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  • USAID Accused of Removing Critical Details from Inspector General Report about Arrests of U.S. Pro-Democracy Groups in Egypt

    Saturday, October 25, 2014
    Acting Inspector General Michael Carroll got into trouble when he censored portions of an investigation involving pro-democracy groups in Egypt. A confidential draft of the report included a $4.6 million payoff to the Egyptian government. But the final version of the report contained nothing about it. Reportedly the State Department had wanted to keep the entire audit from public view. Some auditors claimed that Carroll didn’t want to rock the boat as he awaited Senate confirmation.   read more
  • TV Attack Ads Average One Per Minute…in North Carolina Alone

    Saturday, October 25, 2014
    In the fight for control of the U.S. Senate, the battle between incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis, Republican Speaker of the North Carolina House, has become ground zero for an onslaught of negative commercials. In one week, North Carolinians were subjected to an average of one attack ad for every minute of TV time. “Congratulations, North Carolina: You’ve become the year’s great state of political hate,” wrote Dave Levinthal.   read more
  • Cigarette Giant Bans Smoking at the Office

    Saturday, October 25, 2014
    Reynolds American, maker of Camel, Kool and other cigarettes, has decided to bar the smoking of tobacco products at its corporate headquarters. “We’re well aware that there will be folks who see this as an irony, but we believe it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it,” said a Reynolds spokesman. The firm has put a big marketing effort behind its electronic cigarettes, and those have been excluded from the smoking ban.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Guyana: Who Is Perry Holloway?

    Saturday, October 25, 2014
    Holloway has spent the vast majority of his career in Central and South America. In August 2009 he was named deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion, Paraguay and returned to Bogota in a similar post a year later, remaining in that position for four years. His one assignment outside Latin America came in 2013 when he was a political-military counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar and Comoros: Who Is Robert Yamate?

    Saturday, October 25, 2014
    Yamate was sent to Geneva as a minister counselor for management at the U.S. mission to the United Nations. He was brought back to Washington in 2008 as a multifunctional officer in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. In 2010, Yamate returned to Africa as the deputy chief of mission in Dakar, Senegal, acting as charge d’affaires for a time in 2012. He has served since 2013 as an assessor on the Department of State Board of Examiners.   read more
  • Blackwater Employees Convicted of Murder of 14 Iraqis

    Friday, October 24, 2014
    Private security guards employed by Blackwater Worldwide, in 2007, opened fire in the middle of a busy Baghdad intersection, killing 17 Iraqis. This week four of the security guards were convicted in a U.S. federal court on charges ranging from murder to use of an automatic weapon. “This verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war,” said U.S. attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.   read more
  • 50% Increase in U.S. Cities Advancing Laws to Restrict the Sharing of Food with Homeless People

    Friday, October 24, 2014
    Every year, feeding the homeless is getting a little bit harder to do in the U.S. Since 2010 there has been close to a 50% increase in the number of American cities that have passed or introduced laws restricting the sharing of food with homeless people. Fort Lauderdale has become the latest to do so--the 22nd city since January 2013 to restrict such practices through community pressures. Another 10 U.S. cities are in the process of passing such legislation.   read more
  • Judge Gives Obama Administration until December to Justify Withholding 2,100 Photos of U.S. Use of Torture in Iraq and Afghanistan

    Friday, October 24, 2014
    Judge Hellerstein found the government’s declaration to be overreaching. “I have reviewed some of these photographs and I know that many…are relatively innocuous while others need more serious consideration,” he wrote. The judge rejected the Obama administration’s sweeping suppression of the 2,100 images and ordered the government to provide a written explanation for each photograph that justifies it being withheld from public disclosure.   read more
  • More Evidence that TV Ads in Judicial Elections Lead to Less Sympathy for Defendants back in the Courtroom

    Friday, October 24, 2014
    It's getting harder for criminal defendants to win their cases due to judges looking over their shoulders and worrying about political accusations of being soft on crime. This development stems from increases in campaign spending on races for judicial seats. “[State] justices, already the targets of sensationalist ads labeling them ‘soft on crime,’ are under increasing pressure to allow electoral politics to influence their decisions, even when fundamental rights are at stake.”   read more
  • Police Beating Victim Wins $1,000 Settlement…His Lawyers Get $459,000

