For a long time, that’s been a tough question to answer. In dense, bustling cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco, the number of daily media reports, government proceedings and local Internet conversations is staggering. Every day, a wealth of local information is created — officials inspect restaurants, journalists cover fires and Web users post photographs — but who has time to sort through all of that?
Our mission at EveryBlock is to solve that problem. We aim to collect all of the news and civic goings-on that have happened recently in your city, and make it simple for you to keep track of news in particular areas. We’re a geographic filter — a "news feed" for your neighborhood, or, yes, even your block.
At this time, we cover nine American cities: Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC. On each site, you can type in any address to read local news and public information near you.
Placeblogs are sometimes called "hyperlocal sites" because some of them focus on news events and items that cover a particular neighborhood in great detail -- and in particular, places that might be too physically small or sparsely populated to attract much traditional media coverage. Because of this, many people have associated them with the term "citizen journalism," or journalism done by non-journalists.
Placeblogs, however, are about something broader than news alone. They're about the lived experience of a place. That experience may be news, or it may simply be about that part of our lives that isn't news but creates the texture of our daily lives: our commute, where we eat, conversations with our neighbors, the irritations and delights of living in a particular place among particular people. However, when news happens in a community, placeblogs often cover those events in unique and nontraditional ways, and provide a community watercooler to discuss those events.
Placeblogs spring from a fiercely non-generic America that's not about big-box retailers or the type of polarizing discussion about politics, culture, and the economy that's the product of journalism that happens at the 30,000 foot level. Often, they are a delightful and vivid look at cities, towns, and neighborhoods from an insider's point of view. Collecting this list -- and getting to know these places via the authentic, quirky, and funny voices of their placeblogs -- has been a wonderful experience. I hope that you'll enjoy this way of getting to know America at sidewalk level as much as I have.
Group takes quest for White House e-mails to D.C. Circuit
Topic: Current Events
1:41 pm EST, Nov 17, 2008
How did White House e-mails go missing? A federal appeals court is cool to the idea of forcing the Bush administration to reveal records that might explain what happened.
During a half-hour-long argument Nov. 14, the three-judge panel suggested that the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to the records, a signal that the court would allow the documents to remain confidential.
The judges seemed dismissive of the argument that the White House office housing the records had responded to other FOIA requests for many years, until it was sued a year and a half ago in the e-mail controversy.
Judge Thomas Griffith expressed doubt that the White House’s previous position is legally significant.
“Why does it matter? ... They made a mistake,” Griffith told Anne Weismann, chief counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
For nearly three years, the White House has revealed little about the difficulties with its e-mail system, which may have resulted in the loss of millions of electronic messages.
The problems first surfaced during the investigation of the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA employee, when prosecutors sought e-mails from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Lawsuits filed by private groups and testimony at a congressional hearing in February disclosed that the White House had failed to install automatic archiving for its e-mail. Instead, the White House stored electronic messages on computer servers in what was to have been a stopgap measure but continued for at least five years. The White House said in February it was in the process of getting an archive.
In June, the White House drafted a document that calls for an attempted recovery effort for as many as 225 days worth of e-mail. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft document in August.
The White House refuses to say whether it has hired a contractor to undertake such a recovery effort, which would involve trying to pull copies of any missing messages from tens of thousands of computer backup tapes.
A federal judge agreed with the White House that the Office of Administration is not subject to the FOIA, and CREW appealed.
On Nov. 14, Weismann argued that the White House Office of Administration is not entitled to an exemption from FOIA requirements, unlike, for example, the National Security Council, which advises and assists the president.
Judge A. Raymond Randolph suggested Weismann’s position would take the White House “down the slippery slope” of courts impinging on presidential power.
At the same time, the judges made clear that the Justice Department lawyer speaking on behalf of the White House had taken his argument too far.
Justice Department lawyer Thomas Bondy argued for the importance of the Office of Administration, saying that President George W. Bush is the head of it.
“And he spends a lot of time on that,” replied Griffith, drawing laughter.
Bondy held his ground, saying that the director of the Office of Administration is the chief administrator of the Executive Office of the President and that the office is the management arm of the president.
The other judge who heard the appeal was David Sentelle, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan. Randolph is an appointee of President George H.W. Bush; Griffith, of current President Bush.
