Friday, January 30, 2015

"Take 3" actions to prevent the flu

"1.  Take time to get a flu vaccine.
 2. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
 3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
flu prevention

Meet the Friendly Virus That Might Actually Be Good For You

"A virus called GB Virus-C has, apparently, infected more than a billion people alive today. But, fortunately, the cost of being infected with this virus is so low that researchers don’t think it causes any illness. In fact, it might stave them off, reports NPR's Richard Harris.

GBV-C infects white blood cells and dampens the body’s immune response. "It's not severe — it's not enough that it makes people immune-suppressed," Jack Stapleton, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa, told NPR, "but it does reduce the inflammatory response of immune cells." The virus can be transmitted sexually, through blood and from an infected mother..."
Friendly virus

Most Wanted Terrorist: Liban Haji Mohamed

"Liban Haji Mohamed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia, has been named to the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists, and a reward of up to $50,000 is being offered for information leading to his arrest and conviction. Mohamed is charged with providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and al Shabaab, a Somali-based terrorist organization..."

Do We Know Why Earnings Fall with Job Displacement

"After being displaced from their jobs, workers experience reduced earnings for many years and
are at greater risks of other problems as well. The ills suffered by displaced workers motivated several recent expansions of government programs, including the unemployment insurance system, and have spurred calls for wage insurance that would provide longer -run earnings replacement. However, while the average size and the individual characteristics associated with the losses are relatively clear, the theory of displacement induced earnings loss is scattered..." 
Earnings and job displacement

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ten IRS Tips to Help You Choose a Tax Preparer

"Many people pay to have their taxes prepared. You need to be careful when you pick a preparer to do your taxes. You are legally responsible for all the information on the tax return even if someone else prepares it. Here are 10 IRS tax tips to help you choose a tax preparer:

Check the preparer’s qualifications.  All paid tax preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. The IRS will soon offer a new Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications on You will be able to use this tool to help you find a tax return preparer with the qualifications that you prefer. The Directory will be a searchable and sortable listing of certain preparers with a valid PTIN for 2015. It will include the name, city, state and zip code of:
  • Attorneys.
  • CPAs.
  • Enrolled Agents.
  • Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents.
  • Enrolled Actuaries. 
  • Annual Filing Season Program participants .."
  • Tax preparers

Percentage of Children living in Owner-Occupied Homes Still Down From Prerecession Levels

"The Census Bureau released its annual “Families and Living Arrangements” table package today, finding that about 20 percent of the nation’s children are receiving food stamps. The economic well-being of households with children declined during the recession, evidenced by a 7 percentage point drop in homeownership in 2014 (from 68 percent in 2007 to 61 percent today) among households with children. Not only is homeownership a key asset and financial investment for many families, it also plays an important role in the stability of children’s lives..."
Children and housing

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Nationwide USDA Organic Survey Underway

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just kicked off the Organic Survey to gather detailed data on U.S. organic agriculture production. The survey is a complete inventory of all known organic producers that are certified, exempt from certification, and transitioning to certified organic production.
Conducted by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Organic Survey is a result of this growing demand for organic agricultural products and data. The survey looks at many aspects of organic agriculture during the 2014 calendar year – from production and marketing practices, to income and expenses. It also focuses on the future of organic production by including producers transitioning to certified organic agriculture..."
Organic survey

A Game Plan to Prevent TV/Furniture Tip-Over Deaths and Injuries

"It is officially Super Bowl season and for many that also translates to TV buying season. Many Americans will buy a new TV specifically for Super Bowl Sunday. As consumers nationwide score deals on TV sales, new research from CPSC suggests that there are some very important steps to take once the new TV is brought home.

CPSC has previously reported that one child dies every two weeks and one consumer is injured every 15 minutes when a piece of furniture or a television falls over onto them. Children will climb anything to reach a wanted item. The results of children climbing on or near furniture and TVs can and have ended in tragedy..."
TV- furniture tip over

Winter Weather Warning: Safeguarding Against CO Poisoning with Portable Generators

"Wicked winter weather over New England has dumped snow and brought high winds to the coastline. This type of weather has also knocked out power in its path.
If you are considering using a gasoline-powered portable generator to temporarily power appliances and heaters to cook and stay warm, you need to know these five facts.

