Saturday, August 27, 2016

President Obama Designates the World's Largest Marine Protected Area

"Today, President Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii to encompass more than half a million square miles  making it the world's largest marine protected area. Home to more than 7,000 marine mammals, some of them critically endangered, the monument will also permanently protect pristine coral reefs, deep sea marine habitats, and important ecological resources.
Here’s what you need to know:

History

The monument was originally created in 2006 by President George W. Bush and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.  Since that time, new scientific exploration and research has revealed new species and deep sea habitats as well as important ecological connections between the existing monument and the adjacent waters..."
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

Take the Safe Online Surfing Internet Challenge

"What do more than 870,000 students across the nation have in common?
Since 2012, they have all completed the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge. Available through a free website at https://sos.fbi.gov, this initiative promotes cyber citizenship by teaching students in third through eighth grades how to recognize and respond to online dangers through a series of fun, interactive activities.
Internet security

Stealing Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage: An Overview of the Economic Espionage Act

"Stealing a trade secret is a federal crime when the information relates to a product in interstate or foreign commerce, 18 U.S.C. 1832 (theft of trade secrets), or when the intended beneficiary is a foreign power, 18 U.S.C. 1831 (economic espionage). Section 1832 requires that the thief be aware that the misappropriation will injure the secret’s owner to the benefit of someone else. Section 1831 requires only that the thief intend to benefit a foreign government or one of its instrumentalities.

Offenders face lengthy prison terms as well as heavy fines, and they must pay restitution. Moreover, property derived from the offense or used to facilitate its commission is subject to confiscation. The sections reach violations occurring overseas, if the offender is a United States national or if an act in furtherance of the crime is committed within the United States..."
Trade secrets

How Treasury Issues Debt

"The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), among other roles, manages the country’s debt. The primary objective of Treasury’s debt management strategy is to finance the government’s borrowing needs at the lowest cost over time. To accomplish this Treasury adheres to three principles: (1) to issue debt in a regular and predictable pattern, (2) to provide transparency in the decisionmaking process, and (3) to seek continuous improvements in the auction process.

Within the Treasury, the Office of Debt Management (ODM) makes all decisions related to debt issuance and the management of the United States debt portfolio. When federal spending exceeds revenues, the ODM directs the Bureau of the Fiscal Service to borrow the funds needed to finance government operations by selling securities to the public and government agencies through an auction process. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service manages the operational aspects of the issuance of Treasury securities, including the systems related to and the monitoring of security auctions..."
Treasury and debt

Iran: Politics, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy

"Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, a priority of U.S. policy has been primarily to reduce the perceived threat posed by Iran to a broad range of U.S. interests, including the security of the Persian Gulf region. U.S. officials also express a broad range of concerns about Iran’s human rights abuses. The implementation of a July 14, 2015, “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) nuclear agreement between Iran and six negotiating powers appeared to represent an opportunity to reduce the long-standing U.S.-Iran enmity and construct a new relationship..."
Iran

CFPB Issues Guide and Best Practices to Help Communities Create Protection Partnerships for Seniors

"Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report that found that hundreds of counties around the country have developed coordinated community-based efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to elder financial exploitation. The report also found that a strong collaboration among community stakeholders – like financial institutions, adult protective services, and law enforcement – can be very effective in protecting their older residents from financial exploitation. To help other communities across the country create their own protection partnerships to fight elder financial abuse, today the CFPB also released a resource guide and best practices..."
Consumer protection for seniors

DOD Security Cooperation: An Overview of Authorities and Issues

"Over the past decade, the increasing scope, pace, and cost of Department of Defense (DOD) security cooperation missions have raised many questions about appropriate DOD and State Department roles and responsibilities in and the utility of such efforts. For some policymakers, DOD’s new and expanded missions enable the United States to meet the challenges of the complex global security environment more effectively. As such, congressional approval of new DOD security cooperation statutes represents a necessary response to perceived shortcomings of the overarching legal regime through which, for more than 50 years, Congress has largely authorized and funded the State Department to lead and DOD to administer security assistance to foreign countries. Other policymakers, however, question whether DOD’s growing emphasis on and authority to conduct security cooperation missions undermines the State Department’s lead role in assisting foreign security forces and “militarizes” U.S. foreign policy..."
DOD and security

Reforming the U.S. Postal Service: Background and Issues for Congress

"This report provides background information on the responsibilities, financial challenges and workforce issues facing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Additionally, it covers the current strategies and initiatives under development by the USPS and discusses further options for postal reforms.

