Portal

  • 3 Republican-Appointed Federal Appeals Judges Overturn Blocking of NSA Mass Telephone Spying

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The panel ruled unanimously that the plaintiffs, led by conservative activist Larry Klayman, couldn’t prove their calls had been swept up because their calls were handled by Verizon Wireless, not Verizon Business, which had previously been found to have turned over calling data to the National Security Agency (NSA). This ruling came despite government documents released earlier this month that showed the NSA had also swept up Verizon Wireless data.   read more
  • George W. Bush-Appointed Judge Halts Implementation of Rule Protecting Streams and Wetlands

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota, whom Bush appointed in 2003, issued an injunction Thursday keeping an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule protecting smaller streams and waterways from pollution from going into effect Friday as scheduled. The rules would force landowners to get a permit if they did something that would pollute or destroy the regulated waters connected to larger bodies of water downstream.   read more
  • Federal Judge Orders Army Corps of Engineers to Pay $3 Billion for Long-Delayed Restoration of Mississippi Channel that Contributed to Katrina Damage

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The Army Corps of Engineers must foot the entire bill for restoring Louisiana wetlands destroyed by the improper construction of a canal. The Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal (MR-GO) was completed in 1968 as a shortcut to the New Orleans waterfront from the Gulf of Mexico. But the canal, which had widened to 2,000 feet in some places because of erosion caused by ship traffic, allowed the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina to breach New Orleans’ levees and flood the city.   read more
  • Cat Food Buyers Sue Nestlé over Possible Use of Slave Labor to Produce Fancy Feast

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The class claims Nestlé has tried to hide its involvement with human rights violations from the public. Nestlé reportedly contracts with a Thai company, Thai Union Frozen Products PCL, to import more than 28 million pounds of seafood-based pet food, some of which is obtained through slave labor. “By hiding this from public view, Nestlé has effectively tricked millions of consumers into supporting and encouraging slave labor on floating prisons,” Steve Berman said in a statement.   read more
  • Judge Orders CIA to Release Information about Killing of Pablo Escobar…11 Years after Initial Request

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    Paul Paz y Miño told Courthouse News Service, “The impetus behind the investigation was to find out how much U.S. policy was directly responsible for helping human rights violators. They not only killed his lawyers, they killed the 17-year-old son of one of his lawyers, they killed people that worked on his ranches; there were a lot of innocent victims....There was a lot of collateral damage and huge human rights blowback to it.”   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

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Top Stories

  • D.C. Halts Huge Energy Company Merger because of Threat to Growth of Renewable Energy Sources

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Exelon is primarily a power-generation company with more nuclear plants than any other U.S. utility. The company has consistently fought renewable energy efforts and the rejection of the merger came as a welcome surprise to clean energy advocates. The commission’s decision in the high-profile pending merger was reported to have taken all parties by surprise, from the power industry to renewable energy advocates.   read more
  • South Dakota Drops Study of Early U.S. History as a High School Requirement

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    Such milestone events as the Revolutionary War and the drafting of the U.S. Constitution could be completely ignored. Cutting out early U.S. history in 11th grade hurts the ability of students to “think historically” when they reach higher education, according to a letter sent to the state Board of Education by university educators.That, of course, might be exactly what the Republican-dominated state government has in mind. “It’s disabling their citizenship,” said DSU's Ben Jones.   read more
  • North Dakota becomes First State to Allow Police to Weaponize Drones

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    Lobbyist Bruce Burkett convinced lawmakers to amend HB 1328 so it allowed “less than lethal” weapons on drones, including rubber bullets, tear gas and Tasers--many of which have caused death. The ACLU argues that "police drones are a new kind of threat to that compromise between security and liberty,” wrote Pyke. “[It] supports laws to restrict law enforcement’s use of them, and makes a compelling case that absent such restraints the technology is fundamentally at odds with the Bill of Rights.”   read more

