Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Unmanned Systems' Vital Role in Warfare

The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has developed a roadmap for using unmanned aircraft, ground, and maritime systems to meet our nation's security needs especially in the Global War on Terrorism. The Unmanned Systems Roadmap (2007-2032) documents the value of these systems for carrying out such tasks as mine detection, signals intelligence, precision target designation, reconnaissance, communication, and data rely while reducing the risk to human life. The document suggests prioritizing future research, development, and procurement of unmanned systems based on needs in four areas: reconnaissance and surveillance, target identification and designation, counter-mine warfare, and CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosive) reconnaissance.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Finding Goverment Information - a Challenging Quest

OMB Watch and the Center for Democracy and Technology have released an 18 page report entitled Hiding in Plain Sight: Why Important Government Information Cannot Be Found Through Commercial Search Engines. The Web sites of many federal agencies block web crawlers from commonly-used search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live, and Ask. Even searches done on USA.gov can miss crucial information that Government Information Librarians know to find directly on agency Web sites, but the public might miss without expert help. To remedy the situation, the report makes the following recommendations:

  • Congress should pass the E-Government reauthorization act, which would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to create best practices to encourage searchability of federal Web sites.
  • OMB should officially recognize the importance of commercial search engines to Internet users and work with the CIO Council to adopt policies to help users find information.
  • Agencies should adopt an information policy that makes public accessibility of online content and resources a priority.
  • Agencies should create Sitemaps of content on their sites, with special attention given to materials stored in databases and accessible only through drop-down menus. For example, many agencies have FAQ databases that are not accessible to search crawlers but contain very succinct and useful answers to common questions.
  • Agencies should review their use of robots.txt files in order to ensure they are used in the least restrictive way possible. Every effort should be made to include, rather than exclude, materials from the website, whether materials were excluded purposefully or accidentally in the past.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Remembering the "Boys of Summer"

The media buzz about steroid use among current baseball players makes one wonder about the physiques of the stars of yesteryear. If you would like to see what American baseball players looked liked when baseball first became popular in the United States, the American Memory Collection from the Library of Congress hosts Baseball Cards, 1887-1914. See images of such greats as Ty Cobb, Cy Young, and Walter Johnson to name a few. You can browse the cards by player, team, league, city, and card set or search by keyword.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Day of Infamy Interviews

What did ordinary Americans think and feel following the Japanese raids on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941? The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has made it possible for us to get an inkling thanks to a forward-thinking employee, Alex Lomax from the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center). Mr. Lomax asked field workers in ten geographically diverse locations across the United States to collect "man-on-the-street" reactions to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and subsequent entry of the United States into World War II. Workers also conducted a second set of interviews in January and February 1942 to gage reactions once the initial fury died down. Both sets of interviews are available in the American Memory online collection, After the Day of Infamy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Adopt an Attwater Prairie Chicken

The Attwater's prairie chicken, a species of grouse known for elaborate mating rituals, has been on the Endangered Species List since 1967. Urbanization caused the destruction of most of the bird's habitat. The chicken is now classified as critically endangered.

Don't let the Attwater's prairie chicken go the way of the dodo; adopt a prairie chicken through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The $25 donation goes to programs raising the chickens. Donors receive an informational packet about the threats facing the prairie chicken.

To see Attwater's prairie chickens, visit the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, 10, 528 acres dedicated to increasing their population. The refuge is approximately an hour drive from Houston.

For more information about Attwater's prairie chicken, check out these links:

Understanding Venezuela's Hugo Chavez

What does the defeat of Hugo Chavez's major reform proposals mean for Venezuela and the United States? The Council on Foreign Relations, an independent (not affiliated with the U.S. Government) nonpartisan center promoting a better understanding of foreign policy choices, has interviews with and reports by experts in the field about Hugo Chavez and Venezuela from 2002 to the present.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Early Voting Ends Today

The final day to vote early in the Harris County/City of Houston Joint Runoff Election is Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Election Day is Saturday, December 8 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information about early voting locations and to see a sample ballot, click on the Voting Information tab of Harris Votes. Runoff elections are to decide who will be the Houston I.S.D. Trustee, District II, and who will be the city council member from Districts D, E, and At-Large Position 5. Information solicited from candidates before the general election is still available in the November 2007 Voter Guide from the Houston League of Women Voters.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wonderland of Lights

Marshall, an East Texas city with a population of 24,000, boasts one of the largest light festivals in the United States. It is most famous for the white lights (approximately 125,000) decorating the former Harrison County Courthouse (now the Harrison County Historical Museum).

Besides admiring the lights, visitors may explore the history of East Texas. Numerous historical homes, such as the Starr Family Mansion, decorate for Christmas and offer tours throughout December.

For information about other holiday activities in Marshall, see the Marshall Chamber of Commerce website.

Monday, November 26, 2007

National Guard and Reserves Status

The Defense Science Board, a Federal Advisory Committee which provides independent advice to the Secretary of Defense, has issued a new report about the current deployment of National Guard and reserve troops. Entitled Deployment of National Guard and Reserve in the Global War on Terrorism, the report examined the "length and frequency of deployment of members of the National Guard and reserve." The board looked at the Secretary of Defense's January 2007 policy which set the following guidelines: "one year deployed and two years not deployed for the active force, one year mobilized and five years not mobilized for the reserve components." The report concluded that "given current levels of operational demand, today's Army active, National Guard, and reserve force structure will not support DOD's policy." It also emphasized the need for more training at reserve home stations before mobilization and expressed concern about having sufficient support at home to meet "homeland security, civil support, and domestic emergency requirements."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission will post its full 2007 report on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007. The Introduction, Executive Summary and Recommendations, however, are already available. The report contains 42 recommendations for congressional action. It reveals positive news about such things as China's role in encouraging the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons production capability, its contribution of forces to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Sudan, and economic policies that have lifted the Chinese people out of poverty. The report also expresses concern about such things as a lack of enforcement of intellectual property laws, a "retreat by China from market-based economic principles, the growth of China’s information control regime, and the use by China of espionage to acquire military and industrial technologies."

Friday, November 16, 2007

The First Thanksgiving

When many people think of the first Thanksgiving in America, they imagine pilgrims and American Indians. However, 80 years before the pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and 1,500 men celebrated Thanksgiving at Palo Duro Canyon. Palo Duro Canyon is now part of the Texas panhandle and a state park.

Still, many do not consider the Texas Thanksgiving the first Thanksgiving. Check out the Library of Congress website for more information on the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Celebrate International Education Week

Join in celebrations for International Education Week 2007, November 12-16, sponsored jointly by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. On the official Web site you can click on a map of the world and view events taking place in a particular country. You can also test your knowledge of the world by taking the Global IQ Quiz.

