September is National Preparedness Month

September 3, 2015

As the year goes by, the temperature gets colder and the nights grow longer, so remember to stay safe and prepare for the unexpected. September is National Preparedness Month (NPM), and we are here to provide some helpful publications you can use to get ready. NPM was established in 2004 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It was created in response to the 9/11 attacks and is meant to reach out to citizens and help them plan for any disaster, man-made or natural, that could strike.

003-017-00569-1GPO has a handful of different guides from our U.S. Government Bookstore, and each covers steps to help prepare for a wide variety of different situations. The publication Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Lightning, Nature’s Most Violent Storms: A Preparedness Guide, Including Tornado Safety Information for Schools focuses on the many different weather-related disasters that can occur, the damage and destruction each could cause, and the best plans for preparing before such a catastrophe happens.

Another notable guide is Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness; it offers tips on anything from terrorist disasters to flash floods. Focusing on the before, during, and after, this manual is a great asset in creating some comprehensive safety techniques for yourself and family in the months to come.064-000-00058-6

For those looking for a piece oriented more towards the best options to take in the case of a tornado or hurricane, GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications has an extremely in-depth guide online for free! Safe rooms for tornadoes and hurricanes: guidance for community and residential safe rooms provides excellent background on the science of high-speed wind disasters and offers up some great advice to those living with the threat of such an event occurring. From the structural engineering of homes and buildings to the design of state-of-the-art safe rooms, this guide, developed by FEMA, outlines the best direction for creating a safe room for your home or community.

If you are more interested in hearing about the history and Federal side of National Preparedness Month, GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) has stored all of the proclamations made by the President to make this month official, as well as any Congressional Hearings or other related documents. For complete, free access, and to take your search further, click here.

If you just want more info on the entire month of September, and any events related to National Preparedness Month, we have a website for you to visit and browse, click here for access! You can also head over to the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration websites, which have steps and services to keep you updated on the weather around you. For those with disabilities who want to become better prepared, there is a website designed with helpful tips and steps for you in case of almost any emergency. Click here to get started. Feel free to go through all the links above and discover the best ways to prepare yourselves and your families for any situation. Stay safe!

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE RESOURCES?

You can obtain the resources mentioned in this blog by clicking on the links above or through any of these methods:

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

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.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Giovanni Salvatori is a Summer Intern in GPO’s  Library Services & Content Management office.


“Are you Ready?” for Extreme Cold and Other Natural and Man-made Disasters

January 23, 2014

Image below: Graph depicts how variations in the polar vortex affect weather in the mid-latitudes. Courtesy: National Science Foundation

Polar-vortex-fall-to-winter-chartAs the United States shivers under the Arctic Express, Polar Vortex, Polar Cyclone, Polar Low, Circumpolar Whirl or whatever name you call it (I just call it FREEZING!!!!) with snow, ice, and some of the most extreme cold conditions in decades, Americans will be happy to know that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has help available in the form of its extremely useful new disaster preparedness guide, Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness.

FEMA Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness ISBN: 9780160920745Intended as both a reference source as well as a step-by-step manual, this easy-to-follow guide has been designed to help Americans “learn how to protect themselves and their families against all types of hazards”.

According to the FEMA authors:

The focus of the content is on how to develop, practice, and maintain emergency plans that reflect what must be done before, during, and after a disaster to protect people and their property. Also included is information on how to assemble a disaster supplies kit that contains the food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity for individuals and their families to survive following a disaster in the event they must rely on their own resources.

The guide advises on planning before a disaster, responding during a disaster, and recovering after a disaster and is organized into the following sections: Why Prepare, Part 1 Basic Preparedness, Part 2 Natural Hazards, Part 3 Technological Hazards, Part 4 Terrorism, and Part 5 Recovering from Disaster.

Each chapter has specific tips on preparation, what to do during the particular disaster, instructions for what to do afterwards, and where to go for more information, including links for free publications.

Disasters and emergencies cover the gamut in three areas:

a)      Natural Hazards, including: Floods, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Thunderstorms and Lightning, Winter Storms and Extreme Cold,  Extreme Heat, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Landslides and Debris Flow (Mudslide), Tsunamis, Fires and Wildfires;

b)      Technological Hazards, including:  Hazardous Materials Incidents, Household Chemical Emergencies, and Nuclear Power Plants

c)      Terrorism, including: General terrorist threats, Explosions, Biological Threats, Chemical Threats, Nuclear Blast, and Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD).

Are You Ready?… for Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

FEMA-Are-You-Ready_page-80-Winter-Storms-and-Extreme-ColdAs I was concerned about the extreme cold, I turned to Part 2, Natural Hazards, Section 2.5 Winter Storms and Extreme Cold.

In the preparation part, I found useful terminology such as the difference between sleet and freezing rain, protective measures and supplies to gather, tips on how to winterize my car (e.g., have you cleaned your car battery terminals and used gasoline additives to keep water out of your fuel lines?) and how to dress for the winter weather (did you know mittens are warmer than gloves?).

FEMA-Are-You-Ready_page-83-Winter-Dress-for-ColdDuring a winter storm, “Are you ready?” gives more advice, such as what to do if a blizzard traps you in the car and how to watch for signs of hypothermia.

[Signs of hypothermia]… include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first, and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

Other Useful Information in “Are You Ready?”

In addition to information on specific types of emergencies, the guide includes a number of other very useful resources.

Assembling a Disaster Supplies Kit:  A whole chapter is devoted to assembling a good general disaster supplies kit for multiple locations: home, work and vehicle.

Practice Makes Perfect: Advice on how to practice and maintain your emergency plan is under Section 1.6.

General Evacuation Guidelines:  Tells what to do to prepare your home if you have to evacuate, such as utility shut-off and safety, reviewing and securing of insurance and vital records, and so on.

Special Needs: Information on how to do disaster planning to accommodate someone with disabilities is included.

Pets: Caring for pets in emergencies is not forgotten, either.

FEMA Hazard Maps: It highlights how to get free hazard maps from FEMA in your area by accessing FEMA’s Hazard Mapping Portal.

Homeland-Security-Threat-Assessments-Color-MatrixWarning Systems and Signals: The guide explains different national alert systems such as the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio (NWR), as well as the Homeland Security Advisory System with its Threat Conditions thermometer.

Quizzes: The guide even includes some quizzes such as the Terrorism Knowledge Check on page 172 that asks such questions as:

What would you do, if you were at work and…

a. there was an explosion in the building?

b. you received a package in the mail that you considered suspicious?

c. you received a telephone call that was a bomb threat?

Mental Health Issues: Tips are included on how to recognize if children vs. adults may need crisis counseling or stress management assistance as well as how to ease disaster-related stress (such as attending memorial services). For children, guidelines are included by age range of common reactions to traumatic events, along with tips on how adults can reassure children after a disaster.

