News release: “A changing climate is increasing the accessibility of U.S. Arctic waters to commercial activities such as shipping, oil and gas development, and tourism, raising concern about the risk of oil spills.  A new report from the National Research Council says that a full suite of proven oil response tools is needed to address potential oil spills in U.S. Arctic waters, but not all of them are readily available.  While much is known about both oil behavior and response technologies in ice-covered environments, there are areas where additional research would enable more informed decisions about the most effective response strategies for different Arctic spill situations, the report adds. The Arctic poses several challenges to oil spill response, including extreme weather and environmental settings, limited operations and communications infrastructure, a vast geographic area, and vulnerable species, ecosystems, and cultures.  The report finds that there is a need to validate current and emerging oil spill response technologies under these real-world conditions, and recommends that carefully controlled field experiments that release oil in the U.S. Arctic be conducted as part of a long-term, collaborative Arctic oil spill research and development program that spans local, state, and federal levels.”

“As part of its implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed by the President in 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed a new rule that would extend the agency’s tobacco authority to cover additional tobacco products. Products that would be “deemed” to be subject to FDA regulation are those that meet the statutory definition of a tobacco product, including currently unregulated marketed products, such as electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), cigars, pipe tobacco, nicotine gels, waterpipe (or hookah) tobacco, and dissolvables not already under the FDA’s authority. The FDA currently regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. ”This proposed rule is the latest step in our efforts to make the next generation tobacco-free,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Consistent with currently regulated tobacco products, under the proposed rule, makers of newly deemed tobacco products would, among other requirements:

  • Register with the FDA and report product and ingredient listings;
  • Only market new tobacco products after FDA review;
  • Only make direct and implied claims of reduced risk if the FDA confirms that scientific evidence supports the claim and that marketing the product will benefit public health as a whole; and
  • Not distribute free samples.
  • In addition, under the proposed rule, the following provisions would apply to newly “deemed” tobacco products: Minimum age and identification restrictions to prevent sales to underage youth; Requirements to include health warnings; and Prohibition of vending machine sales, unless in a facility that never admits youth.”

International banking statistics at end-December 2013

April 24, 2014

“The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) today released international banking statistics at end-December 2013. The cross-border claims of BIS reporting banks contracted by $93 billion (0.3%) between end-September and end-December 2013. Claims on banking offices as well as non-bank entities fell. While this was the seventh consecutive quarterly reduction in cross-border claims, the pace of […]

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Census Bureau Statistics Explore Voting Patterns of Young Adults

April 24, 2014

“Voting rates among young adults fell to 38.0 percent in 2012 from 44.3 percent in 2008 following increases in two consecutive presidential elections (2008 and 2004), according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report on age and voting patterns released today. These statistics come from Young Adult Voting: An Analysis of Presidential Elections, 1964-2012, which uses data […]

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Integrating Environmental and Human Health

April 24, 2014

“Sustainable health care is a work in progress. While virtually everyone recognizes the need for the industry to reduce its considerable impact on the environment, sustainability is rarely a high priority among decision makers at U.S. hospitals. There is so much short-term uncertainty and financial pressure in the industry today that it’s hard for many […]

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New GAO Reports – Collision Aftermarket Technologies, HUD Rental Assistance, SBA

April 24, 2014

TRANSPORTATION: Federal Vehicle Collisions and Aftermarket Collision Avoidance Technologies, GAO-14-408R: Published: Apr 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 2014. HUD RENTAL ASSISTANCE DEMONSTRATION: Information on Initial Conversions to Project-Based Vouchers, GAO-14-402: Published: Apr 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 2014.  SMALL BUSINESS RESEARCH PROGRAMS: Agencies Did Not Consistently Comply with Spending and Reporting Requirements, GAO-14-567T: Published: Apr 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 2014.

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CFPB – Mortgage closings today

April 24, 2014

A preliminary look at the role of technology in improving the closing process for consumers, April 2014 “The mortgage closing process is complex and often onerous for all involved. For most consumers, closing a mortgage signifies the most substantial financial transaction they will complete in their lifetimes. However, the process can be time-consuming and confusing. Consumers face a daunting […]

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Existing-Home Sales Remain Soft in March

April 24, 2014

News release: “Existing-home sales were essentially flat in March, while the growth in home prices moderated, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales gains in the Northeast and Midwest were offset by declines in the West and South. Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, slipped 0.2 percent to a […]

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Senate panel report on allegations of Homeland Security IG misconduct

April 24, 2014

Via WaPo – “Report from an oversight panel of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee finds that Charles K. Edwards, the former senior watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security, altered and delayed investigations at the request of senior administration officials, compromising his independent role as an inspector general. Read the related story.“

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A User’s Guide to the Fiscal Year 2015 Defense Budget

April 24, 2014

“The U.S. Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2015 budget request outlines a sound path to responsibly meet the risks and challenges of the current national security environment. The plan also proposes a number of smart, targeted reductions to defense spending that will maintain U.S. military capabilities and the All-Volunteer Force while helping return the country […]

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Estimates of illegal and unreported fish in seafood imports to the USA

April 23, 2014

“Illegal and unreported catches represented 20–32% by weight of wild-caught seafood imported to the USA in 2011, as determined from robust estimates, including uncertainty, of illegal and unreported fishing activities in the source countries. These illegal imports are valued at between $1.3 and $2.1 billion, out of a total of $16.5 billion for the 2.3 […]

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New Website Helps Vets Manage Benefits, Apply for Loans

April 23, 2014

“eBenefits is a portal; a central location for Veterans, Service Members, and their families to research, find, access, and, in time, manage their benefits and personal information. eBenefits offers: A personalized workspace called My Dashboard that provides quick access to eBenefits tools. Using eBenefits tools, you can complete various tasks. You can apply for benefits, download […]

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