Featured Story

Lawsuit Accuses White House of Setting Roadblocks to Freedom of Information Act Requests

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The plaintiffs claim the trouble started in April 2009, when then-White House counsel Gregory Craig informed Executive Branch operations that any FOIA requests that might have “White House equities” should go through his office. The term has never been defined, but some agencies are taking it to mean any document that mentions the White House.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • Los Angeles Considers Giving Citizens Lottery Tickets if they Vote

    Monday, August 18, 2014
    With as few as 8% of registered voters showing up to vote in some recent elections, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission has urged the City Council to consider improving turnout with a lottery pilot program. No actual vote would be required, but those participating would have to show up at the polls to participate. There was no decision on what the grand prize for participating in the democratic process.   read more
  • Legal Battle over Wording of Soda Tax Ballot Measure in Berkeley

    Sunday, August 17, 2014
    A suit (pdf) was filed last week by two men, at least one of whom has ties to the No Berkeley Beverage Tax campaign, which receives funding from the American Beverage Association. It claims that the city substituted the phrase “high-calorie, sugary drinks” for “sugar-sweetened beverage” in the ballot language. The plaintiffs, Anthony Johnson and Leon Cain, would prefer the phrase “sugar-sweetened beverage products” to be used.   read more
  • 98-Year-Old Seeks Exoneration for Espionage Conviction 64 Years Ago

    Saturday, August 16, 2014
    Neither Moskowitz nor Brothman testified in their own defense because they didn’t want their affair to become known. Nevertheless, she was convicted in 1950 and served two years in prison. Moskowitz also had to pay a $10,000 fine (equal to nearly $100,000 today), and, after being released, she struggled to put her life back together with such a black mark against her during the Cold War.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Job Openings Hit 13-Year High

    Friday, August 15, 2014
    The one discordant note is that hiring has not risen at the same rate as job openings. Openings are up 17.6% in the past year, while hires have increased only 9.3%. Some economists say it’s because companies might not be offering high enough wages. Others say the disparity is because of a mismatch between the jobs that are available and the skills of job seekers. For example, a former factory worker wouldn’t necessarily be qualified to fill a nursing position.   read more
  • Patent Office Hid Details of Workers Lying about Hours from Inspector General

    Thursday, August 14, 2014
    A Patent Office employee put a “mouse-mover” program on his computer so it would appear he was working. It was noticed by a manager, who reported it up the chain of command, but no action was taken. Many employees did little work until the end of each quarter, when they’d rush to complete their required tasks before their deadline. Meanwhile, the agency has fallen behind on processing patent applications, creating a backlog of more than 600,000 requests.   read more
  • SEC Charges Kansas State Government with Bond Fraud

    Thursday, August 14, 2014
    Between 2009 and 2010, officials made eight bond offerings. But at no time did they inform bond investors that Kansas’ public-employee pension was the second-most underfunded in the United States. At one point, the gap between the fund’s liabilities and assets reached $8.3 billion.   read more

Controversies

  • 33 Fracking Companies Accused of Ignoring Law and Using Diesel Fuels

    Monday, August 18, 2014
    Using information compiled by industry, the Environmental Integrity Project discovered that 33 drillers had used diesel fuels in at least 351 wells, and in the process, violated the Safe Drinking Water Act over a four-year period from 2010 to 2014. Furthermore, about 30% of the companies tried to hide their use of the fuel by changing their filings, which went into an industry-run database, FracFocus.   read more
  • Obama Loosens Restrictions on Lobbyists Serving on Advisory Boards

    Friday, August 15, 2014
    Following rules promoted by President Barack Obama in 2010 that barred lobbyists from being advisers on the boards, a group of lobbyists who had been dismissed from boards sued the government claiming the restrictions violated their rights. They won their case in federal court, forcing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue new guidelines that allow lobbyists to serve on the boards if they are representing clients.   read more
  • NAACP Wins Court Victory over Philadelphia Airport Regarding Ad about Prisoners

    Thursday, August 14, 2014
    The billboard read: “Welcome to America, home to 5% of the world’s people [and] 25% of the world’s prisoners. . . . Let’s build a better America together,” But Philadelphia airport officials rejected the ad, claiming their policy allowed only advertisements with commercial appeal. However, the airport had already displayed ads by other non-profits, including the World Wildlife Federation and the National Parent-Teacher Association.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Mexico Opens Oil Reserves to Foreign Companies for First Time in 76 Years

