Saturday, January 30, 2016

Census Bureau Releases First 2012 Economic Census Product Lines Reports

"The Census Bureau today released the first product lines reports from its 2012 Economic Census Subject Series. These reports present national and state-level data at the two through six- or seven-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) level. They provide statistics on number of establishments and sales/receipts/revenue by products and contributing industry. Reports were released for the following four sectors:.."
2012 Economic Census

Demographic and Economic Profiles of Iowa’s Electorate

"In advance of the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, the Census Bureau presents a variety of statistics that give an overall profile of each state’s voting-age population and industries. This is the first in a series of such profiles for all the states holding primaries or caucuses. Statistics include:

Iowa's electorate

Office of Financial Security, 2015 Annual Report to Congress

"Over the past year, the resilience of the United States financial system has continued to improve and threats to overall U.S. financial stability remain moderate. Both are trends we’ve discussed for the past four years. But as we’ve also previously warned, there’s no cause for complacency.

In fact, several financial stability risks have continued to edge higher over the past year. Three major themes stand out: (1) the persistent effects of low interest rates, (2) elevated and rising credit risks, and (3) the uneven resilience of the financial system.

This year we are reporting to Congress and the public in two installments. We presented to the public in-depth analyses in our 2015 Financial Stability Report in December. In addition to summarizing those analyses, this Annual Report to Congress documents our progress and presents plans for further advancement this year and in coming years. I hope that, taken together, the two reports will help us communicate with a wide range of stakeholders while ensuring that we are transparent and accountable in our work and the ways we pursue it..."
Financial Security

National Commission on the Future of the Army

"The American people expect their Army to be trained and ready whenever called upon to achieve national objectives. In an increasingly complex world with an increasing array of diverse threats at home and abroad, America’s Army must possess a wide range of capabilities to fulfill its myriad missions. However, even as the demand for Army forces expands and diversifies, the fiscal resources necessary to meet that demand have declined and will remain challenging for several years. This tension between growing requirements and fewer resources not only creates national-level risk, it also has resulted in some unhealthy competitive tension among the Army’s components, especially between the Regular Army and the Army National Guard. In large part, these factors, plus the Army’s proposal, endorsed by the Department of Defense, to consolidate all Apache aircraft in the Regular Army, prompted the Congress to establish the National Commission on the Future of the Army (NCFA)..."
U.S. Army

Take a look at the newly updated website from the U.S.  Federal Trade Commission.
Identity theft

Unmanned Aircraft Operations in Domestic Airspace: U.S. Policy Perspectives and the Regulatory Landscape

"Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), often referred to as “drones,” have become commonplace over the past few years. As UAS technology develops rapidly, the United States faces significant challenges in balancing safety requirements, privacy concerns, and economic interests.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA; P.L. 112-95) required the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace and issue regulations governing the operation of small unmanned aircraft used for commercial purposes. FAA has proposed regulations allowing routine operations of small commercial UAS weighing less than 55 pounds, but is still developing the guidelines and standards for federal, state, and local government agencies required by FMRA. Hundreds of thousands of small UAS are already being operated as recreational model aircraft and hobby drones that are permitted under a special rule for model aircraft established by FMRA. In addition, several hundred public agencies and more than 3,000 businesses have been granted approval to operate UAS on a case-by-case basis. Once regulations and guidelines are put in place, large growth in UAS operations is anticipated..."
Unmanned aircrafts

Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Let Corporate Offenders Off Easy,

"United States Senator Elizabeth Warren today released a report titled Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy. The report, the first in an annual series on enforcement, highlights 20 of the most egregious civil and criminal cases during the past year in which federal settlements failed to require meaningful accountability to deter future wrongdoing and to protect taxpayers and families.
"Much of the public and media attention on Washington focuses on enacting laws. And strong laws are important - prosecutors must have the statutory tools they need to hold corporate criminals accountable," the report states. "But putting a law on the books is only the first step.  The second, and equally important, step is enforcing that law.  A law that is not enforced - or weakly enforced - may as well not even be a law at all."..."
Senator Elizabeth Warren

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This Is the Winning Design for the New World War I Memorial

"The United States military was involved in World War I for just 585 days, but during that time, the country mobilized more than 4.3 million forces. Experts estimate that approximately 208,502 of those soldiers were wounded, missing or taken prisoner, while 116,516 were killed. This number, specifically, will take on new significance through the upcoming World War I memorial to be built in Washington, D.C. Officials announced yesterday that they have selected a winning design for the memorial—which will use each cubic foot of space to represent an American soldier lost during the so-called Great War.
Joe Weishaar and Sabin Howard’s winning proposal, The Weight of Sacrifice, was chosen out of more than 350 total designs. World War I is the last major war to be commemorated on a larger scale in D.C., a fact that has rankled with people who want to preserve the memory of the enormous toll the war took Americans at home and on the front..."
World War 1 Memorial

Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-20 Countries: 2015

"Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-20 Countries draws on the information about education from the International Indicators of Education Systems (INES) project at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as international assessments ranging across the lifespan from grade 4 through adulthood. Topics covered include population and school enrollment, academic performance, contexts for learning, expenditure for education, and educational attainment and income. The G-20 countries, which are among the most economically developed, represent 85 percent of the world’s economy and two-thirds of its population, and are some of the United States’ largest economic partners. This report is the latest in a series that has been published since 2002. Previous reports focused on the G-8 countries. This is the first to focus on the G-20 countries..."
International Education

Rapid, affordable energy transformation possible NOAA, CIRES study: Wind, sun could eclipse fossil fuels for electric power by 2030

"The United States could slash greenhouse gas emissions from power production by up to 78 percent below 1990 levels within 15 years while meeting increased demand, according to a new study by NOAA and University of Colorado Boulder researchers.
The study used a sophisticated mathematical model to evaluate future cost, demand, generation and transmission scenarios. It found that with improvements in transmission infrastructure, weather-driven renewable resources could supply most of the nation’s electricity at costs similar to today’s..."
Energy Conservation

Best Practices for Reducing Near-Road Air Pollution Exposure at Schools

"Motor vehicles are a major source of air pollution in the United States. Research suggests that particulate matter (PM) from vehicles, notably heavy-duty diesel vehicles, may be especially harmful.
  • While vehicle emissions have decreased over the past several decades due to EPA’s emissions standards for cars and trucks, schools may still be located in areas where air pollution levels are elevated.
  • Motor vehicle pollutant concentrations tend to be higher closer to the road, with the highest levels generally within the first 500 feet of a roadway and reaching background levels within approximately 2,000 feet of a roadway, depending on the pollutant, time of day and surrounding terrain.
  • Nearly 17,000 schools in rural and urban areas across the U.S. are located near heavily traveled roads.
  • Exposure to traffic-related air pollution has been linked to a variety of short- and long-term health effects.
  • Children are particularly sensitive to air pollution, because their respiratory systems are not fully developed, they are more active, and they breathe more rapidly than adults. Children also are more likely than adults to have asthma..."

Air pollution and schools

The Glass-Steagall Act: A Legal and Policy Analysis

"The phrase “Glass-Steagall” generally refers to the separation of commercial banking from investment banking.  In this context, commercial banking refers to the activities engaged in by depository institutions,  which this report also will refer to as “banks” or “commercial banks.” In contrast, investment banking refers to activities engaged in by securities dealers and brokerage firms, which this report also refers to as “investment banks” or “securities firms.” Congress effected a separation of commercial and investment banking through four sections of the Banking Act of 1933—Sections 16, 20, 21, and 32—that were designed “to prevent the undue diversion of funds into speculative operations....” These four statutory provisions are commonly referred to as the Glass-Steagall Act. Specifically, Section 21 prohibited nonbanks from accepting deposits, while Sections 16, 20, and 32 prohibited depository institutions from affiliating with securities firms and from engaging in certain securities activities..."
Glass-Steagall Act

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Slaves of the White House Finally Get to Have Their Stories Told

"President Barack Obama might be the first black president to serve in the White House, but he certainly was not the first black person to live there. Yet the history of the original black residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been sparsely reported on, as Associated Pressreporter Jesse J. Holland discovered when he began researching his latest book, The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House. The Invisibles—a smart sketch on the lives of these men and women in bondage—is intended to serve as a historical first take. Holland’s goal writing about the slaves who resided alongside 10 of the first 12 presidents who lived in the White House is to start a conversation on who these enslaved people were, what they were like, and what happened to them if they were able to escape from bondage..."
Slaves and the White House

Using Different Types of Evidence in Decision Making

"Why use evidence to inform decision making?
Increasing emphasis has been placed on the importance of evidence in guiding violence prevention efforts. Definitions of what constitutes "evidence" have been debated in the literature and the field. However, most agree that evidence is extremely important for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers charged with the task of making decisions around the funding and implementation of violence prevention strategies..."
Evidence decision making

Smokers' Stories: Five Reasons to Quit

"No one who starts smoking in their teens expects to suffer serious health effects until very late in life. But many smokers have serious health effects much earlier, causing them to miss important life milestones and deeply affecting their spouses, children, extended family, and friends. That's exactly what happened to the five ad participants featured in CDC's 2016Tips From Former Smokers (Tips) campaign. They share their very personal stories in new, hard-hitting commercials airing across the United States starting January 25. The ads urge smokers to quit and to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569) if they want free help..."
Smoker's stories

NASA's Data Portal

Use the Data Portal as a one-stop shop to access NASA's data and technology resources.

