NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
Issue 106, November 2004

Table of Contents

  1. The Right to Vote - Priceless
  2. Financial Information Available through New Web Site, Toll-Free Number
  3. Classification of Documents Increasing
  4. Helping Your Children Learn History
  5. Justice Department Stops Releasing Legal Opinions
  6. Senator Levin Releases Report on Pre-War Intelligence
  7. Senator Levin's Press Release on Pre-War Intelligence
  8. Fall Depository Library Council Meeting, October 17-20, 2004
  9. Americans Getting Fatter, But Taller Too!
  10. Five Government Documents Make OCLC's Top 1000 Books
  11. National Archives Public Vaults Exhibit Opens
  12. Clinton Presidential Library Opens
  13. Federal Budget in the News
  14. So What Is On the Back of the Declaration of Independence?
  15. FTC Launches “Big Fat Lie” Initiative
    Targeting Bogus Weight-loss Claims
  16. Unsolicited Praise for Medline
  17. U.S. Serials Set Competition Heats Up
  18. A Change of Address Form Can Reunite More than
    1,500 Michigan Residents with Their Missing Tax Refunds


(1) The Right to Vote - Priceless

The Declaration of Independence states that governments derive “their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.” The Constitution begins, “We the People of the United States,” and President Abraham Lincoln described our nation in the Gettysburg Address as a “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

A common thread weaves through each of these revered documents – the right of the people to democratic governance. On November 2 in polling places across the country, millions of U.S. citizens will exercise a priceless right – the right to vote.

While the right to vote is often taken for granted, the voting franchise has not always been universal in our country. A brief history of voting in the United States reflects the changes our democracy has experienced in our 228-year history.

The Constitution left it up to the states to decide the “Times, Places and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives,” but reserved for the Congress the power to “make or alter such regulations.” Congress has used that power to enfranchise African-Americans, Native Americans, women and citizens from ages 18-21.

In the early days of our republic, only white male landowners were routinely allowed to vote. By the time of the Civil War, most white men without property also had the right to vote.

Following the Civil War, Congress passed Amendments 13, 14 and 15, the “Reconstruction Amendments,” which abolished slavery, gave former slaves their citizenship and enfranchised African-American men. Yet even though the 15th Amendment granting African-American men the right to vote was ratified in 1870, some states found ways to circumvent the amendment by instituting poll taxes and literacy tests as well as through intimidation and fraud.

This discrimination and disenfranchisement continued for over 90 years until the 24th Amendment outlawed poll taxes in 1964. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act became the law of the land and abolished literacy requirements for voting, expanded voting rights for non-English speaking Americans, and authorized federal supervision of voter registration and elections where needed.

Even though the 15th Amendment stated that the right of U.S. citizens to vote “shall not be denied or abridged” because of race or color, Native Americans weren’t allowed to vote until 1924 when the Snyder Act granted full U.S. citizenship to the first Americans. However, some states still illegally disenfranchised Native Americans for another 40 years. In 1962, New Mexico became the last state to allow Native Americans to vote.

Women fought for 80 years to gain the right to vote. In 1840, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton met and began working to secure voting rights for women. The abolitionist Sojourner Truth also fought for women’s rights, including the right to vote. In 1873, Sojourner Truth tried to cast her ballot in a local election in Battle Creek but was not allowed.

In 1869, Stanton and Susan B. Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and continued to press their cause. Although this famous suffragist did not live to see Congress pass the 19th Amendment in 1919 giving women the vote, it was widely known as the Susan B. Anthony amendment.

According to the New York Times, on the day the Senate passed the amendment, “Suffragists thronged the Senate galleries in anticipation of the final vote, and when the outcome was announced by President Pro Tem. Cummins they broke into deafening applause. For two minutes the demonstration went on, Senator Cummins making no effort to check it.” The states ratified the amendment in 1920, enfranchising half of the U.S. population.

With the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971, Congress lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Today, all U.S. citizens (except convicted felons) over age 18 are eligible to vote.

For large segments of our society, the right to vote has been long sought and hard fought. Yet through it all, the history of the expansion of the right to vote in our country reflects the Constitution’s vision of forming “a more perfect Union.”

Our democracy depends on an informed and involved citizenry. On November 2nd, I hope all Michigan voters will exercise the most fundamental right of democracy – the right to vote.

Visit the Michigan Voter Information Center for general information about candidates, voting equipment and a statewide election overview.

