Portal

  • U.S. Only Country of 47 to Vote against Investigating Possible Human Rights Violations during Israeli Occupation of Gaza

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    The U.S. has again demonstrated its steadfast loyalty to Israel, this time casting the lone “no” vote on a U.N. resolution authorizing an investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Gaza. The recent military invasion of the Palestinian territory has seen hundreds of civilians killed, including many children. The measure condemned the “violations of ...human rights” caused by the Israeli military and "all violence against civilians...including the killing of two Israeli civilians.”   read more
  • European Union Court Slams Poland for Helping U.S. Torture Program

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Poland’s actions in helping the George W. Bush administration torture terrorism suspects on its soil constituted a human rights violation, the European court ruled. It also was faulted for not looking into what happened to Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (implicated in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole) and Abu Zubaida (accused of facilitating militant training) while they were in CIA custody. Nashiri was subjected to a mock execution and had a drill put to his head at the black site.   read more
  • Ominous Drying Up of Groundwater that Supplies Nine States

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    It’s easy to see the effects the prolonged drought in the Western U.S. is having on surface water supplies: many reservoirs have taken on a striped appearance from the difference between normal levels and the much lower levels now. But water supplies are also drying up in a place that’s not as obvious and can have more severe consequences. The groundwater levels in the Colorado River Basin, which covers parts of multiple states, have fallen faster than they can be replenished.   read more
  • Missouri Voters will Decide if Phone and Email Privacy Should be Added to State Constitution

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Missouri residents may soon be able to say “Show me a warrant” when asked by law enforcement to produce their electronic devices. Both houses of the state’s legislature voted to put a proposed Amendment 9 on the ballot that would ensure "that the people shall be secure in their electronic...data from unreasonable searches and seizures..." The bill has “national implication,” said Tenth Amendment Center's Michael Maharrey.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Honduras: Who Is James Nealon?

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Nealon took a job as deputy chief of staff at the embassy in Peru in 2007. While in Peru, Nealon wrote a report, later released by WikiLeaks, expressing concern about “anti-system radicals” who might “lay the groundwork for a more systematic assault on the pro-growth model.” In December 2012, President Obama proposed Nealon as the ambassador to Bolivia, but, not surprisingly considering his comments, Nealon was rejected by the Bolivian government.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

  • Is it Time to Eliminate the National Technical Information Service?

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    Before the Internet came along, the NTIS served a real purpose--providing government reports that at one time were available nowhere else. But now it may be time for NTIS to go the way of the World Book encyclopedia, say U.S. senators Claire McCaskill and Tom Coburn. They have sponsored the Let Me Google That For You Act, which would eliminate NTIS. “Why would anyone buy publications from NTIS when they’re free on the Internet?” McCaskill said.   read more
  • U.S. Visas For Sale for $500,000

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Foreigners can jump straight to the front of the immigration line in the U.S. if they have half a million dollars to pay to the government. The money must be invested in new U.S. ventures that establish 10 full-time jobs for Americans in rural areas or those with high unemployment. However, projects are often gerrymandered into high unemployment areas miles away. Critics say the program “has become a magnet for amateurs, pipe-dreamers, and charlatans."   read more
  • Obama Administration Places People on Terrorist Watch List based on “Reasonable Suspicion”

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The government does not necessarily collect evidence before designating a U.S. citizen or foreign national a terrorist. As long as officials are just pretty sure a person is suspicious, an unsuspecting person can wind up on the watch list. Being on the watch list can mean more than having trouble boarding a plane. It can make it more difficult to land a job and can mean someone is subjected to extra scrutiny during an encounter with police, such as a traffic stop.   read more

Unusual News

  • Manhunt for Fugitive Tuberculosis Patient

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    An urgent manhunt is on in Northern California for a man who’s infected with tuberculosis. Law enforcement hopes to find him before he infects anyone else with what might be a drug-resistant strain of the disease. Eduardo Rosas Cruz showed up at the San Joaquin General Hospital in Stockton in March and was diagnosed with TB. He was told to stay for a health worker to administer his medication. Instead, he left. Officials got a statewide warrant for his arrest last Thursday.   read more
  • People Who Live Inland more Likely to Deny Climate Change…and so are People Exposed to Media Owned by Rupert Murdoch