FACT #1: The exhaust from portable generators contains poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) which can kill you and your family in minutes.
FACT #2: NEVER use a portable generator inside your home or garage. Run the generator OUTSIDE ONLY, at least 20 feet from the house and away from your home’s windows and vents to keep those harmful fumes away.
FACT #3: Carbon monoxide is an “invisible killer.” You cannot see or smell it. It can quickly incapacitate and kill you.
FACT #4: Have working CO alarms in your home.  There should be a CO alarm outside each sleeping area and on each level of your home.
FACT #5: If a CO alarm goes off, DO NOT ignore it. Get everyone out of the house and then call 911 and let firefighters handle it..."
Co-poisoning & portable generators

Human Trafficking Ring Dismantled

"For years, five brothers who ran a human trafficking organization victimized dozens of unwitting Ukrainians, underscoring the reality that modern-day slavery exists in the United States and around the world—and requires a strong response by governments and law enforcement.

In recognition of that fact, and to speak out for the victims, January has been declared National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month by the U.S. government. Human trafficking can take many forms, from forced servitude to sexual exploitation of children, and the FBI is fighting these crimes on every front..."
Human trafficking

Tax Havens: International Tax Avoidance and Evasion

"Addressing tax evasion and avoidance through use of tax havens has been the subject of a number

of proposals in Congress and by the President. Actions by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the G-20 industrialized nations also have addressed this issue. In the 111 thCongress, the HIRE Act (P.L. 111-147) included several anti-evasion provisions, and P.L. 111-226 included foreign tax credit provisions directed at perceived abuses by U.S. multinationals. Numerous legislative proposals to address both individual tax evasion and corporate tax avoidance have been advanced..."

Tax havens

Budget and Economic Outlook: 2015-2025

"The federal budget deficit, which has fallen sharply during the past few years, is projected to hold steady relative to the size of the economy through 2018. Beyond that point, however, the gap between spending and revenues is projected to grow, further increasing federal debt relative to the size of the economy—which is already historically high..."
Budget forecasts

Poverty Guidelines: 2015

Find the latest poverty guidelines as reported on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' web site. 
Poverty guidelines

Families and Living Arrangements:2014

Find the latest data on the living arrangement of families, including parents, grandparents, grandchildren, adopted children, and stepchildren..
Families & living arrangement

Monday, January 26, 2015

Check Your Homes for Recalled Lajobi Cribs and Glider Rockers

"In 2010, the Commission issued a new federal safety standard for cribs, banning drop side cribs and ushering in a safer generation of cribs. Drop side cribs are no longer a safe place to have your infant sleep due to a danger of entrapment and suffocation. Repair kits were previously available for some recalled LaJobi products, including drop side cribs. However, LaJobi is no longer in business and repair kits are no longer available for recalled LaJobi products. Any LaJobi-made products that have been recalled should be discarded or destroyed. Most of the product recalls involve cribs, but there is also one recall involving 12 models of a glider..."
Lajobi Cribs

Tax ID Theft Tops FTC Complaints in 2014

"Tax-related identity theft was the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission in 2014, while the number of complaints from consumers about criminals impersonating IRS officials was nearly 24 times more than in 2013, according to FTC statistics released today.

The FTC, along with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the AARP, and other partners are holding a series of events this week designed to educate consumers about these issues as part of Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, which begins today and runs through Jan. 30..."
Tax identity theft

Crime in the United States, Jan. -June 2014

"Figures released today in the FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report reveal overall declines in the number of violent crimes and property crimes reported to law enforcement during the first six months of 2014 when compared to figures from the first six months of 2013.

