50 Years of Progress: Smoking and Health

August 4, 2014

smoking

 

The time when it was acceptable for cigarette smoke to fill offices, movie theaters, and airplanes is long forgotten and now used to set historical scenes like on the television series Mad Men. Smoking on the CBS Evening News like Walter Cronkite did is considered taboo today.

However the dangers of smoking and long term effects on health began to reach the public conscience during that 1960s timeframe. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. Released in 1964 during a time when smoking was common place, the health community started recognizing trends in deaths caused by lung cancer and other diseases linked to tobacco use.

GPO has made the original, digitized version of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health through the agency’s Federal Digital System (FDsys): http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-SMOKINGANDHEALTH/pdf/GPO-SMOKINGANDHEALTH.pdf

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the report, the Department of Health and Human Services released The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress and a companion summary booklet. The report is nearly 1,000 pages long, but the companion booklet at only 20 pages makes for an informative read. Designed with eye catching infographics, the booklet is a string of statistics and information on diseases related to smoking. There is a 50-year timeline across the bottom of the pages that shows the progress made on raising awareness on the harmful effects of smoking.

Some timeline highlights:

1964 – The Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health is released and 42% of American adults smoke.
1966 – The United States is the first country to require warning labels on cigarettes.
1970 – Congress bans cigarette ads on TV and radio.
1975 – The Army and Navy stop providing cigarette rations to troops.
1986 – The Surgeon General releases a report dedicated the health effects of secondhand smoke.
1990 – Congress makes domestic airline flights smoke-free.
1994 – Tobacco company executives testify before Congress that they believe nicotine is not addictive.
2010 – Half of U.S. states and DC adopt smoke-free laws.
2014 – Fifty years after the release of the Smoking and Health Report, 18% of American adults smoke.

It is evident that life-saving progress has been made and various efforts to inform and educate the public on the harmful effects of smoking have worked. Nevertheless 500,000 people die each year from tobacco-related diseases so there is still work to be done.

no smoking

HOW DO I OBTAIN THIS PUBLICATION?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy this and other publications with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/
  • Buy Let\’s Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free: Your Guide to the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General\’s Report on Smoking and Health http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/017-023-00228-7
  • Download the eBook version of The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General (Full Report) in ePub or Mobi (Kindle) formats for free http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/017-300-00010-5?ctid=!1
  • Download The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General Executive Summary in ePub or Mobi (Kindle) formats for free http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/017-300-00008-3?ctid=!1
  • Download The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Supplemental Evidence Tables in ePub or Mobi (Kindle) formats for free http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/017-300-00012-1?ctid=!1
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
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About the Author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs.


Oh, say, can you tree? American Christmas tree traditions

December 17, 2013

Victorian German style Christmas Xmas tree1899To anyone who enjoys Christmas trees, we say “Wie treu sind deine Blätter!” This means “how faithful are your branches”, a line from “O Tannenbaum,” the German Christmas carol. “O Tannenbaum” (Oh Christmas Tree)* was originally a folk song from Germany that’s been translated to English and sung here in the United States for years. In fact, Nat King Cole sang a classic version in German if you’re ever interested in hearing the original version. A bit of trivia: *The tune for “O Tannenbaum” is also used for the state song of Maryland—if you’re from there, or went to university there, you might have heard the state song if you haven’t heard the holiday version! Just like they got us hooked on the song about evergreens, Germany was instrumental in getting us hooked on the decorated Christmas tree tradition as well.

German immigrants really started the modern craze for Christmas trees that came to the United States in the early 1800s. Queen Victoria, who helped set fashions for the Western world in the mid to late 1800s, helped the trend along with her family Christmas tree (which she may have learned about from her German husband, Albert). (Image above depicts a Victorian era Christmas celebration.)

The evergreen tree is likely a Yule custom carried over and remade from Celtic and/or Scandinavian pagans. Regardless of the origins of the custom of bringing an evergreen into your dwelling place during the year’s darkest days, this much is for sure: having a Christmas tree is now a tried and true American holiday tradition.