Source: Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) Press Release, Oct. 12, 2004

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(2) Financial Information Available through New Web Site,
Toll-Free Number

As directed by legislation authored by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and signed into law one year ago, the federal government has launched a new Web site and a new toll-free phone number to help Americans save money, avoid high interest rates, and in general make more-informed decisions about their personal finances.

The new Web site and number, operated by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission, will act as a one-stop shop for information that has formerly been offered through a variety of federal programs. Web browsers and callers can now get guidance and background information on a variety of financial issues, including personal debt, home buying, credit card use, and retirement investments.

“Working Americans struggle to deal with an almost overwhelming array of investment and savings options, even as they face greater challenges in saving for their children’s education and for their own retirement,” Stabenow said. “The average family doesn’t have a financial adviser on the payroll to help chart a path through the maze of financial options, and I strongly encourage people to visit http://www.mymoney.gov.”

For those who don’t have access to the Web, Stabenow encouraged use of the toll free number, 1-888-MY MONEY (1-888-696-6639) to obtain a basic package of brochures, called a financial “tool kit,” with information on such topics as credit and savings and instructions on where to turn for more detailed answers to specific question.

The Web site includes such topic categories as “Budgeting & Taxes,” “Credit,” “Financial Planning,” “Home Ownership,” “Privacy, Fraud & Scams,” and “Starting a Small Business.” Within each category, individual topics address such concerns as home equity credit lines, dealing with creditors while out of work, how to dispute credit report errors, and I.D. theft.

Stabenow said the site is also an important source of information for young people, who, studies have revealed, are demonstrating a diminished understanding of basic financial concepts. “Most young people are faced with their first important financial challenges when they receive their first credit card,” she said. “They need to know – before they begin charging – how quickly charges can add up, interest can compound, and financial burdens can disrupt their futures.”

The Web site also provides links to other important federal consumer programs, including the National Do Not Call Registry, a listing of motor vehicle recalls, and a broad range of other general consumer information.

In winning adoption of the legislation language creating the Financial Literacy and Education Commission, Stabenow was assisted by Sen. Michael B Enzi (R-WY), original Republican co-sponsor, and Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), a leading financial literacy advocate in the Senate.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Press Release, Oct. 18, 2004.

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(3) Classification of Documents Increasing

"The Bush Administration Is Secretive" has become a familiar story line in the press. And since the September 11 attacks, much of the media attention on secrecy has focused on the Justice Department's detainee policy and the murky legal issues involving the administration's labeling of terrorism suspects as "enemy combatants." But some observers believe that the issues surrounding the classification of documents, Freedom of Information requests, and access to basic, everyday information will, in the long run, turn out to be more significant.

Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, describes it this way: "What I'm most concerned about are not the front-page news scandals. It's the routine, mundane stuff that is increasingly inaccessible." For example, Aftergood says, "Ten years ago, I used to go to the Government Printing Office bookstore and purchase the Pentagon phone book.... My understanding is that that phone book is now for official use only, and cannot be purchased. In a way, it's a small thing. But in another way, it's a wall that has been erected between the public and the government."

Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, says, "In terms of government sunlight, we're in the dark ages now." He puts most of the blame on the Bush administration for implementing the secrecy policy. "There's no other rational explanation than administration policy, for a phenomenon that's springing up like a thousand dead lightbulbs. This can't be a coincidence. It's become the rule," Devine says.

For the full story by Gregg Sangillo, National Journal, see GovExec.com Today, Oct. 28, 2004.

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(4) Helping Your Children Learn History

According to the Los Angeles Times (8 October 2004) the Department of Education (ED) has destroyed some 300,000 copies of a 73-page booklet "Helping Your Child Learn History." The publication was ordered destroyed reportedly after the Vice President's wife and former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Lynne Cheney's office complained to department officials about the continued presence of references in the reprint booklet to the National Standards for History.

Cheney has a long history of battling against the history standards -- voluntary benchmarks developed a decade back by professional historians that were designed to improve history courses. When she served as NEH Chair, Cheney had at first championed the creation of the national standards and had helped fund the project. But after the release of the final version of the standards, Cheney criticized them and set off a an ideological feud by asserting they were not positive enough about America's achievements and paid too little attention to prominent figures and heros. At one time she even characterized the standards as "politicized history." Defenders of the standards argued they properly emphasized the complexities of historical causation, and, by focusing on multiple points of view, accurately reflected contemporary historical scholarship and practice.

