Featured Story

U.S. Housing Agency Considers Booting Out Public Housing Residents with Improved Income

Monday, February 08, 2016
A HUD I.G. report has found that more than 25,000 of the 1.1 million U.S. families in public housing - about 2.5% - earn too much money to qualify for housing subsidies. "The families identified by HUD ... met the income limits at the time of admission...but their income now exceeds such income limits," HUD said. The agency added that rising income is good because it is a sign that a family is on its way to self-sufficiency, but when it's temporary it shouldn't be used to end assistance.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Twitter Pulls Plug on 125,000 Extremists’ Accounts

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    Twitter’s disclosure of the number of terrorist account suspensions sets it apart from its social media peers. Facebook regularly discloses the number of government requests it has received for content takedowns on its service, but the company does not break out the removal of terror-related content. YouTube has given more than 200 outside organizations the ability to “flag” potentially harmful content, which YouTube can then review and remove.   read more
  • Legal U.S. Marijuana Sales Hit $5.4 Billion in 2015

    Saturday, February 06, 2016
    The promises of the industry are potentially far-reaching and attracting notice on Wall Street. As more states legalize marijuana sales, analysts are weighing the stock market benefits of new businesses as cannabis goes corporate. Funds are considering the ethics of investing in marijuana. Parents are even debating whether to allow their children to buy the stocks. Lucrative legal side businesses are spinning off, like climate systems for growers and child-resistant marijuana bags.   read more
  • U.S. House Republicans Pass Legislation to Undercut Federal Anti-Fraud Banking Initiative

    Friday, February 05, 2016
    The legislation "would defang the Justice Department," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in the House. "Federal prosecutors would be unable to prosecute fraud committed by big banks under FIRREA. This bill on the floor today says you cannot charge banks. The only investigation you can do of banks is if somebody does damage to the bank. Can you imagine that - with all the mortgage fraud that went on in our country?"   read more

Unusual News

  • Millions of Americans are Unwitting Investors in Gun Industry

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    Barack Obama might seem an unlikely investor in the firearms industry. But the U.S. president, a fierce advocate for gun regulation, has money in a pension fund that holds stock in gun and ammunition companies. Obama is among millions of Americans buying into gun companies - often unwittingly - as mutual funds have increased such holdings to record levels. The influx has helped boost two gun firms' shares by more than 750%; each now has a market value of about $1 billion.   read more
  • 6 Degrees of Separation Now Down to 3 ½, Claims Facebook

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    “These social network tools provide individuals with tremendous reach,” said Horvitz. “People can share ideas with only a few jumps to a large portion of the world’s population and with even fewer steps to the entire population of a nation.” It is a startling notion that reaching someone on the other side of the world takes only a small group of social connections. On the other hand, the result could also be evidence of psychological distance: that we were actually five “worlds apart.”   read more
  • Mother and Child Reunion: 82-Year-Old Woman Tracks Down Her 96-Year-Old Birth Mother

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    Morrell was born in 1933 in the town of Utica to Lena Pierce, who named her Eva May. Social welfare officials took the baby away because Pierce, then 13, was herself a ward of the state. Eva May was adopted by a family on Long Island and grew up as Betty Morrell, an only child. She was in her early 30s when she started looking for information about her birth family. She had been told her birth mother had died during childbirth and was shocked when she learned she was still alive.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Millions of Dollars in Shadowy Campaign Money Fuel Presidential Campaigns

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    At least $4 million in dark money is flowing to outside groups helping White House hopefuls. Both parties benefit from money routed through obscure corporations, or from nonprofits that don't have to disclose their donors. The contributions are a reminder of federal court decisions in recent years, like Citizens United, that loosened prior restrictions in campaign finance laws. That can hide who's really backing candidates — and what favors or influence could be owed should they get elected.   read more
  • U.S. Utility Firms Worry about Insurance Coverage in Event of Power Grid Cyber Attack

    Friday, January 29, 2016
    The potential costs of an attack in the United States are huge. Last year Lloyd's and the University of Cambridge released a 65-page study estimating that simultaneous malware attacks on 50 generators in the Northeastern United States could cut power to as many as 93 million people, resulting in at least $243 billion in economic damage and $21 billion to $71 billion in insurance claims. The study called such a scenario improbable but "technologically possible."   read more
  • One Place Where Women’s Pay Remains Stubbornly Equal to Men’s: U.S. Military