Since Christmas trees have become more secular and are so popular, the Christmas tree industry is a huge business in the United States. In 2007, Americans spent over $460 million on cut trees. The Federal government wants to support this industry, and people’s holiday happiness.

TREE AND FIRE SAFETY

To help people keep their holidays safe, the Federal government publishes a number of Christmas tree fire safety publications, such as the U.S. Fire Safety Administration’s (USFA) Christmas/Christmas Tree Fires and December and Holiday Fires.

FEMA-USFA-holiday-fire-safety-infographicImage: US Fire Safety Administration’s Winter Holiday Fire Safety infographic.

According to the USFA, fire deaths increase by 50% between December 24 and 26, and injuries during that period increase by 61%.  As the USFA pointed out, “In residential structure fires where the ignition point is a Christmas tree or other holiday decoration, the fire is typically more severe in every measurable way (p.2)”. For tips on avoiding Christmas tree fires, and to view a video on proper Christmas tree safety, take a look at USFA’s Holiday & Christmas Tree Fire Safety Outreach Materials. You’ll be able to increase your awareness and look out for your family’s welfare while continuing to enjoy your household decorations.

CUTTING YOUR OWN TREE FROM A NATIONAL FOREST

If you and/or your family enjoy going out to pick a tree and cut it, you might be able to pick one up from a national forest. For example, the Federal government has harvested all of the Capitol Christmas trees from national forests. In fact, the 2009 tree was a blue spruce that came from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

Certain forests have designated areas where it is possible to cut Christmas trees, once you have paid for your cutting permit. Contact your local national forest for its policies; you’re especially likely to find Christmas tree cutting areas in the West. Some national forests post their Christmas tree maps online. You can download Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Soldotna, Alaska: Christmas Tree Cutting Areas and Maps of 2013 Cutting Areas in the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests. You’ll be pulling your tree from a prestigious tree-growing area, if you do decide to get a permit from a national forest.

The trees are for personal use only, and Forest Service allows only one tree per household. Permits for the trees are quite cheap, compared to what I paid at my local Washington, DC, area hardware store. You do have to factor into the cost a bit more money for the gas it takes to haul a tree out of the forest and get it home. However, some experiences, such as holiday traditions spent together with family and friends, are priceless.

PLANTING AND CARING FOR YOUR LIVE TREE

Why-would-anyone-cut-a-tree-down? by US Forest Service ISBN: 9780160916267Some families buy live Christmas trees then plant them when the holidays are over, while others use a cut tree for the holidays then plant a new tree in the spring as a symbol of renewal.

To explain to children the need for cutting trees as well as the value of this renewable resource, the Forest Service has published the best-selling publication “Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?” It is full of explanations of need to remove trees for fire management and helping prevent overcrowding, and gives instructions on how to plant a tree as well.

How-to-Prune-Trees How-to-Recognize-Defects-in-TreesTo care for your live tree once it’s planted, be sure to check out How to Prune Trees to keep your tree looking and growing its best.

And the useful How To Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees will help you identify problems in a tree that could be detrimental to its health.

FAMOUS WASHINGTON, DC AREA CHRISTMAS TREES

Here in the Nation’s capital, there are a number of famous Christmas trees.

National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace

Since 1923, the United States has held a tradition of having a National Christmas Tree lighting in Washington, DC, starting with President Coolidge lighting the “First National Christmas Tree.” Starting in 1954, a “Pathway of Peace,” 56 smaller, decorated trees representing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia were planted surrounding the National Christmas Tree. They stay decorated through New Year’s Day.

2012-National-Tree_Pathway-of-PeaceImage: 2012 National Christmas Tree and Pathway of Peace on Ellipse behind the White House. Credit: National Park Service

Today, the annual lighting ceremony on the Ellipse—the grassy area south of the White House— is usually televised with tickets given by lottery in advance, with celebrities and the President and First Family doing the honors of lighting the National Christmas Tree and kicking off the season.

