Portal

  • Like the Introduction of Cable TV, Social Media Cuts off People from Those with Opposing Ideas

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    tThe Internet is only helping polarize the United States even further, as Americans interact mostly with those who share their beliefs, much as television viewers tend to watch cable news channels that reinforce their principles. With Facebook, the researchers found that users were nearly twice as likely to join a discussion if their friends had the same viewpoints.   read more
  • Shipping of North Dakota Oil Puts a Hold on Grain Distribution

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    One of the state’s key railroads, Canadian Pacific, says it won’t be able to fulfill nearly 30,000 requests from farmers and others for space on rail cars during September. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), the state’s largest railroad, has a backlog of 1,336 rail cars loaded with grain and other products not going anywhere.   read more
  • Troubles in the Blood Industry

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Transfusions are down about 30% since 2009, going from 15 million units to 11 million. Blood banks’ revenue is falling as well, down about $1.5 billion a year from a peak of $5 billion. The Red Cross told Wald that up to 12,000 blood bank jobs may be eliminated over the next three to five years, representing about 25% of the industry total.   read more
  • States with Medical Marijuana have Lower Rate of Drug Overdoses

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Researchers using federal health statistics found a 25% annual reduction in drug overdose mortality rates in states that allow medical marijuana. They also discovered that the reductions tend to occur very shortly after adopting medical marijuana laws and strengthen over time.   read more
  • Latest in 3-D Printing: High-Quality Skeleton Keys

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Duplicate keys that open high-security locks can now be made by anyone, thanks to 3-D printers. And they can do so without even having the original key to work from, according to Wired’s Andy Greenberg. With just photographs of keyholes on hand, experts can create “bump” keys that can open “millions of locks with a carefully practiced rap on its head with a hammer,” Greenberg reports.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • American Academy of Pediatrics Suggests School Should Start Later

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    The American Academy of Pediatrics says in a new paper that middle schools and high schools should push back start times to 8:30 a.m. or later so students can get more rest. Opponents of later school start times cite their effect on after-school employment, athletics and other extracurricular activities.   read more
  • Chicago Cubs’ Attempt to Avoid Obamacare Leads Giants to Gain First Major League Baseball Protest Victory in 28 Years

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    The Ricketts family, whose net worth is more than $1 billion, owns the Cubs, the most profitable team in baseball. Not profitable enough for the Ricketts, apparently. The family doesn’t want to pay for healthcare for all its employees, so they cut the hours of stadium personnel, including grounds crew, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. On the day of the rainout, upper management had sent home 10 members of the grounds crew without consulting the on-field supervisors.   read more
  • After Serving in the Navy for 12 Years, Sailor Booted for Refusing to Cut her Hair

    Sunday, August 24, 2014
    A 12-year veteran has decided she’d rather leave the Navy than cut her hair or wear a wig as demanded by a new supervisor. Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jessica Sims was by all accounts an exemplary sailor. She had been an instructor at Navy medical schools for the last several years and had kept her hair in natural locks with a bun for most of that time, as did other African-American female sailors at her duty stations.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 156,000 Seniors Have Social Security Checks Reduced…to Pay Off Student Loans

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    At a time when thousands of Americans are trying to enjoy, if not just survive, their golden years, the federal government has been garnishing their Social Security checks to pay off old student loans. About 156,000 individuals have found themselves in this situation, losing on average $180 out of a typical monthly check of $1,200.   read more
  • 3 Federal Agencies that Don’t Provide Full Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Railroad Retirement Board are not providing full benefits to same-sex couples. The VA says Title 38 of the U.S. Code requires that benefits decisions be based on a person’s state of residence, and if that state forbids gay marriage, then the employee is out of luck.   read more
  • Which Companies Profit from the Use of Military Equipment by Police?