On Wednesday, November 14, the Center for the Study of Foreign Languages (CSL) at Rice University is hosting an International Education and Language Fair. From 4:00-5:00 pm on the first floor of Razor Hall, the CSL will have informational booths, songs, food and other visual arts. From 5:00-6:00 pm the center will offer Language and Culture Test Drives, mini courses in 12 languages to give participants a few new words and some fun facts.

In addition to the CSL fair, the Office of International Students & Scholars Web site has a complete listing of International Education Week events on the Rice University campus including a picture contest, a soccer tournament, and a tasting of international sweet treats.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dissertation Funds for Congressional Research

The Dirksen Congressional Center is accepting applications for grants to fund research on congressional leadership and the U.S. Congress. The competition is open to anyone "with a serious interest in studying Congress" such as "political scientists, historians, biographers, scholars of public administration or American studies, and journalists." The Center encourages graduate students who have successfully defended their dissertation prospectus to apply for awards ranging from a few hundred dollars to $3,500. However, undergraduates or pre-Ph.D. students are not eligible. Details are available at The Dirksen Congressional Center Web site.

Terrorism in the United States - Update

The FBI has released its newest report concerning terrorist activities in the United States. Terrorism 2002-2005 includes three sections for each year: terrorist incidents, terrorism preventions, and significant events. The report also makes available a Chronological Summary of Terrorist Incidents in the United States 1980-2005 as well as the following charts:
Previous reports are also available:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

And the Winners Are

Harris County (Texas) election day and early voting (choose the election results tab, then early voting) results are available from HarrisVotes for the November 6, 2007 joint election. Houston news stations
ABC 13
, KHOU 11 (CBS), and Click2Houston.com (NBC) (under local headlines on the politics page) and the Houston Chronicle (politics page) have also compiled results in a user-friendly format. However, election results from these news organizations appear on their November 8, 2007 pages and may require searching archives to access the same information at a later date.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Celebrate Veterans' Day

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a Veterans' Day (November 11, 2007) page filled with resources and information about ceremonies, observances, initiatives, proclamations, and resources to honor our nation's veterans.

In Houston a special Veteran's Day Parade will take place Sunday, November 11, 2007 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm with a gathering at Hermann Square (900 Smith Street) and a parade on Smith Street from Texas to Lamar. See the flier for a list of activities and entertainment.

Rice University will honor its veterans with an outdoor ceremony around the Rice Memorial Center flagpole (Ray Courtyard) on Friday, November 9 at 11:00 am. A reception will follow the 20-minute ceremony. Veterans are welcome to wear their uniforms.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Globalization

This month's issue of the electronic newsletter Liber8 from the Federal Reserve focuses on globalization and concerns Americans have about economic competition from China and India. It includes a summary of the issues, links to recent articles and more in-depth reading, and free data sources.

Voting Information for Nov. 6, 2007

League of Women Voters Guides with information about Harris County elections and the Texas Constitutional Amendments are available in Fondren Library or online for tomorrow's (Nov. 6, 2007) election. The Texas Secretary of State has also posted the text of the amendments in English and Spanish. To find a polling location or see a sample ballot, click on the Voting Information tab on the top of Harris Votes Web page and follow instructions given at the Election Day Voting Info. link. For a more comprehensive list of election resources, access Fondren Library's Government Information elections page.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Texas Clipper Reefing

On November 15th, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department plans to sink the Texas Clipper about 17 nautical miles from South Padre Island. During WWII the ship, now obsolete, transported troops. From 1964 to 1994, the Texas Clipper served as a training vessel for Texas A&M University-Galveston.

The Texas Clipper will join the Liberty Ships, WWII merchant marine ships sunk along the Gulf Coast, as part of the Ships-to-Reefs division of the Texas Artificial Reef Project. The sunken ships serve as historical sites, ocean habitats, and scuba diving and fishing areas.

Two other divisions of the Texas Artificial Reef Project, the Rigs-to-Reefs and Near Shore/Shallow Reefs, provide additional ocean habitats.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Government Style

Do you know how many children trick-or-treat on Halloween or what states produce the most pumpkins? The Census Bureau's Facts for Features has the answers. Are you curious how the traditions associated with Halloween began. "The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows" from The American Folklife Center has a detailed explanation. Do you need safe makeup or simple costume ideas for parties or trick-or-treating? How about suggestions for healthy Halloween treats? Even more important, are you aware of safety tips to make Halloween a night of treats, not tragic tricks. Government agencies do their best to ensure that everyone has a happy and informed Halloween.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Election Wikis

If you like to research and share information about current elections,
Congresspedia (from the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Media and Democracy) now provides you a forum. Nicknamed the “citizen's encyclopedia on Congress that you can edit, ” the wiki includes the following sections:
  • Wiki the Vote which focuses on U.S. Congressional elections with information about candidates, election coverage, and listings of local U.S. Congressional-related blogs by state.

  • U.S. Presidential Election, 2008 which discusses announced and rumored presidential candidates and provides some information about primaries, debates, Congressional endorsements, and political ads.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Texas RSS Feeds

Several Texas government agencies have RSS feeds to help Texans stay informed:

Many agencies without RSS feeds provide email updates. For a list of Texas agencies and links to their websites, go to the TRAIL website.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Public Health and Medical Preparedness

The White House released a new Homeland Security Presidential Directive concerning public health and medical preparedness. The document addresses protecting our nation against a catastrophic health event such as a "terrorist attack with a weapon of mass destruction (WMD), a naturally-occurring pandemic, or a calamitous meteorological or geological event." Directive/HSPD-21 builds upon the four pillars identified in the April 2004 Biodefense for the 21st Century:

  • Threat Awareness,
  • Prevention and Protection,
  • Surveillance and Detection, and
  • Response and Recovery.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blog Citation Guidelines

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has developed a set of guidelines for citing blogs. The citation rules are quite detailed and included optional (O) and required (R) elements. The blog rules are part of NLM's online book, The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers.

