Featured Story

Battling Obesity in U.S., FDA Approves Sweeping New Rules for Calorie Disclosure

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Starting late next year, restaurant chains and movie theaters will have to list calorie counts on their menus. FDA officials are hoping the publishing of calorie totals will help Americans make smarter decisions about what they eat when going out and perhaps shrink some waistlines along the way. Nutrition professor Marion Nestle was surprised to learn that the rules went beyond what she and others expected, applying them to alcoholic beverages listed on restaurant menus.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Obama Orders U.S. Troops in Afghanistan to Keep Fighting for a 14th Year

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    In May, President Obama said American troops in Afghanistan would cease their “combat mission” by January 1. Now, come January 1, U.S. soldiers will engage in “combat operations,” marking the 14th consecutive year of fighting. So much for the war ending. The only real difference will be the size of U.S. forces. Instead of tens of thousands of soldiers, the U.S. will station only 9,800 to fight al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. Ground forces, manned aircraft and drones may be put to use.   read more
  • The Lawsuit that could Eliminate Healthcare Subsidies for 13 Million Americans

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    The case, King v. Burwell, is challenging the provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows the federal government to provide financial assistance to people who buy insurance through the 37 state insurance exchanges operated by the federal government. If the plaintiffs are successful, the court’s decision could eliminate these subsidies, which currently help 13 million people afford their coverage.   read more
  • Obama Finally Puts an End to Unpopular Secure Communities Program

    Sunday, November 23, 2014
    As part of broader immigration reforms, the Obama administration announced Thursday that the Secure Communities program, which mandated that local law enforcement submit biometric information on those suspected of being undocumented immigrants to the federal government, is going away. In its place will be the Priority Enforcement Program, which specifies that those held must be likely deportable or have a removal order in effect against them.   read more

Unusual News

  • What Does Jeb Bush do for a Living?

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    Bush, the former governor of Florida, has four businesses registered to the same address in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables that don’t appear to have conducted any business anywhere, according to an investigation by ThinkProgress. Bush also has a consulting firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, registered to that address.   read more
  • 11 No-Fly Zones in the United States

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    Government installations covered by overflight restrictions include the Kennedy Space Center, the sky over presidential retreat Camp David, and the Bush family compound in Maine. But then there’s restricted airspace over Disneyland and Disney World, brought about by a provision slipped into a 2003 spending bill. Aircraft are also barred, of course, from flying over the conspiratorially-rich secret government complex in Nevada, Area 51.   read more
  • Mysterious Voynich Manuscript Now Online Clearly…Good Luck Deciphering

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    “The 113 plant illustrations...seem to depict no flora found on Earth," wrote Allison Meier. There are also "visuals of the cosmos, a small army of naked women cavorting through pools of water, and the arcane alphabet that has so frustrated linguists and cryptographers." One theory is that the manuscript was created to serve as a medieval guide to creating medicinal drugs. A linguist in the UK devised sounds to match the book’s unusual symbols and claimed that he decoded 14 of them.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Goldman Sachs Gets Harsh Words but Open Pockets from Congressional Subcommittees

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Goldman has donated $1.1 million to current subcommittee members since 1989 — $911,000 of which went to Democrats. More than half of that total went to one individual, Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York). In fact, OpenSecrets.org added, “Schumer has received more from Goldman over the course of his career than any other current member of the Senate — and more from Goldman than from any other organization.”   read more
  • 10 Years after 9/11 Commission Recommended it, FCC Finds Funds for National First Responder Communications Network

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The commission recommended that the federal government create a way for police and firefighters from different jurisdictions to communicate with each other in a crisis—something they couldn’t do during the response to the 9/11 attacks. Congress authorized the FCC to reserve certain broadcast frequencies for public safety use. The FCC auctioned off a band of wireless frequencies to telecommunications companies, which netted more than $11 billion to establish the network, FirstNet.   read more
  • Recent Veterans more likely to be Employed than Non-Veterans

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    In the period from 2011 to 2013, employment among veterans of both genders of the wars was 79%, compared to 70% of nonveterans. Employment among male Gulf War veterans was 84%. Men who served in Iraq and Afghanistan last decade had a lower, though still impressive rate of 78%. Both groups of veterans were better off than nonveteran men, whose employment rate was 75%. Similarly, women who served in both wars have struggled less with unemployment.   read more

Controversies

  • Supreme Court to Decide if Violent Threats on Facebook are Free Speech or Criminal Acts

