Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Long-Term Projections for Social Security: Additional Information

"In fiscal year 2014, spending for Social Security benefits totaled $840 billion, or almost one-quarter of federal spending; OASI payments accounted for about 83 percent of those outlays, and DI payments made up about 17 percent.2 Each year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) prepares long-term projections of revenues and outlays for the program. The most recent set of 75-year projections was published in July 2014.3 Those projections generally reflect current law, following CBO’s 10-year baseline budget projections through 2024 and then extending the baseline concept for the rest of the long-term projection period.  This publication presents additional information about those
Social security projections

Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll Summary Report: 2013

"This report presents data on state and local government employment and payroll based on information collected by the 2013 Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll for the month of March. Data are published in tables at the federal, state, and local levels. Tables
describing state- and local-level activities are compiled into national, as well as individual state totals. Employment estimates are available for full- and parttime workers, as well as full-time equivalent employees. Total payroll amounts are also available separately for
full- and part-time employees..."
Public employment

U.S. Immigration Policy: Chart Book of Key Trends

"This report is a chart book of selected immigration trends that touch on the main elements of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Most policymakers agree that the main issues in CIR include increased border security and immigration enforcement, improved employment eligibility verification, revision of legal immigration, and options to address the millions of unauthorized aliens residing in the country. The report offers snapshots of time series data, using the most complete and consistent time series currently available for each statistic. The key findings and elements germane to the data depicted are summarized with the figures. The summary offers the highlights of key immigration trends..." 

The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11

"With enactment of the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act on January 1, 2014 (H.R.
3547/P.L. 113-73), Congress has approved appropriations for the past 13 years of war that total $1.6 trillion for military operations, base support, weapons maintenance, training of Afghan and Iraq security forces, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the war operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks.

Of this $1.6 trillion total, CRS estimates that the total is distributed as follows:
• $686 billion (43%) for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) for Afghanistan and
other counterterror operations received;
• $815 billion (51%) for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn
• $27 billion (2%) for Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security
at military bases; and
• $81 billion (5%) for war-designated funding not considered directly related to the
Afghanistan or Iraq wars.,,: 
Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan and other wars

Third Estimate of GDP for the Third Quarter of 2014

"Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 5.0 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter of 2014—the strongest single quarter since 2003—according to the third estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.While quarterly growth reports are volatile, and some of the growth in Q3 reflected transitory factors, the recent robust growth data indicate a solid underlying trend of recovery. Indeed, the strong growth recorded in each of the last two quarters suggests that the economy has bounced back strongly from the first-quarter decline in GDP, which largely reflected transitory factors like unusually severe winter weather and a sharp slowdown in inventory investment. Consumer spending, business investment, and net exports all remained positive contributors this quarter. Real gross domestic income (GDI), an alternative measure of the overall size of the economy, was up 4.7 percent in Q3..."
GDP 3rd quarter 2014

EPA Tips for Building a Cleaner Fire this Holiday Season

"Across the country this holiday season, families and friends will gather around fires in woodstoves or fireplaces. But how you build that fire – and what you burn – can have a significant impact on air quality and health, both inside your home and out.
Whether you’re using a woodstove, pellet stove, or your fireplace, seeing smoke from your chimney means your fire isn’t burning efficiently or cleanly as it could.
Woodsmoke contains fine particles – also called fine particle pollution or PM2.5 -- which can harm the lungs, blood vessels and heart. People with heart, vascular or lung disease, and older adults and children are more at risk..."
Fire and holidays

Home Safe Home for the Holidays

"Stitches, slings, and crutches are not what most people envision for the holiday season. Unfortunately, for about 200 people a day, decoration-related injuries are a reality this time of year. During November and December, an estimated 13,000 consumers are treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to holiday lights, Christmas trees, ornaments and other decorations. As consumers nationwide gear up to deck out their homes for the holiday season, CPSC is warning of decorating dangers and providing tips for a safe holiday home...."
Home holiday safety

Switching to Farming Made Human Joint Bones Lighter

"Sending more time sitting on our butts isn't just a problem for obesity and heart disease. The shift to a more sedentary lifestyle has probably been bad for our bones, too. A pair of papers published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest that humans evolved lighter joint bones relatively recently in our evolutionary history as a response to changes in physical activity.
One study pinpoints the origin of these weaker bones at the beginning of the Holocene epoch roughly 12,000 years ago, when humans began adopting agriculture. “Modern human skeletons have shifted quite recently towards lighter—more fragile, if you like—bodies. It started when we adopted agriculture. Our diets changed. Our levels of activity changed,” says study co-authorHabiba Chirchir, , an anthropologist in the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program..."
Farming & human joint bones

