Thursday, July 28, 2016

Volkswagen to Spend up to $14.7 Billion to Settle Allegations of Cheating Emissions Tests and Deceiving Customers on 2.0 Liter Diesel Vehicles

"In two related settlements, one with the United States and the State of California, and one with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), German automaker Volkswagen AG and related entities have agreed to spend up to $14.7 billion to settle allegations of cheating emissions tests and deceiving customers. Volkswagen will offer consumers a buyback and lease termination for nearly 500,000 model year 2009-2015 2.0 liter diesel vehicles sold or leased in the U.S., and spend up to $10.03 billion to compensate consumers under the program. In addition, the companies will spend $4.7 billion to mitigate the pollution from these cars and invest in green vehicle technology.

The settlements partially resolve allegations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as the California Attorney General’s Office and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) under the Clean Air Act, California Health and Safety Code, and California’s Unfair Competition Laws, relating to the vehicles’ use of “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests. The settlements also resolve claims by the FTC that Volkswagen violated the FTC Act through the deceptive and unfair advertising and sale of its “clean diesel” vehicles. The settlements do not resolve pending claims for civil penalties or any claims concerning 3.0 liter diesel vehicles. Nor do they address any potential criminal liability..."

Volkswagen and emission test

Asian-Owned Businesses Nearing Two Million

"Between 2007 and 2012, the number of U.S. businesses owned by Asian-Americans rose 23.8 percent, from 1.5 million to 1.9 million.

In contrast, the total number of all U.S. firms increased only 2.0 percent during the same period, from 27.1 million to 27.6 million. As a result, 6.9 percent of all businesses were Asian-owned in 2012, up from 5.7 percent five years earlier. Asian business ownership is defined as having persons of Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese or other Asian origin (such as Hmong, Laotian, Thai, Pakistani or Cambodian) owning 51.0 percent or more of the stock or equity in a nonfarm business operating in the United States. According to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, Asians accounted for 5.8 percent of the 18 or older population in 2012. Censuses and surveys permit respondents to select more than one race; the 5.8 percent figure pertains to those who said they were either Asian only or Asian in combination with one or more other races.."
Asian-Owned Businesses

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance On Civil Rights of Students with ADHD

"The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today issued guidance clarifying the obligation of schools to provide students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with equal educational opportunity under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
“On this 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I am pleased to honor Congress’ promise with guidance clarifying the rights of students with ADHD in our nation’s schools,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “The Department will continue to work with the education community to ensure that students with ADHD, and all students, are provided with equal access to education..."
ADHD and students

Executive Order 9981: Desegregation of the Armed Forces

"On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed this executive order establishing the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, committing the government to integrating the segregated military..."
Armed Forces Desegregation

Changes Seen in Income Distribution for Women Age 15 to 50 With Recent Births

"Despite the recent economic downturn, the proportion of women with a birth in the previous 12 months who reported the highest annual income per household member grew between 2006 and 2014. This is in contrast to the patterns for all women, for whom the percentage at the higher end of the income scale declined during this same period.
Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released new tables showing household income distributions for different subsets of women age 15 to 50, focusing on trends for women with a birth in the previous 12 months.
Comparisons of individual income are problematic for women with a recent birth because many women take time out of the labor force around the time of a birth. Even household income measures are complicated due to the fact that while household income may not change in the context of a birth, the number of people who live on that income likely increases. Therefore, our tables do not include individual income and while they do include a measure of household income, we also include income per household member as an additional measure of well-being..."
Women's income

Monday, July 25, 2016

New Requirements for FOIA Response Letters, Including Affording Ninety Days to file an Administrative Appeal, and New Notification Requirement for Notices Extending FOIA’s Time Limits Due to Unusual Circumstances

"On June 30, 2016, President Obama signed into law the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, Pub. L. No. 114-185, 130 Stat. 538, which contains several substantive and procedural amendments to the FOIA.   OIP has prepared a summary of the amendments as well as a redlined version of the statute which shows the changes made by the amendments.  The new provisions apply to any request made after the date of enactment, which was June 30, 2016.  OIP will be issuing guidance on various aspects of the amendments on a rolling basis.   Agencies are encouraged to contact OIP with any questions they might have on implementation of the new provisions. 
Among the changes to the law are several new requirements for agency response letters and for notices to requesters extending the FOIA’s time limits due to unusual circumstances.  For response letters agencies must notify requesters of their right to seek assistance from the FOIA Public Liaison and, if the response is adverse, they must also notify the requester of their right to seek dispute resolution services from the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), within the National Archives and Records Administration.   Additionally, agencies must now afford requesters a minimum of ninety days to file an administrative appeal.  When invoking unusual circumstances to extend the FOIA’s time limits, agencies already were required to make their FOIA Public Liaison available, but now they must also notify the requester of the availability of dispute resolution services offered by OGIS.  The guidance below details these new requirements and the attached implementation checklist provides sample language for agencies to use..."

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trans-Pacific Partnership

Read the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
Trans-Pacific partnership

HIV/AIDS Surveillance Data Base:2015

"The concept of the HIV/AIDS Surveillance Data Base was developed by the U.S. Census Bureau in consultation with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1987. The database was created to provide easy access to published results from the multitude of seroprevalence surveys and other studies that were being undertaken at the time. The database continues to be updated annually by the Census Bureau with the support of USAID to meet the needs of policy makers and program planners around the world.
The HIV/AIDS Surveillance Data Base is a compilation of information from widely scattered small-scale surveys on the AIDS pandemic and HIV seroprevalence (infection) in population groups in developing countries. The Data Base hosts information from the medical and scientific literature, presentations at international conferences, and the press. Through the Data Base interface, available information for population groups in a selected country can be easily retrieved and displayed on the computer screen, and printed or saved to a .pdf or .csv file. The HIV/AIDS Surveillance Data Base includes all countries and areas of the world with at least 5,000 population, with the exception of Northern America (including the United States) and U.S. territories...:
HIV/AIDS database

Using Census Bureau Data Made Easier: New Statistical Testing Tool Answers the Question “Is This Comparison Statistically Significant?”

