Thursday, July 18, 2019

Medicare Financial Status: In Brief

"Medicare, administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is the nation’s federal insurance program that pays for covered health services for most persons aged 65 years and older and for most permanently disabled individuals under the age of 65.1 As a health insurance program, Medicare reimburses health care providers and suppliers, such as hospitals, physicians, and medical equipment companies, for the services and products they provide to Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare is prohibited by law from interfering in the practice of medicine or controlling the manner in which medical services are provided. It also is required to pay for covered services provided to eligible persons so long as specific criteria are met. As such, the growth in per person Medicare expenditures largely reflects the medical practices, use of technology, and underlying costs in the broader health care system. Spending under the program (except for a portion of administrative costs) is considered mandatory spending and is not subject to the appropriations process. Thus, there generally are no limits on annual Medicare spending.

Since its enactment in 1965, the Medicare program has undergone considerable change. Because of its rapid growth, both in terms of aggregate dollars and as a share of the federal budget, the Medicare program has been a major focus of deficit reduction legislation passed by Congress.2 With a few exceptions, reductions in program spending have been achieved largely through freezes or reductions in payments to providers, primarily hospitals and physicians, and by making changes to beneficiary premiums and other cost-sharing requirements. For example, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) made numerous changes to the Medicare program that modify provider reimbursements, provide incentives to improve the quality and efficiency of care, and enhance certain Medicare benefits..."

Casualty List of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment from the Assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, 07/18/1863

"The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment was one of the most celebrated regiments of black soldiers that fought in the Civil War. Known simply as "the 54th," this regiment became famous after the heroic, but ill-fated, assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina in July, 1863. Leading the direct assault under heavy fire, the 54th suffered enormous casualties before being forced to withdraw. 

The courage and sacrifice of the 54th helped to dispel doubt within the Union Army about the fighting ability of black soldiers and earned this regiment undying battlefield glory. Shown here is one of the 54th’s casualty lists with the names of 116 enlisted men who died at Fort Wagner. Of the 600 men that charged Fort Wagner, 272 were killed, wounded, or captured.."
54th Regiment

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Student Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2017 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey

"The tables in this report include data from the 2017 School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).1 These tables show the extent to which students with different characteristics report being bullied, including estimates by student sex, race/ethnicity, grade, and household income. The U.S. Census Bureau (Census) appended additional data from the 2015–16 Common Core of Data (CCD) and the 2015–16 Private School Universe Survey (PSS) to the SCS data to show the extent to which bullying victimization is reported by students in schools with different characteristics.2 School characteristics appended to the file are region; sector (public or private); locale; level; enrollment size; student-to-full-timeequivalent (FTE) teacher ratio; the percentage of combined Black/ African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students and students of Two or more races; and the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch. Not all respondents in the SCS data file could be matched to a school in the CCD or the PSS..."
School bullying

Indicaros of School Crime and Safety: 2018

"This annual report, produced jointly by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Center for Education Statistics, presents data on school crime and safety from national surveys of students, teachers, principals, and postsecondary institutions. It contains findings on 22 indicators of school crime and safety, including violent deaths; nonfatal student and teacher victimization; school environment; fights, weapons, and illegal substances; fear and avoidance; discipline, safety, and security measures; and postsecondary campus safety and security. Selected findings on opioids, bullying, and active shooter incidents in educational settings are also included. Data sources include the National Crime Victimization Survey, the School Crime Supplement to the NCVS, the School-Associated Violent Death Surveillance System, the School Survey on Crime and Safety, the Schools and Staffing Survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, and the Campus Safety and Security Survey.
  • Based on the 2017 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), students ages 12 to 18 experienced 827,000 total victimizations (i.e., theft and nonfatal violent victimization) at school and 503,800 total victimizations away from school.
  • From 2000 to 2017, there were 153 casualties (67 killed and 86 wounded) in active shooter incidents at elementary and secondary schools and 143 casualties (70 killed and 73 wounded) in active shooter incidents at postsecondary institutions.
  • In 2017, about 6% of students ages 12 to 18 reported being called hate-related words at school during the school year, representing a decrease from 12% in 2001. This percentage also decreased between 2001 and 2017 for male and female students as well as for white, black, and Hispanic students.
  • Between 2001 and 2017, the percentage of students ages 12 to 18 who reported that gangs were present at their school during the school year decreased overall (from 20% to 9%), as well as for students from urban areas (from 29% to 11%), suburban areas (from 18% to 8%), and rural areas (from 13% to 7%).
  • During the 2015-16 school year, 47% of schools reported one or more crime incidents to police. The percentage of public schools reporting incidents to police was lower in 2015-16 than in every prior survey year..."
    School crime

Source and Use of Firearms Involved in Crimes: Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016

Source and Use of Firearms Involved in Crimes: Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016
  • About 21% of state and federal prisoners said they possessed a gun during their offense. 
  • Among prisoners who possessed a gun during their offense, 90% did not obtain it from a retail source and 99% did not obtain it from a gun show. 
  • Handguns were the most common type of firearm used by state and federal prisoners, as 11% used one during their offense. 
  • Black state prisoners were more likely to have possessed a gun during their offense (29%) than white (12%) or Hispanic (21%) prisoners..."

