Thursday, May 21, 2015

Massive National Recall of Takata Air Bags

According to a May 19, 2015 news release, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a national recall of certain types of driver and passenger side air bag inflators made by Takata. The recall, which started with those at highest risk due to age of vehicle and areas of high absolute humidity, is now nationwide with about 34 million vehicles involved. Even if your vehicle is not listed at present, the NHTSA advises you to keep checking the website as new entries continue to be added. The new website created to provide regular updates on the status of this and other recalls is www.SaferCar.gov/RecallsSpotlight.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

New Fair Use Index from the U.S. Copyright Office

The U.S. Copyright Office has created a Fair Use Index "to make the principles and application of fair use more accessible and understandable to the public by presenting a searchable database of court opinions, including by category and type of use (e.g., music, internet/digitization, parody)." It includes a wide selection of cases regarding fair use (but not all) and is not a substitute for legal advice. Each decision includes "a brief summary of the facts, the relevant question(s) presented, and the court’s determination as to whether the contested use was fair." Browse all the cases, search for specific cases or review cases from specific courts. Usually only the highest court decision issued in a case is included. The index does not include the court opinions themselves, but provides citations to access those opinions through other free (Google Scholar, Justia, etc.) or commercial databases (Westlaw, LEXIS, etc.).

Monday, April 27, 2015

Humor EPA Style

Need a chuckle? The EPA has created a booklet of trash-related jokes entitled "American the Beautiful: a Collection of the Nation's Trashiest Humor." It's available for download from http://tinyurl.com/op8jk95 as a PDF, TIFF, or unformatted text.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cuba: Issues for the 114th Congress

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report on April 17, 2015 entitled Cuba: Issues for the 114th Congress. The introduction states:
This report is divided into three major sections analyzing Cuba’s political and economic environment, U.S. policy toward Cuba, and selected issues in U.S.-Cuban relations. While legislative initiatives are noted throughout the report where appropriate, a final section of the report provides a listing of bills and resolutions introduced in the 114th Congress.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Importance of Data Occupations in the U.S. Economy

The Economics and Statistics Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce released a March 12, 2015 report entitled The Importance of Data Occupations in the U.S. Economy. The report identifies "occupations where data analysis and processing are central to the work performed" and measures "the size of employment and earnings in these occupations, as well as in the industries that have the highest concentration of these data occupations."

The key findings of the report are:
  • Employment where data is central to the job was about 10.3 million in 2013 (of which 1.6 million were government workers), or about 7.8 percent of all employment. However, including occupations where working with data is at least an important part of the job dramatically increases that number: to 74.3 million jobs, or over half of the workforce.
  • Hourly wages for private-sector workers in data occupations, which are concentrated in the broad categories of business and computer/mathematical occupations, averaged $40.30 in 2013, about 68 percent higher for all occupations
  • For these top data occupations, two-thirds or more of the workers have at least a college degree; in comparison about one-third of workers across all occupations have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Private sector industries with the highest concentration of data occupations added 1.8 million jobs over the last decade, representing about 31 percent of total private job growth which was four times faster than in private industries overall
  • Data intensive industries are located in many states, but the highest concentrations are in Washington, D.C.; Virginia; Massachusetts; Maryland; and Connecticut.

Friday, March 06, 2015

The 2015 Economic Report of the President written by the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers is now available for download (full report or by chapter) in PDF format. Statistical appendix tables are also available in either PDF or Excel format.

In the introduction President Obama notes that 2014 was a "breakthrough year" with the lowest unemployment rate in over six years, health coverage for more Americans, continued investment in renewable energy and a cut in dependence on foreign oil. For 2015 President Obama would like to focus on three initiatives for the middle class:

  • affordable childcare, college, health care, a home, and retirement
  • upgraded skills so more Americans can "earn higher wages down the road."
  • high-skilled, high-wage jobs supported by "21st century infrastructure — modern ports, stronger bridges, better roads, clean water, clean energy, faster trains, and the fastest internet."

Ferguson Police Department Investigation Report

The U.S. Department of Justice released its Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department dated March 4, 2015. The following paragraph from the summary section of the report highlights issues of concern:
Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs. This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson’s police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing, and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community. Further, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices both reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias, including racial stereotypes. Ferguson’s own data establish clear racial disparities that adversely impact African Americans. The evidence shows that discriminatory intent is part of the reason for these disparities. Over time, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices have sown deep mistrust between parts of the community and the police department, undermining law enforcement legitimacy among African Americans in particular.
The report ends with broad recommendations about changes Ferguson should make to its police and court practices and states that the Justice Department will "work with the City of Ferguson toward developing and reaching agreement on an appropriate framework for reform."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fair Use Week, Feb. 23-27, 2015

ARL, the Association of Research Libraries, is coordinating a celebration of Fair Use Week from February 23-27, 2015. ARL states:

[Fair Use Week] celebrates the important role fair use plays in achieving the Constitutional purpose of intellectual property rights in the US: to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. The flexible nature of the fair use doctrine has permitted copyright to adapt to new technologies and changes.

Information about ways to participate in Fair Use Week are available from http://www.fairuseweek.org  and from ARL.