Portal

  • States Slowly Move to Ban Microbeads from Soaps and Facial Cleansers

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
    No larger than grains of sand, microbeads have become a popular addition to many facial cleaners, soaps and even toothpaste. But environmentalists found microbeads exacerbate water and soil pollution. The non-biodegradable ingredients can absorb toxins in lakes and waterways, creating deadly concentrations consumed by fish that mistake the beads for food.   read more
  • IRS Audit Rate Dropping Lower and Lower

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
    In 2013, IRS auditors reviewed only 0.9% of returns filed by individuals earning less than $200,000 a year. That rate was the lowest since 2005. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Associated Press that the audit rate likely will go down even further this year. The chances of getting audited is much higher for the wealthy—about 11% for those making $1 million or more annually.   read more
  • What Does the FBI do with its Drones?

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
    Some of the deployed drones were used in investigations of dog-fighting rings and drug trafficking operations in 2011. The documents also showed that the FBI deployed a drone on May 9, 2012, to assist agents with locating a “most wanted” fugitive involved in a kidnapping. While the documents don’t say who the fugitive was, Musgrave reported that the FBI added Adam Mayes to its Ten Most Wanted List on the same day.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education: Who Is Ericka Miller?

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
    Since 2007, Miller has been vice president for Operations and Strategic Leadership at The Education Trust, which promotes academic achievement for students from pre-kindergarten through college. On November 11, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Ericka M. Miller to be the assistant secretary for Postsecondary Education in the Department of Education. Her nomination was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on January 29, 2014.   read more
  • Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation: Who is Dana Hyde?

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
    In 2009, after serving on the Obama-Biden transition team, Hyde was named a senior advisor for management and resources at the State Department. Then, in 2011, Hyde moved to the Office of Management and Budget, becoming associate director for general government programs. Because Hyde has had to wait seven months for confirmation, on April 15, the MCC named Sheila Herrling to serve as acting CEO.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

Anti-Drone Portrait Click the photo for larger view Anti-Drone Portrait

Top Stories

  • 4.6 Million American Children go to a School within a Mile of a Facility with Hazardous Chemicals

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    Millions of children in the U.S. attend schools located within a mile of an industrial facility housing hazardous chemicals, according to a new study. This total represents nearly 10% of all school-age children in the country. The number of schools operating this close to facilities with hazardous chemicals is nearly 10,000. “Minority and low-income kids bear the greatest risks, but no one is immune from this danger," said Katherine McFate, CEO of the Center for Effective Government.   read more
  • FBI Accused of Trying to Turn Defense Security Officer into Spy in 9/11 Military Hearing Case

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Attorney Jim Harrington, who is representing bin al Shibh, told the court that agents showed up at the home of his team’s defense security officer, whose identity was not revealed. The Miami Herald reported that the officer worked for SRA International, a government contractor. Harrington said the FBI questioned the officer about possible wrongdoing by defense attorneys and convinced him to sign an agreement that would have him feed information to the bureau.   read more
  • Obama Whistleblower Program Requires Whistleblowers to Register to be Protected

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    Are whistleblowers—whose anonymity is often their best protection against retribution—made safer by being forced to register as whistleblowers with the U.S. government? The Obama administration is demanding they step forward and sign up under the FBI's Insider Threat program. Senator Charles Grassley criticized the effort, saying it is an idea that “should be pretty alarming to all Americans. Sometimes confidentiality is the best protection a whistleblower has.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Portland Dumps Millions of Gallons of Drinking Water after Young Man Urinates in Reservoir…Again

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    Officials in Portland, Oregon, have decided to empty nearly 40 million gallons from the city’s primary reservoir for drinking water because an individual urinated in it. The decision marks the second time in three years that the city has flushed large portions of its water supply because someone peed in it. The latest dump, delivered by 19-year-old Trey McDaniel, was caught on a video surveillance camera.   read more
  • Federal Agency Charges for Reports Available Free Online

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Around since 1950, NTIS was set up as a clearinghouse for technical papers produced by the government. It has continued to sell these reports to the public even though many of them can be had for free through other agencies. For instance, anyone interested in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s handy report on chemical hazards can order a free copy here. Or they can pay the NTIS $30.   read more
  • U.S. Security Barriers on Border with Mexico May Disrupt Pumas more than Humans

