Archive for April, 2010

New Government Report: Combating Gangs: Federal Agencies Have Implemented a Central American Gang Strategy, but Could Strengthen Oversight and Measurement of Efforts

Combating Gangs: Federal Agencies Have Implemented a Central American Gang Strategy, but Could Strengthen Oversight and Measurement of Efforts
by Eileen R. Larence (Paperback, 74 pages, 2010, $25)

Thousands of gang members in the U.S. belong to gangs such as MS-13 and 18th Street that are also active in Central American countries. Federal entities with responsibilities for addressing Central American gangs include the National Security Council (NSC); Depts. of Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), and State; and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

This report reviewed federal efforts to combat transnational gangs. It addresses (1) the extent to which the federal government has developed a strategy to combat these gangs, and (2) how federal agencies have implemented the strategy and other programs to combat these gangs, coordinated their actions, and assessed their results.

The report examined federal agencies’ antigang plans, resources, and measures; interviewed federal, state, and local officials in seven localities representing varying population sizes and geographic regions; and interviewed U.S. and foreign officials in El Salvador and Guatemala where U.S. agencies have implemented antigang programs. The results of these interviews are not generalizable. Includes recommendations. Figures.

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April 30, 2010 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

New Government Report: Managing Coal Combustion Waste (CCW): Issues with Disposal and Waste

Managing Coal Combustion Waste (CCW): Issues with Disposal and Waste
by Linda Luther (Paperback, 26 pages, $20)

In 2008, coal-fired power plants accounted for almost half of the U.S.’ electric power, resulting in as much as 136 millions tons of coal combustion waste (CCW). CCW generally contains a range of heavy metals such as arsenic, beryllium, chromium, lead, and mercury.

While there is the potential for a sudden catastrophic release of waste, the primary concern regarding the management of CCW usually relates to the potential for hazardous constituents to leach into surface or groundwater, and hence contaminate drinking water, surface water, or living organisms.

Contents of this report: (I) Overview of Disposal and Use Issues; (II) The Nature of Coal Combustion Waste; (III) Potential Risks Associated with CCW Management; (IV) Regulatory History and Current Rulemaking: Waste Management Requirements Potentially Related to CCW; CCW’s Regulatory Exemption Under “the Bevill Amendment”; EPA Actions from the Bevill Amendment to Kingston.

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April 29, 2010 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

New Government Report: Firms Reported in Open Sources as Having Commercial Activity in Iran’s Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical Sectors

Firms Reported in Open Sources as Having Commercial Activity in Iran’s Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical Sectors
by Joseph A. Christoff (Paperback, 25 pages, 2010, $20)

Iran’s oil export revenues have accounted for more than 24% of Iran’s GDP and 50%-76% of the Iranian government’s revenues in recent years. Iran has the world’s third largest oil reserves and second largest gas reserves, and is the world’s fourth largest producer of crude oil.

IHS Global Insight reports that Iran’s priorities for the next five years are to (1) raise oil production and exports as much as possible, (2) increase natural gas production for domestic use, and (3) expand refining capacity if financially and technically possible.

Iran prohibits non-Iranian firms from obtaining an ownership interest by investing in oil and gas fields, but allows them to enter into “buy-back” arrangements in which the foreign firms may receive entitlements to oil or gas for a limited time in exchange for the funds they expend on the project.

U.S. law restricts U.S. firms from investing in Iran’s energy sector through a variety of sanctions administered by the Dept. of the Treasury to discourage Iran from supporting terrorism and developing nuclear weapons.

In addition, the Iran Sanctions Act, as amended, provides for sanctions against persons, including foreign firms, who invest more than $20 million in Iran’s energy sector in any 12-month period.

This correspondence (1) provides a list of foreign firms reported in open sources as engaging in commercial activity in Iran’s oil, gas, or petrochemical sectors from 2005 to 2009 and (2) provides information about these sectors. Tables.

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April 28, 2010 at 10:01 am Leave a comment

New Government Report: Estimated Financial Effects of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” as Passed by the U.S. Senate on December 24, 2009

Estimated Financial Effects of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” as Passed by the U.S. Senate on December 24, 2009
by Richard S. Foster (Paperback, 37 pages, 2010, $20)

This memorandum summarizes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s (CMS) Office of the Actuary’s estimates of the financial and coverage effects through FY 2019 of selected provisions of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PPACA) on December 24, 2009 (HR3590, as amended).

