Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Five Invasive Pests: You Can Help Stop Their Spread

"USDA APHIS is deeply involved with mitigating invasive pest issues, along with State and local governments. Invasive pests cost the U.S. an estimated $120 billion each year in damages to our environment, agriculture, and native species. The five invasive species described here are a few of the damaging invasive pests of concern to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.  You can help detect these pests and take actions to reduce their spread..."
Invasive pests

Corrrections population in the United States: 2014


"At yearend 2014, an estimated 6,851,000 persons were under the supervision of U.S. adult correctional systems, a decline of about 52,200 from 6,903,200 at yearend 2013 (figure 1). After peaking at 7,399,600 persons in 2007, the correctional population decreased each year by an average of 1.0%. By yearend 2014, the population declined by 0.8% to the lowest level observed in more than a decade (6,886,800 in 2003). About 1 in 36 adults in the United States was under some form of correctional supervision at yearend 2014. This was the lowest rate observed since 1996 (5,531,300) when about 1.3 million fewer offenders were under correctional supervision (not shown)..."
Correctional population

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

FTC Issues Final Amendments to Fuel Rating Rule

"The Federal Trade Commission has announced final amendments to its Fuel Rating Rule.
The Rule determines the fuel rating that appears on fuel pump labels, how octane levels are calculated, and helps drivers make informed decisions about what fuel to use when they fill up their vehicles.
In April 2014, the Commission published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on new rating, certification, and labeling requirements for gasoline blends with more than 10 percent ethanol, known as ethanol blends; and an alternative method to determine the octane rating of gasoline, which is known as infrared spectrophotometry..."
Fuel ratings

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2007-2014

"This report provides Congress with official, unclassified, quantitative data on conventional arms transfers to developing nations by the United States and foreign countries for the preceding eight calendar years for use in its policy oversight functions. All agreement and delivery data in this report for the United States are government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) transactions. Similar data are provided on worldwide conventional arms transfers by all government suppliers, but the principal focus is the level of arms transfers by major weapons supplying governments to nations in the developing world.

Developing nations continue to be the primary focus of foreign arms sales activity by weapons suppliers. During the years 2007-2010, the value of arms transfer agreements with developing nations comprised 74.4% of all such agreements worldwide. More recently, arms transfer agreements with developing nations constituted 75.5% of all such agreements globally from 2011-2014, and 86.0% of these agreements in 2014..."
Arms transfers

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Armed Services: Background and Issues for Congress

"Diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity are three terms that are often used interchangeably; however, there are some differences in how they are interpreted and applied between the Department of Defense (DOD) and civilian organizations. DOD’s definitions of diversity and equal opportunity have changed over time, as have its policies toward inclusion of various demographic groups. These changes have often paralleled social and legal change in the civilian sector. The gradual integration of previously excluded groups into the military has been ongoing since the 19th century. However, in the past few decades there have been rapid changes to certain laws and policies regarding diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity in the Armed Forces. Since 2009, DOD policy changes and congressional actions have allowed individuals who are gay to serve openly and recognized their same-sex spouses as dependents for the purpose of military benefits, opened all combat assignments to women, and initiated a review of existing policies prohibiting transgender servicemembers..."
Armed Services

Monday, December 28, 2015

Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000–2014

"The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose (poisoning) deaths. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin). CDC analyzed recent multiple cause-of-death mortality data to examine current trends and characteristics of drug overdose deaths, including the types of opioids associated with drug overdose deaths. During 2014, a total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, representing a 1-year increase of 6.5%, from 13.8 per 100,000 persons in 2013 to 14.7 per 100,000 persons in 2014. The rate of drug overdose deaths increased significantly for both sexes, persons aged 25–44 years and ≥55 years, non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks, and in the Northeastern, Midwestern, and Southern regions of the United States. Rates of opioid overdose deaths also increased significantly, from 7.9 per 100,000 in 2013 to 9.0 per 100,000 in 2014, a 14% increase. Historically, CDC has programmatically characterized all opioid pain reliever deaths (natural and semisynthetic opioids, methadone, and other synthetic opioids) as "prescription" opioid overdoses (1). Between 2013 and 2014, the age-adjusted rate of death involving methadone remained unchanged; however, the age-adjusted rate of death involving natural and semisynthetic opioid pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids, other than methadone (e.g., fentanyl) increased 9%, 26%, and 80%, respectively. The sharp increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids, other than methadone, in 2014 coincided with law enforcement reports of increased availability of illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a synthetic opioid; however, illicitly manufactured fentanyl cannot be distinguished from prescription fentanyl in death certificate data. These findings indicate that the opioid overdose epidemic is worsening. There is a need for continued action to prevent opioid abuse, dependence, and death, improve treatment capacity for opioid use disorders, and reduce the supply of illicit opioids, particularly heroin and illicit fentanyl..."
Overdose deaths

