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Bicyclist Fatalities a Growing Problem for Key Groups

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Bicyclist Fatalities a Growing Problem for Key Groups
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association

The number of bicyclists killed on U.S. roadways is trending upward, particularly for certain subsets of the population, according to a report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). GHSA’s Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety notes that yearly bicyclist deaths increased 16 percent between 2010 and 2012, while overall motor vehicle fatalities increased just one percent during the same time period.

The report’s author, former Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Chief Scientist Dr. Allan Williams, analyzed current and historical fatality data to uncover bicyclist crash patterns. There have been some remarkable changes. For example, adults 20 and older represented 84 percent of bicyclist fatalities in 2012, compared to only 21 percent in 1975. Adult males comprised 74 percent of the total number of bicyclists killed in 2012.

Bicycle fatalities are increasingly an urban phenomenon, accounting for 69 percent of all bicycle fatalities in 2012, compared with 50 percent in 1975. These changes correlate with an increase in bicycling commuters – a 62 percent jump since 2000, according to 2013 Census Bureau data.

While bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes increased in 22 states between 2010 and 2012, six states – California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas – represented 54 percent of all fatalities.

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Identity Theft: Who’s At Risk?

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Identity Theft: Who’s At Risk?
Source: AARP Research

This AARP Fraud Watch Network study aimed to assess Americans’ habits around protecting their personal and financial information. Overall, the study finds that many are not taking precautions necessary to reduce their risk of identity theft.

Ending Violence Against Women and Girls: The World’s Best Laws and Policies

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Ending Violence Against Women and Girls: The World’s Best Laws and Policies (PDF)
Source: World Future Council

At the World Future Council, we strive to bring the interests of future generations to the centre of policy-making. With our annual Future Policy Award, we highlight the world’s best solutions and we encourage policy-makers around the world to implement them.

In 2014, the Future Policy Award celebrates laws and policies that contribute to ending one of the most pervasive human rights violations: violence against women and girls. One in three women worldwide suffers some form of violence in her lifetime. By restricting women’s choices and limiting their ability to act, the persistence of violence against women has serious consequences for peace and security, economic development and poverty reduction. Thus, it hampers all efforts towards a future just society. International experts from academia, civil society and international organisations have nominated twenty-five policies from around the world which were implemented to improve the lives of women. Together, they reflect the broad scope of existing policy responses at local, national and transnational levels.

Hat tip: IWS Documented News Service

Energy — Research Release: Motivations & Emotions of Engaged Consumers Report

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Research Release: Motivations & Emotions of Engaged Consumers Report
Source: Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative

Saving money, protecting the environment and conserving energy for future generations motivate consumers to engage with their utility and Smart Grid-enabled products, according to our new Motivations and Emotions of Engaged Consumers report.

However, the report also indicates that motivations differ significantly between engaged and non-engaged consumers. The report examines the factors that motivate consumers to engage in each case, and aims to help smart grid stakeholders understand how to drive consumer engagement based on the differences in consumers’ motivations for engaging.

Other insights from this quantitative study include:

  • Even though 64 percent of consumers consider themselves energy conscious, there’s a gap between people’s stated energy consciousness and their behavior.
  • Opportunities exist to raise engagement levels by tailoring programs, messaging and content to different people that fit their diverse needs, interest and lifestyles.

Note: Extensive summary is free; full report available for purchase.

The Equity Solution: Racial Inclusion Is Key to Growing a Strong New Economy

October 27, 2014 Comments off

The Equity Solution: Racial Inclusion Is Key to Growing a Strong New Economy (PDF)
Source: PolicyLink

America is quickly becoming a majority people of color nation. At the same time, inequality is skyrocketing and racial inequities—from the homogeneity of the tech sector to the segregated suburbs of St. Louis—are wide, persistent, and glaring. Equity—just and fair inclusion of all—has always been a moral imperative in this country, but a new consensus is emerging that equity is also an economic imperative. Scores of economists and institutions like Standard & Poor’s and Morgan Stanley now believe that rising inequality and low wages for workers on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder are stifling growth and competitiveness, and that racial inequities threaten economic growth and prosperity as people of color become the majority.

This brief offers new research to inform the debate about equity and the future of the American economy. Using data on income by race, we calculate what total earnings and economic output would have been for the nation in 2012 if racial differ en ces were eliminated and all groups had similar average incomes as non-Hispanic whites. This analysis does not assume that everyone has the same income, rather that the income distribu-tions do not differ by race and ethnicity. We also examine how much of the income gap is attributable to wage differences versus employment differences (measured by hours worked).

The 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

October 24, 2014 Comments off

The 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard
Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

For the past eight years, the ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard has measured the progress of state policies and programs that save energy while also benefiting the environment and promoting economic growth. Using data vetted by state energy officials, we rank states in six categories—utility programs, transportation, building energy codes, combined heat and power, state initiatives, and appliance standards. In this eighth edition of the State Scorecard, Massachusetts secured the top spot for the fourth year in a row. Joining Massachusetts in the top five were California, Rhode Island, Oregon, and Vermont. The most-improved states in 2014 were Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. Indiana and Ohio, meanwhile, fell the furthest in the rankings due to decisions by legislators in both states to roll back energy savings targets. Despite setbacks in these states, energy efficiency has remained a key resource, with utilities budgeting more than $7.7 billion in 2013 for efficiency programs across the country.

Pay to Prey: Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of America’s Public Services

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Pay to Prey: Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of America’s Public Services
Source: Center for Media and Democracy

Maggots, drug smuggling, sex with inmates. As if the news were not already bad enough, shocking new allegations of a murder-for-hire plot are emerging from Michigan as the media digs deeper into that state’s failed outsourcing of prison services.

In 2013, Governor Rick Snyder invited the Philadelphia- based for-profit company Aramark to take over food services in the state’s prisons. The action was a 180-degree change in course, as the administration previously rejected all such bids on the grounds that none of the proposals would save the state money. The $570,000 Aramark spent on lobbying surely helped the company persuade the administration to change its mind.

Since Aramark took over Michigan’s $145 million food service contract – eviscerating the stable middle class jobs of some 370 public workers – one stomach churning scandal followed another. The state fined Aramark $98,000 in March for food shortages, “unauthorized menu substitutions” and sexual relations between kitchen workers and inmates, and another $200,000 in August after problems persisted.

All the while, the Snyder administration has stood behind the company and the state prison director secretly waived the $98,000 fine soon after it was imposed. Perhaps Snyder will reconsider this position given new allegations that an Aramark worker has asked a prisoner to assist him with the murder of another inmate.

While Aramark’s failed outsourcing of prison food services is a dramatic example of the harms that can arise from the America’s public services and assets, this report, Pay to Prey: Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of America’s Public Services, contains many other cases of outsourcing run amok generating worse outcomes for the public, often higher costs, lawsuits and scorching headlines.

While large corporations are the winners in this scenario, all too often taxpayers are the losers when transparency, accountability and the public interest are sold out to for-profit firms.

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