2013 National Incident-Based Reporting System Statistics

"Today, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program released its third annual compilation of statistics from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), providing expanded data on more than 4.9 million criminal incidents reported to law enforcement in 2013..."
Incident based statistics

Monday, December 22, 2014

Protect Young Children from Burns on Glass Fronts of Gas Fireplaces—Use Protective Barriers

"Protective barriers will be standard on new gas fireplaces starting on January 1.  Make sure to use the barrier.
If you already have a fireplace, buy a protective retrofit barrier to protect your little ones from being burned. Barriers can include attachable safety screens, safety gates and fireplace safety screens like you see below.  If you choose an attachable safety screen, check with your fireplace manufacturer to get the right one for your fireplace. You can buy safety screen barriers at fireplace retailers and hardware stores and purchase safety gates at big box and/or baby product stores..."
Gas fireplace safety

Friday, December 19, 2014

Organic 101: Organic Seeds Are Fundamental Right from the Start

"The fall harvest is in, and organic farmers are already looking forward to planting their spring seedlings.  Organic farmers rely on organic seeds to meet the growing demand for certified organic products. These seeds are essential to the integrity of the supply chain for quality organic food, feed and other products.  All organic producers must use organic seeds, annual seedlings and planting stock unless organic varieties are not commercially available...
To meet the increased demand for organic seeds, the National Organic Program (NOP), part ofUSDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is collaborating and sharing information with the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) and its partner, the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA), to better understand the organic seed market and to help farmers locate seed producers and supplies..."
Organic seeds 

Updated Reverse Mortgage Guide: Two Things You Should Know

"Reverse mortgages are a special type of home equity loan sold to homeowners aged 62 years and older, which are repaid when the borrowers sell the home, move out, or die. It’s a complicated type of loan that works best for homeowners who carefully consider all of their options.
Things to consider
Before borrowing, seniors and their families should consider:
  • The cost of homeowners’ insurance and taxes
  • Plans for staying in the home or leaving it to family members
  • Plans for dependents or others living in the home
  • Alternatives to reverse mortgages.."

Reverse mortgage

EPA Takes Action to Protect Public from Harmful Lead Exposure

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced 62 enforcement actions that require renovation contractors and training providers to protect people from harmful exposure to lead dust and debris, as required by EPA’s Lead-based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) standards. 

The enforcement actions include 55 settlements and six complaints issued between February and October 2014 for renovations performed on pre-1978 homes and child-care facilities. All of the settlements require that the alleged violators certify their compliance with RRP standards and, in most cases, pay civil penalties. In two of the settlements, the violators agreed to fund voluntary lead abatement supplemental environmental projects, which require the removal of lead-based paint and post-construction testing to ensure that no hazardous conditions remain.."
Lead exposure

Presidential Task Force Issues Recommendations to Level Playing Field for U.S. Fishermen

"Earlier today, the U.S. government took additional steps to level the playing field for legitimate U.S. fishermen, and ensure the vitality of marine fish stocks. The Presidential Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud, co-chaired by the Departments of State and Commerce, released 15 recommendations to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud and increase consumer confidence in the sustainability of seafood sold in the U.S...:
Fishermen & fish industry

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell on Senate Confirmation of Dr. Vivek Murthy as U.S. Surgeon General

""I commend the Senate for their vote today and am pleased Dr. Vivek Murthy will become our nation’s next Surgeon General. His clinical, academic and research experience, along with his consistent leadership on public health and prevention in the United States and abroad, are a true testament to his abilities to successfully serve as America’s doctor.  I look forward to working with Dr. Murthy in the days ahead as we promote prevention and wellness and work to support policies and strategies that help Americans maintain and improve their health. Dr. Murthy will lead the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a team of 6,800 officers dedicated to protecting, promoting and advancing the health and safety of our nation.  He will also play a critical role in our work to address other challenges facing our nation’s public health, including our ongoing efforts to reduce obesity and smoking rates and help keep Americans healthy this flu season.”.." 
Surgeon General

The Fraudster Who Faked His Own Death: Inside the Aubrey Lee Price Case

"When a federal judge recently sentenced Aubrey Lee Price to 30 years in prison for bank fraud, embezzlement, and other crimes, it closed a chapter on the once successful businessman’s sensational criminal saga.
Price went from a devout Christian minister and trusted financial adviser to a schemer who wiped out many of his clients’ life savings and then faked his own death to avoid taking responsibility for what he had done. When a routine traffic stop in Georgia resulted in his arrest on New Year’s Eve in 2013—nearly 18 months after his disappearance—Price acknowledged that he had become a drug dealer..."
Aubrey Lee Price

How Do Holiday Lights Work?