For additional information about Federal mental and medical emergency resources, read our previous blog post: “Help is Just a Call, Click or Page Away: Federal Disaster Helplines & Emergency Medical Resources.”

Family Forms: The guide is customizable to you and your family with forms to fill out for your own emergency plans. Included is a form for you to use to fill out information as you collect it from your local authorities on possible hazards and emergencies in your community, the Risk Level and how to reduce your risk, along with a “Community and Other Plans” form to use to record answers from your local officials about your community’s disaster and emergency plans.  Also included is a form to draw and to record your family’s specific evacuation route and another to record your Family Communications Plan.

Checklists and Appendices: The guide also includes some handy appendices: Appendix A: Water Conservation Tips, Appendix B: Disaster Supplies Checklist, and the all-important Appendix C: Family Communications Plan.

Preparedness Websites: One is a list of Disaster Public Education Websites from both the Federal Government such as FEMA’s own Ready.gov site (www.ready.gov), as well as non-Governmental sites, like the Institute for Business and Home Safety, www.ibhs.org.

Disaster Recovery Assistance: Finally, advice and resources for getting disaster recovery assistance are covered in the Are You Ready? guide, too.

FEMA Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness ISBN: 9780160920745How can I get a copy ofAre You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness”?

Whether you live near an active volcano; in Tornado Alley or a Hurricane Zone; in wildfire, mudslide or flood-prone areas; or just want to be prepared for any emergency—natural or man-made—this guide will help you save the day!

  • MULTIPLE COPIES: FEMA recommends having a completed guide for each location for your family members: home, work or school, and your vehicle(s). Fill out the customizable sections in each copy with your relevant family, workplace and community information.
  • Shop Online: You can buy this publication from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by:
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • 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.
  • Digital: Find a PDF version on the FEMA site.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for it in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor 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.


People Get Ready, There’s a Storm Coming

May 29, 2013

Hopefully, you’ve never had to live through a hurricane or a tornado. I count myself lucky to have escaped the worst of the major weather events; living in an area that gets spent hurricanes is bad enough.

nhpwBanner2013If you live near the Atlantic Coast, as I do, you do need to worry about hurricanes. You want to remember June 1 as a significant date. It’s the start of the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to October 1. For that reason, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) kicks off National Hurricane Preparedness Week every year before the season starts. If you can’t leave home to avoid being in the path of hurricanes, the next best thing you can do is be prepared.  Make plans for getting through a storm: family communication plans and buddy plans. Build your disaster kit.

After my family and I lived through a man-made disaster, we made an evacuation plan so we know how we’ll try to reach safety. You should talk with your family about emergency strategies. Having plans for a storm or disaster doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use them, but you’ll be far better off than if you don’t have a plan. Go through checklists you can find at www.ready.gov and find out everything you can to be organized.

Hurricanes: Information and Activity Booklet

For further children’s activities and tutorials, there’s Hurricanes: Information and Activity Booklet, designed for ages nine and older. The slim volume describes the history of the word “hurricane”, as well as the reasons NOAA attaches personal names to each hurricane. The work also explains hurricane wind scales, defines hurricanes and typhoons, and much more.

Of special note are the accompanying pictures of some of recent history’s most destructive storms—Irene, Dora, Kenneth, Rick, Katia and of course, Katrina—help students understand how colossal they are. The photos show the storms nestled up against landmasses that they overshadow. If you could not visualize how large and fearsome these storms were before, you’d know it after you saw their photos. The informative graphics, puzzles, tests and quizzes provided will give children a good basic understanding of hurricanes.

katrina_in_gulf_2005-08-28Image: NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Katrina, taken on Aug. 28, 2005, at 11:45 a.m. EDT, a day before the storm made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast. While in the Gulf of Mexico, Katrina’s winds peaked near 175 miles per hour. Credit: NOAA

After studying both Hurricanes and Watch Out-Storms Ahead!, your kids should be as intellectually prepared as they can be.

Ready…Set…Prepare!

ReadySetPrepareYou’ll want to pick up a copy of Ready…Set…Prepare! [for Ages 4-7] Reading it will help your kids learn how to help your family prepare for storms in a more practical sense. FEMA designed this activity book to teach kids ages four to seven how to prepare for disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

Two cartoon kid characters—Angela and Mario, along with their emergency expert friends Bright Shinely and Newser—learn what they, too, can do to help their families prepare for disasters. (Parents and teachers of Dora and Diego fans, take note: these characters will seem eerily familiar. 😉

Each chapter gives the basic facts about evacuation plans, family communication plans, pet care plans, and the types of disasters. Practical lists are scattered throughout that may help adults as much as children, such as a disaster supply kit list. Fun exercises to color and flashcards to cut out with the child’s recently acquired scissoring skills are also included.

Ready-Set-Prepare_ages-8-11Your children will find some solid entertainment packed in with the lessons included in this book. They are likely to wind up exhorting you to get your emergency plan together—and what could be better than that? Getting yourself and the little people in your life ready for an emergency is one of the best things you could do to protect your most precious assets.

FEMA created another version of Ready…Set…Prepare! [for Ages 8-11]. This contains more sophisticated activities and lessons for the older elementary schooler to prepare for emergencies.

Watch Out…Storms Ahead! Owlie Skywarn’s Weather Book

owlie-skywarn_coverAn important part of making these plans is educating the children in your life—your children, your students, etc. If you are working with school-aged children, a good place to start is the excellent picture/activity book, Watch Out-Storms Ahead! Owlie Skywarn’s Weather Book. This volume is a joint publication of NOAA, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the American Red Cross, and it covers tornadoes, lightning, floods and winter storms as well as hurricanes.

The book shows children what they can do to help their families get ready. There are quizzes, warnings, preparation and evacuation tips, and statistics that will help kids understand the importance of being prepared. Since the pictures are black and white, your kids can color them too. Throw this book and a packet of crayons in your disaster kit.

Sample question from the quiz: “A hurricane [blank] means a hurricane is expected within 36 hours and winds could reach 74 mph or more.” (answer: Warning)

How can I obtain these publications?

About the author: Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). (Article is adapted from an original  post in the FDLP Community site blog by Government Book Talk Editor, Michele Bartram, GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager.)


Don’t Give Fire a Place to Start

October 7, 2016

An unforgettable fire began in Chicago on October 8, 1871. Legend has it that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lamp which set a barn—and the entire city—ablaze. Tragically, the Great Chicago Fire burned for days, killing scores of people, decimating roughly 3.3 square miles, and leaving more than 100,000 Chicagoans homeless.

1871_great_chicago_fire_destroyed_buildingsThe Great Chicago Fire not only changed public thinking about fire safety, it inspired Fire Prevention Week—an annual commemoration of that devastating inferno. Going back over 90 years, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public safety observance in America. This year it runs from October 9-15.