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    LRAD Corporation makes long-range acoustic devices that produce high-decibel noises that can chase away pirates on the high seas or disrupt protestors. Lenco builds and sells the Bearcat armored truck, which is a version of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle used in Afghanistan and Iraq to protect troops from mines and IEDs, none of which have ever been deployed in St. Louis County.   read more

Controversies

  • Federal Election Commission, with 3-3 Votes, Loosens Restrictions on Campaign Funding

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    The Federal Election Commission (FEC), in reaching yet another 3-3 deadlock due to the Democratic-Republican split among commissioners, has effectively told the Conservative Action Fund that it can receive Bitcoin donations. The most recent deadlock is considered a blow to efforts to improve transparency in elections, due to the untraceable nature of Bitcoins.   read more
  • Former TSA Scanners Still Used in Government Buildings Easily Tricked by University Researchers

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    Researchers tested the Rapiscan recently and found it was possible to carry firearms, explosives and other weapons through the scanners without detection, Greenberg wrote. These included “a disturbing list of other possible tricks, such as using Teflon tape to conceal weapons against someone’s spine, installing malware on the scanner’s console that spoofed scans, or simply molding plastic explosives around a person’s body."   read more
  • Obama Adjusts Health Care Rules to Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Ruling

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    The new rule allows such corporations the same out as previously given to non-profit organizations with similar objections. They file a form with the insurer or write a letter stating their objections to the Department of Health and Human Services, and the company’s insurance carrier is required to provide contraception coverage without cost to the employer.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • When Israelis Kill Gaza Civilians, They do so with Weapons Provided by U.S.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    When Israel launched the missile attack earlier this month that killed 10 civilians in a United Nations school, it used an American-made Hellfire missile. That wasn’t the only time that American weaponry has been used against Hamas and the Palestinians living in Gaza. A Mark 84 bomb made in the U.S. was found unexploded in the city of Deir al Balah, while 120mm artillery shells—stamped with “Made in USA”—have apparently landed in Rafah, based on shell casings found.   read more
  • Cell Phone Tracking Surveillance Systems Hit the Dictator Market

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    Several companies have developed systems that tap into cell providers’ databases and use that information to match a mobile phone signal to the tower it’s accessing. These systems are being marketed internationally, and spy agencies and others in just about any country can track a subject’s movements anywhere in the world.   read more
  • Saudi Arabia Remains on U.N. Human Rights Council despite 19 Beheadings, including One for “Sorcery”

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    One nation that does a lot of beheadings is on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Lately, in fact, Saudi Arabia can’t seem to get enough beheadings. Its government has executed at least 19 people using this method since August 4, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). Of the 19, eight were found guilty of non-violent offenses; seven for drug smuggling and one for committing sorcery. The Saudi government is scheduled to keep a spot on the Human Rights Council for two more years.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration: Who Is Therese McMillan?

    Sunday, August 24, 2014
    McMillan began a long career at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in the San Francisco Bay area. She started as an associate planner and was named a senior planner in 1988. In 1993, McMillan became manager of finance and was elevated to become manager for finance and external affairs in 1999. After concentration on managing funding, she was named deputy executive director for policy in 2001, a role she held until moving to Washington.   read more
  • Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology: Who Is Willie May?

    Sunday, August 24, 2014
    His positions at NIST have included chief of the Analytical Chemistry Division, director of the Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, associate director of laboratory programs and director of the Material Measurement Laboratory. May’s specialty is analytical chemistry research. He helped establish the pollution baseline for Prince William Sound before the opening of the Alaska Pipeline and has also worked on protocols for environmental sample collection for trace organic analysis.   read more
  • Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board: Who Is Christopher Hart?

    Saturday, August 23, 2014
    Hart returned to the NTSB as a member in 2009 and was named the board’s vice chairman the same year and has served there since. He has represented the board on investigations including the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, a casino bus crash, and recently was the face of the NTSB during the investigation into the 2013 Asiana airliner crash in San Francisco and several oil tank car accidents.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

    ACHP is an independent agency that works with federal, state, local, and tribal governments to address the requirements in Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), which mandates their consideration of historic preservation va...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Serbia

    Following a decade of animosity stemming from Serbia’s military actions during the Bosnia war and its subsequent attacks against Kosovo, relations between Serbia and the United States are beginning to improve., In the early 1990s, as the former...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Petraeus, David

    Once upon a time, the way the United States worked was that the CIA spied and gathered intelligence and the military fought wars. This division of responsibilities now appears to be old-fashioned, as demonstrated by President Barack Obama’s res...   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
  • Like the Introduction of Cable TV, Social Media Cuts off People from Those with Opposing Ideas