Sunday, December 27, 2015

New End of Year Congress.gov Enhancements: Quick Search, Congressional Record Index, and More

"In our quest to retire THOMAS, we have made many enhancements to Congress.gov this year.  Our first big announcement was the addition of email alerts, which notify users of the status of legislation, new issues of theCongressional Record, and when Members of Congress sponsor and cosponsor legislation.  That development was soon followed by the addition of treaty documents and better default bill text in early spring; improved search, browse, and accessibility in late spring; user driven feedback in the summer; and Senate Executive Communications and a series of Two-Minute Tip videos in the fall..."
Congress.gov

Thursday, December 24, 2015

State and Local Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS):Fact Sheet

"Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are aircraft subject to regulation by the FAA to ensure safety of flight, and safety of people and property on the ground. States and local jurisdictions are increasingly exploring regulation of UAS or proceeding to enact legislation relating to UAS operations. In 2015, approximately 45 states have considered restrictions on UAS. In addition, public comments on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) proposed rule, “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems” (Docket No. FAA-2015-0150), expressed concern about the possible impact of state and local laws on UAS operations.

Incidents involving unauthorized and unsafe use of small, remote-controlled aircraft have risen dramatically. Pilot reports of interactions with suspected unmanned aircraft have increased from 238 sightings in all of 2014 to 780 through August of this year. During this past summer, the presence of multiple UAS in the vicinity of wild fires in the western U.S. prompted firefighters to ground their aircraft on several occasions.

This fact sheet is intended to provide basic information about the federal regulatory framework for use by states and localities when considering laws affecting UAS. State and local restrictions affecting UAS operations should be consistent with the extensive federal statutory and regulatory framework pertaining to control of the airspace, flight management and efficiency, air traffic control, aviation safety, navigational facilities, and the regulation of aircraft noise at its source..."
Drones

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Uited States Secret Service:an Agency in Crisis

"The United States Secret Service (USSS) is tasked with a zero-failure mission: to protect the President and other protectees at all costs. For most of its existence, USSS has strived to complete that mission while simultaneously garnering the respect and admiration of the American people. Secret Service agents and officers earned a reputation as stoic and impervious guardians of our government’s most important leaders. The American public’s respect for the agency diminished following the April 2012 prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, which attracted significant media attention and exposed systemic problems within the agency.

Since then, several incidents have made it abundantly clear that USSS is in crisis. The agency’s weaknesses have been exposed by a series of security failures at the White House, during presidential visits, and at the residences of other officials, including Vice President Biden and former presidents of the United States. The Committee’s investigation found that problems that undermine USSS’s protective mission predate and postdate the misconduct in Cartagena. The Committee also found that at times agency leaders have provided incomplete and inaccurate information to Congress.

This report examines four incidents in detail: a November 11, 2011, incident where an individual fired several shots at the White House from a semiautomatic rifle; the April 2012 misconduct in Cartagena, Colombia; a September 16, 2014, incident at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, where an armed contract security guard with a violent arrest history rode in an elevator with President Obama and later breached the President’s security formation; and a March 4, 2015, incident where two intoxicated senior USSS officials— including a top official on the President’s protective detail—interfered with a crime scene involving a bomb threat just outside the White House grounds..."
United States Secret Service

EEOC Issues a Statement by Chair Jenny R. Yang to Address Workplace Discrimination Against Individuals Who Are, or Are Perceived to Be, Muslim or Middle Eastern

