Portal

  • Congress Approves Bill Banning Imported Products Produced by Slave Labor

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law that has failed to keep products of forced and child labor out of America.   read more
  • Air Force Replaces Acquisition Chief For Disclosure Failure

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    The U.S. Air Force said on Thursday it had replaced its acting acquisition chief, Richard Lombardi, after he disclosed that he had failed to report his wife’s Northrop Grumman retirement account on his annual financial disclosure form. Air Force Secretary Deborah James removed Lombardi from his acquisition duties on Feb. 4 and reassigned him to another position after learning of his voluntary disclosure, Karns said. She referred the matter to the Pentagon’s inspector general.   read more
  • Civil Rights Groups Say U.S. May Be Paying Mexico to Arrest, Deport Asylum Seekers

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    The Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law asked the State Department in September 2015 for records on the “type and amount” of financial aid it provides to Mexico’s immigration agency, the Instituto Nacional de Migración. Center for Human Rights president/attorney Peter Schey said that anecdotal evidence indicates that about 97% of asylum-seekers detained at the Mexico-Guatemala border are deported.   read more
  • Texas Officials Urge Ban on Bite Mark Evidence

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    Texas has become the first state to call for a ban on allowing bite mark evidence, which legal experts say is likely to reverberate in courtrooms across the U.S. The Texas Forensic Science Commission formally recommended Friday that judges stop accepting bite mark analysis until the technique is supported by better research. There’s currently no scientific proof that teeth can be definitively matched to human skin.   read more
  • Composer Sues Super PAC for Using Song in Commercial

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    A conservative Super PAC that parodied a Paul Anka song to mock U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, faces a federal complaint from the ballad’s composer. Club for Growth Action spent $700,000 in September 2014 to air its 30-second commercial, set to the tune of the 1975 song “Times of Your Life.”   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Privacy of No Concern for Ted Cruz Mobile App in Campaign’s Massive Data Mining Operation

    Friday, February 12, 2016
    Protecting the privacy of citizens is a pillar of Ted Cruz's Republican presidential candidacy, but his campaign is siphoning personal data from supporters. The Cruz mobile app gathers detailed information from its users' phones — tracking their movements and information on friends. It's all fed into a database holding details about nearly every adult in the U.S. Cruz's campaign says the system has the potential to power him to the nomination.   read more
  • Supreme Court Hits Brakes on Obama’s Clean Power Plan

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    The surprising move is a blow to the administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations "an unprecedented power grab." A 5-4 majority issued the temporary freeze. The Obama administration's plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030.   read more
  • Federal Advisory Panel on Pain has 6 Members with Links to Drugmakers

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    Two panelists work for the Center for Practical Bioethics, which receives funding from multiple drugmakers, including OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, which donated $100,000 in 2013. One panelist holds a chair at the center created by a $1.5-million donation from Purdue. The other received more than $8,660 in speaking fees, meals, travel and other payments from pain drugmakers. The legislation creating the panel was championed for years by drugmakers.   read more

Unusual News

  • Florida Legislature Calls for Convention on Congressional Term Limits

    Friday, February 12, 2016
    The memorial, HM 417, passed the Florida House and Senate by an overwhelming voice vote. It is part of a national movement led by U.S. Term Limits to fight careerism in Washington. Article V gives state legislators a way to make term limits on Congress a reality without needing congressional approval. For the convention to be called, 34 states must pass similar legislation. If the convention proposes an amendment, 38 states must ratify it for it to be added to the U.S. Constitution.   read more
  • Computers are Drivers, Says NHTSA in Boost to Self-Driving Auto Industry

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    Computers that control cars of the future can be considered drivers just like humans, the federal government's highway safety agency has decided. The redefinition of "driver" by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an important break for Google, which is developing self-driving cars that get around without steering wheels, pedals — or even the need for a person to be inside. For Google's design, human control would be limited to a start and stop button.   read more
  • The Big Tampon Tax Debate

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    Governments that make money off the products penalize women for their biology, some say. That perspective has picked up momentum, with at least five U.S. states dumping the taxes. Pennsylvania and Minnesota are among states that have eliminated the taxes. A handful of other states, including California, have seen similar proposals before their legislatures this year. In Wisconsin, a Democratic lawmaker has proposed providing free tampons in all public buildings.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Another Way for Corporations to Avoid Paying Taxes

