Earth Day

April 19, 2012

ImageAs we celebrate the 42nd Earth Day, the arrival of warm weather and the planting of summer gardens, our Guest Blogger — GPO Public Relations Specialist Emma Wojtowicz — takes a look at a few Federal publications focusing on the environment and how they play a role in our communities.

Congressional Budget Office: Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States

Published in May 2009, this report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) defines climate change and examines the causes and potential impact climate change has on North America. The report is brief (only 17 pages), concise and written in plain language, so you do not have to be a scientist to understand the focus of the paper. CBO effectively explains the scope of climate change and the effect is has on different parts of our environment. A few interesting takeaways:

  • Energy from the sun is absorbed by the Earth’s climate system and then radiated back into space. Greenhouse gases increase the amount of energy being held, thus warming the Earth’s surface.
  • Aerosol gases from volcanic eruptions have the opposite effect – they cool the Earth.
  • Climate change causes precipitation to be unevenly distributed: regions and seasons that already have greater precipitation will tend to get more and drier regions will tend to get less.
  • Rising surface temperature of the ocean increase the strength, size and intensity of hurricanes and typhoons.
  • Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, a kind of greenhouse gas, will boost forest growth and timber production.

The Container Tree Nursery Manual, Volume Seven: Seedling Processing, Storage and Outplanting

A rite of spring and summer involves planning and preparing for outdoor landscaping and gardens, which means a trip to the nursery. Do you ever question where those trees come from? In the Container Tree Nursery Manual you will learn about the cultivation of trees from seed to what you purchase at the store. This publication is a bit dense with scientific processes and terminology, but once you get used to the tone of the book it makes for a fascinating read. Informative pictures, charts, graphs and diagrams help readers understand the content and “see” the entire life of a nursery tree from the planting, growing, storing, and shipping stages. For gardening enthusiasts, you can learn practical information that can be adapted to your own gardening endeavors. While you may not be planting trees in containers, the book emphasizes important growing techniques and considerations that you can apply to your own potted plants like the depth of the container for roots, water amount and frequency, as well as outside temperature.

Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-being through Urban Landscapes

This publication embodies the community spirit of Earth Day. Previously blogged about in August 2010, Restorative Commons is a lovely book about the importance and positive effect gardens and green landscapes have on urban communities. Urban gardening projects bring together neighbors and people of all ages giving them a common goal and a visible result to take pride in. The book explores the history of urban landscaping and ways community parks have shaped society; next it goes through various case studies of urban gardening initiatives in American cities and the impact they have on their communities; and then concludes with interviews with the people who lead the initiatives that beautify and strengthen their communities through urban gardens. Restorative Commons reflects the purpose and essence of Earth Day, which is to work with your neighbors to make a positive contribution to the community you live in and in turn an impression on greater global community.    

How do I obtain these Federal publications?

Congressional Budget Office: Potential Impacts of Climate Change in the United States

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC  20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library

The Container Tree Nursery Manual, Volume Seven: Seedling Processing, Storage and Outplanting

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at710 North Capitol Street NW,Washington,DC20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library

Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-being through Urban Landscapes

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at710 North Capitol Street NW,Washington,DC20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library

Vote for the top Government news story of 2011

December 26, 2011

2011 was a momentous year in Federal Government-related news and as such, it was a banner year for important Government publications, as demonstrated by our 2011 Year in Review collection available from the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO).

But which Government news story was the most significant, in your opinion? Vote in our poll below, and then see the publications that follow that relate to these important stories:

Note 1:As of January 27, 2012, this poll is NOW CLOSED with the final results showing above, but feel free to click on the SHARE THIS link to pass on the results to others.
Note 2: This is a non-scientific user poll. Results are not statistically valid and cannot be assumed to reflect the views of the Government Printing Office customer as a group or the general population.

Following are the Federal Government publications that relate to each of these important 2011 stories:

2011 News Story   Related Federal Publication(s)
9/11 tenth anniversary   Ten years have passed since that tragic day, but the memories are still strong. 2011 saw some excellent publications about that day, including a 10th anniversary edition of Pentagon 9/11 and a reprinting of the 9/11 Commission Report, all of which you can find in our 9/11 Collection: A Decade of Remembrance.

Assassination of Osama bin Laden  FBI Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP) A Navy SEALS team located and killed Osama bin Laden this year, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks and many other Al Qaeda and insurgent terrorist attacks. This 2011 publication, Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP): A Collection of Research Ideas, Thoughts, and Perspectives, V. 1analyzes causes and possible responses to terrorism as presented at the FBI Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP) Symposium of international academics and law enforcement personnel.

