Safety Report on Eliminating Impaired Driving
Source: National Transportation Safety Board
On May 14, 2013, the 25th anniversary of our nation’s deadliest drunk-driving crash, which killed 24 children and three adults in Carrollton, Ky., the NTSB’s five-member board voted unanimously to issue bold recommendations to help the United States reach zero and eliminate alcohol-impaired driving.
Bold steps are needed: On average, every hour, one person dies in a crash involving a drunk driver and 20 more people are injured, including three with debilitating injuries. That adds up quickly to yearly totals of nearly 10,000 deaths, 27,000 lives forever altered and another 146,000 injured.
The safety report and recommendations culminate a year-long effort by the NTSB to thoroughly examine this problem and develop a set of targeted interventions. The recommendations include:
- Reduce state BAC limits from 0.08 to 0.05 or lower
- Increase use of high-visibility enforcement
- Develop and deploy in-vehicle detection technology
- Require ignition interlocks for all offenders
- Improve use of administrative license actions
- Target and address repeat offenders
- Reinforce use and effectiveness of DWI courts
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administraion — Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review
Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review (PDF)
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration\
IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS
Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status to review for indications of significant political campaign intervention. Although the IRS has taken some action, it will need to do more so that the public has reasonable assurance that applications are processed without unreasonable delay in a fair and impartial manner in the future.
WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT
TIGTA initiated this audit based on concerns expressed by members of Congress. The overall objective of this audit was to determine whether allegations were founded that the IRS: 1) targeted specific groups applying for tax-exempt status, 2) delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications, and 3) requested unnecessary information from targeted groups.
WHAT TIGTA FOUND
The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention. Ineffective management: 1) allowed inappropriate criteria to be developed and stay in place for more than 18 months, 2) resulted in substantial delays in processing certain applications, and 3) allowed unnecessary information requests to be issued.
Although the processing of some applications with potential significant political campaign intervention was started soon after receipt, no work was completed on the majority of these applications for 13 months. This was due to delays in receiving assistance from the Exempt Organizations function Headquarters office. For the 296 total political campaign intervention applications TIGTA reviewed as of December 17, 2012, 108 had been approved, 28 were withdrawn by the applicant, none had been denied, and 160 were open from 206 to 1,138 calendar days (some for more than three years and crossing two election cycles).
More than 20 months after the initial case was identified, processing the cases began in earnest. Many organizations received requests for additional information from the IRS that included unnecessary, burdensome questions (e.g., lists of past and future donors). The IRS later informed some organizations that they did not need to provide previously requested information. IRS officials stated that any donor information received in response to a request from its Determinations Unit was later destroyed.
WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED
TIGTA recommended that the IRS finalize the interim actions taken, better document the reasons why applications potentially involving political campaign intervention are chosen for review, develop a process to track requests for assistance, finalize and publish guidance, develop and provide training to employees before each election cycle, expeditiously resolve remaining political campaign intervention cases (some of which have been in process for three years), and request that social welfare activity guidance be developed by the Department of the Treasury.
In their response to the report, IRS officials agreed with seven of our nine recommendations and proposed alternative corrective actions for two of our recommendations. TIGTA does not agree that the alternative corrective actions will accomplish the intent of the recommendations and continues to believe that the IRS should better document the reasons why applications potentially involving political campaign intervention are chosen for review and finalize and publish guidance.
Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military 2012
Source: U.S. Department of Defense
In FY12, the Military Services received a total of 3,374 reports of sexual assault involving Service members as either victims or subjects, which represents a 6 percent increase from the 3,192 reports made in FY11.
FDA approves Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptive without a prescription for women 15 years of age and older
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that it has approved an amended application submitted by Teva Women’s Health, Inc. to market Plan B One-Step (active ingredient levonorgestrel) for use without a prescription by women 15 years of age and older.
After the FDA did not approve Teva’s application to make Plan B One-Step available over-the-counter for all females of reproductive age in December 2011, the company submitted an amended application to make the product available for women 15 years of age and older without a prescription.
The product will now be labeled “not for sale to those under 15 years of age *proof of age required* not for sale where age cannot be verified.” Plan B One-Step will be packaged with a product code prompting a cashier to request and verify the customer’s age. A customer who cannot provide age verification will not be able to purchase the product. In addition, Teva has arranged to have a security tag placed on all product cartons to prevent theft.
In addition, Teva will make the product available in retail outlets with an onsite pharmacy, where it generally, will be available in the family planning or female health aisles. The product will be available for sale during the retailer’s normal operating hours whether the pharmacy is open or not.