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    If you are an American taxpayer, it means the burden of making up lost revenue falls more heavily on you. It also creates an uneven playing field for other companies that end up feeling like fools for staying put. For now, rules limiting this type of behavior seem to be a pipe dream. Instead, the corporate runaways are winning — winning no good-American awards, but taking easy money out of the pockets of the U.S. taxpayer.   read more
  • Karl Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC Granted Tax-Exempt Status by IRS

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    Crossroads GPS has drawn heavy scrutiny — and critics have said it is taking advantage of what amounts to a loophole in campaign finance rules. The group calls itself a "social welfare" nonprofit that focuses on issues. By law it cannot spend a majority of its funds on political races. However, tax documents leave little question that Crossroads ramps up significantly in election years, with almost $70 million in contributions in 2014, with Senate and congressional seats at stake.   read more
  • Millions of Dollars in Shadowy Campaign Money Fuel Presidential Campaigns

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    At least $4 million in dark money is flowing to outside groups helping White House hopefuls. Both parties benefit from money routed through obscure corporations, or from nonprofits that don't have to disclose their donors. The contributions are a reminder of federal court decisions in recent years, like Citizens United, that loosened prior restrictions in campaign finance laws. That can hide who's really backing candidates — and what favors or influence could be owed should they get elected.   read more

Controversies

  • Nation’s Science Teachers Found to Have Poor Grasp of Climate Change

    Friday, February 12, 2016
    Many teachers provide misinformation about climate change, the survey found. The evidence that human activity is a major cause of recent climate change is overwhelming, but 30% of the 1,500 teachers surveyed said they emphasize that recent global warming “is likely due to natural causes,” while 12% said they did not emphasize human causes. Half of that 12% said they did not discuss any causes at all. Close to a third of the teachers also reported conveying messages that are contradictory.   read more
  • Flint Has Highest Rate of Vacant Homes in U.S., and Water Crisis May Exacerbate It

    Friday, February 12, 2016
    With fallout from the water emergency expected to send house prices lower, the vacancy rate may continue to rise. "The water crisis didn't cause the root problem in Flint that's contributing to these high vacancy rates, but it's going to exacerbate the issue going forward," said RealtyTrac VP Daren Blomquist. Flint's real estate problems lie in the loss of higher-paying manufacturing jobs in recent decades and a roughly 20 percent decline in its population since 2000.   read more
  • NYPD Used Secretive Cell Phone Tracking Technology 1,000 times since '08

    Friday, February 12, 2016
    Requirement for a search warrant applies only to federal agencies and not, as some privacy advocates had hoped, to state and local law enforcement whose use of the equipment has stirred particular concern and scrutiny from local judges. "New Yorkers have very real concerns about the NYPD's adoption of intrusive surveillance technology," said NYCLU's Mariko Hirose. "The NYPD should at minimum obtain warrants before using Stingrays to protect the privacy of innocent people."   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Death by Guns, Drugs and Cars More Common in U.S. than Other Countries

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    "If we brought mortality from car crashes, firearm injuries and drug poisonings down to levels that we see in these other countries, we'd gain about a year of life expectancy," said lead author Andrew Fenelon. The injury data include accidental and intentional deaths and suicides, and deaths from prescription medications and illicit drugs. The study bolsters the argument that improving U.S. life expectancy will require addressing premature deaths among younger ages   read more
  • U.S. and UK Spy Agencies May be Allowed to Request Online Chat Data and Emails from Media Companies

    Saturday, February 06, 2016
    Talks focused on letting UK agencies, such as MI5, serve orders on U.S. firms demanding data for “live intercepts” in inquiries involving UK citizens. UK agencies might also be able to ask U.S. companies to turn over stored data, such as emails. Rep. Adam Schiff said Congress should monitor any privacy and civil liberties issues, "including making sure these British orders do not cover U.S. persons or individuals within the U.S., do not permit bulk collection, and have due process protections."   read more
  • Canada Stops Sharing Compromised Spy Information with U.S.

    Saturday, January 30, 2016
    Canada has stopped its electronic spy agency from sharing some data with key international allies after discovering the information mistakenly contained personal details about Canadians, government officials said on Thursday. Ottawa acted after learning that the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) agency had failed to properly disguise metadata - the numbers and time stamps of phone calls but not their content - before passing it on to their international partners.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chairman of the Federal Election Commission: Who Is Matthew S. Petersen?

