Featured Story

World Trade Organization Overrules U.S. Country-of-Origin Rules for Meat Products

Thursday, May 21, 2015
WTO ruled that American regulations that require the meat industry to use country of origin labels (COOL) represent a violation of NAFTA. “This is just the latest example of how multinational companies use the global trade system to attack basic protections for U.S. consumers,” said Wenonah Hauter. “The meat industry has been trying – and failing – for years to get rid of COOL through the U.S. system, so it had to use unaccountable, unelected trade officials at the WTO to do its dirty work.”   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Wyoming Criminalizes taking Soil Samples and “Ecological” Photos on Public Lands

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    The Republican-dominated state has adopted a new law which outlaws the collecting of ecological data on private and public lands. Violations can result in a year of prison time and fines of $5,000. It also makes any samples inadmissible as evidence in court, even if they show environmental hazards. The law prohibits photos and soil samples used for ecological purposes, even in state and national parks. Opponents say it is so broad, it would prevent taking photos at Yellowstone National Park.   read more
  • Weapons Companies Profit from Fear of Iran Campaign

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015
    Iran has been a great bogeyman for American merchants of war by helping boost billions of dollars in military sales to oil-rich states in the Middle East. In the last five years, U.S. arms purchases by Gulf Arab countries have skyrocketed by 70%. Saudi Arabia alone has paid out $90 billion to American arms firms in that time. U.S. defense contractors have benefited by selling weapons systems and munitions to Persian Gulf countries that have worried about Iranian military plans in the region.   read more
  • Trains Full of Toxic Oil Run Next to Nuclear Missile Silos

    Monday, May 18, 2015
    One-third of the missiles controlled by Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota are in the Bakken oil field and the trains carrying much of that volatile output pass in close proximity to many missile sites, according to a report (video) on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Air Force documents obtained by the show highlight the Pentagon’s concern about the problem.   read more

Unusual News

  • Tall Men Make more Money…but only up to 6 Feet

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    About to ask for a raise? You might have more luck if you do it wearing a pair of elevator shoes. A study published in the Journal of Human Capital showed a difference in height among men, even just four or five inches, can result in higher earnings ranging from 9% to 15%, according to Joe Pinsker at The Atlantic. Pinsker also reported that another source indicated “an extra inch is worth almost $800 a year in elevated earnings.”   read more
  • Organic Produce Now Accounts for 12% of Sales in U.S.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015
    “Across the heartland of America and all along the Gulf Coast, sales of organic products are posting double-digit increases,” according to OTA. “The majority of American households in all regions of the country now make organic a part of their supermarket and retail purchases – from 68 to almost 80% of households in southern states, to nearly 90% on the West Coast.” The trade group also reported that organic sales are reaching the “milestone” of 5% share of the total food market in the U.S.   read more
  • New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Sued for Rejecting “8THEIST” License Plate, but Accepting “BAPTIST”

    Sunday, May 17, 2015
    Shannon Morgan entered 8THEIST into the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission website and it was rejected with the message “requested plate is considered objectionable.” However when Morgan entered “BAPTIST,” she was allowed to continue with the application.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Franchises Most Likely to Fail: Golf Etc. and All Tune and Lube

    Saturday, May 16, 2015
    A report from Service Employees International Union shows that 19.3% of all franchises purchased with SBA loans from 2006 to 2010 have failed. That failure rate has increased over time; loans originating from 1991 to 1995 failed 12.7% of the time. Two franchises with the highest failure rates are Golf Etc., at 49.6%, and All Tune and Lube at 41.6%. Purchasers of those two franchises were almost even money to go down the tubes, costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars.   read more
  • Why is the Navy Allowed a Special Extra Fund Beyond its Budget to Build Submarines?

    Thursday, May 14, 2015
    The Navy has decided the special fund created just to launch new subs now can be used to build new aircraft carriers, too. The Navy is already spending more money every year through its regular budget of $130 billion than either China or Russia does on their entire armed forces, according to POGO’s Jacob Marx. But the Navy wants to pay for its 12 new SSBN(X) ballistic missile subs outside regular funding channels.   read more
  • Record False Claims Settlement in a Case not Supported by Justice Dept.