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Elonis v. U.S. stems from the conviction of Anthony Elonis, who served several years in prison for posting messages to his wife on Facebook that she took as threats. In one, he indicated his desire to shoot her despite a court order to stay away. A court brief said people “have experienced real-life terror caused by...public posts to Facebook and other social media sites." Elonis claimed he was merely venting and performing “therapeutic efforts to address traumatic events” in his life.   read more
  • Obama Justice Dept. Insists Details of Anti-Iran Campaign are so Secret they won’t Say Why It’s Secret

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    In what amounts to a trust-us-we-really-know-what’s-best argument, the Department of Justice filed a brief in federal court recently that seeks to explain—in a non-explainable way—why it wants the case against UANI tossed. All officials have been willing to say is the case could expose government secrets. They won’t say what kind of secrets they are, or which agency might be involved in the matter. Legal observers have called the administration’s legal position “extraordinary and unprecedented."   read more
  • Is Volleyball a Threat to Islamic Extremists?

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    From suicide bombings to political protests, volleyball has been at the center of recent high-profile incidents in countries known for Islamic extremists. In Iran, a group of women were arrested in June for staging a protest outside a men’s game. The women sought access to the event in defiance of local custom that allows only male spectators. One of those arrested was British-Iranian Ghoncheh Ghavami, who was freed on bail over the weekend after spending five months imprisoned for the protest.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyzstan: Who Is Sheila Gwaltney?

    Sunday, November 23, 2014
    She was sent back to St. Petersburg in 2008, this time as consul general. In 2010, Gwaltney was assigned to Moscow as deputy chief of mission. She eventually served as chargé d'affaires, ad interim. As such, she was in charge of the embassy after Ambassador Mike McFaul left, and she handled much of the U.S. response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine, events she had warned of earlier.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Latvia: Who Is Nancy Pettit?

    Sunday, November 23, 2014
    In 1992, Pettit got to put her knowledge of the Soviet Union to first-hand use when she was named a political officer in the embassy in Moscow. Her husband was also there, as were their two children, when a constitutional crisis swept the country. The Pettits and other embassy personnel and their families were forced to remain in an underground shelter for two days during the unrest.   read more
  • Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Who Is Michelle K. Lee?

    Saturday, November 22, 2014
    In 2003, Lee went to work for Google as its deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy. She advised the search engine giant on its acquisition of YouTube, participation in the Nortel patent auction and on mobile phone patent issues. Lee left for government service in 2012 to head the newly opened Silicon Valley outpost of the USPTO.   read more

Featured Story

Battling Obesity in U.S., FDA Approves Sweeping New Rules for Calorie Disclosure

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Starting late next year, restaurant chains and movie theaters will have to list calorie counts on their menus. FDA officials are hoping the publishing of calorie totals will help Americans make smarter decisions about what they eat when going out and perhaps shrink some waistlines along the way. Nutrition professor Marion Nestle was surprised to learn that the rules went beyond what she and others expected, applying them to alcoholic beverages listed on restaurant menus.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Obama Orders U.S. Troops in Afghanistan to Keep Fighting for a 14th Year

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    In May, President Obama said American troops in Afghanistan would cease their “combat mission” by January 1. Now, come January 1, U.S. soldiers will engage in “combat operations,” marking the 14th consecutive year of fighting. So much for the war ending. The only real difference will be the size of U.S. forces. Instead of tens of thousands of soldiers, the U.S. will station only 9,800 to fight al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. Ground forces, manned aircraft and drones may be put to use.   read more
  • The Lawsuit that could Eliminate Healthcare Subsidies for 13 Million Americans

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    The case, King v. Burwell, is challenging the provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows the federal government to provide financial assistance to people who buy insurance through the 37 state insurance exchanges operated by the federal government. If the plaintiffs are successful, the court’s decision could eliminate these subsidies, which currently help 13 million people afford their coverage.   read more
  • Obama Finally Puts an End to Unpopular Secure Communities Program

    Sunday, November 23, 2014
    As part of broader immigration reforms, the Obama administration announced Thursday that the Secure Communities program, which mandated that local law enforcement submit biometric information on those suspected of being undocumented immigrants to the federal government, is going away. In its place will be the Priority Enforcement Program, which specifies that those held must be likely deportable or have a removal order in effect against them.   read more

Unusual News

  • What Does Jeb Bush do for a Living?

