April 4, 2008

Federal Railroad Administration Accident Investigation Reports

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) now makes accident investigation documents from 2005- available at

March 14, 2008

The New $5 Bill


At you can read about the new $5 bill or explore the new interactive $5 bill.

March 5, 2008

USDA Agriculture Projections to 2017

The Interagency Agricultural Projections Committee has recently released a report outlining agricultural projections for the next ten years.

The projections are one representative scenario for the agricultural sector for the next decade. As such, the report provides a point of departure for discussion of alternative farm sector outcomes that could result under different assumptions.... Although export competition is projected to continue, global economic growth, particularly in developing countries, provides a foundation for gains in world trade and U.S. agricultural exports. Combined with increases in domestic demand, particularly related to growth in ethanol production, the results are generally higher market prices. As a result, overall net farm income remains strong and reaches record levels in the latter part of the projections. (Source: Report abstract).

USDA agencies that are part of the Projections Committee include the Economic Research Service, Farm Service Agency, Foreign Agricultural Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.

March 4, 2008

National Consumer Protection Week

This week is National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). Each year NCPW organizers choose a theme and this year's,"Financial Literacy: A Sound Investment," encourages people to master the financial facts of life. "It’s a sound investment: Financially savvy consumers are likely to make smarter decisions about managing their money, using credit wisely, and building a solid financial foundation for later."

Check out, the federal government's one-stop place for consumer information, for even more consumer information resources covering a variety of topics from product safety to homes and community.

March 3, 2008

UN Environment Programme Yearbook 2008

The United Nations Environment Programme has released its 2008 look at the world's environmental landscape. The Yearbook provides a global overview for climate events in 2007, a feature focus on using markets and finance to fight climate change, and emerging challenge focus on methane from the Artic. The yearbook also highlights specific environment projects such as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and new initiatives from corporations around the world.

February 14, 2008

February 14, 2008 - Love is in the Air

Even the Federal Government has a stake in the Love Holiday. The Census Bureau has pulled together a variety of statistics related to national holiday of love. For instance,

* Americans consume, per capita, 26 pounds in 2006 (Current Industrial Reports).

* 2.2 million is the number of marriages that take place annually, an average of 6,000 a day. (National Center for Health Statistics) Nearly 31,000 of those marriages occurred in Minnesota. The number in Nevada? 131,826.

* In 2002 there were 904 dating service establishments (2002 Economic Census).

* 120 is the number of single men (either never married, widowed or divorced) who are in their 20s for every 100 single women of the same ages. Look at the number of single men 65 and older and the number drops to 34 single men every 100 single women of the same ages. (Families and Living Arrangements: 2006) Interested in just Minnesota data? Check out American Factfinder Social Characteristics for the state.

heart nasa.jpg
Image Source: NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

February 8, 2008

February 8th, 2008 - Three Decades of Housing Data

"The year 1973 may not seem that long ago, but a lot of changes have taken place since then. In 1973, the United States signed the Paris Peace Accords, which presaged the country's withdrawal from Vietnam. The Watergate scandal was hitting the front pages...Secretariat won the Triple Crown...the latest James Bond movie was "Live and Let Die".. and the latest fashion was the Nehru jacket. Only slightly more than half of all Americans alive today had been born by 1973. The United State has experienced extensive demographic changes in the last three and a half decades -- changes that have signicantly affected the nation's housing stock. " -- from "Thirty-Years of Housing Data."

"The data statistically describes developments in housing that occurred in tandem with extensive demographic shifts in a population that grew larger, older, and more diverse." Research Works

Summary in "Research Works" :
Report and appendices, available at:

February 6, 2008

Feburary 6, 2008 - 2008 Elections State Population Information

Minnesota's caucus are over, but there are more state primaries and caucuses to come. Check out the Census Bureau's webpage detailing select population characteristics and 2004 voting information to provide background information into these upcoming events.

caucus mn info.jpg
Minnesota's select population information

February 3, 2008

February 3, 2008 - Super Bowl XLII

Want to amaze your friends during the Big Game? Just drop a coupld statistics provided by the Census Bureau on the site of the game (University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona), and the two cities represented by New York Giants and the New England Patriots.

For instance, 246,531 is the population of Glendale on July 1, 2006. Glendale’s population climbed by 3,387 between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006. Glendale is now the 72nd most populous city in the nation (Population estimates). This is a significant rise from the 1970 population of 36,228 (Historical census reports)

January 30, 2008

January 30, 2008 - Fifty Years of NASA

In 2008 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is celebrating 50 years of

scientific and technological feats in air and space. NASA technology also has been adapted for many nonaerospace uses by the private sector. NASA remains a leading force in scientific research and in stimulating public interest in aerospace exploration, as well as science and technology in general. Perhaps more importantly, our exploration of space has taught us to view Earth, ourselves, and the universe in a new way.

NASA has scheduled events throughout the United States. Check out their 50th Anniversary Site for more information. The agency has also developed an extensive History of NASA site that details the key historical events of the past half century in space.