"In the wake of tragic events at home and abroad, EEOC urges employers and employees to be particularly mindful of instances of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in the workplace against vulnerable communities. 
EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang released the following statement:
"America was founded on the principle of religious freedom.  As a nation, we must continue to seek the fair treatment of all, even as we grapple with the concerns raised by the recent terrorist attacks. When people come to work and are unfairly harassed or otherwise targeted based on their religion or national origin, it undermines our shared and longstanding values of tolerance and equality for all.
"We commend employers who have already taken steps to issue or re-issue policies on preventing harassment, retaliation, and other forms of discrimination in the workplace, and we encourage all employers to remain vigilant and to communicate their commitment to inclusive workplaces throughout their organizations. Workers who have experienced discrimination at work or in applying for jobs should report these incidents to the appropriate workplace official and to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or its state and local partners. We urge all employees to re-affirm these values of tolerance and equality in their interactions with their co-workers and show that harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated in America's workplaces."
Today, EEOC also released two resource documents, in question-and-answer format, explaining federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination against individuals who are, or are perceived to be, Muslim or Middle Eastern. One Q&A is for employees, and the other is for employers. The Qs & As assist employers and employees in understanding their rights and responsibilities under the federal laws enforced by EEOC. The documents encourage proactive communication among employers and employees to prevent and correct discrimination..."
Muslims and discrimination

DHS Releases End of Fiscal Year 2015 Statistics

"Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 statistics which reflect the Department’s immigration enforcement efforts that prioritize convicted criminals and threats to public safety, border security, and national security.
Overall, the Department apprehended 406,595 individuals nationwide and conducted a total of 462,463 removals and returns. The U.S. Border Patrol reported 337,117 apprehensions nationwide, compared to 486,651 in FY 2014. At the same time, ICE removed or returned 235,413 individuals in FY 2015, with 86 percent of these individuals considered a “top priority” (Priority One) – those considered border security or public safety threats. 
The number of convicted criminals removed from the interior continued to increase, as 91 percent of ICE’s FY 2015 interior removals and returns were individuals who were previously convicted of a crime, compared to 86 percent in FY 2014, and just 67 percent in FY 2011..."
Department Homeland Security

Library of Congress to Receive 9/11-Responder Oral History Collection

"The Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center will become the home of a significant collection of oral histories provided by responders to the devastating Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the New York World Trade Center, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel announced today. The collection, known as the "Remembering 9/11 Oral History Project," is being donated by physician Benjamin Luft, the Edmond Pellegrino Professor of Medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine and director of the Stony Brook WTC Wellness Program, who treated many of those responders following the tragedy..".
9/11 Reponders collection

Finding Long-Term Solutions for Nuclear Waste

"Today, the Department of Energy is taking a critical step toward the development of a consent-based approach to siting future nuclear waste management facilities as part of a strategy for the long-term storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The launch of our consent-based siting initiative represents an important step toward addressing this nuclear waste management challenge, so that we can continue to benefit from nuclear technologies. Today’s step forward follows Secretary Moniz’s announcement in March 2015 that DOE would move forward with the development of a separate repository for defense waste..."
nuclear waste

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Social Security Policy Options -2015


"Social Security, which marked its 80th anniversary in 2015, is the largest single program in the federal government’s budget. The program has two parts: Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), which pays benefits to retired workers, to their dependents and survivors, and to some survivors of deceased workers; and Disability Insurance (DI), which makes payments to disabled workers and to their dependents until those workers reach the age at which they are eligible to receive full retired-worker benefits under OASI. Social Security currently has about 60 million beneficiaries. Outlays for Social Security totaled $888 billion in fiscal year 2015, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all federal spending. Although Social Security is part of the overall federal budget, its funding mechanism of dedicated revenues sets it apart from many other government programs. Benefits for OASI and DI alike are financed from trust funds (often identified collectively as the combined, or OASDI, trust funds), which are credited with tax revenues, mainly from payroll taxes, and interest on the funds’ balances.1 As long as a trust fund’s balance is sufficient to cover required payments, benefits can be paid without the need for any legislative action..."
Social Security

What Is “Building Partner Capacity?” Issues for Congress

"Since 2001, successive U.S. administrations have increasingly prioritized efforts to build foreign security forces—particularly in weak and failing states—arguing that doing so advances U.S. national security objectives. In turn, the Department of Defense (DOD) has invested billions of dollars in “Building Partner Capacity,” a term that refers to a broad set of missions, programs, activities, and authorities intended to improve the ability of other nations to achieve those security-oriented goals they share with the United States. As a consequence, these efforts and programs have been a growing focus of Congressional attention. Many partner capacity building programs and activities have their roots in the post-World War II period, if not well before, yet today they are implemented more widely, and often with greater resourcing, than efforts prior to September 11, 2001. Indeed, building partner capacity was a central feature of the 2003-2010 Iraq campaign, and is a core component of the ongoing current campaigns both in Afghanistan to counter Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and in Iraq/Syria to counter the Islamic State..."
Partners

Firearms Eligibility for Foreign Nationals in the United States

"The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California, have prompted increased attention upon the categories of persons barred from acquiring firearms. The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), as amended, generally prohibits certain categories of persons from acquiring firearms or ammunition, including some categories of foreign nationals (i.e., aliens). The GCA provides that aliens in the United States unlawfully are generally barred from purchasing a firearm, as are most aliens admitted into the United States pursuant to temporary, “nonimmigrant” visas (subject to limited exceptions). Aliens who violate these prohibitions, along with persons who sell or transfer firearms to them, may face criminal penalties.

