Monday, July 31, 2006

30th Anniversary of Big Thompson Flood

On July 31, 1976, Colorado experienced its worst natural disaster in history when the Big Thompson River flooded Thompson Canyon, killing 144 people, destroying 418 homes and 52 businesses, and doing over $35,500,000 worth of damage.

What seemed to be a typical summer thunderstorm turned out to be the source of 12 inches of rain in about 4 hours, causing flash floods that swept down through the narrow Canyon.

Colorado State University Libraries' Water Resources Archive is marking the 30th anniversary of the Big Thompson Flood with an exhibit entitled "Water Through Time: An Exhibit Recalling Colorado Water Events Upon the Fifth Anniversary of the Water Resources Archive".

Browse items about the Big Thompson Flood in Chinook (the library catalog).

Congo Holds Elections

The Democratic Republic of Congo held national elections for the first time in over 45 years on Sunday. UN officials say that complete results are not expected for several weeks due to the remote locations of some of the polling stations. Ballots from some areas will have to be returned to counting centers by foot, bicycle, or canoe.

Listen to NPR news broadcasts and read about the election on BBC World Service. Ongoing news about Congo is available from the MONUC (U.N. Mission in D.R. Congo) website.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Changes at NORAD

The headquarters for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center will become the Cheyenne Mountain Directorate. What this means is that command will no longer be running 24-7, but instead will be on "warm standby." You can read the news release on this on the NORAD web site. The Denver Post's "Cheyenne Mountain on Standby"(this link will be good for 14 days, after that you can find the Denver Post through an online database like LexisNexis Academic) analyzes this move in more detail.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Middle East Crisis

The United Nations has just developed a new web site for the conflict in the Middle East (the Israeli, not Iraqi conflict). It links the various resolutions and documents from the UN General Assembly. These materials not only relate to the new military actions in Lebanon, but also the continuing actions between Israel and Palestine. If you are interested in more information on the Arab-Israeli conflict, check out the subject guide from the library.

Senator Arlen Specter Introduces Bill to Regulate Presidential Signing Statements

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania introduced a bill (S. 3731) on Wednesday to "regulate the judicial use of Presidential signing statements in the interpretation of Acts of Congress".

Signing statements are proclamations issued by the President to accompany the signing of laws passed by Congress.

The American Bar Association Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements and the Separation of Powers Doctrine released a report on Monday, July 24th criticizing President Bush's use of signing statements to sidestep laws passed by Congress.

See a list of Presidential signing statements from 1929 through the present from the American Presidency Project.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Doha Development Agenda Talks Suspended

The World Trade Organization (WTO) suspended the "Doha Development Agenda" talks today. So? Well, the WTO was trying to iron out agreements between developed and developing countries on global trade agreements. These talks were supposed to result in trade agreements for developing countries that would help their economies. Unfortunately after numerous delays today the talks were suspended. For the press release and comments on this suspension, check out today's report. For an explanation of what this means check out the Washington Post's "WTO talks collapse."

Friday, July 21, 2006

What is Hezbollah?

You can't turn on the news without hearing about Lebanon, Israel, and Hezbollah. But what is Hezbollah (aka Hizbollah, Hizbullah).

Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamic group and political party based in Lebanon, founded in 1982 in opposition to Israeli forces occupying southern Lebanon.

Those who consider Hezbollah to be a militant group and terrorist organization contend that Hebollah and its sponsors violate U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1373, 1566, and 1599.

For more information, read the Council of Foreign Relations Backgrounder Report on Hezbollah. U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1373, 1566, and 1559 are also available online.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bush vetoes Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005

President George W. Bush just vetoed his first bill of his presidency, the "Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005." You can read his veto online. If you would like to know more about the reasons behind his decision he has released a fact sheet on the "President's Stem Cell Research Policy" as well as a transcript of today's discussion on this policy. President's have been using the power of the veto since George Washington who exercised the veto 2 times. To see a Clerk of the House of Representatives has a website on Presidential vetoes. Franklin D. Roosevelt used the veto the most with 635 vetoes, so Bush will have to work hard to catch up with his lead. To read more about this bill and the veto, check out the Washington Post article "In First Veto, Bush Blocks Stem Cell Bill."

Its hot outside...

These record breaking temperatures are spread out across the state. Did you know that you can see the temperatures at numerous stations across the United States from the NOAA Satellite and Information Service? The access to these publications is available free online from most local depository libraries, like CU-Boulder. You can take a look at July 2005 (access on campus) in Colorado for last years numbers. Last year the record high for the month in Boulder was 101 on July 21st and the average high was 91.6. Colorado State University (CSU) does have recent weather data for some stations in Colorado online, but it does not contain information on Boulder. If you would like more information on Climate and Weather resources online, check out our subject guide.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

International Sustainable Energy Assessment Database

The CU-Boulder Law school has just released a new database called the "International Sustainable Energy Assessment Database." The free public version of this web site currently contains about 500 in-force energy treaties from all 192 countries in the world dealing with 45 energy-related subject areas. The database will continue to grow and eventually will contain 1,700 agreements. The database does require registration to view the full-text of the treaties, but registration is free.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Cold War Bunker in West Virginia Reopens

A former U.S. Government Relocation Facility, known as the "bunker", will reopen to the public for tours today, July 17th. The bunker is located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, at a resort called the Greenbrier.

Take an online tour to read more about the bunker's history and to view a photo gallery.

The identity of the Greenbrier bunker was first reported publicly by The Washington Post in May, 1992. In reponse to the story, House and Senate leaders issued a joint statement expressing "regret" at the newspaper's decision to run the story, stating that it compromised the facility's security and jeopardized its usefulness.

Read a July 10, 2000 Congressional Record transcript of a speech given by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia in the Senate about the Greenbrier resort.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Conflict in the Middle East

Yesterday, the United States vetoed a draft UN Security Council Resolution on the conflict in Gaza. This resolution called on Israel to halt it's "current 'military assault' in Gaza, which, it said, 'has caused the killing and injury of dozens of Palestinian civilians' and destroyed Gaza's main power station" (from the UN press release). Today the UN Security Council met and again discussed the situation in the Middle East. You can abbreviated statements from the countries involved online. The Security Council did come to agreement on the following statement: "The Security Council welcomes the Secretary-General's decision to dispatch to the Middle East a senior-level team. The Security Council calls on all concerned States and parties to extend their full cooperation to the team" (from the full press statement). For more information on the Arab-Israeli conflict, check out our subject guide.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

National Asset Database flawed

The Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security released a report entitled "Progress in Developing the National Asset Database." This report examines the creation of the National Asset Database which will list critical places that may be targets of terrorism. On page 11 of this report you can read a list of some of the "out-of-place assets," some examples are the mall at Sears, Trees of Mystery, Auto Shop, just to name a few. For an analysis of this report, check out the New York Times' article "Come One, Come All, Join the Terror Target List."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Geneva Convention applied to detainees

The Department of Defense ("DOD") released a memo today entitled "Application of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to the Treatment of Detainees in the Department of Defense" (link from the Washington Post). This memo now applies to all those captured in conflicts with Al Qaeda. This DOD dismissed, in a press release today, "news reports that the memo represents a sweeping reversal of DoD policy or that the Supreme Court decision extends full Geneva Convention protections to detainees. "The court did not say that full protections of the Geneva Conventions apply to al Qaeda or the Taliban," he [Deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, Bryan Whitman] said, but limited its ruling to Common Article 3." Want to read some of those reports? Check out the Washington Post article "Detainees to Get Protections Under Geneva Conventions" or the Guardian's (for a British prospective) article "U.S. Says Guantanamo inmates have Geneva rights."

White House Staff Travels Paid for by Outside Interests

An article in the July 10, 2006 issue of Newsweek discusses travel by White House staff members paid for by outside interests. According to the article, filings with the Office of Government Ethics show that White House staff have accepted free trips from dozens of organizations including the National Association of Manufacturers, Southern Baptist Convention, Federalist Society, and Focus on the Family. Karl Rove's $2,600 trip to Aspen in September 2004 was picked up by financier Ted Forstmann; Al Hubbard, sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, also visited Colorado in June 2005 at a cost of $4,276. The most frequent traveler, Tim Goeglein, made frequent trips to his hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Looking at the most recent semiannual report of filings from the White House to the Office of Government Ethics, which covers six months of travel from October 2005 through March 2006, we find Tim Goeglein again accepting the most trips. Of his thirteen trips totalling $9,171.06, four are sponsored by organizations in Indiana including Allen County Right to Life, the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, and the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. Backers of additional White House staff travel include the Alliance Defense Fund, American Spectator Magazine, Catholic Charities of Maine, Catholic Men's Fellowship, Congregation B'nai Torah of Indianapolis, Congregation Kahilath Jeshurun of New York City, Consumer Electronics Association, Federalist Society, National Endowment of the Arts, National Religious Broadcasters, and National Review.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Urban Legends and Government Documents

Did you ever hear the one about how which way the eagle is facing? Or maybe you heard about statues of generals on horses? Or maybe that a gold fringed flag in a courtroom means you are under admiralty jurisdiction? Today, the Government Publications Interest Group (GoPIG) got together and discussed these three legends. Here is the answers to the questions.

1). The eagle on government buildings does not face a different direction based on whether the country was at war when the building was built. The reason it faces different directions is because up until 1916, the presidential seal and great seal of the United States showed the eagle facing towards the olive branch. In 1916, President Wilson turned the eagle's head to face the arrows (on the presidential seal). Then in 1945, President Truman changed it back. Want to read more about it and see the corresponding executive orders? Check out the (urban legends) web site.

2). When I was young, I was told you could tell how the military hero memorialized in a statue died by the number of hooves the horse had raised. One meant they were injured, two they died in battle, and three they died after the battle. Again, tells me the theory is false.

3). And to round out our afternoon of urban legends, I give you the yellow fringed flag in the courtroom. Over the years numerous litigants in court have stated that flying a yellow fringed flag in a court of law means that it is a court acting under admiralty law, or suspension of constitutional rights, or even martial law. In the military a gold fringed flag can be an American Maritime Flag of War, but the Army states that "[i]n flag manufacture a fringe is not considered to be a part of the flag, and it is without heraldic significance." Therefore, the court has rejected this plea. You can read more about it in the Department of Justice reading room.

Thanks to the other librarians for their wonderful stories and to Frank for finding the first truth behind the story. Want to have more legends confirmed or denied? Put them as comments on this post and we will see what we can find!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Space Shuttle Discovery

Mission patch
The space shuttle Discovery took off this Fourth of July. Want to watch the launch videos from a variety of angles? They are all available online. If you have gotten tired of whatever you are working on today with live pictures from Discovery, click NASA TV on the homepage. To learn more about the mission, which is mission STS-121, the NASA site has information on everything from the astronauts to the experiments they are conducting.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mr. Rogers to the rescue... to the tune of $20 million!

Did you know that on May 1, 1969 Fred Rogers testified to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications in an effort to pursuade Congress not to cut proposed funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? A grant proposed by former President Lyndon Johnson was in jeopardy of being slashed in half by President Nixon.

The gruff and abrasive chair of the subcommittee, Senator John Pastore, was so moved by Mr. Rogers' convincing and impassioned words that he claims to have gotten goosebumps and simply states, "I think it's wonderful... I think it's wonderful. Looks like you've just earned the $20 million."

Watch the video footage.

To read the full text of the hearing and the transcript of Mr. Rogers' testimony, visit the Government Publications Library. The published hearing is entitled Extension of Authorizations Under the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Independence Day--July 4

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. If you would like to learn more about the history of the holiday, check out the Library of Congress's Today in History. When you are setting off or watching fireworks tomorrow keep in mind the danger. The Consumer Product Safety Commission published the "Fireworks-Related Deaths, Emergency Department -Treated Injuries, and Enforcement Activities During 2005." This report estimates that 10,800 people were injured in 2005, but only 4 people died. One of them was from Colorado, here is the description: "A 37-year-old Colorado man was standing on his apartment balcony with a friend holding a launching tube that was loaded with an artillery shell type firework. After the fuse was lit, the firework exploded but may not have launched from the tube. After the explosion, the victim dropped to the balcony. According to police there was a bruise on the victim’s chest that matched the base on the launcher tube. The victim died from a torn aorta."