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    Bush, the former governor of Florida, has four businesses registered to the same address in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables that don’t appear to have conducted any business anywhere, according to an investigation by ThinkProgress. Bush also has a consulting firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, registered to that address.   read more
  • 11 No-Fly Zones in the United States

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    Government installations covered by overflight restrictions include the Kennedy Space Center, the sky over presidential retreat Camp David, and the Bush family compound in Maine. But then there’s restricted airspace over Disneyland and Disney World, brought about by a provision slipped into a 2003 spending bill. Aircraft are also barred, of course, from flying over the conspiratorially-rich secret government complex in Nevada, Area 51.   read more
  • Mysterious Voynich Manuscript Now Online Clearly…Good Luck Deciphering

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    “The 113 plant illustrations...seem to depict no flora found on Earth," wrote Allison Meier. There are also "visuals of the cosmos, a small army of naked women cavorting through pools of water, and the arcane alphabet that has so frustrated linguists and cryptographers." One theory is that the manuscript was created to serve as a medieval guide to creating medicinal drugs. A linguist in the UK devised sounds to match the book’s unusual symbols and claimed that he decoded 14 of them.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Goldman Sachs Gets Harsh Words but Open Pockets from Congressional Subcommittees

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Goldman has donated $1.1 million to current subcommittee members since 1989 — $911,000 of which went to Democrats. More than half of that total went to one individual, Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York). In fact, OpenSecrets.org added, “Schumer has received more from Goldman over the course of his career than any other current member of the Senate — and more from Goldman than from any other organization.”   read more
  • 10 Years after 9/11 Commission Recommended it, FCC Finds Funds for National First Responder Communications Network

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The commission recommended that the federal government create a way for police and firefighters from different jurisdictions to communicate with each other in a crisis—something they couldn’t do during the response to the 9/11 attacks. Congress authorized the FCC to reserve certain broadcast frequencies for public safety use. The FCC auctioned off a band of wireless frequencies to telecommunications companies, which netted more than $11 billion to establish the network, FirstNet.   read more
  • Recent Veterans more likely to be Employed than Non-Veterans

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    In the period from 2011 to 2013, employment among veterans of both genders of the wars was 79%, compared to 70% of nonveterans. Employment among male Gulf War veterans was 84%. Men who served in Iraq and Afghanistan last decade had a lower, though still impressive rate of 78%. Both groups of veterans were better off than nonveteran men, whose employment rate was 75%. Similarly, women who served in both wars have struggled less with unemployment.   read more

Controversies

  • Supreme Court to Decide if Violent Threats on Facebook are Free Speech or Criminal Acts

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Elonis v. U.S. stems from the conviction of Anthony Elonis, who served several years in prison for posting messages to his wife on Facebook that she took as threats. In one, he indicated his desire to shoot her despite a court order to stay away. A court brief said people “have experienced real-life terror caused by...public posts to Facebook and other social media sites." Elonis claimed he was merely venting and performing “therapeutic efforts to address traumatic events” in his life.   read more
  • Obama Justice Dept. Insists Details of Anti-Iran Campaign are so Secret they won’t Say Why It’s Secret

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    In what amounts to a trust-us-we-really-know-what’s-best argument, the Department of Justice filed a brief in federal court recently that seeks to explain—in a non-explainable way—why it wants the case against UANI tossed. All officials have been willing to say is the case could expose government secrets. They won’t say what kind of secrets they are, or which agency might be involved in the matter. Legal observers have called the administration’s legal position “extraordinary and unprecedented."   read more
  • Is Volleyball a Threat to Islamic Extremists?

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    From suicide bombings to political protests, volleyball has been at the center of recent high-profile incidents in countries known for Islamic extremists. In Iran, a group of women were arrested in June for staging a protest outside a men’s game. The women sought access to the event in defiance of local custom that allows only male spectators. One of those arrested was British-Iranian Ghoncheh Ghavami, who was freed on bail over the weekend after spending five months imprisoned for the protest.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyzstan: Who Is Sheila Gwaltney?

    Sunday, November 23, 2014
    She was sent back to St. Petersburg in 2008, this time as consul general. In 2010, Gwaltney was assigned to Moscow as deputy chief of mission. She eventually served as chargé d'affaires, ad interim. As such, she was in charge of the embassy after Ambassador Mike McFaul left, and she handled much of the U.S. response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine, events she had warned of earlier.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Latvia: Who Is Nancy Pettit?

    Sunday, November 23, 2014
    In 1992, Pettit got to put her knowledge of the Soviet Union to first-hand use when she was named a political officer in the embassy in Moscow. Her husband was also there, as were their two children, when a constitutional crisis swept the country. The Pettits and other embassy personnel and their families were forced to remain in an underground shelter for two days during the unrest.   read more
  • Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Who Is Michelle K. Lee?

    Saturday, November 22, 2014
    In 2003, Lee went to work for Google as its deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy. She advised the search engine giant on its acquisition of YouTube, participation in the Nortel patent auction and on mobile phone patent issues. Lee left for government service in 2012 to head the newly opened Silicon Valley outpost of the USPTO.   read more