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Trouble in Toyland 2014: Avoiding Dangerous Toys

December 11, 2014 Comments off

Trouble in Toyland 2014: Avoiding Dangerous Toys
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group

For almost 30 years, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has conducted an annual survey of toy safety, which has led to an estimated 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years, and has helped educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and wellbeing of children.

Among the toys surveyed this year, we found numerous choking hazards and five toys with concentrations of toxics exceeding federal standards. In addition to reporting on potentially hazardous products found in stores in 2014, this installment of the report describes the potential hazards in toys and children’s products.

See also: Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries: Calendar Year 2014 (PDF; Consumer Product Safety Commission, November 2014)

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New Report Shows Mounting Evidence of Millennials’ Shift Away From Driving

October 15, 2014 Comments off

New Report Shows Mounting Evidence of Millennials’ Shift Away From Driving
Source: USPIRG

A new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) Education Fund and the Frontier Group shows mounting evidence that the Millennial generation’s dramatic shift away from driving is more than temporary. While the 2000s saw a marked decrease in the average number of miles traveled by young Americans, the study explains that those trends appear likely to continue even as the economy improves – in light of the consistency of Millennials’ surveyed preferences, a continued reduction of Millennials driving to work, and the continued decreases in per-capita driving among all Americans.

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Taxpayer $1,259 a Year, Small Businesses $3,923

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Taxpayer $1,259 a Year, Small Businesses $3,923
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group

As hardworking Americans file their taxes today, it’s a good time to be reminded that ordinary taxpayers pick up the tab for special interest loopholes in our tax laws. A new U.S. PIRG report released today revealed that the average American taxpayer in 2013 would have to shoulder an extra $1,259 in state and federal taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals avoid paying an estimated $184 billion in state and federal income taxes by using complicated accounting tricks to shift their profits to offshore tax havens. Of that $184 billion, $110 billion is avoided specifically by corporations.

New Report Examines Promise and Potential Dangers of New Financial Marketplace

April 4, 2014 Comments off

New Report Examines Promise and Potential Dangers of New Financial Marketplace
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group

U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) released a comprehensive new report today [http://www.uspirgedfund.org/reports/usf/big-data-means-big-opportunities-and-big-challenges] focused on the realities of the new financial marketplace and the threats and opportunities its use poses to financial inclusion. The report examines the impact of digital technology, especially the unprecedented analytical and real-time actionable powers of “Big Data,” on consumer welfare. The groups immediately filed the report with the White House Big Data review headed by John Podesta, who serves as senior counselor to the President. The White House is to issue a report in April addressing the impact of “Big Data” practices on the public, including the possible need for additional consumer safeguards.

In addition to the undeniable convenience of online and mobile banking, explains the report, the new financial environment poses a number of challenges, especially for lower-income consumers. Increasingly, the public confronts an invisible “e-scoring” system that may limit their access to credit and other financial services. “We are being placed under a powerful ‘Big Data’ lens, through which, without meaningful transparency or control, decisions about our financial futures are being decided,” the report explains.

Study Shows Driving Decline in America’s Cities

December 5, 2013 Comments off

Study Shows Driving Decline in America’s Cities
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group

A first-of-its-kind report by U.S.PIRG Education Fund details reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in America’s most populous urbanized areas, as well as greater use of public transit and biking in most cities.

The report, “Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities,” is based on the most current available government data. It is the first ever national study to compare transportation trends for America’s largest cities and lists results for each. Among its national findings:

  • The proportion of workers commuting by private vehicle—either alone or in a carpool—declined in 99 out of 100 of America’s most populous urbanized areas between 2000 and the 2007-2011 period averaged in U.S. Census data.
  • From 2006 to 2011, the average number of miles driven per resident fell in almost three-quarters of America’s largest urbanized areas for which up-to-date and accurate Federal Highway Administration data are available (54 out of 74 urban areas).
  • The proportion of households without cars increased in 84 out of the 100 largest urbanized areas from 2006 to 2011. The proportion of households with two cars or more cars decreased in 86 out of the 100 of these areas during that period.
  • The proportion of residents bicycling to work increased in 85 out of 100 of America’s largest urbanized areas between 2000 and 2007-2011.
    The number of passenger-miles traveled per capita on transit increased in 60 out of 98 of America’s large urbanized areas whose trends could be analyzed between 2005 and 2010.

New Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less

December 2, 2013 Comments off

New Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group

In a first-of-its-kind study, U.S. PIRG compiled nation-wide evidence on transportation apps and vehicle sharing programs, and found that these advanced new tools have made it easier for Americans to drive less. Real-time apps and on-board wi-fi for public transit, as well as carsharing, bikesharing and ridesharing have spread rapidly in recent years while driving has declined. The report examines new evidence on how these practices are changing travel behavior.

Young People Driving Less, Embrace Other Transportation

October 4, 2013 Comments off

Young People Driving Less, Embrace Other Transportation
Source: U.S. PIRG

Young Americans, whose embrace of new technologies and social networking tools enable them to adopt new ways of getting around, are beginning to change the nation’s transportation landscape.

They don’t drive nearly as much as young people once did: While all Americans are driving less since the recession, the average person ages 16-34 drove 23% less in 2009 than in 2001, the sharpest reduction for any age group.

And some of the nation’s youths — those known as Millennials, born between 1982 and 2003 — approach travel differently than their parents do. They are “multimodal,” meaning they choose the best mode of transportation, such as driving, transit, biking or walking, based on the trip they are planning. They consider public transportation the best option for digital socializing and one of the most likely ways to connect with the communities they live in. They also say that transit allows them to work while they travel.

These are among the findings of two new reports released Tuesday at the American Public Transportation Association’sannual meeting in Chicago.

The first, from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, found that online and mobile technology have fundamentally changed the way Americans live and work over the past 15 years; during the same period, growth in vehicle travel slowed and then stopped. U.S. PIRG suggests that these two developments are connected.

The advances in Internet and mobile communications are fueling a wave of new transportation services enabled by technology, such as car-sharing, bike-sharing and ride-sharing, the PIRG report finds.

Other researchers, including Robert Foss, director of the Center for the Study of Young Drivers at the University of North Carolina, argue that the drop in driving among young people is primarily a function of the economic downturn and is likely to rebound as the economy recovers.

Michael Melaniphy, president and CEO of APTA, said the two studies highlight the need for the nation to enact transportation policies that address the needs of Millennials. “Now is the time to be proactive,” he said. “Congress should authorize investment in a long-term transportation bill that includes strong investment in public transportation in a variety of modes.”

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