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Identity Theft Tops FTC’s Consumer Complaint Categories Again in 2014

February 27, 2015 Comments off

Identity Theft Tops FTC’s Consumer Complaint Categories Again in 2014
Source: Federal Trade Commission

Identity theft topped the Federal Trade Commission’s national ranking of consumer complaints for the 15th consecutive year, while the agency also recorded a large increase in the number of complaints about so-called “imposter” scams, according to the FTC’s 2014 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, which was released today.

Imposter scams – in which con artists impersonate government officials or others – moved into third place on the list of consumer complaints, entering the top three complaint categories for the first time. The increase in imposter scams was led by a sharp jump in complaints about IRS and other government imposter scams. Debt collection held steady as the second-most-reported complaint.

1,024 of 1,031 Highest Paid Federal Employees are VA Doctors

February 26, 2015 Comments off

1,024 of 1,031 Highest Paid Federal Employees are VA Doctors
Source: AllGov.com

Doctors working for the Department of Veterans Affairs are dominating the ranks of the highest paid federal employees, according to a new federal salary database.

Of the top 1,031 highest salaries in federal service, 1,024 belong to “medical officers” employed by the Veterans Health Administration. Leading the way among those physicians is Dr. Thomas Burdon, a specialist in thoracic surgery based in Palo Alto, California, who makes $402,462 a year. The next highest paid is Dr. Thomas Cacciarelli in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who makes $873 less.

Government Executive reported that more than 16,900 federal employees made more than $200,000 in base salary last year. The database does not include the salaries of Department of Defense (DOD) personnel, according to Government Executive.

However, the three best-paid DOD personnel aren’t generals, admirals or anything like that. They’re football coaches. Army’s Jeff Monken tops the list with a guaranteed income of $1,680,000 in 2014, according to a survey by Newsday. He’s followed by Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo at $1,574,809 and Air Force’s Troy Calhoun at “only” $825,000.

How digital is your country? New figures reveal progress needed towards a digital Europe

February 26, 2015 Comments off

How digital is your country? New figures reveal progress needed towards a digital Europe
Source: European Commission

There are plenty of digital opportunities waiting to be unlocked to benefit European citizens and companies. From shopping or studying online, to paying bills or using public services over the Internet – the Web is the answer, if the right conditions are in place. This is the conclusion of a new Digital Economy and Society Index developed by the European Commission and released today. Data shows that the picture of how digital countries are varies across the EU and that borders remain an obstacle to a fully-fledged Digital Single Market – one of the top priorities of the Juncker Commission.

The new tool presented today gives snapshots, per country, of connectivity (how widespread, fast and affordable broadband is), Internet skills, the use of online activities from news to shopping, how key digital technologies (e-invoices, cloud services, e-commerce, etc) and digital public services such as e-government and e-health are developed. The data is mostly from 2013 and 2014 and gives an overview of how digital Europe is, including rankings of the top digital performers.

First in Freedom Index

February 25, 2015 Comments off

First in Freedom Index
Source: John Locke Foundation

Overall, North Carolina ranks 23rd in the nation and 5th among the 12 states of the Southeast. Florida holds the #1 slot on the FFI, followed by Arizona, Indiana, South Dakota, and Georgia.

The least-free state is New York, which is joined in the bottom five by New Jersey, California, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

North Carolina’s best showing is fiscal policy. Before the 2013 tax reform, North Carolina ranked among the worst states in the nation in tax climate. North Carolina now ranks 16th in the nation in fiscal freedom and 3rd in the Southeast, behind only Florida and Virginia.

On educational freedom, North Carolina ranks 18th in the nation and 5th in the Southeast. Strong protections for homeschooling were helpful here, as was the passage of opportunity scholarships in 2013. But North Carolina ranks below the national average in public school choice.

Between 2006 and 2010, Unintended Pregnancy Rates Declined in a Majority of States

February 25, 2015 Comments off

Between 2006 and 2010, Unintended Pregnancy Rates Declined in a Majority of States
Source: Guttmacher Institute

In 2010, more than half of all pregnancies were unintended in 28 states; in the remainder of states, a minimum of 36% of pregnancies were unintended, according to “Unintended Pregnancy Rates at the State Level: Estimates for 2010 and Trends Since 2002,” by Kathryn Kost. In most states, unintended pregnancy rates were within the range of 40 to 55 per 1,000 women aged 15–44; the states with the highest unintended pregnancy rates were Delaware (62), Hawaii and New York (61 each), and the lowest rate was in New Hampshire (32). Unintended pregnancy rates were generally highest in the South (Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia) and Southwest (Texas, New Mexico), and in densely populated states (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York).

100 Books on Europe to Remember

February 24, 2015 Comments off

100 Books on Europe to Remember
Source: European Parliament

Welcome to this dedicated new web space freely available to the public which presents, in at least one official EU language, a selection of the 100 Books on Europe to Remember.

The European Parliament has attempted to make a comprehensive selection of academic, intellectual and political works on the European idea and the development of the European integration process, taking into account the vast geographical, linguistic and intellectual spectrum of ideas.

State-Level Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: A State-by-State Analysis

February 23, 2015 Comments off

State-Level Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: A State-by-State Analysis (PDF)
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes provisions to improve access to affordable health insurance, including access to employer sponsored insurance (ESI). However, concerns have been raised that the ACA could have unintended consequences that would cause declines in ESI. To provide a baseline for understanding the impacts of the ACA on ESI, this report examines and compares trends during two time periods: a period before and including the recession (2004/2005 to 2008/2009), and a period including and since the recession (2008/2009 to 2012/2013). While the majority of non- elderly Americans with health insurance are covered by employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), the percentage of the U.S. population with ESI has been declining for more than a decade — a trend that accelerated during the time of the Great Recession (December 2007 to June 2009).

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