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Cinematic Treasures Named to National Film Registry

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Cinematic Treasures Named to National Film Registry
Source: Library of Congress

The horrors of war, the heroism of sacrifice, a vaudeville pioneer, the devil and a master of the macabre represent the diversity of an elite selection of films recognized for their cultural, historic or aesthetic significance. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced today the annual selection of 25 motion pictures to be named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Selection to the registry will help ensure that these films will be preserved for all time.

Spanning the period 1913-2004, the films named to the registry include Hollywood classics, documentaries, silent movies, student films, independent and experimental motion pictures. This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 650, which is a small fraction of the Library’s vast moving-image collection of 1.3 million items.

The 2014 registry list includes such iconic movies as “Saving Private Ryan,” a treatise about the harsh realities of war, which earned director Steven Spielberg an Academy Award; the chilling 1968 horror masterpiece “Rosemary’s Baby”; Arthur Penn’s Western saga starring Dustin Hoffman, “Little Big Man”; director John Hughes’ “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”; and Joel and Ethan Coen’s cult classic, “The Big Lebowski.”

The list also includes John Lasseter’s 1986 animated film, “Luxo Jr.”; the 1953 “House of Wax,” the first full-length 3-D color film produced and released by a major American film studio; 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” starring Gene Wilder; Howard Hawks’ 1959 Western “Rio Bravo”; and Charles Laughton comic turn in the 1935 “Ruggles of Red Gap.” Also making the list is Efraín Gutiérrez’s 1976 independent movie, “Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!,” considered by historians to be the first Chicano feature film.

Anti-Terrorist/Anti-Money Laundering Information-Sharing by Financial Institutions under FINCEN’s Regulations, CRS Legal Sidebar (December 10, 2014)

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Anti-Terrorist/Anti-Money Laundering Information-Sharing by Financial Institutions under FINCEN’s Regulations, CRS Legal Sidebar
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Information-sharing programs developed by Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) to implement section 314 of the USA PATRIOT Act have been designed to aid law enforcement investigation and prosecution of money laundering and terrorist financing. Because funds from criminal activity and funds headed to terrorist organizations must pass through the financial system, the FINCEN information-sharing programs have been the means of quickly identifying financial transactions tied to crimes or terrorist organizations under investigation. The section 314 programs supplement more general Bank Secrecy Act requirements, such as the Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) on cash transactions of $10,000 or more, and the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) on transactions suspected to involve criminal activity.

CRS — Terrorism Risk Insurance Legislation: Issue Summary and Side-by-Side Analysis (December 11, 2014)

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Terrorism Risk Insurance Legislation: Issue Summary and Side-by-Side Analysis (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, insurance covering terrorism losses was normally included in commercial insurance policies without additional cost to the policyholders. Following the attacks, this ceased to be the case as insurers and reinsurers pulled back from offering terrorism coverage. It was feared that a lack of insurance against terrorism loss would have a wider economic impact, particularly because insurance coverage can be a significant factor in lending decisions.

This report briefly outlines the issues involved with terrorism insurance, summarizes the extension legislation, and includes a side-by-side of the current TRIA law and the bills that have been passed by the Senate (S. 2244), reported by the House Committee on Financial Services (H.R. 4871), and passed by the House (S. 2244 with a substitute amendment). For more a more in-depth treatment of the issues surrounding TRIA, please see CRS Report R42716, Terrorism
Risk Insurance: Issue Analysis and Overview of Current Program, by Baird Webel.

CRS — Federal Inspectors General: History, Characteristics, and Recent Congressional Actions (December 8, 2014)

December 17, 2014 Comments off

Federal Inspectors General: History, Characteristics, and Recent Congressional Actions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Federal inspectors general (IGs) are authorized to combat waste, fraud, and abuse within their affiliated federal entities. To execute their missions, offices of inspector general (OIGs) conduct and publish audits and investigations—among other duties. Two major enactments—the Inspector General Act of 1978 and its amendments of 1988 (codified at 5 U.S.C. Appendix)—established federal IGs as permanent, nonpartisan, and independent offices in more than 70 federal agencies.

OIGs serve to assist Congress in overseeing executive branch—and a few legislative branch— agencies. They provide recommendations and findings to their affiliated agency head and to Congress that may save the government millions of dollars per year. As a result, Congress may have an interest in ensuring that federal OIGs have the appropriate authorities and access to information they need to perform their investigations, audits, and evaluations. Concurrently, Congress has a responsibility to protect some records and information, such as national security information or information about an ongoing criminal investigation, from improper release. This report provides background on the statutory creation of federal OIGs and provides historical context for contemporary debates about the strengths and limitations of the offices.

CRS — Coordinated Party Expenditures in Federal Elections: An Overview (December 8, 2014)

December 17, 2014 Comments off

Coordinated Party Expenditures in Federal Elections: An Overview (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

A provision of federal campaign finance law, codified at 52 U.S.C. §30116(d) (formerly 2 U.S.C. §441a(d)), allows political party committees to make expenditures on behalf of their general election candidates for federal office and specifies limits on such spending. These “coordinated party expenditures” are important not only because they provide financial support to campaigns, but also because parties and campaigns may explicitly discuss how the money is spent. Although they have long been the major source of direct party financial support for campaigns, coordinated expenditures have recently been overshadowed by independent expenditures.

CRS — Hospital-Based Emergency Departments: Background and Policy Considerations (December 8, 2014)

December 17, 2014 Comments off

Hospital-Based Emergency Departments: Background and Policy Considerations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Hospital-based Emergency Departments (EDs) are required to stabilize patients with emergent conditions regardless of the patients’ ability to pay as a requirement of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Given this requirement, EDs play an important part in the health care safety net by serving the uninsured, the underserved, and those enrolled in Medicaid. Open 24 hours a day, EDs provide emergency care, urgent care, primary care, and behavioral health care services in communities where these services are unavailable or unavailable after hours. EDs also play a key role during emergencies, such as natural disasters.

Some EDs are challenged to provide effective care. For example, EDs provide a disproportionate amount of health care to the U.S. population, in general, and to the safety net population, in particular. Specifically, while 4% of all U.S. physicians are ED physicians, they are the treating physicians in 28% of all acute care visits. Some EDs face financial challenges. ED services are costly both to payers, because services provided in an ED are more costly than those provided in community-based settings, and to hospitals, because operating an ED has high fixed costs and because if patients enter with an emergent condition, hospitals are required by EMTALA to stabilize the patient regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

CRS — Addressing the Long-Run Budget Deficit: A Comparison of Approaches (December 9, 2014)

December 17, 2014 Comments off

Addressing the Long-Run Budget Deficit: A Comparison of Approaches (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

A small share of federal spending is for direct provision of domestic government services, which many people may think of when considering federal spending. Because this spending is normally about 10% of total federal spending and about 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) and deficits are projected to be 2.8% of GDP and rising in the future, cutting this type of spending can make only a limited contribution to reducing the deficit. (Note that direct provision of domestic services by the federal government is smaller than the total of nondefense discretionary spending, about 17% of spending, because it excludes transfers. Discretionary spending is spending that requires appropriations.) Transfers and payments to persons and state and local governments constitute most of federal spending, about 70%. Defense spending, currently accounting for about 20% of spending, has declined over the past 35 years but tends to vary depending, in part, on the presence and magnitude of international conflicts.

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