Friday, May 19, 2017

Presidential Authority to Permit Access to National Security Information

"It appears more likely than not that the President is presumed to have the authority to disclose classified information to foreign agents in keeping with his power and responsibility to advance U.S. national security interests.

As President Trump recently asserted, his “authority to classify and control access to information bearing on the national security flows from the Constitution and does not depend upon a legislative grant of authority.” As one observer noted, the language appears to be drawn from a 1988 Supreme Court case, Department of the Navy v. Egan, in which the Court held the Merit Systems Protection Board could not review an agency decision denying an employee a security clearance. While some interpret Egan as recognizing that the President has virtually plenary authority to control classified information, the Court has suggested elsewhere that “Congress could certainly [provide] that the Executive Branch adopt new [classification procedures] or [establish] its own procedures—subject only to whatever limitations the Executive Privilege may be held to impose on such congressional ordering.” Congress has legislated with respect to classified information on numerous occasions, some of which are outlined in this CRS report, while also generally deferring to the executive branch regarding the classification – and declassification – of national security information..."
National security information

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Status of Stocks: 2016 Annual Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries

"NOAA Fisheries is pleased to present the 2016 Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries as managed under the science-based framework of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). As a result of the combined efforts of NOAA Fisheries, the eight regional fisheries management councils (councils), and other partners, two previously overfished stocks were rebuilt, and the number of stocks on the overfishing and overfished lists remains near all-time lows. Two stocks were assessed for the first time in 2016, which resulted in new stock status information. Neither of these stocks are subject to overfishing or overfished. Continuous monitoring and improvement of our knowledge about the status of stocks is key to ongoing sustainable fisheries management under the MSA..."

Special Counsels, Independent Counsels, and Special Prosecutors: Investigations of the Executive Branch by the Executive Branch

"Under constitutional principles and authorities, Congress has no direct role in federal law enforcement and is limited in its ability to initiate appointments of any prosecutor for any particular matter in which there may be allegations or concerns about wrongdoing by public officials. Instead, criminal investigations and prosecutions have generally been viewed as a core executive function and are a responsibility of the Executive Branch. However, because of the potential conflicts of interest that may arise when the Executive Branch investigates itself, as a historical matter there have often been calls for an independently led inquiry to determine whether executive officials have violated criminal law. In the past, Congress has authorized independent counsels, who were requested by the Attorney General and appointed by a judicial panel, but that authority lapsed in 1999. Currently, the Attorney General has regulatory authority to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations that may present a conflict of interest for the Department of Justice (DOJ).

It may be noted that the terms independent counsel and special prosecutor differ from special counsel, although the three are commonly used interchangeably. The distinction between these terms, however, depends upon which legal authority is being utilized, as discussed below. (Additionally, the use of the term special counsel in this context is entirely distinct from the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency tasked with investigating certain federal personnel practices.)..."
Specials Counsels

FBI Director: Appointment and Tenure

"The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The statutory basis for the present nomination and confirmation process was developed in 1968 and 1976, and has been used since the death of J. Edgar Hoover in 1972. Over this time, seven nominations have been confirmed and two have been withdrawn by the President before confirmation. The position of FBI Director has a fixed 10-year term, and the officeholder cannot be reappointed, unless Congress acts to allow a second appointment of the incumbent.

There are no statutory conditions on the President’s authority to remove the FBI Director. Since 1972, two Directors have been removed by the President. President William J. Clinton removed William S. Sessions from office on July 19, 1993, and President Donald J. Trump removed James B. Comey from office on May 9, 2017..."
FBI Director

Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents

"Cybersecurity vulnerabilities challenge governments, businesses, and individuals worldwide. Attacks have been initiated against individuals, corporations, and countries. Targets have included government networks, companies, and political organizations, depending upon whether the attacker was seeking military intelligence, conducting diplomatic or industrial espionage, engaging in cybercrime, or intimidating political activists. In addition, national borders mean little or nothing to cyberattackers, and attributing an attack to a specific location can be difficult, which may make responding problematic.

Despite many recommendations made over the past decade, most major legislative provisions relating to cybersecurity had been enacted prior to 2002. However, on December 18, 2014, five cybersecurity bills were signed by the President. These bills change federal cybersecurity programs in a number of ways:
 codifying the role of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in developing a “voluntary, industry-led set of standards” to reduce cyber risk;
 codifying the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center as a hub for interactions with the private sector;
 updating the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) by requiring the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to “eliminate ... inefficient and wasteful reports”; and
 requiring DHS to develop a “comprehensive workforce strategy” within a year and giving DHS new authorities for cybersecurity hiring..."