The publication that the ED recalled targeted parents of preschoolers through fifth graders and is part of a series of similar booklets that address topics like geography, reading, and math. Originally published in 1993, the publication contained advice for parents and recommended various activities for them to do with children to instill a love of history,such as taking children to museums and historic sites. The booklet had undergone a routine update by ED officials several months back and had actually been approved by Cheney's office. Some 300,000 copies were printed at the cost of $110,000 and 61,000 distributed before ED officials put a halt to distribution.

Apparently, one of the reprints made it to the desk of Cheney's staff who noticed several references to the National Standards for History that had not been present when Cheney's office had signed off on the reprint. According to department officials, the references were added for "consistency" sake (similar standards are routinely referenced in the department's other guidebooks for parents) but indeed they were inserted after Cheney's office approved the booklet. Cheney's staff complained to ED officials. Though neither Cheney nor representatives of her office ordered the destruction of the booklets, nevertheless, as a consequence, ED officials pulled all remaining copies of the offending version, ordered them all "recycled," and prepared a new version that is now being printed.

What is remarkable about the reprint controversy is that it provides yet new evidence of what many historians have long suspected -- that Cheney's office keeps a close eye on the activities of the Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities and other history-related agencies throughout the federal government.

Retired UCLA professor Gary Nash who had co-chaired the effort to develop the National Standards for History, characterized the decision to destroy the booklets as "extremely troubling...That's a pretty god-awful example of spending tax-payers' money." New York University educator Diane Ravitch, who has been at odds at times with historians over the standards stated, "I would have had a hard time recalling [the booklet], because I think the recall makes a big issue of something nobody would have paid attention to otherwise."

The new version of the booklet, less references to history standards, can be viewed on the department's website at Helping Your Child Learn History.

Source: Bruce Craign, National Council of History (NCH) Washington Update, Vol. 10, No. 42, Oct. 22, 2004.

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(5) Justice Department Stops Releasing Legal Opinions

In October 2003, the office that provides legal counsel to government agencies began keeping the subject of all of its legal opinions secret, contrary to previous practice.

The Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice regularly writes opinions on important legal matters for not only the DOJ but also other agencies in the government.

In the fall of 2003, the office changed its previous policy of "issuing" (releasing) selected opinions. From this time on, no opinions were released and the subject of all opinions is secret.

Statistics:

CLINTON ADMINISTRATION:

1998: 57 opinions, 30 secret, 27 released - 53% secret
1999: 37 opinions, 14 secret, 23 released - 38% secret
2000: 47 opinions, 27 secret, 20 released - 57% secret

BUSH ADMINISTRATION:

2001: 74 opinions, 67 secret, 7 released - 91% secret
2002: 54 opinions, 48 secret, 6 released - 89% secret
2003: 35 opinions, 28 secret, 7 released, 80% secret

Source: Michael Ravnitzky, e-mail: mikerav@mindspring.com, via GOVDOC-L, Oct. 27, 2004.

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(6) Senator Levin Releases Report on Pre-War Intelligence

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) released a report on October 21st of an inquiry he initiated on June 27, 2003 and conducted by the SASC Minority Staff. The report focuses on 1) the establishment of a non-Intelligence Community source of intelligence analysis in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, and 2) the extent to which policy makers utilized that alternative source rather than the analyses produced by the Intelligence Community with regard to the issue of any relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda before the Iraq war.

The report demonstrates how intelligence relating to the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship was exaggerated by high ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the Administration’s decision to invade Iraq when the intelligence assessments of the Intelligence Community did not make a sufficiently compelling case. The Intelligence Community’s analysis of the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship as a relatively weak one was as definitive as reliable reporting would permit, and their conclusions were subsequently supported by the 9/11 Commission and the Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq.

Senator Levin believes that the professional objectivity and independence required in the assessment of the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship were compromised to support the policy goal of removing Saddam Hussein. He hopes that this report will help to bring about corrective legislation, including better Congressional oversight of intelligence assessments, which was strongly recommended by the 9/11 Commission and is a pending issue in the Intelligence reform bills before Congress.

Source: Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) Press Release, Oct. 21, 2004.

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(7) The Intelligence Community Was Only Half the Problem

The recent report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on U.S. intelligence on Iraq paints an alarming picture of the Central Intelligence Agency’s failures in producing accurate intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorist organizations.

