Featured Story

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
Latest News

Top Stories

  • 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
  • Climate Change Denying Scientist Received more than $1 Million from Oil, Gas and Coal Industries

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    When conservatives have argued climate change is not a human-produced problem, they often have exalted the work of scientist “Willie” Soon. But now it has been revealed that Soon received support from Exxon Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute, often blamed for generating greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Soon did not disclose this financial backing while publishing numerous scientific papers, which would indicate he was trying to hide this obvious conflict of interest.   read more

Unusual News

  • “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
  • Motherless Heroes: The Strange Case of the Best Animation Feature Oscar Nominees—2015

    Thursday, February 19, 2015
    This year’s five Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature have something unusual in common: in none of them is the young protagonist raised by his or her birth mother. The target audience for all of the nominees (even the more sophisticated Princess Kaguya) is children.   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 is Congress Turning over Public Lands to Foreign Copper Mine Companies?

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    Resolution will be removing an estimated $130 billion worth of copper that’s now owned by the American people. The proposal has been around since 2005, but never got through Congress until senators McCain and Flake put it into the “must-pass” defense bill, which President Barack Obama signed in December. Members of the Apache and Yavapai tribes consider the land sacred and have started a sit-in protest on the site to stop the project.   read more
  • Duke Energy Admits Guilt in Coal Ash Spill Case

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    Duke agreed to pay $68.2 million in fines and restitution and $34 million for community service and mitigation projects. Environmental groups praised the settlement. “It’s not just a slap on the wrist,” said Cape Fear River Watch's Kemp Burdette. “A $100 million fine is a significant one. It confirms what we’ve been saying all along. It’s good to finally have somebody say, ‘You’re right. Duke was illegally polluting waterways across North Carolina and it was criminal. It wasn’t an accident.’”   read more
  • Uprising at Private Prison Leads to Transfer of Thousands of Prisoners

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    The prison was reportedly rendered “uninhabitable” following the uprising, which resulted in at least three of the prison’s 10 Kevlar-covered domes being set on fire. Two officers and as many as five inmates suffered minor injuries during the melee, which began as a complaint about medical services at the prison. Many local residents have expressed concerns that the prison may never reopen, which would cost the community about 400 jobs.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • 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
  • India Survives Latest Attack on Valentine’s Day

    Sunday, February 15, 2015
    Young couples had to be on their toes on Saturday. Merely expressing their love in public could have led to them being married off, with right-wing Hindu groups vowing to force marriage on couples found celebrating an indecent “Western festival.” “If you are in love, you should get married,” said Ashok Sharma, vice president of Hindu Mahasabha, a conservative Hindu religious organization with branches across India.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • 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
  • Iceland’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Geir Haarde?

    Saturday, February 14, 2015
    The crisis drew calls for Haarde’s resignation and he left office in January 2009, ostensibly for treatment for esophageal cancer. He was subsequently indicted for being negligent in his handling of the banking crisis. In April 2012, he was found not guilty of all but one charge—failing to keep his cabinet informed of developments—for which no penalty was levied. Haarde has appealed that conviction.   read more

Featured Story

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
Latest News

Top Stories

  • 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
  • Climate Change Denying Scientist Received more than $1 Million from Oil, Gas and Coal Industries

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015
    When conservatives have argued climate change is not a human-produced problem, they often have exalted the work of scientist “Willie” Soon. But now it has been revealed that Soon received support from Exxon Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute, often blamed for generating greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Soon did not disclose this financial backing while publishing numerous scientific papers, which would indicate he was trying to hide this obvious conflict of interest.   read more

Unusual News

  • “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
  • Motherless Heroes: The Strange Case of the Best Animation Feature Oscar Nominees—2015

    Thursday, February 19, 2015
    This year’s five Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature have something unusual in common: in none of them is the young protagonist raised by his or her birth mother. The target audience for all of the nominees (even the more sophisticated Princess Kaguya) is children.   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 is Congress Turning over Public Lands to Foreign Copper Mine Companies?

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    Resolution will be removing an estimated $130 billion worth of copper that’s now owned by the American people. The proposal has been around since 2005, but never got through Congress until senators McCain and Flake put it into the “must-pass” defense bill, which President Barack Obama signed in December. Members of the Apache and Yavapai tribes consider the land sacred and have started a sit-in protest on the site to stop the project.   read more
  • Duke Energy Admits Guilt in Coal Ash Spill Case

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    Duke agreed to pay $68.2 million in fines and restitution and $34 million for community service and mitigation projects. Environmental groups praised the settlement. “It’s not just a slap on the wrist,” said Cape Fear River Watch's Kemp Burdette. “A $100 million fine is a significant one. It confirms what we’ve been saying all along. It’s good to finally have somebody say, ‘You’re right. Duke was illegally polluting waterways across North Carolina and it was criminal. It wasn’t an accident.’”   read more
  • Uprising at Private Prison Leads to Transfer of Thousands of Prisoners

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015
    The prison was reportedly rendered “uninhabitable” following the uprising, which resulted in at least three of the prison’s 10 Kevlar-covered domes being set on fire. Two officers and as many as five inmates suffered minor injuries during the melee, which began as a complaint about medical services at the prison. Many local residents have expressed concerns that the prison may never reopen, which would cost the community about 400 jobs.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • 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
  • India Survives Latest Attack on Valentine’s Day

    Sunday, February 15, 2015
    Young couples had to be on their toes on Saturday. Merely expressing their love in public could have led to them being married off, with right-wing Hindu groups vowing to force marriage on couples found celebrating an indecent “Western festival.” “If you are in love, you should get married,” said Ashok Sharma, vice president of Hindu Mahasabha, a conservative Hindu religious organization with branches across India.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • 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
  • Iceland’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Geir Haarde?

    Saturday, February 14, 2015
    The crisis drew calls for Haarde’s resignation and he left office in January 2009, ostensibly for treatment for esophageal cancer. He was subsequently indicted for being negligent in his handling of the banking crisis. In April 2012, he was found not guilty of all but one charge—failing to keep his cabinet informed of developments—for which no penalty was levied. Haarde has appealed that conviction.   read more