Portal

  • Justice Department to Ban Religious, Ethnic and Sexual Profiling by Federal Law Enforcement

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    Attorney General Eric Holder may have announced his resignation, but that doesn’t mean he’s mailing in his final days on the job. On the contrary, the Department of Justice is now preparing a major policy change that will forbid federal law enforcement from profiling based on religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The new guidelines will not contain an exemption for terrorism despite pressure from national security officials and others in the Obama administration for one.   read more
  • Big Tobacco’s Dire Health Warnings on E-Cigarette Packs Seen as Cynical Marketing Strategy

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    Big Tobacco discouraging Americans from buying its unhealthy products? Stanford professor Dr. Robert K. Jackler said he “nearly fell off my chair” when he saw the warnings on the e-cigarette packs. “Is this part of a noble effort for the betterment of public health, or a cynical business strategy? I suspect the latter.” The strategy might be intended to "curry favor with consumers” in order to “earn a kind of legitimacy [they've] sought for decades."   read more
  • Will Billing Rape Victims Thousands of Dollars for Medical Exams in Louisiana Finally Come to an End?

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    Victims are often billed $1,700 to $4,000 for evidence collection, HIV tests and ER fees. Interim LSU Hospital formerly did not charge victims. However, after the hospital control was transferred to private interests at the behest of Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), victims began to be billed. Some state lawmakers and health officials are now calling for a new law to change this longstanding policy. “Talk about being traumatized twice,” said state Democratic Representative Helena Moreno.   read more
  • Judicial Appointees of Obama and Clinton to Weigh in on Restrictive North Carolina Voting Law

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    The North Carolina bill is part of a pattern by Republican-led governors and state legislatures to change the voting rules in a way that results in making it more difficult for poor and minority citizens to vote. Some of the changes are made in the name of voter fraud prevention, but no one can point to any significant instances of such misconduct. During oral arguments, Judge James Wynn, an Obama appointee, asked, "Why does the state of North Carolina not want people to vote?"   read more
  • Amazon under Increasing Fire from Authors over Alleged Monopolistic E-Book Tactics

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    The group of 300 writers isn’t just pressuring Amazon’s board. It’s also pushing the Department of Justice to investigate it for alleged monopoly tactics. “We’re talking about...deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, ‘disappearing’ an author,” said Ursula K. Le Guin. “Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy."   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

Bus Stop in Baltimore Click the photo for larger view Bus Stop in Baltimore

Top Stories

  • Phone Routing Firm Recruits Ex-Homeland Chief to Sound Alarm on U.S. Security in Bid to Hold Onto Federal Contract

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Every day, hundreds of millions of phone calls and texts are routed throughout North America by an obscure federal office operated by a private telecommunications company. This operation has gone largely unnoticed but a potential change in contractor has set off a debate in Washington. Michael Chertoff, a former Secretary of Homeland Security, has been brought in as a hired gun by Neustar to lobby for it to keep the job as “air traffic controller for the nation’s phone system.”   read more
  • Hollywood Companies Win FAA Approval for First Commercial Use of Drones in U.S.

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    Six companies have won permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use drones in the filming of movies in the United States. It’s the first time drones have been approved for use outside wilderness areas in Alaska.The Motion Picture Association of American led the lobbying effort.   read more
  • Most Americans Clueless about Gap between CEO Pay and Employee Pay

    Sunday, September 28, 2014
    People around the world were surveyed on what they thought the gap between worker and CEO pay was, and what they thought the gap should be. Americans responded in 2012 that they thought bosses made 30 times what the average worker made, and that the ratio should ideally be 7 to 1. The actual ratio of CEO to worker pay was 354 to 1. Those of other nationalities had similar gaps between their ideal ratio and the ratio they thought existed.   read more

Unusual News

  • Looking for Revenue, Postal Service Proposes Delivering Groceries in the Early Morning