The Capitol Christmas Tree

The annual Capitol Christmas Tree lighting held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol has been an American tradition since 1964 and is a great holiday event that you don’t want to miss. However, the official practice of lighting the “Capitol Christmas Tree” did not start until 1968 according to the Architect of the Capitol.

2013-Capitol-Xmas-TreeImage: 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree. Image source: Architect of the Capitol.

The Capitol Christmas Tree should not to be confused with the National Christmas Tree, which is planted near the White House and lighted every year by the President and First Lady. The Speaker of the House officially lights the Capitol Christmas Tree.

“Yule” Scream for the Norwegian Embassy Tree

A lesser known but charming Capital City tradition comes from Norway. Since 1996, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. has given a Christmas tree to the American people as a symbol of friendship between the United States and Norway. The lighted tree is usually decorated with both U.S. and Norwegian flags, and can be found in DC’s Union Station train station. As explained by the Norwegian ambassador in the annual lighting ceremony attended by high-level U.S. military  and Government officials as guests, the gift of the Norway-US friendship tree also express Norway’s gratitude for the assistance received from the United States during and after World War II.

Tusen-takk-Amerika or Thank you, America banner from the Norwegian Embassy's 2013 Friendship Christmas Tree at Union Station in Washington, DC. Photo copyright: Michele BartramImage: Norwegian Embassy’s “Thank you, America” (Tusen Takk, Amerika!) banner at base of the Norwegian-US Friendship Xmas tree at Washington, DC’s Union Station in 2013. Image credit: Michele Bartram

From a distance, all you see are the 20,000 lights and the American and Norwegian flags cascading up the 32-foot tree. Upon closer inspection, this year’s visitors found 700 little reflective screaming faces on ornaments Norwegian-Embassy-Tree-Edvard-Munch-Scream-ornament-2013 from the Norwegian Embassy's 2013 Friendship Christmas Tree at Union Station in Washington, DC. Photo copyright: Michele Bartramdepicting Norwegian artist Edward Munch’s infamous “Scream” painting—placed on the tree by the humorous Norwegians in honor of 2013’s 150th anniversary of Munch’s birth.

In a way, [the “Scream”] symbolizes all the angst in preparing for an excellent Christmas,” said Norwegian Ambassador Kare Aas to the Washington Post with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Image: Edvard Munch “Scream” 2013 ornament and flag of Norway on the Norwegian Embassy Friendship Christmas Tree. Image credit: Michele Bartram

Just taking a drive around the National Mall on a December night, seeing the National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace, the national menorah, the Capitol Christmas Tree, and the Norway-US Friendship Tree can put you in more of a holiday mood.

GIFTS FOR UNDER YOUR TREE

Incidentally, if you’re still looking for holiday gifts to go under your tree, GPO’s U.S. Government Bookstore has loads of gift suggestions on their Gift Guides & Calendars page. Or give an eBook for a great last-minute gift to anyone around the world.

Hanukkah is past this year and there are only a few days left before Christmas day, but then again, there are always gift opportunities on Hogmanay, New Year’s Day, and Three King’s Day (Los Reyes Magos)/ Epiphany, too!

HOW CAN YOU GET THE PUBLICATIONS LISTED HERE?

And remember, worldwide standard SHIPPING IS FREE on the U.S. Government Bookstore website, so shop away!

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    You can purchase the print and ebook publications mentioned from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the individual links above in this blog post or the links below:

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  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the author(s): Adapted and expanded by Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and the US Government Printing Office (GPO) Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram, from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Happy holidays from us both!


Talking Turkey: the American Thanksgiving and Turkey

November 27, 2013

TurkeyFDR1935

The unique American holiday, Thanksgiving, brings everyone together—it’s no coincidence it’s the biggest travel day of the year in the United States. People gather for a number of reasons beyond thankfulness– reconnecting with family and friends, to watch and play football, to relax for a day and get ready for the Christmas holidays, and for a lot of people, to celebrate our lucky abundance by eating a feast.

