Archive for October, 2009

Daylight Saving Time

As with everything else in this country, the concept of daylight saving time is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Just remember that we gain an hour on Sunday; heed the mantra: “spring ahead, fall behind.” For additional information, we recommend: Daylight Saving Time (WebExhibits); Saving Time, Saving Energy (nationalatlas.gov); Does Daylight Saving Time Conserve Energy? (Scientific American); Daylight Saving Time (CRS); Advancement of Time or Changeover Dates (US Code); and  Does Daylight Saving Time Save Energy? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Indiana (National Bureau of Economic Research). And although most of us say “daylight savings time,” it technically is “daylight saving time.”

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FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide

This redacted operations manual is made available courtesy of The New York Times. The stated purpose of this manual, in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations, “…is to standardize policy so that criminal, national security, and foreign intelligence investigative activities are accomplished in a consistent manner, whenever possible….”(Preamble, xi).  The Times provides additional explanatory information presented via highlighted sections.

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Wealthiest Dead Celebrities

In keeping with the macabre, forbes.com has released its list of the top-earning dead celebrities. Michael Jackson makes the list, but he is surpassed by a fashion designer. Who is it do you ask? Just follow the link.

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Halloween

As we look forward to hordes of sugar-induced hyperactive children careening up and down our streets come Saturday, here are a few sites of interest for this day: the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features entry on Halloween should statisfy those who need numbers, not candy; the History Channel’s page on this holiday contains histories and videos; The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows from the Library of Congress makes for a good read; this article  by the Celtic scholar Alexi Kondratiev - Samhain: Season of Death and Renewal is well worth the time; books and readings on this day are available from Sacred Texts;  NASA chimes in with Spooky Space Sounds; and observances from around the world are found at this informative site sponsored by the NEH. And let’s not forget the greatest Halloween prank of all – The War of the Worlds radio broadcast.

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Free Online Biomedical Texts

There are more than a few current biomedical texts available for perusal online. First of all, check out the NCBI(National Center forBiotechnology Information) Bookshelf which contains well over 700 titles ranging from Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses (2008) to Dynamics of Cancer (2007). Not to be ignored is the National Academies Press’  Health and Medicine site which contains current monographs on everything from diseases to minority health.  And the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library are free, updated versions of the venerable Merck manuals augmented with audio and visual material.

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President Obama’s Speech for Jon Corzine

You can read a transcript of his speech as well as watch a video. News reports from the Bergen Record, Bloomberg, and the Philadelphia Inquirer should also be perused.

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President Obama in Northern New Jersey Today

President Obama will be at the Rothman Center of the Teaneck campus of FDU this afternoon. Unfortunately, this fund-raising event is by invitation only. You may read more about this thanks to The Star-Ledger, Time.com, and the Bergen Record. Traffic will be a nightmare as can be seen from this New York Daily News piece. And keep abreast of the governor’s race by consulting this previous post.

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List of Fake Swine Flu Products

If you have been accessing the news of late, you have heard reports of bogus products claiming to protect you against the swine flu. This FDA-produced list presents 139 products that have NOT been approved by the FDA; you can search by brand name, product name, or category; i.e., “mask products” or “herbal extract products.” This list will be updated as needed.

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Intelligence Community Legal Reference Book

This almost 1000 page tome, from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, contains enabling legislation and executives orders ranging from the National Security Act of 1947 to executive order 13493(2009). “The Intelligence Community draws much of its authority and guidance from the body of law contained in this collection.”(p.iii)

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Women and Work

A spate of recent reports have bearing on the above topic: the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Women in the Labor Force: A Databook (highlights of the report can be accessed here); The Harried Life of the Working Mother(Pew); Women Gain as Men Lose Jobs (USA Today); Changes in the Distribution of Workers’ Annual Salaries Between 1979 and 2007 (CBO);  International Review of Leave Policies and Related Research 2009 (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, UK); and Recession Drives Women Back to the Work Force (New York Times).

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Crimes Against the Disabled

This sobering report – Crimes Against People with Disabilities, 2007 – presents us with the depressing statistics that the disabled are victimized at a higher rate than the rest of the population. This is the first time that such statistics have been garnered. The Office for Victims of Crime has a separate section on Disabled Victims and the National Criminal Justice Reference Service also has valuable publications and links. You can read more about this report from CNN and NPR. For the British perspective on what they call disability hate crimes, read Hate Crime and Disabled People, this article from the Telegraph, the BBC’s Fears Over Disability Hate Crime, and the Crown Prosecution Services’ Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Disability Hate Crime.

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Fact Checking Medical News

With all the press devoted to health and  health reform, we tend to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information being tossed at us. How can you be sure the news stories are accurate and that what politicians say about health care reform is correct? Is is true that illegal immigrants will be given access to health care or that those who do not have health care will be penalized or that cures for cancers are true as reported? Luckily, we do have some safeguards if we are willing to take the time. Both FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.org, while primarily associated with the political process, do provide unbiased analysis of various politicians’ statements regarding health care, from Obama’s speech on health care to Jay Rockefeller’s views on health insurance. SourceWatch should also be consulted to examine the various connections among politicians, health care industries, and pharmaceutical companies. MSNBC’s “Dose of Reality” can provide additional corrections to politicians’ utterances on health care. The following sites should be reviewed because of their objective reportage on the health scenes: Kaiser Health News, Health News Review, and Behind the Headlines which has this great essay – How to Read Articles about Health and Health Care.  Three recent articles of interest are: Sources and Coverage of Medical News on Front Pages of Newspapers(PloS),  Media Reporting on Research Presented at Scientific Meetings: More Caution Needed (Medical Journal of Australia),  and News Coverage of Medication Research (JAMA). And finally, this report from the Kaiser Family Foundation – The State of Health Journalism in the U.S. 2009.

