Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New ‘Digest of EEO Law’ Issued By EEO

"The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the latest edition of its federal sector Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law.
     This quarterly publication, prepared by EEOC's Office of Federal Operations (OFO),
     features a wide variety of recent Commission decisions and federal court cases of
     interest. Additionally, it contains a special article entitled Gender Identity and Sexual 
    Orientation Coverage Under Title VII Case Law Update: Review of Pre- and Post-Macy 
    Title VII Protections for LGBT Employees.."

Friday, August 28, 2015

ISIL and Antiquities Trafficking

"The FBI is alerting art collectors and dealers to be particularly careful trading Near Eastern antiquities, warning that artifacts plundered by terrorist organizations such as ISIL are entering the marketplace.
“We now have credible reports that U.S. persons have been offered cultural property that appears to have been removed from Syria and Iraq recently,” said Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, manager of the FBI’s Art Theft Program.
The Bureau is asking U.S. art and antiquities market leaders to spread the word that preventing illegally obtained artifacts from reaching the market helps stem the transfer of funds to terrorists.
In a single-page document titled ISIL Antiquities Trafficking, the FBI asks leaders in the field to disseminate the following message:
  • Please be cautious when purchasing items from this region. Keep in mind that antiquities from Iraq remain subject to Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions under the Iraq Stabilization and Insurgency Sanctions Regulations (31 CFR part 576).
  • Purchasing an object looted and/or sold by the Islamic State may provide financial support to a terrorist organization and could be prosecuted under 18 USC 233A.
  • Robust due diligence is necessary when purchasing any Syrian or Iraqi antiquities or other cultural property in the U.S. or when purchasing elsewhere using U.S. funds..."

Keeping Children Safe

"School is back in session. As you stock up on pencils, take first-day pictures, and adjust to new bus schedules, take a few, quick steps that can keep your child safer during an emergency.
January 15, 2015. A water main break near Atlanta, Georgia cuts off water pressure to 12 schools. With no water to drink or to use to flush toilets, some schools close early while others bus their students to nearby schools with working bathrooms. Parents rush to keep up with notifications on when and where to pick up their children. If this were to happen in your neighborhood, would you know what to do and where to go?
From tornadoes to water main breaks, emergencies can occur with little or no warning—even during the school day. As children head back to school, take a few steps to help protect your child from an emergency and to reunite with your child quickly and safely..."
Children and safety

The Intelligence Community and Its Use of Contractors: Congressional Oversight Issues

"Contractors have been and are an integral part of the intelligence community’s (IC’s) total workforce (which also includes federal employees and military personnel). Yet questions have been raised regarding how they are used, and the size and cost of the contractor component. Of particular interest are core contract personnel, who provide direct technical, managerial, and administrative support to agency staff. Examples of these types of support are collection and operations, analysis and production, and enterprise information and technology. The use of core contract personnel enables the IC to meet its needs, which may involve obtaining unique expertise or surge support for a particular mission, or augmenting insufficient in-house resources.

The IC has undertaken the following initiatives designed, or used, to track contractors or contractor employees:
  The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), through Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 612 (dated October 30, 2009), requires the IC elements to provide inventories of their core contract personnel to the Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Human Capital (also known as the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO, or ADNI/CHCO)).
 Section 305(a) of P.L. 111-259, Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for FY2010, directs each IC component to provide estimates of the number and costs of core contract personnel for the upcoming fiscal year to ODNI.
 Section 339 of P.L. 111-259also contained a one-time requirement for the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to report to the intelligence committees and the armed services committees on the IC’s use of personal services contracts..."
National Intelligence and contractors

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Federal Aggravated Identity Theft

"Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for two years or by imprisonment for five years if it relates to a terrorism offense. At least thus far, the government has rarely prosecuted the five-year terrorism form of the offense. The two-year offense occurs when an individual knowingly possesses, uses, or transfers the means of identification of another person, without lawful authority to do so, during and in relation to one of more than 60 predicate federal felony offenses (18 U.S.C. 1028A). Section 1028A has the effect of establishing a mandatory minimum sentence for those predicate felony offenses, when they involve identity theft.

