Portal

  • Republican Dissent Killed Controversial House Abortion Bill, but Clones Emerge in State Legislatures

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    The 20-week limits have a disproportionate impact on the poor, who often don’t seek medical attention for their pregnancies until they’re farther along, and then have more trouble scraping up the money for an abortion if that’s what they decide to do. Other women, particularly younger ones with irregular menstrual cycles, sometimes don’t realize they’re pregnant until farther down the line. In addition, there are few exceptions in the laws for cases of fetal abnormalities.   read more
  • Chemical Industry and Republican Lawmakers Succeed in Stalling EPA Chemical Regulation Process

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    When Barack Obama became president, he vowed to step up the analysis of chemicals by EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) to determine which should be restricted or banned because of toxicity. The George W. Bush administration had evaluated only about five chemicals a year. Lisa Jackson, Obama’s first EPA administrator, said the target should be 50 a year. Instead, the EPA has completed only 41 evaluations since Obama took office in 2009, with only one being done in 2014.   read more
  • Will Secret Donors Dominate the Upcoming Election Season?

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    Candidates’ backers set up nonprofit organizations ostensibly as “social welfare organizations” that don’t have politics as their primary purpose. Instead, they run “issue ads,” that coincidentally mention either the candidate they’re backing or their opponent. Sen. Mitch McConnell used this technique to great effect in his recent defeat of Alison Lundergan Grimes.   read more
  • Poorest Patients Sued by Some Non-Profit Hospitals

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) has a particularly insidious tactic: it forces incoming patients to sign a waiver allowing the hospital to garnish their wages to settle hospital charges and legal fees. Normally, those making less than $30,000 a year are exempt from garnishments, but SAMC and other hospitals skirt this consumer protection with the waiver.   read more
  • Louisiana Fishing Industry Battles Big Oil over Coastline Erosion

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East sued 97 oil and gas companies, asking for compensation for the damage done by the oil industry in dredging canals and installing pipelines, causing more erosion of the land and making it more vulnerable to hurricanes. Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal tried to throw a wrench in the suit by firing some of the members of the board that filed the action.   read more

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Top Stories

  • Measles Outbreak at Disneyland and Elsewhere Blamed on Foreign Visitors and Anti-Vaccine Movement

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    The infection count changes daily, hitting 85 nationwide Saturday night. The majority of the cases have been linked to Disneyland. More than 150 schools in Los Angeles County have exemption rates of 8% or higher for at least one of the five vaccines recommended for children, according to a study by the Times. All of them are in areas with incomes averaging $94,500, 60% higher than the county median.   read more
  • NSA Said to be Preparing for Future of Digital Warfare

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    The future of cyber warfare will mean paralyzing “computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money,” Spiegel reported. The NSA is taking the lead within the U.S. military, putting it on the potential frontlines of future conflicts. NSA director Admiral Michael Roger oversees an “army” of 40,000 specialists versed in digital spying and “destructive network attacks.”   read more
  • Farm Animals Suffer from Government Breeding Experiments Aimed at Bolstering Meat Industry Profits

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    The research has produced results that sickened veterinarians working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the complex. Pigs wind up having offspring that are born frail, and wind up being crushed accidentally by their mother. Surgery and breeding techniques have forced cows to bear twins and triplets, instead of just one calf. The calves “often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed,” said the Times.   read more

Unusual News

  • Justice Dept. Pays $134,000 to Woman Who Sued Over Use of Her Identity in Fake Facebook Page for DEA Operation

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    Sondra Arquiett sued the government after learning photos of her were part of a social media sting operation run by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Federal agents had obtained the images after confiscating her phone in 2010 as part of a drug arrest, which resulted in Arquiett pleading guilty to a drug conspiracy charge. But she never gave the DEA permission to use her photos to snare other people she knew who were using or trafficking in illegal drugs.   read more
  • Skulls of Unidentified Corpses Given Sculpted Faces in Search for Their Identities … and Their Killers

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    The 11 unsolved murders required considerable work on the part of sculptors to recreate what the people might have looked like before their deaths. All of the cases “had all met ugly deaths and were found as skeletons in desolate places across New York City — train tracks, wooded areas, in a basement,” wrote The New York Times. In some cases, the bodies were dismembered and the skulls crushed. This work is a last resort for investigators.   read more
  • Now Some Same-Sex Couples are Told They Have to Marry … to Keep Their Job Benefits

