Featured Story

Foreign College Prep Companies Game U.S. College Application System to Get Students into U.S. Schools

Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Not all college prep companies are playing by the rules. In their investigative series for Reuters, a team of reporters found that foreign companies are increasingly helping students game the U.S. college application process. Some companies have leaked questions from college entrance exams to their students before they take the test. Others have gone so far as to ghostwrite entire college applications and complete coursework for students when they arrive on campus.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Nation’s Biggest Private Prison Operator Secretly Videotaped Attorney-Client Meetings in Kansas Prison

    Monday, August 29, 2016
    "We never had any idea we were being recorded," said public defender Cardarella. "This has had a chilling effect." A federal judge said the recordings might have violated the Sixth Amendment rights of hundreds of inmates and ordered them stopped. Kansas Public Defender Melody Brannon called the intrusion into attorney-client privilege "unprecedented." "We couldn't find anything even comparable to the degree of invasion and misconduct by the government that is before the court," she said.   read more
  • Talking-Car Technology Pits Two U.S. Agencies against Each Other

    Sunday, August 28, 2016
    Cars that wirelessly talk to each other are finally ready for the road, creating the potential to dramatically reduce traffic deaths. The government and auto industry have a decade and more than $1 billion researching V2V technology. "We're losing 35,000 people every year (to traffic crashes)," said GM lobbyist Lightsey. "This technology has the power to dramatically reduce that. To me, the ability of somebody to download movies or search the internet or whatever should be secondary to that."   read more
  • U.S. Tech Startups Could Grow Under New Homeland Security Proposal Welcoming Foreign Entrepreneurs

    Saturday, August 27, 2016
    The move is one of many piecemeal efforts by the Obama administration to expand American immigration policies without action from Congress. Entrepreneurs in any industry would be eligible to apply, but the new rule would be especially significant for the tech field. Creating an immigration route for startup founders has been one of Silicon Valley’s political priorities. “I think it will have major impact on U.S. entrepreneurship, and potentially on the broader economy," said Patrick Collison.   read more

Unusual News

  • Minnesota Limits Pesticides to Protect Bees

    Monday, August 29, 2016
    Bee expert Marla Spivak said the governor's order "puts Minnesota miles ahead of all the other states in our nation. ... Some may think that these actions go too far, but I honestly don't know a farmer, a nursery operator, a grower, a pesticide applicator that wants to kill a bee or monarch while they're controlling their crop pests." Said Gov. Dayton: "We're not trying to ban anybody's practices or businesses. but there's a lot more we can do...to protect the pollinators."   read more
  • Florida Man Struck by Lightning and Bitten by Rattle Snack, Python, Alligator and Poisonous Spider

    Monday, August 29, 2016
    Even before the latest incidents, Cook had many misadventures. He got bitten by an alligator that he "accidentally" caught while fishing. And he was bitten by his friend's Burmese python, which he was trying to feed. "It's been a rough four years," he said. "Maybe the higher up ... is trying to get your attention that maybe something is going wrong. Or maybe I've simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time my whole life." He is unemployed because the company fired him due to his absences.   read more
  • U.S. May Add Speed-Capping Device to Trucks and Buses to Forcibly Slow Them Down

    Sunday, August 28, 2016
    Regulators are considering a cap of 60, 65 or 68 mph. Whatever the speed limit, drivers would be physically prevented from exceeding it. The government said capping speeds for new large vehicles will reduce the 1,115 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks that occur each year and save $1 billion in fuel costs. While the news is welcomed by some safety advocates, many truckers said such changes could lead to dangerous scenarios where they are traveling at much lower speeds than everyone else.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Government Crackdown on Shady For-Profit Colleges Leaves Debt-Ridden Students in the Dust

    Monday, August 29, 2016
    The curb on new student enrollment at ITT, which has been under heightened financial scrutiny from the department since 2014, is just the latest move in a long-running campaign to halt deceptive advertising, illegal recruitment practices and other abuses by career training and other for-profit educational institutions. “People are defaulting at a rate of two per minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Nassirian said. “The vast majority [of students] are victims, not deadbeats.”   read more
  • For-Profit Elder Care Could Result in Lower Standards

    Monday, August 22, 2016
    Until recently, only nonprofits were allowed to run programs like these. But a year ago, the government flipped the switch, opening the program to for-profit companies as well, ending one of the last remaining holdouts to commercialism in health care. The hope is that the profit motive will expand the services faster. Hanging over all the promise, though, is the question of whether for-profit companies are well-suited to this line of work, long the province of nonprofit do-gooders.   read more
  • Johnson Controls/Tyco Overseas Tax-Shelter Merger Triggers Lawsuit by Angry Shareholders

