Thursday, June 30, 2011

State of the Climate in 2010
Annual climate report from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Reaching the Debt Limit: Background and Potential Effects on Government Operation
"The gross federal debt, which represents the federal government’s total outstanding debt, consists of two types of debt: (1) debt held by the public and (2) debt held in government accounts, also known as intragovernmental debt. Federal government borrowing increases for two primary reasons: (1) budget deficits and (2) investments of any federal government account surpluses in Treasury securities, as required by law. Nearly all of this debt is subject to the statutory limit. The federal debt limit currently stands at $14,294 billion.

Treasury has yet to face a situation in which it was unable to pay its obligations as a result of
reaching the debt limit. In the past, the debt limit has always been raised before the debt reached the limit. However, on several occasions Treasury took extraordinary actions to avoid reaching the limit and, as a result, affected the operations of certain programs. If the Secretary of the Treasury determines that the issuance of obligations of the United States may not be made
without exceeding the public debt limit, Treasury can make use of “extraordinary measures.”
Some of these measures require the Treasury Secretary to authorize a debt issuance suspension
period..."
College Affordability
"Use the options below to generate a report on the highest (top 5%) and lowest (bottom 10%) academic year charges for each sector. Tuition reports include tuition and required fees. Net price is cost of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid. Data are reported by institutions and are for full-time beginning students..."
Upper Big Branch Report
"On April 13, 2010, Davitt McAteer was asked by former WV Governor Joe Manchin, III to form an independent investigation panel to investigate the cause of the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion and to offer recommendations to prevent future explosions. The panel has issued its final report to the Governor, and the report can be viewed here..."
Full report.
Wage Determinations Online
"This website provides a single location for federal contracting officers to use in obtaining appropriate Service Contract Act (SCA) and Davis-Bacon Act (DBA) wage determinations (WDs) for each official contract action. The website is available to the general public as well. Guidance in selecting WDs from this website is provided in the WDOL.gov User’s Guide..."
Census Bureau Reports 64 Percent Increase in Number of Children Living with a Grandparent Over Last Two Decades
"In 2009, 7.8 million children lived with at least one grandparent, a 64 percent increase since 1991 when 4.7 million children lived with a grandparent, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Among children living with a grandparent, 76 percent also were living with at least one parent in 2009, not statistically different from the 77 percent who lived with at least one parent in 1991.

“The people with whom children live affect their well-being,”said Rose Kreider, a family demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau. “These statistics give us a lot of detail about the number of parents children live with, as well as whether they live with siblings, grandparents or other relatives.”

These statistics released today come from the household relationship module of the Survey of Income and Program Participation collected in 2009 and published in the report Living Arrangements of Children: 2009..."
National Strategy for Counterterrorism
"As the President affirmed in his 2010 National Security Strategy, he bears no greater responsibility than ensuring the safety and security of the American people . This National Strategy for Counterterrorism sets out our approach to one of the President’s top national security priorities: disrupting, dismantling, and eventually defeating al-Qa‘ida and its affiliates and adherents to ensure the security of our citizens and interests.

In response to the attacks of September 2001, the United States embarked on a national effort against al-Qa‘ida, the transnational terrorist organization responsible for planning and conducting the attacks . As we approach the 10th anniversary of that day, we can look forward with confidence in our accomplishments and pride in the resiliency of our nation. We have prevented another catastrophic attack on our shores; our citizens have not let the specter of terrorism disrupt their daily lives and activities; our Federal government has worked to become more integrated, efficient, and effective in its counterterrorism (CT) efforts; and we have placed our CT campaign in a context that does not dominate the lives of the American people nor overshadow our approach to the broad range of our interests..."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Food Safe Families
Safety tips for keeping your food safe and avoiding food poisoning.
Celebrating the 4th of July in Numbers
Selected facts about celebrating the 4th of July from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Half of U.S. Businesses Operated from the Home
"When we think of a business, we often conjure up an image of an office park or perhaps a storefront in a strip mall. But in reality, according to new data on firms that responded to the 2007 Survey of Business Owners (SBO), slightly more than half of U.S. businesses — 51.6 percent — were home-based. Only 6.9 percent of these home-based respondent businesses had $250,000 or more in sales and receipts, while 57.1 percent brought in less than $25,000..."
See Survey of Business Owners.
Mapping the 2010 Census
"The Census Bureau recently released a series of new maps illustrating 2010 Census data for each state. The 2010 Census Profile maps showcase population and housing data for each state in the United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. A national map will also be available.

In addition to a population density map, each includes a pie chart showing percent of total population by race, a population pyramid, and a bar chart illustrating housing occupancy rates.

The maps are being released on a flow basis, with more than 25 available now. To find out more information about your state, click here..."
International Data Base
"The International Data Base (IDB) offers a variety of demographic indicators for countries and areas of the world with a population of 5,000 or more. The IDB has provided access to demographic data for over 25 years to governments, academics, other organizations, and the public. It is funded by organizations that sponsor the research of the Census Bureau's International Programs Center for Demographic and Economic Studies.."
Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator
"The Economic Research Service (ERS) estimates of the costs of illness and premature death for a number of foodborne illnesses have been used in regulatory cost-benefit and impact analyses. Like all cost estimates, the ERS estimates include assumptions about disease incidence, outcome severity, and the level of medical, productivity, and disutility costs. Changes to any of these assumptions could change the cost estimates and, as a result, change the way policymakers rank risks, prioritize spending, and formulate food safety policies.

The Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator provides information on the assumptions behind foodborne illness cost estimates—and gives you a chance to make your own assumptions and calculate your own cost estimates..."
Truth About Wireless Phones and the National Do-Not-Call List
"You may be one of many consumers who have received emails saying you’re about to be assaulted by unwanted telemarketing calls to your wireless phone. Rest assured that placing telemarketing calls to wireless phones is -- and always has been -- illegal in most cases....

Here Are the Facts:

At present, a wireless 411 directory is only in the idea stage.

Even if a wireless 411 directory is established, most telemarketing calls to wireless phones would still be illegal. For example, it is unlawful for any person to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with express prior consent) using any automatic telephone dialing system or any artificial or prerecorded voice message to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, mobile telephone service or any service for which the called party is charged for the call. This prohibition applies regardless of whether the number is listed on the national Do-Not-Call list.
CBO’s 2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook
Testimony of Congressional Budget Office's Director, Douglass W. Elmendorf before the Committee on the Budget, U.S. House of Representatives, June 23, 2011.
REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT ON ENSURING AMERICAN LEADERSHIP IN ADVANCED MANUFACTURING
"....To ensure that the U.S. attracts manufacturing activity and remains a leader in knowledge production, we recommend the following two strategies: (1) Create a fertile environment for innovation so that the United States provides the overall best environment for business. We believe this can be accomplished through tax and business policy, robust support for basic research, and training and education of a
high­skilled workforce; and (2) Invest to overcome market failures, to ensure that new technologies and design methodologies are developed here, and that technology ­based enterprises have the infra­structure to flourish here.

We recommend this be accomplished by launching an Advanced Manufacturing Initiative. This initiative would support innovation in advanced manufacturing through applied research programs for promis­ing new technologies, public­private partnerships around broadly­applicable and precompetitive technologies, the creation and dissemination of design methodologies for manufacturing, and shared technology infrastructure to support advances in existing manufacturing industries..."
TECHNICAL ADVANCEMENTS AND ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH THE PERMANENT DISPOSAL OF HIGH-ACTIVITY WASTES: Lessons Learned from Yucca Mountain and Other Programs
"...An important part of the Board’s mission is advising Congress and the Secretary of Energy on technical issues related to management and disposal of high-activity waste. herefore, regardless of the outcome of deliberations over Yucca Mountain, the Board believes that it is important to extract knowledge while it is still available from the experience of the Yucca Mountain program and other programs. Such knowledge may be useful for future U.S. highactivity waste management and disposal eforts.

This report is not meant to be an assessment of the licenseability of a Yucca Mountain repository. If licensing goes forward, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will determine whether a license should be granted. But, as President Harry S Truman astutely observed, “…there is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.” he purpose of this report, then, is to extract from the history of the Yucca Mountain program, and to a lesser degree from other programs, some of the technical “lessons learned” that may apply to future U.S. programs for waste management and waste disposal..."
Food Desert Locator
Find a graphic presentation of low-income neighborhoods where location of grocery stores are far away.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Congressional Districts - 112th Congress
Printable maps of the 112th Congressional Disticts.
Legislative History Research: A Basic Guide
"This report provides an overview of federal legislative history research, the legislative process,
and where to find congressional documents. The report also summarizes some of the reasons
researchers are interested in legislative history, briefly describes the actions a piece of legislation might undergo during the legislative process, and provides a list of easily accessible print and electronic resources. This report will be updated as needed."
Sunscreen: How To Select, Apply, and Use It Correctly
Information on how to correctly apply sunscreen.
Recreational Activities: Water Sports
Tips on the safe participation in water sports this summer
Insect Repellents: Use and Effectiveness
Find information on the use and effectiveness of insect repellents.
2011 Survey of Credit Underwriting Practices
"The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) conducted its 17th annual underwriting
survey to identify trends in lending standards and credit risk for the most common types of
commercial and retail credit offered by national banks. The survey covers the 12-month period
ending February 28, 2011."
Plugging in: a Consumer Guide to Electric Vehicles
Find current consumer information on electric vehicles.
UV Index
"The UV Index, developed by the National Weather Service and EPA, indicates the strength of solar UV radiation on a scale from 1 (low) to 11+ (extremely high). You can use the UV Index to take appropriate sun-protective behaviors and avoid overexposure to UV radiation."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tips to Help Avoid Cell Phone Radiation Scams
"Whether you call them cell phones, smart phones or mobile devices, it seems like everyone has one. According to the wireless telecommunications industry, the U.S. now has an estimated 300 million mobile subscribers, compared to 110 million subscribers a decade ago. The increase in cell phone use has generated concern about possible health risks related to radio frequency electromagnetic fields from this technology, and a market for shields as possible protection against the radio waves the phones emit. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, has some practical tips to help you avoid scams and limit your exposure to electromagnetic emissions from your cell phone...

