Friday, September 30, 2022

Supreme Court Oral Arguments

"The Court will hear all scheduled oral arguments for the upcoming term in the Courtroom. Seating for the oral argument sessions will be provided to the public, members of the Supreme Court bar, and press, and Courtroom bar admissions will resume. Masking in the Courtroom for oral arguments will be optional. The Court will provide a live audio feed of all scheduled oral arguments for the upcoming term. A link to the live audio feed will be available on the homepage of the Court's website. The oral argument audio and a transcript of the oral arguments will be posted on the Court's website following oral argument each day.

The building will otherwise be closed to the public until further notice..."
Supreme Court 

How CDC Prepares for Chemical Terrorism

"Every year CDC and local and state public health laboratories practice how they would respond to a chemical threat to the nation. They are part of a national network that responds to chemical terrorism and other public health emergencies. The lessons learned in these drills help prepare public health partners for action in a real emergency.

A recent exercise simulated a public health response to a chemical attack on a music venue in Atlanta. Responders were fighting an unknown chemical agent that was released during a concert. More than 1,000 people attending were exposed to the unknown gas. Common complaints included tightness in the chest, runny nose, and difficulty breathing.

In the drill, CDC practiced its Rapid Toxic Screen procedure to determine the cause, which turned out to be an extremely toxic nerve agent. A mock response team from the agency retrieved 40 urine and blood samples from the state public health laboratory and analyzed them in CDC laboratories.

Learning to Pinpoint Problems Quickly

The Rapid Toxic Screen is the emergency response protocol for analyzing urine and blood from people at the scene of chemical threats. The CDC Division of Laboratory Sciences (DLS) developed the protocol. The purpose is to quickly identify agents, toxins, or drugs causing health problems.

With this protocol DLS can detect up to 150 chemical agents in 40 samples within 36 hours of samples receipt at CDC. The response team includes laboratory staff trained in sample packaging and shipping and safety procedures."
Chemical Terrorism
 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?

"Social Security’s receipts and expenditures are accounted for through two federal trust funds: the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund. Under their intermediate assumptions and under current law, the Social Security trustees project that the OASI trust fund will become depleted in 2034 and the DI trust fund will not become depleted in the 75-year projection period. Although the two funds are legally separate, they are often considered in combination. The trustees project that the combined Social Security trust funds will become depleted in 2035 (under different assumptions and projection methods, the Congressional Budget Office projected in 2021 that the combined trust funds will become insolvent in 2032). At that point, the combined trust funds would become insolvent, because incoming tax revenue would be sufficient to pay only about 80% of scheduled benefits. Insolvency does not mean that Social Security will be completely broke and unable to pay any benefits.

The 2022 intermediate assumptions reflect the trustees’ understanding of the status of the Social Security trust funds at the start of 2022. The 2022 estimates include potential effects of COVID19. Although the report includes impacts from COVID-19, the impacts are confined to the near term. The trustees acknowledge that effects from the pandemic, especially in the long term, are subject to a high level of uncertainty.

If a trust fund became depleted and current receipts were insufficient to cover current expenditures, there would be a conflict between two federal laws. Under the Social Security Act, beneficiaries would still be legally entitled to their full scheduled benefits. However, the Antideficiency Act prohibits government spending in excess of available funds, so the Social Security Administration (SSA) would not have legal authority to pay full Social Security benefits on time.

It is unclear what specific actions SSA would take if a trust fund were insolvent. After depletion, the trust funds would continue to receive tax revenues, from which a majority of scheduled benefits could be paid. One option would be to pay full benefits on a delayed schedule; another would be to make timely but reduced payments. Social Security beneficiaries would remain legally entitled to full, timely benefits and could take legal action to claim the balance of their benefits.

Maintaining financial balance after trust fund insolvency would require substantial reductions in Social Security benefits, substantial increases in tax revenues, or some combination of the two. The trustees project that following depletion of the combined funds in 2035, Congress could restore balance by immediately reducing scheduled benefits by about 20%; the required reduction would grow gradually to 26% by 2096. An alternative could be for Congress to raise the Social Security payroll tax rate from 12.4% to 15.6% following depletion in 2035, then gradually increase it to 16.7% by 2095.