Unusual News

  • 6 Crewmembers Begin Year-Long Life on Mars Experiment

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Each crew member will have his or her own bedroom and there are common spaces. The habitat itself is a geodesic dome with a former shipping container attached. The crew members will have limited access to the Internet and will be able to leave the habitat only if they’re dressed in a spacesuit.   read more
  • 31% of Federal Employees are Veterans

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    A new report shows the emphasis on hiring veterans has paid off, at least as far as getting them into federal positions. But keeping them there is another matter. The report by the Office of Personnel Management says 31% of all federal workers are now veterans. But the “bad news is that once veterans get into government, they don’t stay long. They’re more likely to leave their jobs within two years than non-veterans,” wrote Lisa Rein at The Washington Post.   read more
  • U.S. Spy Agencies Agree to Warn Possible Victims of Attacks and Kidnapping

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    The possible victims could be Americans or non-Americans, as well as institutions, businesses, structures and locations. The directive, however, contains several examples of when U.S. intelligence agencies could skip notifying someone in the line of fire. For instance, if the notification “would unduly endanger U.S. government personnel, sources, methods, intelligence operations, or defense operations,” an agency could disregard the policy.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Human Vultures Descend on Poor Victims of Lead Poisoning

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Countless studies have demonstrated lead’s effect on the cognitive and emotional states of those exposed to it. Appropriately, landlords who allowed lead paint to remain in their buildings have been forced to pay their victims thousands of dollars to attempt to compensate them for the brain damage caused by peeling lead paint. These payouts are often in the form of “structured settlements” which provide the victims with monthly payments for the rest of their lives.   read more
  • Personal Housing Expenses See Biggest Jump in 8 Years

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Rent already takes a huge chunk out of Americans’ paychecks, with as many as half of renters paying 30% of their take-home pay for a place to live. High rents affect poorer Americans the most. Not only do they pay more for rent now, but they’re unable to save money to buy a home of their own. Part of the reason for increased rents is a shortage of available units. Last year’s vacancy rate of 7.6% was the lowest such figure in 20 years.   read more
  • Pension Funds Sue Big Banks over Manipulation of $12.7 Trillion Treasuries Market

    Monday, August 24, 2015
    Traders are accused of using electronic chat rooms and instant messaging to drive up the price that secondary customers pay for Treasury bonds, then conspiring to drop the price banks pay the government for the bonds, increasing the spread, or profit, for the banks. This also ends up costing taxpayers more to borrow money.   read more

Controversies

  • AP and Reporters Committee Sue FBI for Release of Records about Impersonating Journalists

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    The FBI had published a fake news story, purportedly from the Associated Press, in 2007 in order to entice a suspect to download it so the bureau could put surveillance software on his computer. The fake story, “Bomb threat at high school downplayed by local police department” was released on the Internet with the AP logo. The article, however, originated in the FBI’s Seattle field office. The sting resulted in the arrest of a 15-year-old who had made threats against a high school.   read more
  • Increased Penalties for Drug Offenses have no Impact on National Drug Use

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    Data produced by Pew shows tougher sentencing laws for drug offenders, which began in the 1980s, helped balloon the federal prison systems’ population of drug-related criminals from 5,000 to more than 95,000. This pushed the federal budget for this operation to $6.7 billion annually. But these expenditures on longer terms for drug offenders and other anti-drug strategies have not produced a lower level of drug use. In fact, illegal drug use has increased, according to Pew.   read more
  • Katrina and the Flooding of New Orleans: A Preventable Tragedy Caused by Cost Cutting, a Mistaken Test and Lack of External Review

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    Researchers found that because of a mistake the Corps made during testing, they recommended that the levee walls be started at a depth of 17 feet. Original estimates would have started the walls at a depth of 31 to 46 feet. However the use of a tarp along some of the test walls that distorted the test results, along with cost considerations, caused the Corps to go with the 17-foot depth. As a result, the walls failed.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Fayçal Gouia?

