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The Commerce Blog

Secretary Locke Statement on September 2009 New Residential Construction

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The Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of the Census released data on new residential construction in September 2009. Permits declined 1.2 percent in September but have risen 15.1 percent since their low in April. Starts edged up 0.5 percent in September and have grown 23.2 percent above their low in April. (More) (Release)

Secretary Locke to Highlight Trade, Intellectual Property Rights and Energy During China Trip

Portrait of Secretary Locke.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will travel to Guangzhou and Hangzhou, China, October 26-30, to co-chair the 20th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) and to stress the importance of strong intellectual property rights protection and enforcement around the world. The JCCT, established in 1983, is the main forum for addressing bilateral trade matters and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China. Secretary Locke will co-chair the annual high-level JCCT meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan in Hangzhou on October 28-29. (More) (Oct. 21 release) (Fact Sheet)

New NOAA System Improves Ship Safety, Efficiency, on Lower Mississippi River and Port of New Orleans

Image of ship in port. Click for larger image.

Ship captains and pleasure boaters can now get free real-time information on water and weather conditions for the lower Mississippi River from a new NOAA ocean observing system that makes piloting a ship safer and more efficient. The NOAA Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) on the lower Mississippi River provides observations of tides, currents, water and air temperature, barometric pressure, winds and bridge clearance. (More)

Secretary Locke and USTR Kirk Announce October Meeting of U.S.-China JCCT

Department of Commerce seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk, together with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, will convene the 20th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) on October 28th and 29th in Hangzhou, China. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will also participate in the JCCT. The JCCT, established in 1983, is the main forum for addressing bilateral trade matters and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China. Additional details will be announced soon.

NOAA: El Niño to Help Steer U.S. Winter Weather

Map of U.S. with winter temperature outlook. Click for larger image.

El Niño in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean is expected to be a dominant climate factor that will influence the December through February winter weather in the U.S., according to the 2009 Winter Outlook released by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “We expect El Niño to strengthen and persist through the winter months, providing clues as to what the weather will be like during the period,” says Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center. “Warmer ocean water in the equatorial Pacific shifts the patterns of tropical rainfall that in turn change the strength and position of the jet stream and storms over the Pacific Ocean and the U.S.” (More)

Under Secretary Kappos Awards 600,000th Design Patent

Kappos, Robert Workman CEO of Goal Zero holding plaque, and Hatch. Click for larger image.

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos was joined by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to award design patent number 600,000 to Goal Zero, a subsidiary of Provo Craft and Novelty, and a small business located in Spanish Fork, Utah. The patent was granted for the design of a battery system which works in conjunction with a solar briefcase that recharges the system using sunlight. This patent exemplifies the blending of green technology and appealing design. Shown here between Kappos and Hatch is Robert Walkman, President and CEO of Goal Zero. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on September 2009 Retail Sales

Photo of Secretary Locke

File photo

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Census Bureau released retail sales for September 2009. Retail sales fell 1.5 percent, primarily reflecting a 10.4 percent decline in motor vehicle sales. The drop in total sales was smaller than the decrease of 2.1 percent expected by private analysts. Gasoline sales rose 1.1 percent, and sales excluding motor vehicles and gasoline increased 0.4 percent. In the third quarter as a whole, total retail sales rose 6.4 percent at an annual rate, and sales excluding the volatile motor vehicle and gasoline components rose 0.6 percent. (More) (Release)

NOAA Scientists Study Historic 'Dust Bowl' and Plains Droughts for Triggers

Image of remains of a cornfield after grasshoppers had completed destruction by the Drought of 1931-32. Click for larger image.

After analyzing historical records and climate model data for two major U.S. droughts in the 1930s and 1950s, scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found two very different causes, shedding new light on our understanding of what triggers drought. Studies such as this one that expand our insights into drought are essential for improving forecasts and can aid in the creation of an early warning system to help communities take precautions and prepare. (More)

New Computer Security Guide Can Help Safeguard Small Businesses

Image of video player. Click to watch a new NIST video explaining the reasons why small businesses should be concerned about safeguarding the information on their computers.

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a guide to help small businesses and organizations understand how to provide basic security for their information, systems and networks. Small Business Information Security: The Fundamentals,by Richard Kissel, teaches computer security to groups of small business owners ranging from tow truck operators to managers of hospitals, small manufacturers and nonprofit organizations. The 20-page guide uses simple, clear language to walk small business owners through the steps necessary to secure their computer systems and data. (More) (Video page) (Guide)

Secretary Locke Statement on Trade Numbers

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the August 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 0.2 percent to $128.2 billion since July 2009. Imports declined 0.6 percent to $158.9 billion. (More) (Release) (Fact Sheet)