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.