Portal

  • When Counting How Many People are Killed by Police, Online Databases do a far better Job than the U.S. Government

    Monday, July 06, 2015
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) keeps a count of police killings, but their list is woefully incomplete, as they rely on voluntary reporting by police agencies. The FBI’s count of police killings has hovered around 400 for the past several years. The Guardian also keeps a list and theirs does include the killing of Gray and others who die from means other than gunshots. That list had 550 names on it for the year as of last week.   read more
  • Texas County Clerk becomes Focus of Movement to Refuse Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

    Monday, July 06, 2015
    Hood County residents Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton, who have been together 27 years, still can’t get a marriage license from Lang’s office. Lang's excuse? She says it will take three weeks to acquire the necessary forms for the licenses. When it was pointed out that more than 200 other Texas counties are issuing the licenses from forms readily available over the Internet, Lang stood firm.   read more
  • U.S. Government is Still Funding Dubious Abstinence-Only Sex Education Program

    Monday, July 06, 2015
    Independent studies have shown time and again that abstinence-only education is not effective in preventing pregnancies or sexually-transmitted diseases. Programs such as CTB’s often perpetuate dangerous gender stereotypes, in one instance saying: “‘Occasional suggestions and assistance’ from women ‘may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man’s confidence or even turn him away from his princess.’”   read more
  • Is Dramatic Increase in Number of Jailed Americans a Warped Version of Job Creation?

    Monday, July 06, 2015
    Correction officers make up a significant portion of the national workforce. According to federal government statistics, the ratio of correction officers to prisoners has remained at about 3.3 to 1 over the past 30 years. However, the number of inmates has more than tripled from 223,551 in 1983 to 735,601 in 2011. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently about 163,000 local correctional officers in the United States.   read more
  • Maryland Court Rules that Police Disciplinary Records can be Hidden from the Public

    Monday, July 06, 2015
    The case arose out of a 2009 complaint by Teleta Dashiell, who found that Maryland State Police Sgt. John Maiello, thinking he had hung up, had left a message on her voice mail that contained a racial slur. Dashiell complained to the State Police about the message and was later told that the incident had been investigated and action had been taken.   read more

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Top Stories

  • 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
  • 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

Unusual News

  • Immigration Service Sued after Trying to Deport Legal Immigrant because of its own Bungled Paperwork

    Sunday, July 05, 2015
    Rosalba Vargas-Ortiz has lived legally in the United States for more than two decades. The immigration service says they have no record of her and that she should be deported. Vargas showed the court three documents with her photograph and fingerprints, issued by USCIS. The judge found it perplexing that the agency can’t explain the documents in Ortiz’s possession.   read more
  • 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

Where is the Money Going?

  • 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
  • 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

Controversies

  • Wrong Phrasing in Jury Instructions Forces Florida to Reopen more than 100 Murder Cases

    Sunday, July 05, 2015
    At least 103 Florida murder and attempted murder cases have been reopened, often resulting in lighter sentences, because of bad wording in the jury instructions. Among the more than 100 cases affected by the jury instructions, dozens of murderers received new trials or the chance to make plea agreements. Curtis Krueger found that 31 of the defendants received shorter prison sentences   read more
  • 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

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Resumes Weapons Sales to Bahraini Dictatorship Despite Poor Human Rights Record

    Sunday, July 05, 2015
    The State Department said in its 2014 Human Rights Report, which was released last week, that the Bahraini government restricts civil liberties and limits its citizens’ ability to alter the makeup of its government, which is a constitutional monarchy. Pro-democracy opposition leaders continue to be thrown in prison and the country bars international election monitors. However, the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based there, its headquarters serving as a key command post.   read more
  • There are now more Spanish Speakers in U.S. than in Spain

    Sunday, July 05, 2015
    The U.S. Spanish-speaking population is now second in the world, behind only Mexico, which has 121 million people. Between the United States and Spain is Colombia, with 48 million Spanish speakers.   read more
  • Remote U.S. Research Center Converts to 95% Renewable Energy

    Sunday, July 05, 2015
    Researchers on the atoll, which has been owned since 2000 by the Nature Conservancy, previously had to bring in diesel to fuel a generator to provide power, according to Ari Phillips of ClimateProgress. Including transportation costs—Palmyra is about 1,000 miles from Hawaii—the diesel ended up costing $11 to $13 a gallon. Now about 95% of the island’s energy needs are met via wind and solar energy.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • 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
  • 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

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • United States Senate

    Comprised of 100 elected officials, the United States Senate represents one half of the U.S. Congress. Senators have argued over the generations that the Senate is also the “better half” of the nation’s legislative body. Sometimes referred to a...   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

  • Carlson, Bruce

    A retired general from the U.S. Air Force, Bruce Allen Carlson began serving as the director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in June 2009. The NRO is in charge of launching and maintaining the nation’s spy satellites. Carlson had no...   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
  • When Counting How Many People are Killed by Police, Online Databases do a far better Job than the U.S. Government