Quarterly Report on Household Debt and CreditT

"Aggregate household debt balances increased in the first quarter of 2017, for the 11th consecutive quarter, finally surpassing the 2008Q3 peak of $12.68 trillion. As of March 31, 2017, total household indebtedness was $12.73 trillion, a $149 billion (1.2%) increase from the fourth quarter of 2016. 
Overall household debt is now 14.1% above the 2013Q2 trough.

 Mortgage balances, the largest component of household debt, increased again during the first quarter. Mortgage balances shown on consumer credit reports on March 31 stood at $8.63 trillion, an increase of $147 billion from the fourth quarter of 2016. Balances on home equity lines of credit (HELOC) declined by $17 billion and now stand at $456 billion. Non-housing balances were mixed in the first quarter. Auto loans and student loan balances grew, by $10 billion and $34 billion respectively, while credit card balances declined by $15 billion..."
Household debt and credit

Can your baby hear you say “I love you?”

"Find out why hearing screening is important, how to get your baby screened, and what to do with the results. Also included are helpful resources for parents.
Thousands of babies are born deaf or hard of hearing each year in the United States. Babies diagnosed early with hearing loss and begun on intervention are more likely to reach their full potential. The best way to find out if your baby may be deaf or hard of hearing is by a simple hearing test, also called hearing screening.

Why is a hearing screening important for my baby?

Starting from day 1, babies begin to learn language skills by listening to and interacting with those around them. If babies miss these opportunities, their language development can be delayed. Many times, children’s hearing loss is not obvious and can go unnoticed for months or even years.
Hearing screening at birth can determine if your baby may have a hearing loss and if more tests are needed. Early diagnosis is essential to help babies who are deaf or hard of hearing reach their full potential. Early diagnosis allows families to make decisions about the intervention services that are best for their baby’s needs. Early diagnosis of hearing loss and beginning intervention helps to keep children’s development on track and improve their future language and social development..."
Baby hearing

Epilepsy and Seizures in Older Adults

"Did you know that seizures are more likely to develop in older adults? Learn to recognize the signs of seizures and how you can help.
Epilepsy is a broad term used for a brain disorder that causes seizures. In the United States, 2.4 million adults aged 18 years or older have active epilepsy.1,2 About 1% of adults 65 years of age and older have active epilepsy, which is about 447,000 people.1,2 That’s about the size of Corpus Christi, TX. With the aging of the population, we can expect to see greater numbers of people with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is more likely to develop in older adults rather than younger adults because as people age, the risk of seizures and epilepsy rises.3,4 Some older adults may have lived with epilepsy throughout their lives, but others might develop epilepsy later in life. It isn’t always easy to tell when you, a friend or family member, or someone you care for develops epilepsy later in life..."

Epilepsy and seizures

Does Osteoporosis Run in Your Family?

"If one of your parents has had a broken bone, especially a broken hip, you may need to be screened earlier for osteoporosis. This is a medical condition where bones become weak and are more likely to break. Share your family health history with your doctor. Your doctor can help you take steps to strengthen weak bones and prevent broken bones.

How can osteoporosis affect my health?

People with osteoporosis are more likely to break bones, most often in the hip, forearm, wrist, and spine. While most broken bones are caused by falls, osteoporosis can weaken bones to the point that a break can occur more easily, for example by coughing or bumping into something. As you get older, you are more likely to have osteoporosis and recovering from a broken bone becomes harder. Broken bones can have lasting effects including pain that does not go away. Osteoporosis can cause the bones in the spine to break and begin to collapse, so that some people with it get shorter and are not able to stand up straight. Broken hips are especially serious—afterward, many people are not able to live on their own and are more likely to die sooner..."

Cancer and Women

"Every year, cancer claims the lives of more than a quarter of a million women in America. You can lower your cancer risk in several ways.

What You Can Do

  • Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke. More women in the United States die from lung cancer than any other kind of cancer, and cigarette smoking causes most cases.
  • Get recommended screening tests for breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer. Screening tests are the best way to find these cancers early, when they are easier to treat. Lung cancer screening is recommended only for certain people who are at high risk.
  • Protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and indoor tanning devices.
  • Stay active and eat healthfully. Making healthy choices like eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, getting regular physical activity, and limiting alcohol consumption can help lower your risk for several kinds of cancer.

