Portal

  • More Problems for the Trillion-Dollar F-35: It’s not Good at Close Combat

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    A test pilot who flew an F-35 said 17 dogfights demonstrated that the plane could not compete with the F-16, which was introduced in the 1970s and is the plane the F-35 is supposed to replace. The F-35 program, which will cost more than $1 trillion if fully produced, has had other serious problems exposed: vulnerability to lightning strikes, and an inaccurate and unstable software system   read more
  • ACLU Sues California County where Each Public Defender Forced to Handle 700 Cases a Year

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    Public defenders in Fresno County, Calif., have an unwieldy caseload with each attorney averaging 700 felony cases a year, making it virtually impossible to give clients a decent defense. Now the American Civil Liberties Union has sued Fresno County and the state of California for shortchanging the local public defender’s office’s budget.   read more
  • The U.S. Dentist who Lured a Famous Lion out of its Sanctuary and Killed Him

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer has come in for severe criticism since it became known that he killed Cecil, a 13-year-old lion who was lured out of a national park in Zimbabwe by local guides. Palmer reportedly paid about $54,000 for the chance to kill Cecil.   read more
  • Justice Dept. Refuses to Release---or even Talk About—Secret 12-Year-Old Memo on Cybersecurity

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    The Senate may be about to take up cybersecurity legislation and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) wants to make sure his colleagues put the subject in the proper context. To do that, Wyden wants a memo produced by the George W. Bush administration on the subject to be made public. So far, Wyden has been unsuccessful in getting the memo released before the Senate considers the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).   read more
  • DeKalb County, Georgia Accused of Raising Money by Prosecuting Violations Outside its Jurisdiction

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    Starting a few years ago, DeKalb County, Ga., officials began using its Recorder's Court to prosecute individuals who had broken state laws, even though the Recorder’s Court lacks the legal authority to do so. The county is now being sued in a class-action case claiming the court was used to bolster local revenues as part of a “scheme to generate revenue for a cash-strapped local government.”   read more

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Top Stories

  • Obama Disgusts Human Rights Advocates by Calling Ethiopian Government “Democratically Elected”

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015
    Obama’s own State Dept. reported that U.S. diplomats were prevented from observing the elections, saying it was “troubled” that opposition party observers were kept out. And Obama’s national security advisor, Susan E. Rice, told reporters that the result of the election was not credible. “The prime minister of Ethiopia was just elected with 100 percent of the vote, which I think suggests...some concern for the integrity of the electoral process,” she said.   read more
  • Federal Judge Blasts Obama Administration for Refusing to Release Detained Children and Mothers despite 1997 Court Settlement

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    Judge Gee ruled that children had been held in “widespread deplorable conditions” in Border Patrol stations after being caught, and that the government had “wholly failed” to provide the “safe and sanitary” conditions. “I think this spells the beginning of the end for the Obama administration’s immigrant family detention policy,” said human rights lawyer Peter Schey. “A policy that just targets mothers with children is not rational and it’s inhumane.”   read more
  • North Carolina’s Messy Voting Laws Restrict Voting and Support Gerrymandering

    Monday, July 27, 2015
    At the start of this decade, North Carolina’s voting laws were a model of inclusion. The state allowed 17 days of early voting, teenagers who were approaching voting age could pre-register to vote, there was same-day registration and voters could even cast ballots outside their assigned precinct. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles was also required to contact drivers about being registered when they reported an address change.   read more

Unusual News

  • 27% of People Killed in Police Car Chases are Innocent Bystanders

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015
    One of these innocent bystanders was Dillan Harris, a 13-month-old child who was fatally struck earlier this month near a Chicago bus stop by a man fleeing police. The suspect led police on a 3.5-mile chase that included running four red lights and driving at speeds up to 70 mph in an area with a speed limit of 30 mph. Watkins lost control of his car, jumped a curb and struck the stroller Dillan was sitting in, dragging it and the infant into a vacant lot.   read more
  • Loneliness and Too Much TV are Bad for the Brains of the Elderly

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    “Loneliness is a form of suffering in older people that is prevalent but undetected and untreated in medical practice,” said researcher Donovan. "Our work shows that loneliness, like depression, is associated with accelerated cognitive decline in older Americans." Other researchers found watching too much TV might also lower cognitive function. People who watch four or more hours of TV had a 1.5% higher risk of performing worse on cognitive tests compared with those who watched less TV.   read more
  • Tanning Salon Operators Sue Cancer Coalition for Defamation