Image Source: NASA 50th Anniversary Site

January 29, 2008

January 29, 2008 - Know Your State Economically

Details about all 50 states plus the District of Columbia can be mined from the 2002 Economic Census. According to the census, law offices are thriving in Washington, D.C., ranking the highest in receipts per resident at $15,839. Enough tortillas are manufactured in California to average $17 in annual shipments for every man, woman and child in the state. Residents of Washington state spent more at the dentist than residents of any other state ($374). Tennessee's musical groups and artists earned more on a per capita basis than any other state ($65). Bowling alleys grossed more than $25 per person in Wisconsin. Alaska led the nation in revenue per person for chiropractors' offices ($58). (Census Bureau News Release, January 28, 2008)

Using the 2002 Economic Census, the Census Bureau has compiled a new site detailing Top States by Industry. Results are compiled by state or can be searched by industry. Check out Minnesota's statistics and compare to a state in a warmer area like Hawaii . Minnesota industries ranked first in terms of sales or receipts per capita include medical, dental, and hospital equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers and general-line grocery merchant wholesalers. For Hawaii it is hotels (except casino hotels) and motels and clothing and clothing accessories stores.

January 29, 2008 - 2006 Census Data on Foreign Born by State

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI), an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC, has released aggregated data on the foreign-born populations in the United States. Data collected from the 1990 and 2000 Census, and the 2006 American Community Survey, are available for the United States and by state. Foreign born refers to people residing in the United States at the time of the census, who were not United States citizens at birth.

Selected Minnesota statistics include:

* The foreign-born population of Minnesota changed by 30.2 percent between 2000 and 2006.
* In 2006, the foreign born represented 6.6 percent of Minnesota's total population.
* Of the foreign-born population in Minnesota, 12.9 percent were minors, 59.9 percent were of working age, and 15 percent were seniors.

The full Minnesota report can be found here.

MPI provides "analysis, development, and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national, and international levels." (MPI Website)

January 28, 2008

January 28, 2008 - U.S. Representative Ramstad sponsors Mental Health Bill

A recent article in the Star Tribune Online discusses what is seen as Representative Jim Ramstad's legacy legislation, a mental health bill currently before Congress. The bill, H.R. 687, is entitled An act to amend the Public Health Service Act to establish a State family support grant program to end the practice of parents giving legal custody of their seriously emotionally disturbed children to State agencies for the purpose of obtaining mental health services for those children. A similar Senate bill, S. 382, was put forward by Senator Susan Collins of Maine. The House bill, introduced in January 2007, was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health where it has stayed for the past year.

Congressman Ramstad announced last September he would not be seeking re-election in 2008.

Article Source: Diaz, Kevin. "With mental health bill mired, Ramstad's legacy at stake." Star Tribune Online, January 28, 2008.

January 28, 2008 - EPA Briefing about VOCs in St. Louis Park

Today the US Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 will be holding a briefing in St. Louis Park to discuss the discovery of vapors from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in area ground water. "EPA technicians will be available to answer questions about the laboratory, which was also used to assess contaminants at the World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina cleanups. State and local partner agency officials are expected to be on hand (EPA Website Announcement)." This Map of St. Louis Park shows the affected area. In addition, the EPA provides an informational page on Volatile Organic Compounds.

January 23, 2008

January 23, 2008 - New USDA Economic Research Service Data Available

The ERS State Fact Sheets contain frequently requested data for each state and for the total United States. These include current data on population, per-capita income, earnings per job, poverty rates, employment, unemployment, farm and farm-related jobs, farm characteristics, farm financial characteristics, top agricultural commodities, top export commodities, and the top counties in agricultural sales.

Poverty data from 2005 (the most recent available) has been added.


U.S. Summary Page
Minnesota State Fact Sheet

January 18, 2008

January 18, 2008 - Economic Outlook

The sub-zero temperatures this weekend will keep most people indoors. Need some reading material to wile away the hours? Several reports have come out recently regarding the current economic forecast for the United States.

The Federal Reserve has issued its Beige Book for January. The full title is Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions and it compiles reports for each Federal Reserve District on "current economic conditions in its District through reports from Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources. The Beige Book summarizes this information by District and sector. An overall summary of the twelve district reports is prepared by a designated Federal Reserve Bank on a rotating basis." This website contains summaries back to 1970. If interested in the report from the Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, click here to jump to that section.

In Addition, the U.S. Department of Labor has released the December 2007 Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers. The Consumer Price Index is used as an economic indicator, especially in relation to inflation, and provides "monthly data on changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services". More information about the CPI can be found at

January 16, 2008

January 16, 2007 - NTSB Safety Recommendation

Yesterday the National Transporation Safety Board released a safety recommendation that addressed a design issue related to the August 1, 2007 I-35W bridge collapse.

The Safety Board is concerned that, for at least this bridge, there was a breakdown in the design review procedures that allowed a serious design error to be incorporated into the construction of the I-35W bridge. The bridge was designed with gusset plates that were undersized, and the design firm did not detect the design error when the plans were created. Because of this design error, the riveted gusset plates became the weakest member of this fracture-critical bridge, whereas normally gusset plates are expected to be stronger than the beams they connect. Further, there are few, if any, recalculations after the design stage that would detect design errors in gusset plates. Finally, other programs to ensure the safety of our Nation's bridges, such as the methods used in calculating load ratings and the inspections conducted through the NBIS program, are not designed or expected to uncover original mistakes in gusset plate designs or calculations. (from the Safety Recommendation Letter)


News Release - January 15, 2008

Safety Recommendation Letter - January 15, 2008

Federal Highway Administration - Interim Report - January 11, 2008

Additional resouces are available on the Government Publications Library I-35W Bridge Collapse site.

