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The Constitution: Analysis and Interpretation

Today is Constitution Day.  Constitution Day is a Federal holiday meant to celebrate and educate about the United States Constitution in schools across the country.

The Constitution of the United States is a living document that has been amended and interpreted throughout the history of the nation.  An interesting resource for the study of the interpretation of the Constitution is Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation.  The Constitution Annotated as it is commonly referred to is an overview of the Constitution through US Supreme Court decisions which outlines how the document has been interpreted throughout history.  Updated versions are published yearly by the Senate and can be found in King Library, or online through Congress.gov.  Historic version can be found in King and online at FDsys.gov

Tax Time

All forms and instructions are available online for Federal, Ohio, and Oxford/Butler County taxes.

If you would prefer pre-printed forms, select forms can be obtained at branches of the Lane Libraries.

If you are interested in where your tax dollars will be spent, the Treasury Department publishes annually the General Explanations of the Administration’s Revenue Proposals otherwise known as the Green Book. The Green Book is a general outline of what the current administration would like to see Federal income put towards. The Treasury Department also has tax policy information and data about the US economy available on their website. The IRS has statistics on practically every aspect of Federal taxes available on their website.

The Miami University Libraries have extensive current and historical Treasury Department publications available.

The Federal Taxpayer Receipt will be updated for 2013 later this year.

The Newly Digitized Warren Commission Report, Air Force One Flight Deck Recordings and other digital artifacts.

In 1964 the Government Printing Office produced the final findings of the The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, informally known as the Warren Commission Report. Now almost 30 years later the GPO has released a digitized version of the full report on FDsys.gov (link to full .pdf). The 900 page, 77.5mb .pdf contains the entire Warren Commission Report as originally printed, digitized from an original copy housed at Georgetown University’s Lauinger Library

Supplementary to the Warren Commission Report the GPO has also made available on FDsys.gov flight deck recordings from Air Force One recorded following the Kennedy Assassination.

The National Archives website maintains an index and increasing collection of digitized material of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection, including appendixes and supplementary materials to the Warren Commission Report.

US Federal Government Shutdown

Though the United States Federal Government has shutdown several times the current crisis marks the first during which the internet has become the primary means Federal agencies use to distribute information. The last time a government shutdown was looming there was a great deal of confusion as to how it might affect government websites. It looks like we are now finding out.

A government shutdown prevents the Federal Government from spending money on all but the most essential services, and it appears that for the time being maintaining many of its websites is not being deemed an essential service. The Burea of Economic Analysis, ERIC, and Census.gov (including all connected sites and services) are currently down. The FDA, CDC, and others are currently available, but many are displaying prominentt notices that sites are not currently being updated due to the shutdown and any information accessed may not be up to date.

USA.gov, which is currently up in a limited, non-updating capacity has a rundown of Federal agencies and services and the extent they will be operating for the duration of the shutdown.

Tax Time!

It's time to start thinking about filing taxes for 2012.

Paying Taxes

The Miami University Libraries will not be stocking pre-printed tax forms this year due to low utilization and waste due to bulk ordering requirements. However staff in the Government Information & Law Department will print copies of any forms or instructions for you at your request.

If you would prefer pre-printed forms, select forms can be obtained at the Oxford branch of the Lane Libraries.

All tax forms and electronic payment instructions are available online for Federal, Ohio, and local Oxford/Butler County taxes.

International Students working in the US will likely need to file a 1040 NR form. The 1040 NR can be printed from the IRS website.

Where does all the money go?

If you are interested in where your tax dollars will be spent, the Treasury Department publishes annually the General Explanations of the Administration’s Revenue Proposals otherwise known as the Green Book. The Green Book is a general outline of what the current adminstration would like to see Federal income put twoards. The Treasury Department also has tax policy information and data about the US economy available on their website. The Miami University Libraries have exstensive current and historical Treasury Department publications available. The IRS has statistics on practically every aspect of Federal taxes available on their website.

The White House Federal Taxpayer Receipt should be updated for 2012 later this year.

The 2013 Statistical Abstract of the United States

The United States federal government collects and publishes a vast variety of statistics. The Census Bureau, the Department of Homeland Secrutity, NOAA, the USGS, the NCES, the BEA, BLS, BJS, EIA, CDC, and other three, four, and more letter agencies collect, compile, and publish statistics.

In 1878 the United States Census Bureau began publishing the Statistical Abstract of the United States as a compilation of statistical information about the USA. This resource has been if not the final answer then the starting point for finding statistical information for more than 133 years. The Miami University Libraries have a complete run from the first to the last.

The last issue published by the US government that is. In 2012 the Statistical Compendia Program which had been responsible for compiling the Abstract was defunded. However the Statistical Abstract will live on, now compiled and published by ProQuest and Bernan (compiled in fact by some of the same staff formerly employed by the Census bureau).

The new Abstract still covers all of the same information as previous editions: population, education, trade, prices, foreign commerce, international statistics, and more.

OhioLINK has subscribed to the ProQuest Statistical Abstract in electronic format which will include monthly updates, search, downloadable tables, index terms, citation information, and direct links to the original sources for statistics. The Miami University Libraries have acquired the ever popular print copies (which will be printed in a new, larger format) for campus libraries.