Childhood Lead Poisoning Data, Statistics, and Surveillance

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program compiles state surveillance data for children age <72 1997...="" 1="" at="" for="" january="" lead="" least="" months="" once="" since="" span="" tested="" were="" who=""> 

Friday, January 22, 2016

2014 Toxics Release Inventory Analysis

"The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment. U.S. facilities in different industry sectors must report annually on how much of each chemical is released to the environment and/or managed through recycling, energy recovery and treatment. The information submitted by facilities is compiled in TRI, and can help support informed decision-making by industry, government, non-governmental organizations and the public.

The TRI National Analysis is EPA’s annual interpretation of TRI data. It highlights how toxic chemical wastes were managed, where toxic chemicals were released, and how the 2013 TRI data compare to data from previous years..."
Toxics Release Inventory

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A New Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State: Issues and Current Proposals

"n 2014, the armed offensive of the Islamic State (also known as ISIL, ISIS, or Daesh) in northern and western Iraq and northeastern Syria raised significant concerns for the United States. After first ordering multiple deployments of U.S. troops to Iraq to provide security to diplomatic personnel and facilities, advise Iraqi security forces, and conduct intelligence gathering and reconnaissance, President Obama began ordering U.S. military airstrikes on IS forces in Iraq in August 2014. Later in September, after laying out plans for expanded use of military force against the Islamic State in a televised speech to the American people, the President ordered U.S. military airstrikes in Syria against both IS forces and forces of the “Khorasan Group,” identified by the President as part of Al Qaeda. In 2015, the President ordered new deployments to Iraq, and the Administration announced deployment of a small number of special operations forces to Syria to conduct military operations that involve advising regional partner armed forces but also can include “unilateral” U.S. operations..."
Islamic State

Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons

"Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal probably consists of approximately 110-130 nuclear warheads, although it could have more. Islamabad is producing fissile material, adding to related production facilities, deploying additional nuclear weapons, and new types of delivery vehicles. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is widely regarded as designed to dissuade India from taking military action against Pakistan, but Islamabad’s expansion of its nuclear arsenal, development of new types of nuclear weapons, and adoption of a doctrine called “full spectrum deterrence” have led some observers to express concern about an increased risk of nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India, which also continues to expand its nuclear arsenal.

Pakistan has in recent years taken a number of steps to increase international confidence in the security of its nuclear arsenal. Moreover, Pakistani and U.S. officials argue that, since the 2004 revelations about a procurement network run by former Pakistani nuclear official A. Q. Khan, Islamabad has taken a number of steps to improve its nuclear security and to prevent further proliferation of nuclear-related technologies and materials. A number of important initiatives, such as strengthened export control laws, improved personnel security, and international nuclear security cooperation programs, have improved Pakistan’s nuclear security..."

United States Begins Implementation of Changes to the Visa Waiver Program

"The United States today began implementing changes under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (the Act). U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) welcomes more than a million passengers arriving to the United States every day and is committed to facilitating legitimate travel while maintaining the highest standards of security and border protection. Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
  • Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
  • Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.   
These individuals will still be able to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process at our embassies or consulates. For those who need a U.S. visa for urgent business, medical, or humanitarian travel to the United States, U.S. embassies and consulates stand ready to process applications on an expedited basis.
Beginning January 21, 2016, travelers who currently have valid Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTAs) and who have previously indicated holding dual nationality with one of the four countries listed above on their ESTA applications will have their current ESTAs revoked..."

Visa wavier

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Justice Department Releases Human Trafficking Resources to Raise Awareness and Serve Victims

"Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced today the release of a video series and resource guide to raise awareness about the many forms of human trafficking in the United States and to provide information on how to identify and serve its victims.  She also spoke with a group 20 survivors of human trafficking at a forum hosted by the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to seek survivors’ input about how federal agencies can most effectively address the crime of human trafficking. 
“In an effort to bring human trafficking survivors’ voices to as many people as we can, we are proud to announce today the release of The Faces of Human Trafficking, a new video series sponsored by OVC,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “I applaud OVC and the producers for their work to present the strength and resilience of the survivors who were interviewed for the film, which will serve as an informative training, outreach and awareness tool for years to come.”..."
Human trafficking

Birth Defects: 1 in 33

"Did you know that birth defects affect one in every 33 babies born in the United States? That means about one child in every school classroom might be affected. Those are not just numbers—they represent real babies and families. Read these family stories to learn more about birth defects and how these conditions can impact lives.

