Tag Archives: federal

West Coast Great White Sharks are endangered – population around 340

A group of environmentalists have petitioned the federal government to put West Coast Great White Sharks as an endangered species. From an L.A. Times article:

The northeastern Pacific Ocean population of great whites is genetically distinct and in danger of extinction, according to the petition. Researchers have estimated that there are about 340 individuals in the group that are mature or nearly so.

“There could be fewer than 100 breeding females left,” said Geoff Shester, the California program director of Oceana, an international group focused on protecting the world’s oceans.

 

Wow, just a few hundred of these guys out there. Even though the ocean is a huge place, that small number would probably still inspire enormous fear in people, despite the extreme rarity of shark attacks.

 

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Financial aid per student has grown 37% (or $5,000) over the past decade

An interesting graphic from NPR’s Planet Money series on the cost of college. That’s a 37% increase in financial aid per student since the 2000-2001 school year. The increase is largely paid for by more federal loans, with smaller contributions from federal grants and private loans. Everything else seems unchanged.

 

Reforms in foster care showing good results – children in foster care drops for 6th straight year

The number of U.S. children in foster care has dropped for the sixth straight year, falling to about 400,000 compared to more than 520,000 a decade ago, according to new federal figures demonstrating the staying power of reforms even amid economic turbulence.

The drop results primarily from a shift in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many have shortened stays in foster care, expedited adoptions and expanded preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed from home in the first place.

The average length of stay in foster care has been reduced by more than 10 percent since 2002, according to the report. The mean stay is now 23.7 months.

Of the children in foster care as of Sept. 30, 52 percent were boys. Twenty-one percent were Hispanic, 27 percent black and 41 percent white; 104,236 of them were available for adoption.

 

Source: The Washington Post - Number of children in foster care drops for 6th straight year, to 400,000, despite hard times

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Learn more about the Affordable Care Act – summary of Medicaid expansion and costs

Medicaid is the largest health insurance program in the United States.  Presently, Medicaid provides health and long-term care coverage to 59 million individuals.

Under the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), Medicaid is set to expand its eligibility for coverage to include persons with income levels at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Best estimates place the increase in additional enrollees at 16 million to 18 million.

The purpose behind the expansion of Medicaid under the PPACA is to reduce the number of uninsured in the U.S., an estimated 46 million.  Using analyses provided during the debate leading up to passage of the PPACA, 32 million of the 46 million will gain access to insurance under the new law, half of which will do so via Medicaid.

Assuming a somewhat equal replacement trend (those that fall off Medicaid due to death or change in economic status are replaced by approximately the same number of new eligible enrollees) over the phase-in period set for Medicaid expansion (by 2014), Medicaid will ultimately cover nearly 70 million people.  Per the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of expansion between 2010 and 2019 to the federal government is $434 billion with an additional $20 billion allocable as states’ costs.

 

ViaHealth Reform and Medicaid Expansion

 

 

With an additional 16-18 million people on Medicaid, cost becomes a big issue. Estimates have the total cost of the whole bill (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) at $828 billion. Take away from that $575 billion in savings from Medicare, and a bevy of new taxes.

Including higher taxes for those making more than $200K, taxes on luxury medical plans, on drugs, on high-cost medical equipment, on indoor tanning salons, and an annual fee to all insurance providers.

Added all together and the Congressional Budget Office estimates a reduction in the Federal Budget deficit, meaning that the PPACA and its increased Medicaid coverage pays for itself and saves money.

Of course, these are all estimates and subject to endless debate.

 

Source: Estimated Financial Effects of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” as Amended (pdf)

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July 1 is the national day of Canada – Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act, 1867 (today called the Constitution Act, 1867, in Canada), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire.

Frequently referred to as “Canada’s birthday”, particularly in the popular press, the occasion marks the joining of the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867. Canada became a kingdom in its own right on that date, but the British Parliament kept limited rights of political control over the new country that were shed by stages over the years until the last vestiges were surrendered in 1982 when the Constitution Act patriated the Canadian constitution.

Most communities across the country will host organized celebrations for Canada Day, usually outdoor public events, such as parades, carnivals, festivals, barbecues, air and maritime shows, fireworks, and free musical concerts, as well as citizenship ceremonies for new citizens.

ViaWikipedia

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Yellowstone – new government petascale supercomputer – to attack chaos theory in climate change

This month, on a barren Wyoming landscape dotted with gopher holes and hay bales, the federal government is assembling a supercomputer 10 years in the making, one of the fastest computers ever built and the largest ever devoted to the study of atmospheric science.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research’s supercomputer has been dubbed Yellowstone, after the nearby national park, but it could have been named Nerdvana. The machine will have 100 racks of servers and 72,000 core processors, so many parts that they must be delivered in the back of a 747. Yellowstone will be capable of performing 1.5 quadrillion calculations — a quadrillion is a 1 followed by 15 zeros — every second.

