Quiz and History for Bill of Rights Day December 15

December 13, 2013

Bill-of-Rights-Founding-Father-President-James-Madison-statue-AP-PhotoImage: James Madison statue in front of Bill of Rights. AP Photo.

We celebrate Bill of Rights Day on December 15 every year in the midst of the bustling holiday season. Although it’s not a Federal holiday, it’s definitely a day for American citizens to commemorate the freedoms we enjoy by law. And no, the right to shop—while popular in America— is not listed in the Bill of Rights!

History of the Bill of Rights

The Founding Fathers drafted the United States Constitution during the First Constitutional Convention, held from May through September 1787 in Philadelphia. The completed draft constitution, sent to the States for ratification in September 1787, did not include any mention of individual rights. The framers’ focus was largely on structuring a strong government, and getting that structure put into place. Without such a structure, the Founding Fathers feared the country’s collapse into chaos or new attacks from outsiders. They left the issue of individual rights without adding it to the Constitution during that meeting.

As a result of this omission, Edmund Randolph, George Mason, and Elbridge Gerry refused to sign the Constitution on principle. Maryland delegates Luther Martin and John Francis Mercer reportedly walked out of the Convention, at least in part because the draft did not include a Bill of Rights. In September, Randolph, Mason and Gerry joined in asking for a second constitutional convention to address the issue of personal rights. All three men advocated strongly for a bill of rights throughout most of the constitutional convention. The people ultimately adopted the Constitution, sans any bill of rights, on September 17, 1787. Eleven states ratified it and it went into effect in 1789.

Founding Father James Madison was a delegate from Virginia who had been a key actor and speaker at the First Constitutional Convention. He had held onto the idea of the individual freedoms as discussed at that Convention. Although Federalist Madison was originally a skeptic about needing a Bill of Rights, like Randolph, Mason and Gerry he came to believe that the inclusion of personal rights was imperative to be added to the United States Constitution.

quote-enlightened-statesmen-will-not-always-be-at-the-helm-President-James-MadisonImage courtesy IZQuotes.

In Madison’s view, the value of a listing of rights was:

  • in part educational for the populace under this new form of Government,
  • in part as a vehicle that might be used to rally people against a future oppressive Government when “less enlightened statesmen” may be in power,
  • and finally–in an argument borrowed from Thomas Jefferson–Madison argued that a declaration of rights would help install the judiciary as “guardians” of individual rights against the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government.

Thus, while serving in the first U.S. House of Representatives, Madison framed and introduced the Bill of Rights as legislative articles to amend the Constitution on June 8, 1789.

He used as a model George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, written in May 1776, and also based his legislative articles in part on the English Bill of Rights (1689), the Magna Carta and other documents.

Painting-Adoption-of-VA-Declaration-of-RightsImage: This painting, The Adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, depicting the adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights by the fifth Virginia Revolutionary Convention was made by Jack Clifton in 1974. It now hangs in the Virginia State Capitol. Courtesy: Virginia Memory online exhibit of the Library of Virginia.

What rights are in Bill of Rights?

Painting-of-James-Madison-reading-Bill-of-Rights-to-First-CongressMadison included in his articles a list of rights of the individual, such as free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, free assembly, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and others, as well as some limits on government powers.

Image on the right: Madison reading his Bill of Rights to Congress. Courtesy: University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

On August 21, 1789, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted Madison’s articles, proposed them in a joint resolution of Congress on September 25, 1789, and finally ratified them on December 15, 1791.

The Bill of Rights consists of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and is a key “fundamental document” of the United States Federal government.

Cartoon of the Bill of Rights depicting the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution. From a 1971 Teacher's Guide transparency for "Young Citizen"

Image: Bill of Rights depicted in cartoon format from 1971 Young Citizen teacher’s guide transparency. Courtesy: Syracuse University. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE and for teacher printable version.

  • First Amendment:  Freedom of Religion, Speech, and Press, the Right to Assemble Peaceably and to Petition the Government “for a redress of grievances.
  • Second Amendment: Right to Keep and Bear Arms- “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
  • Third Amendment: Quartering of Troops- “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
  • Fourth Amendment: Search and Seizure- “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  • Fifth Amendment: Grand Jury, Double Jeopardy, Self-Incrimination, Due Process
  • Sixth Amendment: Criminal Prosecutions – Right to  a speedy public trial by an impartial jury, to confront witnesses and to counsel for defense.
  • Seventh Amendment: Common Law Suits –Right to a Trial by Jury
  • Eighth Amendment: No Excessive Bail or Fines or Cruel and Unusual Punishment- “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
  • Ninth Amendment: Non-Enumerated Rights or “Rule of Construction of the Constitution”-  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
  • Tenth Amendment: States’ Rights- Rights not explicitly delegated to the Federal Government in the Constitution are reserved to the States or to the People.

Where can you learn more about the Bill of Rights?

US-Constitution-and-Declaration-of-Independence-Pocket-Guide_I9780160891847 Buy at the US Government Online Bookstore http://bookstore.gpo.gpvIf you want to learn more about the Bill of Rights, an excellent place to start would be reading the source document, the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence; the GPO U.S. Government Bookstore sells a handy Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence Pocket Edition. The full text of the ten amendments of the Bill of Rights is there for you to read and study.

US Citizenship and Immigration Service Civics Flash Cards for the US Naturalization Test ISBN-9780160904608 Available from GPO's US Government Bookstore a http://bookstore.gpo.govImage courtesy Citizenship Guru.

Kids in school, or adults wanting to revisit the fundamentals they learned in civics classes, can learn a lot from the Civics Flash Cards for the U.S. Naturalization Test (English Version)—and obviously the target audience, U.S. residents who want to become American citizens, will benefit from studying these, too.