    Monday, July 27, 2015
    The site provides many statistics on skin cancers, including that indoor tanning is linked to more skin cancers than cigarettes to lung cancers. Medical studies appear to support this surprising fact. According to the American Cancer Society, there were 224,210 new cases of lung cancer in the United States in 2014. A study published in JAMA Dermatology journal estimated that more than 419,000 cases of skin cancer a year can be attributed to indoor tanning.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Fracking Billionaires Give Record-Setting Donation to Ted Cruz

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    Children are “being taught the other ideas, the gay agenda, every day out in the world so we have to stand up and explain to them that that’s not real, that’s not proper, it’s not right,” said Farris Wilks. He and brother Dan, who made their fortunes in the West Texas fracking boom, have reportedly contributed $15 million to a super PAC supporting Cruz. The $15 million is the largest contribution so far in the 2016 race, and represents nearly half of the $38 million raised by Keep the Promise.   read more
  • Senate Pulls a Fast One on Banks by Trying to Eliminate 102-Year-Old Freebie

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    In 2012, the Fed handed $1.637 billion in dividends to banks. It’s “a risk-free entitlement program,” wrote David Dayen. “It’s one of the many unknown ways the Fed extends special benefits to Wall Street.” But senators have now turned to the banks’ 6% dividend for a source of funding. Without any advance notice to the banking industry, they included a provision in the highway bill that would reduce the dividend to 1.5% for banks. The reduction would reap about $17 billion for the government.   read more
  • House Members who Voted to Stop States from Mandating GMO Labeling Received $30 Million from Agribusiness and Food Industries

    Monday, July 27, 2015
    According to information at Opensecrets.org, those supporting the bill got about $30 million to do so from Big Ag. The 275 representatives of both parties who voted to keep consumers in the dark about the food they’re consuming averaged $108,900 in contributions from agricultural interests such as Monsanto and food lobbyists such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association in the 2014 election cycle.   read more

Controversies

  • Justice Dept. Audit Criticizes DEA for Poor Oversight of Drug Informants

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015
    The IG found examples of informants who had broken the law and were being investigated while working with the DEA. “In some cases, the DEA continued to use, for up to six years without any (Justice Dept.) intervention, individuals who were involved in unauthorized illegal activities and who were under investigation by federal entities,” according to the report. The inspector general was stonewalled in his efforts to get information from DEA, delaying access to reports “for months at a time."   read more
  • Transportation Dept. Investigating Major Airlines for Price Gouging after Amtrak Crash

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015
    “The idea that any business would seek to take advantage of stranded rail passengers in the wake of such a tragic event is unacceptable,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. The investigation is unusual for the agency, which hasn’t played a strong role in airline regulation since changes in federal law approved in the 1970s. “We have not investigated an airline for this type of conduct in at least the last 12 years, if ever,” said a department spokeswoman.   read more
  • Navy Accused of Endangering Health of Nearby Civilians with Excess Noise

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015
    The planes regularly fly low over the community, producing a loud noise. The EA-18s have been recorded producing noise at 130 decibels outside and 81 decibels inside homes. “Exposure to 140 decibels may cause immediate and permanent hearing damage or loss, as well as bleeding from the ears,” Dahr Jamail wrote at Truthout. Jamail added “the human health impacts from these levels of chronic jet noise include hearing loss, immune toxicity, insomnia, stroke, heart attacks and even death.”   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Pet Food Sold in U.S. is Produced by Slave Labor in Thailand

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    Fishermen revealed horror stories of crew members being dumped overboard and defiant ones being killed, sometimes by having their heads cut off. “Life at sea is cheap,” said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, Asia. The FDA had found Songkla’s Thailand facilities to have unsanitary conditions that produced “adulterated” seafood that is potentially “injurious to health.” The U.S. is the biggest customer of Thai fish, totaling more than $190 million last year.   read more
  • FBI Accuses Chinese Government of Out-of-Control Economic Espionage

    Sunday, July 26, 2015
    The hackers are looking for information on everything from electronics to plant seeds—anything to put Chinese manufacturers on an equal footing with those from the United States which did the original research and development on a product. Last year, a California businessman was convicted of selling China the secret to what makes Oreo cookie filling so consistently white. Others have been charged with stealing plant seeds.   read more
  • Canadian Government No Longer Sympathetic to U.S. War Resisters

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015
    Many have fled to Canada requesting permanent residence, but often they have been rejected and forced to return to the U.S. Once back on American soil, deserters have been prosecuted by the military, with several sentenced to prison terms of about a year. Canada’s policy on U.S. deserters is markedly different than it was 50 years ago. Part of the change is a result of the U.S. military being an all-volunteer force, while the Vietnam-era resisters were trying to avoid being drafted.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Nepal: Who Is Alaina Teplitz?

