Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda

"Executive Order
- - - - - - -
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to lower regulatory burdens on the American people by implementing and enforcing regulatory reform, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1.  Policy.  It is the policy of the United States to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.
Sec. 2.  Regulatory Reform Officers.  (a)  Within 60 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency, except the heads of agencies receiving waivers under section 5 of this order, shall designate an agency official as its Regulatory Reform Officer (RRO).  Each RRO shall oversee the implementation of regulatory reform initiatives and policies to ensure that agencies effectively carry out regulatory reforms, consistent with applicable law.  These initiatives and policies include..."
Presidential regulatory reform

The Law and Leaks to the Press.

"President Trump has expressed concern over leaks to the press from within the Executive Branch. Earlier administrations, particularly the Obama Administration, acted upon similar concerns to prosecute officials, employees, and contractors who leaked classified information or certain military information to the press. Officers and employees may also be subject to disciplinary action for leaks regardless of the nature of the information. However, they may claim some relief from disciplinary action under the whistleblower protection provisions. Few, if any, journalists have been prosecuted to date, but they may end up in jail for refusing to divulge their sources to a grand jury investigating a leak..."
Leaks to the press

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

"Since the United States embarked on a strategy to counter the Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS) in 2014, some Members of Congress have raised concerns about the President’s underlying authority to engage in anti-IS military operations. In the 114th Congress, both houses of Congress took steps to revisit the possibility of considering legislation to provide authority for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State. Interest has continued into the first session of the 115th Congress and with the start of the Trump Administration...."
Islamic State

Monday, February 27, 2017

How to locate pipelines: National Pipeline Mapping System

"Whether they are emergency responders, city planners, pipeline operators, homeowners, students or just curious neighbors, it’s important for community members to know where pipelines are located so they can be avoided or found, serviced and monitored.
The U.S. Department of Transportation offers an excellent resource for learning more about local pipelines. The National Pipeline Mapping System’s (NPMS) Public Map Viewer includes interactive maps showing the locations of hazardous liquid and gas transmission pipelines, and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plants nationwide. Interested individuals also can access information about related pipeline incidents going back to 2002..."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

January 19, 2017 EPA Snapshot

"You have reached the help page for the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot. This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to www.epa.gov

What is included in the Web Snapshot?

The Web Snapshot consists of static content, such as webpages and reports in Portable Document Format (PDF), as that content appeared on EPA's website as of January 19, 2017.

What is not included in the Web Snapshot?

There are technical limitations to what could be included in the Web Snapshot. For example, many of the links contained on EPA's website are to databases that are updated with new information on a regular basis. These databases are not part of the static content that comprises the Web Snapshot. Links in the Web Snapshot to dynamic databases will take you to the current version of the database. Searches there will yield the latest data, rather than the data that would have been returned for a search conducted on January 19, 2017. Alerts should appear when you are leaving the Web Snapshot and linking to a dynamic database..."
EPA (Jan. 17, 2017)

The European Union: Questions and Answers

"The European Union (EU) is a political and economic partnership that represents a unique form of cooperation among sovereign countries. The EU is the latest stage in a process of integration begun after World War II, initially by six Western European countries, to foster interdependence and make another war in Europe unthinkable. The EU currently consists of 28 member states, including most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and has helped to promote peace, stability, and economic prosperity throughout the European continent.