A birth defect diagnosis during pregnancy can challenge any family, but remaining hopeful can make a difference..."
Birth defects

Flint Drinking Water Documents

 View selected Flint Michigan drinking water documents compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Flint Drinking Water

Summary of The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2016 to 2026

"In 2016, the federal budget deficit will increase, in relation to the size of the economy, for the first time since 2009, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates. If current laws generally remained unchanged, the deficit would grow over the next 10 years, and by 2026 it would be considerably larger than its average over the past 50 years, CBO projects. Debt held by the public would also grow significantly from its already high level..."
Federal budget

FBI Releases Preliminary Semiannual Crime Statistics for 2015

"Statistics released today in the FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report revealed overall declines in the number of property crimes reported and overall increases in the number of violent crimes reported for the first six months of 2015 when compared with figures for the first six months of 2014. The report is based on information from 12,879 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six months of comparable data to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program for the first six months of 2014 and 2015..."
Crime statistics

HHS to Lead Federal Response in Flint

"The team will be led by Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).
Flint, Michigan is in the midst of a serious public health crisis, with high levels of lead in its water supply. President Obama signed an emergency declaration on Saturday, ordering federal assistance to support state and local response efforts.
With the emergency declaration in place, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has now been designated the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating federal government response and recovery efforts.
This means that HHS will, in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), identify and mobilize the capabilities of the rest of the federal partners – including the Small Business Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education and Agriculture (USDA) -- that are already working to help residents in Flint.
The goal of the federal response will be to help state and local leaders identify the size and scope of the problem, and work with them to make and execute a plan for mitigation of the short- and long-term health effects of lead exposure..."
Flint Michigan

A Look at Custodial Parents and Child Support in the U.S

"Raising children can be an expensive endeavor. A child recently born and raised to adulthood in the United States can cost almost $250,000, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
For many families, receiving cash and noncash assistance from the noncustodial parent is a critical source of supporting income. In 2014, about one-quarter of children living in families, or  22.1 million children under age 21, lived with only one of their parents. About five in six of these 13.4 million custodial parents were mothers (82.5 percent).
These data come from the 2013 Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Supportreport from the 2014 Current Population Survey. It provides demographic information about custodial parents, as well as child support and other income or program data..."
Custodial parents

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Freedom of Information Act Is Broken: A Report

"Since President Lyndon Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 1966, the FOIA request has been used millions of times for a myriad of reasons. FOIA is one of the central tools to create transparency in the Federal government. FOIA should be a valuable mechanism protecting against an insulated government operating in the dark, giving the American people the access to the government they deserve. As such, FOIA’s promise is central to the Committee’s mission of increasing transparency throughout the Federal government.

The power of FOIA as a research and transparency tool is fading. Excessive delays and redactions undermine its value. In large part, FOIA’s efficacy is limited by the responsiveness of the agency that receives and processes the request. On innumerable occasions, agencies have refused to produce documents or intentionally extended the timeline for document production to stymie a request for information. In many cases, American citizens find themselves frustrated by the total lack of response from the government they are asked to trust..."
Freedom of Information Act

Women's earnings 83 percent of men's, but vary by occupation

"In 2014, women who worked full time in wage and salary jobs had median usual weekly earnings of $719, which was 83 percent of men's median weekly earnings ($871). Women's earnings as a percentage of men's varied by occupation. Women's median usual weekly earnings in construction and extraction occupations ($691) were 91 percent of the earnings of their male counterparts..."
Women's pay

Long-Term Implications of the 2016 Future Years Defense Program

"In most years, the Department of Defense (DoD) produces a five-year plan, called the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP), associated with the budget that it submits to the Congress. The FYDP describes DoD’s plan for its normal, peacetime activities (corresponding to what is often labeled its base budget). DoD’s current plans are described in its 2016 FYDP, which covers fiscal years 2016 through 2020.
Those plans call for relatively flat budgets that average $534 billion for 2016 through 2020. (Unless otherwise noted, all costs in this report are expressed in 2016 dollars to remove the effects of inflation.) If DoD’s plans are projected for an additional 10 years, CBO’s analysis indicates that defense budgets would be larger, averaging $565 billion per year from 2021 through 2030 under DoD’s cost assumptions. Moreover, CBO estimates that the cost of DoD’s plans would be 4 percent higher over the next 15 years under a set of policies and prices that more closely matched recent experience..."
Defense programs

