Portal

  • State Abortion Restriction Laws have Averaged almost One a Week Since 2010

    Saturday, July 04, 2015
    State legislatures have passed 282 laws restricting abortions since 2010. Fifty-one new restrictions have gone into effect this year alone. Five of them either imposed or increased time women must wait between their first contact with a clinic and their procedure. Arkansas and Tennessee now require a 48-hour wait. North Carolina and Oklahoma are forcing women to wait at least 72 hours, joining Missouri, South Dakota and Utah in requiring women to wait at least three full days for an abortion.   read more
  • Coal Industry Congressman wants Companies to Pay Less in Royalties to U.S.

    Saturday, July 04, 2015
    Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana submitted a rider to a budget bill that would stop the Obama administration from ensuring that coal companies pay the proper royalties for mining on public lands. The increase is slated to happen as a result of the Interior Dept. closing a loophole that allows coal companies to sell to subsidiaries at intentionally depressed prices, which avoids royalty payments. Zinke has received almost $10,000 in contributions since 2013 from three coal company PACs.   read more
  • Overlooked IRS Health Insurance Rule Punishing Some Small Business Owners Suddenly Kicks In

    Saturday, July 04, 2015
    Companies providing reimbursement can be fined $100 per day, per employee under the rule. The penalty can be up to a total of $500,000, per year. “In contrast, the penalty on businesses for failing to comply with the employer mandate is only $2,000 per year,” said Michael Cohn. “It’s the biggest penalty that no one is talking about,” said NFIB's Kevin Kuhlman. “The penalty for compensating employees for healthcare-related expenses is enough to destroy most small businesses.”   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Romania: Who Is Hans Klemm?

    Saturday, July 04, 2015
    Hans G. Klemm was nominated on March 25, 2015, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Romania. It would be the second such posting for Klemm, who previously served in Timor-Leste. In July 2012 he was made principal deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Human Resources, where he was for a time acting director general of the Foreign Service.   read more
  • India’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Arun Singh?

    Saturday, July 04, 2015
    It’s the third ambassadorial posting for the long-time member of his country’s foreign service and his third term in the United States. Singh’s first posting as ambassador was to Israel in April 2005. He served there until September 2008, when he returned to the United States as deputy chief of mission in the Indian embassy in Washington. Singh went to Paris in 2013 as ambassador there, a position he held until being appointed to head India’s mission in Washington.   read more

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Top Stories

  • Justice Dept. Investigates Airline Price Fixing

    Friday, July 03, 2015
    The Justice Dept. would say no more than that it is looking into potential “unlawful coordination” among some airlines, but AP believes its focus is on whether the airlines illegally communicated about their pattern of adding new flights and routes, as well as the limiting of seats, which could be used to maintain high airfares. The Justice Dept. sent letters to American, Delta, Southwest and United Airlines--which are said to control more than 80% of the seats in the domestic travel market.   read more
  • Mentally Ill Shot to Death in U.S. in 2015: 124 and Counting

    Thursday, July 02, 2015
    In most cases, officers responded to calls from relatives or neighbors who said a mentally fragile person was behaving erratically. Many of those who were armed didn’t have firearms, but toy guns or implements that are less lethal than a gun. Also, more than 50% were killed by officers lacking in training for dealing with the mentally ill. “And in many cases, officers responded with tactics that quickly made a volatile situation even more dangerous,” said the Post.   read more
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Serves as International Bulldog for Tobacco Industry

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    The Chamber has become “the hammer for the tobacco industry,” setting up lobbying operations in other countries to fight anti-smoking laws. Its zeal to help American tobacco companies has gone so far as to convince Ukraine to file a legal challenge against Australia over that country’s right to enact anti-smoking laws on its own soil. The Chamber, led by Thomas Donohue, has also worked to ensure that international agreements won’t impede the marketing of tobacco products in other countries.   read more

Unusual News

  • NBA Player Traded 4 Times in One Week

    Thursday, July 02, 2015
    Job-hopping generally doesn’t look good on a resume. But NBA player Luke Ridnour’s CV just got a lot longer in a short period of time. In the run-up to the June 25 NBA draft and its aftermath, Ridnour was traded four times, with three of those moves coming in one day. Fortunately, Ridnour didn’t have to leave his living room during all this maneuvering, but he might have appreciated the frequent-flier miles. The key to Ridnour’s virtual journey around North America is his contract.   read more
  • Oregonians Can Now Legally Smoke Marijuana…but they can’t Buy it or Sell it

