Tuesday Morning Newscast - December 21

Tuesday - 12/21/2010, 8:00am EST

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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Census figures to be released today will show a United States growing more slowly than it did in the 1990s. The Census bureau has already estimated the population between 306 million and 312 million people. If the 2010 count confirms that figure, it would mean a 10-year growth rate of 9 percent, the lowest since the 1940s. Demographers are predicting a population shift to the South and West. That might produce more Congressional seats for Republicans.

  • Excess office space is ballooning in the federal government. The General Services Administration reports the number of under-used buildings grew four percent between 2008 and 2009, to more than 45,000. The 2009 Federal Real Property Report also says costs to operate under-used building grew 63 percent. The federal government occupies a total of 429,000 buildings. Despite successive presidential orders to rid the government of excess space, the pace of doing so is dropping.

  • The Broadcasting Board of Governors is looking for vendors to deliver text messages in repressive countries that block the internet and cell phone service. NextGov reports the Board has launched a market survey to find one or more companies capable of text-messaging news. The federally-funded board oversees government-operated civilian broadcasting, including Voice of America.

  • The director of the U.S. Mint will return to the private sector January 9. Edmund C. Moy is leaving nine months ahead of the expiration of his five-year term. He was appointed the 38th director of the Mint by President George W. Bush in 2006. Before that, he was a special assistant to the President. During Moy's tenure, the Mint released the first coins in U.S. history containing Braille letters.

  • Treasury will release final regulations for paperless benefits today. Today's regulations are expected to address concerns that older people wouldn't be able to manage the switch from checks to direct deposit or debit cards. The plan, released in June, said that Social Security, Veterans Affairs payments and other benefits would make the switch to save money. Consumer groups urged the government to include exceptions for those recipients who might still have to get their payments by check. Treasury has since decided to include exceptions for those who are 90-years old or older, mentally impaired, or living in very remote areas. The government wants to stop sending checks to most people by March, 2013.

  • Boeing has landed a $1 billion contract with the government of Mexico to build a satellite communications system. The New Mexico Business Weekly reports that the system is designed to provide secure communications for Mexico's national security. It is also supposed to enhance their civil telecommunications coverage. The company says the system will consist of three satellites, two ground sites, network operations systems and other equipment.

  • The FCC is set to adopt rules to deal with Internet traffic today. The rules would allow service providers to control access to their networks but would ban high-speed Internet providers from blocking lawful traffic. The mandate may be a little looser for wireless Internet access, allowing providers like Microsoft, Google and Amazon to deliver competing video content over Internet lines run by cable companies to customers' homes. Providers may also be allowed to charge fees based on bandwidth used. Whatever rules are adopted, court battles are all but guaranteed.

  • Master Sergeant Mark Morgan has done two tours of duty in Iraq, and four in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger. And now he's been recognized as one of the top three pastry chefs in the world. The Peninsula Warrior newspaper reports, Morgan is an aide to the general in command of Army training. He was also a member of the American Culinary Federation Team USA. The team competed at a prestigious international competition last month in Luxembourg. It won two gold medals. Morgan also whipped up some baked goods and was recognized for his pastry skills.

More news links

Obama's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year

Toyota to pay $32.4 million in extra fines

Interior Department OKs large Nev. solar project

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