 So many Americans refer to Thanksgiving as “Turkey Day”, since the turkey is traditionally the centerpiece of that big feast. Weeks before the holiday arrives, fliers for turkey sales are everywhere; recipes pop up in your email inbox; cooking shows run hour-long specials the turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and news outlets start talking about turkey shortages. There are so many decisions to make when choosing a turkey. Do you buy a frozen or fresh bird? Do you choose a heritage breed or factory-raised? Do you buy a breast or do you need a whole turkey? How many pounds to feed everyone? You need to get answers for all of those questions before you even get to the cooking. The cooking raises an even larger round of questions, and if you’re like me, a round of obsessive research. Cooking poultry requires smart handling. Not only do you want your bird to be delicious, you want it to be contamination- and germ-free.

In your quest to find answers to these questions, no doubt you’ll turn to family and friends. You may even dial a local extension service or talk to the source from which you bought the bird—the supermarket, the turkey company or the farmer.  The Federal government is another excellent source you shouldn’t forget. Your best friend may be busy driving to his mother’s house, but you can call the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline all Thanksgiving morning, or link to Ask Karen on the Web.  Ask Karen is the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) Web chat page to answer all of your food safety questions at any time.

You should check their Common questions section first, which FSIS has conveniently organized by topic and product. So you can pick turkey from the products list, and choose all, and enter the word “smoking” to find information about how to smoke a turkey. If you click on the question,

“Do you need a thermometer when smoking meat?” you get the answer,

“Yes. To ensure meat and poultry are smoked safely, you’ll need two types of thermometers: one for the food and one for the smoker. A thermometer is needed to monitor the air temperature in the smoker or grill to be sure the heat stays between 225 °F (107.2°C) and 300 °F (148.8°C) throughout the cooking process. For more information, please visit  Smoking Meat and Poultry “

I tested the Ask Karen site on a couple of topics: cooking stuffing in the turkey cavity, brining, deep frying, marinating, and thawing. There are hit results for all of the topics other than deep frying; I found no information on that topic. When you have questions on deep frying, you could proceed to the Live Chat section of Ask Karen.

If you’re cooking your Thanksgiving turkey for the first time, and just want a basic overview of the whole process, start with Safe and Easy Thanksgiving Dinner. This short two-minute video, narrated by USDA, starts by telling you when to thaw the turkey. It’s not too late for you to start thawing now if you thaw it in cold water. The video also tells you to be sure to cook stuffing outside the bird, and how to store your leftovers. It also reminds you about the USDA’s hotline help service at 1-888-MPHotline. The Hotline is open on Thanksgiving Day from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p. m., Eastern Time, so you can call while you’re getting ready to cook. It’s hard to imagine a country that takes its turkey more seriously than the United States; it’s the ultimate family meal.

Don’t take your meal too seriously, though. Loads of folks have their very own turkey disaster story, and this year may be the one for you to collect your own story. If you’ve accidentally cooked the giblets in your turkey’s cavity, or left on the plastic bits that wind the turkey’s legs together, the USDA has answers for your questions on those topics too. Hock Locks and Other Accoutrements will tell you what to do to resolve these conundrums, and like another famous volume, should come with the cover label: “Don’t panic!” Hock locks is the turkey producer’s name for the plastic bits that lock together the turkey legs, and according to the document, the hock locks are made of nylon or metal, and while it’s generally safe to cook your turkey with them on, the turkey legs will be more evenly cooked if you remove the locks before cooking. With reassurance like this document offers, you can manage a stress-free meal, even if you wind up fighting with your family over the Thanksgiving bowl games.

Want to serve the perfect bird this Thanksgiving? Want some more tips on brining? Make this Thanksgiving a safe and tasty one; try reading some of these documents before you turn on the oven or fire up the grill. There are records for Ask Karen, Safe and Easy Thanksgiving Dinner, and Hock Locks and Other Accoutrements in the Catalog of Government Publications. You can finish the meal with a recipe for pumpkin pie from the USDA’s National Agriculture Library Web site.

