Featured Story

Congress Takes 5 Weeks Off, Works for 8 Days and Takes another 8 Weeks Off

Monday, September 22, 2014
Lawmakers took five weeks off from Washington during their summer break. They came back this month to work…for eight days. Now, they’re jetting off again to their districts, where they’ll spend nearly the next eight weeks not doing any legislative work. Congress is scheduled to return on November 12. Its members will have just a few more lame-duck weeks to avoid setting a record for enacting the least number of laws of any Congress since such statistics began being kept in 1973.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Two Children a Week Killed in U.S. by Accidental Shootings

    Sunday, September 21, 2014
    The majority of accidental shooting deaths of children are performed by other children. In 73% of the cases, the shooter was age 14 or under. The shooters and victims are also overwhelmingly men and boys: 82% of shooters and 77% of victims were male. The deaths also usually occurred in familiar surroundings. Sixty-one percent were in the victim’s home, with 10% in a relative’s home, 10% in a friend’s home and 3% in a relative’s car.   read more
  • Most Women with Private Health Insurance no Longer have to Pay for Contraception

    Saturday, September 20, 2014
    A new study produced by the Guttmacher Institute says the rate of women receiving contraception through their private health insurance at no cost to them jumped from 15% in 2012 to 67% by the spring of this year. The Affordable Care Act included a provision that required companies to include contraception coverage in their health plans.   read more
  • Health Insurers Do End Run around Requirement to Cover Pre-Existing Conditions

    Friday, September 19, 2014
    Internally, insurers are classifying both brand name and generic drugs as “non-preferred,” which results in all drugs for these patients costing more money through higher co-pays. This effectively drives patients away from a plan because it is too expensive, but the insurer gets away with legally claiming it does not discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions.   read more

Unusual News

  • Florida Sheriffs Used SWAT-Style Attack to Enforce Barbershop License

    Saturday, September 20, 2014
    “With some team members dressed in ballistic vests and masks, and with guns drawn, the deputies rushed into their target destinations, handcuffed the stunned occupants—and demanded to see their barbers’ licenses,” the court wrote. The raid was one of several deputies carried out against minority-owned barbershops and salons in 2010.   read more
  • Vermont City Achieves All-Renewable Energy

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014
    The Burlington Electric Department gets its power from three sources, according to Ari Phillips at ThinkProgress: One-third comes from wind energy operators, another third from the Winooski One and Hydro-Québec hydroelectric stations, and a final third from the Joseph C. McNeil Generating Station, which is a biomass installation that uses logging residue wood chips in its processing.   read more
  • In Population Shift, Majority of Adult Americans are now Single

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014
    Being a singles-majority nation marks quite a change from what the U.S. looked like during its bicentennial year, 1976, when only 37.4% were single. Those states with the highest percentages of single adults are Louisiana and Rhode Island (both 55.7%), New York (55.4%), Mississippi (54.9%), and New Mexico (53.6%).   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • House Votes to Block Easy Disclosure of Corporate Financial Statements

    Friday, September 19, 2014
    Lawmakers embraced an important change that would force the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to exempt public companies making less than $250 million a year from filing their financial statements electronically.   read more
  • Increased Purchases of Guns Ends up Funding Wildlife Research…and Shooting Ranges

    Friday, September 19, 2014
    This year, North Carolina alone has collected nearly $20 million in the revenues generated by gun and ammo sales—a three-fold increase since 2007. The money has allowed state officials to expand the number of public shooting ranges from one to four, with three more in development. The tax revenue has compensated for cuts in state spending and provided funds for new roads, signs and parking lots.   read more
  • Average U.S. Household Earned an Extra 50 Cents a Day Last Year

    Thursday, September 18, 2014
    The average American household made more money last year, new federal data shows. But don’t go shopping for Beverly Hills real estate quite yet—the boost amounted to only 50 cents a day. Of course, that’s just an average. Corporate CEOs are doing much better than last year, while economic gains haven’t made their way to the middle class because of such developments as the decline in union membership and the number of workers being replaced by machines.   read more

