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    by Published on 06-08-2022 10:00 PM

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Launches Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge to Raise Awareness of Extreme Heat Risks | site |



    Information contained in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release dated: June 6, 2022

    Washington - - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge to protect public health by raising awareness of health risks from extreme heat. The challenge asks applicants to share innovative and effective messages about the health risks of extreme heat for our most at-risk communities. The Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge was developed in support of the National Climate Task Force's Extreme Heat Interagency Working Group, which is being led by EPA, NOAA, and HHS with support from the White House.

    “Extreme heat is a major threat to public health,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “As we kick off the season and as we face even more record-breaking heat, we must ensure we are giving our community members the information and tools they need to stay safe and enjoy summer.”

    Extreme heat, when temperatures are much hotter than average, is an increasing problem for all parts of the United States. Over the last 30 years, heat has been the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States, and our changing climate means more parts of the country are likely to see extreme heat days in the future. The hotter temperatures are especially hard on children, older adults, outdoor workers and athletes, overburdened groups, and those already suffering from chronic illnesses. Extreme heat can compromise the body’s ability to regulate its temperature which can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and hyperthermia. Temperature extremes can also worsen chronic conditions, including cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular disease and diabetes-related conditions.

    The Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge seeks innovative solutions that show how communities of different sizes and in different parts of the country create effective communication strategies to inform and warn people of the risks of extreme heat and offer ways to keep safe during the hottest days. The challenge is open now through July 22, 2022. Eligible participants include state, regional, Tribal, and local governments; nonprofits and community-based organizations such as faith-based, environmental, public health, or environmental justice organizations that have developed effective communication strategies; and individuals and groups. This challenge will award a total of $120,000 in prizes for up to 10 of the most innovative communication strategies.

    In addition to EPA, co-sponsors at NOAA, HHS, FEMA, and from external partner organizations, including the Atlantic Council, Georgetown Climate Center, Groundwork USA, and National Association of County and City Health Officials, have helped EPA design the challenge, will help select or serve on the judging panel, and will spread the word about the challenge to stakeholders and community groups.

    To learn more about the challenge and to apply, visit the Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge webpage.

    Register for an informational webinar on the challenge on June 22 at 2:00 p.m. ET.





    by Published on 06-04-2022 11:44 PM     Number of Views: 40 
    1. Categories:
    2. Business and Economy

    National Transportation Safety Board Chair says Automobile Safety Rating System Is Failing Consumers | site |



    Information contained in National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) press release dated: June 3, 2022

    Washington (June 3, 2022) — The 5-Star Safety Rating Program that Americans use when shopping for new passenger vehicles “fails consumers” by not including collision-avoidance and other technology in the ratings and is approaching “near irrelevance,” National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said.

    In March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked for comments on changes to its New Car Assessment Program, commonly known as the 5-Star Safety Rating Program. The NTSB chair responded with a 13-page letter detailing ways to improve the program.

    “Today, safety is not only about crashworthiness, but incre​​​asingly about crash avoidance,” Homendy said. “Yet many of these life-saving technologies the NTSB has been recommending for decades are not included in the 5-Star Rating Program. How is it possible that a car in the U.S. with none of the currently available collision-prevention technologies could get a top rating? It’s unacceptable.”

    The rating system, first introduced in 1979, gave automakers an incentive to continually improve the crashworthiness of vehicles. As a result, most passenger vehicles manufactured today receive top crashworthiness scores.

    But crash-avoidance technologies are not included in the rating system and are not on the window labels found on new cars at the dealership. Since issuing its first recommendation in 1995 related to collision avoidance technology, the NTSB has made over 25 recommendations to NHTSA related to this technology. The letter also noted that NHTSA is years behind in implementing a law Congress passed requiring NHTSA to include crash-avoidance technologies on the window labels by 2016.

    Although NHTSA identified three safety technologies that meet the agency’s recommendation criteria and lists them on its website, the core request from the NTSB and Congress — to rate the performance of these safety technologies and include the ratings in the 5-Star Rating System — is still undone.