To limit your exposure to cell phone electromagnetic emissions, the FTC suggests that you:

* Increase the distance between your phone and your head by using a hands-free device, like an earpiece that is wired to the phone, or using the speakerphone feature.
* Consider texting more and limiting your cell phone use to short conversations.
* Wait for a good signal. When you have a weak signal, your phone works harder, emitting more radiation. Phones also give off more radiation when transmitting than when receiving, so tilt the phone away from your head when you're talking, and bring it back to your ear when you're listening.
* When you're in the market for a new phone, research a phone's specific absorption rate (SAR) before you buy. Measured in watts per kilogram of tissue, the SAR reveals how much radiation the body absorbs while using the mobile device. Different phones emit different amounts of radiation. In the U.S., a phone's SAR can't exceed 1.6 watts per kilogram. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has more information at Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) For Cell Phones: What It Means For You..."
National Library of Medicine launches MedlinePlus Connect
"The National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library and a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has formally launched MedlinePlus Connect. This free service allows health organizations and health information technology (HIT) providers to link patient portals and electronic health record (EHR) systems to MedlinePlus.gov, a trusted source of authoritative, up-to-date health information for patients, families and health care providers. MedlinePlus brings together information from NIH, other federal agencies, and reputable health information providers. MedlinePlus covers a wide range of health conditions and wellness issues, and includes key resources to inform patients about their health..."
CBO'S 2011 Long Term Budget Outlook
"This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report presents the agency’s projections of
federal spending and revenues over the coming decades. Under current law, an aging population and rapidly rising health care costs will sharply increase federal spending for health care programs and Social Security. If revenues remained at their historical average share of gross domestic product (GDP), such spending growth would cause federal debt to grow to unsustainable levels. If policymakers are to put the federal government on a sustainable budgetary path, they will need to increase revenues substantially as a percentage of GDP, decrease spending significantly from projected levels, or adopt some combination of those two approaches. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, this report makes no recommendations..."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Free Preventive Services for People in Medicare: 5.5 Million Americans on Medicare Have Used Preventive Benefits
"On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. The new law provides important new benefits for the more than 47 million people with Medicare – seniors and people with disabilities. One of the major goals of the Affordable Care Act is to help people stay healthy by giving them the tools they need to take charge of their own health, fostering a culture of prevention that encourages patients to partner with their physicians and other caregivers so they can pursue as healthy and active a life as possible...

As of June 10, 2011, approximately 5.5 million people with traditional Medicare used one or more of the preventive benefits including, most prominently, mammograms, bone density screenings, and screenings for prostate cancer. This is 16 percent - almost one in six - of the more than 33 million Americans who had traditional Medicare in June 2011.  CMS developed a special program to monitor the use of preventive services using near-real time data and is committed to educating more Americans about these new benefits and the importance of prevention."
Search.USA.gov-Recalls
Search.USA.gov has added a new recall feature. Now you can search the U.S. Government recall database for recalls from various companies.
Changes in Payments to Physicians
"The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that, under current law, payment rates for physician services will be reduced by 29.4 percent in 2012. That large reduction called for under current law follows several years of legislative action to either maintain or increase physician payment rates under the Medicare program when those rates were otherwise scheduled to decrease under the provisions of law known as Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) mechanism. Such legislative actions have overridden the SGR..."
EPA Regulations: Too Much, Too Little, or On Track?
"In the two years since Barack Obama was sworn in as President, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed and promulgated numerous regulations implementing the pollution control statutes enacted by Congress. Critics have reacted strongly. Many, both within Congress and outside of it, have accused the agency of reaching beyond the authority given it by Congress and ignoring or underestimating the costs and economic impacts of proposed and promulgated
rules. Republican leaders have promised vigorous oversight of the agency in the 112th Congress, and the House has already voted to overturn specific regulations and to limit the agency’s authority. Particular attention is being paid to the Clean Air Act, under which EPA has moved forward with the first federal controls on emissions of greenhouse gases and addressed conventional pollutants from a number of industries...

This report provides background information on recent EPA rulemaking to help address these issues. It examines 43 major or controversial regulatory actions taken by or under development at EPA since January 2009, providing details on the regulatory action itself, presenting an estimated timeline for completion of the rule (including identification of related court or statutory deadlines), and, in general, providing EPA’s estimates of costs and benefits, where available..."
Cigarette Health Warnings
"Beginning September 2012, FDA will require larger, more prominent cigarette health warnings on all cigarette packaging and advertisements in the United States. These warnings mark the first change in cigarette warnings in more than 25 years and are a significant advancement in communicating the dangers of smoking.

View Final Warnings

The final set of cigarette health warnings contains nine different text warnings and accompanying color graphics to

* increase awareness of the specific health risks associated with smoking, such as death, addiction, lung disease, cancer, stroke and heart disease;
* encourage smokers to quit; and
* empower youth to say no to tobacco."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age
Resources on men's health in observation of Men' Health Week, June 16-21 2011
Pathway to Global Product Safety and Quality
"We live in a nation that increasingly relies on other countries to produce the food, drugs, cosmetics, and devices we use in our daily lives. Between 10% and 15% of all food consumed by United States (U.S.) households is imported from abroad. Nearly two thirds of the fruits and vegetables--and 80% of seafood--eaten domestically come from
outside the U.S. Half of all medical devices used in this country are imported, while 80 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients in medications sold here are manufactured elsewhere.

