Monday, December 22, 2014

NORAD's Santa Tracker

Since 1955 the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), have provided a Santa tracking service to children all over the world. Volunteers from NORAD personally respond to phone calls and emails and use the internet to track Santa. NORAD's creative website includes the Santa tracker and games and images related to the North Pole and Santa's Village. It even has an app to tract Santa from a mobile phone. To find Santa's exact location children can call 1-877-446-6723 to talk with a NORAD staff member from 3:00 a.m. MST on December 24 until 3:00 a.m. MST on December 25, or on December 24 they can email

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Report on the Future of Privacy

On December 18, 2014 Pew Research, a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, released a report that looks "into the future of privacy in light of the technological change, ever-growing monetization of digital encounters, and shifting relationship of citizens and their governments that is likely to extend through the next decade." Digital Life in 2025: The Future of Privacy canvassed thousands of experts and Internet builders to share their predictions. (They use the term canvas since this was not a representative randomized survey.) Questions asked of the responders were:

  • Will policy makers and technology innovators create a secure, popularly accepted, and trusted privacy-rights infrastructure by 2025 that allows for business innovation and monetization while also offering individuals choices for protecting their personal information in easy-to-use formats?
  • Describe what you think the reality will be in 2025 when it comes to the overall public perception about whether policy makers and corporations have struck the right balance between personal privacy, secure data, and compelling content and apps that emerge from consumer tracking and analytics. 
  • Consider the future of privacy in a broader social context. How will public norms about privacy be different in 2025 from the way they are now?

Common thoughts shared by those interviewed were:

  • Privacy and security are foundational issues of the digital world
  • People are living in an unprecedented condition of ubiquitous surveillance
  • People require little more inducement than personal convenience to disclose their personal information
  • Norms are always evolving, and privacy will certainly change in coming years 
  • An arms-race dynamic is unfolding
  • Renegotiation and compromise will be a constant in privacy-security policy space
For more information and to obtain a PDF of the report, access

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

CIA Torture Report

On December 9, 2014 the Senate released the recommendations, executive summary, and findings of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program commonly known as the CIA Torture Report.  Read a PDF of the Executive Summary, Findings and Conclusions and/or a PDF of the Minority Views of Vice Chairman Chambliss and Senators Burr, Risch, Coats, Rubio and Coburn.

The official digital version (PDF) is now available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). The print version is available for purchase at GPO’s retail and online bookstore for $29.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Understanding Pearl Harbor

U.S.S. Shaw burning in Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941

To help us understand the background of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and what it was like to live through it, government agencies have posted material online. For example, the Senate has made available the summary of the work of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack as well as a PDF of their report. The Naval History and Heritage Command website has an overview and selected images about the Pearl Habor raid. The Library of Congress' American Folklife Center (AFC) has "man on the street interviews" featuring "opinions recorded in the days and months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor from more than two hundred individuals in cities and towns across the United States." The AFC also hosts the Veterans History Project making accessible personal accounts of American veterans from World War I to the present. Bibliographic records are available online for all the interviews with about 10% of the interviews (those with a VIEW DIGITAL COLLECTIONS button) being available online. Enter "Pearl Harbor" in the search box to access interviews relating to that fateful day.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Free Election Data

According to Library Journal and also Data Driven Journalism, Derek Willis, New York Times interactive news developer, and Sedar Tumgoren, Washington Post news apps developer, have created a free comprehensive database of past U.S. election results with the approval but not sponsorship of their employers. Supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's News Challenge, OpenElections aims to "create the first free, comprehensive, standardized, linked set of election data for the United States, including federal and statewide offices."

Monday, September 22, 2014

Warren Commission Report Available Online

Notice from the Government Printing Office (GPO):

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the release of the Warren Commission Report, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) makes the complete report and 26 hearing volumes available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). The Commission was created by President Lyndon Johnson and chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren to investigate President Kennedy's assassination. GPO worked with Boston Public Library to digitize the 26 hearing volumes after digitizing the Warren Commission Report last year. Now the complete, official Warren Commission Report and hearing volumes are digitally available through GPO.

