Featured Story

Will John Legend Speak out against Bahrain’s Brutal Dictatorship when he Performs There?

Sunday, March 01, 2015
Legend is scheduled to perform Monday in a festival put on by the repressive government of Bahrain. Human Rights Watch has documented many abuses by the Bahraini government, including imprisonment of opposition figures on “terrorism” charges and police use of excessive force. Other issues include lack of freedom of expression; failure to address domestic violence against women; and abuses of migrant laborers from other countries.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Conservatives Versus Soldiers in Case of Lieutenant Convicted of Murder

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    Lorance started with tough rhetoric the day he took over. “He looks like the all-American sweetheart when you meet him,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Williams. “But he was just so aggressive. One of the first things he said to us was, we are going to go in Gestapo-style with night raids, pull people out of houses, make them afraid of us.” Lorance ordered sharpshooters to fire rounds into a village, striking near civilians. In one case, he told a sharpshooter to torment a man by firing near his head.   read more
  • Chicago Police Accused of Running Secret Interrogation Center

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    A warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square has been in use for years by special police units as the equivalent of a “black site” interrogation center, reminiscent of those used by the CIA. Those questioned there, even children as young as 15, are denied their constitutional protections and are reportedly beaten and shackled. People brought there aren't even logged in. "When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you," said Brian Church.   read more
  • Spare Parts are a Windfall for Weapons Makers

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    A 2014 report by the Pentagon’s inspector general revealed the agency’s “hardware store”—the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)—paid one manufacturer, Bell Helicopter, $9 million more than it should have for commercial parts. The overpayments to Bell last year averaged out to 392%.The report also found that American taxpayers aren’t finished overpaying for parts. “DLA may overpay as much as $2.6 million over the next 12 months on future orders under this contract,” the report said.   read more

Unusual News

  • Medical Marijuana May Go Kosher

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    The COO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher certification agency, Rabbi Elefant, has reportedly talked to several companies seeking a kosher seal of approval for medical marijuana. “Just as the OU gives out kosher certificates for vitamins or for any other medical product, after an examination of the ingredients, it is possible in principle to issue kosher certificates for cannabis, as long it is solely for medical uses and in countries where it is permitted by law,” said the Union’s CEO in Israel.   read more
  • “What the Drilling Industry has Bought and Paid for in Campaign Contributions they shall Receive.”

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    An Ohio Supreme Court decision last week compelled a justice to do something few public officials do when it comes to addressing the connection between campaign contributions and political favors. After the court sided with drillers in a fracking regulation case, Justice O’Neill in his dissent wrote that “the oil and gas industry has gotten its way.” Catherine Turcer said: “What I liked about Justice O’Neill’s opinion was his willingness to point out the elephant in the room."   read more
  • Scott Walker’s Office Unable to Provide Written Proof of his Communications with God

    Friday, February 20, 2015
    Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who often is mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for president, frequently discusses his evangelical faith in public and has gone so far as to imply that he talks to God. But when asked to show proof of that, his office said it could not provide it. “While it's on the record that the governor is communicating with higher powers like billionaire and political kingmaker Sheldon Adelson, that's where the paper trail ends,” wrote the Foundation.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Oakland VA Lost Thousands of Veterans Claims, Found Them, and Then Lost Them Again

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    The Oakland, California, regional office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) stuffed 13,184 benefit requests, some dating back to the 1990s, into a file cabinet where they were discovered in 2012, partially processed and then promptly lost. Two records selected during a random sampling of unprocessed informal claims found they missed out on $3,904 in benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder and hearing loss, respectively.   read more
  • Is it Time for Americans who Earn more than $118,500 a Year to Pay more into Social Security?

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    According to the Social Security Administration, in 1983, about 11% of all income escaped being taxed by Social Security. By 2012, that number rose to about 17% of all income. The liberal Center for American Progress argues that policymakers should consider changing Social Security taxation to apply to 90% of earnings in order to put more money into the dwindling trust fund. Such a change, had it been implemented in 1983, would have added $1.1 trillion more into the trust fund by 2013   read more
  • Revenue Opportunity: Charging Families for Transferring Money to Prisoners

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    JPay Inc., the largest such money-service provider, has contracts in 32 states to facilitate money transfers for prisoners from their relatives. The service has become quite lucrative for JPay, which made more than $50 million in 2013. To send money to an inmate in Oklahoma either online or by phone, a family member must pay a fee ranging from $4 to $12 per transaction. In some cases, the fee can represent as much as nearly 40% of the deposit amount.   read more

Controversies

  • Why Did Coast Guard Office in Alaska Allow Health Care Travel Program to be used for Undocumented Trips to Vail and Orlando?

