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UK — Ofcom publishes report on internet safety measures

July 24, 2014 Comments off

Ofcom publishes report on internet safety measures
Source: Ofcom
Ofcom has today published a report for Government outlining measures the UK’s largest internet service providers have put in place to help parents protect children from harmful content online.

This follows an agreement between the Government and BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, the four largest fixed line internet service providers (ISPs), announced in July 2013. Each ISP committed to offer new customers ‘family-friendly network-level filtering’ by the end of December 2013.

This is the second of three reports the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has asked Ofcom to produce on internet safety measures to protect children. The DCMS asked Ofcom to look at the approach taken by each ISP to implement family-friendly filtering services which block content that may be inappropriate or harmful for children, rather than assess the effectiveness of the filters.

The report also describes measures taken by ISPs to present a pre-ticked ‘unavoidable choice’ to new customers on whether or not to activate the filter, and includes initial take-up data among new customers offered filters.

The filters apply to all web based internet content, on any device that is connected to the fixed broadband network in the home.

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Enterprising States 2014: Re-Creating Equality and Opportunity

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Enterprising States 2014: Re-Creating Equality and Opportunity
Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has released its annual Enterprising States study, offering an in-depth look at the free enterprise policies being implemented to promote economic growth at the state and local levels.

Now in its fifth edition, the Enterprising States study measures state performance overall and across five policy areas important for job growth and economic prosperity. Those five areas include:

  • Talent Pipeline
  • Exports and International Trade
  • Technology and Entrepreneurship
  • Business Climate
  • Infrastructure

The 2014 report relates these policies and practices to the need for collaboration between education, workforce development, and economic development to positively combat the nation’s growing skills gap.

Proximity to Coast Is Linked to Climate Change Belief

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Proximity to Coast Is Linked to Climate Change Belief
Source: PLoS ONE

Psychologists have examined the many psychological barriers to both climate change belief and concern. One barrier is the belief that climate change is too uncertain, and likely to happen in distant places and times, to people unlike oneself. Related to this perceived psychological distance of climate change, studies have shown that direct experience of the effects of climate change increases climate change concern. The present study examined the relationship between physical proximity to the coastline and climate change belief, as proximity may be related to experiencing or anticipating the effects of climate change such as sea-level rise. We show, in a national probability sample of 5,815 New Zealanders, that people living in closer proximity to the shoreline expressed greater belief that climate change is real and greater support for government regulation of carbon emissions. This proximity effect held when adjusting for height above sea level and regional poverty. The model also included individual differences in respondents’ sex, age, education, political orientation, and wealth. The results indicate that physical place plays a role in the psychological acceptance of climate change, perhaps because the effects of climate change become more concrete and local.

2014 BCG Local Dynamos: How Companies in Emerging Markets Are Winning at Home

July 23, 2014 Comments off

2014 BCG Local Dynamos: How Companies in Emerging Markets Are Winning at Home
Source: Boston Consulting Group

Emerging markets remain global growth engines. Although some of these markets are doing better than others, they collectively offer the most promising opportunities for expansion. Yet global companies often struggle to create successful business models in emerging markets. At the same time, many local companies are thriving—building businesses that attract local customers and defeat both other homegrown companies and multinationals. Understanding the successful practices of these companies can help you win in these markets, too.

Several banks, for example, have grown quickly and profitably in emerging markets, even though most consumers frequently have unstable incomes and don’t have even a checking account. In Mexico, Banco Mercantil del Norte, or Banorte, wanted to reach potential customers without constructing expensive bank branches, so it decided to rely on other companies’ bricks and mortar. The bank partnered with Telecomm-Telegrafos, a rural telecom operator with 1,621 retail locations; 7-Eleven, one of the fastest-growing convenience chains in Mexico, with 1,720 contact points; Tiendas Extra, a convenience store with 883 locations; Soriana, a supermarket chain offering 633 points of sale; and Grupo Control, with 75 points of contact as of March 2014. These partnerships aim to offer basic financial products such as deposits, credit cards, remittances, and withdrawals.

