Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – September 23rd

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Amy Morris discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Violence and threats against Census workers rose sharply in the past year, compared to statistics from the 2000 count. Census director Robert M. Groves says workers this year about 700 incidents or threats occurred, four times as many as in 2000. The Washington Post reports only a handful of incidents involved gunfire. Groves had other statistics in a Press Club briefing: Census workers made 100 million home visits, seeking information from people who didn’t return their forms. Occupants of 700,000 homes sent back incomplete forms. 8.7 million homes visited were found to be unoccupied.
  • Are Federal prosecutors out to score convictions instead of seeking justice? A USA Today investigation finds Justice Department prosecutors broke the law, or ethics rules, in at least 200 cases, costing innocent people their freedom, and taxpayers millions of dollars. D.C., San Diego, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico had the most cases of misconduct, but there were violations across the entire country.The violations included withholding evidence, lying to judges and juries, and broken plea bargains.
  • The nominee to be the CIA’s next inspector general would increase oversight of the agency’s covert activities. David Buckley told lawmakers he would consider increasing the frequency of some investigations from every three years, to every year. Federal Times reports the three-year cycle dates to a 2001 agreement between the CIA and congressional intelligence committees. But some members are re-thinking the deal in light of revelations of the CIA’s harsh treatment of terror-suspect detainees. Relations between the IG and intelligence authorities have been stormy at times.
  • The Pentagon is identifying the nine American troops killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan earlier this week. Four were with Navy special forces and the five others were soldiers from the Army’s 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. There’s still no word on what brought the chopper down. NATO says there were no reports of enemy fire in a rugged area of Zabul province where the crash occurred. A Taliban spokesman tells The Associated Press that insurgents shot down the helicopter but the Taliban often exaggerate their claims and sometimes take credit for accidents.
  • Deleware Senator Tom Carper plans to introduce a bill that could save the Postal Service from mounting debt. Carper’s proposal would allow USPS to recover billions of dollars in overpayments to a retirement fund. It would also end Saturday mail delivery and let the agency open branches in grocery stores. The postal service is expecting more than 200 billion dollars of debt in the next decade. The Washington Post reports that Carper will unveil it today.
  • We’ve been telling you about the status of the Defense Authorization Bill: Senate Republicans prevented a vote because of several amendments, including something called the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act is a way to give children who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents a chance to become legal residents. USA Today reports there is a less-publicized part of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, the DREAM Act, that impacts the military. Turns out, the Pentagon is pushing for it as a way to staff the armed forces. When the Department of Defense published its three-year strategic plan, it listed the DREAM Act as a way to replenish its ranks, saying that illegal immigrants who met the requirements would be eligible to become permanent residents if they completed two years of college or two years in the military.
  • The National Archives and Record Administration is giving your agency tips for managing records in the cloud computing era. The guidance tackles some of the challenges that agencies face with records management when using the cloud. It also includes a general contracting clause that agencies can use when buying cloud computing solutions and negotiating contracts.
  • The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote this month on a plan that will allow tech companies to use a new source of wireless airwaves. The FCC calls the plan a big victory for Silicon Valley companies. But Politico reports critics say it is too little, too late. The plan would allow Google, Microsoft, HP and Intel to build new devices to surf the web via the idle TV spectrum, known as “white space.” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says the move will expand high-speed Internet connections across the country. Critics say the agency waited too long to move forward.
  • Is the cartoon entertainment, or just a 30-minute ad? The Federal Communications Commission is investigating complaints that a new action cartoon is really just an ad for a popular brand of sneakers. If so, it may be in violation of federal rules on how much TV advertising can be aimed at children. The Wall Street Journal reports, the FCC issued a notice, seeking more information about the show, Zevo-3. Produced by Viacom and scheduled for airing in October, the show depicts three sneaker-clad superheros who were created for a comic book published by the shoe maker.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission launched its fraud lawsuit against Goldman Sachs to divert attention from its failure to detect an unrelated ponzi scheme. That’s what the SEC’s inspector general suspects. H. David Kotz told lawmakers the highly publicized lawsuit was launched the same day in April he came out with a critical report. That report chided the SEC for failing to sniff out an alleged $7 billion ripoff by a prominent money manager. The Wall Street Journal reports, Kotz told the Senate Banking Committee the coincidence of the lawsuit and the report, in his words, strain credulity.

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