Foreign nationals who do not fall under these two restrictions—including lawful permanent residents (commonly referred to as immigrants), refugees, and other lawfully present aliens who did not enter the United States pursuant to a visa, such as many foreign travelers visiting the United States under the terms of the Visa Waiver Program—are not prohibited from acquiring a firearm solely on account of their immigration status. Nonetheless, other provisions in the GCA, such as residency requirements that must be satisfied for a firearms sale to be lawful, may impede some foreign nationals from acquiring firearms...
Firearms

Arms Sales: Congressional Review Process

"Summary...
This report reviews the process and procedures that currently apply to congressional consideration of foreign arms sales proposed by the President. This includes consideration of proposals to sell major defense equipment, defense articles and services, or the re-transfer to third party states of such military items. Under Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), Congress must be formally notified 30 calendar days before the Administration can take the final steps to conclude a government-to-government foreign military sale of major defense equipment valued at $14 million or more, defense articles or services valued at $50 million or more, or design and construction services valued at $200 million or more. In the case of such sales to NATO member states, NATO, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Israel, or New Zealand, Congress must be formally notified 15 calendar days before the Administration can proceed with the sale. However, the prior notice threshold values are higher for sales to NATO members, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Israel, or New Zealand. Commercially licensed arms sales also must be formally notified to Congress 30 calendar days before the export license is issued if they involve the sale of major defense equipment valued at $14 million or more, or defense articles or services valued at $50 million or more (Section 36(c) AECA). In the case of such sales to NATO member states, NATO, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Israel, or New Zealand, Congress must be formally notified 15 calendar days before the Administration is authorized to proceed with a given sale. As with government-to-government sales, the prior notice threshold values are higher for sales to NATO members, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Israel, or New Zealand..."
Arms Sales

Rising Prescription Drug Costs: New Tool Lets You Explore What’s Happening in Medicare

"You've probably heard about – or seen on your drug store receipt – evidence of the rising cost of prescription drugs. Nationwide, spending on drugs increased 12 percent in 2014, higher than in any year since 2002. Sometimes, this is linked to a breakthrough product whose cure comes with a high price tag. Other times, it is the overnight tripling of the cost of a generic drug that has been around for years. This media attention, and the reality for consumers across the country, begs a lot of questions: What are recent cost trends for the prescriptions I take? Why are they so expensive? What drugs are driving Medicare’s spending? Are generic or brand name drug costs growing faster? And what can be done to make needed medicines affordable?
We share your curiosity. Many people may not realize that Medicare is one of the largest purchasers of prescription drugs in the country, so the program has rich data on how much money we’re spending on these drugs. So today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is releasing a new online tool to allow the public to explore Medicare prescription drug spending. The tool includes information on a total of 80 drugs: 40 that are covered under the Medicare Prescription Drug Program (Part D) and 40 that are administered by physicians and other professionals. The tool allows you to sort these drugs in different ways, so you can rank them by total spending, spending per person, or by cost increases. It also shows how much the seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare pay for these drugs. The tool launched today provides a look at information on drug spending in the program and by beneficiaries going back five years and also includes helpful charts showing these trends over time..."
Prescription drugs

Monday, December 21, 2015

Future Home Tech: 8 Energy-Saving Solutions on the Horizon

 "From heating and cooling to electronics and appliances, it takes a lot of energy to power our daily lives. Our homes use 37 percent more energy today than they did in 1980. But without energy efficiency -- through technology innovation and federal energy conservation standards-- this number would be a lot higher. In fact, even though our total energy use has grown, our energy use per household is down about 10 percent, despite that our homes are larger and contain more devices.
Thanks to breakthroughs by our National Labs, industry and academia, equipment we use in our homes is more energy efficient than ever before, saving consumers money and slashing carbon pollution. Let’s take a look at a few technologies we can expect to see in the marketplace within the next few years that will make our homes even more sustainable..."
Home tech

National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment

"The fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is a pillar of U.S. national security and a strong financial system. It is an undertaking that requires the coordinated and dedicated efforts of policy maters, law enforcement, supervisors, and the private sector, particularly financial institutions. It is essential that we work closely together to develop and effectively implement strong laws and regulations to detect, deter, and disrupt illicit finance.  Equally important is that we understand and communicate the money laundering and terrorist financing threats, vulnerabilities, and risks facing our country.