Violent crimes reported for January through June of 2014 were down 4.6 percent from the same time period in 2013. All of the offenses in the violent crime category—murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery—showed decreases. And the number of property crimes during the same time period decreased 7.5 percent, with all three offenses—burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft—showing declines..."
Crime statistics

Saturday, January 24, 2015

These Rare Photos of the Selma March Place You in the Thick of History

"James Barker was a technical photographer, working with Washington State University's Division of Industrial Research in Pullman, Washington, when he received an unexpected phone call from a colleague: the university had pulled emergency funds together to send three representatives to Selma, Alabama, in anticipation of the third march organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The WSU group would join tens of thousands of others from around the country, compelled to join King and civil rights marchers after the violent outcome of the first march, dubbed Bloody Sunday, had left 17 marchers injured at the hands of state and local police
Selma march photos

Parents: Tips To Help Your Child Complete the FAFSA

"If you’re a parent of a college-bound child, the financial aid process can seem a bit overwhelming.  Who’s considered the parent? Who do you include in household size?  How do assets and tax filing fit into the process? Does this have to be done every year?  Here are some common questions that parents have when helping their children prepare for and pay for college or career school.." 
FAFSA -student loans

America Has a Tiger Problem And No One’s Sure How to Solve It

"Conservationists estimate that about 3,200 wild tigers remain around the world, while there are some 5,000 tigers in captivity in the U.S., according to the World Wildlife Fund. Even that number is probably low, says Carole Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary in Tampa, Florida, because reporting is “based on the honor system, and we’re dealing with a lot of people that are really dishonorable.” Edward J. Grace, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s deputy assistant director for law enforcement, estimates that the nation is home to more than 10,000 captive tigers. Only about 350 of those, says the WWF, are held in facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums..."


Is Orange Juice More Nutritious?

"Call it fruit essentialism: it’s common knowledge that fruit juice is less nutritious than just eating the piece of fruit itself. Or is it? New research is reviving this debate—about drinking orange juice, at least.
NPR’s Maria Godoy reports on a new study that goes against the common assumption that sugary, fiber-free juice isn’t nutritious. When a team of Saudi and German scientists looked at different ways of consuming oranges, whether whole, pulpy or juiced, they noticed significant similarities no matter what the form..."
Orange juice -nutrition

Types of insulation

"When insulating your home, you can choose from many types of insulation. To choose the best type of insulation, you should first determine the following:
  • Where you want or need to install/add insulation
  • The recommended R-values for areas you want to insulate.

Installing Insulation

The maximum thermal performance or R-value of insulation is very dependent on proper installation. Homeowners can install some types of insulation -- notably blankets and materials that can be poured in place. Other types require professional installation.."

Population and Housing Units: 2014

"The Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program (PEP) produces estimates of the population for the United States, its states, counties, cities, and towns, as well as for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its municipios..."
Population and Housing: 2014

Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2015 to 2024

"Nuclear weapons have been a cornerstone of U.S. national security since they were developed during World War II. During the Cold War, nuclear forces were central to U.S. defense policy, resulting in the buildup of a large arsenal. Since that time, they have figured less prominently than
conventional forces, and the United States has not built any new nuclear weapons or delivery systems for many year..."

Nuclear forces cost

Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations

"This report provides an overview and analysis of U.S.-Yemeni relations amidst evolving political
change in Yemeni leadership, ongoing U.S. counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in Yemen’s hinterlands, and international efforts to bolster the country’s stability despite an array of daunting socio-economic problems. Along with determining how best to counter terrorist threats emanating from Yemen, Congress and U.S. policy makers also may consider the priority level and resources that should be accorded to
attempts to stabilize Yemen and to establish and maintain strong bilateral relations with Yemeni leaders..."


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Spending and Policy Options

"Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federal program that provides cash assistance, work support, and other services to some low-income families. The cash assistance is generally limited to families with income well below the poverty threshold and few assets; it goes to roughly 2 million families per month, most of them headed by single mothers. The work support (such
as subsidized child care) and the other services (such as initiatives to reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies and promote marriage) are usually available to families with income up to twice the poverty threshold..."

