Dow down - the bigger picture

In light of the Dow's "biggest loss since '03" yesterday (Washington Post, Feb. 28), the release of testimony today on economic volatility by Peter R. Orszag, Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is timely. His testimony covers macroeconomic volatility; workers' earnings and households' income; and risk sharing, income fluctuations, and taxation. Orszag's conclusion:
The U.S. economy has become less volatile: Macroeconomic fluctuations are now much milder than they were in the past. At the same time, however, households continue to experience substantial variability in their earnings and income, and that variability may now be greater than in the past--perhaps contributing to anxiety among workers and families. The tax system can help to smooth fluctuations in income not only at the macroeconomic level but also at the level of workers and households. The income insurance provided as a result may be quite valuable but needs to be weighed against the other effects of the tax system.

Economic Volatility (pdf, 15pp/120kB), Feb. 28, 2007

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Capitol biographies

One of the Library's most valued resources is its newspaper clippings file comprised of articles from the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star Bulletin, covering about 1000 subjects. Some files date back to the 1970s.

The Library has just completed a helpful ancillary resource, a biographies file on Hawaii legislators, governors, and members of Congress, with relevant articles copied from the clippings file. (There are some articles from the 1960s when the Library kept folders of articles on legislators.) Totalling approximately 450 individuals, the files range alphabetically from Senator Kazuhisa Abe (Senate 1953-1966, Senate President 1965-66) to Senator Patsy Young (House 1972-1974, Senate 1975-1988). Currently the officials with the longest span of articles appear to be Senator Daniel Inouye (House 1955-58, Senate 1959, U.S. House 1959-1963, U.S. Senate 1963- ) and Governor Benjamin Cayetano (House 1975-1978, Senate 1979-1986, Lt. Governor 1986-1994, Governor 1994-2002). Articles will continue to be added to a person's file even after he or she leaves office.

The files are conveniently located in a cabinet by the reference desk, and a binder with a list of all names is available.

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Safe Schools in Congress

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA), Title IV, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), was amended and reauthorized through FY2007 by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) (P.L. 107-110). The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued a report on possible actions the 110th Congress may take regarding reauthorization of SDFSCA.

According to the report, NCLB authorizes funding for the SDFSA program, "which is the federal government's major initiative to prevent drug abuse and violence in and around schools." Grants are awarded to state and local educational agencies and to governors. Governors receive 20% of a state allotment to award grants and contracts to public and private entities.

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act: Reauthorization and Appropriations, CRS Report RL33870 (pdf, 16pp/120kB, from Open CRS), Feb. 8, 2007

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A risky age

Operating under the National Research Council (NRC) and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the Board on Children, Youth, and Families (BOCYF),
addresses a variety of policy-relevant issues related to the health and development of children, youth, and families. It does so by convening experts to weigh in on matters from the perspective of the behavioral, social, and health sciences.
BOCYF recently published their workshop report dealing with reducing teen-driver crashes.

Calling teen crashes "a critical public health problem," the workshop found teen-driver crashes to be the leading cause of death in the 16 to 20 year age group, and that two thirds of all deaths in such crashes are other than teens. "Knowledge about how and why teen motor vehicle crashes happen is the key to developing countermeasures to reduce their number."

The panel explored three areas addressing this issue:
  1. How do theories and evidence from the behavioral, cognitive, social, health, and biological sciences inform understanding of both the risk factors that increase and the protective factors that reduce such crashes?
  2. How can theories and evidence inform prevention, program, and policy interventions to reduce risky teen driving?
  3. What research and interventions are most likely to advance teen motor vehicle safety over the short and the long term?

Preventing Teen Motor Crashes: Contributions from the Behavioral and Social Sciences: Workshop Report
(2007, Open Book, 76pp)

The May 15-16, 2006 Workshop is also available as both audio webcast and pdf presentations from BOCYF.



Genetic testing - some background

In a recent report, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) noted that several bills relating to genetic and genomic technology and testing were introduced in the 109th Congress. Although none passed, "they signal the growing importance of the public policy issues surrounding the clinical and public health implications of new genetic technology." In its report, CRS summarizes fundamental concepts in genetics and provides an overview of genetic tests and key policy issues.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulate genetic tests through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988 (P.L. 100-578). CRS emphasizes that CLIA regulates the analytical validity of genetic tests but not their clinical validity and thus is subject to criticism that it "does not go far enough to assure the accuracy of genetic tests."

Genetic Testing: Scientific Background for Policymakers, CRS Report RL33832 (pdf, 13pp/108kB, from Open CRS), January 26, 2007

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