Portal

  • Psychologists Who Designed Torture Methods for CIA Admit to Torturing but Deny It Was Torture

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Mitchell and Jessen acknowledge using waterboarding, loud music, confinement, slapping and other harsh methods but deny that they were torture. "Defendants deny that they committed torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-consensual human experimentation and/or war crimes," their lawyers wrote. "This is historic," ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said Wednesday. "Until now, no one responsible for the CIA torture program has ever been forced to admit their actions in court."   read more
  • Americans Want Driverless Cars Programmed to Choose Their Safety in Car over that of Pedestrians

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    A new study indicates that what people really want to ride in is an autonomous vehicle that puts its passengers first. If its machine brain has to choose between slamming into a wall or running someone over, well, sorry, pedestrian. Should manufacturers create vehicles with various degrees of morality programmed into them, depending on what a consumer wants? Should the government mandate that all self-driving cars share the same values, even if that’s not so good for a car’s passengers?   read more
  • Globetrotting Supreme Court Justices Disclose Privately Paid Travel

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Justice Scalia was an enthusiastic traveler, taking more than 250 privately funded trips from 2004 to 2014. A few weeks before he died, he visited Singapore and Hong Kong. Justice Stephen G. Breyer was the most active traveler last year, taking 19 paid trips, including three to London and two to Paris. The trips were partly to promote his book “The Court and the World,” which was published last year. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was next, with 16 paid trips, but to less exotic places.   read more
  • Trump’s Arguments against Release of His Video Deposition May be Undercut by His Public Statements

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    "Trump is concerned about a poisoned jury pool," wrote Forge. "After dedicating months to poisoning that pool with dozens of nationally publicized speeches denigrating the claims against him and championing his hollow defense, he should be concerned. He knows the best cure for a snake bite comes from the snake's own venom. After months of spewing venom into the jury pool, Trump is trying to suppress the cure — his own admissions."   read more
  • States’ Criminalization of Alcohol Blood Test Refusals by Motorists Goes Too Far, Rules Supreme Court

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    "Blood tests are significantly more intrusive, and their reasonableness must be judged in light of the availability of the less invasive alternative of a breath test," said the ruling. For Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court should also require warrants for breath tests. "A citizen's Fourth Amendment right to be free from 'unreasonable searches' does not disappear upon arrest," she wrote. Sotomayor slammed the majority for creating a "categorical exception to the warrant requirement.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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Top Stories

  • U.S. Senate Blocks Republicans’ Attempt to Give FBI Warrantless Access to Americans’ Online Data

    Thursday, June 23, 2016
    The Senate rejected the amendment 58-38, two votes short of the 60 necessary to move ahead with the measure that would give federal law enforcement direct access to email and text message logs, internet browsing histories and other potentially sensitive online data. Sen. Ron Wyden opposed the amendment and decried what he said was the hypocrisy of defending gun rights while pushing for a measure that would undermine the constitutional prohibition against unlawful search and seizures.   read more
  • Cash-Strapped States Left to Clean Up Hazards and Leaks at Thousands of Abandoned Oil Drilling Sites

    Wednesday, June 22, 2016
    With at least 60 oil producers declaring bankruptcy since 2014, orphaned wells have become potential environmental hazards below ground as well as rusted-out eyesores above. Texas officials predict the number of orphaned wells could soar to 12,000, which would be nearly 25 percent more than what regulators can't keep up with now. Landowners, meanwhile, are growing restless with abandoned pump jacks and damage while drillers warn that crackdowns would only put them out of business faster.   read more
  • Police May Sometimes Use Evidence Found After Illegal Traffic Stops, Rules Supreme Court

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016
    Justice Sotomayor delivered a fiery dissent: "It is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny. This case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Fewer American Children are Dying as Health Gap between Rich and Poor Kids Narrows

    Wednesday, June 22, 2016
    Currie can’t be sure what precise factors have led to the reductions in death rates for poor young Americans, but she has some theories. Public health insurance expanded to cover more children and pregnant women. Research has shown measurable benefits to the children with access to the program: There was less infant mortality; they were hospitalized less often as they grew older; they were more likely to finish high school and attend college; and they earned more money in early adulthood.   read more
  • New York to be First City in Nation to Require Free Tampons and Pads in Schools, Shelters and Jails