Spanish-Civics-Flash-Cards-for-US-naturalization-test Tarjetas de Educación Cívica ISBN 9780160902048 Available from the US Government Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.govIf you’re more comfortable reading en español, you can study using the same flash cards in Spanish: Tarjetas de Educación Cívica para el Exámen de Naturalización to cover the same material.

You can also listen to the same questions in English on the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) website. (I didn’t see them offered in Spanish on their site, though.) If you’re cramming for the naturalization or a civics exam, listening to the questions is excellent reinforcement for your study plan.

Mini-Quiz from the Citizenship Test

Civics-Flash-Cards-Question-38If you’ve already read this post, or studied the Constitution, you will probably ace questions #1 and #2 of the United States naturalization test for citizenship:

  1. “What is the supreme law of the land?”
  2. “What does the Constitution do?”
  3. “What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?” (Bonus points if you get the answer to this question #5 correct!)

(Answers: 1- The Constitution. 2- Sets up the government; Defines the government; Protects basic rights of Americans. 3- The Bill of Rights, of course! )

For even more challenging questions based on the U.S. Citizenship test, take our fun Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?

In-depth civics questions can be answered by the capsule summary answers to the questions in Learn About the United States: Quick Civics Lesson for the Naturalization Test 2013 (Book Plus CD). Students need to know the principles and background behind the answers, not just the answers themselves, obviously.

Question six asks, “What is ONE right or freedom from the First Amendment?” The text lists the possible answers, and then relates the reasons for the guarantee of those freedoms. The authors explain freedom of expression as follows:

“The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights protects a person’s right to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression allows open discussion and debate on public issues. Open discussion and debate are important to democracy.”

You’ll definitely have a thorough grounding in the basics of American Federal government by the time you’re done with the lesson.

The Right to Exercise… Your Rights, That Is

Exercise your right to open discussion by reading some of these documents, and talking to friends about them. If you are a school student, maybe you’ll have an opportunity to write about the Bill of Rights or the freedoms the Bill of Rights guarantee.

1963-2013-Civil-Rights-logoIn this year, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of three significant events from the Civil Rights movement— the March on Washington for Rights and Freedom, the murder of African-American civil rights activist Medgar Evers who was involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama— it’s a good time to reflect on our civil rights and liberties, and how lucky we are to have them.

Image: Civil Rights Movement 50th Anniversary logo. Courtesy: City of Birmingham, Alabama

How can you obtain official publications that explain the Bill of Rights and other documents of American rights?

About the author(s): Adapted 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!


Rebuilding after the floods: FEMA shares lessons learned after Sandy

October 28, 2013

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Superstorm or Hurricane Sandy. The destruction and devastation is still felt by many people on the East Coast as they rebuild and recover from this historic superstorm.

Damaged-homes-Superstorm-Sandy-GazetteImage: In this Oct. 31, 2012 file photo, a view from the air shows the destroyed homes left in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in Seaside Heights, N.J. New Jersey got the brunt of Sandy, which made landfall in the state and killed six people. Photo Credit: Mike Groll, Associated Press

Sandy is only one storm among many that have caused Americans agony in recent years. As recently as last month, catastrophic flooding damaged Colorado, and we never know what is coming in the future – when the next natural disaster will strike.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for providing aid to those affected by natural disasters, which includes resources like fact sheets and publications for consumers and local and state governments  on how to prepare for and recover from devastating floods.

Road-damage-Colorado-floods-2013Image: A flood-wrecked road in Colorado, September 16, 2013. Photo credit:  KUSA.

Hazard Mitigation Field Book – Roadways

Hazard-Mitigation-Field-Book_Flooded-Roadways_9780160902031One of the biggest problems immediately after a disaster like Hurricane Sandy is the impact of flooding on the infrastructure, particularly roads, that prevent emergency responders and local officials from getting in to the flooded areas to assess the damage, or construction personnel from getting materials in to rebuild.

Hazard Mitigation Field Book: Roadways focuses on ways for municipalities to lessen the impact of flooding on roadways. This FEMA roadway damage field guide helps state and local governments rapidly assess various flood-caused roadway hazards and identify the best hazard mitigation (HM) solutions for the situation. It also includes case studies and general design guidance to help prevent damage to and around roadways through engineering and construction practices.

The information is very technical— focusing on the various problems that can result from flooded roadways and how to fix, prevent and reduce the impact of the problems. FEMA is encouraging governments to be proactive and repair substandard infrastructure rather than getting stuck in a disaster-rebuild-disaster cycle that is often costly and does not fix the problem. But while the intended audience for this publication is local and state governments, it contains useful information for any concerned citizen. Hazard Mitigation Field Book: Roadways is available both in Spiral-bound Print and as an ePub eBook.

Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction

Home-builders-guide-coastal-construction_9780160914133Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction is comprised of 37 fact sheets broken down by ten topics related to residential coastal construction. The fact sheets are designed with photographs, drawings, charts and diagrams presenting the information in a user-friendly way. FEMA shares best practices and the reasoning behind them in order to improve the performance of buildings subject to flood and wind forces in coastal environments. Many of the fact sheets also include a list of additional resources on the topic.

This guide is a great resource for those who already sustained damage and need advice on how to rebuild while also renovating and improving your existing coastal residence.

Building contractors, realtors and others in the construction industry who work with homes in hurricane or typhoon-prone areas should take special note as Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction includes the newest building codes and recommendations for flood, storm and hurricane resistant construction learned from recent disasters.