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Rare and Important Sculpture of Martin Luther King Comes to the Smithsonian

"Less than two years after Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated, the African-American artist Charles Alston received a commission from Rev. Donald Harrington for the Community Church of New York to create a bust of the Civil Rights leader for $5,000. Alston, who was active in the Harlem Renaissance, was better known as both an abstract and representational painter. He had been the first African-American supervisor for the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project. But his 1970 bust of MLK, of which he made five casts, became one of his most prominent pieces. The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery commissioned one of the 1970 castings and lent the work to the White House, where it has stood in the library since 1990, the first image of an African American on display at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
When Barack Obama became the first black President in 2009, he brought the work into the Oval Office, replacing a bust of Winston Churchill that had been returned to the British Embassy. There it became a prominent work, seen in official portraits with visiting dignitaries and heads of state.
Now a second copy of the famous King bust comes to Washington for all the public to see close up..."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Protect Your Unborn Baby or Newborn from Infections

"If you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy, there are simple steps you can take to protect your unborn baby or newborn from infections that cause serious health problems.

Group B Strep

If you are pregnant—or know anyone who is—you need to know about group B strep. About a quarter of all women carry the bacteria that cause group B strep infection. Group B strep bacteria are usually not harmful to you and won't make the people around you sick. But these bacteria can be very dangerous for your newborn. Babies can get very sick and even die if their mothers pass group B strep bacteria to them during childbirth. That's why it's so important for you to get tested for group B strep each time you get pregnant..."
Prenatal infections

Medicare to Cover End-of-Life Counseling

"The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a ruling in July 2015 to pay doctors to counsel patients about end-of-life care or “advance care planning,” a term meant to reflect that people should make their end-of-life wishes known as early as when they get a driver’s license and should reevaluate their decisions at different stages of life. The ruling cites the IOM report Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life, which discussed vulnerabilities in the current health care system related particularly to those who are approaching the end of life, and states that one of the largest barriers in providing efficient, quality end-of-life care is the lack of coordination and communication among different components of the health care system. The report states that better coordination of care is essential in improving patient outcomes and that end-of-life care should be individualized based on patient values, goals, needs, and informed preferences with a recognition that individual service needs and intensity will change over time. The policy change went into effect on January 1, 2016..."

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Speech Resources: Fact Sheet

"Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday observed annually on the third Monday in January. It celebrates the life and legacy of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. in honor of his birthday and achievements. The day is also referred to as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday; MLK Day; Martin Luther King Day; the King Holiday; and the King Day of Service. In 2016, this holiday is celebrated on January 18, and it marks the 30th anniversary of the first observance of King’s birthday as a federal holiday.

This guide assists congressional offices with work related to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It contains links to legislation, CRS reports, sample speeches and remarks from the Congressional Record, and presidential proclamations and remarks. It also contains links to additional government web resources and selected educational, cultural, and advocacy organizations..."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Iran Sanctions

"Broad international sanctions imposed on Iran during 2010-2013 harmed Iran’s economy and contributed to Iran’s acceptance of agreements that exchange constraints on its nuclear program for sanctions relief. The sanctions and related diplomatic pressure, at least in part, caused or contributed to:

 Iran’s crude oil exports to fall from about 2.5 million barrels per day (mbd) in 2011 to about 1.1 mbd by mid-2013. The effect of that export volume reduction has been further compounded by a fall in oil prices since mid-2014.

 Iran’s economy to shrink by about 10% in the two years that ended in March 2014. The economy stabilized in 2014-15 as a result of modest sanctions relief under an interim nuclear agreement that went into effect on January 20, 2014. That accord allows Iran to access $700 million per month of hard currency from oil and other product sales, and caps Iran’s crude oil exports at the 1.1 mbd level.

 constriction of Iran’s ability to procure equipment for its nuclear and missile programs and to import advanced conventional weaponry. However, these effects have not prevented Iran from continuing to develop its missile programs or from militarily assisting pro-Iranian movements and governments in the region.  the June 2013 election as president of Hassan Rouhani, who articulated a priority of obtaining relief from international sanctions and isolation..."
Iran sanctions

Friday, January 15, 2016

Test Your Home for Radon, You May Prevent Lung Cancer

"January is National Radon Action Month and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages Americans around the country to test their homes for radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer. Make 2016 a healthier, safer new year by testing your home.

