Thursday, April 29, 2010

Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress
"Names for Navy ships traditionally have been chosen and announced by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President and in accordance with rules prescribed by Congress. Rules for giving certain types of names to certain types of Navy ships have evolved over time. There have been exceptions to the Navy’s ship-naming rules, particularly for the purpose of naming a ship for a person when the rule for that type of ship would have called for it to be named for something else. Some observers in recent years have perceived a breakdown in, or corruption of, the rules for naming Navy ships..."
Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations
"This report provides an overview of Jordanian politics and current issues in U.S.-Jordanian relations. It provides a brief discussion of Jordan’s government and economy and of its cooperation in promoting Arab-Israeli peace and other U.S. policy objectives in the Middle East.

Several issues in U.S.-Jordanian relations are likely to figure in decisions by Congress and the Administration on future aid to and cooperation with Jordan. These include the stability of the Jordanian regime, the role of Jordan in the Arab-Israeli peace process, and U.S.-Jordanian military and intelligence cooperation..."
Iran Sanctions
"...While the oil and gas sector has been a focus of U.S. sanctions since the 1990s, the Obama Administration appears to be shifting—in U.S. regulations and in discussions with U.S. allies on a possible new U.N. Security Council Resolution—to targeting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for sanctions. This shift is intended to weaken the Guard as a proliferation supporting organization, as well as to expose its role in trying to crush the democratic opposition in Iran. A growing trend in Congress, reflected in several bills that are have passed or are in various stages of consideration, would sanction Iranian officials who are human rights abusers,
facilitate the democracy movement’s access to information, and express outright U.S. support for the overthrow of the regime. Possibly as a result of this trend, and the potential for doing business with Iran to harm corporate reputations, since 2010 began, several major international firms have announced an end to their business pursuits in Iran. For more on Iran, see CRS Report RL32048, Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, by Kenneth Katzman."
Veterans Benefits: Federal Employment Assistance
"There are federal employment and training programs and policies specifically targeted to help veterans seeking employment in the civilian economy. Transition assistance programs are operated by the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Labor (DOL) to assist servicemembers as they prepare to leave the military. DOL operates grant programs to states to provide outreach and assistance to veterans in finding civilian employment. In addition, the federal government has policies (including veterans preference) that assist veterans in obtaining jobs with the federal government and federal contractors. This report
provides a brief overview of these federal programs and policies. This report will be updated as needed."
The Global Economic Crisis: Impact on Sub-Saharan Africa and Global Policy Responses
"...This report analyzes Africa’s vulnerability to the global crisis and potential implications for economic growth, poverty alleviation, fiscal balances, and political stability. The report describes channels through which the crisis is affecting Africa, and provides information on international efforts to address the impact, including U.S. policies and those of multilateral institutions in which the United States plays a major role. For further background and analysis, see CRS Report RL34742, The Global Financial Crisis: Analysis and Policy Implications, coordinated by Dick K.
Nanto."
Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa
"...The 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa and more recent attacks have highlighted the threat of terrorism to U.S. interests on the continent. Political instability and civil wars have created vast ungoverned spaces, areas in which some experts allege that terrorist groups may train and operate. Instability also heightens human suffering and retards economic development, which may in turn threaten U.S. economic interests. Africa’s exports of crude oil to the United States are now roughly equal to those of the Middle East, further emphasizing the continent’s strategic importance. This report provides a broad overview of U.S. strategic interests in Africa and the role of U.S. military efforts on the continent as they pertain to the creation of AFRICAM. A discussion of AFRICOM’s mission, its coordination with other government agencies, and its basing and manpower requirements is included."
Is the U.S. Current Account Deficit Sustainable?
"America’s current account (CA) deficit (the trade deficit plus net income payments and net unilateral transfers) rose as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) from 1991 to a record high of about 6% of GDP in 2006. It began falling in 2007, and reached 3% of GDP in 2009. The CA deficit is financed by foreign capital inflows. Many observers have questioned whether such large inflows are sustainable. Even at 3% of GDP, the deficit is probably still too large to be permanently sustained, and many economists fear that the decline is temporary and caused by the recession. Further, a large share of the capital inflows have come from foreign central banks in recent years, and some are concerned about the economic and political implications of this
reliance. Some fear that a rapid decline in capital inflows would trigger a sharp drop in the value of the dollar and an increase in interest rates that could lower asset values and disrupt economic activity. However, economic theory and empirical evidence suggest that the most plausible scenario is a slow decline in the CA deficit, which would not greatly disrupt economic activity because production in the traded goods sector would be stimulated..."
International Criminal Court Cases in Africa: Status and Policy Issues
"...This report provides background on ICC investigations in Africa and gives an overview of cases currently before the Court. The report also examines issues raised in Africa by the ICC’s actions, including the ICC’s possible role in deterring future abuses, and the potential impact of international prosecutions on African peace processes. Further background on U.S. policy toward the ICC can be found in CRS Report RL31437, International Criminal Court: Overview and Selected Legal Issues, by Jennifer K. Elsea, and CRS Report R41116, The International Criminal Court (ICC): Jurisdiction, Extradition, and U.S. Policy, by Emily C. Barbour and Matthew C. Weed."
Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Leaders and Elections
"This fact sheet tracks the current heads of government in Central and South America, Mexico,and the Caribbean. It provides the dates of the last and next elections for the head of government and the national independence date for each country."
New Census Bureau Report Analyzes Nation’s Linguistic Diversity
"The number of people 5 and older who spoke a language other than English at home has more than doubled in the last three decades and at a pace four times greater than the nation’s population growth, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report analyzing data from the 2007 American Community Survey and over a time period from 1980 – 2007. In that time frame, the percentage of speakers of non-English languages grew by 140 percent while the nation’s overall population grew by 34 percent.

Spanish speakers accounted for the largest numeric increase — nationwide, there were 23.4 million more speakers in 2007 than in 1980 representing a 211 percent increase. The Vietnamese-speaking population accounted for the largest percentage increase of 511 percent (1.0 million speakers) over the same timeframe.

The new report, Language Use in the United States: 2007 [PDF], identifies the states with the highest concentrations of some of the most commonly spoken non-English languages. The languages, and some of the states with the highest percentage of speakers of these languages, include: Spanish (Texas, California and New Mexico), French (Louisiana and Maine), German (North Dakota and South Dakota), Slavic languages (Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut), Chinese (California, New York, Hawaii and Massachusetts) and Korean (Hawaii, California and New Jersey)..."
This We Know
"Our mission is to present the information the U.S. government collects about every community. By publishing this data in an easy to understand and consistent manner, we seek to empower citizens to act on what's known.

In this first phase of development, we focused on a handful of nationwide data sets from six different agencies in the data.gov catalog. We picked data sets that each had a spatial component. All the data sets were converted to RDF and loaded into a RDF database that serves as the foundation for this website..."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Congressional District Maps to Print
Find printable maps of all the United States Congressional Districts. The maps are in "PNP" format and arranged by states, and then Congressional District. Maps are available in sizes: 4"at 300dpi or 8" at 150dpi; 8" at 300dpi or 16" at 150dpi; 12" at 300dpi or 24" at 150dpi.
New Commerce Department Reports Lay Foundation for Measuring Green Economy, Carbon Dioxide Emissions
"he U.S. Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration today released two new reports: one that defines and measures the size and scope of the green economy and another that looks at the ways in which the American economy's greenhouse gas emissions have changed over the past decade. Together, they provide valuable analytic tools needed to understand the emerging green economy, quantify greenhouse gas emissions and help inform future policy decisions.


“The Obama Administration's agenda for economic recovery depends in part on efforts to develop clean energy and energy-efficiency technology," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "These reports provide important insights and are a valuable foundation to measure our success as that agenda moves forward. These efforts could put millions of people to work in high-skill, high-wage jobs as opportunities to export green products and services expand and nations seek more energy sources.”

The first of the two reports, “Measuring the Green Economy,” provides an important initial step toward measuring the size and composition of the emerging green economy and the number of green jobs it has created. By using publicly-available data on more than 20,000 products and services, the report shows that the green economy is well-poised for growth..."

