Featured Story

Federal Court Rules 2-1 that Florida can Punish Doctors for Talking to Patients about Guns

Monday, August 03, 2015
Public health experts urge doctors to ask about gun ownership, in part so they may recommend safety measures if children are in the home or if there is someone mentally ill present. Doctors also ask about household chemicals and swimming pools, but those don’t have the National Rifle Association making contributions to politicians on their behalf.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Because Homeland Security Allows Chemical Plants to Self-Report Toxic Releases, 44% are Wrong

    Sunday, August 02, 2015
    A study from the Government Accountability Office has found that hundreds of chemical plants are incorrectly reporting the “Distance of Concern” which defines how large an area may be subject to toxic effects of a chemical release. The GAO report estimated that more than 2,700 of the estimated 6,400 facilities, or 44%, misreported the Distance of Concern.   read more
  • U.S. Psychologists Group, Linked to Bush-Era Torture Program, May Prohibit Role in Future Interrogations

    Saturday, August 01, 2015
    The new standard could get in the way of the Obama administration’s interrogations of detainees that still involve the use of psychologists, such as the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, which has been sent overseas to interrogate terror suspects or those associated with them. The administration also uses psychologists at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where they oversee voluntary interrogations requested by a detainee.   read more
  • Facebook Expands Political Footprint, Eyeing Major Role in 2016 Presidential Campaigns

    Friday, July 31, 2015
    "Most users really have no idea how much information Facebook collects about them or how Facebook is able to infer from even a post...what their political orientation might be,” said EPIC's Rotenberg. “Facebook knows everything you’ve said, everything you’ve posted, everything you’ve clicked on.” Said Rand Paul strategist Vincent Harris: “Think about how powerful this is. It’s a fundraising tool [and] a persuasion tool... Facebook is actually everything. And this is what scares people.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Bureau of Prisons Agrees to Recognize Humanism as a Religion, Darwin Day as a Holiday

    Sunday, August 02, 2015
    Under the settlement, the Federal Bureau of Prisons will acknowledge humanism as a worldview that deserves the same recognition as theistic religious beliefs. Inmates will be able to have humanist study groups and to observe Darwin Day just as Christians celebrate Christmas. Naturalist Charles Darwin’s birthday on February 12 is widely celebrated among humanists.   read more
  • More Millennials Living at Home with Parents, Even as Job Market Improves

    Saturday, August 01, 2015
    During the first third of this year, 42.2 million individuals 18-34 years old lived on their own, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers analyzed by Pew researchers. That’s fewer than in 2007, before the downturn, when 42.7 million headed their own households. Looking at just the post-recessionary period, the trend is for millennials is to stay with their parents. In 2010, 69% of this group lived independently. Five years later, the number has fallen to 67%.   read more
  • Chimps Don’t Have the Same Legal Rights as People, Judge Rules

    Saturday, August 01, 2015
    The Nonhuman Rights Project contended that “Hercules and Leo are autonomous and self-determining beings who possess the New York common law right to bodily liberty protected by the New York common law of habeas corpus.” Judge Jaffe denied this claim. “Animals, including chimpanzees and other highly intelligent mammals, are considered property under the law,” she ruled. “They are accorded no legal rights beyond being guaranteed the right to be free from physical abuse and other mistreatment.”   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 700,000 U.S. Seniors Owe $18 Billion in Student Debt; Fed Taps Retirees’ Social Security Checks

    Sunday, August 02, 2015
    The federal government sucked a total of $150 million out of seniors’ checks in 2013 to satisfy student loan debt, according to the Government Accountability Office, which also made it clear that 82% of senior still owe money for their own student loans rather than those of their children or other dependents.   read more
  • Fracking Billionaires Give Record-Setting Donation to Ted Cruz

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    Children are “being taught the other ideas, the gay agenda, every day out in the world so we have to stand up and explain to them that that’s not real, that’s not proper, it’s not right,” said Farris Wilks. He and brother Dan, who made their fortunes in the West Texas fracking boom, have reportedly contributed $15 million to a super PAC supporting Cruz. The $15 million is the largest contribution so far in the 2016 race, and represents nearly half of the $38 million raised by Keep the Promise.   read more
  • Senate Pulls a Fast One on Banks by Trying to Eliminate 102-Year-Old Freebie

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    In 2012, the Fed handed $1.637 billion in dividends to banks. It’s “a risk-free entitlement program,” wrote David Dayen. “It’s one of the many unknown ways the Fed extends special benefits to Wall Street.” But senators have now turned to the banks’ 6% dividend for a source of funding. Without any advance notice to the banking industry, they included a provision in the highway bill that would reduce the dividend to 1.5% for banks. The reduction would reap about $17 billion for the government.   read more

Controversies

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Maneuver on Malaysia Human Rights Rating and Big Pharma Terms among Concerns in TPP Trade Talks

    Friday, July 31, 2015
    The Malaysian government wants in on the TPP, but that couldn’t happen unless the U.S. upgraded its rating on the country’s human rights record. So the State Dept. under President Obama improved its ranking from Tier 3 to Tier 2. The change angered human rights advocates who say Malaysian officials have done little to stop sex slavery. Mass graves holding more than 130 human trafficking victims were discovered in April, yet now Malaysia’s human rights record has improved, says the State Dept.   read more
  • Which Dictatorship will Host the 2022 Winter Olympics?