Each year about 21,000 Americans die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon. Testing is the only way to know if your home has an elevated level of radon. The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend taking action to fix your home if the radon level is 4 picocuries per Liter (pCi/L) of air or more.  You should contact a qualified radon mitigation contractor if your test result is 4 pCi/L or more.

“Testing your home for radon is one of the easiest ways to help keep your family safe and healthy,” said Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Radon exposure is preventable. Test kits are inexpensive and readily available.  Reducing exposure protects families, saves lives and avoids the health care costs of radon-caused lung cancer. Everyone who takes action helps to make America’s homes and schools safer for future generations.”

Affordable do-it-yourself radon test kits are available online, at many home improvement and hardware stores and are easy to use. You can also hire a qualified radon professional. If your home is found to have a high radon level, a professionally installed radon reduction system, using a vent pipe and exhaust fan, will remove the radon from beneath your home and discharge it outside. These systems are affordable, especially compared to the risk of lung cancer..."

Court Documents Related to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Memphis Sanitation Workers

"The name of Martin Luther King, Jr., is intertwined with the history of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the United States. The Montgomery bus boycott, the freedom rides, the Birmingham campaign, the March on Washington, the Selma march, the Chicago campaign, and the Memphis boycott are some of the more noteworthy battlefields where King and his followers--numerous in numbers, humble and great in name-- fought for the equal rights and equal justice that the United States Constitution ensures for all its citizens. King, building on the tradition of civil disobedience and passive resistance earlier expressed by Thoreau, Tolstoy, and Gandhi, waged a war of nonviolent direct action against opposing forces of racism and prejudice that were embodied in the persons of local police, mayors, governors, angry citizens, and night riders of the Ku Klux Klan. The great legal milestones achieved by this movement were the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In the later 1960s, the targets of King's activism were less often the legal and political obstacles to the exercise of civil rights by blacks, and more often the underlying poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and blocked avenues of economic opportunity confronting black Americans. Despite increasing militancy in the movement for black power, King steadfastly adhered to the principles of nonviolence that had been the foundation of his career. Those principles were put to a severe test in his support of a strike by sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. This was King's final campaign before his death..."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Humans Were in the Arctic 10,000 Years Earlier Than Thought

"Even though it was his first time handling the wooly mammoth’s bones, Vladimir Pitulko could envision the sequence of events that led to the animal’s demise on a desolate Siberian plain as clearly as if had witnessed it himself.
The grizzled mammoth lumbered into the clearing, its eyesight so poor it barely saw the small band of hunters leap from their hiding place and begin their coordinated assault. The humans hurled stone-tipped javelins at the mammoth to slow it down, and felled it by stabbing its sides with heavy spears. They focused their attacks on the beast’s left side, where it had suffered a previous head injury and was missing a tusk.
Amidst the carnage, one hunter saw an opening. He raised his weapon high and slammed it down, aiming for a spot at the base of the trunk. The hunter’s killing blow missed, and the errant spear tip gouged a deep hole in the mammoth’s cheekbone instead. But the animal was already mortally injured, and other blows quickly followed. The outcome was inevitable.
Plenty of previous evidence shows that humans hunted wooly mammoths during the late Pleistocene, with some studies arguing that our species hastened the mammoths' extinction. But the Siberian discovery is a surprise because it shows a mammoth hunt high in the Arctic around 45,000 years ago—ten millennia before humans were thought to have existed in this far north..."
Humans and Arctic

The Federal Cybersecurity Workforce: Background and Congressional Oversight Issues for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security

"The federal cybersecurity workforce is responsible for protecting U.S. government systems and networks against cyber threats and attacks. Federal agencies, however, have reported difficulty in assessing the size and capabilities of their cybersecurity workforces. DOD and DHS, which play prominent roles in the nation’s cybersecurity posture, have also noted certain obstacles affecting the recruitment and retention of qualified cybersecurity professionals to fulfill their departments’ cybersecurity missions.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is constructing a dataset to catalog all federal cybersecurity positions in the executive branch. The dataset had not been released to Congress or the public. In addition, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed agencies to identify their top five cyber talent gaps by December 31, 2015. Congress has also authorized hiring and pay flexibilities that can be used to fill cybersecurity positions at DOD and DHS. The flexibilities aim to enhance the recruitment and retention of cybersecurity professionals by expediting the federal hiring process and providing such professionals with monetary incentives that are not available to all federal employees. OPM has also established temporary hiring flexibilities for certain DOD and DHS cybersecurity positions..."
Federal Cybersecurity

Juvenile Justice Funding Trends

"Although juvenile justice has always been administered by the states, Congress has had significant influence in the area through funding for grant programs administered by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974, P.L. 93-415, was the first comprehensive juvenile justice legislation passed by Congress. Since 1974, the act has undergone several key amendments, including a significant reorganization enacted by P.L. 107-273 in 2002. The juvenile justice appropriation includes funding allocated within the purview of the JJDPA, as well as other grant programs that are administered by OJJDP but that are not within the JJDPA.

After the restructuring of juvenile justice grant programs in 2002, their funding, which had generally been above $500 million, began to decline. For FY2010, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117) provided $424 million for juvenile justice programs within DOJ. This was the largest amount appropriated to juvenile justice programs since FY2003. From FY2010 through FY2015, juvenile justice funding declined each subsequent fiscal year. Most recently, through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113), Congress increased juvenile justice funding to its highest level in five years and appropriated nearly $270.2 million for these programs for FY2016..."
Juvenile justice

Separation of Powers: An Overview

"Congress’s role and operation in national politics is fundamentally shaped by the design and structure of the governing institution in the Constitution. One of the key principles of the Constitution is separation of powers. The doctrine is rooted in a political philosophy that aims to keep power from consolidating in any single person or entity, and a key goal of the framers of the Constitution was to establish a governing system that diffused and divided power. These objectives were achieved institutionally through the design of the Constitution. The legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government were assigned distinct and limited roles under the Constitution, and required to be comprised of different political actors. The constitutional structure does not, however, insulate the branches from each other. While the design of the Constitution aims, through separation, to prevent the centralization of power, it also seeks the same objective through diffusion. Thus, most powers granted under the Constitution are not unilateral for any one branch; instead they overlap..."
Separation of Powers

Big Data in U.S. Agriculture

"Recent media and industry reports have employed the term big data as a key to the future of increased food production and sustainable agriculture. A recent hearing on the private elements of big data in agriculture suggests that Congress too is interested in potential opportunities and challenges big data may hold. While there appears to be great interest, the subject of big data is complex and often misunderstood, especially within the context of agriculture.

There is no commonly accepted definition of the term big data. It is often used to describe a modern trend in which the combination of technology and advanced analytics creates a new way of processing information that is more useful and timely. In other words, big data is just as much about new methods for processing data as about the data themselves. It is dynamic, and when analyzed can provide a useful tool in a decisionmaking process. Most see big data in agriculture at the end use point, where farmers use precision tools to potentially create positive results like increased yields, reduced inputs, or greater sustainability. While this is certainly the more intriguing part of the discussion, it is but one aspect and does not necessarily represent a complete picture..."
Big Data

Federal Register: a Daily Journal of the United States Government

"The Office of the Federal Register informs citizens of their rights and obligations, documents the actions of Federal agencies, and provides a forum for public participation in the democratic process. Our publications provide access to a wide range of Federal benefits and opportunities for funding and contain comprehensive information about the various activities of the United States Government. In addition, we administer the Electoral College for Presidential elections and the Constitutional amendment process.
The Federal Register is updated daily by 6 a.m. and is published Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, and consists of four types of entries.
  • Presidential Documents, including Executive orders and proclamations.
  • Rules and Regulations, including policy statements and interpretations of rules.
  • Proposed Rules, including petitions for rulemaking and other advance proposals.
  • Notices, including scheduled hearings and meetings open to the public, grant applications, administrative orders, and other announcements of government actions...."
    Federal Register

Federal Reserve Beige Book: Januaryt 2016

"Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity has expanded in nine of the Districts since the previous Beige Book report and contacts in Boston were described as upbeat. Meanwhile, New York and Kansas City described economic activity in their Districts as essentially flat. Atlanta and San Francisco characterized the growth in their Districts as moderate; Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Dallas described their Districts’ growth as modest. Contacts’ outlooks for future growth remained mostly positive in Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, and Dallas.

Growth of consumer spending ranged from slight to moderate in most Districts, while auto sales were somewhat mixed, as activity has begun to drop off from previously high levels in some Districts. Reports of tourism activity were also mixed..."
Beige book, Jan. 2016

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Immigrants play increasing role in U.S. science and engineering workforce

"From 2003 to 2013, the number of scientists and engineers residing in the United States rose from 21.6 million to 29 million. This 10-year increase included significant growth in the number of immigrant scientists and engineers, from 3.4 million to 5.2 million.
Immigrants went from making up 16 percent of the science and engineering workforce to 18 percent, according to a report from the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). In 2013, the latest year for which numbers are available, 63 percent of U.S. immigrant scientists and engineers were naturalized citizens, while 22 percent were permanent residents and 15 percent were temporary visa holders.
Of the immigrant scientists and engineers in the United States in 2013:
  • 57 percent were born in Asia.
  • 20 percent were born in North America (excluding the United States), Central America, the Caribbean, or South America.
  • 16 percent were born in Europe.
  • 6 percent were born in Africa.
  • And less than 1 percent were born in Oceania...."


Solar Energy Jobs Outpace U.S. Economy

"Tonight, during the State of the Union address, President Obama will reflect back on the past seven years of his presidency and celebrate his Administration’s accomplishments -- and when it comes to solar energy, the Obama Administration has plenty to celebrate.
U.S. solar energy capacity has grown thirtyfold since President Obama took office. And in just the first nine months of 2015, solar accounted for 31 percent of all new electric generating capacity. Across the United States, there are now nearly one million solar energy projects operating. All told, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars per year on their electricity bills. And rooftop solar customers can expect to see savings every year for the 30-plus years their solar system is in service..."
Solar energy

ICE abd USCIS on improving data to identify Human Trafficking Cases

"Our match of ICE and USCIS data from 2005 to 2014 indicated that work and fiance visas were primarily means by which 17 of 32 know traffickers brought victims into the United States. In addition, we determined that 274 subjects of ICE human trafficking investigations successfully petioned USCIS to bring 425 family members and fiances into the United States, Available data could not confirm whether or not these cases actually involved human trafficking..." 
Human Trafficking

Coal production and prices decline in 2015

"Since reaching a high point in 2008, coal production in the United States has continued to decline. U.S. coal production in 2015 is expected to be about 900 million short tons (MMst), 10% lower than in 2014 and the lowest level since 1986. Regionally, production from the Appalachian Basin has fallen the most. Low natural gas prices, lower international coal demand, and environmental regulations have contributed to declining U.S. coal production...."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Election Certification of Hattie Caraway

"When Thaddeus Caraway died near the end of his second term as a United States Senator from Arkansas, Governor Harvey Parnell appointed Caraway's widow, Hattie Wyatt Caraway, to the seat
On January 12, 1932, after winning a special election to fill the remaining months of her late husband's term, Hattie Caraway became the first woman to be elected to the United States Senate.
In November 1932, she won election to her first full term to the United States Senate and held the seat until January 2, 1945.
Hattie Caraway

Overview of the Census Business Builder: Regional Analyst Edition

"The Census Business Builder: Regional Analyst Edition allows Chamber of Commerce and regional planning and economic development staff a way to easily navigate to and use key demographic and economic data to help guide their research into and understanding of their region.  These key data includes the most recent and/or relevant information that Census provides that are useful to these data users..."
Census Business Builder

Survey of Consumer Expectations - January 2016

"The New York Fed’s Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE) provides timely and comprehensive information about consumer expectations through three broad categories: inflation, labor market and household finance. The SCE contains monthly insight about how consumers expect overall inflation and prices for food, gas, housing, education and medical care to change over time. It also provides Americans’ views about job prospects and earnings growth, as well as their expectations about future spending and access to credit. The SCE also provides measures of uncertainty in expectations for the main outcomes of interest. Expectations are available by age, income, education, numeracy and geograp..."
Consumer Expectations

Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion? Understanding the Issues (FTC Report)

"We are in the era of big data. With a smartphone now in nearly every pocket, a computer in nearly every household, and an ever-increasing number of Internet-connected devices in the marketplace, the amount of consumer data flowing throughout the economy continues to increase rapidly.

The analysis of this data is often valuable to companies and to consumers, as it can guide the development of new products and services, predict the preferences of individuals, help tailor services and opportunities, and guide individualized marketing. At the same time, advocates, academics, and others have raised concerns about whether certain uses of big data analytics may harm consumers, particularly lowincome and underserved populations.

To explore these issues, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “the Commission”) held a public workshop, Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?, on September 15, 2014. The workshop brought together stakeholders to discuss both the potential of big data to create opportunities for consumers and to exclude them from such opportunities. The Commission has synthesized the information from the workshop, a prior FTC seminar on alternative scoring products, and recent research to create this report. Though “big data” encompasses a wide range of analytics, this report addresses only the commercial use of big data consisting of consumer information and focuses on the impact of big data on low-income and underserved populations. Of course, big data also raises a host of other important policy issues, such as notice, choice, and security, among others. Those, however, are not the primary focus of this report..."
Big data