Plan B One-Step is an emergency contraceptive intended to reduce the possibility of pregnancy following unprotected sexual intercourse – if another form of birth control (e.g., condom) was not used or failed. Plan B One-Step is a single-dose pill (1.5 mg tablet) that is most effective in decreasing the possibility of unwanted pregnancy if taken immediately or within 3 days after unprotected sexual intercourse.
Plan B One-Step will not stop a pregnancy when a woman is already pregnant, and there is no medical evidence that the product will harm a developing fetus.
Home Prices Rise in February 2013 According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (Word)
Source: Standard & Poor’s
Data through February 2013, released today by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller 1 Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed average home prices increased 8.6% and 9.3% for the 10- and 20-City Composites in the 12 months ending in February 2013. The 10- and 20-City Composites rose 0.4% and 0.3% from January to February.
All 20 cities covered by the indices posted year-over-year increases for at least two consecutive months. In 16 of the 20 cities annual growth rates rose from the last month; Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix saw slight annual deceleration ranging from -0.1 to -0.4 percentage points. Phoenix continued to stand out with an impressive year-over-year return of +23.0% while Atlanta and Dallas had the highest annual growth rates in the history of these indices since 1992 and 2001, respectively.
National Income and Product Accounts — Gross Domestic Product, First Quarter 2013 (advance estimate)
National Income and Product Accounts — Gross Domestic Product, First Quarter 2013 (advance estimate)
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis
Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013 (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 0.4 percent.
The Bureau emphasized that the first-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 3 and “Comparisons of Revisions to GDP” on page 5). The “second” estimate for the first quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on May 30, 2013.
The increase in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, exports, residential investment, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from federal government spending and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.
Airline Quality Rating 2013
Source: Purdue University/Wichita State University
The Airline Quality Rating (AQR) was developed and first announced in early 1991 as an objective method for assessing airline quality on combined multiple performance criteria. This current report, the Airline Quality Rating 2013, reflects monthly Airline Quality Rating scores for calendar year 2012. AQR scores for 2013 are based on 15 elements in four major areas that focus on airline performance aspects important to air travel consumers over the calendar year of 2012.
The Airline Quality Rating 2013 is a summary of month-by-month quality ratings for U.S. airlines that are required to report performance by virtue of having at least 1% of domestic scheduled-service passenger revenue during 2012. Using the Airline Quality Rating system of weighted averages and monthly performance data in the areas of on-time arrivals, involuntary denied boardings, mishandled baggage, and a combination of 12 customer complaint categories, airlines’ comparative performance for the calendar year of 2012 is reported. This research monograph contains a brief summary of the AQR methodology, detailed data and charts that track comparative quality for domestic airline operations for the 12-month period of 2012, and industry results. Also, comparative Airline Quality Rating data for 2011 are included, where available, to provide historical perspective regarding performance quality in the industry.
Source: U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
The decisions of the Secretary with respect to Plan B One-Step and that of the FDA with respect to the Citizen Petition, which it had no choice but to deny, were arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable. I decline to direct a remedy comparable to that which I directed in my 2009 opinion, such as directing that emergency contraception be made available without a prescription but with the current point-of-sale restrictions to women whom studies have demonstrated are capable of understanding the label and using the product appropriately. As I have previously observed, the obstructions in the path of those adolescents in obtaining levonorgestrel-based emergency contraceptives under the current behind-the-counter regime have the practical effect of making the contraceptives unavailable without a doctor’s prescription. Consequently, the decision of the FDA denying the Citizen Petition is reversed, and the case is remanded to the FDA with the instruction to grant the Citizen Petition and make levonorgestrel-based emergency contraceptives available without a prescription and without point-of-sale or age restrictions within thirty days. On remand, the FDA may determine whether any new labeling is reasonably necessary. Moreover, if the FDA actually believes there is any significant difference between the one- and two-pill products, it may limit its over-the-counter approval to the one-pill product.
The Employment Situation — March 2013
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Nonfarm payroll employment edged up in March (+88,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment grew in professional and business services and in health care but declined in retail trade.
Monetary Costs of Dementia in the United States
Source: New England Journal of Medicine
We used nationally representative data to document comprehensively the incremental increase in costs attributable to dementia that arise from market transactions for goods and services as well as the costs of unpaid caregiving. We found that dementia leads to total annual societal costs of $41,000 to $56,000 per case, with a total cost of $159 billion to $215 billion nationwide in 2010. Our calculations suggest that the aging of the U.S. population will result in an increase of nearly 80% in total societal costs per adult by 2040.
