Featured Story

Obama Lets U.S. Companies Arm another Dictatorship

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
The U.S. is rescinding a decades-old ban on sales of lethal military equipment to Vietnam, President Obama announced on Monday. He insisted it should not be seen as carte blanche for weapons sales. Human rights advocates, who had asked Obama to hold off on lifting the ban until Vietnam had released some political prisoners and promised to stop the police beatings of protesters, condemned the decision. “President Obama just gave Vietnam a reward that they don’t deserve,” said Human Rights Watch.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • FDA Accused of Bowing to Drug Industry Pressure in Delaying Generic Drug Risk Warning Labels

    Monday, May 23, 2016
    In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that generic drugmakers could not be held liable for failing to warn patients about the risks of their products. People harmed by generics would be unable to sue even as those who had taken the brand-name of the same product won million-dollar judgments. Those people included the family of Kira Gilbert, who died at 22 of a heart attack after taking a generic of painkiller Darvon. Her family’s lawsuit was dismissed in 2012 because of the Supreme Court ruling.   read more
  • Segregation Found to be Worsening in America’s High-Poverty Schools

    Sunday, May 22, 2016
    "Segregation in public K-12 schools isn't getting better. It's getting worse, and getting worse quickly," said Rep. Scott. "More than 20 million students of color [are] now attending racially and socioeconomically isolated public schools." There are fewer math, biology, chemistry and physics courses in these schools than their more affluent counterparts with fewer minority students. In public schools, low-income and minority students were far less likely to enroll in these more rigorous courses.   read more
  • “Epidemic” of Public Interaction with Wildlife Puts Animals in Peril

    Saturday, May 21, 2016
    Dr. Doolittle is only in the movies. A recent episode in which a bison calf at Yellowstone Park was euthanized after being placed in the back of an SUV is one example of the dire consequences of a widespread and common occurrence: humans interacting inappropriately with wild animals. Such encounters are fueled by the culture of selfies and an ignorance about nature, and they lead to encounters that are dangerous to both people and animals, say officials.   read more

Unusual News

  • Obama Administration Officials Say Atrocities Prevention Board not Responsible for Preventing Atrocities

    Monday, May 23, 2016
    When President Obama in 2011 announced he planned to establish an Atrocities Prevention Board, the mission of the board seemed straightforward: preventing atrocities. But faced with questions about atrocities that haven't been prevented, the administration had a curious response: That's not the point. Officials briefing reporters on a new executive order said the purpose of the board is to "look over the horizon" and identify potential conflicts that need to be kept on the government's radar.   read more
  • Congress Reaches Bipartisan Safety Standards Agreement for Dangerous Chemicals

    Sunday, May 22, 2016
    "People believe when they go to the grocery store or the hardware store (and) get a product, that that product has been tested and it's been determined to be safe. That isn't the case," said Sen. Tom Udall, a lead sponsor of the bill. "Today we are stepping forward and we are putting a law in place that will protect American families and protect children from chemicals." The legislation is named after the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who pushed for chemical reform before his death in 2013.   read more
  • Evenly Split Supreme Court Finds Consensus in Modest Rulings

    Sunday, May 22, 2016
    The court is not deadlocked so much as diminished. Many of the justices' decisions will be modest and ephemeral. Opinions vary about whether a Supreme Court that does little is good for the nation. Roberts has said he favors narrow decisions endorsed by large majorities, and it turns out that goal is easier to achieve on an eight-member court. The next term is thus shaping up to be a thin and quiet one. For now, the Supreme Court will remain on the sideline of American life.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Two-Thirds of Americans Would Struggle to Pay for a $1,000 Emergency

    Saturday, May 21, 2016
    These difficulties span all incomes, according to the poll. Three-quarters of people in households making less than $50,000 a year and two-thirds of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill. Even for the country's wealthiest 20% — households making more than $100,000 a year — 38% say they would have at least some difficulty coming up with $1,000.   read more
  • Study Finds Middle Class Shrinking in Four-Fifths of Metro Areas

    Monday, May 16, 2016
    In cities across America, the middle class is hollowing out. A widening wealth gap is moving more households into either higher- or lower-income groups in major metro areas, with fewer remaining in the middle. Middle class adults now make up less than half the population in such cities as New York, L.A., Boston and Houston. That sharp shift reflects a broad erosion--one that has has animated this year's presidential campaign, lifting the insurgent candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.   read more
  • F-35 Fighter Jet Program, Touted as Affordable, is Far from It, as Lockheed Raises Prices at Will

    Monday, May 16, 2016
    The cornerstone of the Joint Strike Fighter program is affordability. The program was sold using affordability as its battle cry. The program promised to "affordably develop the next generation strike fighter weapons system to meet an advanced threat (2010 and beyond), while improving lethality, survivability, and supportability." The affordability was addressed by combining multiple programs into one. It didn't work, especially with poor project management.   read more