Trust-fund insolvency could be avoided if expenditures were reduced or receipts increased sufficiently. The sooner adjustment to Social Security policy is undertaken, the less abrupt the changes would need to be, because they could be spread over a longer period and would therefore affect a larger number of workers and beneficiaries. As well, enacting adjustment to Social Security policy sooner, rather than later, would give workers and beneficiaries more time to plan and adjust their work and savings behavior.."
Social Security 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation: CRS Products

"The 117th Congress has considered a variety of policies and legislation intended to help mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG)1 emissions associated with climate change, and to address adaptation and resilience to impacts from climate change. Enacted laws in the 117th Congress addressing GHG mitigation have included P.L. 117-169, commonly known as the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” (IRA), and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA; P.L. 117-58). Provisions in these acts authorize and provide funding and financial incentives for programs and policies likely to directly or indirectly reduce GHG emissions. Other provisions in these acts may lead to increased GHG emissions in particular contexts. In addition, litigation challenging executive branch actions, including the recent Supreme Court decision that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had exceeded its authority in promulgating a regulation, have raised questions about the extent of agencies’ authorities to mitigate GHG emissions. 2 Other decisions may clarify authorities to regulate GHG emissions. To help provide context for considering legislative proposals and questions about executive authorities, this report compiles a selection of CRS products on GHG-related policy, enacted and proposed legislation, executive branch actions, and programs for GHG mitigation..."
Greenhouse Gas 

A Deep Dive into the Labor Exploitation Behind Everyday Products

"Before products like cell phones or baby formula show up on store shelves, countless workers are engaged in their production. Far from the eyes of inspectors and shoppers, too many children and adults toil in exploitation harvesting crops, extracting minerals, and assembling parts into final products. Today, there are an estimated 160 million child laborers and nearly 28 million people in forced labor, the majority of whom work at the bottom of global supply chains, invisible to the outside world.

The U.S. Department of Labor is amplifying the voices of these workers to ensure companies are held accountable for exploitative labor conditions throughout their supply chains.

The department’s flagship reports and resources contain the most rigorous examination yet of child labor and forced labor. Our reporting shows how the behaviors and decisions of businesses, consumers and governments affect horrific conditions of labor abuse and exploitation around the world. Leveraging an expanded mandate, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs’ 2022 List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor not only raises awareness of goods produced directly with child labor or forced labor but also draws attention to goods produced with inputs made by child labor or forced labor. For example:

Our cutting-edge approach to tracing labor exploitation in these supply chains, brought to life through our new "Exposing Exploitation in Global Supply Chains" series, helps us shine a light on abuses we might not otherwise see if we looked at finished products alone.

This work is just the beginning – we’ll be expanding our supply chain research and enforcement support in the coming year. ILAB is also funding projects to pilot new ways of tracing complex global supply chains and investing in efforts to lift up the voices of workers whose labor powers these global goods. We demand that other governments and companies join us to end labor exploitation and stand up for workers’ rights..."
Child labor 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Discover Notable Changes in the Latest census.gov Refresh

"The U.S. Census Bureau is excited to announce the launch of our refreshed census.gov website. The refresh modernizes the visual design and improves overall site performance and mobile functionality. Updates were developed in response to your feedback, so follow along to explore some of our favorite navigational changes and updates!.."
Census website

Recovery Is for Everyone: Understanding Treatment of Substance Use Disorders

"Millions of Americans have a substance use disorder (SUD)1, and it remains an important health issue in our country. With effective treatment, recovery is possible. There is strength in getting help.

What is SUD?

An SUD is a treatable, chronic disease, characterized by a problematic pattern of use of a substance leading to noticeable impairment or distress. SUDs can lead to significant problems in all aspects of a person’s life.

Patterns of symptoms resulting from substance use can help a doctor diagnose a person with SUD and connect them to appropriate treatment. For certain drug types, some symptoms are less prominent, and in some cases, not all symptoms apply. For example, withdrawal symptoms are not specified for inhalant use

A SUD can be applied to the following types of drugs 2:
  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Hallucinogens
  • Inhalants
  • Opioids
  • Sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics
  • Stimulants
  • Tobacco (nicotine)
  • Other (unknown) substance

Treatment and Recovery Options

Overcoming an SUD is not as simple as resisting the temptation to take drugs. Like many other chronic conditions, treatment is available for substance use disorders. While no single treatment method is right for everyone, recovery is possible, and help is available for patients with SUDs.