Needy families

Worker’s expectations about losing and replacing their jobs: 35 years of change

"Workers were less secure about retaining their jobs in 2010 and 2012 than in 1977 and 1978; they also were less secure about the ease with which they would find a comparable job if they were separated. As might be expected, the two measures of job security track unemployment, although other factors certainly play a role as well..."
Workers and jobs

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

EPA Releases 2013 Toxics Release Inventory National Analysis

"From 2012 to 2013, the amount of toxic chemicals managed as waste by the nation's industrial facilities increased by 4 percent. This increase includes the amount of chemicals recycled, treated, and burned for energy recovery, as well as the amount disposed of or otherwise released into the environment. In TRI, a "release" generally refers to a chemical that is emitted to the air, water, or placed in some type of land disposal. Most of these releases are subject to a variety of regulatory requirements designed to limit human and environmental harm..."
Toxics relese inventory

EPA Urges Home Radon Testing/Protect Your Family from Lung Cancer Caused by Exposure to Radon in Your Home

"In recognizing January as National Radon Action Month, EPA encourages Americans around the country to test their homes for this naturally occurring radioactive gas and make 2015 a healthier, safer new year.

“Many people don’t realize that radon is the second cause of lung cancer after smoking,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The good news is radon exposure is preventable. Testing and fixing for radon will save thousands of lives, prevent burdensome health care costs, and make America’s homes and schools safer for future generations.”

Each year about 21,000 Americans die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon. Testing is the only way to know if a home has elevated levels of radon. The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend taking action to reduce the radon level if it’s at or above 4 picocuries per Liter (pCi/L) of air.
Affordable do-it-yourself radon test kits are available online, at many home improvement and hardware stores, or you can hire a qualified radon professional..."


USDA Proposes New Measures to Reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in Poultry Products

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today proposed new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products as well as raw chicken breasts, legs and wings. Development of these new standards is a major step in FSIS' Salmonella Action Plan, launched in December 2013 to reduce Salmonella illnesses from meat and poultry products..."

Ransomware on the Rise

"Your computer screen freezes with a pop-up message—supposedly from the FBI or another federal agency—saying that because you violated some sort of federal law your computer will remain locked until you pay a fine. Or you get a pop-up message telling you that your personal files have been encrypted and you have to pay to get the key needed decrypt them.
These scenarios are examples of ransomware scams, which involve a type of malware that infects computers and restricts users’ access to their files or threatens the permanent destruction of their information unless a ransom—anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars—is paid..."

Furnaces and boilers

"Most U.S. homes are heated with either furnaces or boilers. Furnaces heat air and distribute the heated air through the house using ducts. Boilers heat water, and provide either hot water or steam for heating. Steam is distributed via pipes to steam radiators, and hot water can be distributed via baseboard radiators or radiant floor systems, or can heat air via a coil. Steam boilers operate at a higher temperature than hot water boilers, and are inherently less efficient, but high-efficiency versions of all types of furnaces and boilers are currently available. To learn more about furnaces, boilers and other types of home heating systems, explore our Energy Saver 101 infographic on home heating..."
Energy efficiency:Furnaces-and-boilers

Improving Surveillance

"Chronic diseases represent seven of the top 10 deaths in the United States. The Chronic Disease Indicators (CDI) website is the only integrated source for comprehensive access to a wide range of key indicators for the surveillance of chronic diseases, conditions, and risk factors. The redesigned and more user-friendly website also provides an online tool for users to compare data on the prevalence of chronic diseases in 40 large metropolitan areas, as well as at state and national levels. You can view the newly designed and updated site at"
Chronic disease

Scarlet Fever

"Scarlet fever – or scarlatina – is a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus or "group A strep." This illness affects a small percentage of people who have strep throat or, less commonly, streptococcal skin infections. Scarlet fever is treatable with antibiotics and usually is a mild illness, but it needs to be treated to prevent rare but serious long-term health problems. Treatment with antibiotics also helps clear up symptoms faster and reduces spread to other people..."
Scarlet Fever

Prompt Use of Antivirals is Key this Flu Season

"Influenza activity in the United States is widespread and likely to continue for weeks. Read more about what physicians can do.
A report published in the January 16th edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) estimates that this season’s flu vaccine reduced a person’s risk of going to the doctor because of flu by 23 percent for all ages..."

