Portal

  • U.S. Faces Uphill Task in Connecting With New Government in India

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Delhi this week as Washington tries to reset ties with India. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected in May, the U.S. found it had to do business with a leader to whom it had denied a visa in 2005 over anti-Muslim riots. So the U.S. finds itself in an awkward position. This is unfortunate since both countries are natural allies: both are democracies, targets of Islamic terrorism, and worried about China’s rise.   read more
  • Majority of Americans Support Treatment of Migrant Children as Refugees, Not Illegal Immigrants

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    After weeks of media coverage about the influx of unaccompanied children into the U.S., a strong majority of Americans say the young immigrants should be treated as refugees, and not like undocumented adults. A survey revealed 69% of respondents felt that the children should remain as refugees “if authorities determine it is not safe for them to return to their home country.” Eighty-three percent of Democrats, 66% of independents and even 52% of Republicans agreed.   read more
  • EPA Accused of Fracking Oversight Negligence

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    The EPA has been faulted by a federal watchdog agency for failing to properly oversee hundreds of thousands of underground wells involving hydraulic fracturing. A new report by the GAO said the EPA has inconsistently performed safety inspections of fracking wells. EPA has also failed to maintain proper records for the wells and has not updated its guidelines for dealing with the fracking boom in the oil and gas industry.   read more
  • Federal Court Upholds Florida Law Preventing Doctors from Discussing Guns

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    For the majority, Judge Gerald Tjoflat wrote: “The Act simply informs physicians that inquiring about a private matter irrelevant to medical care isn’t part of the practice of good medicine and that...a physician may face discipline for [doing that].” Judge Charles Wilson dissented, saying “a gag order that prevents doctors from even asking... about firearms” is unacceptable. Doctors must have the discretion to decide when gun conversations are relevant, he added.   read more
  • New Super PAC Spends Big Money to Fight Big Money in Politics

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    If you can fight fire with fire, then why not fight big money with big money in the world of elections? That’s what a coalition of liberals, Republicans and wealthy donors have decided in creating a super PAC called Mayday, which plans to spend millions of dollars to reduce the influence of big donors in campaigns. Two of the super PAC’s founders are Lawrence Lessig, co-founder of Creative Commons, and Mark McKinnon, former adviser to President George W. Bush.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

Anti-Drone Portrait Click the photo for larger view Anti-Drone Portrait

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • Mystery Surrounds U.S. Justice Department Move to Wrap Anti-Iran Group in Shroud of Secrecy

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    The U.S. Department of Justice has drawn attention to itself for helping an organization opposed to Iran maintain secrecy of its records. United Against Nuclear Iran is operated by a who’s who list of American and foreign politicos, including former intelligence chiefs from Israel, Germany and Britain. A Greek shipping magnate accused by UANI of violating sanctions by doing business with Iran. But the Justice Department stepped in to block the request in court.   read more
  • For Weddings in Colorado and Washington State, Marijuana is Often the Key to Tying the Knot

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    A new kind of high is being enjoyed on wedding day in Colorado and Washington, the two states that have legalized recreational marijuana use. Pot is popping up in all different ways at marriage ceremonies in these two states, from bridal bouquets to gift bags to celebratory toasts. Advocates say serving marijuana is better than alcohol. It just mellows out the crowd, they insist, making it a good time for all.   read more
  • Manhunt for Fugitive Tuberculosis Patient

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    An urgent manhunt is on in Northern California for a man who’s infected with tuberculosis. Law enforcement hopes to find him before he infects anyone else with what might be a drug-resistant strain of the disease. Eduardo Rosas Cruz showed up at the San Joaquin General Hospital in Stockton in March and was diagnosed with TB. He was told to stay for a health worker to administer his medication. Instead, he left. Officials got a statewide warrant for his arrest last Thursday.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 42 Civil Rights Groups Support Telecoms against Open Internet

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Numerous civil rights groups have sided with the internet provider industry on the issue of net neutrality after getting lucrative partnerships and financial support from telecommunications companies. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), a law firm for civil rights groups, has worked with many of the firms opposing common carrier status for the Internet. MMTC raised more than $1 million from telecom companies at fundraising luncheons from 2011 to 2013.   read more
  • Minor League Baseball Players Sue Major League Baseball over Low Pay