    Monday, August 18, 2014
    The change in energy policy means Pemex, the state-run oil company, will cease to have complete control over oil and gas production for the first time since 1938. Foreign oil companies will now be able to bid on oil projects, particularly those in the Gulf of Mexico, where there has been almost no exploration south of the border.   read more
  • First Civil Case against Bank under 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act Opens

    Saturday, August 16, 2014
    Arab Bank “knowingly and willfully” financially helped Hamas and other “terrorists who have killed, injured and maimed civilians” and “aided and abetted and conspired to commit said acts of international terrorism,” according to the lawsuit filed by 297 Americans.   read more
  • Exxon Teams with Russians to Drill for Arctic Oil

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014
    The crisis in the Ukraine continues as American and European leaders lob more sanctions against Russia for its actions in the war-torn country. But in the oil world, it’s business as usual. Oil king ExxonMobil last week began drilling a new oil well off Russia’s Arctic frontier, in cooperation with OAO Rosneft, the country’s state-run oil company.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Ireland: Who Is Kevin O’Malley?

    Monday, August 18, 2014
    O’Malley, an attorney in St. Louis, is a longtime supporter of President Barack Obama. O’Malley has strong Irish roots; all four of his grandparents were born in Westport, County Mayo, Ireland. Until being nominated for the Dublin post, O’Malley held dual Irish and American citizenship, but gave up his Irish citizenship to accept the ambassadorial position.   read more
  • For the Last 65 Years, Every U.S. Treasurer has been a Woman

    Sunday, August 17, 2014
    For the past 65 years presidents of both parties have continued a tradition started by Harry Truman—appointing a woman as U.S. Treasurer. No, not the Secretary of the Treasury; white men appear to have a lock on that job. The treasurer is responsible for “oversight” of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and of the U.S. gold reserves in Fort Knox. And her signature appears on the paper currency printed during her term.   read more
  • Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution: Who Is David Skorton?

    Sunday, August 17, 2014
    In July 2015, Dr. David J. Skorton, who is currently president of Cornell University, will become the 13th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He has said he hopes to keep his medical license current when he becomes secretary of the Smithsonian.   read more

Featured Story

Lawsuit Accuses White House of Setting Roadblocks to Freedom of Information Act Requests

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The plaintiffs claim the trouble started in April 2009, when then-White House counsel Gregory Craig informed Executive Branch operations that any FOIA requests that might have “White House equities” should go through his office. The term has never been defined, but some agencies are taking it to mean any document that mentions the White House.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

Unusual News

  • Los Angeles Considers Giving Citizens Lottery Tickets if they Vote

    Monday, August 18, 2014
    With as few as 8% of registered voters showing up to vote in some recent elections, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission has urged the City Council to consider improving turnout with a lottery pilot program. No actual vote would be required, but those participating would have to show up at the polls to participate. There was no decision on what the grand prize for participating in the democratic process.   read more
  • Legal Battle over Wording of Soda Tax Ballot Measure in Berkeley

    Sunday, August 17, 2014
    A suit (pdf) was filed last week by two men, at least one of whom has ties to the No Berkeley Beverage Tax campaign, which receives funding from the American Beverage Association. It claims that the city substituted the phrase “high-calorie, sugary drinks” for “sugar-sweetened beverage” in the ballot language. The plaintiffs, Anthony Johnson and Leon Cain, would prefer the phrase “sugar-sweetened beverage products” to be used.   read more
  • 98-Year-Old Seeks Exoneration for Espionage Conviction 64 Years Ago

    Saturday, August 16, 2014
    Neither Moskowitz nor Brothman testified in their own defense because they didn’t want their affair to become known. Nevertheless, she was convicted in 1950 and served two years in prison. Moskowitz also had to pay a $10,000 fine (equal to nearly $100,000 today), and, after being released, she struggled to put her life back together with such a black mark against her during the Cold War.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Job Openings Hit 13-Year High

    Friday, August 15, 2014
    The one discordant note is that hiring has not risen at the same rate as job openings. Openings are up 17.6% in the past year, while hires have increased only 9.3%. Some economists say it’s because companies might not be offering high enough wages. Others say the disparity is because of a mismatch between the jobs that are available and the skills of job seekers. For example, a former factory worker wouldn’t necessarily be qualified to fill a nursing position.   read more
  • Patent Office Hid Details of Workers Lying about Hours from Inspector General

