Archive for November, 2009

Everything You Wanted to Know about the Bailouts/Stimulus Package

Thanks to the Columbia Journalism Review, we have a comprehensive guide to sites which deal with the current economic crisis. From government blogs to newspaper special sections, this guide – Bailout!Stimulus! – Your Essential Guide is just that. We highly recommend it.

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Revitalizing the Forensic Sciences

“…the forensic science community is plagued by fragmentation and inconsistent practices in federal, state, and local law enforcement jurisdictions and agencies.” So spoke Judge Harry Edwards in his testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judicary. His sentiments are reinforced by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy who opined that “Forensic science has also become critically important in supporting homeland security and counter-terrorism missions.” Both of these worthies were talking in regards to the 2009 monograph published by the National Academies Press entitled Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Foward.  This report outlines the deficits in the forensic sciences and proposes thirteen recommendations to rectify this situation. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences has issued an approval of this work. Other works of interest are: The Future of Forensic Science: The Impact of the National Academies of Sciences Report(NIJ, 2009);  Invalid Forensic Science Testimony and Wrongful Convictions (Virginia Law Review, March 2009); and Examining Forensics(CQ Researcher, July 17, 2009).

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Library Hours for the Thanksgiving Day Weekend

The Library will be closed Thursday, November 26 through Sunday, November 29. We will re-open at 7:30 am on Monday, November 30 for the final push to finals. Gooble, gooble!!

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How Do You Cook a Turkey?

Very carefully. Try this Food Network Thanksgiving site. Watch the always informative Alton Brown’s series of videos on cooking turkeys. This site from the USDA has a whole section on turkey(just scroll toward the bottom), with many of the subsections available in Spanish. And you know how you always blame turkey for making you sleepy? Wrong!! Here are some facts and figures from the Census Bureau on Thanksgiving; these can be supplemented by other tidbits from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And a previous blog entry contains a lot more relevant material on this holiday.

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Poverty Statistics for Every County and School District in the Country

These data…currently represent the only source of Census Bureau income and poverty data for each of the nation’s 3,142 counties and almost 14,000 Title 1-eligible school districts.”(Census Bureau press release) According to these interactive tables, there are 39,058 people between the ages of 5 and 17 in Jersey City; of that number, 9,380 live in families in poverty. Do the math.

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Mathematics Teaching in Early Childhood

This recent 400-page monograph from the National Academies Press,  Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward Excellence and Equity, based on voluminous research, states: :”The relative lack of high-quality mathematics instruction, especially in comparison to literacy, reflects a lack of attention to mathematics throughout the childhood education system….”(p.2) This report continues that “To ensure that all children enter elementary school with the mathematical foundation they need for success, the committee[Committee on Early Childhood Mathematics] recommends a major national initiative in early childhood mathematics.” (p.332) Such an undertaking is to involve all the stakeholders in the process: parents, families, communities, and educators. (If the truth be told, most of us parents have spent more time teaching our children to read than teaching them fundamental numerical skills.) You can read what the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has to say on this topic. This learning activities manual from the U.S. Department of Education could prove helpful. Two names that frequent the literature on early childhood mathematics are Douglas H Clements and Julie Sarama; follow the links for their biographies and for access to their online publications. See what the State of New Jersey’s position is by consulting the New Jersey Core Curriculm Content Standards for Mathematics(2004; re-adopted in 2008), and the draft version of the New Jersey Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards of Quality.(2009)

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New Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Published

The guidelines, available from the Annals of Internal Medicine, advise women not to have mammograms before the age of 50, and it further discourages doctors from instructing women on how to conduct a self-examination for breast cancer. This startling reversal of previous methods has provoked much press coverage; please consult the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and the AP. The American Cancer Society has rejected these new guidelines as does breastcancer.org.  Watch this ABCNews video on this topic.

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Most Corrupt Nations in the World

Transparency International has just issued its latest Global Corruption Report which ranks 180 countries on their ability to ferret out corruption and bribery both within their borders and out. At 180 (the bottom of the scale), the most corrupt country this year is Somalia, the very embodiment of the term “failed state.” In addition to in-depth reporting on selected countries, each annual report highlights  a certain facet of corruption: the 2009 report deals with corruption and the private sector, while the 2008 report features a most disturbing and alarming analysis of corruption in the water sector. FYI, the United States ranks 18 out of 180 along with Belgium and Japan.

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The Fight Against Cancer

An informative and illuminating series of articles is appearing in the New York Times under the heading Forty Years’War. These articles, filled with hyperlinks to original studies/reports, also lead the reader to a plethora of information contained within the TimesHealth Guide section, a comprehensive guide to over 3000 topics. For those who have lived through the horrors of this disease, or who have lost loved ones to its ineluctability, these articles are well worth the read.

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States in Fiscal Danger Including New Jersey

We have all been reading about California’s fiscal woes, but it is not the only state is such trouble. New Jersey also qualifies as one of eight states in a similar predicament to the Golden State. This dubious distinction may be read in  Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril from the Pew Center on the States. This work draws its information from a wide variety of sources, many accessible online.

