Portal

  • FBI Accused of Trying to Turn Defense Security Officer into Spy in 9/11 Military Hearing Case

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Attorney Jim Harrington, who is representing bin al Shibh, told the court that agents showed up at the home of his team’s defense security officer, whose identity was not revealed. The Miami Herald reported that the officer worked for SRA International, a government contractor. Harrington said the FBI questioned the officer about possible wrongdoing by defense attorneys and convinced him to sign an agreement that would have him feed information to the bureau.   read more
  • Tyson’s Control of Chicken Farmers Borders on Feudal

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Tyson farmers own their land, but not the chickens they raise for the corporation. The company also owns the feed, which is specially designed at a Tyson plant, that’s given to the birds. The cost of the feed is later deducted from any profits the farmer earns from Tyson. According to Leonard, Tyson has contracted out the job of raising chickens because it’s the riskiest part of the industry.   read more
  • Contrary to Obama Claims, 88% of Deportees Committed Minor Infractions or No Crime at All

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Only 12% of deportations in 2013 committed a serious or “Level 1” offense (defined by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as someone convicted of an “aggravated felony,” or two or more felonies). About half of all deportees were charged with violating traffic or immigration laws. Those guilty of entering the country illegally comprised 22.7% of deportations. Such an offense is classified as a petty misdemeanor under the federal criminal code, TRAC noted.   read more
  • Oklahoma Gov. Fallin Signs Bill Banning Minimum Wage Increases by Cities

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    The governor added that increasing the minimum wage would only hurt businesses and lead to employees being laid off. She insisted most workers would not benefit from a minimum wage hike. Critics said the bill was intended to circumvent an effort in Oklahoma City, where signatures are being gathered to put an initiative on the city ballot raising the minimum wage to $10.10. That is the level to which President Barack Obama seeks to raise the federal minimum wage.   read more
  • Federal Agency Charges for Reports Available Free Online

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Around since 1950, NTIS was set up as a clearinghouse for technical papers produced by the government. It has continued to sell these reports to the public even though many of them can be had for free through other agencies. For instance, anyone interested in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s handy report on chemical hazards can order a free copy here. Or they can pay the NTIS $30.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • U.S. Security Barriers on Border with Mexico May Disrupt Pumas more than Humans

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    “The suggestion is that the intermittent fencing present in this part of the world does affect some native species, but does not necessarily restrict the movement of humans (including illegal migrants), who may negatively impact native species.” In some study areas, pumas had largely abandoned habitats divided by a border wall. But coatis, which aren’t inclined to relocate like pumas, could be more impacted by the barriers and might experience a collapse in their population.   read more
  • Retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens Suggests Adding 5 Words to Second Amendment to Clarify Right to Bear Arms

    Monday, April 14, 2014
    Stevens proposes a five-word change to the Second Amendment. As he would write it, it reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.” Those five words, which would clarify the Second Amendment to bring it in line with what Stevens says is the framers’ intent, could prove to do more to protect generations to come than all the armed guards in the world.   read more
  • North Dakota: The State that Loves Drones

    Sunday, April 13, 2014
    Since May 2013, there have been nine instances in which drones have been used in the Grand Forks area. They include searching a flooded river for drowning victims, photographing a train collision, photographing river bank erosion and damage to historic buildings, searching for two suspects accused of auto theft and child molestation and taking photos of an outdoor murder scene.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • IRS Gave Arizona Non-Profit Tax Exempt Status despite Record Campaign Money-Laundering Disclosure

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    An Arizona-based political organization funded almost entirely by the conservative Koch brothers—and that was fined for laundering political contributions—was awarded tax-exempt status by the IRS despite the agency knowing this. “Social welfare” groups are not eligible for tax exemption if they spend the majority of their money on politics. But Americans for Responsible Leadership, which had received 98% of its money from a Koch group, received that status from the IRS.   read more
  • Affordable Rent Slips out of Reach for Majority of Renters

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    The U.S. is experiencing “the worst rental affordability crisis” in its history, said the HUD secretary late last year. The problem is unlikely to abate anytime soon. Since the 2008 financial crisis, demand for apartments has soared as millions of homeowners lost their properties while struggling young Americans have turned to renting. Developers are constructing new apartment buildings in many cities. But often the structures going up are for high-end, luxury rentals.   read more
  • Hillary Clinton Makes Money for Boeing

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    During her October 2009 trip to Russia, Clinton made no effort to hide her plans to help Boeing while meeting with the state-owned airline, Rosavia. Her persuasiveness paid dividends for Boeing, which secured a $3.7 billion contract for the planes only months later. Shortly after completing the deal, Boeing contributed $900,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation to help rebuild schools in Haiti damaged by the 2010 earthquake.   read more