    Saturday, February 28, 2015
    The IG’s office received information that the Coast Guard was authorizing unnecessary healthcare travel. An audit found 94% of the records it reviewed for the Travel to Obtain Health Care program lacked documentation, such as doctors’ referrals and cost estimates, to justify trips. The Coast Guard in Alaska, for example, sent personnel or their relatives to such destinations as Vail, Colorado; Orlando, Florida; Savannah, Georgia; and Scottsdale, Arizona.   read more
  • Arab Dictatorships Pour Money into Clinton Foundation

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    In 2010, Algeria, which has been accused human rights violations, gave the foundation $500,000, which went to earthquake relief in Haiti. Clinton foundation officials now concede that they should have first gotten the approval of the State Department ethics office before accepting the funds. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia donated to the foundation only after Clinton resigned as secretary of state.   read more
  • Insurance Companies Brace for Financial Setbacks if Supreme Court Defunds Obamacare…Patients to Follow

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    If the Supreme Court sides with a conservative attack aimed at crippling Obamacare, the insurance industry could find itself drowning in red ink, while millions of Americans could lose their health coverage. "More healthy people are likely to drop out of the market. Which will cause premiums to go up again. Which will cause more people to drop their insurance. Which will cause premiums to go up. Such a death spiral could potentially collapse the individual insurance market in many states."   read more

U.S. and the World

  • American Atheist Hacked to Death in Bangladesh

    Saturday, February 28, 2015
    Avijit Roy was traveling with his wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonya, through Dhaka in a rickshaw when two assailants removed them and began attacking them with machetes. Roy, 42, was pronounced dead at a hospital. Bonya survived the attack but lost a finger and suffered numerous lacerations. Muslim zealots had threatened Roy, a bioengineer and a naturalized American citizen, “for his active campaign against Islamist radicals.”   read more
  • Jordan Jails Opposition Leader for Using Facebook to Call a Foreign Country the “American Cop in the Region”

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015
    The remark got Rushaid arrested and subsequently tried by the state security court for “acts harmful to the country’s relations with a friendly nation.” He was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Rushaid’s attorney called the verdict the “death for freedom of expression. The government is to blame.” Another Brotherhood member said the purpose of the security court is to try “the most heinous crimes against the country, not for...[expressing] an opinion on Facebook."   read more
  • U.S. Drops to 49th Place in World Press Freedom Index…Worst in 9 Years

    Monday, February 16, 2015
    The latest World Press Freedom Index shows the U.S. ranked 49th in the world, according to Reporters without Borders, which created the index. It hasn’t been this low since 2006, when it dropped to 53rd. The U.S. ranking is usually between the twenties and forties on the index.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chief Executive Officer, Broadcasting Board of Governors: Who Is Andrew Lack?

    Saturday, February 28, 2015
    In an interview with The New York Times, Lack spoke of the difficulty of his job and said: “We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram. But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges.” Russia Today, a website and television channel run by the Russian government, blasted the comparison of their organization to terror groups.   read more
  • South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu?

    Sunday, February 22, 2015
    Mahlangu was elected to South Africa’s parliament in 1994. He was appointed deputy chairman of the National Council of Provinces, the upper house in South Africa’s legislature and became chairman in 2005. In his official biographies, Mahlangu has claimed that he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Fairfax in 1995, but this was actually an unaccredited diploma mill.   read more
  • Dominican Republic’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is José Tomás Pérez?

    Saturday, February 21, 2015
    Pérez took elective office himself in 2002 as a senator from the Dominican Republic’s national district, serving in that office for four years. In 2007 he was made director of his country’s Civil Aviation Institute and was later caught up in a controversy for overspending on a headquarters building for his agency. Pérez twice sought the PLD nomination for president, in 2008 and 2012, but failed to get it both times.   read more

Featured Story

Will John Legend Speak out against Bahrain’s Brutal Dictatorship when he Performs There?

