Archive for August, 2015

Hurricane Katrina Ten Years Later

Katrina hit on August 29, 2005. It was not the fiercest storm ever to hit the Gulf Coast, but it so severely battered the inadequate levee system that that protective barrier putatively shielding New Orleans was breached at a tremendous loss of life and property. NOLA has not returned to its former state. Here are updated reports: Fact For Features: Hurricane Katrina 10th Anniversary: Aug. 29, 2015 (Census Bureau); Database of Katrina Federal Spending (Times-Picayune); New Orleans: Ten Years Later (Atlantic); 10 Years After Katrina (The New York Times); An Unfinished Riff (The Wall Street Journal); Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years on (The Guardian); Katrina, 10 Years Later: Three Documentaries to Watch (PBS); and Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Of Recovery And Reflection.

Selected government reports are here. Also consult Key Documents Regarding the Government Response to Katrina (NYT) as well as Hurricane Katrina: DOD Disaster Response; and Hurricane Katrina: The Public Health and Medical Response (both CRS reports from September 2005).

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NJCU Ranks #7 out of 402 in Washington Monthly’s Best Bang for the Buck – Northeast

Washington Monthly has issued its latest “Best Bang for the Buck – Northeast” edition in which NJCU ranks near the top. Several factors go into the calculation, among them net price. You can also sort this list by state or by name. See what company NJCU is in.

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Announcing “New Jersey Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal”

This new journal, published by the New Jersey Historical Commission and sponsored by Rider and Monmouth Universities, is a peer-reviewed, semi-annual publication that just issued its first number. It will contain articles, book reviews, graduate student essays, and the like across a wide gamut of academic disciplines.

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Thousands of Pre-1800 American Imprints Freely Available Online

Based on Charles Evans’ American Bibliography, the Evans Early American Imprint Collection presents almost 5,000 items (with publication dates from 1470 to 1790) ranging from books to pamphlets covering a diverse variety of topics from witchcraft to American protestations against British rule. Read such works as No standing army in the British colonies; or An address to the inhabitants of the colony of New-York. Against unlawful standing armies (1775); Proceedings of a general court martial of the line, held at Raritan, in the state of New-Jersey, by order of His Excellency George Washington, Esq. general and commander in chief of the Army of the United States of America, for the trial of Major General Arnold, June 1, 1779 (1780. How many of you knew the trial was held in New Jersey?); The Charters of the province of Pensilvania [sic] and city of Philadelphia (1743, printed and sold by B. Franklin); and Inoculation of the small pox as practised in Boston (1722). This collection is a value to practically anyone with an interest in the early activities of this country.

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According to Newsweek, These Are the Best New Jersey High Schools for 2015

Of the top ten best, New Jersey has 6; they are all “specialized” (magnet or academy) schools. McNair High School in Jersey City comes in at #172. The list can be arranged by state, college readiness scores, graduation rate, college bound, and the number of students in poverty. Clicking on a school’s name brings up additional salient information. This site also has a section entitled “Beating the Odds“: “Newsweek’s “Beating the Odds” list seeks to identify schools that do an excellent job of preparing their students for college while also overcoming the obstacles posed by students at an economic disadvantage. A star next to a school’s name indicates that it meets our Equity measure by helping low-income students score at or above average on state assessments.” The ranking methodology is included.

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Form 990 Database – Tax Filings for Nonprofits

Did you ever want to look up a nonprofit’s financial health, how much it pays its officers, what expenses it incurs? What is the general financial health of a nonprofit? This database from ProPublica – Nonprofit Explorergives one access to almost 2 million filings and 8 million documents dating back to 2001. You can search by name, state, category or organizational type; the results are listed in reverse chronological order and supply some relevant data in case you do not want to download the entire filing. However, while private higher education institutions must file (and their filings can be quite voluminous – here is Yale’s 300+ page filing), state colleges/universities are exempt from filing: “State institutions: A state institution that gets a free tax ride because it provides essential government services (a university for example) doesn’t have to file a Form 990.” (ref here or if you want to, you can go through this portion of the Internal Revenue Code. Good luck with that.)  So you cannot look up our sister schools, but you can look up their foundations. This database site also provides links to additional valuable resources on investigating nonprofits.