"We're getting into the holiday spirit here at the Department of Energy. Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care and we have strings of lights decorating our cubicles. While stringing up lights, I wanted to learn how exactly holiday lights work. Here’s what I discovered.
Note that the primer below applies to incandescent light strands, which have been traditionally used to decorate our homes for the holidays -- and are a great way to learn about the flow of electric current. LED holiday light strands are becoming more popular, due to being sturdier, lasting longer and consuming 70 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strands. It only costs $0.27 to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with LEDs compared to $10 for incandescent lights. Learn more about LED lighting on Energy Saver...:
Holiday lights

Cancer Prevention in the Workplace

"Employers can help reduce workers’ cancer risk by addressing—
  • Harmful exposures in the workplace. Asbestos, diesel exhaust, and radon are examples of harmful substances that may be present in workplace settings. These substances can increase a person’s risk for certain types of cancer and should be eliminated or reduced as much as possible. Smoke from other people’s cigarettes (secondhand smoke)increases cancer risk in workers who don’t use tobacco themselves, and tobacco-free workplace policies can help protect workers. Outdoor workers are often exposed to the sun for long periods of time, which increases their risk for skin cancer. Providing shade and protective gear to outdoor employees can help them stay sun-safe on the job...:
    Cancer & workplace

Raw (Unpasteurized) Milk

"Raw milk can carry harmful germs that can make you very sick or kill you. If you're thinking about drinking raw milk because you believe it has health benefits, consider other options.
Developing a healthy lifestyle requires you to make many decisions. One step you might be thinking about is adding raw milk to your diet. Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized (heating to a specific temperature for a set amount of time to kill harmful germs). Germs include bacteria, viruses, and parasites..."
Raw milk

Hospital-Based Emergency Departments: Background and Policy Considerations

"Hospital-based Emergency Departments (EDs) are required to stabilize patients with emergent conditions regardless of the patients’ ability to pay as a requirement of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Given this requirement, EDs play an important part in the health care safety net by serving the uninsured, the underserved, and those enrolled in Medicaid. Open 24 hours a day, EDs provide emergency care, urgent care, primary care, and behavioral health care services in communities where these services are unavailable or unavailable after hours. EDs also play a key role during emergencies, such as natural disasters..."

Charting a New Course on Cuba

"Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people.  We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba...." 

Small Area Income & Poverty Estimates

"Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) are produced for school districts, counties, and states. The main objective of this program is to provide updated estimates of income and poverty statistics for the administration of federal programs and the allocation of federal funds to local jurisdictions. Estimates for 2013 were released in December 2014. These estimates combine data from administrative records, postcensal population estimates, and the decennial census with direct estimates from the American Community Survey to provide consistent and reliable single-year estimates.."
Small area income

Cinematic Treasures Named to National Film Registry

"The horrors of war, the heroism of sacrifice, a vaudeville pioneer, the devil and a master of the macabre represent the diversity of an elite selection of films recognized for their cultural, historic or aesthetic significance. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced today the annual selection of 25 motion pictures to be named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Selection to the registry will help ensure that these films will be preserved for all time..."
National Film Registry

Work Experience of the Population: 2013

"A total of 157.0 million persons worked at some point during 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over who worked at some time during 2013 was 63.5 percent, little different from 63.8 percent in 2012. The number of persons who experienced some unemployment during 2013 decreased by 1.5 million to 20.9 million..."
Work experience

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Climate Resilience Toolkit

"The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit provides scientific tools, information, and expertise to help people manage their climate-related risks and opportunities, and improve their resilience to extreme events. The site is designed to serve interested citizens, communities, businesses, resource managers, planners, and policy leaders at all levels of government..."
Resilience climate toolkit

Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013

"For the period 1995–2013, females ages 18 to 24 had the highest rate of rape and sexual assault victimizations compared to females in all other age groups. Within the 18 to 24 age group, victims could be identified as students enrolled in a college, university, trade school or vocational school or as nonstudents. Among student victims, 20% of rape and sexual assault victimizations were reported
to police, compared to 32%  reported among nonstudent victims ages 18 to 24.."
Sexual assault and college students

