Friday, August 28, 2015

ISIL and Antiquities Trafficking

"The FBI is alerting art collectors and dealers to be particularly careful trading Near Eastern antiquities, warning that artifacts plundered by terrorist organizations such as ISIL are entering the marketplace.
“We now have credible reports that U.S. persons have been offered cultural property that appears to have been removed from Syria and Iraq recently,” said Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, manager of the FBI’s Art Theft Program.
The Bureau is asking U.S. art and antiquities market leaders to spread the word that preventing illegally obtained artifacts from reaching the market helps stem the transfer of funds to terrorists.
In a single-page document titled ISIL Antiquities Trafficking, the FBI asks leaders in the field to disseminate the following message:
  • Please be cautious when purchasing items from this region. Keep in mind that antiquities from Iraq remain subject to Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions under the Iraq Stabilization and Insurgency Sanctions Regulations (31 CFR part 576).
  • Purchasing an object looted and/or sold by the Islamic State may provide financial support to a terrorist organization and could be prosecuted under 18 USC 233A.
  • Robust due diligence is necessary when purchasing any Syrian or Iraqi antiquities or other cultural property in the U.S. or when purchasing elsewhere using U.S. funds..."
    ISIL

Keeping Children Safe

"School is back in session. As you stock up on pencils, take first-day pictures, and adjust to new bus schedules, take a few, quick steps that can keep your child safer during an emergency.
January 15, 2015. A water main break near Atlanta, Georgia cuts off water pressure to 12 schools. With no water to drink or to use to flush toilets, some schools close early while others bus their students to nearby schools with working bathrooms. Parents rush to keep up with notifications on when and where to pick up their children. If this were to happen in your neighborhood, would you know what to do and where to go?
From tornadoes to water main breaks, emergencies can occur with little or no warning—even during the school day. As children head back to school, take a few steps to help protect your child from an emergency and to reunite with your child quickly and safely..."
Children and safety

The Intelligence Community and Its Use of Contractors: Congressional Oversight Issues

"Contractors have been and are an integral part of the intelligence community’s (IC’s) total workforce (which also includes federal employees and military personnel). Yet questions have been raised regarding how they are used, and the size and cost of the contractor component. Of particular interest are core contract personnel, who provide direct technical, managerial, and administrative support to agency staff. Examples of these types of support are collection and operations, analysis and production, and enterprise information and technology. The use of core contract personnel enables the IC to meet its needs, which may involve obtaining unique expertise or surge support for a particular mission, or augmenting insufficient in-house resources.

The IC has undertaken the following initiatives designed, or used, to track contractors or contractor employees:
  The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), through Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 612 (dated October 30, 2009), requires the IC elements to provide inventories of their core contract personnel to the Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Human Capital (also known as the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO, or ADNI/CHCO)).
 Section 305(a) of P.L. 111-259, Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for FY2010, directs each IC component to provide estimates of the number and costs of core contract personnel for the upcoming fiscal year to ODNI.
 Section 339 of P.L. 111-259also contained a one-time requirement for the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to report to the intelligence committees and the armed services committees on the IC’s use of personal services contracts..."
National Intelligence and contractors

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Federal Aggravated Identity Theft

"Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for two years or by imprisonment for five years if it relates to a terrorism offense. At least thus far, the government has rarely prosecuted the five-year terrorism form of the offense. The two-year offense occurs when an individual knowingly possesses, uses, or transfers the means of identification of another person, without lawful authority to do so, during and in relation to one of more than 60 predicate federal felony offenses (18 U.S.C. 1028A). Section 1028A has the effect of establishing a mandatory minimum sentence for those predicate felony offenses, when they involve identity theft.

A sentencing court has the discretion not to “stack” or pancake multiple aggravated identity theft counts and, as with other mandatory minimums, may impose a sentence of less than the mandatory minimum at the request of the prosecution based on the defendant’s substantial assistance.

