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Blog Entries from November 2009

NOAA: Slow Atlantic Hurricane Season Comes to a Close

Map tracing paths of hurricanes. Click for full-size.

NOAA map

The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends today, marking the close of a season with the fewest named storms and hurricanes since 1997 thanks, in part, to El Niño. Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported nine named storms formed this year, including three hurricanes, two of which were major hurricanes at Category 3 strength or higher. These numbers fall within the ranges predicted in NOAA’s mid-season outlook issued in August, which called for seven to 11 named storms, three to six hurricanes, and one to two major hurricanes. (More)

Thanksgiving Day 2009: Census Bureau National Holiday Facts and Features

Pumpkins on a crate and on ground. Click for larger image.

Census Bureau photo

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. Historians have also recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Virginia in 1619. The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. (More Thanksgiving Day Facts and Figures)

Statement from Under Secretary Blank on New Home Sales in October 2009

Department of Commerce seal

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of the Census today released new home sales figures for October 2009. Sales of new single-family houses rose 6.2 percent in October, compared with private-sector expectations of 0.5 percent. Sales have risen 30.7 percent above their low in January of this year, and the supply of unsold homes relative to sales has fallen 46.0 percent below its peak in January. (More) (Release)

Statement from Under Secretary Blank on October 2009 Personal Income and Outlays

Portrait of Under Secretary Blank.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis today released personal income and outlays for October 2009. Personal income rose 0.2 percent, real disposable personal income increased 0.2 percent, and real personal consumption expenditures advanced 0.4 percent. “Consumer spending began the fourth quarter with a favorable gain. Motor vehicles sales rebounded from their September fall after the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program ended, and other purchases increased as well,” said Commerce Under Secretary Rebecca Blank. (More) (Release)

Secretary Locke Visits Philadelphia to Raise Awareness of 2010 Census with Mayor Nutter

Locke on podium. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined Mayor Michael Nutter in Philadelphia to raise awareness of the upcoming 2010 Census. Speaking at the National Constitution Center, Locke discussed the history of the census and stressed the importance of getting a complete count of all residents in the city where our nation’s Founding Fathers penned the Constitution, which mandates that every person residing in the country be counted every ten years. U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and Deputy Director of the U.S. Census Bureau Thomas L. Mesenbourg joined Locke and Nutter at the event. (

Under Secretary Blank Statement on Second Estimate of Third Quarter GDP 2009

DOC seal.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis today released the second estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) for the third quarter of 2009. Real GDP rose 2.8 percent at an annual rate, down moderately from the advance estimate of 3.5 percent. Most private analysts had expected a revision to 2.7 percent in the third quarter. (More) (Release)

Secretary Locke Meets with Egypt's Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid

Locke and Rachid seen signing document. Click for larrger image.

U.S.Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hosted a meeting with Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry (MOTI), Mr. Rachid Mohamed Rachid, at the Commerce Department. This was the first meeting between the Secretary and Minister Rachid. Secretary Locke and Minister Rachid confirmed the importance of further strengthening the U.S.-Egypt commercial relationship and continuing to deepen cooperation on trade and investment issues. Egypt is one of the largest markets for U.S. exports in the Middle East, buying $6 billion of U.S. goods in 2008. (More) (MOI)

Dr. Patrick Gallagher Sworn In as 14th Director of NIST

Portrait of Director Gallagher

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke swore in Patrick D. Gallagher, Ph.D., as the 14th Director of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In remarks before hundreds of staff on the NIST campus, Locke said, “We are fortunate to have someone of Pat’s experience and expertise taking the helm at NIST, especially as this administration is working to accelerate the development of new technologies in areas like clean energy and efficiency.” (Remarks) (Director’s bio)

Census: Homes with Cell Phones Nearly Double in First Half of Decade

U.S. Census seal

The number of households with cell phones increased from 36 percent to 71 percent between 1998 and 2005, according to new data released by Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau. This corresponded with a decrease in households with telephone landlines, particularly households headed by young adults. These figures are part of an in-depth look at the living standards of U.S. households using extended measures of well-being. The data were collected in 2005 as part of the ongoing Survey of Income and Program Participation. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate Lamb-Hale as Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services

ITA logo.

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale to serve as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services within the International Trade Administration. “Our manufacturers and service providers have an excellent advocate in Ms. Lamb-Hale,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “Nicole has firsthand knowledge of the challenges that our industries face and will be able to serve the interests of industry at every level.” (More)

NIST: Small Nanoparticles Bring Big Improvement to Medical Imaging

Human red blood cells, in which membrane proteins are targeted and labeled with quantum dots, reveal the clustering behavior of the proteins. The number of purple features, which indicate the nuclei of malaria parasites, increases as malaria development progresses. The NIST logo at bottom was made by a photo lithography technique on a thin film of quantum dots, taking advantage of the property that clustered dots exhibit increased photoluminescence. (White bars: 1 μm; red: 10 μm.)

Credit: H. Kang / NIST and F. Tokumasu / NIAID

Click for larger image.

A joint research team, working at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has discovered a method of using nanoparticles to illuminate the cellular interior to reveal these slow processes. Nanoparticles, thousands of times smaller than a cell, have a variety of applications. One type of nanoparticle called a quantum dot glows when exposed to light. These semiconductor particles can be coated with organic materials, which are tailored to be attracted to specific proteins within the part of a cell a scientist wishes to examine. (More)

NOAA Reports Combined Global Surface Temperature Was Sixth Warmest for October

Photo of melting ice in Arctic Ocean.

