Featured Story

Thousands of At-Risk Afghan Translators Who Aided U.S. Military Must Rely on Trump for Visas for U.S. Sanctuary

Saturday, December 10, 2016
Congress offered sanctuary to only a fraction of the Afghan interpreters who have risked their lives to help the military. Last summer, Republicans questioned the cost of 4,000 visas requested by Obama this year. Now, the fate of the visa program will hinge on a government led by President-elect Donald Trump, who has yet to say how he will handle an issue that is championed by the military but would also bring more Muslim immigrants to the U.S.--a prospect Trump has railed against.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Trump Choice for Labor Chief is Outspoken Critic of Worker Protections, Minimum Wage Increases

    Friday, December 09, 2016
    AFL-CIO chief Trumka called Puzder “a man whose business record is defined by fighting against working people.” Indeed, Puzder welcomes increased automation because machines are “always polite ... they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex or race discrimination case.” Puzder's company runs TV ads that often feature women wearing next to nothing. “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis," he said. "I think it’s very American.”   read more
  • Trump Picks Ally of Fossil Fuel Industry to Lead EPA

    Thursday, December 08, 2016
    The choice of Scott Pruitt signals Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change — and much of the EPA itself. Pruitt has been a key architect of the legal battle against Obama’s climate change policies. Trump has criticized the established science of human-caused global warming as a hoax, vowed to “cancel” the multi-nation Paris accord fighting climate change, and attacked Obama’s signature global warming policy, the Clean Power Plan, as a “war on coal.”   read more
  • Best Efforts Come up Short in America’s Battles against Obesity, Infections and Food Poisoning

    Wednesday, December 07, 2016
    While there have been clear successes, other areas have seen little change or even gotten worse. "The data speak for themselves," said CDC chief Dr. Tom Frieden,. "If you look for the goal we set for ourselves, and look at what happened, we didn't achieve it." Despite the mixed grades, some experts applauded CDC efforts, saying the agency had only limited abilities to prevent illness or stop people from doing things that hurt their own health.   read more

Unusual News

  • Direct Link Seen Between Crime Rate and Interest Rates in U.S.

    Friday, December 09, 2016
    When interest rates go up, crime goes up. When interest rates go down, crime goes down. This has been so at least since 1953. Rarely does social science research yield such a high statistical association and strong relationship between two phenomena, particularly when they are not intuitively related. Nobody would suggest that high interest rates directly cause crime. But there is a wealth of evidence on the causes of crime that demystifies this seemingly baffling relationship.   read more
  • Federal Ethics Office Heaps Praise upon Trump for Agreeing to Divest Assets When He Didn’t

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    The normally secretive federal agency, in a bizarre series of oddly informal postings on its Twitter account, revealed that officials apparently concluded, erroneously, that Trump had committed on his own Twitter account to divesting his assets. “As we discussed with your counsel, divestiture is the way to resolve these conflicts,” they wrote on Twitter, later adding: “Bravo! Only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest. Good call!” In fact, Trump had made no such commitment.   read more
  • Decline in U.S. Dementia Rate Expected to Reverse with Rising Number of Older Americans

    Monday, November 28, 2016
    The rate of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in adults aged 65 and up dropped to about 9% in 2012 from nearly 12% in 2000. NIA's John Haaga said dementia rates would have to decline much more sharply than they have to counteract that trend. Dementia was most common in the oldest adults. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that about 5 million people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer's, and that is expected to rise to almost 14 million by 2050.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Trump Claims His Support for Dakota Pipeline is Unrelated to His Stock Ownership in Project Participants

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    President-elect Donald Trump supports completion of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline in the Midwest, based on policy and not the billionaire businessman's investments in a partnership building the $3.8 billion pipeline, according to an aide's memo. Trump's most recent federal disclosure forms show he owned a small amount of stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline builder, and at least $100,000 in Phillips 66, an energy company that owns one-quarter of the pipeline.   read more
  • The Clause in the U.S. Constitution that Trump as President Would Violate with His Foreign Businesses

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    There is no question that the Emoluments Clause applies to the president. Unless Trump sells or gives his business to his children before taking office the Emoluments Clause would almost certainly be violated. Even if he does sell or give it away, any retained residual interest would still give him a stake in its fortunes, again violating the Constitution. The full extent of Trump's business ties remains unknown, as he has refused to disclose them, or to make public his tax returns.   read more
  • Soda Tax Gains Momentum in Cities across U.S.