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    On Friday, the members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote to decide which city will host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Originally, there were three finalists, but in October, the favorite, Oslo, withdrew. With the withdrawal of Oslo, the Olympic Movement has found itself in a crisis. Both of the cities left in the running, Beijing and Almaty, are located in countries that are ruled by repressive dictatorships: China and Kazakhstan.   read more
  • Pet Food Sold in U.S. is Produced by Slave Labor in Thailand

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    Fishermen revealed horror stories of crew members being dumped overboard and defiant ones being killed, sometimes by having their heads cut off. “Life at sea is cheap,” said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, Asia. The FDA had found Songkla’s Thailand facilities to have unsanitary conditions that produced “adulterated” seafood that is potentially “injurious to health.” The U.S. is the biggest customer of Thai fish, totaling more than $190 million last year.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Who Is W. Thomas Reeder?

    Saturday, August 01, 2015
    Reeder moved to the Senate Finance Committee as senior benefits counsel for the Democratic staff May 2009. He returned to the Treasury Department in March 2013 as senior benefits counsel for the Internal Revenue Service.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Nepal: Who Is Alaina Teplitz?

    Sunday, July 26, 2015
    Much of her work was with information technology systems, getting IT policies in international outposts to mesh with those prescribed by Washington, and other efforts at standardization to make the systems more efficient. Part of her mandate was also to look for cost-savings by contracting out some jobs and ensuring that missions were not overstaffed.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Croatia: Who Is Julieta Valls Noyes?

    Saturday, July 25, 2015
    Noyes went overseas again in 2008 as the deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires in the U.S. mission to the Holy See. She made some news when some cables she had sent concerning the Vatican were released through WikiLeaks. Among the subjects covered in her pithy cables were the Catholic priests’ sex abuse scandal in Ireland and the Vatican’s assistance in releasing U.S. citizens being held by Iran.   read more

Featured Story

Federal Court Rules 2-1 that Florida can Punish Doctors for Talking to Patients about Guns

Monday, August 03, 2015
Public health experts urge doctors to ask about gun ownership, in part so they may recommend safety measures if children are in the home or if there is someone mentally ill present. Doctors also ask about household chemicals and swimming pools, but those don’t have the National Rifle Association making contributions to politicians on their behalf.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Because Homeland Security Allows Chemical Plants to Self-Report Toxic Releases, 44% are Wrong

    Sunday, August 02, 2015
    A study from the Government Accountability Office has found that hundreds of chemical plants are incorrectly reporting the “Distance of Concern” which defines how large an area may be subject to toxic effects of a chemical release. The GAO report estimated that more than 2,700 of the estimated 6,400 facilities, or 44%, misreported the Distance of Concern.   read more
  • U.S. Psychologists Group, Linked to Bush-Era Torture Program, May Prohibit Role in Future Interrogations

    Saturday, August 01, 2015
    The new standard could get in the way of the Obama administration’s interrogations of detainees that still involve the use of psychologists, such as the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, which has been sent overseas to interrogate terror suspects or those associated with them. The administration also uses psychologists at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where they oversee voluntary interrogations requested by a detainee.   read more
  • Facebook Expands Political Footprint, Eyeing Major Role in 2016 Presidential Campaigns

    Friday, July 31, 2015
    "Most users really have no idea how much information Facebook collects about them or how Facebook is able to infer from even a post...what their political orientation might be,” said EPIC's Rotenberg. “Facebook knows everything you’ve said, everything you’ve posted, everything you’ve clicked on.” Said Rand Paul strategist Vincent Harris: “Think about how powerful this is. It’s a fundraising tool [and] a persuasion tool... Facebook is actually everything. And this is what scares people.”   read more

Unusual News

  • Bureau of Prisons Agrees to Recognize Humanism as a Religion, Darwin Day as a Holiday

    Sunday, August 02, 2015
    Under the settlement, the Federal Bureau of Prisons will acknowledge humanism as a worldview that deserves the same recognition as theistic religious beliefs. Inmates will be able to have humanist study groups and to observe Darwin Day just as Christians celebrate Christmas. Naturalist Charles Darwin’s birthday on February 12 is widely celebrated among humanists.   read more
  • More Millennials Living at Home with Parents, Even as Job Market Improves

