Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Eurozone Crisis: Overview and Issues for Congress

"Issues for Congress
Impact on the U.S. Economy: The United States and Europe share the largest bilateral economic relationship in the world, and there are concerns about the exposure of U.S. financial institutions to Europe and U.S. exports to Europe. Treasury officials have emphasized that U.S. exposure to the Eurozone countries under the most market pressure is small but that U.S. exposure to Europe as a whole is significant. To date, it is not clear that U.S.-EU trade flows have contracted, although risks may remain..."

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

"The issue of Iran and its nuclear program has emerged as a top priority for the Obama
Administration. The sense of impending crisis is generated by growing suspicions in the international community that Iran’s nuclear program is not for purely peaceful purposes, and the determination of the government of Israel, in particular, that it might take unilateral military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities if its progress is not soon halted. The United States also sees a threat to U.S. interests posed by Iran’s support for militant groups in the Middle East and in Iraq and Afghanistan..."

Cybersecurity: Selected Legal Issues

"The federal government’s role in protecting U.S. citizens and critical frastructure from cyber attacks has been the subject of recent congressional interest. Critical infrastructure commonly refers to those entities that are so vital that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating impact on national security, economic security, or the public health and safety. This report discusses selected legal issues that frequently arise in the context of recent legislation to
address vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure to cyber threats, efforts to protect government networks from cyber threats, and proposals to facilitate and encourage sharing of cyber threat information amongst private sector and government entities..."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ABC's of School Safety



Kids talk about school safety! Always wear the right helmet. Be safe and have fun. Careful with the clothing, Mom and Dad.

Beware of Tiny batteries



"Look at that flashlight lying on the kitchen counter. Or the remote control next to the TV. Or the scale in your bathroom. These and hundreds of other products in homes are powered by coin-sized batteries, called "button batteries." As batteries are shrinking and becoming more powerful, the number of battery-related incidents resulting in severe injury and death is increasing..."

Drywall Information Center

"CPSC has received about 3,924 reports from residents in 43 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico, who believe their health symptoms or the corrosion of certain metal components in their homes are related to problem drywall. State and local authorities have also received similar reports...

Consumers largely report that their homes were built in 2006 to 2007, when an unprecedented increase in new construction occurred in part due to the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005..."

Safe Sleep for Babies



Whether you just had a baby, expecting a new baby, or taking care of a young infant it's important to create a safe sleep environment for your baby. Take a few moments to see how to create a safe sleep environment for your baby.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How do U.S. expenditures compare with those of other countries?

"In Japan, consumers spent more than 17 percent of every yen on groceries, more than twice the 8.3 percent of every dollar that Americans spent. In the United States, households spent almost 7 cents of every dollar on health care, compared with just 1.4 pence of every pound in the United Kingdom. This article compares how consumers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Japan allocated different shares of total spending to categories such as food, housing, and transportation in 2009. Such variation can be expected, given differences in cultural tastes, the relative availability of goods and services, and institutional factors, such as government regulation and tax laws, among those countries. As shown in chart 1, housing and health care shares of total expenditures were higher in the United States than in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Japan in 2009, whereas Americans had the lowest clothing (or apparel) share. Canada had the highest clothing and transportation shares, and Japan had the highest food share, among the countries compared..."

Trends in Tuberculosis — United States, 2010

"In 2010, a total of 11,181 tuberculosis (TB) cases were reported in the United States, for a rate of 3.6 cases per 100,000 population, which was a decline of 3.9% from 2009 and the lowest rate recorded since national reporting began in 1953 (1). This report summarizes provisional 2010 data from the National TB Surveillance System and describes trends since 1993..."

FTC Issues Final Commission Report on Protecting Consumer Privacy

"The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's chief privacy policy and enforcement agency, issued a final report setting forth best practices for businesses to protect the privacy of American consumers and give them greater control over the collection and use of their personal data. In the report, "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: Recommendations For Businesses and Policymakers," the FTC also recommends that Congress consider enacting general privacy legislation, data security and breach notification legislation, and data broker legislation..."

