Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Increase in Business E-Mail Scams

The F.B.I. is warning businesses to beware of a dramatic rise in business e-mail compromise scams (B.E.C.). The scammers spoof company e-mail or assume the identify of a company officer or trusted vendor and often involve wire transfer using dollars. The scam has been conducted in all states and in at least 79 countries. Victims should contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Jihadist-Inspired Violence in the West, 2012-2016

On June 16, 2016 the CTC (Combating Terrorism Center) at West Point released a report entitled The Road to Orlando: Jihadist-Inspired Violence in the West, 2012-2016. The report analyses "47 cases of jihadist-inspired violence carried out in Western countries between January 1, 2012 and June 12, 2016." Some of the findings include that most attacks were "carried out by individuals with no direct ties to overseas terrorist groups and were low-tech and relatively ineffectual." More than half of the attacks have occurred in France or the United States and are often targeted to civilians, law enforcement, and the military. Knife attacks are the most common while shooting is the deadliest.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mass Shootings and Terrorism Bibliographies

In the wake of yet another mass shooting several government agencies have published bibliographies for finding information about terrorism or lone wolf terrorism:

  • Lone Wolf Terrorism  - A Brief Bibliography by Greta E. Marlatt, Homeland Security Digital Library 
  • Mass Shootings and Terrorism, - CRS (Congressional Research Service) Report by Jennifer E. Lake, Section Research Manager, June 13, 2016 - Lists different CRS Reports that address mass murder with firearms, firearms regulation, domestic terrorism, and hate crimes. Click on the report number to view it although it might not appear to be linked.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Quality of Life for America's Aging Population

In May 2016 the non-profit Bipartisan Policy Center's  Senior Health and Housing Task Force published a report to address concerns about the well-being and safety of millions of older Americans who will represent 20% of the overall population by 2030. Problems identified by the report include:

  • The current supply of housing that is affordable to the nation ’s lowest-income seniors is woefully inadequate. As more low-income Americans enter the senior ranks, this supply shortage — currently measured in millions of units — will become even more acute.
  •  The overwhelming majority of seniors say they wish to “age in place” in their own homes and communities. Y et most homes and communities lack the structural features and support services that can make living there independently a safe, realistic option. 
  • About 70 percent of adults over 65 will eventually require help with bathing , food preparation, dressing, and medication management— assistance that is referred to as “long-term services and supports,” or LTSS. Medicare does not cover LTSS, though the costs of this care can consume a large portion of a household’s budget. In addition, only a small minority of Americans has long-term care insurance covering these expenses. 
  • Personal savings are a critical source of retirement funding, but for millions of seniors these savings will fall far short of what is necessary to pay for housing, modifications to make homes safer, LTSS, health care, and other retirement needs.
One of the report's key premises is "a greater integration of America’s health care and housing systems will be absolutely essential to help manage chronic disease, improve health outcomes for seniors, and enable millions of Americans to age successfully in their own homes and communities."

See the background, discussion and recommendations of Healthy Aging Begins at Home available as a PDF.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Legislation About the Federal Reserve

On May 19, 2016 the Congressional Research Service released a report entitled Federal Reserve: Legislation in the 114th Congress by Marc Labonte, Specialist in Macroeconomic Policy. Labonte breaks the bills about the Federal Reserve (Fed) into four categories:
  1. Changes to Fed governance -  "change the Fed's institutional structure."
  2. Changes to oversight and disclosure - increase "congressional oversight or require the Fed to disclose more information to Congress and the public."
  3. Changes involving the Taylor Rule - "require the Fed to compare its monetary policy decisions to those prescribed by a Taylor Rule and report those findings to Congress." According to the Federal Reserve, "Taylor rules are simple monetary policy rules that prescribe how a central bank should adjust its interest rate policy instrument in a systematic manner in response to developments in inflation and macroeconomic activity.
  4. Changes to the Fed's emergency lending powers - "reduce the Fed's discretion to make emergency loans under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act."
The report covers bills that have seen committee or floor action. Labonte analyses the above provisions and the policy debate about them.

Friday, May 20, 2016

PFOA & PFOS Drinking Water Health Advisories

The EPA has published a health advisories fact sheet about PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. These fluorinated organic chemicals are used to make "carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper packaging for food and other materials (e.g., cookware) that are resistant to water, grease or stains."   PFOA and PFOA related chemicals were phased out of production in the United States between 2000 and 2002, but drinking water in some communities has been contaminated by industrial facilities that used these chemicals in manufacturing or by airfields that used the chemicals for firefighting. The health advisories fact sheet provides recommendations about what level of these chemicals in the water should not exceed and steps to remove them from drinking water systems.
The fact sheet is available at  https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-05/documents/drinkingwaterhealthadvisories_pfoa_pfos_5_19_16.final__0.pdf

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Labor Department's Final Rule on Overtime

According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, on May 18, 2016 President Obama and Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez announced a Federal Register final rule updating overtime regulations. The website lists the following key provisions of the Final Rule which goes into effect on December 1, 2016:
The Final Rule focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for Executive, Administrative and Professional workers to be exempt. Specifically, the Final Rule:
  1. Sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region, currently the South ($913 per week; $47,476 annually for a full-year worker);
  2. Sets the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees (HCE) subject to a minimal duties test to the annual equivalent of the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally ($134,004); and
  3. Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every three years to maintain the levels at the above percentiles and to ensure that they continue to provide useful and effective tests for exemption.

Additionally, the Final Rule amends the salary basis test to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level.
See more information including fact sheets at https://www.dol.gov/WHD/overtime/final2016/

See the final rule at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/23/2016-11754/defining-and-delimiting-the-exemptions-for-executive-administrative-professional-outside-sales-and
(Please note: until May 23, 2016 you can download only a pre-publication PDF version of the rule from this link.)