In this spirit, the Department of the Treasury is proud to publish the National Money Laundering Risk Assessment and National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment. These reports- Based on an analysis of more than  5,000 law enforcement cases, financial reporting bye U.S. financial institutions and reports from across government and the private sector-represent an unprecedented review of the key money laundering and terrorist financing risks to the United States..." 
Terrorist financing risk

Saturday, December 19, 2015

CDC Wonder database


"Welcome to CDC WONDER -- Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research -- an easy-to-use, menu-driven system that makes the information resources of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) available to public health professionals and the public at large. It provides access to a wide array of public health information.

CDC WONDER furthers CDC's mission of health promotion and disease prevention by speeding and simplifying access to public health information for state and local health departments, the Public Health Service, and the academic public health community. CDC WONDER is valuable in public health research, decision making, priority setting, program evaluation, and resource allocation.

CDC WONDER, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is an integrated information and communication system for public health. Its purposes are:
  1. To promote information-driven decision making by placing timely, useful facts in the hands of public health practitioners and researchers, and
  2. To provide the general public with access to specific and detailed information from CDC.
With CDC WONDER you can:
  • Access statistical research data published by CDC, as well as reference materials, reports and guidelines on health-related topics;
  • Query numeric data sets on CDC's computers, via "fill-in-the blank" web pages. Public-use data sets about mortality (deaths), cancer incidence, HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, vaccinations, natality (births), census data and many other topics are available for query, and the requested data are readily summarized and analyzed, with dynamically calculated statistics, charts and maps..."
    CDC Wonder


Friday, December 18, 2015

President Obama Has Shortened the Sentences of More People Than the Last 5 Presidents Combined

"Today, President Obama is commuting the federal prison sentences of 95 men and women, most of whom committed nonviolent offenses. With this step, the President has now granted 184 commutations total -- more than the last five presidents combined. Take a look:Commutations chart..."

Prison sentence reduction

Top 5 Interactives and Maps of 2015

"Well gang, we’ve done it again. We’ve made a full rotation around the sun and we’re back after 940 million kilometers to share our favorite interactives, quizzes and maps of 2015. Click each to explore the most interesting energy topics of 2015.
1)   How Much Carbon Do Countries Emit?
With the recent climate change negotiations in Paris at COP21, we wanted a handy tool to compare our carbon emissions to other nations that we were working with. This interactive let’s you explore your national and state footprint as it compares with other countries, both big and small. The results may surprise you!..."
Energy maps

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Update to the National Terrorism Advisory System

"Background:  The National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS)
When it was launched, NTAS featured an advisory system that consisted of two types of “Alerts”: Elevated and Imminent.  An “Elevated Alert” is intended to warn of a credible terrorist threat against the United States and its territories that is general in both timing and potential location such that it is reasonable to recommend implementation of protective measures to thwart or mitigate against an attack.  An “Imminent Alert” is intended to warn of a credible, specific, and impending terrorist threat or on-going attack.  DHS has continuously evaluated intelligence threat streams through the NTAS process since the system’s creation, but it has never issued an Alert because neither the circumstances nor threat streams have risen to the required level or purpose of the system....

NEW: NTAS “Bulletins”

DHS will achieve the objective of more flexible, timely, and useful communication with the public regarding terrorist threats through the introduction of an additional component of NTAS to accompany the existing NTAS Alerts: the NTAS “Bulletin.”  NTAS Bulletins will provide information describing broader or more general trends and current developments regarding threats of terrorism.  They will share important terrorism-related information with the American public and various partners and stakeholders, including in those situations where additional precautions may be warranted, but where the circumstances do not warrant the issuance of an “elevated” or “imminent” Alert.  An NTAS Bulletin will summarize the issue and why it is important for public awareness, outline U.S. Government counterterrorism efforts, and offer recommendations to the public on how it can contribute to the overall counterterrorism effort...."
Terrorism advisory system

Disabilities Among Prison and Jail Inmates, 2011–12

"In 2011–12, about 3 in 10 state and federal prisoners and 4 in 10 local jail inmates reported having at least one disability. Among prison and jail inmates, females were more likely to report a disability than males (figure 1). About 40% of females and 31% of males in prison and 49% of females and 39% of males in jail reported a disability. In this report, disability types include hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, and independent living, which refers to the ability to navigate daily life schedules, activities, and events without assistance..."
Disabilities among prisoners

Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents

"Cybersecurity vulnerabilities challenge governments, businesses, and individuals worldwide. Attacks have been initiated against individuals, corporations, and countries. Targets have included government networks, companies, and political organizations, depending upon whether the attacker was seeking military intelligence, conducting diplomatic or industrial espionage, engaging in cybercrime, or intimidating political activists. In addition, national borders mean little or nothing to cyberattackers, and attributing an attack to a specific location can be difficult, which may make responding problematic.

Despite many recommendations made over the past decade, most major legislative provisions relating to cybersecurity had been enacted prior to 2002. However, on December 18, 2014, in the last days of the 113th Congress, five cybersecurity bills were signed by the President. These bills change federal cybersecurity programs in a number of ways:

  codifying the role of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in developing a “voluntary, industry-led set of standards” to reduce cyber risk;
 codifying the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center as a hub for interactions with the private sector;
 updating the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) by requiring the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to “eliminate ... inefficient and wasteful reports”; and
 requiring DHS to develop a “comprehensive workforce strategy” within a year and giving DHS new authorities for cybersecurity hiring..."
Cybersecurity

Los Angeles County a Microcosm of Nation’s Diverse Collection of Business Owners, Census Bureau Reports

"Los Angeles County, Calif., led the nation in the number of Hispanic-, Asian-, and American Indian and Alaska Native-owned firms in 2012, according to estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. It also ranked second in the number of black or African American- and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms (after Cook County, Ill., and Honolulu County, Hawaii, respectively).
Collectively, Los Angeles County was home to 631,218 minority-owned firms: 332,967 Hispanic, 213,203 Asian, 81,563 black or African American, 11,081 American Indian and Alaska Native, and 3,798 Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. Consequently, with 3.2 percent of the nation’s total population (according to the Census Bureau’s July 1, 2012, population estimates), the county was home to 7.9 percent of its minority-owned businesses in 2012.
The majority of firms in Los Angeles County (55.0 percent) were minority-owned. This includes 29.0 percent Hispanic-owned, 18.6 percent Asian-owned, 7.1 percent black or African American-owned, 1.0 percent owned by American Indians and Alaska Natives, and 0.3 percent Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned.
These findings for Los Angeles County are an example of the local analysis possible using the final, revised statistics from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners released today...."
Minority-owned businesses

Local Business Data Now Available for Entire Nation and Every Industry as 2012 Economic Census Geographic Area Series Concludes

"The 2012 Economic Census completed the Geographic Area Series today for the final three sectors of the economy, thereby concluding the entire series. Business statistics are thus now available on all 18 sectors and each industry therein for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as every county, metropolitan statistical area and economic place nationwide. The files contain statistics on the number of establishments, receipts/revenue, payroll, number of employees and other data items. With today’s release, entrepreneurs, trade associations and chambers of commerce in every corner of the nation have the full arsenal of statistics for their area needed to make key business decisions...."

Arctic Report Card: 2015

"What's new in 2015?
Maximum sea ice extent on 25 February was 15 days earlier than average and the lowest value on record (1979-present). Minimum ice extent in September was the 4th lowest on record. Sea ice continues to be younger and thinner: in February and March 2015 there was twice as much first-year ice as there was 30 years ago.
Changes in sea ice alone are having profound effects on the marine ecosystem (fishes, walruses, primary production) andsea surface temperatures..."
Arctic region

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Guidance on Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

"Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced today a new guidance from the Justice Department designed to help law enforcement agencies prevent gender bias in their response to sexual assault and domestic violence, highlighting the need for clear policies, robust training and responsive accountability systems.
“Gender bias, whether explicit or implicit, can severely undermine law enforcement’s ability to protect survivors of sexual and domestic violence and hold offenders accountable,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “This guidance – developed in collaboration with law enforcement leaders and advocates from across the country – is designed to help state, local, and tribal authorities more fairly and effectively address allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault.  In the days and months ahead, the Department of Justice will continue to work with our law enforcement partners nationwide to ensure that they have the tools and resources they need to prevent, investigate, and prosecute these horrendous crimes.”
Today’s guidance – which reflects input from a wide array of stakeholders, including police leaders, victim advocates and civil rights advocates – aims to enhance the Justice Department’s partnership with law enforcement officers who work tirelessly to protect their communities, advance bias-free policing and uphold the civil rights of the people they serve.  The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), the Civil Rights Division and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) collaborated to produce the guidance...."
Identifying & preventing gender bias