Controversies

  • VA Official Says Delays Did Lead to Deaths at Phoenix Medical Center

    Sunday, September 21, 2014
    Acting VA Inspector General Richard Griffin stood by the report, while saying its wording allowed for the possibility that care delays caused the deaths. “A careful reading would show that in some of those cases, we say that they might have lived longer,” Griffin said. The admission could make it a bit easier for those who have filed suit against the VA for the deaths, particularly for cases that don’t go to trial.   read more
  • Texas Appeals Court Dismisses Law Banning Upskirt and Downblouse Photographing in Public Places

    Saturday, September 20, 2014
    The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 8-1 that concerns about “upskirting” or “downblousing” cannot trump the rights of free speech under the First Amendment. Such photography, the justices wrote, is “inherently expressive” and therefore protected just like paintings, movies and books. The challenge to the law came from Ronald Thompson, who was charged with 26 counts of improper photography when he took underwater pictures of children swimming at a San Antonio water park.   read more
  • Nation’s Worst Cancer Doctor Pleads Guilty to Medicare Fraud

    Friday, September 19, 2014
    The one-time respected oncologist was caught lying to patients about their health, telling some who did not have cancer that they did in order to give them unnecessary chemotherapy treatment just so he could bill Medicare for the procedure. In other cases, Fata lied to those with cancer that they were getting better, when in fact their tumors were growing. All the while, the Lebanese-born doctor ordered unusually large and dangerous amounts of chemo for these individuals.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Judge Allows Cisco to Slither out of Responsibility for Chinese Government Human Rights Abuses

    Sunday, September 21, 2014
    Cisco sold a system called “Golden Shield” to the Chinese government, touting its ability to uniquely identify members of Falun Gong and as “the only product capable of recognizing over 90% of Falun Gong pictorial information,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Cisco’s presentation also included offering features to persecute “Falun Gong evil religion,” which should have been a tip-off that human rights violations were at issue.   read more
  • Jewish Groups Pay to Send U.S. Police to Train in Israel

    Friday, September 19, 2014
    Israeli training of U.S. police has also influenced the type of equipment being used. Security forces from both countries are now using some identical gear, including stun and tear gas grenades manufactured by the same U.S. companies—Combined Systems Inc. and Defense Technology Corp. A long-range “sound rifle” that emits ear-shattering noise to disperse crowds, which was used against 2005 West Bank protestors, was also used in the recent police action against protestors in Ferguson.   read more
  • The Mysterious Case of the Obama Administration Claiming State-Secrets Privilege in a Private Defamation Lawsuit

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014
    The administration’s move has been described as unprecedented, because United Against Nuclear Iran is a private group and not a government agency. Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who has fought the government in other cases involving classified information, said he had never seen anything like that. “If there’s something in their files that would disclose a state secret, is there any reason it should be in their files?” Wizner asked.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Commander, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center: Who Is Robert Brown?

    Sunday, September 21, 2014
    He returned to Iraq in 2008 as deputy commanding general for support of the 25th Infantry Division. Brown went to Germany in 2010 as chief of staff of the United States Army in Europe and deputy commander, U.S. Army NATO. After that, he was named commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning in Georgia. His most recent assignment was as commanding general of I Corps and aenior Army commander for Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington.   read more
  • Commander of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation: Who Is Keith Anthony?

    Sunday, September 21, 2014
    Much of Anthony’s career has been spent in Latin America. One posting had him serving as special forces and counter-narcotics advisor along the Ecuador-Colombia border. While there, he served as a liaison for an Air Force medical team performing plastic surgery on Ecuadorans with deformities such as cleft palate and burn scars. He was also Army section chief in Guatemala and his last assignment was as the commander of the U.S. Military Group in Nicaragua.   read more
  • Inspector General of the Department of Defense: Who Is Jon Rymer?

