Featured Story

Indiana Gov. Pence Signs Bill Allowing Discrimination against Gays (and also Declares an HIV Emergency)

Sunday, March 29, 2015
The new law prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion, which opponents say is a veiled attempt to allow religious conservatives to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals without the state intervening. “Not only is this law unnecessary, it unfortunately has already portrayed our state as intolerant, unfriendly, and backwards” Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane said.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Bush-Era Drug Enforcement Agents Held Sex Parties Funded by Colombian Drug Cartels

    Saturday, March 28, 2015
    Colombia appears to be a popular spot for R&R among federal law enforcement agents. A Justice Dept. inspector general report has disclosed that DEA agents participated in “sex parties”—in which the prostitutes were hired by Colombian drug cartels—from 2005 to 2008. The agents were also found to have allowed Colombian police officers to watch over their weapons and property during the parties. Three of the agents were also given money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.   read more
  • Secret Trade Pact would Allow Foreign Corporations to Sue U.S. for Damaging Investment “Expectations”

    Friday, March 27, 2015
    Democrats in Congress have been the most vocal opponents, saying it would give foreign banks as well as pharmaceutical, tobacco and other companies the ability to undermine U.S. sovereignty. “This is really troubling,” said Sen. Charles Schumer. “It seems to indicate that savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government." Most GOP lawmakers reportedly favor the agreement.   read more
  • Congressional Republicans Approve Huge Increase in Fund for Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan despite Pentagon Asking for Less

    Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Pentagon officials had asked for $51 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations. They got that, and more. Wednesday night, the Republican-controlled House passed a budget plan, authored by Rep. Tom Price, that added $45 billion to the request. Democrats, and even some Republicans, call the OCO a “slush fund” that allows the military too much freedom to spend taxpayer dollars. Democrats labeled the Republican padding of the fund an “abusive loophole.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Why is Time-Warner Allowed to Collect Royalties on “Happy Birthday to You”?

    Friday, March 27, 2015
    “If you don't pay for the license to the song they will notify you and let you know that you have to pay,” said case plaintiff Jennifer Nelson. “They've never actually sued anybody but they have strong-armed people into having to pay.” Warner/Chappell Music charges anywhere from $500 to upwards of six figures for the song's use in a major motion picture. Nelson says it's been in the public domain for 65 years, while Warner says it owns title to copyright registration dating back to 1935.   read more
  • Lawyer who Defends Corporations Accused of Creating Toxic Pollution Sues Neighbor for Smoking Inside his own House

    Thursday, March 26, 2015
    When she’s not defending corporate polluters accused of releasing toxic substances, Nessa Coppinger is in court suing her neighbor for smoking in the privacy of his own home. She said Gray’s smoking was “a health concern” for her family. “We don’t allow smoking in our home,” she said. They want their neighbors to pay them $500,000 in damages, saying the smoke has intruded on their property. They’ve already gotten D.C. Judge Ronna Beck to issue an order banning smoking in Gray’s house.   read more
  • Breast Milk for Sale versus Breast Milk Banks

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015
    One biotech company offers cash to mothers to donate their extra breast milk to its lab. The company sells the human milk--which some call "white plasma"--at $180 an ounce, which means one premature baby can easily consume $10,000 worth over several weeks. But the lure of cash for milk may begin to drain the resources of milk banks, which don’t pay mothers for their contributions. Opponents say “breast milk farming” could lead greedy moms to do unscrupulous things in order to increase profits.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • $1 Billion TSA Behavioral Screening Program Slammed as Ineffective “Junk Science”

    Monday, March 23, 2015
    SPOT, whose techniques were first used in 2003 and formalized in 2007, uses “highly questionable” screening techniques, according to the ACLU complaint, while being “discriminatory, ineffective, pseudo-scientific, and wasteful of taxpayer money.” TSA has spent at least $1 billion on SPOT.   read more
  • Spending on Music Streaming Passes CD Sales for First Time

    Sunday, March 22, 2015
    CD revenues fell 12% to $1.85 billion in 2014. Meanwhile, streaming services accounted for $1.87 billion in revenue, up 29% from the year before. Digital downloads from services such as iTunes were the biggest money-maker at $2.6 billion, but even that figure was down 8.5% from 2013.   read more
  • FDA Opens Door to Less Expensive Drugs

    Friday, March 20, 2015
    In a move long fought by Big Pharma, the FDA has approved the first generic version of a biologic drug in the U.S., which could reduce the amount of money spent on the specialty medications. The Zarxio approval will directly affect the sales of Amgen’s Neupogen, which also targets chemo patients with infections. Amgen has gone to court in an effort to block the sale of Zarxio. Its availability in the U.S. market could save $5.7 billion in drug costs over the next 10 years   read more

Controversies

U.S. and the World

  • The FBI, 44 Dead Policemen and a Bomb Maker’s Finger

    Saturday, March 21, 2015
    The mission proved costly for the police force, which lost 44 men during the botched raid. Thirty-five members of the elite unit were picked off in a cornfield one by one by Moro Islamic Liberation Front snipers. The surviving commandoes weren’t even able to bring back Marwan’s body as a result of getting attacked by the Moro fighters. They had to settle for cutting off Marwan’s finger to prove to the FBI that the bomb maker, who was on the bureau’s list of most wanted terrorists, was dead.   read more
  • U.S. Dominates Weapons Export Market as Profits Grow with Sales to the Middle East

