Category: Government (Page 1 of 2)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Dial 988

Starting July 16, 2022, there is a new number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988. This number will work across the entire USA.

If you are thinking about suicide, are worried about someone, or just need emotional support:

The old number, 1-800-273-8255, will also still connect to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Please read more about how the Lifeline can provide free and confidential support, and check out their FAQ, as well.

The Russia-Ukraine War: Avoiding Scams and How to Help

Many scammers are capitalizing on the emotions revolving around the conflict in Ukraine. Please be on the lookout for scams related to the war in Ukraine, especially fundraising scams.

If you do want to help, you have options and tools to make sure you do it safely, using legitimate organizations. Check out these articles for solid ideas and appropriate companies to work with.

For any other charities you might consider, know that you can check their reputations, using watchdog websites like:

Charity Navigator

GuideStar

Charity Watch

USPS Operation Santa

The USPS needs your help! Their Operation Santa program has gone national this year, and they need generous people to help them answer letters sent to Santa.

This USPS program collects and posts Santa-letters from kiddos all over the USA. When you participate in the program, you can “adopt” a letter, respond to it appropriately and send a gift (as Santa) through regular USPS mail.

If you’re interested in fulfilling a child’s holiday wish, you should check out how it all works, as well as the FAQ, for this program. They’ve got all kinds of instructions and print-outs that make this easy to do.

Text to 911

In case of an emergency, many parts of the USA support Text to 911. This technology allows you to contact 911 for help via text message (SMS).

The FCC reminds everyone that you should place a voice call to 911 whenever possible.

Much of the Shenandoah Valley[1]Warren County, VA has assured me they support this tech, even though they are not on the FCC list is covered, as shown on the FCC’s Public Safety list. Please feel free to verify other American cities and counties using that list. Or, reach out to your local police department or county offices to ask.

For more details, read up at the main FCC page for this technology.

References

References
1 Warren County, VA has assured me they support this tech, even though they are not on the FCC list

Recycling Computers and Other Tech

It’s best to recycle your old computers and other technology items, when you don’t need them any more. Here are some tools and places to know about for e-recycling:

Earth911 offers a nationwide search tool to give you ideas of who recycles technology items near you.

The Consumer Technology Association also offers a decent search tool.

Most computer manufacturers offer free & easy recycling options. You can usually locate information about those by Googling for the manufacturer name + “recycling”. Some examples: Dell, HP, Asus, Lenovo, & Acer.

You can also usually take unwanted tech to your local landfill, but you’ll want to be aware of any fees they might charge before you drive there. You can usually expect the highest fees for CRT monitors, since our country has a bit of a problem handling those.

One final suggestion: in my region, the non-profit organization Blue Ridge Hospice accepts most electronics at their thrift store locations. Whether your electronics are working or nonfunctional, you can donate them to BRH and they will take care of them appropriately. They even offer to destroy hard drives, to ensure your data is not used elsewhere. Check out their website or their Facebook Page for more details and reach out to them if you have questions.

If you’re in a different part of the USA, you might call your local thrift stores to ask if any of them offer e-recycling like Blue Ridge Hospice!

CyberTipline

If you encounter child pornography on a computer or on the internet, please report it immediately. Don’t download or email any offensive content. That could get you in trouble and could contribute to the spread of the illegal material. Consider some better ways of addressing it:

Contact your local or state police. They are a great resource and can guide you in taking the next appropriate steps.

Also: The best website for reporting this is the CyberTipline at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Their report form allows you to paste in URLs to potentially illegal websites, without incriminating yourself. You can also call 1-800-THE-LOST, if you need to speak with someone as you submit your report.

If you are outside the USA, then there may be a different way of reporting child sexual abuse material (CSAM). You can use INHOPE to find the best agency to contact, when you are abroad.

Please, if you see something that might be child pornography, please speak up and report it. Don’t let doubt hold you back. Trust that the agency handling your report will investigate and respond appropriately. I thank you.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit

Our government is about to launch “The Emergency Broadband Benefit” to help struggling families afford internet access. On May 12, 2021, people who qualify for this program can apply to receive up to $50/mo off of their internet expenses. And eligible households may also get a $100 discount towards the purchase of a new computer!

There’s a lot to learn to this program, more than I can go over here. But here are a few links and extra details:

The basic program announcement and info is shown on this FCC website. Further info, such as who qualifies for this program, is better detailed on this page and on this FAQ.

A list of participating ISPs is now available at this site. Regardless of whether you can get an ISP benefit, the $100 device benefit is available to all eligible households.

The V-Safe After Vaccination Health Checker

The CDC would like to hear from you after you get your COVID-19 vaccine. Specifically, they want to monitor any vaccine side effects, and they’ve created a free tool for all to use. It’s called V-Safe and you can read all about it here.

Once you’ve gotten your first shot, get your vaccination record card in hand. You’ll need it as you sign up at the V-Safe registration website . Afterwards the CDC will send you texts to check in with you about how you feel after your shot(s). V-Safe will also remind you when to get your second vaccine shot, if needed.

The FCC Wants to Hear from You!

The Federal Communications Commission offers a broadband map website, where you can research internet offerings in your region. But there’s a problem with it. It’s based only on self-reported ISP data. This government tool is only as good as what the ISPs tell the feds about themselves.

To improve the situation, the FCC has just announced that they want public input on internet availability and quality. After collecting info from us regular folk, they will update their map-search-tool and decide better where government funding may be used to help expand internet access.

Please consider using this website to submit comments on your broadband experience. Be as detailed as you can be when naming companies or describing internet speeds/choices. Your commentary may eventually help improve the broadband map website and bring internet subsidies to areas that need it!

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