Across the Pacific Ocean, Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), the nation’s oldest and most profitable bank, serves the street vendors and merchants that power the nation’s local economy. BRI sends employees equipped with handheld devices into 2,300 busy markets and bazaars, which cater to nearly 6 million customers. The bank is experimenting with floating branches to reach remote customers on Indonesia’s more than 900 inhabited islands.

In all industries, local companies are transforming the constraints of emerging economies into profitable opportunities and becoming thriving commercial enterprises. We have compiled a list of such energetic private-sector companies—or local dynamos—to highlight their accomplishments. Though there are hundreds of dynamos, we focused on just 50 to better see how their practices may be applied more broadly to all companies that want to succeed in these markets.

New report on state of EU Telecommunications markets

July 23, 2014 Comments off

New report on state of EU Telecommunications markets
Source: European Commission

Today the European Commission published a report on the telecommunications market and regulation in the EU. The report covers 2012 – 2013 years.

The main findings of the report:

  • Industry revenues again declined in 2013 but investment is beginning to grow;
  • Use of traditional telephony services is decreasing as internet (VoIP) services become increasingly popular;
  • Data traffic is growing quickly;
  • Mobile voice call and data prices are higher in the EU than in the US, while the usage of mobile is higher in the US, resulting in a higher ‘average revenue per user’ in the US.
  • Only Denmark, Germany, Latvia and Malta met the 2012 target for the authorisation of the specific spectrum bands. 21 Member States did eventually meet the target in 2013, but the delay in assignment of the 800 MHz band has significantly slowed the roll-out of 4G mobile across the EU.
  • The time needed to obtain permits to roll-out new networks ranges from a few days to years depending on where in the EU you are building the network. Most authorities still do not allow for electronic submission of requests.

UK consumers believe that they can’t do without the internet and mobile phones, new Ofcom research reveals

July 23, 2014 Comments off

UK consumers believe that they can’t do without the internet and mobile phones, new Ofcom research reveals
Source: Ofcom

The study examined which communications services UK consumers consider ‘essential’ in their day to day lives and whether they are affordable, particularly for the most vulnerable in society.

This forms part of Ofcom’s on-going work to ensure consumers receive value for money from their communications services. Encouraging and promoting consumer participation in the communications markets is also a key priority for Ofcom.

There was broad consensus among consumers on what ‘essential’ means in relation to communications services.

People said the ability to contact the emergency services, keep in touch with family and friends, or access information, education and entertainment were among the key functions of essential services.

Overall, the study found that telephone services, in particular mobiles, and internet access were most essential to UK consumers. Some 61% of consumers rated voice services (mobile or landline) as essential, 59% considered mobile voice or text services as essential, while 57% regarded personal internet access as essential.

The research also revealed that certain services are considered essential by some, but less important by others, with age being a key factor. Landline telephone services are considered essential by people aged 75 and above (61%), compared to just 12% of 16-24 year olds. However, accessing the internet via a smartphone was considered essential to 53% of 16-24 year olds, but to no one aged 75 and above.

Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development: Chinese and Outside Perspectives

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development: Chinese and Outside Perspectives
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

The goal behind this report is not to present the authors’ view of the balance, but rather to provide the basis for an unclassified dialogue on the military developments in China, including the size and structure of the country’s current and planned military forces. It draws on official US, Chinese, and other Asian official reporting, as well as the work of other scholars and the data bases developed by the IISS and Jane’s in an effort to compare different views of Chinese strategy and military developments, and is meant to provide US, Chinese, and other analysts with a better basis for understanding Western estimates of the changes in Chinese force strength and force quality.

The United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) face a critical need to improve their understanding of how each is developing its military power and how to avoid forms of military competition that could lead to rising tension or conflict between the two states. This report focuses on China’s military developments and modernization and how they are perceived in the UIS, the West, and Asia. It utilizes the unclassified data available in the West on the trends in Chinese military forces. It relies heavily on the data in the US Department of Defense (DoD) Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, particularly the 2013 and 2014 editions.