Evidence-based guidelines can assist doctors with choosing the right treatment options. These guidelines help evaluate a patient’s clinical needs and situation to match them with the right level of care, in the most appropriate available setting. For more information on evidence-based guidelines visit Addiction Medicine Primer..."
Substance Abuse
 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Injection and Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide: Federal Role and Issues for Congress

"For several decades, the federal government has funded efforts to explore the feasibility of mitigating the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) while burning fossil fuels as a source of energy. Carbon capture and storage (CCS)—the process of capturing manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) at its source and storing it before its release into the atmosphere—has been proposed as a technological solution for mitigating emissions into the atmosphere while continuing to use fossil energy. Permanent underground carbon storage, known as geologic sequestration, is the long-term containment of a fluid (including gas or liquid CO2) in subsurface geologic formations. CO2 may be injected, and a portion incidentally stored, as part of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations that increase production from aging oil reservoirs.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) leads the federal government’s carbon storage research and development (R&D) as part of the agency’s fossil energy programs. The agency conducts CCS research and carries out public-private partnerships for testing and development of CO2 injection and storage projects. Congress has recently directed DOE to expand its R&D activities to support deployment and commercialization of CCS projects.

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), provides authorities for regulating underground injection of fluids and serves as the framework for regulation of injection of CO2 for geologic sequestration and EOR. The major purpose of the act’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) provisions is to prevent endangerment of underground sources of drinking water from injection activities. EPA has promulgated regulations and established minimum federal requirements for six classes of injection wells. In 2010, EPA promulgated regulations for the underground injection of CO2 for long-term storage and established UIC Class VI, a new class of wells solely for geologic sequestration of CO2. The well performance standards and other requirements established in the Class VI Rule are based on the distinctive features of CO2 injection compared to other types of injection. Two Class VI wells, both in Illinois, are currently permitted by EPA. EOR, including CO2-EOR, is conducted using Class II wells classified for disposal of fluids associated with oil and gas production. SDWA authorizes states to administer the federal UIC programs in lieu of EPA, known as primacy. For Class VI CO2 geologic sequestration wells, North Dakota and Wyoming have primacy under SDWA. For Class II wells, SDWA authorizes states to regulate these wells under their own state programs, and most oil- and gasproducing states have primacy for Class II wells. Currently in the United States, one geologic sequestration facility, the ADM facility in Illinois, has EPA Class VI permits and is actively injecting CO2 from an ethanol plant for geologic sequestration. North Dakota has issued two state Class VI permits for geologic sequestration..."
Injection and Geologic Sequestration of Caron Dioxide 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Bioeconomy: A Primer

"The term bioeconomy refers to the share of the economy based on products, services, and processes derived from biological resources (e.g., plants and microorganisms). The bioeconomy is crosscutting, encompassing multiple sectors, in whole or in part (e.g., agriculture, textiles, chemicals, and energy). Many predict that the bioeconomy will be a key component of the future economy. Specifically, many view the development of and transition to predominantly a bioeconomy as a means to address grand challenges such as climate change, food security, energy independence, and environmental sustainability. Advancing the bioeconomy is also viewed as an opportunity to create new jobs and industries, improve human health through the development of new drugs and diagnostics, and boost rural development. Some experts estimate the direct economic impact of bio-based products, services, and processes at up to $4 trillion per year globally over the next 10 years.

U.S. competitiveness and leadership in the future global bioeconomy is uncertain. In 2012, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a comprehensive vision for the U.S. bioeconomy. Progress on the goals and objectives outlined in the report remains unclear. Since 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy have led federal efforts on development of the U.S. bioeconomy. However, according to the International Advisory Council on Global Bioeconomy, such agencies have a “more agricultural and bioresources-based vision” than the crosscutting and comprehensive vision proposed by OSTP in 2012 (e.g., biomedicine, health, and biodefense are not emphasized). Organizations, including the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, have recommended that the federal government develop and regularly update a comprehensive bioeconomy strategy to sustain and grow the U.S. bioeconomy. On September 12, 2022, the Biden Administration issued an executive order creating the National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative with the goal of accelerating biotechnology innovation and growing the U.S bioeconomy across multiple sectors. Other countries are adopting and implementing comprehensive policies and strategies to advance their bioeconomies. Such efforts have the potential to challenge U.S. leadership in biotechnology and other bioeconomy-related sectors that many view as critical to national security and economic competitiveness..."
Bioeconomy 

Voter Registration: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress

"Voter registration policies are typically determined by state and local governments, subject to certain federal requirements. Historically, much of the federal policy discussion surrounding voter registration has focused on providing access to registration opportunities. Some federal statutes that primarily address preserving voting access for certain constituencies also include provisions that address voter registration, such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 (VAEHA), and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (UOCAVA).