Growth in Urban Population Outpaces Rest of Nation

"The nation's urban population increased by 12.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, outpacing the nation's overall growth rate of 9.7 percent for the same period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau released the new list of urban areas today based on 2010 Census results.

Urban areas — defined as densely developed residential, commercial and other nonresidential areas -- now account for 80.7 percent of the U.S. population, up from 79.0 percent in 2000. Although the rural population -- the population in any areas outside of those classified as “urban” — grew by a modest amount from 2000 to 2010, it continued to decline as a percentage of the national population..."

Study by NOAA and Partners Shows Some Gulf Dolphins Severely Ill

"Bottlenose dolphins in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, are showing signs of severe ill health, according to NOAA marine mammal biologists and their local, state, federal and other research partners.

Barataria Bay, located in the northern Gulf of Mexico, received heavy and prolonged exposure to oil during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill..."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tornadoes.... Nature's Most Violent Storms

Tornado safety tips from the National Weather Service.

SaferBus

"As the peak spring travel season begins and consumers look to commercial buses to reach popular destinations, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today unveiled its SaferBus iPhone/iPad application - a first-of-its-kind app that gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company's safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel..."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The CIA's Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-1990.

Recently discovered document on the study of UFOs by the CIA.(via Duke Today, March 11, 2012)

The Long-Term Budgetary Impact of Paths for Federal Revenues and Spending Specified by Chairman Ryan

"At the request of the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Congressman Paul Ryan, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has calculated the long-term budgetary impact of paths for federal revenues and spending specified by the Chairman and his staff. The calculations presented here represent CBO's assessment of how the specified paths would alter the trajectories of federal debt, revenues, spending, and economic output relative to the trajectories under two scenarios that CBO has analyzed previously. Those calculations do not represent a cost estimate for legislation or an analysis of the effects of any given policies.."

Employment Situation of Veterans :2011

"The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001—a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans—was 12.1 percent in 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The jobless rate for all veterans was 8.3 percent. Twenty-six percent of Gulf War-era II veterans reported having a service-connected disability in August 2011, compared with about 14 percent of all veterans..."

Employment in Green Goods and Services 2010

"In 2010, 3.1 million jobs in the United States were associated with the production of green goods and services, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Green Goods and Services (GGS) jobs are found in businesses that produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. GGS jobs accounted for 2.4 percent of total employment in 2010..."

IRS Online Search Tool for Easier Check on Information About Exempt Organizations

"he Internal Revenue Service has launched a new online search tool, Exempt Organizations Select Check, to help users more easily find key information about tax-exempt organizations, such as federal tax status and filings.

Users can now go to one location on IRS.gov, select a tax-exempt organization, and check if the organization:

Is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions (Publication 78 data, which is incorporated here). Users may rely on this list in determining deductibility of contributions (just as they did when Publication 78 was a separate electronic publication rather than part of EO Select Check).
Has had its federal tax exemption automatically revoked under the law for not filing a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years (known as the Auto-Revocation List).
Has filed a Form 990-N (e-Postcard) annual electronic notice. (Most small organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less are required to electronically submit Form 990-N, unless they choose instead to file a completed Form 990 or Form 990-EZ)..."

Tax Season Deadline Extended to April 17

"Taxpayers will have until Tuesday, April 17, to file their 2011 tax returns and pay any tax due because April 15 falls on a Sunday, and Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Monday, April 16. According to federal law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have two extra days to file this year. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 15 to file their 2012 tax returns..."

Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Aid Conditions, Restrictions, and Reporting Requirements

"This report provides a comprehensive list of existing laws and pending legislation containing conditions, limitations, and reporting requirements for U.S. foreign assistance to Pakistan. It will track the debate on this topic and resulting changes. For a broader discussion of U.S. aid to Pakistan, see CRS Report R41856, Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance. For discussion of the current state of U.S.-Pakistan relations, see CRS Report R41832, Pakistan-U.S. Relations: A Summary. Both are updated regularly."