"The second report, “U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Intensities Over Time,” shows that, while significant work remains in curtailing greenhouse emissions, a large number of economic sectors have indeed become more energy and carbon dioxide (CO2) efficient -- particularly the manufacturing sector. The report reveals that households are responsible for about 30 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions, more than any other sector. It also provides a comprehensive accounting of carbon dioxide emissions across every economic sector – industry, the government and households – from 1998 to 2006, and lays out a understanding of changes in greenhouse gas emissions, in both total and per dollar of output..."
Federal Highway Administration Proposes Revision of Rules to Make Roadway Markings Brighter
"To further improve roadway safety by making pavement markings brighter and easier to see,
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez today proposed to establish the first-ever standards for maintaining the reflectivity of centerlines, lane lines and edge lines on all roads used by the public.

"Safety is our highest priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "When adopted, new standards can help make our roads and bridges safer by making them easier to navigate."

The proposed new standard would come through a revision to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) since 1971 as the national standard for traffic signs, pavement markings, signals and any other devices used to regulate, warn or guide traffic.

Properly maintained reflective pavement markings improve highway safety and prevent roadway departure crashes by making the markings easier to see. Reflective properties deteriorate over time, requiring regular maintenance to assure that pavement markings can be seen clearly at night..."
EAC Releases Three Quick Start Management Guides
"The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) issued new Quick Start Management Guides for state and local election officials that provide guidance on three areas of election administration: technology in elections, elections office administration, and accessibility. The guides are available at www.eac.gov.

By issuing the recommendations, EAC fulfills a mandate under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to provide assistance to states on election administration. This latest guidance augments EAC’s popular Quick Start Management Guide series, a collection of 21 brochures on election management fundamentals, from planning for contingencies and managing polling places to administering provisional ballots and canvassing and certifying an election.

The purpose of the Quick Start guides is to provide a brief overview of key election management topics. It complements the Election Management Guidelines (EMG), a collection of chapters that provide in-depth guidance on the same topics. EAC plans to release EMG chapters for these three topics this summer.

The Quick Starts were developed with input from the election community, including election officials, voter advocates and election experts. Following is a summary of each Quick Start Management Guide and links to download them:

Technology in Elections provides examples of how local election officials use technology to more efficiently add voters to the voter registration database, manage the day-to-day work of a government agency, conduct outreach to voters, including those serving in the military, and track activities on Election Day. The Quick Start Management Guide also includes information on how to plan for the replacement of technology.

Elections Office Administration discusses managing internal office processes such as records retention, preparing for an election with the use of an election calendar, managing facilities and equipment, staffing the elections office and polls on Election Day, collecting statistical data and budgeting.

Accessibility reviews managing an accessible elections office, conducting outreach, and providing an accessible voting experience for all voters. The Guide also includes a list of resources for election administrators..."
Occupational Injuries and Deaths Among Younger Workers --- United States, 1998--2007
"Younger workers (defined as those aged 15--24 years) represent 14% of the U.S. labor force and face high risk for injury while on the job (1--4). To assess trends and help guide efforts to improve young worker safety, CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) analyzed data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System occupational supplement (NEISS-Work) for the period 1998--2007. This report summarizes the results of that analysis. During the 10-year period, 5,719 younger workers died from occupational injuries. The fatality rate for younger workers was 3.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTE) (one FTE = 2,000 hours worked per year) and was lower than the rate for older workers (defined as aged ≥25 years) (4.4 deaths per 100,000 FTE). The fatality rate decreased an estimated 14% during the 10-year period. For the same period, an estimated 7.9 million nonfatal injuries to younger workers were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments (EDs). The nonfatal injury rate was 5.0 ED-treated injuries per 100 FTE and was approximately two times higher than among workers aged ≥25 years. The rate of nonfatal injuries among younger workers declined 19%, but the decline was not statistically significant. Public health, labor, and trade organizations should provide guidance to employers to help them in their responsibilities to provide safer workplaces and should identify steps that employers can take to remove or reduce injury hazards. Employers need to ensure that their younger workers have the requisite training and personal protective equipment to perform their jobs safely..."
Seroprevalence of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Among Persons Aged 14--49 Years --- United States, 2005--2008
"Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections worldwide and the primary cause of genital and neonatal herpes and genital ulcer disease (1). Multiple studies have shown that HSV-2 infection increases the risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection by at least twofold (2). HSV-2 infection is lifelong, and serologic testing provides the best method to estimate HSV-2 prevalence. Since 1976, CDC has monitored HSV-2 seroprevalence in the United States through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). After increasing from 1976--1980 (NHANES II) to 1988--1994 (NHANES III), HSV-2 seroprevalence decreased, from 21.0% in 1988--1994 to 17.0% in NHANES 1999--2004 (1). To determine whether HSV-2 seroprevalence in the United States has changed since 1999--2004 and to estimate HSV-2 seroprevalence by age, race/ethnicity, and reported lifetime number of sex partners, CDC analyzed serologic test results from persons aged 14--49 years who participated in NHANES 2005--2008. The results indicated that HSV-2 seroprevalence was 16.2% overall, not statistically different from the seroprevalence in 1999--2004. Seroprevalence was highest among women (20.9%) and non-Hispanic blacks (39.2%). Of those infected with HSV-2, 81.1% had not received a diagnosis. Clinicians, health departments, health-care organizations, and community groups should promote measures that prevent HSV-2 transmission, including minimizing the number of sex partners, avoiding concurrent sexual partnerships, and using condoms consistently and correctly. Patients with known HSV-2 infection should be tested for HIV..."
Refugees and Asylees: 2009
"The United States provides refuge to persons who have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution through two programs: one for refugees (persons outside the U.S.) and one for asylees (persons in the U.S.). This Office of Immigration Statistics Annual Flow Report provides information on the number of persons admitted to the United States as refugees or granted asylum in the United States in 2009..."
Naturalizations in the United States: 2009
"Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon foreign citizens or nationals after fulfilling the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). After naturalization, foreign-born citizens enjoy nearly all the same benefits, rights and responsibilities that the Constitution gives to native-born U.S. citizens, including the right to vote. This Office of Immigration Statistics Annual Flow Report presents information on the number and characteristics of foreign nationals aged 18 years and over who were naturalized during 2009..."

Monday, April 26, 2010

North Korea’s 2009 Nuclear Test: Containment, Monitoring, Implications
"On May 25, 2009, North Korea announced that it had conducted its second underground nuclear
test. Unlike its first test, in 2006, there is no public record that the second one released radioactive materials indicative of a nuclear explosion. How could North Korea have contained these materials from the May 2009 event and what are the implications?

As background, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) would ban all nuclear
explosions. It was opened for signature in 1996. Entry into force requires ratification by 44 states specified in the treaty, including the United States and North Korea. As of April 2010, 151 states, including 35 of the 44, had ratified. North Korea has not signed the CTBT. President Clinton signed it in 1996; in 1999, the Senate voted not to consent to its ratification. In 2009, President Obama pledged to press for its ratification.

The treaty establishes a verification mechanism, including an International Monitoring System
(IMS) to detect nuclear tests. Three IMS technologies detect waves that pass through the oceans
(hydroacoustic), Earth (seismic), or atmosphere (infrasound); a fourth detects radioactive material from a nuclear test. Scientists concur that only the latter proves that an explosion was nuclear.Some believe that deep burial and other means can contain radioactive effluents. Another view is that containment is an art as much as a science. The United States learned to improve containment over several decades. Yet by one estimate, North Korea contained over 99.9% of the radioactive effluents from its 2009 test. It might have done so by application of lessons learned from its 2006 test or the U.S. nuclear test experience, use of a higher-yield device, release of material below the detection threshold, good luck, or some combination. Alternatively, the 2009 event may have been a nonnuclear explosion designed to simulate a nuclear test
Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States
"Americans consume unhealthy amounts of sodium in their food, far exceeding public health recommendations. Consuming too much sodium increases the risk for high blood pressure, a serious health condition that is avoidable and can lead to a variety of diseases. Analysts estimate that population-wide reductions in sodium could prevent more than 100,000 deaths annually. While numerous stakeholders have initiated voluntary efforts to reduce sodium consumption in the United States during the past 40 years, they have not succeeded. Without major change, hypertension and cardiovascular disease rates will continue to rise, and consumers will pay the price for inaction.

