Featured Story

Obama May Have Vetoed Keystone Pipeline, but Part of it is Already Built

Thursday, March 05, 2015
“I’m thrilled that President Obama owned up to his promise to veto the Keystone XL pipeline bill today. But in the same breath I’m spittin’ mad,” said Julia Crawford, whose land was taken by TransCanada. “Nearly three years ago, with the exact same data in front of him he decided to ‘cut through the red tape and fast track’ the southern leg of this project. Where was his ‘climate test’ then? President Obama owes all of us in Texas and Oklahoma an explanation. Better yet, an apology,”   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Polluting Drinking Water and Lobbying go Hand in Hand

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015
    The 10 biggest corporate water polluters in the U.S. spent $53 million on lobbying and nearly $10 million on campaign contributions. These companies also dumped 100 million pounds of toxics in public waterways. The top polluter in the report is AK Steel, which discharged 19,088,128 pounds of toxics into rivers and lakes in 2012. It spent $739,752 on lobbying in 2014. The biggest lobbying spender was the No. 6 polluter: Koch Industries ($13.8 million on lobbying, 6,657,138 pounds of toxics).   read more
  • Obama Administration Sides with Hunters over Protection of Gray Wolves

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    The judge wrote that the Endangered Species Act “offers the broadest possible protections for endangered species by design [and] reflects the [U.S.] commitment to act as a responsible steward of the Earth's wildlife, even when such stewardship is inconvenient or difficult...” But the Obama administration objected to the ruling. Since 2003, the U.S. government has made four attempts to end protection of the wolves, and each time its effort was overturned in court.   read more
  • FCC Votes 3-2 to Make Internet a Utility and Block State Laws Limiting Municipal Internet Services

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    New rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Thursday will result in the Internet being treated like a utility under federal law and allow local governments to develop public high-speed online service. The rules were approved by a 3-2 vote of the FCC, with three Democrats voting for the rules and two Republicans against.   read more

Unusual News

  • And the Average Penis Size Is…

    Thursday, March 05, 2015
    Researchers examined data collected in other studies that factored in penis measurements from more than 15,000 men. They found no correlation between penis size and foot size, palm size or any other urban legend that purports to make such a connection. They did caution that studies might be skewed because men with larger penises might be more inclined to participate in a study that measured their vital organ.   read more
  • Independents Outnumber Both Democrats and Republicans in 44 of 50 States

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    Americans have increasingly shunned both the Republican and Democratic parties in favor of independent status when it comes party identification. This trend has progressed to the point where in 44 of the 50 states, independents are a larger group than either the number of registered Republicans or Democrats. Alaska is 54% independent (26% Republican and 14% Democrat), and Massachusetts stands at 53% independent (35% Democrat and 11% Republican).   read more
  • 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

Where is the Money Going?

  • Prisons Increase Profits by Replacing In-Person Family Visits with Video Screens

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The video chats provide less privacy for visitors with picture and sound being recorded and often reviewed by jail officials. In-person visits were usually in a separate room, but the video chats often take place in the dayroom of a jail. Sometimes family members watch while fights break out behind their loved one. Attorneys are also troubled by the lack of privacy.   read more
  • 24 Companies with more than $1 Billion Each in Homeland Security Contracts

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The leader is IBM, which has received $4.9 billion from DHS, most of it for automatic data processing systems and services. (And DHS isn’t even its biggest federal customer. That would be the Department of Defense, which pays IBM more than $6 billion). Right behind is Integrated Coast Guard Systems, which makes radio navigation equipment, at just about $11.5 million less than IBM. They are followed by Computer Systems Corporation at $4.1 billion and Lockheed Martin at $3.9 billion.   read more
  • 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

Controversies

  • Debt Collectors Find Lucrative Loophole, Avoiding Regulation by Working for Governments

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015
    Attorney Tai Vokins told CNN that the government-hired collectors are “preying on the absolute poorest people” who can’t pay their bills, let alone old debts. Consequently, some have been jailed for not paying overdue speeding tickets, while others have had entire paychecks garnished to cover back taxes. Others targeted by the debt collectors never owed the debt, and had documentation to prove it, but still have been harassed by collection agencies.   read more
  • One Billion Monarch Butterflies Migrated in 1997; This Winter it was Down to 56.5 Million; Environmentalists Sue EPA