Included are the estimated net Federal expenditures in support of expanded health insurance coverage, the associated numbers of people by insured status, the changes in Medicare and Medicaid expenditures and revenues, and the overall impact on total national health expenditures. Charts and tables.

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April 27, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Mother’s Day Book Special: I’ve Always Meant to Tell You: Letters to Our Mothers: An Anthology of Contemporary Women Writers

Weekly Book Special: April 27th-May 3rd

Mother’s Day is fast approaching — May 2nd is a day to cherish time spent with your mother, grandmother or daughter. This week’s special is:

I’ve Always Meant to Tell You:
Letters to Our Mothers:
An Anthology of Contemporary Women Writers

Edited by Constance Warloe (Hardcover, 504 pages, 1997, $22.00)

I've Always Meant to Tell You

In this collection of original letters, more than 75 daughters, including Joyce Carol Oates, Barbara Kingsolver, Ntozake Shange, and Hilma Wolitzer, speak to their mothers, both living and deceased, with messages that come straight from the heart.

These are novelists, poets, essayists, humorists, cartoonists and journalists of different ages and cultures. Together they share thoughtful, provocative, funny, and sometimes painful revelations — memories, confessions, poems, fables and tales — at once personal and universal. Illustrations.

Our favorite letter is from Barbara Kingslover to her mother (click to enlarge):

I've Always Meant to Tell You

Library Journal “highly recommends” this book for women’s studies, literature, and general collections. “The letters are addictive,” writes Kirkus Reviews. “Like listening to a top-40 station, you hang on to hear what’s next.”

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April 27, 2010 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

New Government Report: Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s Office of Collections and Distribution and Fair Funds

Securities and Exchange Commission: Information on Fair Fund Collections and Distributions
by A. Nicole Clowers (Paperback, 34 pages, 2010, $20)

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) primary mission is to protect investors and maintain the integrity of securities markets.

As a part of its responsibility to protect investors, SEC seeks to ensure that individuals who violate federal securities laws and regulations take responsibility for their misdeeds. Specifically, when individuals or firms are found to have violated securities laws, SEC may order civil monetary penalties and seek ill-gotten financial gains, or disgorgement, from the violators.

For its enforcement actions to be successful, SEC must have a collection and distribution program for both civil monetary penalties and disgorgement that functions effectively. In 2002, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which established numerous reforms to increase investor protection, including Section 308(a), the Federal Account for Investor Restitution provision, commonly known as the Fair Fund provision.

This provision allows SEC to combine civil monetary penalties and other donations to disgorgement funds for the benefit of investors who suffer losses resulting from fraud or other securities violations.

In 2007, SEC created the Office of Collections and Distribution (OCD) to manage the collection of penalties and disgorgement, including Fair Funds, and speed the process of returning funds back to harmed investors.

This report examines (1) the status of Fair Fund collections and distributions and (2) the actions that SEC has taken to address GAO’s previous recommendations regarding SEC’s OCD. Figures.

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April 26, 2010 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

New Government Reports: Multilateral Development Banks (MDB), Economic Impacts of Prison Growth, Role of the Senate in Judicial Impeachment Proceedings, Military Personnel and Freedom of Expression, Rare Earth Materials in the Defense Supply Chain

New government reports this week:

1) Multilateral Development Banks: Overview and Issues for Congress
by Rebecca M. Nelson (Paperback, 33 pages, $25)

Includes an overview of the Multilateral Development Banks (MDB): Historical Background: World Bank; Regional Development Banks; Operations: Financial Assistance to Developing Countries: Financial Assistance Over Time; Recipients of MDB Financial Assistance; Funding: Donor Commitments and Contributions: Non-Concessional Lending Windows; Concessional Lending Windows; Structure and Organization: Relation to Other International Institutions; Internal Organization; Debates about Effectiveness of the MDBs: Effectiveness of Foreign Aid; Bilateral vs. Multilateral Aid. Issues for Congress: Authorizing and Appropriating U.S. Contributions to the MDBs.

