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International Religious Freedom Report for 2013

July 28, 2014 Comments off

International Religious Freedom Report for 2013
Source: U.S. Department of State

In 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory. In almost every corner of the globe, millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs. Out of fear or by force, entire neighborhoods are emptying of residents. Communities are disappearing from their traditional and historic homes and dispersing across the geographic map. In conflict zones, in particular, this mass displacement has become a pernicious norm.

In Syria, as in much of the Middle East, the Christian presence is becoming a shadow of its former self. After three years of civil war, hundreds of thousands fled the country desperate to escape the ongoing violence perpetrated by the government and extremist groups alike. In the city of Homs the number of Christians dwindled to as few as 1,000 from approximately 160,000 prior to the conflict. Elsewhere, in the Central African Republic, widespread lawlessness and an upsurge in sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims reportedly resulted in at least 700 deaths in Bangui in December alone and the displacement of more than one million people throughout the country during the year.

Anti-Muslim violence in Meikhtila, Burma, led to up to 100 deaths and an estimated 12,000 displaced residents from the area in early 2013. This event showed that mob violence against Muslims was no longer confined to western Rakhine State, where over 140,000 persons have also been displaced since 2012. Although the government’s overall human rights record continued to improve, organized anti-Muslim hate speech, harassment, and discrimination against Muslims continued, exploited by those seeking to divide and pit Buddhist and Muslim communities against one another, often for political gain.

All around the world, individuals were subjected to discrimination, violence and abuse, perpetrated and sanctioned violence for simply exercising their faith, identifying with a certain religion, or choosing not to believe in a higher deity at all.

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NAR Identifies Best Purchase Markets for Aspiring Millennial Homebuyers

July 25, 2014 Comments off

NAR Identifies Best Purchase Markets for Aspiring Millennial Homebuyers
Source: National Association of REALTORS®

First-time homebuyers have been largely absent from the housing market in the current economic recovery, but some metropolitan areas – particularly in the Midwest and West – are well positioned to see increases in home-buying from the Millennial generation in upcoming years, according to new research by the National Association of Realtors®.

NAR analyzed current housing conditions, job creation and population trends in metropolitan statistical areas1 across the U.S. to determine the best markets for aspiring, leading edge Millennial2 homebuyers. Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City were identified as top standouts for Millennials for having a young adult population with solid job growth rates and still relatively affordable home prices. Seven of the 10 metro areas recognized are in the Midwest and West.

First OECD PISA financial literacy test finds many young people confused by money matters

July 25, 2014 Comments off

First OECD PISA financial literacy test finds many young people confused by money matters
Source: OECD

Around one in seven students in the 13 OECD countries and economies that took part in the first OECD PISA international assessment of financial literacy are unable to make even simple decisions about everyday spending, and only one in ten can solve complex financial tasks.

Some 29 000 15 year-olds in 18 countries and economies* took part in the test, which assessed the knowledge and skills of teenagers in dealing with financial issues, such as understanding a bank statement, the long-term cost of a loan or knowing how insurance works.

Shanghai-China had the highest average score in financial literacy, followed by the Flemish Community of Belgium, Estonia, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic and Poland.

The gender gap in financial literacy was much smaller than in OECD PISA tests in maths or reading, with there being no significant difference between the performance of boys and girls, except in Italy.

But the inequality gap mirrors that in key school subjects: more socio-economically advantaged students scored much higher than less-advantaged students on average across participating OECD countries and economies. Non-immigrant students also performed slightly better than immigrant students from a similar socio-economic status. The gap between the two groups is larger than the OECD average in the Flemish Community of Belgium, Estonia, France, Slovenia and Spain.

The survey also revealed that skills in mathematics and reading are very closely related to financial literacy. However, high proficiency in one of these subjects does not always signal strong performance in financial literacy.
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When New Yorkers Move Out of New York City Where Do They Go?

July 24, 2014 Comments off

When New Yorkers Move Out of New York City Where Do They Go?
Source: New York City Independent Budget Office

Click on a state to see number and percent of households moving to that state.

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.

67 Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Nationwide in First Half of 2014

July 22, 2014 Comments off

67 Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Nationwide in First Half of 2014
Source: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

Today the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund issued a new report stating that 67 officers have been killed in the line of duty during the first half of 2014—a 31 percent increase over the same period last year.

Of these 67 officers, 26 were killed in traffic-related incidents; 25 were killed by gunfire; and 16 died due to job-related illnesses and other causes.