At the center of this global bazaar is the FDA. Today, nearly 25 cents of every dollar spent by Americans are on products regulated by the agency. FDA-regulated products account for about 10% of all imports into the U.S., arriving from more than 300,000 facilities in 150 different countries..."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Marine Protected Areas Inventory
"The Marine Protected Areas Inventory (MPA Inventory) is a comprehensive geospatial database designed to catalog and classify marine protected areas within US waters. The Inventory contains information on over 1,600 sites and is the only such comprehensive dataset in the nation. The database has various applications for marine management and conservation, but its primary purpose is to maintain baseline information on MPAs to the assist in the development of the National System of MPAs, as defined in Executive Order 13158. This information should not be used for regulatory purposes; please consult the Federal Register for the official record. The MPA Inventory was developed with extensive input from state and federal MPA programs and drawn from other publically available data. The data and products derived from the Inventory are served in various formats accessed by the links below. The MPA Center is continually updating and verifying the Inventory data, so please contact us with any new site information, existing site clarifications or updated spatial boundary data..."
Energy & Financial Markets :WHAT DRIVES CRUDE OIL PRICES?
"As part of its Energy and Financial Markets Initiative, EIA is assessing the various factors that may influence oil prices — physical market factors as well as those related to trading and financial markets. This website describes 7 key factors that could influence oil markets. The analysis explores possible linkages between each factor and oil prices, and includes regularly-updated graphs that depict aspects of those relationships..."
What are greenhouse gases and how much are emitted by the United States?
"Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun and warm the planet's surface. Of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, 87% are related to energy consumption. From 1990 to 2009, greenhouse gas emissions in the United States have grown by about 0.04% per year. The United States accounts for about 20% of the world's total energy-related carbon dioxide..."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Severe Thunderstorms and Tornadoes in the United States
"...Congress attempted to clarify the federal role in mitigating damages from windstorms (including tornadoes and thunderstorms) by passing the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-360). It is not evident whether the program made progress toward its objective:achievement of major measurable reductions in the losses of life and property from windstorms. Authorization for the program expired at the end of FY2008. In the 112th Congress, legislation introduced in the Senate (S. 646) and in the House (H.R. 1379) would reauthorize the wind hazards program (Title II) through FY2015. Similar legislation was passed by the House in the
111th Congress, but no action was taken by the Senate.

It is not clear whether changes to climate over the past half-century have increased the frequency or intensity of thunderstorms and tornadoes, or were responsible for the intense and destructive tornado activity in April and May of 2011. An issue for Congress is whether future climate change linked to increases in greenhouse gas emissions will lead to more frequent and more intense thunderstorms and tornadoes, and whether efforts by Congress to mitigate long-term climate change will reduce potential future losses from thunderstorms and tornadoes..."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pentagon Papers
"The Pentagon Papers, officially titled "Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force", was commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1967. In June of 1971, small portions of the report were leaked to the press and widely distributed. However, the publications of the report that resulted from these leaks were incomplete and suffered from many quality issues.

On the 40th anniversary of the leak to the press, the National Archives, along with the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon Presidential Libraries, has released the complete report. The 48 boxes in this series contain a complete copy of the 7,000 page report along with numerous copies of different volumes of the report, all declassified. Approximately 34% of the report is available for the first time..."
Expenditures on Children by Families, 2010
"Since 1960, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided estimates of expenditures on
children from birth through age 17. This technical report presents the most recent estimates for
husband-wife and single-parent families using data from the 2005-06 Consumer Expenditure
Survey, updated to 2010 dollars using the Consumer Price Index. Data and methods used in
calculating annual child-rearing expenses are described. Estimates are provided for major
components of the budget by age of child, family income, and region of residence. For the
overall United States, annual child-rearing expense estimates ranged between $11,880 and
$13,830 for a child in a two-child, married-couple family in the middle-income group.
Adjustment factors for number of children in the household are also provided. Results of
this study should be of use in developing State child support and foster care guidelines,
as well as in family educational programs.."
Sunscreen
"The FDA has announced significant changes to sunscreen products that will help consumers decide how to buy and use sunscreen, and allow them to more effectively protect themselves and their families from sun-induced damage. For more information about these changes, see Questions and Answers.

Sunscreen products that meet modern standards for effectiveness may be labeled with new information to help consumers find products that, when used with other sun protection measures, reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, as well as help prevent sunburn.

These new requirements are part of an ongoing effort to ensure sunscreens meet modern-day standards for safety and efficacy and are based on the latest science available. They will also reduce confusion about sunscreen..."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Information Needs of Communities:the Changing Media Landscape in an Broadband Age.
"...This report looks not only at the changing face of media, but at the relevant policy and regulatory situation, including the FCC’s own track record. Our basic conclusion: with the media landscape shifting as fast as it has been, some current regulations are out of sync with the information needs of communities and the fluid nature of modern local media markets..."
Congressional Pictorial Directory, 112th Congress
The Congressional Pictorial Directory for the 112th Congress is now available. Photographs
are in color.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Federal Debt: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
"The federal government has carried debt throughout virtually all of U.S. history. As part of Alexander Hamilton's plan for strengthening the financial credit of the post-Constitution nation, the federal government assumed the debt incurred during the Revolutionary War and the period under the Articles of Confederation.