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    “The suggestion is that the intermittent fencing present in this part of the world does affect some native species, but does not necessarily restrict the movement of humans (including illegal migrants), who may negatively impact native species.” In some study areas, pumas had largely abandoned habitats divided by a border wall. But coatis, which aren’t inclined to relocate like pumas, could be more impacted by the barriers and might experience a collapse in their population.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Offshore Tax Havens Cost U.S. $184 Billion in Revenue Every Year

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    U.S. federal and state governments would have more than $180 billion in additional revenue each year if corporations and wealthy individuals didn't hide their earnings in offshore accounts. Without that revenue, each U.S. taxpayer on average would have to pay an additional $1,259 in taxes to cover this loss. "Ordinary taxpayers [are] picking up the tab [in]...higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increases to the federal debt,” said the U.S. PIRG report.   read more
  • Oklahoma Gov. Fallin Signs Bill Banning Minimum Wage Increases by Cities

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    The governor added that increasing the minimum wage would only hurt businesses and lead to employees being laid off. She insisted most workers would not benefit from a minimum wage hike. Critics said the bill was intended to circumvent an effort in Oklahoma City, where signatures are being gathered to put an initiative on the city ballot raising the minimum wage to $10.10. That is the level to which President Barack Obama seeks to raise the federal minimum wage.   read more
  • IRS Gave Arizona Non-Profit Tax Exempt Status despite Record Campaign Money-Laundering Disclosure

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    An Arizona-based political organization funded almost entirely by the conservative Koch brothers—and that was fined for laundering political contributions—was awarded tax-exempt status by the IRS despite the agency knowing this. “Social welfare” groups are not eligible for tax exemption if they spend the majority of their money on politics. But Americans for Responsible Leadership, which had received 98% of its money from a Koch group, received that status from the IRS.   read more

Controversies

  • Buy Cheerios, Wheaties or any other General Mills Product and You Give up the Right to Sue over False Advertising, Mislabeling…or Anything Else

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    The company that sells Cheerios and other popular foods says consumers who purchase its products should be prohibited from suing it no matter how wrong its actions might be. General Mills, which produces Chex, Bisquick, Betty Crocker products and more, claims it can deny Americans their day in court if they buy any of its goods, download coupons, or “friend” it on Facebook. The food manufacturer claims it do this by simply amending its “legal terms” found on the General Mills website.   read more
  • Karl Rove’s Crossroads Non-Profit at the Heart of IRS Targeting and Election Commission Clashes

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    One of the most powerful Republican campaign groups in the country--Crossroads GPS, the conservative nonprofit helmed by consultant Karl Rove--is at the center of political battles involving the IRS and the FEC. Rove’s operation has sparked controversy at the FEC, whose Republican commissioners publicly attacked the Democrats’ leading member over a potential investigation of Crossroads, which Democrats contend is a partisan campaign machine.   read more
  • Tyson’s Control of Chicken Farmers Borders on Feudal

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Tyson farmers own their land, but not the chickens they raise for the corporation. The company also owns the feed, which is specially designed at a Tyson plant, that’s given to the birds. The cost of the feed is later deducted from any profits the farmer earns from Tyson. According to Leonard, Tyson has contracted out the job of raising chickens because it’s the riskiest part of the industry.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Contrary to Obama Claims, 88% of Deportees Committed Minor Infractions or No Crime at All

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Only 12% of deportations in 2013 committed a serious or “Level 1” offense (defined by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as someone convicted of an “aggravated felony,” or two or more felonies). About half of all deportees were charged with violating traffic or immigration laws. Those guilty of entering the country illegally comprised 22.7% of deportations. Such an offense is classified as a petty misdemeanor under the federal criminal code, TRAC noted.   read more
  • Blackwater Guards Finally to be Tried for Killing 14 Iraqi Civilians

    Sunday, April 13, 2014
    Following the incident, DSS officials forced the Blackwater specialists to provide written statements of the shootings in exchange for full immunity from criminal prosecution. That decision by the State Department derailed the U.S. Department of Justice’s first attempt to prosecute the guards once they returned to the U.S. A federal appeals court then reinstated the charges, saying the lower court had erred in dismissing the case.   read more
  • Afghan Children Die by the Dozens because of Explosives U.S. Left Behind at Firing Ranges

    Friday, April 11, 2014
    The open fields of Afghanistan have become lethal for many of that nation’s children due to scores of unexploded ordinance left by U.S. military forces. Dozens of Afghan children have died after wandering into abandoned U.S. firing ranges filled with undetonated artillery shells, rockets and grenades. The U.N. says at least 70 civilians—62 of whom were children—have died since 2012 in and around U.S. or NATO firing ranges or bases.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Dept. of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology: Who Is Reggie Brothers?