Firearms use in crimes

DHS and DOJ Issue Third-Country Asylum Rule

"On July 16th, a joint Interim Final Rule (IFR) issued by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security will publish in the Federal Register.
This IFR uses the authority delegated by Congress in section 208(b)(2)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to enhance the integrity of the asylum process by placing further restrictions or limitations on eligibility for aliens who seek asylum in the United States. Specifically, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are revising 8 C.F.R. § 208.13(c) and 8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(c) to add a new bar to eligibility for asylum for an alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border, but who did not apply for protection from persecution or torture where it was available in at least one third country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which he or she transited en route to the United States.
Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan issued the following statement:
"While the recent supplemental funding was absolutely vital to helping confront the crisis, the truth is that it will not be enough without targeted changes to the legal framework of our immigration system. Until Congress can act, this interim rule will help reduce a major 'pull' factor driving irregular migration to the United States and enable DHS and DOJ to more quickly and efficiently process cases originating from the southern border, leading to fewer individuals transiting through Mexico on a dangerous journey. Ultimately, today's action will reduce the overwhelming burdens on our domestic system caused by asylum-seekers failing to seek urgent protection in the first available country, economic migrants lacking a legitimate fear of persecution, and the transnational criminal organizations, traffickers, and smugglers exploiting our system for profits.”..."
DHS Asylum rule

Radon: We Track That!

"CDC’s Tracking Network connects people with vital information on a variety of health and environmental topics. You can use data and information collected about radon to help determine individual and community risk for radon and inform community interventions.

Reduce Your Risk for Radon Exposure

In the United States, radon is the #2 cause of lung cancer after smoking and is estimated to cause over 20,000 deaths each year, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas in rocks, soil, and groundwater that you cannot see, smell, or taste.
You can be exposed to radon primarily from breathing in radon that has comes in through cracks and gaps in buildings and homes.
Any home can have a radon problem. Testing is the only way to know if radon levels are high in your home. If radon levels in your home are above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), the EPA recommends taking action pdf icon[413 KB]external icon to reduce your exposure.

Radon: We Track That

CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Network has radon testing data at the state and county level for most of the continental United States. Users can explore the number of buildings tested, number and percent of pre-mitigation tests by radon level, number and percent of post-mitigation tests by radon level, median pre-mitigation test levels of radon, and maximum pre-mitigation levels of radon. Radon testing data on the Tracking Network come from some Tracking Program-funded states and several national radon testing laboratories..."

Key Findings: Preventive Care Services and Health Behaviors in Children with Fragile X Syndrome

"In a studyexternal icon  appearing in Disability and Health Journal, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations present data on preventive services received by children and young adults with fragile X syndrome (FXS). This research can help clinicians identify preventive care services that their patients with FXS may need.


  • Only one in four children and young adults with FXS met the physical activity guidanceexternal icon from the United States Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS). DHHS recommends children 6–17 years of age get one hour of physical activity every day, while adults need about 2.5 hours per week.
  • Slightly more than half of the children and young adults with FXS met the CDC recommendation for an annual influenza vaccination.
  • Almost three out of four children and young adults with FXS met dental care guidanceexternal icon from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). The AAPD recommends children have their first dental exam at the time of their first tooth eruption, or by one year of age, followed by regular exams every 6 months for children and adults.
  • About nine out of ten children and young adults with FXS received the immunizations recommended by CDC between birth and 18 years of age..."
    Fragile X Syndrome

Strokes May Lead to Epilepsy

"What is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.1 About 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year.1 It is a major cause of disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.1 Signs that someone is having a stroke are:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or problems understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.1

Strokes Can Cause Seizures and Epilepsy2

Epilepsy is a broad term used for a brain disorder that causes repeated seizures. There are many types of epilepsy, and there are also many different kinds of seizures.
A single seizure may happen soon after a stroke.2 You do not necessarily have epilepsy, or will develop epilepsy, if you have just one seizure. Certain types of strokes, such as ones that cause bleeding, and more severe strokes may be more likely to cause epilepsy.2

One study found that among those who had strokes, 5% had one seizure and 7% developed epilepsy in the thirty months afterwards.2
Epilepsy caused by strokes can usually be controlled with anti-seizure medicines.2 It’s important to take medicine as prescribed to keep seizures under control..."
Strokes and epilepsy

How much do climate fluctuations matter for global crop yields?