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivers mail despite snow, rain, heat and gloom of night. Soon we’ll see if the same goes for a can of green beans. In a bid to bring in revenue to help it trim red ink, the USPS has been running a test, delivering groceries to homes in the early morning. So far the project has been attempted only in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it has averaged 160 food deliveries a day between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. in conjunction with Amazon.com.   read more
  • VA Records Show Veteran Rescheduled Appointment after he Died

    Friday, September 26, 2014
    Either the Department of Veterans Affairs has again demonstrated some shady record keeping or it has a zombie problem on its hands. According to VA records, former Marine Jordan Buisman rescheduled his medical appointment four days after he died. He died of seizure disorder, the condition for which he sought treatment 24 days before the appointment. “I’m extremely troubled to hear reports that [VA] records may have been doctored. This is an unacceptable tragedy,” said Senator Al Franken.   read more
  • One Cop in Charge of 461 Sex Offenders

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    Officer Chris Poncia has 461 people in his case file, all the sex offenders in Providence. His beat includes 175 Level 2 and 3 offenders, who are classified this way because they’re considered likely to commit sex crimes again. Poncia is unique among his peers in Rhode Island, which has about 1,600 sex offenders. He is the only cop in the state who does nothing but patrol the sex offender beat.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Navajos Gain Largest Native American Settlement with U.S. Government over Mismanagement of Natural Resources

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Before this year is up, the Navajo Nation will receive more than half a billion dollars from the federal government to settle the government’s historical mismanagement of tribal resources. The $554 million wraps up an eight-year-old lawsuit that Navajo leaders filed claiming the federal government spent decades, going back to 1946, managing leases to oil, gas, timber and other natural resource companies without getting a fair return for the tribe.   read more
  • CDC Funds Group that Helps Hollywood Present Health and Health Insurance Issues Accurately

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014
    When television writers or screenwriters need some expert advice for a medical storyline, they turn to Hollywood, Health, and Society, a private group of experts funded by the federal government’s leading health research agency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides up to half a million dollars a year to Hollywood, Health, and Society, which has been advising the entertainment industry for 13 years.   read more
  • California Pensions to Dump $4 Billion Hedge Fund Investments; Rockefeller Charity Drops Oil

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has decided to divest its investment portfolio of all hedge funds, a total of 24 plus six “funds of funds.” The total comes out to about $4 billion out of CalPERS’ total assets of $300 billion. The amount may not be that significant compared to the overall investing CalPERS does, but the pension fund’s sheer size makes any decision noticeable among investors.   read more

Controversies

  • Virginia Files Billion-Dollar Mortgage Fraud Lawsuit against Major Banks

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    “The message today is clear. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small-time con artist or a multi-billion dollar Wall Street bank. If you try to rip off or defraud Virginia consumers or Virginia taxpayers, you will be caught and you will be held responsible,” said state Attorney General Mark Herring. “Every Virginian was harmed by the financial crisis. Homes were lost, retirement accounts were devastated, small businesses saw their credit dry up almost overnight."   read more
  • Secret Service, in 2011, Was Unaware of Shots Fired at White House until Housekeeper Found Clues 4 Days Later

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    On the night of the shooting, supervisors immediately concluded there was no threat, even though agents on guard heard the shots and prepared to respond. They were told to “stand down” after their superiors wrongly assumed that a car had backfired near the White House. Then, Secret Service supervisors concluded there had been gunfire, but that it was the result of local gangs shooting at one another — “an unlikely scenario in a relatively quiet, touristy part of the nation’s capital."   read more
  • No Counsel, Convictions or Trials for Longtime Mississippi Jail Inmates

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    At least one Mississippi jurisdiction, Scott County, routinely keeps prisoners for months and sometimes more than a year at time without indicting them or providing legal counsel. That’s why the American Civil Liberties Union and the MacArthur Justice Center are suing the county alleging inmates’ constitutional rights are being violated by being “indefinitely detained” and “indefinitely denied counsel.”   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda: Who Is Erica Barks-Ruggles?

