Portal

  • Gov. Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    State health officials said that until more studies can be performed, it was necessary to stop fracking because of the risks it poses to residents’ water supplies. The decision comes in the wake of state environmental and health reports that concluded New York citizens would be placed at risk by continued fracking operations. “We cannot afford to make a mistake,” said acting state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. “The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not fully known.”   read more
  • Obama Bans Oil Drilling in Alaskan Bay that Produces 40% of Wild-Caught Seafood in U.S.

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    Obama’s executive move protects a region that provides 40% of the nation’s wild-caught seafood and which supports up to $2 billion in commercial fishing every year. Bristol Bay is the natural habitat for numerous endangered species, including walruses, seals, sea otters, seals, and several species of whales. “It’s something that’s too precious for us just to be putting out to the highest bidder,” Obama said in announcing his decision. Environmental groups lauded the move.   read more
  • Federal Grand Jury Indicts Owners of Chemical Company that Contaminated West Virginia Water

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    Freedom declared bankruptcy after the accident in which 10,000 gallons of the industrial chemical MCHM leaked into the nearby Elk River. The toxic chemicals broke through an aging tank in the plant, which is on the river bank upstream from the county’s municipal water intake. “A survey by two state agencies and the [CDC] later concluded that a fifth of the area’s households that were surveyed had individuals who experienced symptoms consistent with exposure to the chemical,” said the Times.   read more
  • Education Dept. Approves Sale of Failing For-Profit Colleges to Debt Collection Company

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    Corinthian Colleges, described as “one of the most abusive and deceptive for-profit college companies” in the country, was on its way to going out of business when student loan collector ECMC said it wanted to buy it. Officials in the U.S. Department of Education approved the deal in which ECMC will pay $24 million for 56 campuses operating under the names Everest and WyoTech. David Halperin says that ECMC stepping in to assume control of the schools is a “terrible mistake.”   read more
  • New Law School Enrollment Continues to Plunge…to 41-Year Low

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    These days, many students are looking at the cost of a legal education and getting serious sticker shock. Top schools easily demand $55,000 a year for tuition, and the “low end” options cost in the $40,000 range. Furthermore, many law graduates aren’t getting jobs as lawyers after they finish school and pass the bar exam. Currently there are fewer U.S. jobs for attorneys, thanks to growing online legal services and outsourcing of positions to other countries.   read more

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Top Stories

  • 9 American Insiders Who Opposed Bush Torture Program

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    The ACLU has honored nine officials who took a stand against torture of U.S. detainees. Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, who was chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay from 2005 to 2007, advocated for a policy barring the use of evidence obtained through torture. His effort failed, and when Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes became Haynes’ boss, he resigned. “The guy who said waterboarding is A-OK, I was not going to take orders from. I quit,” Davis reportedly said.   read more
  • Army Claims it’s too Dangerous to Clean Up Radioactive Weapons Test Site in Indiana

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    More than 160,000 pounds of depleted uranium projectiles and millions of artillery shells were left, unexploded, at the firing range. The Army, however, is showing no signs of cleaning up the mess. In fact, it's asking the NRC to allow them to halt environmental testing of the area. Some local residents worry that the radioactive materials will spread during rains. “The Army never thought much about the future,” said Mike Moore. “No thought was given that you've ruined this land forever.”   read more
  • Congress Agrees to Protect 1 Million Acres in First Significant Land Conservation Legislation in 5 Years

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014
    For the first time since 2009, Congress has moved to protect large swaths of undeveloped land throughout the Western United States. By folding several bills into a defense authorization plan, environmentalists were able to push through protection for national parks, wilderness areas and untamed rivers. More than 1 million acres of public lands will be set aside. However, part of the price for the conservation package was the approval of measures benefiting various industry interests.   read more

Unusual News

  • Virginia Legislator will Continue to Serve While Spending Nights in Jail for Sex with a Minor

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    Morrissey was allowed to enter into a work-release program, which permits him to continue his duties as a public official. He is allowed to drive his own car between the jail house and his legislative office. And if he doesn’t show up at the jail? “We understand that the legislature can run late into the night; but we will know where he is,” Henrico County Sheriff Michael Wade told the Dispatch. A monitoring device has been secured to Morrissey’s ankle.   read more
  • Navy Unveils Laser “Ray Gun”

