Featured Story

Pentagon Revises Rules on Dealing With Journalists

Sunday, July 24, 2016
The Pentagon has revised its Law of War guidelines to remove wording that could permit U.S. military commanders to treat war correspondents as “unprivileged belligerents” if they think the journalists are sympathizing or cooperating with enemy forces. The amended manual, published on Friday, also drops wording that equated journalism with spying. These and other changes were made in response to complaints by news organizations.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Three Charged in Billion-Dollar Medicare Fraud Scheme

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    Three people have been charged in an unprecedented $1 billion health care fraud scam, accused of using dozens of Miami nursing homes to bilk the taxpayer-funded Medicare and Medicaid programs. Authorities said Philip Esformes, who ran 30 nursing homes and assisted living facilities, joined with two conspirators and a complex network of corrupt doctors and hospitals to refer thousands of patients to their facilities even though the patients did not qualify for the services.   read more
  • One-Third of Recovering Hospital Patients in U.S. Suffer Harm from Rehab Care

    Friday, July 22, 2016
    Almost a quarter of the harmed patients had to be admitted to an acute care hospital, at a cost of about $7.7 million for the month analyzed. The physicians who reviewed the cases for the OIG say substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, and failure to provide needed care caused most of the harm. Almost half the cases, 46%, were related to medication errors, and included bleeding from gastric ulcers due to blood thinners and a loss of consciousness linked to narcotic painkillers.   read more
  • Lawsuit Accuses U.S. Army of Denying Diabetes Treatment for Children on Army Bases

    Thursday, July 21, 2016
    The American Diabetes Assn has been working to change Army policy since 2010, and says numerous families across the nation are affected. "The U.S. Army's policy is discriminatory and completely out of step with current practices relating to caring for children with diabetes," ADA's Hagan said. "This discriminatory policy provides little choice for parents who are effectively forced to pull their children out of the U.S. Army's high-quality programs or face jeopardizing their lives," said Smith.   read more

Unusual News

  • Colorado Town May Have THC in Water Supply

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    Officials announced Thursday that some field tests had found THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, in the water in Hugo, Colorado, but they were awaiting the results of more definitive laboratory tests Friday which would also tell how much THC is in the water, if its presence is confirmed. State health officials say it’s too soon to know whether THC in the water would intoxicate people who drink it. Experts doubt adding raw pot to water would make it intoxicating.   read more
  • Snowden’s New Mission: Protecting Journalists from Dangers of Trackable Smart Phones

    Friday, July 22, 2016
    Snowden said he was concerned that cellphones and smartphones serve as tracking devices that automatically create electronic dossiers that give third parties, including governments, detailed information on location. As an example of the dangers of location data, he cited the mortar attack in 2012 by the Syrian government that killed Marie Colvin, an American journalist who was reporting in Homs, Syria, for The Sunday Times of London.   read more
  • Federal Judge Opens Door to Gender-Neutral Passports

    Thursday, July 21, 2016
    Government lawyers argued that moving beyond two gender choices for passports would upend officials' ability to verify identities and backgrounds because of reliance on drivers' licenses and birth certificates issued by states offering only male and female gender options. Judge Jackson appeared exasperated at times, saying the State Dept. needs to catch up to a new era in which gender identification is not as clear as it was in the past. "A lot of things are changing in our world," Jackson said.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Customs to Pay Nearly Half-Million Dollars in Body Cavity Search Settlement

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has agreed to pay a woman $475,000 to settle claims that she was subjected to a “humiliating and demeaning” illegal body cavity search at an El Paso border crossing. The unidentified woman sued several border patrol officers, the University Medical Center of El Paso and the El Paso County Hospital District in Federal Court in December 2013.   read more
  • Taxpayers Subsidize Junk Food

    Wednesday, July 20, 2016
    While government recommends people fill their plates with fruits and veggies to help prevent obesity, only a fraction of its subsidies support the production of fresh produce. The vast majority of subsidies go instead to commodity crops that are processed into many of the foods that are linked to the obesity crisis. “The subsidies damage our country’s health and increase the medical costs that will ultimately need to be paid to treat the effects of the obesity epidemic,” said a USPIRG report.   read more
  • State Laws Target Life Insurance Companies that Soak Up Money Earmarked for Beneficiaries