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What Challenges/Trends Are Ahead for Academic Libraries?

According to the NMC Horizon Report – 2015 Library Edition, open access research models and the reconfiguration of existing library space to accommodate changing study patterns are a couple of near-term scenarios that will impact libraries over the course of the next five years. Hundreds of notes and examples of implementation at academic libraries contribute to the value of this document. A must read for those interested in the future of libraries as they are further changed by technology.

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2015 World’s Top Universities According to Thompson Reuters Survey

This survey incorporates previous iterations to trace the development and growth of universities’ reputations: “The results of each survey are fueled by assessments from the world’s leading academics. The combined survey results to date (2010-2014) contain more than 1.5 million individual data points and have recorded 65,000 responses, covering 6,500 of the world’s leading universities across 105 disciplines.”(Overview, 3). Rankings are given for various disciplines and geographic regions.

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Financial Readiness for New Jersey Retirees

The outlook for retirees in this state is not too rosy, according to this study from the National Institute on Retirement Security. On a scorecard ranging from 1 to 10, with 10 highlighting maximum retirement security, New Jersey comes in at a 4. The report states that”… the 4 out of 10 score on the Financial Security Scorecard means that the next generation has a higher potential for financial insecurity in retirement than counterparts in many other states; however, there is still room for improvement.” New Jersey’s score has dropped steadily since 2000 and is now below the national average of 5.5. Other states’ ratings can also be accessed.

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The Well-Being of America’s Children

Buttressed by dozens of charts and tables, many going back decades, this annual iteration – America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2015 – provides both a snapshot and a longitudinal tool assessing how our children fare across a wide variety of metrics from health to education. Such statistics as family reading to young children or immunization rates or drinking water quality can be accessed to establish certain levels of care or to ascertain areas which need improvement. Data source descriptions add to the utility of this report.

Another report worth looking at is the recent Kids Count survey; this one can be broken down by state and smaller governmental entities – here is the New Jersey data. Hundreds of tables and time series are available here.

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Historic Geological Treatises

The Oxford Digital Library hosts Key 17th, 18th to 19th century geological literature containing dozens of tomes pertaining to the geology of England; one can search by title, subject, or name. Hundreds of additional volumes on a wide variety of geological topics can be found at the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

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EdTech Reports – July 2015

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New Jersey State and Local Pensions: A Snapshot

