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The Commerce Blog

Census Bureau: Voter Turnout Increases by 5 Million in 2008 Presidential Election

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About 131 million people reported voting in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, an increase of 5 million from 2004, according to a new table package released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase included about 2 million more black voters, 2 million more Hispanic voters and about 600,000 more Asian voters, while the number of non-Hispanic white voters remained statistically unchanged. Additionally, voters 18 to 24 were the only age group to show a statistically significant increase in turnout, reaching 49 percent in 2008 compared with 47 percent in 2004. (More)

Secretary Locke Praises Showcase for American Companies in China

Secretary Locke is pictured with other officials with shovels at groundbreaking ceremony. Click for larger image.

Secretary Gary Locke joins Chinese and American counterterparts to break ground at the USA Pavilion, which will serve as a model showcase for American innovation at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. “The United States and China have many areas of friendship and cooperation, and I believe that our USA Pavilion will provide many insights into American life, culture and our people that will intrigue the millions of Chinese visitors expected at the Expo,” Locke said. (Remarks)

Statement From Undersecretary Blank on Housing Permits and Starts for June 2009

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The Department of Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau today reported that permits to build privately-owned new housing units rose 8.7 percent in June 2009, well above the expectation for a 1.9-percent rise. Housing starts rose 3.6 percent, better than the expectation of no change for the month. Today’s stronger numbers reflect an increasing confidence—the percent of households who recognize that this is a good time to buy a house has risen over the last year. While the economic environment remains challenging, continued Recovery Act investment into the economy should encourage growth in a range of industries including the housing sector. (Statement)

NOAA: Global Ocean Surface Temperature Warmest on Record for June

Image of Earth featuring oceans. Click for larger image.

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for June, breaking the previous high mark set in 2005, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., a bureau of the Department of Commerce. Additionally, the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for June was the second-warmest on record. The global records began in 1880. (More) (National Climatic Data Center)

NIST's LIDAR May Offer Peerless Precision in Remote Measurements

Image of Earth, Mars, the Moon and  and the sun. Click for video.

By combining the best of two different distance measurement approaches with a super-accurate technology called an optical frequency comb, researchers at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have built a laser ranging system that can pinpoint multiple objects with nanometer precision over distances up to 100 kilometers. The novel LIDAR (“light detection and ranging”) system could have applications from precision manufacturing lines on Earth to maintaining networks of satellites in perfect formation, creating a giant space-based platform to search for new planets. (More) (Video)

USPTO Opens Exhibit of Michael Jackson's Patent and Trademarks

Image of poster at exhibit showing figures in Jackson's shows leaning at an angle "defying gravity." Click for larger image.

Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum are presenting a special exhibit featuring material from Michael Jackson’s patent and trademark applications. Mr. Jackson is the co-inventor of a “system for allowing a shoe wearer to lean forwardly beyond his center of gravity by virtue of wearing a specially designed pair of shoes which will engage with a hitch member movably projectable through a stage surface.” Included in the patent application is an original sample of Michael Joseph Jackson’s signature and drawings of his invention. (More)

Secretary Locke Meets with Chinese Leaders in Beijing

Pictured seated are Locke, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and State Councilor Liu Yangdong at the Great Hall of the People. Click for larger picture.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with China’s Minister of Commerce Chen Deming in Beijing today. It was the second meeting between Minister Chen and Secretary Locke. They had a productive dialogue about shared priorities and issues of mutual concern, agreeing on the importance of building a positive and cooperative relationship that strengthens trade and creates jobs in the United States and China. Pictured here are Locke, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and State Councilor Liu Yangdong at the Great Hall of the People. Locke also addressed the American Chamber of Commerce and U.S. China Business Council in Beijing. (More) (Remarks)

Locke Announces St. Louis Native to Lead MBDA

File photo of David Hinson smiling.

File Photo

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced the appointment of David Hinson, a St. Louis native with more than 20 years of business experience, as the new administrator of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). This agency is the only federal agency created specifically to foster the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in the United States.“The success of minority-owned businesses is essential to our economic recovery, and I’m counting on David to maximize their opportunities,” Locke said. (More)

Obama Administration Announces CEOs for U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman today announced the U.S. private sector participants of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum. The fourth meeting of the Forum will be held in Washington, D.C., July 20-21, 2009. Locke and Froman will co-chair the meeting with Brazilian Presidential Chief of Staff Minister Dilma Rousseff, and Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Miguel Jorge.The Forum, made up of 20 CEOs from the United States and Brazil, meets twice a year to make recommendations to the two governments on ways to strengthen the U.S.-Brazil economic relationship. (More)

NOAA Scientists Find Tsunami "Shadow" Visible from Space

Ground track of satellite image, showing progress of tsunami at hourly intervals. Click for larger image.

For the first time, Scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have demonstrated that tsunamis in the open ocean can change sea surface texture in a way that can be measured by satellite-borne radars. The finding could one day help save lives through improved detection and forecasting of tsunami intensity and direction at the ocean surface.“We’ve found that roughness of the surface water provides a good measure of the true strength of the tsunami along its entire leading edge. This is the first time that we can see tsunami propagation in this way across the open ocean,” said lead author Oleg Godin. (More)