It relies heavily on the annual military balances compiled by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), though a range of sources are included. It should be noted that this report focuses on Chinese forces, and therefore presents only one side of the US and Chinese balance and the security situation in Asia. It also draws upon a Burke Chair report entitled The Evolving Military Balance in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, looking at the bilateral US-Chinese balance in more detail.

Accordingly, it focuses on the actual changes taking place in Chinese forces, and it provides a detailed analysis detailed analysis of the trends in Chinese military forces since 1985, examining how the often-conflicting trends in outside sources interact with reporting on Chinese military spending and strategy. It also shows that important changes are taking place in US strategy and that these changes must be considered when evaluating Chinese actions.

Census Bureau Updates Interactive HIV/AIDS Database; New Prevalence Estimates from More Than 100 Countries

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Census Bureau Updates Interactive HIV/AIDS Database; New Prevalence Estimates from More Than 100 Countries
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau today released its annually updated interactive global resource on the prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS cases and deaths. First developed in 1987, the database now holds more than 164,000 statistics, an increase of approximately 5,900 new estimates in the last year, and is the most comprehensive resource of its kind in the world.

The Census Bureau database is maintained with funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The tool consists of a library of statistics from more than 14,900 sources in international scientific and medical journals, individual countries’ annual HIV/AIDS surveillance reports, and papers and posters presented at international conferences. China represents 28 percent of the new records in the database, the largest increase by a single country.

The menu-driven access tool enables users to search for statistical information in countries and territories across the world, as well as by subpopulation, geographic subarea (such as urban and rural), age, sex and year from the 1960s to 2013.

Defense offsets: From ‘contractual burden’ to competitive weapon

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Defense offsets: From ‘contractual burden’ to competitive weapon
Source: McKinsey & Company

Western defense companies now need to look outside their core markets for growth. In the aftermath of the global economic crisis and over a decade of engagement in southwest Asia, many Western countries have scaled back their defense budgets, favoring instead more targeted spending and austerity plans. In Europe, ministries of defense are downsizing their military operations and procurement programs, and in the United States, the effects of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration will restrict defense spending through 2021 absent congressional action. By contrast, many countries representing addressable markets in Asia, the Middle East, and South America are investing in defense-modernization programs and over the past few years have increased their defense spending at compound annual growth rates of between 5 and 10 percent.

AU — The arts and culture: a quick guide to key internet links

July 22, 2014 Comments off

The arts and culture: a quick guide to key internet links
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This Quick Guide provides links to:

  • Australian Government organisations responsible for the arts and culture
  • state and territory government websites
  • regional arts websites
  • non-government organisations websites and
  • international organisations.

It also provides links to a range of organisations by art form:

  • ballet and dance
  • film
  • libraries
  • literature
  • museums and galleries
  • music and opera
  • performing arts education
  • theatre and
  • visual arts.

Moving Up or Standing Still? Access to Middle-Skilled Work for Newly Arrived Migrants in the European Union

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Moving Up or Standing Still? Access to Middle-Skilled Work for Newly Arrived Migrants in the European Union
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Over the past 15 years, migration in Europe has changed considerably. The economic boom in the early and mid-2000s and expanded mobility owing to European Union enlargement helped create new populations of migrants from both within and beyond the European Union. These recent migrants are more educated than earlier arrivals and many are highly skilled. Against the backdrop of the global economic crisis, which profoundly affected many migrant-receiving countries in Europe, governments are grappling with questions of how to ensure that immigrants are able to find employment and progress into better jobs over time.

This overview report caps a series of six country case studies evaluating the employment outcomes for foreign-born workers in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The study examines how easy it is for newcomers in the European Union to establish themselves in destination-country labor markets in the first ten years after arrival, and how well they are able to move out of unskilled work and into middle-skilled jobs.