Key Facts

  • Traffic-related incidents were once again the leading cause of officer fatalities, with 26 officers killed in the first half of 2014—a 37 percent increase over the same period last year.
  • Firearms-related fatalities spiked to 25 in the first half of this year—a 56 percent increase over the first six months of 2013. Investigating suspicious persons or situations was the leading circumstance of fatal shootings, with six officer fatalities; followed by ambushes, with five officer fatalities.
  • Sixteen officers died due to other causes in the first half of 2014, the same as the number reported during the same time last year. Job-related illnesses, such as heart attacks, increased 62 percent in the first half of 2014, with 13 officer fatalities compared to eight during the same period last year.
  • California led all states with eight officer fatalities; followed by Florida, New York, Texas and Virginia each with four peace officer fatalities.

wefi Reveals Top U.S. Locations for the Best Wi-Fi Connectivity During Summer Travel Season

July 22, 2014 Comments off

wefi Reveals Top U.S. Locations for the Best Wi-Fi Connectivity During Summer Travel Season
Source: wefi

Key travel considerations have changed dramatically as more and more people rely on their mobile devices to stay connected while away from home. With two thirds of Americans planning at least one leisure trip this summer, wefi, the market leader in delivering actionable mobile intelligence and network analytics, today revealed the top U.S. hotels, beaches and airports with the best Wi-Fi connectivity for these road warriors. As evidenced in wefi’s findings, not all destinations provide the same level of connectivity.

wefi collected data from more than 45 million hotspots based on the implementation of its intelligent network selection solution within multiple cable operators throughout the U.S. The metrics are based on a 45-day average of Wi-Fi speeds for each location starting from April 1 to June 15, 2014.

As mobile devices have become more and more essential to people on the road, it’s important to consider places with the best bandwidth connectivity. If traveling by air, consider that the Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Michigan offers the fastest Wi-Fi, closely followed by Denver International Airport in Colorado. For beach-goers, Clearwater Beach, Florida tops the list of beaches with the fastest Wi-Fi, while four of the top nine are located in California.

London Tops MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index as Most Visited City

July 21, 2014 Comments off

London Tops MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index as Most Visited City
Source: MasterCard

London tops the list as the destination of choice for international travelers for the third time in four years, according to the annual MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released today.

Now in its fourth year, the index provides a ranking of the 132 most travelled cities from around the world.

Rounding out the top five cities are Bangkok, Paris, Singapore and Dubai, which are benefiting from a surge in international travel fueled by an expanding middle class, innovations in luxury travel and rising need for business travel. The index also indicates this surge will continue, even with more technology and collaboration tools available to businesses.

Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau
From press release:

For 2013, the 10 MSAs with the highest vehicle theft rates were:

 

2013 Ranking 2012 Ranking
1. Bakersfield, Calif. 3.
2. Fresno, Calif. 2.
3. Modesto, Calif. 1.
4. San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, Calif. 6.
5. Stockton-Lodi, Calif. 4.
6. Redding, Calif. 10.
7. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. 9.
8. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. 8.
9. San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, Calif. 7.
10. Yuba City, Calif. 31.

Geographical Variation in Health-Related Quality of Life Among Older US Adults, 1997–2010

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Geographical Variation in Health-Related Quality of Life Among Older US Adults, 1997–2010
Source: Preventing Chronic Disease

Introduction
Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is an important predictor of morbidity and mortality; however, its geographical variation in older adults in the United States has not been characterized. We compared HRQOL among older adults in the 50 US states and the District of Columbia using the Health and Activities Limitation Index (HALex). We also compared the HRQOL of 4 regions: South, West, Midwest, and Northeast.

Methods
We analyzed pooled data from 1997 through 2010 from the National Health Interview Survey for participants aged 65 or older. HALex scores (which range from 0 to 1.00, with higher values indicating better health) were calculated by combining data on participants’ perceived health and activity limitations. We ranked states by mean HALex score and performed multivariable logistic regression analyses to compare low scores (defined as scores in the lowest quintile) among US regions after adjustment for sociodemographics, health behaviors, and survey design.

Results
Older residents of Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia had the lowest mean HALex scores (range, 0.62–0.68); residents of Arizona, Delaware, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Vermont had the highest mean scores (range, 0.78–0.79). Residents in the Northeast (odds ratio [OR], 0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.57–0.76) and the Midwest (OR, 64; 95% CI, 0.56–0.73) were less likely than residents in the South to have scores in the lowest quintile after adjustment for sociodemographics, health behaviors, and survey design.

Conclusion
Significant regional differences exist in HRQOL of older Americans. Future research could provide policy makers with information on improving HRQOL of older Americans.

IIHS issues recommendations on used vehicles for teens after research finds many aren’t driving the safest ones

July 17, 2014 Comments off

IIHS issues recommendations on used vehicles for teens after research finds many aren’t driving the safest ones
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Many teenagers are driving vehicles that don’t offer good crash protection and lack important safety technology, new research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows. To help guide parents toward safer choices, IIHS has compiled its first-ever list of recommended used vehicles for teens.

IIHS is known for its ratings of new vehicles, but for many families, a 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ isn’t in the budget. In a national phone survey conducted for IIHS of parents of teen drivers, 83 percent of those who bought a vehicle for their teenagers said they bought it used.