Consumer credit reports: A study of medical and non-medical collections

"Roughly half of all collections tradelines that appear on credit reports are reported by debt
collectors seeking to collect on medical bills claimed to be owed to hospitals and other medical
providers. These medical debt collections tradelines affect the credit reports of nearly one-fifth
of all consumers in the credit reporting system.
This paper describes characteristics of the medical and non-medical collections tradelines on
consumers’ credit reports and the processes by which they appear and disappear. It draws on
analysis of data contained in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Consumer .."
Consumer credit

114th New Member Pictorial Directory

Here are listed pictorial directory of new members of the 114th Congress.
Congressional Pictorial Directory

Legislation to Facilitate Cybersecurity Information Sharing: Economic Analysis

"Data breaches, such as those at Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, and JPMorgan Chase,
affecting financial records of tens of millions of households seem to occur regularly. Companies
typically respond by trying to increase their cybersecurity by hiring consultants and purchasing
new hardware and software. Policy analysts have suggested that sharing information about these
breaches could be an effective and inexpensive part of improving cybersecurity. Firms share
information directly on an ad hoc basis and through private-sector, nonprofit organizations such
as Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) that can analyze and disseminate

Avoid Fetal "Keepsake" Images, Heartbeat Monitors

"Ultrasound imaging is the most widely used medical imaging method during pregnancy.
Fetal ultrasound imaging provides real-time images of the fetus. Doppler fetal ultrasound heartbeat monitors are hand-held ultrasound devices that let you listen to the heartbeat of the fetus. Both are prescription devices designed to be used by trained health care professionals. They are not intended for over-the-counter (OTC) sale or use, and the FDA strongly discourages their use for creating fetal keepsake images and videos..."Heartbeat monitors

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Senate. Select Committee on Intelligence: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency 's Detention and Interrogation Program

"On April 3, 2014, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted to send the
Findings and Conclusions and the Executive Summary of its final Study on the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program to thePresident for declassification and subsequent public release.
This action marked the culmination of a monumental effort that officially began with the Committee's decision to initiate the Study in March 2009, but which had its roots in an investigation into the CIA's destruction of videotapes of CIA detainee interrogations that began in December 2007.." [WARNING. this big report will take time to load]
CIA's detention and interrogation

A Change in Circumstances: Family and Household Transitions and Child Well-Being

"Change is inevitable, but how often things change can matter for the well-being of children. A new report, A Child’s Day: Living Arrangements, Nativity, and Family Transitions: 2011, uses multiyear data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to understand how often children experience family and household transitions.
The new report examines three types of transitions that children potentially face. A family structure transition occurs if the child experienced a change in family structure due to a parent getting married, divorced or cohabiting with a new partner. An employment transition occurs if either parent in the household lost or gained a job. Lastly, a residential transition occurs if the child moved at any point..."Households

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2014 National Population Projections

"The Population Projections Program produces projections of the United States resident population by age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, and nativity. The 2014 National Projections are based on the July 1, 2013 population estimates, which are based on the 2010 Census, and provide projections of the population for July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2060. The projections were produced using a cohort-component method and are based on assumptions about future births, deaths, and net international migration..."
Population projections

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How to NOT Give Your Office Food Poisoning at the Holiday Party

"Tip 1: Keep Hot Food Hot. Hot items are best served immediately after cooking or reheating. If you plan on serving a hot item at the office party, take it straight from the oven and either place it in an insulated bag or hot food carrier. If you can’t serve it as soon as you arrive, return it to the oven. Alternatively, you can completely chill the item and transport it according to Tip 2. Once you arrive at the office reheat it using a microwave, stove, or oven to 165 °F.
Tip 2: Keep Cold Food Cold. Cold items should remain in the refrigerator for as long as possible. When transporting cold dishes, place items in a cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. A refrigerator thermometer in the cooler is a useful way to make sure items remain at proper chill temperature of 40 °F or below.
Tip 4: Use Several Small Platters. For both hot and cold items, arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on large platter. This way you can hold food at safe temperatures (cold foods below 40 °F and hot foods above 140 °F) until partygoers are ready to eat it.
Tip 5: Keep Track of Time. Keep track of how long items have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything out longer than two hours. You never want to leave perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles in the “Danger Zone” over two hours. The danger zone is between 40 and 140 °F where bacteria multiply rapidly. After two hours, enough bacteria may have grown in your food to make partygoers sick. Exceptions to the danger zone include ready-to-eat items like cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruit.."
Holiday parties and food poisioning

