Archive for February, 2009

2009 Facts & Figures: How Does Your State Compare?

This Tax Foundation “…booklet compares the 50 states on 38 different measues of taxing and spending,…”  Each table is accompanied by lucid explanations of the methodology and the rankings. Compare New Jersey’s business figures with the other states. We rank 50th in business tax climate(Table 3); 48th in individual income tax(Table 5); 50th in property tax(Table 8); and 1st in state and local tax burden as a percentage of state income(Table 30). Just so you know, none of those figures are good for us Garden Staters.

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New Federal Withholding Tax Tables Published

As part of the economic stimulus, tax cuts have been authorized. These new tax tables are to be mailed out to employers next month; workers who qualify may see tax reductions as early as April. Explanations from the IRS are online as well.

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Full Text of President Obama’s Address to the Joint Session of Congress

You can read and watch President Obama’s address and also view  and read the Republican rebuttal delivered by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a highly touted possible presidential candiadate in 2012. An analysis by CNN is available; reactions to the speech can also be perused; here is the BBC’s take on the speech; look at  the New York Times editorial on the speech, while  you can also read editorials from various New Jersey news outlets.

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State of the Union Address

Although President Obama and his staff have stated that his address before a joint session of Congress tonight is NOT a State of the Union address, it nonetheless fits the criteria of one. He is not the first president not give a state of the union address during his first term; his predecessors Presidents Reagan, both Bushs, and Clinton did not give an address during their first year in office, having given an inaugural address just one month previously. In fact, it is nowhere stated that the president has to speak before Congress at all; Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution merely states  that the president”…shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union…” Washington and John Adams spoke to Congress, but Thomas Jefferson eschewed that practice, sending his personal secretary to deliver copies to both houses, where they were read. (His secretary, by the way, was Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame.) So began a tradition of the president not appearing before Congress; that continued until Woodrow Wilson in 1913 went to Congress, initiating the more modern-day process. And even then, not all the reports were delivered orally, many were submitted in writing. The custom of delivering a  speech before Congress became the norm with FDR in 1934,  yet not all subsequent reports were in the form of speeches. For additional information,  please consult the following:  The President’s State of the Union Address: Tradition, Function, and Policy Implications (CRS); The President’s State of the Union Message: FAQ (CRS, very informative)); C-SPAN: State of the Union(videos back to 1989); State of the Union Messages (American Presidency Project, with a good historical introductory note and other special features); and State of the Union (New York Times, numerous articles and links; )

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ARRA State Tables for U.S. Department of Education Funded Programs

From Title 1 to Pell Grants to Federal Work Study programs, these prelimiary figures can act as a guide to Federal disbursements. The monies may be expended over a two-year period.

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81st Annual Academy Award Winners

Here is the complete winners’ list, along with acceptance speeches.

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Historical Timelines

The assignment – “Class, I want you to prepare an historical timeline on….” – is met with dismay and dread by many students. To help alleviate those feelings, we present sites which will assist you: the Library of Congress’ American Memory Timeline goes from the 1600s to the 1960s with links to relevant documents interspersed along the way; the Smithsonian contributes the American History Timeline replete with links; the BBC Timelines includes British history(obviously) as well as ancient history chronologies; we always enjoy a dip into the NASA History Timelines from 1915 to 1995; Timelines of Art History contains links to articles and representative art works from ancient times to the 1600s; African Timelines provides copious links and stretches from ancient Africa until the present; World History Timelines spans space and time; Age of Exploration Timeline from 3200BCE to 1779CE; the Mystic Seaport has several timelines pertaining to the slave trade; American Women Through Time  covers prehistory to the 21st century accompanied by a multitude of links; the African American World program from PBS contains a hyperlinked timeline which may be supplemented by the African-American History Timeline from infoplease and Gale’s Events in African American History; Gale has also produced Events in Hispanic American History; we are adding this site, the Books Timeline from Astrodene’s Historic Naval Fiction because we can; and last but certainly not least, please look at the WebChron page with its numerous hyperlinked timelines and germane articles.

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GM, Chrysler Restructuring Plans

Both GM and Chrysler have submitted their restructuring plans to Congress. If you remember, this was one of the conditions they had to satisfy in order to receive initial bailout funds. The New York Times provides a good overview of the present situation; Moody’s Investor Services chimes in with their expert opinionReuters contributes a timeline of the UAW and U.S. automakers; CRS provides Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979 and why it is relevant today; and the Detroit Free Press has a very informative section on this situation.

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Climate Change and Jersey City

Granted, the report is entitled Climate Risk Information as published by the New York City Panel on Climate Change, but can you honestly tell us that if NYC gets flooded by rising waters, Jersey City won’t? Or that cyclonic winds will just hit NYC and magically bypass us? We sincerely doubt it. It is worth the read.