The final report regarding the bridge collapse is projected to be done by year end.

January 10, 2008

January 10, 2008 - Educational Attainment in the United States

The Census Bureau has recently released new tables regarding Educational Attainment in the United States for 2007. Some highlights include:

* In 2007, 86 percent of all adults 25 and older reported they had completed at least high school and 29 percent at least a bachelor's degree.

* More than half of Asians 25 and older had a bachelor's degree or more (52 percent), compared with 32 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 19 percent of blacks and 13 percent of Hispanics.

* The proportion of the foreign-born population with a bachelor's degree or more was 28 percent, compared with 29 percent of the native population. However, the proportion of naturalized citizens with a college degree was 34 percent.

* Workers 18 and older with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $56,788 in 2006, while those with a high school diploma earned $31,071.

January 8, 2008

January 8, 2008 - Switching to Digital TV

Thinking about the 2009 deadline for TV broadcasting's switch from analog to digital? On February 17, 2009, analog programing disappears and TV stations will broadcast only in digital. Many people, however, are not ready to give up their analog televisions just yet. Enter the digital box converter available at various retail stores across the country.

To help supply consumers with digital box converters, the NTIA launched the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program. All U.S. households will be eligible to request two coupons worth $40 each that they can use to purchase up to two converter boxes. The program began accepting applications on January 1, 2008.

For additional inforamtion visit the government's DTV website or to check out the DTV countdown.

January 3, 2008

January 3, 2008 - The 49th State

Forty-nine years ago today, Alaska became the 49th state in the United States of America. Several resources related this event are available online, but the Government Publications Library has in its collection hearings and reports related to the passing of the Alaska Statehood Act. These documents provide a peek into the process of becoming a state. For instance hearing regarding bills H.R. 331 and S.2036 (Alaska Statehood) discuss agricultural possibilities in Alaska, comparisons of populations to previous territories seeking statehood, statements and memorandums regarding Alaskan Indians, and communications from Alaskan residents, cities governments, and organizations arguing for and against statehood. This document and others can be found in call number area of Y 4.IN 8/13:AL 1/.

Additional Online Resources:

Alaska Statehood Act

Creating Alaska - University of Alaska

Alaska 50 - Alaska Statehood Celebration Commission

January 1, 2008

January 1, 2008 - Popular New Year's Resolutions

From, here is a list of the popular new year's resolutions and links to information to help people keep them, including:

* Lose Weight

* Pay off Debt

* Quit Smoking

* Volunteer to Help Others

December 31, 2007

December 31, 2007 - Career Guide to Industries

With the new year, many Americans might be making new year's resolutions to change jobs. Enter in the Bureau of Labor Statistics recent publication Career Guide to Industries 2008-09. This guide is a companion piece to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The resource is broken down by general industry, then provides information about that industry's occupations, expected job prospects, and earnings and working conditions. Industries include:

* Natural resources, construction, and utilities
* Manufacturing
* Trade
* Transportation
* Information
* Financial activities
* Professional and business services
* Leisure and hospitality
* Government and advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations, and

* Education and health services.


December 28, 2007

December 28, 2007 - 2007 one of 10 warmest in United States

It's hard to remember the whole weather year when Minnesota is in the midst of a winter wonderland. But according to NOAA's Climatic Data Center, 2007 will go down as one of the warmest years in United States recorded climate history.

Some highlights:

* The preliminary annual average temperature for 2007 across the contiguous United States will likely be near 54.3 degrees F - 1.5 degrees F (0.8 degrees C) above the twentieth century average of 52.8 F.

*The warmer-than-average conditions in 2007 influenced residential energy demand in opposing ways, as measured by the nation's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index. Using this index, NOAA scientists determined that the U.S. residential energy demand was about three percent less during the winter and eight percent higher during the summer than what would have occurred under average climate conditions.

* Exceptional warmth in late March was followed by a record cold outbreak from the central Plains to the Southeast in early April. The combination of premature growth from the March warmth and the record-breaking freeze behind it caused more than an estimated $1 billion in losses to crops (agricultural and horticultural).

* A severe heat wave affected large parts of the central and southeastern U.S. in August, setting more than 2,500 new daily record highs.

* Drought and unusual warmth contributed to another extremely active wildfire season. Approximately nine million acres burned through early December, most of it in the contiguous U.S., according to preliminary estimates by the National Interagency Fire Center.

Check out the NOAA website for more information. Preliminary data will be updated in early January to reflect the final three weeks of December and is not considered final until a full analysis is complete next spring.

December 27, 2007

December 27, 2007 - 2008 Statistical Abstract Now Available

The Census Bureau has released the 2008 online version of its best know annual statistical resource, The Statistical Abstract of the United States. The Abstract compiles statistics from across government agencies and groups the information by broad subject. Included topics are agriculture; education; geography & environment; labor force, employment, & earnings; transportation; elections; and health & nutrition. Although the main geographic area covered is the United States, the Statistical
Abstract also includes interntaionl statistics, and foreign commerse & aid. The source for each statistical table is also given so users can find additional information.

Here are just a couple examples of tables found in the Statistical Abstract:

Purchasing Power of the Dollar: 1950 to 2006

Movers by Type of Move and Reason for Moving: 2006

Top 10 U.S. Export Markets for Selected Commodities: 2006

Normal Monthly and Annual Precipitation - Selected Cities

Self-Described Religious Identification of Adult Population: 1990 and 2001

Expenditures Per Consumer Unit for Entertainment and Reading: 1985 to 2005

December 26, 2007

December 26, 2007 - Appropriations Bill signed into Law

Today President Bush signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (originally entitled Making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes) into law.