Death of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il   The recent death of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, marks an uncertain time for the Korean Peninsula and the entire region. North Korea: A Country Studyreviews the history and the dominant social, political, economic, and military aspects of contemporary North Korea before this.

Deep Water BP Gulf oil disaster report  Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011 In January of this year, the National Commission on the BP (British Petroleum) Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released its controversial Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011. This best-selling publication offers the fullest account available of what happened in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 and why, and proposes actions, changes in company behavior, reform of government oversight, and investments in research and technology that will be required to avert future disasters.

End of the war in Iraq  Battleground Iraq: Journal of a Company Commander There is an interesting White House timeline about the Iraq war at the end of which is a link to the Joining Forces initiative with which one can express one’s support for the troops. GPO’s bookstore has a number of books about Iraq, but two stand out as best-sellers. Battleground Iraq: Journal of a Company Commander gives a realistic account by Major Todd Brown of his experiences as a U.S. Army company commander in Iraq from April 2003 to March 2004. Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experienceexamines the Iraq reconstruction experience, and provides 13 take-away lessons for future contingency relief and reconstruction operations.

  • Buy them in our online bookstore:

a)      Battleground Iraq: Journal of a Company Commander

b)      Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience

Japan earthquake and tsunami  Field Operations Guide for Foreign Disaster Assessment and Response Natural disasters were big in the news this year, and the Federal Government was involved in responding to them, from the National Guard in the U.S. to foreign response teams overseas. For example, in response to the tragic earthquake and resulting tsunami and nuclear reactor problems in Japan, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) that included disaster response experts, urban search and rescue teams, and nuclear experts from the U.S. Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Field Operations Guide for Disaster Assessment and Responseis used by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for DART teams and other disaster assistance personnel when responding to foreign disasters like the Japan situation.

Last Space Shuttle flight  NASA and Space Shuttle publications including "Wings-in-Orbit" 2011 marked the end of NASA’s three-decade long space shuttle program when, on July 21, the final space shuttle mission ended with the shuttle Atlantis rolling to a stop at its home port, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA has published a number of terrific books about the program which you can find in our NASA and Space Shuttle Publications, along with a new set of beautiful color bookmarks, one for each shuttle and the best-selling Wings in Orbitbook.

U.S. economy and the Federal budget  Books about Government and Politics, including the Federal Budget and the Economy It seems every newscast this year has covered the US economy, Federal Government budgets and deficits and differing opinions about options to address them. You can find the President’s original budget submission published this year and subsequent analyses and responses to it in our collection of Books about the Government and Politics, including the Federal Budget and the Economy.

How can you find even more Federal Government publications? We have assembled many collections of Federal publications on our year-round Gift Guide and in our Special Collections page on GPO’s online bookstore.

About the Author: Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.GPO.Gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public. 

 


Fannie and Freddie: Where Do They Go from Here?

June 2, 2011

Like a lot of people, I’ve spent many years not knowing exactly what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do. Until the housing meltdown, I would have been hard pressed even to tell you whether they were Federal agencies or not (they’re not – they are government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs). As is often the case, it takes hard times to focus one’s attention on such things but, according to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Role in the Secondary Mortgage Market, a lot of people more knowledgeable than me didn’t know much more – the extent to which Fannie and Freddie’s debt securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) were backed by the Federal Government, for example. Apparently some investors found out when it was too late.

Thanks to this excellent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) publication – one of Library Journal’s Notable Government Documents for 2011 – I now have a better grasp on what these two entities actually do, how they flourished in good times and wilted in the financial crisis of 2008, and where they may need to go from here, which is the crux of the CBO’s analysis. It offers three main scenarios – keeping them as GSEs, making them wholly Federal entities, or totally privatizing them. In explaining all of this, it’s helpful that the report uses boxes to highlight important aspects of its research, since laypersons (me) tend to get lost when exposed to too much financial expertise per square inch.

I also enjoyed finding out about other mortgage systems that might be worth exploring, such as that in Denmark, “where 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have been common…mortgage originators fund an individual mortgage by issuing a matching bond. Danish mortgages have a unique feature that allows borrowers to benefit from unexpected increases or decreases in interest rates. When rates rise, borrowers can repurchase their mortgages for less than the amount of the outstanding principal balance…When rates fall, the borrowers can take advantage of refinancing opportunities. In the Danish system—as in other systems that provide borrowers with options that are costly to lenders—borrowers ultimately pay for those features in the form of higher interest rates or fees up front.”  Interesting, indeed, although I’d be the last one to actually consult on something like this!

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Role in the Secondary Mortgage Market seems like a great guide for policy makers and anyone interested in the backwash from the great housing debacle of the past few years. It’s available to read here, you can get a personal copy here, or cozy up with a copy in a library.


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