More than half of the judges responding to a United States Sentence Commission survey felt the two-year mandatory minimum penalty was generally appropriate. The Commission’s report on mandatory minimum sentencing statutes is mildly complimentary of the provision.."
Minimum sentencing

The Effectiveness of the Community Reinvestment Act

"This report informs the congressional debate concerning the CRA’s effectiveness in incentivizing bank lending and investment activity to LMI borrowers. After a discussion of the CRA’s origins, it presents the CRA’s examination process and bank activities that are eligible for consideration of CRA credits. Next, it discusses the difficulty of determining the CRA’s influence on bank behavior. For example, it could be argued that, by encouraging lending in LMI neighborhoods, the CRA may also encourage the issuance of higher-risk loans. Regulators, however, generally do not award CRA credits for payday and most subprime (nontraditional mortgage) loans, even if these loans originated in LMI areas. This regulatory practice suggests the CRA has little or no influence on higher-risk lending. In addition, banks face a variety of financial incentives (e.g., capital requirements, the current interest rate environment, consumer credit demand, and consumer credit history) that influence how much (or how little) they lend to LMI borrowers. Because financial and CRA incentives concurrently exist, it is difficult to separate how much influence should be attributed solely to the CRA. Furthermore, compliance with CRA does not require adherence to lending quotas or benchmarks. In the absence of benchmarks, determining the extent to which CRA incentives have influenced LMI credit availability relative to other factors is not straightforward..."
Community Reinvestment Act

NOAA’s new Climate Science Strategy aims to reduce effects of climate change on fisheries and living marine resources

"“NOAA just announced that for the globe the month of July — and actually, the entire year so far — was the warmest ever recorded, driven largely by record warm ocean temperatures,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries.“ Those warmer waters – along with rising seas, coastal droughts and ocean acidification – are already putting people, businesses, and communities at risk. With this strategy, we’re taking a proactive approach in providing information on current and future conditions to try and reduce impacts and increase our resilience.”

The NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy identifies seven key steps to increase production, delivery, and use of climate-related information to support the management of fish stocks, fisheries, and protected species. The steps focus on how a changing climate affects living marine resources, ecosystems, and the communities that depend on them, and how to respond to those changes..."
NOAA & Climate Change

An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2015 to 2025

"According to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates, this year’s deficit will be noticeably smaller than what the agency projected in March, and fiscal year 2015 will mark the sixth consecutive year in which the deficit has declined as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) since it peaked in 2009. Over the next 10 years, however, the budget outlook remains much the same as CBO described earlier this year: If current laws generally remain unchanged, within a few years the deficit will begin to rise again relative to GDP, and by 2025, debt held by the public will be higher relative to the size of the economy than it is now..."
Federal budget

Federal Debt and the Statutory Limit, August 2015

"The debt limit—commonly referred to as the debt ceiling—is the maximum amount of debt that the Department of the Treasury can issue to the public and to other federal agencies. That amount is set by law and has been increased over the years in order to finance the government’s operations. In March, the debt ceiling was reached, and the Secretary of the Treasury announced a “debt issuance suspension period.” During such a period, existing statutes allow the Treasury to take a number of “extraordinary measures” to borrow additional funds without breaching the debt ceiling. The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the debt limit remains unchanged, those measures will be exhausted and the Treasury will run out of cash between mid-November and early December.1 At such time, the government would be unable to fully pay its obligations, a development that would lead to delays of payments for government activities, a default on the government’s debt obligations, or both..."
Federal debt

Quarterly and Mean Monthly Personal, Family and Household Income by Selected Characteristics

Find personal, family, and household income by selected characteristics for the First Quarter of 2013.
Family and household income

National, State, and Selected Local Area Vaccination Coverage Among Children Aged 19–35 Months — United States, 2014

"The reduction in morbidity and mortality associated with vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States has been described as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the first decade of the 21st century (1). A recent analysis concluded that routine childhood vaccination will prevent 322 million cases of disease and about 732,000 early deaths among children born during 1994–2013, for a net societal cost savings of $1.38 trillion (2). The National Immunization Survey (NIS) has monitored vaccination coverage among U.S. children aged 19–35 months since 1994 (3). This report presents national, regional, state, and selected local area vaccination coverage estimates for children born from January 2011 through May 2013, based on data from the 2014 NIS. For most vaccinations, there was no significant change in coverage between 2013 and 2014..."
Vaccination coverage

Monday, August 24, 2015

These Maps Show the Severe Impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans

"In late August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina barreled across the Gulf of Mexico and onto the southeastern United States, unleashing a fury of destruction in its wake. People around the world watched as the densely populated city of New Orleans endured catastrophic damage, a devastating combination of natural fury and human error. Today, following ten years of rebuilding, reshaping and development gone by, the Big Easy is a changed city. The maps in the above interactive explore the shifts that have taken place in this transformative decade.
When Katrina made landfall at 6:10 am CDT on August 29, it brought along with it 130-miles-per-hour winds, 10 to 12 inches of rainfall, and a storm surge approaching 30 feet. At that point, it was a Category 3 hurricane; the city’s levees, which were in disrepair and ill-suited to withstand the storm, collapsed under the pressure of heavy winds and rains. Water from the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Pontchartrain gushed into the Crescent City. At one point 80 percent of New Orleans, where the average elevation is six feet below sea level, was flooded. Some places were submerged in 10 feet of water..."
Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Reaching and Educating Minority Teen Mothers Online with eBaby4U

"Mothers want what is best fo rtheir children, no matter the age of the mother and child. But what happens when teenage or socially disadvantaged mothers do not have the life experience or access to education to make the most informed decision?

eBaby4U, a digital program run through Mississippi State University (MSU), is designed specifically to inform and support African-American teen mothers through an approach  that is second-nature to youth: finding information online..."
Minority teen mothers

U.S. Minority-Owned Firms Continue to Outpace Growth of Nonminority-Owned Firms

"Earlier this week, the U.S. Census Bureau released preliminary results from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) and minority-owned businesses continue to grow significantly faster than nonminority-owned businesses. The number of minority business enterprises (MBEs) increased 39 percent between 2007 and 2012 from 5.8 million to 8.0 million), or more than three times faster than population growth among minorities. Employment at minority-owned firms increased 33 percent to 7.7 million jobs, while gross receipts were up 53 percent from 2007. In contrast, the number of non-minority firms shrank by five percent between 2007 and 2012.  Employment at nonminority firms increased seven percent, or less than one-fourth as fast as in MBEs and receipts in nonminority firms increased 27 percent or half as fast as in MBEs..." 
Minority-owned-firms

FTC Staff Comment: FDA Should Reevaluate Its Current Regulatory Framework for Homeopathic Products

"The staff of the Federal Trade Commission has recommended that the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationreconsider the framework it uses to regulate homeopathic medications because it may appear to conflict with the FTC’s advertising substantiation doctrine in ways that could harm consumers and cause confusion for advertisers.
In a comment submitted to the FDA, the FTC staff states that the FDA should consider amending or repealing its framework for homeopathic medications. The comment was submitted in response to an FDA request for public comment in connection with an April 2015 FDA hearing on this issue.
The staff comment notes that the FDA’s regulatory framework for homeopathic drugs, set forth in a 1988 Compliance Policy Guide, does not require that over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic drugs be approved by FDA as safe and effective if they satisfy certain conditions, including that the product’s label contains an indication for use. Yet the policy guide does not require sellers to have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the indication for use..."
Homeopathic products

Hurricane Readiness

"If you live in coastal areas at risk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages you to prepare for hurricane season. The Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 through November 30 each year.
Please follow these important hurricane readiness tips from CDC:  

Adults Need Vaccines, Too

"Vaccines are not just for kids! Regardless of age, we all need immunizations to protect against serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases. Protection from vaccines you received as a child can wear off over time, and you may be at risk for new and different diseases.

Find Out Which Vaccines Are Recommended For You

The specific vaccines you need as an adult are determined by factors such as your age, job, lifestyle, health conditions, locations of travel, and vaccines you’ve received in the past. Throughout your adult life, vaccines are recommended to get and maintain protection against:

West Nile Virus

"Summertime means mosquitoes and West Nile virus season. An infected mosquito bite can make you or a family member sick with West Nile virus. Stay healthy this summer. Avoid mosquito bites, especially from dusk (evening) to dawn (morning) when the mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus are most active.

How many people get sick with West Nile virus?