Controversies

  • Republican House Panel Backs Bill Reducing Free and Low-Cost Meals for School Children

    Monday, May 23, 2016
    Hunger and nutrition advocates sharply criticized the legislation, saying it could mean that some children go hungry at school. "The bill would significantly weaken access to healthy, nutritious foods for our nation's children," said Dr. Benard Dreyer, president of AAP. The block grants "are an opening salvo in an aggressive, alarming attack on the future of school meals," said SNA's Jean Ronnei. Rep. Bobby Scott said the bill would "cut budgets instead of feeding our children."   read more
  • Oklahoma Governor’s Top Lawyer Told Prison to Proceed with Wrong Lethal Drug in Planned Execution

    Monday, May 23, 2016
    The top lawyer for Gov. Mary Fallin urged prison officials to go forward with a planned execution even though they received the wrong drug, telling a deputy attorney general to "Google it" to confirm it could be used. It faulted many officials for three botched execution attempts. The drug mix-ups followed a botched execution in which inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a gurney before dying 43 minutes into his lethal injection — and after the state's prisons chief ordered executioners to stop.   read more
  • Accusations of Sanctioned Evidence Destruction Heat Up at Guantanamo Hearing

    Monday, May 23, 2016
    Army Maj. Wendall Hall noted that the Classified Information Procedures Act does not allow evidence destruction, but that the Military Commissions Act adds the word "delete," without defining it. "What they're authorized to do under the Military Commissions Act is a problem," Hall said. Does it mean delete, or does it mean physical destruction? The defense team does not know. "If you're asking questions about the definition, there's already an issue," Hall said.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Judge Passes Buck on Assigning Blame for Decision to Leave Behind 26 U.S. Citizens during Evacuation from Yemen

    Friday, May 20, 2016
    Federal courts don't have authority to decide if the government has an obligation to evacuate 26 U.S. citizens stranded in war-torn Yemen, a judge ruled Tuesday. Those citizens sued Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Carter, saying the government ignored them while ordering diplomats and military personnel to flee the war-ravaged country. While the State Dept issued a travel warning and acknowledged danger to Americans, it did nothing to evacuate U.S. citizens, the group claimed.   read more
  • Big Pharma and Allies in Congress Pressure Colombia to Honor Patent of Costly Cancer Drug

    Thursday, May 19, 2016
    Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria's remarks are the strongest yet in a fight with the world's biggest drugmaker. The Colombian Embassy described intense lobbying pressure on Colombia, a staunch U.S. ally, from the pharma industry and its allies in the U.S. Congress. Gaviria said the pressure shows the forceful steps that big pharma is willing to take to protect its commercial interests. "They're very afraid that Colombia could become an example that spreads across the region," he said.   read more
  • While U.S. Confronts Painkiller Addiction Epidemic, Drugs’ Absence around World Leaves Many Suffering

    Wednesday, May 18, 2016
    Many ill people with a legitimate need for narcotic drugs cannot get them and are suffering and dying in pain. In Russia, India and Mexico, many doctors are reluctant to prescribe these painkillers, fearful of possible prosecution or other legal problems, even if they believe the prescriptions are justified. And in most poor and middle-income countries, these drugs are restricted and often unavailable, even for patients with terminal cancer, AIDS or grievous war wounds.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Hamdullah Mohib?

    Sunday, May 22, 2016
    Mohib was responsible for the creation of community service programming to recognize the achievements of Afghan women, and to support special-needs orphans living in Kabul. He worked for the American University of Afghanistan, both as its IT director and a teacher of IT classes. He also served in President Ghani’s campaign as his social media “guru” and subsequently as his deputy chief of staff. Mohib and his wife Lael have written articles together on Afghan political issues.   read more
  • Denmark’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Lars Gert Lose?

    Saturday, May 21, 2016
    Part of Lose’s duties since arriving in the U.S. includes explaining Danish policies mentioned in the course of the U.S. presidential campaign. He commented on Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’ statement that he would like to see the U.S. economy be more like Denmark’s. “It goes without saying, of course without interfering in the U.S. political debate, that we welcome any positive mention of Denmark,” Lose said. “Denmark has a lot to offer in terms of how we organize our society.”   read more
  • Ambassador to El Salvador: Who Is Jean E. Manes?

    Sunday, May 15, 2016
    Manes was principal officer in the consulate in Azores, where she helped negotiate the U.S. military presence in those islands. She then was named cultural affairs officer in an embassy in Brazil, where she helped develop an English teaching strategy in the run-up to the World Cup and Olympic Games. She returned to Washington in 2010 as staff director in the Office of Policy, Planning and Resources for Public Affairs. In 2012, she served a tour as counselor for public affairs in Afghanistan.   read more

Featured Story

Obama Lets U.S. Companies Arm another Dictatorship

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
The U.S. is rescinding a decades-old ban on sales of lethal military equipment to Vietnam, President Obama announced on Monday. He insisted it should not be seen as carte blanche for weapons sales. Human rights advocates, who had asked Obama to hold off on lifting the ban until Vietnam had released some political prisoners and promised to stop the police beatings of protesters, condemned the decision. “President Obama just gave Vietnam a reward that they don’t deserve,” said Human Rights Watch.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • FDA Accused of Bowing to Drug Industry Pressure in Delaying Generic Drug Risk Warning Labels

    Monday, May 23, 2016
    In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that generic drugmakers could not be held liable for failing to warn patients about the risks of their products. People harmed by generics would be unable to sue even as those who had taken the brand-name of the same product won million-dollar judgments. Those people included the family of Kira Gilbert, who died at 22 of a heart attack after taking a generic of painkiller Darvon. Her family’s lawsuit was dismissed in 2012 because of the Supreme Court ruling.   read more
  • Segregation Found to be Worsening in America’s High-Poverty Schools

    Sunday, May 22, 2016
    "Segregation in public K-12 schools isn't getting better. It's getting worse, and getting worse quickly," said Rep. Scott. "More than 20 million students of color [are] now attending racially and socioeconomically isolated public schools." There are fewer math, biology, chemistry and physics courses in these schools than their more affluent counterparts with fewer minority students. In public schools, low-income and minority students were far less likely to enroll in these more rigorous courses.   read more
  • “Epidemic” of Public Interaction with Wildlife Puts Animals in Peril

    Saturday, May 21, 2016
    Dr. Doolittle is only in the movies. A recent episode in which a bison calf at Yellowstone Park was euthanized after being placed in the back of an SUV is one example of the dire consequences of a widespread and common occurrence: humans interacting inappropriately with wild animals. Such encounters are fueled by the culture of selfies and an ignorance about nature, and they lead to encounters that are dangerous to both people and animals, say officials.   read more

Unusual News

  • Obama Administration Officials Say Atrocities Prevention Board not Responsible for Preventing Atrocities

    Monday, May 23, 2016
    When President Obama in 2011 announced he planned to establish an Atrocities Prevention Board, the mission of the board seemed straightforward: preventing atrocities. But faced with questions about atrocities that haven't been prevented, the administration had a curious response: That's not the point. Officials briefing reporters on a new executive order said the purpose of the board is to "look over the horizon" and identify potential conflicts that need to be kept on the government's radar.   read more
  • Congress Reaches Bipartisan Safety Standards Agreement for Dangerous Chemicals

    Sunday, May 22, 2016
    "People believe when they go to the grocery store or the hardware store (and) get a product, that that product has been tested and it's been determined to be safe. That isn't the case," said Sen. Tom Udall, a lead sponsor of the bill. "Today we are stepping forward and we are putting a law in place that will protect American families and protect children from chemicals." The legislation is named after the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who pushed for chemical reform before his death in 2013.   read more
  • Evenly Split Supreme Court Finds Consensus in Modest Rulings

    Sunday, May 22, 2016
    The court is not deadlocked so much as diminished. Many of the justices' decisions will be modest and ephemeral. Opinions vary about whether a Supreme Court that does little is good for the nation. Roberts has said he favors narrow decisions endorsed by large majorities, and it turns out that goal is easier to achieve on an eight-member court. The next term is thus shaping up to be a thin and quiet one. For now, the Supreme Court will remain on the sideline of American life.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Two-Thirds of Americans Would Struggle to Pay for a $1,000 Emergency

    Saturday, May 21, 2016
    These difficulties span all incomes, according to the poll. Three-quarters of people in households making less than $50,000 a year and two-thirds of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill. Even for the country's wealthiest 20% — households making more than $100,000 a year — 38% say they would have at least some difficulty coming up with $1,000.   read more
  • Study Finds Middle Class Shrinking in Four-Fifths of Metro Areas

    Monday, May 16, 2016
    In cities across America, the middle class is hollowing out. A widening wealth gap is moving more households into either higher- or lower-income groups in major metro areas, with fewer remaining in the middle. Middle class adults now make up less than half the population in such cities as New York, L.A., Boston and Houston. That sharp shift reflects a broad erosion--one that has has animated this year's presidential campaign, lifting the insurgent candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.   read more
  • F-35 Fighter Jet Program, Touted as Affordable, is Far from It, as Lockheed Raises Prices at Will

    Monday, May 16, 2016
    The cornerstone of the Joint Strike Fighter program is affordability. The program was sold using affordability as its battle cry. The program promised to "affordably develop the next generation strike fighter weapons system to meet an advanced threat (2010 and beyond), while improving lethality, survivability, and supportability." The affordability was addressed by combining multiple programs into one. It didn't work, especially with poor project management.   read more