The EU has been built through a series of binding treaties. Over the years, EU member states have sought to harmonize laws and adopt common policies on an increasing number of economic, social, and political issues. EU member states share a customs union; a single market in which capital, goods, services, and people move freely; a common trade policy; and a common agricultural policy. Nineteen EU member states use a common currency (the euro), and 22 member states participate in the Schengen area of free movement in which internal border controls have been eliminated.."
European Union

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fact Sheet: Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements

"Federal immigration law both imposes the responsibility and provides the means for the federal government, in cooperation with the states, to secure the nation's borders. The purpose of this order is to direct executive departments and agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure the nation's southern border with Mexico, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States, and to repatriate illegal aliens swiftly, consistently, and humanely.
This includes, among other provisions, establishing operational control of the border, establishing and controlling a physical barrier, detaining illegal aliens at or near the border, ending the practice of “catch and release,” and returning aliens to the territory from which they came pending formal proceedings.
This order also directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to hire an additional 5,000 border agents and to empower state and local law enforcement to support federal enforcement of immigration law, to the maximum extent permitted by law, and to ensure that prosecution guidelines place a high priority on crimes having a nexus to our southern border.


This executive order and its implementation is grounded in authorities vested in the President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.) (INA), the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (Public Law 109 367) (Secure Fence Act), and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104 208 Div. C) (IIRIRA), in furtherance of the safety and territorial integrity of the United States as well as responsibilities to ensure that the nation's immigration laws are faithfully executed...."
Border security

Fact Sheet: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States

"Interior enforcement of our nation's immigration laws is critically important to the national security and public safety of the United States. Aliens who illegally enter the United States and those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas have violated our nation’s laws and can pose a threat to national security and public safety. This is particularly true for aliens who engage in criminal conduct in the United States. We are charged with faithfully executing the laws of the United States and we will not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. The Executive Order No. 13768 entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” directs our Department and agencies to enforce the law, and we will do so professionally and humanely.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will make use of all available systems and resources to enforce the law. DHS will also ensure that aliens ordered removed from the United States are promptly removed. The victims of crimes committed by removable aliens and the families of victims will also receive support from the Department.


The executive order and its implementation is grounded in authorities vested in the President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including  authority of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.) and implements responsibilities to ensure that the nation’s immigration laws are faithfully executed...."
Public safety in interior of the United States

Q&A: DHS Implementation of the Executive Order on Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States

"On February 20, 2017, Secretary John Kelly signed a memorandum implementing the president’s Executive Order No. 13768 entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” issued on January 25, 2017. This document is designed to answer some frequently asked questions about how the Department will operationally implement the guidance provided by the president’s order.

Q1: Under what authority is DHS implementing this executive order?

A1: This executive order is being implemented under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., and other immigration laws.

Q2: How is ICE conducting interior enforcement operations based on this executive order?

A2: Effective immediately, ICE will direct its personnel as well as its state and local partners through the 287(g) program to apply the enforcement priorities stated in Executive Order No. 13768. 
To that end, within 180 days, ICE will carry out a number of actions to implement the enforcement priorities stated in the executive order. Some of those actions include, but are not limited to, conducting targeted enforcement operations and allocating resources to work in jurisdictions with violent crime tied to gang activities...."
Public safety in interior of United states

Q&A: DHS Implementation of the Executive Order on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement

"On February 20, 2017, Secretary John Kelly signed a memorandum implementing the president’s Executive Order entitled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” issued on January 25, 2017. This document is designed to answer some frequently asked questions about how the Department will operationally implement the guidance provided by the president’s order.

Q1. What is CBP currently doing as part of the construction of the wall?

A1. CBP is taking immediate action in response to the president’s executive order. We have identified locations near El Paso, Texas, Tucson, Arizona, and El Centro, California, where we will build a wall in areas where the fence or old brittle landing-mat fencing are no longer effective.
The Border Patrol is also in the midst of an operational assessment, which will identify priority areas where CBP can build a wall or similar physical barrier on the border where it currently does not exist...."
DHS and border security

Secretary Kelly Issues Implementation Memoranda on Border Security and Interior Enforcement Executive Orders

"Today, Secretary John Kelly issued two memoranda to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) workforce providing further direction to implement the recent executive orders on border security and enforcement of the immigration laws.

