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Requesting fewer requests; All elections, all the time; Watching virtual worlds

Requesting fewer requests
How much time would you guess the Homeland Security Department spends responding to congressional requests for information? At least 15,000 work hours this year, said DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, who added that DHS is drowning under congressional requests for information.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Chertoff sent a letter to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, asking for help. DHS reports to 86 congressional committees and subcommittees. Preparing for hearings has created an unnecessary burden, Chertoff said.

Of course, the 9/11 Commission recommended that Congress streamline the oversight process by creating a single, primary committee that would spearhead DHS oversight.

Democrats told the Wall Street Journal that, even with consolidation, there is still a need for vigorous oversight and investigation of DHS activities.

All elections, all the time
Yes, there is a radio station for everybody.

XM Satellite radio this month launched a radio station that will focus on the 2008 presidential election all the time. XM Channel 130 is named P.O.T.U.S. ’08, which is Washington shorthand for the President of the United States.

The around-the-clock, commercial-free channel has been created in association with C-SPAN and other media outlets, XM radio said. The channel will feature news updates, candidate interviews, complete speeches, debate coverage, latest polling results, fundraising status and live call-in shows. XM plans to offer the presidential candidates free airtime. It will also tap into nontraditional media outlets such as blogs and podcasts.

XM said it will also air archival audio of historic moments from past campaigns by tapping into C-SPAN’s archives.

There’s something for everybody.

Watching virtual worlds
All those virtual worlds might actually provide some insight into how real people would react in the event of a public health crisis.

One medical journal, the Lancet Infectious Diseases, recently published a story about the increasing use of simulation models in the field of applied epidemiology.

We’re not sure what that means exactly, but it seems to mean researchers are watching the virtual world for indications of how the real world would react in the event of pandemic flu, for example.

Lancet reports that there is no real way to validate those models, but they can be illustrative and provide data as researchers try to make prediction models.

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