How can I access these publications?

Guest Blogger Jennifer Davis is Manager of the Bibliographic Control Section of GPO’s Library Services and Content Management Division


The Financial Crisis Revisited

September 16, 2013

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. It was the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, and was a key event leading to the global financial crisis.

This creates a good opportunity to revisit blogger Jim Cameron’s review of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Report from January 28th, 2011 – JET

I recently read a book about Ivar Kreuger, the famed “Match King” of the 1920s. Kreuger attempted to monopolize the match manufacturing industry on an international scale by obtaining state monopolies from national governments in exchange for large loans. His amazing financial record got him on the cover of Time magazine in October 1929, just as the stock market crash was beginning. Less than three years later, his companies teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and his crude forgeries of Italian bonds coming to light, he shot himself. Yet the author concludes that, for most of his career, his companies produced real profits and excellent returns for investors – he wasn’t simply a world-class swindler who single-handedly brought on a world crisis. It brings home the fact that great financial crises and collapses are not usually tied to a single individual or industry – the blame tends to be more widespread. It takes much more than a Kreuger or Madoff to light the fuse.

All of this comes to mind when perusing the official edition of The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report, the final report of the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States. Note: This official edition is complete, including all 129 pages of dissenting views. I’m no economist, but it seems clear that a series of interlocking corporate and government practices and missteps, extending far beyond any one person, company or sector, caused the economy to tank.

It’s also interesting to see how quickly events recede in the mind. When was the last time you heard about the downfall of Lehman Brothers? Reading this report transports me back to those very scary weeks a little more than two years ago, when everything that had seemed so secure in the economy suddenly displayed all of the characteristics of a wooden skyscraper full of termites.

This book is no easy read, but its subject is compelling, faced as we are with the aftermath of the crisis. It’s a serious report for serious times, and the voluminous dissenting views show how uncertain root causes can be, accept them or not as you will. You can find The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report here, http://cybercemetery.unt.edu/archive/fcic/20110310173538/http://www.fcic.gov/report buy a copy of the official edition, including all of the text of the dissenting views, here: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/search/apachesolr_search/financial%20crisis , or get it at a library http://www.worldcat.org/search?qt=worldcat_org_all&q=financial+crisis+inquiry+report  .


“Confronted with the Fierce Urgency of Now”: 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

August 27, 2013

march on washingtonRiding for twenty hours on a bus, with no access to motels, public bathrooms, and restaurants, is a trip daunting enough to put most people off it. Privations like those were not enough to hold back the attendees of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, held August 28, 1963. Approximately 250,000 people participated, and most of the African Americans who came to Washington, D.C. had journeys just like that. Of all the convulsive events of the 1960s, the March on Washington was the most determinedly hopeful.

The organizers of the original March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, also known as “the Great March on Washington”, intended the march to call for civil and economic rights for African Americans. The march culminated in a program featuring a cast of celebrated singers, religious leaders, and civil rights leaders chosen for their significance to the movement and its cause. Marian Anderson reprised her famous 1939 concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by singing the National Anthem. Mahalia Jackson, the famed gospel singer, delivered/sang the apt selections “How I Got Over”, and “I’ve Been ‘Buked, and I’ve Been Scorned”. Myrlie Evers, the recent widow of murdered civil rights activist Medgar Evers, gave a tribute to the “Negro Women Fighters for Freedom”: Rosa Parks, Daisy Bates, Diane Nash, Mrs. Herbert (Prince) Lee, and Gloria Richardson. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. King said, “There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights”, but he also said,

“…in the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”

His listeners heeded his words. Prior to the march, many politicians (including President Kennedy) and potential participants feared it would end in violence. The event took place peacefully, in a joyful spirit, according to accounts of marchers recorded afterwards.  You can learn more about the march and the Civil Rights movement in Free at Last: the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

This speech and the event itself have become cultural icons in American history, and both are attributed responsibility for helping with the passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964), the Fair Housing Act (1968), and the now-defunct Voting Rights Act (1965). People’s hopes for the outcome for the March were ultimately rewarded, although it took years to see those hopes come to fruition.