    Tuesday, March 17, 2015
    The U.S. was responsible for one-third of all defense exports and “was the main beneficiary of growth,” IHS reported. Saudi Arabia surpassed India to become the largest defense market for U.S. weapons makers, as the oil sheikdom increased its defense imports 54% from 2013 to 2014. This year is expected to be another strong year for Saudi imports, rising another 52% to $9.8 billion. “One out of every seven dollars spent on defense imports in 2015 will be spent by Saudi Arabia,” reported IHS.   read more
  • Ecuador Government Publishes Book about CIA Intervention in its Country

    Saturday, March 14, 2015
    Galarza was one of an estimated 120 Ecuadorans who were imprisoned and interrogated by the government with the assistance of CIA operatives. The spy agency claimed that Galarza was a guerilla in the Dominican Republic, an accusation he has long denied. Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, has said his agency printed the authors’ book, in both English and Spanish, to not only educate people about previous CIA schemes, but current ones.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chemical Safety Chairman Resigns: Who Is Rafael Moure-Eraso?

    Saturday, March 28, 2015
    Investigations into chemical accidents had backlogged under his leadership and he was accused of getting in the way of the EPA’s inspector general’s investigations. Further, Moure-Eraso and two top executives were caught using personal email accounts to conduct official business. A congressional investigation concluded Moure-Eraso ruined CSB’s workplace, turning it into an “abusive, toxic and hostile” environment. Board members have left in disgust because of CSB’s “level of dysfunction.”   read more
  • Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services: Who Is Kathryn “Kit” Matthew?

    Saturday, March 28, 2015
    Matthew returned to Charleston in 2005 as director of the Historic Charleston Foundation, serving there until 2008. At that time, she rejoined the corporate world as a product manager for Blackbaud, which develops and markets fund raising and membership software for non-profit organizations. In 2014, Matthew was named chief science educator for Children’s Museum of Indianapolis   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Somalia: Who Is Katherine Dhanani?

    Saturday, March 21, 2015
    Katherine Simonds Dhanani was nominated February 24, 2015, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Somalia. If she’s confirmed, the career Foreign Service officer would be the first ambassador to Somalia since the embassy was closed in 1991. If Dhanani is confirmed, she’ll initially be stationed in Nairobi, Kenya, until a suitable secure facility in constructed in Somalia.   read more

Featured Story

Indiana Gov. Pence Signs Bill Allowing Discrimination against Gays (and also Declares an HIV Emergency)

Sunday, March 29, 2015
The new law prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion, which opponents say is a veiled attempt to allow religious conservatives to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals without the state intervening. “Not only is this law unnecessary, it unfortunately has already portrayed our state as intolerant, unfriendly, and backwards” Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane said.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Bush-Era Drug Enforcement Agents Held Sex Parties Funded by Colombian Drug Cartels

    Saturday, March 28, 2015
    Colombia appears to be a popular spot for R&R among federal law enforcement agents. A Justice Dept. inspector general report has disclosed that DEA agents participated in “sex parties”—in which the prostitutes were hired by Colombian drug cartels—from 2005 to 2008. The agents were also found to have allowed Colombian police officers to watch over their weapons and property during the parties. Three of the agents were also given money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.   read more
  • Secret Trade Pact would Allow Foreign Corporations to Sue U.S. for Damaging Investment “Expectations”

    Friday, March 27, 2015
    Democrats in Congress have been the most vocal opponents, saying it would give foreign banks as well as pharmaceutical, tobacco and other companies the ability to undermine U.S. sovereignty. “This is really troubling,” said Sen. Charles Schumer. “It seems to indicate that savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government." Most GOP lawmakers reportedly favor the agreement.   read more
  • Congressional Republicans Approve Huge Increase in Fund for Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan despite Pentagon Asking for Less

    Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Pentagon officials had asked for $51 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations. They got that, and more. Wednesday night, the Republican-controlled House passed a budget plan, authored by Rep. Tom Price, that added $45 billion to the request. Democrats, and even some Republicans, call the OCO a “slush fund” that allows the military too much freedom to spend taxpayer dollars. Democrats labeled the Republican padding of the fund an “abusive loophole.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Why is Time-Warner Allowed to Collect Royalties on “Happy Birthday to You”?

