Portal

  • California Declares E-Cigarettes a Health Threat

    Sunday, February 01, 2015
    E-cigarettes, which vaporize liquids containing nicotine, have been marketed as a less harmful way of smoking and a way to help kick the old-school tobacco habit. The report acknowledged that vaping may, indeed, be safer than cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean it is safe. “Exposure to nicotine during adolescence can harm brain development,” it says, while maintaining there is “no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers successfully quit traditional cigarettes.”   read more
  • Justice Dept. to Tell Thousands of Immigrants they will have to Wait for Hearings until November 2019

    Sunday, February 01, 2015
    The number of immigrants waiting to see a judge is staggering; about 430,000 are currently backed up. In California alone, there are more than 85,000 people, the population of a medium-sized city, whose cases are pending. Texas is next with more than 74,000 people waiting. All those people are waiting for a spot on the calendars of only 230 immigration judges. The average wait is 600 days.   read more
  • Groups Sue EPA over Failure to Regulate Stinking Pollution

    Sunday, February 01, 2015
    Eight organizations filed suit last week against the EPA for failing to control emissions from large feeding operations that do not permit animals to graze. These are known as “concentrated animal feeding operations” (CAFOs), of which there are at least 18,000 in the United States. There are two suits, one (pdf) dealing with ammonia pollution, the other (pdf) with methane and other air pollutants.   read more
  • Director of the National Center for Environmental Assessment: Who Is Kenneth Olden?

    Sunday, February 01, 2015
    At the time, African-Americans were forbidden to attend the University of Tennessee (UT) in that city. As a senior at Knoxville, however, Olden was allowed to do some research at UT, but had to take all his classes back at Knoxville. Olden got a measure of payback for having to attend segregated schools and being forbidden to enroll at his home state’s largest university. In 2004, the University of Tennessee put him on their short list to be named the school’s president.   read more
  • Insurance Companies Avoid Patients with HIV/AIDS by Overcharging for Medications

    Saturday, January 31, 2015
    Despite the mandate from the Affordable Care Act that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against patients with preexisting conditions, many of them are getting around the restriction by charging HIV/AIDS patients much higher rates for their drugs, which causes them to switch to other providers.   read more

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Top Stories

  • Why is the DEA Conducting Mass License Plate Tracking and Why was it Allowed to Conduct Mass Surveillance of Americans’ Phones Records?

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    "This program is a major DEA initiative that has the potential to track our movements around the country,” wrote ACLU's Bennett Stein. “The federal government is uniquely positioned to create a centralized repository of all drivers’ movements across the country — and the DEA seems to be moving toward doing just that. If license plate readers continue to proliferate without restriction...the agency will soon possess a detailed and invasive depiction of our lives.”   read more
  • Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Convicted

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Posecutors argued Sterling was the source who helped James Risen discuss a CIA operation in his book “State of War.” “The Sterling case – especially in light of Obama’s complicity in the cover-up of torture during the Bush administration,” Dan Froomkin wrote, “sends a clear message to people in government service: You won’t get in trouble as long as you do what you’re told (even torture people). But if you tell [a reporter] something we want kept secret, we will spare no effort to destroy you.”   read more
  • Dream Come True for Oil Companies: Obama Expected to Approve Drilling off Atlantic Coast from Virginia to Georgia

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Environmentalists contend the coast could suffer the same fate as the Gulf states after the 2010 BP disaster that fouled coastal waters with millions of barrels of oil. “Opening Atlantic waters to offshore drilling would take us in exactly the wrong direction,” said Bob Deans. Democratic senators from East Coast states blasted the move. “All of the risk is put on the backs of our shore communities, and all of the reward goes to Big Oil,” said Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey.   read more

Unusual News

  • Emoji Meet the Legal System

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    Emoji, also known as emoticons, have become so prevalent in electronic communications that their use is being cited as evidence in trials and arrests. In Pennsylvania, a man was convicted of threatening his wife via Facebook. In his defense, he cited his use of an emoticon indicating he was kidding. In Brooklyn, a teenager was arrested after police saw his threatening statement on Facebook, alongside emoticon images of guns. Police went to his home, where they found marijuana and a firearm.   read more
  • Army Major who Oversaw Sexual Assault Cases Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Rape