Antivirals and flu

A Simpler, Fairer Tax Code That Responsibly Invests in Middle Class Families

"Middle class families today bear too much of the tax burden because of unfair loopholes that are only available to the wealthy and big corporations. In his State of the Union address, the President will outline his plan to simplify our complex tax code for individuals, make it fairer by eliminating some of the biggest loopholes, and use the savings to responsibly pay for the investments we need to help middle class families get ahead and grow the economy.

The President will put forward reforms that include eliminating the biggest loophole that lets the wealthiest avoid paying their fair share of taxes..":

State of the Union fact sheet

African American History Month: 2015

"To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. Each year, U.S. presidents proclaim February as National African-American History Month..."
African Americn History

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Report of U.S. -Russia Relations.

"In September  2013,  the Under Secretary of State for International Security and Arms Control asked the International Security Advisory Board to review current and future U.S. – Russian relations, especially with a view toward finding opportunities to improve strategic stability and U.S. national security. With progress on arms control stalled, the Board was to seek other opportunities for engagement that might build a stronger relationship and thus contribute to strategic stability in the broadest sense. We interprete d our task as placing special emphasis on steps that could be taken during the remainder of the Obama Administration.."

Russia-U.S. relations


"PubAg is a portal to USDA-authored and other highly relevant agricultural research. At launch it delivers over 40,000 full-text journal articles by USDA staff and citations to an additional 340,000 articles. The initial release also previews its directions for intended functionality and will serve as the foundation for further enhancements..."


Educational Attainment in the United States: 2014

"Educational attainment refers to the highest level of education that an individual has completed. This is distinct from the level of schooling that an individual is attending. See the School Enrollment Web site for information on current attendance.
Data on educational attainment are derived from a single question that asks, "What is the highest grade of school...has completed, or the highest degree...has received?" This question was first implemented in the 1990 Decennial Census and changed in the Current Population Survey in 1992. Prior to this, respondents were asked a two-part question that asked respondents to report the highest grade they had attended, and whether or not they had completed that grade. For more information on the implementation of this change and its effects on the data see the report Measuring Education in the Current Population Survey [PDF - 859k] (Kominski and Siegel, 1993)..."
Education statistics

Friday, January 16, 2015

K a z a k h s t a n Country Analysis Brief, Report, 2015

"Kazakhstan, an oil producer since 1911, has the second-largest oil reserves as well as the second-largest oil production among the former Soviet republics after Russia.
  • KazMunaiGas, Kazakhstan's national oil company, has played an increasingly important role in the country's oil and natural gas sector.
  • Kazakhstan's two largest projects, Tengiz and Karachaganak, accounted for around half of the country's 1.70 million bbl/d total petroleum liquids production in 2014.
  • Kazakhstan's largest petroleum liquids fields also contain substantial volumes of natural gas, most of which is reinjected into oil wells to improve oil recovery rates.
  • In 2012, coal accounted for 63% of Kazakhstan's total energy consumption.
  • Most of Kazakhstan's power generation comes from coal-fired power plants, concentrated in the north of the country near the coal-producing regions..." 
  • Kazakhstan

China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues

"Congress has long been concerned about whether policy advances the U.S. interest in reducing
the role of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missiles that could deliver them. Recipients of PRC technology included Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran. This CRS Report, updated through the 113th Congress, discusses the security problem of China’s role in weapons proliferation and issues related to the U.S. policy response since the mid-1990s. China has taken some steps to mollify U.S. and other foreign concerns about its role in weapons proliferation. Nonetheless, supplies from China have aggravated trends that result in ambiguous t echnical aid, more indigenous capabilities, longer-range missiles, and secondary (retransferred) proliferation. Unclassified intelligence reports told Congress that China was a “key supplier” of technology, particularly with PRC entities providing nuclear and missile-related technology to Pakistan and missile-related technology to Iran..."
China and weapons

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Alibaba Group and CPSC Working Together On Consumer Safety