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    For now, Oregon pot smokers will have to grow their own—they’re allowed to have four plants each—or rely on the kindness of others to give them some. Another option is to drive into neighboring Washington, but bringing marijuana across state lines is a federal crime. Last night, Portland’s NORML planned to give away marijuana to celebrate--“Where adults will be allowed to give it away rather than allowing the black market to thrive on our new legality,” said NORML's Russ Belville.   read more
  • Police Can Arrest You for Calling them Names, but They’ll Lose in Court

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    Calling a police officer unflattering names might not be polite but it is protected by the Constitution. The Marshall Project documented numerous cases demonstrating that police have exceeded their authority by arresting people for name-calling. In Washington State, a teenage boy called an officer a “motherfucker.” His conviction was overturned last week by the state Supreme Court. In Georgia, a woman won a $100,000 settlement after police arrested her for cursing at them.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Could Puerto Rico Go the Way of Greece?

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    A withdrawal of manufacturing and closure of military bases have caused some of the island's economic problems. Puerto Rico’s governor, Alejandro García Padilla, has called on lenders to allow deferring debt payments. He warned that if Wall Street doesn’t cooperate, it won’t just mean trouble for Puerto Rico. “If they don’t come to the table, it will be bad for them,” he said. “Our economy will get into a worse situation and we’ll have less money to pay them."   read more
  • Obama Pushes to Extend Overtime Pay to 5 Million more Workers

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    The change “would restore the overtime salary threshold to roughly where it stood in 1975,” said The New York Times. It remains to be seen, however, if the plan goes into effect. Although the regulation could be adopted as soon as next year, Republicans in Congress might try to kill it. As the business community almost always does with any new rule affecting it, executives decried the plan as one that will hurt companies and force them to cut jobs.   read more
  • IRS Awarded Contracts to 17 Corporations that Owed Back Taxes (Including One with a Felony Conviction)

    Sunday, June 28, 2015
    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is legally prohibited from doing business with companies that owe a significant amount of back taxes or a felony conviction, but an audit found the agency paid $18.8 million to such companies over a two-year period.   read more

Controversies

  • Defense Dept. Refuses to Release Report about Massacre of Civilians in Afghanistan

    Friday, July 03, 2015
    The Army changed its PTSD treatment policies following Bales’ case, “which shed light on the use of dangerous stimulants by soldiers in the field.” Bales’ medical records revealed he had the steroid stanozolol in his body at the time of the killings, which is known to trigger outbursts of temper. An Army investigation showed Bales had a reputation among junior enlisted men as being “paranoid,” “bipolar,” “crazy” and “racist,” but was regarded as competent and “even-keeled” by superior officers.   read more
  • Gun Ownership most Common in Alaska and Arkansas; Least Common in Delaware and Rhode Island; 29% Nationwide

    Friday, July 03, 2015
    Less than a third of all Americans claim to own a gun, with the state of Alaska leading the way in having the highest rate of gun ownership. Research published in the medical journal Injury Prevention shows that nearly 62% of residents of Alaska owns guns. No other state in the country boasts a gun ownership rate of 60% or higher. The study also determined that gun ownership is highest in locations that exhibit a strong gun culture.   read more
  • Federal Hate Crime Conviction Rate: 11%

    Friday, July 03, 2015
    The research revealed that most of the referrals didn’t lead to convictions because they were never tried in court. Prosecutors turned down 235 out of the 270 total hate crime referrals, or 87%, per TRAC. More than half of the rejected cases were due to insufficient evidence, lack of evidence of criminal intent, and weak or insufficient admissible evidence. A total of 7,242 people in the U.S. were victims of reported hate crime incidents in 2013, according to the FBI.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Guantánamo Prisoner Asks “Why am I Still Here?”

    Saturday, June 27, 2015
    The documents note that al-Alwi has made threats to kill U.S. personnel during his detention at Guantánamo and that he promised to do so following his release. However, there have been no efforts on the part of the U.S. government to prove any of those charges in a court of law. His petition to be tried in a civilian court has been denied, with federal judges determining that “it is more probable than not that petitioner was supporting the Taliban and al Qaeda.”   read more
  • U.S. Diplomats will no Longer Stay at Waldorf-Astoria now that it’s Owned by Chinese

    Monday, June 22, 2015
    The department traditionally takes two secured floors at the Waldorf for the UN session. However, the department has been worried about security issues at the iconic hotel since it was purchased last year by the Chinese Anbang Insurance Group for $1.95 billion.   read more
  • Why is Homeland Security Moving its Animal Disease Research Lab to a Place Hit by Tornadoes?