    Sunday, December 14, 2014
    The skills needed to operate this deadly weapon are familiar to many young sailors. The controller “looks a lot like a game controller, Xbox, PS4 or whatever.” Klunder added, “Any of you that can do Xbox or PS4, you’ll be good with this.” One advantage of this system to the Navy is cost. Firing a missile costs about $2 million, while the laser can do some of the same jobs for about 59 cents—the cost of electricity.   read more
  • Left-Handed Workers make 10-12% Less than Right-Handed Workers

    Sunday, December 14, 2014
    As if there weren’t already enough insults out there to frustrate a left-handed person (scissors, computer mouses, the whole handwriting thing, etc), it turns out being left-hand dominant costs you earnings too. A new study (pdf) shows people who are right-handed make more money than lefties. The difference averages out to about 10% to 12%.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Social Security Administration Still Collecting Debts from Children of Overpaid Recipients Despite Promising to Stop

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Acting SSA commissioner Carolyn Colvin publicly said the collection efforts would end, but the collections have continued. Some who were reimbursed for the refunds they never received have said the SSA turned around and came after them again for the overpayments. At least five of these individuals are now suing the agency to halt the practice once and for all. The agency’s actions have stirred up members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.   read more
  • NASA Spent $349 Million for a Useless Lab Tower for a Project that had Already been Cancelled

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    The tower “is evidence of a breakdown at NASA, which used to be a glorious symbol of what an American bureaucracy could achieve," wrote the Post's David Fahrenthold. "In the Space Race days of the 1960s, the agency was given a clear, galvanizing mission: reach the moon within the decade. In less than seven, NASA got it done. Now, NASA has become a symbol of something else: what happens to a big bureaucracy after its sense of mission starts to fade.”   read more
  • For the First Time, Congress Allocates Money to Protect Battlefields from Revolutionary War and War of 1812

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    More than 200 years after the fact, Congress has finally decided to spend money on preserving battlefields from some of the most critical wars in American history. In a first, lawmakers have expanded the federal matching grants program that until now only supported landmarks from the Civil War. Now the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program will also be able to accept requests to fund and preserve battlefields from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.   read more

Controversies

  • Sen. Coburn Blocks Funding for Veterans Suicide Prevention Web Site

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    “While we recognize Senator Coburn’s reputation as a budget hawk, clearly the minor cost of this bill would have a tremendous payoff to help save lives in our community," said IAVA founder Paul Reickhoff. "This isn’t about spending new money – it’s about honoring the commitment we owe to the men and women who put on the uniform. With the suicide crisis continuing, it is unconscionable for a lone Senator to block a fair vote and for Congress to leave Washington without dealing with this crisis.”   read more
  • Nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Norway Gives Up; Who Was George Tsunis?

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    New York businessman George Tsunis blundered his way through his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this year. Under questioning from senators, Tsunis mistakenly labeled Norway’s prime minister a “president” and insulted the Progress Party, accusing it of spewing “hatred” and being “fringe elements” in Norwegian politics. Senator John McCain, whom Tsunis supported in 2008 to the tune of $50,000, excoriated his former supporter during confirmation hearings.   read more
  • Lax Oversight of Americans Lobbying for Foreign Governments

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    One big problem is the Justice Department office that is supposed to keep updated records is actually “a record-keeping mess.” That has allowed nearly half of required disclosures to be filed late. The law also doesn’t require lobbyists to disclose when they disseminated the materials. Even when lobbyists are found to be in noncompliance with the law, they’re not likely to get into trouble. The Justice Department rarely seeks an injunction against the offender.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • The Other Torture Report: U.S. Taught Torture Techniques to Brazil Dictatorship

    Monday, December 15, 2014
    More than 300 Brazilians came to the School of the Americas, located at Fort Benning, Georgia, where instructors “recommended interrogation techniques like torture, execution, blackmail and arresting the relatives of those being questioned,” according to a Pentagon manual released in 1996. Among their victims was Dilma Rousseff, who was a political activist in the 1960s and is now Brazil’s president.   read more
  • Are U.S. Torturers Above the Law?