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    On May 18, 2015, President Barack Obama accepted the credentials of Fayçal Gouia, a longtime member of his country’s foreign service, to be Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States. It’s the second time Gouia has been posted to his country’s embassy in Washington. Gouia’s first assignment to the Tunisian Embassy in Washington came in 1995, first as cultural and press counselor, followed in 1997 as economic and commercial counselor and beginning in 1999 as deputy chief of mission.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia: Who Is Jennifer Zimdahl Galt?

    Saturday, August 22, 2015
    Galt returned to Washington in 2008 as deputy director of the Office of Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. She was sent to North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, in 2010, first as public affairs advisor and the following year as senior public affairs advisor. Galt went back to China in 2012 as the consul general in Guangzhou, supervising the 400-person office there.   read more
  • Administrator of the General Services Administration: Who Is Denise Turner Roth?

    Monday, August 10, 2015
    Raised by her mother, who cleaned houses for a living, Roth grew up in the Anacostia neighborhood of southeast Washington D.C. “There were times,” she has said, “when it was five of us in a two-bedroom apartment and there were times when there were just two of us. There were times when the lights were on and times when they weren't. I know what it means to have the food truck come and get cheese and bread.”   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

    The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) collects, processes, and dispenses satellite imagery for national security purposes. This imagery is used to depict the planet’s physical features or activities that are being monitored by the i...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Honduras

    Honduras is a small mountainous country in Central America with a storied history. Originally settled by indigenous tribes, Honduras was colonized by Spain by Christopher Columbus in 1502 and remained part of the Spanish empire until 1821. It w...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Starr, Gregory B.

    In the wake of the murder of five American diplomats at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year, the safety of diplomatic personnel serving overseas has come under increased scrutiny in Washington. Late last month, President Obama nominated...   more

Blog

  • Republicans Release Presidential Policy Platform

    In a move that caught the media by surprise, the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced that it had gotten the approval of every one of the 17 leading declared Republican presidential candidates to publish a comprehensive platform for the 2...   more
  • 3 Republican-Appointed Federal Appeals Judges Overturn Blocking of NSA Mass Telephone Spying

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The panel ruled unanimously that the plaintiffs, led by conservative activist Larry Klayman, couldn’t prove their calls had been swept up because their calls were handled by Verizon Wireless, not Verizon Business, which had previously been found to have turned over calling data to the National Security Agency (NSA). This ruling came despite government documents released earlier this month that showed the NSA had also swept up Verizon Wireless data.   read more
  • George W. Bush-Appointed Judge Halts Implementation of Rule Protecting Streams and Wetlands

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota, whom Bush appointed in 2003, issued an injunction Thursday keeping an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule protecting smaller streams and waterways from pollution from going into effect Friday as scheduled. The rules would force landowners to get a permit if they did something that would pollute or destroy the regulated waters connected to larger bodies of water downstream.   read more
  • Federal Judge Orders Army Corps of Engineers to Pay $3 Billion for Long-Delayed Restoration of Mississippi Channel that Contributed to Katrina Damage

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The Army Corps of Engineers must foot the entire bill for restoring Louisiana wetlands destroyed by the improper construction of a canal. The Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal (MR-GO) was completed in 1968 as a shortcut to the New Orleans waterfront from the Gulf of Mexico. But the canal, which had widened to 2,000 feet in some places because of erosion caused by ship traffic, allowed the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina to breach New Orleans’ levees and flood the city.   read more
  • Cat Food Buyers Sue Nestlé over Possible Use of Slave Labor to Produce Fancy Feast

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The class claims Nestlé has tried to hide its involvement with human rights violations from the public. Nestlé reportedly contracts with a Thai company, Thai Union Frozen Products PCL, to import more than 28 million pounds of seafood-based pet food, some of which is obtained through slave labor. “By hiding this from public view, Nestlé has effectively tricked millions of consumers into supporting and encouraging slave labor on floating prisons,” Steve Berman said in a statement.   read more
  • Judge Orders CIA to Release Information about Killing of Pablo Escobar…11 Years after Initial Request