    Friday, June 19, 2015
    The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility will be operated by the Department of Homeland Security on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan. It’s replacing a facility located on Plum Island, off New York’s Long Island. It was put there in 1954 because it’s far from agricultural facilities and the prevailing winds blow out to sea, and would take any outbreaks away from land. NBAF sits in the path of Tornado Alley, a large stretch of the Midwest vulnerable to violent storms.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chairwoman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board: Who Is Joyce Connery?

    Saturday, June 27, 2015
    In January 2012, Connery took the newly-created position of director of nuclear energy policy in the NSC’s office of international economics. She has a reputation as a proponent of replacing coal fired power plants with small nuclear reactors and of exporting such reactors to other countries.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus: Who Is Kathleen Doherty?

    Monday, June 15, 2015
    Doherty returned to Washington in 2010 as director of the State Department’s Office of European Union and Regional Affairs and in September 2011 was made deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. She went back to Rome in August 2013 as deputy chief of mission, remaining in that post until her nomination as ambassador.   read more
  • Director of the National Weather Service: Who Is Louis Uccellini?

    Sunday, June 14, 2015
    On February 10, 2013, Louis W. Uccellini was made director of the National Weather Service (NWS). The appointment of Uccellini, an expert on blizzards, came shortly after Superstorm Sandy raked the Northeast. Uccellini has written extensively on weather, including co-authoring a two-volume publication, Northeast Snowstorms.   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

  • Turkey

    Turkey was once the home of the Ottoman Empire that stretched from the Persian Gulf to western Algeria. Lasting for 600 years, the Ottoman Empire was not only one of the most powerful empires in the history of the Mediterranean region, but it g...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Gitenstein, Mark

    Were it not for President Barack Obama’s “no lobbyists” policy, Mark Gitenstein might well have taken over the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy. But Gitenstein’s prior lobbying work on behalf of business clients, including the U.S. C...   more

Blog

  • Academy Awards 2015—Best Foreign Language Film

    When I tell people that, over a two-month period, I watched films from 83 different countries, the most common reaction is…a blank stare. Most people don’t even ask me what my favorites were. But I have to say that I had a wonderful time. Not only...   more
  • State Abortion Restriction Laws have Averaged almost One a Week Since 2010

    Saturday, July 04, 2015
    State legislatures have passed 282 laws restricting abortions since 2010. Fifty-one new restrictions have gone into effect this year alone. Five of them either imposed or increased time women must wait between their first contact with a clinic and their procedure. Arkansas and Tennessee now require a 48-hour wait. North Carolina and Oklahoma are forcing women to wait at least 72 hours, joining Missouri, South Dakota and Utah in requiring women to wait at least three full days for an abortion.   read more
  • Coal Industry Congressman wants Companies to Pay Less in Royalties to U.S.

    Saturday, July 04, 2015
    Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana submitted a rider to a budget bill that would stop the Obama administration from ensuring that coal companies pay the proper royalties for mining on public lands. The increase is slated to happen as a result of the Interior Dept. closing a loophole that allows coal companies to sell to subsidiaries at intentionally depressed prices, which avoids royalty payments. Zinke has received almost $10,000 in contributions since 2013 from three coal company PACs.   read more
  • Overlooked IRS Health Insurance Rule Punishing Some Small Business Owners Suddenly Kicks In

    Saturday, July 04, 2015
    Companies providing reimbursement can be fined $100 per day, per employee under the rule. The penalty can be up to a total of $500,000, per year. “In contrast, the penalty on businesses for failing to comply with the employer mandate is only $2,000 per year,” said Michael Cohn. “It’s the biggest penalty that no one is talking about,” said NFIB's Kevin Kuhlman. “The penalty for compensating employees for healthcare-related expenses is enough to destroy most small businesses.”   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Romania: Who Is Hans Klemm?

    Saturday, July 04, 2015
    Hans G. Klemm was nominated on March 25, 2015, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Romania. It would be the second such posting for Klemm, who previously served in Timor-Leste. In July 2012 he was made principal deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Human Resources, where he was for a time acting director general of the Foreign Service.   read more
  • India’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Arun Singh?