    Friday, December 12, 2014
    The U.S. is obligated under the International Convention on Torture to investigate any U.S. citizen accused of torturing someone, and the U.N. high commissioner for human rights said he welcomes the prosecution of CIA personnel who either ordered or carried out the torture against detainees. “The convention lets no one off the hook — neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy-makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders,” said the commissioner.   read more
  • Taliban Using Jihadist Textbooks…Supplied by the U.S.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014
    As part of the U.S. campaign to undermine Soviet control over Afghanistan, USAID provided school books in local Afghan languages that taught children how to become jihadists. The books are “filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, [and] have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum,” said the Post in 2002. Not only did many of the books survive, but the Taliban is reprinting the books to help those who want to destroy the U.S.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Armenia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Tigran Sargsyan?

    Monday, December 15, 2014
    Sargsyan was selected as prime minister in April 2008 and was reappointed in 2012 and 2013. At first he was not a member of any political party, but he later joined the Republican Party of Armenia. In 2011, Sargsyan survived a financial crisis in his country when the inflation rate hit 9.4%, sending thousands of Armenians into poverty. Sargsyan was pushed out as prime minister in April 2014 when a pension reform plan he championed was found to be illegal under Armenian law.   read more
  • Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Mohammed Ziauddin?

    Sunday, December 14, 2014
    In May 2000, Ziauddin was appointed ambassador to Italy with concurrent credentialing to Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He was also his country’s representative to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. After that assignment, Ziauddin served as an ambassador-at-large for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina until being named to the Washington post.   read more
  • Estonia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Eerik Marmei?

    Sunday, December 14, 2014
    Marmei was transferred to his country’s Washington embassy in 2000 as charge d’affaires. While there, he took a familiarization flight in a Blackhawk helicopter assigned to the Maryland National Guard. The craft had an emergency and was forced to land in the infield at Pimlico race track—a half hour before post time.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Botswana

    Thanks to its small population and an abundance of diamonds, Botswana has been able to develop into an African success story. Arid, impoverished, and lacking basic infrastructure when it gained independence from Great Britain in 1966, Botswana con...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Ochoa, Eduardo

    Eduardo M. Ochoa, a top administrator at Sonoma State University in California, was selected on February 23, 2010, by President Barack Obama to run the Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, which administers most of the fede...   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
  • Gov. Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    State health officials said that until more studies can be performed, it was necessary to stop fracking because of the risks it poses to residents’ water supplies. The decision comes in the wake of state environmental and health reports that concluded New York citizens would be placed at risk by continued fracking operations. “We cannot afford to make a mistake,” said acting state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. “The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not fully known.”   read more
  • Obama Bans Oil Drilling in Alaskan Bay that Produces 40% of Wild-Caught Seafood in U.S.

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    Obama’s executive move protects a region that provides 40% of the nation’s wild-caught seafood and which supports up to $2 billion in commercial fishing every year. Bristol Bay is the natural habitat for numerous endangered species, including walruses, seals, sea otters, seals, and several species of whales. “It’s something that’s too precious for us just to be putting out to the highest bidder,” Obama said in announcing his decision. Environmental groups lauded the move.   read more
  • Federal Grand Jury Indicts Owners of Chemical Company that Contaminated West Virginia Water

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    Freedom declared bankruptcy after the accident in which 10,000 gallons of the industrial chemical MCHM leaked into the nearby Elk River. The toxic chemicals broke through an aging tank in the plant, which is on the river bank upstream from the county’s municipal water intake. “A survey by two state agencies and the [CDC] later concluded that a fifth of the area’s households that were surveyed had individuals who experienced symptoms consistent with exposure to the chemical,” said the Times.   read more
  • Education Dept. Approves Sale of Failing For-Profit Colleges to Debt Collection Company

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    Corinthian Colleges, described as “one of the most abusive and deceptive for-profit college companies” in the country, was on its way to going out of business when student loan collector ECMC said it wanted to buy it. Officials in the U.S. Department of Education approved the deal in which ECMC will pay $24 million for 56 campuses operating under the names Everest and WyoTech. David Halperin says that ECMC stepping in to assume control of the schools is a “terrible mistake.”   read more
  • New Law School Enrollment Continues to Plunge…to 41-Year Low

    Friday, December 19, 2014
    These days, many students are looking at the cost of a legal education and getting serious sticker shock. Top schools easily demand $55,000 a year for tuition, and the “low end” options cost in the $40,000 range. Furthermore, many law graduates aren’t getting jobs as lawyers after they finish school and pass the bar exam. Currently there are fewer U.S. jobs for attorneys, thanks to growing online legal services and outsourcing of positions to other countries.   read more