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the sixth warmest October on record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Based on records going back to 1880, the monthly National Climatic Data Center analysis is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides. NCDC scientists reported that the average land surface temperature for October was also the sixth warmest on record. Additionally, the global ocean surface temperature was the fifth warmest on record for October. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services in September 2009

Portrait of Secretary Locke.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the September 2009 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services report by the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Today’s report showed that U.S. exports increased by 2.9 percent to $132.0 billion since August 2009. Imports increased 5.8 percent to $168.4 billion. (More)

Secretary Locke to Attend APEC Singapore Ministerial Meetings

Department of Commerce Seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will be in Singapore and China the next six days, focused on an agenda that seeks to create jobs at home by making U.S. businesses more competitive in some of the fastest growing economies in the world. Locke will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Singapore through Sunday and then head to Beijing for three more days of events. Locke is part of an American APEC delegation that includes President Obama. (More)

Senate Confirms Dr. Patrick Gallagher as 14th NIST Director

Portrait of Gallagher

The U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Patrick D. Gallagher by unanimous consent last evening as the 14th director of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Gallagher has worked at NIST since 1993 as a scientist and as a laboratory director. He has carried out the functions of the director in his current position as deputy director since September 2008. President Obama nominated Gallagher, 46, to his new post on September 10, 2009. (More) (Bio)

USPTO Hosts Annual Independent Inventors Conference

Campus view of USPTO in Alexandria, Va.

Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Inventors Hall of Fame®Foundation co-sponsored the 14th annual Independent Inventors conference, keynoted by Under Secretary David Kappos. "Independent inventors have always been drivers of innovation in America," notes Under Secretary Kappos. "I am committed to dialoguing with them as often as possible and to making sure their concerns are heard. I am also committed to ensuring a level playing field for them as they seek the strong protection that the law accords to their innovations." (More) (Remarks)

Secretary Locke Announces Winners of Presidential Export Awards

U.S. Commerce Secretary Locke honored 21 companies that have excelled in exporting as recipients of the prestigious 2009 Presidential “E” and “E Star” Awards during a ceremony at the National District Export Council Conference. The “E” Award is the highest U.S. Government recognition any U.S. entity may receive for supporting export activity. The Presidential “E” Award was created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to recognize persons, firms, or organizations that contribute significantly to increasing United States exports. (More) (“E” Award for Exporters)

Secretary Locke Joins President Obama and Administration Officials at White House Tribal Nations Conference

Secretaries Salazar, Vilsack and Locke seen at conference.

Photo-capture from White House Web stream

U.S. Commerce Secretary Locke joined President Obama and high-level administration officials at the White House Tribal Nations Conference to highlight the department’s ongoing efforts to support economic development in Native American communities through the Minority Business Development Agency and other department bureaus. The conference provided leaders from 564 federally-recognized tribes the opportunity to have interactive discussions with administration officials regarding: economic development, public safety, housing, education, health and labor. (Remarks)

Secretary Locke Addresses National DEC Conference on Importance of Exporting

District Export Council logo. Click to go to Web site.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spoke at the National District Export Council Conference (DEC). Locke discussed efforts to promote the sale of U.S. goods and services overseas, efforts that will create sustainable economic growth and good-paying jobs. Exporters from around the country discussed trade issues and exporting best practices. This year’s theme was “Global Competitiveness and the Opportunities for U.S. Exporters.” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills, and Export-Import Bank Chairman and President Fred Hochberg joined Locke at the conference. (More) (Remarks)

NIST Test Proves 'The Eyes Have It' for ID Verification

Image of human eye.

The eyes may be the mirror to the soul, but the iris reveals a person’s true identity—its intricate structure constitutes a powerful biometric. A new report by computer scientists at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) demonstrates that iris recognition algorithms can maintain their accuracy and interoperability with compact images, affirming their potential for large-scale identity management applications such as the federal Personal Identity Verification program, cyber security and counterterrorism. (More)

Commerce Secretary Locke Statement on U.S. Tourism and the Emergency Declaration for H1N1 Flu

Department of Commerce seal.

“The October 23 declaration was a precautionary measure to ensure that, if needed, medical treatment facilities in the U.S. will have the tools they need to deal with 2009 H1N1 influenza as efficiently as possible. Without the proper context, I know the declaration may have been a cause for concern among some abroad who had been planning travel to the U.S. But let me be very clear: The measure does not represent any change in status of the H1N1 influenza in our country. It was instead an important procedural tactic to help the government and U.S. medical facilities better handle the illness in the future.” (More)

Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship Now Accepting Nominations for Delegates

Image of video screen. Click to go to entrepreneurship Web site.

In his June “A New Beginning” speech in Cairo, President Obama announced that the U.S. will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship to identify how we can deepen ties between those focused on advancing entrepreneurship in Muslim communities around the world. Today, the Commerce Department’s new Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship begins accepting nominations for delegates to the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship on its website, (More)

NOAA Scientists Undertake In-Flight Study of Global Levels of Greenhouse Gas Distribution

Image of research plane with mountains in the background. Click for larger image.

Scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began the second phase of a mission that will provide a detailed view of how carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are distributed globally. “Missions such as this one are critical to understanding the impacts of greenhouse gases and particulates,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., NOAA Administrator. “The data collected are also essential to help verify if policies to reduce these heat trapping pollutants are having their intended effect.” (More)