FTC Issues Annual Report On Ethanol Market Concentration

"The Federal Trade Commission has issued its 2015 Report on Ethanol Market Concentration, an annual report required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 “to determine whether there is sufficient competition among industry participants to avoid price-setting and other anticompetitive behavior.”
As in prior years, the 2015 report concludes that it is “extremely unlikely that a single ethanol producer or marketer or a group of such firms could exercise market power to set prices or coordinate on price or output levels.”..."
Ethanol

2014 NIBRS Statistics

"Today, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program released details on more than 5.4 million criminal offenses reported by law enforcement through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) during 2014. According to NIBRS 2014, 6,520 law enforcement agencies—charged with protecting more than 93 million U.S. inhabitants—reported 4,759,438 incidents involving 5,489,485 offenses, 5,790,423 victims, and 4,414,016 known offenders..."
Incident-based statistics

2016 Student Opportunities in Public Health

"CDC's Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) supports internship opportunities for qualified undergraduate and graduate students to gain meaningful experiences in public health settings. Whether you are looking for a summer internship or a fellowship, the following programs provide valuable exposure to a wide range of public health opportunities. Learn more,,,:
Summer interns

Holiday Road Safety

"Stay safe on the roads and take action to protect yourself and your loved ones.
In the United States, motor vehicle crashes are in the top 10 causes of death for people aged 1-54, and more than 30,000 people are killed in crashes each year. In 2013, crash deaths resulted in $44 billion in medical and work loss costs. However, motor vehicle crashes, and their related injuries and deaths, are preventable. Stay safe on the roads this holiday season, and take action to protect yourself and your loved ones..."
Safe travel

Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January–June 2015

"Preliminary results from the January–June 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that the number of American homes with only wireless telephones continues to grow. Nearly one-half of American homes (47.4%) had only wireless telephones (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) during the first half of 2015—an increase of 3.4 percentage points since the first half of 2014. More than two-thirds of all adults aged 25-34 and of adults renting their homes were living in wireless-only households. This report presents the most up-to-date estimates available from the federal government concerning the size and characteristics of this population..."
Wireless

Modern Military Justice: Cases and Materials

"This textbook is about the modern military justice system of the United States. It covers court-martial procedures, substantive criminal law, and non-judicial punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in addition to the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which gives the federal courts jurisdiction over certain acts committed abroad, and the Military Commissions Acts of 2006 and 2009, which created military tribunals for trying enemy beligerents. The Second Edition includes several recent cases and addresses some of the significant changes that Congress has recently made to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and that the President has made to the Manual for Courts-Martial....:
Available as a downloadable as a pdf document.
Military justice

Measuring financial well-being: A guide to using the CFPB Financial Well-Being Scale

"Following a rigorous research effort to develop a consumer-driven definition of financial well-being, the CFPB developed and tested a set of questions–a “scale”–to measure financial well-being. The scale is designed to allow practitioners and researchers to accurately and consistently quantify, and therefore observe, something that is not directly observable–the extent to which someone’s financial situation and the financial capability that they have developed provide them with security and freedom of choice. This guide describes the research behind the CFPB Financial Well-Being Scale and provides detailed steps for using it, including how to score individuals’ responses and compare their scores.
Take a look at the user guide...:
Financial well-being


Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration

"If you own a drone, you must register it with the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry. A federal law effective December 21, 2015 requires unmanned aircraft registration, and you are subject to civil and criminal penalties if you do not register.
Register before January 20, 2016 and your $5 registration fee will be refunded!..."
Drones

CRSReports.com


"CRSReports.com is a free web based repository of Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports. This digital library is dedicated to hosting an extensive collection of CRS documents. All information provided by CRSReports.com is publicly available and can be accessed for free without sign-up or registration. This growing collection of CRS reports is made freely available to policy makers (including Hill staffers who while off of the Hill may decide not to login into the Capitol intranet) and other users for purposes beneficial to our political system and the public..."
CRS Reports


Saturday, December 12, 2015

FBI Takes Part in State Department Briefing on Just-Released Illicit Tobacco Trade Publication