Sunday, March 01, 2015
Legend is scheduled to perform Monday in a festival put on by the repressive government of Bahrain. Human Rights Watch has documented many abuses by the Bahraini government, including imprisonment of opposition figures on “terrorism” charges and police use of excessive force. Other issues include lack of freedom of expression; failure to address domestic violence against women; and abuses of migrant laborers from other countries.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Conservatives Versus Soldiers in Case of Lieutenant Convicted of Murder

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    Lorance started with tough rhetoric the day he took over. “He looks like the all-American sweetheart when you meet him,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Williams. “But he was just so aggressive. One of the first things he said to us was, we are going to go in Gestapo-style with night raids, pull people out of houses, make them afraid of us.” Lorance ordered sharpshooters to fire rounds into a village, striking near civilians. In one case, he told a sharpshooter to torment a man by firing near his head.   read more
  • Chicago Police Accused of Running Secret Interrogation Center

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    A warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square has been in use for years by special police units as the equivalent of a “black site” interrogation center, reminiscent of those used by the CIA. Those questioned there, even children as young as 15, are denied their constitutional protections and are reportedly beaten and shackled. People brought there aren't even logged in. "When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you," said Brian Church.   read more
  • Spare Parts are a Windfall for Weapons Makers

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    A 2014 report by the Pentagon’s inspector general revealed the agency’s “hardware store”—the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)—paid one manufacturer, Bell Helicopter, $9 million more than it should have for commercial parts. The overpayments to Bell last year averaged out to 392%.The report also found that American taxpayers aren’t finished overpaying for parts. “DLA may overpay as much as $2.6 million over the next 12 months on future orders under this contract,” the report said.   read more

Unusual News

  • Medical Marijuana May Go Kosher

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    The COO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher certification agency, Rabbi Elefant, has reportedly talked to several companies seeking a kosher seal of approval for medical marijuana. “Just as the OU gives out kosher certificates for vitamins or for any other medical product, after an examination of the ingredients, it is possible in principle to issue kosher certificates for cannabis, as long it is solely for medical uses and in countries where it is permitted by law,” said the Union’s CEO in Israel.   read more
  • “What the Drilling Industry has Bought and Paid for in Campaign Contributions they shall Receive.”

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    An Ohio Supreme Court decision last week compelled a justice to do something few public officials do when it comes to addressing the connection between campaign contributions and political favors. After the court sided with drillers in a fracking regulation case, Justice O’Neill in his dissent wrote that “the oil and gas industry has gotten its way.” Catherine Turcer said: “What I liked about Justice O’Neill’s opinion was his willingness to point out the elephant in the room."   read more
  • Scott Walker’s Office Unable to Provide Written Proof of his Communications with God

    Friday, February 20, 2015
    Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who often is mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for president, frequently discusses his evangelical faith in public and has gone so far as to imply that he talks to God. But when asked to show proof of that, his office said it could not provide it. “While it's on the record that the governor is communicating with higher powers like billionaire and political kingmaker Sheldon Adelson, that's where the paper trail ends,” wrote the Foundation.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Oakland VA Lost Thousands of Veterans Claims, Found Them, and Then Lost Them Again

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    The Oakland, California, regional office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) stuffed 13,184 benefit requests, some dating back to the 1990s, into a file cabinet where they were discovered in 2012, partially processed and then promptly lost. Two records selected during a random sampling of unprocessed informal claims found they missed out on $3,904 in benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder and hearing loss, respectively.   read more
  • Is it Time for Americans who Earn more than $118,500 a Year to Pay more into Social Security?

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    According to the Social Security Administration, in 1983, about 11% of all income escaped being taxed by Social Security. By 2012, that number rose to about 17% of all income. The liberal Center for American Progress argues that policymakers should consider changing Social Security taxation to apply to 90% of earnings in order to put more money into the dwindling trust fund. Such a change, had it been implemented in 1983, would have added $1.1 trillion more into the trust fund by 2013   read more
  • Revenue Opportunity: Charging Families for Transferring Money to Prisoners

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    JPay Inc., the largest such money-service provider, has contracts in 32 states to facilitate money transfers for prisoners from their relatives. The service has become quite lucrative for JPay, which made more than $50 million in 2013. To send money to an inmate in Oklahoma either online or by phone, a family member must pay a fee ranging from $4 to $12 per transaction. In some cases, the fee can represent as much as nearly 40% of the deposit amount.   read more

Controversies

  • Why Did Coast Guard Office in Alaska Allow Health Care Travel Program to be used for Undocumented Trips to Vail and Orlando?