    Thursday, May 14, 2015
    Two whistleblowers who worked for DaVita renal clinics in Georgia accused DaVita of dumping renal care supplements down drains so it could overcharge Medicare and Medicaid. The judge said the company at least led the plaintiffs astray by not correcting the false testimony and at worst “purposely manipulated the evidence and witnesses to hide the truth from the (plaintiffs) and the court.” The whistleblowers will share in a quarter to a third of the $495 million settlement.   read more

Controversies

  • When a Christian Plots to Kill U.S. Muslims, Is He a Terrorist or Just a Communicator of Interstate Threats?

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    Robert Doggart, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year, has accepted a plea deal from federal prosecutors in which he admitted to interstate threats. A wiretap revealed he was plotting with a private militia to carry out a terrorist attack on a Muslim community. In one call, Doggart reportedly said, “we’re gonna be carrying an M4 with 500 rounds of ammunition...a pistol with 3 extra magazines and a machete. And if it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds.”   read more
  • Suicide Rate for Black Children Jumps as it Falls for Whites

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    The change was so dramatic, researchers weren’t sure they had crunched the numbers correctly. “I was shocked, I’ll be honest with you,” said epidemiologist Jeffrey Bridge. “I looked at it and I thought, ‘Did we do the analysis correctly? I thought we had made a mistake.’" Explanations included “that black children are more likely to be exposed to violence and traumatic stress...[have] early onset of puberty" and more likely to be subject to “aggressive school discipline.”   read more
  • House Passes Bill to Help Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    Rep. Stephen Fincher's bill would change consumer protection provisions to almost exclusively benefit Clayton Homes, a company controlled by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Clayton buyers are often stuck with loans that come with interest rates that can exceed 15%. Loans offered by Clayton companies average 7 percentage points higher than conventional home loans usually cost. Clayton dealers also get kickbacks for steering business to companies linked to their corporate parent.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Obama Promises U.S. Military will Defend Rich Arab Dictatorships

    Monday, May 18, 2015
    High officials from six Persian Gulf countries got assurances from President Barack Obama that the United States would respond, perhaps with military force, to an “external threat” to any of the countries. Amnesty International has cataloged human rights abuses in each of those countries.   read more
  • Polish Government Agrees to Pay Victims of CIA Torture

    Sunday, May 17, 2015
    The CIA paid Poland as much as $50 million to use the Stare Kiejkuty intelligence base to interrogate prisoners it brought in from other countries. Former President Aleksander Kwaśniewski and then-Prime Minister Leszek Miller, who allowed the use of the base, may even be subject to prosecution. Many Poles feel betrayed that their country, so recently subject to abuses under Communist rule, was used as a torture site by the United States.   read more
  • Pope Francis Ends Vatican Control of U.S. Nuns’ Group

    Sunday, May 17, 2015
    After three years of negotiations, Pope Francis has ended the administration of the U.S. nuns’ leadership group, handing control back to the nuns themselves. Under Pope Benedict, the Vatican initiated the takeover of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), whose members represent about 80% of U.S. nuns.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Hungary’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Réka Szemerkényi?

    Monday, May 18, 2015
    In 2006, Szemerkényi was named chief advisor for international public relations to the CEO of MOL group, the Hungarian oil and gas company. That same year, she also became a senior associate in the Institute of Kremlinology at Gáspár Károli Reformed University. Orbán and Fidesz returned to office in 2010 and by 2011 Szemerkényi was the prime minister’s chief advisor on security policy. Szemerkényi’s views are said to be completely in line with those of Orbán.   read more
  • Chair of the Federal Election Commission: Who Is Ann Ravel?

    Sunday, May 17, 2015
    In May 2015, Ravel said it is unlikely that the FEC, which has three Democrats and three Republicans on its board, will be able to do much to regulate the coming presidential election. “The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” she told The New York Times. “I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the FEC is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.”   read more
  • Equatorial Guinea’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Miguel Ntutumu Evuna Andeme?