 The below is a snapshot of the 2014 (just released) New Jersey profile as found in the Census Bureau’s Survey of Public Pensions: State- and Locally-Administered Defined Benefit Data. Other states’ data as well as a national aggregation are available here as well. NJ Treasury reports on pensions are here.
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Item New Jersey
State and Local State Local
Amount CV Amount CV
Total contributions 4,465,111 0.0 4,453,810 11,301 0.0
Employee contributions 1,966,598 0.0 1,964,317 2,281 0.0
Government contributions 2,498,513 0.0 2,489,493 9,020 0.0
State government contributions 2,489,723 0.0 2,489,493 230 0.0
Local government contributions 8,790 0.0 0 8,790 0.0
Earnings on investments (3) 2,420,017 0.0 2,408,842 11,175 0.0
Total payments 9,506,608 0.0 9,498,966 7,642 0.0
Benefits 9,277,801 0.0 9,270,793 7,008 0.0
Withdrawals 182,613 0.0 182,425 188 0.0
Other payments 46,194 0.0 45,748 446 0.0
Total cash and investment holdings 81,721,503 0.0 81,627,266 94,237 0.0
Total cash and short-term investments 41,804 0.0 33,799 8,005 0.0
Cash and demand deposits 18,398 0.0 10,516 7,882 0.0
Time, savings deposits and nonfederal short-term investments 23,406 0.0 23,283 123 0.0
Total securities 57,491,347 0.0 57,408,921 82,426 0.0
Governmental securities 7,440 0.0 0 7,440 0.0
Federal government 7,399 0.0 0 7,399 0.0
U.S. Treasury 4,016 0.0 0 4,016 0.0
Federal agency 3,383 0.0 0 3,383 0.0
State and local government 41 0.0 0 41 0.0
Nongovernmental securities 57,483,907 0.0 57,408,921 74,986 0.0
Corporate bonds 83,034 0.0 72,993 10,041 0.0
Corporate stocks 115,874 0.0 74,540 41,334 0.0
Mortgages 877,682 0.0 877,682 0 0.0
Funds held in trust 8,137 0.0 0 8,137 0.0
Foreign and international securities 54,390,995 0.0 54,377,423 13,572 0.0
Other nongovernmental securities 2,008,185 0.0 2,006,283 1,902 0.0
Total other investments 24,188,352 0.0 24,184,546 3,806 0.0
Real property 308 0.0 0 308 0.0
Miscellaneous investments 24,188,044 0.0 24,184,546 3,498 0.0
Total membership 556,063 0.0 555,280 783 0.0
Active membership 463,560 0.0 462,791 769 0.0
Inactive membership 92,503 0.0 92,489 14 0.0
Total beneficiaries receiving periodic benefit payments 299,923 0.0 299,464 459 0.0
Covered payroll 0 0.0 25,496,108 0 0.0
Pension Obligations 0 0.0 137,196,141 0 0.0
Item New Jersey
State and Local State Local
Amount CV Amount CV
(1)There are exceptions to the fiscal year rule for the state pension systems
in Alabama, Michigan, and Texas. For systems in these states, the fiscal year moves
beyond the June 30 cutoff. The data for the survey year 2014 covers the fiscal year
ending August 31, 2014 for Texas and September 30, 2014 for Alabama and Michigan.
These exceptions are made to better align the data with the Survey of State Government
Finances.
(2)The following categories are in whole numbers: Number of systems, Total membership, Active
membership, Inactive membership, and Total beneficiaries receiving periodic benefit payments.
(3)The total of “net earnings” is a calculated statistic and thus can be positive or
negative. Net earnings is the sum of earnings on investments plus gains on investments
minus losses on investments. The change made in 2002 for asset valuation from book to
market value in accordance with Statement 34 of the Governmental Accounting Standards
Board is reflected in the calculated statistics.
Effective with the 2012 survey cycle, the Annual Survey of Public Pensions: State-Administered
Defined Benefit Data revised the survey form to implement changes in asset classification. These
changes apply to the categories designated as corporate stocks, corporate bonds, federal
government securities, state and local government securities, and other securities. Federally-sponsored
agency securities are classified under federal government securities instead of corporate bonds.
Private equity, venture capital, and leverage buyouts are classified under corporate stocks instead
of other securities. Due to these changes in asset classification, there are shifts in the distribution
of assets from corporate bonds to federal government securities and from other securities to
corporate stocks. However, since investment decisions guide the distribution of assets, we
cannot calculate the exact impact that the changes in classification had on the asset distribution
for 2012. As such, for the above mentioned asset categories, any data comparisons between
data from 2012 to the present, and data prior to 2012 should be exercised with caution.
Data are released on a flow basis and replaced when revised data are available. See the
Federal, State, and Local Governments release schedule.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 Annual Survey of Public Pensions: State-Administered Defined Benefit Data.
Notes:
Pension obligations and Covered payroll for defined benefit pension systems are only collected
at the state level.

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Full Text of “Clean Power Plan” Rule

It is here along with the rule history, technical documents, fact sheets, and toolbox for various communities.

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National Security Reports – July 2015 Update

Numerous CRS reports: The 2015 National Security Strategy: Authorities, Changes, Issues for Congress; Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents; Is There a Judicial Remedy for Victims of Federal Data Breaches?, Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions; State and Local “Sanctuary” Policies Limiting Participation in Immigration Enforcement; Recent Shooting in San Francisco Raises Questions about “Sanctuary Cities” and Compliance with Immigration Detainers; Federal Disaster Assistance Response and Recovery Programs: Brief Summaries; Women in Combat: Issues for Congress; Reestablishment of Diplomatic Relations with Cuba; Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response; Can Military Servicemembers Carry Firearms for Personal Protection on Duty?; Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2007-2014; OPM Data Breach: Personnel Security Background Investigation Data; Cyber Intrusion into U.S. Office of Personnel Management: In Brief; U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation Following “El Chapo” Guzmán’s Escape; Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations; North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation; Iran Nuclear Agreement; Sanctuary Jurisdictions and Criminal Aliens: In Brief; and FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues.

National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate (Department of Defense)

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