    Monday, April 14, 2014
    In 2007, Brothers returned to the private sector, joining defense contractor BAE Systems, working on advanced programs and technology. Brothers joined the Obama administration in 2011 as deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Research. In that role, he was responsible for policy and oversight of Department of Defense Science and Technology programs from basic research through advanced technology development.   read more
  • Energy Under Secretary for Science: Who Is Franklin Orr?

    Sunday, April 13, 2014
    In 2009, Orr helped found the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford. According to the institute’s website, its mission is to provide funding and associated support for cutting-edge energy research. In recent years, the focus of Orr’s research has been into carbon capture and storage, in which emissions from power plants and other pollution sources are injected into the earth.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs: Who Is Charles Rivkin?

    Saturday, April 12, 2014
    Rivkin is not the only member of his family to receive an appointment from Obama. His brother, Robert, was selected to be general counsel for the Department of Transportation, and Robert’s wife, Cindy S. Moelis, a close friend of Michelle Obama, was chosen to direct the Commission on White House Fellows. Rivkin’s mother, who died in 2002, and stepfather founded the American Refugee Committee, which helps relocate international refugees.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • United States Courts

    The United States Courts, also known as the Federal Judiciary, consists of multiple types of courts that hear criminal and civil cases as well as appeals. The Federal Judiciary includes the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals, U.S. Distr...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

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Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Papua New Guinea

    With more than 700 indigenous languages, Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse nation in the world. All those different languages, and the different tribal groups they come from, provide fascinating variety in traditional dress an...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Miller, Warren (Pete)

    Warren F. “Pete” Miller, Jr. was selected by President Barack Obama to fill two posts that oversee each end of nuclear energy—supplying it and storing its waste. First, Miller was nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy in the Depar...   more

Blog

  • 50 Years of Keeping a Daily Diary

    I would not have realized how much we unconsciously edit our memories if I did not have contemporaneous accounts of each day of my life for the last 50 years. Most of these alterations are minor and harmless. But there is one false memory that had...   more
  • States Slowly Move to Ban Microbeads from Soaps and Facial Cleansers

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
    No larger than grains of sand, microbeads have become a popular addition to many facial cleaners, soaps and even toothpaste. But environmentalists found microbeads exacerbate water and soil pollution. The non-biodegradable ingredients can absorb toxins in lakes and waterways, creating deadly concentrations consumed by fish that mistake the beads for food.   read more
  • IRS Audit Rate Dropping Lower and Lower

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
    In 2013, IRS auditors reviewed only 0.9% of returns filed by individuals earning less than $200,000 a year. That rate was the lowest since 2005. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Associated Press that the audit rate likely will go down even further this year. The chances of getting audited is much higher for the wealthy—about 11% for those making $1 million or more annually.   read more
  • What Does the FBI do with its Drones?

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
    Some of the deployed drones were used in investigations of dog-fighting rings and drug trafficking operations in 2011. The documents also showed that the FBI deployed a drone on May 9, 2012, to assist agents with locating a “most wanted” fugitive involved in a kidnapping. While the documents don’t say who the fugitive was, Musgrave reported that the FBI added Adam Mayes to its Ten Most Wanted List on the same day.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education: Who Is Ericka Miller?

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
    Since 2007, Miller has been vice president for Operations and Strategic Leadership at The Education Trust, which promotes academic achievement for students from pre-kindergarten through college. On November 11, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Ericka M. Miller to be the assistant secretary for Postsecondary Education in the Department of Education. Her nomination was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on January 29, 2014.   read more
  • Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation: Who is Dana Hyde?

    Saturday, April 19, 2014
    In 2009, after serving on the Obama-Biden transition team, Hyde was named a senior advisor for management and resources at the State Department. Then, in 2011, Hyde moved to the Office of Management and Budget, becoming associate director for general government programs. Because Hyde has had to wait seven months for confirmation, on April 15, the MCC named Sheila Herrling to serve as acting CEO.   read more

Top Stories

  • 4.6 Million American Children go to a School within a Mile of a Facility with Hazardous Chemicals

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    Millions of children in the U.S. attend schools located within a mile of an industrial facility housing hazardous chemicals, according to a new study. This total represents nearly 10% of all school-age children in the country. The number of schools operating this close to facilities with hazardous chemicals is nearly 10,000. “Minority and low-income kids bear the greatest risks, but no one is immune from this danger," said Katherine McFate, CEO of the Center for Effective Government.   read more
  • FBI Accused of Trying to Turn Defense Security Officer into Spy in 9/11 Military Hearing Case