Cooperative Maritime Strategy

On Oct. 17, 2007 at the International Seapower Symposium in Newport, Rhode Island, the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandants of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard presented a new joint strategy entitled "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower." The strategy "will apply maritime power to the crucial responsibility of protecting U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world." In addition to the strategy document, the strategy site includes links to explanatory videos, graphics, and posters.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Intelligence Community Collaborative Plan

The United States Intelligence Community (IC) 500 Day Plan for Integration and Collaboration is now available from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). As follow-up to the 100 Day Plan and the 100 Day Plan Follow-Up Report, this plan starts the next phase of creating a more integrated and collaborative Intelligence Community (IC) by focusing on six areas:

  1. Create a Culture of Collaboration
  2. Accelerate Information Sharing
  3. Foster Collection and Analytic Transformation
  4. Build Acquisition Excellence and Technology Leadership
  5. Modernize Business Practices
  6. Clarify and Align DNI's Authorities

Friday, October 12, 2007

Veterans' Disability Benefits

The Veteran's Disability Benefits Commission recently released "Honoring the Call to Duty: Veterans' Disability Benefits in the 21st Century." The 562 page report is available from their web site and includes a link to a pdf version and an 18 page executive summary


The Commission identifies eight principles to guide "the development and delivery of future benefits for veterans and their families." The principles recognize the sacrifices veterans have made and emphasize rehabilitation and reintegration into civilian life as quickly and completely as possible. They include offering a "full range of health care" at no cost to service-disable veterans and call for a consistent, fair, equitable, and timely delivery of services. The report reveals that the "VA Rating Schedule has not been adequately revised since 1945" and suggests that it be updated frequently. The Commission makes 113 recommendations and includes a priority list for immediate consideration.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Harvest Time

Fall is in the air bringing thoughts of state fairs and harvest fruits and vegetables. At the annual State Fair of Texas in Dallas, events at the Food and Fiber Pavilion sponsored by the Texas Agriculture Department are always a big draw. Have you grown the biggest tomato or pumpkin in Texas? If so, enter the Everything's Bigger in Texas competition. Is your homemade ice cream to die for? If so, enter the fair's Get the Scoop contest.


If the State Fair is not in your travel plans, though, the Texas Agriculture Department has made available online abundant harvest information. If you would like to find where to buy pecans, tree-ripened apples, or 1015 onions grown in Texas, access the Go Texan Produce Directory. If flowers are more to your liking, visit the Go Texan Horticulture Directory to view gorgeous flower pictures and learn about what type of plants, soils, and aquatics are suitable for Texas.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Blackwater Hearing

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has released testimony from the October 2 Blackwater hearing which examined the mission and performance of the private contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan. Included are links to an overview, Chairman Waxman's opening statement, a video of the hearing, and information about the crash of Blackwater Flight 61 in Afghanistan. Various other Blackwater-related documents containing testimonies, emails, memorandums, and graphs are linked at the end.

GPO Digitization Project

In December 2004 the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) released "A Strategic Vision for the 21st Century" which revealed a goal not only to digitize Federal publications from the beginning of the republic forward, but also to make them available in perpetuity at no fee to the American public. GPO has now summarized the outcomes of its preliminary six-month digitization project in a report entitled Summary Report: Digitization Demonstration Project. A form for commenting on the plan is available from the report link.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Post-secondary Institutions Revealed

The U.S. Department of Education has a new website entitled College Navigator which offers a wide range of information about approximately 7,000 post-secondary institutions in the United States. You can find information about degrees awarded and programs offered, campus safety, retention and graduation rates, fees and financial aid, etc. The website offers features such as building a list of schools for side-by-side comparisons, pinpointing school locations with an interactive map, exporting search results into a spreadsheet, and saving your session with your search options, results, and favorites.

Friday, September 28, 2007

New Government Blog

Six government employees from the Office of Citizen Services and Communications at the U.S. General Services Administration have joined together to create a daily blog entitled Gov Gab: Your U.S. Government Blog. These experts will blog about government services and information of interest to Americans in their daily lives. Judging from their lighthearted biographies, the blog promises to be entertaining as well as informative. You have a chance to add your own creative input as well since Gov Gab encourages feedback by comments or email.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

IRS Refund Scam

Have you received an authentic-looking email recently from the IRS indicating that you are due a tax refund? This falls under the category "too good to be true" and is an attempt to steal your identity and assets. To combat this latest phishing (identity theft over the Internet) attempt, the IRS has established an instruction page. The page gives directions about forwarding the email to the real IRS to help shut down the scheme. It also describes other similar schemes supposedly from government sites.

Friday, September 21, 2007

School Integration Milestone

The first notable test case of the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education happened 50 years ago on the morning of September 23, 1957 at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. President Eisenhower sent federal troops to protect nine African-American teenagers who integrated the school that day. Now the school is a National Historic Site with a visitor's center operated by the National Park Service. To see a list of events and links associated with this historic anniversary, access the Little Rock Central High Integration 50th Anniversary site.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Iraq and the "New Way Forward"

The White House has released its Benchmark Assessment Report about progress in Iraq. This is the second of two reports required by Section 1314 of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 (Public Law 110-28). (Deadlines for submitting the reports were July 15, 2007 and Sept. 15, 2007.) In addition to a summary of the Iraqi Government's achievements and shortfalls in meeting 18 specific benchmarks, the assessment explains current U.S. strategy in Iraq entitled the "New Way Forward."

Plan to Reform U.S. Intelligence Community

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has released a follow up report to the original United States Intelligence Community (IC) 100 Day Plan for Integration and Collaboration. A 500 Day Plan will follow and build on the initiatives identified and addressed in this plan.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In Remembrance

Nationally, statewide, and locally the nation is pausing today to remember those who lost their lives in events associated with 9/11 as well as those who continue to fight the Global War on Terror. The White House has issued a fact sheet, "The Sixth Anniversary of 9/ll: Remembering Lives Lost and Heroic Sacrifices Made." Also available from the White House is a Web page entitled Remembering 9/11 which contains videos, photos, and presidential remarks and statements.

In Texas Governor Perry has ordered all U.S. and Texas flags at buildings under the control of the state to be flown at half staff, and encourages others to do the same. Last year, on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, Perry helped dedicate a monument in Corpus Christi to Coastal Bend men and women who have served in the Global War on Terror.

In Houston Mayor Bill and Andrea White will serve as honorary chairs for the Second Annual Firefighters Gala at the Wortham Theater hosted by the Fire Fighters Foundation of Houston, established last year to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9-11. The foundation provides non-governmental funding to help provide Houston's fire fighters with equipment, technology, and tools.

At Rice University the Rice Chorale, directed by Thomas Jaber, will commemorate 9/11 with a performance of Mozart's Requiem at 12 noon at the Shepherd School of Music.

Monday, September 10, 2007

General Petraeus' Report to Congress

General David H. Petraeus testified today before the House Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees. His prepared statement discusses force reductions and includes a chart showing planned reductions through July 2008 when pre-surge levels will be reached.