Nearly 42,000 cases of West Nile virus disease have been reported in the United States since 1999. Of those, nearly 19,000 people have had neurologic disease (infections of the brain or spinal cord) and more than 1,700 people have died. Many more cases of illness are not reported to CDC. Since 1999, an estimated 700,000 people in the United States have become ill due to West Nile virus infection..."
West nile virus

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Path a Book Takes

"Between the time a book is published and a library user reads it, as many as a dozen Library staff members will have handled the volume. They will have made a series of crucial decisions about its acquisition for the collection, analyzed and described it in the Library of Congress Online Catalog and preserved and shelved it so it can be made accessible to readers.To track the path a book takes from arrival to the reading room, we will follow “Crónicas Cuauhtemenses” by Rodolfo Torres González, a volume received from the Mexican book dealer México Norte..."
Books and Library of Congress

Who Drives to Work? Commuting by Automobile in the United States: 2013

"The automobile has played a fundamental role in shaping where we live and how we get around. It has influenced the form and density of our communities and expanded the geographic range of daily travel. Nationally, the private automobile is the predominant form of transportation for work and other travel purposes.1 In 2013, about 86 percent of all workers commuted to work by private vehicle, either driving alone or carpooling (Figure 1). In recent years, the percentage of workers who commute by private vehicle remained relatively stable after decades of consistent increase. For several individual years since the mid-2000s, the average number of vehicle miles traveled in the United States has either increased at a slower pace than in previous decades or declined.2, 3, 4 Although such shifts in travel behavior are slight, they have captured attention because they represent a disruption in an unequivocal, decades-long pattern of increased automobile travel..."
Driving to work

Coalition Contributions to Countering the Islamic State

"The Global Campaign to Counter the Islamic State
On September 10, 2014, President Obama announced the formation of a global coalition to “degrade and ultimately defeat” the Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL/ISIS or the Arabic acronym Daesh). Subsequently, some 60 nations and partner organizations agreed to participate, contributing either military forces or resources (or both) to the campaign. In Brussels in December 2014, these sixty partners agreed to organize themselves along five “lines of effort,” (by contrast, the U.S. strategy involves nine lines of effort), with at least two countries in the lead for each:
• Supporting military operations, capacity building, and training (led by the United States and Iraq);
• Stopping the flow of foreign terrorist fighters (led by The Netherlands and Turkey);
 • Cutting off IS access to financing and funding (led by Italy, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States);
 • Addressing associated humanitarian relief and crises (led by Germany and the United Arab Emirates);
and • Exposing IS’ true nature (led by the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States)..."
Islamic State

Iran Nuclear Agreement: Selected Issues for Congress

"The nuclear agreement between Iran and six negotiating powers (“P5+1:” United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China), finalized on July 14, 2015, raises a wide variety of issues as Congress undertakes a formal review under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (P.L. 114- 17). The Administration submitted the 150+ page text (including annexes) of the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” (JCPOA) to Congress on July 19, 2015, and the period for congressional review under the act is to conclude on September 17. Should the agreement stand after review processes in Congress and in Iran’s legislatures, the JCPOA would enter into force 90 days from July 20, 2015—the date of the adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the JCPOA and called on U.N. member states to assist in its implementation.

Broadly, the accord represents an exchange of limitations on Iran’s nuclear program for the lifting or suspension of U.S., U.N., and European Union (EU) sanctions. The text contains relatively complicated provisions for inspections of undeclared Iranian nuclear facilities, processes for adjudicating complaints by any of the parties for nonperformance of commitments, “snap-back” provisions for U.N. sanctions, finite durations for many of Iran’s nuclear commitments, and broad U.N., E.U., and U.S. commitments to suspend or lift most of the numerous sanctions imposed on Iran since 2010. Many of the agreement’s provisions have raised questions about the degree to which the accord can accomplish the P5+1 objectives that were stated when P5+1-Iran negotiations began in 2006..."
Iran and nuclear agreement

National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: A Glimpse at the Legal Background

"Five federal statutes authorize intelligence officials to request certain business record information in connection with national security investigations. The authority to issue these national security letters (NSLs) is comparable to the authority to issue administrative subpoenas. The USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107-56) expanded the authority under the original four NSL statutes and created a fifth. Thereafter, the authority was reported to have been widely used. Then, a report by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General (IG) found that in its use of expanded USA PATRIOT Act authority the FBI had “used NSLs in violation of applicable NSL statutes, Attorney General Guidelines, and internal FBI policies,” although it concluded that no criminal laws had been broken. A year later, a second IG report confirmed the findings of the first, and noted the corrective measures taken in response. A third IG report, critical of the FBI’s use of exigent letters and informal NSL alternatives, noted that the practice had been stopped and related problems addressed..."
National security letters

Interior Department Releases National Seed Strategy for Landscape Scale Rehabilitation and Restoration

"As part of a comprehensive, science-based strategy to address the threat of wildfires that are damaging landscapes across the West, the Department of the Interior today announced the release of a National Seed Strategy for rehabilitation and restoration to help foster resilient and healthy landscapes.
The Strategy, developed in partnership with the Plant Conservation Alliance and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is meant to guide ecological restoration across major landscapes, especially for those lands damaged by rangeland fires, invasive species, severe storms and drought. The Strategy is in place to put emphasis on the importance of planting appropriate seeds to help grow plant life and pollinator habitat, which are critical natural defenses against climate change..."

