Portal

  • FBI’s Secret Recording of Conversations on Courthouse Steps Not Illegal, Rules Federal Judge

    Thursday, July 28, 2016
    The FBI placed recording devices in a light fixture along the steps of both courthouses. The government then used the recordings during grand jury proceedings. Judge Phyllis Hamilton acknowledged the practice of placing recording devices on the courthouse steps to capture the conversations in a federal criminal fraud case was "unsettling," but said the four did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they engaged in discussions about the alleged fraud next to the FBI's microphones.   read more
  • DNC Tried to Leverage White House Ties to Reward Donors with Federal Board Appointments

    Thursday, July 28, 2016
    “Being a donor does not get you a role in this administration,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz, “nor does it preclude you from getting one." The practice of rewarding big donors with federal positions dates back to the times of the founding fathers. FEC's Bob Biersack said that “Big donors have always risen to the top of lists for appointment to plum ambassadorships and other boards and commissions around the federal landscape." Most of the people on the list gave huge sums to the DNC.   read more
  • Support Grows Among Americans for Tougher Gun Laws

    Thursday, July 28, 2016
    Nearly two-thirds of respondents expressed support for stricter laws, with majorities favoring nationwide bans on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons such as the AR-15 and on the sale of high-capacity magazines holding 10 or more bullets. By a 55% to 43% margin, respondents said laws that limit gun ownership do not infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms. But responses also revealed a partisan divide: 87% of Democrats support stricter gun laws compared with 41% of Republicans.   read more
  • U.S. Says It Plans to Expand Central American Refugee Admission Program

    Thursday, July 28, 2016
    The White House has reached an agreement with Costa Rica to serve as a temporary host site for the most vulnerable migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras while they wait to be processed as refugees. The U.N. high commissioner for refugees has agreed to set up an unusual process for reviewing requests for people in their home countries to qualify as refugees and send them to Costa Rica if they are facing immediate danger.   read more
  • Longtime Vietnam War Protesters Exhort Pentagon to Detail War’s Hard Truths on Website

    Thursday, July 28, 2016
    Some scholars liken the website's timeline to a work of propaganda. “It’s not a lie, but it’s disingenuous,” said professor Young. “It does not come to grips with the full reality of the war, the extent to which it was an illegal war and the extent to which the public was lied to about the war.” One of her qualms is that entries for the My Lai massacre and publication of the Pentagon Papers fail to mention attempts by military and political leaders to obscure information about the events.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Americans Wary of Future Science Designed to “Enhance” Human Species

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    A new survey shows a real discomfort with the idea of meddling with human abilities. Pew asked about three techniques that might emerge in the future: using gene editing to protect babies from disease, implanting chips in the brain to improve people’s ability to think, and transfusing synthetic blood that would enhance performance by increasing speed, strength and endurance. The public was unenthusiastic on all counts, even about protecting babies from disease.   read more
  • FCC Puts U.S. Cell Phone Routing System in Hands of European Firm despite Security Warnings

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    Intelligence officials have expressed concern that handing the contract to a foreign-owned company could leave the system more vulnerable to an attack. Evidence emerged several months ago that Telcordia had improperly used a number of foreign nationals, including a Chinese citizen, to do computer coding for early work on the system. Only “vetted U.S. citizens” were supposed to work on the project. As a result, the FCC forced the firm to scrap the work it had done and start over.   read more
  • Payday Loan Regulation May Leave Some in the Lurch

    Monday, July 25, 2016
    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is poised to adopt strict new national rules that will curtail payday lending. These will limit the number of loans that can be taken in quick succession and will force companies to check that their borrowers have the means to repay them. But lenders — and even some consumer advocates who favor stronger regulation — are grappling with the uncomfortable question of what will happen to customers if a financial lifeline that they rely on is cut off.   read more

Unusual News

  • Republican and Democratic Lawmakers Speak in Different Languages

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    Perhaps what the researchers found is evidence of a technological advance in political communication, of both parties exerting more partisan discipline in keeping all their members using the same language. But even if it’s just communications strategy that’s driving the polarization of language, it still matters. In a world of complex challenges, it’s hard to come up with constructive solutions when the decision-makers can’t even agree on what words to use in talking about them.   read more
  • Government Scientists Want Volunteers to Submit Genetic, Lifestyle Information