See also:
Ambassador Crocker's statement
C-SPAN coverage
CNN coverage

Friday, September 07, 2007

Report of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq

The 152 page Report of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, released Sept. 6, 2007, concludes that although the Iraqi Security Forces are improving, they will not be able to operate independently in the next 12 to 18 months to "secure Iraqi borders against conventional military and external threats" (p.12). Headed by General James L. Jones, Jr., USMC (Ret.), the commission lists separate findings and recommendations for each branch of the Iraqi military (Army, Navy, Air Force), the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior, the Iraqi Police, the National Police (recommended disbanding them), and the Department of Border Enforcement.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New Federal Reserve Newsletter

Librarians from the St. Louis Federal Reserve (8th District) have created a new non-technical newsletter aimed at government information and university librarians, students, and the general public. Published nine times a year (Jan.-May, Aug.-Nov.), the newsletter "is a selection of useful economic information, articles, data, and websites." The current issue of Liber8 features information about problems in the subprime mortgage industry.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Virginia Tech Report

The panel convened at the request of Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has released its report about the Virginia Tech shootings. The report reveals communication failures by university officials due to confusion about federal and state privacy law requirements. The panel also found that Virginia state mental health laws are "flawed" and that mental health services are "inadequate."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Military Suicide Rate

On Aug. 16, 2007 the U. S. Army released data revealing that there were 99 suicides within the Army in 2006. Thirty of them occurred in Iraq or Afghanistan. This compares to 87 suicides in 2005 and 67 in 2004. However, when comparing the data to the suicide rate for the same age and gender group of the total U.S. population, there were approximately 19 suicides per 100,000 people in the general population versus 17.3 suicides per 100,000 soldiers.

The Army is taking steps not only to reduce suicides, but also to increase awareness about mental health issues and decrease the stigma associated with seeking mental health care. One resource readily available to military personnel, their families, and the general public is the Army's Suicide Prevention Web site.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Funny Government Document Titles

Last fall The Kelley Center for Government Information and Microforms hosted a contest to identify silly government document titles. The titles keep coming. World Cat has a list of those that have been cataloged. Free Government Information (FGI) has posted a more complete list that often includes images of the publication's cover.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Homegrown Terrorism

The New York City Police Department's report, Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,released Aug. 15, 2007 is now available online. Using real world case studies, the report looks at the process of homegrown terrorism in which a seemingly "unremarkable" individual with little or no criminal history forms an intention to commit a terroristic act and makes or attempts to make that intention a reality.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Kids Constitution Day Poster Contest

The Kansas-based Gov Docs Kids Group is sponsoring a Constitution Day (September 17) poster contest for children K-12. Winning posters will be displayed on the Gov Doc Kids website, and each winner will receive a certificate plus two copies of his/her winning poster (a copy to keep and one to send to the school or organization of his/her choice). A winner from the Kansas City Metropolitan Area will also receive a gift certificate for an 8-week art class at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Entries will be judged by grade level (K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, and 9-12) and must be postmarked by Oct.1, 2007. Winners will be announced on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2007.

New State and Business Databases from GODORT

The American Library Association's (ALA) Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) has created two notable new sections on its wiki. The State Agency Database Across the Fifty States (and the District of Columbia) is an ongoing effort to locate in one place all publicly accessible state agency databases. Also, to initiate the single-subject collections part of the wiki, Ka-Neng Au of the Rutgers University Libraries has shared a Company Research Guide that includes state corporations links for the 50 states in addition to a wide variety of international and special-topic business databases. Continue checking the wiki for new additions to both sections.

Monday, August 06, 2007

FOIA Improvements

On Aug. 3 Congress passed a Freedom of Information reform bill authored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Cornyn (R-Tx) after reaching a compromise with Senator Jon Kyle (R-Az). To read Leahy and Cornyn's comments about the legislation, access the "Open Government Act of 2007." Scholars at the National Security Archive maintained by George Washington University have also posted a discussion claiming that this legislation will fix some of the "most glaring problems with the U.S. Freedom of Information Act" originally passed in 1966 and previously amended in 1974, 1976, 1986, and 1996.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Anniversaries


August 6 and 9 mark the sixty-second anniversary of the atomic bomb detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan respectively. To read about the American occupation of these two cities right after the bombing and the corresponding radiation risks to American troops, access "Hiroshima and Nagasaki Occupation Forces" hosted by the U.S. Department of Defense's Threat Reduction Agency (DRTA). (The link takes you to the DRTA fact sheet page. Enter "Hiroshima" in the search box at the top and press go. Choose the "News Media Resources: DRTA Fact Sheets - Hiroshima and Nagasaki Occupation Forces). The fact sheet, intended to be an information source for U.S. soldiers possibly affected by radiation, includes information about repatriating American prisoners of war (POWs) from those two areas. The chart pictured here and a similar chart for Nagasaki helps soldiers and POWs assess their risks.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Minneapolis Bridge Disaster Links

On Aug. 2, 2007 Government Information Librarians at the University of Minnesota Library linked on their homepage reports and data related to the bridge disaster in Minneapolis. The page includes links to both federal and state transportation sites as well as to the American Society of Civil Engineers' 35-W Bridge Collapse site with its report card, action plan, and bridge inspection standards links.

Preservation on Deck

The latest decks of playing cards being distributed to U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan do not contain images of the top enemy insurgents like their immediate predecessors. Rather, in a move to preserve ancient sites and stem the illegal trade of artifacts from war-torn areas, soldiers preparing for deployment at Fort Drum, New York are receiving decks of playing cards containing an archaeological theme by suit: diamonds/artifacts, spades/digs, hearts/winning hearts and minds, and clubs/heritage preservation. The "Desert Solitaire" cards are not a new idea for giving soldiers a useful way to spend off-duty time. During World War II soldiers received cards with silhouettes of Allied and Axis fighter planes.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Census Gathering Via the Internet?

Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. is pushing for the Census Bureau to gather responses for the 2010 census via the Internet. For more information, read his July 17th press release, a July 18th release from the Federal Times, and a July 18th report in FCW.com .

Americans with Disabilities Act Anniversary

July 26, 2007 marked the 17th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A July 27 press release entitled Fact Sheet: Six Years of Progress Under the President's New Freedom Initiative details the efforts President Bush's New Freedom Initiative for People with Disabilities has made to improve conditions for those with disabilities. The full report is also available.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pakistan's Impact and Future

On July 25, 2007, R. Nicholas Burns, the State Department's Under Secretary for Political Affairs, reassured the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that our government is committed "to ensure that the substantial resources the American people provide to Pakistan are utilized efficiently, effectively, and to support what all of us want: Pakistan’s transformation into a more stable, open, and secure nation where its people can, in the future, live peacefully." His testimony includes background information about Pakistan, its efforts as a counter-terror partner with the United States, and its crucial role in maintaining stability in South Asia.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

US-Mexico Border 2012 Program

The EPA announced a new website for the US-Mexico Border 2012 Program, a US/Mexico collaboration to improve the environment and address public health needs along the border. The Program's first report, State of the Border Region 2005, includes data on water, air, land, emergency preparedness and response, and enforcement and compliance.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Federal Budget News

According to economic updates in the Mid-Session Review, the Federal budget deficit is estimated at $205 billion in 2007, a reduction of $43 billion (18%) from last year. Additionally, higher than expected tax receipts have kept this estimate $39 billion lower than the February budget estimate.

