Featured Story

For the Bottom 90% of Americans, Financial Security is Slipping Away

Thursday, October 23, 2014
No matter how you look at it, the economic picture for most of America is not good. Saddled with growing amounts of mortgage, consumer credit and student debt, the 90% has had little in the way of extra money to put into savings, says a new study. In fact, the savings rate by those in the lower 90% is about zero. By comparison, the top 1% of families put aside about 35% of their income. The authors say that income inequality will increase as long as the middle-class savings rate remains low.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Ex-Nazis Still Receiving Social Security Benefits

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    “Among those receiving Social Security benefits were SS troops who guarded the network of Nazi camps where millions of Jews perished, a rocket scientist accused of using slave laborers...and a Nazi collaborator who engineered the...execution of thousands of Jews in Poland,” reported AP. Still getting Social Security payments from the U.S. government are Martin Hartmann, former SS guard at the Sachsenhausen camp; Jakob Denzinger, former guard at Auschwitz; and Wasyl Lytwyn of the Nazi SS.   read more
  • More Police Departments than Previously Thought Use Portable Surveillance Systems to Spy on almost Everyone

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    More U.S. police departments are using electronic surveillance on cell phones and laptop computers belonging not just to criminal suspects but also law abiding citizens. It's not clear which departments are doing this because the federal government has helped to shield police from disclosing their spy hardware. However, now that Washington, D.C. police are using this spy gear, members of the government might also be among those spied upon.   read more
  • Report Shows Voter ID Laws Cut Participation in 2012 Election in Kansas and Tennessee

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    “GAO’s analysis suggests that the turnout decreases in Kansas and Tennessee beyond decreases in the comparison states were attributable to changes in those two states’ voter ID requirements,” the report said. The drop was even sharper in Kansas and Tennessee among young voters (18 to 23) and black voters.   read more

Unusual News

  • California County Tried to Seize Marijuana Plants without Warrant because Growing them Wasted Water

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Officials insisted the plants had to go in order to help preserve water supplies, and the situation was so dire police need not obtain a court order first. Judge Thelton Henderson wrote: “The need to reduce water use, even during a drought, falls below the level of urgency associated with emergencies justifying a warrantless search in existing case law. The county’s inexperience in obtaining warrants...does not excuse the requirements of the [U.S.] Constitution."   read more
  • The 25-Year-Old Unsolved Kidnapping that Led to a Significant Increase in the Recovery of Missing Children

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    In 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted in St. Joseph, Minnesota. His parents, Jerry and Patty Wetterling have dedicated themselves to not only finding their lost child, but also helping other parents see their children come home safely. While Patty Wetterling has “helped change the landscape of missing children, from sex offender registries to police training,” the rate of missing children found has increased significantly—from 62% in 1990 to 97% today   read more
  • Tennessee Woman Jailed for Having Overgrown Lawn

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    Karen Holloway of Lenoir City had been cited by the city for the heinous crime of not pruning her bushes or mowing her lawn. When the yard wasn’t cleaned up, she had to appear in court with no lawyer. She asked the judge, Terry Vann, if she could perform five days of community service to avoid spending time “with child molesters, and people who’ve done real crimes.” Vann insisted she spend time in jail, but did reduce the sentence to six hours.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • The Key to U.S. Income Statistics: Average Family Income is Growing; Median Family Income is Falling

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    While the average income is growing, the median income, that is, the point at which half the families make more money and half the families make less money, is falling. Between 2010 and 2013, the average family income rose 4%, but the median family income fell 5% during that period. That means the income gains have been concentrated among the wealthy, with the poor and middle class still struggling to see a real recovery.   read more
  • 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

Controversies

  • If the Draft Ended 41 Years Ago, Why are Young Men Still Punished for not Registering?

