Featured Story

Only 2 Countries Have Not Joined the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child: South Sudan and…United States

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The U.S. signed the treaty in 1995. However, President Clinton never submitted it to the Senate for approval. George W. Bush also did not ask the Senate to ratify it. Nor has President Barack Obama, who during his 2008 campaign said, “It is embarrassing that the U.S. is in the company of Somalia, a lawless land. If I become president, I will review this and other human rights treaties.” Supporters say it’s unlikely the U.S. will ratify it soon, with Republicans now in charge of the Senate.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Republican Dissent Killed Controversial House Abortion Bill, but Clones Emerge in State Legislatures

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    The 20-week limits have a disproportionate impact on the poor, who often don’t seek medical attention for their pregnancies until they’re farther along, and then have more trouble scraping up the money for an abortion if that’s what they decide to do. Other women, particularly younger ones with irregular menstrual cycles, sometimes don’t realize they’re pregnant until farther down the line. In addition, there are few exceptions in the laws for cases of fetal abnormalities.   read more
  • Measles Outbreak at Disneyland and Elsewhere Blamed on Foreign Visitors and Anti-Vaccine Movement

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    The infection count changes daily, hitting 85 nationwide Saturday night. The majority of the cases have been linked to Disneyland. More than 150 schools in Los Angeles County have exemption rates of 8% or higher for at least one of the five vaccines recommended for children, according to a study by the Times. All of them are in areas with incomes averaging $94,500, 60% higher than the county median.   read more
  • NSA Said to be Preparing for Future of Digital Warfare

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    The future of cyber warfare will mean paralyzing “computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money,” Spiegel reported. The NSA is taking the lead within the U.S. military, putting it on the potential frontlines of future conflicts. NSA director Admiral Michael Roger oversees an “army” of 40,000 specialists versed in digital spying and “destructive network attacks.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Justice Dept. Pays $134,000 to Woman Who Sued Over Use of Her Identity in Fake Facebook Page for DEA Operation

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    Sondra Arquiett sued the government after learning photos of her were part of a social media sting operation run by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Federal agents had obtained the images after confiscating her phone in 2010 as part of a drug arrest, which resulted in Arquiett pleading guilty to a drug conspiracy charge. But she never gave the DEA permission to use her photos to snare other people she knew who were using or trafficking in illegal drugs.   read more
  • Skulls of Unidentified Corpses Given Sculpted Faces in Search for Their Identities … and Their Killers

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    The 11 unsolved murders required considerable work on the part of sculptors to recreate what the people might have looked like before their deaths. All of the cases “had all met ugly deaths and were found as skeletons in desolate places across New York City — train tracks, wooded areas, in a basement,” wrote The New York Times. In some cases, the bodies were dismembered and the skulls crushed. This work is a last resort for investigators.   read more
  • Now Some Same-Sex Couples are Told They Have to Marry … to Keep Their Job Benefits

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    Same-sex marriage has gone from being a hard-won right to a requirement for many gay couples. With many states now authorizing (or at least not banning) gay marriage, some employers are phasing out domestic partnerships and telling couples they have to get married in order to keep their benefits. The way companies see it, there’s no point in keeping domestic partnership rules if marriage is legal. However, this could have implications for heterosexual couples' domestic arrangements.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Will Secret Donors Dominate the Upcoming Election Season?

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    Candidates’ backers set up nonprofit organizations ostensibly as “social welfare organizations” that don’t have politics as their primary purpose. Instead, they run “issue ads,” that coincidentally mention either the candidate they’re backing or their opponent. Sen. Mitch McConnell used this technique to great effect in his recent defeat of Alison Lundergan Grimes.   read more
  • Poorest Patients Sued by Some Non-Profit Hospitals

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) has a particularly insidious tactic: it forces incoming patients to sign a waiver allowing the hospital to garnish their wages to settle hospital charges and legal fees. Normally, those making less than $30,000 a year are exempt from garnishments, but SAMC and other hospitals skirt this consumer protection with the waiver.   read more
  • Largest Area of Federal Waters in U.S. to be auctioned for Offshore Wind Power Projects