Monday, July 16, 2007

How to Find Medical Information

Are you needing to find medical information, but don't know where to start? The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has a free guide, "How to Find Medical Information." The guide shows you how to use resources on the Internet and at your local library to track down the information you need. It even includes a list of popular medical reference sources for your home library.

Friday, July 06, 2007

One Million for Wearable Power Supply

The Department of Defense is offering a $1,000,000 prize to the inventor(s) (individual or teams) of a wearable power supply for soldiers that will provide 96 hours of equipment operation and weigh 4kg or less.The contest includes a $500,000 2nd place prize and a $250,000 3rd place prize. Rules of the contest are available at http://www.dod.mil/ddre/prize/rules_doc.html. Registration for the contest ends Nov. 30, 2007.

Immigration

Determining how to address immigration in the United States is a thorny problem with opposing sides both having logical arguments. To gain an idea of the scope of the debate, enter the word "immigration" in the "search bill" box of The Library of Congress Thomas database. Almost 400 entries will show House and Senate hearings related to immigration ranging from personal issues identified by people's names to the broader issue of comprehensive immigration reform.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Minimum Wage Increase July 24

Starting July 24, 2007 the minimum wage will increase from $5.15/hr. to $5.85/hr. except in American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands which have their own transition schedules. First appearing as The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, the act was signed into law on May 25, 2007 as part of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007.

The act raises wages in three increments:

  • to $5.85/hr. on July 24, 2007
  • to $6.55/hr. on July 24, 2008
  • to $7.25/hr. on July 24, 2009.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), if federal and state minimum wage rates conflict, the higher standard applies. Consult DOL's Minimum Wage Laws in the States - April 30, 2007 to view state rates. For posters and further information, access DOL's minimum wage page.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

CIA Releases Historical Documents

The CIA has released two collections of previously classified historical documents. The first collection, called "Family Jewels," contains responses to a 1973 directive from then Director James Schlesinger asking CIA employees to report activities that "might be inconsistent with the Agency's charter."

The second collection, the CAESAR-POLO-ESAU papers, focuses on Soviet (CAESAR) and Chinese (POLO) leadership hierarchies, and Sino-Soviet relations (ESAU) from 1953 to 1973.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy

In a letter and report to the President regarding the Virginia Tech tragedy, Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary of the Dept. of Health and Human Services, Margaret Spelling, Secretary of the Department of Education, and Alberto O. Gonzales, Attorney General, make recommendations on the following themes:
  • Critical Information Sharing Faces Substantial Obstacles
  • Accurate and Complete Information on Individuals Prohibited from Possessing Firearms is Essential to Keep Guns Out of the Wrong Hands
  • Improved Awareness and Communication are Key to Prevention
  • It is Critical to Get People with Mental Illness Services They Need
  • Where We Know What to Do, We Have to be Better at Doing It
The report recommends action at both the federal and state/local levels in each of these areas.

See our prior post on this topic.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Congressional Earmarks Database

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has established a website to provide information about earmarks. According to the OMB, earmarks are "funds provided by the Congress for projects or programs where the congressional direction (in bill or report language) circumvents the merit-based or competitive allocation process, or specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the Executive Branch to properly allocate funds." Earmarks can be included in appropriation bills and in authorization bills.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Stability and Security in Iraq

Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, a quarterly report from the Defense Department released in June 2007, is the first report to measure progress and setbacks in Iraq since the new strategy devised by General Petraeus was adopted. Quarterly reports from July 2005 through November 2006 and March 2007 are also available.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"A Botanic Garden for the Nation, The United States Botanic Garden"


A beautiful new publication was recently released on GPO Access. Senate Document 109–19 — A Botanic Garden for the Nation, The United States Botanic Garden is available as a pdf file or for purchase from GPO (Government Printing Office).

A virtual tour of the Garden and more information about the gardens and conservatory are available on the United States Botanic Garden website.

G8 Summit

For information, news and documents from last week's G8 Summit see the website at http://www.g-8.de/Webs/G8/EN/Homepage/home.html. Wondering who the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations (G8) are? They are:
  • Germany
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Russia
  • also represented is the European Commission
See the White House information page and the Secretary of State information page on the Summit.

See news coverage of the Summit at:

NPR
New York Times

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Prewar Intelligence Assessments About Postwar Iraq

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has just released its 226-page report Prewar Intelligence Assessments About Postwar Iraq together with Additional Views . For a discussion about the details of the report and Democratic and Republican reactions, see "Senate Democrats Say Bush Ignored Spy Agencies’ Prewar Warnings of Iraq Perils" in the May 26 edition of the New York Times.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Defense and military history resources

This afternoon I discovered an excellent collection of links to military and military-related internet resources on the website for the library at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. The Index to Internet Sites for JFSC Researchers lists sites by subject. Another good source of military and defense information is the GPO Access Browse Topics site, a partnership with the library at Oklahoma State University. Topics include military history, defense and security and homeland security.

For scientific and technical information from the Department of Defense, search DTIC's Scientific and Technical Information Network. The multisearch feature lets you search across an array of government databases.

Friday, May 25, 2007

President to appoint new public printer

Yesterday President Bush announced his intention to appoint Robert Charles Tapella to be the new Public Printer. Mr. Tapella is currently the Chief of Staff of the Government Printing Office.


The main mission of the Government Printing Office is to make information from all three branches of the federal government available to the public. A major part of this mission involves the Federal Depository Library Program which sends government information to more than 1250 libraries including Rice University's Fondren Library.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Voting Fraud and Voter Intimidation Report

On December 7, 2006 the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) issued a report entitled Election Crimes: An Initial Review and Recommendation for Future Study. The goal of the study was "to develop a working definition of 'voting fraud' and 'voter intimidation' and to identify research methodology to conduct a comprehensive, nationwide study of these topics."

In April EAC Commission Gracia Hillman addressed criticism of the study mainly concerning the handling of research data developed by consultants. Commission Hillman's recommendations were that the:

  • EAC request its Inspector General to investigate the issues of this matter and report its findings as quickly as possible.

  • EAC release the consultants' report.

  • EAC establish additional processes that will allow the public even greater opportunity to follow and understand the developments of our research and study projects.

World Digital Library

The Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, announced that Google is the first private-sector company to contribute to its World Digital Library initiative. In a speech to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO on June 6, 2005, Billington proposed creating a World Digital Library "that would seek to create for other cultures, languages, and nations the documentary record of their distinctive cultural achievements and aspirations—rather as we have tried to do for our own country with the ongoing American Memory project of putting primary culture and history documents online."

