Portal

  • Judge Clashes with Defense Dept. over Release of Abu Ghraib Photos

    Friday, August 29, 2014
    Congress gave the secretary of defense authority to conceal the photos for three years if their publication was deemed a threat to American soldiers’ lives. Robert Gates did just that in 2009. In 2012, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asked for another three-year authorization to withhold the photos. Hellerstein ruled this week that circumstances have changed and the photos can now be released without endangering U.S. military personnel.   read more
  • Black Unemployment Rate is Twice that of White and Asian Unemployment Rates

    Friday, August 29, 2014
    For blacks, the jobless rate in 2013 was twice that of whites, and even greater compared to that of Asian-Americans, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The unemployment rate for African-Americans was 13.1%; for whites, it was 6.5%. American Indians and Alaska Natives also had a high jobless rate of 12.8%, while the unemployment rate among Hispanics was 9.1%. Asians had the lowest unemployment rate at 5.2%.   read more
  • Appeals Court Rules Native American Skeletons Unearthed 38 Years Ago must be Returned to Tribes

    Friday, August 29, 2014
    The remains were discovered in 1976 at the Chancellor’s House at the University of California, San Diego by a university excavation team. UC San Diego had dragged its feet on giving up the remains, questioning which Native American group was the rightful owner. However, the university in 2012 agreed to return the remains to the Kumeyaay. But a lawsuit filed against the university by three scientists who wished to study the skeletons halted the repatriation.   read more
  • Federal Court Overturns Amish Hair and Beard Cutting Convictions

    Friday, August 29, 2014
    Samuel Mullet, leader of an Amish group in Berholz, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for violating federal anti-hate crimes law when he ordered the forced cutting of men’s beards and a woman’s long hair. Hair and beard cuttings are considered degrading and insulting in the Amish world, where being unshorn is a sign of holiness. But the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the hate crime convictions, saying the trial judge erred when instructing the jury on the definition of a hate crime.   read more
  • Equatorial Guinea Ambassador Accused of Beating Daughter with Chair Leg

    Friday, August 29, 2014
    The ambassador to the United States from Equatorial Guinea has been accused of beating his 16-year-old daughter with a chair leg, but no charges will be filed against him. Officers had been called to the residence on another domestic case in December 2013. The ambassador was not arrested either time because he has diplomatic immunity.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

Bus Stop in Baltimore Click the photo for larger view Bus Stop in Baltimore

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • Latest in 3-D Printing: High-Quality Skeleton Keys

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Duplicate keys that open high-security locks can now be made by anyone, thanks to 3-D printers. And they can do so without even having the original key to work from, according to Wired’s Andy Greenberg. With just photographs of keyholes on hand, experts can create “bump” keys that can open “millions of locks with a carefully practiced rap on its head with a hammer,” Greenberg reports.   read more
  • American Academy of Pediatrics Suggests School Should Start Later

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    The American Academy of Pediatrics says in a new paper that middle schools and high schools should push back start times to 8:30 a.m. or later so students can get more rest. Opponents of later school start times cite their effect on after-school employment, athletics and other extracurricular activities.   read more
  • Chicago Cubs’ Attempt to Avoid Obamacare Leads Giants to Gain First Major League Baseball Protest Victory in 28 Years

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    The Ricketts family, whose net worth is more than $1 billion, owns the Cubs, the most profitable team in baseball. Not profitable enough for the Ricketts, apparently. The family doesn’t want to pay for healthcare for all its employees, so they cut the hours of stadium personnel, including grounds crew, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. On the day of the rainout, upper management had sent home 10 members of the grounds crew without consulting the on-field supervisors.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Troubles in the Blood Industry

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Transfusions are down about 30% since 2009, going from 15 million units to 11 million. Blood banks’ revenue is falling as well, down about $1.5 billion a year from a peak of $5 billion. The Red Cross told Wald that up to 12,000 blood bank jobs may be eliminated over the next three to five years, representing about 25% of the industry total.   read more
  • 156,000 Seniors Have Social Security Checks Reduced…to Pay Off Student Loans

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    At a time when thousands of Americans are trying to enjoy, if not just survive, their golden years, the federal government has been garnishing their Social Security checks to pay off old student loans. About 156,000 individuals have found themselves in this situation, losing on average $180 out of a typical monthly check of $1,200.   read more
  • 3 Federal Agencies that Don’t Provide Full Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Railroad Retirement Board are not providing full benefits to same-sex couples. The VA says Title 38 of the U.S. Code requires that benefits decisions be based on a person’s state of residence, and if that state forbids gay marriage, then the employee is out of luck.   read more

