The Civics Glossary N
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - independent agency in the federal executive branch, established in 1958, which conducts research on problems of flight on Earth and in space. NASA creates and operates aviation and space vehicles, and performs test flights and missions, coordinates programs for the peaceful exploration of space and arranges cooperative programs involving the United States and other nations to develop scientific and engineering resources for peaceful purposes.
National Economic Council (NEC) - part of the Executive Office of the President. Created by President Bill Clinton and patterned after the National Security Council (NSC), it helps the President coordinate foreign and domestic economic policies. The council is headed by the national economic council adviser.
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) - part of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. Created in 1965, it provides grant funding to American individuals and organizations in visual, literary and performing arts. In addition, it promotes arts institutions, works to make the arts accessible to more Americans and helping establish the arts as an important aspect of education.
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) - part of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. Created in 1965, it provides grant funding for research, education and public programs in the humanities, including: languages; linguistics; literature; history; philosophy; archeology; comparative religion; ethics; arts history, criticism and theory and other areas.
National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities - independent agency, created in 1965, to encourage progress in the arts and humanities. It consists of the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities and the Institute of Museum Services.
National Institute of Health - part of the Public Health Service of the Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH operates research institutes; such as the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Services. In addition, it helps fund other medical research projects.
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) - independent agency, part of the federal executive branch. Created by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 ("Wagner Act"), it administers the labor laws of the nation, including the "Wagner" Act. The NLRB prevents and alleviates unfair labor practices by private employers and unions, protect the right of employees to organize and decide whether or not to use unions as bargaining representatives.
National Park Service - founded in 1916, part of the Department of the Interior. The National Park Service works to conserve the natural and cultural resources in the National Park System. It manages national parks, and is involved with programs like the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System; the National Trails System; the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the National Register of Historic Places.
National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) - independent federal agency, created in 1970. Amtrak provides a national rail transportation system through its intercity rail passenger service. It operates 212 trains a day, on average, dealing with over 540 stations on a route system that covers about 24,500 route miles. It employs about 25,000 people, and transports about 22 million people annually (in fiscal year 1994). Although it earns significant revenues, it cannot survive without a subsidy from the federal government.
National Science Foundation - independent federal agency in the executive branch. Created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, it promotes research, development and education in science and engineering. It provides grants for projects which demonstrate the potential to contribute significantly to the body of scientific knowledge or the preparation and implementation of effective science education.
National Security Council - created in 1947 by the National Security Act. The National Security Council advises the President on issues of foreign and defense policy. According to the law, the NSC consists of the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of the CIA as advisors. The President can also request that other officials take part.
Natural Resources Conservation Service - formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service. Part of the Department of Agriculture, it is responsible for helping farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners conserve and protect our natural resources.
Natural rights - rights, freedoms and privileges which are such a basic part of human nature that they cannot be taken away. These are different from rights which are given to people by the law. According to the Declaration of Independence, these rights include "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Necessary and proper clause - clause 18 of Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution. This clause establishes the "implied powers," by which Congress has authority to pass legislation in areas not specifically listed in the Constitution.
Nepotism - unfair practice in which people in power give positions in a government or organization to their relatives or friends, rather than to any individual who is well-qualified. This can lead to inefficiency in the functioning of the government or organization, since hiring is based on personal connections, rather than ability or merit. In addition, nepotism can cause conflicting loyalties for the person who receives the job: he or she may be more loyal to the person who hired him or her than to the government or organization.
New Jersey Plan - proposal presented by New Jersey delegates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention which recommended that Congress be unicameral, and that all states be equally represented in Congress. Small states developed the proposal to counter the Virginia Plan. The New Jersey Plan gave large and small states equal power in Congress, and made Congress power to force states to cooperate with the national government.
Nobility - group of people in a society who have been given legally-recognized titles, by inheriting them or receiving them from a monarch or other authority. Great Britain is one example of a country which has a nobility, or noble class.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) - established by a treaty signed in 1949. The treaty tied the security interested of the United States to those of the nations of Western Europe and other areas. NATO arose out of fear of the military and security threat posed by the Communist Soviet Union, although it still exists even after the fall of the U.S.S.R.
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