    Saturday, May 16, 2015
    Evuna Andeme is not an ordinary citizen; his father, Alejandro Evuna Asangono Owono, is minister of state and his sister, Mari-Cruz Evuna Andeme, is ambassador to the United Kingdom, is the president of the country. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s government is known as one of the most repressive in the world.   read more

Featured Story

World Trade Organization Overrules U.S. Country-of-Origin Rules for Meat Products

Thursday, May 21, 2015
WTO ruled that American regulations that require the meat industry to use country of origin labels (COOL) represent a violation of NAFTA. “This is just the latest example of how multinational companies use the global trade system to attack basic protections for U.S. consumers,” said Wenonah Hauter. “The meat industry has been trying – and failing – for years to get rid of COOL through the U.S. system, so it had to use unaccountable, unelected trade officials at the WTO to do its dirty work.”   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Wyoming Criminalizes taking Soil Samples and “Ecological” Photos on Public Lands

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    The Republican-dominated state has adopted a new law which outlaws the collecting of ecological data on private and public lands. Violations can result in a year of prison time and fines of $5,000. It also makes any samples inadmissible as evidence in court, even if they show environmental hazards. The law prohibits photos and soil samples used for ecological purposes, even in state and national parks. Opponents say it is so broad, it would prevent taking photos at Yellowstone National Park.   read more
  • Weapons Companies Profit from Fear of Iran Campaign

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015
    Iran has been a great bogeyman for American merchants of war by helping boost billions of dollars in military sales to oil-rich states in the Middle East. In the last five years, U.S. arms purchases by Gulf Arab countries have skyrocketed by 70%. Saudi Arabia alone has paid out $90 billion to American arms firms in that time. U.S. defense contractors have benefited by selling weapons systems and munitions to Persian Gulf countries that have worried about Iranian military plans in the region.   read more
  • Trains Full of Toxic Oil Run Next to Nuclear Missile Silos

    Monday, May 18, 2015
    One-third of the missiles controlled by Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota are in the Bakken oil field and the trains carrying much of that volatile output pass in close proximity to many missile sites, according to a report (video) on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Air Force documents obtained by the show highlight the Pentagon’s concern about the problem.   read more

Unusual News

  • Tall Men Make more Money…but only up to 6 Feet

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    About to ask for a raise? You might have more luck if you do it wearing a pair of elevator shoes. A study published in the Journal of Human Capital showed a difference in height among men, even just four or five inches, can result in higher earnings ranging from 9% to 15%, according to Joe Pinsker at The Atlantic. Pinsker also reported that another source indicated “an extra inch is worth almost $800 a year in elevated earnings.”   read more
  • Organic Produce Now Accounts for 12% of Sales in U.S.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015
    “Across the heartland of America and all along the Gulf Coast, sales of organic products are posting double-digit increases,” according to OTA. “The majority of American households in all regions of the country now make organic a part of their supermarket and retail purchases – from 68 to almost 80% of households in southern states, to nearly 90% on the West Coast.” The trade group also reported that organic sales are reaching the “milestone” of 5% share of the total food market in the U.S.   read more
  • New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Sued for Rejecting “8THEIST” License Plate, but Accepting “BAPTIST”

    Sunday, May 17, 2015
    Shannon Morgan entered 8THEIST into the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission website and it was rejected with the message “requested plate is considered objectionable.” However when Morgan entered “BAPTIST,” she was allowed to continue with the application.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Franchises Most Likely to Fail: Golf Etc. and All Tune and Lube

    Saturday, May 16, 2015
    A report from Service Employees International Union shows that 19.3% of all franchises purchased with SBA loans from 2006 to 2010 have failed. That failure rate has increased over time; loans originating from 1991 to 1995 failed 12.7% of the time. Two franchises with the highest failure rates are Golf Etc., at 49.6%, and All Tune and Lube at 41.6%. Purchasers of those two franchises were almost even money to go down the tubes, costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars.   read more
  • Why is the Navy Allowed a Special Extra Fund Beyond its Budget to Build Submarines?

    Thursday, May 14, 2015
    The Navy has decided the special fund created just to launch new subs now can be used to build new aircraft carriers, too. The Navy is already spending more money every year through its regular budget of $130 billion than either China or Russia does on their entire armed forces, according to POGO’s Jacob Marx. But the Navy wants to pay for its 12 new SSBN(X) ballistic missile subs outside regular funding channels.   read more
  • Record False Claims Settlement in a Case not Supported by Justice Dept.