In accordance with the Department’s commitment to be transparent with the American people, and to more effectively implement policies and practices that serve the national interest and protect the homeland, consolidated information regarding DHS operations in relation to the executive orders is available at www.dhs.gov/executive-orders-protecting-homeland..."
DHS Border security

Honey: A Sweet Topic with New Data this Spring

"Every day, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) statisticians work hard to produce timely, accurate and useful statistics to U.S agriculture. In addition to producing hundreds of reports each year on crops, livestock and economic indicators for the agriculture industry, NASS collects and reports annual data for honey bee colonies. Historically, we’ve only surveyed operations or farms with five or more colonies, but in 2015 we expanded the survey to cover operations of all sizes. As a statistician who is also a beekeeper, I am pleased to provide valuable information about honey as a public service and decision-making tool.
The annual honey report publishes the maximum number of honey producing colonies, honey yield, value of honey production, and honey price by color class and marketing channel. In addition to bee and honey surveys, the Census of Agriculture, which is collected every five years, publishes number of operations, number of colonies, pounds of honey produced and value produced. NASS has data on honey production dating back to 1986. Current honey and honey bee data is available on the NASS website..."Honey production

Five States Account for 25 Percent of All Reported ATV-Related Deaths in the United States

"Taking a four wheeler out for a spin is a recreational activity that many riding enthusiasts participate in all year long. Yet, riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) continues to be a dangerous and deadly activity when certain safety precautions are not followed. Deaths and injuries resulting from ATV incidents have ticked down in recent years, although the stats are still deeply concerning to CPSC. There are about 650 deaths and 100,000 injuries every year involving ATVs, according to our 2015 ATV Annual Report.
As of December 31, 2015, CPSC staff received reports of 14,129 ATV-related fatalities occurring between 1982 and 2015, with 340 ATV-related fatalities occurring in 2015, 547 occurring in 2014, and 581 occurring in 2013. Reporting for the years 2013 through 2015 is ongoing and these numbers are expected to increase in future reports.
Taking a closer look at where ATV-related deaths take place, five states combined account for 3,208 deaths or 25 percent of all reported ATV-related deaths in the United States for the years 1982 through 2012.*..."ATV

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Close Look at the Decline of Homeownership

"The homeownership rate—the percentage of households that own rather than rent the homes that they live in—has fallen sharply since mid-2005. In fact, in the second quarter of 2016 the homeownership rate fell to 62.9 percent, its lowest level since 1965. In this blog post, we look at underlying demographic trends to gain a deeper understanding of the large increase in the homeownership rate from 1995 to 2005 and the subsequent large decline. Although there is reason to believe that the homeownership rate may begin to rise again in the not-too-distant future, it is unlikely to fully recover to its previous peak levels. This is a disconcerting finding for those who view homeownership as an integral part of the American Dream and a key component of income security during retirement. 

An estimate of the homeownership rate is published each quarter by the U.S. Census Bureau, based on a sample of housing units..."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Membership of the 115th Congress: A Profile

"This report presents a profile of the membership of the 115th Congress (2017-2018) as of January 4, 2017. Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service.

In the House of Representatives, there are 241 Republicans (including 1 Delegate and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico), 197 Democrats (including 4 Delegates), and 3 vacant seats. The Senate has 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and 2 Independents, who both caucus with the Democrats..." 
115th Congress Membership

President Trump: Putting Coal Country Back to Work

"Today, President Donald J. Trump signed House Joint Resolution 38 to stop the costly Stream Protection Rule from further harming coal workers and the communities that depend on them. H.J.Res. 38 blocks an overly burdensome regulation that threatened the coal industry with millions of dollars in compliance costs, reduced coal production, and fewer jobs.
Since 2009, the coal industry has declined, leaving workers and communities without a lifeline. Over 36,000 jobs have been lost without any relief in sight. From 2009 to 2015, American coal production has declined by over 177,000,000 tons, and over 600 coal mines have closed. H.J.Res. 38 will give coal country relief from these harmful regulations created under the Obama Administration..."
Coal industry

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cybersecurity: Actions Needed to Strengthen U.S. Capabilities