    Sunday, December 20, 2015
    The one thing that historically has held back women in the armed forces is that not all jobs were open to women, especially spots in combat units which are seen as a prerequisite for promotion. But Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s announcement that all jobs are open equally to men and women changed that and women should soon see a clearer path to advancement. The Coast Guard offers a two-year sabbatical to encourage mothers to stay in the service.   read more

Controversies

  • Fake Quotes by Founding Fathers Included in Washington State Gun Rights Bill

    Monday, February 08, 2016
    House Bill 2975 would create penalties for public officials who block people from owning or buying guns. The four-page bill devotes a page to quotes on gun ownership purportedly from the men who created the U.S. Constitution. Researchers say at least three of the quotes used in the bill and attributed to Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton were not said or written by them.   read more
  • New Jersey Fourth State to Sue VW over Excess Diesel Emissions

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    New Jersey is joining the states of Texas, New Mexico and West Virginia and Harris County, Texas, in suing Volkswagen. The U.S. Justice Department filed its own lawsuit accusing VW of violating clean air laws and seeking up to $46 billion on Jan. 4. VW faces more than 500 civil lawsuits that have been consolidated before a federal judge in California, who has retained a former FBI director as a settlement adviser. The automaker also faces investigations by 48 U.S. state attorneys.   read more
  • Pentagon Blocks Release of 1,800 Detainee Abuse Photos, Lets Out 198

    Saturday, February 06, 2016
    Robert M. Gates, then defense secretary, appealed to President Obama to reconsider the release of the photographs, warning that it could provoke attacks against U.S. troops in the war zones. Obama changed his mind and obtained legislation from Congress permitting the defense secretary to exempt the photos from disclosure. Current Pentagon chief Ash Carter extended it again in November, but decided that the 198 photos could be made public.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. and UK Spy Agencies May be Allowed to Request Online Chat Data and Emails from Media Companies

    Saturday, February 06, 2016
    Talks focused on letting UK agencies, such as MI5, serve orders on U.S. firms demanding data for “live intercepts” in inquiries involving UK citizens. UK agencies might also be able to ask U.S. companies to turn over stored data, such as emails. Rep. Adam Schiff said Congress should monitor any privacy and civil liberties issues, "including making sure these British orders do not cover U.S. persons or individuals within the U.S., do not permit bulk collection, and have due process protections."   read more
  • Canada Stops Sharing Compromised Spy Information with U.S.

    Saturday, January 30, 2016
    Canada has stopped its electronic spy agency from sharing some data with key international allies after discovering the information mistakenly contained personal details about Canadians, government officials said on Thursday. Ottawa acted after learning that the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) agency had failed to properly disguise metadata - the numbers and time stamps of phone calls but not their content - before passing it on to their international partners.   read more
  • U.S. Perceived as 16th Least Corrupt Nation; Denmark Tops List, North Korea and Somalia Tie for Worst

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016
    TI attributed the overall global improvement to the work of citizen activists fighting corruption in places such as Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Ghana - all countries which were able to improve their ratings in 2015. "Corruption can be beaten if we work together," said TI chairman Jose Ugaz in a statement. "To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery and shed light on secret deals, citizens must together tell their governments they have had enough."   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chairman of the Federal Election Commission: Who Is Matthew S. Petersen?

    Tuesday, February 02, 2016
    President George W. Bush nominated Petersen to a spot on the FEC in June 2008. His nomination was confirmed by his former employers on the Rules Committee. He served a term as FEC chairman beginning in 2010. As one of the three Republican appointees on the FEC, Petersen has been a reliable vote against attempts to reform elections. In 2013, for instance, he voted to make it more difficult for the Justice Department to prosecute campaign finance violations.   read more
  • Secretary of the Army: Who Is Eric Fanning?

    Tuesday, January 26, 2016
    Fanning was deputy director of the Committee on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. The group was an outgrowth of the 9/11 Commission and assessed activities aimed at preventing WMD proliferation. In 2009, Fanning was named deputy under secretary of the Navy, where he worked to bring efficiencies to the service’s processes. If he’s confirmed by the Senate, Fanning will be the first openly gay civilian head of an armed forces branch.   read more
  • Cuba’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez?

