Featured Story

Another Federal Judge Urges an End to America’s “Madness of Mass Incarceration”

Monday, June 27, 2016
“Why this love affair in this country with lengthy incarceration, to our great embarrassment as a civilized nation?” he asked. He confessed to wanting to “scream out in frustration, sadness and anger” at being forced by Congress to impose mandatory sentences on many defendants. He said most criminals are “not evil incarnate” but rather act out of “weakness, need, sometimes desperation. So many...are without schooling, skills, hope or direction, and no term of years is going to change that.”   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • When Profit-Making takes over Emergency Services, Tragedy can Follow

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    A Tennessee woman slipped into a coma and died after an ambulance company took so long that one worker took a cigarette break. A man watched a fire burn his house to the ground as he waited for the fire department, which billed him anyway and then sued him for $15,000 when he didn't pay. In each of these cases, someone dialed 911 and Wall Street answered. This approach creates a fundamental tension: the push to turn a profit while caring for people in their most vulnerable moments.   read more
  • Political Partisanship of Americans at Highest Level in a Quarter-Century

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Fistfights at campaign rallies. A congressional sit-in. Angry political trolling on the internet. It’s not your imagination: America’s partisan divide is deeper today than at any point in nearly a quarter-century, says a new study. The Republican Party strikes fear in the hearts of 55% of Democrats surveyed, Pew found. Among Republicans, 49% felt the same way about the Democratic Party. “It’s really this intensity of negativity that’s increased,” said Pew report author Carroll Doherty.   read more
  • Psychologists Who Designed Torture Methods for CIA Admit to Torturing but Deny It Was Torture

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Mitchell and Jessen acknowledge using waterboarding, loud music, confinement, slapping and other harsh methods but deny that they were torture. "Defendants deny that they committed torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-consensual human experimentation and/or war crimes," their lawyers wrote. "This is historic," ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said Wednesday. "Until now, no one responsible for the CIA torture program has ever been forced to admit their actions in court."   read more

Unusual News

  • Hawaii Passes Criminal-Monitoring Gun Law Said to Be First of Its Kind in U.S.

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Rap Back is a service of the FBI that provides continuous criminal-record monitoring for law-enforcement. When a Hawaii firearm owner is arrested for a criminal offense anywhere in the country, the service alerts county police departments in Hawaii. Law enforcement then will be able to evaluate whether that gun owner may continue to legally possess firearms. "This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawaii residents and visitors," said Gov. Ige.   read more
  • Death Sentences Plummet in Georgia, But Executions are On a Roll

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    The incongruity of the increasing numbers of executions and the plummeting numbers of death sentences took both prosecutors and defense attorneys by surprise. "Wow," defense attorney Akil Secret said. "Maybe the times are changing." The precipitous declines raise the question of whether prior capital sentences were justified, Secret said. "If a life-without-parole sentence is sufficient for today's worst crimes, why isn't it sufficient for those crimes from the past where death was imposed?"   read more
  • Americans Want Driverless Cars Programmed to Choose Their Safety in Car over that of Pedestrians

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    A new study indicates that what people really want to ride in is an autonomous vehicle that puts its passengers first. If its machine brain has to choose between slamming into a wall or running someone over, well, sorry, pedestrian. Should manufacturers create vehicles with various degrees of morality programmed into them, depending on what a consumer wants? Should the government mandate that all self-driving cars share the same values, even if that’s not so good for a car’s passengers?   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Globetrotting Supreme Court Justices Disclose Privately Paid Travel

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Justice Scalia was an enthusiastic traveler, taking more than 250 privately funded trips from 2004 to 2014. A few weeks before he died, he visited Singapore and Hong Kong. Justice Stephen G. Breyer was the most active traveler last year, taking 19 paid trips, including three to London and two to Paris. The trips were partly to promote his book “The Court and the World,” which was published last year. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was next, with 16 paid trips, but to less exotic places.   read more
  • Munitions Contractor Can Seek Site Cleanup Costs From Federal Government

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016
    A defense contractor responsible for cleaning up pollution at a facility where most munitions manufacturing was done under contracts with the U.S. military can seek cost recovery from the government, the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday. In 2013, Whittaker filed its own lawsuit under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, seeking recovery from the United States for expenses Whittaker incurred since the 1980s investigating and cleaning the Bermite site.   read more
  • House Votes to Give Itself an Increase in Office Expenses

    Sunday, June 12, 2016
    House lawmakers Friday passed legislation to increase their office budgets for the first time in years but again deny themselves a pay raise of their own. The additional money for staff salaries and other office expenses is aimed in large part at retaining staff aides, who are often 20-somethings who struggle to make ends meet in Washington, where rents have skyrocketed and opportunities outside of Congress often pay more than Capitol Hill jobs.   read more

Controversies

  • New York Appeals Court Calls for End to Police Stop-and-Frisk Tactics

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    Two New York City police unions failed to convince a state appellate court that a law prohibiting controversial stop-and-frisk tactics is at odds with longstanding criminal procedure rules. A law prohibited law enforcement officers from engaging in racial or ethnic profiling — i.e. basing police action on race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Yet the law didn't provide any enforcement mechanism, like a cause of action against individual officers.   read more
  • Florida Takes Action against Home for Disabled with History of Patient Abuse and Neglect