"The El NiƱo-Southern Oscillation, ENSO, has been responsible for recent widespread, simultaneous crop failures, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University, the International Food Policy Research Institute and partners.
The finding runs counter to a central pillar of the global agriculture system, which assumes that crop failures in geographically distant breadbasket regions such as the United States, China and Argentina are unrelated. The results underscore the potential opportunity to manage such climate risks, which can be predicted using seasonal climate forecasts.
The study, published in Science Advances, is the first to provide estimates of the degree to which different modes of climate variability, such as ENSO, cause volatility in global and regional production of corn, wheat and soy. Such variability caused a nearly 18% volatility in global corn production from 1980 to 2010, for example.
“Global agriculture counts on the strong likelihood that poor production in one part of the world will be made up for by good production elsewhere,” said Weston Anderson, a scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and lead author of the study.
Anderson and his co-authors looked at the impact that ENSO, the Indian Ocean Dipole, and other climate patterns have had on global production of corn, soybeans and wheat. They analyzed how these modes of climate variability influenced drought and heat in major growing regions.
The team found that ENSO can, and has, forced multiple breadbasket failures, including a significant one in 1983..."
Climate fluctuation and crop yields

"Eye-Witness Account of the Trinity Shot" by L. W. Alvarez

"This is a typewritten account of the detonation of "Trinity," the first atomic device, on July 16, 1945, written by physicist Luis W. Alvarez, who witnessed it from a B-29 aircraft flying 24,000 feet over the site. In this report, Alvarez comments upon the detonation itself, the formation of the mushroom cloud, and the observations of the shock wave by the pilot and other passengers in the aircraft..."
Trinity bomb test

Hereditary Hemochromatosis

"Hereditary hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder that can cause severe liver disease and other health problems. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to prevent complications from the disorder. If you have a family health history of hemochromatosis, talk to your doctor about testing for hereditary hemochromatosis.

What is hemochromatosis?

Hemochromatosis is a disorder in which the body can build up too much iron in the skin, heart, liver, pancreas, pituitary gland, and joints. Too much iron is toxic to the body and over time the high levels of iron can damage tissues and organs and lead to
In the United States, about 1 in 300 non-Hispanic whites has hereditary hemochromatosis, with lower rates among other races and ethnicities. Many people with hereditary hemochromatosis don’t know they have it. Early symptoms, such as feeling tired or weak, are common and can cause hemochromatosis to be confused with a variety of other diseases. Most people with hereditary hemochromatosis never develop symptoms or complications. Men are more likely to develop complications and often at an earlier age. An estimated 9% (about 1 in 10) of men with hereditary hemochromatosis will develop severe liver disease..."
Hereditary Hemochromatosis

Friday, July 12, 2019

U.S. Census Bureau Estimates 7.58 Billion People on Earth on World Population Day

Graphic of U.S. Census Bureau's Population Clock.
World population is estimated to reach 7.58 billion this month as World Population Day is celebrated on July 11 but the U.S. Census Bureau is projecting another milestone: Annual population growth will slip under 1.0% in 2020-2021 for the first time since 1950.
The United Nations declared July 11 as World Population Day in 1989, two years after world population crossed the 5 billion mark.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s International Data Base, which estimates that 7.58 billion people will be on the planet on that day, shows that world population increased by more than 50% in the 32 years since the Day of Five Billion in 1987..."
World population estimates

Compiling a Federal Legislative History: A Beginner’s Guide

"Compiling a federal legislative history may seem intimidating at first glance, but it does not have to be. In this research guide, we will walk you through the steps you can use to compile your own federal legislative history.
When you begin your legislative history research, the first thing you should ask yourself is whether you need to compile your own federal legislative history. In several cases, someone might have already done the work for you, and compiled a legislative history report. To find more information about resources for pre-compiled legislative history reports, select the "Locating a Compiled Federal Legislative History" menu page in this guide.
If you were not able to find a pre-compiled legislative history report, you will have to roll up your sleeves and compile your own. To begin, you have to use the information you already have about the legislation of interest to lead you to other important citation information. If you are beginning with a U.S. Code citation, you will want to use the information on the "How to Trace Federal Legislation"  page in this guide to find the public law numbers, U.S. Statutes at Large citations, and bill information for both the legislation that gave rise to that section of the U.S. Code and any legislation that amended it.
Once you have this citation information, you will want to use it to find the legislative history documents that will make up your own legislative history report. We strongly suggest using the different pages of this "Beginner's Guide" to help you complete your research..."
Federal legislative history

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Be Aware of Harmful Algal Blooms

"Harmful algal blooms can produce toxins (poisons) that can make people and animals sick and affect the environment. Learn more about them to keep you and your pets safe.
Warm weather is a time when tiny plant-like organisms—algae and cyanobacteria—are more likely to overgrow in rivers, lakes, and oceans. These overgrowths, called algal blooms, can sometimes have foam, scum, or thick layers on the surface, or can look and smell bad. Algal blooms can also make the water appear green, red, brown, or blue. When they contain toxins that affect the health of people, animals, and the environment, they are known as harmful algal blooms.
Blooms are becoming more frequent as temperatures warm and the levels of nutrients in our waters increase.
How People Get Sick
You can’t tell if a bloom is harmful just by looking at it, and not all blooms are easy to see. Health hazards can be present even when you can’t see a harmful bloom. People or pets can get sick when they have contact with contaminated water by:
  • Doing recreational activities such as swimming, kayaking, fishing, or wading through water
  • Breathing in tiny water droplets or mist that contains toxins from recreational activities or wind-blown sea spray
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Eating contaminated seafood (fish or shellfish)
Illnesses and symptoms from harmful algal blooms can vary depending on how people and animals are exposed, how long the exposures last, and the toxins involved.
Symptoms can include:
  • Skin, eye, nose or throat irritation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea.."
    Algal blooms