Featured Story

Republican Governors Outsource Prisons, Child Support Services, Jobs Agencies

Sunday, October 19, 2014
Florida GOP Governor Rick Scott made headlines urging drug testing for state employees and welfare recipients, a program which, it turned out, benefited his drug testing company, according to the report. Scott also privatized state health care services for prison inmates, which reportedly resulted in a substantial increase in inmate deaths. Corizon Health—a prisoner health care provider that had been sued 660 times for malpractice.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Director Comey Admits FBI does Conduct Surveillance without a Warrant

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) top official admitted this week that his agency sometimes bypasses the courts and pries into personal communications without a warrant. Director James Comey’s admission was prompted after he first insisted that the FBI never, ever conducts electronic surveillance without a court order.   read more
  • U.S. Kept Quiet about ’80s-Era Chemical Weapons it Helped Provide to Iraq ... Especially When American Soldiers Were Later Hurt by Them

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    It turns out the U.S. did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. However, these weapons had been there since the 1980s and the U.S. had a hand in their manufacture. Most damning was that the chemical weapons found had been designed for Iraq by the U.S. under the Reagan administration. So the U.S. government clamped a lid of secrecy on the discoveries, even denying proper treatment to American soldiers who were wounded by them. Military officers were ordered to say nothing or lie.   read more
  • Americans Have Wages Garnished and Assets Seized over Homes They Already Lost

    Thursday, October 16, 2014
    Many of those who lost homes in the housing crisis are finding that their nightmare still is not over. That’s because banks are still pursuing them over the mortgages they defaulted on. Settlements that followed often did not cover the remaining balance on the loan. This has led to “deficiency judgments,” in which debt collectors are now hunting down the former homeowners. In many cases, the judgments result in frozen bank accounts, garnished wages and seized assets.   read more

Unusual News

  • Turning Guns and Bullets into Jewelry

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    The Cook County department seizes about 1,500 guns per year. The weapons usually come from drug houses, or are found during the serving of evictions. Typically the guns are taken to an incineration facility for destruction. The newly created jewelry is sold by Liberty for prices ranging from $25 to $1,600. From 20% to 25% of the profits from those sales will go to Children’s Home + Aid, a nonprofit working to stem violence in Chicago neighborhoods.   read more
  • Small Texas Fracking Company Earns Title of Worst Energy Sector Polluter

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    It’s not Chevron, ExxonMobil or Shell whose wells were found to leak the most methane in 2012. Instead it was a small company, Halcón Resources, which won the title for allowing the highest percentage of the gas to escape into the atmosphere. Halcón’s wells sent 6.5 metric tons of methane into the air for each million cubic feet of natural gas produced at its fracking wells in 2012. Second and third on the list were two other small producers, Bill Barrett Corp., and Unit Corp.   read more
  • See-Through Envelope Window Revealing Account Number Leads to Lawsuit

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    Convergent Outsourcing, collecting a debt allegedly owed to T-Mobile by Courtney Douglass, sent Douglass a collection letter. Such letters are regulated by the FDCPA, which states that the outside of the envelope can contain only the address of the collector. However, Convergent used an envelope with a glassine window which revealed Douglass’ account number and a symbol that could reveal how much money Douglass allegedly owed. Douglass sued, claiming the disclosure violated the FDCPA.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • World’s Richest Seven-Tenth of a Percent Own 44% of Assets

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    About 44% of all personal assets on the planet are owned by only 0.7% of the global population, according to Global Wealth Report 2014 produced by Credit Suisse. In the United States, the richest 1% takes home 20% of the nation’s total income. This is the highest rate since 1928. Credit Suiisse classifies the United States as one of only three developed economies with “very high inequality.”   read more
  • U.S. Said to Shrug off Discovery in Lebanon of a Billion Dollars of Its Missing Iraq Reconstruction Money

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014
    One would think that if more than a billion stolen dollars could be retrieved, the U.S. government would pursue a good lead. But successive presidential administrations have chosen not to investigate it. It was the mission of Stuart W. Bowen to find out where the funds went. When he heard that the cash had been shipped to Lebanon and hidden in a bunker, he told the FBI and CIA. But neither agency pursued it. Bowen attempted to go to Lebanon himself, but was forbidden to do so by his bosses.   read more
  • Lack of Ebola Vaccine Blamed on Budget Cuts