  • For link to complete Warren Commission Report, click here 
  • For link to historic video of GPO’s production of the Warren Commission Report, click here

  • GPO produced the Warren Commission Report and 26 hearing volumes in 1964. Altogether, GPO's work for the Commission resulted in nearly 235,000 copies of the report and nearly 5,600 sets of the hearings. All of these materials were made available to the public through distribution to Federal depository libraries nationwide and sales via GPO's bookstores.

    “GPO is committed to digitization efforts and providing future generations of Americans with digital access to historical content,” Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks. “I thank Boston Public Library for collaborating with GPO to digitize the hearing volumes. This digitization effort reflects GPO’s digital transformation from printing the report 50 years ago to making digitally available today.”

    The post President Kennedy assassination audio tape recordings of conversations between various individuals in Washington, DC and Air Force One pilots and officials on board during the flight from Dallas to Andrews Air Force Base are also available on FDsys.

  • For link to post assassination audio tape recordings, click here.
  • Friday, September 19, 2014

    Affordable Care Act Legislation

    On Sept. 12, 2014 the Congressional Research Service released Legislative Actions to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act (PDF link) by C. Stephen Redhead and Janet Kinzer. Three appendices summarize legislative actions to repeal, defund, delay, or otherwise amend the ACA law's enactment:

    • Table A-1 in Appendix A - "summarizes the authorizing legislation to amend the ACA that has been approved by both chambers and enacted into law."
    • Table B-1 in Appendix B - "summarizes the ACA provisions in authorizing legislation that passed the House in the 112th Congress (2011-2012) but was not approved by the Senate. It also lists the ACA-related legislation that the House has passed to date in the 113th Congress (2013-2014), but which has not been taken up by the Senate."
    • Table C-1 in Appendix C  - "summarizes the ACA-related provisions in enacted annual appropriations acts for each of FY2011 through FY2014."
    The report also contains background information on the core provisions of the ACA and an overview of the law's impact on federal spending.

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Journalists Killed Worldwide since 1992

    The Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ)  maintains a database listing journalists killed worldwide since 1992.  Deaths are classified as "motive confirmed" if there is reasonable certainty the journalist was murdered in direct reprisal for his or her work, or killed in crossfire during combat, or killed while carrying out a dangerous assignment. If the motive is unclear, the case is labeled "unconfirmed" and investigation continues.

    CPJ is an "an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide and defends the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal."

    Tuesday, September 09, 2014

    Microfilm and Microfiche Cabinets Available for Free

    Please Note: These cabinets are no longer available.

    Rice University’s Fondren Library is giving away a number of used bookshelves and microfilm and microfiche cabinets on a first come, first served basis. Institutions that take these free cabinets and/or shelves are responsible for moving, disassembling (if necessary), loading and transporting them. Cabinets and shelves must be picked up by the end of September and are provided as is.

    Microfilm cabinets available (good condition):

    10-12 Russ Bassett Gemtrac high density cabinets.
    Tan. 90"H x 30W.
    (Note: typically these are installed in pairs)
    19 Russ Bassett Lower Vertical Cabinets.
    11 drawers with five rows.
    Dark Gray. 57.5”H x 23.75W 
    9 JB Lower Vertical Cabinets.
    12 Drawers with five rows.
    Gray. 57.5"H x 23.75W 
    2 Watson Lower Vertical Cabinets.
    11 drawers with five rows.
    Dark Gray. 57.5”H x 23.75W 
    4 Russ Bassett Upper Overflow Drawers.
    5 Drawers with Six Rows.
    Dark Gray. 34"H x 25W 
    18 JB Upper Overflow Drawers.
    5 Drawers with 6 Rows.
    Gray. 31.75"H x 23.75W 

    Microfilm/ microfiche cabinets available (fair to poor condition):

    We also are making available a number of microfilm and microfiche cabinets that are in fair to poor condition (e.g. stained with ink, scuffed up exteriors, mismatched drawers, loose handles, etc):
    Recordak Microfilm Cabinet
    • 1 JB Overflow Upper Microfilm Drawers. 31.75"H x 23.75W
    • 3 Recordak Microfilm Cabinet (10 drawers/5 rows). 32.75"H x 23.5W
    • 5 Russ Bassett Overflow Upper Microfilm Drawers . 34"H x 25W
    • 29 Watson Overflow Upper Microfilm Drawers. 52"H x 23.5"W
    • 23 Watson Lower Microfilm Cabinets (11 Drawers/5 Rows). 57.5"H x 23.75W
    • 2 Microfiche Cabinets (no manufacturers’ label) 9 Drawers/2 Rows. 18.25H x 57.25W
    • 4 Microfiche Cabinets ((no manufacturers’ label) 7 Drawers/2 Rows. 18.25H x 51.5W
    • 3 General Firing Proof Company Microfiche Cabinets. 9 Drawers/2 Rows. 13"H x 41.75W

    Bookshelves available (good condition):

    95 Aetnastack double-facing shelving units. 84" H x 36" W x 16.5" D
    13 double-facing gray shelving units. 36" H x 37.5" W x 12" D

    Contact information: 
    If you are interested in any of these cabinets or shelves, please contact:

    Lisa Spiro, Executive Director of Digital Scholarship Services

    Feel free to spread the word about the availability of the cabinets and shelves.

    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Online Access to Archives of Five Courts Discontinued

    Due to changes in technology, online access to records of five courts through the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system has been discontinued. A notice on the PACER webpage states the locally developed legacy case management systems in the five courts listed below are now incompatible with the new PACER Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system;
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit - Cases filed prior to January 1, 2010
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit - Cases filed prior to January 1, 2008
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit - Cases filed prior to January 1, 2010
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit - Cases filed prior to March 1, 2012
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California - Cases filed prior to May 1, 2001
    A note says to contact the court directly to obtain copies of documents and dockets in the above cases. Contact information for each court is available on the Court Locator page.

    A Washington Post blog article contains statements from Charles Hall, a spokesperson for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and Brian Carver, an assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Information and co-founder of the nonprofit Free Law Project. The project along with Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy maintains RECAP, a crowd-sourced platform hosting free archives of documents obtained through the paid PACER system.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    New Copyright Publication

    The U.S. Copyright Office has made available for viewing a public draft of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition, the first major revision in more than two decades. According to the announcement,
    the draft presents more than 1200 pages of administrative practices and sets the stage for a number of long-term improvements in registration and recordation policy. It will remain in draft form for 120 days pending final review and implementation, taking effect on or around December 15, 2014.
    More information and a link to download the draft is available at

    For previous editions see The Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, First Edition (1973) and Second Edition (1984).

    Thursday, August 07, 2014

    Overview of Nonmarital Births

    On July 30, 2014 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report by Carmen Solomon-Fears, Specialist in Social Policy, entitled Nonmarital Births: An Overview. CRS studied this topic because "although marriage and family life are generally considered private issues, they have become part of the public arena primarily because of public policies that help families affected by negative outcomes associated with nonmarital births to maintain a minimum level of economic sufficiency." The report "analyzes the trends in nonmarital childbearing, discusses some of the characteristics of unwed mothers, addresses some issues involving the fathers of children born outside of marriage, and offers some concluding remarks."

    Africa Rising: Harnessing the Demographic Dividend

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released an August 2014 working paper revealing "Africa will account for 80 percent of the projected 4 billion increase in the global population by 2100." The authors of the paper, Paulo Drummond, Vimal Thakoor, and Shu Yu, state that the increase in this working age population "creates a window of opportunity, which if properly harnessed, can translate into higher growth and yield a demographic dividend." To translate this opportunity into concrete economic growth, the right supportive policies fostering human capital accumulation and job creation must be in place.

    For more information access working paper WP/14/143, Africa Rising: Harnessing the Demographic Dividend.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

    Dodd-Frank Act a Failure?

    On July 21, 2014 the House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) released a committee staff report that concludes "the Dodd-Frank Act did not end 'too big to fail' as the law’s supporters claim, but actually had the opposite effect of further entrenching 'too big to fail' as official government policy. The report also examines the causes of the 2008 financial crisis and the bailouts to large financial institutions. Both a description of the report and a link to it are available from The Committee on Financial Services press release page.

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Financial Literacy of Teenagers

    OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) released the results of its 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) financial literacy assessment of 15 year old students from 18 countries including the United States. Results from the US include:
    • Students in the US ranked somewhere between 8 and 12 among the 18 countries represented.
    • More than one in six US students did not reach the baseline level of proficiency in financial literacy.
    • About one in ten students in the US is a top performer able to "take into account features of financial documents that are significant but unstated or not immediately evident, such as transaction costs, and can describe the potential outcomes of financial decisions."
    • In the US about 70% of advantaged students have a bank account compared to 32% of socio-economically disadvantaged students.