    Tuesday, February 02, 2016
    President George W. Bush nominated Petersen to a spot on the FEC in June 2008. His nomination was confirmed by his former employers on the Rules Committee. He served a term as FEC chairman beginning in 2010. As one of the three Republican appointees on the FEC, Petersen has been a reliable vote against attempts to reform elections. In 2013, for instance, he voted to make it more difficult for the Justice Department to prosecute campaign finance violations.   read more
  • Secretary of the Army: Who Is Eric Fanning?

    Tuesday, January 26, 2016
    Fanning was deputy director of the Committee on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. The group was an outgrowth of the 9/11 Commission and assessed activities aimed at preventing WMD proliferation. In 2009, Fanning was named deputy under secretary of the Navy, where he worked to bring efficiencies to the service’s processes. If he’s confirmed by the Senate, Fanning will be the first openly gay civilian head of an armed forces branch.   read more
  • Cuba’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez?

    Monday, January 25, 2016
    Cabañas is Cuba’s first ambassador to the United States in more than 50 years. His appointment to the post came two months after a restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had ended during Cold War hostilities in 1961. Cabañas maintained a somewhat higher profile than his predecessors, traveling around the United States speaking to various organizations. He was the first head of Cuba’s Interests Section to allow himself to be filmed at such events.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

    The Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, formerly the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, was established by President George W. Bush just nine days after he took office in January 2001. The office is pa...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Denmark

    From its ancient Viking roots to its decidedly modern way of life today, Denmark has a rich history. Positioned strategically at the entrance to the Baltic Sea, Denmark has moved from being neutral in World Wars I and II to being a vibrant trad...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Main, Joe

    A career union official and mine safety expert, Joseph A. (Joe) Main’s selection as Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health in the Department of Labor represents a dramatic turnaround for the leadership of the Mine Safety and Health Adminis...   more

Blog

  • Republicans Release Presidential Policy Platform

    In a move that caught the media by surprise, the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced that it had gotten the approval of every one of the 17 leading declared Republican presidential candidates to publish a comprehensive platform for the 2...   more
  • Congress Approves Bill Banning Imported Products Produced by Slave Labor

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law that has failed to keep products of forced and child labor out of America.   read more
  • Air Force Replaces Acquisition Chief For Disclosure Failure

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    The U.S. Air Force said on Thursday it had replaced its acting acquisition chief, Richard Lombardi, after he disclosed that he had failed to report his wife’s Northrop Grumman retirement account on his annual financial disclosure form. Air Force Secretary Deborah James removed Lombardi from his acquisition duties on Feb. 4 and reassigned him to another position after learning of his voluntary disclosure, Karns said. She referred the matter to the Pentagon’s inspector general.   read more
  • Civil Rights Groups Say U.S. May Be Paying Mexico to Arrest, Deport Asylum Seekers

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    The Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law asked the State Department in September 2015 for records on the “type and amount” of financial aid it provides to Mexico’s immigration agency, the Instituto Nacional de Migración. Center for Human Rights president/attorney Peter Schey said that anecdotal evidence indicates that about 97% of asylum-seekers detained at the Mexico-Guatemala border are deported.   read more
  • Texas Officials Urge Ban on Bite Mark Evidence

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    Texas has become the first state to call for a ban on allowing bite mark evidence, which legal experts say is likely to reverberate in courtrooms across the U.S. The Texas Forensic Science Commission formally recommended Friday that judges stop accepting bite mark analysis until the technique is supported by better research. There’s currently no scientific proof that teeth can be definitively matched to human skin.   read more
  • Composer Sues Super PAC for Using Song in Commercial

    Saturday, February 13, 2016
    A conservative Super PAC that parodied a Paul Anka song to mock U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, faces a federal complaint from the ballad’s composer. Club for Growth Action spent $700,000 in September 2014 to air its 30-second commercial, set to the tune of the 1975 song “Times of Your Life.”   read more

Top Stories

  • Privacy of No Concern for Ted Cruz Mobile App in Campaign’s Massive Data Mining Operation

    Friday, February 12, 2016
    Protecting the privacy of citizens is a pillar of Ted Cruz's Republican presidential candidacy, but his campaign is siphoning personal data from supporters. The Cruz mobile app gathers detailed information from its users' phones — tracking their movements and information on friends. It's all fed into a database holding details about nearly every adult in the U.S. Cruz's campaign says the system has the potential to power him to the nomination.   read more
  • Supreme Court Hits Brakes on Obama’s Clean Power Plan