[NOTE: For New Jersey residents, here is a Rebuilding After Sandy Fact Sheet about new state building requirements for coastal construction which refers to homes declared “substantially damaged buildings” (see below).]

Other Flood Publications

Answers-to-Questions-about-Substantially-Damaged-Buildings_064-000-00048-9A good companion book to the Home Builder’s Guide is the Answers to Questions About Substantially Damaged Buildings (Paperback) and eBook version which provides information on FEMA regulations and policy on substantial improvement as it applies to damaged structures.

Floods-The-Awesome-Power_9780160814181Floods: The Awesome Power is a consumer guide sold in a package of 25 from NOAA’s National Weather Service that explains flood-related hazards, and suggests life-saving actions you can take.

Prevention is Worth A Gallon of Cure

One year ago, Americans along the East Coast were evacuating and seeking shelter from Hurricane Sandy, and one month ago Coloradoans were under water. With each natural disaster there are lessons learned that can hopefully make a difference in preventing tragedy for when the next one strikes. Whether you live on the Atlantic, Pacific or Gulf Coast, or any flood-prone area, these valuable publications can help communities and homeowners rebuild and hopefully lessen the impact for when the damage is done.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE FLOOD-RELATED PUBLICATIONS?

You can find these Federal flood and flood control publications through any of these methods:

  • 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 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.
  • Go to a Library: GPO provides copies of these publications to Federal Depository libraries worldwide. Find them in a library near you.

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


September 11 Tales of Heroes and Tough Lessons

September 11, 2013

9-11 Decade of Remembrance Twin Towers and Pentagon Logo designed by David McKenzie at the Government Printing OfficeThere are certain moments and events that are etched in our national consciousness. Ask any American who was alive in the 60’s where he or she was when John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King was assassinated and you will hear a stirring personal story. For our generation, it was September 11, 2001.

Image: September 11 Decade of Remembrance logo with World Trade Center Twin Towers surrounded by a figure representing the Pentagon. Created by David McKenzie with the Government Printing Office for the U.S. Government Bookstore.

I was right across from the Twin Towers twelve years ago today, getting ready to board a ferry for my daily commute from New Jersey across the Hudson River into Manhattan, when I saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center right across from me. So, too, I cried with a group of strangers as we stood on the ferry platform and watched in horror as the first tower fall, saw the dust cloud rise and felt the earth—and the world—tremble.

America and Americans have changed since that day… twelve years ago today. We have since heard stirring stories of heroes and sacrifice, and learned many grim lessons that are still affecting both policy and people today.

Many of these stories of heroism, missed opportunities, and resulting actions have been painstakingly and faithfully chronicled by a wide array of Federal agencies, ensuring the sacrifices and lessons are not forgotten.

Responding to the Tragedies

Both in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, we saw how first responders and medical personnel rushed to save lives. These excellent publications tell the stories of the heroes from that day:

  • 008-000-01049-8Pentagon 9/11 (10th Anniversary Edition) (Paperback) includes a foreword by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and provides the most comprehensive account available of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and aftermath, including unprecedented details on the impact on the Pentagon building and personnel and the scope of the rescue, recovery, and care-giving effort.
  • 008-000-01048-0Attack on the Pentagon: The Medical Response to 9/11 not only tells the personal stories from medical personnel responding to the attack on the Pentagon, but also provides insight from MEDCOM officers detailed to New York to support National Guard troops guarding ground zero’s perimeter. It also includes the Army’s involvement in the recovery of deceased attack victims at the Pentagon and the work of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in identifying human remains at Dover Air Force Base. In addition, the roles of military and civilian hospital staffs and of military environmental health and mental health specialists in taking care of attack victims and their families are also examined.

Tough Lessons

The single must-read for every American about September 11 is the official version of The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. This publication lists the findings of the National 9/11 Commission, listing all the painful errors made leading up to the terrorist attacks and outlining specific recommendations for international, national, state and local changes in policy and procedures that the panel of experts felt needed to be implemented to ensure a similar attack never happened again. This seminal publication has served to inform all subsequent policies and legislation since 9/11. It is available in print or as an eBook.

911-commission-report

Image: Launch of the 9/11 Commission Report. Courtesy: CSMonitor.com

The Senate, Select Committee on Intelligence, and House, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence examined the intelligence failures leading up to 9/11 and jointly published the results in United States Congressional Serial Set, Serial No. 14750: Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activity Before and After Terrorists Attacks of September 11, 2001 With Errata.

027-001-00097-1Additional insights into the causes of and responses to terrorism can be gleaned from Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP): A Collection of Research Ideas, Thoughts, and Perspectives, V. 1. This publication provides the findings from the post-9/11 FBI Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP) Symposium. TRAP is a leading research consortium made up of international/domestic academics and law enforcement officers, and is a working group sponsored by the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. In it, these counter-terrorism experts provide a better understanding of the causes of terrorist activity and possible government response tactics to mitigate terrorist actions.

064-000-00029-2As we watch the new World Trade Center going up in New York, we can be assured that builders are incorporating architectural and construction lessons learned from the World Trade Center Building Performance Study: Data Collection, Preliminary Observations, and Recommendations.

Policy and Legislative Response

United States Congressional Serial Set, Serial No. 14924, House Report No. 724, 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act, Pts. 1-6 outlines the specific legislative changes enacted by Congress, providing both background and justifications for them along with attribution.

A print copy of the law itself can be purchased here: Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Public Law 110-53 along with the details of the various committee conferences contributing to it in Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1, July 25, 2007.

Defending the Homeland since 9/11

041-001-00657-5National Strategy for Homeland Security (October 2007) provides the common framework outlined by the George W. Bush Administration to guides, organize and unify the United States’ homeland security efforts.