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    Another study revealed another kind of divide among the believers and non-believers of climate change: the English language. The market research firm Ipsos MORI said in its “Global Trends 2014” report that the three countries with the most climate-change deniers were the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, all English-speaking nations. All have some of their media controlled by Rupert Murdoch.   read more
  • Nuclear Waste Company Received $1.9 Million Performance Bonus…5 Days after Underground Fire Shut Facility

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    The fire may have been the result of diesel oil building up on the vehicle’s engine. Shortly after that event, a container with radioactive waste sprung a leak. Regardless, the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded the contractor, Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP), a $1.9 million bonus for its “excellent” work at WIPP during 2013. Included in the criteria for that bonus is safety and maintenance. The bonus was delivered five days after the truck fire.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 42 Civil Rights Groups Support Telecoms against Open Internet

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Numerous civil rights groups have sided with the internet provider industry on the issue of net neutrality after getting lucrative partnerships and financial support from telecommunications companies. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), a law firm for civil rights groups, has worked with many of the firms opposing common carrier status for the Internet. MMTC raised more than $1 million from telecom companies at fundraising luncheons from 2011 to 2013.   read more
  • Minor League Baseball Players Sue Major League Baseball over Low Pay

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The typical minor league player earns somewhere between $3,000 and $7,500 a season, which can include spring training and fall instructional leagues, the plaintiffs contend. Compare that to MLB salaries, which averaged $3.3 million last year, with a minimum annual wage of $500,000 in 2014. The big difference is that MLB players are unionized, while their minor league counterparts have been prevented by the league from bargaining collectively.   read more
  • Hedge Funds Accused of Screwing Americans out of Billions of Dollars in Taxes

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The two banks “used the options to build special accounts for their hedge fund clients in their own names and claimed they owned the assets when it was, in fact, the hedge fund clients that exercised full control of the assets.” The structure of the basket options also allowed the hedge funds to borrow up to $17 for every dollar in an account rather than the 50 cents on the dollar that broker-dealers are restricted to according to limits that go back to the 1930s.   read more

Controversies

  • Largest Car Title Loan Company Avoids Interest-Rate Limits by Charging “Fees”

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    Florida legislators tried to keep the car title loan business out of their state in 2000. But where’s there’s a buck to be made, unscrupulous companies will find a way around pesky consumer-friendly laws, and TMX Finance appears to have done just that. TMX requires borrowers to purchase costly insurance on their cars from them. If a payment’s missed, TMX repossesses the borrower’s car. Sometimes borrowers get in so deep that they just give up.   read more
  • Government Sting Gains Health Care Coverage Using Fake Names

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) deliberately used fake identities and Social Security numbers to sign up phantom people under Obamacare. The sting operation involved a dozen fictitious applicants, all of whom save one managed to get subsidized health insurance. Six of the online applications were initially rejected, but when investigators used the call-in service, they were approved.   read more
  • If You Ask for a Public Defender in One Texas County, You Get a Sheriff’s Detective Instead

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Starting late last year, McLennan County decided to send a sheriff’s detective to the home of any person requesting a court-appointed lawyer. The purpose: to see if the individual was poor enough to not afford their own legal counsel, or determine if they were lying.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Wasted $34 Million Pushing Soybeans on Afghanistan

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    The USDA decided it would be a good idea to spend $34 million on getting Afghan farmers to grow soybeans and for Afghan consumers to eat them. But the USDA struck out on both counts. The U.S. also paid about $1.5 million to build a soybean plan. When the crops failed, it paid to have 4,000 metric tons of soybeans flown in from the U.S at a cost of about $2 million. But no American expert could convince Afghans to incorporate soybeans into their diet.   read more
  • Air Force to Launch Satellites to Spy on other Satellites

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    U.S. Air Force officials overseeing the space-based surveillance say they were willing to discuss the mission to warn countries like China and Russia not to mess with American satellites and spacecraft orbiting the earth. The satellites will position themselves 22,300 miles above Earth, putting them in near-geosynchronous orbit, where a satellite maintains about the same relative position over the earth, to improve observational efforts.   read more
  • Corporate Tax Evasion Strategy Debated in Senate

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Currently, U.S. businesses can claim they are foreign owned if only 20% of it is actually the property of overseas investors. President Barack Obama says this ceiling should be raised to 50% foreign ownership to slow down the rate of companies leaving the country.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to South Korea: Who Is Mark Lippert?

