Featured Story

U.S. and U.K. Spy Agencies Likely Source of Malware Attacks on EU, Russian and Saudi Computers

Friday, November 28, 2014
Cyberwarriors are at it again, this time with a malicious program called Regin that has infected computers in Russia, Saudi Arabia and other countries and is so complex that security experts say it probably came from the United States, Britain or another Western government.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Most Police Shootings Don’t Lead to Prosecution of Police

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    It perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise that Officer Darren Wilson will not stand trial for killing Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Of 6,700 on-duty incidents of police being charged with a crime, only 41 officers were indicted over seven years for murder. The FBI reported 2,718 justified homicides by police from 2004 to 2011. The lack of police prosecutions is “one factor that enters into the perception of African Americans that the police are not on their side,” said Prof. Samuel Walker.   read more
  • Battling Obesity in U.S., FDA Approves Sweeping New Rules for Calorie Disclosure

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Starting late next year, restaurant chains and movie theaters will have to list calorie counts on their menus. FDA officials are hoping the publishing of calorie totals will help Americans make smarter decisions about what they eat when going out and perhaps shrink some waistlines along the way. Nutrition professor Marion Nestle was surprised to learn that the rules went beyond what she and others expected, applying them to alcoholic beverages listed on restaurant menus.   read more
  • Obama Orders U.S. Troops in Afghanistan to Keep Fighting for a 14th Year

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    In May, President Obama said American troops in Afghanistan would cease their “combat mission” by January 1. Now, come January 1, U.S. soldiers will engage in “combat operations,” marking the 14th consecutive year of fighting. So much for the war ending. The only real difference will be the size of U.S. forces. Instead of tens of thousands of soldiers, the U.S. will station only 9,800 to fight al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. Ground forces, manned aircraft and drones may be put to use.   read more

Unusual News

  • 80 Million Bacteria Are Transferred in a 10-Second Kiss

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Researchers in Europe have concluded that passionate kisses can involve a lot more than just emotion. They can also include upwards of 80 million bacteria being exchanged between two people. The findings originated in the Netherlands, where researchers asked 21 couples to have their mouths swabbed. “To our surprise, we found that those people that are intimately related ... share much more of that bacteria on their tongue than unrelated individuals,” said microbiologist Remco Kort.   read more
  • What Does Jeb Bush do for a Living?

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    Bush, the former governor of Florida, has four businesses registered to the same address in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables that don’t appear to have conducted any business anywhere, according to an investigation by ThinkProgress. Bush also has a consulting firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, registered to that address.   read more
  • 11 No-Fly Zones in the United States

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    Government installations covered by overflight restrictions include the Kennedy Space Center, the sky over presidential retreat Camp David, and the Bush family compound in Maine. But then there’s restricted airspace over Disneyland and Disney World, brought about by a provision slipped into a 2003 spending bill. Aircraft are also barred, of course, from flying over the conspiratorially-rich secret government complex in Nevada, Area 51.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Goldman Sachs Gets Harsh Words but Open Pockets from Congressional Subcommittees

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Goldman has donated $1.1 million to current subcommittee members since 1989 — $911,000 of which went to Democrats. More than half of that total went to one individual, Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York). In fact, OpenSecrets.org added, “Schumer has received more from Goldman over the course of his career than any other current member of the Senate — and more from Goldman than from any other organization.”   read more
  • 10 Years after 9/11 Commission Recommended it, FCC Finds Funds for National First Responder Communications Network

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The commission recommended that the federal government create a way for police and firefighters from different jurisdictions to communicate with each other in a crisis—something they couldn’t do during the response to the 9/11 attacks. Congress authorized the FCC to reserve certain broadcast frequencies for public safety use. The FCC auctioned off a band of wireless frequencies to telecommunications companies, which netted more than $11 billion to establish the network, FirstNet.   read more
  • Recent Veterans more likely to be Employed than Non-Veterans

