Featured Story

Federal Judge Rules Employers do not have to Provide Insurance Coverage for Contraception even if their Objection is not Religious

Wednesday, September 02, 2015
Employers who wish to avoid providing contraception coverage to their workers can do so on moral grounds, a federal judge ruled Monday. The ruling came in a case brought by an anti-abortion group, March for Life, which sued the Department of Health and Human Services over the contraception mandate contained in Obamacare. March for Life contends it should not have to provide contraception coverage because its objections are not that different from those raised by religious groups.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • As the Arctic Warms, Why is U.S. Falling behind Russia?

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    “The U.S. really isn’t even in this game,” said Coast Guard commandant Zukunft. “When Russia put Sputnik in outer space, did we sit with our hands in pocket with great fascination and say, ‘Good for Mother Russia’?” The Obama administration's actions are mostly on paper. Meanwhile, Russia has telescoped its sovereign designs on a vast expanse of the Arctic roughly the size of South Africa. It also made a symbolic move by planting a titanium Russian flag in the seabed beneath the North Pole.   read more
  • 3 Republican-Appointed Federal Appeals Judges Overturn Blocking of NSA Mass Telephone Spying

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The panel ruled unanimously that the plaintiffs, led by conservative activist Larry Klayman, couldn’t prove their calls had been swept up because their calls were handled by Verizon Wireless, not Verizon Business, which had previously been found to have turned over calling data to the National Security Agency (NSA). This ruling came despite government documents released earlier this month that showed the NSA had also swept up Verizon Wireless data.   read more
  • D.C. Halts Huge Energy Company Merger because of Threat to Growth of Renewable Energy Sources

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Exelon is primarily a power-generation company with more nuclear plants than any other U.S. utility. The company has consistently fought renewable energy efforts and the rejection of the merger came as a welcome surprise to clean energy advocates. The commission’s decision in the high-profile pending merger was reported to have taken all parties by surprise, from the power industry to renewable energy advocates.   read more

Unusual News

  • Majority of Latinos Don’t Vote

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    Donald Trump’s immigrant-bashing message has raised questions about a backlash among Hispanic voters in response to the candidate’s ugly rhetoric. But while Hispanic turnout in elections has been steadily climbing in recent elections, the fact is most of these Americans still don’t cast ballots on Election Day. A new study shows only 47% of Hispanic voters went to the polls during the 2012 election. That means 53% didn’t vote, even though 20% of those who didn’t were registered.   read more
  • Many Fire Departments Spend more Time Tending to Homeless than Fighting Fires

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    Only 1.5% of Engine 1’s calls in 2014 had to do with fires. The majority of its time was spent going on calls to help homeless people, including those struggling with mental illness or substance abuse. The entire San Francisco Fire Department responded to more than 136,000 incidents in 2014, but only 28,000 of them involved fires and other nonmedical calls. Some of the most dispiriting calls are are to the same homeless person repeatedly—sometimes as much as 20 times—in a single day.   read more
  • Workers at Nuclear Weapons Plant Vote to Strike

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    Pantex workers perform critical work involving nuclear weapons life extension programs, weapons dismantlement, development, testing, and fabrication of high explosives components. The plant also stores plutonium pits for warheads. “The Department of Energy and CNS Pantex know that these workers risk exposure to cancer-causing chemicals daily, yet the DOE has imposed a ridiculous policy upon its contractors," said MTD president Ron Ault.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Federal Judge Orders Army Corps of Engineers to Pay $3 Billion for Long-Delayed Restoration of Mississippi Channel that Contributed to Katrina Damage

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The Army Corps of Engineers must foot the entire bill for restoring Louisiana wetlands destroyed by the improper construction of a canal. The Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal (MR-GO) was completed in 1968 as a shortcut to the New Orleans waterfront from the Gulf of Mexico. But the canal, which had widened to 2,000 feet in some places because of erosion caused by ship traffic, allowed the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina to breach New Orleans’ levees and flood the city.   read more
  • Human Vultures Descend on Poor Victims of Lead Poisoning

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Countless studies have demonstrated lead’s effect on the cognitive and emotional states of those exposed to it. Appropriately, landlords who allowed lead paint to remain in their buildings have been forced to pay their victims thousands of dollars to attempt to compensate them for the brain damage caused by peeling lead paint. These payouts are often in the form of “structured settlements” which provide the victims with monthly payments for the rest of their lives.   read more
  • Personal Housing Expenses See Biggest Jump in 8 Years

