Articles Tagged with congress

Last month, Representative Don Young of Alaska introduced the DebtPatriots.Gov Act of 2011, which calls for the creation of a website dedicated to collecting donations to reduce the public debt of the United States. The website, which will be hosted at www.DebtPatriots.gov, will collect donations and publicly recognize the patriotism of those who “are willing to contribute additional funds, above and beyond their tax obligations.”

The bill proposes several levels of donor recognition:

Corporation Award Levels

  • Corporate Founder ($50B).
  • Corporate Son of Liberty ($10B).
  • Corporate Constitutional Delegate ($1B).
  • Corporate Minuteman ($500M).
  • Corporate Patriot ($1M).

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Facebook is hacking Congress. But don’t be alarmed.

It’s all legal. Really.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers and their staffs are making nice on Capitol Hill this afternoon in a hackathon with Facebook engineers and software developers.

Mark Zucerkberg’s team is helping Senators, Representatives, and congressional staffers brush up on their social media skills.
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Carrier IQ, a mobile phone software and data analytics company that gives telecoms business intelligence on connections, dropped calls and user behavior was hit with at least eleven consumer class-action lawsuits alleging privacy and Federal Wiretap Act violations.

The lawsuits accuse the telecom software analystics company of variously recording Android or Apple mobile phone users’ text messages, e-mails and keystrokes, but a number of reports seriously question such claims.
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Considering the amount of attention that our dear Congress devotes to children, I am quite surprised by the average academic performance delivered by our sweet angels when compared to their peers in other countries. Lest you think Congress is too focused on earmarks for their donors constituents, I must point out that even the rancorous debt ceiling debate during the past few weeks was all about the children. In face of the spending cuts called for in the debt ceiling bill, Senator Durbin urged his colleagues to consider its impact on the children:

Durbin, speaking from the Senate floor, said fewer poor children will be enrolled in early childhood education programs, working families and children will face more college debt and medical research dollars stand to be cut.

So, how else does Congress look out for the future of America? Let’s take a look.

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Last month, Representative Charles Rangel introduced the Second Chance for Ex-Offenders Act of 2011. The Act allows certain individuals convicted of nonviolent offenses to petition for an expungement upon completion of their sentence and satisfaction of other substance abuse, educational, and community service requirements.

So, what does this bill exactly propose to expunge?

Upon order of expungement, all official law enforcement and court records, including all references to such person’s arrest for the offense, the institution of criminal proceedings against him, and the results thereof, except publicly available court opinions or briefs on appeal, shall be expunged (in the case of nontangible records) or gathered together and sealed (in the case of tangible records).

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I am dedicating this episode of Congressional Haiku to Representative Cliff Stearns (R-FL).

Interwebs awake

From winter dreams. Dot.gov links,

PageRank blossoms.

Washington is no stranger to political gridlock. And, we expect a certain amount of intransigence when Republicans and Democrats coalesce. But, in a shocking act of all that’s wrong in the Capital City, Congress may be stepping in to compel one government website to link to another. Of course, the surprise is that both websites are presumably run by the same organization–the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Continue reading →

This week, I want to point our readers over to a recent post by Joe Hodnicki at the Law Librarian Blog. Joe notes a letter sent recently to the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, requesting that Dr. Billington appoint a Director of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to assist in the release of unclassified and non-confidential CRS Reports. Among others, the American Association of Law Libraries, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Free Government Information, Public Citizen and the Sunlight Foundation signed the letter. (A full list appears in the blog post.)

The letter speaks to the accessibility of these valuable public policy (and public domain) documents, which are prepared by the Congressional Research Service for the members and staff of the U.S. Congress. While U.S. taxpayers spend nearly $100 million to fund the CRS, Congress does not disseminate the reports in any systematic way, and no comprehensive list of these reports is even publicly available from which to request reports.

I know it’s not lost on most of you that this is a movie we’ve seen before (or, rather, we see time and time again). It’s time to remove the barriers to access and paywalls we see that surround all public domain legal and government materials.

January 3rd, 2011 marked the start of the 112th United States Congress, which shifted control of the House of Representatives to the Red Republicans. In a moment that harkened back to a prior Red Revolution, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) promptly introduced legislation seeking to end the reign of the Tsar.

In all seriousness, the true focus of the Republicans is H.R. 2, also known as the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. But, if truth be told, the real job killer is not the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed on March 23, 2010. Just look at the Unemployment Rate Chart, which I have created with help from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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On January 10th, the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game will feature an exciting match-up between the 12-0 Oregon Ducks and the 13-0 Auburn Tigers. Cameron Newton, the quarterback who led the Tigers to an undefeated regular season, has already garnered several prestigious college football awards, including the 2010 Heisman Memorial Trophy for being the nation’s most outstanding college player. The House of Representatives even congratulated Cameron Newton for winning the Heisman Trophy.

While Cam Newton’s athletic achievements certainly merit some form of acknowledgement, the violation of amateurism rules by his father, as determined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, is problematic. Considering that the NCAA had recently sanctioned USC, leading the BCS to vacate the Trojans’ 2005 Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma, the potential disqualification of another Heisman winner and national champion cannot be entirely discounted.

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O Tannenbaum, a public domain Christmas carol, extols the venerable Christmas tree. While the lyrics may be seasonal, the melody is truly evergreen, having been remixed into other popular songs, such as Michigan, My Michigan. Now, you can hum the tune 365 days a year. Go Blue!

In the spirit of the holidays, let’s take a look at a few Christmas tree bills and laws:

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