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    Twelve companies have been asked to bid on the four lease areas within the 1,160-square-mile patch south of Martha’s Vineyard. The auction, to be held Thursday, will be the largest such sale to date by the federal government. If built out, the project would generate enough electricity to power 1.5 million homes.   read more

Controversies

  • Chemical Industry and Republican Lawmakers Succeed in Stalling EPA Chemical Regulation Process

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    When Barack Obama became president, he vowed to step up the analysis of chemicals by EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) to determine which should be restricted or banned because of toxicity. The George W. Bush administration had evaluated only about five chemicals a year. Lisa Jackson, Obama’s first EPA administrator, said the target should be 50 a year. Instead, the EPA has completed only 41 evaluations since Obama took office in 2009, with only one being done in 2014.   read more
  • Louisiana Fishing Industry Battles Big Oil over Coastline Erosion

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East sued 97 oil and gas companies, asking for compensation for the damage done by the oil industry in dredging canals and installing pipelines, causing more erosion of the land and making it more vulnerable to hurricanes. Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal tried to throw a wrench in the suit by firing some of the members of the board that filed the action.   read more
  • Half of California's Big Trees Are Gone

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    The big trees, more than two feet in diameter, were found in decline from Southern California to the Northern Sierras. Some areas of SoCal showed nearly a 75% decline. They were in decline even in the wild, where logging and development were not factors. The study compares the numbers from 80 years ago with a survey taken between 2001 and 2010, so the current four-year drought is not a factor.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • 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
  • Comoros’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Soilihi Mohamed Soilihi?

    Saturday, January 10, 2015
    Soilihi in 2006 was appointed as special delegate to Moroni city hall and the following year he became chief of staff to Comoros’ minister of finance. Soilihi moved to foreign affairs, becoming political counselor to the minister in 2009. In 2010, Soilihi took over as director general of the Office of Radio and Television for Comoros. One of his achievements was to make Comoran television available via satellite.   read more

Featured Story

Only 2 Countries Have Not Joined the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child: South Sudan and…United States

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The U.S. signed the treaty in 1995. However, President Clinton never submitted it to the Senate for approval. George W. Bush also did not ask the Senate to ratify it. Nor has President Barack Obama, who during his 2008 campaign said, “It is embarrassing that the U.S. is in the company of Somalia, a lawless land. If I become president, I will review this and other human rights treaties.” Supporters say it’s unlikely the U.S. will ratify it soon, with Republicans now in charge of the Senate.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Republican Dissent Killed Controversial House Abortion Bill, but Clones Emerge in State Legislatures

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    The 20-week limits have a disproportionate impact on the poor, who often don’t seek medical attention for their pregnancies until they’re farther along, and then have more trouble scraping up the money for an abortion if that’s what they decide to do. Other women, particularly younger ones with irregular menstrual cycles, sometimes don’t realize they’re pregnant until farther down the line. In addition, there are few exceptions in the laws for cases of fetal abnormalities.   read more
  • Measles Outbreak at Disneyland and Elsewhere Blamed on Foreign Visitors and Anti-Vaccine Movement

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    The infection count changes daily, hitting 85 nationwide Saturday night. The majority of the cases have been linked to Disneyland. More than 150 schools in Los Angeles County have exemption rates of 8% or higher for at least one of the five vaccines recommended for children, according to a study by the Times. All of them are in areas with incomes averaging $94,500, 60% higher than the county median.   read more
  • NSA Said to be Preparing for Future of Digital Warfare

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    The future of cyber warfare will mean paralyzing “computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money,” Spiegel reported. The NSA is taking the lead within the U.S. military, putting it on the potential frontlines of future conflicts. NSA director Admiral Michael Roger oversees an “army” of 40,000 specialists versed in digital spying and “destructive network attacks.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Justice Dept. Pays $134,000 to Woman Who Sued Over Use of Her Identity in Fake Facebook Page for DEA Operation