    Tuesday, May 20, 2014

    FCC Proposed Rule on the Open Internet

    On May 15, 2014 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a proposed rule about protecting and promoting the Open Internet with a comment date of July 15, 2014 and and reply to the comments date of September 10, 2014. The document includes both supporting and dissenting opinions. The third point made in the introduction states the purpose of the notice:
    3. Today, there are no legally enforceable rules by which the Commission can stop broadband providers from limiting Internet openness. This Notice begins the process of closing that gap, by proposing to reinstitute the no-blocking rule adopted in 2010 and creating a new rule that would bar commercially unreasonable actions from threatening Internet openness (as well as enhancing the transparency rule that is currently in effect).
    What are some of the reactions to the notice? Andrea Peterson of The Washington Post interviewed Lynn Bradley, the director of government relations at the American Library Association's Washington office, about how net neutrality affects all types of libraries and ALA's hope to preserve an open Internet policy.

    Thursday, May 15, 2014

    9/11 Memorial Museum Dedication, May 15, 2014

    The National September 11 (9/11) Memorial Museum dedication ceremony is taking place at 9 a.m.(EST) on May 15, 2014. Following the dedication ceremony, the museum will be open around the clock for six days for 9/11 family members and rescue and recovery workers. The museum will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily starting May 21. The ticket price for the museum is $24. Children age 5 and younger will get in free as will rescue and recovery workers and relatives of 9/11 victims. The museum will not charge admission on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Entrance to the World Trade Center memorial plaza with its two huge fountains sitting on the original footprints of the twin towers will continue to be free. The plaza opened on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

    Thursday, March 06, 2014

    DoD Releases Report on North Korea's Military and Security Developments

    On March 5, 2014 the Department of Defense released a congressionally mandated unclassified report entitled Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People's Republic of Korea 2013. The report is posted at

    Congress asked that the report address:

    an assessment of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, the goals and factors shaping North Korean security strategy and military strategy, trends in North Korean security, an assessment of North Korea’s regional security objectives, including an assessment of the North Korean military’s capabilities, developments in North Korean military doctrine and training, an assessment of North Korea’s proliferation activities, and other military security developments.

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    New Website for Census Bureau

    On Feb. 19, 2014 the Census Bureau released a beta version of its new website, . The newly designed website is scheduled to become available in mid-March.
    The website will feature the following new statistical digital tools:
    • Internet response — The Census Bureau offers Internet response for many of its surveys, including the American Community Survey. The Internet option makes responding to surveys more convenient, conducting surveys more cost-effective and America’s statistics more accessible on digital and mobile devices.
    • dwellr mobile app — The newest app from the Census Bureau allows people to compare their preferences to find 25 “ideal” dwelling places, based on statistics from the American Community Survey. Users can check their current locations and share their places on Facebook and Twitter.
    • Census Explorer — The newest mapping tool from the Census Bureau provides a look at eight topics from the American Community Survey and how they have changed since the 1990 and 2000 censuses.
    • Open data application programming interface — The Census API lets developers customize Census Bureau statistics in their Web or mobile apps. The API offers data from the American Community Survey and the 2010, 2000 and 1990 censuses.
    • America’s Economy mobile app — The app provides real-time updates for 20 key economic indicators from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    Thursday, January 02, 2014

    Unauthorized Immigrants and Their Families

    On December 23, 2013 The Urban Institute released a fact sheet by Maria E. Enchautegui presenting information on the households of the United States' estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants. The majority of the family members of undocumented immigrants are U.S. born citizens under the age of 18. Data used is from the 2012 Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey.

    China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States

    On December 17, 2013 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report by Asian Trade and Finance Specialist Wayne M. Morrison entitled China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States, Mr. Morrison discusses both positive and negative aspects of China's economic growth in relation to the United States.

    Iraq: Politics

    Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle Easter Affairs, has written a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report entitled Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights made available December 17, 2013. Mr. Katzman discusses the continuing conflict between Sunni and Shiite factions in Iraq as well as Iraq's efforts to reestablish its place in the Arab world.