Saturday, August 27, 2016

President Obama Designates the World's Largest Marine Protected Area

"Today, President Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii to encompass more than half a million square miles  making it the world's largest marine protected area. Home to more than 7,000 marine mammals, some of them critically endangered, the monument will also permanently protect pristine coral reefs, deep sea marine habitats, and important ecological resources.
Here’s what you need to know:

History

The monument was originally created in 2006 by President George W. Bush and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.  Since that time, new scientific exploration and research has revealed new species and deep sea habitats as well as important ecological connections between the existing monument and the adjacent waters..."
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

Take the Safe Online Surfing Internet Challenge

"What do more than 870,000 students across the nation have in common?
Since 2012, they have all completed the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge. Available through a free website at https://sos.fbi.gov, this initiative promotes cyber citizenship by teaching students in third through eighth grades how to recognize and respond to online dangers through a series of fun, interactive activities.
Internet security

Stealing Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage: An Overview of the Economic Espionage Act

"Stealing a trade secret is a federal crime when the information relates to a product in interstate or foreign commerce, 18 U.S.C. 1832 (theft of trade secrets), or when the intended beneficiary is a foreign power, 18 U.S.C. 1831 (economic espionage). Section 1832 requires that the thief be aware that the misappropriation will injure the secret’s owner to the benefit of someone else. Section 1831 requires only that the thief intend to benefit a foreign government or one of its instrumentalities.

Offenders face lengthy prison terms as well as heavy fines, and they must pay restitution. Moreover, property derived from the offense or used to facilitate its commission is subject to confiscation. The sections reach violations occurring overseas, if the offender is a United States national or if an act in furtherance of the crime is committed within the United States..."
Trade secrets

How Treasury Issues Debt

"The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), among other roles, manages the country’s debt. The primary objective of Treasury’s debt management strategy is to finance the government’s borrowing needs at the lowest cost over time. To accomplish this Treasury adheres to three principles: (1) to issue debt in a regular and predictable pattern, (2) to provide transparency in the decisionmaking process, and (3) to seek continuous improvements in the auction process.

Within the Treasury, the Office of Debt Management (ODM) makes all decisions related to debt issuance and the management of the United States debt portfolio. When federal spending exceeds revenues, the ODM directs the Bureau of the Fiscal Service to borrow the funds needed to finance government operations by selling securities to the public and government agencies through an auction process. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service manages the operational aspects of the issuance of Treasury securities, including the systems related to and the monitoring of security auctions..."
Treasury and debt

Iran: Politics, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy

"Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, a priority of U.S. policy has been primarily to reduce the perceived threat posed by Iran to a broad range of U.S. interests, including the security of the Persian Gulf region. U.S. officials also express a broad range of concerns about Iran’s human rights abuses. The implementation of a July 14, 2015, “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) nuclear agreement between Iran and six negotiating powers appeared to represent an opportunity to reduce the long-standing U.S.-Iran enmity and construct a new relationship..."
Iran

CFPB Issues Guide and Best Practices to Help Communities Create Protection Partnerships for Seniors

"Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report that found that hundreds of counties around the country have developed coordinated community-based efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to elder financial exploitation. The report also found that a strong collaboration among community stakeholders – like financial institutions, adult protective services, and law enforcement – can be very effective in protecting their older residents from financial exploitation. To help other communities across the country create their own protection partnerships to fight elder financial abuse, today the CFPB also released a resource guide and best practices..."
Consumer protection for seniors

DOD Security Cooperation: An Overview of Authorities and Issues

"Over the past decade, the increasing scope, pace, and cost of Department of Defense (DOD) security cooperation missions have raised many questions about appropriate DOD and State Department roles and responsibilities in and the utility of such efforts. For some policymakers, DOD’s new and expanded missions enable the United States to meet the challenges of the complex global security environment more effectively. As such, congressional approval of new DOD security cooperation statutes represents a necessary response to perceived shortcomings of the overarching legal regime through which, for more than 50 years, Congress has largely authorized and funded the State Department to lead and DOD to administer security assistance to foreign countries. Other policymakers, however, question whether DOD’s growing emphasis on and authority to conduct security cooperation missions undermines the State Department’s lead role in assisting foreign security forces and “militarizes” U.S. foreign policy..."
DOD and security

Reforming the U.S. Postal Service: Background and Issues for Congress

"This report provides background information on the responsibilities, financial challenges and workforce issues facing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Additionally, it covers the current strategies and initiatives under development by the USPS and discusses further options for postal reforms.