"GAO has consistently identified shortcomings in the federal government’s approach to ensuring the security of federal information systems and cyber critical infrastructure as well as its approach to protecting the privacy of personally identifiable information (PII). While previous administrations and agencies have acted to improve the protections over federal and critical infrastructure information and information systems, the federal government needs to take the following actions to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity

• Effectively implement risk-based entity-wide information security programs consistently over time. Among other things, agencies need to (1) implement sustainable processes for securely configuring operating systems, applications, workstations, servers, and network devices; (2) patch vulnerable systems and replace unsupported software; (3) develop comprehensive security test and evaluation procedures and conduct examinations on a regular and recurring basis; and (4) strengthen oversight of contractors providing IT services.

• Improve its cyber incident detection, response, and mitigation capabilities. The Department of Homeland Security needs to expand the capabilities and support wider adoption of its government-wide intrusion detection and prevention system. In addition, the federal government needs to improve cyber incident response practices, update guidance on reporting data breaches, and develop consistent responses to breaches of PII.

• Expand its cyber workforce planning and training efforts. The federal government needs to (1) enhance efforts for recruiting and retaining a qualified cybersecurity workforce and (2) improve cybersecurity workforce planning activities..."

Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 to 2026

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

If carried out, the plans for nuclear forces delineated in the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) and the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) budget requests for fiscal year 2017 would cost a total of $400 billion over the 2017– 2026 period, CBO estimates—an average of $40 billion a year. (In this analysis, “costs” refers to budget authority, the amount that would need to be appropriated to implement the plans.) The current 10-year total is 15 percent higher than CBO’s most recent previous estimate of the 10-year costs of nuclear forces, $348 billion over the 2015–2024 period..."
U.S. Nuclear forces

The Essential Neil Gorsuch Reader: What Judge Gorsuch Cases Should You Read?

"Following President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Senators have reportedly begun meeting with the nominee who could succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, as part of the initial phases of determining whether to provide “Advice and Consent” to the nomination. According to recent news reports, the Senate is anticipated to hold hearings and ultimately vote on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination in the coming weeks and months. Hearings on nominees to the Supreme Court have historically considered the nominee’s previous work experience, with particular focus on any rulings the nominee authored as a judge.

As an earlier Sidebar posting noted, Judge Gorsuch has a voluminous judicial record, having served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit for more than a decade. According to Judge Gorsuch’s recent submissions to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he has authored over eight hundred opinions and participated in approximately 2,750 decisionsduring his tenure on the Tenth Circuit. This provides an enormous—and perhaps unwieldy—body of law for those interested in learning about Judge Gorsuch’s approach to judging. Federal appellate opinions and votes can be far from dispositive in predicting how federal appellate judges might vote if elevated to the Supreme Court, as many rulings on federal courts of appeals are unanimous, uncontroversial, or all but dictated by precedent. Nonetheless they “offer perhaps the best gauge available for” determining a nominee’s future work as a Supreme Court Justice, as one scholar of the Supreme Court nomination process has noted. Beyond Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record, the nominee has authoredvarious publications that could also provide insight into his approaches to various areas of law..."
Judge Neil Gorsuch

Congressional Gold Metals

"Senators and Representatives are frequently asked to support or sponsor proposals recognizing historic events and outstanding achievements by individuals or institutions. Among the various forms of recognition that Congress bestows, the Congressional Gold Medal is often considered the most distinguished. Through this venerable tradition, the occasional commissioning of individually struck gold medals in its name, Congress has expressed public gratitude on behalf of the nation for distinguished contributions for more than two centuries. Since 1776, this award, which initially was bestowed on military leaders, has also been given to such diverse individuals as Sir Winston Churchill and Bob Hope, George Washington and Robert Frost, Joe Louis and Mother Teresa of Calcutta...."
Congressional gold metal

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Withdrawal from International Agreements: Legal Framework, the Paris Agreement, and the Iran Nuclear Agreement

"The legal procedure through which the United States withdraws from treaties and other international agreements has been the subject of long-standing debate between the legislative and executive branches. Recently, questions concerning the role of Congress in the withdrawal process have arisen in response to statements made by President Donald J. Trump that he may consider withdrawing the United States from certain high-profile international commitments. This report outlines the legal framework for withdrawal from international agreements under domestic and international law, and it examines legal issues related to the potential termination of two agreements that may be of significance to the 115th Congress: the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) related to Iran’s nuclear program.

Although the Constitution sets forth a definite procedure whereby the Executive has the power to make treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is silent as to how treaties may be terminated. Moreover, not all agreements between the United States and foreign states are made through Senate-approved, ratified treaties. The President also enters into executive agreements, which do not receive the Senate’s advice and consent, and “political commitments,” which are not binding under domestic or international law. The legal procedure for withdrawal often depends on the type of agreement at issue, and the process may be further complicated when Congress has enacted legislation implementing the agreement into domestic law..."
International Agreements

Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions

"Congress has delegated responsibility for monetary policy to the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve (the Fed), but retains oversight responsibilities for ensuring that the Fed is adhering to its statutory mandate of “maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate longterm interest rates.” To meet its price stability mandate, the Fed has set a longer-run goal of 2% inflation

The Fed’s control over monetary policy stems from its exclusive ability to alter the money supply and credit conditions more broadly. Normally, the Fed conducts monetary policy by setting a target for the federal funds rate, the rate at which banks borrow and lend reserves on an overnight basis. It meets its target through open market operations, financial transactions traditionally involving U.S. Treasury securities. Beginning in September 2007, the federal funds target was reduced from 5.25% to a range of 0% to 0.25% in December 2008, which economists call the zero lower bound. By historical standards, rates were kept unusually low for an unusually long time.

In December 2015, the Fed began raising interest rates and expects to gradually raise rates further..."
Federal Reserve and monetary policy

Food Safety:A National Strategy Is Needed to Address Fragmentation in Federal Oversight

"Since 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the federal agencies with primary responsibility for food safety oversight, have taken some actions to address fragmentation in the federal food safety oversight system, and HHS has updated its strategic plan to address interagency coordination on food safety. However, USDA has not yet fully implemented GAO’s December 2014 recommendation that it describe interagency collaboration on food safety in its strategic and performance planning documents. In addition, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has not addressed GAO’s March 2011 recommendation to develop a government-wide plan for the federal food safety oversight system.

At a 2-day meeting GAO hosted in June 2016, 19 food safety and other experts agreed that there is a compelling need to develop a national strategy to address ongoing fragmentation and improve the federal food safety oversight system. This is consistent with a prior GAO finding that complex interagency and intergovernmental efforts can benefit from developing a national strategy..."
Food safety

Transportation Statistics Annual Report 2016

"The Transportation Statistics Annual Report describes the Nation’s transportation system, the system’s performance, its contributions to the economy, and its effects on people and the environment. This 21st edition of the report is based on information collected or compiled by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a principle Federal statistical agency at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Nearly 4.2 million miles of roads, more than 19,000 public and private use airports, about 140,000 miles of freight and passenger railroads, 25,000 miles of navigable waterways, and nearly 2.7 million miles of oil and gas pipelines connect the Nation’s people and businesses across the continent and with the rest of the world.

The estimated value of U.S. transportation assets in 2014 was approximately $8.1 trillion. The public owns 50.5 percent of the total transportation asset value, mostly highways and streets, but also publicly held transit facilities, airports, and numerous seaports, inland ports and terminals, and other facilities related to water transportation. Private companies own 31.5 percent of transportation assets, including railroads, pipelines, trucks, planes, and ships. Personal motor vehicles account for the remaining 18.0 percent...."