Controversies

  • Shipping of North Dakota Oil Puts a Hold on Grain Distribution

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    One of the state’s key railroads, Canadian Pacific, says it won’t be able to fulfill nearly 30,000 requests from farmers and others for space on rail cars during September. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), the state’s largest railroad, has a backlog of 1,336 rail cars loaded with grain and other products not going anywhere.   read more
  • States with Medical Marijuana have Lower Rate of Drug Overdoses

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Researchers using federal health statistics found a 25% annual reduction in drug overdose mortality rates in states that allow medical marijuana. They also discovered that the reductions tend to occur very shortly after adopting medical marijuana laws and strengthen over time.   read more
  • Federal Election Commission, with 3-3 Votes, Loosens Restrictions on Campaign Funding

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    The Federal Election Commission (FEC), in reaching yet another 3-3 deadlock due to the Democratic-Republican split among commissioners, has effectively told the Conservative Action Fund that it can receive Bitcoin donations. The most recent deadlock is considered a blow to efforts to improve transparency in elections, due to the untraceable nature of Bitcoins.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • When Israelis Kill Gaza Civilians, They do so with Weapons Provided by U.S.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    When Israel launched the missile attack earlier this month that killed 10 civilians in a United Nations school, it used an American-made Hellfire missile. That wasn’t the only time that American weaponry has been used against Hamas and the Palestinians living in Gaza. A Mark 84 bomb made in the U.S. was found unexploded in the city of Deir al Balah, while 120mm artillery shells—stamped with “Made in USA”—have apparently landed in Rafah, based on shell casings found.   read more
  • Cell Phone Tracking Surveillance Systems Hit the Dictator Market

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    Several companies have developed systems that tap into cell providers’ databases and use that information to match a mobile phone signal to the tower it’s accessing. These systems are being marketed internationally, and spy agencies and others in just about any country can track a subject’s movements anywhere in the world.   read more
  • Saudi Arabia Remains on U.N. Human Rights Council despite 19 Beheadings, including One for “Sorcery”

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    One nation that does a lot of beheadings is on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Lately, in fact, Saudi Arabia can’t seem to get enough beheadings. Its government has executed at least 19 people using this method since August 4, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). Of the 19, eight were found guilty of non-violent offenses; seven for drug smuggling and one for committing sorcery. The Saudi government is scheduled to keep a spot on the Human Rights Council for two more years.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration: Who Is Therese McMillan?

    Sunday, August 24, 2014
    McMillan began a long career at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in the San Francisco Bay area. She started as an associate planner and was named a senior planner in 1988. In 1993, McMillan became manager of finance and was elevated to become manager for finance and external affairs in 1999. After concentration on managing funding, she was named deputy executive director for policy in 2001, a role she held until moving to Washington.   read more
  • Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology: Who Is Willie May?

    Sunday, August 24, 2014
    His positions at NIST have included chief of the Analytical Chemistry Division, director of the Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, associate director of laboratory programs and director of the Material Measurement Laboratory. May’s specialty is analytical chemistry research. He helped establish the pollution baseline for Prince William Sound before the opening of the Alaska Pipeline and has also worked on protocols for environmental sample collection for trace organic analysis.   read more
  • Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board: Who Is Christopher Hart?

    Saturday, August 23, 2014
    Hart returned to the NTSB as a member in 2009 and was named the board’s vice chairman the same year and has served there since. He has represented the board on investigations including the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, a casino bus crash, and recently was the face of the NTSB during the investigation into the 2013 Asiana airliner crash in San Francisco and several oil tank car accidents.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Japan-United States Friendship Commission

    An independent Federal agency created to support the relationship and cooperation between the United States and Japan, the Japan-United States Friendship Commission (JUSFC) provides grants to institutions that will promote scholarly, cultural, ...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

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Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Burundi

    Like its central African neighbor, Rwanda, Burundi is populated almost entirely by the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. But unlike its more infamous neighbor, which garnered worldwide attention in 1994 due to  the genocide of hundreds of thousands...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Keith, James

    James R. Keith was born in Virginia and earned a B.A. degree in English from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. While growing up, he lived in Tokyo, Jakarta, Hong Kong, and Taipei. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1980...   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
  • Judge Clashes with Defense Dept. over Release of Abu Ghraib Photos