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Army Major Erik Burris, who had been responsible for supervising sexual assault cases by soldiers, was himself convicted Sunday of crimes including rape and forcible sodomy. Burris was found guilty of two counts of rape, forcible sodomy, four counts of assault, and disobeying an order from a superior officer. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, forfeiture of pay and allowances and dismissal from the Army. He had multiple victims.   read more
  • Wisconsin Town in Need of Jurors Grabs People off the Street

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    When Judge Michael Schumacher ran out of potential jurors for a trial, he instructed the sheriff, Ron Cramer, to round up more people. Cramer then hit the streets of the 65,000-population city, and using a little known law, ordered some residents to come with him to the courthouse. The sheriff cited the “Insufficient Jurors” statute on the books, which authorizes police to grab any local resident 18 years old with no felony convictions to serve on a jury if a pool runs dry.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Republican States more likely to Lose Grant Money Since Obama became President

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    A Reuters examination of federal budget cuts found funding reductions were highest in “red” states like Texas and Mississippi, where grant funding saw a 40% reduction. Programs that lost funding ranged from preschool to anti-drug initiatives. In purple states like North Carolina and Ohio, where Obama’s support was more evenly split with the Republican opposition, the funding cuts were smaller—a 27% drop. Meanwhile, Obama-friendly blue states like California only saw a 22.5% drop.   read more
  • Koch Brothers Unveil Plan to Outspend Political Parties in 2016 Election Campaign

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    At $889 million, a figure leaked this week at the Kochs’ annual winter donor retreat near Palm Springs, the brothers’ secretive fundraising network goal would dwarf the $657 million spent by the entire Republican Party during the 2012 election. The Koch budget might even match the total spending by both Republicans and Democrats in next year’s contests. And all the while, the Kochs will largely avoid disclosing the sources of their campaign operation.   read more
  • For the First Time in at Least 10 Years, a Decline in the Number of Americans Reporting Trouble Paying Medical Bills

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    The survey revealed the number of people who said they were struggling to pay their medical bills went down from about 75 million people in 2012 to 64 million people last year. The survey also showed that due to the implementation of Obamacare, the number of uninsured working-age adults in the U.S. declined from 37 million in 2010 to 29 million by the second half of last year. The rise in people with health insurance also meant fewer people skipped going to the doctor in 2014.   read more

Controversies

  • Justice Dept. Agrees to Release Secret Memo Relating to Patriot Act and Census Info

    Saturday, January 31, 2015
    The American public will soon find out why intelligence agencies and law enforcement have accessed census data under the guise of protecting the nation from terrorism. The details will become known once the U.S. Department of Justice releases a secret memo that covers legal interpretations of controversial Section 215 of the Patriot Act.   read more
  • Would Atlantic Wind Energy Create more Jobs than Offshore Oil Drilling?

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    An environmental group contends in a new report that a better job producer near the Eastern seaboard would be wind turbines, which could provide more employment than new drilling platforms. Oceana says offshore wind could, over the next 20 years, create nearly 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling. Turbines also could produce more energy than drilling, over a period of two decades, which would be enough electricity for 115 million homes.   read more
  • More than 60% of Statements by Fox News Pundits and Guests Turn out to be False, According to PolitiFact

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    The analysis revealed that 61% of the statements on Fox News were either mostly false, definitely false or “pants on fire” false. Another 18% were half true, 11% mostly true and only 10% completely true. Statements made on MSNBC and NBC news found 44% to land in the false categories. Twenty-two percent were half true, 24% mostly true and just 9% completely true. On CNN, 21% were various degrees of false, while 23% were found to be half true, 42% mostly true and 15% completely true.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Breaking News: Oil Really is the Main Reason One Country Interferes in another Country’s Civil War

    Saturday, January 31, 2015
    About two-thirds of these wars saw intervention by another country or outside organization—and that the most common reason for this intervention had to do with oil “over and above historical, geographical or ethnic ties.” The research also revealed that the more oil a country had, the more likely a third party would be to enter the conflict   read more
  • Chinese Firm Moves into Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley”

    Saturday, January 31, 2015
    A Chinese company with a history of environmental problems in its home country is building a methanol plant in an area of Louisiana where cancer rates and other health problems are already high because of the activities of U.S. petrochemical companies in the area. The methanol plant would be in St. James Parish, which is 90% African-American, and whose residents say they had no voice in the decision.   read more
  • Saudi Arabia’s New King, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud Has Been Target of Lawsuits by Survivors of 9/11 Attacks

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    , Lloyd’s of London filed a suit seeking reimbursement from multiple parties, including Salman. In the lawsuit, Salman was identified as an “individual patron” of al-Qaeda and as the leader of the Saudi High Commission for Relief to Bosnia and Herzegovina (SHC). According to the lawsuit, “Under Prince Salman’s leadership, the SHC served as a primary front for supporting al Qaeda’s operations in the Balkans.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency: Who Is Robert Cardillo?