.."Cancer and women

Asian & Pacific Islanders HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

"May 19 is National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is a day to break the silence about HIV and AIDS in Asian and Pacific Islander communities and encourage individuals to get tested for HIV.
Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI) make up 0.2% of the U.S. population and account for a very small percentage of new HIV diagnoses in the United States—less than 1% in 2015, the majority of which were in gay and bisexual men (78% [62]). However, HIV affects NHOPI in ways that are not always apparent. Despite a 22% decline in HIV diagnoses from 2010-2014, NHOPI had the third-highest rate of HIV diagnoses (14.1 per 1 00,000 people) by race/ethnicity in the United States.
Asians make up 6% of the U.S. population and accounted for 2% (959) of the 40,040 new HIV diagnoses in this country and six dependent areas in 2015. Of Asians diagnosed with HIV in 2015, 86% were men and 14% were women; gay and bisexual men accounted for 89% of HIV diagnoses among all Asian men in 2015..."
HIV/AIDS Awareness

What Is Bears Ears National Monument

"Yesterday, President Obama declared two new sections of federal land national monuments. According to Coral Davenport at The New York Times, the new monuments are a 1.35 million-acre swath of southeastern Utah known as Bears Ears and 300,000 acres of Gold Butte, a mountainous section of rugged Mojave desert adjacent to Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in southern Nevada.
Davenport reports that efforts to protect the Bear’s Ears Buttes began in 1936, when Interior Secretary Harold Ickes first proposed the monument. Pressure to protect Gold Butte began in 2008 when environmentalists teamed up with the Navajo nation and other local Native American tribes to protect an area that is important to their history and culture. The new monument will include a tribal commission that will advise the managers of the new monument, a first in the national monuments system. “This is an exciting day for Navajo Nation. We have always looked to Bears Ears as a place of refuge, as a place where we can gather herbs and plants and as a place of sacredness,” Russell Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation tells Davenport. “It is a place of safety and fortitude. It is a place where our ancestors hid and survived from U.S. cavalry during the Long War.”..."
Bears Ears Monument

Statement By Secretary Kelly On The Reissuance Of The NTAS Bulletin

 Today, Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly announced the issuance of an updated National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin pertaining to the homegrown terror threat.

“After careful consideration of the current threat environment and input from intelligence and law enforcement partners, I have made the decision to update and extend for six months the NTAS Bulletin based on the persistent threat from homegrown terrorists,” said Secretary Kelly. “We are in a generational fight against terrorist groups and those they inspire, and for us to protect our homeland we will need constant vigilance and clear focus on staying a step ahead of the enemy.”

This marks the fourth iteration of the Bulletin on the homegrown threat, which has been reissued twice previously since the initial Bulletin was released in December 2015.
To read the new NTAS Bulletin, click"

Terrorist threat bulletin

Sunday, May 14, 2017

DHS Statement on Ongoing Ransomware Attacks

"The Department of Homeland Security is aware of reports of ransomware known as WannaCry affecting multiple global entities.  Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users’ access to it until a ransom is paid to unlock it.  Microsoft released a patch in March that addresses this specific vulnerability, and installing this patch will help secure your systems from the threat. Individual users are often the first line of defense against this and other threats, and we encourage all Americans to update your operating systems and implement vigorous cybersecurity practices at home, work, and school.  These practices include:
  • Update your systems to include the latest patches and software updates.
  • Do not click on or download unfamiliar links or files in emails.
  • Back up your data to prevent possible loss, whether you are at a home, work, or school computer..."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Voting in America: A Look at the 2016 Presidential Election

"Since 1964, the U.S. Census Bureau has fielded the Voting and Registration Supplement to the Current Population Survey every two years. Today, the Census Bureau released a series of tabulations and data products alongside a public use data file for the November 2016 presidential election.
In addition to the requirement that individuals be at least 18 years old, voters in national elections must also be U.S. citizens. Although the Census Bureau has collected voting and registration data since 1964, the Current Population Survey has gathered citizenship data since 1978. Figure 1 presents voting rates for the citizen voting-age population for each presidential election since 1980. In 2016, 61.4 percent of the citizen voting-age population reported voting, a number not statistically different from the 61.8 percent who reported voting in 2012.."

America votes