    Monday, July 25, 2016
    Government scientists are seeking 1 million volunteers willing to share the innermost secrets of their genes and daily lives as part of an ambitious 10-year research project to understand the causes and cures of disease. Those selected will be asked to provide a detailed medical history and blood samples so researchers can extract DNA. They will also be asked to report information about themselves — including their age, race, income, education, sexual orientation and gender identity.   read more
  • Woodstock Producers Say Republicans Stole Their Logo for Convention

    Sunday, July 24, 2016
    The presenters of the iconic Woodstock Music Festival, noticing a similarity between its original logo and the one plastered around Cleveland for the RNC, are calling on the Republican Party to adopt changes to its platform that come in line with the festival’s message.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Obama Vetoes Bill Limiting Ex-Presidents’ Allowance

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    Obama said he supports the bill's goal, but he sent the measure back to Congress because it would immediately end salaries and benefits to staffers carrying out the official duties of former presidents. He says the measure doesn't provide enough time for these employees to be moved to another payroll. Obama says the bill would also interfere with the Secret Service's ability to protect ex-presidents.   read more
  • Customs to Pay Nearly Half-Million Dollars in Body Cavity Search Settlement

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has agreed to pay a woman $475,000 to settle claims that she was subjected to a “humiliating and demeaning” illegal body cavity search at an El Paso border crossing. The unidentified woman sued several border patrol officers, the University Medical Center of El Paso and the El Paso County Hospital District in Federal Court in December 2013.   read more
  • Taxpayers Subsidize Junk Food

    Wednesday, July 20, 2016
    While government recommends people fill their plates with fruits and veggies to help prevent obesity, only a fraction of its subsidies support the production of fresh produce. The vast majority of subsidies go instead to commodity crops that are processed into many of the foods that are linked to the obesity crisis. “The subsidies damage our country’s health and increase the medical costs that will ultimately need to be paid to treat the effects of the obesity epidemic,” said a USPIRG report.   read more

Controversies

  • Arkansas Secrecy Law Hinders Pfizer Effort to Curtail Use of Its Drug for State Executions

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    The sale of the vecuronium bromide by an unknown third party may show how difficult it could be for manufacturers to prevent such sales in states such as Arkansas that have execution secrecy laws. Reprieve's Maya Foa defended Pfizer and Hospira, saying no pharmaceutical company wants its drugs used in executions. In a bid to resume executions, the Republican-led Legislature passed the execution secrecy law last year. It requires the state to keep the details about its execution drugs secret.   read more
  • Labor Dept. Orders $1 Million Back Pay for Underpaid U.S. Senate Cafeteria Workers

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    "Workers in the restaurant industry are among the lowest-paid workers in our economy," said David Weil. "They shouldn't have to deal with paychecks that don't accurately reflect their hard work." Said Sen. Harry Reid: "The actions taken by Restaurant Associates are despicable and their contract should be terminated. The Senate must refuse to do business with any unscrupulous vendors who flout the law and put profits above the rights and economic security of their employees."   read more
  • As Nominee, Trump Employs Code Words to Fuel Racial Animosity, Say Observers

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    "In all these cumulative ways, you start to get the strong sense that when he says 'we and us,' he's only talking about whites in the U.S.," said Sandoval. Some point out that Trump's slogan "America First" was also the slogan of the America First Committee, an isolationist, anti-Semitic group whose goal was to keep the U.S. from joining Britain in the fight against Nazi Germany. They opposed the acceptance of shiploads of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Guantánamo Judge Accused of Secretly Allowing Destruction of CIA “Black Site” Prison Evidence

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    Allegations of evidence destruction have swirled around the case since May. The defense team believes the government removed some fixtures from a room in the CIA prison used for torture, but did not entirely destroy the structure. The prosecution has offered photographs and diagrams as a substitute for the top secret evidence, the report said, noting that prosecutors have apparently not revealed the identity of the nation housing the prison to preserve foreign relations.   read more
  • Guantánamo Defense Attorney Wants Tribunal Site Tested for Toxic Chemicals

    Sunday, July 24, 2016
    A 9/11 defender told a military judge Thursday he can find no other example that mirrors the Guantánamo war court — an abandoned airfield tainted by fuel spills and toxic chemicals transformed into a court. “This is weird,” Air Force Capt. Michael Schwartz, the senior defense attorney for suspected 9/11 plotter Walid bin Attash, said of his request for the court to fund a toxicology expert to determine if the court is safe to work in.   read more
  • U.S. Military Urges Release of Guantánamo Detainee Who Wrote Bestselling Book Detailing Abuse

    Thursday, July 21, 2016
    Slahi was subjected to interrogation approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Slahi wrote of extensive sleep deprivation, beatings, dousings with ice water, and of being shackled in a freezing cell. He denied involvement with terrorism and was never charged with a crime. He was accused of working on chemical and biological weapons for Al Qaeda, but documents showed that intelligence officials decided he “was probably misidentified” and had merely been a bookkeeper and translator.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Paraguay’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Germán Rojas?

