Portal

  • Hedge Funds do not Make Good Landlords

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Among all residents surveyed, 46% reported plumbing problems, 39% had roaches or insects, 22% complained of rats, mice or termites, 21% said their heating or air conditioning didn’t work properly, 20% have endured mold, and 18% suffered leaky roofs, among other concerns. The study, conducted by the Right to the City Alliance’s Homes for All Campaign, also found that only 10% of tenants in Los Angeles and 26% in Riverside had ever met their landlord in person.   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
  • 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
  • U.S. Pork Producers Keep Using Drug Banned or Restricted in 160 Countries

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Food safety advocates point out that 160 countries have either outlawed the drug or limited its use, while also noting the existence of 160,000 reports of pigs becoming ill or dying after being fed ractopamine. The nonprofit Center for Food Safety cited information from the European Food Safety Authority showing ractopamine can cause increased heart rates in humans.   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

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • Milliliters May Inch out Spoonfuls as Safest Measure of Children’s Medication

    Thursday, July 17, 2014
    Most medicines sold in the U.S. come with instructions that call for teaspoon- or tablespoon-sized amounts. The problem with this method is that it can lead to dangerous overdosing for children. About 10,000 people each year contact poison control centers because of confusion about medicine directions. That’s why some professional organizations are now advocating for American liquid medicines to be dispensed in milliliters, which produces fewer risks of overdosing kids.   read more
  • Navy’s First Female Four-Star Admiral

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014
    The first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship and to hold a three-star rank among all the armed services, Michelle Howard was promoted last week to four-star admiral. The promotion made her the first woman, and first African American, to climb so high in the Navy. She now holds the second most important post in the Navy, as vice chief of naval operations. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said it shows “how far we have come, and how far she has helped bring us.”   read more
  • Forgotten Vials of Smallpox Found in Government Lab

    Friday, July 11, 2014
    Federal health officials were surprised to learn that vials containing deadly smallpox virus were sitting in a vacant government lab outside Washington, DC. The virus was officially eradicated 44 years ago. At that time, “every single research lab in the world was asked to scour their facilities and submit all specimens for accounting and destruction,” said Dr. William Schaffner. It “seems curious beyond belief” that the smallpox vials were now found in an abandoned storeroom, he added.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 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
  • $23.6 Billion Jury Award in Smoking Case Unlikely to Survive Appeal

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is expected to challenge the verdict that featured $23.6 billion in punitive damages. In addition to that sum, the jury granted compensatory damages totaling $16.9 million in the case brought by Cynthia Robinson, the widow of chain smoker Michael Johnson, who died 18 years ago of lung cancer at age 36.   read more
  • Federal Grand Jury Indicts FedEx for Conspiring to Deliver Illegal Drugs (No Officials Charged)

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    The 15-count indictment says that the company had been warned by the federal government at least six times that it was acting as a drug courier. The online pharmacies at issue were those that didn’t rely on prescriptions from physicians. Rather, they relied on an online questionnaire filled out by buyers without a doctor ever examining a patient. According to the indictment, the drugs shipped by FedEx included Ambien, Diazepam, Alprazolam (Xanax), and Clonazepam.   read more

Controversies

  • Missouri the only State to Refuse to Maintain a Prescription Drug Database

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The state that’s home to the maker of oxycodone, one of the most abused painkillers in the United States, is also the only one in the nation that doesn’t have a government prescription drug database, thereby encouraging misuse of medications. Other Republicans have grown frustrated with Schaaf’s obstructionism, particularly those in neighboring states trying to stem their own drug abuse problems. With Missouri being so lax, drug addicts often cross the border and buy what they need.   read more
  • Beef Production Far Worse for the Environment than other Animal Products

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The research revealed beef cattle utilized 28 times more land, required 11 times more irrigation water for feed, used six times more nitrogen fertilizer that pollutes waterways, and discharged five times more greenhouse gases, particularly methane. On average, eating beef is about ten times more costly to the environment than eating any other animal-based foods, according to the report.   read more
  • FBI Accused of Entrapping Muslims; ATF Accused of Entrapping Minorities

