Wednesday, May 28, 2008

EPA Libraries Return Diminished in Size

According to a May 21, 2008 News Release from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the EPA, responding to an order by Congress to re-open its closed libraries, will re-open four libraries effective September first. However, space allocated to the libraries will be considerably diminished unless plans change. For example, the Chicago regional library which serves the six-state Great Lakes area will occupy a vacant reception area on the 16th floor of a federal building that is one-tenth the size of its former area; the Dallas regional library serving five states will operate 6 hours a day 4 days a week using 2 staff workstations and 1 patron work station.

The EPA has more information about its current library services and repositories on its National Library Network page.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Postage Rate Increase

On May 12, 2008 the price for postal services increased once more making the "Forever Stamp" an even better value. A detailed explanation of the new prices and extra services and fees is available at . New rates include the following:

  • First-Class Letter, 1 oz. - $0.42
  • First-Class Letter, 2 oz. - $0.59
  • Each additional ounce - $0.17
  • Postcard - $0.27
  • First-Class large envelope, 1 oz. - $0.83
  • First-Class large envelope, 2 oz. - $1.00
  • Each additional ounce - $0.17
  • First-Class Parcel, 1 oz. - $1.17
  • Each additional ounce - $0.17
  • Letters, non-machinable surcharge - $0.20
  • First-Class, International to Canada and Mexico, 1 oz. - $0.72
  • First-Class, International to All other Countries, 1 oz. - $0.94

The US Postal Service also has a handy Postage Price Calculator to determine the exact cost of mailing your domestic and international postcards, letters, large envelopes, packages, and large (12x12x12+) packages.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Population Potpourri

The May 1, 2008 edition of the U.S. Census Bureau News reveals that the U.S. Hispanic population of 45 million is now the largest minority group nationwide comprising 15 percent of the total population. Next are Black Americans (40.7 million), Asian Americans (15.2 million), American Indians and Alaska Natives (4.5 million), and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (1 million). The total number of White Americans is 199.1 million.

States with the largest number of older Americans include Florida, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania while Alaska, Utah, and Georgia have the fewest. States with the largest number of preschoolers include Utah, Texas, and Idaho while Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire have the fewest. The white population is older than the population as a whole. About 25 percent of the total population is under 18, while only 21 percent of whites are younger than 18.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hospital Rating Service

The United States Department of Health and Human Services has created Hospital Compare to provide feedback from patients about the quality of adult health care received at participating hospitals for a specified range of conditions or procedures. The site is especially useful to Medicare patients who are able to look up specific participating hospitals and find out how many Medicare patients were treated there for certain conditions as well as the amount Medicare paid the hospitals for those procedures. It is possible to search for a hospital in a specific area or across the nation as well as for those that treat certain conditions such as heart attacks or diabetes, or perform certain procedures such as angioplasty, heart bypass, back and neck operations, and hysterectomies.

Friday, May 02, 2008

North Deer Island Sanctuary

The 144-acre North Deer Island is one of few remaining natural islands in Galveston Bay and an excellent location for bird watching. Several species of endangered birds (such as Roseate Spoonbills) use the island as breeding and nesting grounds. Recently, a major North Deer Island restoration and conservation project was completed.

In Janurary 2006, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) received a grant of over $1.2 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore wildlife habitats on the island and prevent erosion. Many organizations partnered with TPWD to provide further financial backing, including the part owners of the island, the Houston and Texas branches of the Audubon Society.

For more information about North Deer Island, including information about tours, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Reconstruction Progress in Iraq

The latest (April 30, 2008) State Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) ) quarterly report is now available. The report details how the $46 billion for relief and reconstruction allocated to Iraq since April 2003 has been spent. It also provides information about "the top five projects in each construction sector, the top contractors by income, an overview of reconstruction management, and SIGIR's new audits and inspections." One bit of good news is that Iraq's revenue income should be around $70 billion for 2008 which is twice the expected amount.