"Today in Washington, D.C., the FBI took part in a briefing announcing the U.S. State Department’s launch of a publication that outlines the emerging negative impacts of the illicit tobacco trade and the whole-of-government approach to combating it. According to The Global Illicit Trade in Tobacco: A Threat to National Security, this low-risk, high-reward, often transnational criminal activity is a lucrative crime for some terrorist groups and a potential revenue source to finance acts of terror. It also provides funding for other criminal activities—including money laundering and trafficking in humans, weapons, drugs, antiquities, diamonds, and counterfeit goods—and it can encourage organized criminal enterprises, terrorist organizations, and other threat networks to work together. Additionally, the illicit tobacco trade deprives governments of tax revenues, causing billions of dollars in losses annually..."
Tobacco trade

Avoid Dengue by Preventing Mosquito Bites

"Dengue is a virus spread by mosquito bites. If you live in or travel to a tropical or sub-tropical area, protect yourself by preventing mosquito bites.
Each year, an estimated 390 million people are infected with dengue virus. Outbreaks have occurred in Southeast Asia, the Western Pacific, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Signs and symptoms of dengue

Most people infected have mild or no symptoms. About 1 in 4 people infected with dengue will get sick. Mild symptoms of dengue may be confused with other illnesses that cause fever and flu-like illness. Most people will recover after about one week.
The most common symptoms are fever and one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Headache
  • Eye pain (typically behind the eyes)
  • Muscle, joint, or bone pain
  • Rash
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unusual bleeding (nose or gum bleed, small red spots under the skin, or unusual bruising)..."
    Dengue

Employment Projections: 2014-24

"Healthcare occupations and industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and to add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. With the increase in the proportion of the population in older age groups, more people in the labor force will be entering prime retirement age. As a result, the labor force participation rate is projected to decrease and labor force growth to slow. This slowdown of labor force growth is expected, in turn, to lead to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 2.2 percent annually over the decade. This economic growth is projected to generate 9.8 million new jobs—a 6.5-percent increase between 2014 and 2024..."
Employment

Chronic Homelessness: Background, Research, and Outcomes

"Chronically homeless individuals are those who spend long periods of time living on the street or other places not meant for human habitation, and who have one or more disabilities, frequently including mental illnesses and substance use disorders. In the 2014 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness, more than 84,000 individuals met the definition of chronically homeless, down from more than 120,000 in 2008. In part the decline is due to the federal government’s plan, announced in 2002, to end chronic homelessness within 10 years. The target date has since been extended to 2017. Among the federal programs focused on ending chronic homelessness are the HUD Homelessness Assistance Grants, the HUD and Veterans Affairs Supported Housing Program (HUD-VASH), and several HUD demonstration programs.

One of the reasons that federal programs have devoted resources to ending chronic homelessness is studies finding that individuals who experience it, particularly those with serious mental illness, use many expensive services often paid through public sources, including emergency room visits, inpatient hospitalizations, and law enforcement and jail time. Even emergency shelter resources can be costly. In addition to potential ethical reasons for ending chronic homelessness, doing so could reduce costs in providing assistance to this population..."
Homelessness

Friday, December 11, 2015

Five Things to Know About Congress' Vote to Ban Microbeads

"After years of mounting evidence that microplastics—the tiny exfoliating plastic bits used in many soaps and cosmetics—are environmentally hazardous, the rules may soon change.
Tuesday, the United States House of Representatives approved a bill called the "Microbead Free Waters Act." If it is passed by the Senate, the bill will ban companies in the U.S. from making and selling personal care products that contain these tiny pieces of plastic.
Wondering what the big deal is? Here are five things to know about the microbead ban and what it means for the environment..."
Microbeads

Nordstrom, Bed Bath & Beyond, Backcountry.com, and J.C. Penney to Pay Penalties Totaling $1.3 Million for Falsely Labeling Rayon Textiles as Made of “Bamboo

"The Federal Trade Commission announced complaints and proposed court orders barring four national retailers from mislabeling and advertising rayon textiles as made of “bamboo,” and requiring them to pay civil penalties totaling $1.3 million.
Under the court orders settling the FTC’s charges, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. will pay $500,000; Nordstrom, Inc. will pay $360,000; J.C. Penney Company, Inc. will pay $290,000; and Backcountry.com LLC will pay $150,000 for allegedly violating the FTC Act and the agency’s Textile Rules.
“It’s misleading to call bamboo that has been chemically processed into rayon simply ‘bamboo,’” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “With consumers in the midst of their holiday shopping, it’s important for them to know that textiles marketed as environmentally friendly alternatives may not be as ‘green’ as they were led to believe.”..."
Bamboo textiles