Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein executed

Saddam Hussein has been executed today in Iraq. The New York Times obituary provides an overview of the Iraqi dictator's life.

Presidential Pardons in Time for the Holidays

This article from CNN supplies the details on 16 pardons issued by President Bush. The current president has now issued a total of 113 pardons during his time in office. By way of comparison, the article notes, "President Clinton issued 457 in eight years in office. Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, issued 77 in four years. President Reagan issued 406 in eight years, and President Carter issued 563 in four years. Since World War II, the largest number of pardon and commutations -- 2,031 -- came from President Truman, who served 82 days short of eight years."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Texas Statehood

Texans, remember to celebrate December 29 since on that date in 1845 Texas officially became a state. (You can actually celebrate two dates since transfer of government occured on February 19, 1846.) To learn about the events leading to statehood, read the Narrative History of Texas Annexation provided by the Texas State Library.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Birthday Federal Reserve

On December 23, 1913 President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Federal Reserve Act to establish more effective supervision of banking in the United States. The New York Branch of the Federal Reserve has written a brief history of the chaotic events that led to the founding. For a more detailed history see Allan H. Meltzer's A History of the Federal Reserve Volume 1:1913-1951. Source materials cited by Meltzer are available on FRASER (Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research). FRASER also links to other documents pertaining to the history of the Federal Reserve through 2005.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oops - USPS!

Caught in a bind because you haven't mailed your holiday packages to Aunt Emma in San Francisco or Uncle Fred in Maine? If you hate waiting in long lines at the post office, find the nearest Automated Postal Center by entering your city, state, and zip code in the online form or by calling (800) ASK-USPS. Automated postal centers near Rice University include the University of Houston at 1319 Richmond Ave. ( .95 miles), Southmore at 4110 Almeda Rd. (1.33 miles), Medical Center at 7205 Almeda Rd. (1.78 miles), and River Oaks at 1900 W. Gray St. (2.30 miles). Maps and driving directions are available from the site.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Are You Now in a Flood Plain?

After Tropical Storm Allison the Harris County Flood Control District and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created a joint study project (The Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project or TSARP) to help the public understand flood risks. TSARP has just released new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). Check the maps or call the Harris County Flood Control District at 713-722-7227 to see if your property is included in the approximately 10,000 commercial and residential properties newly added to the flood plain, or if you are one of the lucky ones whose property has now been removed. Read TSARP's Quick Reference Sheets and a letter from Mike Talblott, Director of the Harris County Flood Control District, to gain a better understanding of flood insurance as well as how these new maps might affect you. Flood insurance rates will rise dramatically on June 18, 2007 for those living in identified flood-prone areas, but you have six months to lock in cheaper grandfathered rates. Even if your residence or business is outside the official flood plain, though, FEMA advises you to purchase flood insurance since almost two-thirds of the flooding during Allison occured outside the 100 year floodplain. For more information about how to purchase flood insurance, access the National Flood Insurance Web site or call 1-888-379-9531.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Google Patent Search

Google has just added a new patent search feature to their expanding list of research tools. The site allows for simple fulltext searches as well as more advanced searches. This article has more details.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Male Circumcision Reduces HIV Risk in Africa

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, announced today that two clinical trials of medically performed male circumcision ended early because interim data showed promising results in halting the spread of HIV acquired through heterosexual intercourse. In Kenya medically circumcised males were 53% less likely to acquire HIV than their uncircumcised counterparts, while in Uganda the reduction rate was 48%. These results do not necessarily apply to the United States, however, since most U.S. males are already circumcised, HIV rates are lower, and most male HIV infections in the U.S. occur in males who have sex with other males. For reactions to these findings, see the World Health Organization's (WHO) statement.

Monday, December 11, 2006

EPA Saga Continues

According to a Public Employees for Environmental Responsibilities (PEER) news release, EPA has been selling furniture and equipment for less than pennies on the dollar despite requests from Congress to wait for Congressional review. The agency also closed the Office of Prevention, Pollution and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) Library, the repository for reports about the effects and properties of toxic chemicals, and delinked thousands of documents from its Web site.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

East Texas and the Federal Register

As a Depository Library located in Texas we have a special closeness to one of the seminal government publications: the Federal Register. As this article explains, the Federal Register was established in 1935 when it became clear that the Federal Government needed to provide a single source for executive orders and regulatory codes. The reason that this was so apparent in 1935 was the tremendous growth in executive orders and regulatory pronouncements associated with the New Deal. The point was driven home by a Supreme Court decision involving two Texas oil companies. It appears that two companies in East Texas ran afoul of federal regulations on the transportation of oil and they appealed their case to the Supreme Court. During oral questioning it appears that regulators had to admit that there was a question as to whether or not the specific regulation in question was even in effect at the time of the alleged violation. The confusion convinced lawmakers to establish a uniform publication for regulator information: The Federal Register.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Remember Pearl Harbor

A good place to start your remembrance is the Library of Congress Today in History site which contains background information, pictures, and dispatches as well as links to a wide variety of materials including music, oral histories, and "man of the street interviews." Continue your journey to the Naval Historical Center to access a Pearl Harbor overview, a list of ships present at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, pictures of damaged ships, and related resources. If you experienced the raids in person that day, you might want to join the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. End your journey by reading President Bush's official proclamation designating Dec. 7 as the National Pearl Habor Remembrance Day, 2006.

Iraq Study Group Report Now Available

The Iraq Study Group Report is now available for download. It can also be downloaded from the Baker Institute website. The press conference can be viewed now on CNN.

Iraq Study Group Report

President Bush received the Iraq Study Group Report this morning. The bipartisan panel will release the report to the public later this morning. It will be available on websites for the United States Institute for Peace, Rice University's Baker Institute, the Center for Strategic & International Studies, and the Center for the Study of the Presidency.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Senate Hearings on Robert Gates

Listen to the currently occurring Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing on the nomination of Robert Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as the Secretary of Defense:


Pentagon Channel