* The original H.R. 2764 Appropriations Bill

* House Amendments to Senate Amendment to H.R. 2764 - State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008)

* White House News Release

Of interest to Minnesotans, the law provides funding for rebuilding the I35W Bridge ($195 million) and adding the Central Corridor to the Light Rail system ($10.2 million).


December 26, 2007 - The Climate and Carbon Footprints

From the United Nations:

Climate Action is an international communication platform established by Sustainable Development International in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to educate businesses, governments and NGOs as to what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The publication and supporting website will assist institutional investors in analysing and comparing companies that are responding to the business risks and opportunities resulting from global warming.

The Government Publications Library is an United Nations depository.

December 20, 2007

December 21, 2007 - Happy Holidays

Check out some holiday related sites from the Federal Government!

The Holiday Season - US Census Bureau

Holidays the Healthy Way - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Holiday Fire Safety - U.S. Fire Administration

National Christmas Tree Program - National Park Service and the White House

Today in History - Library of Congress

Exclusive interview with Santa - NASA

December 11, 2007

December 11, 2007 - Anniversary of a Pest

On December 11, 1919, the citizens of Enterprise, Alabama erected a monument to the boll weevil, the pest that devastated their fields but forced residents to end their dependence on cotton and to pursue mixed farming and manufacturing. A beetle measuring an average length of six millimeters, the insect entered the United States via Mexico in the 1890s and reached southeastern Alabama in 1915. It remains the most destructive cotton pest in North America.

The Library of Congress has created a page detailing the history of the Boll Weevil and its positive and negative affects on agriculture in the United States, specifically the Southeast. In addition, the Alabama Agriculture Extension Station has published a History of the Boll Weevil in Alabama, 1910-2007. For information on current US Department of Agriculture information, check out the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - Boll Weevil Programs.


December 7, 2007

December 7, 2007 - Funny Documents

Need a Friday laugh? Check out the Library of Congress' online exhibit of cartoons called Cartoon America.

From the Library of Congress web site:

James Arthur Wood, Jr., began collecting original cartoon art as a childhood hobby. Wood worked diligently throughout his professional life as an editorial cartoonist to showcase his collection. He ultimately turned to the Library of Congress to preserve and present his collection to the American people and the world. The Library's Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature contains more than 36,000 original cartoon drawings. The 102 drawings selected for this exhibition reflect Woods primary collecting interests and the vitality of an innovative and evolving art form.


December 6, 2007

December 6, 2007 - Which Minnesota city received the most snow December 1st?

Check out the University of Minnesota - Climatology Working Group web site for the answer to this question and other Minnesota weather information. The Working Group includes the Minnesota State Climatology Office, the University of Minnesota Extension Service Climatology, and the University's St. Paul campus Climatological Observatory. In addition these groups work with various state and federal agencies to provide the most comprehensive and up-to-date weather information.

Here are just a couple of the weather topics highlighted on the site:

Hourly Data from the Last 24 Hours for Minnesota Cities

Hour by Hour data for the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus

Twin Cities Climate Data Statistics

Historic Daily or Monthly Temperature, Precipitation, Snow Data by Target Location

Point-by-Point Agricultural Weather Forecasts

Answer: Grand Marais had the most snow with 20 inches.

December 5, 2007

December 5, 2007 - Updated report on U.S. Forest Service Renewable Resources

"The Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment reports on the status and trends of the Nation’s renewable resources on all forest and rangelands, as required by the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974. Renewable resources evaluated in RPA Assessment reports include fish and wildlife, water, forests, range, wilderness, as well as the ability of those resources to provide outdoor recreation opportunities. Since 1990, the effects of climate change on forest resources have been an additional focus of Assessment research. RPA Assessment results are used by public and private land managers to set a broad-scale context for evaluating future changes in renewable resources."

The Interim Update to the 2000 Resources Planning Act Assessment report is now available. Besides including a link to the report, this page also lists additional statistical resources of forests, land use, timber, and outdoor recreationl.

Information about the National Forests in Minnesota can be found at the Region 9 - Eastern Region web site or visit the National Forest sites: Chippewa and Superior.


December 4, 2007

December 4, 2007 - Census of Agriculture

Farmers in Minnesota and throughout the United States will soon be receiving the 2007 Census of Agriculture questionnaire. Every five years this Census provides "a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and many other areas." Many federal, state, and local governmental agencies, especially the US Department of Agriculture, look to the Census as a way to gauge farmers' needs. In addition Congress uses the information for policy development at the national level.

Data from the 2007 questionnaires will be compiled during 2008 with the results being made public in February 2009. Detailed reports will be available to the county level.

Previous Census of Agriculture are available at the National Agricultural Statistics Service page or by clicking on the links below.

2002 Census
1997 Census
1992 Census
Historical Census (1840 - 1950)


December 3, 2007

December 3, 2007 - Congress back in Session

With Congress back in session for the next three weeks, several pieces of major legislation are on the agenda including:

* Appropriations
* War
* Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
* Terrorist surveillance House version Senate version
* Farm bill
* Energy

Check out the House of Representatives or Senate websites for additional information on debates and votes.