    Thursday, December 01, 2016
    A soda tax may be coming to a city near you. Advocates say the recent sweep represents a watershed moment in the fight for soft-drink taxes. Once viewed as measures likely to find support only in largely health-conscious cities, soda taxes have emerged as a bountiful revenue source for cash-strapped local governments. “There’s a momentum with these taxes that will be hard for the industry to stop,” said Sanford dean Kelly Brownell.   read more

Controversies

  • Mass Deportations Damage U.S. Housing Market by Exacerbating Foreclosures

    Friday, December 09, 2016
    These findings reveal the spiraling and often unseen effects of mass deportations, a point that is no longer purely academic as Donald Trump weighs whether to make good on his campaign promise to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants. Previous research suggests that Hispanic households, like black ones, were disproportionately victimized by subprime lending schemes. But the fact that foreclosure rates among Hispanics surpassed those among blacks points to something else going on.   read more
  • Trump’s Cyberbullying of Union Boss Called “Dark and Disturbing” Assault on Right to Dissent

    Friday, December 09, 2016
    With the full power of the presidency just weeks away, Trump’s decision to single out Jones for ridicule has drawn condemnation from historians and White House veterans. “When you attack a man for living an ordinary life in an ordinary job, it is bullying,” said Nicolle Wallace, who was communications director for President George W. Bush and a top strategist to other Republicans. “It is cyberbullying. This is a strategy to bully somebody who dissents. That’s what is dark and disturbing.”   read more
  • Many Smartphone Health Apps Fail to Warn Users of Danger

    Friday, December 09, 2016
    "The state of health apps is even worse than we thought," said Dr. James Madara, chief executive of the American Medical Association. Perhaps most concerning was what happened when doctor reviewers entered information that should have drawn warnings from the app — like selecting "yes" when the app asked if the user was feeling suicidal, or entering extremely abnormal levels for blood sugar levels. "The vast majority of apps do not have any kind of response," said lead study author Singh.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Tech Giants Team to Fight Online Terrorist Propaganda While Pressed by European Officials to Curb Hate Speech

    Thursday, December 08, 2016
    Amid growing security tensions in the West, governments, intelligence agencies and advocacy groups want Google, Microsoft and other tech firms to take further steps to curb hate speech, as well as to clamp down on how terrorists circulate information online. But freedom of expression advocates have warned that such demands may limit people’s ability to communicate across the internet, and they have cautioned that the line between hate speech and legitimate political discussion can be blurry.   read more
  • Nearly Half of Americans Support Use of Torture

    Thursday, December 08, 2016
    That finding puts respondents in the United States in contrast with citizens of many countries and at odds with international law, which prohibits torture under any circumstances. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump endorsed waterboarding, claiming that “it works.” Only Israelis, Palestinians and Nigerians seemed to endorse torture as enthusiastically as Americans. Forty percent of Americans also accepted the killing of humanitarian workers in a conflict zone as being part of war.   read more
  • Trump’s Controversial Praise of Putin during Campaign May Have Been “Dog Whistle” to White Supremacists

    Wednesday, December 07, 2016
    Trump mystified many with his praise for Putin. But what seemed inexplicable when Trump first expressed his admiration for the Russian leader seems, in retrospect, to have been a shrewd dog whistle to a small but highly motivated part of his base. AltRight's Spencer claimed that “an understanding” between Trump and Putin might bring together Slavic and American Caucasians and eventually “foretell a unified white world.”   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Liechtenstein’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Kurt Jaeger?

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    In 2000, Jaeger moved to the aviation IT company Atraxis Management Services in Zurich as a vice president but moved to Swiss International Air Lines the next year as vice president for aeropolitical affairs. There, he worked on the dissolution of Swissair and the formation of Swiss International as a subsidiary of Germany’s Lufthansa. Jaeger left Swiss in 2005 to become a member of the board of the European Free Trade Association.   read more
  • Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Dina Kawar?

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    Kawar went to work in the Amman office of Jordanian Prince Hassan as a researcher and in press relations. In 1991, she took over as director of Hassan’s Paris office, remaining until 2000 when she assumed the directorship of King Abdullah’s office there. The following year, Kawar was named Jordan’s ambassador to France. She added the Holy See and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to her portfolio in 2002 and Portugal in 2005.   read more
  • Bulgaria’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Tihomir Stoytchev?