In 2008, Congress asked the IOM to recommend strategies for reducing sodium intake to levels recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In this report, the IOM concludes that reducing sodium content in food requires new government standards for the accept able level of sodium. Manufacturers and restaurants need to meet these standards so that all sources in the food supply are involved. The goal is to slowly, over time, reduce the sodium content of the food supply in a way that goes unnoticed by most consumers as individuals’ taste sensors adjust to the lower levels of sodium..."
EPA Proposes to Remove Saccharin from Hazardous Waste Listings
"he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a rule to remove saccharin and its salts from the agency’s lists of hazardous wastes, hazardous constituents and hazardous substances because it is no longer considered a potential hazard to human health. These lists are used to identify hazardous substances at sites across the country that need to be properly and safely managed. Saccharin is a white crystalline powder used as an artificial sweetener and can be found in diet soft drinks, chewing gum and juice.

Since the 1980s, saccharin was included in EPA’s lists of hazardous wastes, hazardous constituents, and hazardous substances because it was identified as potentially causing cancer in people. In the late 1990s, the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer re-evaluated the available scientific information on saccharin and its salts and concluded that saccharin and its salts are not potential human carcinogens. Because the scientific basis for remaining on EPA's lists no longer applies, the agency is issuing a proposed rule to remove saccharin and its salts from the list..."
Local Area Personal Income, 2008
"Today, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released estimates of personal income at the county level for 2008 based on newly available source data. The percent change from 2007 to 2008 in county personal income ranged from -48 percent in Slope County, North Dakota to 54 percent in Faulk County, South Dakota with growth slowing in more than two-thirds of the counties. For the nation, personal income grew 2.9 percent in 2008 after growing 5.5 percent in 2007. A surge in farm income accounted for the bulk of the growth in 29 of the 31 fastest growing counties (the top 1 percent of the nation’s counties) as they continued to rebound from sharp mid-decade declines in farm income..."
US Labor Department releases report on green jobs training initiatives
" This Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Labor is turning green jobs into golden opportunities safely by working with its community, labor and industry partners to prepare the workforce for high growth fields while building a greener planet. The Labor Department today released a report to demonstrate the programs being supported to promote green job growth. Additionally, the department is launching a campaign called "Turning Green to Gold, Safely" to collect stories from the public about how contributions have been made to green job creation. Entries will be submitted online at http://www.dol.gov over the next year and they will be featured in a best practices guide on Earth Day 2011.

"A changing job market and the evolving clean energy economy are creating new and exciting prospects for workers. At the U.S. Department of Labor, we will continue our efforts to ensure men and women across the nation have the tools they need to access these opportunities," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Turning green to gold — with a constant focus on safety — just makes sense. It means jobs that have livable wages, safe working conditions and worker protections."

Over the past year, the Department of Labor has launched a series of initiatives to support and promote green job creation. Highlights from today's report appear below. To view the full report, visit http://www.dol.gov/dol/green/earthday_reportA.pdf.
U.S. Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis and Recession.
Presentation to the International Monetary Fiscal Forum by Douglass W, Elmendorf, CBO, Director, April 23, 2010.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

List of NARA Microfilm Publications and Original Records Digitized by Our Digitization Partners
"Our digitization partners, Ancestry.com and Footnote.com, have digitized selected NARA microfilm publications and original records and made them available on their web sites for a fee. Each partner allows free searches of some or all index terms for each title. Access to Ancestry.com and Footnote.com is available free of charge in all NARA Research Rooms, including those in our regional archives and Presidential libraries.

The list below includes all microfilm publications and original records that have been digitized by the partners as of March 2010. The list will be updated when additional materials are digitized.

Ancestry.com created digital copies of many of the National Archives microfilm publications prior to entering into a partnership agreement with NARA. These digitized materials are included in the list below.

Footnote.com posts digitized materials on its web site in increments rather than waiting until the full title is available. Any partially digitized materials will have "In progress" in the status column.

Some microform publications are listed twice for the same digitization partner. For these microform publications, our partners have split the publication into separate searches on their web sites. We listed the publication twice to provide you with a direct link to each search. For example, if you click on both entries for A1154 you will see that the first entry on the list directs you to a search of "U.S. Federal Census - 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes" and the second entry on the list directs you to a search of "U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1880"..."
Haiti: Legal Bibliography
"The Law Library of Congress collection contains the following Haitian law titles. The titles in the public domain will be digitized by the Law Library of Congress and made available through various locations including the Library of Congress catalog. The goal of this project is to offer a comprehensive legal collection for Haiti. In addition, public access to summaries of and related information about 810 laws of Haiti is currently available through the Global Legal Information Network."
Losing a Job During a Recession
"Each year, even when the economy is growing, millions of people lose a job for reasons other than poor performance or misconduct. The ability of employers to quickly adjust the size of their workforces in response to changes in demand is generally considered a source of strength for the U.S. economy over the long term, because it prompts a shift of labor resources toward areas of higher productivity. Some people, however, bear substantial costs from employers’ flexibility—particularly during recessions, when many people lose jobs and new opportunities are relatively scarce.

This issue brief reviews the research on the short- and long-term effects of involuntary job loss for reasons other than poor performance or misconduct on people’s future employment and earnings. In light of the recession that began in December 2007 and the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) projection that, under current law, the unemployment rate will remain elevated for a number of years, the brief focuses on the effects of involuntary job loss during periods of weak economic activity.2 The brief also summarizes some of the government programs that help people who have lost their job..."
The FTC in 2010, Federal Trade Commission Annual Report
"We proudly present this year’s Annual Report, which describes the Federal Trade Commission’s activities and initiatives since last March. To be sure, this past year the continuing financial downturn has presented unprecedented challenges for many Americans – and for our agency. Yet thanks to the tremendous talent and commitment of our staff, the FTC has worked harder than
ever to protect consumers and promote competition.

The Commission has stepped up efforts to stop fraud that targets financially distressed consumers. In a series of nationwide sweeps, the FTC joined with a number of states and other federal agencies to collectively file hundreds of law enforcement actions against: mortgage modification and foreclosure “rescue” scams; phony debt reduction and credit repair operations; abusive debt collectors and payday lenders; and con artists who guarantee nonexistent jobs, get-rich-quick schemes, and bogus government grants.

This year, the FTC also brought a number of actions against national companies that should ensure greater benefits for consumers. Lawsuits against Ticketmaster, LifeLock, Kellogg, MoneyGram, and others challenged deceptive marketing or unfair practices. And cases against prerecorded “robocalls” hawking extended auto “warranties” and interest-rate reduction programs should help silence unwanted telemarketing calls, especially during the dinner hour.."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Judicial Activity Concerning Enemy Combatant Detainees:Major Court Rulings
"As part of the conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the United States has captured
and detained numerous persons believed to have been part of or associated with enemy forces.
Over the years, federal courts have considered a multitude of petitions by or on behalf of suspected belligerents challenging aspects of U.S. detention policy. Although the Supreme
Court has issued definitive rulings concerning several legal issues raised in the conflict
with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, many others remain unresolved, with some the subject of
ongoing litigation.

This report discusses major judicial opinions concerning suspected enemy belligerents
detained in the conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The report addresses all Supreme
Court decisions concerning enemy combatants. It also discusses notable circuit court opinions
addressing issues of ongoing relevance to U.S. detention policy. The report also addresses
a few notable decisions by federal district courts that are the subject of ongoing habeas litigation. Finally, it describes a few federal court rulings in criminal cases involving
persons who were either involved in the 9/11 attacks or were captured abroad by U.S. forces
during operations against Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated entities..."
Federal Building and Facility Security
"The security of federal government buildings and facilities affects not only the daily
operations of the federal government but also the health, well-being, and safety of federal employees and the public. Recent congressional action concerning the security of federal
buildings includes P.L. 111-83 (FY2010 appropriations for the Department of Homeland
Security), which addressed the issue of the transfer of the Federal Protective Service
from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the National Protection and Programs Directorate.

For the purposes of this report, federal facilities include any building leased or owned by
the General Services Administration. In FY2007, the federal government’s real property
portfolio comprised 446,000 buildings with an area of 3.3 billion square feet and a
replacement value of $772.8 billion.

Security of federal facilities includes physical security assets such as closed-circuit
television cameras, barrier material, and security guards (both federally employed and contracted). Federal facility security practices have been subject to criticism by
government auditors and security experts. Elements that have received criticism include
the use of private security guards, the management and security practices of the Federal Protective Service, and the coordination of federal facility security."
What You Need to Know: New Rules for Gift Cards
"New Federal Reserve rules provide important protections when you purchase or use gift cards. Here are some key changes that apply to gift cards sold on or after August 22, 2010:
Covered by the new rules

Store gift cards, which can be used only at a particular store or group of stores, such as a book store or clothing retailer.

Gift cards with a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover brand logo. These cards generally can be used wherever the brand is accepted. (Not all cards with a brand logo are covered; see "Other prepaid cards" below for exceptions.)
New protections

Limits on expiration dates. The money on your gift card will be good for at least five years from the date the card is purchased. Any money that might be added to the card at a later date must also be good for at least five years.

Replacement cards. If your gift card has an expiration date you still may be able to use unspent money that is left on the card after the card expires. For example, the card may expire in five years but the money may not expire for seven. If your card expires and there is unspent money, you can request a replacement card at no charge. Check your card to see if expiration dates apply.

Fees disclosed. All fees must be clearly disclosed on the gift card or its packaging.

Limits on fees. Gift card fees typically are subtracted from the money on the card. Under the new rules, many gift card fees are limited. Generally, fees can be charged if
you haven't used your card for at least one year, and
you are only charged one fee per month.

These restrictions apply to fees such as,

dormancy or inactivity fees for not using your card,
fees for using your card (sometimes called usage fees),
fees for adding money to your card, and
maintenance fees..."
Presidential Proclamation -- National Equal Pay Day
"Throughout our Nation's history, extraordinary women have broken barriers to achieve their dreams and blazed trails so their daughters would not face similar obstacles. Despite decades of progress, pay inequity still hinders women and their families across our country. National Equal Pay Day symbolizes the day when an average American woman's earnings finally match what an average American man earned in the past year. Today, we renew our commitment to end wage discrimination and celebrate the strength and vibrancy women add to our economy.

Our Nation's workforce includes more women than ever before. In households across the country, many women are the sole breadwinner, or share this role equally with their partner. However, wage discrimination still exists. Nearly half of all working Americans are women, yet they earn only about 80 cents for every dollar men earn. This gap increases among minority women and those with disabilities.

Pay inequity is not just an issue for women; American families, communities, and our entire economy suffer as a result of this disparity. We are still recovering from our economic crisis, and many hardworking Americans are still feeling its effects. Too many families are struggling to pay their bills or put food on the table, and this challenge should not be exacerbated by discrimination. I was proud that the first bill I signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, helps women achieve wage fairness. This law brings us closer to ending pay disparities based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, or disability by allowing more individuals to challenge inequality..."
Census Bureau Reports Nearly 6 in 10 Advanced Degree Holders
Age 25-29 Are Women

" The U.S. Census Bureau reported today more women than men are expected to occupy professions such as doctors, lawyers and college professors as they represent approximately 58 percent of young adults, age 25 to 29, who hold an advanced degree. In addition, among all adults 25 and older, more women than men had high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees.

The tabulations, Educational Attainment in the United States: 2009, showed that among people in the 25-29 age group, 9 percent of women and 6 percent of men held either a master’s, professional (such as law or medical) or doctoral degree. This holds true for white, black and Hispanic women. Among Asian men and women of this age group, there was no statistical difference.

The data also demonstrate the extent to which having such a degree pays off: average earnings in 2008 totaled $83,144 for those with an advanced degree, compared with $58,613 for those with a bachelor’s degree only. People whose highest level of attainment was a high school diploma had average earnings of $31,283.

Also included are data on the highest level of education achieved by a wide range of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, including age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, household relationship, citizenship, nativity and year of entry. Historical tables provide data on mean earnings by attainment level, sex, race and Hispanic origin with data back to 1975, and tables on attainment levels back to 1940..."
Campus Attacks:
Targeted Violence Affecting Institutions of Higher Education

"...In response to the Virginia Tech incident on April 16, 2007, former cabinet
Secretaries Michael Leavitt and Margaret Spellings, and former Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales submitted the Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech
Tragedy dated June 13, 2007. The report included a recommendation that the U.S. Secret
Service (Secret Service), the U.S. Department of Education, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) explore the issue of violence at institutions of higher education
(IHEs). Accordingly, we initiated a collaborative effort to understand the nature of
this violence and identify ways of preventing future attacks that would affect our
nation’s colleges and universities.

This effort was implemented through the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center,
the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, and the FBI’s Behavioral
Analysis Unit. The project drew from the Secret Service’s experience in studying threat
assessment and the prevention of targeted violence; the Department of Education’s expertise
in helping schools facilitate learning through the creation of safe environments for
students, faculty, and staff; and, the FBI’s threat assessment and investigative expertise.

The goal of this collaborative endeavor was to understand the scope of the problem of
targeted violence at IHEs. To that end, this report offers preliminary findings from a
review of 272 incidents of violence that affected IHEs in the United States from 1900
through 2008. We addressed fundamental questions regarding where, when, and how these
incidents occurred, and captured information concerning the offenders and their relationship
to the IHEs. When possible, we also identified factors that may have motivated or triggered
the attacks.

We strived to create a product that will be useful for threat assessment and campus safety
professionals charged with identifying, assessing, and managing violence risk at IHEs. These
law enforcement, mental health, student affairs, and legal professionals provide an incredible
service under unique and often challenging circumstances. Ensuring the safety of college and
university communities—some of which resemble small cities—is a daunting task. Navigating
the intricacies of privacy laws, preserving academic freedoms, complying with civil rights
laws, and simultaneously ensuring a safe campus and workplace environment are tasks not
easily accomplished. We hope that this preliminary report contributes to that effort."
Addressing Foreclosed and Abandoned Properties
"Nearly 3.2 million foreclosures occurred in the U.S. in 2008, an all-time high. In many jurisdictions, the number and location of vacant properties changed so rapidly that officials had trouble tracking them, let alone formulating an effective response. The city of Cleveland, for example, estimated in early 2009 that at least 10,000 (or one in 13) of its houses were vacant while the county treasurer estimated that the number was 15,000—50 percent higher.

While much of the public’s attention has been focused on the economic repercussions of the nation’s housing crisis, the repercussions for law enforcement have been just as significant: vacant properties generate a host of interrelated problems,from unsafe structures and higher rates of crime to homelessness and strains on municipal services.

Jurisdictions across the U.S. have responded differently, tackling the problem from
various angles. Many of the strategies deployed are the result of collaborations
across government agencies and among public and private sectors. Police, city
attorneys, district attorneys, U.S. attorneys, housing and building departments,
health departments, community development organizations, landlords, private
developers, banks, mortgage lenders, legislators, and regulators are finding ways to
work together to slow or halt foreclosures, stem the decline of neighborhoods,
improve quality of life, and plan for new growth.

This document offers a sampling of responses developed by jurisdictions across the U.S. It is intended to serve as a quick reference for law enforcement and government agencies looking for ideas to address vacant and abandoned properties. For ease of reference it is divided into three types of responses: Prevention, Enforcement, and Reuse."
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
"Child maltreatment is a significant public health problem in the United States. In 2007, approximately 772,000 children were confirmed by Child Protective Services as being abused or neglected. These confirmed cases, however, represent only a fraction of the true magnitude of the problem. Most cases are not reported and child maltreatment remains a largely hidden problem.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that child maltreatment can lead to a broad range of physical and emotional health problems. Short-term physical injuries include cuts, bruises, burns, and broken bones. Abuse can also lead to permanent disabilities including visual, motor, and cognitive impairments. Prolonged maltreatment causes extreme or "toxic" stress that can disrupt early brain development and impair the functioning of the nervous and immune systems, leaving children vulnerable to chronic diseases later in life. For example, maltreatment has been associated with heart, lung, and liver disease in adulthood.

Not all injuries that result from child maltreatment are visible. Abuse and neglect can have a lasting emotional impact as well. Victims may suffer from anxiety or depression. They may be wary, distrustful of others, and have difficulty establishing relationships. Some even think about or attempt suicide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works to stop maltreatment, including abuse and neglect, before it initially occurs. In doing this, CDC promotes the development of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships between children and their parents or caregivers. Children's experiences are defined through their relationships with parents, teachers, and other caregivers. Healthy relationships act as a buffer against adverse childhood experiences. They are necessary to ensure the long-term physical and emotional well-being of children."
Earth Day 2010
Information and resources on Earth Day from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Division.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

STOPFRAUD.gov
"What is the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force?

President Obama established the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force in November 2009 to hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial crisis, and to prevent another crisis from happening.

The task force is improving efforts across the government and with state and local partners to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, recover proceeds for victims and address financial discrimination in the lending and financial markets.

With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 US Attorneys Offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud..."
U.S. Initiatives to Promote Global Internet Freedom: Issues, Policy, and Technology
"...This report provides information regarding the role of U.S. and other foreign companies in
facilitating Internet censorship by repressive regimes overseas. The report is divided into several
sections:
• Examination of repressive policies in China and Iran,
• Relevant U.S. laws,
• U.S. policies to promote Internet freedom,
• Private sector initiatives, and
• Congressional action.
Two appendixes describe technologies and mechanisms for censorship and circumvention of
government restrictions."
Too Fat to Fight: Retired Military Leaders Want Junk Food Out of Our Schools
"As retired Generals, Admirals, and other senior leaders of the United States Armed Forces, we know firsthand that national security must be America’s top priority.

Our organization recently released a report citing Department of Defense data indicating that an alarming 75 percent of all young Americans 17 to 24 years of age are unable to join the military because they failed to graduate from high school, have criminal records, or are physically unfit.
Being overweight or obese turns out to be the leading medical reason why applicants fail to qualify for military service. Today, otherwise excellent recruit prospects, some of them with generations of sterling military service in their family history, are being turned away because they are just too overweight.

We have witnessed countless acts of bravery and courage during our time in the Armed Forces. We are deeply proud of the talent and commitment of the young men and women in uniform. Our standards are high because we clearly cannot have people in our command who are not up to the job. Too many lives depend on it.

To reduce America’s obesity rates we must start with the basics. In addition to exercise, we know that maintaining a balanced diet is key to long-term health and fitness. We also know that the childhood years are critical to the formation of sound eating habits. Millions of children buy breakfast, lunch and snacks in school every day. Properly managed, the school environment can be instrumental in fostering healthful eating habits that will last a lifetime..."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day
Information and resources on Earth Day from the federal government's USA.gov site.
Volcanic Ash Makes for Unfriendly Skies
"The eruption of a volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier of Iceland on Wednesday, April 14, sent ripple effects around the globe as it halted international flights to and from Northern Europe. Airborne volcanic ash posed a threat to jet engines, and to prevent disaster, air traffic controllers grounded planes.

From the earliest moments of the eruption, a global network of Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers began monitoring the ash plume and the appropriate centers issued advisories about flow of the ash through the atmosphere. There are nine such centers, each responsible for a defined geographic region.

NOAA operates two Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers that are poised to take action should a volcano spew ash into the atmosphere. One covers Alaska, and the other the rest of the United States, including U.S. Pacific territories, as well as the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and the northern part of South America..."
Understanding the Economy: a State-by-State Snapshot(April 2010)
"This is the fourth issue of state-by-state snapshots issued by the Joint Economic Committee,
containing employment and unemployment data at the state level through March 2010. After
experiencing substantial job losses (or a de minimis level of job gains) since the start of the
recession in December 2007, the private sector gained 123,000 jobs in March 2010, providing
further evidence that economic recovery is continuing. Part of the dramatic increase in private
sector job creation may be due to a rebound of weather-related job losses in February, but even
averaging February and March, the private sector created over 70,000 jobs per month – the
average job creation record seen during the economic expansion of the previous
administration..."
FTC Comment to FERC: Consider Ways Alternative Energy Sources Could be Used More Efficiently in Nation's Power Generation System
"The Federal Trade Commission has submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on how alternative sources of energy – such as wind farms, solar cells, and solar thermal installations – can best be integrated into the nation’s electric power grid. The FTC recommends that FERC study ways to make electricity markets better reflect the costs, constraints, and realities of these energy sources to encourage efficient cost-reducing choices in the marketplace.

According to the FTC comment, certain alternative energy sources are different from traditional power sources, such as fossil-fuel and nuclear generators, because they do not produce power constantly. The amount of energy produced by solar cells, for example, depends on the amount of sunlight they receive, while wind power may vary depending on whether the wind is blowing. Because of these differences, FERC is exploring whether and how to modify electric markets and operating procedures to allow these variable sources to compete to supply power at the lowest possible cost.

The FTC’s comment, which can be found on the agency’s Web site and as a link to this press release, highlights three issues:

Potential discrimination against variable energy sources and in favor of other types of power generators; Existing rules and regulations that could hamper the integration of variable energy sources into the power system; and How the increasing use of variable sources could affect the costs to maintain the reliability of the electric system..."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Differences in the Prevalence and Impact of Arthritis Among Racial/Ethnic Groups in the United States, National Health Interview Survey, 2002, 2003, and 2006
"We describe the prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and its impact on activities, work,
and joint pain for 6 racial/ ethnic groups: non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and multiracial or “other” respondents. We combined data from the 2002, 2003, and 2006 National Health Interview Survey
(n = 85,784) and, after adjusting for age, sex, and body mass index, compared racial/ethnic differences. Arthritis-attributable activity limitation, arthritis-attributable work limitation,
and severe joint pain were higher for non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and multiracial or other respondents with arthritis compared with non-Hispanic whites with arthritis. Our finding that arthritis disproportionately affects certain racial/ethnic minorities may be useful for
planning interventions."
FoodNet - Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network
"The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) is the principal foodborne disease component of CDC's Emerging Infections Program (EIP). FoodNet is a collaborative project of the CDC, ten EIP sites, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The project consists of active surveillance for foodborne diseases and related epidemiologic studies designed to help public health officials better understand the epidemiology of foodborne diseases in the United States..."
US STATE DEPARTMENT SELF STUDY GUIDES
"The US Department of State provided these thirty five Self Study Guides in response to a FOIA request. This series of study guides, each covering a country or geographic area, were prepared for the use of USAID staff assigned to temporary duty in those countries. The guides are designed to allow individuals to familiarize themselves with the country or area in which they will be posted. These guides range in date from 2000 - 2006. There are a few guides which are undated but, from their content, appear to date from the early 2000s."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Council of Economic Advisers Releases a New Report on the Recovery Act
"As part of the unprecedented accountability and transparency provisions included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) was charged with providing to Congress quarterly reports on the effects of the Recovery Act on overall economic activity, and on employment in particular. Today we released our third report (pdf), with an assessment of the effects of the Act through the first quarter of 2010.

The main macroeconomic findings include:

The magnitude of the fiscal stimulus increased substantially in the first quarter of 2010 (from $83 billion in 2009:Q4 to $112 billion in 2010:Q1) largely because of a surge in tax refunds and lower final tax liabilities due to the Making Work Pay tax credit.
Government investment outlays in areas such as infrastructure and clean energy, which increased $16 billion in 2010:Q1, are expected to rise further throughout 2010.
The CEA estimates that as of the first quarter of 2010, the ARRA has raised employment relative to what it otherwise would have been by between 2.2 and 2.8 million. These estimates are broadly similar to those of other analysts. Our estimates incorporate the most recent information about actual Recovery Act spending and tax reductions, as well as current trends in employment and production..."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

HealthReform.gov
Find update-to-date information on enactment of the recently passed health reform law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, PL-111-148)
Guide to Protecting the Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
"The escalation of security breaches involving personally identifiable information (PII) has contributed to the loss of millions of records over the past few years.1 Breaches involving
PII are hazardous to both individuals and organizations. Individual harms2 may include identity theft, embarrassment, or blackmail. Organizational harms may include a loss of public trust,
legal liability, or remediation costs. To appropriately protect the confidentiality of PII, organizations should use a risk-based approach; as McGeorge Bundy3 once stated, ―If we guard
our toothbrushes and diamonds with equal zeal, we will lose fewer toothbrushes and more diamonds.‖ This document provides guidelines for a risk-based approach to protecting the confidentiality4
of PII. The recommendations in this document are intended primarily for U.S. Federal government agencies and those who conduct business on behalf of the agencies,5 but other organizations may find portions of the publication useful. Each organization may be subject to a different combination of laws, regulations, and other mandates related to protecting PII, so an organization‘s legal counsel and privacy officer should be consulted to determine the current obligations for PII protection. For example, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has
issued several memoranda with requirements for how Federal agencies must handle and protect
PII. To effectively protect PII, organizations should implement the following recommendations..."
2009 National Healthcare Quality & Disparities Reports
"For the seventh year in a row, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has produced the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) and the National Healthcare Disparities Report
(NHDR). These reports measure trends in effectiveness of care, patient safety, timeliness of
care, patient centeredness, and efficiency of care. The reports present, in chart form, the
latest available findings on quality of and access to health care.