Last November, Chairman Elliot F. Kaye made national headlines for urging certain online sites to take far greater responsibility for preventing the sale of dangerous, recalled consumer products on or through their sites. Today, the Chairman announced a ground-breaking voluntary consumer safety collaboration between the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Alibaba Group Holding Limited, the largest online and mobile commerce company in the world.
Under the arrangement, Alibaba Group has established a direct line of contact for CPSC. The company has pledged to work swiftly with CPSC on requests to block sales of illegal and recalled consumer products to U.S. buyers on Alibaba Group platforms.  Product safety information for U.S. importers will also be available on Alibaba Group platforms in the coming days..."
Alibaba and consumers

Congressional Careers: Service Tenure and Patterns of Member Service, 1789-2015

"The average service tenure of Members of the Senate and House of Representatives has varied
substantially since 1789. This report presents data on Member tenure and a historical analysis of tenure trends. During the 19thcentury, the average service of Representatives and Senators remained roughly constant, with little or no change over time; the average years of service was slightly higher for the first half of the century than during the second. During the late 19th and through the 20th century, the average years of service for Senators steadily increased, from an average of just under five years in the early 1880s to an average of just over 13 years in recent Congresses.
Similarly, the average years of service of Representatives increased from just over four years in the first two Congresses of the 20th century to an average of approximately 10 years in the three most recent Congresses.."


Monday, January 12, 2015

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

"No woman should die of cervical cancer. The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 21.

Cervical cancer is highly preventable with regular screening tests and appropriate follow-up care. It also can be cured when found early and treated. Cervical cancer is almost always caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Vaccines are available to protect against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical cancer..."

Cervical cancer

Avoid Harmful Substances

"In honor of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, make a PACT to get healthy, physically and mentally, before and during pregnancy to increase your chances of having a healthy baby. Avoiding harmful home and workplace exposures is one important step.
Women can lower their risk of having a baby born with a birth defect by following some basic health guidelines throughout their reproductive years. This is important because many birth defects happen very early during pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. For this year's National Birth Defects Prevention Month, we encourage all women and their loved ones to make a PACT for prevention..."
Pregnancy and Eating

Test Your Home for Radon

"Testing is the only way to know if radon levels are high in your home. Read how CDC’s Tracking Programs are improving radon exposure maps to inform testing in their states and find out more information about testing your home for radon.

Tracking Radon Exposure Risks

Radon is a gas that you cannot see, smell, or taste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon causes about 20,000 cases of lung cancer each year, making it the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon can seep up from the ground and become trapped in buildings. The EPA recommends taking action to reduce radon in buildings that have a radon level at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air. Testing is the only way to know if radon levels are high in a particular home or office.."


Saturday, January 10, 2015

USDA Observes Kick Off of the International Year of Soils

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today begins its celebration of the International Year of SoilsThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. to highlight the importance of healthy soils for food security, ecosystem functions and resilient farms and ranches.
"Healthy soil is the foundation that ensures working farms and ranches become more productive, resilient to climate change and better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during an event today at USDA headquarters. "We join the world in celebrating this living and life-giving resource."
With an increasing global population, a shrinking agricultural land base, climate change and extreme weather events, the nations of the world are focusing their collective attention to the primary resource essential to food production-the soil. The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), working within the framework of the Global Soil PartnershipThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website., spearheaded the adoption of a resolution by the UN General Assembly designating 2015 as the International Year of Soils. The year of awareness aims to increase global understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions..."

International Year of Soil

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Consumer Help Center

Find answers to consumer telecommunications problems at the newly created FCC Consumer Help Center.
FCC - Consumer Help

Alcohol Poisoning Deaths

"On average, 6 people died every day from alcohol poisoning in the US from 2010 to 2012. Alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short period of time. Very high levels of alcohol in the body can shutdown critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature, resulting in death. Alcohol poisoning deaths affect people of all ages but are most common among middle-aged adults and men..."
Alcohol poisoning

CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Congressional Oversight Manual

"The Congressional Research Service (CRS) developed the Congressional Oversight Manual
over 30 years ago, following a three-day December 1978 Workshop on Congressional Oversight and Investigations. The workshop was organized by a group of House and Senate committee aides from both parties and CRS at the request of the bipartisan House leadership. The Manual was produced by CRS with the assistance of a number of House committee staffers. In subsequent
years, CRS has sponsored and conducted various oversight seminars for House and Senate staff and updated the Manual as circumstances warranted..."

