Archive for July, 2017

What Is the CBO Scorecard?

Although we have been hearing a lot recently on “CBO Scores” or “CBO Scorecard”, these terms actually do not exist within the federal government. These terms are really shorthand for “cost estimates” that the Congressional Budget Office issues. Of late, with the various iterations to replace/repeal the Affordable Care Act, the CBO has issued reports on the impact of each one. To review these health care “scorecards”, please come here.

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Additional JFK Assassination Records Released

Ask anyone of a certain age “Where were you when President Kennedy was killed”, and you will get a detailed account of where that person was. The National Archives continues to open files associated with this traumatic event; these contain CIA and FBI records.

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United States Health Statistics, 2016

Health, United States, 2016 is the fortieth volume in this ongoing series of presenting vast amounts of data regarding the health of this country. Rather than plow through this voluminous report, selected topics are broken out and aggregated for ease of reading. This year the “chartbook” focuses on long-term trends in health.

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Here’s What the RAND Corporation Says About Transgender Military Personnel

The RAND Corporation is one of the most prestigious think tanks around. Read its report of transgender people serving in the military: Assessing the Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly. This CRS report – Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Armed Services: Background and Issues for Congress – provides needed contextual information.


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Two New NCES Reports

Postsecondary Institutions and Cost of Attendance in 2016–17; Degrees and Other Awards Conferred, 2015–16; and 12-Month Enrollment, 2015–16

Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2017

The former report deals specifically with college-level indicators, while the latter report (all 180 pages of it) is replete with data and graphs dealing with preprimary to postsecondary education

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Online African Studies Journals

There are two sites I wish to recommend; both feature lengthy runs of English-language titles in various disciplines: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (along with links to other valuable resources) and the African e-Journals Project.

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Important Cybersecurity Documents

The National Security Archive has recently released its Cyber Vault Highlights: 40+ Primary Sources Every Cyber Student Needs; this electronic briefing book spans 50 years and contains seminal works every practitioner in the field should be aware of.

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2017/18 New Jersey School Aid

You can search via county or school district. BTW, Jersey City will lose $8.4 million in the upcoming year.

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New Jersey’s Economic Future

This new report from McKinsey and Company – Reseeding the Garden State’s economic growth: A vision for New Jersey – discusses the main factors that should fuel the state’s growth and employment future: encouraging the growth of young companies (incubators); infrastructure; workforce profiles; and growth incentives. Highlighting programs from other states (Virginia and Maryland) as well as a German university model, along with informative “exhibits” (exhibits 8-11 present a great amount of New Jersey-centric information) comparing New Jersey to other states and the nation, this brief report makes it obvious that New Jersey’s future can be bright, given the abundance of developing sectors in the state. The paper concludes by stating: “It will take dedicated efforts by the private, social, and public sectors—and the involvement of us all—to make the Garden State a growth leader again.All stakeholders can take encouragement from the experience of other states that have faced all the same challenges and hurdles—and remember the unique strengths that can make New Jersey a growth leader.”(25)




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Recent Congressional Hearings On Security

There have been well over 100 hearings so far this year; transcripts for most of them can be found here.

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200 Years Ago: Jane Austen’s Death

Jane Austen, considered by many to be as great a wordsmith as Shakespeare, died at the age of 41, unacknowledged as a great writer. The Jane Austen Society of North America has a marvelous site that covers a vast array of resources dealing with her works both in published and manuscript forms. Her letters can be found in volumes 11 and 12 of The novels and letters of Jane Austen (1915) and in Jane Austen’s Letters To Her Sister Cassandra and Others (2d ed, 1952).


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Are Sugar-Free Foods Good For You?

If you read this article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal, you won’t think so. Its interpretation reads thusly: “Evidence from RCTs [randomized controlled trials] does not clearly support the intended benefits of nonnutritive sweeteners for weight management, and observational data suggest that routine intake of nonnutritive sweeteners may be associated with increased BMI and cardiometabolic risk.”


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U.S. Army Campaigns of World War I

This new series from The Center of Military History provides 70+ page overviews of this country’s involvement in The Great War. Each monograph is supplemented by graphic content and bibliographies of recent secondary sources. Titles published so far include:

The Mexican Expedition 1916-1917 and Joining the Great War April 1917 – April 1918. Another seven volumes are listed; you can come here to see when new ones are produced.


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50 Years Ago: 1967 Newark Riots

As described in the State of New Jersey 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan, the Newark riots were: “The worst civil disturbance incident to occur in New Jersey happened in 1967 in Newark. The event was fueled by police brutality, political exclusion of African Americans, urban renewal, inadequate housing, unemployment, and poverty.”(5.14-3)

Relevant sources include:

1967 Newark Riot Timeline; Newark: The Slow Road Back (1987 NJN documentary on the aftermath); The Lilley Commission Reports and Hearings (“The hearing transcripts of the [New Jersey] Governor’s Select Commission on Civil Disorder (Lilley Commission) offer first hand accounts from over a hundred witnesses to the events that have come to be known as the Newark riots or civil disorders.”); Newark Evening News reports on the riots (Newark Public Library); Riots, Civil and Criminal Disorders : hearings before the United States Senate Committee on Government Operations, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Ninetieth and Ninety-First Congresses (25 volumes, 1967-70); Photographs from The Star-LedgerPhotographs (Getty Images); full text dissertations on this; and The Newark Uprising of 1967 (Seton Hall University).