    Sunday, November 27, 2016
    Stoytchev was back in Washington in 2008 as deputy chief of mission in the embassy. He remained there until 2011, serving as chargé d’affaires from 2009 to 2010. Beginning in 2012, Stoytchev served as foreign policy secretary to Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev until being tapped as ambassador to the U.S. Stoytchev said one of his major goals is to get his country added to the U.S. visa waiver program, which would facilitate travel by Bulgarians.   read more

Featured Story

Thousands of At-Risk Afghan Translators Who Aided U.S. Military Must Rely on Trump for Visas for U.S. Sanctuary

Saturday, December 10, 2016
Congress offered sanctuary to only a fraction of the Afghan interpreters who have risked their lives to help the military. Last summer, Republicans questioned the cost of 4,000 visas requested by Obama this year. Now, the fate of the visa program will hinge on a government led by President-elect Donald Trump, who has yet to say how he will handle an issue that is championed by the military but would also bring more Muslim immigrants to the U.S.--a prospect Trump has railed against.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Trump Choice for Labor Chief is Outspoken Critic of Worker Protections, Minimum Wage Increases

    Friday, December 09, 2016
    AFL-CIO chief Trumka called Puzder “a man whose business record is defined by fighting against working people.” Indeed, Puzder welcomes increased automation because machines are “always polite ... they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex or race discrimination case.” Puzder's company runs TV ads that often feature women wearing next to nothing. “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis," he said. "I think it’s very American.”   read more
  • Trump Picks Ally of Fossil Fuel Industry to Lead EPA

    Thursday, December 08, 2016
    The choice of Scott Pruitt signals Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change — and much of the EPA itself. Pruitt has been a key architect of the legal battle against Obama’s climate change policies. Trump has criticized the established science of human-caused global warming as a hoax, vowed to “cancel” the multi-nation Paris accord fighting climate change, and attacked Obama’s signature global warming policy, the Clean Power Plan, as a “war on coal.”   read more
  • Best Efforts Come up Short in America’s Battles against Obesity, Infections and Food Poisoning

    Wednesday, December 07, 2016
    While there have been clear successes, other areas have seen little change or even gotten worse. "The data speak for themselves," said CDC chief Dr. Tom Frieden,. "If you look for the goal we set for ourselves, and look at what happened, we didn't achieve it." Despite the mixed grades, some experts applauded CDC efforts, saying the agency had only limited abilities to prevent illness or stop people from doing things that hurt their own health.   read more

Unusual News

  • Direct Link Seen Between Crime Rate and Interest Rates in U.S.

    Friday, December 09, 2016
    When interest rates go up, crime goes up. When interest rates go down, crime goes down. This has been so at least since 1953. Rarely does social science research yield such a high statistical association and strong relationship between two phenomena, particularly when they are not intuitively related. Nobody would suggest that high interest rates directly cause crime. But there is a wealth of evidence on the causes of crime that demystifies this seemingly baffling relationship.   read more
  • Federal Ethics Office Heaps Praise upon Trump for Agreeing to Divest Assets When He Didn’t

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    The normally secretive federal agency, in a bizarre series of oddly informal postings on its Twitter account, revealed that officials apparently concluded, erroneously, that Trump had committed on his own Twitter account to divesting his assets. “As we discussed with your counsel, divestiture is the way to resolve these conflicts,” they wrote on Twitter, later adding: “Bravo! Only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest. Good call!” In fact, Trump had made no such commitment.   read more
  • Decline in U.S. Dementia Rate Expected to Reverse with Rising Number of Older Americans

    Monday, November 28, 2016
    The rate of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in adults aged 65 and up dropped to about 9% in 2012 from nearly 12% in 2000. NIA's John Haaga said dementia rates would have to decline much more sharply than they have to counteract that trend. Dementia was most common in the oldest adults. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that about 5 million people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer's, and that is expected to rise to almost 14 million by 2050.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Trump Claims His Support for Dakota Pipeline is Unrelated to His Stock Ownership in Project Participants

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    President-elect Donald Trump supports completion of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline in the Midwest, based on policy and not the billionaire businessman's investments in a partnership building the $3.8 billion pipeline, according to an aide's memo. Trump's most recent federal disclosure forms show he owned a small amount of stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline builder, and at least $100,000 in Phillips 66, an energy company that owns one-quarter of the pipeline.   read more
  • The Clause in the U.S. Constitution that Trump as President Would Violate with His Foreign Businesses

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    There is no question that the Emoluments Clause applies to the president. Unless Trump sells or gives his business to his children before taking office the Emoluments Clause would almost certainly be violated. Even if he does sell or give it away, any retained residual interest would still give him a stake in its fortunes, again violating the Constitution. The full extent of Trump's business ties remains unknown, as he has refused to disclose them, or to make public his tax returns.   read more
  • Soda Tax Gains Momentum in Cities across U.S.

