Monthly Archives: November, 2009

What do Confucius, pi and Toby Keith have in common?

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Congress can’t seem to pass a spending bill on time or figure out health care reform, but as CNN points out, at least they’ve got time to consider resolutions to honor Confucius and establish National Pi Day. CNN says Congress has taken up more than 300 commemorative resolutions so far this year. It would be one thing if these feel-good measures were simple formalities that sailed right through Congress. But that’s not how it works. My fellow reporter Rebecca Neal says she’s seen bills like last year’s H. Res. 1255 — a resolution honoring Toby Keith — eat up hours of floor time…

Next stop: Disneyland

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President Barack Obama officially kicked off the Thanksgiving Day holiday today by exercising his presidential duties and pardoning not one, but two, turkeys. Flanked by daughters Sasha and Malia, Obama was in good spirits for the occassion. Obama noted that the pardoned birds, Courage and Carolina, would be traveling to Disneyland to participate in the annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Obama even managed to work in a Recovery Act joke. He explained that in addition to the two pardoned turkeys, two other less-fortunate birds donated by a Pennsylvania turkey farm would be taken to the nonprofit Martha’s Table to be served…

Comment of the Day: 'Talk Nerdy To Me'

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I have to take my hat off to FedLine commenter “Still another NRC engineer,” who just posted what may be the best comment in our blog’s thirteen-month history: A Poison parody called “Talk Nerdy To Me.” This was his response to the heated discussion sparked last week on our blog post “The NRC Dating Service?” (And for those not familiar with Nuclear Regulatory Commission terminology, “EDO” is the acronym for the agency’s Executive Director of Operations.) The original “Talk Dirty To Me” video can be found here — sing along as you’re waiting for your agency to let you go…

Thanksgiving update: Short day for some tomorrow

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The Office of Personnel Management just posted this memo online that says agencies are free to let their employees go home early tomorrow. OPM Director John Berry said it’s up to each agency to decide whether to grant employees a short day: During the Thanksgiving holiday, I ask all Federal employees to reflect on the President’s message and renew their commitment to serving their communities.  As a mark of gratitude for the service provided by Federal employees, executive branch department and agency heads can use their existing authority to provide an early dismissal (excused absence, with out charge to leave or…

Census worker's death ruled a suicide

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Kentucky law enforcement officials today said Bill Sparkman, the Census worker who was found hanged Sept. 12 in a national forest with “fed” scrawled on his chest, actually committed suicide. According to an Associated Press report, authorities said Sparkman staged his death to look like a murder: Sparkman had recently taken out two life insurance policies that would not pay out for suicide, authorities said. If Sparkman had been killed on the job, his family also would have been be eligible for up to $10,000 in death gratuity payments from the government. He was not eligible for a separate life insurance…

Business as usual on Friday

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A reader e-mailed us earlier today asking if federal employees will get the day after Thanksgiving off, giving them a four-day weekend. I checked with OPM and the answer is no — federal employees still have to come in to work Friday, even if they’re recovering from a tryptophan-induced coma.

It is so (executive) ordered: Track improper payments

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The White House this evening released the expected executive order on tracking and combating improper payments on government programs. And it does pretty much what we reported Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said it would, namely it orders agencies to: Report to a governmentwide Web site established to disclose and track a program’s total improper payments. The Web site will include error rates by agency and program, and an e-mail address the public can use to report suspected waste, fraud and abuse. Report on errors more frequently. For example, rather than annual reporting of how many improper…

Turkeys can fly!

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Despite the experience of a certain Cincinnati radio station (see below), it turns out that turkeys can fly…just as long as they’re on an airplane. That’s the word from TSA, which has posted a list of holiday travel tips on its blog. Turkeys are permitted carry on items. As are pies (mmm…pie). The complete list of food related dos and don’ts is as follows: Foods: Pies are permitted, but they are subject to additional screening if our officers see any anomalies. (Additional screening of pies does not include our officers tasting the pie, no matter what they tell you…) Cakes,…

A smoke-free outdoors?

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Rep. Eliot Engel is trying again to ban smoking near federal buildings. The New York Democrat unsuccessfully introduced a bill during the last Congress to ban smoking within 25 feet of any federal building’s entrances, exits, windows that can be opened and ventilation intakes. Engel reintroduced the bill Nov. 18 to correspond with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smoke Out smoking-cessation campaign. The Surgeon General reported in 2006 that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. One step we can take in limiting such exposure is to free the entrances of buildings of the clouds of…

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