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International Food Security Assessment, 2015-25

July 1, 2015 Comments off

International Food Security Assessment, 2015-25
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

The number of food-insecure people in the 76 low- and middle-income countries included in this report is projected to fall 9 percent, from 521 million in 2014 to 475 million in 2015. Over the longer term, the food security situation is projected to deteriorate as the share of population that is food insecure moves from 13.4 percent in 2015 to 15.1 percent in 2025.

USICH Releases 2015 Amendment to Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness

July 1, 2015 Comments off

USICH Releases 2015 Amendment to Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness
Source: U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), along with its 19 member agencies, announced today the release of an amendment to Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.

Originally released on this day in 2010, Opening Doors is the nation’s first comprehensive Federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. The Plan provides a roadmap for coordinated, joint action among the 19 USICH member agencies in conjunction with local and state partners.

Since the launch of Opening Doors five years ago, the trajectory of homelessness in America has changed dramatically. According to the 2014 Point-in-Time count, overall homelessness has declined nationwide by 10 percent since 2010. Homelessness among families with children has decreased 15 percent. The number of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness has fallen by 21 percent, and homelessness among Veterans has fallen by 33 percent. We also have more knowledge than ever about the unique circumstances facing youth experiencing homelessness.

This progress demonstrates that Opening Doors is the right plan with the right strategies for ending homelessness. The amendment reaffirms the core elements of the original Plan and adds new strategies that reflect lessons learned since 2010, ensuring that Opening Doors serves as a living blueprint with the latest knowledge and best practices to prevent and end homelessness.

Past Water Patterns Drive Present Wading Bird Numbers

June 30, 2015 Comments off

Past Water Patterns Drive Present Wading Bird Numbers
Source: USGS/PLoS ONE

Wading bird numbers in the Florida Everglades are driven by water patterns that play out over multiple years according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and Florida Atlantic University. Previously, existing water conditions were seen as the primary driving factor affecting numbers of birds, but this research shows that the preceding years’ water conditions and availability are equally important.

GAO — Electricity: Generation Mix Has Shifted, and Growth in Consumption Has Slowed, Affecting System Operations and Prices

June 30, 2015 Comments off

Electricity: Generation Mix Has Shifted, and Growth in Consumption Has Slowed, Affecting System Operations and Prices
Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

The mix of energy sources for electricity generation has changed, and the growth in electricity consumption has slowed. As shown in the figure below, from 2001 through 2013, natural gas, wind, and solar became larger portions of the nation’s electricity generation, and the share of coal has declined. These changes have varied by region. For example, the majority of wind and solar electricity generation is concentrated in a few states—in 2013, California and Arizona accounted for over half of electricity generated at solar power plants. Regarding consumption, national retail sales of electricity grew by over 1 percent per year from 2001 through 2007 and remained largely flat from that time through 2014.
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Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014

June 29, 2015 Comments off

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014
Source: U.S. Department of State

The fundamental struggle for dignity has been a driving force in human history worldwide, and what drives us toward it is a set of universal values and aspirations.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are ideals that cannot be contained by national boundaries or ocean shores.

That is why it is especially troubling that so many people in so many places face grotesque restrictions on their freedoms and rights from their own governments.

For far too many people, 2014 was defined by suffering and abuse perpetrated by terrorist groups exploiting religious discourse and divisions to advance their totalitarian ideology, or by governments, such as Syria, sometimes acting in the name of combatting terrorism.

CBO — China’s Growing Energy Demand: Implications for the United States: Working Paper 2015-05

June 29, 2015 Comments off

China’s Growing Energy Demand: Implications for the United States: Working Paper 2015-05
Source: Congressional Budget Office

Growing rapidly in recent decades, China’s demand for energy has nearly doubled since 2005—making China the world’s largest consumer of energy. That growth and the energy policies that China pursues increase the level and possibly the volatility of some energy prices, reduce the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing firms in relation to Chinese firms but provide benefits for U.S. consumers, and increase greenhouse gas emissions. This paper examines trends in China’s energy consumption, the implications of those trends for U.S. households and businesses, and policy options that might help minimize adverse effects.

Psychological Testing in the Service of Disability Determination (2015)

June 29, 2015 Comments off

Psychological Testing in the Service of Disability Determination (2015) (PDF)
Source: Institute of Medicine

The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), for disabled individuals, and their dependent family members, who have worked and contributed to the Social Security trust funds, and Supplemental Security Income (SSSI), which is a means-tested program based on income and financial assets for adults aged 65 years or older and disabled adults and children. Both programs require that claimants have a disability and meet specific medical criteria in order to qualify for benefits. SSA establishes the presence of a medically-determined impairment in individuals with mental disorders other than intellectual disability through the use of standard diagnostic criteria, which include symptoms and signs. These impairments are established largely on reports of signs and symptoms of impairment and functional limitation.

Psychological Testing in the Service of Disability Determination considers the use of psychological tests in evaluating disability claims submitted to the SSA. This report critically reviews selected psychological tests, including symptom validity tests, that could contribute to SSA disability determinations. The report discusses the possible uses of such tests and their contribution to disability determinations. Psychological Testing in the Service of Disability Determination discusses testing norms, qualifications for administration of tests, administration of tests, and reporting results. The recommendations of this report will help SSA improve the consistency and accuracy of disability determination in certain cases.

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