With that reality in mind, the Institute has compiled a list of affordable used vehicles that meet important safety criteria for teen drivers (see below). There are two tiers of recommended vehicles with options at various price points, ranging from less than $5,000 to nearly $20,000, so parents can buy the most safety for their money, whatever their budget.

Global Real Estate Tra​nspare​ncy Index 2014

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Global Real Estate Tra​nspare​ncy Index 2014
Source: Jones Lang LaSalle

JLL’s eighth Global Real Estate Transparency Index , covering 102 markets worldwide, shows continued progress in the transparency of commercial real estate around the world. Over 80% of markets have registered improvement since 2012. The top improvers in each survey generally correlate with a surge in foreign direct investment and corporate occupier activity, as investors help to accelerate transparency reforms and governments realise that poor transparency will affect continued inward investment, long-term growth prospects and the quality of life of citizens.​​​​​​​

For More Than a Decade, The NY Yankees Have Been America’s Favorite Baseball Team; New Instant Replay rule considered good for baseball

July 16, 2014 Comments off

For More Than a Decade, The NY Yankees Have Been America’s Favorite Baseball Team; New Instant Replay rule considered good for baseball (PDF)
Source: Harris Interactive

The mid-point of the baseball season is now upon us as Major League Baseball pauses to celebrate their all stars. Those not playing in the All Star Game get a few days off to rest before the race to the end of the summer and post-season play begins in earnest. This means it is also time to see who America’s Favorite Baseball Team is this year.

Among those who follow the sport, the New York Yankees again win the honor of being “America’s Favorite,” as they have each year since 2003. In the second spot on the list again are their long time arch-rivals, the Boston Red Sox. Moving up seven spots, from ten to three are the San Francisco Giants. Rounding out the top five are the Chicago Cubs at number four (rising 3 spots from last time) and, at number five, the Atlanta Braves, dropping two spots from number three last year.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,241 adults, of whom 763 follow Major League Baseball, surveyed online between June 4 and 16, 2014.

Looking at the bottom half of the top ten favorite teams, tied for number six are the Los Angeles Dodgers (down from number 4 last year) and the Detroit Tigers (down from a tie for number 5), followed by the Milwaukee Brewers (#8, up from a 21st place tie), the Minnesota Twins (#9, up from a tie for #13) and in a tie for tenth, the Kansas City Royals (up from a tie for #19) and the St. Louis Cardinals (up from a tie for #11).

Who is going to win it all… and who don’t people want there
When it comes to the World Series, a repeat is not expected to be in the works as almost one in five baseball followers (17%) say the San Francisco Giants will win the Fall Classic this October, followed by the New York Yankees (13%), the Detroit Tigers (9%), the Oakland Athletics (8%), and the Los Angeles Dodgers (7%). Less than one in ten baseball followers (6%) say the Boston Red Sox will win again.

And, where there is the team people think will win, there is also the team fans don’t want to see in the World Series. Two in five baseball followers (40%) say the New York Yankees are the one team they least want to see make it to the World Series. At a distant second, 14% say this about the Boston Red Sox, while 6% say this about the Los Angeles Dodgers and 4% do not want to see the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.

2014 CoreLogic Storm Surge Analysis Identifies More Than 6.5 Million US Homes with Total Reconstruction Value of Nearly 1.5 Trillion Dollars at Risk of Hurricane Storm Surge Damage

July 14, 2014 Comments off

2014 CoreLogic Storm Surge Analysis Identifies More Than 6.5 Million US Homes with Total Reconstruction Value of Nearly 1.5 Trillion Dollars at Risk of Hurricane Storm Surge Damage
Source: CoreLogic

CoreLogic® (NYSE: CLGX), a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider, today released its 2014 storm surge analysis featuring estimates on both the number and reconstruction value of single-family homes exposed to hurricane-driven storm surge risk within the United States. According to the findings, more than 6.5 million homes along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts are at risk of storm surge inundation, representing nearly $1.5 trillion in total potential reconstruction costs. More than $986 billion of that risk is concentrated within 15 major metro areas. This exposure could constitute significant risk for homeowners and financial services companies, as many at-risk homes lack protection from insurance coverage.

The analysis examined homes along the coastlines of 19 states and the District of Columbia in the Gulf and Atlantic regions, extending as far west as Texas and as far north as Maine. Florida ranks number one for the highest number of homes at risk of storm surge damage, with nearly 2.5 million homes at various risk levels and $490 billion in total potential exposure to damage. At the local level, the New York metropolitan area, which encompasses northern New Jersey and Long Island as well, contains not only the highest number of homes at risk for potential storm surge damage (687,412), but also the highest total reconstruction value of homes exposed, at more than $251 billion.

Free registration required to download report.