congressional oversight

Human-Induced Earthquakes from Deep-Well Injection: A Brief Overview

"The development of unconventional oil and natural gas resources using horizontal drilling and
hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has created new demand for wastewater disposal wells that inject waste fluids into deep geologic strata. An increasing concern in the United States is that injection of these fluids may be responsible for increasing rates of seismic activity. The number of earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater in the central and eastern United States has increased dramatically since about 2009, from an average of approximately 20 per year between 1970 and 2000 to over 100 per year in the period 2010-2013. Some of these earthquakes may be felt at the surface. For example, 20 earthquakes of magnitudes 4.0 to 4.8 have struck central Oklahoma since 2009..."

Earthquakes and drilling

The Political Question Doctrine: Justiciability and the Separation of Powers

"Article III of the Constitution restricts the jurisdiction of federal courts to deciding actual “Cases”
and “Controversies.” The Supreme Court has articulated several “justiciability” doctrines emanating from Article III that restrict when federal courts will adjudicate disputes. One justiciability concept is the political question doctrine, according to which federal courts will not adjudicate certain controversies because their resolution is more proper within the political branches. Because of the potential implications for the separation of powers when courts decline
to adjudicate certain issues, application of the political question doctrine has sparked controversy. Because there is no precise test for when a court should find a political question, however, understanding exactly when the doctrine applies can be difficult..."
Courts and separation of powers

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Safety Standards to Keep your New Baby Safer in the New Year

"Expecting a new baby in the New Year? Overwhelmed with where to begin? Well, there is exciting news about nursery products. Over the past few years the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has strengthened nursery product standards to ensure safer products in the marketplace..."
Safe babies

Departments of State, Homeland Security Launch Executive Action on Immigration: Know the Facts Awareness Campaign

"The Department of Homeland Security and Department of State have launched the next stage of an aggressive campaign to make clear the national security, border security, and public safety priorities that are now in effect, and to clarify the criteria for filing requests for deferred action under the Executive Actions recently announced by President Obama.
The next phase of the campaign is the launch of “Executive Action on Immigration: Know the Facts” awareness campaign, a national and international outreach effort detailing the eligibility requirements for requesting deferred action under the President’s announcement. The campaign, aimed at the Mexican and Central American public, explains how “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents” (DAPA) will be implemented and who is eligible in an effort to dispel potential misinformation..."

Executive action and immigration

Cancer, the Flu, and You

"Living with cancer increases your risk for complications from influenza ("flu"). If you have cancer now or have had cancer in the past, you are at higher risk for complications from the seasonal flu or influenza, including hospitalization and death.
Get Your Flu Shot!
People with cancer or a history of cancer, and people who live with or care for cancer patients and survivors, should get a seasonal flu shot. People with cancer should NOT get the nasal spray vaccine. The flu shot is made up of inactivated (killed) viruses, and the nasal spray vaccine is made up of live viruses. The flu shot is safer for those with a weakened immune system..."

Cancer and flu

Folic Acid & Birth Defects

" Folic acid is a B vitamin. It is an important part of preconception health, which refers to the health of women and men during their reproductive years. If a woman consumes the recommended amount of folic acid before and during early pregnancy, it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby's brain (known as anencephaly) and spine (known as spina bifida). Anencephaly is a serious birth defect in which parts of a baby's brain and skull do not form correctly. Babies born with anencephaly cannot survive. Spina bifida is a serious birth defect in which a baby's spine does not develop correctly, and can result in some severe physical disabilities. All women, but especially those who want to become pregnant, need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day..."
Folic acid benefits

Flu-Free, Healthy Travel this Winter

"Whether traveling to warmer weather or a snow-filled adventure, make sure the flu is not your travel companion. Get a flu vaccine if you haven’t already done so. It takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to provide protection, so get vaccinated well before your trip to reduce your risk of catching and spreading the flu..."
Winter Travel