    Thursday, August 18, 2016
    The proposed merger drew comment from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who said, "I have a detailed and targeted plan to immediately put a stop to inversions and invest in the U.S., block deals like Johnson Controls and Tyco, and place an 'exit tax' on corporations that leave the country to lower their tax bill." The shareholder class action claims that Johnson's anticipated tax savings are the sole purpose of the merger and come at the expense of minority taxpaying shareholders.   read more

Controversies

  • U.S. Parks Plagued by Rising Visitor Misbehavior, from Vandalism and Theft to Harassment of Wildlife

    Monday, August 29, 2016
    Record visitor numbers have created a sometimes dangerous frenzy, with selfie-taking tourists routinely breaking park rules and getting too close to Yellowstone's storied elk herds, grizzly bears, wolves and bison. Major parks are grappling with illegal camping, vandalism, theft of resources, wildlife harassment and other visitor misbehavior. In July alone, law enforcement rangers handled more than 11,000 incidents at the 10 most visited national parks.   read more
  • State Medical Boards’ Failure to Report Sexually Abusive Doctors Keeps Them on the Job

    Sunday, August 28, 2016
    "Historically, doctors and therapists were held in high regard and protected in general," said Spero. "And so to start bringing them into the criminal system, there's a lot of resistance." Agencies may even pull the plug on their investigation if the doctor agrees to step aside. That means any evidence of violations is hidden from the public. Regulators can also discipline a doctor without ever considering whether his violations could be criminal.   read more
  • People’s Identities Collected and Traded like Baseball Cards in Controversial Twitter App Game

    Sunday, August 28, 2016
    Parker says the app has imported profiles of tens of thousands of people without their consent and exploits their identities for profit. An article reports that the game "commoditizes users without their knowledge" and "crafts a potential opening for harassment" because people who "own" others' profiles can rename them. Parker cites an interview with the app's founder, Chen, in which he "admits the game wouldn't work if he had to obtain consent from each user."   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Olympics: If African-American Women were a Nation, They’d be in 6th Place

    Monday, August 22, 2016
    African-American women earned gold medals in 15 events (including participation in team sports) at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. If they had been a nation, they would have been in sixth place. This despite with a population of about 19.6 million, they would be only the 67th most populous nation in the world.   read more
  • Lawsuit Seeks to Block Energy Dept.’s Huge Nuclear Waste Transport from Canada to U.S.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2016
    The Energy Dept's unprecedented proposed transfer of "a toxic liquid stew" containing nuclear waste between Canada and the U.S violates federal law, seven environmental groups claim in court. The proposed $60 million deal would see more than 6,000 gallons of the liquid waste transported more than 1,100 miles. "The radioactive waste byproducts...are acknowledged to be among the most radioactively hazardous materials on Earth," the complaint states.   read more
  • VW Payout to Deceived American VW Owners: $15 Billion; Payout to European Owners: $0

    Tuesday, August 16, 2016
    VW owners in the U.S. will receive about $20,000 per car as compensation for the company’s diesel deception. VW owners in Europe at most get a software update and a short length of plastic tubing. “Why are they getting so much and we’re getting nothing?” Franz said of U.S. owners. The startling gap in treatment is the result of European laws that shield corporations from class action suits brought by unhappy consumers.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon: Who Is Elizabeth Holzhall Richard?

    Sunday, August 28, 2016
    Holzhall Richard was sent to Kabul, Afghanistan in 2006 as director of counter-narcotics, law enforcement and rule of law programs there. After that assignment, she took time to earn an M.S. at the National War College in 2008. She began her ambassadorial career in a bit of limbo. Lebanon had no president when she began her tenure and as such could officially be only chargé d’affaires until she could present her credentials to the head of state.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Liberia: Who Is Christine Elder?

    Saturday, August 27, 2016
    She joined the State Department in 1992 after serving as a trade policy assistant in the International Trade Administration in the Department of Commerce. Early assignments included postings in Bonn and Berlin, Germany. From 2002 to 2004, Elder was cultural affairs officer in the embassy in Budapest, Hungary. She began a stint in Washington in 2005 as senior watch officer in the State Department operations center.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay: Who Is Kelly Keiderling?