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    Paul Paz y Miño told Courthouse News Service, “The impetus behind the investigation was to find out how much U.S. policy was directly responsible for helping human rights violators. They not only killed his lawyers, they killed the 17-year-old son of one of his lawyers, they killed people that worked on his ranches; there were a lot of innocent victims....There was a lot of collateral damage and huge human rights blowback to it.”   read more

Top Stories

  • D.C. Halts Huge Energy Company Merger because of Threat to Growth of Renewable Energy Sources

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Exelon is primarily a power-generation company with more nuclear plants than any other U.S. utility. The company has consistently fought renewable energy efforts and the rejection of the merger came as a welcome surprise to clean energy advocates. The commission’s decision in the high-profile pending merger was reported to have taken all parties by surprise, from the power industry to renewable energy advocates.   read more
  • South Dakota Drops Study of Early U.S. History as a High School Requirement

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    Such milestone events as the Revolutionary War and the drafting of the U.S. Constitution could be completely ignored. Cutting out early U.S. history in 11th grade hurts the ability of students to “think historically” when they reach higher education, according to a letter sent to the state Board of Education by university educators.That, of course, might be exactly what the Republican-dominated state government has in mind. “It’s disabling their citizenship,” said DSU's Ben Jones.   read more
  • North Dakota becomes First State to Allow Police to Weaponize Drones

    Friday, August 28, 2015
    Lobbyist Bruce Burkett convinced lawmakers to amend HB 1328 so it allowed “less than lethal” weapons on drones, including rubber bullets, tear gas and Tasers--many of which have caused death. The ACLU argues that "police drones are a new kind of threat to that compromise between security and liberty,” wrote Pyke. “[It] supports laws to restrict law enforcement’s use of them, and makes a compelling case that absent such restraints the technology is fundamentally at odds with the Bill of Rights.”   read more

Unusual News

  • 6 Crewmembers Begin Year-Long Life on Mars Experiment

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Each crew member will have his or her own bedroom and there are common spaces. The habitat itself is a geodesic dome with a former shipping container attached. The crew members will have limited access to the Internet and will be able to leave the habitat only if they’re dressed in a spacesuit.   read more
  • 31% of Federal Employees are Veterans

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    A new report shows the emphasis on hiring veterans has paid off, at least as far as getting them into federal positions. But keeping them there is another matter. The report by the Office of Personnel Management says 31% of all federal workers are now veterans. But the “bad news is that once veterans get into government, they don’t stay long. They’re more likely to leave their jobs within two years than non-veterans,” wrote Lisa Rein at The Washington Post.   read more
  • U.S. Spy Agencies Agree to Warn Possible Victims of Attacks and Kidnapping

    Thursday, August 27, 2015
    The possible victims could be Americans or non-Americans, as well as institutions, businesses, structures and locations. The directive, however, contains several examples of when U.S. intelligence agencies could skip notifying someone in the line of fire. For instance, if the notification “would unduly endanger U.S. government personnel, sources, methods, intelligence operations, or defense operations,” an agency could disregard the policy.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Human Vultures Descend on Poor Victims of Lead Poisoning

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Countless studies have demonstrated lead’s effect on the cognitive and emotional states of those exposed to it. Appropriately, landlords who allowed lead paint to remain in their buildings have been forced to pay their victims thousands of dollars to attempt to compensate them for the brain damage caused by peeling lead paint. These payouts are often in the form of “structured settlements” which provide the victims with monthly payments for the rest of their lives.   read more
  • Personal Housing Expenses See Biggest Jump in 8 Years