008-000-01068-4A new publication from the Air Force Reserve called Turning Point 9.11: Air Force Reserve in the 21st Century, 2001-2011 tells the story of how the Air Force Reserve responded to 9/11 and have contributed to the security of the United States in a post-September 11 world.

050-012-00440-4In a similar vein, Rogue Wave: The U.S. Coast Guard on and After 9/11 chronicles the involvement of the U.S. Coast Guard on that fateful day and the evolving role in national and world security since.  Part of the Coast Guard 9/11 response is told in this touching video about the boatlift to evacuate people from lower Manhattan is told in a video narrated by Tom Hanks entitled: BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience.”

A touching video about the boatlift to evacuate people from lower Manhattan on 9/11 (September 11) is told in a video narrated by Tom Hanks entitled: BOATLIFT, An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience. Click on the image above or this link to view the “Boatlift” video.

The upcoming U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues, Volume 2: National Security Policy and Strategy provides a summarized look at the national security curriculum now taught to our nation’s top military and civilian leaders by the U.S. Army War College. Revised with the lessons learned from the years since 9/11, this publication includes a chapter on ”Securing America From Attack: The Defense Department’s Evolving Role After 9/11.”

How can I obtain these Federal 9/11 publications?

  • Shop Online: Print Editions of these 9/11-related publications may be ordered from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, by clicking on the links above in this blog post or shopping our Terrorism & 9/11 History collection under our US & Military History category.
  • 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 our Retail Store: Buy copies of these publications 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.
  • Find them in a Library: Find these publications in a 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.


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.


The Privacy Act: What the Government Can Collect and Disclose about You

June 28, 2013

Privacy is the watchword in the news these days. With the revelations in recent weeks about far-reaching domestic surveillance programs by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other Federal agencies that were expanded under the Patriot Act, Americans are scrambling to determine what privacy rights they have to information collected by the Federal Government.

Overview-of-the-Privacy-Act-of-1974-2012-Edition-9780160914461Thus, the timing is ideal to review a biennial publication, Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974 (2012 Edition), available in print from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore.

The Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974 provides a valuable function to consumers, the media, Government and members of the legal profession by not only providing the current text of the Privacy Act and all its subsequent amendments, but also by consolidating the current regulations and updates, interpreting the Act’s provisions and giving detailed legal analysis of the latest court decisions that have decided challenges to how the Privacy Act has been enacted by various White House Administrations and Federal Agencies since the Act was passed.

What is covered by the Privacy Act?

The Privacy Act of 1974 established a “Code of Fair Information Practice that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personally identifiable information about individuals that is maintained in systems of records by federal agencies.”

The Privacy Act protects certain federal government records pertaining to individuals. In particular, the Act covers “systems of records” that an agency maintains and retrieves by an individual’s name or other personal identifier, such as your social security number.  (For clarification, a “system of records” refers to a group of records or a file under the control of a particular Federal agency from which information is retrieved by the name of the individual or by some identifier assigned to the individual.)

With the advent of wide-spread use of computers and databases by the Federal Government, the Privacy Act was amended through the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988, which added certain protections for the subjects of Privacy Act records whose records are used in automated matching programs, such as the establishment of Data Integrity Boards at each agency.

Privacy Act Requirements

But what rights do individuals have under the Privacy Act? According to the Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974 (2012 Edition), it gives individuals the right to review records about themselves, to find out if these records have been disclosed, and to request corrections or amendments of these records, unless the records are legally exempt.

From reading the publication, it seems the Act also requires that a Federal Government agency must:

  • give the public notice of their systems of records by publishing them in the Federal Register (also available as a subscription from GPO);
  • follow strict record-keeping requirements;
  • request the written consent of the subject individual for disclosure of their personal information– “unless the disclosure is pursuant to one of twelve statutory exceptions;” and
  • provide individuals with a means  by which they can access and amend (review and correct) records stored about them.

Your-Right-to-Federal-Records-2011-coverYour Right to Federal Records

For information about your rights to “discover, access and amend” Government records about you and frequently asked questions and answers about the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), you might want to check out the free publication, “Your Right to Federal Records available from the GSA’s Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC).

You may also be interested in learning more about the Freedom of Information Act by reading the Guide to the Freedom of Information Act, also published by the Justice Department and available in print from GPO.

Scope Issues

The Privacy Act does NOT apply to data collected about persons outside the United States, nor does it protect the privacy of your records that are maintained by the private sector, such as your credit report, bank account and medical records or even local or state government records like your driver’s license. Since many Americans today assumed that the battle to keep this non-Federal data private was already lost, it was comforting to discover that there is still a measure of privacy in data kept about you by the Federal Government.

And finally, while The Privacy Act does apply to the records of every “individual,” it nevertheless only applies to records held by an “agency.” Thus, any records ”held by courts, executive components, or non-agency government entities are not subject to the provisions in the Privacy Act and there is no right to these records.”  The Overview covers many questions about scope.

Exemptions and Exceptions

The most fascinating part of reading the publication to me– and timely considering the current news cycle– was to learn that there are situations where the Government is not legally required to follow the Privacy Act . According to the Overview, there are currently Twelve Exceptions to the “No Disclosure Without Consent” Rule of the Act and Ten Exemptions to the Privacy Act altogether where Federal agencies are not required to disclose records. 

Two of the ten exemptions outlined by the Overview are the “General Exemptions,” which apply to records about individuals maintained by

1)      the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and

2)      law enforcement agencies— or a component thereof— that primarily perform criminal law enforcement duties, “including police efforts to prevent, control, or reduce crime or to apprehend criminals.”

