Archive for October, 2013

Need to Find Facts?

You want to use a reliable source to find facts on autism, Al Sharpton, or the Eiffel Tower? Then try Fast Facts from CNN. These updated briefings contain numerical, narrative, or biographical information on the subject being examined. There are over 900 entries on this site; there isn’t a browse mechanism, so you need to scroll to find subjects of interest. But trust to the rules of serendipity!

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HHS Secretary’s Congressional Testimony on Healthcare.gov

The 3.5 hour testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee is available, courtesy of C-SPAN. A transcript of her prepared testimony is here. If you are interested, her official biography can be accessed along with her speeches and other testimonies. Additional information on her can be garnered from The New York Times.

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Area 51 As Seen Through Declassified Documents

The Area 51 File: Secret Aircraft and Soviet MiGs from the National Security Archive at George Washington University contains more than 60 declassified documents tracing the importance of Area 51 as a testing site for stealth technology (F-117) and for examination of captured/surrended Soviet jet aircraft. Among the items included are: use of F-117 in Operation Just Cause, the analytical paper that gave birth to stealth technology, and investigations into the capabilities of the MiG -21. The documents are presented in an essay form so context is provided from them. Another fine collection.

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Economic Crisis – October 2013 Update

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New Jersey A Year After Superstorm Sandy

According to this Rutgers report – The Impact of Superstorm Sandy on New Jersey Townships and Households – “…in the long term, New Jersey municipalities remain as vulnerable, if not more, to the next disaster due to the lack of investment in hazard mitigation and repair of aging infrastructure much of which was further impaired by Sandy; the total bill for these items is $25 billion.”(5-6) This report pinpoints what communities suffered the most (the Community Hardship Index, 73+) and which populations were most impacted (the Household Hardship Index, 67+).  An interactive version of both these indexes is found here along with other socioeconomic data. The report does show that those families below, at, or just above the poverty level were harmed the most.(30+)This is a comprehensive report that should be used for future planning. Speaking of future planning, a coalition of environmental groups has issued report cards on the main players in the state’s response to Sandy; the Governor gets an “F”. And why are households still waiting for promised help? Please look at this report from WNYC. The Bergen Record’s  Superstorm Sandy: One Year Later  is must reading. Climate Central ‘s Surging Seas site shows the Jersey shore and points inland have a 1 in 6 chance of flooding by 2020.

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“12 Years a Slave” – Read the Original Book

The movie “12 Years a Slave” has been the recipient of almost universal laudatory reviews (Rotten Tomatoes and metacritic) for its unflinching look at the harrowing life and times of a slave. It is based on actual events as told in the autobiographical work by Solomon Northup – Twelve Years a Slave…: “Having been born a freeman, and for more than thirty years enjoyed the blessings of liberty in a free State-and having at the end of that time been kidnapped and sold into Slavery, where I remained, until happily rescued in the month of January, 1853, after a bondage of twelve years—it has been suggested that an account of my life and fortunes would not be uninteresting to the public.”(17) But his is not the only work of its kind. North American Slave Narratives “… includes all the existing autobiographical narratives of fugitive and former slaves published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920. Also included are many of the biographies of fugitive and former slaves and some significant fictionalized slave narratives published in English before 1920.” You can search by author, subject, religious content, and whether the work is autobiographical, biographical, or fictionalized. (The latter categories found here.) Another source of great importance is Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938 from the Library of Congress. This site contains 2300 first-hand accounts of slavery as well as 500 photographs collected by the FWP and published in 17 volumes, many with additional parts; for example, the Arkansas interviews are in volume two that has seven parts to it. You can search by keyword, narrator, state, and the photographs by subject.

“Ten years I toiled for that man without reward. Ten years of my incessant labor has contributed to increase the bulk of his possessions. Ten years I was compelled to address him with down-cast eyes and uncovered head—in the attitude and language of a slave. I am indebted to him for nothing, save undeserved abuse and stripes…. and standing on the soil of the free State where I was born, thanks be to Heaven, I can raise my head once more among men. I can speak of the wrongs I have suffered, and of those who inflicted them, with upraised eyes.” (Northup 183)

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Congressional Hearing on Healthcare.gov

The House Energy and Commerce Committee heard testimony from the major contractors responsible for the construction of the healthcare.gov site; C-SPAN provided complete coverage. Background documents and transcripts of testimony are found at the committee’s site. In Practice: Tracking the Affordable Care Act from The New York Times is a good start to keeping abreast of developments.

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