    Sunday, July 17, 2016
    With the 2013 election of Horacio Cartes as Paraguay’s president, Rojas was made Minister of Finance. His tenure there was seen as successful, with Rojas being named Finance Minister of the Year in 2014 for his stewardship of the country’s finances. He was also made chairman of the boards of governors of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Rojas left the ministry in early 2015, saying it was for personal reasons, but more likely because of differences with Cartes over tax reforms.   read more
  • Austria’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Wolfgang Waldner?

    Saturday, July 16, 2016
    He joined the Foreign Service in 1981 and his first U.S. assignment came in 1983, when he was named cultural attaché at the embassy in Washington. Waldner then served briefly as personal secretary to Foreign Minister Alois Mock before being named in 1988 to lead the Austrian Cultural Institute in New York, a post he held until 1999. Waldner did take time out to work on the successful 1992 and 1998 presidential campaigns of Thomas Klestil.   read more
  • Fiji’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Naivakarurubalavu Solo Mara?

    Sunday, July 10, 2016
    Mara was sent overseas again in 2008 as counselor in the Fiji embassy in Brussels, but returned home the following year to become the ministry’s Permanent Secretary. In 2011, Mara was made High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, with concurrent responsibilities as ambassador to Germany, Denmark, Israel, Ireland and the Holy See.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • National Gallery of Art

    The National Gallery of Art (NGA) museum is a Washington D.C. educative institution that preserves, collects, and displays American and European paintings, sculptures, photographs, works of art on paper, and decorative arts, dating from the Mid...   more

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

  • Sebelius, Kathleen

    Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama’s second choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services, was sworn in on April 28, 2009. As governor of Kansas, she earned a reputation as a political moderate who worked well with Republicans and po...   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
  • FBI’s Secret Recording of Conversations on Courthouse Steps Not Illegal, Rules Federal Judge

    Thursday, July 28, 2016
    The FBI placed recording devices in a light fixture along the steps of both courthouses. The government then used the recordings during grand jury proceedings. Judge Phyllis Hamilton acknowledged the practice of placing recording devices on the courthouse steps to capture the conversations in a federal criminal fraud case was "unsettling," but said the four did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they engaged in discussions about the alleged fraud next to the FBI's microphones.   read more
  • DNC Tried to Leverage White House Ties to Reward Donors with Federal Board Appointments

    Thursday, July 28, 2016
    “Being a donor does not get you a role in this administration,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz, “nor does it preclude you from getting one." The practice of rewarding big donors with federal positions dates back to the times of the founding fathers. FEC's Bob Biersack said that “Big donors have always risen to the top of lists for appointment to plum ambassadorships and other boards and commissions around the federal landscape." Most of the people on the list gave huge sums to the DNC.   read more
  • Support Grows Among Americans for Tougher Gun Laws

    Thursday, July 28, 2016
    Nearly two-thirds of respondents expressed support for stricter laws, with majorities favoring nationwide bans on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons such as the AR-15 and on the sale of high-capacity magazines holding 10 or more bullets. By a 55% to 43% margin, respondents said laws that limit gun ownership do not infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms. But responses also revealed a partisan divide: 87% of Democrats support stricter gun laws compared with 41% of Republicans.   read more
  • U.S. Says It Plans to Expand Central American Refugee Admission Program

    Thursday, July 28, 2016
    The White House has reached an agreement with Costa Rica to serve as a temporary host site for the most vulnerable migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras while they wait to be processed as refugees. The U.N. high commissioner for refugees has agreed to set up an unusual process for reviewing requests for people in their home countries to qualify as refugees and send them to Costa Rica if they are facing immediate danger.   read more
  • Longtime Vietnam War Protesters Exhort Pentagon to Detail War’s Hard Truths on Website

    Thursday, July 28, 2016
    Some scholars liken the website's timeline to a work of propaganda. “It’s not a lie, but it’s disingenuous,” said professor Young. “It does not come to grips with the full reality of the war, the extent to which it was an illegal war and the extent to which the public was lied to about the war.” One of her qualms is that entries for the My Lai massacre and publication of the Pentagon Papers fail to mention attempts by military and political leaders to obscure information about the events.   read more