    Wednesday, June 22, 2016
    Advocates say the measure would make the free sanitary supplies more readily available by putting them in restrooms, instead of nurses' offices, in schools with female students in sixth grade and up. Girls who need pads or tampons now have to scramble to try to get to the nurse and then the restroom in breaks between classes. Rather than do that and risk being late, girls learn to "know the friend in that class who has extra pads," Mitchell, 17, said at a rally before the vote.   read more
  • Pentagon Invites Hackers to Break Into Its Websites … in Search of Security Flaws

    Monday, June 20, 2016
    The hackers were turned loose on five public Pentagon internet pages and were offered various bounties if they could find unique vulnerabilities. The Pentagon says 1,410 hackers participated in the challenge and the first gap was identified just 13 minutes after the hunt began. One of the hackers was David Dworken, who just graduated from high school. He said he worked on the program during his free time, logging in between homework assignments.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Munitions Contractor Can Seek Site Cleanup Costs From Federal Government

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016
    A defense contractor responsible for cleaning up pollution at a facility where most munitions manufacturing was done under contracts with the U.S. military can seek cost recovery from the government, the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday. In 2013, Whittaker filed its own lawsuit under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, seeking recovery from the United States for expenses Whittaker incurred since the 1980s investigating and cleaning the Bermite site.   read more
  • House Votes to Give Itself an Increase in Office Expenses

    Sunday, June 12, 2016
    House lawmakers Friday passed legislation to increase their office budgets for the first time in years but again deny themselves a pay raise of their own. The additional money for staff salaries and other office expenses is aimed in large part at retaining staff aides, who are often 20-somethings who struggle to make ends meet in Washington, where rents have skyrocketed and opportunities outside of Congress often pay more than Capitol Hill jobs.   read more
  • Appointing More Women to Corporate Boards Results in Higher CEO Salaries

    Tuesday, May 31, 2016
    An analysis of CEO pay at 100 large companies last year found that companies with greater gender diversity on their boards paid their chief executives about 15 percent more than the compensation dispensed by companies with less diverse boards. In dollars, this translated to approximately $2 million more in median pay last year among these companies. The median pay among the chief executives overseeing the companies whose boards had more gender diversity was $15.7 million last year.   read more

Controversies

  • Obama-Appointed Judge Derails Federal Safety Rules Governing Fracking

    Thursday, June 23, 2016
    The Obama administration on Wednesday decried a ruling by a federal judge that blocks rules for hydraulic fracturing. The Bureau of Land Management and a coalition of environmental groups say the rules are necessary to protect the environment. The bureau's rules would have required petroleum developers to disclose to regulators the ingredients in the chemical products they use to improve the results of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.   read more
  • Hundreds of Doctors and Nurses across U.S. Charged in $900-Million Medicare Fraud Sweep

    Thursday, June 23, 2016
    More than 300 people across the nation have been charged with stealing more than $900 million in what federal investigators say is the "largest Medicare fraud takedown in history." The people facing criminal and civil charges of health care fraud include 61 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. "The wrongdoers that we pursue in these operations seek to use public funds for private enrichment," Lynch said. "They target real people - many of them in need of significant medical care."   read more
  • Corinthian Colleges’ Illegal Recruiting Incentives May Be Grounds for Fraud Claims by Ex-Students

    Thursday, June 23, 2016
    Corinthian Colleges, once one of the nation’s largest for-profit education companies, engaged in apparently unlawful practices by paying its recruiters based on how many sales leads they converted into actual students, according to documents unsealed last week. The disclosure may make it easier for former students of the defunct institution to have their federal loans forgiven by helping them establish that they were defrauded or that Corinthian violated federal law while it was operating.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is François Balumuene?