In FY2015, the USPS marked its ninth consecutive year of financial losses with a net loss of $5.1 billion. In addition, the USPS has reached its statutory debt limit of $15 billion. In recent years, the USPS has experienced growth in the package and shipping part of its business (known as Competitive Products). The USPS, however, has experienced sharp declines in both volume and revenue of its Market Dominant Products (e.g., First Class single-piece mail)..."
U.S. Postal Service

Heroin Trafficking in the United States

"Over the past several years, the nation has seen an uptick in the use and abuse of opioids—both prescription substances and non-prescription substances such as heroin. The estimated number of individuals who had used heroin was 914,000 in 2014. Further, about 586,000 individuals (0.2% of the 12 and older population) had a heroin use disorder in 2014. In addition to an increase in heroin use over the past several years, there has been a simultaneous increase in its availability in the United States. This has been fueled by a number of factors, including increased production and trafficking of heroin—principally by Mexican criminal networks..."
Heroin trafficking

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Airline Passenger Rights: The Federal Role in Aviation Consumer Protection

"The 1978 deregulation of the airline industry in the United States eliminated federal control over many airline business practices, including pricing and domestic route selection. However, the federal government continues to legislate and enforce certain consumer protections for airline passengers. Congress largely determines the degree to which the rights of airline passengers are codified in law or developed through regulatory rulemaking.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation are the primary congressional committees of jurisdiction over airline passenger rights. Congress can authorize or require the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to enact rules on certain issues, and it can enact requirements for airlines through direct legislation. In specific cases, DOT may take enforcement actions against air carriers that violate consumer protection rules.

Most of DOT’s consumer rules are based on 49 U.S.C. §41712, which directs it to “protect consumers from unfair or deceptive practices.” Some are based on DOT’s authority to require air carriers in interstate transportation to provide “safe and adequate service” (49 U.S.C. §41702). The interpretation of the phrase “unfair or deceptive” can significantly affect the scope of DOT’s enforcement authority..."
Airline passenger rights

Dude, Where’s My Jurisdiction? Congressional Efforts to Strip Federal Courts of Jurisdiction

"Federal courts, in presiding over lawsuits, have significant power over the citizenry’s life, liberty, and property, and that power can be exercised in a manner that may raise concerns with the legislative branch. One way Congress potentially can reduce the judiciary’s influence is by regulating federal court jurisdiction. Federal courts are limited to the jurisdiction granted by the Constitution, which, in Article III, authorizes federal courts to decide certain limited “cases” and “controversies.” Article III also authorizes Congress to determine what classes of “cases” and “controversies” inferior courts have jurisdiction to hear. A recent case decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Patchak v. Jewell, demonstrates how Congress, perhaps concerned by how a court might rule on a matter before it, might “strip” the court of jurisdiction to hear a case in the midst of litigation. Patchak highlights the scope of Congress’s authority to remove a class of cases from federal jurisdiction and the consequences for already pending lawsuits..."
Federal courts

State of the Cities Data Systems (SOCDS)

"The SOCDS provides data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburb..."
Cities data

Trends in Family Wealth, 1989 to 2013

"In 2013, aggregate family wealth in the United States was $67 trillion (or about four times the nation’s gross domestic product) and the median family (the one at the midpoint of the wealth distribution) held approximately $81,000, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. For this analysis, CBO calculated that measure of wealth as a family’s assets minus its debt. CBO measured wealth as marketable wealth, which consists of assets that are easily tradable and that have value even after the death of their owner. Those assets include home equity, other real estate (net of real estate loans), financial securities, bank deposits, defined contribution pension accounts, and business equity. Debt is nonmortgage debt, including credit card debt, auto loans, and student loans, for example..."
Family wealth

An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2016 to 2026

"In fiscal year 2016, the federal budget deficit will increase in relation to economic output for the first time since 2009, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. If current laws generally remained unchanged—an assumption underlying CBO’s baseline projections— deficits would continue to mount over the next 10 years, and debt held by the public would rise from its already high level..."
Federal budget

New MyPlate Resources for Families

"Every family is unique. When it comes to healthy eating, choose a starting place that works for your family, whether it’s going to a farmers market together or letting kids plan your next healthy dinner menu. Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov/Families for more ideas to get kids of all ages involved in planning healthy family meals: