Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New coins, new coins...

Image of Washington $1 coin from U.S. Mint
The U.S. Mint has started a new line of coins, the $1 Presidential Coin. These coins will be released in the order the president's served, so in 2007 we will see Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison.

For those of you who are interested in the state quarters, the 2007 designs are also available online. This year's releases will be Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.

The U.S. Mint was formed in 1792 and is in charge of making all the coinage used in the U.S. They do not produce the paper bills we use, that is done by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. They make these coins in Philadelphia or Denver (that's why you see a little P or D on all the coins you have).

Want to see coins where coins are made? If you live in Denver or Philadelphia you can, just check out the web site for information. I have been on the Denver tour and it is fun!

Discovering the Developing World

Leanne will be doing a drop-in session on "Discovering the Developing World" this afternoon from 4-5 in E160 (to the right of the reference desk on the first floor), everyone here in Boulder is welcome to attend!

This session will focus on finding information on developing countries, such as Sudan, Iraq, and China. It will cover both statistics and information on the countires themselves. We will discuss both print and electronic resources, such as World Development Indicators, Global Development Finance, the United Nations, and much more.

The handout for this session is available online.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Current and future threats to the national security of the US

There was a hearing before the Senate Committee on Armed Services today discussing threats to U.S. The prepared statements for this hearing are available online.

The witnesses were:
Interestingly, while it is not listed on the committee web site, the Director of National Intelligence site has a transcript of today's hearing. This transcript does NOT contain the prepared statements from above, but does have the questions asked and answered today.

The annual threat assessment, included in the prepared statements, covers issues of security in countries from Iraq and Iran to India and Sudan.

Want to read more about the hearing? Check out the Washington Post's "Intelligence Officials Offer Grim Assessment of Security."

Want to find more information on intelligence? Check out the library's guide.

Postal Rates to Increase?

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) yesterday recommended that the cost of a first-class stamp (the stamp we put on our bills and birthday cards) rise to 41 cents, a 2 cent increase. They also recommended the introduction of a forever stamp, that would work even when the cost of a stamp increased.

Want to read the documents related to this decision? Check them out on the PRC's web site. In addition to the 502-page opinion, you can also find a 34-page summary for the press.

Who is the PRC? It is an independent regulatory agency made up of five commissioners. This group makes recommendations on new domestic mail rates, fees and mail classifications. The Board of Governors for the U.S. Post Office generally follows these recommendations. According to the Washington Post article "Postal Commission Favors Selling Stamp That Locks In Current Rate" the last time they deviated from the recommendations was in 1980.

Want to know the historical cost of mailing a letter? Check out this letter to Thomas Jefferson in March of 1792 from Thomas Pickering of the Post Office (from the Thomas Jefferson collection at American Memory). In this letter he recommends against carrying the mail 100 miles a day, due to the increased cost.

Monday, February 26, 2007

White House web site redesign

Perhaps in an attempt to keep up with the House redesign (see previous blog posting) the White House has released a new version of their web site.

The new site has three areas:
  • In Focus This section of the site links first to the topics on the top of the President's agenda, such as the budget, homeland security, and Iraq. There are then links to news pages, appointments, additional government web sites, and a feature that lets you ask questions of the White House.
  • Latest News This section has links to the most recent press releases, as well as photo essays and videos.
  • Features This section takes the primary issues of the President and give a brief overview of the issue, with links to plans, press releases, and fact sheets.
For those of you who are interested, there are now links to podcasts and RSS feeds from the White House.

Want to learn more about the office of the President? Check out the library's guide.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

GAO Releases this week

Here are this week's Government Accountability Office reports and other releases. To learn more about the GAO, read the library's guide.

Congressional Testimony
  • Capitol Visitor Center: Update on Status of Project's Schedule and Cost as of February 16, 2007, by Terrell G. Dorn, director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, House Committee on Appropriations. GAO-07-507T, February 16.
Presentations by Comptroller General
  • "Saving Our Future Requires Tough Choices Today" by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, on the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Florida. GAO-07-527CG, February 21. [Slides]
  • "DOD Transformation Challenges and Opportunities" by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Army War College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. GAO-07-500CG, February 12.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Avian Flu

While the US still remains free of any avian influenza outbreaks, Europe, Asia and Africa have all had outbreaks this year. Thus far all those effected have gotten it from birds, but there is still concern that the virus may mutate into a form that could be passed from human to human.

Interested in learning more about the various outbreaks? The Tourism Emergency Response Network has a page devoted to avian flu. It shows how many people have been effected in the various countries, as well as links to guidance, global impact, and additional resources not related to tourism.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention here in the United States also has a guide to avian influenza. Which has links to quick facts and information for specific groups, such as the poultry industry.

Want more health related information from the government? Check out the library's guide.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Guantanamo Bay detainees cases in the news

We have posted a few times on Guantanamo Bay on this blog, but I just ran into the latest information on the court fight (thanks to the Government News for Montana Blog).

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard the case Lakhdar Boumediene vs. George Bush and released their opinion yesterday. The 60-page opinion finds that detainees do not have the right to challenge their imprisonment in U.S. courts. This case will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court, who ruled that military commissions violated U.S. law and the Geneva convention last June (for more information, see the blog posting).

Want to learn more? Check out the Washington Post article "Guantanamo Detainees Lose Appeal."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Discovering the Developed World

For all of you here in Boulder I (Jennie) will be conducting a drop-in session today from 4-5 in E160 (to the right of the reference desk on the first floor) entitled "Discovering the Developed World." This session will show you some resources for starting your research on countries in the developed world. It will cover both statistics and finding information on the countries themselves. We will discuss both print and electronic resources, such as Eurostat, Europa, SourceOECD, the United Nations, and much more.

Everyone is welcome, if you want to see some of the resources I'll be covering, check out the handout.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A non-Senator's view of the Senate

Issac Basset started his service as a a 12-year old page in the Senate, he served the Senate for the next 64 years rising in rank to assistant doorkeeper.

As assistant doorkeeper one of his tasks was to assign Senator's seats (now seats are assigned by party). He describes this task: It has been the custom from the formation of the Senate that when a seat becomes vacant the first senator that speaks for that seat is entitled to it ... With what effort some senators make to obtain seats, when vacant, they have called on me at my house before sunrise in the morning and late at night to speak for a seat that they thought had not been spoken for. When I tell them they are too late they are surprised" (

Basset discusses in these pages many of the issues of his 64 years from 1831-1895. You can access the manuscript via a timeline or themes (including a section on adventures and anecdotes).

Want to learn more about Congress? Check out the library's guide.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Today is President's Day, isn't it?

The reason we have no postal delivery today is because it is a federal holiday. According to my calendar, today is President's day, but federal statute states that today is a holiday in celebration of Washington's Birthday.

Want proof? Check out the Office of Personal Management's Federal Holiday site. See the note at the bottom: "This holiday is designated as "Washington's Birthday" in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law."

Want to know more about the reason the name changed in the public consciousness? The National Archive's has a well-written article on the history of this holiday (as well as some discussion of why most federal holidays are on Monday). The article is "By George, IT IS Washington's Birthday!" and was written by C. L. Arbelbide.

Want to know more about the Presidents of the United States? Check out the White House's President's page
. You can find the names and terms of all the President's as well as a brief story on what happened in the White House on this day in history.

The National Archives has also released a new interactive web site, "The Presidential Timeline of the Twentieth Century." This site has "documents, photographs, audio recordings, and video relating to the events of the presidents’ lives."

Finally, if you still need more Presidential information, check out the library's guide.

Friday, February 16, 2007

GAO Releases for the week

Here are this week's Government Accountability Office reports and other releases. This week, the GAO did a lot of testifying before Congress, on a variety of topic, check out the "Highlights" link to get a brief summary of what they discussed in their testimony. To learn more about the GAO, read the library's guide.

Presentation by Comptroller General
  • "Saving Our Future Requires Tough Choices Today" by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, on the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire. GAO-07-495CG, February 13.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Treatment of children in developed world

There are numerous reports on the plight of children in developing countries. UNICEF has just released a report that assesses the well-being of children in 21 advanced economies.

"Child Poverty in Perspective: An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries" uses six dimensions: material well-being, health and safety, education well-being, family and peer relationships, behavior and risks, and subjective well-being. The United States did not score in the top half on any of these dimensions, in fact the only country that scored lower was the United Kingdom. The top country in the bottom third was the Czech Republic, Netherlands had the highest score. Even Norway didn't score well on all six dimensions.

The Denver Post has an article in today's newspaper on this topic, "U.S. Child Welfare Ranked Low."

Want to learn more resources on children and youth? Check out the library's guide.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

European Parliament approves report on CIA operated flights

The European Parliament voted (382-256, with 74 abstentions) to approve a report critical of some members "passivity of some Member States in the face of illegal CIA operations" (read the full press release).

The full 77-page report entitled "Report on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners" is available online from the procedure file for this vote (or via direct link).

So who is the European Parliament you ask? They are the 785 people elected by the 27 member states to represent them at the European Union. These members serve a five-year term and are seated and organized into 8 official parties. Each state has a minimum of five members, with a maximum of 99, the number for each state is determined by population. Germany has the most seats with 99, followed by Italy, France and the United Kingdom all tied at 78. Only Malta is small enough to get only 5 members.

Want to see the breakdown of the political parties and countries? Check out the list of members site, if you click on the countries or parties you will get a full list of their members. Want to know more about the various political groups? Check out this list with links to their websites.

Want to learn more about the European Parliament is organized? Check out this quick guide. There are also guides to their powers and political role.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

House Resolution on Iraq

The House of Representatives will start debate on a resolution on Iraq today. H.Con. Res.63 is a short resolution, it simply states:

"Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That--
(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and
(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq."

Debate on this resolution will run for the next three days, allowing every member of the House a chance to speak.

Want more information on this resolution? Check out the Washington Post's "House to take up resolution on Iraq."

Want more information on the legislative process? Check out the library's subject guide on legislation.

Economic Report of the President

The White House released the Economic Report of the Presidentt for 2007. This report is written by the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) and the Executive office of the President and is released in the ten days following the submission of the Budget to Congress.

The CEA is the same group that releases the monthly economic indicators on prices, wages, production, business activity, purchasing power, credit, money and Federal finance.

Want more economic information? Check out the collection of business and economic guides from the library.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Presidential Asperations

There isn't a presidential election until November of 2008, but if you watch the news you may be forgiven for thinking the election was this November. Add into that the various levels of declaring a run starting with the plan to form an exploratory committee to the actual declaration of an intent to run and you can be forgiven for being confused.

The various declarations can all be found by searching the Federal Election Commission's Campaign and Finance Reports database. You could also check out the top requested data page for 2008 filings (warning this page hasn't been updated since 2/5/07 and a few candidates have declared since then).

If you want to know more about the various levels of declarations check out the NPR story "Declaring for President is a Dance of the Seven Veils."

Want to know more about Elections? Check out the library's guide.

Friday, February 09, 2007

GAO Reports for the week

Here are this week's Government Accountability Office reports and other releases. This week, the GAO did a lot of testifying before Congress, on a variety of topic, check out the "Highlights" link to get a brief summary of what they discussed in their testimony. To learn more about the GAO, read the library's guide.


Presentation by Comptroller General
  • "Saving Our Future Requires Tough Choices Today," by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, on the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour in Des Moines, Iowa. GAO-07-477CG, February 1. [Slides] [Internet only]

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Situation at the Iraqi National Library and Archive

We may have a bad day at work or way to many meetings, but most of us don't have to contend with bullets in the office. The British Library has been posting the diary of Saad Eskander, director of the Iraqi National Library and Archive (check out the English version of their web site).

In his latest entry from January, he writes that in December alone 4 staff have been assassinated, 2 kidnapped, 51 displaced from their homes, and 58 have received death threats. There are 464 people working for the INLA, 39 of them as guards.

The New York Times has an article on the library, entitled "Baghdad Day to Day: Librarians Journal."

Thanks to the Red Tape Blog for their original post on this topic.

Proposed increased funding for National Park Service

One of the few domestic areas where President Bush's FY2008 Budget is requesting increased funding, to the tune of $258 million, is the National Park Service. The Budget's Department of the Interior section ( highlights this National Parks Centennial Initiative. In addition to federal funds, the President is asking the public and philanthropic organizations to donate money as well. Should this proposed budget pass in Congress, the donated funds, up to $100 million a year, will be matched by the federal government through 2016, the National Park Service's centennial year.

The National Parks Service was established on August 25,1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed into law an act creating the agency. At the time there were 35 national parks and monuments. The Sevice now protects and preserves 390 sites all over the United States. Colorado is home to 15 sites (, including one of the most visited, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

African Passages

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has just developed a new "interactive educational resource about the legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade." African Passages provides links to images of the route from Africa to present day. There are also maps and documents from the time periods, as well as links to teaching activities.

For more on the development of this project and other resources from UNESCO, check out the Slave Route web site.

For those of you here in Boulder, the Government Publications Library has a new exhibit highlighting some of the resources from UNESCO here in the library. For those of you who still think all government documents are plain boring text, these books with their rich images and stories should prove otherwise.

Congressional Budget Office

Today I thought I would talk a little bit about the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

First, the CBO is part of the legislative branch of government. The Director is appointed for a four-year term by the House and Senate Budget Committees. CBO is required by law to analyze the cost of the President's budget proposal as well as provide a "cost estimate and mandate statement for every bill reported by a Congressional committee." These cost estimates are available online from the 105th Congress (1997-98) forward.

The majority of CBO's publications are available online. You can search by subject area, recent publications, or keyword. An example of a recent CBO report is "Testimony on Estimating the Costs of Military Operations in Iraq."

If you are interested in learning more about the laws governing the CBO, check out the US Code Title 2, Chapter 17.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

One more item on the budget...

Yesterday the blog covered the Senate Budget committee and the President's Budget. Today, I wanted to give one more influential group a chance. The House Budget Committee has released a 24-page analysis of the budget.

To get an idea of the tone of the report, you can look at the top of the Committee's web site, which lists the national debt at: $8,696,586,128,372.97, with each of us having a share of: $28,881.49. This number increases every minute, so if you go to the site you will find a larger number later this afternoon.

There is also a report available from the Congressional Budget Office entitled "The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2008 to 2017." This report takes a look at spending and economic growth and attempts to predict the growth or reduction of both.

Again, if you'd like more debt or budget information, check out the library's guide.

Monday, February 05, 2007

$2.9 Trillion budget

While some of us make due with slightly smaller budgets, President Bush has released his 2008 budget for the United States which reaches 2.9 trillion in spending. (Yes, that is trillion, not billion. In case you are wondering that is 2,900,000,000,000.)

The full budget is online from the Office of Management and Budget. There are a number of additional features on the White House's Fiscal Year 2008 page. One of the more interesting is the State by State budget information, which talks about how the federal government budget effects your state. On a local front the budget has "$28 million to begin renovations to upgrade existing laboratory space at the main lab facility for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado."

Congress has just received the budget, but they already have a few comments. For a good bipartisan comparison, take a look at the Senate Budget Committee web site.

If you go to the Democratic side you will find a statement from Chairman Kent Conrad in which he claims the "President’s budget is filled with debt and deception, disconnected from reality, and continues to move America in the wrong direction" (read the full statement online).

On the Republican side you will find Ranking minority leader Senator Judd Grey's statement which claims "The President’s budget reflects his goals of continuing robust economic growth, protecting the nation from harm and spending wisely on domestic priorities" (read the full statement online) .

If you are feeling a little nervous, don't worry both statements end with a statement that both Senators look forward to working towards a bipartisan solution on these issues.

If you want to read an analysis of the budget, without reading the hundreds of pages of small print, check out the Washington Post's "Bush sends Congress $2.9 trillion budget plan."

Want to find more budget resources? Check out the library's guide.

IPCC Climate Change 2007

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first part of their Fourth Assessment Report on Friday. The first volume is entitled "Physical Science Basis of Climate Change" (this link takes you to a summary). While the full report is not available online, you can view the table of contents for this report.

The next two volumes are "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" and "Mitigation of Climate Change" (the links take you to the outlines). These volumes should be released in May.

Want to read some reactions in the media? Check out the Washington Post's "Humans Faulted for Global Warming" or for a quick overview, check out the BBC's "At a Glance: IPCC Report."

Want to learn more about climate change? Check out the library's guide.

Friday, February 02, 2007

GAO Reports for the Week

Here are this week's Government Accountability Office reports and other releases. To learn more about the GAO, read the library's guide.

Presentations by Comptroller General
  • "DOD Budget and Transformation: Challenges and Opportunities," a briefing by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the House Committee on Armed Services. GAO-07-435CG, January 24.
  • "Improving Performance, Accountability, and Transparency in the Federal Government," by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Government Performance Summit, in Washington, D.C. GAO-07-420CG, January 29.
  • "America in 2017: Making Tough Choices Today Can Help Save Our Future," by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, at the Mendoza School of Business, University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Indiana. GAO-07-417CG, January 26.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Global Employment Trends

The International Labour Organization has recently released the Global Employment Trends Brief, which states that worldwide unemployment still rests at 6.3%. For an idea of what that really means in December of 2006 (the most recent data available), for people over 15 in the United States unemployment 4.5%. That is a decrease from December of 2005, when the rate was 4.9%. (This data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics's Employment Situation Report, Table A-7.)

If you are interested in comparing unemployment rates between countries, check out the World Development Indicators database (only available to CU-affiliated users). This database provides data for many countries back to 1980.

If you would like additional labor statistics, check out the library's guide for additional sources of information.