The National Healthcare Quality Report tracks the health care system through quality measures,
such as the percentage of heart attack patients who received recommended care when they reached
the hospital or the percentage of children who received recommended vaccinations. The National Healthcare Disparities Report summarizes health care quality and access among various racial, ethnic, and income groups and other priority populations, such as children and older adults..."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative
"President Obama has identified cybersecurity as one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation, but one that we as a government or as a country are not adequately prepared to counter. Shortly after taking office, the President therefore ordered a thorough review of federal efforts to defend the U.S. information and communications infrastructure and the development of a comprehensive approach to securing America’s digital infrastructure.

In May 2009, the President accepted the recommendations of the resulting Cyberspace Policy Review, including the selection of an Executive Branch Cybersecurity Coordinator who will have regular access to the President. The Executive Branch was also directed to work closely with all key players in U.S. cybersecurity, including state and local governments and the private sector, to ensure an organized and unified response to future cyber incidents; strengthen public/private partnerships to find technology solutions that ensure U.S. security and prosperity; invest in the cutting-edge research and development necessary for the innovation and discovery to meet the digital challenges of our time; and begin a campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy from our boardrooms to our classrooms and begin to build the digital workforce of the 21st century. Finally, the President directed that these activities be conducted in a way that is consistent with ensuring the privacy rights and civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution and cherished by all Americans..."
FTC Tips for Consumers Weighing How to Settle Their Credit Card Debts
"Consumers with overwhelming credit card debt may be tempted to seek help from companies that promise to erase their debt for pennies on the dollar, but the Federal Trade Commission urges caution.

In a new consumer publication, Settling Your Credit Card Debts, the FTC says that there is no guarantee that debt settlement companies can persuade a credit card company to accept partial payment of a legitimate debt. Even if they can, clients must put aside money for their creditors each month and may have to pay hefty fees up front to the debt settlement company – putting them further in the hole before they get any relief.

The publication lists additional red flags to watch out for from companies that promise to settle credit card debt, and discusses practical no-cost and low-cost options for help, including dealing with creditors directly and contacting a credit counselor.

To learn more about getting out of the red without spending a whole lot of green, go to ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre02.shtm.

The FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has free information to help consumers with their personal finances. Visit www.ftc.gov/MoneyMatters to learn more..."

Monday, April 12, 2010

EPA Requires Contractors to Become Lead-Safe Certified Agency expects more than 125,000 contractors to be trained by April 22 deadline
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it expects more than 125,000 renovation and remodeling contractors to be trained in lead-safe work practices by April 22, the effective date for a rule requiring such training. The agency is on target to implement the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, which will protect millions of children from lead poisoning, on
April 22, 2010...

To locate local EPA-accredited RRP training providers using EPA’s search tool:
http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_training.htm
Information on firm certification: http://www.epa.gov/getleadsafe
More information on EPA’s lead program: http://www.epa.gov/lead"
FDA on Triclosan: What Consumers Should Know
"Triclosan is an ingredient added to many consumer products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It may be found in products such as clothing, kitchenware, furniture, and toys. It also may be added to antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes, and some cosmetics—products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What is known about the safety of triclosan?

Triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans. But several scientific studies have come out since the last time FDA reviewed this ingredient that merit further review.

Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation. However, data showing effects in animals don’t always predict effects in humans. Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics..."
EPA Launches Blog on Acid Rain
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a month-long online discussion to expand the conversation on acid rain. Acid rain is a serious environmental problem that affects large parts of the United States and is particularly damaging to lakes, streams, and forests and the plants and animals that live in these ecosystems. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), the pollutants that form acid rain, can cause serious respiratory illnesses and premature death.

Starting today, EPA is posting daily blogs to inform and engage the public in an interactive Web discussion. Topics will include an overview of acid rain and its effects, a description of the Acid Rain Program’s cap and trade policy, an explanation of how EPA monitors power plant emissions, and how air and water quality monitoring data are used to measure environmental improvements..."
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens resignation

"Associate Justice John Paul Stevens has today sent the attached letter to the White House, notifying President Barack Obama of his retirement from the Supreme Court, effective one day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year. Justice Stevens has served on the Supreme Court for 34 years. He is 89 years old.

Justice Stevens was nominated by President Gerald Ford and took his seat on December 19, 1975.

Prior to his appointment to the Court, Justice Stevens served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1970-1975. He was Associate Counsel to the Subcommittee on the Study of Monopoly Power of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1951-1952, and a member of the Attorney General’s National Committee to Study Antitrust Law, 1953-1955. He was Second Vice President of the Chicago Bar Association in 1970.

Justice Stevens received an A.B. from the University of Chicago, and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. He served in the United States Navy from 1942-1945, and was a law clerk to Justice Wiley Rutledge of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1947 Term. He was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1949. He is married to Maryan Mulholland and has four children – John Joseph (deceased), Kathryn, Elizabeth Jane, and Susan Roberta."
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces First Enforcement Crackdown Campaign on Distracted Driving
"As part of its continuing effort to combat distracted driving, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is kicking off pilot programs in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York to test whether increased law enforcement efforts can get distracted drivers to put down their cell phones and focus on the road.

The pilot programs, which are similar to previous efforts to curb drunk driving and increase seat belt use among drivers, are the first federally funded efforts in the country to specifically focus on the effects of increased enforcement and public advertising on reducing distracted driving. Drivers caught texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone will be pulled over and ticketed. The message is simple, “Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other.”

“Law enforcement will be out on the roads in Syracuse, NY, and Hartford, CT, with one simple message, if a driver is caught with a cell phone in one hand, they'll end up with a ticket in the other,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “It's time for drivers to act responsibly, put their hands on the wheel and focus on the road.”

High visibility enforcement will begin in the Syracuse metropolitan area from April 8 through 17, while the crackdown in the Hartford metropolitan area will begin on April 10 through 16. Subsequent enforcement waves in both states will take place throughout the course of the year-long program..."
Charting International Labor Comparisons, 2010 edition
"With increasing integration of global markets, international labor statistics assume a fundamental role in assessing the relative performance of individual economies and informing both national and international policy decisions. However, direct comparisons of statistics across countries can be misleading because concepts and definitions often differ. To improve the comparability of international labor statistics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) International Labor Comparisons (ILC) program adjusts data to a common conceptual framework.

Charting International Labor Comparisons features data for the most recent year available, as well as trends over time, for the main indicators measured by ILC: gross domestic product (GDP), hourly compensation, labor force, prices, and productivity. To increase country and indicator coverage, data from other organizations also are included..."
Women in the Labor Force: A Databook (2009 edition)
"The past several decades have been marked by notable changes in women's labor force activities. Women's labor force participation is significantly higher today than it was in the 1970s, particularly among women with children, and a larger share of women work full time and year round than in past decades. In addition, women have increasingly attained higher levels of education: among women aged 25 to 64 who are in the labor force, the proportion with a college degree roughly tripled from 1970
to 2008. Women's earnings as a proportion of men's earnings also have grown over time. In 1979, women working full time earned 62 percent of what men did; in 2008, women's earnings were 80 percent of men's.