    Chair Homendy’s letter also compares the NHTSA rating system unfavorably to the one used in Europe, which includes ratings of forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems, lane departure warnings, lane keep assist systems, driver monitoring, and other active and passive component designed to also protect pedestrians and bicyclists.

    “Technologies that the European Union started to mandate this year, that Euro NCAP is starting to rate next year, and that the NTSB has been recommending be required for years, are only now starting to be considered by NHTSA,” Homendy wrote. “The NCAP program will not fulfill its purpose of informing consumers unless NHTSA can keep pace with the emergence and development of safety technologies.”

    Read NTSB Chair Homendy’s letter to NHTSA.

    Require Collision-Avoidance and Connected-Vehicle Technologies on all Vehicles, Implement a Comprehensive Strategy to Eliminate Speeding-Related Crashes​​, and Protect Vulnerable Road Users through a Safe System Approach are on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements.

    To report an incident/accident or if you are a public safety agency, please call 1-844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290 to speak to a Watch Officer at the NTSB Response Operations Center (ROC) in Washington, DC (24/7).




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    by Published on 05-21-2022 12:50 AM

    Federal Trade Commission to Crack Down on Companies that Illegally Surveil Children Learning Online | site |



    Agency issued policy statement warning that it is against the law to force parents and schools to surrender children’s privacy rights in order to access educational tools



    Information contained in Federal Trade Commission (FTC) press release dated: May 19, 2022

    The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it will crack down on education technology companies if they illegally surveil children when they go online to learn. In a new policy statement adopted today, the Commission made it clear that it is against the law for companies to force parents and schools to surrender their children’s privacy rights in order to do schoolwork online or attend class remotely. Under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, companies cannot deny children access to educational technologies when their parents or school refuse to sign up for commercial surveillance.

    “Students must be able to do their schoolwork without surveillance by companies looking to harvest their data to pad their bottom line,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Parents should not have to choose between their children’s privacy and their participation in the digital classroom. The FTC will be closely monitoring this market to ensure that parents are not being forced to surrender to surveillance for their kids’ technology to turn on.”

    Technology use in the classroom has grown substantially in recent years, a trend that accelerated during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many schools were forced to switch to virtual learning. In today’s digital economy, children need to be able to learn to use technology and use technology to learn. Parents and schools, however, are forced to navigate an industry that is dominated by the commercial surveillance business model. These services have the capacity to collect a trove of personal information and there are serious concerns that this data may be used to build profiles of kids.

    The policy statement underscores that, even as companies across the economy become more aggressive in harvesting and monetizing individuals’ data, ed tech providers cannot do the same: Ed tech providers must comply fully with all provisions of the COPPA Rule. Today’s policy statement makes clear that the Commission will vigilantly enforce the law to ensure that companies covered under COPPA are complying with all of the rule’s provisions, including:


    • Prohibitions Against Mandatory Collection: Companies cannot require children to provide more information than is reasonably needed for participation in an activity.



    • Use Prohibitions: Ed tech providers that collect personal information from a child with the school’s authorization are prohibited from using the information for any other commercial purpose including marketing or advertising.



    • Retention Limitations: Ed tech providers are prohibited from retaining children’s personal information for longer than is necessary to fulfill the purpose for which it was collected and therefore cannot keep such data just because they might want to use it in the future.



    • Security Requirements: Ed tech providers must have procedures to maintain the confidentiality, security, and integrity of children’s personal information.


    The policy statement notes that companies that fail to follow the COPPA Rule could face potential civil penalties and new requirements and limitations on their business practices aimed at stopping unlawful conduct.

    The Commission voted 5-0 at an open meeting to adopt the policy statement. Chair Lina M. Khan as well as Commissioners Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, Christine Wilson and Alvaro Bedoya issued statements on the matter.





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    by Published on 05-19-2022 11:15 PM

    IRS - - - A Closer Look: Expanding Access in Puerto Rico | site |




    Information contained in U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) press release dated: May 11, 2022




    Take a closer look at how IRS is working to serve residents of Puerto Rico.