    Saturday, July 04, 2015
    It’s the third ambassadorial posting for the long-time member of his country’s foreign service and his third term in the United States. Singh’s first posting as ambassador was to Israel in April 2005. He served there until September 2008, when he returned to the United States as deputy chief of mission in the Indian embassy in Washington. Singh went to Paris in 2013 as ambassador there, a position he held until being appointed to head India’s mission in Washington.   read more

Top Stories

  • Justice Dept. Investigates Airline Price Fixing

    Friday, July 03, 2015
    The Justice Dept. would say no more than that it is looking into potential “unlawful coordination” among some airlines, but AP believes its focus is on whether the airlines illegally communicated about their pattern of adding new flights and routes, as well as the limiting of seats, which could be used to maintain high airfares. The Justice Dept. sent letters to American, Delta, Southwest and United Airlines--which are said to control more than 80% of the seats in the domestic travel market.   read more
  • Mentally Ill Shot to Death in U.S. in 2015: 124 and Counting

    Thursday, July 02, 2015
    In most cases, officers responded to calls from relatives or neighbors who said a mentally fragile person was behaving erratically. Many of those who were armed didn’t have firearms, but toy guns or implements that are less lethal than a gun. Also, more than 50% were killed by officers lacking in training for dealing with the mentally ill. “And in many cases, officers responded with tactics that quickly made a volatile situation even more dangerous,” said the Post.   read more
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Serves as International Bulldog for Tobacco Industry

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    The Chamber has become “the hammer for the tobacco industry,” setting up lobbying operations in other countries to fight anti-smoking laws. Its zeal to help American tobacco companies has gone so far as to convince Ukraine to file a legal challenge against Australia over that country’s right to enact anti-smoking laws on its own soil. The Chamber, led by Thomas Donohue, has also worked to ensure that international agreements won’t impede the marketing of tobacco products in other countries.   read more

Unusual News

  • NBA Player Traded 4 Times in One Week

    Thursday, July 02, 2015
    Job-hopping generally doesn’t look good on a resume. But NBA player Luke Ridnour’s CV just got a lot longer in a short period of time. In the run-up to the June 25 NBA draft and its aftermath, Ridnour was traded four times, with three of those moves coming in one day. Fortunately, Ridnour didn’t have to leave his living room during all this maneuvering, but he might have appreciated the frequent-flier miles. The key to Ridnour’s virtual journey around North America is his contract.   read more
  • Oregonians Can Now Legally Smoke Marijuana…but they can’t Buy it or Sell it

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    For now, Oregon pot smokers will have to grow their own—they’re allowed to have four plants each—or rely on the kindness of others to give them some. Another option is to drive into neighboring Washington, but bringing marijuana across state lines is a federal crime. Last night, Portland’s NORML planned to give away marijuana to celebrate--“Where adults will be allowed to give it away rather than allowing the black market to thrive on our new legality,” said NORML's Russ Belville.   read more
  • Police Can Arrest You for Calling them Names, but They’ll Lose in Court

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    Calling a police officer unflattering names might not be polite but it is protected by the Constitution. The Marshall Project documented numerous cases demonstrating that police have exceeded their authority by arresting people for name-calling. In Washington State, a teenage boy called an officer a “motherfucker.” His conviction was overturned last week by the state Supreme Court. In Georgia, a woman won a $100,000 settlement after police arrested her for cursing at them.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Could Puerto Rico Go the Way of Greece?

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    A withdrawal of manufacturing and closure of military bases have caused some of the island's economic problems. Puerto Rico’s governor, Alejandro García Padilla, has called on lenders to allow deferring debt payments. He warned that if Wall Street doesn’t cooperate, it won’t just mean trouble for Puerto Rico. “If they don’t come to the table, it will be bad for them,” he said. “Our economy will get into a worse situation and we’ll have less money to pay them."   read more
  • Obama Pushes to Extend Overtime Pay to 5 Million more Workers

    Wednesday, July 01, 2015
    The change “would restore the overtime salary threshold to roughly where it stood in 1975,” said The New York Times. It remains to be seen, however, if the plan goes into effect. Although the regulation could be adopted as soon as next year, Republicans in Congress might try to kill it. As the business community almost always does with any new rule affecting it, executives decried the plan as one that will hurt companies and force them to cut jobs.   read more
  • IRS Awarded Contracts to 17 Corporations that Owed Back Taxes (Including One with a Felony Conviction)

    Sunday, June 28, 2015
    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is legally prohibited from doing business with companies that owe a significant amount of back taxes or a felony conviction, but an audit found the agency paid $18.8 million to such companies over a two-year period.   read more

Controversies

  • Defense Dept. Refuses to Release Report about Massacre of Civilians in Afghanistan