New proposed exemptions are offered all the time by subsequent Congresses and Administrations, such as the George W. Bush Administration’s agreement signed with the European Union in 2007 to share an airline’s Passenger Name Record as well as the utilize the Automated Targeting System.

Protecting-your-privacy

The questions about what constitute personally identifying data; what legal exemptions and exceptions apply; and how the Privacy Act has been interpreted over time by Federal Agencies, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Federal courts make up a good part of the Overview.

With post-9/11 security concerns driving Agencies’ desire for more information coupled with rapidly evolving technologies that enable greater collection and analysis of data, the publishers of the Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974 will certainly be kept very busy in upcoming years reporting on and analyzing new privacy regulations and court decisions that will follow.

How Can I Obtain These Privacy Publications?

Anyone concerned with the laws governing what the Federal Government is collecting and disclosing about individuals in the United States—and how much individuals can learn about it—should read this important publication.

  • Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974 (2012 Edition) in Print
    • Shop Online: Buy a print edition on the GPO U.S. Government Online Bookstore NOW ON SALE!!
    • 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 our Retail Store: 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 Library: Search for it in a 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.)


¡Celebre! We have Spanish-language books for National Latino Books Month

May 10, 2013

We celebrated a holiday this week that has become an increasingly important celebration in the United States in recent years. It’s El Día de la Batalla de Puebla, or Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) to commemorate the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 when Zaragoza and the Mexican Army beat Maximilian’s French soldiers back to retreat. Not a Mexican national holiday, it is not widely celebrated in Mexico; in fact, it is a government holiday only in the states of Puebla and Veracruz.

Cinco-de-mayo-Papel-PicadoSince the 1860s, Mexican American communities in the United States have been celebrating Cinco de Mayo.  In recent years, the holiday has become a great day to celebrate our rich Mexican heritage in this country. Today, Cinco de Mayo has become a BIG holiday. Huge. !Una fiesta grande! It’s a great reason to hang papel picado, play conjunto norteño and eat Mexican-style food, and practice speaking Spanish.

Image: Papel picado is a tradition from the Mexican state of Puebla to make hanging decorations with intricate designs cut out of colorful tissue paper. It is now used all over Mexico and in Mexican American celebrations of all kind. Image Credit: Amols.com

In fact, on June 7, 2005, Congress asked the President to issue a proclamation “…recognizing that struggle and calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” At the same time, May is also National Latino Books Month, celebrating books by and for Latinos.

Spanish Language books for National Latino Books Month at the GPO US Government BookstoreSo to commemorate this fun holiday and the great contributions of Latino and particularly Mexican culture, GPO would like to highlight a few of the many great Spanish language publications from the Federal Government.

Free Electronic Spanish Language Publications

GPO distributes a large number of publications and cataloging records to Federal Depository libraries– there were 288 Spanish language titles sent to libraries in 2012. A number of the items cataloged in Spanish in the April 2013 record load were related to public health– if you need documents on the flu shot, or cancer facts for people over age 50, forgetfulness or getting a good night’s sleep, the Federal Depository library’s got them. If you are interested in more technical documents, such as Malformaciones arteriovenosas y otras lesiones vasculares del sistema nervioso central — your Federal Depository library’s got those, too. Maybe you’re studying information about relations between the United States and Mexico; you’ll find source material such as Boundary Waters Minutes of the International Boundary and Water Commission, and the Environmental Cooperation: Border Area signed by the United States and Mexico in September and November 2012.

El Estado de los Bosques en Puerto Rico - The State of the Forests in Puero RicoA really beautiful book for you to seek out is El Estado de los bosques de Puerto Rico, 2003. The cover art and the photos are wonderfully colored and detailed– look at the picture of the coqui on the page in between the cover and title pages. Another helpful detail is the appendix at the end of the book that provides the species name, the name in English and the communal name in Puerto Rico. The Forest Service wrote this document for researchers, but it’s quite possible for grade school students or laypeople to read parts of this volume and glean useful information about Puerto Rico’s forests and natural resources.

Download the electronic version of this publication at one of your local Federal Depository libraries.

Print Editions of Spanish Language Publications at the US Government Bookstore

At the GPO U.S. Government Online Bookstore, you can find a number of Spanish language publications that will help individuals and families with parenting advice, citizenship tests, and learning more about Latinos in Congress and the Federal Government.

Libro Poder de los Padres - Parent Power book by the Department of EducationPoder de los padres para trazar el camino hacia el éxito is the Spanish-language version of the best-selling Department of Education book, Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success, which advises parents on helping their children succeed at all stages of their high school careers, from pre-school through high school. The book contains a number of tips for parents to use, and give specific examples of how to put the tips into practice, for example: “Be positive. Praise goes a long way with children, especially those who struggle in school. Provide positive feedback.”

There are also checklists of developmental goals for the various age groups, for example: Middle school– “Is there a transition program for students leaving elementary school and entering middle or junior high school?” Tips and checklists like these can keep parents on target with a child’s developmental stages. Even if the parent is familiar with all of these talking points, it helps to have them clearly laid out for reference.

Another helpful Spanish language resource available from the GPO Bookstore is the Tarjetas de educación cívica para el examen de naturalización. As any cramming student (or former cramming student) knows, handheld flashcards are a key tool in memorizing information for a test, with a question on one side and the answer on the reverse. Previously only available in English, this new Spanish version of the perennial best-selling Civics Flash Cards for the Naturalization Test is highly useful not only for legal U.S. residents studying for their citizenship exam, but also for teachers and parents who teach standard civics lessons.