One theme for Fire Prevention Week has been “Don’t Give Fire a Place to Start.” That’s a message that Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) U.S. Fire Administration wants every American, especially children, to take to heart. FEMA’s popular Sesame Street Fire Safety Program Family Guide is available through GPO.

Family coloring book. Fire literacy primer. A get-it-together-you-grown-ups safety guide. It’s all those things. FEMA and Sesame Street really deliver. Everybody do the Elmo happy dance!

064-000-00067-5However, this guide is not just about Elmo. A proper shout out goes to Cookie Monster, Grover, and Telly Monster. Together, the furry fire brigade educates with catchphrases like “hot, hot, stay away. hot, hot, not for play” and “get outside and stay outside!” The playbook covers how to avoid hot things that burn, make a home escape map, family practice time, and what to do if the smoke alarm sounds. There are kitchen safety tips for parents and caregivers, too.

Start a healthy discussion around a scary thing like a fire emergency. Demonstrate that preparation and prevention are skills that the entire family can work on together. Cultivate lifelong fire safety habits. As the guide says, “fire safety begins at home.’ Simple steps make a big difference in staying safe from fires.

Sometime after the Great Chicago Fire, it was discovered that a journalist fabricated the O’Leary cow rumor. The real cause of the fire has never been confirmed. But it did start a national conversation on the basic but essential elements of fire safety. As Fire Prevention Week reminds us, prevention is a big part. Fires are mostly preventable. It’s on everyone to take charge.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THIS PUBLICATION?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

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.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Blogger contributor Chelsea Milko is a Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.


Hurricane Katrina, 10 Years Later

August 26, 2015

Image compliments of noaa.gov click to enlarge.

August 29th will mark the tenth (10th) anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It was one of the deadliest and the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

As you may recall, this hurricane touched down in Mobile, Alabama, and significantly damaged and left people stranded in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Biloxi, Mississippi during President George W. Bush administration’s second term as President of the United States of America.

A few key primary source references based on Hurricane Katrina that should be included in your historical U.S. Government publications, or weather-resources library include the following:

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George W. Bush, 2005, Bk. 2, July-December by National Archives and Records Administration

This primary source reference work chronicles George W. Bush’s second term presidency from July through December 2005. This volume includes the President’s remarks on Hurricane Katrina on Sunday, August 28, 2005, plus additional remarks on September 1, 2, 5-8,12, and an Address to the Nation on Hurricane Katrina Recovery from New Orleans, LA on September 15, 2005, a Memorandum on the National Flood Insurance Program on October 12, and more.

040-000-00775-0Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned, February 2006 by the President of the United States and the Assistant to the President for the Department of Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

Hurricane Katrina’s historic 115-130mph winds coupled with a powerful storm surge that created a 27 foot long stretch of the Northern Gulf Coast that impacted nearly 93,000 square miles that was not isolated to one state or city. The book is a Lessons Learned view of what can be implemented to prevent natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina from happening in the future. The report’s focus is centered on disaster preparedness and emergency management responses. It contains an analytical, narrative chronology that provides a detailed account of Hurricane Katrina from the point of the storm’s development in the days “Pre-Landfall,” and the next chronicles both the “Week of Crisis” from August 29 through September 5, and concludes with the transition from response to recovery. This volume concludes with the most important chapter: “Transforming National Preparedness.”

052-071-01438-1A Failure of Initiative: Final Report of the Select Bipartisan Committee To Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, February 15, 2006 by the U.S. House of Representatives, Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina

This report is a summary of the Committee’s work to investigate the preparation for leading up to the Hurricane Katrina storm and the two weeks following the storm. It does not cover the extensive rebuilding of the impacted areas after the storm made its landfall to the cities and states that were in its’ path.

Call Sign Dust Off: A History of U.S. Army Aeromedical Evacuation From Conception to Hurricane Katrina by the Department of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General, Borden Institute008-000-01040-4

This book, published in year 2011, covers the conceptualization of the initial attempts to use aircraft for evacuation, reviews its development and maturity through those conflicts, and focuses on the history of MEDEVAC post–Vietnam to the transformation of the MEDEVAC units from medical to aviation command in 2003 and the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Much has been written about U.S. Army aeromedical evacuation—or MEDEVAC—and most works have focused on the war in Korea or Vietnam. This book focuses on the unique use of helicopters to accomplish this mission. Part I looks at the heritage of MEDEVAC from its beginnings in World War II through the bitter battles in Korea, the interwar years, and the long struggle in Vietnam. Part II covers the 1980s, a time of domestic duties and contingency operations. Part III reviews the turbulent 1990s with the end of the cold war, a hot war in the Persian Gulf, dramatic military force reductions, and a call to duty in the Balkans. Part IV stretches into the millennium, covering the events of 9/11, further conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq—the Aviation Transformation Initiative that moved MEDEVAC from medical to aviation control—and the national response to Hurricane Katrina. In general, after Part I, a thematic approach is used, and the chapters are organized with interweaving sections covering doctrine (service and joint), organization, and operations.

008-070-00804-1Operation Dragon Comeback: Air Education and Training Command’s Response to Hurricane Katrina by the U.S. Air Force, Air Training and Education Office of History and Research

This volume is the Air Education and Training Command’s (AETC) response to Hurricane Katrina as a pivotal event in the organization’s history. It showcases the men and women that rushed to the aid of their wingmen at the Kesslar Air Force base in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provided support for humanitarian efforts to the communities and the country in time of need. In addition to the coverage of Hurricane Katrina’s approach and landfall, this resource also attempts to cover the few months of recovery efforts that took place at Kesslar Air Force base during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Air National Guard at 60: A History (eBook) by Air National Guard999-000-44446-1

Within this commemorative 60 year anniversary of the National Guard, you will also find many accounts of the emergency response relief efforts during the historic Hurricane Katrina to include saving people stranded by the flood waters, supplying medicine food and clean water staples and more.

064-000-00058-6Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness by U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Guide for citizens on how to protect themselves and their families against all types of natural and man-made disasters and hazards from tornadoes to terrorism, floods to fires, extreme cold to extreme heat. The “Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness” from FEMA can be used as a reference source or as a step-by-step manual. The focus of the content is on how to develop, practice, and maintain emergency plans that reflect what must be done before, during, and after a disaster to protect people and their property.

How do I obtain these resources?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

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.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: This week’s blog contributor is Maureen Whelan, Senior Marketing Team Leader for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales program office in Washington, DC. Maureen oversees print and digital content dissemination strategy and manages third party free and paid content distribution through platforms and vendors, such as Apple iBookstore, Barnes and Noble.com, Google Play eBookstore, Ebscohost databases, Overdrive, and more.

 


Celebrating National Safety Month: Resources and Publications

June 19, 2014

2014SafetyMonth-FeatureJune is National Safety Month. The National Safety Council (NSC) sponsors this month-long event for calling attention to key safety issues, showcasing safety resources, and raising awareness for the prevention of safety concerns and hazards.