In FY2015, the USPS marked its ninth consecutive year of financial losses with a net loss of $5.1 billion. In addition, the USPS has reached its statutory debt limit of $15 billion. In recent years, the USPS has experienced growth in the package and shipping part of its business (known as Competitive Products). The USPS, however, has experienced sharp declines in both volume and revenue of its Market Dominant Products (e.g., First Class single-piece mail)..."
U.S. Postal Service

Heroin Trafficking in the United States

"Over the past several years, the nation has seen an uptick in the use and abuse of opioids—both prescription substances and non-prescription substances such as heroin. The estimated number of individuals who had used heroin was 914,000 in 2014. Further, about 586,000 individuals (0.2% of the 12 and older population) had a heroin use disorder in 2014. In addition to an increase in heroin use over the past several years, there has been a simultaneous increase in its availability in the United States. This has been fueled by a number of factors, including increased production and trafficking of heroin—principally by Mexican criminal networks..."
Heroin trafficking

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Airline Passenger Rights: The Federal Role in Aviation Consumer Protection

"The 1978 deregulation of the airline industry in the United States eliminated federal control over many airline business practices, including pricing and domestic route selection. However, the federal government continues to legislate and enforce certain consumer protections for airline passengers. Congress largely determines the degree to which the rights of airline passengers are codified in law or developed through regulatory rulemaking.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation are the primary congressional committees of jurisdiction over airline passenger rights. Congress can authorize or require the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to enact rules on certain issues, and it can enact requirements for airlines through direct legislation. In specific cases, DOT may take enforcement actions against air carriers that violate consumer protection rules.

Most of DOT’s consumer rules are based on 49 U.S.C. §41712, which directs it to “protect consumers from unfair or deceptive practices.” Some are based on DOT’s authority to require air carriers in interstate transportation to provide “safe and adequate service” (49 U.S.C. §41702). The interpretation of the phrase “unfair or deceptive” can significantly affect the scope of DOT’s enforcement authority..."
Airline passenger rights

Dude, Where’s My Jurisdiction? Congressional Efforts to Strip Federal Courts of Jurisdiction

"Federal courts, in presiding over lawsuits, have significant power over the citizenry’s life, liberty, and property, and that power can be exercised in a manner that may raise concerns with the legislative branch. One way Congress potentially can reduce the judiciary’s influence is by regulating federal court jurisdiction. Federal courts are limited to the jurisdiction granted by the Constitution, which, in Article III, authorizes federal courts to decide certain limited “cases” and “controversies.” Article III also authorizes Congress to determine what classes of “cases” and “controversies” inferior courts have jurisdiction to hear. A recent case decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Patchak v. Jewell, demonstrates how Congress, perhaps concerned by how a court might rule on a matter before it, might “strip” the court of jurisdiction to hear a case in the midst of litigation. Patchak highlights the scope of Congress’s authority to remove a class of cases from federal jurisdiction and the consequences for already pending lawsuits..."
Federal courts

State of the Cities Data Systems (SOCDS)

"The SOCDS provides data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburb..."
Cities data

Trends in Family Wealth, 1989 to 2013

"In 2013, aggregate family wealth in the United States was $67 trillion (or about four times the nation’s gross domestic product) and the median family (the one at the midpoint of the wealth distribution) held approximately $81,000, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. For this analysis, CBO calculated that measure of wealth as a family’s assets minus its debt. CBO measured wealth as marketable wealth, which consists of assets that are easily tradable and that have value even after the death of their owner. Those assets include home equity, other real estate (net of real estate loans), financial securities, bank deposits, defined contribution pension accounts, and business equity. Debt is nonmortgage debt, including credit card debt, auto loans, and student loans, for example..."
Family wealth

An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2016 to 2026

"In fiscal year 2016, the federal budget deficit will increase in relation to economic output for the first time since 2009, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. If current laws generally remained unchanged—an assumption underlying CBO’s baseline projections— deficits would continue to mount over the next 10 years, and debt held by the public would rise from its already high level..."
Federal budget

New MyPlate Resources for Families

"Every family is unique. When it comes to healthy eating, choose a starting place that works for your family, whether it’s going to a farmers market together or letting kids plan your next healthy dinner menu. Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov/Families for more ideas to get kids of all ages involved in planning healthy family meals:

The Peak of the Hurricane Season – Why Now?