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    Same-sex marriage has gone from being a hard-won right to a requirement for many gay couples. With many states now authorizing (or at least not banning) gay marriage, some employers are phasing out domestic partnerships and telling couples they have to get married in order to keep their benefits. The way companies see it, there’s no point in keeping domestic partnership rules if marriage is legal. However, this could have implications for heterosexual couples' domestic arrangements.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Largest Area of Federal Waters in U.S. to be auctioned for Offshore Wind Power Projects

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    Twelve companies have been asked to bid on the four lease areas within the 1,160-square-mile patch south of Martha’s Vineyard. The auction, to be held Thursday, will be the largest such sale to date by the federal government. If built out, the project would generate enough electricity to power 1.5 million homes.   read more
  • Housing Trust, Penniless for 7 Years, Finally Gets Funding to Fight Homelessness

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    The National Housing Trust Fund, created by Congress in 2008 to support affordable housing projects across the country, has not received any funding since its inception. But the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced late last year that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now strong enough, now that the housing crisis has abated, to contribute to the National Housing Trust Fund. The decision will result in $325 million in block grants being distributed to states starting next year.   read more
  • Richest 1% Could Own Half the World’s Wealth by 2016

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015
    A mere 80 individuals control nearly $2 trillion, reported Oxfam. That amount is nearly the same as what’s owned by 3.5 billion people at the bottom of the scale. Oxfam also reported that the poorest 80% of people have only 5.5% of all wealth on the planet. “Do we really want to live in a world where the 1 percent own more than the rest of us combined?” said Oxfam director Winnie Byanyima. “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering.”   read more

Controversies

  • Half of California's Big Trees Are Gone

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    The big trees, more than two feet in diameter, were found in decline from Southern California to the Northern Sierras. Some areas of SoCal showed nearly a 75% decline. They were in decline even in the wild, where logging and development were not factors. The study compares the numbers from 80 years ago with a survey taken between 2001 and 2010, so the current four-year drought is not a factor.   read more
  • A Win for Federal Whistleblowers as Supreme Court Sides with Fired Air Marshal

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    Robert MacLean was fired after he exposed what he considered to be a reckless decision by the TSA three years earlier. In 2003, the agency issued an alert of a possible hijacking plot on a commercial flight. Air marshals were on alert, but TSA officials canceled overnight missions for MacLean and others in an effort to save money on hotel lodging. MacLean thought the decision was shortsighted, and revealed the decision to the TSA inspector general.   read more
  • New Republican Senate Intelligence Chairman Wants to Bury CIA Torture Reports

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    In his letter to Obama, Burr requested “that all copies of the full and final report in the possession of the executive branch be returned immediately.” Burr’s move is “apparently aimed at keeping the full version of the report from being released to the public,” said the Post.“I strongly disagree that the administration should relinquish copies of the full committee study,” said Feinstein. “Doing so would limit the ability to learn lessons from this sad chapter in America’s history."   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • Senegal’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Babacar Diagne?

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    In November 2012, Diagne left his position at RTS and was appointed ambassador to the Gambia, a nation almost entirely surrounded by Senegal. Much of his work involved advocating for Senegalese held in prison in that country, many of them facing death sentences. He also obtained a grant from Senegal’s government to support women’s projects in the Senegalese women’s community in the Gambia. He served there until being sent to Washington in 2014.   read more
  • Angola’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Agostinho Tavares?

    Saturday, January 17, 2015
    In 2007, Tavares was made head of the Asia and Oceania Department of Bilateral Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His first ambassadorial posting came in 2011 when he was sent to represent Angola in Ottawa, Canada. On August 24, 2014, Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos appointed Agostinho Tavares da Silva Neto to be his ambassador to the United States.   read more
  • Comoros’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Soilihi Mohamed Soilihi?

    Saturday, January 10, 2015
    Soilihi in 2006 was appointed as special delegate to Moroni city hall and the following year he became chief of staff to Comoros’ minister of finance. Soilihi moved to foreign affairs, becoming political counselor to the minister in 2009. In 2010, Soilihi took over as director general of the Office of Radio and Television for Comoros. One of his achievements was to make Comoran television available via satellite.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • United States Access Board

    The U.S. Access Board, which began as the Architecture and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, and is known by both names, is an independent federal agency that works to assure enforced accessibility for people with disabilities. It is al...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Netherlands

    Located in northwestern Europe near the North Sea, the Netherlands was once a powerful seafaring nation, but repeated wars weakened the empire by the 20th century. The Netherlands was neutral during the first World War, but was occupied by the ...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • James, Makila

    The new U.S. ambassador to Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, has specialized in relations with Africa and the Caribbean. Makila Z. James was nominated by President Obama on February 17, 2012, subject to Senate confirmation, to replace Am...   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
  • Republican Dissent Killed Controversial House Abortion Bill, but Clones Emerge in State Legislatures