The NSC provides access to a variety of educational National Safety Month materials, available on their Web site for free to NSC members. If your organization isn’t already a member, you can join right from their site. They also provide access to many free materials for the general public. Anyone can sign up to receive the free materials via email.

The National Safety Month Web page also provides access to a free Home Safety Checklist to help you identify common risk areas within your home.

You can also follow the NSC’s safety chat on Twitter at #NSM14.

The U.S. Government Printing Office’s U.S. Government Bookstore offers an entire collection of publications devoted to safety issues: the Emergency Management and First Responders collection. Many of the publications in this collection have been highlighted in previous Government Book Talk posts, like this one from January 2014 that focused on preparing for extreme cold and other natural and man-made disasters and showcased the publication, “Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness.” Also highlighted in the post are some books for kids on safety preparedness: “Ready…Set…Prepare! A Disaster Preparedness Activity Book for Ages 4-7,” “Ready…Set…Prepare! A Disaster Preparedness Activity Book for Ages 8-11,” and “Watch Out – Storms Ahead! Owlie Skywarn’s Weather Book.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency also has tons of resources on their site to help the public prepare for disasters of all kinds.

In addition, Federal depository libraries nationwide provide the public with free access to Federal Government publications on a wide variety of topics, including safety and emergency management and prevention. Locate a library in your area!

017-033-00508-7One publication in this collection is particularly interesting, especially in light of the frequent and tragic mine accidents we hear about on the news. “When Do You Take Refuge? Decisionmaking During Mine Emergency Escape – Instructor’s Guide and Lesson Plans” is an interesting booklet created by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services. The training program was designed to help trainees practice correct decisionmaking skills during an underground mine emergency. It actually consists of three parts: a computer-based training that includes scenario simulation (included as a CD-ROM), the instructor’s guide and lesson plans, and an evaluation (both included in the booklet).

The material was designed for underground coal miners, but it is fascinating for anyone who wants a glimpse into this hazardous occupation. The lesson plan portion of the training is filled with real-life examples of emergency scenarios and “summary teaching points” to highlight the lessons. This interesting look into the life of a coal miner brings to light the need for strict safety measures in any occupation. National Safety Month reminds us that safety should be everyone’s priority, both at home and on the job.

How can I get this publication?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy this and other publications mentioned in this blog (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Library Program.


Parent Power: The Power to Make a Difference

July 25, 2013

In honor of National Parents’ Day, celebrated the fourth Sunday of July, Government Book Talk reviews this exemplary parenting guide from the Department of Education, Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success.

parentpower The opening of the Department of Education’s Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success is a quote from President Obama made in July 2009:

“To parents, we can’t tell our kids to do well in school and then fail to support them when they get home. You can’t just contract out parenting. For our kids to excel, we have to accept our responsibility to help them learn.”

PoderdelosPadresThe book’s introduction sets the reader up to learn the most important tip given in Parent Power and its Spanish version, Poder De Los Padres Para Trazar el Camino Hacia el Exito, This tip is simple to state, but hard work to follow: be responsible. Your responsibility for your child’s education begins with modeling at home. If your kids see you reading, they will want to read. If you drag your kid to every Civil War battle site because you are a Civil War buff, your child may ace his or her American history exams. When you volunteer at your child’s school, your kids are going to see how important their education is to you.

Other tips covered in the book include: be committed, be positive, be patient, be attentive, be precise, be diligent, be results-oriented, be innovative. These tips are good calls to action for parents. Parents are already tired from their jobs, long commuting hours, keeping their living spaces clean and finding a way to feed the family. Just managing the basic tasks of daily survival can take up all their time. When your child throws a temper tantrum because you’ve sent her to her room to do her homework rather than watch her favorite TV show, it’s tough to practice that “be patient” tip. Good parenting demands more effort than managing basic survival.

Likewise, it takes a great deal of work to follow the other tips, such as remembering to be innovative and to provide positive feedback. It’s more constructive for parents to be precise when praising their children. Instead of telling your child she is smart for completing a drawing, you should tell the child how much you appreciate her making the effort to color the Canadian flag with the right colors in the right places. Parents will evaluate many of their children’s performances, and it will take quite a bit of creativity to say “good job!” in a different way every time. The last tip given in all bold case letters, BE THERE, is a restatement of the popular saying, the best present parents can give their kids is their presence.

The book does give specific suggestions, listed by school age group: birth through preschool, elementary, middle and high school.

Parent Power_Page12Image:Parent Power, Page 12, recommends activities for Pre-Schoolers and Kindergarteners.

The authors recommend a large number of parent-child and pro-school activities. Some examples are reading aloud to your child each day starting at birth, taking your child to the library, playing games with your child, contacting his or her teachers, visiting his or her school. Many parental advice volumes contain advice that may not be revolutionary, but may break parents out of a rut that they had not previously considered. There is also a list of electronic resources to help parents research further. Hints and tips are a parent’s best friend when guiding a child through the various developmental stages.

If you’re doing the fun but difficult work of raising a child, help yourself to Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success and/or Poder de los Padres: Para Trazar el Camino Hacia el Éxito. Get the hints and tips you need to encourage you. Children do not simply inherit their characters from their parents like magic. Parents are the driving force in their children’s lives, both by example and character—and that’s the power of parents. 

How can I find parenting publications from the Federal Government?

Federal Depository Librarians: How can I access these publications?

About the author(s): Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Editor: Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and , GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram.


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.


First Blood: Year One of the War Between the States

November 22, 2012

On another Thanksgiving Day 150 years ago, America was embroiled in a bitter Civil War. A year later, expressing gratitude for the key Union Army victory at Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln would proclaim that the nation will celebrate an official annual Thanksgiving holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. But in 1862, 25 states and three territories were already celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thus it is fitting that we have this wonderful guest post about the newest book from the Army’s Center of Military History series about the U.S. Army Campaigns of the Civil War. Those who had survived these clashes had much to give thanks for that Thanksgiving Day- as do we all, particularly members of our military and diplomatic services and their families who have served in harm’s way. Enjoy the post and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,  Michele Bartram


Guest blogger Sonya Kunkle was a writer and editor for more than 15 years before she joined GPO’s Proof & Copy Markup section. Here she reviews a U.S. Government Bookstore booklet on a topic that caught her interest fairly recently—the American Civil War.

As a child growing up in the Washington, DC, suburbs, I once walked through the grassy fields of Antietam Battlefield (near Sharpsburg, MD) oblivious to the historical struggle waged under my feet. American history wasn’t my favorite subject in school, but as an adult my interest in the Civil War was sparked when I read “The Killer Angels,” a novel by Michael Shaara. “The Killer Angels,” a work of historical fiction, details the Battle of Gettysburg.

This is a good time to be a Civil War history enthusiast, with 2012 being part of the sesquicentennial (150-year anniversary) of America’s bloodiest war. To mark the occasion, the U.S. Government Bookstore has for sale a 64-page booklet, The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 published by the U.S. Army’s Center for Military History.