Since that time, federal debt as a share of the nation's income has varied. Historically, the nation has run up deficits during wars and recessions, but then debt has subsequently declined. For example, debt as a share of the economy peaked just after World War II, but then fell. In recent years, however, sharp increases in deficits and the resulting increases in debt have led to heightened concern about the long-term sustainability of the federal government's fiscal policies..."
2010 Census Summary File 1
"Released on a flow basis in June through August

Data Release Process
• The Summary File 1 data will be released on a state-by-state flow basis each week.
• A week ahead, we'll announce which states to anticipate the following week. (Subscribe to receive the media advisories [media | non-media].)
• The data will be available on an embargoed basis for accredited media beginning on Tuesdays. (Register for access.)
• The news release and data will be available on the Census Bureau's public website on Thursday mornings each week.

Which States Are Next
Media Advisory: Census Bureau to Release 2010 Census Summary File 1 for Alabama and Hawaii.."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

ECONOMIC RECOVERY WIDESPREAD ACROSS STATES IN 2010
"Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased in 48 states and the District of Columbia in 2010, according to new statistics released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that breakdown GDP by state.1 Durable–goods manufacturing, retail trade, and finance and insurance were leading contributors to the upturn in U.S. economic growth. U.S. real GDP by state grew 2.6 percent in 2010 after declining 2.5 percent in 2009..."
ECONOMIC RECOVERY WIDESPREAD ACROSS STATES IN 2010
"Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased in 48 states and the District of Columbia in 2010, according to new statistics released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that breakdown GDP by state.1 Durable–goods manufacturing, retail trade, and finance and insurance were leading contributors to the upturn in U.S. economic growth. U.S. real GDP by state grew 2.6 percent in 2010 after declining 2.5 percent in 2009..."

Friday, June 10, 2011

The More You Know: Key Statistics for Manufacturers and Exporters
"Economists, journalists, Wall Street executives and main street businesses as well as consumers look at a variety of economic indicators and data for information and to get a picture of how the economy is doing. The indicators above give us an idea of how our manufacturing sector is fairing in the turmoil of economic indicators that keep us on our toes every day.

Great sources for this information are right here within the Department of Commerce, through our Bureau of the Census (Business and Industry, Manufacturing) where we regularly release reports on sales, inventories, employment, job creation and capacity utilization..."
Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse
Suggested things to do in an emergency: hurricanes, tornaodes, other natural disasters, and health related disasters such as pandemics.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Broken bat incidents down by half in Major League Baseball thanks to research at USDA Forest Products Laboratory
"As the 2011 Major League Baseball season heads toward summer, an unlikely relationship has quietly entered its third year.

Since 2008, the USDA Forest Service has worked with MLB to help make America’s grand ol’ pastime safer, and the results have been impressive.

“Since Major League Baseball’s partnership with the USDA Forest Service began in 2008, we have witnessed a dramatic decrease in the number of broken bats thanks to the extensive efforts of the scientists from the Forest Products Laboratory, especially Dave Kretschmann,” said Dan Halem, MLB’s Senior Vice President of Labor Relations.

In fact, thanks to Kretschmann’s research, there has been an eye-opening 50 percent reduction in multiple-piece failure (MPF) rates in baseball bats in the last three seasons.

Kretschmann, a research engineer at the FPL in Madison, Wis., has seen video of every shattered bat. He’s tested and analyzed hundreds of bats, and recorded the who, when, and how of every breakage in 2009, 2010, and through the early parts of the 2011 season. Through his recommendations and the cooperative work of TECO, an independent certification and testing agency for wood products overseeing changes from the factory to the dugout, baseball players, owners and fans have reaped the rewards of increased safety through practical science..."
Census Bureau Reports Number of Minority-Owned Firms Increased at More Than Double the Rate of All U.S. Businesses From 2002 to 2007
"In 2007, minority-owned firms numbered 5.8 million, up from 4.0 million in 2002, an increase of 45.5 percent, more than double the 17.9 percent increase for all U.S. businesses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2007 Survey of Business Owners. Receipts of minority-owned firms increased 55.0 percent to $1.0 trillion over the five-year period, compared with the 32.9 percent increase for all businesses nationwide. In 2007, more than one-fifth (21.3 percent) of the nation's 27.1 million firms were minority-owned.

Of the 5.8 million minority-owned firms, 766,533 had paid employees, an increase of 21.7 percent from 2002. These firms employed 5.8 million people, a 24.4 percent increase from 2002, and their payrolls totaled $164.1 billion, an increase of 42.2 percent. Receipts of minority-owned employer firms totaled $860.5 billion, an increase of 54.3 percent from 2002.