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    The 20-week limits have a disproportionate impact on the poor, who often don’t seek medical attention for their pregnancies until they’re farther along, and then have more trouble scraping up the money for an abortion if that’s what they decide to do. Other women, particularly younger ones with irregular menstrual cycles, sometimes don’t realize they’re pregnant until farther down the line. In addition, there are few exceptions in the laws for cases of fetal abnormalities.   read more
  • Chemical Industry and Republican Lawmakers Succeed in Stalling EPA Chemical Regulation Process

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    When Barack Obama became president, he vowed to step up the analysis of chemicals by EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) to determine which should be restricted or banned because of toxicity. The George W. Bush administration had evaluated only about five chemicals a year. Lisa Jackson, Obama’s first EPA administrator, said the target should be 50 a year. Instead, the EPA has completed only 41 evaluations since Obama took office in 2009, with only one being done in 2014.   read more
  • Will Secret Donors Dominate the Upcoming Election Season?

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    Candidates’ backers set up nonprofit organizations ostensibly as “social welfare organizations” that don’t have politics as their primary purpose. Instead, they run “issue ads,” that coincidentally mention either the candidate they’re backing or their opponent. Sen. Mitch McConnell used this technique to great effect in his recent defeat of Alison Lundergan Grimes.   read more
  • Poorest Patients Sued by Some Non-Profit Hospitals

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) has a particularly insidious tactic: it forces incoming patients to sign a waiver allowing the hospital to garnish their wages to settle hospital charges and legal fees. Normally, those making less than $30,000 a year are exempt from garnishments, but SAMC and other hospitals skirt this consumer protection with the waiver.   read more
  • Louisiana Fishing Industry Battles Big Oil over Coastline Erosion

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East sued 97 oil and gas companies, asking for compensation for the damage done by the oil industry in dredging canals and installing pipelines, causing more erosion of the land and making it more vulnerable to hurricanes. Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal tried to throw a wrench in the suit by firing some of the members of the board that filed the action.   read more

Top Stories

  • Measles Outbreak at Disneyland and Elsewhere Blamed on Foreign Visitors and Anti-Vaccine Movement

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    The infection count changes daily, hitting 85 nationwide Saturday night. The majority of the cases have been linked to Disneyland. More than 150 schools in Los Angeles County have exemption rates of 8% or higher for at least one of the five vaccines recommended for children, according to a study by the Times. All of them are in areas with incomes averaging $94,500, 60% higher than the county median.   read more
  • NSA Said to be Preparing for Future of Digital Warfare

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    The future of cyber warfare will mean paralyzing “computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money,” Spiegel reported. The NSA is taking the lead within the U.S. military, putting it on the potential frontlines of future conflicts. NSA director Admiral Michael Roger oversees an “army” of 40,000 specialists versed in digital spying and “destructive network attacks.”   read more
  • Farm Animals Suffer from Government Breeding Experiments Aimed at Bolstering Meat Industry Profits

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    The research has produced results that sickened veterinarians working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the complex. Pigs wind up having offspring that are born frail, and wind up being crushed accidentally by their mother. Surgery and breeding techniques have forced cows to bear twins and triplets, instead of just one calf. The calves “often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed,” said the Times.   read more

Unusual News

  • Justice Dept. Pays $134,000 to Woman Who Sued Over Use of Her Identity in Fake Facebook Page for DEA Operation

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    Sondra Arquiett sued the government after learning photos of her were part of a social media sting operation run by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Federal agents had obtained the images after confiscating her phone in 2010 as part of a drug arrest, which resulted in Arquiett pleading guilty to a drug conspiracy charge. But she never gave the DEA permission to use her photos to snare other people she knew who were using or trafficking in illegal drugs.   read more
  • Skulls of Unidentified Corpses Given Sculpted Faces in Search for Their Identities … and Their Killers

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    The 11 unsolved murders required considerable work on the part of sculptors to recreate what the people might have looked like before their deaths. All of the cases “had all met ugly deaths and were found as skeletons in desolate places across New York City — train tracks, wooded areas, in a basement,” wrote The New York Times. In some cases, the bodies were dismembered and the skulls crushed. This work is a last resort for investigators.   read more
  • Now Some Same-Sex Couples are Told They Have to Marry … to Keep Their Job Benefits