Landscape scale rehabilitation

July 2015 was warmest month ever recorded for the globe.

"The July average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.46°F (0.81°C) above the 20th century average. As July is climatologically the warmest month for the year, this was also the all-time highest monthly temperature in the 1880–2015 record, at 61.86°F (16.61°C), surpassing the previous record set in 1998 by 0.14°F (0.08°C).
  • Separately, the July globally-averaged land surface temperature was 1.73°F (0.96°C) above the 20thcentury average. This was the sixth highest for July in the 1880–2015 record..."
    Global climate info

New CDC tool illustrates changes in antibiotic resistance

"Welcome to NARMS Now: Human Data, an interactive tool from CDC that contains antibiotic resistance data from bacteria isolated from humans as part of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). NARMS Now: Human Data makes it easier and quicker to find out how antibiotic resistance has changed over the past 20 years for four bacteria transmitted commonly through food—Campylobacter, E. coli O157, Salmonella, and Shigella. Get started by filling in the search options below or scroll down the page to download NARMS data..."
Narmsnow

A Gray Revolution in Living Arrangements

"The last 50 years have witnessed a revolution in young adult living arrangements, which are now more diverse than at any time since World War II. The transformation is not limited to young adults, however. Today’s older adults, defined here as 65 and older, are more likely to live alone or with an unmarried partner than previous generations (see Figure 1). Surprisingly, they’re also the only age group where living with a spouse is more common today than 50 years ago — every other age group has witnessed a substantialdecline in marriage..."
Living arrangements

Majority of Americans Drive to Work, But Less so for Urban Millennials

"If your drive to work feels a little lonely, you may be among the three-quarters of U.S. workers who drive to work alone. Driving alone reached its highest point in 2010, at 76.6 percent of workers, after a decades-long pattern of increase (see below). It remained the most common type of work travel in 2013..."
Journey to work

2012 Premiminary Surveyof Business Owners

"Approximately 1.75 million businesses were selected for the 2012 SBO asking for information about characteristics of the businesses and their owners.
Preliminary SBO data are presented by:
  • Gender, ethnicity, race, and veteran status
  • Geography (U.S. and states)
  • Industry (2-digit NAICS for selected geographies)
The final revised data will be released in December 2015 and will include expanded geography (U.S., states, metropolitan area, counties and places) and industry (2- through 6-digit NAICS) detail..."
2012 Survey Business Owners

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pregnant? Get vaccinated.

"Learn about the vaccines you will need before and during your pregnancy to help protect yourself and your newest family member from serious diseases.
Vaccines are an important part of planning and having a healthy pregnancy. If you are planning a pregnancy, check with your doctor to make sure you are up-to-date on your vaccines. If you are currently pregnant, doctors and midwives recommend you receive 2 vaccines during your pregnancy:
  • Tdap to help protect against whooping cough, and
  • The flu shot to help protect against influenza..."

Pregnancy and vaccination

Fatal Injury Reports, National and Regional, 1999 - 2013

Find the latest injury data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by intent or manner of the injury; cause or mechanisn of the injury; and by geography, race and sex of the injured.    
Injury statistics

Statistics of U.S. Businesses (SUSB) Main

"2012 annual or static data include number of firms, number of establishments, employment, annual payroll, and estimated receipts for most U.S. business establishments. The data are tabulated by geographic area, industry, and enterprise size. Industry classification is based on 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. An establishment with 0 employment is an establishment with no paid employees in the mid-March pay period but with paid employees at some time during the year..."
Business statistics

A Guide to U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom

"This report presents statistics regarding U.S. military and civilian casualties in the active missions Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS, Afghanistan) and Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR, Iraq and Syria) and, as well as operations that have ended, Operation New Dawn (OND, Iraq), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF, Iraq), and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF, Afghanistan). It also includes statistics on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and amputations. Some of these statistics are publicly available at the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) website and others have been obtained through DOD experts.
For more information on pre-2000 casualties, see CRS Report RL32492, American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics, by Nese F. DeBruyne and Anne Leland..."
military casualties

Monday, August 10, 2015

Detailed Report Shows Most Railroads Will Miss Positive Train Control Deadline

"The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today sent its Status of Positive Train Control Implementation report to Congress. The report is mandated by the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee and shows that after seven years and significant assistance from FRA, most railroads will miss the Dec. 31, 2015 positive train control (PTC) implementation deadline that Congress established in 2008.