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    Carlton Palms has faced enormous criticism in recent years after a series of incidents involving abuse by staff and the death of a 14-year-old autistic girl from dehydration after a night in which she was at times strapped to a bed while vomiting repeatedly. Carlton's workers have relied for years on mechanical restraints, such as ankle shackles and a device similar to a full-body straight jacket. Carlton’s staff used restraints roughly 28,000 times in less than five years, records showed.   read more
  • Federal Judge Slams Texas Prison for Inmates’ Forced Drinking of Arsenic-Laced Water

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    Arsenic exposure raises the inmates' cancer risk and the prison does not have air-conditioning in inmate housing areas, so officials recommend that the inmates, many of whom suffer from health problems and take medication that make them heat-sensitive, drink lots of water to fend off heat stroke. "At least 20 prisoners have died indoors in non-air-conditioned TDCJ prisons from hyperthermia since 1998. ... Ten inmates died of heatstroke in 2011 while in TDCJ custody," the June 21 order states.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Haris Hrle?

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    In 2005, Hrle moved to the embassy in Vienna, Austria and served as chargé d’affaires, becoming ambassador in 2008. While he was in charge there, a Bosnian general, Jovan Divjak, who had been accused of war crimes by Serbia, was arrested in Vienna. Divjak was eventually released without being extradited to Serbia. Hrle returned home in 2011 to work in the ministry’s office of public relations. In 2013, he was made ambassador to Saudi Arabia with responsibility for Oman and Yemen as well.   read more
  • Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Ralph Thomas?

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Thomas worked at the Bank of New York for 22 years, eventually serving as vice president and regional manager. Beginning in 2004, he worked independently in the banking industry. He took time out in 2007 to run for parliament in Jamaica. He was the candidate of the People’s National Party, but lost. In 2010 he returned to the University of the West Indies as a senior teaching fellow in the Mona School of Business and Management. Thomas was tapped in 2013 to be Jamaica’s ambassador to China.   read more
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is François Balumuene?

    Sunday, June 19, 2016
    Balumuene served in 2000 as diplomatic and administrative assistant to the deputy commissioner general of the Government for MONUC Affairs, in charge of finance, logistics and foreign policy for the UN peacekeeping effort in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Later that year, he was made chargé d’affaires at the embassy to South Africa in Pretoria. In 2003, Balumuene was sent to India as his country’s ambassador. He then became dean of New Delhi’s diplomatic corps.   read more

Featured Story

Another Federal Judge Urges an End to America’s “Madness of Mass Incarceration”

Monday, June 27, 2016
“Why this love affair in this country with lengthy incarceration, to our great embarrassment as a civilized nation?” he asked. He confessed to wanting to “scream out in frustration, sadness and anger” at being forced by Congress to impose mandatory sentences on many defendants. He said most criminals are “not evil incarnate” but rather act out of “weakness, need, sometimes desperation. So many...are without schooling, skills, hope or direction, and no term of years is going to change that.”   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • When Profit-Making takes over Emergency Services, Tragedy can Follow

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    A Tennessee woman slipped into a coma and died after an ambulance company took so long that one worker took a cigarette break. A man watched a fire burn his house to the ground as he waited for the fire department, which billed him anyway and then sued him for $15,000 when he didn't pay. In each of these cases, someone dialed 911 and Wall Street answered. This approach creates a fundamental tension: the push to turn a profit while caring for people in their most vulnerable moments.   read more
  • Political Partisanship of Americans at Highest Level in a Quarter-Century

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Fistfights at campaign rallies. A congressional sit-in. Angry political trolling on the internet. It’s not your imagination: America’s partisan divide is deeper today than at any point in nearly a quarter-century, says a new study. The Republican Party strikes fear in the hearts of 55% of Democrats surveyed, Pew found. Among Republicans, 49% felt the same way about the Democratic Party. “It’s really this intensity of negativity that’s increased,” said Pew report author Carroll Doherty.   read more
  • Psychologists Who Designed Torture Methods for CIA Admit to Torturing but Deny It Was Torture

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Mitchell and Jessen acknowledge using waterboarding, loud music, confinement, slapping and other harsh methods but deny that they were torture. "Defendants deny that they committed torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-consensual human experimentation and/or war crimes," their lawyers wrote. "This is historic," ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said Wednesday. "Until now, no one responsible for the CIA torture program has ever been forced to admit their actions in court."   read more

Unusual News

  • Hawaii Passes Criminal-Monitoring Gun Law Said to Be First of Its Kind in U.S.