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    Same-sex marriage has gone from being a hard-won right to a requirement for many gay couples. With many states now authorizing (or at least not banning) gay marriage, some employers are phasing out domestic partnerships and telling couples they have to get married in order to keep their benefits. The way companies see it, there’s no point in keeping domestic partnership rules if marriage is legal. However, this could have implications for heterosexual couples' domestic arrangements.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Largest Area of Federal Waters in U.S. to be auctioned for Offshore Wind Power Projects

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    Twelve companies have been asked to bid on the four lease areas within the 1,160-square-mile patch south of Martha’s Vineyard. The auction, to be held Thursday, will be the largest such sale to date by the federal government. If built out, the project would generate enough electricity to power 1.5 million homes.   read more
  • Housing Trust, Penniless for 7 Years, Finally Gets Funding to Fight Homelessness

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    The National Housing Trust Fund, created by Congress in 2008 to support affordable housing projects across the country, has not received any funding since its inception. But the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced late last year that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now strong enough, now that the housing crisis has abated, to contribute to the National Housing Trust Fund. The decision will result in $325 million in block grants being distributed to states starting next year.   read more
  • Richest 1% Could Own Half the World’s Wealth by 2016

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015
    A mere 80 individuals control nearly $2 trillion, reported Oxfam. That amount is nearly the same as what’s owned by 3.5 billion people at the bottom of the scale. Oxfam also reported that the poorest 80% of people have only 5.5% of all wealth on the planet. “Do we really want to live in a world where the 1 percent own more than the rest of us combined?” said Oxfam director Winnie Byanyima. “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering.”   read more

Controversies

  • Half of California's Big Trees Are Gone

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    The big trees, more than two feet in diameter, were found in decline from Southern California to the Northern Sierras. Some areas of SoCal showed nearly a 75% decline. They were in decline even in the wild, where logging and development were not factors. The study compares the numbers from 80 years ago with a survey taken between 2001 and 2010, so the current four-year drought is not a factor.   read more
  • A Win for Federal Whistleblowers as Supreme Court Sides with Fired Air Marshal

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    Robert MacLean was fired after he exposed what he considered to be a reckless decision by the TSA three years earlier. In 2003, the agency issued an alert of a possible hijacking plot on a commercial flight. Air marshals were on alert, but TSA officials canceled overnight missions for MacLean and others in an effort to save money on hotel lodging. MacLean thought the decision was shortsighted, and revealed the decision to the TSA inspector general.   read more
  • New Republican Senate Intelligence Chairman Wants to Bury CIA Torture Reports

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    In his letter to Obama, Burr requested “that all copies of the full and final report in the possession of the executive branch be returned immediately.” Burr’s move is “apparently aimed at keeping the full version of the report from being released to the public,” said the Post.“I strongly disagree that the administration should relinquish copies of the full committee study,” said Feinstein. “Doing so would limit the ability to learn lessons from this sad chapter in America’s history."   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • Senegal’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Babacar Diagne?

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    In November 2012, Diagne left his position at RTS and was appointed ambassador to the Gambia, a nation almost entirely surrounded by Senegal. Much of his work involved advocating for Senegalese held in prison in that country, many of them facing death sentences. He also obtained a grant from Senegal’s government to support women’s projects in the Senegalese women’s community in the Gambia. He served there until being sent to Washington in 2014.   read more
  • Angola’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Agostinho Tavares?

    Saturday, January 17, 2015
    In 2007, Tavares was made head of the Asia and Oceania Department of Bilateral Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His first ambassadorial posting came in 2011 when he was sent to represent Angola in Ottawa, Canada. On August 24, 2014, Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos appointed Agostinho Tavares da Silva Neto to be his ambassador to the United States.   read more
  • Comoros’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Soilihi Mohamed Soilihi?

    Saturday, January 10, 2015
    Soilihi in 2006 was appointed as special delegate to Moroni city hall and the following year he became chief of staff to Comoros’ minister of finance. Soilihi moved to foreign affairs, becoming political counselor to the minister in 2009. In 2010, Soilihi took over as director general of the Office of Radio and Television for Comoros. One of his achievements was to make Comoran television available via satellite.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Command and General Staff College

    The Command and General Staff College (CGSC) is a graduate school for U.S. military and foreign military leaders at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It is the Army’s senior tactical school and introduces officers to operational and strategic warfare. ...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Mozambique

    Strategically located in southern Africa, near Zimbabwe and South Africa, Mozambique has been slow to recover from a terrible civil war that dominated the country from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. The conflict was entangled in the Cold Wa...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Clancy, Carolyn

    Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy has served as director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality since February 2003. Clancy, a general internist and health services researcher, is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Massachusetts Med...   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

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