In 2007, minority firms with no paid employees (nonemployers) numbered 5.0 million, an increase of 50.0 percent from 2002. These firms had receipts totaling $164.3 billion, an increase of 58.9 percent...
See full reports
Pentagon Papers Release
"NARA is planning a digital/textual release of the Pentagon Papers for the week of June 13, 2011. This simultaneous release will be conducted by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library, and the National Declassification Center at College Park."
Tax Statistics
Find a range of statistics in chart, data and articles.
MyPlate
"Yesterday the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) replaced the food pyramid with MyPlate.

MyPlate is a visual reminder to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. It also shows the other food groups that make a well-balanced meal: whole grains, lean proteins, and low fat dairy. MyPlate is based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

ChooseMyPlate.gov has information on healthy eating and tools like the customizable Daily Food Plan and Food Tracker.

Share what’s on your plate by taking a photo of your next meal. Then post it on Twitter using the hashtag #MyPlate..."
The 5 Most Common Mistakes When Applying for Citizenship
A YouTube video on common mistakes when applying for citizenship.
World Agricultural Demand and Supply Estimates
"The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report provides USDA's comprehensive forecasts of supply and demand for major U.S. and global crops and U.S. livestock. The report gathers information from a number of statistical reports published by USDA and other government agencies, and provides a framework for additional USDA reports..."
U.S. AND MEXICAN RESPONSES TO MEXICAN DRUG TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION
"Drug-related violence in Mexico has, unfortunately, become a daily phenomenon. When Mexican President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006, he made it a priority to confront drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) head on. Drug traffickers, who often acted with impunity in the past, were now the target of the Mexican Government.

To date, progress has been made in combating Mexican drug trafficking
organizations. According to the Mexican government, of the 37 drug kingpins
designated as “most wanted” in March 2009, 20 have been arrested or killed.

To sustain this progress, institutional reform in Mexico will be essential. In
particular, the municipal and state police must be better trained and equipped, and
judicial reforms must be implemented.."
No Progress in Salmonella During Past 15 Years
"Salmonella infections have not decreased during the past 15 years and have instead increased by 10 percent in recent years, according to a new Vital Signs report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the same time period, illnesses from the serious Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157 have been cut nearly in half and the overall rates of six foodborne infections have been reduced by 23 percent, the report said.

The Vital Signs report summarizes 2010 data from CDC's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), which serves as America's report card for food safety by tracking whether nine of the most common infections transmitted through foods are increasing or decreasing..."
AFGHANISTAN U.S. Efforts to Vet Non-U.S. Vendors Need Improvement
"While DOD’s U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has established a vetting
cell to vet non-U.S. vendors in Afghanistan to minimize the risk of insurgents
or criminal groups using contracts to fund their operations, its current
approach for selecting vendors to vet has gaps. For example, vendors with
contracts below $100,000 are not routinely vetted. In fiscal year 2010 around
three-quarters of the command’s new contracts with non-U.S. vendors were
below $100,000. Subcontractors are also not routinely vetted. Command
officials stated that CENTCOM uses other risk factors to prioritize vendors to
vet, such as contracts performed in Taliban strongholds, but these factors
have not been documented. While officials stated that the vetting cell was
created to vet vendors prior to award, CENTCOM is largely vetting vendors
with existing contracts, which means it is likely that there are a large number
of new vendors that have not been vetted prior to award and may have to be
vetted in the future. Also, the vetting effort now includes some U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers vendors. However, the vetting cell was not staffed to
accommodate this workload, so it is uncertain how its existing resources will
be able to vet vendors in a timely manner. Without accurately defining the
universe of contracts that may need to be vetted, adopting a formal risk-based
approach that incorporates other risk factors to identify non-U.S. vendors that
pose the highest risk, and identifying the resources needed to accomplish this,
it is uncertain how the vetting cell will be able to meet the additional
workload and achieve its goal..."
Evaluating U.S. Foreign Assistance to Afghanistan
"Today, the United States spends more on foreign aid in Afghanistan than in any other country, including Iraq. After 10 years and roughly $18.8 billion in foreign aid, we have achieved some real successes. There has been a sevenfold increase in the number of children attending school and significant improvements in health care. But we should have no illusions. Serious challenges remain that will prevent us from achieving our goals unless they are addressed. Foreign assistance can be a vital tool for promoting stability in Afghanistan. Given the security challenges and limited resources at its disposal, USAID has performed admirably and assumed considerable risks in support of the President's civil-military strategy for Afghanistan. However, we believe the administration can be more effective in how it spends aid in Afghanistan. U.S. assistance should meet three basic conditions before money is spent: our projects should be necessary, achievable, and sustainable..."
EPA Removes Confidentiality Claims for More Than 150 Chemicals
"In order to ensure the public has as much information as possible about the health and the environmental impacts of chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made public the identities of more than 150 chemicals contained in 104 health and safety studies that had been claimed confidential by industry. Today’s announcement is another in a series of unprecedented actions that EPA is taking to provide the public with greater access to information on the chemicals that are manufactured and used in the United States.
For full list see Increasing Transparency in TSCA

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On the Map for Emergency Management
"The Census Bureau released OnTheMap for Emergency Management Version 2.0 today, the beginning of the 2011 hurricane season. Version 2.0 adds floods and wildfires to hurricanes which was released last year.