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Rent already takes a huge chunk out of Americans’ paychecks, with as many as half of renters paying 30% of their take-home pay for a place to live. High rents affect poorer Americans the most. Not only do they pay more for rent now, but they’re unable to save money to buy a home of their own. Part of the reason for increased rents is a shortage of available units. Last year’s vacancy rate of 7.6% was the lowest such figure in 20 years.   read more

Controversies

  • George W. Bush-Appointed Judge Halts Implementation of Rule Protecting Streams and Wetlands

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota, whom Bush appointed in 2003, issued an injunction Thursday keeping an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule protecting smaller streams and waterways from pollution from going into effect Friday as scheduled. The rules would force landowners to get a permit if they did something that would pollute or destroy the regulated waters connected to larger bodies of water downstream.   read more
  • AP and Reporters Committee Sue FBI for Release of Records about Impersonating Journalists

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    The FBI had published a fake news story, purportedly from the Associated Press, in 2007 in order to entice a suspect to download it so the bureau could put surveillance software on his computer. The fake story, “Bomb threat at high school downplayed by local police department” was released on the Internet with the AP logo. The article, however, originated in the FBI’s Seattle field office. The sting resulted in the arrest of a 15-year-old who had made threats against a high school.   read more
  • Increased Penalties for Drug Offenses have no Impact on National Drug Use

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    Data produced by Pew shows tougher sentencing laws for drug offenders, which began in the 1980s, helped balloon the federal prison systems’ population of drug-related criminals from 5,000 to more than 95,000. This pushed the federal budget for this operation to $6.7 billion annually. But these expenditures on longer terms for drug offenders and other anti-drug strategies have not produced a lower level of drug use. In fact, illegal drug use has increased, according to Pew.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Cat Food Buyers Sue Nestlé over Possible Use of Slave Labor to Produce Fancy Feast

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The class claims Nestlé has tried to hide its involvement with human rights violations from the public. Nestlé reportedly contracts with a Thai company, Thai Union Frozen Products PCL, to import more than 28 million pounds of seafood-based pet food, some of which is obtained through slave labor. “By hiding this from public view, Nestlé has effectively tricked millions of consumers into supporting and encouraging slave labor on floating prisons,” Steve Berman said in a statement.   read more
  • Judge Orders CIA to Release Information about Killing of Pablo Escobar…11 Years after Initial Request

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    Paul Paz y Miño told Courthouse News Service, “The impetus behind the investigation was to find out how much U.S. policy was directly responsible for helping human rights violators. They not only killed his lawyers, they killed the 17-year-old son of one of his lawyers, they killed people that worked on his ranches; there were a lot of innocent victims....There was a lot of collateral damage and huge human rights blowback to it.”   read more
  • Republican- and Democratic-Appointed Judges Clash in Decision about Responsibility for Reporting Conflict Minerals

    Monday, August 24, 2015
    A three-judge panel voted 2-1 Tuesday to strike down a law requiring companies to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) when their products contain minerals from conflict areas in central Africa in and surrounding the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The opinion was written by George H.W. Bush appointee Raymond Randolph and joined by David Sentelle, a Ronald Reagan appointee. A 29-page dissent was written by Barack Obama appointee Sri Srinivasan.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Fayçal Gouia?

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    On May 18, 2015, President Barack Obama accepted the credentials of Fayçal Gouia, a longtime member of his country’s foreign service, to be Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States. It’s the second time Gouia has been posted to his country’s embassy in Washington. Gouia’s first assignment to the Tunisian Embassy in Washington came in 1995, first as cultural and press counselor, followed in 1997 as economic and commercial counselor and beginning in 1999 as deputy chief of mission.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia: Who Is Jennifer Zimdahl Galt?

    Saturday, August 22, 2015
    Galt returned to Washington in 2008 as deputy director of the Office of Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. She was sent to North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, in 2010, first as public affairs advisor and the following year as senior public affairs advisor. Galt went back to China in 2012 as the consul general in Guangzhou, supervising the 400-person office there.   read more
  • Administrator of the General Services Administration: Who Is Denise Turner Roth?