    Friday, March 27, 2015
    “If you don't pay for the license to the song they will notify you and let you know that you have to pay,” said case plaintiff Jennifer Nelson. “They've never actually sued anybody but they have strong-armed people into having to pay.” Warner/Chappell Music charges anywhere from $500 to upwards of six figures for the song's use in a major motion picture. Nelson says it's been in the public domain for 65 years, while Warner says it owns title to copyright registration dating back to 1935.   read more
  • Lawyer who Defends Corporations Accused of Creating Toxic Pollution Sues Neighbor for Smoking Inside his own House

    Thursday, March 26, 2015
    When she’s not defending corporate polluters accused of releasing toxic substances, Nessa Coppinger is in court suing her neighbor for smoking in the privacy of his own home. She said Gray’s smoking was “a health concern” for her family. “We don’t allow smoking in our home,” she said. They want their neighbors to pay them $500,000 in damages, saying the smoke has intruded on their property. They’ve already gotten D.C. Judge Ronna Beck to issue an order banning smoking in Gray’s house.   read more
  • Breast Milk for Sale versus Breast Milk Banks

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015
    One biotech company offers cash to mothers to donate their extra breast milk to its lab. The company sells the human milk--which some call "white plasma"--at $180 an ounce, which means one premature baby can easily consume $10,000 worth over several weeks. But the lure of cash for milk may begin to drain the resources of milk banks, which don’t pay mothers for their contributions. Opponents say “breast milk farming” could lead greedy moms to do unscrupulous things in order to increase profits.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • $1 Billion TSA Behavioral Screening Program Slammed as Ineffective “Junk Science”

    Monday, March 23, 2015
    SPOT, whose techniques were first used in 2003 and formalized in 2007, uses “highly questionable” screening techniques, according to the ACLU complaint, while being “discriminatory, ineffective, pseudo-scientific, and wasteful of taxpayer money.” TSA has spent at least $1 billion on SPOT.   read more
  • Spending on Music Streaming Passes CD Sales for First Time

    Sunday, March 22, 2015
    CD revenues fell 12% to $1.85 billion in 2014. Meanwhile, streaming services accounted for $1.87 billion in revenue, up 29% from the year before. Digital downloads from services such as iTunes were the biggest money-maker at $2.6 billion, but even that figure was down 8.5% from 2013.   read more
  • FDA Opens Door to Less Expensive Drugs

    Friday, March 20, 2015
    In a move long fought by Big Pharma, the FDA has approved the first generic version of a biologic drug in the U.S., which could reduce the amount of money spent on the specialty medications. The Zarxio approval will directly affect the sales of Amgen’s Neupogen, which also targets chemo patients with infections. Amgen has gone to court in an effort to block the sale of Zarxio. Its availability in the U.S. market could save $5.7 billion in drug costs over the next 10 years   read more

Controversies

U.S. and the World

  • The FBI, 44 Dead Policemen and a Bomb Maker’s Finger

    Saturday, March 21, 2015
    The mission proved costly for the police force, which lost 44 men during the botched raid. Thirty-five members of the elite unit were picked off in a cornfield one by one by Moro Islamic Liberation Front snipers. The surviving commandoes weren’t even able to bring back Marwan’s body as a result of getting attacked by the Moro fighters. They had to settle for cutting off Marwan’s finger to prove to the FBI that the bomb maker, who was on the bureau’s list of most wanted terrorists, was dead.   read more
  • U.S. Dominates Weapons Export Market as Profits Grow with Sales to the Middle East

    Tuesday, March 17, 2015
    The U.S. was responsible for one-third of all defense exports and “was the main beneficiary of growth,” IHS reported. Saudi Arabia surpassed India to become the largest defense market for U.S. weapons makers, as the oil sheikdom increased its defense imports 54% from 2013 to 2014. This year is expected to be another strong year for Saudi imports, rising another 52% to $9.8 billion. “One out of every seven dollars spent on defense imports in 2015 will be spent by Saudi Arabia,” reported IHS.   read more
  • Ecuador Government Publishes Book about CIA Intervention in its Country

    Saturday, March 14, 2015
    Galarza was one of an estimated 120 Ecuadorans who were imprisoned and interrogated by the government with the assistance of CIA operatives. The spy agency claimed that Galarza was a guerilla in the Dominican Republic, an accusation he has long denied. Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, has said his agency printed the authors’ book, in both English and Spanish, to not only educate people about previous CIA schemes, but current ones.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chemical Safety Chairman Resigns: Who Is Rafael Moure-Eraso?

    Saturday, March 28, 2015
    Investigations into chemical accidents had backlogged under his leadership and he was accused of getting in the way of the EPA’s inspector general’s investigations. Further, Moure-Eraso and two top executives were caught using personal email accounts to conduct official business. A congressional investigation concluded Moure-Eraso ruined CSB’s workplace, turning it into an “abusive, toxic and hostile” environment. Board members have left in disgust because of CSB’s “level of dysfunction.”   read more
  • Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services: Who Is Kathryn “Kit” Matthew?

    Saturday, March 28, 2015
    Matthew returned to Charleston in 2005 as director of the Historic Charleston Foundation, serving there until 2008. At that time, she rejoined the corporate world as a product manager for Blackbaud, which develops and markets fund raising and membership software for non-profit organizations. In 2014, Matthew was named chief science educator for Children’s Museum of Indianapolis   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Somalia: Who Is Katherine Dhanani?

    Saturday, March 21, 2015
    Katherine Simonds Dhanani was nominated February 24, 2015, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Somalia. If she’s confirmed, the career Foreign Service officer would be the first ambassador to Somalia since the embassy was closed in 1991. If Dhanani is confirmed, she’ll initially be stationed in Nairobi, Kenya, until a suitable secure facility in constructed in Somalia.   read more