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014
    Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has faulted budget cuts, and thus Congress, for the lack of an Ebola vaccine. In fact, the lack of funding has forced NIH to slow all its research. Even now, with the media frenzy over two cases of Ebola occurring in the U.S., there is little action on Capitol Hill to provide NIH with emergency supplemental funding. “Nobody seems enthusiastic about that,” Collins said.   read more

Controversies

  • Local Police Team with Charitable Foundations and Wealthy Donors to Keep Controversial Purchases in Shadows

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    Some police departments around the country have used private foundations to buy controversial technology not subject to public discussion or official review. The Atlanta Police Foundation bought citywide surveillance cameras and the monitoring center that controls them. Elsewhere, foundation money has been used to buy license plate readers, which can gather information on every vehicle, and Sting Ray devices, which track mobile phone usage.   read more
  • FBI Upgrades Animal Cruelty to Class A Felony

    Thursday, October 16, 2014
    Animal rights advocates have applauded the FBI's decision to upgrade animal cruelty crimes, putting them in the same category as murders. Going forward, anyone caught abusing animals will risk being charged with a Class A felony. That’s the same grouping of felonies for violent crimes, including homicides and assaults. Previously, animal cruelty was in an “other” crimes category, making them less important. The changes are expected to result in more convictions for those harming animals,   read more
  • Should “Stand Your Ground” Laws Apply to Domestic Abuse Cases?

    Thursday, October 16, 2014
    Eric Lee was seen by witnesses pulling Whitlee Jones down the street by her hair before he later blocked her attempt to flee their residence. Jones’ attorney claims she attacked Lee with a knife only as a last resort, and that the state’s stand-your-ground law protects her from prosecution. A judge agreed with Jones. But the state appealed the ruling, insisting the law was never intended to apply to people involved in domestic violence.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Classified Internal CIA Study Shows that Its Covert Arming of Foreign Forces Is Often Ineffective

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    The CIA review showed that arming foreign forces had “minimal” effect on the outcome of most conflicts. This was especially true when forces fought without American support on the ground. President Obama mentioned the study when asked if the U.S. had acted quickly enough to arm Syrian rebels. “I actually asked the CIA to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well,” he said. “And they couldn’t come up with much.”   read more
  • U.S. Bombing of Afghanistan Hits 2-Year High

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014
    Some military observers say the Pentagon may be increasing air support missions to help American ground forces pull out of forward operating bases and prepare to ship home. Other experts say more U.S. bombing attacks may become a regular part of the strategy in Afghanistan to compensate for fewer troops starting next year, when only 12,500 will remain behind to help Afghan security forces handle the brunt of the war against insurgents.   read more
  • ISIS Uses Ammunition Made in United States

    Friday, October 10, 2014
    The U.S. is currently spending upwards of a billion dollars attacking Islamic State forces that are using ammunition made in the USA. Conflict Armament Research picked up 1,730 empty cartridges—the part of the ammunition that stays behind when a bullet has left the gun—in northern Iraq and Syria. Of those, 323 were identified as coming from U.S. sources, likely captured from Iraqi forces. Much of it was manufactured at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates: Who Is Barbara Leaf?

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    In 2008, she was sent to Rome as political minister-counselor and in 2010 she began a tour in Iraq as a team leader of a provincial reconstruction team in Basrah. Leaf returned to Washington in 2011 to become deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq affairs and in 2013 she was made deputy assistant secretary for Arabian Peninsula affairs.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Malawi: Who Is Virginia Palmer?

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    Palmer was made deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2008. While there, she helped coordinate the continuing resolution to the Vietnam War, including repatriation of soldiers’ remains and cleanup of chemicals, including Agent Orange. In 2011, Palmer went to Pretoria, South Africa, as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Finland: Who Is Charles C. Adams Jr.?