    Friday, July 15, 2016
    State actions are forcing companies to locate heirs and pay them the money they are owed. The laws follow years-long audits and multi-state investigations of the top 40 insurance companies that revealed many of them held on to benefits, even when they knew the person insured had died. "This is something that shocked me," said Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, whose office pushed for legislation. "We think it's important that the last wishes of the deceased are honored."   read more

Controversies

  • Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Sought to Undermine Sanders

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz repeatedly mocked Bernie Sanders and his staff in private while another top official floated using religion and hit pieces to undermine his campaign, emails published by WikiLeaks revealed Friday. Released as part one of Hillary Leaks series, the trove includes 19,252 emails from the accounts of seven top officials in the party.   read more
  • Judge Rules Birth Control Shouldn’t Be Included in State Workers’ Insurance Policy

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Missouri lawmaker who cited religious objections while challenging the inclusion of birth control coverage in his government-provided health insurance. State Sen. Paul Wieland and his wife, Teresa, who are Roman Catholics, filed a lawsuit asserting it violates their religious beliefs to include contraception coverage in their state health insurance plan.   read more
  • Climate Change May Turn Trees from Carbon Fighters into Carbon Producers

    Friday, July 22, 2016
    The findings indicate that climate change is already pushing many forests toward the tipping point — where a forest can suddenly go from being a climate ally to actually producing carbon. Being rapidly exposed to higher temperatures forests have never experienced and are not evolutionarily prepared for hampers growth and makes trees more vulnerable to stress. Projections suggest that the tipping point for many forests may be reached as early as 2050.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Military Urges Release of Guantánamo Detainee Who Wrote Bestselling Book Detailing Abuse

    Thursday, July 21, 2016
    Slahi was subjected to interrogation approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Slahi wrote of extensive sleep deprivation, beatings, dousings with ice water, and of being shackled in a freezing cell. He denied involvement with terrorism and was never charged with a crime. He was accused of working on chemical and biological weapons for Al Qaeda, but documents showed that intelligence officials decided he “was probably misidentified” and had merely been a bookkeeper and translator.   read more
  • Wall Street Profits from Tax Avoidance Deals that Harm Danish Taxpayers

    Friday, July 15, 2016
    Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and other banks have profited for years by arranging short-term loans of stock in Danish companies, a maneuver that has deprived Denmark of substantial tax revenues. With the banks’ help, stock owners avoid paying Danish authorities the dividend taxes they would otherwise owe. The lost revenue is significant: It equals roughly 1.1% of the budget deficit of the Danish government last year, or about 70 Danish crowns ($10) for each resident.   read more
  • Ireland, Beneficiary of U.S. Corporate “Inversion” Deals, Celebrates Huge Jump in GDP

    Wednesday, July 13, 2016
    In the U.S., officials have derided “inversion deals,” which allow a U.S. company to move its headquarters overseas to cut its tax bills. In Ireland, they are celebrating them. The Irish government Tuesday revised the country’s economic growth rate in 2015 to 26.3% from a preliminary estimate of 7.8%. Ireland’s economy has been on the upswing since the country repaid its bailout, and at play was the magic of those inversion deals and other sleights of finance.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Paraguay’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Germán Rojas?

    Sunday, July 17, 2016
    With the 2013 election of Horacio Cartes as Paraguay’s president, Rojas was made Minister of Finance. His tenure there was seen as successful, with Rojas being named Finance Minister of the Year in 2014 for his stewardship of the country’s finances. He was also made chairman of the boards of governors of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Rojas left the ministry in early 2015, saying it was for personal reasons, but more likely because of differences with Cartes over tax reforms.   read more
  • Austria’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Wolfgang Waldner?

    Saturday, July 16, 2016
    He joined the Foreign Service in 1981 and his first U.S. assignment came in 1983, when he was named cultural attaché at the embassy in Washington. Waldner then served briefly as personal secretary to Foreign Minister Alois Mock before being named in 1988 to lead the Austrian Cultural Institute in New York, a post he held until 1999. Waldner did take time out to work on the successful 1992 and 1998 presidential campaigns of Thomas Klestil.   read more
  • Fiji’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Naivakarurubalavu Solo Mara?