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    After Obama’s inauguration, Lippert was a deputy assistant to the president and then was named chief of staff for the National Security Council (NSC). Lippert left the NSC in 2010. If confirmed, Lippert will be the first political appointee to head the Seoul embassy; the job has previously been filled by career Foreign Service appointees. However, the South Korean government is reportedly eager to have an ambassador with such close ties to Obama.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Egypt: Who Is Stephen Beecroft?

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    In 2003, Beecroft was named special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and the following year was special assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Beecroft remained in the job when Condoleezza Rice took over the State Department. Beecroft served as ambassador to Jordan from July 17, 2008 to June 4, 2011. Beecroft was transferred to Baghdad, Iraq, on July 14, 2011.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Jordan: Who Is Alice Wells?

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Until 2011, she was executive assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs William J. Burns. Wells was then named executive assistant to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, working with her until 2012. At that time, she moved to the White House, becoming special assistant to the president for Russia and Central Asia. Since 2013, Wells has served as an assessor at the Foreign Service Board of Examiners.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

    Originally founded to stem flood damage and promote agriculture, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a unique government agency in that it is structured like a corporation, but has the power of the federal government. It is responsible ...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Peru

    Famous for its touristic richness and gastronomic variety, Peru is located on the west coast of South America In 1542, The Spanish conquerors colonized the vast and rich Inca Empire, known for its sophisticated system of social organization and...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Gowadia, Huban

    President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Huban A. Gowadia as director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) on September 20, 2013, and she was sworn in on December 13. In that role, Gowadia leads the agen...   more

Blog

  • 50 Years of Keeping a Daily Diary

    I would not have realized how much we unconsciously edit our memories if I did not have contemporaneous accounts of each day of my life for the last 50 years. Most of these alterations are minor and harmless. But there is one false memory that had...   more
  • U.S. Only Country of 47 to Vote against Investigating Possible Human Rights Violations during Israeli Occupation of Gaza

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    The U.S. has again demonstrated its steadfast loyalty to Israel, this time casting the lone “no” vote on a U.N. resolution authorizing an investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Gaza. The recent military invasion of the Palestinian territory has seen hundreds of civilians killed, including many children. The measure condemned the “violations of ...human rights” caused by the Israeli military and "all violence against civilians...including the killing of two Israeli civilians.”   read more
  • European Union Court Slams Poland for Helping U.S. Torture Program

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Poland’s actions in helping the George W. Bush administration torture terrorism suspects on its soil constituted a human rights violation, the European court ruled. It also was faulted for not looking into what happened to Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (implicated in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole) and Abu Zubaida (accused of facilitating militant training) while they were in CIA custody. Nashiri was subjected to a mock execution and had a drill put to his head at the black site.   read more
  • Ominous Drying Up of Groundwater that Supplies Nine States

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    It’s easy to see the effects the prolonged drought in the Western U.S. is having on surface water supplies: many reservoirs have taken on a striped appearance from the difference between normal levels and the much lower levels now. But water supplies are also drying up in a place that’s not as obvious and can have more severe consequences. The groundwater levels in the Colorado River Basin, which covers parts of multiple states, have fallen faster than they can be replenished.   read more
  • Missouri Voters will Decide if Phone and Email Privacy Should be Added to State Constitution

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Missouri residents may soon be able to say “Show me a warrant” when asked by law enforcement to produce their electronic devices. Both houses of the state’s legislature voted to put a proposed Amendment 9 on the ballot that would ensure "that the people shall be secure in their electronic...data from unreasonable searches and seizures..." The bill has “national implication,” said Tenth Amendment Center's Michael Maharrey.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Honduras: Who Is James Nealon?