Transportation statistics

Friday, February 10, 2017

Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering

"Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering provides statistical information about the participation of these three groups in science and engineering education and employment. A formal report, in the form of a digest, is issued every 2 years...."
"Women, minorities, disabled in science

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Top Five U.S. Trading Partners in Goods in 2016: China, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Germany

"Today the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis issued full year 2016 U.S. international trade in goods and services data. The top five countries based on trade in goods in 2016 were China, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Germany.
Trade in goods with China was $578.6 billion. Exports were $115.8 billion and imports were $462.8 billion. The top three U.S. exports to China in 2016 were civilian aircraft, soybeans and passenger cars. The primary imports were cell phones and other household goods, computers, and telecommunications equipment.
The second largest goods trading partner was Canada, at $544.9 billion. Exports to Canada were $266.8 billion and imports were $278.1 billion. The top U.S. exports to Canada were automotive parts and accessories; passenger cars; and trucks, buses, and special purpose vehicles. The top imports from Canada were passenger cars, crude oil, and automotive parts and accessories.
Mexico was the third largest U.S. trading partner in goods in 2016, totaling $525.1 billion. Exports were $231.0 billion and imports totaled $294.2 billion. The primary exports to Mexico were automotive parts and accessories, electric apparatus, and computer accessories. On the import side, the primary categories were also automotive parts and accessories; trucks, buses, and special purposes vehicles; and passenger cars...."

International trade

What Is Manufacturing? Why Does the Definition Matter?

"Numerous provisions in federal law are intended to support manufacturing in the United States. Almost without exception, these provisions define manufacturing as the process of physically transforming goods. Physical transformation involves what might be thought of as traditional manufacturing activities such as molding, cutting, and assembly. These laws establish a variety of potential benefits, preferences, or penalties based on the country in which physical transformation occurs.

 By and large, federal supports targeted specifically at manufacturing rest on two implicit premises that have been rendered questionable as a result of developments in the private sector.
  • Each manufactured product is assumed to have a single country of origin. The determination of whether a product is American-made is binary; either it was made in the United States or it is an import. This assumption fits uneasily with the global value chains now widely used by manufacturers to combine raw materials, components, services, and intellectual property from multiple countries into a single, finished manufactured good.
  • Physical transformation is assumed to be the means by which manufacturing creates economic benefits. Under a variety of statutes, the fact that other activities related to making a product are conducted in the United States is not relevant to the determination of whether the product is made in the United States. This is generally the case even if those activities account for a large proportion of the value of the finished good or of the employment related to the good’s production. Conversely, a good may be treated as U.S.-made if significant parts are of U.S. origin and if the good was transformed in the United States, even if all research, design, software development, and other nonphysical activities related to its production occurred in other countries...."

President Donald J. Trump Announces His Cabinet

"President Donald J. Trump today formally announced the 24 people who will be serving with him on his Cabinet..". 
President Trump's cabinet

Social Security: The Lump-Sum Death Benefit

"When a worker who is insured by Social Security and living with a spouse dies, the spouse is entitled to a lump-sum death benefit of $255. If there is no such spouse, the payment can be made to a surviving child who is receiving or is eligible to receive benefits based on the deceased person’s work. In the majority of deaths, however, no payment is made.

The death benefit was once a more important part of Social Security, in terms of percentage of total benefits paid and size of the benefit compared with monthly survivor benefits: the only benefits paid out between 1937 and 1939 were lump-sum benefits to survivors of workers who died before turning 65 years old, and until 1950, the lump-sum death payment was the only benefits some survivors of deceased workers could receive. However, because the payment has been fixed at $255 for the past four decades, inflation has eroded its value. At the same time, the real value of other Social Security benefits has increased. Total federal spending on lump-sum death benefits is now about $209 million,  less than 0.03% of the total Social Security (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) benefits..."
Social security

Teen Dating Violence

"February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month
Dating violence can happen to any teen in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship, anytime, anywhere. But it doesn't have to happen at all. Learn how to prevent teen dating violence and to promote healthy relationships with CDC's online resources.