    Sunday, July 10, 2016
    Mara was sent overseas again in 2008 as counselor in the Fiji embassy in Brussels, but returned home the following year to become the ministry’s Permanent Secretary. In 2011, Mara was made High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, with concurrent responsibilities as ambassador to Germany, Denmark, Israel, Ireland and the Holy See.   read more

Featured Story

Pentagon Revises Rules on Dealing With Journalists

Sunday, July 24, 2016
The Pentagon has revised its Law of War guidelines to remove wording that could permit U.S. military commanders to treat war correspondents as “unprivileged belligerents” if they think the journalists are sympathizing or cooperating with enemy forces. The amended manual, published on Friday, also drops wording that equated journalism with spying. These and other changes were made in response to complaints by news organizations.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Three Charged in Billion-Dollar Medicare Fraud Scheme

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    Three people have been charged in an unprecedented $1 billion health care fraud scam, accused of using dozens of Miami nursing homes to bilk the taxpayer-funded Medicare and Medicaid programs. Authorities said Philip Esformes, who ran 30 nursing homes and assisted living facilities, joined with two conspirators and a complex network of corrupt doctors and hospitals to refer thousands of patients to their facilities even though the patients did not qualify for the services.   read more
  • One-Third of Recovering Hospital Patients in U.S. Suffer Harm from Rehab Care

    Friday, July 22, 2016
    Almost a quarter of the harmed patients had to be admitted to an acute care hospital, at a cost of about $7.7 million for the month analyzed. The physicians who reviewed the cases for the OIG say substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, and failure to provide needed care caused most of the harm. Almost half the cases, 46%, were related to medication errors, and included bleeding from gastric ulcers due to blood thinners and a loss of consciousness linked to narcotic painkillers.   read more
  • Lawsuit Accuses U.S. Army of Denying Diabetes Treatment for Children on Army Bases

    Thursday, July 21, 2016
    The American Diabetes Assn has been working to change Army policy since 2010, and says numerous families across the nation are affected. "The U.S. Army's policy is discriminatory and completely out of step with current practices relating to caring for children with diabetes," ADA's Hagan said. "This discriminatory policy provides little choice for parents who are effectively forced to pull their children out of the U.S. Army's high-quality programs or face jeopardizing their lives," said Smith.   read more

Unusual News

  • Colorado Town May Have THC in Water Supply

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    Officials announced Thursday that some field tests had found THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, in the water in Hugo, Colorado, but they were awaiting the results of more definitive laboratory tests Friday which would also tell how much THC is in the water, if its presence is confirmed. State health officials say it’s too soon to know whether THC in the water would intoxicate people who drink it. Experts doubt adding raw pot to water would make it intoxicating.   read more
  • Snowden’s New Mission: Protecting Journalists from Dangers of Trackable Smart Phones

    Friday, July 22, 2016
    Snowden said he was concerned that cellphones and smartphones serve as tracking devices that automatically create electronic dossiers that give third parties, including governments, detailed information on location. As an example of the dangers of location data, he cited the mortar attack in 2012 by the Syrian government that killed Marie Colvin, an American journalist who was reporting in Homs, Syria, for The Sunday Times of London.   read more
  • Federal Judge Opens Door to Gender-Neutral Passports

    Thursday, July 21, 2016
    Government lawyers argued that moving beyond two gender choices for passports would upend officials' ability to verify identities and backgrounds because of reliance on drivers' licenses and birth certificates issued by states offering only male and female gender options. Judge Jackson appeared exasperated at times, saying the State Dept. needs to catch up to a new era in which gender identification is not as clear as it was in the past. "A lot of things are changing in our world," Jackson said.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Customs to Pay Nearly Half-Million Dollars in Body Cavity Search Settlement

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has agreed to pay a woman $475,000 to settle claims that she was subjected to a “humiliating and demeaning” illegal body cavity search at an El Paso border crossing. The unidentified woman sued several border patrol officers, the University Medical Center of El Paso and the El Paso County Hospital District in Federal Court in December 2013.   read more
  • Taxpayers Subsidize Junk Food

    Wednesday, July 20, 2016
    While government recommends people fill their plates with fruits and veggies to help prevent obesity, only a fraction of its subsidies support the production of fresh produce. The vast majority of subsidies go instead to commodity crops that are processed into many of the foods that are linked to the obesity crisis. “The subsidies damage our country’s health and increase the medical costs that will ultimately need to be paid to treat the effects of the obesity epidemic,” said a USPIRG report.   read more
  • State Laws Target Life Insurance Companies that Soak Up Money Earmarked for Beneficiaries