    Thursday, August 14, 2014
    A Patent Office employee put a “mouse-mover” program on his computer so it would appear he was working. It was noticed by a manager, who reported it up the chain of command, but no action was taken. Many employees did little work until the end of each quarter, when they’d rush to complete their required tasks before their deadline. Meanwhile, the agency has fallen behind on processing patent applications, creating a backlog of more than 600,000 requests.   read more
  • SEC Charges Kansas State Government with Bond Fraud

    Thursday, August 14, 2014
    Between 2009 and 2010, officials made eight bond offerings. But at no time did they inform bond investors that Kansas’ public-employee pension was the second-most underfunded in the United States. At one point, the gap between the fund’s liabilities and assets reached $8.3 billion.   read more

Controversies

  • 33 Fracking Companies Accused of Ignoring Law and Using Diesel Fuels

    Monday, August 18, 2014
    Using information compiled by industry, the Environmental Integrity Project discovered that 33 drillers had used diesel fuels in at least 351 wells, and in the process, violated the Safe Drinking Water Act over a four-year period from 2010 to 2014. Furthermore, about 30% of the companies tried to hide their use of the fuel by changing their filings, which went into an industry-run database, FracFocus.   read more
  • Obama Loosens Restrictions on Lobbyists Serving on Advisory Boards

    Friday, August 15, 2014
    Following rules promoted by President Barack Obama in 2010 that barred lobbyists from being advisers on the boards, a group of lobbyists who had been dismissed from boards sued the government claiming the restrictions violated their rights. They won their case in federal court, forcing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue new guidelines that allow lobbyists to serve on the boards if they are representing clients.   read more
  • NAACP Wins Court Victory over Philadelphia Airport Regarding Ad about Prisoners

    Thursday, August 14, 2014
    The billboard read: “Welcome to America, home to 5% of the world’s people [and] 25% of the world’s prisoners. . . . Let’s build a better America together,” But Philadelphia airport officials rejected the ad, claiming their policy allowed only advertisements with commercial appeal. However, the airport had already displayed ads by other non-profits, including the World Wildlife Federation and the National Parent-Teacher Association.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Mexico Opens Oil Reserves to Foreign Companies for First Time in 76 Years

    Monday, August 18, 2014
    The change in energy policy means Pemex, the state-run oil company, will cease to have complete control over oil and gas production for the first time since 1938. Foreign oil companies will now be able to bid on oil projects, particularly those in the Gulf of Mexico, where there has been almost no exploration south of the border.   read more
  • First Civil Case against Bank under 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act Opens

    Saturday, August 16, 2014
    Arab Bank “knowingly and willfully” financially helped Hamas and other “terrorists who have killed, injured and maimed civilians” and “aided and abetted and conspired to commit said acts of international terrorism,” according to the lawsuit filed by 297 Americans.   read more
  • Exxon Teams with Russians to Drill for Arctic Oil

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014
    The crisis in the Ukraine continues as American and European leaders lob more sanctions against Russia for its actions in the war-torn country. But in the oil world, it’s business as usual. Oil king ExxonMobil last week began drilling a new oil well off Russia’s Arctic frontier, in cooperation with OAO Rosneft, the country’s state-run oil company.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Ireland: Who Is Kevin O’Malley?

    Monday, August 18, 2014
    O’Malley, an attorney in St. Louis, is a longtime supporter of President Barack Obama. O’Malley has strong Irish roots; all four of his grandparents were born in Westport, County Mayo, Ireland. Until being nominated for the Dublin post, O’Malley held dual Irish and American citizenship, but gave up his Irish citizenship to accept the ambassadorial position.   read more
  • For the Last 65 Years, Every U.S. Treasurer has been a Woman

    Sunday, August 17, 2014
    For the past 65 years presidents of both parties have continued a tradition started by Harry Truman—appointing a woman as U.S. Treasurer. No, not the Secretary of the Treasury; white men appear to have a lock on that job. The treasurer is responsible for “oversight” of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and of the U.S. gold reserves in Fort Knox. And her signature appears on the paper currency printed during her term.   read more
  • Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution: Who Is David Skorton?

    Sunday, August 17, 2014
    In July 2015, Dr. David J. Skorton, who is currently president of Cornell University, will become the 13th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He has said he hopes to keep his medical license current when he becomes secretary of the Smithsonian.   read more