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    tThe Internet is only helping polarize the United States even further, as Americans interact mostly with those who share their beliefs, much as television viewers tend to watch cable news channels that reinforce their principles. With Facebook, the researchers found that users were nearly twice as likely to join a discussion if their friends had the same viewpoints.   read more
  • Shipping of North Dakota Oil Puts a Hold on Grain Distribution

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    One of the state’s key railroads, Canadian Pacific, says it won’t be able to fulfill nearly 30,000 requests from farmers and others for space on rail cars during September. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), the state’s largest railroad, has a backlog of 1,336 rail cars loaded with grain and other products not going anywhere.   read more
  • Troubles in the Blood Industry

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Transfusions are down about 30% since 2009, going from 15 million units to 11 million. Blood banks’ revenue is falling as well, down about $1.5 billion a year from a peak of $5 billion. The Red Cross told Wald that up to 12,000 blood bank jobs may be eliminated over the next three to five years, representing about 25% of the industry total.   read more
  • States with Medical Marijuana have Lower Rate of Drug Overdoses

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Researchers using federal health statistics found a 25% annual reduction in drug overdose mortality rates in states that allow medical marijuana. They also discovered that the reductions tend to occur very shortly after adopting medical marijuana laws and strengthen over time.   read more
  • Latest in 3-D Printing: High-Quality Skeleton Keys

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Duplicate keys that open high-security locks can now be made by anyone, thanks to 3-D printers. And they can do so without even having the original key to work from, according to Wired’s Andy Greenberg. With just photographs of keyholes on hand, experts can create “bump” keys that can open “millions of locks with a carefully practiced rap on its head with a hammer,” Greenberg reports.   read more

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • American Academy of Pediatrics Suggests School Should Start Later

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    The American Academy of Pediatrics says in a new paper that middle schools and high schools should push back start times to 8:30 a.m. or later so students can get more rest. Opponents of later school start times cite their effect on after-school employment, athletics and other extracurricular activities.   read more
  • Chicago Cubs’ Attempt to Avoid Obamacare Leads Giants to Gain First Major League Baseball Protest Victory in 28 Years

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    The Ricketts family, whose net worth is more than $1 billion, owns the Cubs, the most profitable team in baseball. Not profitable enough for the Ricketts, apparently. The family doesn’t want to pay for healthcare for all its employees, so they cut the hours of stadium personnel, including grounds crew, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. On the day of the rainout, upper management had sent home 10 members of the grounds crew without consulting the on-field supervisors.   read more
  • After Serving in the Navy for 12 Years, Sailor Booted for Refusing to Cut her Hair

    Sunday, August 24, 2014
    A 12-year veteran has decided she’d rather leave the Navy than cut her hair or wear a wig as demanded by a new supervisor. Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jessica Sims was by all accounts an exemplary sailor. She had been an instructor at Navy medical schools for the last several years and had kept her hair in natural locks with a bun for most of that time, as did other African-American female sailors at her duty stations.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 156,000 Seniors Have Social Security Checks Reduced…to Pay Off Student Loans

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    At a time when thousands of Americans are trying to enjoy, if not just survive, their golden years, the federal government has been garnishing their Social Security checks to pay off old student loans. About 156,000 individuals have found themselves in this situation, losing on average $180 out of a typical monthly check of $1,200.   read more
  • 3 Federal Agencies that Don’t Provide Full Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Railroad Retirement Board are not providing full benefits to same-sex couples. The VA says Title 38 of the U.S. Code requires that benefits decisions be based on a person’s state of residence, and if that state forbids gay marriage, then the employee is out of luck.   read more
  • Which Companies Profit from the Use of Military Equipment by Police?

