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John F. Kennedy Presidential Resources

portrait_jfkThe 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the 35th U.S. President, is November 22, 1963.  To commemorate this anniversary, I’d like to highlight some important government documents and research resources related to President Kennedy.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (one of 13 Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration) is located in Boston, Massachusetts and its website can be found at http://www.jfklibrary.org/.  The museum is open to the public for tours and, according to the website, “Students and scholars can also arrange to conduct research using our collection of historical materials chronicling mid-20th century politics and the life and administration of John F. Kennedy.”  The website features the following information and resources: biographical information on John F. and Jacqueline B. Kennedy and the Kennedy family; Historic speeches; Historical context; Media Gallery; Interactive Exhibits; Information on research collections and holdings, finding aids and research guides; and Educational Resources for Teachers and Students.

The Government Printing Office (GPO) recently published the official, digital version of the Warren Commission Report on the agency’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).  “The commission Full Story »

We Want a Death Star!

The White House has created a means by which the American people can voice their concerns on any range of issues and urge POTUS to take action.  “We the People” is the site where you can create a petition or browse and sign other petitions.

According to the How & Why, “If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.”

I wonder what the official response might be to the petition urging construction of a Death Star.

As of this posting, the Death Star petition has received over 1,400 signatures.  This petition suggests that “[b]y focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.”

Check out some of the other pending petitions, which include the following:

The Politics of Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities have been a cause of anxiety for governments, businesses, and individuals for over a decade. With an estimated 85 to 90 percent of the nation’s computer networks owned and managed by the private sector, resolving this concern has become an issue of upmost importance for Congress. In the first session of the 112th Congress alone, more than 40 bills, resolutions with provisions, and revisions to current laws were proposed. Despite this focused attention, however, none have yet become a law. This impasse occurs despite all parties concerned agreeing that action is needed because there is “disagreement over the role of federal regulations in defending privately owned computer networks, concerns about the privacy and civil liberties ramifications of any bills, and even election year politics.”

If you are interested in researching cybersecurity, I recommend that you first turn to the CRS report,  “Cybersecurity: Authoritative Reports and Resources” (also available at Open CRS).  This is an excellent source that identifies relevant legislation, hearings from the 112th Congress, news stories, Executive Orders and Presidential Directives, data and statistics, and reports from both Congressional Research Service and other organizations. To find the full text of these documents there are a number of resources available to you, including FDsys, Thomas and ProQuest Congressional; or you can contact a reference librarian for assistance.

If you wish to follow cybersecurity in the news, you might want to follow the New York Times Topic: Computer Security (Cybersecurity), Homeland Security News Wire: Cybersecurity, or CQ.com.

By Jen Kulka (Library Intern & Guest Blogger)

Fun with Gov Info: Popular Baby Names

Find out the most popular baby names of 2011 (courtesy of U.S. Social Security Administration).

You can search the popularity of names dating back to 1880. You can also look up popular names by birth year, decade, or state; popular names for twins; and popular names in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.

H.T.: USA.gov

Hot Topic: Student Loan Interest Rate Reduction

Direct Stafford Loans, from the U.S. Department of Education’s William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, provide loans to undergraduates to help pay for their education. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 has resulted in the interest rates on these loans to being lowered steadily over the last four years from 6.0% to 3.4%. On July 1, however, these interest rates are set to spike, doubling to 6.8%.

According to the White House website, this change will affect over seven million students, who will have to pay an extra $1,000 a year if no action is taken in Congress to prevent the rise before July. Preventing this change, however, comes at a cost. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will cost $6 billion to extend the current interest rates for one year. While Democrats and Republicans both agree it is important to keep student loan interests rates low, they are currently at odds with each other on how to pay for it. On May 8, Senate voted against the first attempt to freeze rates. It was a Democratic proposal that suggested an offset could be achieved ending the tax break for the wealthy. Republicans are countering this idea with their own proposition of attaining the money by eliminating a public health fund created by President Obama’s national health care law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub.L. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119, codified as amended at scattered sections of the Internal Revenue Code and in 42 U.S.C.)

If you are interested in tracking the progress of this issue, I suggest you follow the development of both the House and Senate bills (H.R. 4628, S. 2343). You can do this through the following legislative databases:

Having the history of a bill will also inform you of any members of Congress who have given testimony or a floor statement on the issue, which you can then find in the Congressional Record, which is available through ProQuest Congressional, CQ.com, and Thomas.

By Jen Kulka (Library Intern & Guest Blogger)

Should You Write a Social Media Will?

Courtesy of USA.gov:

Social media is a part of daily life, but what happens to the online content that you created once you die?

If you have social media profiles set up online, you should create a statement of how you would like your online identity to be handled.

Learn how to create a social media will.

Count Down to Tax Day!

April 17 is this year’s deadline to file your 2011 federal tax return.

Here are some last-minute resources and useful information, courtesy of USA.gov:

You can check your refund status within 72 hours of e-filing or within 4 weeks of mailing a paper return.

If you can’t file your tax return by the deadline, you can request an extension. An extension does not give you additional time to pay if you owe taxes. You’ll need to estimate the amount you owe and submit a payment in order to avoid interest and penalty charges.

Where to find recent Congressional testimony

Georgetown University Law School student Sandra Fluke has made news headlines for her recent testimony on the subject of women’s health at a hearing held by the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on February 23rd.

Congressional committees generally hold hearings for legislative, investigative, or oversight purposes.  At a legislative hearing, witnesses are invited to provide testimony on behalf of or against legislation and the bill’s sponsor is expected to appear to defend his or her proposed legislation.

Official printed hearings contain transcripts of the proceedings of Senate and House committee meetings, member statements, question and answer sessions, and prepared statements submitted by those testifying before the committee.  Official hearings are published by the Government Printing Office and can take anywhere from three months to three years to be published (if published at all!). It is entirely up to the discretion of the congressional committee (or subcommittee) to even publish a hearing. Full Story »

Happy Bill of Rights Day!

On December 15th, 1791 the Bill of Rights was ratified and came into effect. It’s tough to imagine our country without it. There are various ways to celebrate Bill of Rights Day, including by reading the Bill of Rights, and you can sign a pledge to that effect. Or you could read more about the creation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Or you could take one of the many Bill of Rights quizzes online like this one, or for a slightly harder one devoted entirely to the first amendment, try here.  In any case, it doesn’t hurt to take a break from studying for you finals to appreciate the significance of the laws you are studying.  Happy Bill of Rights Day!

Resources for U.S. Government Publications

New to Law School? Or have you forgotten where to find government information and documents? The Law Library provides access to free and subscription-based indexes and full-text sources of government publications. These databases are accessed from the Law Library Online Resources web page, grouped under the heading Government Resources.

Here is a quick overview of resources for locating government documents (including bills, hearings, committee reports, debates, statutes, regulations, committee information, agency decisions and treaties). Full Story »

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