    Monday, August 10, 2015
    Raised by her mother, who cleaned houses for a living, Roth grew up in the Anacostia neighborhood of southeast Washington D.C. “There were times,” she has said, “when it was five of us in a two-bedroom apartment and there were times when there were just two of us. There were times when the lights were on and times when they weren't. I know what it means to have the food truck come and get cheese and bread.”   read more

Featured Story

Federal Judge Rules Employers do not have to Provide Insurance Coverage for Contraception even if their Objection is not Religious

Wednesday, September 02, 2015
Employers who wish to avoid providing contraception coverage to their workers can do so on moral grounds, a federal judge ruled Monday. The ruling came in a case brought by an anti-abortion group, March for Life, which sued the Department of Health and Human Services over the contraception mandate contained in Obamacare. March for Life contends it should not have to provide contraception coverage because its objections are not that different from those raised by religious groups.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • As the Arctic Warms, Why is U.S. Falling behind Russia?

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    “The U.S. really isn’t even in this game,” said Coast Guard commandant Zukunft. “When Russia put Sputnik in outer space, did we sit with our hands in pocket with great fascination and say, ‘Good for Mother Russia’?” The Obama administration's actions are mostly on paper. Meanwhile, Russia has telescoped its sovereign designs on a vast expanse of the Arctic roughly the size of South Africa. It also made a symbolic move by planting a titanium Russian flag in the seabed beneath the North Pole.   read more
  • 3 Republican-Appointed Federal Appeals Judges Overturn Blocking of NSA Mass Telephone Spying

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The panel ruled unanimously that the plaintiffs, led by conservative activist Larry Klayman, couldn’t prove their calls had been swept up because their calls were handled by Verizon Wireless, not Verizon Business, which had previously been found to have turned over calling data to the National Security Agency (NSA). This ruling came despite government documents released earlier this month that showed the NSA had also swept up Verizon Wireless data.   read more
  • D.C. Halts Huge Energy Company Merger because of Threat to Growth of Renewable Energy Sources

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Exelon is primarily a power-generation company with more nuclear plants than any other U.S. utility. The company has consistently fought renewable energy efforts and the rejection of the merger came as a welcome surprise to clean energy advocates. The commission’s decision in the high-profile pending merger was reported to have taken all parties by surprise, from the power industry to renewable energy advocates.   read more

Unusual News

  • Majority of Latinos Don’t Vote

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    Donald Trump’s immigrant-bashing message has raised questions about a backlash among Hispanic voters in response to the candidate’s ugly rhetoric. But while Hispanic turnout in elections has been steadily climbing in recent elections, the fact is most of these Americans still don’t cast ballots on Election Day. A new study shows only 47% of Hispanic voters went to the polls during the 2012 election. That means 53% didn’t vote, even though 20% of those who didn’t were registered.   read more
  • Many Fire Departments Spend more Time Tending to Homeless than Fighting Fires

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    Only 1.5% of Engine 1’s calls in 2014 had to do with fires. The majority of its time was spent going on calls to help homeless people, including those struggling with mental illness or substance abuse. The entire San Francisco Fire Department responded to more than 136,000 incidents in 2014, but only 28,000 of them involved fires and other nonmedical calls. Some of the most dispiriting calls are are to the same homeless person repeatedly—sometimes as much as 20 times—in a single day.   read more
  • Workers at Nuclear Weapons Plant Vote to Strike

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015
    Pantex workers perform critical work involving nuclear weapons life extension programs, weapons dismantlement, development, testing, and fabrication of high explosives components. The plant also stores plutonium pits for warheads. “The Department of Energy and CNS Pantex know that these workers risk exposure to cancer-causing chemicals daily, yet the DOE has imposed a ridiculous policy upon its contractors," said MTD president Ron Ault.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Federal Judge Orders Army Corps of Engineers to Pay $3 Billion for Long-Delayed Restoration of Mississippi Channel that Contributed to Katrina Damage

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The Army Corps of Engineers must foot the entire bill for restoring Louisiana wetlands destroyed by the improper construction of a canal. The Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal (MR-GO) was completed in 1968 as a shortcut to the New Orleans waterfront from the Gulf of Mexico. But the canal, which had widened to 2,000 feet in some places because of erosion caused by ship traffic, allowed the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina to breach New Orleans’ levees and flood the city.   read more
  • Human Vultures Descend on Poor Victims of Lead Poisoning

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Countless studies have demonstrated lead’s effect on the cognitive and emotional states of those exposed to it. Appropriately, landlords who allowed lead paint to remain in their buildings have been forced to pay their victims thousands of dollars to attempt to compensate them for the brain damage caused by peeling lead paint. These payouts are often in the form of “structured settlements” which provide the victims with monthly payments for the rest of their lives.   read more
  • Personal Housing Expenses See Biggest Jump in 8 Years