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The typical minor league player earns somewhere between $3,000 and $7,500 a season, which can include spring training and fall instructional leagues, the plaintiffs contend. Compare that to MLB salaries, which averaged $3.3 million last year, with a minimum annual wage of $500,000 in 2014. The big difference is that MLB players are unionized, while their minor league counterparts have been prevented by the league from bargaining collectively.   read more
  • Hedge Funds Accused of Screwing Americans out of Billions of Dollars in Taxes

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The two banks “used the options to build special accounts for their hedge fund clients in their own names and claimed they owned the assets when it was, in fact, the hedge fund clients that exercised full control of the assets.” The structure of the basket options also allowed the hedge funds to borrow up to $17 for every dollar in an account rather than the 50 cents on the dollar that broker-dealers are restricted to according to limits that go back to the 1930s.   read more

Controversies

U.S. and the World

  • Thousands of U.S. Weapons Provided to Afghan Forces Are Unaccounted For

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    The U.S.’ decade-plus of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan may have been hampered by allowing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of weapons to go missing and possibly fall into enemy hands. A new report said many of the 747,000 weapons given to the Afghan National Security Forces can’t be accounted for. “Weapons paid for by U.S. taxpayers could wind up in the hands of insurgents and be used to kill Americans and Afghan troops and civilians,” said SIGAR's John Sopko.   read more
  • European Union Court Slams Poland for Helping U.S. Torture Program

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Poland’s actions in helping the George W. Bush administration torture terrorism suspects on its soil constituted a human rights violation, the European court ruled. It also was faulted for not looking into what happened to Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (implicated in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole) and Abu Zubaida (accused of facilitating militant training) while they were in CIA custody. Nashiri was subjected to a mock execution and had a drill put to his head at the black site.   read more
  • U.S. Wasted $34 Million Pushing Soybeans on Afghanistan

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    The USDA decided it would be a good idea to spend $34 million on getting Afghan farmers to grow soybeans and for Afghan consumers to eat them. But the USDA struck out on both counts. The U.S. also paid about $1.5 million to build a soybean plan. When the crops failed, it paid to have 4,000 metric tons of soybeans flown in from the U.S at a cost of about $2 million. But no American expert could convince Afghans to incorporate soybeans into their diet.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Honduras: Who Is James Nealon?

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Nealon took a job as deputy chief of staff at the embassy in Peru in 2007. While in Peru, Nealon wrote a report, later released by WikiLeaks, expressing concern about “anti-system radicals” who might “lay the groundwork for a more systematic assault on the pro-growth model.” In December 2012, President Obama proposed Nealon as the ambassador to Bolivia, but, not surprisingly considering his comments, Nealon was rejected by the Bolivian government.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to South Korea: Who Is Mark Lippert?

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    After Obama’s inauguration, Lippert was a deputy assistant to the president and then was named chief of staff for the National Security Council (NSC). Lippert left the NSC in 2010. If confirmed, Lippert will be the first political appointee to head the Seoul embassy; the job has previously been filled by career Foreign Service appointees. However, the South Korean government is reportedly eager to have an ambassador with such close ties to Obama.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Egypt: Who Is Stephen Beecroft?

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    In 2003, Beecroft was named special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and the following year was special assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Beecroft remained in the job when Condoleezza Rice took over the State Department. Beecroft served as ambassador to Jordan from July 17, 2008 to June 4, 2011. Beecroft was transferred to Baghdad, Iraq, on July 14, 2011.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Federal Railroad Administration

    Located within the Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is responsible for developing and enforcing railroad safety regulations. FRA also administers railroad assistance programs, conducts research and developmen...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Sudan

    The ongoing regional conflicts that have riven Sudan for the entirety of its fifty years of existence are testament to the folly of defining nation states according to boundaries drawn by European imperialists. In Sudan’s case, the British drew th...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Stephan, Robert

    Bob Stephan began serving as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Infrastructure Protection inApril 2005. He is a distinguished graduate of the US Air Force Academy and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science. He is an Olmsted Schol...   more

Blog

  • 50 Years of Keeping a Daily Diary

    I would not have realized how much we unconsciously edit our memories if I did not have contemporaneous accounts of each day of my life for the last 50 years. Most of these alterations are minor and harmless. But there is one false memory that had...   more
  • U.S. Faces Uphill Task in Connecting With New Government in India

