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New From the GAO

October 30, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Pension Plan Valuation: Views on Using Multiple Measures to Offer a More Complete Financial Picture. GAO-14-264, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-264
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666288.pdf

2. DOD Business Systems Modernization: Additional Enhancements Are Needed for Army Business System Schedule and Cost Estimates to Fully Meet Best Practices. GAO-14-470, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-470
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666294.pdf

3. Federal Real Property: More Useful Information to Providers Could Improve the Homeless Assistance Program. GAO-14-739, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-739
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666258.pdf

4. VA Health Care: Management and Oversight of Consult Process Need Improvement to Help Ensure Veterans Receive Timely Outpatient Specialty Care. GAO-14-808, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-808
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666249.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/666528

5. Energy Policy: Information on Federal and Other Factors Influencing U.S. Energy Production and Consumption from 2000 through 2013. GAO-14-836, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-836
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666271.pdf

6. Disability Compensation: Review of Concurrent Receipt of Department of Defense Retirement, Department of Veterans Affairs Disability Compensation, and Social Security Disability Insurance. GAO-14-854R, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-854R

7. DOD Space Systems: Additional Knowledge Would Better Support Decisions about Disaggregating Large Satellites. GAO-15-7, October 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-7
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666715.pdf

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Climatescope 2014

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Climatescope 2014
Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Inter-American Development Bank Group, U.K. Government Department for International Development, U.S. Agency for International Development

The Climatescope is a unique country-by-country assessment, interactive report and index that evaluates the investment climate for climate-related investment worldwide.

It profiles 55 countries worldwide and evaluates their ability to attract capital for low-carbon energy sources while building a greener economy.

The Climatescope is a snapshot of where clean energy policy and finance stand today, and a guide to where clean energy can go tomorrow.

This marks the third year of the Climatescope project. In 2012 and 2013, the Climatescope focused exclusively on Latin America and the Caribbean. The first edition was developed by the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank Group in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

In 2014, the UK Department for International Development and the US Agency for International Development have joined as supporters and advisors. The project has been expanded to include 55 countries, states, and provinces in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Bloomberg New Energy Finance serves as research partner and author of the report.

Deloitte Survey: Economic Optimism Warms Holiday Shoppers

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Deloitte Survey: Economic Optimism Warms Holiday Shoppers
Source: Deloitte

Optimism about the economy is kindling holiday cheer as shoppers plan to spend more this year and tech-savvy shoppers have even higher spending expectations, according to Deloitte’s 29th annual holiday survey. Among the findings:

Holiday spending to increase — consumers who shop across store, mobile and online channels are expected to spend more than single-channel shoppers

  • Total holiday spending is predicted to increase by 13 percent to $1,299 per household, and includes gifts, socializing away from home, entertaining at home, non-gift clothing for family or self, home/holiday furnishings, and any other holiday-related spending not in the other categories.
  • Spending on just gifts is expected to rise by 9 percent to $458 this year, from $421 last year.
  • Consumers who shop across store, mobile and online channels are expected to spend 66 percent more on gifts than those shopping stores only, $592 versus $357.
  • The number of gifts consumers expect to purchase increased to 13.4, up from 12.9 in 2013, but nearly 10 gifts less than the high of 23.1 in 2007.

Backgrounder: Media Censorship in China

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Backgrounder: Media Censorship in China
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The Chinese government has long kept tight reins on both traditional and new media to avoid potential subversion of its authority. Its tactics often entail strict media controls using monitoring systems and firewalls, shuttering publications or websites, and jailing dissident journalists, bloggers, and activists. The severity of media censorship grabbed headlines in early January 2013 when Southern Weekly, a liberal-leaning paper based in Guangzhou, staged a week-long confrontation with the government after local propaganda authorities rewrote a front-page pro-reform editorial. Google’s battle with the Chinese government over Internet censorship in China, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s awarding of the 2010 Peace Prize to jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo, have also increased international attention to media censorship in the country. At the same time, the country’s burgeoning economy has allowed for greater diversity in China’s media coverage, and experts say the growing Chinese demand for information is testing the regime’s control.

Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

In the United States, climate change is likely to increase average daily temperatures and the frequency of heat waves. Dairy cows are particularly sensitive to heat stress, and the dairy sector has been estimated to bear over half of the costs of current heat stress to the livestock industry. Greater heat stress may lower U.S. milk production 0.6-1.3 percent by 2030.

Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies

October 29, 2014 Comments off

Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies
Source: British Medical Journal

Objective
To examine whether high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in women and men.

Design
Cohort studies.

Setting
Three counties in central Sweden.

Participants
Two large Swedish cohorts, one with 61 433 women (39-74 years at baseline 1987-90) and one with 45 339 men (45-79 years at baseline 1997), were administered food frequency questionnaires. The women responded to a second food frequency questionnaire in 1997.

Main outcome measure
Multivariable survival models were applied to determine the association between milk consumption and time to mortality or fracture.

Results
During a mean follow-up of 20.1 years, 15 541 women died and 17 252 had a fracture, of whom 4259 had a hip fracture. In the male cohort with a mean follow-up of 11.2 years, 10 112 men died and 5066 had a fracture, with 1166 hip fracture cases. In women the adjusted mortality hazard ratio for three or more glasses of milk a day compared with less than one glass a day was 1.93 (95% confidence interval 1.80 to 2.06). For every glass of milk, the adjusted hazard ratio of all cause mortality was 1.15 (1.13 to 1.17) in women and 1.03 (1.01 to 1.04) in men. For every glass of milk in women no reduction was observed in fracture risk with higher milk consumption for any fracture (1.02, 1.00 to 1.04) or for hip fracture (1.09, 1.05 to 1.13). The corresponding adjusted hazard ratios in men were 1.01 (0.99 to 1.03) and 1.03 (0.99 to 1.07). In subsamples of two additional cohorts, one in males and one in females, a positive association was seen between milk intake and both urine 8-iso-PGF2α (a biomarker of oxidative stress) and serum interleukin 6 (a main inflammatory biomarker).

Conclusions
High milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women and in another cohort of men, and with higher fracture incidence in women. Given the observational study designs with the inherent possibility of residual confounding and reverse causation phenomena, a cautious interpretation of the results is recommended.

See also: Editorial – Milk and Mortality

Enabling the Hyperconnected Age: The role of semiconductors

October 29, 2014 Comments off

Enabling the Hyperconnected Age: The role of semiconductors
Source: Oxford Economics

The semiconductor is one of the most pervasive and powerful inventions in human history—the material core of the Internet age. In a recent poll of scientists, historians, and technologists, asked to rank the top innovations since the wheel, the semiconductor came in fourth—just behind the printing press, electricity, and penicillin, but ahead of eyeglasses, paper, and the steam engine. An Oxford Economics analysis found that the semiconductor contributed $2.7 trillion in global GDP in 2012, and directly supported 1.3 million high-value jobs.

As our planet grows ever more connected and our societies become more able to measure, analyze, and predict behaviors in the physical world, continued advances in the capabilities of the semiconductor will help whole new industries flourish, while stimulating further dramatic increases in global productivity, economic growth, innovation, and sustainability. As a result, it will be crucial for policy-makers to support a healthy semiconductor ecosystem, and for educators to provide a steady stream of young minds to reach new frontiers.

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