As the fiftieth anniversary of this event approaches, organizers have planned a number of celebrations to honor both the veterans of the march and the march’s historical significance. Volunteers will ring bells from the places Dr. King mentioned in his “I Have a Dream” speech on the day as well: Stone Mountain, Georgia; Lookout Mountain, Tennessee; Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado; as well as other locations. The organization “50th Anniversary March on Washington” is holding a conference regarding civil rights on August 27, and leading a recreation of the march to the National Mall on August 28, 2013. At the end of the march, President Obama will give a speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. King spoke so movingly. Hopefully he’ll stand near the plaque marking Dr. King’s speech, that Congress arranged in An Act to Provide for the Placement at the Lincoln Memorial of a Plaque Commemorating the Speech of Martin Luther King, Jr., Known as the “I Have a Dream” Speech.

You can find out more about this period in our history by reading Free at Last: the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, and An Act to Provide for the Placement at the Lincoln Memorial of a Plaque Commemorating the Speech of Martin Luther King, Jr., Known as the “I Have a Dream” Speech.  There are records available for the electronic versions of both works in the Catalog of Government Publications.

How can I access these publications?

Guest Blogger Jennifer Davis works for GPO’s Library Services and Content Management Division, which supports the Federal Depository Library Program. She is a frequent contributor to this blog.


Radio 101: Operating Two-Way Radios Every Day and in Emergencies

July 10, 2013

When-all-else-fails-amateur-radioTwo-way radio communication may seem like a thing of the past with smart phones and the availability of more advanced technology. However, with the recent frequency of natural disasters, storms, and other emergency situations, more attention is being paid to radios as a reliable form of communication and a possible back-up communication option, including amateur radio operators.

Image courtesy: Decatur County Amateur Radio Club

For example, the Times of India reports that the recent monsoon flooding disaster in the northern India state of Uttarakhand in July 2013 has prompted officials in other flood-prone regions to establish Amateur Radio facilities to provide emergency communication.

What are two-way radios and how do they work?

Two-way-radioImage: Amateur radio equipment. Image courtesy of the American Radio Relay League.

According to Wikipedia,

A two-way radio is a radio that can both transmit and receive (a transceiver), unlike a broadcast receiver which only receives content. A two-way radio (transceiver) allows the operator to have a conversation with other similar radios operating on the same radio frequency (channel).

Two-way radios are available in mobile, stationary base and hand-held portable configurations. Hand-held radios are often called walkie-talkies or handie-talkies.

Radio 101

9780160910012A recent training publication produced by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health called Radio 101: Operating Two-Way Radios Every Day and in Emergencies provides training materials on how to operate two-way radios. Included are an instructor’s guide, a DVD with a power point presentation and a student handbook. These training materials practice what they preach, in that they are brief, straightforward and concise– just as two-way radio conversations need to be.

While many of the scenarios used throughout the training materials apply to miners and situations where miners would need to use two-way radios, the information is generic enough that it is applicable to any emergency.

Two-way Tips

The information provided in the training materials seems like common sense, but there are a few important tips to consider when using two-way radio communication in an emergency situation:

  • Less is more. Be brief and efficient; know what you are going to say before using the radio so you do not tie up the channel while you are thinking of what to say.
  • Don’t mind your manners.  It is not necessary to be polite, saying “please” and “thank you.”
  • Repetition rocks. Repeat back information you receive to confirm that you heard the correct information.
  • No privacy policy. Be aware that conversations are not private on these open channels and may be heard by others picking up your frequency. However, this downside is a big plus in emergency broadcasts and SOS situations where the operator wants as many people possible to be listening in to be able to pick up and relay his message.