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Delhi this week as Washington tries to reset ties with India. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected in May, the U.S. found it had to do business with a leader to whom it had denied a visa in 2005 over anti-Muslim riots. So the U.S. finds itself in an awkward position. This is unfortunate since both countries are natural allies: both are democracies, targets of Islamic terrorism, and worried about China’s rise.   read more
  • Majority of Americans Support Treatment of Migrant Children as Refugees, Not Illegal Immigrants

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    After weeks of media coverage about the influx of unaccompanied children into the U.S., a strong majority of Americans say the young immigrants should be treated as refugees, and not like undocumented adults. A survey revealed 69% of respondents felt that the children should remain as refugees “if authorities determine it is not safe for them to return to their home country.” Eighty-three percent of Democrats, 66% of independents and even 52% of Republicans agreed.   read more
  • EPA Accused of Fracking Oversight Negligence

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    The EPA has been faulted by a federal watchdog agency for failing to properly oversee hundreds of thousands of underground wells involving hydraulic fracturing. A new report by the GAO said the EPA has inconsistently performed safety inspections of fracking wells. EPA has also failed to maintain proper records for the wells and has not updated its guidelines for dealing with the fracking boom in the oil and gas industry.   read more
  • Federal Court Upholds Florida Law Preventing Doctors from Discussing Guns

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    For the majority, Judge Gerald Tjoflat wrote: “The Act simply informs physicians that inquiring about a private matter irrelevant to medical care isn’t part of the practice of good medicine and that...a physician may face discipline for [doing that].” Judge Charles Wilson dissented, saying “a gag order that prevents doctors from even asking... about firearms” is unacceptable. Doctors must have the discretion to decide when gun conversations are relevant, he added.   read more
  • New Super PAC Spends Big Money to Fight Big Money in Politics

    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    If you can fight fire with fire, then why not fight big money with big money in the world of elections? That’s what a coalition of liberals, Republicans and wealthy donors have decided in creating a super PAC called Mayday, which plans to spend millions of dollars to reduce the influence of big donors in campaigns. Two of the super PAC’s founders are Lawrence Lessig, co-founder of Creative Commons, and Mark McKinnon, former adviser to President George W. Bush.   read more

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • Mystery Surrounds U.S. Justice Department Move to Wrap Anti-Iran Group in Shroud of Secrecy

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    The U.S. Department of Justice has drawn attention to itself for helping an organization opposed to Iran maintain secrecy of its records. United Against Nuclear Iran is operated by a who’s who list of American and foreign politicos, including former intelligence chiefs from Israel, Germany and Britain. A Greek shipping magnate accused by UANI of violating sanctions by doing business with Iran. But the Justice Department stepped in to block the request in court.   read more
  • For Weddings in Colorado and Washington State, Marijuana is Often the Key to Tying the Knot

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    A new kind of high is being enjoyed on wedding day in Colorado and Washington, the two states that have legalized recreational marijuana use. Pot is popping up in all different ways at marriage ceremonies in these two states, from bridal bouquets to gift bags to celebratory toasts. Advocates say serving marijuana is better than alcohol. It just mellows out the crowd, they insist, making it a good time for all.   read more
  • Manhunt for Fugitive Tuberculosis Patient

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    An urgent manhunt is on in Northern California for a man who’s infected with tuberculosis. Law enforcement hopes to find him before he infects anyone else with what might be a drug-resistant strain of the disease. Eduardo Rosas Cruz showed up at the San Joaquin General Hospital in Stockton in March and was diagnosed with TB. He was told to stay for a health worker to administer his medication. Instead, he left. Officials got a statewide warrant for his arrest last Thursday.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 42 Civil Rights Groups Support Telecoms against Open Internet

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    Numerous civil rights groups have sided with the internet provider industry on the issue of net neutrality after getting lucrative partnerships and financial support from telecommunications companies. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), a law firm for civil rights groups, has worked with many of the firms opposing common carrier status for the Internet. MMTC raised more than $1 million from telecom companies at fundraising luncheons from 2011 to 2013.   read more
  • Minor League Baseball Players Sue Major League Baseball over Low Pay

    Friday, July 25, 2014
    The typical minor league player earns somewhere between $3,000 and $7,500 a season, which can include spring training and fall instructional leagues, the plaintiffs contend. Compare that to MLB salaries, which averaged $3.3 million last year, with a minimum annual wage of $500,000 in 2014. The big difference is that MLB players are unionized, while their minor league counterparts have been prevented by the league from bargaining collectively.   read more
  • Hedge Funds Accused of Screwing Americans out of Billions of Dollars in Taxes