    Monday, January 25, 2016
    Cabañas is Cuba’s first ambassador to the United States in more than 50 years. His appointment to the post came two months after a restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had ended during Cold War hostilities in 1961. Cabañas maintained a somewhat higher profile than his predecessors, traveling around the United States speaking to various organizations. He was the first head of Cuba’s Interests Section to allow himself to be filmed at such events.   read more

Featured Story

U.S. Housing Agency Considers Booting Out Public Housing Residents with Improved Income

Monday, February 08, 2016
A HUD I.G. report has found that more than 25,000 of the 1.1 million U.S. families in public housing - about 2.5% - earn too much money to qualify for housing subsidies. "The families identified by HUD ... met the income limits at the time of admission...but their income now exceeds such income limits," HUD said. The agency added that rising income is good because it is a sign that a family is on its way to self-sufficiency, but when it's temporary it shouldn't be used to end assistance.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Twitter Pulls Plug on 125,000 Extremists’ Accounts

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    Twitter’s disclosure of the number of terrorist account suspensions sets it apart from its social media peers. Facebook regularly discloses the number of government requests it has received for content takedowns on its service, but the company does not break out the removal of terror-related content. YouTube has given more than 200 outside organizations the ability to “flag” potentially harmful content, which YouTube can then review and remove.   read more
  • Legal U.S. Marijuana Sales Hit $5.4 Billion in 2015

    Saturday, February 06, 2016
    The promises of the industry are potentially far-reaching and attracting notice on Wall Street. As more states legalize marijuana sales, analysts are weighing the stock market benefits of new businesses as cannabis goes corporate. Funds are considering the ethics of investing in marijuana. Parents are even debating whether to allow their children to buy the stocks. Lucrative legal side businesses are spinning off, like climate systems for growers and child-resistant marijuana bags.   read more
  • U.S. House Republicans Pass Legislation to Undercut Federal Anti-Fraud Banking Initiative

    Friday, February 05, 2016
    The legislation "would defang the Justice Department," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in the House. "Federal prosecutors would be unable to prosecute fraud committed by big banks under FIRREA. This bill on the floor today says you cannot charge banks. The only investigation you can do of banks is if somebody does damage to the bank. Can you imagine that - with all the mortgage fraud that went on in our country?"   read more

Unusual News

  • Millions of Americans are Unwitting Investors in Gun Industry

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    Barack Obama might seem an unlikely investor in the firearms industry. But the U.S. president, a fierce advocate for gun regulation, has money in a pension fund that holds stock in gun and ammunition companies. Obama is among millions of Americans buying into gun companies - often unwittingly - as mutual funds have increased such holdings to record levels. The influx has helped boost two gun firms' shares by more than 750%; each now has a market value of about $1 billion.   read more
  • 6 Degrees of Separation Now Down to 3 ½, Claims Facebook

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    “These social network tools provide individuals with tremendous reach,” said Horvitz. “People can share ideas with only a few jumps to a large portion of the world’s population and with even fewer steps to the entire population of a nation.” It is a startling notion that reaching someone on the other side of the world takes only a small group of social connections. On the other hand, the result could also be evidence of psychological distance: that we were actually five “worlds apart.”   read more
  • Mother and Child Reunion: 82-Year-Old Woman Tracks Down Her 96-Year-Old Birth Mother

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    Morrell was born in 1933 in the town of Utica to Lena Pierce, who named her Eva May. Social welfare officials took the baby away because Pierce, then 13, was herself a ward of the state. Eva May was adopted by a family on Long Island and grew up as Betty Morrell, an only child. She was in her early 30s when she started looking for information about her birth family. She had been told her birth mother had died during childbirth and was shocked when she learned she was still alive.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Millions of Dollars in Shadowy Campaign Money Fuel Presidential Campaigns

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    At least $4 million in dark money is flowing to outside groups helping White House hopefuls. Both parties benefit from money routed through obscure corporations, or from nonprofits that don't have to disclose their donors. The contributions are a reminder of federal court decisions in recent years, like Citizens United, that loosened prior restrictions in campaign finance laws. That can hide who's really backing candidates — and what favors or influence could be owed should they get elected.   read more
  • U.S. Utility Firms Worry about Insurance Coverage in Event of Power Grid Cyber Attack

    Friday, January 29, 2016
    The potential costs of an attack in the United States are huge. Last year Lloyd's and the University of Cambridge released a 65-page study estimating that simultaneous malware attacks on 50 generators in the Northeastern United States could cut power to as many as 93 million people, resulting in at least $243 billion in economic damage and $21 billion to $71 billion in insurance claims. The study called such a scenario improbable but "technologically possible."   read more
  • One Place Where Women’s Pay Remains Stubbornly Equal to Men’s: U.S. Military