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Attorney Jim Harrington, who is representing bin al Shibh, told the court that agents showed up at the home of his team’s defense security officer, whose identity was not revealed. The Miami Herald reported that the officer worked for SRA International, a government contractor. Harrington said the FBI questioned the officer about possible wrongdoing by defense attorneys and convinced him to sign an agreement that would have him feed information to the bureau.   read more
  • Obama Whistleblower Program Requires Whistleblowers to Register to be Protected

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    Are whistleblowers—whose anonymity is often their best protection against retribution—made safer by being forced to register as whistleblowers with the U.S. government? The Obama administration is demanding they step forward and sign up under the FBI's Insider Threat program. Senator Charles Grassley criticized the effort, saying it is an idea that “should be pretty alarming to all Americans. Sometimes confidentiality is the best protection a whistleblower has.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Portland Dumps Millions of Gallons of Drinking Water after Young Man Urinates in Reservoir…Again

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    Officials in Portland, Oregon, have decided to empty nearly 40 million gallons from the city’s primary reservoir for drinking water because an individual urinated in it. The decision marks the second time in three years that the city has flushed large portions of its water supply because someone peed in it. The latest dump, delivered by 19-year-old Trey McDaniel, was caught on a video surveillance camera.   read more
  • Federal Agency Charges for Reports Available Free Online

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Around since 1950, NTIS was set up as a clearinghouse for technical papers produced by the government. It has continued to sell these reports to the public even though many of them can be had for free through other agencies. For instance, anyone interested in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s handy report on chemical hazards can order a free copy here. Or they can pay the NTIS $30.   read more
  • U.S. Security Barriers on Border with Mexico May Disrupt Pumas more than Humans

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    “The suggestion is that the intermittent fencing present in this part of the world does affect some native species, but does not necessarily restrict the movement of humans (including illegal migrants), who may negatively impact native species.” In some study areas, pumas had largely abandoned habitats divided by a border wall. But coatis, which aren’t inclined to relocate like pumas, could be more impacted by the barriers and might experience a collapse in their population.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Offshore Tax Havens Cost U.S. $184 Billion in Revenue Every Year

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    U.S. federal and state governments would have more than $180 billion in additional revenue each year if corporations and wealthy individuals didn't hide their earnings in offshore accounts. Without that revenue, each U.S. taxpayer on average would have to pay an additional $1,259 in taxes to cover this loss. "Ordinary taxpayers [are] picking up the tab [in]...higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increases to the federal debt,” said the U.S. PIRG report.   read more
  • Oklahoma Gov. Fallin Signs Bill Banning Minimum Wage Increases by Cities

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    The governor added that increasing the minimum wage would only hurt businesses and lead to employees being laid off. She insisted most workers would not benefit from a minimum wage hike. Critics said the bill was intended to circumvent an effort in Oklahoma City, where signatures are being gathered to put an initiative on the city ballot raising the minimum wage to $10.10. That is the level to which President Barack Obama seeks to raise the federal minimum wage.   read more
  • IRS Gave Arizona Non-Profit Tax Exempt Status despite Record Campaign Money-Laundering Disclosure

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    An Arizona-based political organization funded almost entirely by the conservative Koch brothers—and that was fined for laundering political contributions—was awarded tax-exempt status by the IRS despite the agency knowing this. “Social welfare” groups are not eligible for tax exemption if they spend the majority of their money on politics. But Americans for Responsible Leadership, which had received 98% of its money from a Koch group, received that status from the IRS.   read more

Controversies

  • Buy Cheerios, Wheaties or any other General Mills Product and You Give up the Right to Sue over False Advertising, Mislabeling…or Anything Else

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    The company that sells Cheerios and other popular foods says consumers who purchase its products should be prohibited from suing it no matter how wrong its actions might be. General Mills, which produces Chex, Bisquick, Betty Crocker products and more, claims it can deny Americans their day in court if they buy any of its goods, download coupons, or “friend” it on Facebook. The food manufacturer claims it do this by simply amending its “legal terms” found on the General Mills website.   read more
  • Karl Rove’s Crossroads Non-Profit at the Heart of IRS Targeting and Election Commission Clashes