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Rap Back is a service of the FBI that provides continuous criminal-record monitoring for law-enforcement. When a Hawaii firearm owner is arrested for a criminal offense anywhere in the country, the service alerts county police departments in Hawaii. Law enforcement then will be able to evaluate whether that gun owner may continue to legally possess firearms. "This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawaii residents and visitors," said Gov. Ige.   read more
  • Death Sentences Plummet in Georgia, But Executions are On a Roll

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    The incongruity of the increasing numbers of executions and the plummeting numbers of death sentences took both prosecutors and defense attorneys by surprise. "Wow," defense attorney Akil Secret said. "Maybe the times are changing." The precipitous declines raise the question of whether prior capital sentences were justified, Secret said. "If a life-without-parole sentence is sufficient for today's worst crimes, why isn't it sufficient for those crimes from the past where death was imposed?"   read more
  • Americans Want Driverless Cars Programmed to Choose Their Safety in Car over that of Pedestrians

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    A new study indicates that what people really want to ride in is an autonomous vehicle that puts its passengers first. If its machine brain has to choose between slamming into a wall or running someone over, well, sorry, pedestrian. Should manufacturers create vehicles with various degrees of morality programmed into them, depending on what a consumer wants? Should the government mandate that all self-driving cars share the same values, even if that’s not so good for a car’s passengers?   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Globetrotting Supreme Court Justices Disclose Privately Paid Travel

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Justice Scalia was an enthusiastic traveler, taking more than 250 privately funded trips from 2004 to 2014. A few weeks before he died, he visited Singapore and Hong Kong. Justice Stephen G. Breyer was the most active traveler last year, taking 19 paid trips, including three to London and two to Paris. The trips were partly to promote his book “The Court and the World,” which was published last year. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was next, with 16 paid trips, but to less exotic places.   read more
  • Munitions Contractor Can Seek Site Cleanup Costs From Federal Government

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016
    A defense contractor responsible for cleaning up pollution at a facility where most munitions manufacturing was done under contracts with the U.S. military can seek cost recovery from the government, the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday. In 2013, Whittaker filed its own lawsuit under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, seeking recovery from the United States for expenses Whittaker incurred since the 1980s investigating and cleaning the Bermite site.   read more
  • House Votes to Give Itself an Increase in Office Expenses

    Sunday, June 12, 2016
    House lawmakers Friday passed legislation to increase their office budgets for the first time in years but again deny themselves a pay raise of their own. The additional money for staff salaries and other office expenses is aimed in large part at retaining staff aides, who are often 20-somethings who struggle to make ends meet in Washington, where rents have skyrocketed and opportunities outside of Congress often pay more than Capitol Hill jobs.   read more

Controversies

  • New York Appeals Court Calls for End to Police Stop-and-Frisk Tactics

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    Two New York City police unions failed to convince a state appellate court that a law prohibiting controversial stop-and-frisk tactics is at odds with longstanding criminal procedure rules. A law prohibited law enforcement officers from engaging in racial or ethnic profiling — i.e. basing police action on race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Yet the law didn't provide any enforcement mechanism, like a cause of action against individual officers.   read more
  • Florida Takes Action against Home for Disabled with History of Patient Abuse and Neglect

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    Carlton Palms has faced enormous criticism in recent years after a series of incidents involving abuse by staff and the death of a 14-year-old autistic girl from dehydration after a night in which she was at times strapped to a bed while vomiting repeatedly. Carlton's workers have relied for years on mechanical restraints, such as ankle shackles and a device similar to a full-body straight jacket. Carlton’s staff used restraints roughly 28,000 times in less than five years, records showed.   read more
  • Federal Judge Slams Texas Prison for Inmates’ Forced Drinking of Arsenic-Laced Water

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    Arsenic exposure raises the inmates' cancer risk and the prison does not have air-conditioning in inmate housing areas, so officials recommend that the inmates, many of whom suffer from health problems and take medication that make them heat-sensitive, drink lots of water to fend off heat stroke. "At least 20 prisoners have died indoors in non-air-conditioned TDCJ prisons from hyperthermia since 1998. ... Ten inmates died of heatstroke in 2011 while in TDCJ custody," the June 21 order states.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Haris Hrle?

    Sunday, June 26, 2016
    In 2005, Hrle moved to the embassy in Vienna, Austria and served as chargé d’affaires, becoming ambassador in 2008. While he was in charge there, a Bosnian general, Jovan Divjak, who had been accused of war crimes by Serbia, was arrested in Vienna. Divjak was eventually released without being extradited to Serbia. Hrle returned home in 2011 to work in the ministry’s office of public relations. In 2013, he was made ambassador to Saudi Arabia with responsibility for Oman and Yemen as well.   read more
  • Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Ralph Thomas?

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Thomas worked at the Bank of New York for 22 years, eventually serving as vice president and regional manager. Beginning in 2004, he worked independently in the banking industry. He took time out in 2007 to run for parliament in Jamaica. He was the candidate of the People’s National Party, but lost. In 2010 he returned to the University of the West Indies as a senior teaching fellow in the Mona School of Business and Management. Thomas was tapped in 2013 to be Jamaica’s ambassador to China.   read more
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is François Balumuene?

    Sunday, June 19, 2016
    Balumuene served in 2000 as diplomatic and administrative assistant to the deputy commissioner general of the Government for MONUC Affairs, in charge of finance, logistics and foreign policy for the UN peacekeeping effort in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Later that year, he was made chargé d’affaires at the embassy to South Africa in Pretoria. In 2003, Balumuene was sent to India as his country’s ambassador. He then became dean of New Delhi’s diplomatic corps.   read more