    Sunday, July 26, 2015
    Much of her work was with information technology systems, getting IT policies in international outposts to mesh with those prescribed by Washington, and other efforts at standardization to make the systems more efficient. Part of her mandate was also to look for cost-savings by contracting out some jobs and ensuring that missions were not overstaffed.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Croatia: Who Is Julieta Valls Noyes?

    Saturday, July 25, 2015
    Noyes went overseas again in 2008 as the deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires in the U.S. mission to the Holy See. She made some news when some cables she had sent concerning the Vatican were released through WikiLeaks. Among the subjects covered in her pithy cables were the Catholic priests’ sex abuse scandal in Ireland and the Vatican’s assistance in releasing U.S. citizens being held by Iran.   read more
  • Ecuador’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Francisco Borja Cevallos?

    Saturday, July 25, 2015
    In 1988, Borja’s brother, Rodrigo, was elected Ecuador’s president as a member of the Democratic Left Party and Francisco went into government as Rodrigo’s advisor, staying there until 1992 when the term was up. In 2007, Borja was named ambassador to Chile, a post he held for seven years.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Office of Safe and Healthy Students

    Public concern over school safety has increased over recent decades due to fatal shootings and other violent acts. The Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS) is an office of the Department of Education created to address school safety conce...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Ukraine

    Located in Eastern Europe, Ukraine was once part of the Russian, then Soviet empire, from the late 18th century until the end of the Cold War. For a brief period toward the end of World War I, Ukraine declared autonomy, which was followed by th...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Fischer, Gerard

    As the assistant director of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, Torts Branch, Gerard W. Fischer oversaw the management of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program. He did so for more than ten years.   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
  • More Problems for the Trillion-Dollar F-35: It’s not Good at Close Combat

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    A test pilot who flew an F-35 said 17 dogfights demonstrated that the plane could not compete with the F-16, which was introduced in the 1970s and is the plane the F-35 is supposed to replace. The F-35 program, which will cost more than $1 trillion if fully produced, has had other serious problems exposed: vulnerability to lightning strikes, and an inaccurate and unstable software system   read more
  • ACLU Sues California County where Each Public Defender Forced to Handle 700 Cases a Year

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    Public defenders in Fresno County, Calif., have an unwieldy caseload with each attorney averaging 700 felony cases a year, making it virtually impossible to give clients a decent defense. Now the American Civil Liberties Union has sued Fresno County and the state of California for shortchanging the local public defender’s office’s budget.   read more
  • The U.S. Dentist who Lured a Famous Lion out of its Sanctuary and Killed Him

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer has come in for severe criticism since it became known that he killed Cecil, a 13-year-old lion who was lured out of a national park in Zimbabwe by local guides. Palmer reportedly paid about $54,000 for the chance to kill Cecil.   read more
  • Justice Dept. Refuses to Release---or even Talk About—Secret 12-Year-Old Memo on Cybersecurity

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    The Senate may be about to take up cybersecurity legislation and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) wants to make sure his colleagues put the subject in the proper context. To do that, Wyden wants a memo produced by the George W. Bush administration on the subject to be made public. So far, Wyden has been unsuccessful in getting the memo released before the Senate considers the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).   read more
  • DeKalb County, Georgia Accused of Raising Money by Prosecuting Violations Outside its Jurisdiction

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    Starting a few years ago, DeKalb County, Ga., officials began using its Recorder's Court to prosecute individuals who had broken state laws, even though the Recorder’s Court lacks the legal authority to do so. The county is now being sued in a class-action case claiming the court was used to bolster local revenues as part of a “scheme to generate revenue for a cash-strapped local government.”   read more

Top Stories

  • Obama Disgusts Human Rights Advocates by Calling Ethiopian Government “Democratically Elected”

