Archive for July, 2011

Postal Service Reviewing 3700 Locations for Closing

The U.S. Postal Service has just released a state by state list of all the locations it is considering closing. Jersey City could lose two; one of them is the West Side branch. The press release announcing this review is here. Recent relevant reports include: The Cost Structure of the Postal Service: Facts, Trends, and Policy Implications (OIG); U.S. Postal Service: Dire Financial Outlook and Changing Mail Use Require Network Restructuring, and U.S. Postal Service: Modernization and Restructuring Needed to Address Financial Challenges (GAO); U.S. Postal Service Workforce Size and Employment Categories, 1990-2010, and U.S. Postal Service’s Financial Condition: Overview and Issues for Congress(CRS); and The U.S. Postal Service Nears Collapse (Bloomberg)

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Summary of the New NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement

Highlights of the agreement are available. A timeline of events for the next several days can also be perused.

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Recent Reports on College Education

The following recent reports are of interest to the higher education sector. Students with Disabilities at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions revealed that over 700,000 self-identified disabled students were in school; that over 90% of the schools provide additional exam time; and that over 70% of all schools provide for class notetakers, assistive technologies, and class materials as provided by the faculty. Six-Year Attainment, Persistence, Transfer, Retention, and Withdrawl Rates of Students Who Began Postsecondary Education in 2003-2004 is replete with charts and statistical information (almost 400 pages worth). And 2008-2009 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study studied the 2007-2008 graduating class one year later and found among other items were that the average debt was $24,700 and that the median income was $36,000.

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Statistics for Africa

The 3rd edition of the African Statistical Yearbook has just been published, generally covering the years from 2002 to 2010. Economic, financial, demographic, and social sectors are examined in numerous charts and statistics. The first part of the volume is devoted to summary tables, while the second contains country profiles. Information has been culled from numerous national and international sources resulting in a one-stop compendium of relevant information. Previous years are accessible here.

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U.S. Students Don’t Know Geography Either

Along with the less than stellar results in American history, students also have a limited understanding of geography and its impact. The summary of major findings of the Nation’s Report Card: Geography 2010 reveal that little significant improvement has been seen over previous tests; fewer than 30% of the students scored at the proficient level. In other words, there is considerable room for additional progress across all grades. News articles worth a look include those from: Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, and The Star-Ledger.

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Phone Hacking Transcripts and Videos

The following full text transcripts of Parliamentary committee hearings are available: James and Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks, and Sir Paul Stephenson. C-SPAN videos of James and Rupert Murdoch (Part 1 and Part 2), Rebekah Brooks, and Sir Paul Stephenson can also be viewed.

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Cooling Centers in Bergen/Hudson Counties

With excessive heat alerts and advisories in effect, many Hudson County municipalities have opened cooling centers. The list is here. Bergen County’s cooling centers are listed here.

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Free Access to Cambridge University Press Journals

Almost 300 scholarly titles from Cambridge University Press can be freely accessed until August 30, 2011; all the issues from 2009 and 2010 are available for perusal. All you have to do is register for free. We are positively salivating at the thought of unlimited access to the history journals this press publishes!

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Should Obese Children be Put in Foster Care?

As this commentary from JAMA puts it: “State intervention may serve the best interests of many children with life-threatening obesity, comprising the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors.” With obesity a major health concern as evidenced by the recent report F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future ( in which New Jersey ranked #43 on a list where #1 is the most obese state with “only” 24.1% of adults classified as obese, and #21 on the list with “only” 15.4% of children obese), greater attention is being paid to this condition. The following recent sources should be consulted: Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies (National Academies Press); WHO European Database on Nutrition, Obesity and Physical Activity (NOPA); One in Four Britons Smoke, Are Obese (with a link to the voluminous Gallup Well-Being Index); Obesity and Socioeconomic Status in Children and Adolescents: United States, 2005 to 2008 (NCHS Data Brief); Adolescent Obesity in the United States: Facts for Policymakers (National Center for Children in Poverty); CDC Grand Rounds: Childhood Obesity in the United States; Health Effects of Obesity (Library of Congress. Science Reference Guide); The Economic Impact of Obesity in the United States (Brookings Institution); and How Does Obesity in Adults Affect Spending on Health Care? (Congressional Budget Office). Two good overviews with numerous links are found at the National Library of Medicine: Obesity and Obesity in Children.