November 26, 2007

November 26, 2007 - Hate Crime Statistics 2006

The FBI has released the 2006 Hate Crime Statistics. This annual report provides information on the types of offenses, victim and offender information, as well as motivation factors. Each hate crime incident includes the following information: offense type, location, bias motivation, victim type, number of individual victims, number of offenders, and the race of the offenders.

Examples of tables found in the report

Offenses Types by State

Motivation by State and Agency (includes cities) - Minnesota

November 21, 2007

November 21, 2007 - Government of Canada Web Archive

Library and Archives Canada has launched the Government of Canada Web Archive. The site is directed towards collecting and preserving a representative sample of Canadian websites with nearly 100 million digital object available at present. Harvesting of sites began two years ago and will be done on a semi-annual basis in the future. Searching of the database is available by keyword, federal department name and by URL.

The Government Publications Library is a Canadian depository and receives print copies of many key Canadian documents. These documents, and e-documents as well, can be found by searching MNCAT.


November 19, 2007

November 19, 2007 - Vehicle Miles Traveled (VTM) Statistics

A recent MPR report looks at the leveling off of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in both Minnesota and across the country. The Bureau of Transporation Statistics and Minnesota Department of Transporation provide several sources of information about transporation trends.

National Transportation Statistics

Minnesota Transportation Profile - 2000

U.S. Vehicle Miles Traveled January 1992 - June 2007

Highway Statistics 2005 - Selective Measurs for Identifying Peer States

Minnesota Department of Transportation - Vehicle Miles Traveled Reports

November 15, 2007

November 15, 2007 - America Recycles Day

In 2005, the United States produced almost 240 million tons of municipal solid waste, approximately 4 ½ pounds of waste per person per day (Source: EPA).

To help Americans find more information about recycling and its benefits, the Environmental Protection Agency is a sponsor of America Recycles Day, "a partnership between government, industry, and environmental organizations to promote and encourage recycling nationwide." The EPA has several sites that provide more information about reducing, reusing, and recycling.

America Recycles Day

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Resource Conservation Challenge

Other resources:

City of Minneapolis Recycling

City of St. Paul Recycling

University of Minnesota Recycling Program

November 14, 2007

November 14, 2007 - Diminished Capacity and Red Meat

How fresh is that red meat in your refrigerator? Yesterday Congress looked into that question when the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held hearings on Diminished Capacity: Can the FDA Assure the Safety and Security of the Nation's Food Supply? – Part IV – Deception in Labeling. The controversy centers around companies using carbon monoxide gas to keep meat looking red longer. The technique was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004, but several groups question its use. Representatives from Minnesota's Cargill and Hormel companies testified as well as staff from the US Department of Agriculture and the FDA and staff from groups S.T.O.P. (Safe Tables Our Priority) and Food & Water Watch.

House Committee on Energy & Commerce
* Witness List
* Statement of David Acheson, FDA, Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection, November 13, 2007
* Testimony (not yet available)

November 13, 2007

November 13, 2007 - Tracking multiracial Census data

An article in today's Minnesota Daily touches on a topic of concern to many researchers who use Census 2000 data for their research needs. In 2000 people filling out the census forms could choose multiple races instead of just one as with previous Census. This allowed for more detailed information on the racial makeup of the United States but has made comparison of data in other reporting systems almost impossible. Most data sources combine mulitracial responses into one catagory of "mulitracial". The article discusses Sociology Professor Carolyn Liebler's research in trying to change this so the nuances of our country's racial breakdown are not lost.

The Census Bureau is looking into these issues as well. Check out:

Questions and Answers for Census 2000 Data on Race

Racial and Ethnic Classifications Used in Census 2000 and Beyond

Race Data

American Factfinder ( is the main source for Census 2000 data, including population counts, race and ancestry, age, sex, household income, and educational attainment. Data can be found for a variety of geographic areas. For example, here are some basic numbers for
Minnesota, Hennepin County, and Minneapolis.

Article: Nordine, Danielle. "University professor explores role of multiracial data." Minnesota Daily, November 13, 2007.

November 12, 2007

November 12, 2007 - Winter Hazard Awareness Week

Join the National Weather Service and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in preparing for the upcoming Winter season through Winter Hazard Awarness Week. Each day this week the agencies will highlight a specific topic:

Monday - Winter Weather Overview
Tuesday - Outdoor Winter Safety
Wednesday - Winter Fire Safety
Thursday - Indoor Air Issues, Insurance
Friday - Winter Car Safety

Check out the current weather conditions at: National Weather Service - Twin Cities or historical data at


November 7, 2007

November 7, 2007 - New United Nations Reports

The following reports have been issued by the United Nations organizations during the last week.

Developing Countries in International Trade 2007: Trade and Development Index

Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly

Giving Girls Today and Tomorrow: Breaking the Cycle of the Adolescent Pregnancy

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Report of the Secretary-General on the UN Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law

Summary Report of the Global Forum on Migration and Development

November 6, 2007

November 6, 2007 - American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

Every year since 1990, the President of the United States has proclaimed November National American Indian Heritage Month.

National American Indian Heritage Month is an opportunity to honor the many contributions of American Indians and Alaska Natives and to recognize the strong and living traditions of the first people to call our land home.

