Archive for February, 2013

Here is What Governor Christie Said About Higher Education in His 2014 Budget Speech

To quote:

Now, in higher education, I am once again proposing to increase student assistance through the Tag Grant Program. The budget calls for an increase of $17 million in Tag funding. And I am restoring aid to independent colleges with a $1 million increase in their funding.

The voters also agreed with me that we needed to invest capital in our state colleges and universities. For the first time in a quarter century, they voted overwhelmingly to invest in our children’s future. We will put to work this spring over $1.6 billion in state and private funds to build classrooms, laboratories and other facilities to grow and modernize our higher education system.

The correlation between the ability to get a job, a higher income, and educational attainment is clear. So let’s make the path to college available to every New Jerseyan who’s willing to do the work to get there.

The full text of his speech is here

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How Many Men Are Nurses?

This just-released report from the Census Bureau – Men in Nursing Occupations – indicates that almost 10% of the nation’s 3.5 million nurses are men. Among the highlights of this report are:  male nurses outearn female nurses, $60, 700 to $51, 000; 41% of nurse anesthetists are males; and in 1970, men comprised 2.7% of RNs while in 2011, they made up 9.6% of this group. For those with an interest in history, here is a brief article on Trained Male Nurses from the August 6, 1892 issue of The British Medical Journal.

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Governor Christie’s 2014 Budget Address at 3pm Today

You can watch it live here. Advance ruminations of his speech can be found at: PolitickerNJ, The Star-Ledger (with valuable links), NJSpotlight, and The Bergen Record

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New Jersey to Lose Over $100 Million This Year If Sequester Goes Through

The White House has just released its state-by-state analysis of the impact of the sequester if it goes through on Friday. New Jersey loses over $100 million; there’ll be less work-study monies, fewer vaccines for children, and a reduction in the Head Start program. The other states are listed here.

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How Did Students from the Five Most Populous States Do in the Nation’s Report Card?

Why is this important? Because, according to NCES report Mega-States, California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas educate more than 40% of the nation’s students and “They now serve more than half of the nation’s English language learners (ELL), as well as some of the largest concentrations of children from lower-income families.”(1) As the nation changes demographically, educational policy-makers will look to these states to see what works and doesn’t work. In this report will be found: academic performance over the years, comparison to the nation and among the five states, what student groups gained, and what groups performed at or above the NAEP Proficient level. The test results are for those in mathematics, reading and science. With New Jersey also witnessing an increasingly diverse population, this report should prove of value to this state’s educators and leaders.

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Getting Old in New Jersey and Elsewhere

This survey from AARP – Quick Health Facts 2012 – presents selected data on these topics as it pertains to the aging population: demographics, health expenditure and financing, health status 50+, and prevention and utilization. State-level data is compared to the national averages. All fifty states are included, and the previous reports are online as well. Another AARP report worth consulting is Across the States: Profiles of Long-Term Services and Supports. Additional relevant sources are: 2012 Older Americans: Key Indicators of Well-Being (Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics); Medicare (Kaiser Family Foundation); and New Jersey Division of Aging Services.

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Economic Crisis – February 2013 Update

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Moody’s Downgrades the Entire US Higher Education Sector

In this report – US Higher Education Outlook Negative 2013 – Moody’s cites “…mounting pressure on all key university revenue sources…” including those of the major research universities. The Great Recession has played a significant part in the downgrade as has the perceived diminished value of a college degree. In addition, rising tuition/fees, increased student debt, and the strain on non-tuition revenue streams also have factored into this parlous situation. In a particular reference to the public universities, Moody’s states that “We expect to see more governance stress at public universities because managment teams, faculties and governing boards are often poorly aligned.”(18)

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President Obama Issues an Executive Order on Cybersecurity

In light of the ongoing cyberattacks on American business by China and Iran, along with their meddling in governmental networks, President Obama has issued an executive order strengthening the country’s cyber infrastructure. Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity calls for, among other things,  more closely aligned cooperation between the government and the private sector over these attacks. It also calls for increased communication between these two entities. This February 14, 2013 GAO report – National Strategies, Roles and Responsibilities Need to be Better Defined and More Effectively Implemented is worth a look as well. Other information on cybersecurity is in this previous blog entry and in this Times Topics section on cyberwarfare. Also, please view this 2-15-13 Administration Policy on Cyber Security video (from CSIS via C-SPAN). Also, this just-released report from Mandiant offers an inside look at our cyberwar with China – Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units. (UPDATE: Please read this March 1, 2013 report from CRS –  The 2013 Cybersecurity Executive Order: Overview and Considerations for Congress.)

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National Security Reports – February 2013 Update

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What Do People Want From Their Libraries?

Apparently, everything. This Pew Internet report – Library services in the digital age – was based on a survey done by Pew, and the results make for insightful reading. An array of questions was posed and some of the results are that:                                                                                                                                                     73% of library patrons in the past 12 months say they visit to browse the shelves for books or media.

54% visit to do research on topics that interest them.

50% visit to get help from a librarian.

 49% say they visit to sit, read, and study, or watch or listen to media.