OnTheMap for Emergency Management is a public data tool that provides unique detail on the workforce, for U.S. areas affected by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, in real time. The web-based tool provides an intuitive interface for viewing the location and extent of current and forecasted emergency events on a map, and allows users to easily retrieve detailed reports containing labor market characteristics for these areas. The reports provide the number and location of jobs, industry type, worker age and earnings. Worker race, ethnicity, and educational attainment levels are under a beta release at this time..."
There’s a Congressional App for That
From the Law Librarians of Congress, a list of apps for various devices to connect to Congress and follow its activities.
Teens and Trucks
"Teenagers from the National Capital region today pledged to make this summer safer for all drivers by giving large trucks plenty of room, avoiding their blind spots and signing a “No Texting Promise” during a truck safety demonstration organized by national safety officials and families of distracted driving crash victims.

Standing beside a 53-foot long tractor trailer in front of Walt Whitman High School, officials representing the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) spoke to students from Maryland and the District of Columbia about the critical importance of driving safely around big trucks. A fully loaded tractor trailer requires roughly twice the distance to stop that a passenger vehicle requires. In addition, tractor trailers have sizeable blind spots, otherwise known as “No Zones,” areas that motorist must avoid.."
A Description of the Immigrant Population: An Update
"Foreign-born people represent a large and growing share of the U.S. population. The native- and foreign-born populations differ in a variety of characteristics, such as
age, fertility, educational attainment, occupation, earnings,and income. Among the foreign born, naturalized citizens differ from noncitizens, and people from some parts of the world differ from people from other parts on most of those characteristics.

A Description of the Immigrant Population In November 2004, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published which included data through 2003. This update contains information through 2009. It relies on a set of data sources that differ slightly from those used for the original paper."

Saturday, June 4, 2011

U.S. Coal Supply and Demand: 2010 Year in Review
"Coal production in the United States in 2010 increased to a level of 1,085.3 million short tons
according to preliminary data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), an increase of 1.0 percent, or 10.4 million short tons above the 2009 level of 1,074.9 million short tons (Table 1). In 2010 U.S. coal consumption increased in all sectors except commercial and institutional while total coal stocks fell slightly for the year. Coal consumption in the
electric power sector in 2010 was higher by 4.5 percent, while coking coal consumption increased by 37.9 percent and the other industrial sector increased by 7.1 percent. The commercial and institutional sector, which prior to 2008 had been called the “residential and commercial” sector and is the smallest of all the coal-consuming sectors, declined by 3.1 percent in 2010. (Note: All percentage change calculations are done at the short-tons level.) U.S. coal exports increased from the 2009 levels due mostly to higher demand for metallurgical coal, while
coal imports decreased for a third year in a row..."
Geospatial Information and Geographic Information Systems (GIS): An Overview for Congress
"Geospatial information is data referenced to a place—a set of geographic coordinates—which can
often be gathered, manipulated, and displayed in real time. A Geographic Information System
(GIS) is a computer data system capable of capturing, storing, analyzing, and displaying
geographically referenced information. The federal government and policy makers increasingly
use geospatial information and tools like GIS for producing floodplain maps, conducting the
census, mapping foreclosures, congressional redistricting, and responding to natural hazards such
as wildfires, earthquakes, and tsunamis. For policy makers, this type of analysis can greatly assist in clarifying complex problems that may involve local, state, and federal government, and affect businesses, residential areas, and federal installations.

Examples of how GIS and geospatial data are used within and outside the federal government are
growing rapidly. In this report, a few examples are provided that describe the real-time or near
real-time data analysis in the case of a California wildfire; policy analysis in support of a Base
Realignment and Closure decision in Virginia Beach; and analysis of foreclosure patterns using
census and other data for the New York City area. An additional example is provided
demonstrating the burgeoning interaction of GIS and social media. In this case, Japanese citizens
collected and provided census records, maps, and other information—a variant of “crowdsourcing”—to a GIS team. The team assembled the information into data layers supporting an
interactive map to assist humanitarian organizations working in areas of Japan damaged by the
March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami..."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A New Look at Where Our Food Dollars Go
"The ERS marketing bill has been a popular statistical series for food market observers interested in knowing the costs of getting food from farm to table. The marketing bill series identified the costs of processing and marketing the raw farm commodities contained in a typical dollar’s worth of U.S.-produced food and the share going to farmers. However, it is no longer possible to use the longstanding method for estimating the annual marketing bill because many of the data sources have been discontinued and the estimation procedures do not fully represent today’s food economy.

In February 2011, ERS introduced a new data product called the food dollar series that uses the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual input-output tables to provide a more complete accounting of U.S. food spending at both grocery stores and eating places. The new food dollar estimates are composed of three primary series that slice the same food dollar differently to provide a variety of perspectives. The new series spans 1993 to 2008 and will be updated annually..."
The Changing Demographic Profile of the United States
"The United States, the third most populous country globally, accounts for about 4.5% of the
world’s population. The U.S. population—currently estimated at 308.7 million persons—has
more than doubled since its 1950 level of 152.3 million. More than just being double in size, the
population has become qualitatively different from what it was in 1950. As noted by the
Population Reference Bureau, “The U.S. is getting bigger, older, and more diverse.” The
objective of this report is to highlight some of the demographic changes that have already
occurred since 1950 and to illustrate how these and future trends will reshape the nation in the
decades to come (through 2050).