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Each year millions of teenage men are required to register for a draft that does not exist. Those who don’t sign up are barred from receiving federal financial aid, student loans, job training, or employment from certain public agencies. In 40 states, getting or renewing a driver’s license is linked to whether a person registered for the draft. Each violator is also at risk for spending five years in prison and being fined up to $250,000, if the Justice Department chooses to prosecute.   read more
  • Interior Dept. Inspector General Closed 457 Investigations Last Year, but Released only 3 to the Public

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall said that the lack of disclosure stemmed from a policy requiring the agency to receive three separate Freedom of Information Act requests before releasing a report—an unrealistically high standard. Most of the cases "stayed hidden from public view," according to Greenwire. “Among them were cases exposing nepotism, contracting violations and allegations that BP America underpaid its gas royalties by millions of dollars.”   read more
  • Hottest September Since Recordkeeping began in 1880

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Given this year's record-warm months, it’s not surprising that 2014 will likely go down as the hottest year ever recorded. “This is one of many indicators that climate change...continues to be one of the most important issues facing humanity,” said climate scientist Donald Wuebbles. "Next year could well bring Earth's hottest year on record, accompanied by unprecedented regional heat waves and droughts,” warned meteorology director Jeff Masters.   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

  • Acting Director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Who Is David Friedman?

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator David J. Friedman became the agency’s acting director on December 12, 2013. Friedman is a curious choice to work for the NHTSA. His background is alternative fuels and clean vehicles, with only a little experience working with automotive safety issues.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan: Who Is Pamela Spratlen?

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    After serving as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, Spratlen was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic on April 15, 2011. In June 2014, she helped coordinate the handover of Manas Air Base, which had been an important transit base for troops and supplies going into Afghanistan, to the Kyrgyz government.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain: Who Is William Roebuck?

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    Roebuck was sent to Libya in January 2013 in the wake of the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi to serve as chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Tripoli, staying there for six months. During his confirmation hearing for the Bahrain job, Roebuck told committee members that he wouldn’t abide by Bahrain’s law that a government representative be present for meetings between embassy personnel and members of that country’s opposition party.   read more

Featured Story

For the Bottom 90% of Americans, Financial Security is Slipping Away

Thursday, October 23, 2014
No matter how you look at it, the economic picture for most of America is not good. Saddled with growing amounts of mortgage, consumer credit and student debt, the 90% has had little in the way of extra money to put into savings, says a new study. In fact, the savings rate by those in the lower 90% is about zero. By comparison, the top 1% of families put aside about 35% of their income. The authors say that income inequality will increase as long as the middle-class savings rate remains low.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Ex-Nazis Still Receiving Social Security Benefits

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    “Among those receiving Social Security benefits were SS troops who guarded the network of Nazi camps where millions of Jews perished, a rocket scientist accused of using slave laborers...and a Nazi collaborator who engineered the...execution of thousands of Jews in Poland,” reported AP. Still getting Social Security payments from the U.S. government are Martin Hartmann, former SS guard at the Sachsenhausen camp; Jakob Denzinger, former guard at Auschwitz; and Wasyl Lytwyn of the Nazi SS.   read more
  • More Police Departments than Previously Thought Use Portable Surveillance Systems to Spy on almost Everyone

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    More U.S. police departments are using electronic surveillance on cell phones and laptop computers belonging not just to criminal suspects but also law abiding citizens. It's not clear which departments are doing this because the federal government has helped to shield police from disclosing their spy hardware. However, now that Washington, D.C. police are using this spy gear, members of the government might also be among those spied upon.   read more
  • Report Shows Voter ID Laws Cut Participation in 2012 Election in Kansas and Tennessee

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    “GAO’s analysis suggests that the turnout decreases in Kansas and Tennessee beyond decreases in the comparison states were attributable to changes in those two states’ voter ID requirements,” the report said. The drop was even sharper in Kansas and Tennessee among young voters (18 to 23) and black voters.   read more

Unusual News

  • California County Tried to Seize Marijuana Plants without Warrant because Growing them Wasted Water

