Thursday, March 06, 2014

DoD Releases Report on North Korea's Military and Security Developments

On March 5, 2014 the Department of Defense released a congressionally mandated unclassified report entitled Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People's Republic of Korea 2013. The report is posted at

Congress asked that the report address:

an assessment of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, the goals and factors shaping North Korean security strategy and military strategy, trends in North Korean security, an assessment of North Korea’s regional security objectives, including an assessment of the North Korean military’s capabilities, developments in North Korean military doctrine and training, an assessment of North Korea’s proliferation activities, and other military security developments.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Website for Census Bureau

On Feb. 19, 2014 the Census Bureau released a beta version of its new website, . The newly designed website is scheduled to become available in mid-March.
The website will feature the following new statistical digital tools:
  • Internet response — The Census Bureau offers Internet response for many of its surveys, including the American Community Survey. The Internet option makes responding to surveys more convenient, conducting surveys more cost-effective and America’s statistics more accessible on digital and mobile devices.
  • dwellr mobile app — The newest app from the Census Bureau allows people to compare their preferences to find 25 “ideal” dwelling places, based on statistics from the American Community Survey. Users can check their current locations and share their places on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Census Explorer — The newest mapping tool from the Census Bureau provides a look at eight topics from the American Community Survey and how they have changed since the 1990 and 2000 censuses.
  • Open data application programming interface — The Census API lets developers customize Census Bureau statistics in their Web or mobile apps. The API offers data from the American Community Survey and the 2010, 2000 and 1990 censuses.
  • America’s Economy mobile app — The app provides real-time updates for 20 key economic indicators from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Unauthorized Immigrants and Their Families

On December 23, 2013 The Urban Institute released a fact sheet by Maria E. Enchautegui presenting information on the households of the United States' estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants. The majority of the family members of undocumented immigrants are U.S. born citizens under the age of 18. Data used is from the 2012 Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey.

China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States

On December 17, 2013 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report by Asian Trade and Finance Specialist Wayne M. Morrison entitled China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States, Mr. Morrison discusses both positive and negative aspects of China's economic growth in relation to the United States.

Iraq: Politics

Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle Easter Affairs, has written a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report entitled Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights made available December 17, 2013. Mr. Katzman discusses the continuing conflict between Sunni and Shiite factions in Iraq as well as Iraq's efforts to reestablish its place in the Arab world.

Monday, December 23, 2013

FDA Food Safety Proposed Rule

The FDA is proposing a rule that would "require the largest food businesses in the United States and abroad to take steps to prevent facilities from being the target of intentional attempts to contaminate the food supply." Under the proposed rule, a food facility would be "required to have a written food defense plan that addresses significant vulnerabilities in its food production process" and identify and implement strategies to address these vulnerabilities. Companies would also need to "establish monitoring procedures and corrective actions, verify that the system is working, ensure that personnel assigned to the vulnerable areas receive appropriate training and maintain certain records."

More information is available from the FDA News & Events page or from the proposed rule.

MOOCS Letter to the President - Science & Technology Advisory Council

The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) has released a December 2013 report to President Obama evaluating the present and future impact of MOOCs. The report concludes:
After only two years of practical experience with MOOCs and related technologies, it is too early to tell whether substantial gains in the quality of instruction, access, achievement, and cost will be realized. But there is no question that the new technologies offer the potential for expanding access for millions of Americans, not only to college degrees, but to a wide range of effective and low-cost training modules and courses that might assist in providing the vocational skills that a twenty-first century workforce needs. To be truly successful in promoting both expansion of access and improvement in the quality of education, the MOOCs and their relatives will need to (1) employ excellent technology, (2) foster excellent pedagogy, (3) apply the results of learning science, (4) deploy new techniques of big data analysis to provide rapid feedback to teachers and learners, and (5) cultivate an online social ecosystem to enhance peer-to-peer learning and teaching. Although the jury is out, and there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical, PCAST believes that all of these conditions for success can potentially be met.

The recommendations that follow reflect PCAST’s thinking about how the Federal Government might most effectively contribute to achieving the potential of MOOCs to help address the Nation’s challenges in higher education. Going forward, we intend to explore the potential of information technology to improve K-12 education, technical training, and adult education as well as higher education, and we will report on our findings in the future.

Read the full report at

Friday, December 20, 2013

Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer

On December 16, 2013 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a new science and technology report by John F. Sargent, Jr. addressing three topics of interest to Congress regarding nanotechnology: "federal research and development (R&D) in nanotechnology; U.S. competitiveness; and environmental, health, and safety (EHS) concerns." Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer addresses those three topics plus nanomanufacturing and public understanding of and attitudes toward nanotechnology. The report is available as a PDF.

Google Transparency Reports and Government Requests

In 2010 Google launched the Transparency Report "to provide hard evidence of how laws and policies affect access to information online." They recently released numbers showing how many requests Google received from various governments to remove content from their services. There was a 68 percent increase of government requests to remove content from the last six months of 2012 to the first six months of 2013. Various types of governments or government officials have asked Google to remove political content ranging from judges, police departments, and town councils to countries such as Turkey and Russia. Reasons given for the requests include defamation, privacy and copyright laws.

Google emphasizes:

While the information we present in our Transparency Report is certainly not a comprehensive view of censorship online, it does demonstrate a worrying upward trend in the number of government requests, and underscores the importance of transparency around the processes governing such requests.

The report also includes a link to a safe browsing page detailing how many malware and phishing websites Google detects each week, how many users they warn, and which networks around the world host malware sites. Google also has a series of videos that describe malware infections and the cleanup process.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Remembering JFK

John F. Kennedy
May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963

John F. Kennedy Papers (in Fondren = Gov AE2:114:961-963, Public Papers of the Presidents, 1961-63); (digital through Univ. of Michigan); (digital through JFK Museum)
Assassination Documents:
Space Speech at Rice University, Sept. 12, 1962

Noncopyrighted official portrait available from Wikimedia Commons 


Friday, November 08, 2013

OMB Report on Impacts of the Government Shutdown

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has published a report discussing the impacts and economic, budgetary, and programmatic costs of the October 2013 Federal government shutdown. Bullet points under each section of Impacts and Costs of the October 2013 Federal Government Shutdown provide a quick view of the negative impacts.

2013 Survey of Americans on U.S. Role in Global Health

The Kaiser Family Foundation has published its fifth survey discussing Americans' perceptions and knowledge about the role the United States plays in improving the health of people living in developing countries. The 2013 survey "explores new questions including the public’s perception of the 'bang for the buck' of U.S. aid and its ability to promote self-sufficiency in developing countries, views of spending reductions in the context of the federal budget deficit, and more detail on people’s sources of information, including how much news they report hearing about specific global health issues." The report site includes a summary of key findings for quick review.