    Thursday, May 14, 2015
    Two whistleblowers who worked for DaVita renal clinics in Georgia accused DaVita of dumping renal care supplements down drains so it could overcharge Medicare and Medicaid. The judge said the company at least led the plaintiffs astray by not correcting the false testimony and at worst “purposely manipulated the evidence and witnesses to hide the truth from the (plaintiffs) and the court.” The whistleblowers will share in a quarter to a third of the $495 million settlement.   read more

Controversies

  • When a Christian Plots to Kill U.S. Muslims, Is He a Terrorist or Just a Communicator of Interstate Threats?

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    Robert Doggart, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year, has accepted a plea deal from federal prosecutors in which he admitted to interstate threats. A wiretap revealed he was plotting with a private militia to carry out a terrorist attack on a Muslim community. In one call, Doggart reportedly said, “we’re gonna be carrying an M4 with 500 rounds of ammunition...a pistol with 3 extra magazines and a machete. And if it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds.”   read more
  • Suicide Rate for Black Children Jumps as it Falls for Whites

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    The change was so dramatic, researchers weren’t sure they had crunched the numbers correctly. “I was shocked, I’ll be honest with you,” said epidemiologist Jeffrey Bridge. “I looked at it and I thought, ‘Did we do the analysis correctly? I thought we had made a mistake.’" Explanations included “that black children are more likely to be exposed to violence and traumatic stress...[have] early onset of puberty" and more likely to be subject to “aggressive school discipline.”   read more
  • House Passes Bill to Help Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015
    Rep. Stephen Fincher's bill would change consumer protection provisions to almost exclusively benefit Clayton Homes, a company controlled by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Clayton buyers are often stuck with loans that come with interest rates that can exceed 15%. Loans offered by Clayton companies average 7 percentage points higher than conventional home loans usually cost. Clayton dealers also get kickbacks for steering business to companies linked to their corporate parent.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Obama Promises U.S. Military will Defend Rich Arab Dictatorships

    Monday, May 18, 2015
    High officials from six Persian Gulf countries got assurances from President Barack Obama that the United States would respond, perhaps with military force, to an “external threat” to any of the countries. Amnesty International has cataloged human rights abuses in each of those countries.   read more
  • Polish Government Agrees to Pay Victims of CIA Torture

    Sunday, May 17, 2015
    The CIA paid Poland as much as $50 million to use the Stare Kiejkuty intelligence base to interrogate prisoners it brought in from other countries. Former President Aleksander Kwaśniewski and then-Prime Minister Leszek Miller, who allowed the use of the base, may even be subject to prosecution. Many Poles feel betrayed that their country, so recently subject to abuses under Communist rule, was used as a torture site by the United States.   read more
  • Pope Francis Ends Vatican Control of U.S. Nuns’ Group

    Sunday, May 17, 2015
    After three years of negotiations, Pope Francis has ended the administration of the U.S. nuns’ leadership group, handing control back to the nuns themselves. Under Pope Benedict, the Vatican initiated the takeover of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), whose members represent about 80% of U.S. nuns.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Hungary’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Réka Szemerkényi?

    Monday, May 18, 2015
    In 2006, Szemerkényi was named chief advisor for international public relations to the CEO of MOL group, the Hungarian oil and gas company. That same year, she also became a senior associate in the Institute of Kremlinology at Gáspár Károli Reformed University. Orbán and Fidesz returned to office in 2010 and by 2011 Szemerkényi was the prime minister’s chief advisor on security policy. Szemerkényi’s views are said to be completely in line with those of Orbán.   read more
  • Chair of the Federal Election Commission: Who Is Ann Ravel?

    Sunday, May 17, 2015
    In May 2015, Ravel said it is unlikely that the FEC, which has three Democrats and three Republicans on its board, will be able to do much to regulate the coming presidential election. “The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” she told The New York Times. “I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the FEC is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.”   read more
  • Equatorial Guinea’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Miguel Ntutumu Evuna Andeme?

    Saturday, May 16, 2015
    Evuna Andeme is not an ordinary citizen; his father, Alejandro Evuna Asangono Owono, is minister of state and his sister, Mari-Cruz Evuna Andeme, is ambassador to the United Kingdom, is the president of the country. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s government is known as one of the most repressive in the world.   read more