"Although the Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1st, we’re now entering the “season within the season” - a roughly eight-week period that is often the most active and dangerous time for tropical cyclone activity.
From mid-August through mid-October, the activity spikes, accounting for 78 percent of the tropical storm days, 87 percent of the category 1 and 2 hurricane days (Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale), and a whopping 96 percent of the major (category 3, 4 and 5) hurricane days.
Why does this peak period of activity begin so deep into summer? There certainly is no lack of disturbances throughout the entire six-month hurricane season. Tropical waves are coming off of the coast of Africa roughly every three days, and the very early and late parts of the year provide additional types of potential seedlings.  What’s different, though, is the environment that these potential tropical cyclones tend to encounter. Both dynamics (wind factors) and thermodynamics (temperature and moisture) play a role..."
Hurricane season

Using data to better understand climate change

"In 2010, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a $10 million Expeditions in Computing grant to a University of Minnesota-led research team that uses data-driven approaches to address key challenges in climate change science. Data-driven approaches have already proven useful in a number of scientific disciplines, from materials science to genomics.
The project, called Understanding Climate Change: A Data Driven Approach, developed methods that use climate and ecosystem data from a range of sources to refine predictions and identify changes in the climate. Those sources may include everything from satellite- and ground-based sensors, to climate model simulations and observational records for atmospheric, oceanic and terrestrial processes..."
Climate change and data

"Capture of the City of Washington," August 1814

"On August 24 and 25, 1814, British troops occupied Washington, D.C. and burned the Capitol, the President’s house, and other public buildings during the War of 1812..."
City of Washington Capture Aug. 1814

Put Vaccination on Your Back-to-School List

"When you’re getting your kids ready for the upcoming school year, make sure to include back-to-school vaccine appointments on your checklist.
While vaccines are often thought of as something for babies and young children, preteens and teens also need vaccines to stay healthy throughout the school year. Vaccination protects preteens and teens against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including meningitis and cancers caused by HPV infections.
These diseases are still around and very real. When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can also spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community..."
Vaccinations

Radon is Real!

"Radon is Real! As the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking, radon is associated with approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is educating students about the risk of radon exposure and the importance of testing.
In December 2015, Stephanie Foster of the Geospatial Research, Analysis, and Services Program (GRASP) and Brian Tencza of the Environmental Medicine Branch, at ATSDR visited 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms to educate students about the risk of radon exposure. Radon is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless radioactive gas, and its presence can only be determined by testing the indoor air of our homes, schools, and workplaces..."
Radon

National Parks and the Economy of Their “Gateway Towns”

"Nowhere is our nation’s natural beauty on more vivid display than in its more than 400national parks. Maintained by the National Park Service for exactly one century this summer, these venues have long been popular destinations for summer vacations and weekend getaways.
The term “National Park” immediately conjures up images of some of their most famous landmarks, such as “Old Faithful” in Yellowstone, “Half Dome” in Yosemite and the waves crashing into the rocky shores of Acadia, but national parks also include places where American history was written and that preserve the unique culture of our nation. For many visitors, their first stops are the “gateway communities” that serve national parks. Located not far from the parks’ entrances, these towns are critical to tourists for lodging, food and “gassing up.”..."
National Parks and the Economy of Their “Gateway Towns”

Friday, August 19, 2016

Introducing the Pocket Guide to Transportation App

"If you need transportation statistics at a moment’s notice – for example, if you want to see a list of the most congested urban areas or if you want to find the busiest Amtrak stations – the Bureau of Transportation Statistics has a solution for you.
As we mark the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, BTS is introducing its most innovative product yet – a smartphone app for the Pocket Guide to Transportation.
Graphic - Download the Pocket Guide App.."
Transportation app

LGB Student Health Risks

"New data published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report offers insight into the health risks of LGB high school students. The report, “Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12—United States and Selected Sites, 2015,” includes the first national estimates of more than 100 health risk behaviors— including sexual risk behaviors; violence; and tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use—that put LGB teens at risk. Findings from the report show that LGB students experience substantially higher levels of physical and sexual violence and bullying than non-LGB students. The report is available on the Healthy Youth Web site..."
LGB student health

The Federal Circuit Rules on Trademarks Considered Offensive: May Affect Redskins Trademark Dispute

"Two separate cases involving the revocation of the Washington Redskins’ federally registered trademarks (ProFootball, Inc. v. Blackhorse) and the refusal to grant registration for a rock band’s name (In re Tam) raise questions about the constitutionality of Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946 (conventionally known as the Lanham Act), which denies trademark registration to certain offensive content. In relevant part, Section 2(a) prohibits registration if the trademark “consists of matter . . . which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” Section 14(b) of the Lanham Act then permits the cancellation of federal registration if a mark is later found to have been registered contrary to Section 2(a). In one of these cases, In re Tam, the court found that Section 2(a) is an unconstitutional government regulation of speech. The opinion overturns seventy years of judicial precedent—that Section 2(a) does not implicate the First Amendment—and may pave the way for federal registration of marks that some individuals or communities may find offensive..."
Offensive trademarks

Revision of OMB Circular No. A-130, "Managing Information as a Strategic Resource."

"The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has revised Circular A-130, "Managing Information as a Strategic Resource," to reflect changes in law and advances in technology. The revisions also ensure consistency with executive orders, presidential directives, recent OMB policy, and National Institute of Standards and Technology standards and guidelines.

The Circular establishes general policy for information governance, acquisitions, records management, open data, workforce, security, and privacy. It also emphasizes the role of both privacy and security in the Federal information life cycle. Importantly, it represents a shift from viewing security and privacy requirements as compliance exercises to understanding security and privacy as crucial elements of a comprehensive, strategic, and continuous risk-based program at Federal agencies..."
Circular A-130

Food Security in the U.S.

"Food security means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.
ERS plays a leading role in Federal research on food security and food security measurement in U.S. households and communities and provides data access and technical support to social science scholars to facilitate their research on food security. ERS research focuses on:
  • food security in U.S. households,
  • food security's impact on the well-being of children, adults, families, and communities, and
  • food security's relationship to public policies, public assistance programs, and the economy. 
On October 21, 2015, ERS hosted a one-day conference—Reflecting on 20 Years of Measuring Household Food Security—to reflect on the contributions and impact of the household food security measure..."

Food security

CULTURAL PROPERTY: Protection of Iraqi and Syrian Antiquities

"U.S. agencies and the Smithsonian Institution (Smithsonian) have undertaken five types of activities to protect Iraqi and Syrian cultural property since 2011, which include awareness raising, information sharing, law enforcement, overseas capacity building, and destruction prevention. For example, the Department of Homeland Security reported coordinating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies to open 18 Iraqi and Syrian cultural property cases—such as those regarding smuggling by individuals and international criminal organizations—between 2011 and February 2016. To enhance the capacity of partners overseas, the Department of State (State), the government of Iraq, and others established an archaeological and cultural management training facility in Erbil, Iraq. In addition, to prevent destruction, the Smithsonian and others trained Syrian antiquities professionals to use sandbags and other materials to protect ancient mosaics at a Syrian museum, reportedly resulting in the successful protection of the museum collection when it was bombed..."
Iraqi and Syrian antiquities

NASA Analyzes Deadly Louisiana Flooding

"Record-setting rainfall and flooding in southern Louisiana have been calculated at NASA with data from satellites.
An extremely severe rainfall event hit the states of Louisiana and southern Mississippi when a very slow moving low pressure system continuously pulled tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.
Measurements by the Global Precipitation Measurement or GPM mission core observatory satellite showed that rainfall intensity within the low pressure system actually increased on Aug. 12 as the low pressure area bringing the rainfall settled over southeastern Louisiana. GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA..."
Louisiana floods