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015
    Obama’s own State Dept. reported that U.S. diplomats were prevented from observing the elections, saying it was “troubled” that opposition party observers were kept out. And Obama’s national security advisor, Susan E. Rice, told reporters that the result of the election was not credible. “The prime minister of Ethiopia was just elected with 100 percent of the vote, which I think suggests...some concern for the integrity of the electoral process,” she said.   read more
  • Federal Judge Blasts Obama Administration for Refusing to Release Detained Children and Mothers despite 1997 Court Settlement

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    Judge Gee ruled that children had been held in “widespread deplorable conditions” in Border Patrol stations after being caught, and that the government had “wholly failed” to provide the “safe and sanitary” conditions. “I think this spells the beginning of the end for the Obama administration’s immigrant family detention policy,” said human rights lawyer Peter Schey. “A policy that just targets mothers with children is not rational and it’s inhumane.”   read more
  • North Carolina’s Messy Voting Laws Restrict Voting and Support Gerrymandering

    Monday, July 27, 2015
    At the start of this decade, North Carolina’s voting laws were a model of inclusion. The state allowed 17 days of early voting, teenagers who were approaching voting age could pre-register to vote, there was same-day registration and voters could even cast ballots outside their assigned precinct. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles was also required to contact drivers about being registered when they reported an address change.   read more

Unusual News

  • 27% of People Killed in Police Car Chases are Innocent Bystanders

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015
    One of these innocent bystanders was Dillan Harris, a 13-month-old child who was fatally struck earlier this month near a Chicago bus stop by a man fleeing police. The suspect led police on a 3.5-mile chase that included running four red lights and driving at speeds up to 70 mph in an area with a speed limit of 30 mph. Watkins lost control of his car, jumped a curb and struck the stroller Dillan was sitting in, dragging it and the infant into a vacant lot.   read more
  • Loneliness and Too Much TV are Bad for the Brains of the Elderly

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    “Loneliness is a form of suffering in older people that is prevalent but undetected and untreated in medical practice,” said researcher Donovan. "Our work shows that loneliness, like depression, is associated with accelerated cognitive decline in older Americans." Other researchers found watching too much TV might also lower cognitive function. People who watch four or more hours of TV had a 1.5% higher risk of performing worse on cognitive tests compared with those who watched less TV.   read more
  • Tanning Salon Operators Sue Cancer Coalition for Defamation

    Monday, July 27, 2015
    The site provides many statistics on skin cancers, including that indoor tanning is linked to more skin cancers than cigarettes to lung cancers. Medical studies appear to support this surprising fact. According to the American Cancer Society, there were 224,210 new cases of lung cancer in the United States in 2014. A study published in JAMA Dermatology journal estimated that more than 419,000 cases of skin cancer a year can be attributed to indoor tanning.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Fracking Billionaires Give Record-Setting Donation to Ted Cruz

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    Children are “being taught the other ideas, the gay agenda, every day out in the world so we have to stand up and explain to them that that’s not real, that’s not proper, it’s not right,” said Farris Wilks. He and brother Dan, who made their fortunes in the West Texas fracking boom, have reportedly contributed $15 million to a super PAC supporting Cruz. The $15 million is the largest contribution so far in the 2016 race, and represents nearly half of the $38 million raised by Keep the Promise.   read more
  • Senate Pulls a Fast One on Banks by Trying to Eliminate 102-Year-Old Freebie

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    In 2012, the Fed handed $1.637 billion in dividends to banks. It’s “a risk-free entitlement program,” wrote David Dayen. “It’s one of the many unknown ways the Fed extends special benefits to Wall Street.” But senators have now turned to the banks’ 6% dividend for a source of funding. Without any advance notice to the banking industry, they included a provision in the highway bill that would reduce the dividend to 1.5% for banks. The reduction would reap about $17 billion for the government.   read more
  • House Members who Voted to Stop States from Mandating GMO Labeling Received $30 Million from Agribusiness and Food Industries

    Monday, July 27, 2015
    According to information at Opensecrets.org, those supporting the bill got about $30 million to do so from Big Ag. The 275 representatives of both parties who voted to keep consumers in the dark about the food they’re consuming averaged $108,900 in contributions from agricultural interests such as Monsanto and food lobbyists such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association in the 2014 election cycle.   read more