License to Help

To operate an amateur two-way radio in the United States requires taking a test and obtaining a license from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the national association for amateur radio (also called ham radio with operators being called “hams”) in the US and “provides hams and non-hams the resources to learn, get licensed, and help others on the air.

Amateur-Radio-Emergency-ServiceAlready have your amateur radio license and want to help your community? Check out the ARRL’s Public Service page for training, resources, manuals and more. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes.

Recently, the American Radio Relay League hosted their national Field Day where amateur radio clubs across the country gathered locally to test their radio equipment and practice communication strategies in the event of an emergency. Learn more about Field Day.

Rules of the Radio

Together with the Radio 101 training guide, two-way radio operators who want to learn the “rules of the radio” often buy the latest United States Frequency Allocations: The Radio Spectrum Chart (shown below). This poster shows through color codes the parts of the radio spectrum that are allocated to each type of radio service, including amateur (ham) radio, commercial radio and television broadcasting, radio navigation, mobile, satellite, and others.

9780160908958Finally, the definitive sources of radio regulations, frequencies and procedures can be found in the Manual of Regulations and Procedures for Federal Radio Frequency Management and the Code of Federal Regulations Title 47 (FCC Rules and Regulations).

It is important to be prepared in any situation and not rely on only one form of communication. Thus, it is comforting to know that amateur radio operators are working on behalf of their communities to help during emergency situations.

HOW DO I OBTAIN these radio-related publications?

About the Authors: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs. Additional content was provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram, Promotions & eCommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division.


BP in Hot Water over Deepwater

February 25, 2013

As the BP Oil Spill civil trial begins this week, the Federal Government will attempt to prove whether British Petroleum (BP) and/or any of its contractors such as Transocean (RIG), the owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, and Halliburton (HAL), which was responsible for pouring the cement plugs in the well, were “grossly negligent” and thus financially liable in causing the deadly BP Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig explosion on April 10, 2010, and the blowout of the Macondo well.

BP-Deep-Water-Explosion-April-20-2010

Image: Explosion of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig at the Macondo prospect well. Photo credit: Associated Press.

The initial explosion killed 11 oil rig workers and triggered a subsequent oil spill which dumped millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, with the full extent of the long-term ecological and economic damage to the Gulf states and aquatic and wildlife still unknown.  With tar balls linked to the BP oil spill still washing ashore from Louisiana and Alabama to as far away as Australia, if BP is found “grossly negligent” instead of “simply negligent,” it will be on the hook for $17.6 billion in additional clean-up costs on top of the $4.5 billion fine for the criminal case settled in November 2012.

The National Commission on the BP Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling produced two landmark and controversial reports about the oil spill causes and consequences that are critical in understanding the Government’s case against BP:

1)      Macondo: The Gulf Oil Disaster. Chief Counsel’s Report 2011, and

2)      Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011.

THE MISSION

Established by Executive Order 13543 on May 21, 2010 by President Barack Obama, the mission of the National Commission on the BP Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission was to examine the relevant facts and circumstances concerning the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and develop options to guard against, and mitigate the impact of, any oil spills associated with offshore drilling in the future.

BP-Deep-Water-CommissionIn addition, they were to recommend any needed improvements to Federal laws, regulations, and industry practices concerning the oil and gas industry.

Image: Commissioners of the National Commission on the BP Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. Image credit: C-SPAN

Key areas of inquiry for the Commission included:

  • The Macondo Well Explosion and Drilling Safety
  • The Role of Offshore Oil Drilling in Domestic Energy Policy
  • Regulatory Oversight of Offshore Drilling
  • Oil Spill Response
  • Spill Impacts and Assessment
  • Restoration Approaches and Options

THE INVESTIGATION

Macondo-Oil-Spill-Report-9780160879630The first order of business for the Commission was to carry out the directive in the Executive Order to “examine the relevant facts and circumstances concerning the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.” They instructed the Commission‘s Chief Counsel Fred Bartlit and his investigative team to provide “the most comprehensive, coherent, and detailed account of the events leading up to the blowout and explosion” of Macondo, the name of BP’s offshore prospect in the Gulf of Mexico in the sector called the Mississippi Canyon Block 252, or MC252 where BP was drilling at the time of the accident.