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2) Economic Impacts of Prison Growth
by Suzanne M. Kirchoff (Paperback, 35 pages, $25)

The United States corrections system has gone through an unprecedented expansion during the last few decades, with a more than 400% jump in the prison population and a corresponding boom in prison construction. At the end of 2008, 2.3 million adults were in state, local, or federal custody, with another 5.1 million on probation or parole. Of that total, 9% were in federal custody. Globally, the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population but 25% of its prisoners. Figures and tables.

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3) Role of the Senate in Judicial Impeachment Proceedings
by Susan Navarro Smelcer (Paperback, 28 pages, $20)

Contents: (I) Introduction; (II) An Overview of the Impeachment Process in the House and Senate; (III) Rules Governing Senate Impeachment Proceedings; (IV) Organizing the Senate for Trial; (V) The Role of the Presiding Officer; (VI) Use of an Impeachment Trial Committee: Organization and Responsibilities of the Committee; Procedure During the Preliminary Phase of Its Proceedings; Procedure During the Evidentiary Phase of Its Proceedings; Submitting a Report to the Full Senate; (VII) Deliberation by the Full Senate; (VIII) Judgment by the Full Senate; (IX) Length of Senate Impeachment Trials; (X) Concluding Observations; Appendix A. H. Res. 1031, Articles of Impeachment Against Judge G. Thomas Porteous; Appendix B. Chart of the Senate Impeachment Trial Process. Tables.

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4) Military Personnel and Freedom of Expression: Selected Legal Issues
by R. Chuck Mason and Cynthia Broughter (Paperback, 17 pages, $15)

This report provides an overview of the requirements of the First Amendment related to military personnel’s religious exercise, regarding the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause. It analyzes current constitutional and statutory requirements regarding religious exercise, and provides a framework for how Congress and the courts might consider future issues that arise related to servicemembers’ religious exercise.

Specifically, the report examines the limitations placed on servicemembers in uniform in the exercise of their religious beliefs. It also examines the role of military chaplains and the legal challenges associated with publicly funding religious personnel. The report analyzes efforts by Congress and the Department of Defense (DOD) to address the constitutional concerns that are raised by these issues.

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5) Rare Earth Materials in the Defense Supply Chain
by Belva M. Martin (Paperback, 38 pages, $25)

This letter formally transmits the briefing in response to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Pub. L. No. 111-84), which required a report on rare earth materials in the defense supply chain to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and House of Representatives. Contents: Introduction; Objectives, Scope, and Methodology; Background; Summary; Objective 1: Current and Projected Availability; Objective 2: Defense System Dependency; Objective 3: Department of Defense (DOD) Identified Risks and Actions; Agency Comments; Points of Contact. Figures.

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April 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm Leave a comment

Mark Twain Biography from Ken Burns PBS Documentary; Novels: Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

Acclaimed American author, humorist and former newsman Mark Twain, born Samuel Clemens, died 100 years ago today in his last home in Redding, Connecticut. We offer two books related to Mark Twain:

Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography

Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography
by Geoffrey C. Ward and Dayton Duncan, with a foreword by Ken Burns
(Hardcover, 269 pages, 2001)

Mark Twain was the most famous American of his day, and remains the most revered American writer. The book — an essential companion to Ken Burns’ PBS documentary “Mark Twain” — examines not merely his famous novels, stories, travelogues, and lectures, but also his diaries, letters, and 275 illustrations from throughout his life.

This biography takes us from his boyhood in Hannibal, Missouri, to his time as a riverboat worker — when he adopted the sobriquet “Mark Twain” — to his varied careers as a newspaperman, printer and author. Follows him from the home he built in Hartford, Connecticut, to his travels across Europe, the Middle East and the U.S.

With essays by Russell Jocelyn Chadwick, Ron Powers and John Boyer, and an interview with frequent Twain portrayer Hal Holbrook, this book provides a rich portrayal of the first figure of American letters. Beautifully designed!

“This is more than a lavishly illustrated companion book to the Mark Twain PBS series. National Book Critics Circle Award winner Geoffrey C. Ward, Dayton Duncan, and Ken Burns have produced a cogent, colorful portrait of the man who forged our national identity in the sentences he spun,” writes

“Excellent though the brisk narrative may be, the book’s greatest pleasures are the extensive Twain quotations; no one has topped his description of the Mississippi River, and he had a salty remark for every occasion (charged an outrageous fee for a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, he cracked, “Do you wonder now that Christ walked?”).