The report is an accurate, hard-hitting and well-deserved critique of the CIA, yet it is only half of the picture. The central issue of how intelligence on Iraq was misused or exaggerated by Bush administration officials was not part of the Committee's report.

Instead, that subject was delayed to a so-called “second phase” of the Committee's investigation. As a result, the report fails to fully explain the environment of intense pressure in which Intelligence Community officials were asked to render judgments on matters relating to Iraq, and it fails to analyze the exaggerations of Bush administration officials that went beyond the intelligence they were provided.

During the late summer and fall of 2002, senior officials in the Bush administration were forcefully and repeatedly making definitive statements about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. In August 2002, Vice President Cheney said, “We know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.” In September 2002, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld asserted, “[Saddam Hussein] has said, in no uncertain terms, that he would use weapons of mass destruction against the United States. He has, at this moment, stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and is pursuing nuclear weapons.” As the Bush administration prepared for war against Iraq in the fall of 2002 and made those public statements, the Intelligence Community judgments on Iraq shifted significantly from their earlier, more cautious assessments. The Committee's report demonstrates how many of the key judgments of the CIA’s October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate were stretched and manipulated to suggest that Iraq's mass destruction programs were stockpiled and weaponized.

During a crucial period of debate on whether a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq was necessary, U.S. policymakers were presented with an exaggerated picture of the threat posed by Iraqi weapons programs. Top Bush administration officials then went further and brushed aside the caveats that the Intelligence Community had placed on Iraq's links to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

By the time American troops were poised to attack Iraq, the CIA itself was making public statements that conveyed a level of conviction and certainty that was not supported by the underlying intelligence.

The charge levied in the President's State of the Union Address in late January 2003 that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa demonstrates how the Intelligence Community allowed the administration to cite a British intelligence report as the proof although the CIA considered that report “weak” and “not credible.”

As invasion plans of Iraq were finalized, the administration had succeeded in painting a stark and alarming picture of an imminent threat to American security based on erroneous intelligence and overheated rhetoric.

Vice President Cheney told a nationwide television audience that Iraq not only had a nuclear weapons development program but had “in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” President Bush spoke of a “mushroom cloud” and “massive and sudden horror,” while top administration officials continued to link Iraq and al-Qaeda terrorism in vivid terms that went well beyond the intelligence community's assessments.

It is no wonder that by the time the military campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime began in March of 2003, a majority of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda.

By selectively releasing and mischaracterizing intelligence information that supported an Iraq B al-Qaeda collaboration, while continuing to keep information classified and out of the public realm that did not, the administration distorted intelligence to persuade Americans into believing the actions of al-Qaeda and Iraq were indistinguishable.

The thorough evaluation of pre-war intelligence set forth in the Intelligence Committee's report makes a compelling case for reform. There is a rare opportunity to forge a bipartisan consensus in Congress on reforms that will strengthen the intelligence community, improve accountability, and foster cooperation and the sharing of intelligence information among agencies. But while the Congress begins considering reform legislation, it is important that the Intelligence Committee complete its work by examining the extent to which intelligence was misused or exaggerated by Bush administration officials to make the case for war.

Legislative reforms that improve collection, analysis and sharing of intelligence will not prevent intelligence from being slanted or exaggerated in support of policy objectives. In the year and a half preceding the Iraq war, Bush administration officials ignored the long-standing independence of objective intelligence from administration policy.

Restoring the Intelligence Community’s damaged credibility requires us to confront and acknowledge this unpleasant reality in order to prevent it from happening again.

Related Documents:

  • "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq Senate Select Committee on Intelligence".
  • "Conclusions" excerpted from the full report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

    Source: Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) Press Release, Oct. 15, 2004.

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    (8) Fall Depository Library Council meeting, October 17-20, 2004

    This annual meeting of the Depository Library Council and U.S. depository librarians was the largest yet with over 700 participants, including many federal agencies, agency librarians, vendors and Government Printing Office staff.

    GPO appears to be further along in the planning and implementation of its plans for managing the transition to an all-electronic environment. A strategic plan laying out the final proposal for the electronic collection, national bibliography and collection of last resort will be released at the end of 2004.