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Increased Aid for New Jersey School Districts

For a county or district enumeration of the amount of additional funding being funneled to schools, please come here. Jersey City is receiving a boost of $21.5m.

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Free Online Dissertations/Theses

PQDT OPEN is a free service provided by ProQuest, the aggregator of the fee-based ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. Open access (definition here) dissertations and theses, the vast majority dating from 2007 forward,  can be freely read online from hundreds of institutions; New York University has over 500 dissertations/theses available alone. You can search by keyword, title, year, adviser, institution; the results can be sorted by relevancy or date. If only an abstract is present, clicking on the work’s title will tell you when it will become available online. Looking up one of our ancestry groups revealed 49 titles using the term “Iroquois.” The default relevancy ranking gave us dissertations from UC Davis, and SUNY Albany, Buffalo, and Stony Brook. While nowhere as extensive as the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database, this new accessible repository is worth a look.

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South Sudan: The World’s Newest Country

The 54th state in Africa – South Sudan – gained its independence on July 9. This oil-rich, landlocked country has many immediate challenges ahead of it, not least among them food security. The following sites provide a great deal of information and facts about this newest sovereign land: The New York Times (linked overview, slide shows, and pointers to external sites); the BBC (country profile, biography of the president, facts, picture of the flag,  state of the media, and a chronology of events from the 19th century); the Guardian( “Eight things you need to know about South Sudan,” including lyrics to the national anthem);  and The Washington Post. Maps can be found at this site, and very detailed maps of the ten provinces (some sources call them “counties”) are located at the Ministry of Land, Housing and Public Utilities page. The transitional constitution is already available as well as laws and legislation. Major think tanks have also weighed in, among them: Chatham House, Brookings Institution, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Current news can be garnered from the Sudan Tribune, the Juba Post (Juba is the capital), the Sudan Radio Service, and Gurtong (come here for a definition of the term). This last news source contains a wealth of information: many key documents, profiles of the ethnic communities in South Sudan, entries on South Sudan political parties, and other hard-to-find data. And do not forget this report from CRS: The Republic of South Sudan: Opportunities and Challenges for Africa’s Newest Country.

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Environmental Rather Than Genetic Factors Play a Larger Role in the Onset of Autism

A major study of twins has led to the conclusion that while heredity stills plays a role in the development of autism, environmental effects are the more prominent causes. The original study is available online. Reportage is available at: National Institute of Mental Health, CNN Health, Time HealthLand, The New York Times, WebMD, and Autism Speaks. More information on autism can be found at this NIH page.

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Middle States Issues Deficiency Warnings for Kean University and Essex County College

Citing failures of both institutions in complying with Standard 7 (Institutional Assessment) and Standard 14 (Assessment of Student Learning), Middle States has placed Essex County College (public disclosure statement) and Kean University (public disclosure statement) on its Warning Issued list. Both institutions have until March 1 to rectify these problems. Responses from both are located in this article from The Star-Ledger.

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Where Did New Jersey State Legislators Go To College?

For those of our esteemed legislators who did go to college (not all did), the top three schools are: Rutgers New Brunswick, Seton Hall, and Fairleigh Dickinson. This site from the Chronicle of Higher EducationDegrees in the Statehouse – takes its figures from Project Vote Smart, a great place to find out how candidates/incumbents stand on issues and how they are rated by special interest groups. You can look at national aggregate numbers as well as state figures; breakdowns are made using the following criteria: highest level of college attended, type of college, and location of college. A most informative database. While this compilation does not reveal individual names of the legislators, you can go to this New Jersey Legislature page that contains an alphabetical list of current legislators along with their education. For information on educational attainment at the Congressional level, please come here.

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Economic Crisis – July 2011 Update

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