A sentencing court has the discretion not to “stack” or pancake multiple aggravated identity theft counts and, as with other mandatory minimums, may impose a sentence of less than the mandatory minimum at the request of the prosecution based on the defendant’s substantial assistance.

More than half of the judges responding to a United States Sentence Commission survey felt the two-year mandatory minimum penalty was generally appropriate. The Commission’s report on mandatory minimum sentencing statutes is mildly complimentary of the provision.."
Minimum sentencing

The Effectiveness of the Community Reinvestment Act

"This report informs the congressional debate concerning the CRA’s effectiveness in incentivizing bank lending and investment activity to LMI borrowers. After a discussion of the CRA’s origins, it presents the CRA’s examination process and bank activities that are eligible for consideration of CRA credits. Next, it discusses the difficulty of determining the CRA’s influence on bank behavior. For example, it could be argued that, by encouraging lending in LMI neighborhoods, the CRA may also encourage the issuance of higher-risk loans. Regulators, however, generally do not award CRA credits for payday and most subprime (nontraditional mortgage) loans, even if these loans originated in LMI areas. This regulatory practice suggests the CRA has little or no influence on higher-risk lending. In addition, banks face a variety of financial incentives (e.g., capital requirements, the current interest rate environment, consumer credit demand, and consumer credit history) that influence how much (or how little) they lend to LMI borrowers. Because financial and CRA incentives concurrently exist, it is difficult to separate how much influence should be attributed solely to the CRA. Furthermore, compliance with CRA does not require adherence to lending quotas or benchmarks. In the absence of benchmarks, determining the extent to which CRA incentives have influenced LMI credit availability relative to other factors is not straightforward..."
Community Reinvestment Act

NOAA’s new Climate Science Strategy aims to reduce effects of climate change on fisheries and living marine resources

"“NOAA just announced that for the globe the month of July — and actually, the entire year so far — was the warmest ever recorded, driven largely by record warm ocean temperatures,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries.“ Those warmer waters – along with rising seas, coastal droughts and ocean acidification – are already putting people, businesses, and communities at risk. With this strategy, we’re taking a proactive approach in providing information on current and future conditions to try and reduce impacts and increase our resilience.”

The NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy identifies seven key steps to increase production, delivery, and use of climate-related information to support the management of fish stocks, fisheries, and protected species. The steps focus on how a changing climate affects living marine resources, ecosystems, and the communities that depend on them, and how to respond to those changes..."
NOAA & Climate Change

An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2015 to 2025

"According to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates, this year’s deficit will be noticeably smaller than what the agency projected in March, and fiscal year 2015 will mark the sixth consecutive year in which the deficit has declined as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) since it peaked in 2009. Over the next 10 years, however, the budget outlook remains much the same as CBO described earlier this year: If current laws generally remain unchanged, within a few years the deficit will begin to rise again relative to GDP, and by 2025, debt held by the public will be higher relative to the size of the economy than it is now..."
Federal budget

Federal Debt and the Statutory Limit, August 2015

"The debt limit—commonly referred to as the debt ceiling—is the maximum amount of debt that the Department of the Treasury can issue to the public and to other federal agencies. That amount is set by law and has been increased over the years in order to finance the government’s operations. In March, the debt ceiling was reached, and the Secretary of the Treasury announced a “debt issuance suspension period.” During such a period, existing statutes allow the Treasury to take a number of “extraordinary measures” to borrow additional funds without breaching the debt ceiling. The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the debt limit remains unchanged, those measures will be exhausted and the Treasury will run out of cash between mid-November and early December.1 At such time, the government would be unable to fully pay its obligations, a development that would lead to delays of payments for government activities, a default on the government’s debt obligations, or both..."
Federal debt

Quarterly and Mean Monthly Personal, Family and Household Income by Selected Characteristics