    Friday, April 18, 2014
    One of the most powerful Republican campaign groups in the country--Crossroads GPS, the conservative nonprofit helmed by consultant Karl Rove--is at the center of political battles involving the IRS and the FEC. Rove’s operation has sparked controversy at the FEC, whose Republican commissioners publicly attacked the Democrats’ leading member over a potential investigation of Crossroads, which Democrats contend is a partisan campaign machine.   read more
  • Tyson’s Control of Chicken Farmers Borders on Feudal

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Tyson farmers own their land, but not the chickens they raise for the corporation. The company also owns the feed, which is specially designed at a Tyson plant, that’s given to the birds. The cost of the feed is later deducted from any profits the farmer earns from Tyson. According to Leonard, Tyson has contracted out the job of raising chickens because it’s the riskiest part of the industry.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Contrary to Obama Claims, 88% of Deportees Committed Minor Infractions or No Crime at All

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Only 12% of deportations in 2013 committed a serious or “Level 1” offense (defined by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as someone convicted of an “aggravated felony,” or two or more felonies). About half of all deportees were charged with violating traffic or immigration laws. Those guilty of entering the country illegally comprised 22.7% of deportations. Such an offense is classified as a petty misdemeanor under the federal criminal code, TRAC noted.   read more
  • Blackwater Guards Finally to be Tried for Killing 14 Iraqi Civilians

    Sunday, April 13, 2014
    Following the incident, DSS officials forced the Blackwater specialists to provide written statements of the shootings in exchange for full immunity from criminal prosecution. That decision by the State Department derailed the U.S. Department of Justice’s first attempt to prosecute the guards once they returned to the U.S. A federal appeals court then reinstated the charges, saying the lower court had erred in dismissing the case.   read more
  • Afghan Children Die by the Dozens because of Explosives U.S. Left Behind at Firing Ranges

    Friday, April 11, 2014
    The open fields of Afghanistan have become lethal for many of that nation’s children due to scores of unexploded ordinance left by U.S. military forces. Dozens of Afghan children have died after wandering into abandoned U.S. firing ranges filled with undetonated artillery shells, rockets and grenades. The U.N. says at least 70 civilians—62 of whom were children—have died since 2012 in and around U.S. or NATO firing ranges or bases.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Dept. of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology: Who Is Reggie Brothers?

    Monday, April 14, 2014
    In 2007, Brothers returned to the private sector, joining defense contractor BAE Systems, working on advanced programs and technology. Brothers joined the Obama administration in 2011 as deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Research. In that role, he was responsible for policy and oversight of Department of Defense Science and Technology programs from basic research through advanced technology development.   read more
  • Energy Under Secretary for Science: Who Is Franklin Orr?

    Sunday, April 13, 2014
    In 2009, Orr helped found the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford. According to the institute’s website, its mission is to provide funding and associated support for cutting-edge energy research. In recent years, the focus of Orr’s research has been into carbon capture and storage, in which emissions from power plants and other pollution sources are injected into the earth.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs: Who Is Charles Rivkin?

    Saturday, April 12, 2014
    Rivkin is not the only member of his family to receive an appointment from Obama. His brother, Robert, was selected to be general counsel for the Department of Transportation, and Robert’s wife, Cindy S. Moelis, a close friend of Michelle Obama, was chosen to direct the Commission on White House Fellows. Rivkin’s mother, who died in 2002, and stepfather founded the American Refugee Committee, which helps relocate international refugees.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • State Justice Institute

    The State Justice Institute (SJI) is a nonprofit corporation that awards grants with the intent of improving the quality of justice in state courts, helping create better coordination between state and federal courts, and discovering fresh solu...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

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Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Turkey

    Turkey was once the home of the Ottoman Empire that stretched from the Persian Gulf to western Algeria. Lasting for 600 years, the Ottoman Empire was not only one of the most powerful empires in the history of the Mediterranean region, but it gene...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Garrick, B. John

    Dr. B. John Garrick was appointed to the National Waste Technical Review Board as chairman by President Bush on September 10, 2004. Born in Eureka, Utah,, Garrick received his B.S. in physics from Brigham Young University in 1952, attended the Oak...   more

Blog

  • 50 Years of Keeping a Daily Diary

    I would not have realized how much we unconsciously edit our memories if I did not have contemporaneous accounts of each day of my life for the last 50 years. Most of these alterations are minor and harmless. But there is one false memory that had...   more

PHOTO GALLERY

Anti-Drone Portrait Click the photo for larger view Anti-Drone Portrait