Thursday, December 8, 2016

‘Tis the Season to Decorate Safely

"During November and December 2015, there were six fatalities and an estimated 14,000 injuries treated in hospital ERs nationwide, due to holiday decorations. That’s an average of about 230 injuries per day during the holiday season!
Falls, lacerations, back strains and ingestion of foreign objects were among the top holiday decorating-related injuries last season. To prevent decorating disasters, CPSC counts down the 12 Ways to Celebrate Safely:
12. Take special care with sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Lacerations were among the top reported decoration–related injuries last year.
11. Avoid trimmings that resemble food or candy that may tempt a child to mouth or swallow them.
10. Place decorations with small removable parts that can pose a choking hazard to young children out of reach.
9. Purchase only holiday light sets that bear the marking of a safety testing laboratory.
8. Examine new and old light sets for damage. Discard sets with cracked or broken sockets, frayed or exposed wires, and loose connections.
7. Keep burning candles in sight and away from places where kids and pets can knock them over..."

Holiday decoration

FDR's December 8, 1841 Annotated Draft of "Day of Infamy" Speech

Here you may read an annotated copy of President Theodore Roosevelt's  "Day of Infamy" speech. The speech was delivered to a joint session of Congres on December 8, 1941  leading to a declaration of war against Japan.
Day of Infamy

The Electoral College Has Been Divisive Since Day One

"The Electoral College polarized Americans from its inception. Created by the framers of the Constitution during the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the College was put forth as a way to give citizens the opportunity to vote in presidential elections, with the added safeguard of a group of knowledgeable electors with final say on who would ultimately lead the country, another limit on the burgeoning nation’s democratic ideals.
The story of the Electoral College is also one of slavery—an institution central to the founding of American democracy. The bulk of the new nation’s citizenry resided in cities like Philadelphia and Boston in the North, leaving the South sparsely populated by farmers, plantation owners, other landholders, and, of course, enslaved laborers. This disparity in the population distribution became a core element of the legislative branch, and in turn, the Electoral College..."
Electoral College

FTC Providing Over $88 Million in Refunds to AT&T Customers Who Were Subjected to Mobile Cramming

The Federal Trade Commission is providing over $88 million in refunds to more than 2.7 million AT&T customers who had third-party charges added to their mobile bills without their consent, a tactic known as “mobile cramming.” The refunds to consumers relate to 2014 settlements with AT&T, and the companies behind two of the cramming schemes, Tatto and Acquinity.

The refunds represent the most money ever returned to consumers in a mobile cramming case. Through the FTC’s refund program, nearly 2.5 million current AT&T customers will receive a credit on their bill within the next 75 days, and more than 300,000 former customers will receive a check. The average refund amount is $31..."

Mobile cramming

Travel to Hot Climates

"Planning your next trip to a tropical climate like in the Caribbean? Pack your swimsuit and sunscreen, and follow these tips to prevent heat illness and injury when traveling in a hot climate.
It's winter time across the United States, and many travelers are looking to vacation in tropical areas to escape the cold temperatures at home. But traveling in hot climates can make you sick, especially if you are not accustomed to the heat. For most travelers who choose to relax on the beach or by the pool, heat illness and injury pose only a slight risk. However, people at highest risk are the elderly, young children, and people with chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. But even young and healthy people can get sick from heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. Dehydration, for example, makes people most susceptible to heat illness..."
Hot climates

Presidential Transition Guide to Federal Human Resources Management Matters

"The Office of the Executive Secretariat oversees Presidential Transition to ensure a smooth transition for both incoming and outgoing Administrations. OPM roles and responsibilities for Presidential Transition include conducting background investigations for lower-level positions and providing guidance to agencies as they prepare for thousands of departing/incoming political appointees; submitting a list of all presidential appointments to candidates after the conventions; collecting information for Plum Book; and submitting quarterly reports to Congress on requests by agencies to appoint political appointees or former political appointees to nonpolitical civil service positions..."
Presidential transition

A Comparison of Rural and Urban America: Household Income and Poverty

" The U.S. Census Bureau today released data that show that nationally, rural Americans have lower median household incomes than urban households, but people living in rural areas have lower poverty rates than their urban counterparts. According to the 2015 American Community Survey, median household income for rural households was $52,386, about 4.0 percent lower than the median for urban households, $54,296. About 13.3 percent of people in rural areas lived in families with incomes below the official poverty thresholds. The poverty rate for people in urban areas was 16.0 percent. Income inequality, as measured by the Gini index, was lower for rural households than urban households...."
Rural vs Urban America income