American Indians and Alaska Natives continue to shape our Nation by preserving the heritage of their ancestors and by contributing to the rich diversity that is our country's strength. Their dedicated efforts to honor their proud heritage have helped others gain a deeper understanding of the vibrant and ancient customs of the Native American community. We also express our gratitude to the American Indians and Alaska Natives who serve in our Nation's military and work to extend the blessings of liberty around the world.

Full Presidential Proclamation for 2007


Many government agencies work with American Indians directly, or are celebrating American Indian heritage, such as:

Census Bureau - Demographics on American Indians and Alaska Natives

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Indian Health Service

Library of Congress - Native Americans

National Museum of the American Indian

National Park Service

October 31, 2007

October 31, 2007 - Happy Halloween

Looking for an excuse to wile away the hours till you can raid your kids' trick or treat bags? Try some games like Carving your own Pumpkin, Spooky Word Search, ABC Halloween Quiz, grab those crayons for some Halloween Coloring Pages, or try out some jigsaw puzzles. For those looking for a more stimulating endeavor, listen to a couple ghost stories and you might be seeing Lincoln in that dark corner of your bedroom.


October 30, 2007

October 30, 2007 - 2007 Economic Census Data to be collected

Soon more than 4 million American businesses will be receiving the 2007 Economic Census reporting form. There are over 500 versions of the form, each geared towards a particular industry. The Census Bureau has created a website for the 2007 Economic Census process, where you can find more information about the Census process as well as some general industry snapshots and ratios.

The Economic Census occurs every five years and provides a comprehensive look at business in the United States at all geographic levels, from the nation to local cities, and by industry sector. Check out the 2002 Economic Census to see the types of information the Census collects.


October 23, 2007

October 23, 2007 - Cabinet Level Blogs

Looking for a new way to find out what happens at the Cabinet level of Bush's administration? Check out Secretaries Mike Leavitt's (Health & Human Services) and Michael Chertoff's (Homeland Security) blogs. Both focus on current issues within the department as well as discussing comments and criticism in the popular press.

Secretary Mike Leavitt

Recent postings:

* Strategic National Stockpiles
* Gates Malaria Forum
* SCHIP Response

Secretary Michael Chertoff

Recent postings:

* Securing the Border While Protecting the Environment
* Preventing IED Attacks
* The Battle for Our Future

October 19, 2007

October 19, 2007 - Getting ready for cold and flu season

Today's meeting of the Nonprescription Drug Advisory Committee and their recommendation that cough medicine containing decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines or antitussives not be given to children under the age of six brings to mind the upcoming winter season and the infections normally associated with it: colds and flus.

Several governmental agencies provide information about treating and preventing these common cold weather maladies.

Federal Drug Adminitration - What to do for Colds and Flus

Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Human Parainfluenza Viruses (Common cold and croup)

FDA - Flu Information

Health and Human Services - Seasonal Flu Page

CDC - Flu Activity and Surveillance

2007-08 Influenza Prevention & Control Recommendations

Additional resources:

The Nonprescription Drug Advisory Committee meeting's briefing information is available here.

October 15, 2007

October 15, 2007 - Equine Resources

Today the University of Minnesota will celebrate the opening of the Louise and Doug Leatherdale Equine Center, a state of the art center for equine education, research and care. The Center is located on the St. Paul campus.

The federal government has an interest in horses as well through the:

US Dept of Agriculture - National Animal Health Monitoring System - Equine Studies

Bureau of Land Management - National Wild Horse and Burro Program

US Dept of Agriculture - Animal Welfare Information Center - Information Resources on the Care and Welfare of Horses

Horse Protection Act of 1970 with amendments

Other federal documents related to horses can be found in the Government Publications Library.


Additional resources:

University of Minnesota Extension Service - Horses

October 12, 2007

October 12, 2007 - Nobel Peace Prize to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Former Vice President Al Gore

Most Americans know Al Gore as Vice President during the 90's, from the 2000 Presidential Election, and his award-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Add to that list the Nobel Peace Prize.

Also awarded the Nobel this year is the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Established in 1988 by the Wolrd Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the "role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation."

The IPCC does not do research itself, but bases its reports on peer reviewed scientific and technical literature. Some of the groups recent reports include:

* The Physical Sciences Basis of Climate Change
* Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
* Migration of Climate Change - Fourth Assessment Report

October 10, 2007

October 10, 2007 - Federal Government Expenditures to States

"The Consolidated Federal Funds Report (CFFR) is a presentation of data on federal government expenditures or obligations in state, county, and subcounty areas of the United States, including the District of Columbia and U.S.
Outlying Areas. CFFR contains statistics on the geographic distribution of federal program expenditures, using data
submitted by federal departments and agencies."

Consolidated Federal Funds Report for Fiscal Year 2005 (State and County Areas)

Federal Aid to States for Fiscal Year 2005

October 9, 2007

October 9, 2007 - Minnesota Moose Hunt

Moose hunting season runs from September 29th to October 14th this year. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Moose Hunt site provides current season information as well as historical data.

"The moose is Minnesota's largest wild animal, and Minnesota is one of the few states that have moose. The largest member of the deer family, the moose is commonly found in northwestern and northeastern Minnesota, often near the edge of ponds or lakes. A large moose may weigh 1,300 pounds. Its antlers sometimes measure five feet across and weigh up to 40 pounds."