Image: (Cover of the booklet,. Detail from Capture of Ricketts’ Battery by Sidney E. King, courtesy of William V. Fleitz, Manassas Battlefield Park.

 In this booklet you can read about the reasons for going to war and why key players made many of the decisions they did during the first year of the conflict. The author, Dr. Jennifer M. Murray, also provides a lot of information in text and graphics on the troop movements of both the Federals and the Confederates during each of the key battles of 1861.

Strategic Setting

In his inaugural address, on March 4, President Lincoln declared that he didn’t intend to abolish slavery in states where it existed. Stating that he would not initiate a war, Lincoln informed Southerners, “In your hands … is the momentous issue of civil war …You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors.

If you look at the numbers, perhaps the Confederates were doomed from the start. The 1860 Census shows that the Union could call on 4 million military-age white males to build their army, whereas the Confederacy could assemble 1 million at most.

The Union also had 10 times the industrial capacity, not to mention better transportation capabilities. In spite of these disadvantages, the South started the Civil War with its first big move—firing on Federal Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

Operations—Fort Sumter

Charleston, South Carolina, was well fortified with Fort Sumter and other defenses. Sumter was built to guard against an enemy fleet, and the walls facing the city were much weaker than those facing the water, leaving the fort vulnerable to attack on land.

On April 11, the Southern Brigadier General Pierre G. T. Beauregard demanded that the Union forces evacuate Fort Sumter. The North’s ranking officer at Sumter, Major Robert Anderson, declined.

At 3 a.m. (or 0300; the author uses military time) on April 12, the Confederates notified Major Anderson that General Beauregard and company would open fire on Fort Sumter in one hour. Twenty minutes after the deadline, a single shell from nearby Fort Johnson, which the North had abandoned, exploded over Sumter. War had begun.

Into Virginia—Bull Run

Image: First Battle of Bull Run. 1889 chromolithograph by Kurz & Allison. Source: Library of Congress. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

In May the Confederates moved their capital from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia. Richmond became a strategic target for the North, both for its industrial capability and its political importance. The two capitals, separated by only 100 miles, now figured prominently in both sides’ strategies.

The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 explains why the Union was determined to control Manassas Junction and why in May 10,600 Confederates defended the northern entrance to the Shenandoah Valley.

The author notes an interesting moment caused by the differing (and lack of) uniforms:

Viewing the Virginians, who were wearing civilian clothes, the Federal troops were unsure of their allegiance. To complicate matters further … Federal units were not uniformly dressed in blue; soldiers in the 11th New York, for instance, were dressed in colorful Zouave uniforms, which were also worn by some Confederate units. The Virginians clarified the matter by opening a deadly volley on the New Yorkers.”

Image: Brandy Station, VA, Band of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry (Zouaves). Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-B8171-7611 DLC. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

The Confederates won the fight, protecting their capital. The first battle of the Civil War resulted in the death of nearly 5,000 men.

The Fight for Missouri

While emotions roiled to the east, the majority of delegates attending a special Missouri secession convention voted to remain in the Union. This decision ran counter to Governor Claiborne F. Jackson’s personal preferences, and he mustered forces in favor of the Confederates.

This part of The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 provides details about how the Civil War reached into Missouri, with one of the key players being Union Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon.

While directing his men on the front line, Lyon got hit in the calf by a bullet, so he left the field for medical treatment. When Lyon got back on the field, a bullet grazed his head.

Determined to continue the fight, and apparently not taking the hint, Lyon returned to the field. Moments later, a bullet hit him in the chest. He was the first Union general officer to die in the Civil War.

From Belmont to Port Royal

In The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 you can read about the Union Navy’s entry into the Civil War.

It’s an interesting read, with a little information about Southern pirates (pirates!) lurking inside the Outer Banks of North Carolina, pouncing on merchant vessels before Union warships could react. To thwart these outlaws, the Federal Navy designated the Outer Banks as its first target. Union forces prepared for the war’s first joint Army-Navy operation.

You learn something about the battle for Fort Hatteras and the naval tactic (and the Confederates’ faulty ammunition) that helped the Union win the day.

The North’s capture of Fort Hatteras and nearby Fort Clark improved the Union’s outlook soon after their defeat at Bull Run. Offering a “Congratulatory Order,” one Federal officer commented, “This gallant affair will not fail to stimulate the regulars and volunteers to greater exertions to prepare themselves for future and greater achievements.

The Union’s euphoria didn’t last long.

The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 describes what happened between the North and South about 35 miles north of Washington at Ball’s Bluff. Perhaps the statistics are most noteworthy—there were an evenly matched number of men fighting on both sides, but the outcome was lopsided in terms of soldiers wounded and captured. The battle’s uneven results favored the South.

This section also addresses the Union’s win at Port Royal, South Carolina. Here you also can read about what Brigadier General (and future U.S. President) Ulysses S. Grant did in the area of Belmont, MO, that earned him President Lincoln’s favor.

The chronological coverage of the war ends with Union Major General George B. McClellan’s training the Army of the Potomac outside of Manassas. McClellan said he believed that he controlled the “destinies of this great country.”  There was no further action along the Potomac as the curtain closed on 1861.

Analysis

Dr. Murray offers incisive analysis at the end of The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861. She describes the early missteps of the secessionists, as well as what the South got right. She also notes the Union army’s mixed results.

Dr. Murray concludes, “As Federal forces grew more experienced and competent, they would gain key victories in 1862 that helped to shape the outcome of the Civil War.”

The last page of the booklet provides a short list of texts for further reading about the first year of the war.

Conclusion

The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861 helps me to appreciate the history in my own backyard. Although I find all of the information about the armies’ positions and movements a bit overwhelming, the booklet tempts me to take the 70-mile trip from Baltimore, where I live now, to explore the fields of Bull Run at Manassas. Taking the booklet with me, I’ll have a better understanding of the history I’m walking through.

HOW DO I OBTAIN The Civil War Begins: Opening Clashes, 1861?

  • 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, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a federal depository library.

Other Federal Titles about the Civil War

You may also be interested in these titles about the Civil War available from the U.S. Government Bookstore:


Hawks vs. Doves: The Joint Chiefs and the Cuban Missile Crisis

October 18, 2012

50 years ago this week, the world stood on the brink of nuclear war as the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded. The United States finally decided to first blockade rather than immediately attack Cuba to prevent the Soviet Union from finishing installation of missiles that could reach the continental United States. This article introduces the little-known story of the battles between the “hawks” and the “doves” in the Kennedy Administration as related in a new publication, The Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Policy, Vol. 8, 1961-1964.