    Get to know the IRS, its people and the issues that affect taxpayers.









    A Closer Look: Expanding Access in Puerto Rico


    By Ken Corbin

    May 11, 2022


    The IRS wants to serve in every community, and we’re committed to providing the assistance and opportunities to meet the needs of those we serve. Today we are taking a closer look at how we are working to serve residents of Puerto Rico.

    The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law in March 2021, and one of the Act’s provisions permanently expanded Child Tax Credit eligibility to residents of Puerto Rico with one or more qualifying children. Previously, tax law limited Puerto Rico resident eligibility to those who paid Social Security or self-employment taxes during the year and had three or more qualifying children. The American Rescue Plan further made the credit fully refundable for 2021 – temporarily removing the requirement that limited the credit amount to the Social Security and self-employment taxes paid during the year.

    This provision in the legislation has already made a big impact. Last year, nearly 152,000 Form 1040 tax returns were filed by residents of Puerto Rico, and as of April 18, 2022 - the last day of the filing season – nearly 240,000, Form 1040 returns had been filed.

    While that’s a good sign that more people have filed this year, we believe that there are many more eligible individuals who haven’t filed and claimed the credit, either because they don’t normally file a tax return, have never needed to file a federal tax return, or haven’t heard about this change. We also know that some island residents have had issues filing their tax form and/or claiming the credit. Fortunately, there is a three-year filing statute, so eligible Puerto Rico residents still have time to claim their money, and we are 100% committed to resolving any issues people may be experiencing so we can get money into the hands of eligible recipients. To help reach as many people as possible, the IRS has increased our in-person resources and outreach to raise awareness on the island.


    Strategic Approach and Three-Year Plan

    We know we must start from the ground up to reach out to Puerto Rico residents who may have little or no experience filing a federal tax return or receiving the credit. Not only do we want them to know about the credit, but we also want them to know there is help – some of it free - for getting it. And, if they go to a tax professional, we want them to know the steps for finding a reputable one. Taxpayers should be wary of tax return preparers who promise a larger refund, base their fees on a percentage of the refund or promise other “too good to be true” outcomes.

    We are in the process of launching a phased approach that will run over the three-year filing statutory window for Puerto Rican residents to claim the 2021 Child Tax Credit. Intensive short-term actions focus on education and outreach, with in-person engagement and assistance from and with our partners focusing on resolving filing issues for those who have already submitted tax returns. Next, we will focus on further outreach and education to ensure those eligible are aware of the changes to the credit and to engage them in streamlined filing options. And then we’ll focus on continued education, resolution of any additional filing issues for individuals and overall expanded IRS services in Puerto Rico.

    Lastly, also in development is a partner-sponsored online portal that will allow residents of Puerto Rico to file a streamlined Form 1040 for the 2021 tax year. We’ll have more information about that soon.


    Identity Protection and Verification

    One key element of expanding the Child Tax Credit to more Puerto Rico residents is identity protection. As we have seen with the various rounds of pandemic stimulus payments, scammers come out of the woodwork quickly when new programs provide money to eligible recipients. So, while we want eligible people to get the credit, we also want to avoid scammers stealing their money.

    As part of an effort to verify identity and confirm payment is going to the authorized recipient, Puerto Rico residents may receive a Letter 5071C, 5071C/SP, or 6331C after filing their 2021 tax return. These letters request that taxpayers verify their identity with ID.me and validate their tax return with the IRS to help ensure that an identity thief doesn’t steal their refund or credit. Individuals who receive the letter can go to the related Understanding Your Letter page on IRS.gov and at the top of the page choose from eight languages, including Spanish, for more information and instructions.

    One thing individuals can do to protect their identity and track their tax return and credit is to create an IRS Online Account. After establishing this account, taxpayers can access resources such as Get Transcript, Online Payment Agreement, Identity Verification Service (ID Verify) and Get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN).