    Saturday, September 20, 2014
    In 2010, as chairman of the Audit Commission of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficientcy, he was called in to audit the auditors—investigating the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction. He found the office was out of compliance with some of its audit policies and recommended corrective action. Rymer maintained the dual roles at the FDIC and SEC until being nominated for the Department of Defense post.   read more

Featured Story

Congress Takes 5 Weeks Off, Works for 8 Days and Takes another 8 Weeks Off

Monday, September 22, 2014
Lawmakers took five weeks off from Washington during their summer break. They came back this month to work…for eight days. Now, they’re jetting off again to their districts, where they’ll spend nearly the next eight weeks not doing any legislative work. Congress is scheduled to return on November 12. Its members will have just a few more lame-duck weeks to avoid setting a record for enacting the least number of laws of any Congress since such statistics began being kept in 1973.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Two Children a Week Killed in U.S. by Accidental Shootings

    Sunday, September 21, 2014
    The majority of accidental shooting deaths of children are performed by other children. In 73% of the cases, the shooter was age 14 or under. The shooters and victims are also overwhelmingly men and boys: 82% of shooters and 77% of victims were male. The deaths also usually occurred in familiar surroundings. Sixty-one percent were in the victim’s home, with 10% in a relative’s home, 10% in a friend’s home and 3% in a relative’s car.   read more
  • Most Women with Private Health Insurance no Longer have to Pay for Contraception

    Saturday, September 20, 2014
    A new study produced by the Guttmacher Institute says the rate of women receiving contraception through their private health insurance at no cost to them jumped from 15% in 2012 to 67% by the spring of this year. The Affordable Care Act included a provision that required companies to include contraception coverage in their health plans.   read more
  • Health Insurers Do End Run around Requirement to Cover Pre-Existing Conditions

    Friday, September 19, 2014
    Internally, insurers are classifying both brand name and generic drugs as “non-preferred,” which results in all drugs for these patients costing more money through higher co-pays. This effectively drives patients away from a plan because it is too expensive, but the insurer gets away with legally claiming it does not discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions.   read more

Unusual News

  • Florida Sheriffs Used SWAT-Style Attack to Enforce Barbershop License

    Saturday, September 20, 2014
    “With some team members dressed in ballistic vests and masks, and with guns drawn, the deputies rushed into their target destinations, handcuffed the stunned occupants—and demanded to see their barbers’ licenses,” the court wrote. The raid was one of several deputies carried out against minority-owned barbershops and salons in 2010.   read more
  • Vermont City Achieves All-Renewable Energy

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014
    The Burlington Electric Department gets its power from three sources, according to Ari Phillips at ThinkProgress: One-third comes from wind energy operators, another third from the Winooski One and Hydro-Québec hydroelectric stations, and a final third from the Joseph C. McNeil Generating Station, which is a biomass installation that uses logging residue wood chips in its processing.   read more
  • In Population Shift, Majority of Adult Americans are now Single

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014
    Being a singles-majority nation marks quite a change from what the U.S. looked like during its bicentennial year, 1976, when only 37.4% were single. Those states with the highest percentages of single adults are Louisiana and Rhode Island (both 55.7%), New York (55.4%), Mississippi (54.9%), and New Mexico (53.6%).   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • House Votes to Block Easy Disclosure of Corporate Financial Statements

    Friday, September 19, 2014
    Lawmakers embraced an important change that would force the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to exempt public companies making less than $250 million a year from filing their financial statements electronically.   read more
  • Increased Purchases of Guns Ends up Funding Wildlife Research…and Shooting Ranges

    Friday, September 19, 2014
    This year, North Carolina alone has collected nearly $20 million in the revenues generated by gun and ammo sales—a three-fold increase since 2007. The money has allowed state officials to expand the number of public shooting ranges from one to four, with three more in development. The tax revenue has compensated for cuts in state spending and provided funds for new roads, signs and parking lots.   read more
  • Average U.S. Household Earned an Extra 50 Cents a Day Last Year

    Thursday, September 18, 2014
    The average American household made more money last year, new federal data shows. But don’t go shopping for Beverly Hills real estate quite yet—the boost amounted to only 50 cents a day. Of course, that’s just an average. Corporate CEOs are doing much better than last year, while economic gains haven’t made their way to the middle class because of such developments as the decline in union membership and the number of workers being replaced by machines.   read more