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Veterans Day 2009

Let us not forget those who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can go to Honor the Fallen for their names, circumstances of their deaths, and news clippings  if available.  Oral military histories from New Jersey veterans can be found at this Rutgers site.This updated feature from the Census Bureau provides an array of statistical data, while a previous blog entry will point you to additional information. A listing of New Jersey memorials is also available.

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Health Insurance Coverage by Congressional District

This report from the Urban Institute uses Census Bureau information to examine the level of insurance (private, public, uninsured) in all congressional districts. Would it surprise you to learn that New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District ranks highest in the country for private health insurance coverage? If you want to know what district you are in, please consult this interactive guide.(BTW, NJCU is in the 10th, while most of Jersey City is in the 13th).

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All 1860 issues of Life Available Online

Through the auspices of Google, all the issues of Life magazine are now available freely online. You may browse issue by issue or use other search commands to retrieve articles on a single topic. This is an historical treasure trove, which combined with Google’s collection of Life photographs, gives an unparalleled look at the world of the 20th century.

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Today in History: The Fall of the Berlin Wall

On June 17, 1987, President Reagan gave his Brandenberg Gate speech which included these words: “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”(transcript and video) He was referring to the Berlin Wall, which fell(actually, it was pushed) on November 9, 1989. His words were a contributory factor to the wall’s demise, but by no means should his actions be construed as the sole reason for this historic event. The following sites provide both background information on the Wall itself, as well as discussions on its impact: an excellent interactive timeline (The Financial Times);  On the Frontlines of the Cold War: Documents on the Intelligence War in Berlin, 1946 to 1961(CIA); Prague Communists Called for Wall to Open on November 8, 1989A Different October Revolution: Dismantling the Iron Curtain in  Eastern Europe, and Fall of Berlin Wall Caused Anxiety More than Joy at Highest Levels (Electronic Briefing Books from the National Security Archives);  The Challenge to Soviet Interests in Eastern Europe (a very prescient report from RAND); The Berlin Wall: 20 Years Later (america,gov); The Berlin Wall: The Tale of a City Divided( audio and video reports from the BBC dating back to 1948); Momentous Day Twenty Years Ago in Berlin (Council on Foreign Relations);  Foreign Relations of the United States(FRUS): Kennedy Administration, volume XIV, Berlin Crisis, 1961-1962; FRUS, Johnson Administration, volume XV, Germany and Berlin; and FRUS, Nixon-Ford Administrations, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969-1972(FRUS is the OFFICIAL RECORD all of things diplomatic); The Rise of the Berlin Wall (US State Dept); The Berlin Wall(Newseum); What You Should Know about the Wall( propaganda from East Germany);  The Berlin Wall (CNN);  World Leaders Celebrate Fall of Berlin Wall (C-SPAN); Twenty Years After the Berlin Wall (Newsweek); and The Berlin Wall: 20 Years Later (New York Times).

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Comparison of Health Care Reform Bills

When you listen to news reports on health care, do you know there are FIVE different health care bills under active consideration in Congress?  The different bills originate from the following committees: the Senate Finance Committee, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions(HELP), and the House Ways and Means, Education and Labor, and Energy and Commerce committees. The three House bills were mercifully consolidated into a 2000 page behemoth entitled the TriComm Bill(warning: very large file). Which one is the news media talking about? And how care you decide which bill is the best one? The Commonwealth Fund, one of the premier charitable health foundations in the country, has published a side-by -side comparison of these bills broken into many separate components ranging from prescription drugs to malpractice reform. It has also issued its own report on these bills.  And do not forget the Kaiser Family Foundation, another major charitable organization, and its own side-by-side analysis. The American Public Health Association also has its own comparative version as well(this one is dated mid-September whereas the other two are current through early November). The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Project has issued its Comparing Health Care Plans. The Wall Street Journal takes into consideration the just-released Republican outline. The entire proposed Republican plan is available along with their comparison to the “Pelosi”(read TriComm) bill.

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Largest Private Companies in the U.S.

As anyone who has done research on private companies knows, getting information on them can be daunting at times. Forbes alleviates some of this frustration by publishing its annual America’s Largest Private Companies, sortable by rank, company, state, industry, revenue, and employees. Rankings back to 2002 can also be accessed here. Find out what large companies call New Jersey home.

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Enrollment in Schools

If you want to find out how many students from the age of three through graduate school are enrolled in U.S. schools, then this is the place to go to – School Enrollment from the Current Population Survey. Tables are broken down by race, age, sex, and family income; historical information from as early as 1947 is also available. To see New Jersey’s enrollment picture, please use this New Jersey Public Schools Fact Sheet and its attendant links.

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Governor-elect Chris Christie’s Biography

The New York Times has a whole section on Christie. You will also find useful information at Park Place Magazine, PolitickerNJ and nj.com.

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2009 New Jersey Election Results

The results from all the races are here. The New York Times provides a county by county breakdown of the votes for the governorship.   C-SPAN has both  Governor-elect Christie’s victory speech and Governor Corzine’s concession speech. Analyses of this race can be found at philly.com, the Associated Press, nj.com, northjersey.com,  and CNN.

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Where to Vote in New Jersey

If you are not sure where you can cast your vote today, please go to this New Jersey Division of Elections site. Election results down to the municipal level will be found here. And if you want to refresh your memories as to where the three major candidates stand on the issues, this Voters Guide : Decision Day should be consulted.

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