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) expanded registration opportunities by creating a federal mail-based registration form and requiring states to provide voter registration opportunities alongside services provided by departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) and at other agencies. NVRA remains a fundamental component of federal voter registration policy and contains a number of other provisions affecting voter registration administration. Other key elements of NVRA relate to processes used for voter list maintenance or removing voters from the registration list. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), a broader election administration statute, also addresses voter registration. HAVA required states to create a computerized, centralized, statewide voter registration list and introduced revisions to the NVRA mail-based voter registration form, among other provisions.

State officials retain the ability to determine a variety of aspects of their voter registration systems. For example, state registration deadlines for federal elections cannot be more than 30 days before an election under NVRA, but states may set deadlines closer to Election Day or allow same-day voter registration. A number of states have automatic voter registration policies, where data from individuals transacting business with certain agencies are automatically shared with state election officials to facilitate new or updated voter registration records. States have different policies on whether convicted felons can vote while incarcerated or after their sentences are completed, as well as different policies on determining residency or domicile for voting purposes. States also vary in a range of administrative processes related to voter registration, including voter registration list maintenance, voter removal processes, and data-sharing.

Legislation addressing voter registration is routinely introduced in Congress, often proposing to amend existing provisions under NVRA or HAVA related to expanding voter registration opportunities or providing uniformity across state practices. Since the 2020 election, many states have considered or implemented changes to state voter registration policies. Voter registration system policies are also discussed in the context of election security, particularly following evidence that foreign actors attempted to access or accessed voter registration systems in some states prior to the 2016 election. During the 117th Congress to date, more than 50 bills have been introduced that address some element of federal voter registration. Some of these are standalone bills that solely address voter registration, and some of these are broader election administration or election security bills that contain specific provisions related to voter registration.."
Voter Registration 

Monday, September 19, 2022

TECHNICAL EVALUATION FOR A U.S. CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCY SYSTEM

"A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is a digital form of a country’s sovereign currency. 1 If the United States issued a CBDC, this new type of central bank money may provide a range of benefits for American consumers, investors, and businesses. For example, a U.S. CBDC might enable transactions that are more efficient and less expensive, particularly for cross-border funds transfers. However, there are also potential risks to consider. A U.S. CBDC might affect everything ranging from the stability of the financial system to the protection of sensitive data. Recognizing these potential upsides and downsides, the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to further exploring the implications of, and options for, issuing a CBDC.

On March 9, 2022, President Biden signed Executive Order (EO) 14067, Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets, placing the highest urgency on research and development efforts into the potential design and deployment options of a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).2 EO 14067 further directed the Federal government to “prioritize timely assessments of potential benefits and risks under various designs to ensure that the United States remains a leader in the international financial system.” To help advance this directive, Section 5(b)(ii) of EO 14067 ordered the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Chief Technology Officer of the United States – in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chair of the Federal Reserve, and the heads of other relevant agencies – to submit to the President a technical evaluation for a U.S. CBDC system, should one be proposed.

This report begins by laying out the policy objectives for a U.S. CBDC system, outlined in EO 14067 and developed in further detail through an interagency process led by the National Economic Council and the National Security Council. These policy objectives reflect the Administration’s ongoing commitment to develop and use technology in accordance with democratic values. This report then analyzes the technical design choices for a U.S. CBDC system, focusing on how those choices would impact the policy objectives for a U.S. CBDC system. Next, this report estimates the feasibility of building a minimum viable product for a U.S. CBDC system, based on hypothetical combinations of technical design choices. Finally, this report assesses how a U.S. CBDC system may impact Federal processes, focusing on cybersecurity and privacy, customer experience, and social safety net programs..."
Central Bank Digital Currency 

Coping With a Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis

"So you’ve just been told you have type 2 diabetes. There’s probably a lot running through your head right now. Living with diabetes takes a lot of work and can take a toll on your physical and mental health. The good news is there are things you can do to help you cope so you can stay strong mentally and physically.     

While there’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, there are ways to manage it and thrive. There’s no one-size-fits-all diabetes management and treatment plan. Your doctor, diabetes education specialist, and other health care professionals can create a plan for your specific needs. A successful diabetes management plan will include healthy eating, exercise, medical support, and emotional support. Yes, emotional support. Getting emotional support is just as important as any other part of diabetes care and treatment.

You may not have all the answers on how to deal with diabetes right now, but over time you’ll figure it out. Many people with type 2 diabetes lead long, healthy lives. Just remember—whatever you’re feeling is OK, and you’re not alone.