Controversies

  • U.S. Lost 30% of its Paid Journalists in 6 Years

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    The carnage of layoffs resulting from the Internet age has been quite gruesome for journalism employment, with the U.S. having lost 30% of its paid media workers. Print publications facing dwindling subscription rates laid off 17,000 reporters and editors from 2006 to 2012, according to Pew. Many commentators have lamented the loss of so many “watchdogs,” fearing the downsizing and closing of newspapers and magazines would spell the end of investigative journalism.   read more
  • Supreme Court to Decide if Campaign Lies are Protected Free Speech

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether the First Amendment protects lying in political campaigns. The case centers on an Ohio law that penalizes candidates or groups that knowingly lie in campaign ads. The plaintiffs have an unlikely supporter in the ACLU, which filed a brief supporting the right-wing groups’ contention that the Ohio law violates the First Amendment rights of Americans. Fifteen other states have laws that make it a crime to lie in political campaigns.   read more
  • Florida House Worries Law Enforcement by Passing Bill to Allow Carrying Concealed Weapons without Permit during Riots

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    The Florida Sheriffs Association opposes the bill, and tried for weeks to amend its language. One sheriff, Bob Gualtieri of Pinellas County, home of St. Petersburg, which saw riots in 1996, called the bill “crazy” and “absurd.” “To allow people to go into a riot while concealing a gun without a permit is the definition of insanity,” he told the Miami Herald.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Blackwater Guards Finally to be Tried for Killing 14 Iraqi Civilians

    Sunday, April 13, 2014
    Following the incident, DSS officials forced the Blackwater specialists to provide written statements of the shootings in exchange for full immunity from criminal prosecution. That decision by the State Department derailed the U.S. Department of Justice’s first attempt to prosecute the guards once they returned to the U.S. A federal appeals court then reinstated the charges, saying the lower court had erred in dismissing the case.   read more
  • Afghan Children Die by the Dozens because of Explosives U.S. Left Behind at Firing Ranges

    Friday, April 11, 2014
    The open fields of Afghanistan have become lethal for many of that nation’s children due to scores of unexploded ordinance left by U.S. military forces. Dozens of Afghan children have died after wandering into abandoned U.S. firing ranges filled with undetonated artillery shells, rockets and grenades. The U.N. says at least 70 civilians—62 of whom were children—have died since 2012 in and around U.S. or NATO firing ranges or bases.   read more
  • Judge Rules Terrorism Victims can Seize $500 Million Midtown Manhattan Office Tower Owned by Iranians

    Tuesday, April 08, 2014
    In September 2013, another federal judge, Katherine Forrest, decided the majority interest held by Assa Corp. and the Alavi Foundation was a front for Iran’s Bank Melli, making it a front for the Iranian government. Forrest also ruled that the U.S. government could take control of the building. The plaintiffs include numerous individuals who claim they were victimized by various terrorism acts supported by Iran, including 1983 bombings in Beirut, Lebanon.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Dept. of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology: Who Is Reggie Brothers?

    Monday, April 14, 2014
    In 2007, Brothers returned to the private sector, joining defense contractor BAE Systems, working on advanced programs and technology. Brothers joined the Obama administration in 2011 as deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Research. In that role, he was responsible for policy and oversight of Department of Defense Science and Technology programs from basic research through advanced technology development.   read more
  • Energy Under Secretary for Science: Who Is Franklin Orr?

    Sunday, April 13, 2014
    In 2009, Orr helped found the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford. According to the institute’s website, its mission is to provide funding and associated support for cutting-edge energy research. In recent years, the focus of Orr’s research has been into carbon capture and storage, in which emissions from power plants and other pollution sources are injected into the earth.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs: Who Is Charles Rivkin?

    Saturday, April 12, 2014
    Rivkin is not the only member of his family to receive an appointment from Obama. His brother, Robert, was selected to be general counsel for the Department of Transportation, and Robert’s wife, Cindy S. Moelis, a close friend of Michelle Obama, was chosen to direct the Commission on White House Fellows. Rivkin’s mother, who died in 2002, and stepfather founded the American Refugee Committee, which helps relocate international refugees.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs

    The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) is an agency within the Department of State that deals with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. diplomatic relations with Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Om...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Turkey

    Turkey was once the home of the Ottoman Empire that stretched from the Persian Gulf to western Algeria. Lasting for 600 years, the Ottoman Empire was not only one of the most powerful empires in the history of the Mediterranean region, but it gene...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Kennedy, Caroline

    Nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy has been a celebrity since the day she was born, yet she has managed to control the glare of the limelight during her adult life, just as her mother did in the years after the ...   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
  • FBI Accused of Trying to Turn Defense Security Officer into Spy in 9/11 Military Hearing Case