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Nealon took a job as deputy chief of staff at the embassy in Peru in 2007. While in Peru, Nealon wrote a report, later released by WikiLeaks, expressing concern about “anti-system radicals” who might “lay the groundwork for a more systematic assault on the pro-growth model.” In December 2012, President Obama proposed Nealon as the ambassador to Bolivia, but, not surprisingly considering his comments, Nealon was rejected by the Bolivian government.   read more

Top Stories

  • Is it Time to Eliminate the National Technical Information Service?

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    Before the Internet came along, the NTIS served a real purpose--providing government reports that at one time were available nowhere else. But now it may be time for NTIS to go the way of the World Book encyclopedia, say U.S. senators Claire McCaskill and Tom Coburn. They have sponsored the Let Me Google That For You Act, which would eliminate NTIS. “Why would anyone buy publications from NTIS when they’re free on the Internet?” McCaskill said.   read more
  • U.S. Visas For Sale for $500,000

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Foreigners can jump straight to the front of the immigration line in the U.S. if they have half a million dollars to pay to the government. The money must be invested in new U.S. ventures that establish 10 full-time jobs for Americans in rural areas or those with high unemployment. However, projects are often gerrymandered into high unemployment areas miles away. Critics say the program “has become a magnet for amateurs, pipe-dreamers, and charlatans."   read more
  • Obama Administration Places People on Terrorist Watch List based on “Reasonable Suspicion”

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The government does not necessarily collect evidence before designating a U.S. citizen or foreign national a terrorist. As long as officials are just pretty sure a person is suspicious, an unsuspecting person can wind up on the watch list. Being on the watch list can mean more than having trouble boarding a plane. It can make it more difficult to land a job and can mean someone is subjected to extra scrutiny during an encounter with police, such as a traffic stop.   read more

Unusual News

  • Manhunt for Fugitive Tuberculosis Patient

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    An urgent manhunt is on in Northern California for a man who’s infected with tuberculosis. Law enforcement hopes to find him before he infects anyone else with what might be a drug-resistant strain of the disease. Eduardo Rosas Cruz showed up at the San Joaquin General Hospital in Stockton in March and was diagnosed with TB. He was told to stay for a health worker to administer his medication. Instead, he left. Officials got a statewide warrant for his arrest last Thursday.   read more
  • People Who Live Inland more Likely to Deny Climate Change…and so are People Exposed to Media Owned by Rupert Murdoch

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    Another study revealed another kind of divide among the believers and non-believers of climate change: the English language. The market research firm Ipsos MORI said in its “Global Trends 2014” report that the three countries with the most climate-change deniers were the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, all English-speaking nations. All have some of their media controlled by Rupert Murdoch.   read more
  • Nuclear Waste Company Received $1.9 Million Performance Bonus…5 Days after Underground Fire Shut Facility

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    The fire may have been the result of diesel oil building up on the vehicle’s engine. Shortly after that event, a container with radioactive waste sprung a leak. Regardless, the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded the contractor, Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP), a $1.9 million bonus for its “excellent” work at WIPP during 2013. Included in the criteria for that bonus is safety and maintenance. The bonus was delivered five days after the truck fire.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 42 Civil Rights Groups Support Telecoms against Open Internet

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Numerous civil rights groups have sided with the internet provider industry on the issue of net neutrality after getting lucrative partnerships and financial support from telecommunications companies. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), a law firm for civil rights groups, has worked with many of the firms opposing common carrier status for the Internet. MMTC raised more than $1 million from telecom companies at fundraising luncheons from 2011 to 2013.   read more
  • Minor League Baseball Players Sue Major League Baseball over Low Pay

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The typical minor league player earns somewhere between $3,000 and $7,500 a season, which can include spring training and fall instructional leagues, the plaintiffs contend. Compare that to MLB salaries, which averaged $3.3 million last year, with a minimum annual wage of $500,000 in 2014. The big difference is that MLB players are unionized, while their minor league counterparts have been prevented by the league from bargaining collectively.   read more
  • Hedge Funds Accused of Screwing Americans out of Billions of Dollars in Taxes