Impact of Fed Tapering Announcements on Emerging Markets

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Impact of Fed Tapering Announcements on Emerging Markets
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper analyzes market reactions to the 2013–14 Fed announcements relating to tapering of asset purchases and their relationship to macroeconomic fundamentals and country economic and financial structures. The study uses daily data on exchange rates, government bond yields, and stock prices for 21 emerging markets. It finds evidence of markets differentiating across countries around volatile episodes. Countries with stronger macroeconomic fundamentals, deeper financial markets, and a tighter macroprudential policy stance in the run-up to the tapering announcements experienced smaller currency depreciations and smaller increases in government bond yields. At the same time, there was less differentiation in the behavior of stock prices based on fundamentals.

New From the GAO

July 21, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Consumer Finance: Credit Cards Designed for Medical Services Not Covered by Insurance. GAO-14-570, June 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-570
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664256.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/664738

2. State Department: Implementation of Grants Policies Needs Better Oversight. GAO-14-635, July 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-635
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664905.pdf

3. African Growth and Opportunity Act: Observations on Competitiveness and Diversification of U.S. Imports from Beneficiary Countries. GAO-14-722R, July 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-722R

Australia’s female political leaders: a quick guide

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Australia’s female political leaders: a quick guide
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This Quick Guide draws together information about women who have held leadership positions in Australia from Federation to May 2014. It includes vice-regal appointments, presiding officers, government, opposition and parliamentary party leaders, and parliamentary party presidents.

This Quick Guide includes dates in office, positions held and significant firsts. It also includes women who have served as deputy leaders in the Commonwealth Parliament. The final table presents women who have held executive (non-parliamentary) leadership positions in the parliamentary parties.

This information has been compiled from a range of sources including the Commonwealth Parliamentary Handbook, the Australian Electoral Commission, vice-regal, parliamentary and political party websites, biographies and archives relating to women in politics, and media articles relating to individual appointments.

A hyperlink to individual biographies is included where available, together with selected online sources for further reading. Using the arrows that appear in the header, the information may be ordered by name, party, jurisdiction, chamber and year of election/appointment.

Ofcom has today published research on consumer attitudes and trends in violence shown on UK TV programmes

July 21, 2014 Comments off

Ofcom has today published research on consumer attitudes and trends in violence shown on UK TV programmes
Source: Ofcom

Ofcom has today published research on consumer attitudes and trends in violence shown on UK TV programmes.

The research supports Ofcom in its role in protecting TV viewers, especially children. It looks at how violence on TV has changed since Ofcom issued guidelines to broadcasters in 2011 to avoid programmes being shown before 9pm that might be unsuitable for children.

The research comprises two separate reports. The first study focused on public attitudes towards violence on TV among people from a range of ages and socio-economic groups.

The second was an analysis of four popular UK soap operas, which looked at instances of violence, or threats of violence, and people’s views on them.

International Migration: The Relationship with Economic and Policy Factors in the Home and Destination Country

July 18, 2014 Comments off

International Migration: The Relationship with Economic and Policy Factors in the Home and Destination Country
Source: OECD

Unfavourable demographic trends in many OECD countries threaten the sustainability of potential labour resources, GDP growth and fiscal positions. One factor that is expected to mitigate these trends is continued inflows of migrant workers from low income economies. However, a rapid catch-up in productivity and wages in these traditional source countries vis-à-vis the OECD may weaken economic incentives for migration and imply a transition away from current migration patterns. This paper uses data of the high-skilled and low-skilled migrant stock between 92 origin and 44 destination countries to highlight the relationship between economic factors and migration. The paper also attempts to uncover links with policy and demographic factors prevailing in the origin and destination countries. The analysis suggests that higher skill-specific wages in the destination country are associated with more migration. This relationship appears to be particularly strong for migrants from middle-income countries, supporting theories of an inverted-U relationship between origin country economic development and the propensity to migrate. Policy differences between the destination and origin also appear important, for example in terms of regulations on businesses and labour markets, along with the relative quality of institutions. In some instances, the effects on high-skilled and low-skilled migrants differ markedly. Combining the estimated coefficients from the model with the skill-specific wage profile from the OECD long-term growth projections highlights the potential for weaker future migrant flows to OECD countries than implied by past trends and embedded in official projections.