Moose Hunt Archives

Minnesota's Moose Mystery - 1995 Report

October 8, 2007

October 8, 2007 - Columbus Day

Each year the President of the United States proclaims the second Monday of October Columbus Day which celebrates the October 12, 1492 arrival of Columbus in the Americas. Last week President Bush declared today Columbus Day 2007.


October 7, 2007

October 7, 2007 - Out of this World

With all the recent rainy, cloudy nights, have you been missing the starry skies? If so check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA. From page: "Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer."

This photo is from May 17th and shows the Milky Way.


October 6, 2007

October 6, 2007 - Zebra Mussels

An article from the Star Tribune yesterday focused on the discovery of Zebra mussels in three lakes that are part of the St. Paul drinking water system. This invasive species, while not toxic, is know for disrupting fresh water ecosystems and clogging water supply pipes. The mussel is native to the Black, Caspian, and Azov Seas in Russia and are believed to be introduced to the Great Lakes by a cargo ship. According to the USGS, they "are established in all the Great Lakes, most of the large navigable rivers in the eastern United States and in many inland lakes in the Great Lakes region."


Minnesota DNR - Zebra Mussel page

USGS - Zebra and Quagga Mussel Page

National Invasive Species Information Center

October 3, 2007

October 3, 2007 - August Airline On-time Performance Report available

Today the Bureau of Transportation Statistics released its most recent Airline On-time Performance Report covering August 2007. "...The 20 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 71.7 percent in August, down from August 2006's 75.8 record but an improvement over July 2007's 69.8 percent."

The report also looks at customer complaints which rose 89 percent from last August (1,634 compared to 864).

Photo Source: Federal Aviation Administration

September 29, 2007

September 29, 2007 - National Security Letter Reform Act

The use of National Security Letters (NSL) has been around since 1978, but the topic has received renewed interest since the passing of the PATRIOT Act shortly after the September 11th attacks. Issued by the FBI and other government agencies, the leter requires organizations to turn over records and data pertaining to individuals with no probable cause or judicial oversight. In addition those service with NSLs are under a gag order and risk criminal charges if they talk.

Over the past couple years, opponents of the NSLs believe the federal government is overusing the letters to collect information without oversight, while proponents believe in the need for larger latitude in their use due to the current war on terror. The National Security Letter (NSL) Reform Act of 2007 seeks to establish reasonable procedural protections for the use of national security letters.

Additional Resource:

Federal Bureau of Investigation - FAQ National Security Letters

September 28, 2007

September 28, 2007 - Largest Corn Crop ever Forecasted

2007 is set to produce the largest corn crop in United States History with current forecasts at 13.3 billion bushels. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service's Crop Production September 12th numbers, production is expected to average 155.8 bushels per acre. This number is second only to the 2004 average. The Crop Production website includes historical data back to the 1960's as well as forecasts for other crops.

Source: USDA

September 27, 2007

September 27, 2007 - New Census Data Released

"New data released today from the U.S. Census Bureau provide the first social and economic characteristic profiles of the people living in group quarters - such as adult correctional facilities, college dorms and nursing homes - in nearly three decades."

In addition the most recent American Community Survey data includes profiles of more than 100 race and ethnic groups as well as over 70 ancestry groups.


Census Bureau News Release

2006 American Community Survey

September 26, 2007

September 26, 2007 - Nations Report Card

The National Assessment of Educational Progress has released its 2007 National Report Card results for mathematics and reading. The reports measure student achievement at grades 4 and 8 for all schools for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and for Department of Defense schools (domestic and overseas).

Results for Minnesota:
Math (4th grade): 5th
Math (8th grade): 3rd

Reading (4th grade): 14th
Reading (8th grade): 12th

national report card.jpg
Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress

September 21, 2007

September 21, 2007 - Library of Congress Today in History

Being up here in the wintery North, many peole forget that the American Southwest was colonized over 400 years ago. On September 21, 1596, Spain appointed Juan de Onate governor of the colony of New Mexico. Onate's main reason for wanting the position was to find the famed Seven Cities of Gold rumored to exist in the desert by present day Santa Fe.

Check out the Library of Congress Today in History page to learn more about Onate and the history of New Mexico, including Billy the Kid, the Gadsden Purchase, and the Pueblo culture.

santa fe.gif
Photo Source: Library of Congress -

September 21, 2007 - International Day of Peace

"The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations as an annual observance of global non-violence and ceasefire. Every year, people in all parts of the world honour peace in various ways on 21 September.

This year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will ring the Peace Bell at United Nations Headquarters in New York in the company of the UN Messengers of Peace. He has called for a 24-hour cessation of hostilities on 21 September, and for a minute of silence to be observed around the world at noon local time."

September 20, 2007

September 20, 2007 - Highway Bridges in the United States - an Overview

Bureau of Transportation (BTS) Special Report. September 2007. SR-003.
Highway Bridges in the United States - an Overview

Bridges are an integral part of the U.S. highway network, providing links across natural barriers, passage over railroads and highways, and freeway connections. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) maintains a database of our nation's highway bridges—the National Bridge Inventory (NBI)—with detailed information on all public road bridges greater than 20 feet. This special report gives a brief synopsis of that inventory, including bridge condition and the resources spent for maintenance and upgrades.

September 20, 2007 - United Nations Annual Report

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has released his report on the Work of the Organization. The report outlines the past year's work in several areas such as world development, peace & security, human rights, global constituencies, and UN organizational changes.

