Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Airline Passenger Rights: The Federal Role in Aviation Consumer Protection

"The 1978 deregulation of the airline industry in the United States eliminated federal control over many airline business practices, including pricing and domestic route selection. However, the federal government continues to legislate and enforce certain consumer protections for airline passengers. Congress largely determines the degree to which the rights of airline passengers are codified in law or developed through regulatory rulemaking.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation are the primary congressional committees of jurisdiction over airline passenger rights. Congress can authorize or require the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to enact rules on certain issues, and it can enact requirements for airlines through direct legislation. In specific cases, DOT may take enforcement actions against air carriers that violate consumer protection rules.

Most of DOT’s consumer rules are based on 49 U.S.C. §41712, which directs it to “protect consumers from unfair or deceptive practices.” Some are based on DOT’s authority to require air carriers in interstate transportation to provide “safe and adequate service” (49 U.S.C. §41702). The interpretation of the phrase “unfair or deceptive” can significantly affect the scope of DOT’s enforcement authority..."
Airline passenger rights

Dude, Where’s My Jurisdiction? Congressional Efforts to Strip Federal Courts of Jurisdiction

"Federal courts, in presiding over lawsuits, have significant power over the citizenry’s life, liberty, and property, and that power can be exercised in a manner that may raise concerns with the legislative branch. One way Congress potentially can reduce the judiciary’s influence is by regulating federal court jurisdiction. Federal courts are limited to the jurisdiction granted by the Constitution, which, in Article III, authorizes federal courts to decide certain limited “cases” and “controversies.” Article III also authorizes Congress to determine what classes of “cases” and “controversies” inferior courts have jurisdiction to hear. A recent case decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Patchak v. Jewell, demonstrates how Congress, perhaps concerned by how a court might rule on a matter before it, might “strip” the court of jurisdiction to hear a case in the midst of litigation. Patchak highlights the scope of Congress’s authority to remove a class of cases from federal jurisdiction and the consequences for already pending lawsuits..."
Federal courts

State of the Cities Data Systems (SOCDS)

"The SOCDS provides data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburb..."
Cities data

Trends in Family Wealth, 1989 to 2013

"In 2013, aggregate family wealth in the United States was $67 trillion (or about four times the nation’s gross domestic product) and the median family (the one at the midpoint of the wealth distribution) held approximately $81,000, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. For this analysis, CBO calculated that measure of wealth as a family’s assets minus its debt. CBO measured wealth as marketable wealth, which consists of assets that are easily tradable and that have value even after the death of their owner. Those assets include home equity, other real estate (net of real estate loans), financial securities, bank deposits, defined contribution pension accounts, and business equity. Debt is nonmortgage debt, including credit card debt, auto loans, and student loans, for example..."
Family wealth

An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2016 to 2026

"In fiscal year 2016, the federal budget deficit will increase in relation to economic output for the first time since 2009, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. If current laws generally remained unchanged—an assumption underlying CBO’s baseline projections— deficits would continue to mount over the next 10 years, and debt held by the public would rise from its already high level..."
Federal budget

New MyPlate Resources for Families

"Every family is unique. When it comes to healthy eating, choose a starting place that works for your family, whether it’s going to a farmers market together or letting kids plan your next healthy dinner menu. Visit for more ideas to get kids of all ages involved in planning healthy family meals:

The Peak of the Hurricane Season – Why Now?

"Although the Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1st, we’re now entering the “season within the season” - a roughly eight-week period that is often the most active and dangerous time for tropical cyclone activity.
From mid-August through mid-October, the activity spikes, accounting for 78 percent of the tropical storm days, 87 percent of the category 1 and 2 hurricane days (Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale), and a whopping 96 percent of the major (category 3, 4 and 5) hurricane days.
Why does this peak period of activity begin so deep into summer? There certainly is no lack of disturbances throughout the entire six-month hurricane season. Tropical waves are coming off of the coast of Africa roughly every three days, and the very early and late parts of the year provide additional types of potential seedlings.  What’s different, though, is the environment that these potential tropical cyclones tend to encounter. Both dynamics (wind factors) and thermodynamics (temperature and moisture) play a role..."
Hurricane season