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    In 2005, Barks-Ruggles was named deputy assistant Secretary of state for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. While in that post, she focused on Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel and Palestinian affairs, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. In 2008, Barks-Ruggles was asked by her superiors to tone down a report on human rights in North Korea, removing words such as “repressive” and “regime.”   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia: Who Is Brent Hartley?

    Sunday, September 28, 2014
    In 2010 he was made director for European Security and Political Affairs and in 2012 Hartley was named deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs with responsibility for Nordic, Baltic and Central European countries. Some of his duties there have entailed testifying to Congress on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Hungarian anti-Semitism and anti-Romani trends.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau: Who Is James P. Zumwalt?

    Sunday, September 28, 2014
    Zumwalt went back to Tokyo in 2008 as deputy chief of mission, serving as chargé d’affaires for a time during 2009. While there, he wrote a blog for the embassy website focusing on Japanese culture and other issues. In 2012, Zumwalt was back in Washington as deputy assistant secretary of state for Japan and Korea, a post he held until his nomination to be ambassador.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Minority Business Development Agency

    Located within the Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the “only federal agency created specifically to foster the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in America.” Through management, techni...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Cameroon

    Since gaining independence in 1960, Cameroon has been ruled by just two men. Ahmadou Ahidjo used emergency powers lasting 20 years to maintain his dictatorial rule, before giving way to Paul Biya, who has led Cameroon since 1982. Biya’s dominan...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Skibine, George

    A member of the Osage nation of Oklahoma, George T. Skibine practiced law before joing the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1995, he took over as the director of the Office of Indian Gaming Management, a position he has held ever since. In 2004, he wa...   more

Blog

  • My Sister Died of an Overdose of Prescription Painkillers

    After four years of being President Barack Obama’s “drug czar,” Gil Kerlikowske suddenly discovered the prescription drug death crisis. By this time, prescription drug overdoses had become the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., surpass...   more
  • Justice Department to Ban Religious, Ethnic and Sexual Profiling by Federal Law Enforcement

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    Attorney General Eric Holder may have announced his resignation, but that doesn’t mean he’s mailing in his final days on the job. On the contrary, the Department of Justice is now preparing a major policy change that will forbid federal law enforcement from profiling based on religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The new guidelines will not contain an exemption for terrorism despite pressure from national security officials and others in the Obama administration for one.   read more
  • Big Tobacco’s Dire Health Warnings on E-Cigarette Packs Seen as Cynical Marketing Strategy

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    Big Tobacco discouraging Americans from buying its unhealthy products? Stanford professor Dr. Robert K. Jackler said he “nearly fell off my chair” when he saw the warnings on the e-cigarette packs. “Is this part of a noble effort for the betterment of public health, or a cynical business strategy? I suspect the latter.” The strategy might be intended to "curry favor with consumers” in order to “earn a kind of legitimacy [they've] sought for decades."   read more
  • Will Billing Rape Victims Thousands of Dollars for Medical Exams in Louisiana Finally Come to an End?

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    Victims are often billed $1,700 to $4,000 for evidence collection, HIV tests and ER fees. Interim LSU Hospital formerly did not charge victims. However, after the hospital control was transferred to private interests at the behest of Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), victims began to be billed. Some state lawmakers and health officials are now calling for a new law to change this longstanding policy. “Talk about being traumatized twice,” said state Democratic Representative Helena Moreno.   read more
  • Judicial Appointees of Obama and Clinton to Weigh in on Restrictive North Carolina Voting Law

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    The North Carolina bill is part of a pattern by Republican-led governors and state legislatures to change the voting rules in a way that results in making it more difficult for poor and minority citizens to vote. Some of the changes are made in the name of voter fraud prevention, but no one can point to any significant instances of such misconduct. During oral arguments, Judge James Wynn, an Obama appointee, asked, "Why does the state of North Carolina not want people to vote?"   read more
  • Amazon under Increasing Fire from Authors over Alleged Monopolistic E-Book Tactics