CRS — U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians

July 18, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Since the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has committed approximately $5 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, who are among the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid. Successive Administrations have requested aid for the Palestinians in apparent support of at least three major U.S. policy priorities of interest to Congress:

• Preventing terrorism against Israel from Hamas and other militant organizations.
• Fostering stability, prosperity, and self-governance in the West Bank that inclines Palestinians toward peaceful coexistence with Israel and a “two-state solution.”
• Meeting humanitarian needs.

Entrepreneurs Have the Potential to Create 10 Million Youth Jobs in G20 Countries, New Accenture Research Finds

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Entrepreneurs Have the Potential to Create 10 Million Youth Jobs in G20 Countries, New Accenture Research Finds
Source: Accenture

Entrepreneurs can help drive the creation of 10 million youth jobs across the G20 countries if existing barriers to entrepreneurship were lifted, according to new research from Accenture (NYSE: ACN). The study also indicates that while 74 percent of entrepreneurs surveyed by Accenture say they plan to recruit young talent in 2014, many believe that a shortage of people with relevant skills is hindering job creation and growth.

The Accenture study, “The promise of digital entrepreneurs: creating 10 million youth jobs in the G20 countries,” analyzes the views of more than 1,000 entrepreneurs and highlights the barriers that are limiting the potential of entrepreneurs to create jobs and grow the economy. The report illustrates that while 85 percent believe they have a critical role to play in the creation of jobs for young people, they face a number of challenges including securing funding, scaling and sustaining innovation, growing internationally and accessing the right skills. The study was developed ahead of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit in Sydney.

The report indicates that many entrepreneurs believe more could be done to foster an environment of youth job creation in their country. Only one quarter (26 percent) consider the actions taken by their government to support youth job creation as relevant and efficient. Additionally, more than half (54 percent) cite a lack of incentives as a barrier to taking on more young people.

Iran’s Influence in Afghanistan: Implications for the U.S. Drawdown

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Iran’s Influence in Afghanistan: Implications for the U.S. Drawdown
Source: RAND Corporation

This study explores Iranian influence in Afghanistan and the implications for the United States after the departure of most American forces from Afghanistan. Iran has substantial economic, political, cultural, and religious leverage in Afghanistan. Kabul faces an obdurate insurgency that is likely to exploit the U.S. and international drawdown. The Afghan government will also face many economic difficulties in future years, and Afghanistan is highly dependent on international economic aid. Additionally, the biggest problem facing Afghanistan may be political corruption. Iranian influence in Afghanistan following the drawdown of international forces need not necessarily be a cause of concern for the United States though. Although Tehran will use its cultural, political, and economic sway in an attempt to shape a post-2016 Afghanistan, Iran and the United States share core interests there: to prevent the country from again becoming dominated by the Taliban and a safe haven for al Qaeda.

This study examines Iran’s historic interests in Afghanistan and its current policies in that country, and explores the potential implications for U.S. policy. The research is based on field interviews in Afghanistan, the use of primary sources in Dari and Persian, and scholarly research in English.

Future of Asia’s Finance: How Can it Meet Challenges of Demographic Change and Infrastructure Needs?

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Future of Asia’s Finance: How Can it Meet Challenges of Demographic Change and Infrastructure Needs?
Source: International Monetary Fund

There is a role for Asia’s financial sector to play to address the challenges associated with the region’s changing demographics and infrastructure investment needs. Enhancing financial innovation and integration in the region could facilitate intra-regional financial flows and mobilize resources from the aging savers in industrialized Asia to finance infrastructure investment in emerging Asia. Strengthening the financial ties within the region as well as with the global financial markets alongside appropriate prudential frameworks could also help diversify sources of financing and reduce the cost of funding in emerging Asia. Finally, financial deepening could help ease the potential overheating from scaling up infrastructure investment and hence achieve a more balanced growth in the region.

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