    Friday, July 03, 2015
    The Army changed its PTSD treatment policies following Bales’ case, “which shed light on the use of dangerous stimulants by soldiers in the field.” Bales’ medical records revealed he had the steroid stanozolol in his body at the time of the killings, which is known to trigger outbursts of temper. An Army investigation showed Bales had a reputation among junior enlisted men as being “paranoid,” “bipolar,” “crazy” and “racist,” but was regarded as competent and “even-keeled” by superior officers.   read more
  • Gun Ownership most Common in Alaska and Arkansas; Least Common in Delaware and Rhode Island; 29% Nationwide

    Friday, July 03, 2015
    Less than a third of all Americans claim to own a gun, with the state of Alaska leading the way in having the highest rate of gun ownership. Research published in the medical journal Injury Prevention shows that nearly 62% of residents of Alaska owns guns. No other state in the country boasts a gun ownership rate of 60% or higher. The study also determined that gun ownership is highest in locations that exhibit a strong gun culture.   read more
  • Federal Hate Crime Conviction Rate: 11%

    Friday, July 03, 2015
    The research revealed that most of the referrals didn’t lead to convictions because they were never tried in court. Prosecutors turned down 235 out of the 270 total hate crime referrals, or 87%, per TRAC. More than half of the rejected cases were due to insufficient evidence, lack of evidence of criminal intent, and weak or insufficient admissible evidence. A total of 7,242 people in the U.S. were victims of reported hate crime incidents in 2013, according to the FBI.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Guantánamo Prisoner Asks “Why am I Still Here?”

    Saturday, June 27, 2015
    The documents note that al-Alwi has made threats to kill U.S. personnel during his detention at Guantánamo and that he promised to do so following his release. However, there have been no efforts on the part of the U.S. government to prove any of those charges in a court of law. His petition to be tried in a civilian court has been denied, with federal judges determining that “it is more probable than not that petitioner was supporting the Taliban and al Qaeda.”   read more
  • U.S. Diplomats will no Longer Stay at Waldorf-Astoria now that it’s Owned by Chinese

    Monday, June 22, 2015
    The department traditionally takes two secured floors at the Waldorf for the UN session. However, the department has been worried about security issues at the iconic hotel since it was purchased last year by the Chinese Anbang Insurance Group for $1.95 billion.   read more
  • Why is Homeland Security Moving its Animal Disease Research Lab to a Place Hit by Tornadoes?

    Friday, June 19, 2015
    The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility will be operated by the Department of Homeland Security on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan. It’s replacing a facility located on Plum Island, off New York’s Long Island. It was put there in 1954 because it’s far from agricultural facilities and the prevailing winds blow out to sea, and would take any outbreaks away from land. NBAF sits in the path of Tornado Alley, a large stretch of the Midwest vulnerable to violent storms.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chairwoman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board: Who Is Joyce Connery?

    Saturday, June 27, 2015
    In January 2012, Connery took the newly-created position of director of nuclear energy policy in the NSC’s office of international economics. She has a reputation as a proponent of replacing coal fired power plants with small nuclear reactors and of exporting such reactors to other countries.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus: Who Is Kathleen Doherty?

    Monday, June 15, 2015
    Doherty returned to Washington in 2010 as director of the State Department’s Office of European Union and Regional Affairs and in September 2011 was made deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. She went back to Rome in August 2013 as deputy chief of mission, remaining in that post until her nomination as ambassador.   read more
  • Director of the National Weather Service: Who Is Louis Uccellini?

    Sunday, June 14, 2015
    On February 10, 2013, Louis W. Uccellini was made director of the National Weather Service (NWS). The appointment of Uccellini, an expert on blizzards, came shortly after Superstorm Sandy raked the Northeast. Uccellini has written extensively on weather, including co-authoring a two-volume publication, Northeast Snowstorms.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Defense Contract Audit Agency

    The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) independently investigates Department of Defense (DoD) contracts to determine the fairness, accuracy and completeness of financial records and reports, as well as the effectiveness of any transactions th...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Argentina

    Argentina is the second largest country in South America, and the most prosperous country in Latin America. Having survived a brutal dictatorship and economic crisis in recent years, the country is politically stable and growing economically ag...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Polt, Michael

    Michael C. Polt was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Estonia on November 30, 2009.   Born in Austria, Polt immigrated to the United States when he was 15 years old and settled with his family in Tennessee. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Amer...   more

Blog

  • Academy Awards 2015—Best Foreign Language Film

    When I tell people that, over a two-month period, I watched films from 83 different countries, the most common reaction is…a blank stare. Most people don’t even ask me what my favorites were. But I have to say that I had a wonderful time. Not only...   more

PHOTO GALLERY

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