World’s population increasingly urban with more than half living in urban areas

July 14, 2014 Comments off

World’s population increasingly urban with more than half living in urban areas
Source: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Today, 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050. Projections show that urbanization combined with the overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050, with close to 90 percent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa, according to a new United Nations report launched today.

The 2014 revision of the World Urbanization Prospects by UN DESA’s Population Division notes that the largest urban growth will take place in India, China and Nigeria. These three countries will account for 37 per cent of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2014 and 2050. By 2050, India is projected to add 404 million urban dwellers, China 292 million and Nigeria 212 million.

With nearly 38 million people, Tokyo tops UN’s ranking of most populous cities followed by Delhi, Shanghai, Mexico City, São Paulo and Mumbai

The urban population of the world has grown rapidly from 746 million in 1950 to 3.9 billion in 2014. Asia, despite its lower level of urbanization, is home to 53 per cent of the world’s urban population, followed by Europe with 14 per cent and Latin America and the Caribbean with 13 per cent.

The world’s urban population is expected to surpass six billion by 2045. Much of the expected urban growth will take place in countries of the developing regions, particularly Africa. As a result, these countries will face numerous challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including for housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy and employment, as well as for basic services such as education and health care.

EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

July 10, 2014 Comments off

EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce
Source: Environmental Working Group

Two-thirds of produce samples in recent government tests had pesticide residues. Don’t want to eat bug- and weed-killers? EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce helps you shop smart. We highlight the cleanest and dirtiest conventionally-raised fruits and vegetables. If a conventionally grown food you want tests high for pesticides, go for the organic version instead. And remember – the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh risks of pesticide exposure. Dirty Dozen™ Plus highlights hot peppers and leafy greens – kale and collard greens – often tainted with unusually hazardous pesticides.

First OECD PISA financial literacy test finds many young people confused by money matters

July 10, 2014 Comments off

First OECD PISA financial literacy test finds many young people confused by money matters
Source: OECD

Around one in seven students in the 13 OECD countries and economies that took part in the first OECD PISA international assessment of financial literacy are unable to make even simple decisions about everyday spending, and only one in ten can solve complex financial tasks.

Some 29 000 15 year-olds in 18 countries and economies* took part in the test, which assessed the knowledge and skills of teenagers in dealing with financial issues, such as understanding a bank statement, the long-term cost of a loan or knowing how insurance works.

hanghai-China had the highest average score in financial literacy, followed by the Flemish Community of Belgium, Estonia, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic and Poland.

The gender gap in financial literacy was much smaller than in OECD PISA tests in maths or reading, with there being no significant difference between the performance of boys and girls, except in Italy.

But the inequality gap mirrors that in key school subjects: more socio-economically advantaged students scored much higher than less-advantaged students on average across participating OECD countries and economies. Non-immigrant students also performed slightly better than immigrant students from a similar socio-economic status. The gap between the two groups is larger than the OECD average in the Flemish Community of Belgium, Estonia, France, Slovenia and Spain.

The survey also revealed that skills in mathematics and reading are very closely related to financial literacy. However, high proficiency in one of these subjects does not always signal strong performance in financial literacy.

Market Risk Premium Used in 88 Countries in 2014: A Survey with 8,228 Answers

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Market Risk Premium Used in 88 Countries in 2014: A Survey with 8,228 Answers
Source: Social Science Research Network

This paper contains the statistics of the Equity Premium or Market Risk Premium (MRP) used in 2014 for 88 countries. We got answers for more countries, but we only report the results for 88 countries with more than 6 answers.

37% of the MRP used in 2014 decreased (vs. 2013) and 9% increased.

Most previous surveys have been interested in the Expected MRP, but this survey asks about the Required MRP. The paper also contains the references used to justify the MRP, comments from 30 persons that do not use MRP, and comments from 53 persons that do use MRP.

Human Rights Campaign Foundation 2014 Corporate Equality Index

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Human Rights Campaign Foundation 2014 Corporate Equality Index (PDF)
Source: Human Rights Campaign

Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2014 Corporate Equality Index is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

In the 2014 CEI report, 304 major businesses — spanning nearly every industry and geography — earned a top score of 100 percent and the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”

2014 Google Scholar Metrics released

July 8, 2014 Comments off

2014 Scholar Metrics released
Source: Google

Scholar Metrics provide an easy way for authors to quickly gauge the visibility and influence of recent articles in scholarly publications. Today, we are releasing the 2014 version of Scholar Metrics. This release is based on citations from all articles that were indexed in Google Scholar as of mid-June 2013 and covers articles published in 2009–2013.

Scholar Metrics include journal articles from websites that follow our inclusion guidelines, selected conference articles in Computer Science & Electrical Engineering and preprints from arXiv, SSRN, NBER, and RePEc. As in previous releases, publications with fewer than 100 articles in the covered period, or publications that received no citations are not included.

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