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Is Coffee Good For You?

If you believe the current news reports/interpretations of two studies (abstract of the first study; abstract of the second study), yes. However, this BBC article written in response to these studies presents a more nuanced approach to what is presented in the media. To say that the controversy over the benefits or drawbacks of coffee consumption is a contentious one is an understatement; a simple literature review of “coffee benefits” in a medical database yields 810 results for the past year alone!

This 1682 publication – The natural history of coffee, chocolate, thee, tobacco, in four several sections: with a tract of elder and juniper-berries, shewing how useful they may be in our coffee-houses ; and also the way of making mum, with some remarks upon that liquor –  makes some salient points supportive of both sides, giving us an indication of how long this dispute has been around:

“…As for the qualities and nature of Coffee, our own
Countryman, Dr Willis, has publilh’d a very rational
Account, whofe great Reputation and Authority are of
no fmali force; he fays, that in feveral Headachs, Diz-
zinefs. Lethargies, and Catarrhs, where there is a grofs
habit of Body, and a cold heavy Conflirution, there
Coffee may be proper, and fuccefsful; and in thefe cafes
he fent his Patients to the Coffee-Houje rather than to the
Apothecaries Shop: but where the temperament is hot
and lean, and active, there Coffee may not be very agree-
able, becaufe it may difpofe the Body to inquietudes…”(10)

That the aforementioned coffee houses were seen as less than healthful places   (on so many levels) can be found in these ballads dating from the 17th century.

A fascinating 1792 history of coffee, replete with sources (though source citation is a bit weak), is A treatise concerning the properties and effects of coffee ; beginning on page 41, you can find a list of benefits and harms of this beverage.

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An Update on the Bayfront Development

After much remediation and the intense interest of several developers, the Bayfront project off Route 440 seems to be languishing. Here is an update as to what is, or is not, happening.

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National Security Reports – June 2017 Update

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Online Primary Sources: The Verney Family

This long-lived family has its roots in 13th century England and still has an impact on that country today. Its members have included the mayor of London, members of Parliament, a pirate, a Middle East trader, and opposing sides in the English civil war.

Secondary sources on this distinguished family can be found in:

Verney, Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed; History of Parliament (has numerous biographies on the various Verneys who have sat); Memoirs of the Verney Family, Edinburgh Review, 17(July-Oct., 1892): 411-430; Parishes : Middle Claydon’, in A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 4, ed. William Page (1927); and a contemporary accounting is available at the August 30, 2001 obituary of Sir Ralph Verney.

Primary sources include:

Verney papers : Notes of proceedings in the long Parliament, temp. Charles I. printed from original pencil memoranda taken in the House by Sir Ralph Verney (1845).

Letters and papers of the Verney family down to the end of the year 1639.(1853).

Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, volume 7, appendix, pp. 433+ (1870).

Memoirs of the Verney family during the seventeenth century / compiled from the papers and illustrated by the portraits at Claydon house. (2d ed, 2 vols, 1907).

Numerous references will be found in British History Online, a remarkable compendium of primary and secondary sources.

BTW, this is the blog’s 2500th entry.


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Jersey City Schools Return to Local Control

After three decades of state oversight, the NJ Department of Education has returned all control of the Jersey City school district back to the local level. Here is an informative NJ Spotlight article along with a statement from the NJEA.

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How Colonists Learned of the Declaration of Independence

In this electronic age we take for granted that news, fake or not, is disseminated in the blink of an eye. But what of previous times when there was no “instant” communication, when news traveled at the pace of a galloping horse or a swiftly moving ship? How did the colonists learn that the Declaration of Independence had been drafted and signed? How was this document published? The following sites will help answer these and other questions:

Which Version is This, and Why Does it Matter? starts with the attention-grabbing statement that “There is no singular authoritative version of the Declaration of Independence”. This piece then goes on to explain the various permutations of this foundational document and how it was promulgated.

Early Printings of the Declaration of Independence lists in chronological order the first broadside and newspaper appearances in the colonies. It also includes the “first notices” or mentions of the document in its various stages of approval. The declaration was first published was by John Dunlap, the printer of the Continental Congress. Here is the first printed version of the Declaration; it was  done as a broadside.

Spreading the Word: The Declaration of Independence Makes the Papers contains a digital version of the first newspaper printing of the Declaration from the July 6, 1776 edition of the Pennsylvania Evening Post. Another copy can be viewed at the Museum of the American revolution.

How The Declaration Was Received In The Old Thirteen from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 85(#506, July 1892): 165-87 presents a narrative that discusses the spread of both the document and its reception; there is a good deal of space dealing with New Jersey. Of interest in this article is the discussion of when the Declaration was read out loud to the public.

The Deleted Passage of the Declaration of Independence (1776) highlights the anti-slavery section authored by Thomas Jefferson that was struck from the Declaration; it movingly begins: “He [King George III] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither



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