    Friday, August 29, 2014
    Congress gave the secretary of defense authority to conceal the photos for three years if their publication was deemed a threat to American soldiers’ lives. Robert Gates did just that in 2009. In 2012, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asked for another three-year authorization to withhold the photos. Hellerstein ruled this week that circumstances have changed and the photos can now be released without endangering U.S. military personnel.   read more
  • Black Unemployment Rate is Twice that of White and Asian Unemployment Rates

    Friday, August 29, 2014
    For blacks, the jobless rate in 2013 was twice that of whites, and even greater compared to that of Asian-Americans, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The unemployment rate for African-Americans was 13.1%; for whites, it was 6.5%. American Indians and Alaska Natives also had a high jobless rate of 12.8%, while the unemployment rate among Hispanics was 9.1%. Asians had the lowest unemployment rate at 5.2%.   read more
  • Appeals Court Rules Native American Skeletons Unearthed 38 Years Ago must be Returned to Tribes

    Friday, August 29, 2014
    The remains were discovered in 1976 at the Chancellor’s House at the University of California, San Diego by a university excavation team. UC San Diego had dragged its feet on giving up the remains, questioning which Native American group was the rightful owner. However, the university in 2012 agreed to return the remains to the Kumeyaay. But a lawsuit filed against the university by three scientists who wished to study the skeletons halted the repatriation.   read more
  • Federal Court Overturns Amish Hair and Beard Cutting Convictions

    Friday, August 29, 2014
    Samuel Mullet, leader of an Amish group in Berholz, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for violating federal anti-hate crimes law when he ordered the forced cutting of men’s beards and a woman’s long hair. Hair and beard cuttings are considered degrading and insulting in the Amish world, where being unshorn is a sign of holiness. But the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the hate crime convictions, saying the trial judge erred when instructing the jury on the definition of a hate crime.   read more
  • Equatorial Guinea Ambassador Accused of Beating Daughter with Chair Leg

    Friday, August 29, 2014
    The ambassador to the United States from Equatorial Guinea has been accused of beating his 16-year-old daughter with a chair leg, but no charges will be filed against him. Officers had been called to the residence on another domestic case in December 2013. The ambassador was not arrested either time because he has diplomatic immunity.   read more

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • Latest in 3-D Printing: High-Quality Skeleton Keys

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Duplicate keys that open high-security locks can now be made by anyone, thanks to 3-D printers. And they can do so without even having the original key to work from, according to Wired’s Andy Greenberg. With just photographs of keyholes on hand, experts can create “bump” keys that can open “millions of locks with a carefully practiced rap on its head with a hammer,” Greenberg reports.   read more
  • American Academy of Pediatrics Suggests School Should Start Later

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    The American Academy of Pediatrics says in a new paper that middle schools and high schools should push back start times to 8:30 a.m. or later so students can get more rest. Opponents of later school start times cite their effect on after-school employment, athletics and other extracurricular activities.   read more
  • Chicago Cubs’ Attempt to Avoid Obamacare Leads Giants to Gain First Major League Baseball Protest Victory in 28 Years

    Monday, August 25, 2014
    The Ricketts family, whose net worth is more than $1 billion, owns the Cubs, the most profitable team in baseball. Not profitable enough for the Ricketts, apparently. The family doesn’t want to pay for healthcare for all its employees, so they cut the hours of stadium personnel, including grounds crew, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. On the day of the rainout, upper management had sent home 10 members of the grounds crew without consulting the on-field supervisors.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Troubles in the Blood Industry

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Transfusions are down about 30% since 2009, going from 15 million units to 11 million. Blood banks’ revenue is falling as well, down about $1.5 billion a year from a peak of $5 billion. The Red Cross told Wald that up to 12,000 blood bank jobs may be eliminated over the next three to five years, representing about 25% of the industry total.   read more
  • 156,000 Seniors Have Social Security Checks Reduced…to Pay Off Student Loans

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    At a time when thousands of Americans are trying to enjoy, if not just survive, their golden years, the federal government has been garnishing their Social Security checks to pay off old student loans. About 156,000 individuals have found themselves in this situation, losing on average $180 out of a typical monthly check of $1,200.   read more
  • 3 Federal Agencies that Don’t Provide Full Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Railroad Retirement Board are not providing full benefits to same-sex couples. The VA says Title 38 of the U.S. Code requires that benefits decisions be based on a person’s state of residence, and if that state forbids gay marriage, then the employee is out of luck.   read more