    Sunday, June 19, 2016
    Balumuene served in 2000 as diplomatic and administrative assistant to the deputy commissioner general of the Government for MONUC Affairs, in charge of finance, logistics and foreign policy for the UN peacekeeping effort in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Later that year, he was made chargé d’affaires at the embassy to South Africa in Pretoria. In 2003, Balumuene was sent to India as his country’s ambassador. He then became dean of New Delhi’s diplomatic corps.   read more
  • The Netherlands’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Hendrik Jan Schuwer?

    Saturday, June 18, 2016
    The first assignment was as deputy permanent representative to the EU, then in 2007 he was made director of the private office of the secretary general of NATO. He returned to The Hague briefly in 2009 for a stint as director of the ministry’s North Africa and Middle East department, but was back in Brussels the following year, this time as ambassador to Belgium, where he served until being sent to Washington.   read more
  • Finland’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Kirsti Kauppi?

    Sunday, June 05, 2016
    In 2003, she went to Berlin as the deputy chief of mission in Finland’s embassy there. In 2005, she moved to Vienna as ambassador to Austria and to serve as her country’s representatives to the United Nation organizations there. During that time, she also served for three years as the Finnish Governor on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors. In 2008, she was elected vice-chair of the agency.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Italy

    Occupying a 700-mile peninsula in the Mediterranean, Italy is shaped like a boot, with Sicily at the toe. The country shares boundaries with France, Switzerland, Austria and Yugoslavia. Although originally settled by the Greeks, Romans, and Etr...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Daughton, Thomas

    The southwest African nation of Namibia will soon have a new ambassador from the U.S. Nominated July 30, career Foreign Service Officer Thomas F. Daughton had been senior advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements in the Bureau of Politic...   more

Blog

  • Irving Wallace: 100th Birthday

    On March 19, 2016, the popular novelist Irving Wallace—my father—would have turned 100 years old. Instead of honoring my father by presenting a review of his achievements and recalling what a generous, warm-hearted person he was and how much enjoy...   more
  • Psychologists Who Designed Torture Methods for CIA Admit to Torturing but Deny It Was Torture

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Mitchell and Jessen acknowledge using waterboarding, loud music, confinement, slapping and other harsh methods but deny that they were torture. "Defendants deny that they committed torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-consensual human experimentation and/or war crimes," their lawyers wrote. "This is historic," ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said Wednesday. "Until now, no one responsible for the CIA torture program has ever been forced to admit their actions in court."   read more
  • Americans Want Driverless Cars Programmed to Choose Their Safety in Car over that of Pedestrians

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    A new study indicates that what people really want to ride in is an autonomous vehicle that puts its passengers first. If its machine brain has to choose between slamming into a wall or running someone over, well, sorry, pedestrian. Should manufacturers create vehicles with various degrees of morality programmed into them, depending on what a consumer wants? Should the government mandate that all self-driving cars share the same values, even if that’s not so good for a car’s passengers?   read more
  • Globetrotting Supreme Court Justices Disclose Privately Paid Travel

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Justice Scalia was an enthusiastic traveler, taking more than 250 privately funded trips from 2004 to 2014. A few weeks before he died, he visited Singapore and Hong Kong. Justice Stephen G. Breyer was the most active traveler last year, taking 19 paid trips, including three to London and two to Paris. The trips were partly to promote his book “The Court and the World,” which was published last year. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was next, with 16 paid trips, but to less exotic places.   read more
  • Trump’s Arguments against Release of His Video Deposition May be Undercut by His Public Statements

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    "Trump is concerned about a poisoned jury pool," wrote Forge. "After dedicating months to poisoning that pool with dozens of nationally publicized speeches denigrating the claims against him and championing his hollow defense, he should be concerned. He knows the best cure for a snake bite comes from the snake's own venom. After months of spewing venom into the jury pool, Trump is trying to suppress the cure — his own admissions."   read more
  • States’ Criminalization of Alcohol Blood Test Refusals by Motorists Goes Too Far, Rules Supreme Court