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015
    The NRDC wants the EPA to review the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, a commonly used herbicide that has wiped out the milkweed plant in many parts of the country. Monarch butterflies rely on the milkweed for their survival. The NRDC says the “distinctive butterfly” is “in peril,” and faces the risk of completely dying off. “The remaining population is so small that a single severe weather event could eradicate it,” the group wrote.   read more
  • Student-Athletes Sue Univ. of North Carolina for Failing to Provide a Real Education

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015
    The case was filed by Leah Metcalf, who played women’s basketball for North Carolina from 2001 to 2005, and James Arnold, who played football from 2005 to 2009. Metcalf had dreams of becoming a doctor, while Arnold said he wanted to study computer science. But both say school officials told them to take easier courses in the university’s School of African and Afro-American Studies. Both graduated from college, but found they couldn’t get professional jobs usually offered to college graduates.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • A Reminder: U.S. Pays One Quarter of Israel’s Defense Budget

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015
    With Capitol Hill abuzz over Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress this week, there is no time like the present for a refresher on how much the American taxpayers spend on Israel’s defense. If it wasn’t for Washington, Netanyahu would have a serious shortfall on his hands. The U.S. funds about 25% of Israel’s annual military spending, thanks to $3 billion a year in aid. Israel is "the largest single recipient of U.S foreign assistance...$121 billion," wrote Ward.   read more
  • Immigration Officials Move to Deport 150 Bosnian Serbs Accused of War Crimes

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    Many of the accused are former Bosnian soldiers. Among the ones identified are an Ohio metal worker, a Virginia soccer coach, and four Las Vegas casino employees. Half of the 300 Bosnian suspects may have been involved in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which Serbian militias executed about 8,000 unarmed Muslim boys and men. “The idea that the people who did all this damage in Bosnia should have a free pass and a new shot at life [in the U.S.] is just obscene to me,” said Michael MacQueen   read more
  • 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

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

Obama May Have Vetoed Keystone Pipeline, but Part of it is Already Built

Thursday, March 05, 2015
“I’m thrilled that President Obama owned up to his promise to veto the Keystone XL pipeline bill today. But in the same breath I’m spittin’ mad,” said Julia Crawford, whose land was taken by TransCanada. “Nearly three years ago, with the exact same data in front of him he decided to ‘cut through the red tape and fast track’ the southern leg of this project. Where was his ‘climate test’ then? President Obama owes all of us in Texas and Oklahoma an explanation. Better yet, an apology,”   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Polluting Drinking Water and Lobbying go Hand in Hand

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015
    The 10 biggest corporate water polluters in the U.S. spent $53 million on lobbying and nearly $10 million on campaign contributions. These companies also dumped 100 million pounds of toxics in public waterways. The top polluter in the report is AK Steel, which discharged 19,088,128 pounds of toxics into rivers and lakes in 2012. It spent $739,752 on lobbying in 2014. The biggest lobbying spender was the No. 6 polluter: Koch Industries ($13.8 million on lobbying, 6,657,138 pounds of toxics).   read more
  • Obama Administration Sides with Hunters over Protection of Gray Wolves

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    The judge wrote that the Endangered Species Act “offers the broadest possible protections for endangered species by design [and] reflects the [U.S.] commitment to act as a responsible steward of the Earth's wildlife, even when such stewardship is inconvenient or difficult...” But the Obama administration objected to the ruling. Since 2003, the U.S. government has made four attempts to end protection of the wolves, and each time its effort was overturned in court.   read more
  • FCC Votes 3-2 to Make Internet a Utility and Block State Laws Limiting Municipal Internet Services

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    New rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Thursday will result in the Internet being treated like a utility under federal law and allow local governments to develop public high-speed online service. The rules were approved by a 3-2 vote of the FCC, with three Democrats voting for the rules and two Republicans against.   read more