    Sunday, December 20, 2015
    The one thing that historically has held back women in the armed forces is that not all jobs were open to women, especially spots in combat units which are seen as a prerequisite for promotion. But Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s announcement that all jobs are open equally to men and women changed that and women should soon see a clearer path to advancement. The Coast Guard offers a two-year sabbatical to encourage mothers to stay in the service.   read more

Controversies

  • Fake Quotes by Founding Fathers Included in Washington State Gun Rights Bill

    Monday, February 08, 2016
    House Bill 2975 would create penalties for public officials who block people from owning or buying guns. The four-page bill devotes a page to quotes on gun ownership purportedly from the men who created the U.S. Constitution. Researchers say at least three of the quotes used in the bill and attributed to Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton were not said or written by them.   read more
  • New Jersey Fourth State to Sue VW over Excess Diesel Emissions

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    New Jersey is joining the states of Texas, New Mexico and West Virginia and Harris County, Texas, in suing Volkswagen. The U.S. Justice Department filed its own lawsuit accusing VW of violating clean air laws and seeking up to $46 billion on Jan. 4. VW faces more than 500 civil lawsuits that have been consolidated before a federal judge in California, who has retained a former FBI director as a settlement adviser. The automaker also faces investigations by 48 U.S. state attorneys.   read more
  • Pentagon Blocks Release of 1,800 Detainee Abuse Photos, Lets Out 198

    Saturday, February 06, 2016
    Robert M. Gates, then defense secretary, appealed to President Obama to reconsider the release of the photographs, warning that it could provoke attacks against U.S. troops in the war zones. Obama changed his mind and obtained legislation from Congress permitting the defense secretary to exempt the photos from disclosure. Current Pentagon chief Ash Carter extended it again in November, but decided that the 198 photos could be made public.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. and UK Spy Agencies May be Allowed to Request Online Chat Data and Emails from Media Companies

    Saturday, February 06, 2016
    Talks focused on letting UK agencies, such as MI5, serve orders on U.S. firms demanding data for “live intercepts” in inquiries involving UK citizens. UK agencies might also be able to ask U.S. companies to turn over stored data, such as emails. Rep. Adam Schiff said Congress should monitor any privacy and civil liberties issues, "including making sure these British orders do not cover U.S. persons or individuals within the U.S., do not permit bulk collection, and have due process protections."   read more
  • Canada Stops Sharing Compromised Spy Information with U.S.

    Saturday, January 30, 2016
    Canada has stopped its electronic spy agency from sharing some data with key international allies after discovering the information mistakenly contained personal details about Canadians, government officials said on Thursday. Ottawa acted after learning that the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) agency had failed to properly disguise metadata - the numbers and time stamps of phone calls but not their content - before passing it on to their international partners.   read more
  • U.S. Perceived as 16th Least Corrupt Nation; Denmark Tops List, North Korea and Somalia Tie for Worst

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016
    TI attributed the overall global improvement to the work of citizen activists fighting corruption in places such as Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Ghana - all countries which were able to improve their ratings in 2015. "Corruption can be beaten if we work together," said TI chairman Jose Ugaz in a statement. "To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery and shed light on secret deals, citizens must together tell their governments they have had enough."   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chairman of the Federal Election Commission: Who Is Matthew S. Petersen?

    Tuesday, February 02, 2016
    President George W. Bush nominated Petersen to a spot on the FEC in June 2008. His nomination was confirmed by his former employers on the Rules Committee. He served a term as FEC chairman beginning in 2010. As one of the three Republican appointees on the FEC, Petersen has been a reliable vote against attempts to reform elections. In 2013, for instance, he voted to make it more difficult for the Justice Department to prosecute campaign finance violations.   read more
  • Secretary of the Army: Who Is Eric Fanning?

    Tuesday, January 26, 2016
    Fanning was deputy director of the Committee on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. The group was an outgrowth of the 9/11 Commission and assessed activities aimed at preventing WMD proliferation. In 2009, Fanning was named deputy under secretary of the Navy, where he worked to bring efficiencies to the service’s processes. If he’s confirmed by the Senate, Fanning will be the first openly gay civilian head of an armed forces branch.   read more
  • Cuba’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez?

    Monday, January 25, 2016
    Cabañas is Cuba’s first ambassador to the United States in more than 50 years. His appointment to the post came two months after a restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had ended during Cold War hostilities in 1961. Cabañas maintained a somewhat higher profile than his predecessors, traveling around the United States speaking to various organizations. He was the first head of Cuba’s Interests Section to allow himself to be filmed at such events.   read more