New Race and Ethnic Demographic Information from the 2010 Census for Idaho, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin

"The U.S. Census Bureau today released new, detailed demographic information from the 2010 Census for up to 331 different race and ethnic groups down to the census tract level for Idaho, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

These Summary File 2 tables add a new layer of detail to the population and housing topics released last year from the 2010 Census. Information, such as age, relationship and homeownership, previously available only for an area's entire population is now available for specific race and ethnic groups in that community...

The Summary File 2 tables can be found on the Census Bureau's American FactFinder website at by using the “Population Groups” filter to select the specific race or ethnic groups of interest. While a variety of tables will be available, a good place to start is the Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics, which shows a summary of characteristics for one geographic area at a time..."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Asian Population: 2010

"According to the 2010 Census, the Asian population grew faster than any other race group in the United States between 2000 and 2010. This was observed for the population who reported Asian alone (increased 43 percent), as well as for the population who reported Asian and another race group (increased 60 percent). The Asian population continued to be concentrated in the West, and the Chinese population was the largest detailed Asian group..."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

1940 Census

"On April 2, the National Archives and Records Administration will make individual records from the 1940 Census available to the public for the first time. We invite you to explore our site to see how America has changed since the 1940s. We use compelling links, infographics, and photos to compare the 1940 Census with corresponding information about the 2010 Census. Additionally, be sure to check out our Facts for Features to learn about some of the major innovations in development for the 2020 Census that will control costs and improve efficiency..."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Congressional Oversight of Agency Public Communications: Implications of Agency New Media Use

"This report intends to assist Congress in its oversight of executive branch agencies’ public communications. Here, “public communications” refers to agency communications that are directed to the public.

Many, and perhaps most, federal agencies routinely communicate with the public. Agencies do so for many purposes, including informing the public of its rights and entitlements, and informing the public of the agency’s activities. Agencies spent more than $900 million on contracts for advertising services in FY2010, a figure that does not include all agency communications expenditures.."

MEDICARE PAYMENT ADVISORY COMMISSION RELEASES REPORT ON MEDICARE PAYMENT POLICY

"Today, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) releases its March 2012 Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy. The report includes the Commission’s analyses of payment adequacy in fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Part D, as well as the Commission’s assessment of the sustainable growth rate (SGR) system for physician payment.

According to Glenn Hackbarth, MedPAC chairman, “This report recommends steps toward one of the Commission’s goals for the Medicare program—to make Medicare a prudent purchaser of health care services, while ensuring access to high-quality care for Medicare beneficiaries.”..."

2012 Plant Hardiness Zone Map

"The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.

For the first time, the map is available as an interactive GIS-based map, for which a broadband Internet connection is recommended, and as static images for those with slower Internet access. Users may also simply type in a ZIP Code and find the hardiness zone for that area..."

U.S. - Korean Trade Agreement

"The United States-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS Agreement) enters into effect today, reducing tariffs on almost all U.S. industrial exports to South Korea and making it easier for U.S. exporters to successfully compete in the Korean market.

With the implementation of the KORUS Agreement, tariffs will immediately be eliminated on almost 80 percent of U.S. exports to Korea..."

Seasonal Drought Outlook , March 15, 2012, - June 30, 2012

A forecast of the drought outlook for the United State for the period March 15, 2012 - June 30, 2012.

Globalization, Worker Insecurity, and Policy Approaches

"Today’s global economy, or what many call globalization, has a growing impact on the economic futures of American companies, workers, and families. Increasing integration with the world economy makes the U.S. and other economies more productive. For most Americans, this has translated into absolute increases in living standards and real disposable incomes. However, while the U.S. economy as a whole benefits from globalization, it is not always a win-win situation for all Americans..."

SEC Proposes Rules To Help Prevent And Detect Identity Theft

"The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a rule proposal to help protect investors from identity theft by ensuring that broker-dealers, mutual funds, and other SEC-regulated entities create programs to detect and respond appropriately to red flags.

