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.