Find personal, family, and household income by selected characteristics for the First Quarter of 2013.
Family and household income

National, State, and Selected Local Area Vaccination Coverage Among Children Aged 19–35 Months — United States, 2014

"The reduction in morbidity and mortality associated with vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States has been described as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the first decade of the 21st century (1). A recent analysis concluded that routine childhood vaccination will prevent 322 million cases of disease and about 732,000 early deaths among children born during 1994–2013, for a net societal cost savings of $1.38 trillion (2). The National Immunization Survey (NIS) has monitored vaccination coverage among U.S. children aged 19–35 months since 1994 (3). This report presents national, regional, state, and selected local area vaccination coverage estimates for children born from January 2011 through May 2013, based on data from the 2014 NIS. For most vaccinations, there was no significant change in coverage between 2013 and 2014..."
Vaccination coverage

Monday, August 24, 2015

These Maps Show the Severe Impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans

"In late August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina barreled across the Gulf of Mexico and onto the southeastern United States, unleashing a fury of destruction in its wake. People around the world watched as the densely populated city of New Orleans endured catastrophic damage, a devastating combination of natural fury and human error. Today, following ten years of rebuilding, reshaping and development gone by, the Big Easy is a changed city. The maps in the above interactive explore the shifts that have taken place in this transformative decade.
When Katrina made landfall at 6:10 am CDT on August 29, it brought along with it 130-miles-per-hour winds, 10 to 12 inches of rainfall, and a storm surge approaching 30 feet. At that point, it was a Category 3 hurricane; the city’s levees, which were in disrepair and ill-suited to withstand the storm, collapsed under the pressure of heavy winds and rains. Water from the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Pontchartrain gushed into the Crescent City. At one point 80 percent of New Orleans, where the average elevation is six feet below sea level, was flooded. Some places were submerged in 10 feet of water..."
Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Reaching and Educating Minority Teen Mothers Online with eBaby4U

"Mothers want what is best fo rtheir children, no matter the age of the mother and child. But what happens when teenage or socially disadvantaged mothers do not have the life experience or access to education to make the most informed decision?

eBaby4U, a digital program run through Mississippi State University (MSU), is designed specifically to inform and support African-American teen mothers through an approach  that is second-nature to youth: finding information online..."
Minority teen mothers

U.S. Minority-Owned Firms Continue to Outpace Growth of Nonminority-Owned Firms

"Earlier this week, the U.S. Census Bureau released preliminary results from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) and minority-owned businesses continue to grow significantly faster than nonminority-owned businesses. The number of minority business enterprises (MBEs) increased 39 percent between 2007 and 2012 from 5.8 million to 8.0 million), or more than three times faster than population growth among minorities. Employment at minority-owned firms increased 33 percent to 7.7 million jobs, while gross receipts were up 53 percent from 2007. In contrast, the number of non-minority firms shrank by five percent between 2007 and 2012.  Employment at nonminority firms increased seven percent, or less than one-fourth as fast as in MBEs and receipts in nonminority firms increased 27 percent or half as fast as in MBEs..." 

FTC Staff Comment: FDA Should Reevaluate Its Current Regulatory Framework for Homeopathic Products

"The staff of the Federal Trade Commission has recommended that the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationreconsider the framework it uses to regulate homeopathic medications because it may appear to conflict with the FTC’s advertising substantiation doctrine in ways that could harm consumers and cause confusion for advertisers.
In a comment submitted to the FDA, the FTC staff states that the FDA should consider amending or repealing its framework for homeopathic medications. The comment was submitted in response to an FDA request for public comment in connection with an April 2015 FDA hearing on this issue.
The staff comment notes that the FDA’s regulatory framework for homeopathic drugs, set forth in a 1988 Compliance Policy Guide, does not require that over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic drugs be approved by FDA as safe and effective if they satisfy certain conditions, including that the product’s label contains an indication for use. Yet the policy guide does not require sellers to have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the indication for use..."
Homeopathic products