The main component of the costs attributable to dementia is the cost for institutional and home-based long-term care rather than the costs of medical services — the sum of the costs for nursing home care and formal and informal home care represent 75 to 84% of attributable costs. Our estimate places dementia among the diseases that are the most costly to society. The cost for dementia care purchased in the marketplace ($109 billion) was similar to estimates of the direct health care expenditures for heart disease ($96 billion in 2008, or $102 billion in 2010 dollars) and significantly higher than the direct health care expenditures for cancer ($72 billion in 2008, or $77 billion in 2010 dollars). These costs do not include the costs of informal care, which are likely to be larger for dementia than for heart disease or cancer.
Although the costs attributable to dementia reported here are large, they are considerably smaller than those reported by the Alzheimer’s Association, which has estimated that in 2010 the monetary costs alone were $172 billion (2010 dollars) as compared with our estimate of $109 billion. There are several reasons for this higher estimate. It is likely that the cost per case reported by the Alzheimer’s Association is higher because it was estimated on the basis of a sample from a more severely impaired population (persons identified in the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey as having dementia). The higher cost is also based on a significantly larger estimate of the prevalence of dementia. The national prevalence of dementia used by the Alzheimer’s Association is derived from a study of three Chicago neighborhoods. The diagnostic criteria for dementia used in that study did not require the presence of a limitation in ADLs or IADLs (a criterion that was used in ADAMS), a factor that probably led to the substantially higher estimate of the prevalence of dementia in the Chicago study. Finally, the cost estimate from the Alzheimer’s Association was not adjusted for the costs of coexisting conditions.
Source: National Rifle Association
What more can we do as a nation to improve the safety of our children at school? This was the question raised by the National Rifle Association (NRA) after the Sandy Hook tragedy in which twenty young lives were taken along with the lives of six devoted school staff.
The posing of this question led to the assembly of a team of recognized experts in homeland security, law-enforcement training and school safety to conduct a survey of selected schools and their current security standards. This review has been conducted without any preconceived conclusions or mandate from the NRA except to determine what is needed to save young lives. The NRA has fully honored its commitment to respect the independence of this task force and to fund its work.
There are many experts in school safety. Some are self-proclaimed experts and others are nationally recognized leaders and innovators. The group of experts assembled for the National School Shield (NSS) Task Force is a selection of the most experienced and respected security experts; however, it is recognized that there are many others who have written, worked and contributed in the arena of school safety. While our report studied and reviewed the work of many in the field, our purpose was to bring together experts with different security backgrounds to provide a fresh perspective to the challenge of school violence. It is our hope that as the NSS continues into the future, the contribution and support for this initiative by school safety experts will expand.
Changes in Prevalence of Parent-reported Autism Spectrum Disorder in School-aged U.S. Children: 2007 to 2011–2 012
Source: National Center for Health Statistics
Objectives—This report presents data on the prevalence of diagnosed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as reported by parents of school-aged children (ages 6–17 years) in 2011–2012. Prevalence changes from 2007 to 2011–2012 were evaluated using cohort analyses that examine the consistency in the 2007 and 2011–2012 estimates for children whose diagnoses could have been reported in both surveys (i.e., those born in 1994–2005 and diagnosed in or before 2007).
Data sources—Data were drawn from the 2007 and 2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), which are independent nationally representative telephone surveys of households with children. The surveys were conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics with funding and direction from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau
Results—The prevalence of parent-reported ASD among children aged 6–17 was 2.00% in 2011–2012, a significant increase from 2007 (1.16%). The magnitude of the increase was greatest for boys and for adolescents aged 14–17. Cohort analyses revealed consistent estimates of both the prevalence of parentreported ASD and autism severity ratings over time. Children who were first diagnosed in or after 2008 accounted for much of the observed prevalence increase among school-aged children (those aged 6–17). School-aged children diagnosed in or after 2008 were more likely to have milder ASD and less likely to have severe ASD than those diagnosed in or before 2007.
Conclusions—The results of the cohort analyses increase confidence that differential survey measurement error over time was not a major contributor to observed changes in the prevalence of parent-reported ASD. Rather, much of the prevalence increase from 2007 to 2011–2012 for school-aged children was the result of diagnoses of children with previously unrecognized ASD.