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    "Blood tests are significantly more intrusive, and their reasonableness must be judged in light of the availability of the less invasive alternative of a breath test," said the ruling. For Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court should also require warrants for breath tests. "A citizen's Fourth Amendment right to be free from 'unreasonable searches' does not disappear upon arrest," she wrote. Sotomayor slammed the majority for creating a "categorical exception to the warrant requirement.   read more

Top Stories

  • U.S. Senate Blocks Republicans’ Attempt to Give FBI Warrantless Access to Americans’ Online Data

    Thursday, June 23, 2016
    The Senate rejected the amendment 58-38, two votes short of the 60 necessary to move ahead with the measure that would give federal law enforcement direct access to email and text message logs, internet browsing histories and other potentially sensitive online data. Sen. Ron Wyden opposed the amendment and decried what he said was the hypocrisy of defending gun rights while pushing for a measure that would undermine the constitutional prohibition against unlawful search and seizures.   read more
  • Cash-Strapped States Left to Clean Up Hazards and Leaks at Thousands of Abandoned Oil Drilling Sites

    Wednesday, June 22, 2016
    With at least 60 oil producers declaring bankruptcy since 2014, orphaned wells have become potential environmental hazards below ground as well as rusted-out eyesores above. Texas officials predict the number of orphaned wells could soar to 12,000, which would be nearly 25 percent more than what regulators can't keep up with now. Landowners, meanwhile, are growing restless with abandoned pump jacks and damage while drillers warn that crackdowns would only put them out of business faster.   read more
  • Police May Sometimes Use Evidence Found After Illegal Traffic Stops, Rules Supreme Court

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016
    Justice Sotomayor delivered a fiery dissent: "It is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny. This case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Fewer American Children are Dying as Health Gap between Rich and Poor Kids Narrows

    Wednesday, June 22, 2016
    Currie can’t be sure what precise factors have led to the reductions in death rates for poor young Americans, but she has some theories. Public health insurance expanded to cover more children and pregnant women. Research has shown measurable benefits to the children with access to the program: There was less infant mortality; they were hospitalized less often as they grew older; they were more likely to finish high school and attend college; and they earned more money in early adulthood.   read more
  • New York to be First City in Nation to Require Free Tampons and Pads in Schools, Shelters and Jails

    Wednesday, June 22, 2016
    Advocates say the measure would make the free sanitary supplies more readily available by putting them in restrooms, instead of nurses' offices, in schools with female students in sixth grade and up. Girls who need pads or tampons now have to scramble to try to get to the nurse and then the restroom in breaks between classes. Rather than do that and risk being late, girls learn to "know the friend in that class who has extra pads," Mitchell, 17, said at a rally before the vote.   read more
  • Pentagon Invites Hackers to Break Into Its Websites … in Search of Security Flaws

    Monday, June 20, 2016
    The hackers were turned loose on five public Pentagon internet pages and were offered various bounties if they could find unique vulnerabilities. The Pentagon says 1,410 hackers participated in the challenge and the first gap was identified just 13 minutes after the hunt began. One of the hackers was David Dworken, who just graduated from high school. He said he worked on the program during his free time, logging in between homework assignments.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Munitions Contractor Can Seek Site Cleanup Costs From Federal Government

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016
    A defense contractor responsible for cleaning up pollution at a facility where most munitions manufacturing was done under contracts with the U.S. military can seek cost recovery from the government, the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday. In 2013, Whittaker filed its own lawsuit under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, seeking recovery from the United States for expenses Whittaker incurred since the 1980s investigating and cleaning the Bermite site.   read more
  • House Votes to Give Itself an Increase in Office Expenses

    Sunday, June 12, 2016
    House lawmakers Friday passed legislation to increase their office budgets for the first time in years but again deny themselves a pay raise of their own. The additional money for staff salaries and other office expenses is aimed in large part at retaining staff aides, who are often 20-somethings who struggle to make ends meet in Washington, where rents have skyrocketed and opportunities outside of Congress often pay more than Capitol Hill jobs.   read more
  • Appointing More Women to Corporate Boards Results in Higher CEO Salaries

