Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Mobile Friendly govinfo to replace GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys)

According to a February 3, 2016 news release, the Government Publishing Office has launched govinfo (, a mobile friendly way to access government information on the three branches of the Federal Government.  In 2017 it will replace FDsys (Federal Digital System). In addition to being mobile friendly, govinfo provides an ABC list of collections and has quick links to popular publications. One feature likely to be popular is the ability to browse documents by the issuing Congressional committee.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Natural Born Citizen as President Debate

Since questions have been raised about what it means for a U.S. President to be natural born, the Social Science Research Network is hosting two opposite opinions. Taking a broad view is Michael D. Ramsey from the University of San Diego School of Law in his January 7, 2016 article, "The Original Meaning of 'Natural Born.' " Taking the narrow view is Mary Brigid McManamon in the Catholic University Law Review, v.64,  no. 2 (2015), Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-21, "The Natural Born Citizen Clause as Originally Understood."

Thursday, January 21, 2016

New Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State

On January 15, 2016 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report by Specialist in Foreign Policy Legislation Matthew C. Weed entitled A New Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State. Since "a number of members of Congress have raised numerous questions and concerns about the President's authority to use military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State," the report "focuses on the several proposals for a new AUMF specifically targeting the Islamic State made during the 113th and 114th Congresses." Included are "a brief review of existing authorities and AUMFs, as well as a discussion of issues related to various provisions included in existing and proposed AUMFs that both authorize and limit presidential use of military force." The appendix section provides " a comparative analysis of similar provisions in new AUMFs proposed in the 113th and 114th Congresses."  

Weed notes that the "report will be updated to reflect congressional activity."

Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons

On January 14, 2016 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal entitled Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons by Paul K. Kerr, Analyst in Nonproliferation and Mary Beth Nikitin, Specialist in Nonproliferation. The summary reveals that Pakistan has approximately 110-130 or more nuclear warheads. Despite taking steps in recent years to increase the security of its nuclear arsenal, instability in the area causes some to have concerns especially about the fear of a "radical takeover of the Pakistani government or diversion of material or technology by personnel within Pakistan't nuclear complex." The report also highlights issues for Congress.

Library of Congress Receiving 9/11 Responder Oral History Collection

According to a Dec. 18, 2015 news release, the Library of Congress will receive a collection of oral histories of first responders to the 9/11 attacks on the New York World Trade Center. Donated by Dr. Benjamin Luft, the Edmond Pellegrino Professor of Medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine and director of the Stony Brook WTC Wellness Program who treated the responders. the collection includes "200 oral histories (each one hour to 1.5 hours long) and more than 1,000 digital photographs, manuscript materials, logbooks and indexes involving the personnel who responded to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers and who worked on response to the event, including rescue and recovery work on the building debris pile, over subsequent months." Future installments are expected since this represents only a portion of what Dr. Luft collected.

Additional 9/11 materials are part of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center collections. Between October 2001 and May 2002 ethnographers from around the country sent audio and video recordings documenting peoples' experiences about and reactions to 9/11 to form the "September 11, 2001, Documentary Project."  In addition, recorded StoryCorps personal narratives about 9/11 were donated to their archival collection.

Census Bureau Report on Child Support

On January 19, 2016 the Census Bureau released a report entitled Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2013 containing data from the Child Support Supplement to the April 2014 Current Population Survey. The report "presents a snapshot of custodial parents and child support payments — either legal or informal — that were reported as received from noncustodial parents living outside the home." Highlights include:

  • About half (48.7 percent) of all custodial parents had either legal or informal child support agreements, and custodial mothers were more likely to have agreements (52.3 percent) than custodial fathers (31.4 percent).
  • The aggregate amount of child support due in 2013 was $32.9 billion, a decrease of $14.0 billion from a decade earlier when adjusted to 2013 dollars.
  • About 68.5 percent of the $32.9 billion in child support due in 2013 was reported as received, averaging $3,950 per year per custodial parent who was due support.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Track Santa's Movements Online

A favorite with children during the holiday season is the online Santa Tracker available in several languages. 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. NORAD's creative website includes the Santa tracker and games and images related to the North Pole and Santa's Village. It even has apps to tract Santa from a mobile phone.

State Population Estimates

What states are the most populous? Find out using the December 2015 release from the  Census Bureau entitled "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rice: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015 (NST-EST2015-01." The publication includes the following note:

The estimates are based on the 2010 Census and reflect changes to the April 1, 2010 population due to the Count Question Resolution program and geographic program revisions. See Geographic Terms and Definitions at for a list of the states that are included in each region.  All geographic boundaries for the 2015 population estimates series except statistical area delineations are as of January 1, 2015.  For population estimates methodology statements, see

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

U.S. Energy Imports from Canada

On its beta website the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides an overview of Canadian energy imports into the United States. The entry reveals that Canada is the "largest source of U.S. crude oil and refined products" and is "one of the few countries from which U.S. crude oil imports are increasing."  Although the Keystone pipeline did not receive a presidential permit, crude oil from Alberta is being shipped by rail to points in the United States. Of interest to Houston is the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project, which began operating by rail in January 2014 from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast Texas refining sector with plans to expand capacity from the initial 520,000 b/d to 700,000 b/d. To see proposed routes for the actual pipelines especially for the Houston Lateral which would go through Liberty, Chambers and Harris counties, see TransCanada's map.
The EIA website entry also touches on coal, natural gas and electricity exports from Canada.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a new report on Dec. 10, 2015 by Rita Tehan entitled "Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents." The report provides links to cybersecurity legislation and hearings from the 112th to the 114th Congresses and information about cybersecurity bills signed by the President. It also references other CRS reports covering various aspects of cybersecurity such as data and statistics and authoritative reports.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

President Obama Signs ESSA - No More "No Child Left Behind"

On December 10, 2015 President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act which does away with provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. The four versions of the bill [S.1177.ENR] are available from THOMAS (The Library of Congress).
The White House blog post of Dec. 7, 2015 compares President Obama'a priorities for the Every Student Succeeds Act with those of the Bipartisan Bill and No Child Left Behind. The Senate Legislative Activity page shows the main provisions of the act while the Education Week blog explains them.