The SEC issued the proposal jointly with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Section 1088 of the Dodd-Frank Act transferred authority over certain parts of the Fair Credit Reporting Act from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to the SEC and CFTC for entities they regulate.."

How can we compare or add up our energy consumption?

"In American households we use several kinds of energy. It's difficult to add up or compare the total energy we use because each energy source is typically measured in a different unit: gasoline is usually measured in gallons, electricity in kilowatthours, and natural gas in cubic feet. One way to add and compare different energy sources is to convert them all to a common unit of measure based on their energy content..."

Read the Label First

"By their nature, many pesticides may pose some risk to humans, animals, or the environment because they are designed to kill or otherwise adversely affect living organisms. At the same time, pesticides are often useful because of their ability to control disease-causing organisms, insects, weeds, or other pests.

The pesticide label is your guide to using pesticides safely and effectively. It contains pertinent information that you should read and understand before you use a pesticide product..."

Monetary Policy in Emerging Market Economies: What Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis?

"During the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, emerging market economies (EMEs) loosened monetary policy considerably to cushion the shock. In previous crises episodes, by contrast, EMEs generally had to tighten monetary policy to defend the value of their currencies, to contain capital flight, and to bolster policy credibility. Our study aims to understand the factors that enabled this remarkable shift in monetary policy, and also to assess whether this marks a new era in which EMEs can now conduct countercyclical policy, more in line with advanced economies..."

Friday, March 16, 2012

IRS Withholding Calculator

"If you are an employee, the Withholding Calculator can help you determine whether you need to give your employer a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate to avoid having too much or too little Federal income tax withheld from your pay. You can use your results from the calculator to help fill out the form.

Who Can Benefit From The Withholding Calculator?
Employees who would like to change their withholding to reduce their tax refund or their balance due;
Employees whose situations are only approximated by the worksheets on the paper W-4 (e.g., anyone with concurrent jobs, or couples in which both are employed; those entitled to file as Head of Household; and those with several children eligible for the Child Tax Credit);
Employees with non-wage income in excess of their adjustments and deductions, who would prefer to have tax on that income withheld from their paychecks rather than make periodic separate payments through the estimated tax procedures..."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shutting Down Pyramid Scam Thousands of Consumers Burned by BurnLounge

"At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, a U.S. district court judge has ordered the operators and top promoters of a deceptive pyramid scheme to pay a total of $17 million to refund consumers who were burned by the scam. The court order permanently halts marketing methods used by the operation known as BurnLounge, which lured more than 56,000 consumers from around the country by masquerading as a legitimate multi-level marketing program and making misleading claims about earnings to be made..."

State Nuclear Profiles 2009

A profile on electric energy produced by nuclear energy facilities by states.

State Renewable Electricity Profiles, 2010

"The State Renewable Electricity Profiles 2010 present a summary of current and recent historical data for the renewable electric power industry. Presented are net summer capacity and net generation data for each type of renewable generator, as well as fossil-fired and nuclear power plant types, for the period 2006 through 2010..."

Using FACTA Remedies: An FTC Staff Report on a Survey of Identity Theft Victims

"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a longstanding and comprehensive program to combat identity theft. The FTC enforces a variety of laws requiring entities to protect consumer information and ensure that such information does not fall into the hands of identity thieves or other unauthorized persons..."

Updated Estimates for the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act

"In preparing the March 2012 baseline budget projections, the Congressional
Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT)
have updated estimates of the budgetary effects of the health insurance coverage
provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That legislation comprises the
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) and the health
care provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
(P.L. 111-152)..."

Updated Budget Projections: Fiscal Years 2012 To 2022

"This report summarizes CBO’s updated baseline budget projections and describes how they differ from the projections that the agency published two months earlier."

75 Years of Mortality in the United States, 1935–201

"...This report uses data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS)
over a 75-year period, including preliminary data for 2010, to examine longterm trends in mortality in the United States by age, sex, and race."

