Sunday, June 26, 2016

Designating Stonewall National Monument

"On Friday, June 24, President Obama designated the Stonewall National Monument – the first national monument dedicated to telling the story of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community’s struggle for equal rights. In this week’s address, the President talked about the importance of preserving and sharing this significant part of the American story.

Although we have seen true progress over the years, the President acknowledged that the LGBT community still faces discrimination to this day. With that in mind, the President emphasized that as a country, we must continue to push for equality, acceptance and tolerance – because that’s what makes our country the greatest nation on earth..."
Stonewall National Monumment

CDC investigation: Blood lead levels higher after switch to Flint River water

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released the results of its investigation into the potential health impact that lead contamination in the Flint, Michigan water supply had on the blood lead levels of local children.  The findings indicate that when the source of the water supply was switched to the Flint River, without appropriate corrosion control measures, young children who drank the water had blood lead levels (BLLs) that were significantly higher than when the source of water was the Detroit water system. After the switch back to the Detroit water system, the percentage of children under 6 years with elevated blood lead levels returned to levels seen before the water switch took place.
“This crisis was entirely preventable, and a startling reminder of the critical need to eliminate all sources of lead from our children’s environment,” said Patrick Breysse, Ph.D., director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health. “CDC is committed to continued support for the people of Flint through our Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program and efforts to raise awareness and promote action to address the critical public health issue in communities across the country.”
To understand the impact of consuming contaminated drinking water on children’s blood lead levels, CDC researchers examined data on levels of lead in blood of children younger than six years before, during, and after the switch in Flint’s water source. The current CDC blood lead level of concern (also known as a reference level) is 5 or more micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (≥5 µg/dL). This reference value is based on the population of children ages 1-5 years in the U.S. who are in the top 2.5% of children tested for lead in their blood..."
Blood lead

American Time Use Survey — 2015 Results

"In 2015, 38 percent of workers in management, business, and financial operations occupations, and 35 percent of those employed in professional and related occupations, did some or all of their work from home on days they worked, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Workers employed in other occupations were less likely to work from home on days they worked.

These and other results from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) were released today. These data include the average amount of time per day in 2015 that individuals worked, did household activities, and engaged in leisure and sports activities. Additionally, measures of the average time per day spent providing childcare—both as a primary (or main) activity and while doing other things—for the combined years 2011-2015 are provided..." 
Time use

Friday, June 24, 2016

Foreign Aid: An Introduction to U.S. Programs and Policy

"Foreign assistance is a fundamental component of the international affairs budget and is viewed by many as an essential instrument of U.S. foreign policy. On the basis of national security, commercial, and humanitarian rationales, U.S. assistance flows through many federal agencies and supports myriad objectives, including promoting economic growth, reducing poverty, improving governance, expanding access to health care and education, promoting stability in conflictive regions, countering terrorism, promoting human rights, strengthening allies, and curbing illicit drug production and trafficking. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, foreign aid has increasingly been associated with national security policy. At the same time, foreign aid is seen by many Americans, and Members of Congress, as an expense that the United States cannot afford given current budget deficits..."
Foreign Aid

America’s Age Profile Told through Population Pyramids

"Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin for the nation, states and counties. These data enable us to learn about the U.S. population, including its age structure. Age structure is often displayed using a population pyramid. You can learn about the makeup of the U.S. population as a whole by looking at its population pyramid, below...."
Aged population

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

How Photography Shaped America's National Parks

"Have you ever gotten a postcard from a national park? Chances are the picture that comes to mind—maybe the powerful eruption of Old Faithful spouting up in Yellowstone or the rocky depths of the Grand Canyon—is the same shot that people across the world have seen.
There’s a reason for that. The idea of America’s national parks that's ingrained in the collective consciousness has been shaped through more than 150 years of photographing them, Jamie Allen contends in her new book, Picturing America’s Parks.
You might be surprised by just how important a role photography played in constructing what America thinks of as national parks today. Allen, an associate curator at the George Eastman Museum, weeds through the parks' origins, critically exploring the forces behind those now-iconic visages..."
National parks