"American Community Survey data can help you find quick answers on a variety of demographic and economic topics. For example, you might need to know “What’s the unemployment rate where I live?” A natural follow-up question might be “How does my town compare to a neighboring one?”
If you are using survey data to compare estimates, you must perform a statistical test to answer this type of question correctly. While it is easy to compare two estimates, survey data are based on a sample of the population — not the entire population — so it has statistical uncertainty. In the case of American Community Survey data, the margin of error is one type of statistical uncertainty. If the uncertainty is too large, then two estimates may appear different, but may not actually be statistically different. In that case, claiming there is a difference between them would not be accurate.
With the release of the U.S. Census Bureau’s new statistical testing spreadsheet tool, we are making it easier for just about anyone to carry out statistical testing correctly. The tool handles the testing behind the scenes for you. American Community Survey data may be downloaded or copied directly from the Census Bureau’s website. No special reformatting is necessary.
Statistical Testing tool

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Few Artifacts of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Still Exist. These Iron Blocks Help Tell That Gut-Wrenching Story

"The first time Lonnie Bunch touched an iron ballast from the sunken Portuguese slave ship São José Paquete de Africa, he cried.
“I really believe that artifacts have power, that they carry spirits, feelings,” says Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. “When you touch that, you understand that ballast was supposed to equal a body so that the ship could float.”
Tears came to his eyes again Wednesday night at the Embassy of South Africa, where historians, diplomats and divers gathered to commemorate the loan of items from the ship that sank off of Cape Town, South Africa in December of 1794. It was carrying 512 enslaved Mozambicans, and also iron ballasts. Those long thick bars were meant to offset the weight of its human cargo..."
Iron bllasts

Slow Growth in the Current U.S. Economic Expansion

"Between 2008 and 2015, economic growth has been, depending on the indicator, one-quarter to one-half the long-term average since World War II. Economic performance has been variable throughout the post-war period, but recent growth is markedly weaker than previous low growth periods, such as 1974 to 1995. Initially, slow growth was attributed to the financial crisis and its aftermath. But even after the recession ended and financial conditions normalized, growth has remained below average in the current economic expansion. The current expansion has already lasted longer than average, but growth has not picked up at any point during the expansion. By some indicators, growth began to slow during the 2001 to 2007 period, while other indicators suggest that the slowdown is more recent and abrupt. Although this report focuses on the U.S. economy, the same pattern has occurred across other advanced economies..."
U.S. economy

Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer

"Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology—commonly referred to collectively as nanotechnology—is believed by many to offer extraordinary economic and societal benefits. Congress has demonstrated continuing support for nanotechnology and has directed its attention particularly to three topics that may affect the realization of this hoped for potential: federal research and development (R&D) in nanotechnology; U.S. competitiveness in the field; and environmental, health, and safety (EHS) concerns. This report provides an overview of these topics and two others: nanomanufacturing and public understanding of and attitudes toward nanotechnology..." 

Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths

"Reducing motor vehicle crash deaths was one of the great public health achievements of the 20th century for the US. However, more than 32,000 people are killed and 2 million are injured each year from motor vehicle crashes. In 2013, the US crash death rate was more than twice the average of other high-income countries. In the US, front seat belt use was lower than in most other comparison countries. One in 3 crash deaths in the US involved drunk driving, and almost 1 in 3 involved speeding. Lower death rates in other high-income countries and a high percentage of risk factors in the US suggest that we can make more progress in reducing crash deaths...".
Motor vehicle crashes

VA Conducts Nation’s Largest Analysis of Veteran Suicide

"The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has undertaken the most comprehensive analysis of Veteran suicide rates in the U.S., examining over 55 million Veteran records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the nation. The effort extends VA’s knowledge from the previous report issued in 2010, which examined  three million  Veteran records from 20 states were available.  Based on the data from 2010, VA estimated the number of Veteran deaths by suicide averaged 22 per day.  The current analysis indicates that in 2014, an average of 20 Veterans a day died from suicide.
“One Veteran suicide is one too many, and this collaborative effort provides both updated and comprehensive data that allows us to make better informed decisions on how to prevent this national tragedy,” said VA Under Secretary for Health, Dr. David J. Shulkin. “We as a nation must focus on bringing the number of Veteran suicides to zero..."
Veterans suicide

State Voter Identification Requirements: Analysis, Legal Issues, and Policy Considerations

"About 60% of U.S. voters live in the 33 states that require a voter at a polling place to produce an identification document (ID) before casting a ballot. Among those states, 20 permit voters without ID to cast a ballot through alternative means, such as signing an affidavit; 13 strictly enforce the ID requirement. The other 17 states and the District of Columbia have a range of nondocument requirements instead.

Over the last two decades, the number of states requiring voter IDs has tripled. The stringency of those requirements is controversial. States vary substantially in the range of IDs accepted, the information they must contain, and the ease with which a voter can procure an ID. Although all states requiring voter ID accept a local driver’s license, no two states have the same overall requirements. Among states with voter ID laws, 20 require photographic identification (photo ID), while 13 permit a nonphoto ID. In addition, 8 states require ID for voters casting absentee or mail-in ballots..."
Voter ID