“Positive Train Control is the most significant advancement in rail safety technology in more than a century. Simply put: it prevents accidents and saves lives, which is exactly what we seek to do at The Department of Transportation every single day. We will continue to do everything in our power to help railroads install this technology,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) began calling for train control systems like PTC in 1969, and FRA was involved in establishing PTC standards with stakeholders for more than a decade before the 2008 mandate. Three years before Congress passed the PTC mandate, FRA issued its final rule that established uniform PTC standards for railroads willing to voluntarily install the technology..."

Railroads

Three things to do before closing: What we learned from studying eClosing

"We’ve heard from many consumers about the overwhelming process of closing on a mortgage, which can be confusing and difficult. Closing is the part of the mortgage process where you accept the terms of your loan, the last step before you owe, and usually before you owe more than you ever have in your life.
As part of our broader efforts to improve the overall mortgage experience, we’ve been exploring how technology can be used to address some of those pain points in the closing process.
Today we’re releasing the results of a pilot program where we explored tools and process changes that can help consumers better navigate closing by accessing and signing their closing documents in different ways. Specifically, we examined what would happen if there was more technology involved in the mortgage closing process, with documents being delivered electronically earlier together with online tools and resources. The electronic delivery and signing of closing documents using electronic signatures is sometimes referred to as eClosing.
We wanted to study the idea that by using technology as a tool, consumers may be better informed and prepared – putting them in the driver’s seat at closing..."
Closing

Creating a Registry of US Federal Government Documents

"Objectives: To create a metadata registry for the comprehensive corpus of US federal documents, including whether those documents are digitized.
 
Project scope description: The Registry is intended to include metadata for the comprehensive corpus of U.S. federal documents. This will include materials produced at U.S. government expense, in all formats, at the item level, from 1789 to the present. It may also include works such as grant-funded or contract work, declassified materials, individual pieces of legislation (bills), administrative publications, and/or numerical data sets.

Justification/Background

At the HathiTrust Constitutional Convention, October 2011, partners gave overwhelming support for a ballot proposal to provide “Expanded coverage & enhanced access to U.S. Government Documents.” The nature of the proposed work will be decided by a group process determined by the Board of Governors, but key elements include:
  • Facilitating “collective action to create a comprehensive digital corpus of U.S. federal publications including those issued by GPO and other federal agencies.”
  • Coordinating “operational plans and a business model to further and sustain coordinated digitization, ingest, and display of U.S. federal publications including those issued by GPO and other federal agencies.”
  • And “that HathiTrust develop a process to implement enhanced access protocols to fully realize the potential of a comprehensive corpus of U.S. federal publications including those issued by GPO and other federal agencies..."
    Hathitrust

Sunday, August 9, 2015

FDA Guidance Documents

"The table below lists all official FDA Guidance Documents and other regulatory guidance. You can search for documents using key words, and you can narrow or filter your results by product, date issued, FDA organizational unit, type of document, subject, draft or final status, and comment period.
This feature is provided to give a convenient way to search for all FDA guidance documents from a single location. We will continue to refine it as we observe its performance.
If you cannot find the document you’re looking for here, you can browse separate collections of guidance documents by topic.,,:
FDA

Detailed Report Shows Most Railroads Will Miss Positive Train Control Deadline

"
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today sent its Status of Positive Train Control Implementation report to Congress. The report is mandated by the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee and shows that after seven years and significant assistance from FRA, most railroads will miss the Dec. 31, 2015 positive train control (PTC) implementation deadline that Congress established in 2008.