    The IRS uses ID.me, a trusted technology provider, to provide identity verification and sign-in services. If an individual has an ID.me account from a state government or another federal agency, they can sign in without verifying their identity again. New users will have to create a new ID.me account. ID.me offers two options for verifying your identity to access IRS online services – a self-service process and a live video chat. Both the self-service and video chat registration options are available in Spanish, and ID.me offers 24/7 customer support for both English and Spanish speakers.


    In-Person Assistance

    Because the Child Tax Credit is new to many people in Puerto Rico, we expanded outreach there and will continue to do so. The Taxpayer Assistance Center in Guaynabo is currently available to Puerto Rico residents for assistance with a full range of tax information and issue resolution. The Taxpayer Assistance Center operates by appointment and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Those requiring an appointment should call (844) 545-5640 to schedule it. It will also be open May 14, June 11 and June 25 with no appointments required.

    To give you an idea of how helpful this Taxpayer Assistance Center has been, at a Taxpayer Experience Day event we hosted on April 9, we assisted approximately 500 individuals and established appointments to resolve issues for an additional 200 people whose issues couldn’t be resolved that day. Additional events will be conducted this spring and summer.

    To serve other areas of the island, we will also be opening four additional Taxpayer Assistance Centers this calendar year, with two projected for this summer and two in the late fall. Staffing efforts are underway to augment current levels in the existing Taxpayer Assistance Center and to hire new employees for the additional centers we will be opening in Humacao, Ponce, Mayaguez and Carolina.

    In addition to the Taxpayer Assistance Centers, we’ve worked with our partners to expand the number of free tax return preparation sites in Puerto Rico from 10 in 2021 to more than 250 in 2022. While Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are traditionally only open February through April, a number of partners with a presence in Puerto Rico have agreed to continue assisting local residents with tax filing and with additional outreach activities related to the Child Tax Credit. These dedicated volunteers have been trained to assist people with the identity verification processes through IRS portals and will assist with establishing appointments for upcoming Taxpayer Experience Day events.

    Looking long term, we plan to continue leveraging our community and local government partners to reach out to and help individuals in more remote areas of the island.


    Online Assistance Available 24/7

    For those with internet access, the Child Tax Credit information is available any time on IRS.gov in both English and Spanish. Individuals can also use the very popular IRS app called “Where’s My Refund?” also available in Spanish, to track their refund.

    To meet the needs of all Puerto Rico residents, communications, tools and tax tips are available on the IRS’ multiple media platforms, and our Facebook, YouTube and Twitter platforms all provide information to Spanish-speaking taxpayers.

    In addition to sharing information directly from our channels, we will provide information to our partners on the island, so they have the materials and social media/web content they need to support their stakeholders in partnership with local government and national representatives. We greatly appreciate all the local support to help get the word out to as many people as possible.


    Telephone Assistance

    The IRS can provide telephone assistance to island residents via a Spanish toll-free helpline and through an Over-the-Phone Interpreter (OPI) service. It’s important to note that these phone lines can often have long wait times, so I highly encourage starting with our online resources first, and if they are geographically convenient, visiting a Taxpayer Assistance Center. In the future, to further increase public awareness of Child Tax Credit eligibility, we are looking into the possibility of working with local partners to leverage use of community services such as the 2-1-1 capability which provides information about local resources and services through United Way Worldwide.


    Career Opportunities for Puerto Rico Residents

    While we’re talking about assistance for island residents, I think it’s also important to mention that the IRS has positions available to provide career opportunities to those who would like to join our team in Puerto Rico. For example, on May 17 and 18, there will be an in-person Job Fair at Fort Buchanan for veterans and military spouses to fill Bilingual (Spanish) Contact Representative and Supervisory Contact Representative positions in Puerto Rico. Information about this event, other events and additional job openings can be found on our Careers page. Please also visit USAJobs.gov to view and apply for IRS positions.