Top Stories

  • Americans Wary of Future Science Designed to “Enhance” Human Species

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    A new survey shows a real discomfort with the idea of meddling with human abilities. Pew asked about three techniques that might emerge in the future: using gene editing to protect babies from disease, implanting chips in the brain to improve people’s ability to think, and transfusing synthetic blood that would enhance performance by increasing speed, strength and endurance. The public was unenthusiastic on all counts, even about protecting babies from disease.   read more
  • FCC Puts U.S. Cell Phone Routing System in Hands of European Firm despite Security Warnings

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    Intelligence officials have expressed concern that handing the contract to a foreign-owned company could leave the system more vulnerable to an attack. Evidence emerged several months ago that Telcordia had improperly used a number of foreign nationals, including a Chinese citizen, to do computer coding for early work on the system. Only “vetted U.S. citizens” were supposed to work on the project. As a result, the FCC forced the firm to scrap the work it had done and start over.   read more
  • Payday Loan Regulation May Leave Some in the Lurch

    Monday, July 25, 2016
    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is poised to adopt strict new national rules that will curtail payday lending. These will limit the number of loans that can be taken in quick succession and will force companies to check that their borrowers have the means to repay them. But lenders — and even some consumer advocates who favor stronger regulation — are grappling with the uncomfortable question of what will happen to customers if a financial lifeline that they rely on is cut off.   read more

Unusual News

  • Republican and Democratic Lawmakers Speak in Different Languages

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    Perhaps what the researchers found is evidence of a technological advance in political communication, of both parties exerting more partisan discipline in keeping all their members using the same language. But even if it’s just communications strategy that’s driving the polarization of language, it still matters. In a world of complex challenges, it’s hard to come up with constructive solutions when the decision-makers can’t even agree on what words to use in talking about them.   read more
  • Government Scientists Want Volunteers to Submit Genetic, Lifestyle Information

    Monday, July 25, 2016
    Government scientists are seeking 1 million volunteers willing to share the innermost secrets of their genes and daily lives as part of an ambitious 10-year research project to understand the causes and cures of disease. Those selected will be asked to provide a detailed medical history and blood samples so researchers can extract DNA. They will also be asked to report information about themselves — including their age, race, income, education, sexual orientation and gender identity.   read more
  • Woodstock Producers Say Republicans Stole Their Logo for Convention

    Sunday, July 24, 2016
    The presenters of the iconic Woodstock Music Festival, noticing a similarity between its original logo and the one plastered around Cleveland for the RNC, are calling on the Republican Party to adopt changes to its platform that come in line with the festival’s message.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Obama Vetoes Bill Limiting Ex-Presidents’ Allowance

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    Obama said he supports the bill's goal, but he sent the measure back to Congress because it would immediately end salaries and benefits to staffers carrying out the official duties of former presidents. He says the measure doesn't provide enough time for these employees to be moved to another payroll. Obama says the bill would also interfere with the Secret Service's ability to protect ex-presidents.   read more
  • Customs to Pay Nearly Half-Million Dollars in Body Cavity Search Settlement

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has agreed to pay a woman $475,000 to settle claims that she was subjected to a “humiliating and demeaning” illegal body cavity search at an El Paso border crossing. The unidentified woman sued several border patrol officers, the University Medical Center of El Paso and the El Paso County Hospital District in Federal Court in December 2013.   read more
  • Taxpayers Subsidize Junk Food

    Wednesday, July 20, 2016
    While government recommends people fill their plates with fruits and veggies to help prevent obesity, only a fraction of its subsidies support the production of fresh produce. The vast majority of subsidies go instead to commodity crops that are processed into many of the foods that are linked to the obesity crisis. “The subsidies damage our country’s health and increase the medical costs that will ultimately need to be paid to treat the effects of the obesity epidemic,” said a USPIRG report.   read more

Controversies

  • Arkansas Secrecy Law Hinders Pfizer Effort to Curtail Use of Its Drug for State Executions

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    The sale of the vecuronium bromide by an unknown third party may show how difficult it could be for manufacturers to prevent such sales in states such as Arkansas that have execution secrecy laws. Reprieve's Maya Foa defended Pfizer and Hospira, saying no pharmaceutical company wants its drugs used in executions. In a bid to resume executions, the Republican-led Legislature passed the execution secrecy law last year. It requires the state to keep the details about its execution drugs secret.   read more
  • Labor Dept. Orders $1 Million Back Pay for Underpaid U.S. Senate Cafeteria Workers