    Monday, October 13, 2014
    In 2008 and 2012, Adams, at his home overlooking Lake Geneva, hosted lavish fundraisers featuring George Clooney to benefit Obama’s presidential campaigns. Adams’ co-host, Matthew Barzun, is now the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. Although Adams is a political, rather than career, appointee, he’s familiar with the Foreign Service. He was born August 25, 1947, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where his father, Charles C. Adamas, was serving as a U.S. diplomat.   read more

Featured Story

Republican Governors Outsource Prisons, Child Support Services, Jobs Agencies

Sunday, October 19, 2014
Florida GOP Governor Rick Scott made headlines urging drug testing for state employees and welfare recipients, a program which, it turned out, benefited his drug testing company, according to the report. Scott also privatized state health care services for prison inmates, which reportedly resulted in a substantial increase in inmate deaths. Corizon Health—a prisoner health care provider that had been sued 660 times for malpractice.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Director Comey Admits FBI does Conduct Surveillance without a Warrant

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) top official admitted this week that his agency sometimes bypasses the courts and pries into personal communications without a warrant. Director James Comey’s admission was prompted after he first insisted that the FBI never, ever conducts electronic surveillance without a court order.   read more
  • U.S. Kept Quiet about ’80s-Era Chemical Weapons it Helped Provide to Iraq ... Especially When American Soldiers Were Later Hurt by Them

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    It turns out the U.S. did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. However, these weapons had been there since the 1980s and the U.S. had a hand in their manufacture. Most damning was that the chemical weapons found had been designed for Iraq by the U.S. under the Reagan administration. So the U.S. government clamped a lid of secrecy on the discoveries, even denying proper treatment to American soldiers who were wounded by them. Military officers were ordered to say nothing or lie.   read more
  • Americans Have Wages Garnished and Assets Seized over Homes They Already Lost

    Thursday, October 16, 2014
    Many of those who lost homes in the housing crisis are finding that their nightmare still is not over. That’s because banks are still pursuing them over the mortgages they defaulted on. Settlements that followed often did not cover the remaining balance on the loan. This has led to “deficiency judgments,” in which debt collectors are now hunting down the former homeowners. In many cases, the judgments result in frozen bank accounts, garnished wages and seized assets.   read more

Unusual News

  • Turning Guns and Bullets into Jewelry

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    The Cook County department seizes about 1,500 guns per year. The weapons usually come from drug houses, or are found during the serving of evictions. Typically the guns are taken to an incineration facility for destruction. The newly created jewelry is sold by Liberty for prices ranging from $25 to $1,600. From 20% to 25% of the profits from those sales will go to Children’s Home + Aid, a nonprofit working to stem violence in Chicago neighborhoods.   read more
  • Small Texas Fracking Company Earns Title of Worst Energy Sector Polluter

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    It’s not Chevron, ExxonMobil or Shell whose wells were found to leak the most methane in 2012. Instead it was a small company, Halcón Resources, which won the title for allowing the highest percentage of the gas to escape into the atmosphere. Halcón’s wells sent 6.5 metric tons of methane into the air for each million cubic feet of natural gas produced at its fracking wells in 2012. Second and third on the list were two other small producers, Bill Barrett Corp., and Unit Corp.   read more
  • See-Through Envelope Window Revealing Account Number Leads to Lawsuit

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    Convergent Outsourcing, collecting a debt allegedly owed to T-Mobile by Courtney Douglass, sent Douglass a collection letter. Such letters are regulated by the FDCPA, which states that the outside of the envelope can contain only the address of the collector. However, Convergent used an envelope with a glassine window which revealed Douglass’ account number and a symbol that could reveal how much money Douglass allegedly owed. Douglass sued, claiming the disclosure violated the FDCPA.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • World’s Richest Seven-Tenth of a Percent Own 44% of Assets

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    About 44% of all personal assets on the planet are owned by only 0.7% of the global population, according to Global Wealth Report 2014 produced by Credit Suisse. In the United States, the richest 1% takes home 20% of the nation’s total income. This is the highest rate since 1928. Credit Suiisse classifies the United States as one of only three developed economies with “very high inequality.”   read more
  • U.S. Said to Shrug off Discovery in Lebanon of a Billion Dollars of Its Missing Iraq Reconstruction Money

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014
    One would think that if more than a billion stolen dollars could be retrieved, the U.S. government would pursue a good lead. But successive presidential administrations have chosen not to investigate it. It was the mission of Stuart W. Bowen to find out where the funds went. When he heard that the cash had been shipped to Lebanon and hidden in a bunker, he told the FBI and CIA. But neither agency pursued it. Bowen attempted to go to Lebanon himself, but was forbidden to do so by his bosses.   read more
  • Lack of Ebola Vaccine Blamed on Budget Cuts