When President John F. Kennedy finally announced the naval blockade of Cuba and the reasons for it on national television, Americans huddled together, practiced nuclear drills, and prayed for some peaceful solution to prevent all-out nuclear war. Only decades later did the full story of brinkmanship, bravado and brilliance come out about what really happened behind the scenes during those two weeks.

Image Credit: The Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records

A little known side of the story comes from the top military commanders who were serving the Kennedy administration during the crisis, found in the surprisingly fascinating book titled The Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Policy, Vol. 8, 1961-1964, from the Office of Joint History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Kennedy Administration

This accounting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during this tumultuous period in the history of American foreign affairs goes beyond the normal third party historian’s post mortem, since the author was actually able to meet with several members of the joint chiefs in the 1970’s to add more of their personal insights, including Admiral Arleigh Burke, Admiral George Anderson, General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman during 1960-1962, and the Chairman who succeeded him, General Maxwell D. Taylor.

Image: President John F. Kennedy meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Photograph includes: (L-R) United States Marine Corps General David Shoup; United States Army General Earle Wheeler; United States Air Force General Curtis LeMay, President Kennedy; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Maxwell Taylor; United States Navy Admiral George Anderson. West Wing Lawn.  White House. Washington, D.C. Credit: Robert Knudsen. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

What results is an interesting amalgam of history and a peek into the tensions between military joint chiefs and the civilians to whom they reported. Describing the relationship of the Kennedy administration and the military establishment, author Walter S. Poole says: “During 1961-1962, relations between the JCS and their civilian superiors were often awkward and even confrontational” particularly between Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and Lemnitzer.

The old-school Joint Chiefs were concerned about the new approach to foreign policy being espoused by the Kennedy administration, and tensions grew. According to the author:

“What most concerned the JCS was an apparent erosion of US credibility that emboldened communist leaders to pursue more adventurous policies. President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara pursued what they conceived as more flexible approaches to strategy and crisis management.”

Quick Background on the Cuban Missile Crisis

In 1962, the Soviet Union was losing the arms race with the United States. In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba to double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential U.S. attack against the Soviet Union from the Jupiter missiles the U.S. had just placed in Turkey.  Ever since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion the previous year, Fidel Castro felt a second attack by the U.S. on Cuba was inevitable, so he agreed to host the missiles as protection.

Image: Initial U.S. intelligence estimates of possible U.S. targets within range of the nuclear-capable Soviet SS-4 medium-range ballisticmissiles (MRBMs) and SS-5 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) found by the U-2 spy plane surveillance photographs if they were launched from Cuba.  Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS

On October 15, 1962, the National Photographic Intelligence Center confirmed that secret reconnaissance photographs from an American U-2 spy plane flight the day before were finally able to definitively prove the suspicion that Soviet medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Atlanta, the Midwest, Washington, DC, and even Los Angeles and Seattle were indeed in place and in the process of being installed and ready in Cuba within days. In response, President Kennedy and Secretary McNamara assembled the Executive Committee of the National Security Council call “ExComm” as a task force that, together with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and experts from the State Department and other intelligence agencies, would debate the United States’ options to deter the Soviets from nuclear escalation.

To Blockade, Strike or Invade?

Earlier in September 1962, after cloud-obscured U-2 photos had hinted at Soviet build-up in Cuba, the Joint Strategic Survey Council had submitted a recommendation for blockading rather than invading Cuba, on grounds that a blockade would be less dramatic, require smaller resources, cause fewer casualties, and be more plausibly related to upholding the Monroe Doctrine. In his 1823 annual message to Congress, President James Monroe had established this doctrine followed by the U.S. ever since that warned European countries not to interfere in the Western Hemisphere, stating “that the American continents… are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.

However, as the crisis unfolded, the primary debate among the military commanders of the Joint Chiefs was over whether to carry out an all-inclusive attack against Soviet and Cuban forces on the island or a surgical strike confined to just attacking the missiles themselves, the nuclear storage sites, and Soviet MiG planes.

Both President Kennedy and McNamara thought that an all-inclusive attack would inevitably lead to invasion of Cuba, and then possible counter-attacks elsewhere by the Soviets or escalation to all-out war.

But General Taylor reported that the Joint Chiefs and the combatant commanders felt “so strongly about the dangers inherent in [only] the limited strike that they would prefer taking no military action. They feel it’s opening up the United States to attacks which they can’t prevent, if we don’t take advantage of surprise.” Taylor added that his personal inclination was “all against invasion, but nonetheless trying to eliminate as effectively as possible every weapon [present in Cuba] that can strike the United States”.

According to the reports by the author, the Joint Chiefs were opposed to only attacking the medium-range ballistic missiles themselves, saying it would incur “an unacceptable risk” and that not attacking the enemy’s planes would expose the continental United States and Puerto Rico to air attack and could cause unnecessary casualties among the garrison at Guantanamo and the forces assembling for invasion.  Instead, the JCS initially recommended “also hitting tactical missiles, aircraft, ships, tanks, and other appropriate targets, as well as imposing a ‘complete’ blockade.


Image: A meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council in the Cabinet Room during the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 29, 1962, 10:10-10:58am. Clockwise from left: Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (standing); Assistant Sec. Defense Paul Nitze; Dep. USIA Dir. Donald Wilson; Special Counsel Theodore Sorensen; Exec. Sec. NSC Bromley Smith; Special Assistant McGeorge Bundy; Sec. Treasury Douglas Dillon; Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson; Ambassador  Llewellyn Thompson; William C. Foster; CIA Dir. John McCone (hidden); Under Secretary of State George Ball (hidden); President John F. Kennedy; Sec. State Dean Rusk; Sec. Defense Robert McNamara; Dep. Sec. Defense Roswell Gilpatric; Chairman JCS Gen. Maxwell Taylor. Credit: Photo by Cecil Stoughton, JFK Library ST-A26-18-62

The Blues vs. the Reds

Even more fascinating was the story of the war gaming techniques used. To quickly develop two alternative scenarios for the President to consider, the ExComm task force split into two groups that constantly exchanged position papers and critiqued each other’s work. The “Blues,” who were to prepare the scenario for a surprise air strike, included General Maxwell Taylor, Robert Kennedy, Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon, Director McCone, Dean Acheson, and McGeorge Bundy. The “Reds,” drafting the blockade option, included Chief of U.S. Naval Operations Adm. George Anderson, Marine Corps Commandant David Shoup, Secretary Rusk, Deputy Secretary Gilpatric, and Theodore Sorensen.

Image: On October 11 last week, certain documents from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s personal papers about the Cuban Missile Crisis were declassified. In it was the above personal list of who RFK thought among the ExComm were the “Hawks” who favored an air strike (shown in the right column labeled “Strike”) vs. the “Doves” who favored a blockade of Cuba (in the left column). Note that the “Chiefs” meaning the Joint Chiefs of Staff along with General Taylor are shown on the “Hawks” Strike side of his list on the right.  Source: The National Security Archive

In less than two days, two complete scenarios were prepared and presented to President Kennedy on October 20, with competing input coming from the Pentagon and the State Department.