    Saturday, August 01, 2015
    During the first third of this year, 42.2 million individuals 18-34 years old lived on their own, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers analyzed by Pew researchers. That’s fewer than in 2007, before the downturn, when 42.7 million headed their own households. Looking at just the post-recessionary period, the trend is for millennials is to stay with their parents. In 2010, 69% of this group lived independently. Five years later, the number has fallen to 67%.   read more
  • Chimps Don’t Have the Same Legal Rights as People, Judge Rules

    Saturday, August 01, 2015
    The Nonhuman Rights Project contended that “Hercules and Leo are autonomous and self-determining beings who possess the New York common law right to bodily liberty protected by the New York common law of habeas corpus.” Judge Jaffe denied this claim. “Animals, including chimpanzees and other highly intelligent mammals, are considered property under the law,” she ruled. “They are accorded no legal rights beyond being guaranteed the right to be free from physical abuse and other mistreatment.”   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 700,000 U.S. Seniors Owe $18 Billion in Student Debt; Fed Taps Retirees’ Social Security Checks

    Sunday, August 02, 2015
    The federal government sucked a total of $150 million out of seniors’ checks in 2013 to satisfy student loan debt, according to the Government Accountability Office, which also made it clear that 82% of senior still owe money for their own student loans rather than those of their children or other dependents.   read more
  • Fracking Billionaires Give Record-Setting Donation to Ted Cruz

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    Children are “being taught the other ideas, the gay agenda, every day out in the world so we have to stand up and explain to them that that’s not real, that’s not proper, it’s not right,” said Farris Wilks. He and brother Dan, who made their fortunes in the West Texas fracking boom, have reportedly contributed $15 million to a super PAC supporting Cruz. The $15 million is the largest contribution so far in the 2016 race, and represents nearly half of the $38 million raised by Keep the Promise.   read more
  • Senate Pulls a Fast One on Banks by Trying to Eliminate 102-Year-Old Freebie

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    In 2012, the Fed handed $1.637 billion in dividends to banks. It’s “a risk-free entitlement program,” wrote David Dayen. “It’s one of the many unknown ways the Fed extends special benefits to Wall Street.” But senators have now turned to the banks’ 6% dividend for a source of funding. Without any advance notice to the banking industry, they included a provision in the highway bill that would reduce the dividend to 1.5% for banks. The reduction would reap about $17 billion for the government.   read more

Controversies

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Maneuver on Malaysia Human Rights Rating and Big Pharma Terms among Concerns in TPP Trade Talks

    Friday, July 31, 2015
    The Malaysian government wants in on the TPP, but that couldn’t happen unless the U.S. upgraded its rating on the country’s human rights record. So the State Dept. under President Obama improved its ranking from Tier 3 to Tier 2. The change angered human rights advocates who say Malaysian officials have done little to stop sex slavery. Mass graves holding more than 130 human trafficking victims were discovered in April, yet now Malaysia’s human rights record has improved, says the State Dept.   read more
  • Which Dictatorship will Host the 2022 Winter Olympics?

    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    On Friday, the members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote to decide which city will host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Originally, there were three finalists, but in October, the favorite, Oslo, withdrew. With the withdrawal of Oslo, the Olympic Movement has found itself in a crisis. Both of the cities left in the running, Beijing and Almaty, are located in countries that are ruled by repressive dictatorships: China and Kazakhstan.   read more
  • Pet Food Sold in U.S. is Produced by Slave Labor in Thailand

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015
    Fishermen revealed horror stories of crew members being dumped overboard and defiant ones being killed, sometimes by having their heads cut off. “Life at sea is cheap,” said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, Asia. The FDA had found Songkla’s Thailand facilities to have unsanitary conditions that produced “adulterated” seafood that is potentially “injurious to health.” The U.S. is the biggest customer of Thai fish, totaling more than $190 million last year.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Who Is W. Thomas Reeder?

    Saturday, August 01, 2015
    Reeder moved to the Senate Finance Committee as senior benefits counsel for the Democratic staff May 2009. He returned to the Treasury Department in March 2013 as senior benefits counsel for the Internal Revenue Service.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Nepal: Who Is Alaina Teplitz?

    Sunday, July 26, 2015
    Much of her work was with information technology systems, getting IT policies in international outposts to mesh with those prescribed by Washington, and other efforts at standardization to make the systems more efficient. Part of her mandate was also to look for cost-savings by contracting out some jobs and ensuring that missions were not overstaffed.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Croatia: Who Is Julieta Valls Noyes?

    Saturday, July 25, 2015
    Noyes went overseas again in 2008 as the deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires in the U.S. mission to the Holy See. She made some news when some cables she had sent concerning the Vatican were released through WikiLeaks. Among the subjects covered in her pithy cables were the Catholic priests’ sex abuse scandal in Ireland and the Vatican’s assistance in releasing U.S. citizens being held by Iran.   read more