Top Stories

  • 9 American Insiders Who Opposed Bush Torture Program

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    The ACLU has honored nine officials who took a stand against torture of U.S. detainees. Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, who was chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay from 2005 to 2007, advocated for a policy barring the use of evidence obtained through torture. His effort failed, and when Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes became Haynes’ boss, he resigned. “The guy who said waterboarding is A-OK, I was not going to take orders from. I quit,” Davis reportedly said.   read more
  • Army Claims it’s too Dangerous to Clean Up Radioactive Weapons Test Site in Indiana

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    More than 160,000 pounds of depleted uranium projectiles and millions of artillery shells were left, unexploded, at the firing range. The Army, however, is showing no signs of cleaning up the mess. In fact, it's asking the NRC to allow them to halt environmental testing of the area. Some local residents worry that the radioactive materials will spread during rains. “The Army never thought much about the future,” said Mike Moore. “No thought was given that you've ruined this land forever.”   read more
  • Congress Agrees to Protect 1 Million Acres in First Significant Land Conservation Legislation in 5 Years

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014
    For the first time since 2009, Congress has moved to protect large swaths of undeveloped land throughout the Western United States. By folding several bills into a defense authorization plan, environmentalists were able to push through protection for national parks, wilderness areas and untamed rivers. More than 1 million acres of public lands will be set aside. However, part of the price for the conservation package was the approval of measures benefiting various industry interests.   read more

Unusual News

  • Virginia Legislator will Continue to Serve While Spending Nights in Jail for Sex with a Minor

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    Morrissey was allowed to enter into a work-release program, which permits him to continue his duties as a public official. He is allowed to drive his own car between the jail house and his legislative office. And if he doesn’t show up at the jail? “We understand that the legislature can run late into the night; but we will know where he is,” Henrico County Sheriff Michael Wade told the Dispatch. A monitoring device has been secured to Morrissey’s ankle.   read more
  • Navy Unveils Laser “Ray Gun”

    Sunday, December 14, 2014
    The skills needed to operate this deadly weapon are familiar to many young sailors. The controller “looks a lot like a game controller, Xbox, PS4 or whatever.” Klunder added, “Any of you that can do Xbox or PS4, you’ll be good with this.” One advantage of this system to the Navy is cost. Firing a missile costs about $2 million, while the laser can do some of the same jobs for about 59 cents—the cost of electricity.   read more
  • Left-Handed Workers make 10-12% Less than Right-Handed Workers

    Sunday, December 14, 2014
    As if there weren’t already enough insults out there to frustrate a left-handed person (scissors, computer mouses, the whole handwriting thing, etc), it turns out being left-hand dominant costs you earnings too. A new study (pdf) shows people who are right-handed make more money than lefties. The difference averages out to about 10% to 12%.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Social Security Administration Still Collecting Debts from Children of Overpaid Recipients Despite Promising to Stop

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    Acting SSA commissioner Carolyn Colvin publicly said the collection efforts would end, but the collections have continued. Some who were reimbursed for the refunds they never received have said the SSA turned around and came after them again for the overpayments. At least five of these individuals are now suing the agency to halt the practice once and for all. The agency’s actions have stirred up members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.   read more
  • NASA Spent $349 Million for a Useless Lab Tower for a Project that had Already been Cancelled

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    The tower “is evidence of a breakdown at NASA, which used to be a glorious symbol of what an American bureaucracy could achieve," wrote the Post's David Fahrenthold. "In the Space Race days of the 1960s, the agency was given a clear, galvanizing mission: reach the moon within the decade. In less than seven, NASA got it done. Now, NASA has become a symbol of something else: what happens to a big bureaucracy after its sense of mission starts to fade.”   read more
  • For the First Time, Congress Allocates Money to Protect Battlefields from Revolutionary War and War of 1812

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014
    More than 200 years after the fact, Congress has finally decided to spend money on preserving battlefields from some of the most critical wars in American history. In a first, lawmakers have expanded the federal matching grants program that until now only supported landmarks from the Civil War. Now the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program will also be able to accept requests to fund and preserve battlefields from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.   read more

Controversies

  • Sen. Coburn Blocks Funding for Veterans Suicide Prevention Web Site

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    “While we recognize Senator Coburn’s reputation as a budget hawk, clearly the minor cost of this bill would have a tremendous payoff to help save lives in our community," said IAVA founder Paul Reickhoff. "This isn’t about spending new money – it’s about honoring the commitment we owe to the men and women who put on the uniform. With the suicide crisis continuing, it is unconscionable for a lone Senator to block a fair vote and for Congress to leave Washington without dealing with this crisis.”   read more
  • Nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Norway Gives Up; Who Was George Tsunis?