Controversies

  • Justice Dept. Audit Criticizes DEA for Poor Oversight of Drug Informants

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015
    The IG found examples of informants who had broken the law and were being investigated while working with the DEA. “In some cases, the DEA continued to use, for up to six years without any (Justice Dept.) intervention, individuals who were involved in unauthorized illegal activities and who were under investigation by federal entities,” according to the report. The inspector general was stonewalled in his efforts to get information from DEA, delaying access to reports “for months at a time."   read more
  • Transportation Dept. Investigating Major Airlines for Price Gouging after Amtrak Crash

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015
    “The idea that any business would seek to take advantage of stranded rail passengers in the wake of such a tragic event is unacceptable,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. The investigation is unusual for the agency, which hasn’t played a strong role in airline regulation since changes in federal law approved in the 1970s. “We have not investigated an airline for this type of conduct in at least the last 12 years, if ever,” said a department spokeswoman.   read more
  • Navy Accused of Endangering Health of Nearby Civilians with Excess Noise

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015
    The planes regularly fly low over the community, producing a loud noise. The EA-18s have been recorded producing noise at 130 decibels outside and 81 decibels inside homes. “Exposure to 140 decibels may cause immediate and permanent hearing damage or loss, as well as bleeding from the ears,” Dahr Jamail wrote at Truthout. Jamail added “the human health impacts from these levels of chronic jet noise include hearing loss, immune toxicity, insomnia, stroke, heart attacks and even death.”   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Pet Food Sold in U.S. is Produced by Slave Labor in Thailand

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    Fishermen revealed horror stories of crew members being dumped overboard and defiant ones being killed, sometimes by having their heads cut off. “Life at sea is cheap,” said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, Asia. The FDA had found Songkla’s Thailand facilities to have unsanitary conditions that produced “adulterated” seafood that is potentially “injurious to health.” The U.S. is the biggest customer of Thai fish, totaling more than $190 million last year.   read more
  • FBI Accuses Chinese Government of Out-of-Control Economic Espionage

    Sunday, July 26, 2015
    The hackers are looking for information on everything from electronics to plant seeds—anything to put Chinese manufacturers on an equal footing with those from the United States which did the original research and development on a product. Last year, a California businessman was convicted of selling China the secret to what makes Oreo cookie filling so consistently white. Others have been charged with stealing plant seeds.   read more
  • Canadian Government No Longer Sympathetic to U.S. War Resisters

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015
    Many have fled to Canada requesting permanent residence, but often they have been rejected and forced to return to the U.S. Once back on American soil, deserters have been prosecuted by the military, with several sentenced to prison terms of about a year. Canada’s policy on U.S. deserters is markedly different than it was 50 years ago. Part of the change is a result of the U.S. military being an all-volunteer force, while the Vietnam-era resisters were trying to avoid being drafted.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Nepal: Who Is Alaina Teplitz?

    Sunday, July 26, 2015
    Much of her work was with information technology systems, getting IT policies in international outposts to mesh with those prescribed by Washington, and other efforts at standardization to make the systems more efficient. Part of her mandate was also to look for cost-savings by contracting out some jobs and ensuring that missions were not overstaffed.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Croatia: Who Is Julieta Valls Noyes?

    Saturday, July 25, 2015
    Noyes went overseas again in 2008 as the deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires in the U.S. mission to the Holy See. She made some news when some cables she had sent concerning the Vatican were released through WikiLeaks. Among the subjects covered in her pithy cables were the Catholic priests’ sex abuse scandal in Ireland and the Vatican’s assistance in releasing U.S. citizens being held by Iran.   read more
  • Ecuador’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Francisco Borja Cevallos?

    Saturday, July 25, 2015
    In 1988, Borja’s brother, Rodrigo, was elected Ecuador’s president as a member of the Democratic Left Party and Francisco went into government as Rodrigo’s advisor, staying there until 1992 when the term was up. In 2007, Borja was named ambassador to Chile, a post he held for seven years.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Office of Science

    Located within the Department of Energy, the Office of Science is one of the federal government’s largest distributors of research money for science exploration. The office supports research in areas ranging from high-energy physics to nanoscie...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Taiwan

    Taiwan, an island nation off the coast of China, is often at the center of opposing interests of the United States. It serves as a successful template for a free democratic country in East Asia, thus gaining favorable Amiercan ties. However, China...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Easton, John

    John Q. Easton has Education Secretary Arne Duncan to thank for his new job in Washington as head of the Institute of Education Sciences. A longtime specialist in education research from Chicago, Easton has known Duncan for nearly 20 years as a re...   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