    1. 86% of material distributed to depositories in FY2003 was available in electronic format. Of the 14% available only in tangible format, 33% were maps. There was some dual format distribution.
    2. Funds for many GPO initiatives may be forthcoming through the sale or lease of their downtown Washington, DC building.
    3. GPO is beginning the process of outsourcing creation of MARC records for pre-1976 U.S. documents using either GPO's shelflist or the Monthly Catalog of Government Publications. They are planning to create very brief records which libraries will be able to batch load and upgrade. At this point the quality of records to be created is still unclear, and hence also their suitability for use in cataloging MSU's collection.
    4. GPO is investigating the use of Print on Demand technologies for creating publications for sales as well as copies for depository libraries. Samples of books printed using this technology were available and appeared relatively usable.
    5. Incentives for remaining in the depository program were outlined. Many involved provision of training and streamlining the depository collection management process and policies.
    Several interesting programs included:
    1. Copyright and Government Information: The Defense Technical Information Center has produced an excellent guide dispelling myths about the copyright-free nature of government information: http://www.dtic.mil/cendi/publications/00-3copyright.html. A notable point made by the speaker, Bonnie Klein (DTIC), was that the increased outsourcing of government activity to private contractors may lead to a greater proportion of government information under copyright.

    2. Economic Data and the Federal Bank of St Louis: The Director of Research at the Bank spoke about economists' perspectives on economic data and their use of data, including their need for all versions of a data release (for example the initial release, revision and final edition). The bank started a digitization project to make this data available to its researchers, but found that initial releases and earlier revisions had often been discarded by libraries and government agency publishers. Fortunately some depository libraries had kept all versions and they were able to complete their project and demonstrating the value of a decentralized depository library program: http://fraser.stlouisfed.org/. Those familiar with FRED will be happy to know that ALFRED (archival FRED) will be available in Summer 2005.

    3. Blogs and RSS: Two programs on this topic indicate that many state governments are taking the lead in using RSS as a method of communicating with their users: http://www.rssgov.com. Some federal agencies and libraries are implementing blogs and RSS as well, with Georgia State University implementing it across the library for both public audiences and on their intranet. Their formalized approach includes a style guide. Nearer to home, the University of Minnesota Libraries is providing blogs for the entire campus community "to promote intellectual freedom, to help build communities of interest on campus, to investigate the connections between blogging and the traditional academic enterprise, and to retain the cultural memory of the institution".
    Source: Hui Hua Chua, Federal Documents Librarian, Michigan State University Libraries, Oct. 29, 2004.

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    (9) Americans Getting Fatter, But Taller Too!

    In 1960-62, the average man weighed 166.3 pounds. By 1999-2002, the average had reached 191 pounds, according to the National Center for Health Statistics -- part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- which issued the report. Similarly, the report said, the average woman's weight rose from 140.2 pounds to 164.3 pounds.

    The trends are the same for children, the report said: Average 10-year-olds weighed about 11 pounds more in 1999-2002 than they did 40 years ago.

    At same time, though less dramatically, Americans are getting a little bit taller.

    Men's average height increased from 5 feet 8 inches in the early 1960s to 5 feet 9 1/2 inches in 1999-2002.

    The average height of a woman, meanwhile, went from just over 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 4 inches.

    Maybe I'll skip that donut.... Full report: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad347.pdf.

    Source: "Americans Getting Taller, Much Heavier", Laura Meckler, Newsday.com, Oct. 28, 2004.

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    (10) Five Government Documents Make OCLC's Top 1000 Books

    Titles include: Census (various entries), Constitution, George Washington's Farewell Address, the Occupational oUtlook Handbook, and Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Source: http://www.oclc.org/research/top1000/government.htm.

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    (11) Public Vaults Exhibit Opens

    After four years of planning the National Archives finally opened its "Public Vaults" exhibit on November 12, 2004. This 9,000 square foot permanent exhibit displays the letters, films, recordings, photographs, and maps that are the underpinnings of American history. This $7 million public-private partnership between the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives is intended to make the archives more accessible -- and to make history more interesting to visitors.

    "Public Vaults" provides a sampling of the archives' vast holdings and encourages visitors to search deeper into records. It features a selection of presidential documents, sound recordings that presidents recorded, investigatory records, newsreels, immigration records, and patent applications.