    Saturday, January 31, 2015
    It didn’t take long in office for Cardillo to be forced to deal with an embarrassing incident when, on January 26, 2015, an NGA employee mistakenly flew a drone onto the White House grounds. On the other hand, shortly after Cardillo took over, the NGA created a website to share images to help track the spread of Ebola in West Africa.   read more
  • Senegal’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Babacar Diagne?

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    In November 2012, Diagne left his position at RTS and was appointed ambassador to the Gambia, a nation almost entirely surrounded by Senegal. Much of his work involved advocating for Senegalese held in prison in that country, many of them facing death sentences. He also obtained a grant from Senegal’s government to support women’s projects in the Senegalese women’s community in the Gambia. He served there until being sent to Washington in 2014.   read more
  • Angola’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Agostinho Tavares?

    Saturday, January 17, 2015
    In 2007, Tavares was made head of the Asia and Oceania Department of Bilateral Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His first ambassadorial posting came in 2011 when he was sent to represent Angola in Ottawa, Canada. On August 24, 2014, Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos appointed Agostinho Tavares da Silva Neto to be his ambassador to the United States.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

    Located within the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for coordinating the federal government’s response to natural and manmade disasters. FEMA is charged with providing both immediate an...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

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Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Denmark

    From its ancient Viking roots to its decidedly modern way of life today, Denmark has a rich history. Positioned strategically at the entrance to the Baltic Sea, Denmark has moved from being neutral in World Wars I and II to being a vibrant trad...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Walters, John

    John P. Walters served as the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy from December 7, 2001, until the end of the presidency of George W. Bush. Walters earned a BA from Michigan State University's James Madison College and an MA ...   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
  • California Declares E-Cigarettes a Health Threat

    Sunday, February 01, 2015
    E-cigarettes, which vaporize liquids containing nicotine, have been marketed as a less harmful way of smoking and a way to help kick the old-school tobacco habit. The report acknowledged that vaping may, indeed, be safer than cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean it is safe. “Exposure to nicotine during adolescence can harm brain development,” it says, while maintaining there is “no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers successfully quit traditional cigarettes.”   read more
  • Justice Dept. to Tell Thousands of Immigrants they will have to Wait for Hearings until November 2019

    Sunday, February 01, 2015
    The number of immigrants waiting to see a judge is staggering; about 430,000 are currently backed up. In California alone, there are more than 85,000 people, the population of a medium-sized city, whose cases are pending. Texas is next with more than 74,000 people waiting. All those people are waiting for a spot on the calendars of only 230 immigration judges. The average wait is 600 days.   read more
  • Groups Sue EPA over Failure to Regulate Stinking Pollution

    Sunday, February 01, 2015
    Eight organizations filed suit last week against the EPA for failing to control emissions from large feeding operations that do not permit animals to graze. These are known as “concentrated animal feeding operations” (CAFOs), of which there are at least 18,000 in the United States. There are two suits, one (pdf) dealing with ammonia pollution, the other (pdf) with methane and other air pollutants.   read more
  • Director of the National Center for Environmental Assessment: Who Is Kenneth Olden?

    Sunday, February 01, 2015
    At the time, African-Americans were forbidden to attend the University of Tennessee (UT) in that city. As a senior at Knoxville, however, Olden was allowed to do some research at UT, but had to take all his classes back at Knoxville. Olden got a measure of payback for having to attend segregated schools and being forbidden to enroll at his home state’s largest university. In 2004, the University of Tennessee put him on their short list to be named the school’s president.   read more
  • Insurance Companies Avoid Patients with HIV/AIDS by Overcharging for Medications

    Saturday, January 31, 2015
    Despite the mandate from the Affordable Care Act that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against patients with preexisting conditions, many of them are getting around the restriction by charging HIV/AIDS patients much higher rates for their drugs, which causes them to switch to other providers.   read more

Top Stories

  • Why is the DEA Conducting Mass License Plate Tracking and Why was it Allowed to Conduct Mass Surveillance of Americans’ Phones Records?