    Thursday, December 01, 2016
    A soda tax may be coming to a city near you. Advocates say the recent sweep represents a watershed moment in the fight for soft-drink taxes. Once viewed as measures likely to find support only in largely health-conscious cities, soda taxes have emerged as a bountiful revenue source for cash-strapped local governments. “There’s a momentum with these taxes that will be hard for the industry to stop,” said Sanford dean Kelly Brownell.   read more

Controversies

  • Mass Deportations Damage U.S. Housing Market by Exacerbating Foreclosures

    Friday, December 09, 2016
    These findings reveal the spiraling and often unseen effects of mass deportations, a point that is no longer purely academic as Donald Trump weighs whether to make good on his campaign promise to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants. Previous research suggests that Hispanic households, like black ones, were disproportionately victimized by subprime lending schemes. But the fact that foreclosure rates among Hispanics surpassed those among blacks points to something else going on.   read more
  • Trump’s Cyberbullying of Union Boss Called “Dark and Disturbing” Assault on Right to Dissent

    Friday, December 09, 2016
    With the full power of the presidency just weeks away, Trump’s decision to single out Jones for ridicule has drawn condemnation from historians and White House veterans. “When you attack a man for living an ordinary life in an ordinary job, it is bullying,” said Nicolle Wallace, who was communications director for President George W. Bush and a top strategist to other Republicans. “It is cyberbullying. This is a strategy to bully somebody who dissents. That’s what is dark and disturbing.”   read more
  • Many Smartphone Health Apps Fail to Warn Users of Danger

    Friday, December 09, 2016
    "The state of health apps is even worse than we thought," said Dr. James Madara, chief executive of the American Medical Association. Perhaps most concerning was what happened when doctor reviewers entered information that should have drawn warnings from the app — like selecting "yes" when the app asked if the user was feeling suicidal, or entering extremely abnormal levels for blood sugar levels. "The vast majority of apps do not have any kind of response," said lead study author Singh.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Tech Giants Team to Fight Online Terrorist Propaganda While Pressed by European Officials to Curb Hate Speech

    Thursday, December 08, 2016
    Amid growing security tensions in the West, governments, intelligence agencies and advocacy groups want Google, Microsoft and other tech firms to take further steps to curb hate speech, as well as to clamp down on how terrorists circulate information online. But freedom of expression advocates have warned that such demands may limit people’s ability to communicate across the internet, and they have cautioned that the line between hate speech and legitimate political discussion can be blurry.   read more
  • Nearly Half of Americans Support Use of Torture

    Thursday, December 08, 2016
    That finding puts respondents in the United States in contrast with citizens of many countries and at odds with international law, which prohibits torture under any circumstances. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump endorsed waterboarding, claiming that “it works.” Only Israelis, Palestinians and Nigerians seemed to endorse torture as enthusiastically as Americans. Forty percent of Americans also accepted the killing of humanitarian workers in a conflict zone as being part of war.   read more
  • Trump’s Controversial Praise of Putin during Campaign May Have Been “Dog Whistle” to White Supremacists

    Wednesday, December 07, 2016
    Trump mystified many with his praise for Putin. But what seemed inexplicable when Trump first expressed his admiration for the Russian leader seems, in retrospect, to have been a shrewd dog whistle to a small but highly motivated part of his base. AltRight's Spencer claimed that “an understanding” between Trump and Putin might bring together Slavic and American Caucasians and eventually “foretell a unified white world.”   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Liechtenstein’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Kurt Jaeger?

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    In 2000, Jaeger moved to the aviation IT company Atraxis Management Services in Zurich as a vice president but moved to Swiss International Air Lines the next year as vice president for aeropolitical affairs. There, he worked on the dissolution of Swissair and the formation of Swiss International as a subsidiary of Germany’s Lufthansa. Jaeger left Swiss in 2005 to become a member of the board of the European Free Trade Association.   read more
  • Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Dina Kawar?

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    Kawar went to work in the Amman office of Jordanian Prince Hassan as a researcher and in press relations. In 1991, she took over as director of Hassan’s Paris office, remaining until 2000 when she assumed the directorship of King Abdullah’s office there. The following year, Kawar was named Jordan’s ambassador to France. She added the Holy See and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to her portfolio in 2002 and Portugal in 2005.   read more
  • Bulgaria’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Tihomir Stoytchev?

    Sunday, November 27, 2016
    Stoytchev was back in Washington in 2008 as deputy chief of mission in the embassy. He remained there until 2011, serving as chargé d’affaires from 2009 to 2010. Beginning in 2012, Stoytchev served as foreign policy secretary to Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev until being tapped as ambassador to the U.S. Stoytchev said one of his major goals is to get his country added to the U.S. visa waiver program, which would facilitate travel by Bulgarians.   read more