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014
    The group of 300 writers isn’t just pressuring Amazon’s board. It’s also pushing the Department of Justice to investigate it for alleged monopoly tactics. “We’re talking about...deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, ‘disappearing’ an author,” said Ursula K. Le Guin. “Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy."   read more

Top Stories

  • Phone Routing Firm Recruits Ex-Homeland Chief to Sound Alarm on U.S. Security in Bid to Hold Onto Federal Contract

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Every day, hundreds of millions of phone calls and texts are routed throughout North America by an obscure federal office operated by a private telecommunications company. This operation has gone largely unnoticed but a potential change in contractor has set off a debate in Washington. Michael Chertoff, a former Secretary of Homeland Security, has been brought in as a hired gun by Neustar to lobby for it to keep the job as “air traffic controller for the nation’s phone system.”   read more
  • Hollywood Companies Win FAA Approval for First Commercial Use of Drones in U.S.

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    Six companies have won permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use drones in the filming of movies in the United States. It’s the first time drones have been approved for use outside wilderness areas in Alaska.The Motion Picture Association of American led the lobbying effort.   read more
  • Most Americans Clueless about Gap between CEO Pay and Employee Pay

    Sunday, September 28, 2014
    People around the world were surveyed on what they thought the gap between worker and CEO pay was, and what they thought the gap should be. Americans responded in 2012 that they thought bosses made 30 times what the average worker made, and that the ratio should ideally be 7 to 1. The actual ratio of CEO to worker pay was 354 to 1. Those of other nationalities had similar gaps between their ideal ratio and the ratio they thought existed.   read more

Unusual News

  • Looking for Revenue, Postal Service Proposes Delivering Groceries in the Early Morning

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivers mail despite snow, rain, heat and gloom of night. Soon we’ll see if the same goes for a can of green beans. In a bid to bring in revenue to help it trim red ink, the USPS has been running a test, delivering groceries to homes in the early morning. So far the project has been attempted only in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it has averaged 160 food deliveries a day between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. in conjunction with Amazon.com.   read more
  • VA Records Show Veteran Rescheduled Appointment after he Died

    Friday, September 26, 2014
    Either the Department of Veterans Affairs has again demonstrated some shady record keeping or it has a zombie problem on its hands. According to VA records, former Marine Jordan Buisman rescheduled his medical appointment four days after he died. He died of seizure disorder, the condition for which he sought treatment 24 days before the appointment. “I’m extremely troubled to hear reports that [VA] records may have been doctored. This is an unacceptable tragedy,” said Senator Al Franken.   read more
  • One Cop in Charge of 461 Sex Offenders

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    Officer Chris Poncia has 461 people in his case file, all the sex offenders in Providence. His beat includes 175 Level 2 and 3 offenders, who are classified this way because they’re considered likely to commit sex crimes again. Poncia is unique among his peers in Rhode Island, which has about 1,600 sex offenders. He is the only cop in the state who does nothing but patrol the sex offender beat.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Navajos Gain Largest Native American Settlement with U.S. Government over Mismanagement of Natural Resources

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    Before this year is up, the Navajo Nation will receive more than half a billion dollars from the federal government to settle the government’s historical mismanagement of tribal resources. The $554 million wraps up an eight-year-old lawsuit that Navajo leaders filed claiming the federal government spent decades, going back to 1946, managing leases to oil, gas, timber and other natural resource companies without getting a fair return for the tribe.   read more
  • CDC Funds Group that Helps Hollywood Present Health and Health Insurance Issues Accurately

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014
    When television writers or screenwriters need some expert advice for a medical storyline, they turn to Hollywood, Health, and Society, a private group of experts funded by the federal government’s leading health research agency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides up to half a million dollars a year to Hollywood, Health, and Society, which has been advising the entertainment industry for 13 years.   read more
  • California Pensions to Dump $4 Billion Hedge Fund Investments; Rockefeller Charity Drops Oil