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    In one high-profile case (the “Newburgh Four”), New York District Judge Colleen McMahan, the federal judge overseeing the trial, characterized the government as having come “up with the crime, provided the means, and removed all relevant obstacles.” She added, “Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of [defendant] Mr. [James] Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope.”   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • VA Cemetery Chief Retires One Month before Publication of Report Exposing his Prohibited Personnel Practices

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    The report charged that Muro created a job for a friend in violation of civil service regulations; that he had an improper relationship with a contractor for the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), which he managed; and that he improperly gave that contractor business for educational services that were already available through VA channels.   read more
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Who Is Bob McDonald?

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    In 2012, there began to be a drumbeat of criticism about P&G’s earnings and stock price. An outside activist investor, Bill Ackman, leveled complaints about the company’s performance, saying that McDonald was spending too much time on outside activities. Despite cutting thousands of jobs and bringing up P&G’s stock price, McDonald was pushed out in June 2013 and replaced by the man he had succeeded in the job, A.G. Lafley.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan: Who Is George Krol?

    Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Krol was nominated to be ambassador to Uzbekistan in July 2010 and assumed the post about a year later. While there, he has taken criticism from human rights groups in the country for deferring to the regime of Islam Karimov, under which there are frequent rights violations, including forced labor of its citizens, and little freedom of expression.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Asia Foundation

    The Asia Foundation (TAF) was established as a Central Intelligence Administration (CIA) proprietary in 1954 with the mission “to undertake cultural and educational activities on behalf of the United States Government in ways not open to official ...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Croatia

    Ruled for centuries under the Hapsburg Empire, Croatia is a Southern Slavic state that formed part of the former Yugoslavia until its disintegration at the end of the Cold War. The delicate balance of power binding diverse ethnic and religious gro...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Djalal, Patti

    A controversial figure in his own country, Dino Patti Djalal became ambassador of Indonesia to the United States in September 2010, despite calls from human rights groups for President Barack Obama to reject his credentials.   Born on September ...   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
  • Hedge Funds do not Make Good Landlords

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Among all residents surveyed, 46% reported plumbing problems, 39% had roaches or insects, 22% complained of rats, mice or termites, 21% said their heating or air conditioning didn’t work properly, 20% have endured mold, and 18% suffered leaky roofs, among other concerns. The study, conducted by the Right to the City Alliance’s Homes for All Campaign, also found that only 10% of tenants in Los Angeles and 26% in Riverside had ever met their landlord in person.   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
  • 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
  • U.S. Pork Producers Keep Using Drug Banned or Restricted in 160 Countries

    Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Food safety advocates point out that 160 countries have either outlawed the drug or limited its use, while also noting the existence of 160,000 reports of pigs becoming ill or dying after being fed ractopamine. The nonprofit Center for Food Safety cited information from the European Food Safety Authority showing ractopamine can cause increased heart rates in humans.   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

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • Milliliters May Inch out Spoonfuls as Safest Measure of Children’s Medication

    Thursday, July 17, 2014
    Most medicines sold in the U.S. come with instructions that call for teaspoon- or tablespoon-sized amounts. The problem with this method is that it can lead to dangerous overdosing for children. About 10,000 people each year contact poison control centers because of confusion about medicine directions. That’s why some professional organizations are now advocating for American liquid medicines to be dispensed in milliliters, which produces fewer risks of overdosing kids.   read more
  • Navy’s First Female Four-Star Admiral

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014
    The first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship and to hold a three-star rank among all the armed services, Michelle Howard was promoted last week to four-star admiral. The promotion made her the first woman, and first African American, to climb so high in the Navy. She now holds the second most important post in the Navy, as vice chief of naval operations. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said it shows “how far we have come, and how far she has helped bring us.”   read more
  • Forgotten Vials of Smallpox Found in Government Lab