Monday, May 14, 2007

41 Cent Stamps Starting Today

As of Monday, May 14, 2007 stamps for first-class letters cost $0.41 (first ounce) and $0.17 (each additional ounce). First class large envelopes are $0.80 (first ounce) and $0.17 (each additional ounce). First class packages are $1.13 (first ounce) and $0.17 (each additional ounce). Priority mail flate rate boxes are $8.95 while priority mail flat rate envelopes are $4.60.

For those who want to avoid future stamp price increases, the United States Postal Service has introduced "Forever Stamps" available from the The Postal Store. Also available from The Postal Store is a link to a pdf containing the new domestic and international rate charts.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Vote May 12

Saturday, May 12, 2007 most local political subdivisions will conduct elections about local issues. See Harris Votes for a list of polling locations in Harris County. For Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, and Harris Counties the Houston Chronicle has posted a list of candidates by county. The web page also indicates what other issues are on each county's ballot.

The City of Houston is also conducting an election to fill the at-large city council seat left vacant by Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. The League of Women Voters of the Houston Area has posted the candidates' answers to questions about their backgrounds, city spending, a comprehensive plan for the City of Houston, and environmental pollution.

In addition to local issues, an important constitutional amendment (Proposition 1) is on the ballot. The amendment provides for seniors and disabled homeowners to be included in the property tax reduction granted last year to all other homeowners. A discussion of the pros and cons about this amendment is available from the Texas Legislative Council, the League of Women Voters, and the Houston Chronicle.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Encyclopedia of Life

The Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, Marine Biological Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution, and Biodiversity Heritage Library recently initiated a multi-media project to provide Internet access to all 1.8 million named species of animals, plants, and other Earth-based life forms. The newly launched Encyclopedia of Life will be a moderated-wiki style resource freely available to users everywhere. An international Institutional Council and an international Advisory Board will help oversee the development of the site. For more detailed information, see the May 9, 2007 Press Release.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Summer Fitness

As bathing suit weather approaches, are you feeling an urge to get in shape? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created MyPyramid.gov to provide both a personal eating plan and a tracking device to assess the quality of your diet and your physical activity status. Since childhood obesity is a problem, the USDA has also created MyPyramid for kids to help children in elementary school make wise food and activity choices. If a food pyramid site sounds too dry, there is even an animated tour to entice you to participate.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Stanford Copyright Renewal Database

An interesting new resource has been recently been made available online: Stanford University's Copyright Renewal Database. This database makes searchable the copyright renewal records received by the US Copyright Office between 1950 and 1993 for books published in the US between 1923 and 1963.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Harris County Joint Elections - May 12, 2007

According to Harris Votes May 12, 2007 is the date of "authority conducting elections" for the City of Houston, Channelview ISD, Goose Creek CISD, City of Baytown, City of Hilshire Village, City of Pasadena,City of South Houston, Harris County ESD No. 50, Woodcreek MUD, W. Harris County MUD Nos. 9 & 17, and WCID-Fondren Road. Early voting sites are available according to the following schedule:

    8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. April 30 - May 4
    7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. May 5
    1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. May 6
    7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. May 7-8

For a map of polling locations, access the Election 2007 icon on the Harris Votes elections page.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Malaria Awareness Day

Today is Malaria Awareness Day. For information about why and where malaria is a problem especially to young children, pregnant women, and people with HIV/AIDS, access the following sites:

Ask the White House for April 25, 2007

President and Mrs. Bush Discuss Malaria Awareness Day

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

USDA Help for Exposed Social Security Numbers

The United States Department of Agriculture has set up an information page to help individuals whose social security numbers were inadvertently posted on a government website. The Social Security numbers escaped security notice because they were embedded in a larger number. The Department of Agriculture is offering free credit monitoring service for a year to individuals (corporations/organizations were not effected) who received Farm Services Agency and Rural Development funding. Funding recipients with additional questions may also call 1-800-333-4636 (1-800-FED-INFO) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EDT), Monday-Friday,

Monday, April 16, 2007

School Violence Prevention

In view of the horrific mass shooting at Virginia Tech, other campuses will be evaluating their own security measures. Documents resulting from a collaboration between the United States Department of Education and the National Threat Assessment Center of the United States Secret Service can help in that evaluation. Their 2001 report Implications for Prevention of School Attacks in the United States: Final Report and Findings recommends threat assessment as a promising strategy for preventing school violence. Threat assessment is a fact-based analytical approach that focuses not on what a potential shooter looks like, but on what he/she does or says. The second report, Threat Assessment in Schools: A Guide to Managing Threatening Situations and to Creating Safe School Climates, details how to conduct a school threat assessment, manage a threatening situation, and create action plans to maintain a safe school climate.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Alaskan King Crab

I realized last night as I was watching television how much working in government publications can affect your everyday outlook. For instance, I was watching a show on Alaskan King Crab fishing, and discovered that, because of regulations and weather, the fishing season for crabs can be a short as four days in length. Being a government publications librarian, I immediately wondered what those regulations were and who issued and enforced them. Turns out, the restrictions are handled by a complex mix of federal and state regulatory agencies. Here is a brief history of the situation from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Additionally, the Being Sea/Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Committee has several reports of interest at this site. Regulations affecting Alaskan King Crabs are available here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Copyright Renewal Database

Orphan works, books printed between 1923 and 1963 that have no apparent owner, cause real problems for institutions that want permission to digitize titles. Now Stanford University has created the Copyright Renewal Database to make it easier to identify orphans. The database consists of renewal records received by the U.S. Copyright Office between 1950 and 1993 for books published between 1923 and 1963. Be forewarned, however, that it only covers renewals (not original registrations) of books (Class A registrations) that were published in the United States.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Homeland Security and Health Reports

The Thurgood Marshall Law Library has made available a collection of reports related to terrorism and homeland security and health law and policy. The reports were created by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), part of the Library of Congress.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Global Warming

On March 20, 2007 California Representative Henry Waxman, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the Safe Climate Act of 2007 (H.R. 1590) which "sets targets and requires the actions that will be necessary to avoid dangerous, irreversible warming of our planet." Targets are to be achieved through a combination of technological advances, energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, and a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions.