If you want a friend in Washington, the old saying goes, get a dog. Since the days of George Washington, most U.S. presidents have.
Hundreds of pets have lived at the White House, including parrots, goats, raccoons and cats. But dogs top the list as the favorite presidential pet.
A new exhibit, "First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Pets," opens Nov. 14, 2008, at the Newseum, showcasing some of the top dogs who have resided at the nation’s most prestigious address.
On display are images of dogs belonging to 22 presidents. Journalists helped turn many of the pets into national celebrities, including Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Scottish terrier, Fala, who had his own press secretary, and Warren G. Harding’s Airedale, Laddie Boy, who had his own chair at Cabinet meetings. A book "written" by George H.W. Bush’s English springer spaniel, Millie, sold more copies than Bush’s own book.
President-elect Barack Obama said he intended to fulfill a very important campaign pledge to his daughters Malia and Sasha — that they would get a dog after the election. Newseum visitors can vote for their choice for the next presidential pooch while viewing the exhibit.
Some highlights of other presidents and their pets include:
* • Abraham Lincoln’s dog Fido was the first presidential pet to be photographed, but it wasn’t a happy occasion. Lincoln was leaving Fido, a mongrel, in Illinois and wanted a memento for his sons before setting out for his 1861 inauguration in Washington.
* • Calvin and Grace Coolidge maintained a menagerie during his 1920s presidency, including 12 dogs and a pair of raccoons. On display is a photograph of their white collie Prudence Prim showing off her Easter bonnet for Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon.
* • Herbert Hoover won fans, and possibly his 1928 election, by posing with his police dog, King Tut, for campaign photos. He and his wife, Lou, kept nine dogs at the White House, including their Norwegian elkhound, Weegie.
* • John F. Kennedy was allergic to dogs. Even so, the Kennedys had nine, including Clipper, Charlie, Wolf, Shannon and the mixed breed Pushinka, a gift from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
* • In April 1964, dog lovers protested after seeing front-page photos of Lyndon B. Johnson lifting his beagles, Him and Her, by the ears. Insisting to reporters that the dogs didn’t mind, Johnson demonstrated the move again days later.
* • Forced to account for $18,000 in questionable gifts during the 1952 election, Republican vice presidential nominee Richard M. Nixon insisted to a television audience that the only gift he received was for his children — a cocker spaniel named Checkers. He won voters’ sympathies when he explained, "The kids love the dog … and we’re going to keep it."
* • Gerald R. Ford’s photographer, David Hume Kennerly, was looking for a golden retriever for his boss in 1974 but didn’t want to reveal who the owner would be. "Do they own or rent?" the breeder asked. "I guess you could say they live in public housing," Kennerly deadpanned. Ford named the dog Liberty.
* • George W. Bush joked that his Scottish terrier, Barney, was the son he never had. Bush’s "Barney Cam" videos, showing life at the White House from the dog’s view, were an Internet sensation. Barney made news again in November 2008 when he bit a reporter who tried to pet him.
The five-year Knight Community Information Challenge is launched as the media world undergoes rapid change and acknowledges that there is less local information readily available. The challenge is premised on two strongly held beliefs: 1) in a democracy, information is essential for a community to function properly; it is a core need, and 2) since community foundations are established to meet core community needs, they are logical partners in meeting the information needs of communities.
This initiative is intended as an opportunity for community foundations to provide civic leadership. It will invite community foundations to propose ideas to meet information needs in their communities. Knight will make $20 million available over five years to match funding for the best of these ideas.
In addition the foundation will fund teams of “circuit riders” – specialists who bring access to resources and expertise – to help community foundations identify information-needs opportunities and develop the ability to plan and execute their ideas.
The project will also include a Media Learning Seminar on Feb. 16-17, 2009 to help community foundations learn about the information needs of communities in democracy. The first such seminar of this kind was held in February 2008 when Knight and the Council on Foundations co-hosted a gathering in Miami. The 2009 seminar will offer an opportunity to exchange current knowledge, review existing information needs projects and share best practices. A companion meeting hosted by the Council on Foundations in October 2009 will reach out to more community foundations.
Homeland Security Advisory System: Current Threat Level
1:44 am EST, Nov 14, 2008
Current Threat Level
November 13, 2008 - The United States government's national threat level is Elevated, or Yellow.