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    Sondra Arquiett sued the government after learning photos of her were part of a social media sting operation run by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Federal agents had obtained the images after confiscating her phone in 2010 as part of a drug arrest, which resulted in Arquiett pleading guilty to a drug conspiracy charge. But she never gave the DEA permission to use her photos to snare other people she knew who were using or trafficking in illegal drugs.   read more
  • Skulls of Unidentified Corpses Given Sculpted Faces in Search for Their Identities … and Their Killers

    Friday, January 23, 2015
    The 11 unsolved murders required considerable work on the part of sculptors to recreate what the people might have looked like before their deaths. All of the cases “had all met ugly deaths and were found as skeletons in desolate places across New York City — train tracks, wooded areas, in a basement,” wrote The New York Times. In some cases, the bodies were dismembered and the skulls crushed. This work is a last resort for investigators.   read more
  • Now Some Same-Sex Couples are Told They Have to Marry … to Keep Their Job Benefits

    Thursday, January 22, 2015
    Same-sex marriage has gone from being a hard-won right to a requirement for many gay couples. With many states now authorizing (or at least not banning) gay marriage, some employers are phasing out domestic partnerships and telling couples they have to get married in order to keep their benefits. The way companies see it, there’s no point in keeping domestic partnership rules if marriage is legal. However, this could have implications for heterosexual couples' domestic arrangements.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Will Secret Donors Dominate the Upcoming Election Season?

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    Candidates’ backers set up nonprofit organizations ostensibly as “social welfare organizations” that don’t have politics as their primary purpose. Instead, they run “issue ads,” that coincidentally mention either the candidate they’re backing or their opponent. Sen. Mitch McConnell used this technique to great effect in his recent defeat of Alison Lundergan Grimes.   read more
  • Poorest Patients Sued by Some Non-Profit Hospitals

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) has a particularly insidious tactic: it forces incoming patients to sign a waiver allowing the hospital to garnish their wages to settle hospital charges and legal fees. Normally, those making less than $30,000 a year are exempt from garnishments, but SAMC and other hospitals skirt this consumer protection with the waiver.   read more
  • Largest Area of Federal Waters in U.S. to be auctioned for Offshore Wind Power Projects

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    Twelve companies have been asked to bid on the four lease areas within the 1,160-square-mile patch south of Martha’s Vineyard. The auction, to be held Thursday, will be the largest such sale to date by the federal government. If built out, the project would generate enough electricity to power 1.5 million homes.   read more

Controversies

  • Chemical Industry and Republican Lawmakers Succeed in Stalling EPA Chemical Regulation Process

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    When Barack Obama became president, he vowed to step up the analysis of chemicals by EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) to determine which should be restricted or banned because of toxicity. The George W. Bush administration had evaluated only about five chemicals a year. Lisa Jackson, Obama’s first EPA administrator, said the target should be 50 a year. Instead, the EPA has completed only 41 evaluations since Obama took office in 2009, with only one being done in 2014.   read more
  • Louisiana Fishing Industry Battles Big Oil over Coastline Erosion

    Monday, January 26, 2015
    The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East sued 97 oil and gas companies, asking for compensation for the damage done by the oil industry in dredging canals and installing pipelines, causing more erosion of the land and making it more vulnerable to hurricanes. Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal tried to throw a wrench in the suit by firing some of the members of the board that filed the action.   read more
  • Half of California's Big Trees Are Gone

    Sunday, January 25, 2015
    The big trees, more than two feet in diameter, were found in decline from Southern California to the Northern Sierras. Some areas of SoCal showed nearly a 75% decline. They were in decline even in the wild, where logging and development were not factors. The study compares the numbers from 80 years ago with a survey taken between 2001 and 2010, so the current four-year drought is not a factor.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • 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
  • Comoros’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Soilihi Mohamed Soilihi?

    Saturday, January 10, 2015
    Soilihi in 2006 was appointed as special delegate to Moroni city hall and the following year he became chief of staff to Comoros’ minister of finance. Soilihi moved to foreign affairs, becoming political counselor to the minister in 2009. In 2010, Soilihi took over as director general of the Office of Radio and Television for Comoros. One of his achievements was to make Comoran television available via satellite.   read more