Unusual News

  • And the Average Penis Size Is…

    Thursday, March 05, 2015
    Researchers examined data collected in other studies that factored in penis measurements from more than 15,000 men. They found no correlation between penis size and foot size, palm size or any other urban legend that purports to make such a connection. They did caution that studies might be skewed because men with larger penises might be more inclined to participate in a study that measured their vital organ.   read more
  • Independents Outnumber Both Democrats and Republicans in 44 of 50 States

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    Americans have increasingly shunned both the Republican and Democratic parties in favor of independent status when it comes party identification. This trend has progressed to the point where in 44 of the 50 states, independents are a larger group than either the number of registered Republicans or Democrats. Alaska is 54% independent (26% Republican and 14% Democrat), and Massachusetts stands at 53% independent (35% Democrat and 11% Republican).   read more
  • 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

Where is the Money Going?

  • Prisons Increase Profits by Replacing In-Person Family Visits with Video Screens

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The video chats provide less privacy for visitors with picture and sound being recorded and often reviewed by jail officials. In-person visits were usually in a separate room, but the video chats often take place in the dayroom of a jail. Sometimes family members watch while fights break out behind their loved one. Attorneys are also troubled by the lack of privacy.   read more
  • 24 Companies with more than $1 Billion Each in Homeland Security Contracts

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The leader is IBM, which has received $4.9 billion from DHS, most of it for automatic data processing systems and services. (And DHS isn’t even its biggest federal customer. That would be the Department of Defense, which pays IBM more than $6 billion). Right behind is Integrated Coast Guard Systems, which makes radio navigation equipment, at just about $11.5 million less than IBM. They are followed by Computer Systems Corporation at $4.1 billion and Lockheed Martin at $3.9 billion.   read more
  • 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

Controversies

  • Debt Collectors Find Lucrative Loophole, Avoiding Regulation by Working for Governments

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015
    Attorney Tai Vokins told CNN that the government-hired collectors are “preying on the absolute poorest people” who can’t pay their bills, let alone old debts. Consequently, some have been jailed for not paying overdue speeding tickets, while others have had entire paychecks garnished to cover back taxes. Others targeted by the debt collectors never owed the debt, and had documentation to prove it, but still have been harassed by collection agencies.   read more
  • One Billion Monarch Butterflies Migrated in 1997; This Winter it was Down to 56.5 Million; Environmentalists Sue EPA

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015
    The NRDC wants the EPA to review the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, a commonly used herbicide that has wiped out the milkweed plant in many parts of the country. Monarch butterflies rely on the milkweed for their survival. The NRDC says the “distinctive butterfly” is “in peril,” and faces the risk of completely dying off. “The remaining population is so small that a single severe weather event could eradicate it,” the group wrote.   read more
  • Student-Athletes Sue Univ. of North Carolina for Failing to Provide a Real Education

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015
    The case was filed by Leah Metcalf, who played women’s basketball for North Carolina from 2001 to 2005, and James Arnold, who played football from 2005 to 2009. Metcalf had dreams of becoming a doctor, while Arnold said he wanted to study computer science. But both say school officials told them to take easier courses in the university’s School of African and Afro-American Studies. Both graduated from college, but found they couldn’t get professional jobs usually offered to college graduates.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • A Reminder: U.S. Pays One Quarter of Israel’s Defense Budget

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015
    With Capitol Hill abuzz over Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress this week, there is no time like the present for a refresher on how much the American taxpayers spend on Israel’s defense. If it wasn’t for Washington, Netanyahu would have a serious shortfall on his hands. The U.S. funds about 25% of Israel’s annual military spending, thanks to $3 billion a year in aid. Israel is "the largest single recipient of U.S foreign assistance...$121 billion," wrote Ward.   read more
  • Immigration Officials Move to Deport 150 Bosnian Serbs Accused of War Crimes

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    Many of the accused are former Bosnian soldiers. Among the ones identified are an Ohio metal worker, a Virginia soccer coach, and four Las Vegas casino employees. Half of the 300 Bosnian suspects may have been involved in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which Serbian militias executed about 8,000 unarmed Muslim boys and men. “The idea that the people who did all this damage in Bosnia should have a free pass and a new shot at life [in the U.S.] is just obscene to me,” said Michael MacQueen   read more
  • 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

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