For all domestic and international flights, the U.S. threat level is High, or Orange. Only small amounts of liquids, aerosols and gels are allowed in carry-on baggage. See the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Web site for up-to-date information on items permitted and prohibited on airlines.
There is no credible, specific intelligence suggesting an imminent threat to the homeland at this time. Still, we are closely assessing potential threats and response planning leading into and following the electoral process in 2008 to 2009. Heightened coordination and planning among intelligence community and law enforcement partners is being undertaken solely out of an abundance of caution, and focuses on preventive and preparedness measures for the transition period between administrations.
Wow... still fear-mongering on the way out I see...
Presidential Transition Team : The Transition Directory
12:05 am EST, Nov 13, 2008
Message to Presidential Nominees and Appointees, and Members of the President-elect's Transition Team:
The Presidential Transition Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-293) authorizes the General Services Administration (GSA) to develop a transition directory in consultation with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The Act provides that the transition directory "shall be a compilation of Federal publications and materials with supplementary materials developed by the Administrator that provides information on the officers, organization, and statutory and administrative authorities, functions, duties, responsibilities, and mission of each department and agency." Senate Report 106-348 clarifies that the directory is intended to "assist in navigating the many responsibilities that fall on a new administration" that is "confronted by an overwhelming amount of material."
GSA and NARA hope that this online directory will introduce you to the operation of the Federal government and the resources available to help you begin your service in the new Administration
Everything you should have learned in history class if you would have been paying attention. Someone should forward this to Palin! LOL!
Google.org announced more than $10 million in investments and grants in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) technology. EGS expands the potential of traditional geothermal energy by orders of magnitude. The traditional geothermal approach relies on finding naturally occurring pockets of steam or hot water. The EGS process, by comparison, replicates these conditions by fracturing hot rock, circulating water through the system, and using the resulting steam to produce electricity in a conventional turbine.
EGS has the potential to provide clean renewable electricity 24/7, at a cost cheaper than coal. The ability to produce electricity from geothermal energy has been thought exclusive to locations such as California and Iceland. However EGS could allow us to harness the heat within the earth almost anywhere. To see see the massive size of the US geothermal resource accessible by EGS, check out our Google Earth layer. For more on EGS, watch this video, featuring Dr. Steve Chu, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Dr. Jefferson Tester, professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and lead author of a major recent study on EGS:
On September 12 2008, Cecilia van Deventer, a safari booking agent living in Zambia, was flown to South Africa in critical condition. She died just two days later. By October 6 2008, three more people had died: the paramedic who accompanied Cecilia to South Africa, the nurse who cared for her in Intensive Care, and the cleaner who cleaned her hospital room after her death. A fifth patient, a nurse who cared for the infected paramedic, is receiving anti-viral treatment. In all cases, people infected were exposed to infected blood and/or body fluids.
South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) quickly identified the infectious agent as an arenavirus similar to the one that causes Lassa Fever - a disease that affects 500 000 people per year in West Africa. Now, following full sequencing of the viral genome by Professor Ian Lipkin and colleagues at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University, it has been clearly shown that this is an arenavirus that has never been seen before. Google.org's Predict and Prevent initiative recently announced a grant of $2.5 million to support CII's work in pathogen discovery. This identification of a novel arenavirus not only represents an early success, but also demonstrates just why this work is so important. 'There is no doubt we are dealing with a newly emerged virus,' said Dr. Janusz Paweska, head of the special pathology unit at the NICD in Johannesburg. As Professor Robert Swanepoel, also of the NICD, has pointed out, the virus is 'newly-discovered' rather than new, and has probably been around in animal populations for some time before making a recent jump to humans.
Arenaviruses, normally transferred to humans through contact with the urine of their rodent hosts, can be classified into New and Old World viruses depending on whether they originate in the Western or Eastern hemisphere respectively. New World arenaviruses, including Junin, Machupo, Sabia and Guanarito, can cause viral hemorrhagic fever. This particular virus, classified as Old World due to its African origins, began as a flu-like illness, then caused diarrhea, pharyngitis and a rash before rapidly culminating in respiratory distress, neurological symptoms and circulatory collapse over a period of about 9-12 days. The virus has yet to receive a name.
Due to the swift action of the NICD, US-CDC and CII the outbreak is now described as contained. We commend their efforts!