China’s Banking System: Issues for Congress

"China’s banking system has been gradually transformed from a centralized, government-owned
and government-controlled provider of loans into an increasingly competitive market in which
different types of banks, including several U.S. banks, strive to provide a variety of financial
services. Only three banks in China remain fully government-owned; most banks have been
transformed into mixed ownership entities in which the central or local government may or may
not be a major equity holder in the bank..."

Monday, March 12, 2012

National Nuturition Month, March 2012

Tips for eating healthy from the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Experiences of Victims Recovering from Identity Theft

"The Federal Trade Commission issued a staff report summarizing the results of a survey of identity theft victims who were asked to describe their experiences dealing with consumer reporting agencies and, more generally, exercising their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), to recover from identity theft.The survey showed that most of the respondents were generally satisfied with their experiences, but the report also noted areas for improvement..."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2011

"This report is the fourteenth in a series of annual publications produced jointly by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Institute of Education Sciences (IES), in the U.S. Department of Education, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the U.S. Department of Justice. This report presents the most recent data available on school crime and student safety. The indicators in this report are based on information drawn from a variety of data sources, including national surveys of students, teachers, and principals..."

E-Books Initiative (Foreign Relations of the United States)

"The Office of the Historian at the U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce the release of its Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series in a new e-book format that is readable on popular electronic devices such as the Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad. The e-book edition combines many of the benefits of print and web publications in a new form that is portable and extremely convenient. During the pilot phase of the FRUS e-book initiative, five selected FRUS volumes are available here. The public is invited to download the new e-books and provide feedback to help improve the FRUS e-book edition. At the conclusion of the pilot phase later this year, the Office will work to offer e-book versions of many more FRUS volumes both through the Office website and on a wide array of e-bookstores..."

Analysis and Preliminary Determination for the Significant Revision of Construction Permit 09-SSS-127

Analysis and Preliminary Determination for the Significant Revision of Construction Permit 09-SSS-127 for Additions of Rainhats on the Stacks Associated with Boilers B08-B10 And Analysis and Preliminary Determination for the Significant Revision of Operation Permit Number 113004650-P12 for Kraft Global Foods, Inc.
Received at Madison Public Library - Central March 1, 2012. Available for 60 days review. Cannot find online version.

Draft Air Pollution Control Construction Permit Revision. Kraft Foods Global, Inc.

Draft Air Pollution Control Construction Permit Revision. Kraft Foods Global, Inc. Construction Permit Revision # 09-SSS-127-R1. Received at Madison Public Library - Central March 7, 2012. Available for 60 days review. Cannot find online version.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults

"The fight against youth tobacco use was accelerated today by Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, with the release of the Surgeon General’s Report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults. This report details the scope, health consequences and influences that lead to youth tobacco use and proven strategies that prevent its use.

To help communicate the report findings and steps every American can take to join the fight against youth tobacco use, the surgeon general also unveiled a guide with practical information on addressing tobacco use in young people, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: We Can Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health will launch the Surgeon General’s Video Challenge to engage youth and young adults in developing original videos that feature one or more of the report’s findings..."

2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

"The 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) is an annual report by the Department of State to Congress prepared in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act. It describes the efforts of key countries to attack all aspects of the international drug trade in Calendar Year 2011. Volume I covers drug and chemical control activities. Volume II covers money laundering and financial crimes..."

Americans with Diabetes Projected to Double or Triple by 2050

"As many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue, according to a new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One in 10 U.S. adults has diabetes now. The prevalence is expected to rise sharply over the next 40 years due to an aging population more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, increases in minority groups that are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, and people with diabetes living longer, according to CDC projections published in the journal Population Health Metrics. Because the study factored in aging, minority populations and lifespan, the projections are higher than previous estimates..."

State of the Climate, February 2012 and Winter 2012

"Warmer-than-average temperatures dominated the northern and eastern regions of the country in December, January and February, leading to the fourth warmest winter on record for the contiguous United States. The winter season was also drier-than-average for the Lower 48, with dry conditions experienced across the West and the Southeast but wetter-than-average conditions in the Central and Southern Plains and parts of the Ohio Valley..."