    Saturday, August 20, 2016
    She served as Deputy Chief of Mission and charge d’affaires in Caracas, Venezuela, beginning in 2011. Her tenure ended in 2013, when she and two other diplomats were kicked out of the country by President Maduro, who accused the three of attempting sabotage. “Yankee go home. Enough abuses already,” Maduro said. Keiderling was later accused by Cuban Raul Capote and by the official Cuban press of being an agent of the CIA. Capote claimed that Keiderling was one of his handlers in Havana.   read more

Featured Story

Foreign College Prep Companies Game U.S. College Application System to Get Students into U.S. Schools

Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Not all college prep companies are playing by the rules. In their investigative series for Reuters, a team of reporters found that foreign companies are increasingly helping students game the U.S. college application process. Some companies have leaked questions from college entrance exams to their students before they take the test. Others have gone so far as to ghostwrite entire college applications and complete coursework for students when they arrive on campus.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Nation’s Biggest Private Prison Operator Secretly Videotaped Attorney-Client Meetings in Kansas Prison

    Monday, August 29, 2016
    "We never had any idea we were being recorded," said public defender Cardarella. "This has had a chilling effect." A federal judge said the recordings might have violated the Sixth Amendment rights of hundreds of inmates and ordered them stopped. Kansas Public Defender Melody Brannon called the intrusion into attorney-client privilege "unprecedented." "We couldn't find anything even comparable to the degree of invasion and misconduct by the government that is before the court," she said.   read more
  • Talking-Car Technology Pits Two U.S. Agencies against Each Other

    Sunday, August 28, 2016
    Cars that wirelessly talk to each other are finally ready for the road, creating the potential to dramatically reduce traffic deaths. The government and auto industry have a decade and more than $1 billion researching V2V technology. "We're losing 35,000 people every year (to traffic crashes)," said GM lobbyist Lightsey. "This technology has the power to dramatically reduce that. To me, the ability of somebody to download movies or search the internet or whatever should be secondary to that."   read more
  • U.S. Tech Startups Could Grow Under New Homeland Security Proposal Welcoming Foreign Entrepreneurs

    Saturday, August 27, 2016
    The move is one of many piecemeal efforts by the Obama administration to expand American immigration policies without action from Congress. Entrepreneurs in any industry would be eligible to apply, but the new rule would be especially significant for the tech field. Creating an immigration route for startup founders has been one of Silicon Valley’s political priorities. “I think it will have major impact on U.S. entrepreneurship, and potentially on the broader economy," said Patrick Collison.   read more

Unusual News

  • Minnesota Limits Pesticides to Protect Bees

    Monday, August 29, 2016
    Bee expert Marla Spivak said the governor's order "puts Minnesota miles ahead of all the other states in our nation. ... Some may think that these actions go too far, but I honestly don't know a farmer, a nursery operator, a grower, a pesticide applicator that wants to kill a bee or monarch while they're controlling their crop pests." Said Gov. Dayton: "We're not trying to ban anybody's practices or businesses. but there's a lot more we can do...to protect the pollinators."   read more
  • Florida Man Struck by Lightning and Bitten by Rattle Snack, Python, Alligator and Poisonous Spider

    Monday, August 29, 2016
    Even before the latest incidents, Cook had many misadventures. He got bitten by an alligator that he "accidentally" caught while fishing. And he was bitten by his friend's Burmese python, which he was trying to feed. "It's been a rough four years," he said. "Maybe the higher up ... is trying to get your attention that maybe something is going wrong. Or maybe I've simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time my whole life." He is unemployed because the company fired him due to his absences.   read more
  • U.S. May Add Speed-Capping Device to Trucks and Buses to Forcibly Slow Them Down

    Sunday, August 28, 2016
    Regulators are considering a cap of 60, 65 or 68 mph. Whatever the speed limit, drivers would be physically prevented from exceeding it. The government said capping speeds for new large vehicles will reduce the 1,115 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks that occur each year and save $1 billion in fuel costs. While the news is welcomed by some safety advocates, many truckers said such changes could lead to dangerous scenarios where they are traveling at much lower speeds than everyone else.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Government Crackdown on Shady For-Profit Colleges Leaves Debt-Ridden Students in the Dust

    Monday, August 29, 2016
    The curb on new student enrollment at ITT, which has been under heightened financial scrutiny from the department since 2014, is just the latest move in a long-running campaign to halt deceptive advertising, illegal recruitment practices and other abuses by career training and other for-profit educational institutions. “People are defaulting at a rate of two per minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Nassirian said. “The vast majority [of students] are victims, not deadbeats.”   read more
  • For-Profit Elder Care Could Result in Lower Standards

    Monday, August 22, 2016
    Until recently, only nonprofits were allowed to run programs like these. But a year ago, the government flipped the switch, opening the program to for-profit companies as well, ending one of the last remaining holdouts to commercialism in health care. The hope is that the profit motive will expand the services faster. Hanging over all the promise, though, is the question of whether for-profit companies are well-suited to this line of work, long the province of nonprofit do-gooders.   read more
  • Johnson Controls/Tyco Overseas Tax-Shelter Merger Triggers Lawsuit by Angry Shareholders