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    Rent already takes a huge chunk out of Americans’ paychecks, with as many as half of renters paying 30% of their take-home pay for a place to live. High rents affect poorer Americans the most. Not only do they pay more for rent now, but they’re unable to save money to buy a home of their own. Part of the reason for increased rents is a shortage of available units. Last year’s vacancy rate of 7.6% was the lowest such figure in 20 years.   read more

Controversies

  • George W. Bush-Appointed Judge Halts Implementation of Rule Protecting Streams and Wetlands

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota, whom Bush appointed in 2003, issued an injunction Thursday keeping an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule protecting smaller streams and waterways from pollution from going into effect Friday as scheduled. The rules would force landowners to get a permit if they did something that would pollute or destroy the regulated waters connected to larger bodies of water downstream.   read more
  • AP and Reporters Committee Sue FBI for Release of Records about Impersonating Journalists

    Sunday, August 30, 2015
    The FBI had published a fake news story, purportedly from the Associated Press, in 2007 in order to entice a suspect to download it so the bureau could put surveillance software on his computer. The fake story, “Bomb threat at high school downplayed by local police department” was released on the Internet with the AP logo. The article, however, originated in the FBI’s Seattle field office. The sting resulted in the arrest of a 15-year-old who had made threats against a high school.   read more
  • Increased Penalties for Drug Offenses have no Impact on National Drug Use

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    Data produced by Pew shows tougher sentencing laws for drug offenders, which began in the 1980s, helped balloon the federal prison systems’ population of drug-related criminals from 5,000 to more than 95,000. This pushed the federal budget for this operation to $6.7 billion annually. But these expenditures on longer terms for drug offenders and other anti-drug strategies have not produced a lower level of drug use. In fact, illegal drug use has increased, according to Pew.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Cat Food Buyers Sue Nestlé over Possible Use of Slave Labor to Produce Fancy Feast

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    The class claims Nestlé has tried to hide its involvement with human rights violations from the public. Nestlé reportedly contracts with a Thai company, Thai Union Frozen Products PCL, to import more than 28 million pounds of seafood-based pet food, some of which is obtained through slave labor. “By hiding this from public view, Nestlé has effectively tricked millions of consumers into supporting and encouraging slave labor on floating prisons,” Steve Berman said in a statement.   read more
  • Judge Orders CIA to Release Information about Killing of Pablo Escobar…11 Years after Initial Request

    Monday, August 31, 2015
    Paul Paz y Miño told Courthouse News Service, “The impetus behind the investigation was to find out how much U.S. policy was directly responsible for helping human rights violators. They not only killed his lawyers, they killed the 17-year-old son of one of his lawyers, they killed people that worked on his ranches; there were a lot of innocent victims....There was a lot of collateral damage and huge human rights blowback to it.”   read more
  • Republican- and Democratic-Appointed Judges Clash in Decision about Responsibility for Reporting Conflict Minerals

    Monday, August 24, 2015
    A three-judge panel voted 2-1 Tuesday to strike down a law requiring companies to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) when their products contain minerals from conflict areas in central Africa in and surrounding the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The opinion was written by George H.W. Bush appointee Raymond Randolph and joined by David Sentelle, a Ronald Reagan appointee. A 29-page dissent was written by Barack Obama appointee Sri Srinivasan.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Fayçal Gouia?

    Saturday, August 29, 2015
    On May 18, 2015, President Barack Obama accepted the credentials of Fayçal Gouia, a longtime member of his country’s foreign service, to be Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States. It’s the second time Gouia has been posted to his country’s embassy in Washington. Gouia’s first assignment to the Tunisian Embassy in Washington came in 1995, first as cultural and press counselor, followed in 1997 as economic and commercial counselor and beginning in 1999 as deputy chief of mission.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia: Who Is Jennifer Zimdahl Galt?

    Saturday, August 22, 2015
    Galt returned to Washington in 2008 as deputy director of the Office of Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. She was sent to North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, in 2010, first as public affairs advisor and the following year as senior public affairs advisor. Galt went back to China in 2012 as the consul general in Guangzhou, supervising the 400-person office there.   read more
  • Administrator of the General Services Administration: Who Is Denise Turner Roth?

    Monday, August 10, 2015
    Raised by her mother, who cleaned houses for a living, Roth grew up in the Anacostia neighborhood of southeast Washington D.C. “There were times,” she has said, “when it was five of us in a two-bedroom apartment and there were times when there were just two of us. There were times when the lights were on and times when they weren't. I know what it means to have the food truck come and get cheese and bread.”   read more