Tarjetas de Educacion Civica para ele Examen de Naturalizacion USASince the people who write the flash cards also set the test questions, the questions and answers are accurate (barring the warning about current appointments of specific officials). Instead of researching the answer to “¿Cuáles son dispuestos a nivel de gabinete?”, get the flash cards and be sure of the correct answer (hint: you’d be right if you said Secretario de Estado and Secretario del Tesoro, although there’s more than two right answers). If you teach citizenship or civics classes, or if you are studying for the test yourself or helping a friend or family member to study for the test, you are going to want to buy a copy of these cards. For a quick test of your knowledge of civics topics, take our Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?

All of this varied and valuable information, and more, is available en español at the GPO U.S. Government Bookstore and Federal Depository libraries nationwide.

How can I obtain a copy of these Spanish-language 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.)


Over 1 Billion Served: GPO’s Pueblo Distribution Center Hits Historic Milestone Today

May 7, 2013

GPO_Pueblo_1_Billion-Shipped1 Billion.  One thousand million. Any way you count it, that’s a bundle! And at the US Government Printing Office Document Distribution Center in Pueblo, Colorado, we have reached that magic number. As of today, our Pueblo facility has shipped over 1 billion consumer publications, making it a bundle of bundles sent out to the American people!

GPO’s Western Expansion

Growing up, I always heard or read public service announcements from the Federal Government offering helpful advice on everything from how mortgages work to getting vaccinations. Each time, the commercial or ad would end with the same tag line: “To order this helpful free publication, contact us in Pueblo, Colorado” and an address and phone number (and today, a website address) would be given with ordering information.  I thought it amazing that all this great consumer information was available from one Colorado town.

Although unbeknownst to me at the time, it turns out this famous Pueblo location is actually one of two distribution facilities operated by the Government Printing Office’s Agency Distribution Services that stores and ships out Government publications on behalf of our Federal agency clients to the public –the other being in Laurel, Maryland.

In an effort led by House Appropriations Committee member Congressman Frank Evans, the GPO distribution facility was proposed and then approved on October 8, 1970, by the Joint Committee on Printing and the 15th Public Printer of the United States, Adolphus Nichol (Nick) Spence. The Pueblo Public Documents Distribution Center (PuDDC) was dedicated on October 8, 1971, and opened on October 11, 1971, to provide support for the expanding dissemination needs of Federal agencies, from books to posters to other products.

GPO_Pueblo_Congressman-Frank-Evans-Distribution-CenterLast year, President Barack Obama signed an act of the 111th Congress to rename the center the “Congressman Frank Evans US Government Printing Office Pueblo Document Distribution Center” after the former Congressman who passed away in June of 2010. It was re-dedicated on October 11, 2011, for the fortieth anniversary of the Pueblo facility.

Image: Renaming ceremony of the GPO Pueblo facility on October 11, 2011.

Today, GPO’s Pueblo Document Distribution Center provides distribution services to 10 federal agencies and other entities including: The Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Health and Human Service (HHS – Women’s Health), Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and three programs within the Department of Homeland Security  that produce items such as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) posters, bookmarks and baggage inserts.

Ruehlen-at-Pueblo-PuDDCImage: Jimmy Ruehlen has worked for Pueblo’s Government Printing Office Distribution Center since it began operations 40 years ago. Photo credit: The Pueblo Chieftain / Mike Sweeney (Photographer)

The Pueblo Distribution Center has processed over 105 million customer orders from the day it opened its doors through the end of April 2013, and as of today, May 2, 2013, the Center has distributed over 1 billion publications on behalf of its various Federal clients.

GPO Gets a “CIC” out of Distributing Consumer Publications

The Pueblo facility really got a kick-start when it signed an inter-agency agreement with the General Services Administration (GSA) in January of 1973 to take over the warehousing and distribution of the millions of printed consumer publications being provided through GSA’s then-new Consumer Information Center (or CIC), which itself has provided service to the GSA’s Federal Citizen Information Center (or FCIC), the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Education.

Consumer-Info-Catalog-Winter-Spring-2013_coverThe gem in the FCIC’s crown is the Consumer Information Catalog, printed by GPO, which lists the latest and most popular of the many thousands of consumer publications available by topic and is updated several times a year.

Most of the print publications–the majority printed by GPO– in the Consumer Information Catalog are FREE for U.S. delivery if ordered online; the rest require only a nominal fee. Plus, a number of the publications are offered for FREE in electronic format for immediate download on the Publications.USA.gov website.

Some of the many categories of helpful consumer pamphlets and publications include: Education; Employment; Family including Pets; Federal Programs and Benefits, Food; Health including Drugs and Exercise & Diet (even information on braces, tattoos, and tanning!); Housing including Financing and Home Maintenance; the ever-popular Money category including Fraud, Credit Cards, Living Trusts, and Retirement Planning; even Small Business and Travel, and more.

Consumer-Info-Catalog-Winter-Spring-2013_Page_11

Image: Page from the Consumer Information Catalog Winter/ Spring 2013 Edition.

How can I get a copy of the Consumer Information Catalog and order publications?

Find the latest Consumer Information Catalog in PDF format online, or you can also order FREE print copies to be mailed to you at the same Publications.USA.gov website.

Consumer-Action-Handbook-2013The most popular document distributed by Pueblo remains the annual Consumer Action Handbook, a free trouble-shooting guide to help Americans solve all sorts of consumer problems. I’ve ordered five to share with family and friends!

In addition to ordering from GSA’s Publications.USA.gov website, you can find a number of these consumer publications on GPO’s US Government Online Bookstore.

Below are some of the more popular publications in the Consumer Information Catalog that are also available on GPO’s online bookstore:

You can also browse our Consumer, Home & Family category on our online bookstore.