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Rent already takes a huge chunk out of Americans’ paychecks, with as many as half of renters paying 30% of their take-home pay for a place to live. High rents affect poorer Americans the most. Not only do they pay more for rent now, but they’re unable to save money to buy a home of their own. Part of the reason for increased rents is a shortage of available units. Last year’s vacancy rate of 7.6% was the lowest such figure in 20 years.   read more
  • Pension Funds Sue Big Banks over Manipulation of $12.7 Trillion Treasuries Market

    Monday, August 24, 2015
    Traders are accused of using electronic chat rooms and instant messaging to drive up the price that secondary customers pay for Treasury bonds, then conspiring to drop the price banks pay the government for the bonds, increasing the spread, or profit, for the banks. This also ends up costing taxpayers more to borrow money.   read more

Controversies

  • AP and Reporters Committee Sue FBI for Release of Records about Impersonating Journalists

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    The FBI had published a fake news story, purportedly from the Associated Press, in 2007 in order to entice a suspect to download it so the bureau could put surveillance software on his computer. The fake story, “Bomb threat at high school downplayed by local police department” was released on the Internet with the AP logo. The article, however, originated in the FBI’s Seattle field office. The sting resulted in the arrest of a 15-year-old who had made threats against a high school.   read more
  • Increased Penalties for Drug Offenses have no Impact on National Drug Use

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    Data produced by Pew shows tougher sentencing laws for drug offenders, which began in the 1980s, helped balloon the federal prison systems’ population of drug-related criminals from 5,000 to more than 95,000. This pushed the federal budget for this operation to $6.7 billion annually. But these expenditures on longer terms for drug offenders and other anti-drug strategies have not produced a lower level of drug use. In fact, illegal drug use has increased, according to Pew.   read more
  • Katrina and the Flooding of New Orleans: A Preventable Tragedy Caused by Cost Cutting, a Mistaken Test and Lack of External Review

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    Researchers found that because of a mistake the Corps made during testing, they recommended that the levee walls be started at a depth of 17 feet. Original estimates would have started the walls at a depth of 31 to 46 feet. However the use of a tarp along some of the test walls that distorted the test results, along with cost considerations, caused the Corps to go with the 17-foot depth. As a result, the walls failed.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Fayçal Gouia?

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    On May 18, 2015, President Barack Obama accepted the credentials of Fayçal Gouia, a longtime member of his country’s foreign service, to be Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States. It’s the second time Gouia has been posted to his country’s embassy in Washington. Gouia’s first assignment to the Tunisian Embassy in Washington came in 1995, first as cultural and press counselor, followed in 1997 as economic and commercial counselor and beginning in 1999 as deputy chief of mission.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia: Who Is Jennifer Zimdahl Galt?

    Saturday, August 22, 2015
    Galt returned to Washington in 2008 as deputy director of the Office of Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. She was sent to North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, in 2010, first as public affairs advisor and the following year as senior public affairs advisor. Galt went back to China in 2012 as the consul general in Guangzhou, supervising the 400-person office there.   read more
  • Administrator of the General Services Administration: Who Is Denise Turner Roth?

    Monday, August 10, 2015
    Raised by her mother, who cleaned houses for a living, Roth grew up in the Anacostia neighborhood of southeast Washington D.C. “There were times,” she has said, “when it was five of us in a two-bedroom apartment and there were times when there were just two of us. There were times when the lights were on and times when they weren't. I know what it means to have the food truck come and get cheese and bread.”   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Nauru

    Rags to riches to rags again. That is, unfortunately, the story of Nauru. Just a few years ago, it was one of the wealthiest nations in the world, paying for a huge bloated government with proceeds from sales of its phosphate. The island, however,...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • O'Toole, Tara

    Dr. Tara J. O’Toole was confirmed as the Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security on November 4, 2009.   Raised in Norwood, Massachusetts, O‘Toole received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vassar C...   more

Blog

  • Republicans Release Presidential Policy Platform

    In a move that caught the media by surprise, the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced that it had gotten the approval of every one of the 17 leading declared Republican presidential candidates to publish a comprehensive platform for the 2...   more

PHOTO GALLERY

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