    Thursday, August 18, 2016
    The proposed merger drew comment from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who said, "I have a detailed and targeted plan to immediately put a stop to inversions and invest in the U.S., block deals like Johnson Controls and Tyco, and place an 'exit tax' on corporations that leave the country to lower their tax bill." The shareholder class action claims that Johnson's anticipated tax savings are the sole purpose of the merger and come at the expense of minority taxpaying shareholders.   read more

Controversies

  • U.S. Parks Plagued by Rising Visitor Misbehavior, from Vandalism and Theft to Harassment of Wildlife

    Monday, August 29, 2016
    Record visitor numbers have created a sometimes dangerous frenzy, with selfie-taking tourists routinely breaking park rules and getting too close to Yellowstone's storied elk herds, grizzly bears, wolves and bison. Major parks are grappling with illegal camping, vandalism, theft of resources, wildlife harassment and other visitor misbehavior. In July alone, law enforcement rangers handled more than 11,000 incidents at the 10 most visited national parks.   read more
  • State Medical Boards’ Failure to Report Sexually Abusive Doctors Keeps Them on the Job

    Sunday, August 28, 2016
    "Historically, doctors and therapists were held in high regard and protected in general," said Spero. "And so to start bringing them into the criminal system, there's a lot of resistance." Agencies may even pull the plug on their investigation if the doctor agrees to step aside. That means any evidence of violations is hidden from the public. Regulators can also discipline a doctor without ever considering whether his violations could be criminal.   read more
  • People’s Identities Collected and Traded like Baseball Cards in Controversial Twitter App Game

    Sunday, August 28, 2016
    Parker says the app has imported profiles of tens of thousands of people without their consent and exploits their identities for profit. An article reports that the game "commoditizes users without their knowledge" and "crafts a potential opening for harassment" because people who "own" others' profiles can rename them. Parker cites an interview with the app's founder, Chen, in which he "admits the game wouldn't work if he had to obtain consent from each user."   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Olympics: If African-American Women were a Nation, They’d be in 6th Place

    Monday, August 22, 2016
    African-American women earned gold medals in 15 events (including participation in team sports) at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. If they had been a nation, they would have been in sixth place. This despite with a population of about 19.6 million, they would be only the 67th most populous nation in the world.   read more
  • Lawsuit Seeks to Block Energy Dept.’s Huge Nuclear Waste Transport from Canada to U.S.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2016
    The Energy Dept's unprecedented proposed transfer of "a toxic liquid stew" containing nuclear waste between Canada and the U.S violates federal law, seven environmental groups claim in court. The proposed $60 million deal would see more than 6,000 gallons of the liquid waste transported more than 1,100 miles. "The radioactive waste byproducts...are acknowledged to be among the most radioactively hazardous materials on Earth," the complaint states.   read more
  • VW Payout to Deceived American VW Owners: $15 Billion; Payout to European Owners: $0

    Tuesday, August 16, 2016
    VW owners in the U.S. will receive about $20,000 per car as compensation for the company’s diesel deception. VW owners in Europe at most get a software update and a short length of plastic tubing. “Why are they getting so much and we’re getting nothing?” Franz said of U.S. owners. The startling gap in treatment is the result of European laws that shield corporations from class action suits brought by unhappy consumers.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon: Who Is Elizabeth Holzhall Richard?

    Sunday, August 28, 2016
    Holzhall Richard was sent to Kabul, Afghanistan in 2006 as director of counter-narcotics, law enforcement and rule of law programs there. After that assignment, she took time to earn an M.S. at the National War College in 2008. She began her ambassadorial career in a bit of limbo. Lebanon had no president when she began her tenure and as such could officially be only chargé d’affaires until she could present her credentials to the head of state.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Liberia: Who Is Christine Elder?

    Saturday, August 27, 2016
    She joined the State Department in 1992 after serving as a trade policy assistant in the International Trade Administration in the Department of Commerce. Early assignments included postings in Bonn and Berlin, Germany. From 2002 to 2004, Elder was cultural affairs officer in the embassy in Budapest, Hungary. She began a stint in Washington in 2005 as senior watch officer in the State Department operations center.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay: Who Is Kelly Keiderling?

    Saturday, August 20, 2016
    She served as Deputy Chief of Mission and charge d’affaires in Caracas, Venezuela, beginning in 2011. Her tenure ended in 2013, when she and two other diplomats were kicked out of the country by President Maduro, who accused the three of attempting sabotage. “Yankee go home. Enough abuses already,” Maduro said. Keiderling was later accused by Cuban Raul Capote and by the official Cuban press of being an agent of the CIA. Capote claimed that Keiderling was one of his handlers in Havana.   read more