Food Safety at Fairs and Festivals

"A big part of summer for many people is attending fairs and festivals. There are always fun things to see and experience, including art work, music, games, and rides. One of the biggest draws to these events is the many different types of foods and drinks available.
Foodborne illnesses increase during the summer months, making it even more important to follow food safety steps. There are several reasons that foodborne illnesses increase in summer; one is that people are cooking and eating outside more often. Sometimes the usual safety controls that a kitchen provides, like monitoring of food temperatures, refrigeration, workers trained in food safety and washing facilities, may not be available when cooking and dining at fairs and festivals.

Remember that food safety practices should be the same at fairs as they are at restaurants and at home: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Learn more about these steps here, and reduce the chance you’ll get a foodborne illness this summer...."
Food safety and fairs

Pollinator Week: Celebrating Blue Butterflies on the Great Lakes

"In honor of National Pollinator Week, the U.S. Forest Service joins organizations and individuals across the world to celebrate pollinators and share ways to help them survive and thrive.
Pollinators are vital to healthy ecosystems. Eighty percent of flowering plants require pollination by animals to successfully reproduce and produce seeds and fruits. Plants and pollinators together provide the basis for life by converting sunlight into food, materials for shelter, clean air, clean water, medicines, and other necessities of life...

Located within the Great Lakes Basin, the Huron-Manistee National Forest’s Baldwin/White Cloud Ranger District provides important habitat for the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly. The butterfly depends on a rare natural community called savanna—open areas with scattered trees and abundant wildflowers. Savannas have declined to less than 1 percent of their former extent due to extensive reforestation, fire control efforts, human development, and the process of natural selection. To address this, the BWC Ranger District has been actively working to restore the area’s oak savanna habitat since 1992..."

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Federal Register Volumes Now Available Online

"Where can you get back issues of the Federal Register online? The Law Library of Congress has now completed thecollection of historical volumes of the Federal Register available online.
The Law Library acquired this collection from William S. Hein & Co., Inc. to make all volumes of the Federal Register available in open access to researchers.  The collection starts with the first Federal Register in 1936 and contains all volumes through 1993. For more recent volumes, see and FDSys (volumes 1994-2015). The Law Library website for the collection is//
The Federal Register is published every business day and contains executive orders and proclamations as well as federal agency public notices, proposed rules, and regulations. The final rules are codifiedin the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which is published annually..."
Federal Register

In a Historic First, a Large Collection of Islamic Qur'ans Travels This Fall to the U.S.

"Suleyman the Magnificent saw something he wanted. Within the Persian mausoleum of Sultan Uljaytu, a descendant of Ghengis Khan, was one of the most magnificently crafted copies of the Qur'an in the world. And what Suleyman wanted, he got. 
The year was 1531 and Suleyman's army was rampaging across Persia as he solidified his status as the new leader of the Sunni Muslim world. 
Accompanied by his Grand Vizier, Suleyman, with his enormous white turban blossoming over his head, stood before the mausoleum's magnificent dome. Underneath were vaults decorated in a riot of red, blue, yellow, green and white in patterns that were almost calligraphic. The Qur'an was displayed prominently on a specially made stand; this wasn't something that a visitor to the tomb could miss. Lines of gorgeous black and gold calligraphy seemed almost to float above the page. So what that it belonged to the tomb of Uljaytu?
This October 15, that Qur'an will arrive at Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Art as part of a collection of 68 of the finest examples of the art of the Qur'an ever to visit the United States. The exhibition will include 48 manuscripts and folios from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art in Istanbul dating from the eighth to the 17th-century, as well as several Qur'an boxes and stands and items from the museum's collections...."
Qu'ran exhibit