Controversies

  • VA Official Says Delays Did Lead to Deaths at Phoenix Medical Center

    Sunday, September 21, 2014
    Acting VA Inspector General Richard Griffin stood by the report, while saying its wording allowed for the possibility that care delays caused the deaths. “A careful reading would show that in some of those cases, we say that they might have lived longer,” Griffin said. The admission could make it a bit easier for those who have filed suit against the VA for the deaths, particularly for cases that don’t go to trial.   read more
  • Texas Appeals Court Dismisses Law Banning Upskirt and Downblouse Photographing in Public Places

    Saturday, September 20, 2014
    The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 8-1 that concerns about “upskirting” or “downblousing” cannot trump the rights of free speech under the First Amendment. Such photography, the justices wrote, is “inherently expressive” and therefore protected just like paintings, movies and books. The challenge to the law came from Ronald Thompson, who was charged with 26 counts of improper photography when he took underwater pictures of children swimming at a San Antonio water park.   read more
  • Nation’s Worst Cancer Doctor Pleads Guilty to Medicare Fraud

    Friday, September 19, 2014
    The one-time respected oncologist was caught lying to patients about their health, telling some who did not have cancer that they did in order to give them unnecessary chemotherapy treatment just so he could bill Medicare for the procedure. In other cases, Fata lied to those with cancer that they were getting better, when in fact their tumors were growing. All the while, the Lebanese-born doctor ordered unusually large and dangerous amounts of chemo for these individuals.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Judge Allows Cisco to Slither out of Responsibility for Chinese Government Human Rights Abuses

    Sunday, September 21, 2014
    Cisco sold a system called “Golden Shield” to the Chinese government, touting its ability to uniquely identify members of Falun Gong and as “the only product capable of recognizing over 90% of Falun Gong pictorial information,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Cisco’s presentation also included offering features to persecute “Falun Gong evil religion,” which should have been a tip-off that human rights violations were at issue.   read more
  • Jewish Groups Pay to Send U.S. Police to Train in Israel

    Friday, September 19, 2014
    Israeli training of U.S. police has also influenced the type of equipment being used. Security forces from both countries are now using some identical gear, including stun and tear gas grenades manufactured by the same U.S. companies—Combined Systems Inc. and Defense Technology Corp. A long-range “sound rifle” that emits ear-shattering noise to disperse crowds, which was used against 2005 West Bank protestors, was also used in the recent police action against protestors in Ferguson.   read more
  • The Mysterious Case of the Obama Administration Claiming State-Secrets Privilege in a Private Defamation Lawsuit

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014
    The administration’s move has been described as unprecedented, because United Against Nuclear Iran is a private group and not a government agency. Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who has fought the government in other cases involving classified information, said he had never seen anything like that. “If there’s something in their files that would disclose a state secret, is there any reason it should be in their files?” Wizner asked.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Commander, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center: Who Is Robert Brown?

    Sunday, September 21, 2014
    He returned to Iraq in 2008 as deputy commanding general for support of the 25th Infantry Division. Brown went to Germany in 2010 as chief of staff of the United States Army in Europe and deputy commander, U.S. Army NATO. After that, he was named commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning in Georgia. His most recent assignment was as commanding general of I Corps and aenior Army commander for Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington.   read more
  • Commander of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation: Who Is Keith Anthony?

    Sunday, September 21, 2014
    Much of Anthony’s career has been spent in Latin America. One posting had him serving as special forces and counter-narcotics advisor along the Ecuador-Colombia border. While there, he served as a liaison for an Air Force medical team performing plastic surgery on Ecuadorans with deformities such as cleft palate and burn scars. He was also Army section chief in Guatemala and his last assignment was as the commander of the U.S. Military Group in Nicaragua.   read more
  • Inspector General of the Department of Defense: Who Is Jon Rymer?

    Saturday, September 20, 2014
    In 2010, as chairman of the Audit Commission of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficientcy, he was called in to audit the auditors—investigating the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction. He found the office was out of compliance with some of its audit policies and recommended corrective action. Rymer maintained the dual roles at the FDIC and SEC until being nominated for the Department of Defense post.   read more