Similarly, the Rice University Student Association is addressing global warming by sponsoring a Carbon Neutral Day on April 20th, 2007. The association will buy "carbon credits" to pay for clean energy and energy efficient projects that equal the amount of emissions attributed to Rice's energy consumption for a single day. The association hopes to collect enough money to buy 55 tons of carbon credits at $10/ton ($550). Those wishing to donate can send checks by April 5 made out to Rice University (with the memo line indicating carbon credits) to:

Rice University
CSES, MS-170
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892

Monday, March 26, 2007

Congressional Actions - U.S. Attorney Firings

Given concerns about the firing of federal attorneys, the Senate passed S. 214, the "Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007." The House Committee on the Judiciary has likewise referred to the Whole House H.R. 580, a bill which provides for a 120-day limit to the term of a United States attorney appointed on an interim basis by the Attorney General.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tag Clouds and Presidential Speeches

A fascinating website has applied tag clouds to presidential state of the unions speeches dating back to the Administration of John Adams. By moving the scrolling tool from left to right (or vice versa) one can see how the issues that faced the country have changed over time. In the mid-nineteenth century, for instance, slavery was a major topic, while one hundred years later communism was much discussed. Most recently, words such as terrorism and freedom are frequently mentioned in state of the union speeches.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Postal Rates Increase

As of May 14, 2007 new prices for mailing items using the U.S. Postal Service will take effect. Since it costs the Postal Service more money to process flats and parcels than letter mail, shape-based rates will apply. A partial breakdown of the new rates follows:

Letters:
up to 1 ounce - 41 cents
up to 2 ounces - 58 cents
up to 3 ounces - 75 cents
up to 3.5 ounces - 92 cents
Letters that weigh over 3.5 ounces now fall under flats.
(One way to avoid future increases is to purchase the "forever stamp" which may be used for the prevailing rate at the time of mailing even though it was purchased initially for a lower rate.)

Flats: start at 80 cents and increase at 17 cents with each ounce. Example:
up to one ounce - 80 cents
up to two ounces - 97 cents
up to three ounces $1.14
flats weighing 13 ounces and above fall into Priority Mail category

Parcels: start at $1.13 and increase 17 cents with each ounce. Example:
up to one ounce - $1.13
up to two ounces $1.30
up to thee ounces $1.47
up to four ounces $1.64
etc.

A complete listing of the new rates and fees is available as a pdf or an html file.

Slavery/Human Rights

Currently Great Britain is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the end of the slave trade, but slavery and human rights violations still exist today as pointed out in the March 18, 2007 edition of the Houston Chronicle. What has 110th Congress done to address these problems? First, a sampling of the measures undertaken in Congress includes the observation by both the House and Senate of the anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade. The House of Representatives has also encouraged the abolition of modern-day slavery, established an anti-slavery day, and recommended authorizing appropriations for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Both the House and the Senate have supported the goals of International Women's Day. (More women than men serve as present-day slaves). House Resolution 146 also encourages members of the United Nations to meet obligations agreed to in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 which emphasizes implementing an international law to protect the rights of women and girls during and after conflicts. Other measures that deal with protecting human rights during conflicts include House Resolution 125 (an expression of concern about using human shields during war such as when Hezbollah embedded its forces among civilians during the conflict with Israel) and House Concurrent Resolution 75 which condemns the use of child soldiers and asks the international community to find remedies to end the practice. Furthermore, in similar resolutions both the House and the Senate asked President Bush to ensure that United States foreign policy reflects "appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide." Finally, Senate Resolution 295 supports the National Archives and Records Administration efforts to establish a servitude and emancipation archival research database.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

OpenCongress Website

Take a look at OpenCongress, a wonderful new resource that combines offical legislative resources such as Thomas with blogs, and news coverage. The goal, as they say on their website, is to "bring together, for the first time in one place, all the best data on what's really happening in Congress." OpenCongress includes:

  • Official Congressional information from Thomas, made available by GovTrack.us: bills, votes, committee reports, and more.
  • News articles about bills and Members of Congress from Google News.
  • Blog posts about bills and Members of Congress from Google Blog Search and Technorati.
  • Campaign contribution information for every Member of Congress from the website of the non-profit, non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets.org.
  • Congress Gossip Blog: a blog written by the site editors of OpenCongress that highlights useful news and blog reporting from around the web. The blog also solicits tips, either anonymous or attributed, from political insiders, citizen journalists, and the public in order to build public knowledge about Congress.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sunshine Week Display

To commemorate Sunshine Week (Mar. 11-17, 2007) the Kelley Center for Government Information and Microforms has created a display with a sampling of materials available in Fondren Library about open access to government information. Sunshine Week is sponsored by the American Association of Law Libraries, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the League of Women Voters, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Freedom of Information Coalition, OpenTheGovernment.org, the Special Libraries Association, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Sunshine Week was established in 2005 to stress to the American public the importance of open government.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sunshine Week

This week is the third national Sunshine Week, an initiative that promotes awareness of open government and freedom of information issues. Good resources for information about Sunshine Week and Open Government include:

Texas Open Government Information
Sunshine Week News

More information about open access to government information

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Congressional Reaction to Walter Reed Revelations

On Monday, March 5, 2007 Congress addressed problems revealed by the
Washington Post about the out-patient medical treatment of veterans with physical or psychological injuries. Representative McCarthy of New York proposed that implementing health information technology would prevent medical records from being lost and make transitioning from the hospital to out-patient care easier especially for brain-injured patients. Senator Dorgan expressed concern about the lack of resources for the Veterans Administration (VA) to which many patients are transitioned. He described the suicide of a veteran home from Iraq who had not been able to get immediate attention despite showing up at a VA hospital and admitting he was suicidal. To address these concerns, Senator Akaka recommended a $2.9 billion increase over figures submitted by the administration for the fiscal year 2008 Department of Veterans Affairs' budget. The increase includes an additional $300 million for the treatment of brain injury and and an additional $693 million for VA mental health programs.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Library of Congress American Memory Collection recently added an oral history collection featuring interviews with 20th century U.S. Diplomats. Frontline Diplomacy: The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training focuses on post-WWII diplomacy but does include some earlier material. Transcripts were donated by the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and include 1301 interviews to date. Additional content will be added.

Friday, February 23, 2007

HIV Testing

Last September, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that HIV testing be incorporated into routine health checks. The City of Houston runs a mobile testing center that offers low-cost (and sometimes free) HIV testing at areas throughout the city. Visit their website for details on times and locations.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Government Information and Native Americans

There are an incredible number of government information resources concerning Native Americans available online. The Native American Documents Project at California State University, San Marcos makes a number of historically significant government publications available. In addition, the Avalon Project at the Yale Law School put online all government statutes and treaties concerning Native American Tribes . A project at Oklahoma State University makes the same information available in a different interface. The 1941 GPO publication Handbook of Federal Indian Law is available online here.

The National Museum of the American Indian always has online exhibitions very much worth visiting. In addition, the Smithsonian Institution has a wonderful site, American Indian History and Culture, which documents Native American collections in the Institution's collections.

In terms of current policy, the EPA maintains the American Indian Environmental Office, which handles environmental issues on Indian lands. The U.S. Census Bureau has a webpage devoted to statistical information on American Indian and Alaska Native Populations. Other links of interest include the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, The Department of Justice's Office of Tribal Justice, and HUD's Office of Native American Programs (ONAP). For the time being, the website of the Bureau of Indian Affairs is offline.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New JFK Video

If you were alive on November 22, 1963, chances are you will be able to pinpoint exactly where you were and what you were thinking when you received the news of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas. The family of George Jefferies has donated to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza a newly discovered home movie of the Kennedy motorcade seconds before the President was shot.