    The exhibit begins with the Record of America hallway; this central pathway takes the visitor on a journey through time and the changing technology of records. Branching off of this pathway are five "vaults." In addition to original records, each vault features new electronic tools that allow the visitor to explore fragments of our past in astonishing detail. The Public Vaults draws its themes from words in the Preamble to the Constitution We the People – records of family and citizenship; To Form a More Perfect Union – records of liberty and law; Provide for the Common Defense – records of war and diplomacy; Promote the General Welfare – records of frontiers and firsts; and To Ourselves and Our Posterity – keeping records for future generations.

    Some rooms appear like a library, others have borrowed the vertical-box look of storage unit shelving. Interactive touch screens give visitors the option of calling up more material on a specific subject. The designers have also incorporated new film editing techniques into the exhibit. The film editing display allows the visitor to use the archives exquisite footage of D-Day to edit his or her own two-minute version of the landing on D-Day.

    For more information please visit the NARA's "Public Vaults" exhibit web page at: http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/visit/public_vaults_2.html.

    Source: Bruce Craig and Tim Nolan, NATIONAL COALITION FOR HISTORY (NCH) WASHINGTON UPDATE (Vol. 10, #46; 18 November 2004).

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    (12) Clinton Presidential Library Opens

    On November 18, 2004, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library was dedicated on the south bank of the Arkansas River. In attendance were representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties, former President Clinton and his wife Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, President George Bush, former Presidents Bush and Carter, and other dignitaries.

    The Little Rock facility houses the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, the Clinton School of Public Service, and the Clinton Foundation offices. The Clinton presidential center will be the 12th presidential library built in the United States. The $165 million price tag will make this 30-acre center the largest and most expensive presidential library constructed to date.

    The library contains eight C-5 cargo planes worth of presidential materials including nearly 2 million photographs, 80 million pages of records and documents, 75,000 gifts and artifacts, and 21 million email messages. The archive is the repository of the written, video and audio records of the Clinton-Gore Administration, and beginning in 2005 will be available to historians, students and others with an interest in researching the Clinton presidency. The center has a full-time educator on staff who will regularly host school groups for on-site lessons.

    James Polshek, a New York architect, created the unique building design which is meant to resemble a glass bridge to the 21st century, and Ralph Appelbaum Associates designed the exhibits. The 20,000 square-foot museum contains thematic alcoves depicting important milestones in the Clinton presidency, such as the economic boom and elimination of the deficit, reducing crime and promoting peace and democracy in the world. It features a multi-media timeline of world events between 1993 and 2001, interactive flat-screen displays and a whirl of high-tech gadgets, a full-scale replica of the Cabinet Room and the Oval Office, and several exhibits that detail life in the White House, including "State Events" "Welcoming the World" and "Making The House a Home."

    The Library is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including high-definition television screens and 19 interactive stations. Visitors can enter any date during the entire Clinton presidency and see the president's complete schedule for that day. They can also sit in chairs around the cabinet room table and view information about each cabinet department on monitors built into the tabletop.

    The opening of the Clinton library may well provide new fuel for the long-standing debate over the value of presidential libraries. The archival component of presidential libraries -- the part that provides a one-stop research opportunity for scholars -- rarely sparks controversy, but the museum component frequently does. And the Clinton library will be no exception to the rule. Just as critics of the Richard Nixon presidential library claim it minimizes Watergate in its exhibitry, the Clinton library will be criticized, (as the Washington Times proclaims in its page-one story headline) for "Whitewashing Whitewater." While it undoubtedly will take historians decades to establish the definitive view of the Clinton presidency, the Clinton library will be formative in helping to make that possible.

    For more information on the Clinton Presidential Center tap into: http://www.clintonpresidentialcenter.org/.

    Source: Bruce Craig and Tim Nolan, NATIONAL COALITION FOR HISTORY (NCH) WASHINGTON UPDATE (Vol. 10, #46; 18 November 2004).

    More coverage: Suzanne Goldenberg in Little Rock, Arkansas, "80 million pieces of paper, two million photos, 79,000 objects - and not a blue dress in sight", The Guardian (UK), November 18, 2004.

    Take an Interactive Tour of the Clinton Library, courtesy of USA Today, Nov. 17, 2004.

    Another Film Clip.

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    (13) Federal Budget in the News

    "The budget I am proposing for 2005 is a reflection of this nation's goals and purpose," President Bush has said. This is a worrisome statement. For one thing, the federal budget has a projected deficit of $367 billion or more. For another thing, the federal budget doesn't exist. Congress failed to pass it. And fiscal year 2005 began on October 1. Did Mom's Social Security check bounce? Have American soldiers been reduced to throwing stones at Iraqi insurgents? Are people with toenail clippers in their pockets walking straight onto commercial airliners?"