AnnualCreditReport.com

"This central site allows you to request a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

AnnualCreditReport.com is the official site to help consumers to obtain their free credit report..."

Dayling Time

History of Daylight time.

U.S. Farm Income

"According to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), national net farm income—a key
indicator of U.S. farm well-being—is forecast at $91.7 billion in 2012, down $6.5 billion (6.5%) from the record total of $98.1 billion achieved in 2011. Record revenues from crop markets (forecast up 0.7%, from 2011’s record level), coupled with continued strength in livestock markets (down 0.1% from 2011’s record), are expected to be offset a 4% ($12.5 billion) increase in input costs to account for the lower forecast for overall net returns.

The major drivers behind a second year of strong farm income projections are the outlook for near-record U.S. agricultural exports of $132 billion in 2012, following record exports in 2011 (projected at a record $136.3 billion), and continued strong crop prices driven in part by sustained demand from the U.S. corn ethanol industry..."

Household Income Inequality within U.S. Counties: 2006-2010

"Since 1967, U.S. household income inequality has grown 18 percent. Nearly half of that growth occurred during the 1980s. More recently, the growth in income inequality has tapered off.1 Levels of inequality vary across the country. This report presents measures of household income inequality for counties in the United States, based on data pooled from 5 years (2006 to 2010) of American Community Survey (ACS) data..."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

FDA Voice

Keep up with activities of the Food and Drug Administration with the its new blog, g FDA Voice.

Financial Crimes Report to the Public, 2010-2011

Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation on financial crimes.

Rising Gasoline Prices 2012

"Average national gasoline prices have increased by $0.46 to $3.78 per gallon between the end of December 2011 and the end of February 2012. This is $0.20 higher than the 2011 average annual gasoline price of $3.58 per gallon. In the first half of 2011, unrest in the Middle East and North Africa contributed to higher crude oil prices, which pushed gasoline prices higher. In early 2012, tensions with Iran are contributing to rising crude prices, which again are pushing up the price of
gasoline.

Higher gasoline prices burden the budgets of households and businesses. Higher gasoline costs can increase indebtedness or reduce spending on other goods and services. They also yield a windfall for crude oil producers because the rise in gasoline prices is driven primarily by higher crude oil prices. The revenue increase is primarily for crude oil production as opposed to refining; crude oil is a cost for the refining business..."

Gun Control Legislation:

"Congress has debated the efficacy and constitutionality of federal regulation of firearms and ammunition, with strong advocates arguing for and against greater gun control. Since March 2011, much of the gun control debate in the 112th Congress has swirled around allegations that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) mishandled a Phoenix, AZ-based gun trafficking investigation known as “Operation Fast and Furious.” In the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-55),
Congress included a provision that reflects a Senate-adopted amendment that forbids the expenditure of any funding provided under it to be used by a federal law enforcement officer to transfer an operable firearm to a person known or suspected to be connected with a drug cartel without that firearm being continuously monitored or controlled. The act, however, does not include language adopted during House full committee markup to prohibit ATF from collecting multiple rifle sales reports in Southwest border states..."

The Earned Income Tax Credit and Expected Social Security Retirement Benefits Among Low-Income Women

"Expansions in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are associated with increases in formal employment and increases in long-term year-over-year growth in earnings for single mothers. In this study, we examine whether expansions in the EITC are likely to lead to increases in Social Security retirement benefits for less-educated women (those likely to be affected by the EITC) by increasing their employment and earnings when young..."

Asian emissions can increase ground-level ozone pollution in U.S. West

"Springtime air pollution from Asia, swept across the Pacific Ocean on winds, can contribute to episodes of high surface ozone pollution in the western United States, according to a new study by NOAA scientists and academic colleagues.

Several recent studies have shown that powerful spring winds can carry Asian pollution into the atmosphere above North America. The new analysis goes further, using high-resolution models and observations to show how some of the imported pollution can descend to the surface, where it affects ground-level ozone, a regulated pollutant. At high concentrations, ground-level ozone can cause severe respiratory effects in some people, and it damages crops, trees, and other vegetation..."