    Friday, October 24, 2014
    The terms of the settlement were negotiated by Warren’s lawyers and approved by the mayor and city council. Warren was arrested after a high-speed car chase in which he struck a school bus, a police car, and a police officer. After Warren flipped his car, five Birmingham police officers descended on him, repeatedly hitting and kicking him. The arrest was captured on video taken by a police car dashboard camera and later shown on national news. Warren sued for assault and battery.   read more
  • For the Bottom 90% of Americans, Financial Security is Slipping Away

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    No matter how you look at it, the economic picture for most of America is not good. Saddled with growing amounts of mortgage, consumer credit and student debt, the 90% has had little in the way of extra money to put into savings, says a new study. In fact, the savings rate by those in the lower 90% is about zero. By comparison, the top 1% of families put aside about 35% of their income. The authors say that income inequality will increase as long as the middle-class savings rate remains low.   read more
  • U.S. Wasted $7.6 Billion to Fight Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan…Which is Now at an All-Time High

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    “Afghan farmers grew an unprecedented 209,000 hectares of opium poppy in 2013, surpassing the previous peak of 193,000...in 2007," said SIGAR. "With deteriorating security in many parts of rural Afghanistan and low levels of eradication of poppy fields, further increases...are likely in 2014.” The illicit trade was valued at nearly $3 billion last year. Regions that had become “poppy free” as a result of U.S. anti-drug programs have been experiencing a “resurgence in cultivation.”   read more
  • 2.4 Million U.S. Financial Records a Day Stolen by Hackers in Last 6 Months

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    “We’re in a day when a person can commit about 15,000 bank robberies sitting in their basement,” said the FBI's Robert Anderson. Some of the big name businesses targeted by hackers recently include JPMorgan Chase, Target and Home Depot. About half of all adult Americans—110 million people—have had their financial data compromised in some way in the past year. About 80% of businesses don’t realize their accounts have been breached until being informed by financial institutions or customers   read more
  • Senators Coburn and Lee Fight to Halt Creation of a Women’s History Museum

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Republican senators Tom Coburn and Mike Lee are blocking the measure from moving forward in the Senate. They say the plan could result in the federal government paying for a large portion of the museum at a time of trillion-dollar debts. Bill co-sponsor Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) says the holdup is “just outrageous.” She noted that other groups have established museums in Washington through the creation of a commission, which is what the bill calls for.   read more
  • In a Reversal, Rwanda Screens Air Passengers Arriving from U.S. for Ebola

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    The government of Rwanda has decided to start screening all visitors arriving from the United States. Rwanda may be reacting to an incident in New Jersey, where two Rwandan exchange students were pulled out of school following fears by staff members and parents that that the two might be carrying the Ebola virus, despite no evidence that they were. In fact, New Jersey is closer to Texas, site of the U.S. outbreak, than Rwanda is to West Africa, more than 2,500 miles away.   read more
  • Ex-Nazis Still Receiving Social Security Benefits

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    “Among those receiving Social Security benefits were SS troops who guarded the network of Nazi camps where millions of Jews perished, a rocket scientist accused of using slave laborers...and a Nazi collaborator who engineered the...execution of thousands of Jews in Poland,” reported AP. Still getting Social Security payments from the U.S. government are Martin Hartmann, former SS guard at the Sachsenhausen camp; Jakob Denzinger, former guard at Auschwitz; and Wasyl Lytwyn of the Nazi SS.   read more
  • If the Draft Ended 41 Years Ago, Why are Young Men Still Punished for not Registering?

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Each year millions of teenage men are required to register for a draft that does not exist. Those who don’t sign up are barred from receiving federal financial aid, student loans, job training, or employment from certain public agencies. In 40 states, getting or renewing a driver’s license is linked to whether a person registered for the draft. Each violator is also at risk for spending five years in prison and being fined up to $250,000, if the Justice Department chooses to prosecute.   read more
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