This report presents historical and current labor force and earnings data for
women and men from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a national
monthly survey of approximately 60,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census
Bureau for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unless otherwise noted, data are annual averages from the CPS. Users should note that the comparisons of earnings
in this report are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can
be significant in explaining earnings differences. For a detailed description of
the source of the data and an explanation of concepts and definitions used, see the Technical Note at the end of this report."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

All-Terrain Vehicles: How they are Used, Crashes, and the Sale of Adult-Sized Vehicles for Children's Use
"All-terrain vehicles (ATV), which are off-road motorized vehicles, usually with four tires, a straddle seat for the operator, and handlebars for steering control, have become increasingly popular. However, ATV fatalities and injuries have increased over the last decade and are a matter of concern to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (Commission), which oversees ATV safety, and to others. Many ATV crashes involving children occur when they are riding adult-sized ATVs. Manufacturers and distributors have agreed to use their best efforts to prevent their dealers from selling adult-sized ATVs for use by children under the age of 16.."
Make the Most of Your Money During Financial Literacy Month
"April is Financial Literacy Month, and the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has information to help you make the most of your money whether you’re a student, young adult, parent, older person, or military service member.

“There’s no time like the present to learn proven money-management skills,” said David C. Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Financial Literacy Month is an ideal time to learn – or teach others – the importance of consumers’ rights, and the best way to file a complaint if something goes wrong.”

Information from the FTC can help people explore how advertising affects them; understand credit, credit reports, and credit scores; get tips on how to protect their personal information and minimize the risk of identity theft; shop for a home loan; learn their rights when dealing with a debt collector; explore how advertising affects them; and much more.

ftc.gov/moneymatters, offers short, practical tips, videos, and links to reliable sources on a variety of topics in English and Spanish, ranging from credit repair, debt collection, job hunting, and job scams to vehicle repossession, managing mortgage payments, and avoiding foreclosure rescue scams.

ftc.gov/freereports offers details about a consumer’s right to a free copy of his or her credit report from each of the three national credit reporting agencies, upon request, once every 12 months. Reviewing one’s credit report regularly is an effective way to deter and detect identity theft.

ftc.gov/youarehere is a virtual mall where kids experience the FTC’s mission by learning about advertising, competition, and how to protect their privacy.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Open Government Initiative
"Today, U.S. departments and agencies are releasing their Open Government Plans -- another historic milestone in President Obama's campaign to change Washington.

For too many years, Washington has resisted the oversight of the American public, resulting in difficulties in finding information, taxpayer dollars disappearing without a trace, and lobbyists wielding undue influence. For Americans, business as usual in Washington has reinforced the belief that the government benefits the special interests and the well-connected at the expense of the American people.

No more. Since coming to office, the President has launched a series of initiatives to let the sunshine in, including posting White House visitor records, disclosing lobbyist contacts regarding stimulus funds, and launching data.gov and recovery.gov. That's why independent groups recently gave the Administration an A grade for transparency.

Today we add to that body of accomplishments as the departments and agencies issue Open Government Plans pursuant to the Open Government Directive. The Plans will make operations and data more transparent, and expand opportunities for citizen participation, collaboration, and oversight. These steps will strengthen our democracy and promote accountability, efficiency and effectiveness across the government..."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Permanent Normal Trade Relations(PNTR)Status for Russia and U.S.-Russian Economic
Ties

"The change in Russia’s trade status will require legislation to lift the restrictions currently applied to Russia under Title IV of the Trade Act of 1974, which includes the “freedom-of-emigration” requirements of the Jackson-Vanik amendment. On November 19, 2006, U.S. and Russian
officials signed the bilateral agreement on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization
(WTO). This step allowed Russia to move closer to acceding to the WTO. Members may confront
the issue of whether to grant Russia PNTR during the 111th Congress."
U.S. Nuclear Cooperation with India: Issues for Congress
"India, which has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and does not have
International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on all nuclear material in peaceful nuclear
activities, exploded a “peaceful” nuclear device in 1974, convincing the world of the need for
greater restrictions on nuclear trade. The United States created the Nuclear Suppliers Group
(NSG) as a direct response to India’s test, halted nuclear exports to India a few years later, and
worked to convince other states to do the same. India tested nuclear weapons again in 1998.
However, President Bush announced July 18, 2005, he would “work to achieve full civil nuclear
energy cooperation with India” and would “also seek agreement from Congress to adjust U.S.
laws and policies,” in the context of a broader partnership with India.

U.S. nuclear cooperation is governed by the Atomic Energy Act (AEA). P.L. 109-401, which
President Bush signed into law on December 18, 2006, provides waivers of several provisions of
the AEA (Sections 123 a. (2), 128, and 129). It requires that several steps occur before nuclear
cooperation can proceed. On September 10, 2008, President Bush submitted to Congress a written
determination that these requirements had been met. That same day, the President submitted the
text of the proposed agreement, which had not yet been signed. The President also submitted a
written determination (also required by the AEA) “that the performance of the proposed
agreement will promote and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defense and
security.” In addition, President Bush submitted several documents, including classified and
unclassified versions of a Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement, which is required by
section 123 of the AEA. The Department of State also submitted a report required by P.L. 109-
401 on various aspects of the agreement..."
Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress
"...Japan is one of the United States’ most important economic partners. Outside of North America, it is the United States’ second-largest export market and second-largest source of imports. Japanese firms are the United States’ second-largest source of foreign direct investment, and Japanese investors are the second-largest foreign holders of U.S. treasuries, helping to finance the U.S. deficit and reduce upward pressure on U.S. interest rates. Bilateral trade friction has decreased in recent years, partly because U.S. concern about the trade deficit with Japan has been replaced by concern about a much larger deficit with China. One exception was U.S. criticism over Japan’s decision in 2003 to ban imports of U.S. beef, which have since resumed.

However, the economic problems in Japan and the United States associated with the credit crisis
and the related economic recession and how the two countries deal with those problems will
likely dominate their bilateral economic agenda for the foreseeable future. Japan has been hit
particularly hard by the financial crisis and subsequent recession. Japan’s gross domestic product
(GDP) declined 0.7% in 2008 and is estimated to have declined by 5.5% in 2009, with a modest
rebound expected in 2010. At the same time, the United States is showing some signs of recovery,
at least according to some indicators..."
Substance Abuse Prevention Dollars and Cents: A Cost-Benefit Analysis
"This report summarizes existing estimates of the cost of substance abuse and its damaging consequences. These cost estimates are used to evaluate the benefits of prevention in existing cost-benefit analyses and are available for use in new analyses. The estimates reviewed highlight the total annual cost of substance abuse from a number of perspectives including social cost and the direct costs to State government. The social perspective includes everyone's costs and benefits: People who abuse substances, family members, the general public, communities, and all level of government (Federal, State, and local).

This report is currently only available online. Please select "View Materials in PDF Format" to view the report.

View Materials in PDF Format"
FTC Issues 2010 Fair Debt Collection Practices Report to Congress
"t a time when many consumers are facing debt problems, the Federal Trade Commission has issued its annual report detailing the steps the agency has taken to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, and abusive debt collection practices and educate the public on the subject. The 32nd Annual Report to Congress on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act presents, for 2009, an overview of the types of consumer complaints received by the FTC, descriptions of the agency’s debt-collection law enforcement actions, and a summary of its consumer and industry education efforts and research and policy initiatives. The FDCPA prohibits deceptive, unfair, and abusive practices by third-party debt collectors. The FDCPA requires the FTC to submit annual reports to Congress. The Commission vote to issue the report was 4-0. (FTC File No. P104802; the staff contact is Ron Isaac, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3231.)

Copies of the report are available from the FTC’s Web site, http://www.ftc.gov, and the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.
FDA Approves New Formulation for OxyContin
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved a new formulation of the controlled-release drug OxyContin that has been designed to help discourage misuse and abuse of the medication.

OxyContin is made to slowly release the potent opioid oxycodone to treat patients who require a continuous, around-the-clock opioid analgesic for management of their moderate to severe pain for an extended period of time. Because of its controlled-release properties, each OxyContin tablet contains a large quantity of oxycodone, which allows patients to take their drug less often. However, people intent on abusing the previous formulation have been able to release high levels of oxycodone all at once, which can result in a fatal overdose and contributes to high rates of OxyContin abuse.