    Friday, July 11, 2014
    Federal health officials were surprised to learn that vials containing deadly smallpox virus were sitting in a vacant government lab outside Washington, DC. The virus was officially eradicated 44 years ago. At that time, “every single research lab in the world was asked to scour their facilities and submit all specimens for accounting and destruction,” said Dr. William Schaffner. It “seems curious beyond belief” that the smallpox vials were now found in an abandoned storeroom, he added.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 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
  • $23.6 Billion Jury Award in Smoking Case Unlikely to Survive Appeal

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is expected to challenge the verdict that featured $23.6 billion in punitive damages. In addition to that sum, the jury granted compensatory damages totaling $16.9 million in the case brought by Cynthia Robinson, the widow of chain smoker Michael Johnson, who died 18 years ago of lung cancer at age 36.   read more
  • Federal Grand Jury Indicts FedEx for Conspiring to Deliver Illegal Drugs (No Officials Charged)

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    The 15-count indictment says that the company had been warned by the federal government at least six times that it was acting as a drug courier. The online pharmacies at issue were those that didn’t rely on prescriptions from physicians. Rather, they relied on an online questionnaire filled out by buyers without a doctor ever examining a patient. According to the indictment, the drugs shipped by FedEx included Ambien, Diazepam, Alprazolam (Xanax), and Clonazepam.   read more

Controversies

  • Missouri the only State to Refuse to Maintain a Prescription Drug Database

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The state that’s home to the maker of oxycodone, one of the most abused painkillers in the United States, is also the only one in the nation that doesn’t have a government prescription drug database, thereby encouraging misuse of medications. Other Republicans have grown frustrated with Schaaf’s obstructionism, particularly those in neighboring states trying to stem their own drug abuse problems. With Missouri being so lax, drug addicts often cross the border and buy what they need.   read more
  • Beef Production Far Worse for the Environment than other Animal Products

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The research revealed beef cattle utilized 28 times more land, required 11 times more irrigation water for feed, used six times more nitrogen fertilizer that pollutes waterways, and discharged five times more greenhouse gases, particularly methane. On average, eating beef is about ten times more costly to the environment than eating any other animal-based foods, according to the report.   read more
  • FBI Accused of Entrapping Muslims; ATF Accused of Entrapping Minorities

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    In one high-profile case (the “Newburgh Four”), New York District Judge Colleen McMahan, the federal judge overseeing the trial, characterized the government as having come “up with the crime, provided the means, and removed all relevant obstacles.” She added, “Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of [defendant] Mr. [James] Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope.”   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • VA Cemetery Chief Retires One Month before Publication of Report Exposing his Prohibited Personnel Practices

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    The report charged that Muro created a job for a friend in violation of civil service regulations; that he had an improper relationship with a contractor for the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), which he managed; and that he improperly gave that contractor business for educational services that were already available through VA channels.   read more
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Who Is Bob McDonald?

    Monday, July 21, 2014
    In 2012, there began to be a drumbeat of criticism about P&G’s earnings and stock price. An outside activist investor, Bill Ackman, leveled complaints about the company’s performance, saying that McDonald was spending too much time on outside activities. Despite cutting thousands of jobs and bringing up P&G’s stock price, McDonald was pushed out in June 2013 and replaced by the man he had succeeded in the job, A.G. Lafley.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan: Who Is George Krol?

    Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Krol was nominated to be ambassador to Uzbekistan in July 2010 and assumed the post about a year later. While there, he has taken criticism from human rights groups in the country for deferring to the regime of Islam Karimov, under which there are frequent rights violations, including forced labor of its citizens, and little freedom of expression.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    The NHTSA is the federal agency charged with regulating safety standards in the auto industry and transportation. To achieve its stated mission of reducing fatalities, injuries and costs associated with auto accidents, the NHTSA acts through resea...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Syria

    Syria was historically the political center of the Middle East, while today its capital, Damascus, is recognized by UNESCO as the Arab Capital of Culture. Over the past 60 years, since 1961, Syria has been ruled by the Ba’ath Party, the same party...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Shipman, David

    Since August 2011, the administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been David R. Shipman, who has more than thirty-five years’ experience in agricultural administration.   Born circa 1954, S...   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