From this insider accounting of events, we learn that the Chairman thought that the probable sequence of events to be green-lighted would be: a political approach; a warning; air attack on the missile sites; blockade; and, if necessary, invasion, with the earliest air strike date set for October 21 (optimally the 23rd), and an invasion to begin on October 28.

However, to find out exactly what happened and how the drama played out behind the scenes, pick up a copy of this fascinating book.

HOW DO I OBTAIN The Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Policy, Vol. 8, 1961-1964”?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s US Government 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 this and other Government publications about Cuba in our Cuba collection.

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 (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


The End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

June 25, 2012

On September 20, 2011, the 18-year old United States military official “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy came to an end.

Six months later, a new book by J. Ford Huffman and Tammy S. Schultz was published by the Marine Corps University Press entitled, The End of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: The Impact in Studies and Personal Essays by Service Members and Veterans.

This is a collection of four scholarly studies and 25 essays about the impact of living under this policy from a diverse group of gay and straight, current and former military members from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Since June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) Pride Month, we thought it appropriate to review this book available through GPO and give some background on the policy that led to it.

Rise of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

In the early 1990’s in the United States, a push for more rights for non-heterosexuals in both civilian and military life was rising.  Eventually, on June 2, 2000, President Bill Clinton declared June 2000 the first official “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” in the United States. (This was later renamed by President Barack Obama in 2009 who declared June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Pride Month which it is called today).

However, lawmakers and the military establishment in 1993 were not ready to allow openly gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

As a compromise, United States federal law Pub.L. 103-160 (10 U.S.C. § 654 called the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy, nicknamed DADT, was passed and went into effect on December 21, 1993. It “prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants, while barring openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service” (Wikipedia).

Image: Web banner from the U.S. Army’s DADT website

Not Asking vs. Not Telling

The “Don’t Ask” part of the DADT policy specified that superiors should not initiate questioning or investigation of a military service member’s sexual orientation without first having witnessed disallowed behaviors or received credible evidence. Because of the number of unauthorized investigations and harassment of suspected servicemen and women, the policy was expanded to “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue, don’t harass.”

Under the “Don’t Tell” aspect of the policy, the military service members themselves were prohibited from disclosing their sexual orientation or homosexual relationships while actively serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Anyone who did disclose or were discovered to be homosexual could be separated (discharged) from the military, resulting in some 14,346 members of the military being discharged because of their sexual orientation under 18 years of the DADT policy.

Changing Times, Changing Military Needs Led to DADT’s Repeal

After nearly two decades under DADT and the increasing need to recruit and retain the best able service members to help fight wars on multiple fronts, many American military and political leaders felt it was time to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The Pentagon performed a detailed analysis of possible issues and recommendations for implementation in the November 30, 2010 Support Plan for Implementation: Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

Image: Pentagon’s November 2010 implementation plan and report on the issues associated with DADT repeal. Source: Gawker.com

Bipartisan support in Congress led them to pass the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.” The caveat was that the policy would remain in place until the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the military all certified that the repeal of DADT would not harm military readiness, followed by a 60-day waiting period. The required certification was sent to Congress on July 22, 2011, which set the end of DADT for September 20, 2011.

In a statement accompanying the certification, President Obama said:

Today’s report confirms that a strong majority of our military men and women and their families—more than two-thirds—are prepared to serve alongside Americans who are openly gay and lesbian. This report also confirms that, by every measure, from unit cohesion to recruitment and retention to family readiness, we can transition to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and national security.

Thus, on September 20, 2011, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed. Said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican credited with pulling together bipartisan support for the repeal: “Today, for the first time in our history, we will welcome the service of any qualified individual who’s willing to put on the uniform of our country,” (Source: CNN).

Image: President Obama signs the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.” Source: AP

Covered in the Book

The first part of The End of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell book contains academic reports and research that “shed light on the way forward for the services and policy makers.” This includes a report by Dr. Nora Bensahel who conducted extensive research with RAND Corporation on experiences of the other 26 countries who allow homosexuals to openly serve in their militaries. Other reports by military officers include one discussing the importance of considering service members’ “family readiness,” as well as the prevailing views and culture in the military in 2010 toward “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The second part of the book includes personal essays from both gay and straight members of the military who served under DADT, emphasizing their personal experience of living under this policy. In them, the authors either provided details or “assurances that they were willing to testify under oath regarding their experiences.” As described by editors Schultz and Huffman in their introduction: “These personal essays peel back the curtain of the shame, uncertainty, homophobia, anger, fear, and other emotions of living under DADT. These are the views, recollections and words of the authors alone.

In one essay, a former female Marine described herself as: “I was a woman. I was black. I was gay. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ I was invisible.”  She concludes her essay with hope that her story helps others:

 “Change and transition can be difficult, and there will be casualties along the way. If sharing my story helps someone in the military whether they are gay or straight, it will have been worth it. If it helps the leadership make different decisions that include and help everyone with the transition of the repeal of DADT, it will have been worth it.

An Air Force officer who was discharged after his superior searched his personal emails and discovered he was gay was gratified that so many members of his old unit said they’d be honored to serve with him again. He sums up his essay with:

Soon I hope to resume my career as an officer and leader in the Air Force without the mandatory silence of DADT and the constant fear that I will be fired… Now [after the repeal of DADT] our military can judge its men and women on their merit and not their sexual orientation.

Image: A sign at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington State. Source: Oregon Public Broadcasting

The Best Story Ends with a Non-Event

The most common argument by critics against DADT’s repeal was that changing the policy in the middle of multiple wars would be a distraction and could cost lives. This was the original opinion of Marine Commandant General James E. Amos who lobbied against allowing gays to serve openly when the repeal was first passed in 2010, even though the Pentagon’s own 2010 research had shown already that 70% of Service members said they would be able to “work together to get the job done” with a gay service member in their immediate units.

Today, Amos, as are other military leaders, are pleased with the progress of the Armed Forces’ implementation of the repeal, with mandatory training sessions for all levels of the military haven taken place. DADT support groups say they have received no reports of harassment, discrimination or negative experiences connected with the DADT repeal from gay and lesbian active military.

In fact, an April 2012 article in the Marine Corps Times seems to show just how smoothly the transition has gone, as demonstrated by this anecdote involving Amos and his wife, Bonnie, at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball in November 2011. During the Ball, a female Marine introduced her lesbian partner to Amos’ wife, General Amos explained: “Bonnie just looked at them and said, ‘Happy birthday ball. This is great. Nice to meet you…’ That is happening throughout the Marine Corps.

Image: General Amos & Bonnie Amos. Source: Black Tie International Magazine.

Retired Marine Col. Brendan Kearney predicted a smooth transition in one of the book’s essays: “I believe the demise of DADT will quickly become a non-event, and the services as a whole will get on with the business at hand: Defeating the enemies of our country.”

