Hot Docs: a Warm Welcome for Obama in Europe

Today's selection of timely reports.

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Obama Can Expect Mostly Warm Welcome on Overseas Trip: With President Obama set to undertake his first overseas trip since taking office, polling data suggests that he will receive a better reception than his predecessor. Obama is scheduled to leave Tuesday on the trip to England, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Turkey. The Pew Research Center examined recent Pew Global Attitudes surveys and found that "Western Europeans overwhelmingly expressed optimism about a post-Bush American foreign policy and they voiced a great deal of confidence in Obama." In France and Germany, by margins of 68 and 64 percent, people believed that U.S. foreign policy would improve after the election. Turkey, however, could be a tough sell. In that country, only 29 percent expected a change for the better in U.S. foreign policy, and about 13 percent expected that a new president would change foreign policy for the worse.

Justice Project Over Budget, Behind Schedule: An audit by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General finds that plans to develop and implement a system to share case information between the seven groups in the Justice Department involved in litigation is behind schedule and way over budget. The report, "The Department of Justice's Litigation Case Management System," finds the project is "at significant risk of not meeting the department's long-term enterprise requirements for litigation case management." The audit says that one stage of the project was to be completed by March 2008 for $35 million. It won't be be completed until July 2010 at the earliest, and the cost has risen to $61 million—"about 75 percent more than the initial estimate . . . and more than $18 million over the initial estimated cost of implementation in all seven litigating divisions." However, another audit by the inspector general finds some better news for the Justice Department. The "U.S. Department of Justice Audit of the Convicted Offender DNA Backlog Reduction Program" finds the backlog has been "reduced significantly."

More Than a Grain of Salt: A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that most Americans consume twice the daily recommended level of salt. Appearing in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the study, "Application of Lower Sodium Intake Recommendations to Adults—United States, 1999-2006," finds that some 69 percent of the adult population should be consuming no more than 1,500 mg of salt per day. That population includes people with high blood pressure, African Americans, and those middle age or older. Yet, the average consumption of salt in the United States for those age 2 and over was 3,436 mg per day. Dietary guidelines recommend that adults in general should limit salt to about 2,300 mg per day (about a teaspoon). Darwin Labarthe, head of CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, says that "reducing sodium intake can prevent or delay increases in blood pressure for everyone."

Foreign-Born Labor: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2008, 15.6 percent of the civilian work force in the United States was foreign-born. That would mean 24.1 million people. Hispanics were the largest segment of that group, accounting for 49.4 percent of the foreign-born labor force, followed by Asians, who represented 22.4 percent. Education levels of the foreign-born differed widely from that of native-born workers. More than a quarter of the foreign-born aged 25 or older had not completed high school, compared with just 5.8 percent of native-born. The two groups were more similar at higher education levels, however. Foreign-born workers were more likely to be in service occupations than native-born, 23.2 percent to 15.6 percent.