“Gracefully synthesizing current scholarship, this warmhearted biography provides the perfect introduction to Mark Twain.”

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Great Novels of Mark Twain
Great Novels of Mark Twain: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, & the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain (Hardcover, 438 pages, 2000)

Mark Twain (1835-1910) has achieved fame and a literary following throughout the world for his irreverent humor, realistic depiction of life on the Mississippi River and memorable characters and scenes from mid-19th century America. Beginning life as an apprentice printer, he became a journeyman printer and then a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi until the Civil War brought an end to travel on the river.

After serving briefly as a volunteer soldier and a short stint of work in a silver mine and as a reporter, he began to write and travel. His famous novel “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” comes from his own boyhood experiences in a town on the Mississippi. Its sequel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is considered to be his masterpiece. This is a facsimile of the 1899/1910 edition. Illustrations.

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April 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

Weekly Book Special: Horse of a Different Color: A Tale of Breeding Geniuses, Dominant Females, and the Fastest Derby Winner Since Secretariat (on Jim Squires and his 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos)

Weekly Book Special: April 19th-25th

The 136th Kentucky Derby horse race is on May 1st. Do you have the perfect gift for your Derby party? This week’s book special is:

Horse of a Different Color: A Tale of Breeding Geniuses, Dominant Females, and the Fastest Derby Winner Since Secretariat
By Jim Squires (Hardcover, 300 pages, 2002, $26.00)

Horse of a Different ColorWhen former Chicago Tribune newspaper editor Jim Squires became a horse breeder in bluegrass Kentucky, no one believed he would making a living. But Squires had been raising horses for 20 years, including equine athletes.

This is Squires’s rollicking tale of how a novice in the world of Kentucky horse culture did more than merely stay in business: he brought together the stallion and mare who produced Monarchos, the colt who won the 2001 Kentucky Derby.

Read a sample of this book on Google Preview before you purchase it.

Squires lays bare the close-knit and secretive world of the thoroughbred community, tweaking the self-important owners at the Keeneland and Saratoga auctions, and skewering the preening trainers at Churchill Downs and Gulfstream Park. Black and white photos.

“The idea that I could get one all the way to the Kentucky Derby is strictly a fairy tale, and someone with a greater understanding of life than I have will have to explain how I bred him,” Squires told PBS Online NewsHour.

“John Steinbeck once went [to the Kentucky Derby], and he said it was an emotion, turbulence, one of the most satisfying experiences he’d ever had in life,” Squires continues. “And if you’re there watching the race, it’s a time when time stands still. There is no past. There is no future. There is only now.”

“Squires weaves a spellbinding tale of millionaire owners, trainers, and auction houses,” writes Library Journal. “It is a journey of great frustration, doubt, hope, and, more than anything, enormous good luck when a Derby prospect can be noticed, trained appropriately, and prevented from career-ending injury.”

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April 18, 2010 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Cinco de Mayo: Yesterday and Today

Cinco de Mayo: Yesterday and Today
by Maria Cristina Urrutia and Rebeca Orozco (Hardcover, 29 pages, 1999)

May 5th is the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1852. Though it’s not Mexico’s Independence Day, it is a day to celebrate Mexican heritage, especially in the United States, with education, food and dance.

Cinco de MayoIn “Cinco de Mayo: Yesterday and Today,” learn about one of the most celebrated days in the Mexican calendar. Using historical sources and the photographic record of a contemporary reenactment, children learn what the holiday commemorates and what it means today.

In the mid-19th century Mexico was in a crisis. Using the pretext that Mexico was not paying off its debt to European powers, the French emperor Napoleon III decided to invade and annex the country.

The Mexicans fought back and eventually defeated the French. One of the decisive battles took place on the fifth of May. As a result, this day has become a symbol of Mexican pride and independence and it continues to be celebrated wherever Mexicans live. Illustrations.

The North American Montessori School lists this book among their “suggested reading” for Cinco de Mayo.

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April 18, 2010 at 2:30 am Leave a comment

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