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President Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

In a move that some have called “surprising,” President Obama has been awarded this high honor. This New York Times article provides plenty of information regarding the relationship between this prize and the American presidency. Reactions from world leaders and former recipients can be accessed as well. Part of the committee’s citation hails his “…extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” The following news reports provide additional elucidations:  Facts and Numbers of the Nobel Peace Prize from the Washington Post;  Common Misconceptions about the Nobel Peace Prize from the Associated Press; the BBC’s Obama Gets Award for World View; and the Wall Street Journal‘s Nobel Committee’s Decision Courts Controversy.

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2009 Nobel Prizes

To find out who has won what, please look here. Each winner has a profile page which can contain an interview and photo gallery. All past winners are also listed at this site. The New York Times has a very informative Topics section devoted to the Nobel Prize; NPR also has a special site.

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New Jersey Governor’s Race

Watch a video of the three candidates debating on C-SPAN, and keep abreast of this race by checking in at the New Jersey Network’s Campaign New Jersey. You can also follow the political scene by accessing northjersey.com and nj.com for their separate sections on the New Jersey gubernatorial race.

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Rise in the Diagnoses of Autism

According to an article in Pediatrics (abstract here),  the number of diagnoses of autism has risen so high that the prevalence of autism now stands at 1 in 100, rather than 1 in 150.  This figure, though,  is tempered by the fact that fully 40% of the children in this survey who were initially labeled with ASD(Autistic Spectrum Disorder) are now not afflicted. And as anyone who knows an autistic individual will tell you, there is currently no cure. So there are powerful discrepancies here. Are more diagnoses being made to secure services which would otherwise be unavailable to children who while not autistic, exhibit enough of the characteristics to convince clinicians that they need some kind of help, even if it might be inappropriate, or is the rate of misdiagnoses increasing?The CDC has issued a statement on this report, stating in part that “…we would like to confirm that updated preliminary data from CDC shows that overall prevalence findings are similar to those reported by HRSA indicating that approximately 1% of children are affected with an ASD.”  Consult the following sites for more information: Atlantic OnlineStar-Ledger, WebMD, USA Today, CNN, and US News and World Report.

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Ardipithecus Ramidus

Much news has been generated of late by the announcement that a hominid fossil now places humanity’s beginning at least four and a half million years ago. “Ardi” was discovered in the same area as “Lucy,” until now the oldest hominid fossil at 3.5 million years old. You can read all the articles in the special October 2, 2009 issue of Science for free;  all it requires is free registration. Podcasts on Ardi, including from her “discoverer” Dr Timothy White are presented courtesy of The Guardian. The BBC, the New York Times, the National GeographicScientific American, and the Discovery Channel all provide additional information. And do not forget to visit the Hall of Human Origins at the American Museum of Natural History as well as the Middle Awash Project which discovered Ardi.

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New Holocaust Resources

In light of the recent jaw-dropping, mouth-opening, mind-blowing speech by Iranian President Ahmadinejadin  in which he denied the existence of the Holocaust, we present you, gentle reader, with two new sites and an updated one. The only film footage of Anne Frank is found at the Anne Frank House, a dedicated youtube site which includes interviews and links to other pertinent sites, among them the soon-to-be-opened Anne Frank Museum. The National Archives and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum(USHMM) have jointly developed the Holocaust Collection which contains hundreds of stories and thousands of documents detailing this ineffable horror. The USHMM publishes the online Holocaust Encyclopedia which is constantly updated and is a treasure trove of information as can be seen in its many articles and links. It has an extensive examination of the Holocuast and its deniers. “No serious historian questions that the Holocaust took place.” – AHA Statement on Holocaust Denial.

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400 Richest People in America

Forbes has published this annual list previously, but  for only the fifth time since 1982 the net worth of these 400 has declined. Find out how many Jerseyans made the tally. Each individual is profiled, along with their educational attainments, age, net worth, and marital status. Numerous articles accompany this feature, among them the intriguingly- named “Countries Billionaires Could Buy.” Prior lists can also be accessed from the front page. And this video series on billionaires from Forbes should also prove of interest

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Economic Crisis – October 2009 Update

Credit Cards: New Laws Protect Consumers….(FDIC);  Insurance Regulation: Issues, Background and Legislation in the 111th Congress(CRS); The Financial Crisis of 2008 in Fixed Income Markets (Federal Reserve Bank of  Atlanta);  The Current Financial Crisis: What Should We Learn from the Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century? (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis); Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis); Global Economic Crisis: Impact on Sub-Saharan Africa and Global Policy Responses (CRS); Economic Downturns and Crime (CRS); Global Economic Crisis and Migrant Workers (International Labor Office); Who is Hit Hardest During a Financial Crisis? The Vulnerability of Young Men and Women to Unemployment in an Economic Downturn  (Institute for the Study of Labor); Extended Mass Layoffs in the Second Quarter of 2009 (Bureau of Labor Statistics); Recession Turns a Graying Office Grayer (Pew); Trade and Development Report, 2009 (UN); Economic Crisis Hits Home (FirstFocus); Rural America at a Glance, 2009 (US Dept of Agriculture); The Next Phase of Government Financial Stabilization and Rehabilitation Policies (US Treasury Department); Integrating Financial Stability: New Models for a New Challenge (Bank for International Settlements); The Devil’s Dictionary – Financial Edition (Wall Street Journal); Global Debt Comparison (EIU); Protecting Progress: The Challenge Facing Low-Income Countries in the Global Recession (World Bank); Megaregions and America’s Economic Recovery (The Urbanist);  Facts and the Financial Crisis (New York Times); Global Financial Stability Report (IMF);  and Financial Regulation (GAO).

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