New Energy Star Tool for Homeowners to Save Money, Energy This Winter

"Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching its Energy Star Home Advisor, an online tool designed to help Americans save money and energy by improving the energy efficiency of their homes through recommended, customized and prioritized home-improvement projects. 
The updated Energy Star Home Advisor guides the homeowner through a “do-it-yourself” energy assessment to create an Energy Star home profile. Based on the newly created profile, the Home Advisor provides customized, prioritized recommendations for improvements. From these recommendations, users can create their own to-do lists of projects such as adding insulation to the attic or replacing an HVAC air filter.
More on EPA’s Energy Star Home Advisor: www.energystar.gov/homeadvisor .."
Energy Star tool

"Day of Infamy"

Find a copy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's  "Day of Infamy"  delivered on December 8, 1941 to a Joint session of Congress leading to a Declaration of War on the country of Japan following its attack on Pearl Harbor.
Day of Infamy

35 U.S. hospitals designated as Ebola treatment centers

"An increasing number of U.S. hospitals are now equipped to treat patients with Ebola, giving nationwide health system Ebola readiness efforts a boost.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state health officials have identified and designated 35 hospitals with Ebola treatment centers, with more expected in the coming weeks.
Hospitals with Ebola treatment centers have been designated by state health officials to serve as treatment facilities for Ebola patients based on a collaborative decision with local health authorities and the hospital administration..."
Ebola hospitals

Ethanol Market Concentration

"This Report presents the Federal Trade Commission’s (“Commission” or “FTC”)
concentration analysis of the ethanol production industry for 2014.  Section 1501(a)(2) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires the FTC each year to “perform a market concentration analysis of the ethanol production industry using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index to determine whether there is sufficient competition among industry participants to avoid price-setting and other anticompetitive behavior.”  The statute also requires the FTC to consider all marketing arrangements among industry participants in preparing its analysis.3
 The FTC must report its findings to Congress and to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) by December 1..."


Hate Crime Statistics, 2013

"Today, the FBI released its annual Hate Crime Statistics report, which revealed that 5,928 hate crime incidents involving 6,933 offenses were reported by our law enforcement partners to the Bureau’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program in 2013. These hate crime incidents impacted a total of 7,242 victims—which are defined as individuals, businesses, institutions, or society as a whole. The number of reported hate crimes last year is down slightly when compared to 2012 UCR figures—5,928 in 2013 versus the 2012 figure of 6,573..."
Hate Crime
Hate crime

Lead Hazards in Some Holiday Toys

"The holiday season is here, and that means many children will be given toys as gifts. While new toys are a holiday tradition, you  should be aware of potential lead hazards associated with some toys, including toy jewelry. Review these important facts to keep your children safe this holiday season.
Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell. Children may be exposed to it from consumer products by simply handling the product normally. Because children often put toys, other objects, and their fingers in their mouths, they can be exposed when they do this as well..."
Lead inToys

Protect Against Respiratory Syncytial Virus

"Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common virus. It spreads through coughing and sneezing. You can also get RSV by touching surfaces that have RSV on them, then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Most children get RSV by the time they are 2 years old. Healthy children usually experience mild, cold-like symptoms and recover on their own within a week or two. But RSV can cause severe lung infections, including bronchiolitis (infection of small airways in the lungs) and pneumonia. Each year in the United States, 100,000 to 126,000 babies younger than 1 year old are hospitalized due to RSV infection..."
Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Building Trust Between Communities and Local Police

"Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and around the country have grabbed the attention of the nation and the world, and have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities that they protect.
Today, the Administration announced new steps we’re taking to strengthen the relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they are obligated to protect and serve, including:
  • Advancing the use of body worn cameras and promoting proven community policing initiatives
  • Creating a new task force to promote expansion of the community-oriented policing model, which encourages strong relationships between law enforcement and the communities that they serve as a proven method of fighting crime
  • Reforming how the federal government equips state and local law enforcement – particularly with military-style equipment.." 
  • Communities and local-police

Are Today’s Young Adults Better Off Than Their Parents? Yes and No

"Compared with prior generations, young people today, those 18 to 34 years old, are more educated and, in some parts of the country, earn more. However, they are also less likely to be employed and more likely to live in poverty than their counterparts were in 1980..."
Todays young