Al Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa

"After nearly a decade and a half of combating Al Qaeda (AQ) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States faces an increasingly diverse threat from Al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East and Africa. While senior Al Qaeda figures reportedly remain based in Pakistan, the network maintains a number of affiliates across the Middle East and Africa including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Al Shabaab. Al Qaeda also retains a small but growing presence in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have stated that Al Qaeda still maintains a foothold in Syria through its ties to Jabhat Fatah al Sham (formerly known as the Nusra Front). This report examines the threat posed by Al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East and Africa as described by U.S. officials and outside observers, as well as the U.S. approach to date in responding to the threat posed by individual groups..."
Al Qaeda

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)

"The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is comprised of nine members, two ex officio members, and other members as appointed by the President representing major departments and agencies within the federal executive branch. While the group generally has operated in relative obscurity, the proposed acquisition of commercial operations at six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World in 2006 placed the group’s operations under intense scrutiny by Members of Congress and the public. Prompted by this case, some Members of the 109th and 110th Congresses questioned the ability of Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities given the general view that CFIUS’s operations lack transparency. Other Members revisited concerns about the linkage between national security and the role of foreign investment in the U.S. economy. Some Members of Congress and others argued that the nation’s security and economic concerns have changed since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that these concerns were not being reflected sufficiently in the Committee’s deliberations. In addition, anecdotal evidence seemed to indicate that the CFIUS process was not market neutral..." I
Foreign investments in the U.S.

Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2007-2016

"This report provides background information for Congress on the levels of Department of Defense (DOD) troop and contractor personnel deployed in support of prior and ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. For more information on DOD’s use of contractor personnel to support military operations, see CRS Report R43074, Department of Defense’s Use of Contractors to Support Military Operations: Background, Analysis, and Issues for Congress, by Moshe Schwartz.

The Role of Contractors in Military Operations

Throughout its history, DOD has relied on contractors to support a wide range of military operations. Operations over the past 30 years have highlighted the critical role that contractors play in supporting U.S. troops—both in terms of the number of contractors and the type of work being performed. During recent U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, contractors frequently averaged 50% or more of the total DOD presence in-country..."
Afghanistan troop levels

EPA and DOT Finalize Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration jointly finalized standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that would improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution to reduce the impacts of climate change, while bolstering energy security and spurring manufacturing innovation.
The final phase two program promotes a new generation of cleaner, more fuel efficient trucks by encouraging the development and deployment of new and advanced cost-effective technologies. The product of four years of extensive testing and research, the vehicle and engine performance standards would cover model years 2018-2027 for certain trailers and model years 2021-2027 for semi-trucks, large pickup trucks, vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks..."Fuel efficiency heavy duty engines

Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2013–14 - Statistical Tables

"More than 180 million applications for firearm transfers or permits were subject to background checks since the effective date of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act on February 28, 1994, through December 31, 2014. During this period, about 2.8 million applications (1.6%) were denied. In 2014, nearly 15 million applications were subject to background checks, and 193,000 (1.3%) were denied, including about 91,000 denied by the FBI and about 102,000 denied by state and local agencies..."
Background firearm checks

The Increasing Complexity of IT Occupations

"Computers are all around us — from desktops at work and home to smartphones everywhere in between. In fact, about 4 in 5 households own some type of computer. America’s use of technology relies on a large workforce to maintain networks, develop hardware and software, and provide support. In 2014, 4.6 million people worked in information technology (IT).
A new report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau explores trends in IT occupations since 1970 as well as characteristics of the IT workforce. Moreover, it explains how the Census Bureau tracks growing and evolving occupations over time..."
IT Occupations

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

FDA’s New Regulations for E-Cigarettes, Cigars, and All Other Tobacco Products

"Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. Since 2009, FDA has regulated cigarettes, smokeless, and roll-your-own tobacco. FDA finalized a rule, effective August 8, 2016, to regulate all tobacco products. For background information on this milestone in consumer protection, see The Facts on the FDA’s New Tobacco Rule.