Controversies

  • Shipping of North Dakota Oil Puts a Hold on Grain Distribution

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    One of the state’s key railroads, Canadian Pacific, says it won’t be able to fulfill nearly 30,000 requests from farmers and others for space on rail cars during September. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), the state’s largest railroad, has a backlog of 1,336 rail cars loaded with grain and other products not going anywhere.   read more
  • States with Medical Marijuana have Lower Rate of Drug Overdoses

    Thursday, August 28, 2014
    Researchers using federal health statistics found a 25% annual reduction in drug overdose mortality rates in states that allow medical marijuana. They also discovered that the reductions tend to occur very shortly after adopting medical marijuana laws and strengthen over time.   read more
  • Federal Election Commission, with 3-3 Votes, Loosens Restrictions on Campaign Funding

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    The Federal Election Commission (FEC), in reaching yet another 3-3 deadlock due to the Democratic-Republican split among commissioners, has effectively told the Conservative Action Fund that it can receive Bitcoin donations. The most recent deadlock is considered a blow to efforts to improve transparency in elections, due to the untraceable nature of Bitcoins.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • When Israelis Kill Gaza Civilians, They do so with Weapons Provided by U.S.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    When Israel launched the missile attack earlier this month that killed 10 civilians in a United Nations school, it used an American-made Hellfire missile. That wasn’t the only time that American weaponry has been used against Hamas and the Palestinians living in Gaza. A Mark 84 bomb made in the U.S. was found unexploded in the city of Deir al Balah, while 120mm artillery shells—stamped with “Made in USA”—have apparently landed in Rafah, based on shell casings found.   read more
  • Cell Phone Tracking Surveillance Systems Hit the Dictator Market

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    Several companies have developed systems that tap into cell providers’ databases and use that information to match a mobile phone signal to the tower it’s accessing. These systems are being marketed internationally, and spy agencies and others in just about any country can track a subject’s movements anywhere in the world.   read more
  • Saudi Arabia Remains on U.N. Human Rights Council despite 19 Beheadings, including One for “Sorcery”

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    One nation that does a lot of beheadings is on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Lately, in fact, Saudi Arabia can’t seem to get enough beheadings. Its government has executed at least 19 people using this method since August 4, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). Of the 19, eight were found guilty of non-violent offenses; seven for drug smuggling and one for committing sorcery. The Saudi government is scheduled to keep a spot on the Human Rights Council for two more years.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration: Who Is Therese McMillan?

    Sunday, August 24, 2014
    McMillan began a long career at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in the San Francisco Bay area. She started as an associate planner and was named a senior planner in 1988. In 1993, McMillan became manager of finance and was elevated to become manager for finance and external affairs in 1999. After concentration on managing funding, she was named deputy executive director for policy in 2001, a role she held until moving to Washington.   read more
  • Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology: Who Is Willie May?

    Sunday, August 24, 2014
    His positions at NIST have included chief of the Analytical Chemistry Division, director of the Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, associate director of laboratory programs and director of the Material Measurement Laboratory. May’s specialty is analytical chemistry research. He helped establish the pollution baseline for Prince William Sound before the opening of the Alaska Pipeline and has also worked on protocols for environmental sample collection for trace organic analysis.   read more
  • Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board: Who Is Christopher Hart?

    Saturday, August 23, 2014
    Hart returned to the NTSB as a member in 2009 and was named the board’s vice chairman the same year and has served there since. He has represented the board on investigations including the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, a casino bus crash, and recently was the face of the NTSB during the investigation into the 2013 Asiana airliner crash in San Francisco and several oil tank car accidents.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Department of Veterans Affairs

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible for providing vital services to America’s veterans. VA provides health care services, benefits programs and access to national cemeteries to former military personnel and their dependants. The...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Egypt

    With a history as one of the world’s oldest and greatest civilizations, modern Egypt continues to redefine itself as a political and cultural leader in the region. While the remnants of pharoanic culture–including the great pyramids–mostly serv...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Shimizu, Holly

      Holly H. Shimizu has served as executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden since November 2000. She was introduced to gardening by her grandfather in Rhode Island.   After she graduated from high school in Philadelphia, she was unsure what ...   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

Bus Stop in Baltimore Click the photo for larger view Bus Stop in Baltimore