    I’m very proud of the work we’ve been able to do to make this part of the American Rescue Plan help residents of Puerto Rico during this pandemic. We’ve greatly appreciated the support of our partners on the ground in Puerto Rico, as well as organizations with outreach capabilities there. The White House, the Treasury Department and other federal agencies have also worked very hard to raise awareness of the Child Tax Credit in Puerto Rico. We’re happy to work with national and local stakeholder groups, local media and anyone else interested in helping, and our efforts to build those bridges for Puerto Rico residents to get this benefit will continue for years to come.




    * * * * * * *





    About the Author

    Ken Corbin is IRS’ first Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer. In this role, he’s working to unify and expand efforts across the agency to improve the customer experience for all citizens interacting with the IRS.

    Ken is also Commissioner of the Wage and Investment Division, with responsibility for 36,000 employees, located in over 375 sites nationwide, who are administering tax laws governing individual U.S. wage earners.








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    by Published on 05-13-2022 10:59 PM

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Launches Modernized Design for the Environment Logo for Disinfectant and Other Antimicrobial Products | site |


    Information contained in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release dated: May 11, 2022

    Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching a new, modern Design for the Environment (DfE) logo that will appear on antimicrobial products like disinfectants and sanitizers within the next year. EPA's DfE logo helps consumers and commercial buyers identify antimicrobial products that meet the health and safety standards of the normal pesticide registration process required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) as well as other rigorous criteria required by the agency


    “Protecting the health and safety of our families and our homes is central to EPA’s mission,” said Michal Freedhoff, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “EPA is excited to take the DfE program to the next level with a bold, new logo to further empower consumers to make environmentally and health-conscious buying decisions.”

    To further EPA's mission of protecting human health and the environment, in 2009, the DfE program began including products that sanitize and disinfect, including wipes and sprays used to treat surfaces like countertops, tubs, tile, and toilets. To qualify for the DfE logo, every ingredient in a product must meet a rigorous set of chemical and toxicological standards.

    EPA has seen a surge of engagement in the last few years from consumers, schools, and other organizations who want to know more about how the products they use affect their health and the environment—and who are eager to make the most responsible purchasing choices they can. The updated logo released today should make DfE-certified products easier for purchasers to find, which in turn will encourage companies to seek certification for their products.

    Companies who make products carrying the DfE logo have invested heavily in research and reformulation to ensure that their products meet the DfE certification requirements. Pursuing DfE certification provides an opportunity for companies to work toward their sustainability goals.

    DfE products meet criteria that evaluate human health and environmental effects, product performance, packaging, and ingredients. The requirements are intended to:

    • minimize any possible risks to human health by excluding ingredients that might have the potential to negatively impact young children, cause cancer, or have other negative effects;
    • further protect fish and other aquatic life;
    • minimize pollution of air or waterways and prevent harmful chemicals from being added to the land; and
    • ensure products have no unresolved compliance, enforcement, or efficacy issues.

    EPA does not consider the logo to be an endorsement. Similar to saying a pesticide is “EPA-registered” because EPA has found it meets the registration standard, the DfE logo indicates that the product has been reviewed and meets the FIFRA registration standard as well as the standards for the DfE program.

    To learn about the process for seeking DfE certification for antimicrobial products, see EPA's website.








    by Published on 04-14-2022 08:31 PM

    U.S. Internal Revenue Service says Try IRS.gov first for last-minute Tax Help and Tips | site |


    Information contained in U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) press release dated: April 14, 2022

    IRS YouTube Videos:
    Help for Taxpayers
    Help for Taxpayers (ASL)

    Washington - - Today's Internal Revenue Service website provides millions with the tax solutions they need 24 hours a day and eliminates unnecessary calls or trips to an IRS office. On IRS.gov, waiting in line is never a problem and there's no appointment needed.

    The ...
    by Published on 04-14-2022 09:54 AM

    Statement by U.S. Council of Economic Advisers Chair Cecilia Rouse on the Economic Report of the President | site |


    Information contained in Office of Management and budget release dated: April 14, 2022

    Today, I am pleased to announce that the Council of Economic Advisers has released the Economic Report of the President, which includes the Annual Report ...

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