.)

Consider the market in which i lists w′ as the only acceptable woman (and everyone else's preferences remain fixed). We'll see that this will lead to a contradiction with the constant employment theorem, by implying that there must exist a {w'}-stable matching in which i matches to w′, and another {w'}-stable matching in which i is unmatched. 

1. The matching μ′ assigns i to w′. Because it is ≻′-stable, it must also be {w′}-stable: the only difference between ≻′ and {w'} is that we have removed women from i’s list, which clearly does not create any new blocking pairs.

Note: this step uses only the definition of stability.

2. Let ≻′′ be the deviation in which i truncates ≻ below w′ (i leaves everyone below w′ off of his list), and let μ′′ be the resulting matching.

a. The matching μ′′ leaves i unassigned.  This follows from the fact that, if it matched i, then μ″ would be ≻-stable, since ≻ differs from ≻'' only in that it restores the truncated elements of i's preference, which would be below i's match and hence not introduce any new blocking pairs (since it wouldn't change i's match). But  μ″ can't be ≻-stable,  because w is i’s best ≻-stable partner by assumption, and is worse than all women listed in ≻′′.*

Note: this step uses the definition of stability and fact that μ is optimal for i.

b. Because μ′′  (which leaves i unassigned) is ≻′′-stable, it is also {w′}-stable: the only difference between ≻′′ and {w′} is that we have removed women from i’s list, which does not create any new blocking pairs).

Note: this step uses only the definition of stability.

To recap: μ′ and μ′′ must both be {w′}-stable, but i is matched to w′ by μ′ and unmatched by μ′′ (a contradiction).

This completes the proof.

*Note that the reason μ′′ isn't ≻-stable is that it leaves i unassigned, and so creates new blocking pairs involving i with respect to his true full preferences.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

AEA announces changes in how journals will be produced, financed and distributed

Yesterday's AEA Member Announcements include some substantial changes in how the AEA journals will be produced, distributed, and financed.

The AEA will phase out print journals over the next year by no longer offering print subscriptions for members and institutional subscribers as of February 1.  Existing print subscriptions for members and institutions will be honored through January 2025 but will be unable to be renewed.

In line with most other leading journals, the AEA will end payments to referees for reviews invited on or after February 1.

Collecting publication fees from those benefiting most from the AEA publications program distributes costs of the program more equitably than raising submission fees. With this in mind, the AEA will implement a page charge of $15 per typeset page for published articles submitted after February 1, to be paid by authors, and with provisions to waive the fee under certain circumstances. This page charge will not apply to formally solicited manuscripts (such as Presidential addresses) and will not include articles in the Journal of Economic Literature, Journal of Economic Perspectives, or AEA Papers and Proceedings.   


I wasn't party to these discussions, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone mentioned that per-page charges will feel anachronistic once print journals are no longer produced.  But maybe they will be a mild incentive for brevity (as would per-word charges, which might however inadvertently incentivize sesquipedaleanism).