EBRI’s 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey: Perceived Savings Needs Outpace Reality for Many
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute
• The percentage of workers confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement is essentially unchanged from the record lows observed in 2011. While more than half express some level of confidence (13 percent are very confident and 38 percent are somewhat confident), 28 percent are not at all confident (up from 23 percent in 2012 but statistically equivalent to 27 percent in 2011), and 21 percent are not too confident.
• Retiree confidence in having a financially secure retirement is also unchanged, with18 percent very confident and 14 percent not at all confident.
• One reason that retirement confidence has remained low despite a brightening economic outlook may be that some workers may be waking up to a realization of just how much they may need to save. Asked how much they believe they will need to save to achieve a financially secure retirement, a striking number of workers cite large savings targets: 20 percent say they need to save between 20 and 29 percent of their income and nearly one-quarter (23 percent) indicate they need to save 30 percent or more.
• Aggressive as those savings targets appear to be, they may not be based on a careful analysis of their individual circumstances. Only 46 percent report they and/or their spouse have tried to calculate how much money they will need to have saved by the time they retire so that they can live comfortably in retirement.
• Retirement savings may be taking a back seat to more immediate financial concerns: Just 2 percent of workers and 4 percent of retirees identify saving or planning for retirement as the most pressing financial issue facing most Americans today. Both workers and retirees are most likely to identify job uncertainty (30 percent of workers and 27 percent of retirees) and making ends meet (12 percent each).
• Cost of living and day-to-day expenses head the list of reasons why workers do not contribute (or contribute more) to their employer’s plan, with 41 percent of eligible workers citing this factor.
• Debt may be another factor standing in the way; 55 percent of workers and 39 percent of retirees report having a problem with their level of debt, and only half (50 percent of workers and 52 percent of retirees) say they could definitely come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose within the next month.
• Worker confidence in the affordability of various aspects of retirement continues to decline. In particular, increases are seen in the percentage of workers not at all confident about their ability to pay for basic expenses (16 percent, up from 12 percent in 2011), medical expenses (29 percent, up from 24 percent in 2012), and long-term care expenses (39 percent, up from 34 percent in 2012).
• Just 23 percent of workers (and 28 percent of retirees) report they have obtained investment advice from a professional financial advisor who was paid through fees or commissions. Of these workers, 27 percent followed all of the advice, but more disregarded some of it and followed most (41 percent) or some (27 percent).
Source: American Society of Civil Engineers
From Executive Summary:
Every family, every community and every business needs infrastructure to thrive. Infrastructure encompasses your local water main and the Hoover Dam; the power lines connected to your house and the electrical grid spanning the U.S.; and the street in front of your home and the national highway system.
Once every four years, America’s civil engineers provide a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s major infrastructure categories in ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (Report Card). Using a simple A to F school report card format, the Report Card provides a comprehensive assessment of current infrastructure conditions and needs, both assigning grades and making recommendations for how to raise the grades. An Advisory Council of ASCE members assigns the grades according to the following eight criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation. Since 1998, the grades have been near failing, averaging only Ds, due to delayed maintenance and underinvestment across most categories.
Now the 2013 Report Card grades are in, and America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure rose slightly to a D+. The grades in 2013 ranged from a high of B- for solid waste to a low of D- for inland waterways and levees. Solid waste, drinking water, wastewater, roads, and bridges all saw incremental improvements, and rail jumped from a C- to a C+. No categories saw a decline in grade this year.
Source: Republican National Committee (via Washington Post)
The RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project, an effort to take the existing party engine and give it a top-to-bottom tuneup, has solutions that include: A $10 million-dollar effort to better connect with minority communities; moving up the 2016 convention to as early as June, so the party nominee can tap general-election funding earlier, and limiting the number of primary debates to 10 or 12, rather than the nearly two dozens during the last presidential primary season.
Source: U.S. Army (Task Force on Behavioral Health) (via Federal News Radio)
The Army has devoted an extraordinary amount of time, attention, and resources to care for Soldiers returning from deployments, especially those with behavioral health conditions. The Army continues to make great strides in changing the culture that stigmatized those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and to educate and encourage Soldiers and leaders to heal these invisible wounds of war. The Army has revised several policies to ensure Soldiers with PTSD are prop – erly diagnosed, and if appropriate, considered for a medical discharge. Most recently, the Army proactively implemented several initiatives to resolve some of the findings discovered during the ATFBH comprehensive review. These changes are positive steps for our wounded, ill and injured, and this CAP details subsequent actions required to achieve a more efficient and effective disability system for Soldiers with behavioral health conditions.