Physical Activity for Older Adults

"Are you an older adult looking for ways to exercise in a safe environment? Participating in group exercise programs can help older adults remain physically active.
For adults over 65 years old, exercise helps maintain healthy and longer lives and can prevent many health problems that come with age such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Issues such as traffic, adequate lighting and weather can get in the way of being active and, therefore, indoor exercise classes are one way to be active. It's suggested that adults over 65 should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate level activity per week , such as brisk walking..."
Older Adults

Sifting Domestic Terrorism from Hate Crime and Homegrown Violent Extremism

"Domestic terrorism, hate crime, and homegrown violent extremism are three fairly distinct concepts that federal law enforcement agencies use to categorize key types of criminals whose illegal activities are at least partly ideologically motivated.
Domestic Terrorism
Domestic terrorism cases differ from ordinary criminal activity in key ways. Most importantly, unlike ordinary criminals—who are often driven by self-centered motives such as profit and tend to opportunistically seek easy prey— domestic terrorists are driven by a cause or ideology. If the motives involved eventually align with the definition laid out in 18 U.S.C. §2331(5), presumably the case becomes a domestic terrorist investigation.
  •  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines domestic terrorism as "acts of violence that [violate] the criminal laws of the United States or any state, committed by individuals or groups without any foreign direction, and appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, or influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States."

When Are Violent Crimes Federal Hate Crimes?

"he shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando has generated interest in the scope of the federal hate crime statute, 18 U.S.C. 249, enacted in 2009. Section 249 establishes two distinct federal crimes. Section 249(a)(1) outlaws violence committed because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of the victim. Section 249(a)(2) outlaws violence committed because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim. Section 249(a)(2) applies only if the crime somehow involves commerce or was committed within federal territorial or maritime jurisdiction. Section 249(a)(1) has no such limitation. The difference is attributable to the nature of Congress’s legislative powers.

Congress enjoys only such legislative authority as may be traced to the Constitution. Section 249(a)(1) builds on Congress’s power to implement the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery and seeks to eliminate the “badges and incidents of slavery.” Section 249(a)(2) is grounded in Congress’s constitutional authority to pass laws necessary and proper to regulate commerce among the states and to regulate conduct in federal territories and aboard certain ships. The few cases to consider the issue in the statute’s short life have concluded that section 249(a)(1) constitutes a valid exercise of Congress’s authority under the Thirteenth Amendment and that section 249(a)(2) falls within Congress’s authority to regulate interstate and foreign commerce..."
Violent crime & hate crimes

How Prevalent Is Campus Sexual Assault in the United States?

"Sexual assault on college campuses continues to make national headlines. We know the victims suffer short- and long-term health problems, such as sexually transmitted infections, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, chronic illness and post-traumatic stress disorder. We also know that college students who have been sexually assaulted are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as binge drinking and drug use, and have lowered academic achievement, and they may be at greater risk for revictimization.
A number of government and campus initiatives aim to address the problem. For instance, in September 2014, the White House partnered with stakeholders to launch "It's On Us" and "Not Alone," national public awareness campaigns focusing on preventing and responding to campus sexual assault..."

Campus sexuial assault

The Islamic State’s Acolytes and the Challenges They Pose to U.S. Law Enforcement

"Analysis of publicly available information on homegrown violent jihadist activity in the United States since September 11, 2001, suggests that the Islamic State (IS) and its acolytes may pose broad challenges to domestic law enforcement and homeland security efforts. Homegrown ISinspired plots can be broken into three rough categories based on the goals of the individuals involved. The first two focus on foreign fighters, the last on people willing to do harm in the United States:
  • The Departed—Americans, often described as foreign fighters, who plan to leave or have left the United States to fight for the Islamic State.
  •  The Returned—American foreign fighters who trained with or fought in the ranks of the Islamic State and come back to the United States, where they can potentially plan and execute attacks at home.
  •  The Inspired—Americans lured—in part—by IS propaganda to participate in terrorist plots within the United States...."
    Islamic State