Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast – November 24

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Amy Morris discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • OMB has released preliminary guidelines to help agencies meet the requirements set out in the 2010 Plain Writing Act. While the law requires OMB to produce a more extensive set of guidelines by April of next year, Gov Exec reports that the information released this week provides a formal definition of plain language. It also outlines steps agencies must take to comply with legislation and lists resources for further guidance.
  • The Justice Department’s wallet just got a little bigger. This thanks to securing $3 billion in settlements and judgments from civil lawsuits in fiscal 2010. Most of the money came from companies attempting to defraud the federal government. The recoveries are the second highest in the nation’s history according to Gov Exec and they represent a 25 percent increase from fiscal 2009. The Health and Human Services Department made the biggest recoveries primarily through the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
  • A jury has awarded Oracle Corporation $1.3 billion in damages in a software theft case against European software maker SAP. The decision could be the largest-ever for copyright infringement. SAP, the top software maker in Europe, expressed its disappointment in the verdict and indicated an appeal is an option it’ll consider. The German company admitted from the beginning that its TomorrowNow subsidiary had wrongfully downloaded millions of Oracle’s files. That meant the issue before the jury was how much Oracle was owed in damages. SAP said no more than $40 million, while Oracle said at least $1.65 billion.
  • Two civilian bodies were recovered on the South Korean island attacked yesterday by North Korea. Officials discovered the bodies believed to be those of construction workers from off the island. In total, the shelling is responsible for killing the two civilians, two South Korean marines and injuring at least 18 people.
  • You’re taking a day or two off for Thanksgiving…but is your Blackberry? A new survey from Xobni and Harris Interactive says 59 percent of working Americans will check their e-mail during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of those, more than half check WORK e-mail at least once a day. USA Today reports even though we’re checking those emails, we resent it! Forty-one percent of us are frustrated that we’re getting work emails on a holiday…but 42 percent of us say we still have to check so we can stay up to date.
  • Some big changes could be coming to Metro. The governors of Virginia and Maryland and the Mayor-elect of Washington have issued a joint statement supporting changing the governing structure of Metro. A recent report says Metro’s structure has contributed to the system’s deterioration in recent years. The group says they welcome the results of the report and that they recognize much work needs to be done to “reverse the serious decline in safety, performance and reliability currently being experienced by Metro.” The statement said that in principle the group supports the recommendation to eliminate alternate board members and increase the number of primary Board members.
  • Today is the day! President Obama will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a ceremony at 10:30am in the Rose Garden. This is the 63rd anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. The lucky turkey is named Apple. His alternate is Cider. Both are 21-week old, 45-pound turkeys. Their names were chosen from more than 200 submissions from California school children, who were part of California’s ‘Agriculture in the Classroom’ program. After the pardoning, the turkeys will be on display at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens through January 6. After the holidays, the turkeys will live in a custom-made enclosure at Mount Vernon’s nationally recognized livestock facility. Meanwhile, a turkey farm in Pennsylvania has donated two dressed turkeys that the Obama’s will donate to Martha’s Table.