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    "This program is a major DEA initiative that has the potential to track our movements around the country,” wrote ACLU's Bennett Stein. “The federal government is uniquely positioned to create a centralized repository of all drivers’ movements across the country — and the DEA seems to be moving toward doing just that. If license plate readers continue to proliferate without restriction...the agency will soon possess a detailed and invasive depiction of our lives.”   read more
  • Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Convicted

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Posecutors argued Sterling was the source who helped James Risen discuss a CIA operation in his book “State of War.” “The Sterling case – especially in light of Obama’s complicity in the cover-up of torture during the Bush administration,” Dan Froomkin wrote, “sends a clear message to people in government service: You won’t get in trouble as long as you do what you’re told (even torture people). But if you tell [a reporter] something we want kept secret, we will spare no effort to destroy you.”   read more
  • Dream Come True for Oil Companies: Obama Expected to Approve Drilling off Atlantic Coast from Virginia to Georgia

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Environmentalists contend the coast could suffer the same fate as the Gulf states after the 2010 BP disaster that fouled coastal waters with millions of barrels of oil. “Opening Atlantic waters to offshore drilling would take us in exactly the wrong direction,” said Bob Deans. Democratic senators from East Coast states blasted the move. “All of the risk is put on the backs of our shore communities, and all of the reward goes to Big Oil,” said Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey.   read more

Unusual News

  • Emoji Meet the Legal System

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    Emoji, also known as emoticons, have become so prevalent in electronic communications that their use is being cited as evidence in trials and arrests. In Pennsylvania, a man was convicted of threatening his wife via Facebook. In his defense, he cited his use of an emoticon indicating he was kidding. In Brooklyn, a teenager was arrested after police saw his threatening statement on Facebook, alongside emoticon images of guns. Police went to his home, where they found marijuana and a firearm.   read more
  • Army Major who Oversaw Sexual Assault Cases Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Rape

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Army Major Erik Burris, who had been responsible for supervising sexual assault cases by soldiers, was himself convicted Sunday of crimes including rape and forcible sodomy. Burris was found guilty of two counts of rape, forcible sodomy, four counts of assault, and disobeying an order from a superior officer. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, forfeiture of pay and allowances and dismissal from the Army. He had multiple victims.   read more
  • Wisconsin Town in Need of Jurors Grabs People off the Street

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    When Judge Michael Schumacher ran out of potential jurors for a trial, he instructed the sheriff, Ron Cramer, to round up more people. Cramer then hit the streets of the 65,000-population city, and using a little known law, ordered some residents to come with him to the courthouse. The sheriff cited the “Insufficient Jurors” statute on the books, which authorizes police to grab any local resident 18 years old with no felony convictions to serve on a jury if a pool runs dry.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Republican States more likely to Lose Grant Money Since Obama became President

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    A Reuters examination of federal budget cuts found funding reductions were highest in “red” states like Texas and Mississippi, where grant funding saw a 40% reduction. Programs that lost funding ranged from preschool to anti-drug initiatives. In purple states like North Carolina and Ohio, where Obama’s support was more evenly split with the Republican opposition, the funding cuts were smaller—a 27% drop. Meanwhile, Obama-friendly blue states like California only saw a 22.5% drop.   read more
  • Koch Brothers Unveil Plan to Outspend Political Parties in 2016 Election Campaign

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    At $889 million, a figure leaked this week at the Kochs’ annual winter donor retreat near Palm Springs, the brothers’ secretive fundraising network goal would dwarf the $657 million spent by the entire Republican Party during the 2012 election. The Koch budget might even match the total spending by both Republicans and Democrats in next year’s contests. And all the while, the Kochs will largely avoid disclosing the sources of their campaign operation.   read more
  • For the First Time in at Least 10 Years, a Decline in the Number of Americans Reporting Trouble Paying Medical Bills

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    The survey revealed the number of people who said they were struggling to pay their medical bills went down from about 75 million people in 2012 to 64 million people last year. The survey also showed that due to the implementation of Obamacare, the number of uninsured working-age adults in the U.S. declined from 37 million in 2010 to 29 million by the second half of last year. The rise in people with health insurance also meant fewer people skipped going to the doctor in 2014.   read more

Controversies

  • Justice Dept. Agrees to Release Secret Memo Relating to Patriot Act and Census Info

    Saturday, January 31, 2015
    The American public will soon find out why intelligence agencies and law enforcement have accessed census data under the guise of protecting the nation from terrorism. The details will become known once the U.S. Department of Justice releases a secret memo that covers legal interpretations of controversial Section 215 of the Patriot Act.   read more
  • Would Atlantic Wind Energy Create more Jobs than Offshore Oil Drilling?