    Opening paragraph of "THE ART OF POLICY : A $2.4 Trillion Figure of Speech ; The Federal Budget—an Explanation" by P. J. O'Rourke, Atlantic Monthly, Nov. 2004.

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    (14) So What Is On the Back of the Declaration of Independence?

    Believe it or not!

    In case you've managed to miss the endless promos, trailers and commercials for the new movie National Treasure, one of its central plot lines involves a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

    Preposterous, no?

    Well, now comes word from the National Archives that there really is something written on the back of the Declaration. (You have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the linked article about the National Archives News Exhibit appearing in Yahoo News on Nov. 12 to uncover this tidbit.)

    Sure, they say it's got nothing to do with hidden treasure, but I'm not buying. Source: GovExec.com Daily Briefing Fedlog, Nov. 15, 2004.

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    (15) FTC Launches “Big Fat Lie” Initiative
    Targeting Bogus Weight-loss Claims

    Today (Nov. 9), the Federal Trade Commission is launching “Operation Big Fat Lie,” a nation-wide law enforcement sweep against six companies making false weight-loss claims in national advertisements.

    Operation Big Fat Lie is the latest in the Commission’s efforts to:

    And it win's Red Tape's approval as a clever advertising device!

    Source: Federal Trade Commission Press Release, Nov. 9, 2004. Spotted in GovExec.com Daily Briefing Fedlog, Nov. 10, 2004.

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    (16) Unsolicited Praise for Medline

    The authoritative Sunday source, Parade Magazine, on September 19 in an article titled, “The Best Medical Help Online” quoted Dr. Jacqueline Fincher of Thomson, Georgia. People often leave her office with two prescriptions –– one for medicine and another for a Web site . “The prescription I write for information is just as important as the one for medication. I tell my patients to go to a computer and get a free second opinion. The more they understand about their disease, the better care they take of themselves.”

    Check out MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

    Academics, of course, may prefer Entrez Medline for tracking down medical journal literature.

    Source: Margaret Landesman (Marriott Library, University of Utah), Heard on the Net, Charleston Advisor, Volume 6, Number 2, October 2004.

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    (17) U.S. Serials Set Competition Heats Up

    Did anyone spot the following sentence in the most recent Charleston Advisor?

    Google reportedly plans (or would like to plan) to make available Stanford’s collection of out-of-copyright books (7.5 million titles), the materials in Institutional Repositories at DSpace libraries, and the U.S. Serials Set!

    Source: Margaret Landesman (Marriott Library, University of Utah), "Heard on the Net", Charleston Advisor, Volume 6, Number 2, October 2004.

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    (18) A Change of Address Form Can Reunite More than
    1,500 Michigan Residents with Their Missing Tax Refunds

    More than 1,500 Michigan residents can claim their personal share of more $1.1 million in income tax refunds by correcting or updating their addresses with the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said today (Nov. 17).

    “When people move or change their address and fail to notify the IRS or the U.S. Postal Service of this change, their refund check is returned to the IRS,” Stabenow said. “With a quick visit to the IRS Web site ‘Where’s my refund?’ people can verify that they are due a refund and, in some cases, get instructions online to resolve potential account issues.”

    Browsers can link to “Where’s my refund?” from the IRS home page. They should be ready to enter several identifying pieces of information, including Social Security number, filing status – such as single, married filing joint return, or head of household – and the exact amount of the refund as shown on their tax form.

    Individuals without access to the Internet should have tax return information at hand and call the IRS toll-free assistance line at 1-800-829-1040.

    According to information release by the IRS, the number of undeliverable checks in Michigan has gone down in 2004 by 363, but the average refund has gone up since 2003 from $674 to $767. Refunds can be as small as $1, but one Michigan resident is missing a refund of $75,000.

    Stabenow said taxpayers may want to consider direct deposit of tax refunds in a personal checking or savings account to guard against theft or loss of refund checks. The IRS states that more than 49 million taxpayers chose direct deposit of almost $120 billion in refunds this year, a jump of almost 11 percent from last year.

    For residents who will continue to watch the mail for their refund check and are considering a move, an IRS change-of-address form, Form 8822, is available for download at the IRS Web site or by calling 1-800-829-3676.

    Source: Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) press release, Nov. 17, 2004.

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