    Monday, July 06, 2015
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) keeps a count of police killings, but their list is woefully incomplete, as they rely on voluntary reporting by police agencies. The FBI’s count of police killings has hovered around 400 for the past several years. The Guardian also keeps a list and theirs does include the killing of Gray and others who die from means other than gunshots. That list had 550 names on it for the year as of last week.   read more
  • Texas County Clerk becomes Focus of Movement to Refuse Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

    Monday, July 06, 2015
    Hood County residents Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton, who have been together 27 years, still can’t get a marriage license from Lang’s office. Lang's excuse? She says it will take three weeks to acquire the necessary forms for the licenses. When it was pointed out that more than 200 other Texas counties are issuing the licenses from forms readily available over the Internet, Lang stood firm.   read more
  • U.S. Government is Still Funding Dubious Abstinence-Only Sex Education Program

    Monday, July 06, 2015
    Independent studies have shown time and again that abstinence-only education is not effective in preventing pregnancies or sexually-transmitted diseases. Programs such as CTB’s often perpetuate dangerous gender stereotypes, in one instance saying: “‘Occasional suggestions and assistance’ from women ‘may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man’s confidence or even turn him away from his princess.’”   read more
  • Is Dramatic Increase in Number of Jailed Americans a Warped Version of Job Creation?

    Monday, July 06, 2015
    Correction officers make up a significant portion of the national workforce. According to federal government statistics, the ratio of correction officers to prisoners has remained at about 3.3 to 1 over the past 30 years. However, the number of inmates has more than tripled from 223,551 in 1983 to 735,601 in 2011. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently about 163,000 local correctional officers in the United States.   read more
  • Maryland Court Rules that Police Disciplinary Records can be Hidden from the Public

    Monday, July 06, 2015
    The case arose out of a 2009 complaint by Teleta Dashiell, who found that Maryland State Police Sgt. John Maiello, thinking he had hung up, had left a message on her voice mail that contained a racial slur. Dashiell complained to the State Police about the message and was later told that the incident had been investigated and action had been taken.   read more

Top Stories

  • 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
  • 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

Unusual News

  • Immigration Service Sued after Trying to Deport Legal Immigrant because of its own Bungled Paperwork

    Sunday, July 05, 2015
    Rosalba Vargas-Ortiz has lived legally in the United States for more than two decades. The immigration service says they have no record of her and that she should be deported. Vargas showed the court three documents with her photograph and fingerprints, issued by USCIS. The judge found it perplexing that the agency can’t explain the documents in Ortiz’s possession.   read more
  • 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

Where is the Money Going?

  • 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
  • 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

Controversies

  • Wrong Phrasing in Jury Instructions Forces Florida to Reopen more than 100 Murder Cases

    Sunday, July 05, 2015
    At least 103 Florida murder and attempted murder cases have been reopened, often resulting in lighter sentences, because of bad wording in the jury instructions. Among the more than 100 cases affected by the jury instructions, dozens of murderers received new trials or the chance to make plea agreements. Curtis Krueger found that 31 of the defendants received shorter prison sentences   read more
  • 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

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Resumes Weapons Sales to Bahraini Dictatorship Despite Poor Human Rights Record

    Sunday, July 05, 2015
    The State Department said in its 2014 Human Rights Report, which was released last week, that the Bahraini government restricts civil liberties and limits its citizens’ ability to alter the makeup of its government, which is a constitutional monarchy. Pro-democracy opposition leaders continue to be thrown in prison and the country bars international election monitors. However, the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based there, its headquarters serving as a key command post.   read more
  • There are now more Spanish Speakers in U.S. than in Spain

    Sunday, July 05, 2015
    The U.S. Spanish-speaking population is now second in the world, behind only Mexico, which has 121 million people. Between the United States and Spain is Colombia, with 48 million Spanish speakers.   read more
  • Remote U.S. Research Center Converts to 95% Renewable Energy

    Sunday, July 05, 2015
    Researchers on the atoll, which has been owned since 2000 by the Nature Conservancy, previously had to bring in diesel to fuel a generator to provide power, according to Ari Phillips of ClimateProgress. Including transportation costs—Palmyra is about 1,000 miles from Hawaii—the diesel ended up costing $11 to $13 a gallon. Now about 95% of the island’s energy needs are met via wind and solar energy.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • 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
  • 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

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • National Agricultural Statistics Service

    Millions working in agriculture and ranching in the United States rely on the surveys and reports conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Each year, the agency administers hundreds of surveys to farmers and ranchers an...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Canada

    Canada’s relationship with the United States is as important as any that the US has in the world. For starters, the two nations share the world’s longest border, over which a half trillion dollars in trade passes every year. Canada is the most ...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Bouda, Seydou

    Ambassador from Burkina Faso: Who Is Seydou Bouda?   In this time of global economic crisis, the impoverished West African nation of Burkina Faso has sent a new ambassador to the United States who has no formal diplomatic experience, but has spe...   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