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    LRAD Corporation makes long-range acoustic devices that produce high-decibel noises that can chase away pirates on the high seas or disrupt protestors. Lenco builds and sells the Bearcat armored truck, which is a version of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle used in Afghanistan and Iraq to protect troops from mines and IEDs, none of which have ever been deployed in St. Louis County.   read more

Controversies

  • Federal Election Commission, with 3-3 Votes, Loosens Restrictions on Campaign Funding

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    The Federal Election Commission (FEC), in reaching yet another 3-3 deadlock due to the Democratic-Republican split among commissioners, has effectively told the Conservative Action Fund that it can receive Bitcoin donations. The most recent deadlock is considered a blow to efforts to improve transparency in elections, due to the untraceable nature of Bitcoins.   read more
  • Former TSA Scanners Still Used in Government Buildings Easily Tricked by University Researchers

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    Researchers tested the Rapiscan recently and found it was possible to carry firearms, explosives and other weapons through the scanners without detection, Greenberg wrote. These included “a disturbing list of other possible tricks, such as using Teflon tape to conceal weapons against someone’s spine, installing malware on the scanner’s console that spoofed scans, or simply molding plastic explosives around a person’s body."   read more
  • Obama Adjusts Health Care Rules to Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Ruling

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    The new rule allows such corporations the same out as previously given to non-profit organizations with similar objections. They file a form with the insurer or write a letter stating their objections to the Department of Health and Human Services, and the company’s insurance carrier is required to provide contraception coverage without cost to the employer.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • When Israelis Kill Gaza Civilians, They do so with Weapons Provided by U.S.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    When Israel launched the missile attack earlier this month that killed 10 civilians in a United Nations school, it used an American-made Hellfire missile. That wasn’t the only time that American weaponry has been used against Hamas and the Palestinians living in Gaza. A Mark 84 bomb made in the U.S. was found unexploded in the city of Deir al Balah, while 120mm artillery shells—stamped with “Made in USA”—have apparently landed in Rafah, based on shell casings found.   read more
  • Cell Phone Tracking Surveillance Systems Hit the Dictator Market

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    Several companies have developed systems that tap into cell providers’ databases and use that information to match a mobile phone signal to the tower it’s accessing. These systems are being marketed internationally, and spy agencies and others in just about any country can track a subject’s movements anywhere in the world.   read more
  • Saudi Arabia Remains on U.N. Human Rights Council despite 19 Beheadings, including One for “Sorcery”

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    One nation that does a lot of beheadings is on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Lately, in fact, Saudi Arabia can’t seem to get enough beheadings. Its government has executed at least 19 people using this method since August 4, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). Of the 19, eight were found guilty of non-violent offenses; seven for drug smuggling and one for committing sorcery. The Saudi government is scheduled to keep a spot on the Human Rights Council for two more years.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration: Who Is Therese McMillan?

    Sunday, August 24, 2014
    McMillan began a long career at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in the San Francisco Bay area. She started as an associate planner and was named a senior planner in 1988. In 1993, McMillan became manager of finance and was elevated to become manager for finance and external affairs in 1999. After concentration on managing funding, she was named deputy executive director for policy in 2001, a role she held until moving to Washington.   read more
  • Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology: Who Is Willie May?

    Sunday, August 24, 2014
    His positions at NIST have included chief of the Analytical Chemistry Division, director of the Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, associate director of laboratory programs and director of the Material Measurement Laboratory. May’s specialty is analytical chemistry research. He helped establish the pollution baseline for Prince William Sound before the opening of the Alaska Pipeline and has also worked on protocols for environmental sample collection for trace organic analysis.   read more
  • Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board: Who Is Christopher Hart?

    Saturday, August 23, 2014
    Hart returned to the NTSB as a member in 2009 and was named the board’s vice chairman the same year and has served there since. He has represented the board on investigations including the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, a casino bus crash, and recently was the face of the NTSB during the investigation into the 2013 Asiana airliner crash in San Francisco and several oil tank car accidents.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is one of eight specialized divisions within the Department of Labor, and a direct descendent of the original Bureau of Labor, Department of the Interior, established in 1884. (Today’s Department of Labor was e...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Jamaica

    Jamaica occupies a mountainous island in the Caribbean that has become a popular destination for tourists all over the world. Originally settled by the Arawak people of South America, the island nation was subsequently colonized by Christopher ...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Gray, Gordon

    President Barack Obama nominated an experienced diplomat to be the US ambassador to Tunisia. Gordon Gray III, who was confirmed by the Senate on July 10, 2009, has almost 30 years experience in the Foreign Service, most of it in positions dealing ...   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