Monthly Archives: July 2012


Wildfires across the United States have been breaking records in several states, based on the number of acres burned and number of houses lost. But according to the Christan Science Monitor, the fires of today are but pale reflections of the tremendous forest fires in the 19th and early 20th centuries, which destroyed millions of acres, much of it old-growth timber.

The current wave of fires is still severe. The U.S. Fire Administration keeps statistics on wildfires. The main government agency charged with responding to wildfire emergencies is the National Interagency Fire Center, in Boise, Idaho. Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC.

In response to the increasing number and severity of wildfires in recent years, the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, an intergovernmental council of Federal, state, tribal, county and municipal government officials, has developed a strategy for handling wildfires. The Congressional Research Service has also written a report for Congress, Wildfire Protection in the Wildland-Urban Interface, which addresses the issue of urban area encroachment on forests.

New York City Tap Water

"Still, sparkling or tap?" asked the waiter at the restaurant last night. My automatic reply was "New York City tap water," but was that really the best choice? What about contamination with lead, benzene, giardia or e coli? How safe is NYC drinking water? Can all of those bottled water-toting tourists be on to something? After all, NYC water is one of the very few unfiltered drinking water systems for a large city in the U.S. So I consulted the annual New York City Drinking Water Supply and Quality Report. I discovered that the Department of Environmental Protection delivers about 1 billion gallons of water to NYC every day!

The water comes from a network of lakes and reservoirs in the Catskill and Delaware watersheds. Every year the city reports on the quality of the water, which is tested regularly. The report also details efforts by the city to acquire more land in the watersheds to protect the water supply and progress on the construction of Water Tunnel No.3, the largest public works project in New York City history. And most importantly, I discovered that the tap water that I drink every day meets the highest standards in the country. Drink up!


Mobile Apps Gallery — from

There are now dozens of apps available from the U.S. government for your smart phone or tablet, whether Android or Apple, located on the Mobile Apps Gallery at Just a few examples:

Science360 – The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Science360 for iPad provides easy access to engaging science and engineering images and video from around the globe and a news feed featuring breaking news from NSF-funded institutions. Content is either produced by NSF or gathered from scientists, colleges and universities, and NSF science and engineering centers.

NPS National Mall – This is the official National Park Service app for the National Mall and Memorial Parks. On your next visit to Washington, D.C., use it to explore many of the most cherished cultural and historical sites in the United States—from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House. The app includes a total of 70 sites.

National Hurricane Center – The NHC mobile app allows you to access critical hurricane advisories and marine forecasts on your cell phone.

Set in Style – Since its opening on the Place Vendôme in Paris in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels has played a leading role in style and design innovation. Its timeless pieces have been worn by style icons including the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. This exhibition will explore the historical significance of the firm’s contributions to jewelry design in the 20th century, including the establishment of Van Cleef & Arpels in New York with the advent of World War II.

This iPad application showcases 65 of the 350 works on view at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York including jewels, timepieces, fashion accessories and objects d’art by Van Cleef & Arpels, many of which were created exclusively for the American market. Use the application to browse, share with friends and connect with the exhibition, which will examine the work through the lenses of innovation, transformation, nature as inspiration, exoticism, fashion and personalities.

Smart Traveler –

Smart Traveler, the official State Department app for U.S. travelers, invites you to see the world with easy access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more. With Smart Traveler, you can create personal itineraries, add notes, and organize your trips.

World Population Day

July 11 is World Population Day. This observance began in 1989, with a recommendation from the governing body of the United Nations Development Programme. Every year there is a theme, designed to draw attention to different population issues. This year's theme is "Universal Access to Reproductive Services."

The UN estimates that the world's population reached 7 billion on October 31, 2011. For more information on population issues, including journal databases, background info, and statistics, look at the Lehman Library subject guide:  Population, Migration and Refugee Studies.