September 19, 2007

September 19, 2007 - New Government Accountability Office Report on Department of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security: Progress Report on Implementation of Mission and Management Functions.
GAO-07-1240T, September 18, 2007.

"The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) recent 4-year anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress DHS has made. The creation of DHS was one of the largest federal reorganizations in the last several decades, and GAO has reported that it was an enormous management challenge and that the size, complexity, and importance of the effort made the challenge especially daunting and critical to the nation's security. Our prior work on mergers and acquisitions has found that successful transformations of large organizations, even those faced with less strenuous reorganizations than DHS, can take at least 5 to 7 years to achieve. This testimony is based on our August 2007 report evaluating DHS's progress since March 2003. Specifically, it addresses DHS's progress across 14 mission and management areas and key themes that have affected DHS's implementation efforts."

September 17, 2007

September 17, 2007 - We the people......

Join the Government Publications Library in celebrating Constitution Day and the 100th anniversary of the Library's federal depository status!

Monday, September 17, 2007
5:30 pm
Wilson Library, 4th floor

Presentation by Professor Lawrence Jacobs
From the Presidential Archives: The Story of Private Polling and its implications for American Democracy


More Information is available at:

September 16, 2007

2007 - Longest flying Flag

The US flag has been the most prominent symbol of the United States since 1777 when its design is mentioned in the Second session of the Continental Congress. The 48 star flag was the official flag from June 24, 1912 to August 21, 1959 till the current 50 star version took its place. This year the 50 star flag takes over as the longest flying flag in American History.

Our Flag


September 15, 2007

2006 - Immigration Reform

The year 2006 saw three immigration reform bills make their way through the House or Senate.

* Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005

* Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006

* Securing America's Borders Act

Key issues included additional Border Patrol agents, new border security technology & infrostructure, temporary worker programs, more accountability by employers, ID cards, mandatory English lessons, citizenship for illigal immigrants who have established themselves in this country, and honoring the tradition of America's melting pot. Across the United States, there were rallies and protests from groups on both sides of the issue.

In the end the session ended before any of the bills went to committee.

border patrol.jpg

Additional resources:

White House - Immigration in Focus

September 14, 2007

2005 - The answer: most active season in history

The question: what is the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Several records were broken that year including most storms in a season (28), most storms that became hurricanes (15), and most catagory 5 hurricanes (4). The most remembered is Hurricane Katrina that hit the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts and whose storm surge caused massive flooding in New Orleans.

Additional resources:

NOAA Hurricane Page

National Hurricane Center


September 13, 2007

2004 - Tsunami

The earthquake occurred at sea, of the western coast of Northern Sumatra, but the subsequent tsunami affected the countries all around the Indian Ocean, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and even as far as the coastal countries of Eastern Africa. For many there was no hint of the incoming disaster until the waves hit the coastline. Nearly 230,000 people were lost, either confirmed dead or still missing, and the 2004 tsunami has been labeled as the worst recorded natural disaster in terms of lives lost.



Tsunami page from the US Geological Survey

Kyoto (Japan) University's Disaster Prevention Research Institute

September 12, 2007

2003 - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

While 2003 is best remembered for the Invasion of Iraq and the capture of Saddam Hussein, it was also a year that showed how globally connected the world had become. SARS is a viral respiratory illness cased by a coronavirus transmitted by coughing or sneezes of an infected person, or by touching a contaminated surface then touching the mouth, nose or eye region of the face. First diagnosed in February 2003, the illness spread to two dozen countries on four continents in a few months.

Why did the disease spread so fast? Early cases of SARS occurred in China; however, the country was slow to notify the World Health Organization. As individuals unknowingly infected with the virus traveled out of the country, the illness spread to other cities, including Toronto, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Singapore. In all over 8,000 known cases were reported with 774 deaths.

Additional resource: CDC Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) page


September 11, 2007

2002 - Yucca Mountain

For years scientists have worked to figure out the best way to dispose of the radioactive waste and spent nuclear reactor fuel cells, and most agree that an underground facility is the best choice. During the 1980's several sites were looked at but by 1987 and the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, energies were being focused on Yucca Mountain, located in the desert of Nevada. The act made the Department of Energy responsible for finding a site and building and operating an underground waste disposal facility.

On July 23, 2002, President Bush signed House Joint Resolution 87 which allowed the Energy to take the next steps in establishing a safe repository, including preparing an application to obtain a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to begin construction. The anticipated opening date of the Yucca Mountain Repository is March 31, 2017. Currently there are 131 temporary nuclear waste sites in 39 states.


September 10, 2007

2001 - The War on Terror

Many people still remember where they were when news of President Kennedy's assassination reached them. The same is true of the September 11th attacks. In a few short months after President Bush declared a war on terror, the Department of Homeland Security was created to coordinate federal response and protection, the USA PATRIOT Act was passed to deter terrorist attacks and strengthen law enforcement investigation tools, and President Bush signed an executive order allowing military tribunals against any foreigners suspected of connections to US terrorist attacks.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission) was created in 2002 and charged with the duty to "prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The Commission is also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks." Their report was released two years later.


March 8, 2007

Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS)

Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) is the official record of the United States' foreign policy. The Department of State has published FRUS since 1861. FRUS can be found in the libraries for 1870-1931 and 1932-present. You can find online versions for 1861-1960 at University of Wisconsin Digital Collections and for 1952-present at the Department of State.