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    New York businessman George Tsunis blundered his way through his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this year. Under questioning from senators, Tsunis mistakenly labeled Norway’s prime minister a “president” and insulted the Progress Party, accusing it of spewing “hatred” and being “fringe elements” in Norwegian politics. Senator John McCain, whom Tsunis supported in 2008 to the tune of $50,000, excoriated his former supporter during confirmation hearings.   read more
  • Lax Oversight of Americans Lobbying for Foreign Governments

    Thursday, December 18, 2014
    One big problem is the Justice Department office that is supposed to keep updated records is actually “a record-keeping mess.” That has allowed nearly half of required disclosures to be filed late. The law also doesn’t require lobbyists to disclose when they disseminated the materials. Even when lobbyists are found to be in noncompliance with the law, they’re not likely to get into trouble. The Justice Department rarely seeks an injunction against the offender.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • The Other Torture Report: U.S. Taught Torture Techniques to Brazil Dictatorship

    Monday, December 15, 2014
    More than 300 Brazilians came to the School of the Americas, located at Fort Benning, Georgia, where instructors “recommended interrogation techniques like torture, execution, blackmail and arresting the relatives of those being questioned,” according to a Pentagon manual released in 1996. Among their victims was Dilma Rousseff, who was a political activist in the 1960s and is now Brazil’s president.   read more
  • Are U.S. Torturers Above the Law?

    Friday, December 12, 2014
    The U.S. is obligated under the International Convention on Torture to investigate any U.S. citizen accused of torturing someone, and the U.N. high commissioner for human rights said he welcomes the prosecution of CIA personnel who either ordered or carried out the torture against detainees. “The convention lets no one off the hook — neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy-makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders,” said the commissioner.   read more
  • Taliban Using Jihadist Textbooks…Supplied by the U.S.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014
    As part of the U.S. campaign to undermine Soviet control over Afghanistan, USAID provided school books in local Afghan languages that taught children how to become jihadists. The books are “filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, [and] have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum,” said the Post in 2002. Not only did many of the books survive, but the Taliban is reprinting the books to help those who want to destroy the U.S.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Armenia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Tigran Sargsyan?

    Monday, December 15, 2014
    Sargsyan was selected as prime minister in April 2008 and was reappointed in 2012 and 2013. At first he was not a member of any political party, but he later joined the Republican Party of Armenia. In 2011, Sargsyan survived a financial crisis in his country when the inflation rate hit 9.4%, sending thousands of Armenians into poverty. Sargsyan was pushed out as prime minister in April 2014 when a pension reform plan he championed was found to be illegal under Armenian law.   read more
  • Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Mohammed Ziauddin?

    Sunday, December 14, 2014
    In May 2000, Ziauddin was appointed ambassador to Italy with concurrent credentialing to Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He was also his country’s representative to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. After that assignment, Ziauddin served as an ambassador-at-large for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina until being named to the Washington post.   read more
  • Estonia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Eerik Marmei?

    Sunday, December 14, 2014
    Marmei was transferred to his country’s Washington embassy in 2000 as charge d’affaires. While there, he took a familiarization flight in a Blackhawk helicopter assigned to the Maryland National Guard. The craft had an emergency and was forced to land in the infield at Pimlico race track—a half hour before post time.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Employment Standards Administration

    The Employment Standards Administration (ESA), which was eliminate Novenber 8, 2009, enforced compliance and monitors laws governing legally mandated equal employment opportunity, minimum wages and working conditions. ESA works with employers by g...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Solomon Islands

    European explorers couldn’t find the Solomon Islands for more than 200 years after the first explorer visited it. However, during World War II, the Solomons couldn’t hide. Numerous naval, air, and ground battles took place in and around Guadalcana...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Bates, John

    Three years after he was first appointed to serve on the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), John D. Bates took over as the presiding judge. Bates has been a federal judge for almost 10 years, serving on the U.S. District ...   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

Get Smart Phone Meets Smartphone Click the photo for larger view Get Smart Phone Meets Smartphone