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    An environmental group contends in a new report that a better job producer near the Eastern seaboard would be wind turbines, which could provide more employment than new drilling platforms. Oceana says offshore wind could, over the next 20 years, create nearly 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling. Turbines also could produce more energy than drilling, over a period of two decades, which would be enough electricity for 115 million homes.   read more
  • More than 60% of Statements by Fox News Pundits and Guests Turn out to be False, According to PolitiFact

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    The analysis revealed that 61% of the statements on Fox News were either mostly false, definitely false or “pants on fire” false. Another 18% were half true, 11% mostly true and only 10% completely true. Statements made on MSNBC and NBC news found 44% to land in the false categories. Twenty-two percent were half true, 24% mostly true and just 9% completely true. On CNN, 21% were various degrees of false, while 23% were found to be half true, 42% mostly true and 15% completely true.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Breaking News: Oil Really is the Main Reason One Country Interferes in another Country’s Civil War

    Saturday, January 31, 2015
    About two-thirds of these wars saw intervention by another country or outside organization—and that the most common reason for this intervention had to do with oil “over and above historical, geographical or ethnic ties.” The research also revealed that the more oil a country had, the more likely a third party would be to enter the conflict   read more
  • Chinese Firm Moves into Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley”

    Saturday, January 31, 2015
    A Chinese company with a history of environmental problems in its home country is building a methanol plant in an area of Louisiana where cancer rates and other health problems are already high because of the activities of U.S. petrochemical companies in the area. The methanol plant would be in St. James Parish, which is 90% African-American, and whose residents say they had no voice in the decision.   read more
  • Saudi Arabia’s New King, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud Has Been Target of Lawsuits by Survivors of 9/11 Attacks

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    , Lloyd’s of London filed a suit seeking reimbursement from multiple parties, including Salman. In the lawsuit, Salman was identified as an “individual patron” of al-Qaeda and as the leader of the Saudi High Commission for Relief to Bosnia and Herzegovina (SHC). According to the lawsuit, “Under Prince Salman’s leadership, the SHC served as a primary front for supporting al Qaeda’s operations in the Balkans.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency: Who Is Robert Cardillo?

    Saturday, January 31, 2015
    It didn’t take long in office for Cardillo to be forced to deal with an embarrassing incident when, on January 26, 2015, an NGA employee mistakenly flew a drone onto the White House grounds. On the other hand, shortly after Cardillo took over, the NGA created a website to share images to help track the spread of Ebola in West Africa.   read more
  • Senegal’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Babacar Diagne?

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    In November 2012, Diagne left his position at RTS and was appointed ambassador to the Gambia, a nation almost entirely surrounded by Senegal. Much of his work involved advocating for Senegalese held in prison in that country, many of them facing death sentences. He also obtained a grant from Senegal’s government to support women’s projects in the Senegalese women’s community in the Gambia. He served there until being sent to Washington in 2014.   read more
  • Angola’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Agostinho Tavares?

    Saturday, January 17, 2015
    In 2007, Tavares was made head of the Asia and Oceania Department of Bilateral Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His first ambassadorial posting came in 2011 when he was sent to represent Angola in Ottawa, Canada. On August 24, 2014, Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos appointed Agostinho Tavares da Silva Neto to be his ambassador to the United States.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Institute of Education Sciences

    The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the primary research arm of the Department of Education (ED), and comprises four “National Centers” devoted to supporting and disseminating scientific research related to education, which basically m...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Zimbabwe

    Zimbabwe, derived from the Shona phrase “dzimba dza mabwe,” meaning “houses of stone,” is a mineral-rich country in southern Africa. Originally settled by Bantu-speaking tribesmen, Zimbabwe is comprised of two ethnic groups with distinct language...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Eikenberry, Karl

    While some retired military leaders have served as United States ambassadors, Lt. General Karl W. Eikenberry is the first active-duty general (or admiral) ever to be appointed to a top diplomatic post. Having agreed to retire from the U.S. Army up...   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

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