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Attorney Jim Harrington, who is representing bin al Shibh, told the court that agents showed up at the home of his team’s defense security officer, whose identity was not revealed. The Miami Herald reported that the officer worked for SRA International, a government contractor. Harrington said the FBI questioned the officer about possible wrongdoing by defense attorneys and convinced him to sign an agreement that would have him feed information to the bureau.   read more
  • Tyson’s Control of Chicken Farmers Borders on Feudal

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Tyson farmers own their land, but not the chickens they raise for the corporation. The company also owns the feed, which is specially designed at a Tyson plant, that’s given to the birds. The cost of the feed is later deducted from any profits the farmer earns from Tyson. According to Leonard, Tyson has contracted out the job of raising chickens because it’s the riskiest part of the industry.   read more
  • Contrary to Obama Claims, 88% of Deportees Committed Minor Infractions or No Crime at All

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Only 12% of deportations in 2013 committed a serious or “Level 1” offense (defined by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as someone convicted of an “aggravated felony,” or two or more felonies). About half of all deportees were charged with violating traffic or immigration laws. Those guilty of entering the country illegally comprised 22.7% of deportations. Such an offense is classified as a petty misdemeanor under the federal criminal code, TRAC noted.   read more
  • Oklahoma Gov. Fallin Signs Bill Banning Minimum Wage Increases by Cities

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    The governor added that increasing the minimum wage would only hurt businesses and lead to employees being laid off. She insisted most workers would not benefit from a minimum wage hike. Critics said the bill was intended to circumvent an effort in Oklahoma City, where signatures are being gathered to put an initiative on the city ballot raising the minimum wage to $10.10. That is the level to which President Barack Obama seeks to raise the federal minimum wage.   read more
  • Federal Agency Charges for Reports Available Free Online

    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Around since 1950, NTIS was set up as a clearinghouse for technical papers produced by the government. It has continued to sell these reports to the public even though many of them can be had for free through other agencies. For instance, anyone interested in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s handy report on chemical hazards can order a free copy here. Or they can pay the NTIS $30.   read more

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • U.S. Security Barriers on Border with Mexico May Disrupt Pumas more than Humans

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    “The suggestion is that the intermittent fencing present in this part of the world does affect some native species, but does not necessarily restrict the movement of humans (including illegal migrants), who may negatively impact native species.” In some study areas, pumas had largely abandoned habitats divided by a border wall. But coatis, which aren’t inclined to relocate like pumas, could be more impacted by the barriers and might experience a collapse in their population.   read more
  • Retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens Suggests Adding 5 Words to Second Amendment to Clarify Right to Bear Arms

    Monday, April 14, 2014
    Stevens proposes a five-word change to the Second Amendment. As he would write it, it reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.” Those five words, which would clarify the Second Amendment to bring it in line with what Stevens says is the framers’ intent, could prove to do more to protect generations to come than all the armed guards in the world.   read more
  • North Dakota: The State that Loves Drones

    Sunday, April 13, 2014
    Since May 2013, there have been nine instances in which drones have been used in the Grand Forks area. They include searching a flooded river for drowning victims, photographing a train collision, photographing river bank erosion and damage to historic buildings, searching for two suspects accused of auto theft and child molestation and taking photos of an outdoor murder scene.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • IRS Gave Arizona Non-Profit Tax Exempt Status despite Record Campaign Money-Laundering Disclosure

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    An Arizona-based political organization funded almost entirely by the conservative Koch brothers—and that was fined for laundering political contributions—was awarded tax-exempt status by the IRS despite the agency knowing this. “Social welfare” groups are not eligible for tax exemption if they spend the majority of their money on politics. But Americans for Responsible Leadership, which had received 98% of its money from a Koch group, received that status from the IRS.   read more
  • Affordable Rent Slips out of Reach for Majority of Renters

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    The U.S. is experiencing “the worst rental affordability crisis” in its history, said the HUD secretary late last year. The problem is unlikely to abate anytime soon. Since the 2008 financial crisis, demand for apartments has soared as millions of homeowners lost their properties while struggling young Americans have turned to renting. Developers are constructing new apartment buildings in many cities. But often the structures going up are for high-end, luxury rentals.   read more
  • Hillary Clinton Makes Money for Boeing

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    During her October 2009 trip to Russia, Clinton made no effort to hide her plans to help Boeing while meeting with the state-owned airline, Rosavia. Her persuasiveness paid dividends for Boeing, which secured a $3.7 billion contract for the planes only months later. Shortly after completing the deal, Boeing contributed $900,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation to help rebuild schools in Haiti damaged by the 2010 earthquake.   read more