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    The two banks “used the options to build special accounts for their hedge fund clients in their own names and claimed they owned the assets when it was, in fact, the hedge fund clients that exercised full control of the assets.” The structure of the basket options also allowed the hedge funds to borrow up to $17 for every dollar in an account rather than the 50 cents on the dollar that broker-dealers are restricted to according to limits that go back to the 1930s.   read more

Controversies

U.S. and the World

  • Thousands of U.S. Weapons Provided to Afghan Forces Are Unaccounted For

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    The U.S.’ decade-plus of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan may have been hampered by allowing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of weapons to go missing and possibly fall into enemy hands. A new report said many of the 747,000 weapons given to the Afghan National Security Forces can’t be accounted for. “Weapons paid for by U.S. taxpayers could wind up in the hands of insurgents and be used to kill Americans and Afghan troops and civilians,” said SIGAR's John Sopko.   read more
  • European Union Court Slams Poland for Helping U.S. Torture Program

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Poland’s actions in helping the George W. Bush administration torture terrorism suspects on its soil constituted a human rights violation, the European court ruled. It also was faulted for not looking into what happened to Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (implicated in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole) and Abu Zubaida (accused of facilitating militant training) while they were in CIA custody. Nashiri was subjected to a mock execution and had a drill put to his head at the black site.   read more
  • U.S. Wasted $34 Million Pushing Soybeans on Afghanistan

    Saturday, July 26, 2014
    The USDA decided it would be a good idea to spend $34 million on getting Afghan farmers to grow soybeans and for Afghan consumers to eat them. But the USDA struck out on both counts. The U.S. also paid about $1.5 million to build a soybean plan. When the crops failed, it paid to have 4,000 metric tons of soybeans flown in from the U.S at a cost of about $2 million. But no American expert could convince Afghans to incorporate soybeans into their diet.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Honduras: Who Is James Nealon?

    Monday, July 28, 2014
    Nealon took a job as deputy chief of staff at the embassy in Peru in 2007. While in Peru, Nealon wrote a report, later released by WikiLeaks, expressing concern about “anti-system radicals” who might “lay the groundwork for a more systematic assault on the pro-growth model.” In December 2012, President Obama proposed Nealon as the ambassador to Bolivia, but, not surprisingly considering his comments, Nealon was rejected by the Bolivian government.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to South Korea: Who Is Mark Lippert?

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    After Obama’s inauguration, Lippert was a deputy assistant to the president and then was named chief of staff for the National Security Council (NSC). Lippert left the NSC in 2010. If confirmed, Lippert will be the first political appointee to head the Seoul embassy; the job has previously been filled by career Foreign Service appointees. However, the South Korean government is reportedly eager to have an ambassador with such close ties to Obama.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Egypt: Who Is Stephen Beecroft?

    Sunday, July 27, 2014
    In 2003, Beecroft was named special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and the following year was special assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Beecroft remained in the job when Condoleezza Rice took over the State Department. Beecroft served as ambassador to Jordan from July 17, 2008 to June 4, 2011. Beecroft was transferred to Baghdad, Iraq, on July 14, 2011.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Office of Legal Counsel

    Located within the Department of Justice, the Office of Legal Counsel functions as one of the most powerful legal bodies in the federal government. Although few have heard of it, the office is responsible for putting forth legal opinions that shap...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Slovenia

    Slovenia is a country in Eastern Europe that occupies an area slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey. Bordered by Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary, Slovenia was originally settled by Celts and Illyrians. Slavic settlements sprang up in t...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Razāns, Andris

    As of July 30, 2012, the ambassador from the Baltic nation of Latvia to the United States has been career diplomat Andris Razāns. In a bit of Latvian musical chairs, Razāns succeeds Andrejs Pildegovičs, who is returning to Latvia to succeed Raz...   more

Blog

  • 50 Years of Keeping a Daily Diary

    I would not have realized how much we unconsciously edit our memories if I did not have contemporaneous accounts of each day of my life for the last 50 years. Most of these alterations are minor and harmless. But there is one false memory that had...   more

PHOTO GALLERY

Anti-Drone Portrait Click the photo for larger view Anti-Drone Portrait