With so many useful consumer publications available from the Federal Government, I’m sure it won’t be long until we distribute another billion items to help American consumers!

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.


Immigration Issues and the Land of Opportunity 2.0

April 22, 2013

Americans are proud of their country being known as “the land of opportunity” and a wonderful place to live. Thus it is not surprising that so many want to move to the United States, making immigration a topic of extreme interest to citizens, lawmakers and immigrants alike.

United States map with faces of immigrants - the Land of Opportunity?

Image: U.S. map made up of immigrant faces. Image credit: Imerito blog

The introduction of a major border security and immigration reform bill in the Senate last week brings the topic to the forefront… and left many scrambling to research the issues affecting the “Land of Opportunity 2.0” in the twenty-first century.

The Government Printing Office has assembled a collection of both print and digital publications that run the gamut from proposed and existing border protection legislation to immigration reports and statistics, civics and English education for immigrants, and more to help all better comprehend the complex issues of immigration.

Here are a few notable publications from our U.S. Government Online Bookstore Immigration Collection:

  •  The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (Print)

2013 Border Security and immigration reform bill Gang of Eight SenatorsImage: “Gang of Eight” U.S. Senators who worked on the immigration reform bill of 2013. Image Credit:  NPR blog.

The “Gang of Eight” senators who worked on this bipartisan bill includes four Democrats and four Republicans: Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

Immigration-Reform-Act-2013The goal of this bill is “to provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for other purposes” including bolstering border security, overhauling the legal immigration system, legalizing many of America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants and put them on a path to citizenship, and increasing enforcement and penalties against employers who hire unauthorized workers.

> Click here for information on how to order a printed copy of this bill

  • Yearbook of Immigration Statistics (Paperback)

2011-Yearbook-of-Immigration-StatisticsThe Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, 2011 is a compendium of tables that provides data on foreign nationals who, during a fiscal year, were granted lawful permanent residence (i.e., admitted as immigrants or became legal permanent residents), were admitted into the United States on a temporary basis (e.g., tourists, students, or workers), applied for asylum or refugee status, or were naturalized. The Yearbook also presents data on immigration enforcement actions, including alien apprehensions, removals, and returns.

> Click here for information on how to order this publication 

  • Customs and Border Protection Regulations of the United States (Print Subscription)

Customs-and-Border-Protection-Regulations-USPublished by the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of International Trade Regulation and Rulings, the Customs and Border Protection Regulations of the United States, 2011 is a print subscription which contains regulations made and published for the purpose of carrying out customs and border protection laws administered by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. Former title: Regulations of United States Customs and Border Protection.

> Click here for information on how to order this print subscription

  • Expanding ESL, Civics, and Citizenship Education in Your Community: A Start-Up Guide (Paperback or ePub eBook)

Expanding-ESL-Civics-EducationFor groups and individuals whose goal it is to prepare the immigrant to assimilate into the Nation and to learn our language, this publication– both in print and ePub eBook format — from the Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is very useful. It outlines a start-up process of gathering relevant information and resources to develop and sustain community ESL (English as a Second Language), civics, and citizenship education program, recruit and train volunteers, and recruit students. It also includes basic recommendations and sample forms and materials.

> Click here for information on how to order this print publication

> Click here for information on how to order this eBook

For more information on all the immigration publications from the Federal Government,

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.


Help is Just a Call, Click or Page Away: Federal Disaster Helplines & Emergency Medical Resources

April 19, 2013

Sadly, most adults in this country can remember some disaster or tragedy that’s happened to them or one of their loved ones in recent history. Most people in my office have their own exit strategy story from 9/11.  We all remember how we tried to cope, and we feel deep sympathy for fellow citizens in similar situations.

After the horrific events at the Boston Marathon and the Texas fertilizer factory explosion this past week, many Americans are again in the unfortunate position of needing assistance in the face of life-changing events. Your Federal government is here to help both the injured citizens and the local medical personnel who rush to their aid, both during and after the disaster occurs.Complementary Federal and local disaster response

Image credit: Vanderbilt University Medical Center Department of Emergency Preparedness  

I. Federal Disaster Resources for Civilians

The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) is, in the words of their own staff,

“…the first 24/7, year-round national crisis hotline exclusively dedicated to providing free, immediate and confidential crisis counseling and support to people in distress related to any natural or man-made disaster, such as the explosions in Boston. We offer this counseling 24/7/365 through phone (1-800-985-5990) and through SMS/text messaging (text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746) – and DDH is for those affected, family member and loved ones, as well as for responders.”

SAMHSA-Disaster-Distress-Helpline

Operated by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Disaster Distress Helpline’s Web page www.disasterdistress.samhsa.gov also has a section devoted to incidents of mass violence.

If you are suffering from trauma related to the Boston Marathon attack, or similar events, reach out to the Disaster Distress Helpline. Get help, get some shelter. You’re going to wake up tomorrow, and the day after that. Make your day bearable; as Malcolm X said, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

Additional Federal disaster and emergency resources for civilians include:

GPO is helping in its own way; you can find the catalog record about the Disaster Distress Hotline in GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications or your local federal depository library.

II. Federal Disaster Resources for First Responders and Civilian Medical Personnel

With the tragic terrorist bombings in Boston,  fertilizer factory explosion in Texas, mass shootings in Sandy Hook, and other recent disasters, medical personnel, civilian first responders and mental health personnel have had to learn to deal with injuries both physical and mental that are usually only experienced on the battlefield.

With the experience gained in treating the wounded and traumatized in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and mass violence and disasters in the US, the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, and Transportation–

including FEMA, US Fire Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, US Special Operations Command, and particularly the Army’s Office of the Surgeon General, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, USAMRIID- US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, and the Borden Institute

— have produced a number of outstanding resources and publications which are of extreme value to emergency medical personnel, including EMTs and surgeons, mental health counselors, fire and rescue personnel, and first responders of all kinds.

