Government employees are off for the weekend, so it’s a good time to check out what they were up to last week.
While the MSM focuses on Congress—as they should—they often miss the low-drama activities in the Executive Branch. But legislative work isn’t the only game in town. The Un(der)reported News Weekend Edition presents a few stories from our executive agencies for some perspective on this administration’s projects and priorities.
NOAA: North American 2008 Cooling Attributed to Natural Causes
Cooler North American temperatures in 2008 resulted from a strong natural effect, and the overall warming trend that has been observed since 1970 is likely to resume, according to university and NOAA scientists. “Our work shows that there can be cold periods, but that does not mean the end of global warming. The recent coolness was caused by transitory natural factors that temporarily masked the human-caused signal,” said Judith Perlwitz, lead author of the study and a researcher with the Cooperative Institute for Research Environmental Sciences, and NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.
MORE FOOD AVAILABLE AT LOCAL FOOD BANKS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY
RICHMOND, Calif., Dec. 4, 2009 – People here and across the country who find that they need to rely on local food banks to help feed their families are now finding more food on the shelves because of money provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). ARRA provided an additional $100 million to purchase foods and $50 million to assist food banks with administrative costs for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) at USDA.
Bright Future on Horizon for Port Umm Qasr
Today, port operations are more secure than they were just two years ago when Shiite extremists controlled much of the area. Quelled by Iraqi forces, the city of Basra is now peaceful. The task force, which includes the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, is charged with aiding in Iraq’s reconstruction. Part of that collaboration includes devising a plan to make Umm Qasr more attractive to potential international trade partners.
Fort Hood Unit Deploys to Afghanistan
An Army Reserve unit that had soldiers both killed and wounded during the Nov. 5 shooting here deployed as scheduled to Afghanistan early this morning.
Maj. Laura Suttinger, commander of the 467th Medical Detachment, said the unit’s soldiers are more dedicated than ever to the mission.
Toy Giveaway Benefits Military Families
Operation Homefront, a troop-support organization, invited spouses of deployed servicemembers to shop for free today in six make-shift toy stores stocked with toys and books donated by Wal-Mart and set up in locations near military installations throughout the country, said Jim Knotts, Operation Homefront chief executive officer.
U.S. Education Secretary Duncan and Attorney General Holder Meet with Youth Leaders and Their Parents to Discuss Teen Dating Violence
As part of the Justice Department’s year-long commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder met today with teen leaders, their parents and program directors from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships. The discussion around teen dating violence was held in conjunction with nationwide events as part of the sixth It’s Time to Talk Day, organized annually by Liz Claiborne Inc. to draw national attention to the importance of talking about domestic violence, teen dating violence and intimate partner abuse.
Voting Begins on “I Am What I Learn” Video Contest
Since September 21, hundreds of students across the country have responded to the President’s call to take greater responsibility for their education by creating videos explaining why education is important to their future. In less than two months, students submitted more than 600 video entries to the “I Am What I Learn” video contest, hosted by the U.S. Department of Education and YouTube. In their entries, students talked about their personal goals and the role education plays in meeting them. The submissions came from students with diverse economic, social and ethnic backgrounds, and the content ranged from music videos to short skits. The common theme in all of these videos is that education is the key to their success.
Secretary Chu Announces $3 Billion Investment for Carbon Capture and Sequestration
US Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today the selection of three new projects with a value of $3.18 billion to accelerate the development of advanced coal technologies with carbon capture and storage at commercial-scale. Secretary Chu made today’s announcement on a conference call with Governor Joe Manchin, Senator Jay Rockefeller, and President of American Electric Power Company, Inc., Mike Morris. These projects will help to enable commercial deployment to ensure the United States has clean, reliable, and affordable electricity and power. An investment of up to $979 million, including funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will be leveraged by more than $2.2 billion in private capital cost share as part of the third round of the Department’s Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI).
Fact Sheet: New CBO Analysis Confirms Benefits of Health Insurance Reform for Businesses
A new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) affirms that businesses’ health insurance costs will be lower under health insurance reform — even though the analysis does not take into account the full range of policies that will benefit businesses.
Deputy Attorney General David Ogden to Leave Department of Justice
Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden announced today that he will leave the Department on February 5, 2010 to return to private practice. Prior to joining the Department as Deputy Attorney General in March, Ogden chaired the Obama Administration’s transition team for the Department of Justice.
Army Officer, Wife and Relatives Sentenced in Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme Related to DOD Contracts in Support of Iraq War
A former U.S. Army contracting officer, his wife, his sister and his niece were sentenced today for their participation in a bribery and money laundering scheme related to bribes paid for contracts awarded in support of the Iraq war, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division Christine A. Varney. All four defendants were sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division by Judge Royal Furgeson.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE WEEKLY CLAIMS REPORT
In the week ending Nov. 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 457,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 462,000. The 4-week moving average was 481,250, a decrease of 14,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 495,500.
Employment Situation Summary
The unemployment rate edged down to 10.0 percent in November, and nonfarm
payroll employment was essentially unchanged (-11,000), the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics reported today. In the prior 3 months, payroll job losses
had averaged 135,000 a month. In November, employment fell in construction,
manufacturing, and information, while temporary help services and health care
Secretary Clinton Records Two Videos To Reach Afghan and Pakistani Audiences
Secretary Clinton taped two messages this week to reach the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan to echo the themes and messages from President Obama’s speech at West Point.
Secretary Clinton’s video messages are available via the internet and mobile technology, in Arabic, Dari, English, Pashto, and Urdu.
Secretary Salazar to Highlight Climate Change Agenda at Pelican Island, Nation’s First National Wildlife Refuge
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will visit Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge near Vero Beach, Florida, on Saturday, December 5, 2009, to highlight the threat posed by accelerating climate change to the refuge and wildlife habitat across the nation. Secretary Salazar will dedicate a new section of the Refuge’s Centennial Trail and tour the refuge via a guided kayak tour that is open to the media. Pelican Island was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 as the nation’s first National Wildlife Refuge, anchoring what has become the world’s preeminent network of protected areas for wildlife. Now, the Refuge and many others like it are threatened by rising sea levels and temperatures.
More Than 30 Companies Commit To Establish or Expand Manufacturing Operations in the United States
Noting the need to create good jobs in America and the importance of a revitalized manufacturing sector, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that more than 30 rail manufacturers and suppliers, both domestic and foreign, have committed to establish or expand their base of operations in the United States if they are chosen by states or groups of states to build America’s next generation high-speed rail lines. Earlier this year President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which included $8 billion for states to build high-speed rail corridors and improve intercity passenger rail service.
High-speed rail to be a US job-growth engine
America is excited about the Obama Administration’s goal to develop a national high-speed rail network.
But, more than just moving passengers and goods more efficiently, high-speed rail will also be an engine for job growth in the US.
VA To Survey Veteran Households
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched a national survey of Veterans, active duty service members, activated National Guard and reserve members, and family members and survivors to learn if they are aware of VA services.
“By hearing directly from Veterans and their family members, we gain valuable information to help us serve them better. We hope those who receive the survey will respond to it,” Secretary Shinseki said.