Here’s what you should keep in mind as you take each step forward:

It’s Not Your Fault

The truth is, you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes because your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep your blood sugar at normal levels. There are many factors that can lead to type 2 diabetes. Some you have no control over, like your race and ethnicity, stress, and having a close relative (parent, brother, sister) with type 2 diabetes. While you can’t change those things, you can make lifestyle changes like eating healthy, getting plenty of exercise, and losing weight—if needed—to help manage type 2 diabetes. Now that you know you have diabetes, you can plan your next steps to help manage it and prevent serious complications.

You Can Live a Long, Healthy Life With Diabetes

If you’ve just been told you have type 2 diabetes and you’re not sure what that future looks like, that’s completely understandable. What you should know is that diabetes care and treatment has come a long way in reducing the impact of diabetes on people’s lives. People with diabetes are living longer, healthier lives with fewer complications. And with the help of diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) services, you can gain the knowledge, skills, and support needed to successfully manage diabetes..."
Type 2 Diabetes
 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Privacy Rights Under the Constitution: Procreation, Child Rearing, Contraception, Marriage, and Sexual Activity

"A line of Supreme Court cases establishes that the U.S. Constitution guarantees a person’s ability to make certain decisions in matters related to procreation, child rearing, contraception, marriage (including interracial marriage and same-sex marriage), and consensual sexual activity. In some instances, the Supreme Court has interpreted the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to provide substantive protections against government interference in these personal matters. The Supreme Court has also characterized the Equal Protection Clause as supplementing these due process protections when a state seeks to limit the exercise of protected rights to particular groups, resulting in the Court striking down laws that, for example, denied the “fundamental” right to marriage to interracial or samesex couples. The Court’s approach to identifying rights protected by the Constitution has changed over the years. In the 1997 decision Washington v. Glucksberg, the Court stated that the standard for recognizing such rights is that they must be “‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.’” Before and after Glucksberg, however, the Court acknowledged that some rights do not necessarily fit into that historical framework.

In the 2022 decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court upheld a Mississippi law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks on the ground that the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion. Employing the Glucksberg framework, Dobbs overruled Roe v. Wade and PlannedParenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, which recognized and then reaffirmed a right to theprocedure under the Due Process Clause. Dobbs is the first decision in recent history in which the Supreme Court overruled prior decisions recognizing a right the Court had previously characterized as“fundamental” under the Constitution. Some have suggested that other rights, such as the right to contraceptive access, that were recognized by the Court under a different framework than Glucksberg may be reassessed. Yet, the Dobbs majority explicitly averred that its ruling does not cast doubt on the continuing validity of Court precedents recognizing rights outside the abortion context, and, furthermore, considerations for continuing to recognize these precedents may be different, and more compelling, than in Dobbs..."
Privacy Rights... 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Chronicling America Reaches 50 States

"Chronicling America, the searchable online database of historic American newspapers, will soon include digitized newspapers from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and housed and maintained online at the Library of Congress, Chronicling America offers free online access to 19.9 million pages of newspapers published in the United States between 1777 and 1963.

NEH recently awarded its first grant award to a National Digital Newspaper Program partner for the state of New Hampshire, ensuring access to significant newspapers from the entire United States. Dartmouth College will serve as the New Hampshire state hub, partnering with the New Hampshire State Library, the New Hampshire Historical Society, and the University of New Hampshire Library to identify historical newspapers that reflect the state’s political, economic, and cultural history for inclusion in Chronicling America. Among the first newspapers to be digitized and added to the online repository are the New Hampshire Gazette, the first newspaper known to be printed by an enslaved person; The Dartmouth, founded in 1799 as the Dartmouth Gazette, the nation’s oldest school newspaper; and Among the Clouds, a newspaper printed on top of Mount Washington between 1889 and 1917.

“Building on 40 years of collaboration between NEH and the Library of Congress, Chronicling America is a uniquely rich national resource that documents the histories of the events, ideas, and individuals that make up the American story,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “The addition of the 50th state partner to the National Digital Newspaper Program is a milestone achievement that will expand coverage of this unparalleled resource to encompass all U.S. states, giving the public access to the ‘first draft of history’ from the perspective of communities across the country.”.."
Chronicling America 

Inflation Reduction Act

"The Inflation Reduction Act lowers energy costs for consumers and small businesses while creating good-paying jobs as America’s clean energy economy and manufacturing sectors grow. Learn more below on how you or your family can save on utility bills, get support to purchase electric vehicles and energy-saving appliances, and access the economic opportunities of the clean energy future.

Find out which programs are available to you so that you can benefit from American made clean energy as soon as today, and sign up below to be the first to receive updates and take advantage of these opportunities.