To learn more about President Kennedy's legacy, access the
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum site. The museum links historical documents that reveal the policies, life, and times of our thirty-fifth president. Access the multimedia White House Diary (under Historical Resources) to experience the day-to-day routine and momentous events of his presidency.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Slate on Google Patent Search

To those that missed it, a few weeks ago Slate ran a fun and interesting article on the newly released Google patents search. While noting his amazement at the sheer amount of information contained in online patents databases (both through google and the USPTO), the author questions both the efficacy of google's search system and the usefulness of the patent system in general.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New Military Command for Africa

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the Pentagon is creating a new unified military command (AFRICOM) for all of Africa (except for Egypt which remains under the Central Command). According to Ryan Henry, Principal Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, “This command will focus on some efforts to reduce conflict, to improve the security environment, to defeat or preclude the development of terrorists or terrorist networks, and support in crisis response.” According to NPR, Navy Rear Admiral Robert Moeller will oversee the command which is due to be in full operation by the end of fiscal year 2008.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Have Passport, Will Travel

According to the U.S. Department of State, as of January 23, 2007, all persons (including U.S. citizens) traveling by air to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, Panama, and the Caribbean must now display a valid passport or one of the following substitutes: an Air NEXUS card, a U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document, a U.S.Permanent Resident Card, or an asylee or refugee document. However, land and sea travelers are exempt until at least January 2008, and passports are not required for air travel to or from U.S. territories including Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. For information about obtaining or renewing a passport (U.S. citizens), access the State Department's passport page or call toll free 1-877-4USA-PPT or TDD/TYY: 1-888-874-7793.

Monday, February 05, 2007

National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq

The DNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) has posted an unclassified copy (including key judgments) of the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq entitled "Prospects for Iraq's Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead." The DNI has also made available the unofficial transcript of the nomination hearing for Mike McConnell to be the next Director of National Intelligence.

President's Budget for FY 2008

The President's Budget of the United States for FY 2008 was sent to Congress on Friday. The total budget requested equals approximately $2.9 trillion, including $716.5 billion for defense. Use the Library of Congress Thomas database to view the status of appropriations measures back to 1998.


For information about the budget process see:

Budget of the United States: About

Searching guide from GPO Access
Wikipedia article on the United States budget process
A Glossary of Terms Used in the Federal Budget Process from the GAO (500 pages!)
The Budget Process from the House Committee on Rules

Friday, February 02, 2007

Global Warming

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report on global warming yesterday. This report, the Summary for Policymakers of the first volume of “Climate Change 2007”, addresses the natural and human drivers of climate change and states that:

"Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years. The global increases in carbon dioxide concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land-use change, while those of methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Iraq - Testimonies Before Congress

Iraq has been a hot topic in Congress during January 2007 as recorded in the Congressional Record. On Jan. 11 Representative Foxx spoke in support of President Bush's plan for Iraq. On the same day McDermott expressed concerns about the PSA (Production Sharing Agreements) American oil companies are pursuing in Iraq. On Jan. 17 sixteen Congressmen introduced H.R. 508. If enacted, among other things, the bill would require a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and government contractors within six months of enactment. On Jan. 16 Representative Chet Edwards submitted to the Congressional Record the observations of a young Army officer who recently served in Iraq. On Jan. 18 members of the House of Representatives introduced by Congresswoman Waters recounted the reasons they originally voted to authorize military force in Iraq. On Jan.22 the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition spoke about providing cost accountability for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Finally, on Jan. 30 Senator Bond spoke about introducing the National Defense Enhancement and National Guard Empowerment Act to recognize the Guard's contribution to our country's stability. (If any of the above links do not work, try them again in a few minutes.)

Friday, January 26, 2007

NATO to Increase Assistance to Afghanistan

Earlier today, in Brussels, NATO Foreign Ministers agreed to increase support in Afghanistan. The meeting agenda is available together with some audio and video coverage. Other relevant documents/sites include:

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Troop expansion in Iraq

On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a non-binding resolution opposing President Bush's decision to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq. The President announced his plan in his address to the nation on January 10 and discussed it in the State of the Union address on Tuesday. The Senate Armed Services Committee today heard testimony from Dr. William J. Perry, Ambassador Dennis B. Ross, and General John M. Keane on the current situation in Iraq and the President's plan for an increased military presence.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

EPA Staff Responds to ALA Participants

As reported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on January 22, 2007, EPA staff faced tough questioning from librarians attending the Seattle ALA Midwinter Meeting about the closing of several EPA libraries. The newspaper article also refers to a CRS (Congressional Research Service) report updated Jan. 3, 2007, "Restructuring EPA's Libraries: Background and Issues for Congress."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Jan. 15, 2007, the 21st anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday, thousands of people across the country are choosing to honor his memory by participating in service projects in their communities. For more information about the man who inspired this dedication, access The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute site. The site contains audio excerpts of his sermons and speeches, a biography, an encyclopedia, a document inventory, and information about purchasing compilations of his papers. Dr. King's biography and speeches are also available through the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hurricane Katrina Update

The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the United States Senate have now made available an update about Hurricane Katrina entitled Hurricane Katrina: A Nation Still Unprepared.

Supreme Court rules in patent case

On January 9, 2007, the Supreme Court announced their decision in the Medimmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc. case. This case involved the issue of whether or not those who enter into licensing agreements with patent holders can challenge the validity of the patent in court. In the 8-1 decision, the Court decided that they could, maintaining that by entering into licensing agreements or paying royalties to a patent holder one did not thereby forfeit the right to challenge that patent in court.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Identity Theft Task Force

The Identity Theft Task Force established by President Bush in May 2006 is seeking public comment about its interim recommendations and has posted a summary of the issues. The summary ends with directions for submitting comments either electronically or by mail by Friday, January 19, 2007.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Former President Gerald R. Ford - Funeral and Biographical Information

Former President Gerald R. Ford passed away on December 26. See Firstgov.gov for information about the funeral and for biographical information about President Ford. Other links include the Gerald R. Ford Memorial hosted by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum and coverage of the funeral on CNN. To view tributes, speeches and related links, access the White House. To read the public papers of Gerald R. Ford, browse or search the University of Michigan's The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. Browse under "G" for Gerald or search using "Gerald R. Ford." For pictures of President Ford and Mrs. Ford during his presidency, see the Gerald R. and Betty Ford section of the Time Line of Presidents and First Ladies maintained by the Library of Congress. Ford was the 38th President of the United States.