    Friday, July 15, 2016
    State actions are forcing companies to locate heirs and pay them the money they are owed. The laws follow years-long audits and multi-state investigations of the top 40 insurance companies that revealed many of them held on to benefits, even when they knew the person insured had died. "This is something that shocked me," said Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, whose office pushed for legislation. "We think it's important that the last wishes of the deceased are honored."   read more

Controversies

  • Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Sought to Undermine Sanders

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz repeatedly mocked Bernie Sanders and his staff in private while another top official floated using religion and hit pieces to undermine his campaign, emails published by WikiLeaks revealed Friday. Released as part one of Hillary Leaks series, the trove includes 19,252 emails from the accounts of seven top officials in the party.   read more
  • Judge Rules Birth Control Shouldn’t Be Included in State Workers’ Insurance Policy

    Saturday, July 23, 2016
    A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Missouri lawmaker who cited religious objections while challenging the inclusion of birth control coverage in his government-provided health insurance. State Sen. Paul Wieland and his wife, Teresa, who are Roman Catholics, filed a lawsuit asserting it violates their religious beliefs to include contraception coverage in their state health insurance plan.   read more
  • Climate Change May Turn Trees from Carbon Fighters into Carbon Producers

    Friday, July 22, 2016
    The findings indicate that climate change is already pushing many forests toward the tipping point — where a forest can suddenly go from being a climate ally to actually producing carbon. Being rapidly exposed to higher temperatures forests have never experienced and are not evolutionarily prepared for hampers growth and makes trees more vulnerable to stress. Projections suggest that the tipping point for many forests may be reached as early as 2050.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Military Urges Release of Guantánamo Detainee Who Wrote Bestselling Book Detailing Abuse

    Thursday, July 21, 2016
    Slahi was subjected to interrogation approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Slahi wrote of extensive sleep deprivation, beatings, dousings with ice water, and of being shackled in a freezing cell. He denied involvement with terrorism and was never charged with a crime. He was accused of working on chemical and biological weapons for Al Qaeda, but documents showed that intelligence officials decided he “was probably misidentified” and had merely been a bookkeeper and translator.   read more
  • Wall Street Profits from Tax Avoidance Deals that Harm Danish Taxpayers

    Friday, July 15, 2016
    Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and other banks have profited for years by arranging short-term loans of stock in Danish companies, a maneuver that has deprived Denmark of substantial tax revenues. With the banks’ help, stock owners avoid paying Danish authorities the dividend taxes they would otherwise owe. The lost revenue is significant: It equals roughly 1.1% of the budget deficit of the Danish government last year, or about 70 Danish crowns ($10) for each resident.   read more
  • Ireland, Beneficiary of U.S. Corporate “Inversion” Deals, Celebrates Huge Jump in GDP

    Wednesday, July 13, 2016
    In the U.S., officials have derided “inversion deals,” which allow a U.S. company to move its headquarters overseas to cut its tax bills. In Ireland, they are celebrating them. The Irish government Tuesday revised the country’s economic growth rate in 2015 to 26.3% from a preliminary estimate of 7.8%. Ireland’s economy has been on the upswing since the country repaid its bailout, and at play was the magic of those inversion deals and other sleights of finance.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Paraguay’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Germán Rojas?

    Sunday, July 17, 2016
    With the 2013 election of Horacio Cartes as Paraguay’s president, Rojas was made Minister of Finance. His tenure there was seen as successful, with Rojas being named Finance Minister of the Year in 2014 for his stewardship of the country’s finances. He was also made chairman of the boards of governors of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Rojas left the ministry in early 2015, saying it was for personal reasons, but more likely because of differences with Cartes over tax reforms.   read more
  • Austria’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Wolfgang Waldner?

    Saturday, July 16, 2016
    He joined the Foreign Service in 1981 and his first U.S. assignment came in 1983, when he was named cultural attaché at the embassy in Washington. Waldner then served briefly as personal secretary to Foreign Minister Alois Mock before being named in 1988 to lead the Austrian Cultural Institute in New York, a post he held until 1999. Waldner did take time out to work on the successful 1992 and 1998 presidential campaigns of Thomas Klestil.   read more
  • Fiji’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Naivakarurubalavu Solo Mara?

    Sunday, July 10, 2016
    Mara was sent overseas again in 2008 as counselor in the Fiji embassy in Brussels, but returned home the following year to become the ministry’s Permanent Secretary. In 2011, Mara was made High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, with concurrent responsibilities as ambassador to Germany, Denmark, Israel, Ireland and the Holy See.   read more