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Heritage Foundation Releases First Annual “Index of U.S. Military Strength”

March 4, 2015 Comments off

Heritage Foundation Releases First Annual “Index of U.S. Military Strength”
Source: Heritage Foundation

The U.S. military may be weaker than you think. All but one branch of America’s military and nuclear forces are currently operating at “marginal” strength levels. The exception is the Air Force, which is rated as “strong” in the “Index of U.S. Military Strength,” released today by The Heritage Foundation.

A first-of-its-kind report, the Index provides an in-depth analysis of global threats to vital U.S. interests and our armed forces’ ability to prevail against them. It concludes that, overall, U.S. armed forces are not capable of prevailing when fighting two regional conflicts at once, a longstanding strategic objective. It notes that, while terrorism still presents a serious threat, Russia and China pose the greatest danger to U.S. national security.

Digital divide: Improving Internet access in the developing world through affordable services and diverse content

March 4, 2015 Comments off

Digital divide: Improving Internet access in the developing world through affordable services and diverse content
Source: Brookings Institution

In his latest paper, Darrell West argues that it is especially important to make progress on digital access, particularly in the cases of India and China. In these countries, an estimated 2 to 4 billion people have no Internet access, comprising over half of the world’s disconnected populace. Addressing barriers to connectivity in this part of the world will make it easier for the unconnected to use digital services, bring them into the technology era, and give them access to valuable tools for economic development and social integration.

From this research, it is clear that zero rating programs—waiving data caps for people who lack the financial resources for expensive data plans—represent effective ways to expand access by bringing impoverished people into a diverse and competitive digital world and drive demand for local content and services. These approaches help to address the affordability challenges that exist, especially in many parts of the developing world.

Policies that promote telecommunications competition help reduce access charges and thereby enable more people to use Internet services. And if people can access a wide range of digital content through multilingualism or their local languages, it will promote greater literacy and show people the social, economic, and civic benefits of Internet connectivity. With these kinds of changes, it is possible to narrow the digital divide and bring digital benefits to billions of people around the world.

Nearly one in three UK broadband connections now superfast

March 4, 2015 Comments off

Nearly one in three UK broadband connections now superfast
Source: Ofcom

Nearly one in three UK broadband connections are now superfast, up from around one in four in November 2013, according to new Ofcom research.

The growing take-up of superfast cable or fibre services – connections delivering 30Mbit/s and above – has resulted in average UK broadband speeds increasing by a fifth in the six months to November 2014.

The average UK broadband speed is now 22.8Mbit/s, up from 18.7Mbit/s in May 2014, marking the largest absolute rise (4.1Mbit/s) in broadband speeds Ofcom has recorded (-1-).

Faster cable and fibre services have lower availability in rural areas, and rural broadband speeds are typically slower, delivering around one third of urban speeds on average.

EU — Digital Single Market – Key Studies

March 4, 2015 Comments off

Digital Single Market – Key Studies
Source: European Parliament Think Thank

This leaflet provides a compilation of papers prepared by the European Parliament’s Policy Departments in relation to the Digital Single Market. The completion of a Digital Single Market for all citizens and sectors, across all of Europe will boost productivity and contribute to the development of the European economy. The Digital Agenda for Europe is a roadmap for bringing the benefits of a digital society and economy to Europe’s citizens. Legislative work is being carried out in order to deliver sustainable economic and social benefits and create a legal framework for all data processing activities in the EU for the years to come.

Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, Jun 2010 to Jun 2014

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, Jun 2010 to Jun 2014
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

  • There were 2,100,162 actively trading businesses in Australia in June 2014.
  • The number of actively trading businesses in Australia increased by 1% between June 2013 and June 2014.
  • The business entry rate increased from 11.2% in 2012-13 to 13.7% in 2013-14.
  • The business exit rate decreased from 14.0% in 2012-13 to 12.7% in 2013-14.
  • 61.7% of the businesses that were actively trading in Australia in June 2010 were still operating in June 2014.
  • Half of the businesses that started operating in 2010-11 were still operating in June 2014.

Legalized Tax Fraud: How Top US Corporations Continue to Profit Through Offshore Tax Havens

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Legalized Tax Fraud: How Top US Corporations Continue to Profit Through Offshore Tax Havens
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget (Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, today called on America’s leading corporations to stop sheltering profits in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens. He also urged them to stop lobbying Congress for additional tax breaks as the Business Roundtable, an organization representing some of the largest corporations in the country, is expected to do tomorrow.

Sanders issued a new report that provides a fresh glimpse into the far-reaching corporate tax avoidance strategies of large and profitable companies represented by the Business Roundtable, including what he calls the “legalized tax fraud” of sheltering profits in offshore tax havens.

The report shows for the first time how more than 50 percent of the companies represented by the Business Roundtable are collectively holding more than $1 trillion in profits in offshore tax haven countries where it is not subject to U.S. taxes.

The report also shows that several of the companies have been profitable for years but pay nowhere near the 35 percent income tax rate that nominally applies to corporate profits. In fact, according to a report last year by the Government Accountability Office, the effective tax rate for large, profitable corporations was just 12.6 percent in 2010, a figure that Sanders is asking the GAO to update today. The report also points out that a number of huge corporations – including General Electric, Boeing, Duke Energy and Verizon – not only have paid nothing in federal income tax in recent years, they received refunds from the IRS.

UK — Choice in end of life care

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Choice in end of life care
Source: Department of Health

The independently led Review of Choice in End of Life Care has provided advice to Government which includes:

  • establishing a ‘national choice offer’ focused on individual’s end of life care needs by April 2020
  • providing an additional £130 million funding for end of life health and social care services
  • establishing 24/7 community end of life care by 2019 in all areas
  • implementing shared electronic end of life care records by April 2018 in all areas
  • a named responsible senior clinician for all people approaching the end of life
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