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    "Workers in the restaurant industry are among the lowest-paid workers in our economy," said David Weil. "They shouldn't have to deal with paychecks that don't accurately reflect their hard work." Said Sen. Harry Reid: "The actions taken by Restaurant Associates are despicable and their contract should be terminated. The Senate must refuse to do business with any unscrupulous vendors who flout the law and put profits above the rights and economic security of their employees."   read more
  • As Nominee, Trump Employs Code Words to Fuel Racial Animosity, Say Observers

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    "In all these cumulative ways, you start to get the strong sense that when he says 'we and us,' he's only talking about whites in the U.S.," said Sandoval. Some point out that Trump's slogan "America First" was also the slogan of the America First Committee, an isolationist, anti-Semitic group whose goal was to keep the U.S. from joining Britain in the fight against Nazi Germany. They opposed the acceptance of shiploads of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Guantánamo Judge Accused of Secretly Allowing Destruction of CIA “Black Site” Prison Evidence

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    Allegations of evidence destruction have swirled around the case since May. The defense team believes the government removed some fixtures from a room in the CIA prison used for torture, but did not entirely destroy the structure. The prosecution has offered photographs and diagrams as a substitute for the top secret evidence, the report said, noting that prosecutors have apparently not revealed the identity of the nation housing the prison to preserve foreign relations.   read more
  • Guantánamo Defense Attorney Wants Tribunal Site Tested for Toxic Chemicals

    Sunday, July 24, 2016
    A 9/11 defender told a military judge Thursday he can find no other example that mirrors the Guantánamo war court — an abandoned airfield tainted by fuel spills and toxic chemicals transformed into a court. “This is weird,” Air Force Capt. Michael Schwartz, the senior defense attorney for suspected 9/11 plotter Walid bin Attash, said of his request for the court to fund a toxicology expert to determine if the court is safe to work in.   read more
  • U.S. Military Urges Release of Guantánamo Detainee Who Wrote Bestselling Book Detailing Abuse

    Thursday, July 21, 2016
    Slahi was subjected to interrogation approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Slahi wrote of extensive sleep deprivation, beatings, dousings with ice water, and of being shackled in a freezing cell. He denied involvement with terrorism and was never charged with a crime. He was accused of working on chemical and biological weapons for Al Qaeda, but documents showed that intelligence officials decided he “was probably misidentified” and had merely been a bookkeeper and translator.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Paraguay’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Germán Rojas?

    Sunday, July 17, 2016
    With the 2013 election of Horacio Cartes as Paraguay’s president, Rojas was made Minister of Finance. His tenure there was seen as successful, with Rojas being named Finance Minister of the Year in 2014 for his stewardship of the country’s finances. He was also made chairman of the boards of governors of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Rojas left the ministry in early 2015, saying it was for personal reasons, but more likely because of differences with Cartes over tax reforms.   read more
  • Austria’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Wolfgang Waldner?

    Saturday, July 16, 2016
    He joined the Foreign Service in 1981 and his first U.S. assignment came in 1983, when he was named cultural attaché at the embassy in Washington. Waldner then served briefly as personal secretary to Foreign Minister Alois Mock before being named in 1988 to lead the Austrian Cultural Institute in New York, a post he held until 1999. Waldner did take time out to work on the successful 1992 and 1998 presidential campaigns of Thomas Klestil.   read more
  • Fiji’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Naivakarurubalavu Solo Mara?

    Sunday, July 10, 2016
    Mara was sent overseas again in 2008 as counselor in the Fiji embassy in Brussels, but returned home the following year to become the ministry’s Permanent Secretary. In 2011, Mara was made High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, with concurrent responsibilities as ambassador to Germany, Denmark, Israel, Ireland and the Holy See.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • National Ocean Service

    The National Ocean Service (NOS) is one of five major line offices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal scientific agency of the United States Department of Commerce. Other NOAA offices include the National E...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • France

    France’s history has been a bloody one, first under the control of the Roman Empire and subsequently as part of ever-changing kingdoms. This continued during World Wars I and II, when France lost many troops and was even occupied by German forc...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Fitzgerald, Patrick

    In the wake of April Stephenson’s removal in late October 2009 as head of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, U.S. Army Auditor General Patrick J. Fitzgerald was chosen by President Barack Obama to take over the embattled agency. Fitzgerald, who ha...   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