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Officials insisted the plants had to go in order to help preserve water supplies, and the situation was so dire police need not obtain a court order first. Judge Thelton Henderson wrote: “The need to reduce water use, even during a drought, falls below the level of urgency associated with emergencies justifying a warrantless search in existing case law. The county’s inexperience in obtaining warrants...does not excuse the requirements of the [U.S.] Constitution."   read more
  • The 25-Year-Old Unsolved Kidnapping that Led to a Significant Increase in the Recovery of Missing Children

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    In 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted in St. Joseph, Minnesota. His parents, Jerry and Patty Wetterling have dedicated themselves to not only finding their lost child, but also helping other parents see their children come home safely. While Patty Wetterling has “helped change the landscape of missing children, from sex offender registries to police training,” the rate of missing children found has increased significantly—from 62% in 1990 to 97% today   read more
  • Tennessee Woman Jailed for Having Overgrown Lawn

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    Karen Holloway of Lenoir City had been cited by the city for the heinous crime of not pruning her bushes or mowing her lawn. When the yard wasn’t cleaned up, she had to appear in court with no lawyer. She asked the judge, Terry Vann, if she could perform five days of community service to avoid spending time “with child molesters, and people who’ve done real crimes.” Vann insisted she spend time in jail, but did reduce the sentence to six hours.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • The Key to U.S. Income Statistics: Average Family Income is Growing; Median Family Income is Falling

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    While the average income is growing, the median income, that is, the point at which half the families make more money and half the families make less money, is falling. Between 2010 and 2013, the average family income rose 4%, but the median family income fell 5% during that period. That means the income gains have been concentrated among the wealthy, with the poor and middle class still struggling to see a real recovery.   read more
  • 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

Controversies

  • If the Draft Ended 41 Years Ago, Why are Young Men Still Punished for not Registering?

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Each year millions of teenage men are required to register for a draft that does not exist. Those who don’t sign up are barred from receiving federal financial aid, student loans, job training, or employment from certain public agencies. In 40 states, getting or renewing a driver’s license is linked to whether a person registered for the draft. Each violator is also at risk for spending five years in prison and being fined up to $250,000, if the Justice Department chooses to prosecute.   read more
  • Interior Dept. Inspector General Closed 457 Investigations Last Year, but Released only 3 to the Public

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall said that the lack of disclosure stemmed from a policy requiring the agency to receive three separate Freedom of Information Act requests before releasing a report—an unrealistically high standard. Most of the cases "stayed hidden from public view," according to Greenwire. “Among them were cases exposing nepotism, contracting violations and allegations that BP America underpaid its gas royalties by millions of dollars.”   read more
  • Hottest September Since Recordkeeping began in 1880

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Given this year's record-warm months, it’s not surprising that 2014 will likely go down as the hottest year ever recorded. “This is one of many indicators that climate change...continues to be one of the most important issues facing humanity,” said climate scientist Donald Wuebbles. "Next year could well bring Earth's hottest year on record, accompanied by unprecedented regional heat waves and droughts,” warned meteorology director Jeff Masters.   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

  • Acting Director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Who Is David Friedman?

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator David J. Friedman became the agency’s acting director on December 12, 2013. Friedman is a curious choice to work for the NHTSA. His background is alternative fuels and clean vehicles, with only a little experience working with automotive safety issues.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan: Who Is Pamela Spratlen?

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    After serving as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, Spratlen was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic on April 15, 2011. In June 2014, she helped coordinate the handover of Manas Air Base, which had been an important transit base for troops and supplies going into Afghanistan, to the Kyrgyz government.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain: Who Is William Roebuck?

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    Roebuck was sent to Libya in January 2013 in the wake of the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi to serve as chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Tripoli, staying there for six months. During his confirmation hearing for the Bahrain job, Roebuck told committee members that he wouldn’t abide by Bahrain’s law that a government representative be present for meetings between embassy personnel and members of that country’s opposition party.   read more