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Daily Archives: November 18, 2013

Report – A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is Hindering Green Technologies

Nicola Jones: A shortage of “rare earth” metals, used in everything from electric car batteries to solar panels to wind turbines, is hampering the growth of renewable energy technologies. Researchers are now working to find alternatives to these critical elements or better ways to recycle them.

“The move toward new and better technologies — from smart phones to electric cars — means an ever-increasing demand for exotic metals that are scarce thanks to both geology and politics. Thin, cheap solar panels need tellurium, which makes up a scant 0.0000001 percent of the earth’s crust, making it three times rarer than gold. High-performance batteries need lithium, which is only easily extracted from briny pools in the Andes. Platinum, needed as a catalyst in fuel cells that turn hydrogen into energy, comes almost exclusively from South Africa…Researchers and industry workers alike woke with a shock to the problems caused by these dodgy supply chains in 2011, when the average price of “rare earths” — including terbium and europium, used in fluorescent bulbs; and neodymium, used in the powerful magnets that help to drive wind turbines and electric engines — shot up by as much as 750 percent in a year. The problem was that China, which controlled 97 percent of global rare earth production, had clamped down on trade. A solution was brokered and the price shock faded, but the threat of future supply problems for rare earths and other so-called “critical elements” still looms.”

Open Data Barometer: 2013 Global Report

“The Open Data Barometer takes a multidimensional look at the spread of Open Government Data (OGD) policy and practice across the world. Combining peer-reviewed expert survey data and secondary data sources, the Barometer explores countries readiness to secure benefits from open data, the publication of key datasets, and evidence of emerging impacts from OGD. The OpenContinue Reading

The Federal Reserve’s Framework for Monetary Policy – Recent Changes and New Questions

William B. English, J. David Lopez-Salido, and Robert J. Tetlow – 2013-76: “In recent years, the Federal Reserve has made substantial changes to its framework for monetary policymaking by providing greater clarity regarding its objectives, its intentions regarding the use of monetary policy–including nontraditional policy tools such as forward guidance and asset purchases–in the pursuit of thoseContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Critical Infrastructure, Federal Real Property

CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE – Assessment of the Department of Homeland Security’s Report on the Results of Its Critical Infrastructure Partnership Streamlining Efforts, GAO-14-100R, Nov 18, 2013 FEDERAL REAL PROPERTY – Selected Agencies Plan to Use Workforce Mobility to Reduce Space, but Most Efforts Are Too New to Have Realized Savings, GAO-14-41, Oct 17, 2013

CFPB Finds Financial Education Programs are Significantly Outspent by Financial Marketing

“Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a report analyzing the amount of money spent on providing financial education to consumers and the amount spent trying to influence consumers’ decisions about financial products. The report found that for every dollar put towards financial education, $25 is spent on financial marketing, which can make it difficultContinue Reading

Political Finance Oversight Handbook

“Money plays a crucial role in modern politics. Weak enforcement in political and campaign finance can lead to extreme disparities in campaign resources among parties and candidates; political outcomes driven by those with the most financial resources; and an erosion of democratic politics. IFES’ Training in Detection and Enforcement (TIDE) program responds to the increasing need ofContinue Reading

HathiTrust US Federal Government Documents Initiative

“Call for US Federal Government Documents Records: A crucial component and initial step in the initiative is working to get an idea of the total corpus of US federal government documents held by US institutions. HathiTrust will soon be issuing a broad call for cataloging records of US federal government publications to be used to compareContinue Reading

Food Safety and Security: What Consumers Need to Know

From the USDA Guide’s introduction: “For nearly a century, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been protecting the Nation’s food supply. This long history has allowed USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to develop the expertise and systems to protect our Nation’s supply of meat, poultry, and egg products against intentional and unintentionalContinue Reading

New U.S. Metro Economies Report: Many U.S. Metros Still Struggling Yet Continue to Drive Nation’s Economy

News release: “The nation’s cities are struggling more economically in 2013 than they did in 2012, according to a report done by IHS Global  Insight for The U.S. Conference of Mayors. The report findings show that one-third (119) of the nation’s 363 U.S. metropolitan areas — cities and their surrounding suburbs — will see stagnant orContinue Reading

Warren Commission Report Available on GPO’s Federal Digital System

Follow up to 50 years after JFK’s assassination: a brief guide to reliable sources see also: “As Americans observe the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has made the official, digital version of the Warren Commission Report available on the agency’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). The commission was createdContinue Reading