Read the FDA Voice blog post by Center Director Mitch Zeller on Protecting the Public and Especially Kids from Tobacco Products, Including E-Cigarettes, Cigars and Hookah Tobacco..."
E-Cigarettes

Monday, August 8, 2016

How long is the U.S. shoreline?

"As there is no reference that designates one specific shoreline as the "legal" shoreline, numbers for the length of the U.S. shoreline can vary depending on how the shoreline is defined.
The NOAA shoreline length calculation of 95,471 miles was determined by hand in 1939-40 with a recording instrument on the largest-scale charts and maps available at that time. Shorelines of outer coast, offshore islands, sounds, bays, rivers, and creeks were included to the head of the tidewater or to a point where tidal waters narrow to a width of 100 feet. For the Great Lakes, the shoreline lengths were measured in 1970 by the International Coordinating Committee on Great Lakes Basic Hydraulic and Hydrologic Data..."
U.S. shoreline

Prosecution of Criminal Offenses against Congress

"A House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) inquiry of the potential mishandling of classified information has renewed questions about the process by which offenses against Congress are prosecuted. In the hearing, FBI Director James Comey indicated that in order for the FBI to investigate a potential incident of a witness providing false testimony under oath to a congressional committee, the FBI would need a “referral” from Congress. Chairman Jason Chaffetz sent such a referral several days after the hearing. Director Comey’s comment raises questions about the interplay between the executive branch and Congress with regard to prosecuting crimes that are intended to protect the integrity of the legislative and oversight processes..."
Congressional criminal offenses

Federal Assistance for Victims of Terrorism or Mass Violence: In Brief

"Following incidents of terrorism or mass violence in the United States, jurisdictions and individuals may be eligible to receive various types of victim assistance both directly from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and indirectly from DOJ through their respective state victim assistance agencies or other programs. While circumstances in some incidents may result in a jurisdiction’s eligibility for assistance from other federal departments, such as Department of Education grants awarded to Newtown Public School District in recovery efforts from the Newtown, CT, elementary school shooting, this report focuses solely on assistance available from DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)—the primary federal assistance available to victims of terrorism or mass violence.

As authorized by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA, P.L. 98-473), the OVC supports several federal programs that may assist victims of terrorism or mass violence. Grant programs include the victim assistance and victim compensation formula grant programs and the Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP). Other programs and operations directly assist victims, including the Victim Assistance Program at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), victim witness assistance at the Offices of the U.S. Attorneys, the International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program (ITVERP), the Victim Reunification Travel Program, and various supplemental grants to and agreements with agencies and organizations that provide assistance to victims of terrorism or mass violence..."
Victims of terrorism

Friday, August 5, 2016

Take Care with Pet Reptiles

"Many people think that Salmonella infections are caused only by contaminated food, but you can also get infected by handling turtles, lizards, frogs or anything in their environment, such as aquariums and food dishes. Salmonella germs in reptile and amphibian droppings (feces) can contaminate anything they contact.
If there are young children in your home, consider other pets for your family. More than 125 people have become sick in several ongoing, nationwide Salmonella outbreaks linked to small turtles. Most patients are children younger than 5 years. From 2006 to 2014, CDC investigated 15 multistate Salmonella outbreaks linked to turtles; 921 people were sickened, 156 were hospitalized, and an infant died. These illnesses and outbreaks are why CDC recommends that turtles and other reptiles are not kept as pets in households with young children.[775 KB],,,:

Reptiles care

The Distribution of Asset Holdings and Capital Gains

"In 2010, more than 70 percent of families directly owned property designated under the Internal Revenue Code as capital assets—that is, assets that can be sold and that typically generate taxable capital gains or deductible losses when sold. Families’ capital assets included their homes, other real estate, privately owned businesses, stocks, corporate and government bonds (including Treasury bills and notes but excluding Treasury savings bonds), and mutual funds; those assets had a combined worth of $50 trillion. That amount does not include an additional $20 trillion of other family assets—such as the value of defined benefit and defined contribution retirement plans (for example, 401(k) plans) and balances in savings and checking accounts...
Asset holdings

The 2016 Olympic Games: Health, Security, Environmental, and Doping Issues

"The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5-21, 2016, and will be followed by the Paralympic Games, September 7-18, 2016. Notably, these are the first games to be hosted by a South American city. Reportedly, 10,500 athletes from 206 countries will participate in the Olympics, including 555 athletes from the United States. Most Olympic events will take place in and around Rio de Janeiro. In addition to Rio de Janeiro, soccer matches will be held in the cities of Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Manaus, São Paulo, and Salvador.