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014
    Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has faulted budget cuts, and thus Congress, for the lack of an Ebola vaccine. In fact, the lack of funding has forced NIH to slow all its research. Even now, with the media frenzy over two cases of Ebola occurring in the U.S., there is little action on Capitol Hill to provide NIH with emergency supplemental funding. “Nobody seems enthusiastic about that,” Collins said.   read more

Controversies

  • Local Police Team with Charitable Foundations and Wealthy Donors to Keep Controversial Purchases in Shadows

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    Some police departments around the country have used private foundations to buy controversial technology not subject to public discussion or official review. The Atlanta Police Foundation bought citywide surveillance cameras and the monitoring center that controls them. Elsewhere, foundation money has been used to buy license plate readers, which can gather information on every vehicle, and Sting Ray devices, which track mobile phone usage.   read more
  • FBI Upgrades Animal Cruelty to Class A Felony

    Thursday, October 16, 2014
    Animal rights advocates have applauded the FBI's decision to upgrade animal cruelty crimes, putting them in the same category as murders. Going forward, anyone caught abusing animals will risk being charged with a Class A felony. That’s the same grouping of felonies for violent crimes, including homicides and assaults. Previously, animal cruelty was in an “other” crimes category, making them less important. The changes are expected to result in more convictions for those harming animals,   read more
  • Should “Stand Your Ground” Laws Apply to Domestic Abuse Cases?

    Thursday, October 16, 2014
    Eric Lee was seen by witnesses pulling Whitlee Jones down the street by her hair before he later blocked her attempt to flee their residence. Jones’ attorney claims she attacked Lee with a knife only as a last resort, and that the state’s stand-your-ground law protects her from prosecution. A judge agreed with Jones. But the state appealed the ruling, insisting the law was never intended to apply to people involved in domestic violence.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Classified Internal CIA Study Shows that Its Covert Arming of Foreign Forces Is Often Ineffective

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    The CIA review showed that arming foreign forces had “minimal” effect on the outcome of most conflicts. This was especially true when forces fought without American support on the ground. President Obama mentioned the study when asked if the U.S. had acted quickly enough to arm Syrian rebels. “I actually asked the CIA to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well,” he said. “And they couldn’t come up with much.”   read more
  • U.S. Bombing of Afghanistan Hits 2-Year High

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014
    Some military observers say the Pentagon may be increasing air support missions to help American ground forces pull out of forward operating bases and prepare to ship home. Other experts say more U.S. bombing attacks may become a regular part of the strategy in Afghanistan to compensate for fewer troops starting next year, when only 12,500 will remain behind to help Afghan security forces handle the brunt of the war against insurgents.   read more
  • ISIS Uses Ammunition Made in United States

    Friday, October 10, 2014
    The U.S. is currently spending upwards of a billion dollars attacking Islamic State forces that are using ammunition made in the USA. Conflict Armament Research picked up 1,730 empty cartridges—the part of the ammunition that stays behind when a bullet has left the gun—in northern Iraq and Syria. Of those, 323 were identified as coming from U.S. sources, likely captured from Iraqi forces. Much of it was manufactured at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates: Who Is Barbara Leaf?

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    In 2008, she was sent to Rome as political minister-counselor and in 2010 she began a tour in Iraq as a team leader of a provincial reconstruction team in Basrah. Leaf returned to Washington in 2011 to become deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq affairs and in 2013 she was made deputy assistant secretary for Arabian Peninsula affairs.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Malawi: Who Is Virginia Palmer?

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    Palmer was made deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2008. While there, she helped coordinate the continuing resolution to the Vietnam War, including repatriation of soldiers’ remains and cleanup of chemicals, including Agent Orange. In 2011, Palmer went to Pretoria, South Africa, as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Finland: Who Is Charles C. Adams Jr.?

    Monday, October 13, 2014
    In 2008 and 2012, Adams, at his home overlooking Lake Geneva, hosted lavish fundraisers featuring George Clooney to benefit Obama’s presidential campaigns. Adams’ co-host, Matthew Barzun, is now the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. Although Adams is a political, rather than career, appointee, he’s familiar with the Foreign Service. He was born August 25, 1947, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where his father, Charles C. Adamas, was serving as a U.S. diplomat.   read more