[UPDATE 4/30/2013] One great resource for first responders is the Public Health Emergency website maintained by the US Department of Health and Human Services. This is meant to be a one-stop resource for all of the federal medical resources and information for emergency response. The military version, the Department of Defense Force Health Protection and Readiness National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) Page, is here.

[UPDATE 4/26/2013] One of the best resources we have seen was provided by one of our readers, a Regional Emergency Coordinator with the Department of Health and Human Services. It is a one-stop site for all emergency medical resources called the WMD, Emergency Management, and Medical Web Sites List. The author says it is updated every six months to keep it accurate, and it “is intended to provide an extremely “comprehensive list of internet sites of use for emergency planning and in particular Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and medical emergency planning.

boston-marathon-emergency-medical-responseImage: First responders at the Boston Marathon bombings, including fire and rescue and emergency medical personnel. Image credit: EMSWorld

All of these Federal publications below can help civilian emergency response and medical personnel quickly learn from these Federal and military experts on how to respond to disasters and how to treat gunshot and blast wounds (such as from bombs and IEDs), amputations, and other combat-style injuries both in the field as well as the rehabilitation and psychological factors afterwards, including post-traumatic stress.

Some of the more pertinent disaster response and treatment publications that can be found on the U.S. Government Bookstore include:

About the Authors

Part I: Excerpted from a post on the FDLP Community Blog on April 18, 2013, by guest blogger Jennifer Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP) who wrote about the Disaster Distress Helpline.

Part II: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram writes about the disaster and emergency response publications that can help civilian personnel respond to disasters with combat-style injuries. Ms. 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.


Quiz: Are you smarter than an 8th grade Civics student?

September 20, 2012

Flash cards. They may bring back memories of studying for a big exam like the SAT or GRE, or they may remind you of elementary school when they were used as a great way to learn your numbers and letters.

But did you know that the US Government Printing Office produces flash cards for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Office of Citizenship under the Department of Homeland Security?

This week marked an important milestone for all U.S. citizens as the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States of America.

September 17 is now commemorated annually as Constitution & Citizenship Day, a time to reflect on the rights, honors and privileges of being a U.S. citizen, so I thought it was a perfect time to introduce our readers to the Civics Flash Cards.

The Civics Flash Cards are one of the most popular products sold in the US Government Bookstore as a tried and true way for immigrants and to learn about U.S. history and government while preparing for the United States naturalization test.  These easy-to-use flash cards (available in English and now also in Spanish) contain each of the 100 civics questions and answers contained on the United States naturalization test, and are updated when there is a change of leadership in the White House or Congress.

The Civics Flash Cards also feature interesting historical photos and relevant captions, thus providing additional civic learning opportunities, making them ideal not only for use as an instructional tool for U.S. citizenship preparation, but also in standard American social studies classes or home schooling. For example, one card contains a picture of Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, while another shows Hiram Revels of Mississippi, the first African American U.S. Senator, elected in 1870.

A description of the Spanish version of the Civics Flash Cards:

Recién actualizadas para 2012, las Tarjetas Flash de Educación Cívica en Español ayudarán a a los inmigrantes a aprender sobre la historia de los EE.UU. y del gobierno mientras se preparan para el exámen de naturalización. Estas tarjetas de memoria fáciciles de utilizar contienen cada una de las 100 preguntas y respuestas cívicas (sobre la historia y el gobierno) del exámen de naturalización estadounidense, y conllevan fotos históricas y leyendas pertinentes a que proporcionen el aprendizaje cívico adicional.

Failing grade in civics for American kids… and maybe their parents?

In 2010, The Department of Education administered the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP test, known as the nation’s report card, to 27,000 4th-, 8th- and 12th-grade students throughout the United States.

The New York Times reported that the civics examination results were dismal, as “fewer than half of American eighth graders knew the purpose of the Bill of Rights… and only one in 10 demonstrated acceptable knowledge of the checks and balances among the legislative, executive and judicial branches.

Of the high school students who took the NAEP, 75% “were unable to demonstrate skills like identifying the effect of United States foreign policy on other nations or naming a power granted to Congress by the Constitution.”

Reading through the flash cards, it makes me wonder how many native U.S. citizens— parents and children— could correctly pass the test given to immigrants aspiring to become citizens?

See how you compare to these 8th and 12th graders on these questions constructed from information on the Civics Flash Cards

(Hint: I provide the correct answers at the end of this post 😉 since they are trickier than one would think!)


Another question


And finally, some geography:

HOW CAN YOU OBTAIN a copy of the Civics Flash Cards for the Naturalization Test, either the English Version or the Spanish Version?

You may also be interested in our other Constitution and Citizenship products, such as the pocket edition of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Click here to shop our entire Citizenship Collection.

Correct Answers to the Flash Card Poll Questions:

1)      Which of these does NOT represent one of the powers of the Federal Government under our Constitution? To provide protection & safety such as police and fire services is a function of state and local governments.

2)      Which of these are responsibilities that are only for United States Citizens?  Only citizens may vote in a Federal election, serve on a jury, or run for Federal office such as U.S. Senate or House of Representatives and for most state and local offices. Unfortunately, everyone has to pay Federal taxes, citizen or not!

3)      Which of these states does NOT border Canada? Of all of these, only Wisconsin does not share a border with Canada. All the international border states with our northern neighbor are (east to west): Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania (border on Lake Erie), Ohio (also border on Lake Erie), Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Alaska.

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.


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