The result was this report, Macondo: The Gulf Oil Disaster. Chief Counsel’s Report 2011, which provides additional details and documentation supporting the findings in the Commission’s final report.

The respected Library Journal, in selecting the Macondo report as one of its “Notable Government Documents” for 2011, said:

“The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill was created by President Obama and charged with investigating the root causes of the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The committee concluded that the cause of the blowout was not mechanical. Instead, a number of poor management decisions, combined with an inadequate regulatory structure and an indifferent regulatory agency, overwhelmed the safeguards designed to prevent such disasters. Plenty of illustrations and photographs offer a glimpse into the technology of offshore oil rigs.” – LJ

For trial watchers, this publication is a must-read as much of the initial documentary evidence is included.

THE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Deep-Water-Report-9780160873713The second and final report is the best-selling Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011. It not only offers the full account of what happened in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 and why, but also offers recommendations on proposed actions, changes in company behavior, reform of government oversight, and investments in research and technology that will be required to avert future disasters.

In Part I: The Path to Tragedy, “Chapters 1 through 3 describe the events of April 20th on the Deepwater Horizon, and, more important, the events leading up to it in the preceding decades—especially how the dramatic expansion of deepwater drilling in the Gulf was not met by regulatory oversight capable of ensuring the safety of those drilling operations.

In Part II: Explosion and Aftermath:  The Causes and Consequences of the Disaster, Chapters 4 through 7 lay out the results of the Commission’s investigation in detail, highlighting the crucial policy-related issues: the specific engineering and operating choices made in drilling the Macondo well, the attempts to contain and respond to the oil spill, and the impacts of the spill on the region’s natural resources, economy, and people—in the context of the progressive degradation of the Mississippi Delta environment.

BP-deepwater-2-yr-impact

Image: Chart illustrating some of the ongoing effects of the BP Macondo well oil spill two years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Infographic credit: ColorLines.com

In the final section, Part III: Lessons Learned: Industry, Government, Energy Policy, Chapters 8 through 10 present the Commission’s recommendations for reforms in business practices, regulatory oversight, and broader policy concerns.

Throughout the book, the Commission makes the case that outlines a number of primary conclusions, including these unsettling findings:

  • The explosive loss of the Macondo well could have been prevented.
  • The immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout can be traced to a series of identifiable mistakes made by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean that reveal such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry.
  • Deepwater energy exploration and production, particularly at the frontiers of experience, involve risks for which neither industry nor government has been adequately prepared…
  • To assure human safety and environmental protection, regulatory oversight of leasing, energy exploration, and production require reforms even beyond those significant reforms already initiated…to ensure [the regulators'] political autonomy, technical expertise, and their full consideration of environmental protection concerns.
  • Because regulatory oversight alone will not be sufficient to ensure adequate safety, the oil and gas industry will need to take its own, unilateral steps to dramatically increase safety…
  • The technology, laws and regulations, and practices for containing, responding to, and cleaning up spills lag behind the real risks associated with deepwater drilling…
  • Scientific understanding of environmental conditions in sensitive environments in deep Gulf waters, along the region’s coastal habitats, and in areas proposed for more drilling, such as the Arctic, is inadequate. The same is true of the human and natural impacts of oil spills.

Delivered to the President on January 2011, the final report starts with a poignant dedication “to the 11 men who lost their lives on the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010 and to their families, in hope that this report will help minimize the chance of another such disaster ever happening again.”

Will it help prevent another such disaster? Read these publications and decide for yourself.


How can I buy these BP oil spill publications?

  • Buy them at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find them in a federal depository library.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


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