Controversies

  • U.S. Lost 30% of its Paid Journalists in 6 Years

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    The carnage of layoffs resulting from the Internet age has been quite gruesome for journalism employment, with the U.S. having lost 30% of its paid media workers. Print publications facing dwindling subscription rates laid off 17,000 reporters and editors from 2006 to 2012, according to Pew. Many commentators have lamented the loss of so many “watchdogs,” fearing the downsizing and closing of newspapers and magazines would spell the end of investigative journalism.   read more
  • Supreme Court to Decide if Campaign Lies are Protected Free Speech

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether the First Amendment protects lying in political campaigns. The case centers on an Ohio law that penalizes candidates or groups that knowingly lie in campaign ads. The plaintiffs have an unlikely supporter in the ACLU, which filed a brief supporting the right-wing groups’ contention that the Ohio law violates the First Amendment rights of Americans. Fifteen other states have laws that make it a crime to lie in political campaigns.   read more
  • Florida House Worries Law Enforcement by Passing Bill to Allow Carrying Concealed Weapons without Permit during Riots

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    The Florida Sheriffs Association opposes the bill, and tried for weeks to amend its language. One sheriff, Bob Gualtieri of Pinellas County, home of St. Petersburg, which saw riots in 1996, called the bill “crazy” and “absurd.” “To allow people to go into a riot while concealing a gun without a permit is the definition of insanity,” he told the Miami Herald.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Blackwater Guards Finally to be Tried for Killing 14 Iraqi Civilians

    Sunday, April 13, 2014
    Following the incident, DSS officials forced the Blackwater specialists to provide written statements of the shootings in exchange for full immunity from criminal prosecution. That decision by the State Department derailed the U.S. Department of Justice’s first attempt to prosecute the guards once they returned to the U.S. A federal appeals court then reinstated the charges, saying the lower court had erred in dismissing the case.   read more
  • Afghan Children Die by the Dozens because of Explosives U.S. Left Behind at Firing Ranges

    Friday, April 11, 2014
    The open fields of Afghanistan have become lethal for many of that nation’s children due to scores of unexploded ordinance left by U.S. military forces. Dozens of Afghan children have died after wandering into abandoned U.S. firing ranges filled with undetonated artillery shells, rockets and grenades. The U.N. says at least 70 civilians—62 of whom were children—have died since 2012 in and around U.S. or NATO firing ranges or bases.   read more
  • Judge Rules Terrorism Victims can Seize $500 Million Midtown Manhattan Office Tower Owned by Iranians

    Tuesday, April 08, 2014
    In September 2013, another federal judge, Katherine Forrest, decided the majority interest held by Assa Corp. and the Alavi Foundation was a front for Iran’s Bank Melli, making it a front for the Iranian government. Forrest also ruled that the U.S. government could take control of the building. The plaintiffs include numerous individuals who claim they were victimized by various terrorism acts supported by Iran, including 1983 bombings in Beirut, Lebanon.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Dept. of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology: Who Is Reggie Brothers?

    Monday, April 14, 2014
    In 2007, Brothers returned to the private sector, joining defense contractor BAE Systems, working on advanced programs and technology. Brothers joined the Obama administration in 2011 as deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Research. In that role, he was responsible for policy and oversight of Department of Defense Science and Technology programs from basic research through advanced technology development.   read more
  • Energy Under Secretary for Science: Who Is Franklin Orr?

    Sunday, April 13, 2014
    In 2009, Orr helped found the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford. According to the institute’s website, its mission is to provide funding and associated support for cutting-edge energy research. In recent years, the focus of Orr’s research has been into carbon capture and storage, in which emissions from power plants and other pollution sources are injected into the earth.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs: Who Is Charles Rivkin?

    Saturday, April 12, 2014
    Rivkin is not the only member of his family to receive an appointment from Obama. His brother, Robert, was selected to be general counsel for the Department of Transportation, and Robert’s wife, Cindy S. Moelis, a close friend of Michelle Obama, was chosen to direct the Commission on White House Fellows. Rivkin’s mother, who died in 2002, and stepfather founded the American Refugee Committee, which helps relocate international refugees.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs

    The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) is an agency within the Department of State that deals with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. diplomatic relations with Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Om...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Uruguay

    Located on the eastern coast of South America, between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay was first colonized by the Spanish in 1516. But resistance from local Indians, combined with a lack of silver and gold, kept the Spanish from settling much of ...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Vierita, Adrian

    Adrian Cosmin Vierita arrived in the United States to serve as Romania’s Ambassador to the U.S. on December 23, 2007.Vierita was born in Bucharest on July 4, 1962. He graduated the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna program of post-academic studies in I...   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