Host countries and cities often have to deal with a variety of questions or issues, which is also true for Brazil and Rio de Janeiro. The list of issues or potential problems that might have implications for athletes, team personnel, and spectators participating in or attending the 2016 Rio Games includes the Zika virus, public safety threats, security concerns, and environmental conditions. It also bears noting that the act of hosting the Olympics may have implications for Brazil. Finally, doping is of particular concern this year because of revelations regarding a stateorchestrated doping scheme perpetrated by Russian authorities and sports organizations..."
2016 Olympic Games

State Challenges to Federal Enforcement of Immigration Law: From the Mid-1990s to the Present

"States and localities can have significant interest in the manner and extent to which federal officials enforce provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) regarding the exclusion and removal of unauthorized aliens. Depending upon the jurisdiction’s specific concerns, this interest can be expressed in various ways, from the adoption of “sanctuary” policies limiting the jurisdiction’s cooperation in federal enforcement efforts to the enactment of measures to deter unauthorized aliens from entering or remaining within the jurisdiction. In some cases, states or localities have also sued to compel federal officials to enforce the INA and other relevant laws.

In the mid-1990s, six states which were then home to over half the unauthorized aliens in the United States—Arizona, California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Texas—each filed suit alleging that federal officials’ failure to check unauthorized migration violated the Guarantee and Invasion Clauses of the Constitution, the Tenth Amendment, and provisions of the INA. Concerns regarding standing—or who is a proper party to seek relief from a federal court—were sometimes noted. However, even when standing was assumed, the constitutional claims were seen to involve nonjusticiable “political questions,” or failed on their merits. The states’ statutory claims were similarly seen to involve matters committed to agency discretion by law and, thus, not reviewable by the courts. In three cases, the courts also noted that federal officials’ alleged failure to control unauthorized migration did not constitute a reviewable “abdication” of their statutory duties...:
Immigration law

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The U.S. Military’s Force Structure: A Primer

"In fiscal year 2015, the Department of Defense (DoD) spent a total of roughly $390 billion on operation and support (O&S) of military units. The O&S budget covers the costs associated with the day-to-day running of units. Those costs include pay and benefits for military personnel, compensation for most civilian employees, health care costs for military and civilian personnel, and the daily expenses of operating a unit, such as equipment maintenance, training, support contractors, and so on. The O&S budget makes up about two-thirds of DoD’s total “base” budget, which is the defense budget excluding additional funds provided specifically for wartime operations. (The rest of DoD’s base budget is spent on acquiring weapon systems and constructing buildings and other infrastructure.)...
U.S. military force

2016 PIT Estimate of Veteran Homelessness in the U.S.

"These documents report the Point-in-Time (PIT) Count estimates of homeless veterans at a point in time in the last ten days of January 2016 by Continuum of Care (CoC) and by State. The documents include a comparison to the estimate of homeless veterans at a point in time in 2015...
Homeless veterans

New Commitments to Accelerate the Safe Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

"Since President Obama took office in 2009, developments in aviation, sensing, and software technology have powered a revolution in unmanned flight. In the next decade, the burgeoning commercial drone industry is projected to generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and, by 2025, could support as many as 100,000 new jobs.
Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is announcing new steps, sustained by public and private support, to promote the safe integration and innovative adoption of unmanned aircraft systems across the United States. These announcements build on the Administration’s efforts over the past seven and a half years to support the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the highly-complex network that comprises the National Airspace System, including: air navigation and air traffic control facilities, airports, technology, and the appropriate rules and regulations. Most notably, these announcements expand on the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s  “Small UAS” rule announced earlier this summer to provide national guidelines for the operation of non-recreational unmanned aircraft under 55 pounds..."
Unmanned aircrafts