Patrons want the latest technologies, they want help using their handheld devices, and they still want books. There is much more to this report, and it is worth the read for all concerned, patrons and librarians alike. Other reports of interest include: Net Generation Students and Libraries (EDUCAUSE); The Library, Through Students’ Eyes (New York Times); What Students Don’t Know (Inside Higher Ed); Assessment 360: Mapping Undergraduates and the Library at the University of Connecticut (CLIR); The Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report (ALA); and Students Research the Library (College & Research Libraries News). Also visit the ERIAL Project, an ethnographic look at how students view/use the library. This study has much to tell us.

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Middle East Rapidly Losing Its Freshwater Supplies

A combination of drought, less runoff from decreased amounts of snow, and a growing population have all resulted in the Middle East losing a tremendous amount of water over the past decade. This has been discovered by NASA’s GRACE satellites.(UPDATE: the full text of the study is available online.) This Yale site provides additional information as do these sites: Smithsonian, (read this article posted there – “UAE bans export of groundwater”), and

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Antibiotics in the Meat You Eat

According to this article – Antibiotics and Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria: Not Getting Better – the amount of antibiotics being used in our meat supply is four times the amount of antibiotics that we purchase annually! This startling fact was garnered from two important reports mentioned in this piece: 2011 Retail Meat Report (FDA, National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System) and 2011 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals (also FDA). Here is a simple pro and con on the topic. A great overview with numerous links is found at PBS. Differing views on this contentious issue can be found at: Why Meat in China – and the U.S. –  Has a Drug Problem (Time); The Meat Industry Now Consumes Four-Fifths of All Antibiotics (Mother Jones); The American Meat Institute Gets It Wrong on Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs (Natural Resources Defense Council); Logic vs. Fear: Antibiotic Issue Draws Passionate Response (National Hog Farmer); and visit the American Meat Institute for their views on this topic, especially its Meat Mythcrushers video section. There is proposed legislation before Congress: Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2011 ; there’s also a Congressional hearing: Antibiotic Resistance and the Threat to Public Health; and a GAO report: Antibiotic Resistance:  Agencies Have Made Limited Progress Addressing Antibiotic Use in Animals. And last, but not least, here is a 2010 CRS report: Potential Trade Implications of Restrictions on Antimicrobial Use in Animal Production. For an overseas perspective, see: Europe’s Mixed Record on Animal Antibiotics (NPR) that examines the EU ban on antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed . This section from the European Food Safety Authority on antimicrobial resistance contains a great deal of information and links.

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President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address

For a video, transcript and both Republican responses, please visit here. The history of the President reporting to Congress and every address given can be found at The American Presidency Project, a goldmine of information.

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What Happens After a Pope Resigns or Dies?

It can be a confusing time for all concerned. This Q&A with a respected scholar on the Papacy will shed some light. Although this article on Papal Elections comes from the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia, it provides good background information and is replete with links. The cardinals will be guided by this addition to the Apostolic Constitution  – “Universi Dominici Gregis” –  as promulgated by John Paul II in 1996. This site – Vacancy of the Holy See – provides additional information.

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How Many Popes Have Resigned?

The answer can be found here. For other popes who have been forced out for one reason or another, please read this article.

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How Long is Your Commute?

We can answer that – too long. And it is getting worse, acording to the 2012 Annual Urban Mobility Report. It is so bad in the New York-Newark area that a Planning Time Index indicates that you should plan to spend 88 minutes on a 20-minute trip if you want to get to your destination on time in a consistent manner, in other words late only once a month. And we don’t even top the list; that dubious honor goes to Washington, D.C. The report breaks down cities by region and provides many sobering statistics highlighting the toll that increased commutation/traffic congestion take. Maybe the answer lies in this report: Solution Needed For Monster Commutes:  TELECOMMUTING COULD SAVE EMPLOYEES AND EMPLOYERS TIME, MONEY, GRIEF from Challenger, Gray. Did you know that federal employees are eligible for telework? According to the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, all executive agency employees are entitled to telework, after certain prerequisite procedures and authorizations are initiated and satisfied. Please read the 2012 Status of Telework in the Federal Government to see how this program is proceeding. Of course, there is a dark side to telecommuting – “The hard truth about telecommuting.” (Monthly Labor Review, June 2012).

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Post Office to End Saturday First-Class Mail Delivery

The live announcement of this change will be made at 10am today. Please peruse the US Government Accountability Office’s reports on the postal service, CRS reports on a wide range of postal topics, and this extensive blog entry.

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DOJ Paper Authorizing the Killing of Americans Overseas

The US Department of Justice authored a white paper in which it presents justification for the government to kill overseas Americans who pose a national security threat. The document, released by NBC, has raised a lot of issues. The Jurist provides an very informative summation of the main points as well as providing numerous relevant links. Other sources to be consulted include: NPR, The New York Times, ACLU (recommended), Council on Foreign Relations (recommended), and Politico.

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Reasons for Leaving Facebook

While many people (67% of adults) do indeed utilize Facebook and have made it the premier social media site, more than a few have decided to opt out. That is the main finding from Pew’s Coming and Going on Facebook. Other highlights:

  • 61% of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more.
  • 20% of the online adults who do not currently use Facebook say they once used the site but no longer do so.
  • 8% of online adults who do not currently use Facebook are interested in becoming Facebook users in the future

The report goes on to list specific reasons why users have decided to take a Facebook “vacation.” Charts and graphs supplement the presentation.

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