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has decided to divest its investment portfolio of all hedge funds, a total of 24 plus six “funds of funds.” The total comes out to about $4 billion out of CalPERS’ total assets of $300 billion. The amount may not be that significant compared to the overall investing CalPERS does, but the pension fund’s sheer size makes any decision noticeable among investors.   read more

Controversies

  • Virginia Files Billion-Dollar Mortgage Fraud Lawsuit against Major Banks

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    “The message today is clear. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small-time con artist or a multi-billion dollar Wall Street bank. If you try to rip off or defraud Virginia consumers or Virginia taxpayers, you will be caught and you will be held responsible,” said state Attorney General Mark Herring. “Every Virginian was harmed by the financial crisis. Homes were lost, retirement accounts were devastated, small businesses saw their credit dry up almost overnight."   read more
  • Secret Service, in 2011, Was Unaware of Shots Fired at White House until Housekeeper Found Clues 4 Days Later

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    On the night of the shooting, supervisors immediately concluded there was no threat, even though agents on guard heard the shots and prepared to respond. They were told to “stand down” after their superiors wrongly assumed that a car had backfired near the White House. Then, Secret Service supervisors concluded there had been gunfire, but that it was the result of local gangs shooting at one another — “an unlikely scenario in a relatively quiet, touristy part of the nation’s capital."   read more
  • No Counsel, Convictions or Trials for Longtime Mississippi Jail Inmates

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    At least one Mississippi jurisdiction, Scott County, routinely keeps prisoners for months and sometimes more than a year at time without indicting them or providing legal counsel. That’s why the American Civil Liberties Union and the MacArthur Justice Center are suing the county alleging inmates’ constitutional rights are being violated by being “indefinitely detained” and “indefinitely denied counsel.”   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda: Who Is Erica Barks-Ruggles?

    Monday, September 29, 2014
    In 2005, Barks-Ruggles was named deputy assistant Secretary of state for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. While in that post, she focused on Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel and Palestinian affairs, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. In 2008, Barks-Ruggles was asked by her superiors to tone down a report on human rights in North Korea, removing words such as “repressive” and “regime.”   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia: Who Is Brent Hartley?

    Sunday, September 28, 2014
    In 2010 he was made director for European Security and Political Affairs and in 2012 Hartley was named deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs with responsibility for Nordic, Baltic and Central European countries. Some of his duties there have entailed testifying to Congress on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Hungarian anti-Semitism and anti-Romani trends.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau: Who Is James P. Zumwalt?

    Sunday, September 28, 2014
    Zumwalt went back to Tokyo in 2008 as deputy chief of mission, serving as chargé d’affaires for a time during 2009. While there, he wrote a blog for the embassy website focusing on Japanese culture and other issues. In 2012, Zumwalt was back in Washington as deputy assistant secretary of state for Japan and Korea, a post he held until his nomination to be ambassador.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

    The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a non-profit, federal corporation under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor. In 2007, the government agency protected retirement incomes of 44 million American workers in 30,330 private-se...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Panama

      The United States’ long history of intervening in the internal affairs of Central American countries, for the sake of US interests, is darkly exemplified in Panama. No other nation in the region owes its independence to the US quite like Panama...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Keith, James

    James R. Keith was born in Virginia and earned a B.A. degree in English from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. While growing up, he lived in Tokyo, Jakarta, Hong Kong, and Taipei. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1980...   more

Blog

  • My Sister Died of an Overdose of Prescription Painkillers

    After four years of being President Barack Obama’s “drug czar,” Gil Kerlikowske suddenly discovered the prescription drug death crisis. By this time, prescription drug overdoses had become the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., surpass...   more

PHOTO GALLERY

Bus Stop in Baltimore Click the photo for larger view Bus Stop in Baltimore