Controversies

  • Republican House Panel Backs Bill Reducing Free and Low-Cost Meals for School Children

    Monday, May 23, 2016
    Hunger and nutrition advocates sharply criticized the legislation, saying it could mean that some children go hungry at school. "The bill would significantly weaken access to healthy, nutritious foods for our nation's children," said Dr. Benard Dreyer, president of AAP. The block grants "are an opening salvo in an aggressive, alarming attack on the future of school meals," said SNA's Jean Ronnei. Rep. Bobby Scott said the bill would "cut budgets instead of feeding our children."   read more
  • Oklahoma Governor’s Top Lawyer Told Prison to Proceed with Wrong Lethal Drug in Planned Execution

    Monday, May 23, 2016
    The top lawyer for Gov. Mary Fallin urged prison officials to go forward with a planned execution even though they received the wrong drug, telling a deputy attorney general to "Google it" to confirm it could be used. It faulted many officials for three botched execution attempts. The drug mix-ups followed a botched execution in which inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a gurney before dying 43 minutes into his lethal injection — and after the state's prisons chief ordered executioners to stop.   read more
  • Accusations of Sanctioned Evidence Destruction Heat Up at Guantanamo Hearing

    Monday, May 23, 2016
    Army Maj. Wendall Hall noted that the Classified Information Procedures Act does not allow evidence destruction, but that the Military Commissions Act adds the word "delete," without defining it. "What they're authorized to do under the Military Commissions Act is a problem," Hall said. Does it mean delete, or does it mean physical destruction? The defense team does not know. "If you're asking questions about the definition, there's already an issue," Hall said.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Judge Passes Buck on Assigning Blame for Decision to Leave Behind 26 U.S. Citizens during Evacuation from Yemen

    Friday, May 20, 2016
    Federal courts don't have authority to decide if the government has an obligation to evacuate 26 U.S. citizens stranded in war-torn Yemen, a judge ruled Tuesday. Those citizens sued Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Carter, saying the government ignored them while ordering diplomats and military personnel to flee the war-ravaged country. While the State Dept issued a travel warning and acknowledged danger to Americans, it did nothing to evacuate U.S. citizens, the group claimed.   read more
  • Big Pharma and Allies in Congress Pressure Colombia to Honor Patent of Costly Cancer Drug

    Thursday, May 19, 2016
    Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria's remarks are the strongest yet in a fight with the world's biggest drugmaker. The Colombian Embassy described intense lobbying pressure on Colombia, a staunch U.S. ally, from the pharma industry and its allies in the U.S. Congress. Gaviria said the pressure shows the forceful steps that big pharma is willing to take to protect its commercial interests. "They're very afraid that Colombia could become an example that spreads across the region," he said.   read more
  • While U.S. Confronts Painkiller Addiction Epidemic, Drugs’ Absence around World Leaves Many Suffering

    Wednesday, May 18, 2016
    Many ill people with a legitimate need for narcotic drugs cannot get them and are suffering and dying in pain. In Russia, India and Mexico, many doctors are reluctant to prescribe these painkillers, fearful of possible prosecution or other legal problems, even if they believe the prescriptions are justified. And in most poor and middle-income countries, these drugs are restricted and often unavailable, even for patients with terminal cancer, AIDS or grievous war wounds.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Hamdullah Mohib?

    Sunday, May 22, 2016
    Mohib was responsible for the creation of community service programming to recognize the achievements of Afghan women, and to support special-needs orphans living in Kabul. He worked for the American University of Afghanistan, both as its IT director and a teacher of IT classes. He also served in President Ghani’s campaign as his social media “guru” and subsequently as his deputy chief of staff. Mohib and his wife Lael have written articles together on Afghan political issues.   read more
  • Denmark’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Lars Gert Lose?

    Saturday, May 21, 2016
    Part of Lose’s duties since arriving in the U.S. includes explaining Danish policies mentioned in the course of the U.S. presidential campaign. He commented on Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’ statement that he would like to see the U.S. economy be more like Denmark’s. “It goes without saying, of course without interfering in the U.S. political debate, that we welcome any positive mention of Denmark,” Lose said. “Denmark has a lot to offer in terms of how we organize our society.”   read more
  • Ambassador to El Salvador: Who Is Jean E. Manes?

    Sunday, May 15, 2016
    Manes was principal officer in the consulate in Azores, where she helped negotiate the U.S. military presence in those islands. She then was named cultural affairs officer in an embassy in Brazil, where she helped develop an English teaching strategy in the run-up to the World Cup and Olympic Games. She returned to Washington in 2010 as staff director in the Office of Policy, Planning and Resources for Public Affairs. In 2012, she served a tour as counselor for public affairs in Afghanistan.   read more