Homes on the Range: Homeownership Rates Are Higher in Rural America

"For decades, homeownership rates have been an important indicator of the health of housing markets all across the United States. Communities use these data to recognize the changing landscape of their housing markets by analyzing patterns in the percentage of owner-occupied housing units compared  to all occupied units. Homebuilders, financial institutions and realtors all depend on homeownership data to determine what type of housing to build, finance and sell to prospective homebuyers. While last decade’s housing crash and Great Recession altered the economy and conditions of housing markets throughout the nation, studies have shown that most Americans continue to believe homeownership is both desirable and attainable..."
Rural homeownership

Rurality Matters

"Today, about 60 million residents of the United States live in areas designated as rural by the U.S. Census Bureau. So, what exactly does rural look like? “Rural” can span from the less-populated towns outside of large and small city centers to remote areas in the mountains, plains, and deserts across the nation.
Counties can be a mixture of urban and rural areas. To understand the characteristics of rural residents in different rural settings, we categorized the 3,142 counties in the U.S. into three levels of rurality based on the percentage of the population living in the rural areas of the county. We used the 2010 definition of urban and rural as determined by the decennial census population. The counties were delineated as mostly urban (less than 50.0 percent of the county population lived in rural areas), mostly rural (50.0 to 99.9 percent lived in rural areas), and completely rural (100.0 percent lived in rural areas). Based on these county categories, we identified 704 counties as completely rural, meaning all 5.3 million people lived in rural areas (see Figure 1)..."

Life Off the Highway: A Snapshot of Rural America

"We are a nation of communities. The 2011-2015 American Community Survey statistics released today helps tell the story of us all — each city, town and neighborhood. This year we are taking a detour down a road driven by only one in five Americans. We are exploring what the latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics can tell us about the 60 million people who live in rural America. Rural areas can take on varying characteristics affected by regional differences across the country. The rural population is not the same everywhere except in its distinction of not being urban. American Community Survey statistics are the only source of annual data for some rural residents, and are vital for local decision making by elected officials, city and county planners, and businesses. Today, the Census Bureau released several products highlighting selected characteristics of the rural population of America..."
Rural life

A Glance at the Age Structure and Labor Force Participation of Rural America

"Rural America is older than urban America. The median age of all people living in rural areas is 43 years, compared with 36 years for urban areas. We know that age is an underlying factor driving many phenomena, such as labor force participation, educational attainment and earnings. With the release of the 5-year American Community Survey this year, we are exploring rural-urban relationships such as these.
When looking at the populations of both rural and urban America, we find a distribution with two peaks, baby boomers in their 50s and 60s forming one, and “millennials” in their late teens and twenties forming the second (Figure 1). While there are more people in the millennial generation in urban areas, baby boomers form the higher peak in rural areas..."
Age and rural america

Monday, December 5, 2016

Plum Book

"Every four years, just after the Presidential election, the "United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions" is published. It is commonly known as the Plum Book and is alternately published between the House and Senate.
The Plum Book has a listing of over 7,000 civil service leadership and support positions (filled and vacant) in the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointments. These positions include agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisors, and aides who report to these officials. Many positions have duties which support Administration policies and programs. The people holding these positions usually have a close and confidential relationship with the agency head or other key officials..."
Plum Book

The Terrorist Screening Database and Preventing Terrorist Travel

"After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the federal government developed a unified regimen to identify and list known or suspected terrorists. The regimen has received repeated congressional attention, and this report briefly discusses for congressional policymakers how the U.S. government fashions and uses the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) to achieve such an end. It also discusses how the federal government engages in two travel-related screening processes—visa screening and air passenger screening. Both processes involve subsets of the Terrorist Screening Database..."
Terrorist database

Preventing sexual violence

"Prevent sexual violence on college campuses.
Preventing sexual violence (SV) of all types requires a shift in culture and climate. Primary prevention—preventing violence before it occurs—is difficult work and change takes time. Culture change doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen. To address this problem, the White House established the Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault in 2014. The task force had a mandate to strengthen federal enforcement efforts and to provide schools with additional tools to help prevent SV on their campuses..."
Preventing sexual violence

Wash your hands

"Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.
Handwashing is easy to do and it's one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness in all settings—from your home and workplace to child care facilities and hospitals. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community..."