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    The surprising move is a blow to the administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations "an unprecedented power grab." A 5-4 majority issued the temporary freeze. The Obama administration's plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030.   read more
  • Federal Advisory Panel on Pain has 6 Members with Links to Drugmakers

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    Two panelists work for the Center for Practical Bioethics, which receives funding from multiple drugmakers, including OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, which donated $100,000 in 2013. One panelist holds a chair at the center created by a $1.5-million donation from Purdue. The other received more than $8,660 in speaking fees, meals, travel and other payments from pain drugmakers. The legislation creating the panel was championed for years by drugmakers.   read more

Unusual News

  • Florida Legislature Calls for Convention on Congressional Term Limits

    Friday, February 12, 2016
    The memorial, HM 417, passed the Florida House and Senate by an overwhelming voice vote. It is part of a national movement led by U.S. Term Limits to fight careerism in Washington. Article V gives state legislators a way to make term limits on Congress a reality without needing congressional approval. For the convention to be called, 34 states must pass similar legislation. If the convention proposes an amendment, 38 states must ratify it for it to be added to the U.S. Constitution.   read more
  • Computers are Drivers, Says NHTSA in Boost to Self-Driving Auto Industry

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    Computers that control cars of the future can be considered drivers just like humans, the federal government's highway safety agency has decided. The redefinition of "driver" by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an important break for Google, which is developing self-driving cars that get around without steering wheels, pedals — or even the need for a person to be inside. For Google's design, human control would be limited to a start and stop button.   read more
  • The Big Tampon Tax Debate

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    Governments that make money off the products penalize women for their biology, some say. That perspective has picked up momentum, with at least five U.S. states dumping the taxes. Pennsylvania and Minnesota are among states that have eliminated the taxes. A handful of other states, including California, have seen similar proposals before their legislatures this year. In Wisconsin, a Democratic lawmaker has proposed providing free tampons in all public buildings.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Another Way for Corporations to Avoid Paying Taxes

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    If you are an American taxpayer, it means the burden of making up lost revenue falls more heavily on you. It also creates an uneven playing field for other companies that end up feeling like fools for staying put. For now, rules limiting this type of behavior seem to be a pipe dream. Instead, the corporate runaways are winning — winning no good-American awards, but taking easy money out of the pockets of the U.S. taxpayer.   read more
  • Karl Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC Granted Tax-Exempt Status by IRS

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    Crossroads GPS has drawn heavy scrutiny — and critics have said it is taking advantage of what amounts to a loophole in campaign finance rules. The group calls itself a "social welfare" nonprofit that focuses on issues. By law it cannot spend a majority of its funds on political races. However, tax documents leave little question that Crossroads ramps up significantly in election years, with almost $70 million in contributions in 2014, with Senate and congressional seats at stake.   read more
  • Millions of Dollars in Shadowy Campaign Money Fuel Presidential Campaigns

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    At least $4 million in dark money is flowing to outside groups helping White House hopefuls. Both parties benefit from money routed through obscure corporations, or from nonprofits that don't have to disclose their donors. The contributions are a reminder of federal court decisions in recent years, like Citizens United, that loosened prior restrictions in campaign finance laws. That can hide who's really backing candidates — and what favors or influence could be owed should they get elected.   read more

Controversies

  • Nation’s Science Teachers Found to Have Poor Grasp of Climate Change

    Friday, February 12, 2016
    Many teachers provide misinformation about climate change, the survey found. The evidence that human activity is a major cause of recent climate change is overwhelming, but 30% of the 1,500 teachers surveyed said they emphasize that recent global warming “is likely due to natural causes,” while 12% said they did not emphasize human causes. Half of that 12% said they did not discuss any causes at all. Close to a third of the teachers also reported conveying messages that are contradictory.   read more
  • Flint Has Highest Rate of Vacant Homes in U.S., and Water Crisis May Exacerbate It

    Friday, February 12, 2016
    With fallout from the water emergency expected to send house prices lower, the vacancy rate may continue to rise. "The water crisis didn't cause the root problem in Flint that's contributing to these high vacancy rates, but it's going to exacerbate the issue going forward," said RealtyTrac VP Daren Blomquist. Flint's real estate problems lie in the loss of higher-paying manufacturing jobs in recent decades and a roughly 20 percent decline in its population since 2000.   read more
  • NYPD Used Secretive Cell Phone Tracking Technology 1,000 times since '08

