Credential Recognition in the United States for Foreign Professionals (PDF)
Source: Migration Policy Institute
Foreign-trained professionals in the United States often encounter significant obstacles on their path to professional practice, among them difficulties in demonstrating the value of their past work experience and qualifications. This report examines the decentralized US credential recognition process, particularly with regards to recertification in the medical and engineering sectors and offers recommendations for improvement.
Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature
Source: Environmental Research Letters
We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors’ self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.
Updated Budget Projections: Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023
Source: Congressional Budget Office
If the current laws that govern federal taxes and spending do not change, the budget deficit will shrink this year to $642 billion, CBO estimates, the smallest shortfall since 2008. Relative to the size of the economy, the deficit this year—at 4.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—will be less than half as large as the shortfall in 2009, which was 10.1 percent of GDP.
Because revenues, under current law, are projected to rise more rapidly than spending in the next two years, deficits in CBO’s baseline projections continue to shrink, falling to 2.1 percent of GDP by 2015. However, budget shortfalls are projected to increase later in the coming decade, reaching 3.5 percent of GDP in 2023, because of the pressures of an aging population, rising health care costs, an expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, and growing interest payments on federal debt. By comparison, the deficit averaged 3.1 percent of GDP over the past 40 years and 2.4 percent in the 40 years before fiscal year 2008, when the most recent recession began. During the next 10 years, both revenues and outlays are projected to be above their 40-year averages as a percentage of GDP (see figure below).
Recent analysis indicates cell phone distracted driving crashes vastly under-reported
Source: National Safety Council
Today, the National Safety Council released findings from a recent analysis of national statistics on fatal motor vehicle crashes, in a report entitled, “Crashes Involving Cell Phones: Challenges of Collecting and Reporting Reliable Crash Data,” funded in part by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. The report reviewed 180 fatal crashes from 2009 to 2011, where evidence indicated driver cell phone use. Of these fatal crashes, in 2011 only 52% were coded in the national data as involving cell phone use.
Even when drivers admitted cell phone use during a fatal crash, the Council’s analysis found that in about one-half of these cases, the crash was not coded in Federal data (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System). In addition, there are an unknown number of cases in which cell phone use involvement in crashes is impossible to determine. One example would be a driver reading an email or text message on a phone who dies in a crash without any witnesses.
The report also brings up large differences in cell phone distraction fatal crashes reported by states. For instance, in 2011, Tennessee reported 93 fatal crashes that involved cell phone use, but New York, a state with a much larger population, reported only one. Texas reported 40, but its neighboring state Louisiana reported none.
Ameriprise Survey Shows Retirement Savings Derailed by More Than Just the Recession; Financial Impacts are Measurable
Countless studies have shown that many Baby Boomers don’t believe they have enough savings to live comfortably in retirement, but why are so many financially unprepared? Data from the Retirement DerailersSM survey, released today by Ameriprise Financial (NYSE: AMP), helps answer the questions many have about the retirement crisis in America.
The Retirement DerailersSM survey found that the vast majority (90%) of Americans ages 50-70 with $100,000 or more in investable and retirement assets have experienced at least one “derailer” – an economic or life event that has made an impact on their retirement savings goals. The average respondent experienced four of these events, which range from derailers that are beyond their control such as the effects of the recession, to family and lifestyle choices that have lasting financial consequences. In the end, these events set respondents back $117,000 on average. In fact, nearly two in five of the respondents (37%) experienced five or more unanticipated events costing them approximately $144,000.
Unexpected expenses come in all shapes and sizes both before and during retirement, but there are a few that rose to the top. The top three most cited derailers are, not surprisingly, related to the recession. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents say low interest rates impacted the growth of their investments. More than half (55%) say their savings were significantly lowered due to market declines and one-third (33%) admit their home equity is now not going to help fund retirement as much as they expected.
Still, many respondents experienced life events that derailed their retirement. One in four (23%) are supporting a grown child or grandchild and just as many (23%) say their pension plan is not worth as much as they’d thought or has been discontinued. What’s more, one in five respondents’ retirement goals have been thrown off track due to making bad investments (22%), taking social security before retirement age (19%) and/or experiencing a job loss (18%).
While it appears that Boomers have found a way to “make it work” in the short-term as they weather these unexpected derailers, they may not have the ability to be as resilient after they leave the workforce. Only 33 percent of respondents say they are extremely or very confident they would be able to afford an unexpected expense such as large home repairs in retirement.
GAO — Federal Government Has Taken Some Steps but Could Do More to Combat Elder Financial Exploitation
Source: Government Accountability Office
Older adults are being financially exploited by strangers who inundate them with mail, telephone, or Internet scams; unscrupulous financial services professionals; and untrustworthy in-home caregivers. Local law enforcement authorities in the four states GAO visited indicated that investigating and prosecuting the growing number of cases involving interstate and international mass marketing fraud–such as "grandparent scams," which persuade victims to wire money to bail "grandchildren" out of jail or pay their expenses–is particularly difficult. In addition, older adults, like other consumers, may lack the information needed to make sound decisions when choosing a financial services provider. As a result, they can unknowingly risk financial exploitation by those who use questionable tactics to market unsuitable or illegal financial products. Local officials also noted that it is difficult to prevent exploitation by in-home caregivers, such as home health or personal care aides, individuals older adults must rely on.
GAO identified several ways the federal government is, or could be, supporting state and local efforts to combat elder financial exploitation.
- With regard to mass marketing scams, GAO has recommended that the Department of Justice reach out to law enforcement authorities in states to clarify how they can obtain the federal assistance needed to handle interstate or international mass marketing fraud.
- To help prevent exploitation by financial services professionals, the Securities and Exchange Commission links to a public website where the qualifications of individual financial services providers can be found, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued guidance on how best to convey this information to older adults.
- To prevent exploitation by in-home caregivers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides grants that fund background checks for employees of agencies that provide these services.
Other federal efforts are broader in scope and help combat all types of elder financial exploitation. For example, each of the seven federal agencies GAO reviewed has independently undertaken activities to increase public awareness of this exploitation; however, GAO has recommended that the federal government develop a more strategic approach to these efforts. Further, recognizing the importance of collaboration among those interacting with older adults, GAO has recommended measures to educate bank staff on how to identify potential exploitation and improve collaboration among social service and law enforcement agencies, among others, as they respond to reports of exploitation. GAO has also noted the need for more data on the extent and nature of elder financial exploitation, some of which can be collected from consumer complaints filed with federal agencies. Finally, preventing and responding to elder financial exploitation calls for a more cohesive and deliberate national strategy. To this end, GAO has recommended that the Elder Justice Coordinating Council–a group of federal agency heads charged with setting priorities and coordinating federal efforts to combat elder abuse nationwide–develop a written national strategy for combating elder financial exploitation.