Co-editor Tammy Schultz believes The End of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell book outlines a “relatively smooth compliance with the new law” according to a Huffington Post article. She concludes: “That is not to say that challenges don’t remain ahead, and our book details some of those. But the U.S. military can more than handle it.

So in the case of the end of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, the best story ending seems to be that it is a non-event.

UPDATE 2012/06/27: On June 26, 2012, the Defense Department hosted its first ever Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Pride Month event since the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” at the Pentagon. Click here to watch the program on C-SPAN.

HOW DO I OBTAIN The End of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: The Impact in Studies and Personal Essays by Service Members and Veterans?

  • 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.

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 (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Uncle Sam wants to help you… get a job

May 4, 2012

If you are one of the millions of Americans hunting for a job, the U.S. Government wants you… to be prepared for the job search.

According to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on April 10, 2012, called “Job Openings and Labor Turnover – February 2012”, the number of job openings has been climbing:

The number of job openings in the United States in February 2012 was 3.5 million…  Although the number of job openings remained below the 4.3 million openings when the recession began in December 2007, the number of job openings has increased 46 percent since the end of the recession in June 2009.

Image: Uncle Sam: “I want you to get a real job” poster. Source: SF Weekly

And today’s numbers from the Labor Department showed that the U.S. economy added 115,000 jobs in April while the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent.

Together with graduating college and high school seniors, this makes this a prime time for many Americans to start or re-start their job search.

Fortunately, the Federal Government has produced a number of helpful job and employment publications and resources to help you find that job, from researching careers, industries and salaries, to preparing resumes, writing cover letters and honing your interviewing skills.

Step 1: Identify the Right Career for You

Many job hunters have had to leave their original profession due to changes in the marketplace. To help them identify what types of jobs are out there and what skills are needed, here are some Federal publications:

  Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 (Paperback)
The must-have book for every career counselor, The Occupational Outlook Handbook is exceedingly useful for job hunters, particularly those who are changing careers or in an industry that is undergoing transition. It describes about 250 occupations in detail, covering what the types of tasks workers do on a particular type of job, the working conditions, the training and education needed, earnings, and expected job prospects.
  High-Earning Workers Who Don’t Have A Bachelor’s Degree
This publication is still valid today, as it reviews occupations that earn relatively high salaries without requiring expensive college degrees. Ranges from accountants, to plumbers and electricians, repair people and mechanics, registered nurses and health technicians, managers and supervisors of all types, and more. Gives percentages of these that do not have bachelor’s degrees and typical weekly earnings (circa 1999).

Additional information on job training can be found at CareerOneStop’s Explore Careers section.

Step 2:  Determine Whether You Should Get Additional Education and Training

Many job seekers need to acquire new skills or update their existing skills to become or stay competitive. These publications talk about the value of training

  What It’s Worth: Field of Training and Economic Status in 2001
If you’ve ever doubted the value of education on your earning potential, the Census Bureau assembled these figures on what additional training is worth to one’s economic status and earnings.
  Apprenticeships: Career Training, Credentials, and a Paycheck in Your Pocket
Some professions require going through apprenticeship training. This publication explains how apprenticeship works, listing apprenticeable occupations, and the years of training estimated for each occupation.

Additional information and resources about job-related education and training can be found at CareerOneStop’s Education & Training section.

Step 3: Preparing Your Work Credentials and Interviewing Skills

The next step is to hone your credentials and interviewing skills for the active job search. The following excellent publications and resources will help you ensure you put your best foot forward.

  Resumes, Applications, and Cover Letters
With this update of a popular publication, you will find out the best ways to present your credentials to prospective employers. Illustrations include a sample chronological resume, a sample functional resume, and a sample cover letter. The ‘for more information’ section lists some useful, established websites that contain advice about 21st century job hunting and resume writing.
  Getting Back to Work: Returning to the Labor Force After an Absence
Many job seekers today have what is called an imperfect employment history due to layoffs, underemployment or other career gaps. This publication helps these returning workers know what to do and what to expect when returning to the labor force can help ease the transition back to work. Part 1 offers tips on how to identify, and prepare for, your ideal job. Part 2 helps you get set for the workforce. Part 3 suggests ways to maintain work-life balance. In sidebars throughout the article, you’ll find suggestions for some special re-entry situations as well as lists of additional resources.
  Employment Interviewing: Seizing the Opportunity and the Job
This booklet gives useful advice on what to do before, during, and after a job interview to help you get that job. It also includes tips about job fairs.

Additional information and resources about resumes, interviewing and job-related education and training can be found at CareerOneStop’s Resumes + Interviews section.

Step 4: Start Your Job Search

Federal Government Jobs:

A useful publication for anyone seeking to apply for a Federal government job is “How to Get a Job in the Federal Government”. Read our previous blog post about this publication, entitled “Information about Getting a Federal Government Job”.

Once you are ready to apply, you can find all current Federal jobs openings on the Federal job site, USAJobs.gov.

Private Sector and State Government Jobs:

Information and resources about where and how to conduct your job hunt can be found at CareerOneStop’s Job Search section.

Step 5:  Research Typical Salary and Benefits

Hopefully, at this point you are receiving job offers and negotiating salary and benefits. These Federal publications can give you some ballpark figures of salaries for various occupations as well as unemployment laws in different states.

  National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States, 2006
This Multimedia booklet and CD-ROM report on earnings for occupations common to a wide variety of establishments. Coverage includes office clerical, professional and technical, maintenance, custodial and material movement occupations.
  Occupational Employment and Wages, 2006
This guide provides occupational employment and wage data from across the United States.
  Employment and Wages Annual Averages, 2005
This Multimedia booklet and CD-ROM present 2005 employment and wages data as defined in the North American Industry Classification System. Data pertain to workers covered by State unemployment insurance laws and the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
  Comparison of State Unemployment Insurance Laws, 2005
This valuable publication provides state-by-state information on workers covered by unemployment insurance, benefit eligibility, methods of financing, and other areas of interest in the unemployment insurance program

More information and resources about salary and benefits can be found at CareerOneStop’s Salary + Benefits section and the Publications section of the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Other Federal Job Hunting Resources:

  • Occupational Outlook Quarterly – This periodical subscription service offered by the Government Printing Office is issued quarterly by the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics and provides current information on employment trends and outlook, supplementing and bringing up to date information in Occupational Outlook Handbook.
  • CareerOneStop: The Labor Department has created an excellent website for American job seekers. Called CareerOneStop.org, this job hunting portal helps you find the information and resources you need about careers, training, educational financial aid, job banks and more.
    • It also has a Service Locator to help all job seekers and the unemployed find Federal, state and local employment resources in your area.
    • Veterans now can find job-hunting help at their Veterans ReEmployment initiatives section.

How Can I Obtain the Publications Mentioned in this Post?  

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.


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