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Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering

This NSF report, published in full every two years, highlights the participation of women, minorities, and those with disabilities in science/engineering education and in the workplace. You may read the full report, consult the constantly-updated tables, search by topic or grouping, find additional resources, and read previous biennial reports.

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Final Version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Its Impact on New Jersey

Like the title says. This is the finalized version as approved by both the House and Senate and slated to be signed by President Obama today. Come here for a detailed breakdown of the spending and tax breaks outlined in this 400+ page act. To see how much money is being allocated to each state, please use this interactive map; New Jersey is to receive $17.48 billion.

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Autism Decisions and Background Information

Here are the full text renditions of these decisions which were made public on February 12 by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Here’s what the CDC(Centers for Disease Control) has to say about this. This article from the Skeptical InquirerVaccines and Autism - sheds much light on this controversial topic as well as pinpointing the 1998 Lancet article by Andrew Wakefield which sparked this whole argument. Comments from the advocacy groups Autism Speaks and Talk About Curing Autism should also be read to see different perspectives on these rulings. This recent article from The Record highlights what services are being provided or planned for in New Jersey.

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For Valentine’s Day

Just in time from the Library of Congress: Chocolate: A Resource Guide (accompanied by web sites), and Cooking with Love and Chocolate(an extensive bibliography of works held by the Library). Reading  Chocolate Companies and Recipes can become addictive and fattening! And do not forget to get recipes from the Feeding America site which contains historic American cookbooks. Look at this yummy recipe for Chocolate Irish Moss Blanc Mange.

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Barack Obama Speeches, 2002-2009

Search, browse and read more than 200 speeches delivered by then-Senator and now-President Obama.

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Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Darwin

February 12 saw the birth of two towering figures in history:  Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. The Linnean Society, where  Darwin and Alfred Wallace Russell both delivered papers on July 1, 1858 outlining their theories of evolution in natural selection, is holding symposiums in his honor. Darwin’s complete works are online, including all six editions of his Origin of Species. The BBC has a whole section devoted to him, as does the New York Times. PBS contributes the Evolution Library while Berkeley adds its Understanding Evolution site, and the National Academies contribute the very extensive Evolution Resources. Nature, Science, Guardian, New Scientist, Scientific American, Discover, and Forbes all offer special reports/features on him. Books about him are here.

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Abraham Lincoln’s 200th Birthday

The first president born west of the Appalachians, Abraham Lincoln resides at the top of lists devoted to rating the presidents.(Please look at this article by Arthur M  Schlesinger, Jr “Rating the Presidents: Washington to Clinton.”). Some sites to consider: Abraham Lincoln Newspaper Archive(thousands of free contemporary newspaper accounts); The New York Times has a special topic section devoted to Lincoln; an excellent overview is presented by Miller Center of the University of Virginia; the American Presidency Project contains thousands of presidential documents, including Lincoln’s; visit C-SPAN’s Lincoln 200 Years; the Library of Congress has its Abraham Lincoln: A Resource Guide as well as a major exhibit slated to open on the 12th; the Library is also home to the Abraham Lincoln Papers (with over 10,000 transcriptions); the Abraham Lincoln Association published the annotated Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln in eight volumes and you can also read its Journal; books on Abraham Lincoln abound, more than on any other president; and let’s not forget the local connection – the Lincoln Association of Jersey City.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds…and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and others.”  – Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865. (He was dead the next month.)

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Differences Between Senate and House Versions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

This side-by-side chart indicates how Tuesday’s Senate-passed version of this bill differs markedly from the House-passed one. Next step – a conference committee is formed of both Senate and House members to iron out the differences before the bill can be approved by both chambers and then forwarded to the President for signing. To keep up with this developing story, check in with CQ Politics.

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Movie Awards

Can’t remember the seemingly endless stream of movie awards that occur at this time of the year? Do you know who just won the BAFTA for best picture? And what the heck is a BAFTA anyway? Well, fret no more! The following sites will guide you through the myriad awards: IMDb‘s Road to the Oscars (which also supplies links to apposite newspaper articles); Metacritics Awards & Bests by Year(going back to 2002, and do not forget to look at its Reviews by Critic/Publication section); Yahoo‘s Movies and Film Awards(with its copious links); and the ever reliable infoplease and its Movie Awards (with listings back to 1995). BTW, the BAFTA Awards are a British accolade, a combination of our OSCAR and Emmy awards. A good read on film is Film Quarterly: Forty Years, A Selection; other books on the cinema can be found here.

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Captain Sully’s “60 Minutes” Interview

You can listen to the full interview as well as find other information on this crash into the Hudson.

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“60 Minutes” Excerpts of Interview with Captain “Sully” and His Crew

At the moment, three excerpts have been released by CBS of the interview which will air this Sunday.

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