    Saturday, February 28, 2015
    The IG’s office received information that the Coast Guard was authorizing unnecessary healthcare travel. An audit found 94% of the records it reviewed for the Travel to Obtain Health Care program lacked documentation, such as doctors’ referrals and cost estimates, to justify trips. The Coast Guard in Alaska, for example, sent personnel or their relatives to such destinations as Vail, Colorado; Orlando, Florida; Savannah, Georgia; and Scottsdale, Arizona.   read more
  • Arab Dictatorships Pour Money into Clinton Foundation

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    In 2010, Algeria, which has been accused human rights violations, gave the foundation $500,000, which went to earthquake relief in Haiti. Clinton foundation officials now concede that they should have first gotten the approval of the State Department ethics office before accepting the funds. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia donated to the foundation only after Clinton resigned as secretary of state.   read more
  • Insurance Companies Brace for Financial Setbacks if Supreme Court Defunds Obamacare…Patients to Follow

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    If the Supreme Court sides with a conservative attack aimed at crippling Obamacare, the insurance industry could find itself drowning in red ink, while millions of Americans could lose their health coverage. "More healthy people are likely to drop out of the market. Which will cause premiums to go up again. Which will cause more people to drop their insurance. Which will cause premiums to go up. Such a death spiral could potentially collapse the individual insurance market in many states."   read more

U.S. and the World

  • American Atheist Hacked to Death in Bangladesh

    Saturday, February 28, 2015
    Avijit Roy was traveling with his wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonya, through Dhaka in a rickshaw when two assailants removed them and began attacking them with machetes. Roy, 42, was pronounced dead at a hospital. Bonya survived the attack but lost a finger and suffered numerous lacerations. Muslim zealots had threatened Roy, a bioengineer and a naturalized American citizen, “for his active campaign against Islamist radicals.”   read more
  • Jordan Jails Opposition Leader for Using Facebook to Call a Foreign Country the “American Cop in the Region”

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015
    The remark got Rushaid arrested and subsequently tried by the state security court for “acts harmful to the country’s relations with a friendly nation.” He was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Rushaid’s attorney called the verdict the “death for freedom of expression. The government is to blame.” Another Brotherhood member said the purpose of the security court is to try “the most heinous crimes against the country, not for...[expressing] an opinion on Facebook."   read more
  • U.S. Drops to 49th Place in World Press Freedom Index…Worst in 9 Years

    Monday, February 16, 2015
    The latest World Press Freedom Index shows the U.S. ranked 49th in the world, according to Reporters without Borders, which created the index. It hasn’t been this low since 2006, when it dropped to 53rd. The U.S. ranking is usually between the twenties and forties on the index.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chief Executive Officer, Broadcasting Board of Governors: Who Is Andrew Lack?

    Saturday, February 28, 2015
    In an interview with The New York Times, Lack spoke of the difficulty of his job and said: “We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram. But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges.” Russia Today, a website and television channel run by the Russian government, blasted the comparison of their organization to terror groups.   read more
  • South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu?

    Sunday, February 22, 2015
    Mahlangu was elected to South Africa’s parliament in 1994. He was appointed deputy chairman of the National Council of Provinces, the upper house in South Africa’s legislature and became chairman in 2005. In his official biographies, Mahlangu has claimed that he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Fairfax in 1995, but this was actually an unaccredited diploma mill.   read more
  • Dominican Republic’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is José Tomás Pérez?

    Saturday, February 21, 2015
    Pérez took elective office himself in 2002 as a senator from the Dominican Republic’s national district, serving in that office for four years. In 2007 he was made director of his country’s Civil Aviation Institute and was later caught up in a controversy for overspending on a headquarters building for his agency. Pérez twice sought the PLD nomination for president, in 2008 and 2012, but failed to get it both times.   read more