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The two banks “used the options to build special accounts for their hedge fund clients in their own names and claimed they owned the assets when it was, in fact, the hedge fund clients that exercised full control of the assets.” The structure of the basket options also allowed the hedge funds to borrow up to $17 for every dollar in an account rather than the 50 cents on the dollar that broker-dealers are restricted to according to limits that go back to the 1930s.   read more

Controversies

  • Largest Car Title Loan Company Avoids Interest-Rate Limits by Charging “Fees”

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    Florida legislators tried to keep the car title loan business out of their state in 2000. But where’s there’s a buck to be made, unscrupulous companies will find a way around pesky consumer-friendly laws, and TMX Finance appears to have done just that. TMX requires borrowers to purchase costly insurance on their cars from them. If a payment’s missed, TMX repossesses the borrower’s car. Sometimes borrowers get in so deep that they just give up.   read more
  • Government Sting Gains Health Care Coverage Using Fake Names

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) deliberately used fake identities and Social Security numbers to sign up phantom people under Obamacare. The sting operation involved a dozen fictitious applicants, all of whom save one managed to get subsidized health insurance. Six of the online applications were initially rejected, but when investigators used the call-in service, they were approved.   read more
  • If You Ask for a Public Defender in One Texas County, You Get a Sheriff’s Detective Instead

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Starting late last year, McLennan County decided to send a sheriff’s detective to the home of any person requesting a court-appointed lawyer. The purpose: to see if the individual was poor enough to not afford their own legal counsel, or determine if they were lying.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Wasted $34 Million Pushing Soybeans on Afghanistan

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    The USDA decided it would be a good idea to spend $34 million on getting Afghan farmers to grow soybeans and for Afghan consumers to eat them. But the USDA struck out on both counts. The U.S. also paid about $1.5 million to build a soybean plan. When the crops failed, it paid to have 4,000 metric tons of soybeans flown in from the U.S at a cost of about $2 million. But no American expert could convince Afghans to incorporate soybeans into their diet.   read more
  • Air Force to Launch Satellites to Spy on other Satellites

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    U.S. Air Force officials overseeing the space-based surveillance say they were willing to discuss the mission to warn countries like China and Russia not to mess with American satellites and spacecraft orbiting the earth. The satellites will position themselves 22,300 miles above Earth, putting them in near-geosynchronous orbit, where a satellite maintains about the same relative position over the earth, to improve observational efforts.   read more
  • Corporate Tax Evasion Strategy Debated in Senate

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Currently, U.S. businesses can claim they are foreign owned if only 20% of it is actually the property of overseas investors. President Barack Obama says this ceiling should be raised to 50% foreign ownership to slow down the rate of companies leaving the country.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to South Korea: Who Is Mark Lippert?

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    After Obama’s inauguration, Lippert was a deputy assistant to the president and then was named chief of staff for the National Security Council (NSC). Lippert left the NSC in 2010. If confirmed, Lippert will be the first political appointee to head the Seoul embassy; the job has previously been filled by career Foreign Service appointees. However, the South Korean government is reportedly eager to have an ambassador with such close ties to Obama.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Egypt: Who Is Stephen Beecroft?

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    In 2003, Beecroft was named special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and the following year was special assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Beecroft remained in the job when Condoleezza Rice took over the State Department. Beecroft served as ambassador to Jordan from July 17, 2008 to June 4, 2011. Beecroft was transferred to Baghdad, Iraq, on July 14, 2011.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Jordan: Who Is Alice Wells?

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Until 2011, she was executive assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs William J. Burns. Wells was then named executive assistant to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, working with her until 2012. At that time, she moved to the White House, becoming special assistant to the president for Russia and Central Asia. Since 2013, Wells has served as an assessor at the Foreign Service Board of Examiners.   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

  • Bulgaria

    Once one of the Soviet Union’s most stalwart allies, Bulgaria has gradually embraced Western style democracy and free market systems. Today, the country is part of the European Union and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Sidikou, Maman S.

    The West African nation of Niger has sent a former government journalist who earned his graduate degrees in the U.S. to serve as its ambassador to Washington. Maman Sambo Sidikou presented his credentials to the President Barack Obama on January 1...   more

Blog

  • 50 Years of Keeping a Daily Diary

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

PHOTO GALLERY

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