Friday, March 2, 2012

REGIONAL AND STATE UNEMPLOYMENT —2011 ANNUAL AVERAGES

"In 2011, annual average unemployment rates declined in 48 states and rose in 2 states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment-population ratios decreased in 24 states and the District of Columbia, increased in 19 states, and were unchanged in 7 states. The U.S. jobless rate in 2011 was 8.9 percent, down 0.7 percentage point from the prior year. The national employment-population ratio continued to trend down to 58.4 percent in 2011..."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012 Trade Policy Agenda and 2011 Annual Report.

"The Agenda released today outlines the Obama Administration’s key trade goals for 2012, including: entry into force and implementation of trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama; conclusion of negotiations for a high-standard Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) regional trade agreement; enhanced trade enforcement efforts to investigate unfair trading practices in countries like China and hold our trading partners accountable for their commitments to comply with World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations; extension of permanent normal trade relations to Russia so that American producers can compete on a level playing field as Russia joins the WTO rules-based global trading system; and continued American leadership at the WTO and in other forums toward greater international trade liberalization..."

National Water Trails System

"Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today unveiled the National Water Trails System, a new network that will increase access to water-based outdoor recreation, encourage community stewardship of local waterways, and promote tourism that fuels local economies across America.

Today’s announcement comes in advance of Friday’s White House Conference on Conservation hosted by the Department of the Interior. The conference will spotlight community-driven conservation efforts as part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative..."

Access the National Water Trails System here.

Financial Performance of Major Oil Companies, 2007-2011

"...Over the period 2007 to 2011, oil prices were volatile. They increased to a record peak in 2008, declined rapidly at the end of 2008 and early 2009, and increased through 2010, and remained
high during 2011. The total revenues and net incomes of the five major oil companies followed a
similar pattern. However, the companies’ production of both crude oil and natural gas, their two
key products, remained largely unchanged in the face of volatile prices, suggesting that for these
firms, market price and the production of key products are not closely related..."

Vitamin D

"Vitamin D is a nutrient found in some foods that is needed for health and to maintain strong bones. It does so by helping the body absorb calcium (one of bone's main building blocks) from food and supplements. People who get too little vitamin D may develop soft, thin, and brittle bones, a condition known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults..."

Dental Crisis in America: the Need to Expand Access.

"In the U.S., many people have access to the best oral health care in the world, yet millions are unable to get even the basic dental care they need. Individuals who are low-income or racial or ethnic minorities, pregnant women, older adults, those with special needs, and those who live in rural communities often have a much harder time accessing a dental provider than other groups of Americans. Tooth decay is almost completely preventable, yet when people do not see a dental provider, they do not get the preventive services and early diagnosis and interventions that can halt or slow the progress of most oral diseases. The issue of lack of access to dental care is extremely serious because untreated oral diseases can lead to not only pain, infection, and tooth loss, but also contribute to an increased risk for serious medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and poor birth outcomes..."

International Trade in Environmental Goods, 2012 Report: Losing the Environment Goods Economy to China

"Why a report on the trade of environmental goods?
As more and more nations and citizens embrace environmentally friendly policies and
practices, the demand for environmental goods and services – products and services that
contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable environment – grows. In fact, between 2005
and 2010, the global export market for environmental goods alone doubled and reached an
estimated $298 billion in 2011.."

Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, Annual Statistics (2011)

Find rental and homeowners vacancy rates and homeownership by metropolitan ares, states, and general characteristics.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports (Archive)

"Archived since: Jun, 2008
Description: Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a think tank that provides research reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events. However, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) does not provide direct public access to its reports, nor are they released to the public via the Federal Library Depository Program (FDLP). There are several organizations that collect and give access to subsets of published CRS Reports. This collection attempts to bring all CRS Reports together in one place. For more information on CRS, see the Sunlight Foundations CRS Reports backgrounder (http://bit.ly/CRSReports). Please contact James Jacobs (jrjacobs AT stanford DOT edu) if you know of additional sites hosting CRS reports..."