Did you know that in a recent national survey, 1 in 10 teens reported being hit or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend at least once in the 12 months before the survey? Additionally, during the 12 months before the survey, 1 in 10 teens reported they had been kissed, touched, or physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to at least once by someone they were dating..."
Teen dataing

Help Protect Babies from Whooping Cough

"Whooping cough is a serious disease that can cause babies to stop breathing. You can help protect babies from whooping cough by getting your vaccine and making sure your baby gets vaccinated.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a very contagious disease that is most serious for babies. People with whooping cough usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. Parents, older siblings, or other caregivers can give whooping cough to babies without even knowing they have the disease.
When babies catch whooping cough, they can get very sick. Young babies can get pneumonia (lung infection) and many have trouble breathing. About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get whooping cough end up in the hospital and a few even die from the disease..."
Whooping cough

Improving Memory in Adults with Epilepsy

"Learn how adults with epilepsy can improve memory problems and overall health.
At some point, almost everyone has forgotten where they parked the car or placed the car keys. For people with epilepsy (also known as seizure disorder), memory lapses are more common. At least one-half of people with epilepsy have memory loss that affects their health. For instance, seizures or other health problems can lead to forgetting to take medicines as directed.
While memory loss is a challenge for many people with epilepsy, it is not always a major concern for health care providers. For those with epilepsy, treatment options for memory loss are limited..".

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Updates to APHIS’ Website Involving Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act Compliance Information

"Q. Why has the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) taken the Animal Care Search Tool, regulatory correspondence (such as official warnings), and enforcement records off the APHIS website? 
 During the past year, APHIS has conducted a comprehensive review of the information it posts on the APHIS website for the general public to view and has implemented actions to remove certain personal information posted on its website involving the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA).  APHIS is removing from its website inspection reports, research facility annual reports, regulatory correspondence (such as official warnings), and certain enforcement records (such as pre-litigation settlement agreements and administrative complaints) that have not received final adjudication..."
Animal welfare compliance information

Federal Trade Commission, Class Action Settlements Require Volkswagen to Repair or Buy Back 3.0 Liter TDI Diesel Vehicles

"The Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement today that requires Volkswagen Group of America to fully compensate consumers who purchased 3.0-liter TDI diesel vehicles through a combination of repairs, additional monetary compensation, and buybacks for certain models.  
Under the federal court order, owners of older vehicles (model years 2009-2012; see fact sheet) will be able to sell their car back to Volkswagen at favorable prices and obtain full compensation for their losses. Consumers are eligible to receive approximately $26,000 to $58,000 for a buyback, depending on the model, mileage, and trim of the car. These owners can also opt to keep their cars and receive an emissions modification that would improve their vehicle’s emissions, if a modification is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. Consumers receiving an emissions modification will also receive monetary compensation...."
 FTC's Volkswagen settlement

Put the Freeze on CO Poisoning this Winter

" Old man winter is gripping much of the nation and that means many consumers are turning up the heat in their homes. Some are using drastic measures to stay warm, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning—an invisible, odorless, colorless killer. Did you know that winter is peak season for CO deaths in the United States? The deadly gas kills more than 400 people every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...."
Carbon Monoxide poisoning

Friday, February 3, 2017

Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee

"The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an event of major significance in American politics. Each appointment is of consequence because of the enormous judicial power the Supreme Court exercises as the highest appellate court in the federal judiciary. Appointments are usually infrequent, as a vacancy on the nine-member Court may occur only once or twice, or never at all, during a particular President’s years in office. Under the Constitution, Justices on the Supreme Court receive what can amount to lifetime appointments which, by constitutional design, helps ensure the Court’s independence from the President and Congress.