    Friday, February 12, 2016
    Requirement for a search warrant applies only to federal agencies and not, as some privacy advocates had hoped, to state and local law enforcement whose use of the equipment has stirred particular concern and scrutiny from local judges. "New Yorkers have very real concerns about the NYPD's adoption of intrusive surveillance technology," said NYCLU's Mariko Hirose. "The NYPD should at minimum obtain warrants before using Stingrays to protect the privacy of innocent people."   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Death by Guns, Drugs and Cars More Common in U.S. than Other Countries

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    "If we brought mortality from car crashes, firearm injuries and drug poisonings down to levels that we see in these other countries, we'd gain about a year of life expectancy," said lead author Andrew Fenelon. The injury data include accidental and intentional deaths and suicides, and deaths from prescription medications and illicit drugs. The study bolsters the argument that improving U.S. life expectancy will require addressing premature deaths among younger ages   read more
  • U.S. and UK Spy Agencies May be Allowed to Request Online Chat Data and Emails from Media Companies

    Saturday, February 06, 2016
    Talks focused on letting UK agencies, such as MI5, serve orders on U.S. firms demanding data for “live intercepts” in inquiries involving UK citizens. UK agencies might also be able to ask U.S. companies to turn over stored data, such as emails. Rep. Adam Schiff said Congress should monitor any privacy and civil liberties issues, "including making sure these British orders do not cover U.S. persons or individuals within the U.S., do not permit bulk collection, and have due process protections."   read more
  • Canada Stops Sharing Compromised Spy Information with U.S.

    Saturday, January 30, 2016
    Canada has stopped its electronic spy agency from sharing some data with key international allies after discovering the information mistakenly contained personal details about Canadians, government officials said on Thursday. Ottawa acted after learning that the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) agency had failed to properly disguise metadata - the numbers and time stamps of phone calls but not their content - before passing it on to their international partners.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chairman of the Federal Election Commission: Who Is Matthew S. Petersen?

    Tuesday, February 02, 2016
    President George W. Bush nominated Petersen to a spot on the FEC in June 2008. His nomination was confirmed by his former employers on the Rules Committee. He served a term as FEC chairman beginning in 2010. As one of the three Republican appointees on the FEC, Petersen has been a reliable vote against attempts to reform elections. In 2013, for instance, he voted to make it more difficult for the Justice Department to prosecute campaign finance violations.   read more
  • Secretary of the Army: Who Is Eric Fanning?

    Tuesday, January 26, 2016
    Fanning was deputy director of the Committee on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. The group was an outgrowth of the 9/11 Commission and assessed activities aimed at preventing WMD proliferation. In 2009, Fanning was named deputy under secretary of the Navy, where he worked to bring efficiencies to the service’s processes. If he’s confirmed by the Senate, Fanning will be the first openly gay civilian head of an armed forces branch.   read more
  • Cuba’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez?

    Monday, January 25, 2016
    Cabañas is Cuba’s first ambassador to the United States in more than 50 years. His appointment to the post came two months after a restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had ended during Cold War hostilities in 1961. Cabañas maintained a somewhat higher profile than his predecessors, traveling around the United States speaking to various organizations. He was the first head of Cuba’s Interests Section to allow himself to be filmed at such events.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • NeighborWorks America

    NeighborWorks America is a public nonprofit corporation created by Congress that tries to help homeowners by providing counseling and legal and financial assistance. The corporation, whose legal name is the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Congo, Democratic Republic

    The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has lived amidst conflict and violence for much of its history. The Belgians under King Leopold II controlled the country for decades, until the “Belgian Congo” was granted its independence in 1960. La...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Wilson, Michael

    Michael Wilson assumed his responsibilities as Canadian Ambassador to the United States on March 13, 2006.   Prior to his career in public life, Wilson’s was an investment banker and was the director of a number of companies including BP PLC and...   more

Blog

  • Republicans Release Presidential Policy Platform

    In a move that caught the media by surprise, the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced that it had gotten the approval of every one of the 17 leading declared Republican presidential candidates to publish a comprehensive platform for the 2...   more

PHOTO GALLERY

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