“Positive Train Control is the most significant advancement in rail safety technology in more than a century. Simply put: it prevents accidents and saves lives, which is exactly what we seek to do at The Department of Transportation every single day. We will continue to do everything in our power to help railroads install this technology,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) began calling for train control systems like PTC in 1969, and FRA was involved in establishing PTC standards with stakeholders for more than a decade before the 2008 mandate. Three years before Congress passed the PTC mandate, FRA issued its final rule that established uniform PTC standards for railroads willing to voluntarily install the technology...:"

Railroads

Richard M. Nixon’s Resignation Letter, 08/09/1974

Read a copy or President Richard M. Nixon's letter of resignation on August 9. 1974/
Richard Nixon's resignation

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Secretary Jewell Praises New Alliance to Combat Wildlife Trafficking

"As part of the effort to stop the illegal trade of wildlife products in the United States, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today praised the formation of the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance that will bring together major companies, foundations, and non-profit organizations to work with the U.S. government in efforts to reduce U.S. demand for illegal elephant ivory, rhino horn and other wildlife products.

The formation of the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance builds on President Obama’sNational Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking, put in place in 2014, following hisExecutive Order on combating wildlife trafficking.

A number of companies have already adopted policies and procedures that align with the goals of the Alliance. Companies such as eBay, Facebook and Google have been helping with initial Alliance activities...:

Wildlife trafficking

Friday, August 7, 2015

Blueberries: A Biography

"New Jersey’s official state fruit is the blueberry, and there’s good reason for that. Every single highbush blueberry in commercial production around the world can trace its domestication back to the pine barrens of New Jersey.
Once, people only enjoyed blueberries that grew wild, but one cranberry farmer’s daughter figured out how to cultivate bushes that produced many berries. Nowadays, the blueberry business is booming: NPR's Dan Charles reports that global blueberry production has tripled in the past ten years. 
After reading a research report noting that blueberries needed acidic soil, Elizabeth White wrote to the USDA and offered to pay them to grow experimental blueberries on her family’s cranberry-bog-bearing land. The USDA sent botanist Frederick Coville to White's hometown of Whitesbog, New Jersey, and White asked locals to lead her to bushes with large berries. She would pay.
Coville took cuttings from those promising bushes and also started cross-pollinating the berries. By 1916 they had large, uniform berries available to sell. Today, some of those original bushes still bear fruit in Whitesbog.
From there, the blueberry spread to other farmers. In Florida, plant breeders created new strains that could tolerate warmer climates. Now fresh blueberries come off fields across North American, south in Chile and Peru and even across the ocean in Europe..."
Blueberries

Healthy Lunches

"Just as your family is settling into summer mode, for many, August also marks back-to-school time. That means back to packing school lunches. Between teacher "meet and greets," school supply shopping, and getting back on a routine sleep schedule, lunchbox packing tends to be last on the list. But, what your child eats for lunch matters more than you might realize.

Don't Pack the Salt

A recent CDC Vital Signs report found that about 90 percent of U.S. school-aged children consume too much sodium each day. To put that into perspective, if there are 20 kids in your child's class, 18 of them will be eating too much sodium each day. Which group does your child fall into?..."
Lunches

Mortality in Local Jails and State Prisons, 2000–2013

"For the third consecutive year, the number of inmates who died while in the custody of local jails or state prisons increased. A total of 4,446 inmates died in 2013, an increase of 131 deaths since 2012. The number of deaths in local jails and prison decreased an annual average of 2% between 2008 and 2010.

In 2013, a total of 967 jail inmates died while in the custody of local jails. The number of deaths increased from 958 deaths in 2012 to 967 in 2013, while the jail population decreased 4%. As a result, the overall mortality rate in local jails increased from 128 per 100,000 jail inmates in 2012 to 135 per 100,000 in 2013. Suicide and heart disease have been the top two causes of death in local jails since 2000 (figure 1). Suicide has been the leading cause of death in jails every year since 2000. In 2013, a third (34%) of jail inmate deaths were due to suicide. The suicide rate increased 14%, from 40 suicides per 100,000 jail inmates in 2012 to 46 per 100,000 in 2013...:
Prison deaths

Thursday, August 6, 2015

50 Years After the Voting Rights Act, We Still Have Work to Do

"On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law — breaking down legal barriers at the state and local level that had prevented African Americans and others from exercising their constitutional right to vote.

Because of that law — one of our nation's most influential pieces of legislation — Americans who were previously disenfranchised and left out of the democratic process were finally able to cast a ballot. The law was designed to ensure that all American citizens, regardless of the color of their skin, had an equal opportunity to make their voices heard..."
Voting Rights Act