Shake-ups in Congressional Information

Today during a live tweeted event, @librarycongress announced that long-standing source of legislative information Thomas is going to be updated as congress.gov in a partnership between the Library of Congress, the House of Representatives, Senate, State Department, and the Government Printing Office. The new site is intended to offer a wide variety of legislative information all in one place, freely accessible to the public. The new design will be mobile friendly and will include live video, multi-media content, and full text search across legislative information.

In other changes to access to legislative information, after last years accquisition of LexisNexis Congressional by ProQuest (another provider of aggregated information products) The Miami University Libraries transition to the new ProQuest Congressional is complete and the new resource can be accessed anywhere on Miami’s network. ProQuest Congressional will offer all of the same historic collections and up-to-the minute information as LexisNexis Congressional. Containing the Congressional Record, Serial Set, Hearings and other information going back to the formation of the Congress ProQuest Congressional is a valuable resource for anyone interested United States history and current events.

New titles from the US Federal Government

The branches and agencies of the US Government produce a wealth of information. Here are a few of the newest titles accessible through the Miami University Libraries and the internet.

Recent events in Pakistan may have you interested in international geography. If so you may want to check out the most recent Central Intelligence Agency produced maps of Pakistan. These maps cover geography, administrative divisions, and physiography and are available at the Science Library and Online. For general information on Pakistan and any other country the best place to start is another CIA title, The World Fact Book (MU Libraries / online).

Some recent Congressional Hearings focusing on international cooperation, US involvement in other nations and post conflict reconstruction:

For some reading on historical events and conflicts there is the new title Engineers at War by Adrian G. Traas from the US Army Center of Military History.

For some quieter reading try Rain Gardens: Capturing and Using the Rains of the Great Plains (.pdf), available online from the US Natural Resources Conservation Service.

If none of these titles are of interest but are something you wouldn't have thought would be produced by the United States Government, you can browse all of the Government Information & Law Department's newest acquisitions through the library catalog.

The Voyager Project - At the edge of the solar system and the library

NASA recently announced that Voyagers I and II are now at the edge of Earth's solar system and moving outward into interstellar space.

The Miami University Libraries Government Information and Law Department has several NASA publications from and about the Voyager Project covering it's more than 30 year history.

In addition to expanding humanities knowledge of the outer planets of our solar system, Voyager I and II both carry gold records containing images and sounds of life on Earth. Designed by a team lead by Carl Sagan, the "murmurs of Earth" include:

"...118 photographs; 90 minutes of music; greetings in 55 human languages and one whale language; an audio essay featuring everything from burbling mud pots to barking dogs to a roaring Saturn 5 liftoff; a remarkably poetic salutation from the Secretary General of the United Nations; and the brain waves of a young women in love."

The records were intended to be an introduction from the human race to any alien species that could find and decipher them. Neither of the Voyager probes will pass by another star for about 40,000 years, making it incredibly unlikely that an alien race would find them any time soon (unless of course one of them decides to come home). Carl Sagan wrote the book Murmurs of Earth : the Voyager interstellar record (available in the MU Libraries) detailing the creation of the records. The full contents of the golden records can be found on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory website.

Federal Taxes: How, What, and Why you Paid

Monday, April 18th is the last day to file Federal Income Taxes this year. If you prefer to use paper forms the Government Information & Law department at King Library still has the basic forms, though at this late date you may want to file electronically.

If you are interested in just where your Federal tax dollars go you should take a look at the White Houses' 2010 Tax Receipt page. By entering your 2010 information you can get a break down of how your Federal tax dollars were spent.

If you'd like to know more about tax law then you should visit the library.

The Internal Revenue Code of the United States is spelled out in Title 26 of the United States Code (being the general and permanent laws of the United States). The IRC has seen plenty of revision over the last 80 years. If you are interested in the history of tax law reform over the course of the 20th century the Miami University Libraries have publications of the major revisions of the tax code. The library also has the current edition of the United States Code if you would like to take a look at the current tax laws (the current edition being published in 2006). If you would prefer to look up the USC in electronic format it is available in a verified version from the Government Printing Office on FDsys.gov

If you do use the code on line for legal research it is still good practice to verify your findings by the current printed version, as noted by the GPO on the USC page of FDsys.gov.

The USC is the official codification of the laws of the United States and is compiled every six years from laws passed in each session of Congress, called Slip Laws (referring to how they are printed). Slip Laws are compiled after each session of Congress into the US Statutes at Large (MU Libraries / FDsys.gov), and every six years these laws are entered into the new edition of the USC. While Slip Laws are just as legal as any passed law, it is still good practice to check the USC if the law you are looking for has been compiled.

The USC is the law, but it isn't the absolute final word in how laws are enforced. The Code of Federal Regulations (MU Libraries / FDsys.gov) contains the regulations passed by the Federal Executive Agencies which are broadly responsibly for determining how the laws in the USC will be enforced.

Both the USC and the CFR are organized into 50 titles each of which correspond to each other (title 26 of the USC is the Internal Revenue Code with title 26 of the CRF being the regulations stemming from those laws). If you are researching taxes, you'll want to check both the laws and regulations.