The sheer speed of Yellowstone is designed to burst through the limits of chaos theory — the difference, allegorically, between predicting the odds of blackjack after playing five hands versus playing a million. The machine is expected to give scientists a clearer image of the state of the planet, and its future, revolutionizing the study of climate change, extreme weather events, wildfires, air pollution and more.

 

learn moreL.A. Times – New Wyoming supercomputer expected to boost atmospheric science

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California’s budget troubles – say hello to billions in tax revenue from Facebook’s IPO

California is hoping for another Google-effect like the one that happened in 2005, after the company’s IPO. From 2004 to 2005 the revenue from capital gains taxes in California shot up $14 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg, whose initial public stock offering in two weeks could value the company at $96 billion, will cut in the state for an estimated $189 million in cash, according to calculations from PrivCo, which researches private companies.

The federal government will be in the money too, collecting an estimated $714 million in federal income tax from Zuckerberg.

And that’s just the payout from Zuckerberg. The windfall for California from the rest of the IPO could net California hundreds of millions more.

…the IPO could pump nearly $2.5 billion into state coffers over the next five years.

via LA Times

 

// Photo - Håkan Dahlström

Congress orders FAA to integrate drones into the U.S. aviation system

As the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration prepares to let civilian unmanned aircraft operate in domestic airspace, universities including Embry-Riddle have created majors in flying and building drones. Enrollment is accelerating as students look for new opportunities in an aviation job market pummeled by airline bankruptcies.

The drone industry, estimated worldwide at $5.9 billion annually, will expand to $11.3 billion by 2021.

During the past 10 years, drones have become a vital military tool in Iraq and Afghanistan, creating a platform to attack terrorists without risking pilots’ lives and giving ground troops a chance to see their opponents from the air.

Congress passed bills in December and February that ordered the FAA to create six test sites for flying unmanned aircraft alongside regular planes. The agency must also complete a plan for integrating unmanned flights into the aviation system by Sept. 30, 2015.

Unmanned aircraft could be used for photography, police surveillance and monitoring pipelines and power lines. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has special permission to use drones.

more at - Bloomberg

 

Here are a selection of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), used by the military. I suspect the first to be employed privately will be the helicopters for police surveillance.

A BQM-74E aerial drone is launched from the guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43) during a live-fire exercise.
Global Hawk Drone.
First flown in 2002, the Boeing X-45A was the first modern UAV designed specifically for combat strike missions. The stealthy, swept-wing jet has fully retractable landing gear and a composite, fiber-reinforced epoxy skin. Its fuselage houses two internal weapons bays.
The U.S. Navy's Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) launches into its flight test program.
A Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is being attended to by three soldiers at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan.
A Northrop Grumman RQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Take-Off and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) System.

 

// Photos – An Honorable German, Rennett Stowe, Cliff1066, Marion Doss, US Army Africa, & Marion Doss

// Thx to Kosso K

Netflix goes to Washington D.C. – forms PAC

In yet another move to boost its Washington profile, Netflix has formed a political action committee (PAC), new federal records indicate.

Called FLIXPAC, the committee may now make contributions donations directly to federal candidates — up to $5,000 per election.

And it provides Netflix with another political tool with which to aggressively press a pro-intellectual property, anti-video piracy agenda — an effort it began in earnest in 2010, when the company began heavily investing in federal lobbying efforts.

In 2009, for example, Netflix spent just $20,000 on federal lobbying, congressional records show. But that figure grew to $130,000 in 2010 and $500,000 in 2011.

via Politico

 

// Photo via Mr. Thomas

Canadian penny is going away – cost 1.6 cents to produce

In April 2012, the Canadian government will begin phasing out the Canadian penny. It was left out of the latest budget because it just didn’t make financial sense to keep it going.

“The penny is a currency without any currency”

The Canadian penny now costs Canada 1.6 cents to produce. The government says it loses $11 million each year making and distributing pennies.

How Canada actually goes about doing away with its own penny may prove to be a model for the U.S.

In April, Canada will mint its final penny, and a few months later, it will halt all distribution of pennies to the country’s financial institutions as it attempts to withdraw them from circulation.

As for how Canadian businesses and consumers deal with a world without pennies, that’s largely up to them. The government is suggesting that they either round up or down to the nearest five cents. For those who use debit or credit cards, prices will still be charged to the cent.

via Moneyland

 

Oh and by the way:

The U.S. penny costs an incredible 2.4 cents to make (and the nickel, by the way, costs 11.2 cents).

 

Thx to Scott Beale - Photo via Kasia