The reformulated OxyContin is intended to prevent the opioid medication from being cut, broken, chewed, crushed or dissolved to release more medication. The new formulation may be an improvement that may result in less risk of overdose due to tampering, and will likely result in less abuse by snorting or injection; but it still can be abused or misused by simply ingesting larger doses than are recommended..."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Costa Rica: Background and U.S. Relations
"Costa Rica is a politically stable Central American nation with a relatively well-developed
economy. Former president (1986-1990) and Nobel-laureate Oscar Arias of the historically
center-left National Liberation Party was elected President in 2006. Throughout his term, Arias
has advanced so-called “third-way” policies, embracing his party’s traditional support for social
welfare programs while rejecting state-led development in favor of market-oriented economic
policies. Considerable economic growth and social protection programs have provided Costa
Rica’s citizens with a relatively high standard of living, however, conditions have deteriorated
recently as a result of the global financial crisis and U.S. recession. Although Costa Rica’s
economy contracted and poverty increased in 2009, analysts believe President Arias’ ambitious
fiscal stimulus and social protection plan and improving global economic conditions should aid
recovery in 2010..."
Zimbabwe: The Power Sharing Agreement and Implications for U.S. Policy
"After almost a year of uncertainty following Zimbabwe’s March 2008 elections, opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn as Prime Minister of a new coalition government on February 11,
2009. The new government’s establishment came five months after a power-sharing agreement
was signed in an effort to resolve the political standoff resulting from the flawed 2008 elections. For the first time since independence, the ruling party has lost its majority in
the National Assembly. The results of the presidential race, belatedly announced in May 2008
amid rising tensions, indicated that Tsvangirai had received more votes than the incumbent, President Robert Mugabe, but had failed to garner the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. Days
before that runoff was scheduled to take place, in late June 2008, Tsvangirai pulled out
of the race, citing widespread political violence and the absence of conditions for a free
and fair election. Mugabe was declared the winner in the runoff, but many observer missions suggest the poll did not reflect the will of the people. On September 15, 2008, after weeks
of negotiations, Tsvangirai and Mugabe reached an agreement to form a unity government. As
part of the deal, Mugabe remains head of state, with Tsvangirai as Prime Minister and cabinet
and gubernatorial positions divided among the parties. Disputes over the allocation of key ministries delayed implementation of the agreement. As mediation efforts continued, the
United States, the European Union, and several African leaders called for Mugabe’s resignation.
A final agreement was reached in January 2009, and the new coalition government was established
in early February..."
Secretary Shinseki Releases Draft Gulf War Task Force Report
"Today, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced that the Department’s Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses Task Force has completed the final draft of a comprehensive report that will redefine how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) addresses the concerns of Veterans who deployed during the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991.

“Our mission at VA is to be advocates for Veterans,” said Secretary Shinseki. “This report’s action plans provide a roadmap to transform the care and services we deliver to Gulf War Veterans. We must learn from the past and take the opportunity to anticipate the future needs of our Veterans.”

Notification of the draft written report will be published tomorrow in the Federal Register, and the draft written report identifies seven areas where VA will improve services for this group of Veterans.

Among these improvements, VA will reconnect with Veterans from the 1990 – 1991 Gulf War, strengthen the training of clinicians and claims processors, and reenergize its research effort. VA will also proactively strengthen partnerships and medical surveillance to address the potential health impacts on Veterans from the environmental exposures on today's battlefields..."
OTS 10-015 - OTS Issues Information to Help Consumers Find the Right Mortgage Loans
"The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) issued information today in support of Financial Literacy Month to educate consumers about a new mortgage process required by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and about the impact of a consumer’s credit score on the interest rate of a mortgage loan.

The information, entitled “What to Expect When You Apply for a Mortgage Loan,” informs consumers who are shopping for a home loan about the importance of good credit; it also describes changes to the mortgage process that should help consumers find a loan that best fits their needs.

“Buying a home involves some of the most important financial decisions a consumer will ever make,” noted OTS Acting Director John E. Bowman. “At the OTS, we want to make sure consumers have the information they need to make the best choices for themselves and their families.”..."
View the consumer information here
FTC, Florida Attorney General Charge Promoters of Bogus Alcohol Cure
"The Federal Trade Commission is suing a company that touted a phony cure for alcoholism, charging that it tricked hundreds of problem drinkers into paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for a service prescribing ineffective concoctions of natural supplements, and then threatened to reveal the drinkers’ alcohol problems if they canceled their memberships.

Filed jointly with the state of Florida in federal district court, the complaint alleges that the company lured consumers with deceptive claims about its “Permanent Cure” program. Then, when consumers tried to cancel their memberships, the company made unauthorized charges to their PayPal and credit card accounts. The complaint also alleges that the company responded to members’ attempts to cancel by rejecting the cancelations, threatening to disclose their personal information, and even revealing their alcohol dependence publicly.

The Jacksonville, Florida-based Alcoholism Cure Corporation, doing business as the Alcoholism Cure Foundation, and its sole owner deceptively peddled their program online since at least 2005, according to the complaint. Using several Web sites, the defendants advertised that their program “cures alcoholism while allowing alcoholics to drink socially” and “is scientifically proven to cure alcoholism.” They also claimed that the program – which relied on concoctions of dietary supplements such as vitamin C, St. John’s wort, and niacin – had the “best technology to end alcohol abuse permanently.” Referring to the company’s owner, Robert Douglas Krotzer – who is not a doctor – as “Dr. Doug,” the ads falsely boasted that the company had a “team of doctors” with expertise in addictive diseases, and that the doctors would create customized cures, according to the complaint..."
Child Maltreatment 2008
"All 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Territories have mandatory child abuse and neglect reporting laws that require certain professionals and institutions to report suspected maltreatment to a child protective services (CPS) agency. Examples of these mandatory reporters include health care providers and facilities, mental health care providers, teachers and other school staff, social workers, police officers, foster care providers, and daycare providers. The initial report of suspected child abuse or neglect is called a referral. Approximately one-third of referrals are screened out each year and do not receive further attention from CPS.

The remaining referrals are “screened in” and an investigation or assessment is conducted by the CPS agency to determine the likelihood that maltreatment has occurred or that the child is at risk of maltreatment. After conducting interviews with family members, the alleged victim, and other people familiar with the family, the CPS agency makes a determination or finding concerning whether the child is a victim of abuse or neglect or is at risk of abuse or neglect. This determination often is called a disposition. States establish definitions of specific dispositions..."
Fact Sheet: Small Business Health Care Tax Credit
"ealth reform legislation signed by President Obama includes a Small Business Health Care Tax Credit to help small businesses afford the cost of covering their workers.

Key Facts about the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

The tax credit, which is effective immediately, can cover up to 35 percent of the premiums a small business pays to cover its workers. In 2014, the rate will increase to 50 percent.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the tax credit will save small businesses $40 billion by 2019.
Both small for-profit businesses and small not-for-profit organizations are eligible.
Key Elements

Available Immediately. The credit is effective January 1, 2010. As a result, small businesses that provide health care for their workers will receive immediate help with their premium costs, and additional firms that initiate coverage this year will get a tax cut as well.

Broad Eligibility. The Council of Economic Advisors estimates that 4 million small businesses are eligible for the credit if they provide health care to their workers. Qualifying firms must have less than the equivalent of 25 full-time workers (e.g., a firm with fewer than 50 half-time workers would be eligible), pay average annual wages below $50,000, and cover at least 50 percent of the cost of health care coverage for their workers.

Substantial Benefit. The credit is worth up to 35 percent of a small business’s premium costs in 2010. On January 1, 2014, this rate increases to 50 percent.
Firms Can Claim Credit for Up to 6 Years. Firms can claim the credit for 2010 through 2013 and for any two years after that.

Non-Profits Eligible. Tax-exempt organizations are eligible for a 25 percent tax credit in 2010. In 2014, this rate increases to 35 percent.[1]
Gradual Phase-Outs. The credit phases out gradually for firms with average wages between $25,000 and $50,000 and for firms with the equivalent of between 10 and 25 full-time workers.

Premium Cost Eligibility. To avoid an incentive to choose a high-cost plan, an employer’s eligible contribution is limited to the average cost of health insurance in that state..."