The United States Is Getting Bigger. U.S. population growth is due to the trends over time in the
interplay of increased births, decreased deaths, and increased net immigration.

The United States Is Getting Older. Aside from the total size, one of the most important
demographic characteristics of a population for public policy is its age and sex structure. This
report illustrates how the United States has been in the midst of a profound demographic change:
the rapid aging of its population, as reflected by an increasing proportion of persons aged 65 and
older, and an increasing median age in the population.

The United States Is Becoming More Racially and Ethnically Diverse, reflecting the major
influence that immigration has had on both the size and the age structure of the U.S. population.

This section considers the changing profile of the five major racial groups in the United States. In addition, trends in the changing ethnic composition of the Hispanic or Latino Origin population
are discussed..."
The Resurgence of the American Automotive Industry
"When President Obama took office, the American automobile industry was on the brink of collapse. The President, as part of a larger effort to combat an historic economic crisis, made a difficult decision to provide support to General Motors (GM) and Chrysler on the condition that they, and all of their stakeholders, make the sacrifices necessary to fundamentally restructure their businesses and commit to tough-minded plans to return to viability.

The President’s decision to save GM and Chrysler was about more than those two companies. It was about standing behind the countless workers, communities, and businesses – large and
small – that depend on the automotive industry.

Two years later, the American auto industry is mounting a comeback. General Motors is expanding production and adding jobs, while Chrysler recently repaid its outstanding loans to the U.S. Treasury - six years ahead of schedule.Since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, the auto industry has created 115,000 jobs, its strongest period of job growth since the late 1990s. GM, Ford and Chrysler have all returned to profitability, and in 2010, the “Detroit three” gained market share for the first time since 1995..."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

CDC Identifies 10 Public Health Achievements of First Decade of 21st Century
"The major public health achievements of the first 10 years of the 21st century included improvements in vaccine preventable and infectious diseases, reductions in deaths from certain chronic diseases, declines in deaths and injuries from motor vehicle crashes, and more, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 10 domestic public health achievements are published in today's issue of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)...
Cigarette Package Health Warnings and Interest in Quitting Smoking --- 14 Countries, 2008--2010
"The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires health warnings on tobacco product packages sold in countries that ratified the WHO FCTC treaty (1). These warnings are expected to 1) describe the harmful effects of tobacco use; 2) be approved by the appropriate national authority; 3) appear on at least 30%, and ideally 50% or more, of the package's principal display areas; 4) be large, clear, visible, and legible in the country's principal language(s); 5) have multiple, rotating messages; and 6) preferably use pictures or pictograms. To assess the effects of cigarette package health warnings on interest in quitting smoking among smokers of manufactured cigarettes aged ≥15 years, this report examines 2008--2010 data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) in 14 WHO FCTC countries. Among men, the prevalence of manufactured cigarette smoking ranged from 9.6% in India to 59.3% in Russia. Among men in 12 of the countries and women in seven countries, >90% of smokers reported noticing a package warning in the previous 30 days. The percentage of smokers thinking about quitting because of the warnings was >50% in six countries and >25% in men and women in all countries except Poland. WHO has identified providing tobacco health information, including graphic health warnings on tobacco packages, as a powerful "best buy" in combating noncommunicable disease (2). Implementing effective warning labels as a component of a comprehensive approach can help decrease tobacco use and its many health consequences..."
Older Americans and the CFPB
"...The people just now reaching their sixties are part of America’s largest-ever generation of retirees. The CFPB is creating an Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans to ensure we serve this large community effectively.
This Office will connect seniors with what they need to guide themselves through their financial lives. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requires this Office to be active by January 21, 2012. We are building it right alongside the rest of the consumer bureau, and in the coming weeks and months you’ll hear more from us about financial issues for seniors.

Here are some places you can go now for senior financial protection information:

The Administration on Aging has Elder Rights Protection resources to make sure seniors can guard their rights.

The Securities and Exchange Commission offers some tip sheets and resources.

The FTC offers information on avoiding scams and fraudulent business practices, which advertise in ways that make them look like legitimate opportunities..."
U.S. Postal Service Workforce Size and Employment Categories, 1990-2010
"This report provides data from the past 20 years on the size of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS’s) workforce, including the number of persons employed by USPS by employment categories and the number of persons employed by USPS under time-limited contracts. It also analyzes the most salient aspects of these employment data.
USPS employed 671,687 persons as of September 30, 2010 (FY2010). USPS’s workforce size has dropped by 171,576 employees (20.3%) in the past 20 years, and USPS had 40,395 (6.0%) fewer employees at the end of FY2010 than it did at the end of FY2009.

Since 1990, the career/non-career composition of the USPS’s workforce has also changed. The number of career employees has declined 23.2%, and the number of non-career employees has increased 6.3%.

Facing financial problems, the USPS recently has instituted a hiring freeze, frozen the pay rate of managers, and offered some employees early retirement options. In FY2010, USPS operated with its smallest workforce in at least 20 years."