    Tuesday, May 31, 2016
    An analysis of CEO pay at 100 large companies last year found that companies with greater gender diversity on their boards paid their chief executives about 15 percent more than the compensation dispensed by companies with less diverse boards. In dollars, this translated to approximately $2 million more in median pay last year among these companies. The median pay among the chief executives overseeing the companies whose boards had more gender diversity was $15.7 million last year.   read more

Controversies

  • Obama-Appointed Judge Derails Federal Safety Rules Governing Fracking

    Thursday, June 23, 2016
    The Obama administration on Wednesday decried a ruling by a federal judge that blocks rules for hydraulic fracturing. The Bureau of Land Management and a coalition of environmental groups say the rules are necessary to protect the environment. The bureau's rules would have required petroleum developers to disclose to regulators the ingredients in the chemical products they use to improve the results of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.   read more
  • Hundreds of Doctors and Nurses across U.S. Charged in $900-Million Medicare Fraud Sweep

    Thursday, June 23, 2016
    More than 300 people across the nation have been charged with stealing more than $900 million in what federal investigators say is the "largest Medicare fraud takedown in history." The people facing criminal and civil charges of health care fraud include 61 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. "The wrongdoers that we pursue in these operations seek to use public funds for private enrichment," Lynch said. "They target real people - many of them in need of significant medical care."   read more
  • Corinthian Colleges’ Illegal Recruiting Incentives May Be Grounds for Fraud Claims by Ex-Students

    Thursday, June 23, 2016
    Corinthian Colleges, once one of the nation’s largest for-profit education companies, engaged in apparently unlawful practices by paying its recruiters based on how many sales leads they converted into actual students, according to documents unsealed last week. The disclosure may make it easier for former students of the defunct institution to have their federal loans forgiven by helping them establish that they were defrauded or that Corinthian violated federal law while it was operating.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is François Balumuene?

    Sunday, June 19, 2016
    Balumuene served in 2000 as diplomatic and administrative assistant to the deputy commissioner general of the Government for MONUC Affairs, in charge of finance, logistics and foreign policy for the UN peacekeeping effort in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Later that year, he was made chargé d’affaires at the embassy to South Africa in Pretoria. In 2003, Balumuene was sent to India as his country’s ambassador. He then became dean of New Delhi’s diplomatic corps.   read more
  • The Netherlands’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Hendrik Jan Schuwer?

    Saturday, June 18, 2016
    The first assignment was as deputy permanent representative to the EU, then in 2007 he was made director of the private office of the secretary general of NATO. He returned to The Hague briefly in 2009 for a stint as director of the ministry’s North Africa and Middle East department, but was back in Brussels the following year, this time as ambassador to Belgium, where he served until being sent to Washington.   read more
  • Finland’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Kirsti Kauppi?

    Sunday, June 05, 2016
    In 2003, she went to Berlin as the deputy chief of mission in Finland’s embassy there. In 2005, she moved to Vienna as ambassador to Austria and to serve as her country’s representatives to the United Nation organizations there. During that time, she also served for three years as the Finnish Governor on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors. In 2008, she was elected vice-chair of the agency.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Peace Corps

    The Peace Corps is an independent government agency responsible for promoting peace and friendship throughout the world by way of public service. Volunteers are trained in specific needs and sent to developing countries, in particular, to help ...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Slovakia

    Slovakian nationalism arose in the late 1800s, and after World War I ended, Slovakia merged with the Czechs to form Czechoslovakia. But when the Czechs were forced to cede territory to the Nazis in World War II, Slovakia became separate again, ...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Elmendorf, Douglas

    Douglas Elmendorf is arguably the most important nomination that President Barack Obama has no say over. Chosen by the leaders of the House and Senate, the director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) holds considerable sway on Capitol Hill b...   more

Blog

  • Irving Wallace: 100th Birthday

    On March 19, 2016, the popular novelist Irving Wallace—my father—would have turned 100 years old. Instead of honoring my father by presenting a review of his achievements and recalling what a generous, warm-hearted person he was and how much enjoy...   more

PHOTO GALLERY

Get Smart Phone Meets Smartphone Click the photo for larger view Get Smart Phone Meets Smartphone