Using data to better understand climate change

"In 2010, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a $10 million Expeditions in Computing grant to a University of Minnesota-led research team that uses data-driven approaches to address key challenges in climate change science. Data-driven approaches have already proven useful in a number of scientific disciplines, from materials science to genomics.
The project, called Understanding Climate Change: A Data Driven Approach, developed methods that use climate and ecosystem data from a range of sources to refine predictions and identify changes in the climate. Those sources may include everything from satellite- and ground-based sensors, to climate model simulations and observational records for atmospheric, oceanic and terrestrial processes..."
Climate change and data

"Capture of the City of Washington," August 1814

"On August 24 and 25, 1814, British troops occupied Washington, D.C. and burned the Capitol, the President’s house, and other public buildings during the War of 1812..."
City of Washington Capture Aug. 1814

Put Vaccination on Your Back-to-School List

"When you’re getting your kids ready for the upcoming school year, make sure to include back-to-school vaccine appointments on your checklist.
While vaccines are often thought of as something for babies and young children, preteens and teens also need vaccines to stay healthy throughout the school year. Vaccination protects preteens and teens against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including meningitis and cancers caused by HPV infections.
These diseases are still around and very real. When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can also spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community..."

Radon is Real!

"Radon is Real! As the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking, radon is associated with approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is educating students about the risk of radon exposure and the importance of testing.
In December 2015, Stephanie Foster of the Geospatial Research, Analysis, and Services Program (GRASP) and Brian Tencza of the Environmental Medicine Branch, at ATSDR visited 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms to educate students about the risk of radon exposure. Radon is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless radioactive gas, and its presence can only be determined by testing the indoor air of our homes, schools, and workplaces..."

National Parks and the Economy of Their “Gateway Towns”

"Nowhere is our nation’s natural beauty on more vivid display than in its more than 400national parks. Maintained by the National Park Service for exactly one century this summer, these venues have long been popular destinations for summer vacations and weekend getaways.
The term “National Park” immediately conjures up images of some of their most famous landmarks, such as “Old Faithful” in Yellowstone, “Half Dome” in Yosemite and the waves crashing into the rocky shores of Acadia, but national parks also include places where American history was written and that preserve the unique culture of our nation. For many visitors, their first stops are the “gateway communities” that serve national parks. Located not far from the parks’ entrances, these towns are critical to tourists for lodging, food and “gassing up.”..."
National Parks and the Economy of Their “Gateway Towns”

Friday, August 19, 2016

Introducing the Pocket Guide to Transportation App

"If you need transportation statistics at a moment’s notice – for example, if you want to see a list of the most congested urban areas or if you want to find the busiest Amtrak stations – the Bureau of Transportation Statistics has a solution for you.
As we mark the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, BTS is introducing its most innovative product yet – a smartphone app for the Pocket Guide to Transportation.
Graphic - Download the Pocket Guide App.."
Transportation app

LGB Student Health Risks

"New data published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report offers insight into the health risks of LGB high school students. The report, “Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12—United States and Selected Sites, 2015,” includes the first national estimates of more than 100 health risk behaviors— including sexual risk behaviors; violence; and tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use—that put LGB teens at risk. Findings from the report show that LGB students experience substantially higher levels of physical and sexual violence and bullying than non-LGB students. The report is available on the Healthy Youth Web site..."
LGB student health

The Federal Circuit Rules on Trademarks Considered Offensive: May Affect Redskins Trademark Dispute

"Two separate cases involving the revocation of the Washington Redskins’ federally registered trademarks (ProFootball, Inc. v. Blackhorse) and the refusal to grant registration for a rock band’s name (In re Tam) raise questions about the constitutionality of Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946 (conventionally known as the Lanham Act), which denies trademark registration to certain offensive content. In relevant part, Section 2(a) prohibits registration if the trademark “consists of matter . . . which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” Section 14(b) of the Lanham Act then permits the cancellation of federal registration if a mark is later found to have been registered contrary to Section 2(a). In one of these cases, In re Tam, the court found that Section 2(a) is an unconstitutional government regulation of speech. The opinion overturns seventy years of judicial precedent—that Section 2(a) does not implicate the First Amendment—and may pave the way for federal registration of marks that some individuals or communities may find offensive..."
Offensive trademarks