The procedure for appointing a Justice is provided for by the Constitution in only a few words. The “Appointments Clause” (Article II, Section 2, clause 2) states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the supreme Court.” The process of appointing Justices has undergone changes over two centuries, but its most basic feature—the sharing of power between the President and Senate—has remained unchanged: To receive appointment to the Court, a candidate must first be nominated by the President and then confirmed by the Senate..."
U.S. Supreme Court

Trump Administration Changes to the National Security Council: Frequently Asked Questions

"On January 28, 2017, the Trump Administration issued National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) 2: Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. The memorandum details how the executive branch intends to manage and coordinate national and homeland security issues among relevant departments and agencies. In keeping with the practices of prior administrations, the White House issued the memorandum early in its tenure. Since the memorandum was signed, some media reports have incorrectly characterized the manner in which the Trump administration appears to be organizing itself to manage national security matters. These FAQs are intended to clarify the terms and structures associated with the National Security Council (NSC)..."
National Security Council

Refugee Law and Policy In Selected Countries

"This report describes the law and policy on refugees and other asylum seekers in twenty-two geographically dispersed countries and, at the supranational level, in the European Union (EU). The individual surveys cover such topics as participation in relevant international conventions; laws and regulations governing the admission of refugees and handling refugee claims; processes for handling refugees arriving at the border; procedures for evaluating whether an applicant is entitled to refugee status; the accommodations and assistance provided to refugees in the jurisdiction; requirements for naturalization; and whether asylum policy has been affected by international emergencies, such as the current refugee crisis in Europe..."
Refugee law

Barriers Along the U.S. Borders: Key Authorities and Requirements

"Federal law authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to construct barriers along the U.S. borders to deter illegal crossings. DHS is also required to construct reinforced fencing along at least 700 miles of the land border with Mexico (a border that stretches 1,933 miles). Congress has not provided a deadline for DHS to meet this 700-mile requirement, and as of the date of this report, fencing would need to be deployed along nearly 50 additional miles to satisfy the 700-mile requirement. Nor has Congress provided guidelines regarding the specific characteristics of fencing or other physical barriers (e.g., their height or material composition) deployed along the border, beyond specifying that required fencing must be reinforced...."
U.S. Border Barriers

15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Voting Rights

"Passed by Congress February 26, 1869, and ratified February 3, 1870, the 15th amendment granted African American men the right to vote...."
15th Amendment

6 Reasons to Talk to Your Family About Heart Disease

"Heart disease, the leading killer of Americans, doesn't just suddenly happen. It takes decades to develop, and your risk increases as you age.
It turns out young adults (a.k.a. those born in the millennial era, from 1982 to 2002) have a unique opportunity to help parents and other family members improve their heart health and prevent heart disease.
A record number of young adults are likely to live with their parents instead of alone, with roommates, or with a friend.1 Young adults are also more likely than past generations to respect their elders and report having fewer fights with their parents.2 All this adds up to a golden opportunity to have a heart-to-heart with mom and dad about their health. Even if you don't live at home, you can talk to your parents and other relatives to get them thinking about ways to protect their hearts for the long haul..."

Heart Disease

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Revisions to Public Inspection File Requirements – Broadcaster Correspondence File and Cable Principal Headend Location

"REPORT AND ORDER.  Adopted: January 31, 2017.  Released: January 31, 2017 By the Commission: Chairman Pai and Commissioners Clyburn and O’Rielly issuing separate statements.

 I. INTRODUCTION 1. In this Report and Order, we eliminate two public inspection file requirements: (i) the requirement that commercial broadcast stations retain in their public inspection file copies of letters and emails from the public;1 and (ii) the requirement that cable operators maintain for public inspection the designation and location of the cable system’s principal headend.2 Because of potential privacy concerns associated with putting the correspondence file online and because many cable operators prefer not to post online the location of their principal headend for security reasons, removing these requirements will enable commercial broadcasters and cable operators to make their entire public inspection file available online without these privacy and security concerns and eliminate the need to maintain a local public file..".
FCC Public inspection files