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    In the period from 2011 to 2013, employment among veterans of both genders of the wars was 79%, compared to 70% of nonveterans. Employment among male Gulf War veterans was 84%. Men who served in Iraq and Afghanistan last decade had a lower, though still impressive rate of 78%. Both groups of veterans were better off than nonveteran men, whose employment rate was 75%. Similarly, women who served in both wars have struggled less with unemployment.   read more

Controversies

  • Texas Approves Controversial School Textbooks Still Laced with Ideologically-Driven Inaccuracies

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Inside the controversial texts are “factual inaccuracies and exaggerations of Moses’ impact on the founding of the U.S.” Before some revisions were made, the books were even worse. They contained a cartoon mocking affirmative action recipients, de-emphasis of slavery’s role in the Civil War, negative stereotypes of Muslims, and denials of climate change. Board member Marisa Perez said she was not proud of the board’s decision, which relied on a “screwy” process involving textbook publishers.   read more
  • House Bill Would Permit VA Doctors to Use Medical Marijuana as Option for Patients

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    “We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals,” said Rep. Blumenauer. As it is now, VA staff aren’t even allowed to fill out paperwork to allow a vet to enroll in a legal state marijuana program. If the bill becomes law, it could help many vets who suffer from PTSD, which includes 20% of the 2.8 million soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.   read more
  • Lawsuit Aims at Environmental Impact of U.S. Coal-Leasing Program

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    The lawsuit, directed at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), says the coal leasing program’s impact on climate change hasn’t been updated or assessed since 1979. The plaintiffs want the Department of the Interior, BLM’s parent agency, to conduct a comprehensive environmental review of the coal program. Such a review is critical, they say, because coal mined on federal lands produces 14% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions annually and 11% of its yearly greenhouse gas emissions.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyzstan: Who Is Sheila Gwaltney?

    Sunday, November 23, 2014
    She was sent back to St. Petersburg in 2008, this time as consul general. In 2010, Gwaltney was assigned to Moscow as deputy chief of mission. She eventually served as chargé d'affaires, ad interim. As such, she was in charge of the embassy after Ambassador Mike McFaul left, and she handled much of the U.S. response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine, events she had warned of earlier.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Latvia: Who Is Nancy Pettit?

    Sunday, November 23, 2014
    In 1992, Pettit got to put her knowledge of the Soviet Union to first-hand use when she was named a political officer in the embassy in Moscow. Her husband was also there, as were their two children, when a constitutional crisis swept the country. The Pettits and other embassy personnel and their families were forced to remain in an underground shelter for two days during the unrest.   read more
  • Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Who Is Michelle K. Lee?

    Saturday, November 22, 2014
    In 2003, Lee went to work for Google as its deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy. She advised the search engine giant on its acquisition of YouTube, participation in the Nortel patent auction and on mobile phone patent issues. Lee left for government service in 2012 to head the newly opened Silicon Valley outpost of the USPTO.   read more

Featured Story

U.S. and U.K. Spy Agencies Likely Source of Malware Attacks on EU, Russian and Saudi Computers

Friday, November 28, 2014
Cyberwarriors are at it again, this time with a malicious program called Regin that has infected computers in Russia, Saudi Arabia and other countries and is so complex that security experts say it probably came from the United States, Britain or another Western government.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Most Police Shootings Don’t Lead to Prosecution of Police

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    It perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise that Officer Darren Wilson will not stand trial for killing Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Of 6,700 on-duty incidents of police being charged with a crime, only 41 officers were indicted over seven years for murder. The FBI reported 2,718 justified homicides by police from 2004 to 2011. The lack of police prosecutions is “one factor that enters into the perception of African Americans that the police are not on their side,” said Prof. Samuel Walker.   read more
  • Battling Obesity in U.S., FDA Approves Sweeping New Rules for Calorie Disclosure

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014
    Starting late next year, restaurant chains and movie theaters will have to list calorie counts on their menus. FDA officials are hoping the publishing of calorie totals will help Americans make smarter decisions about what they eat when going out and perhaps shrink some waistlines along the way. Nutrition professor Marion Nestle was surprised to learn that the rules went beyond what she and others expected, applying them to alcoholic beverages listed on restaurant menus.   read more
  • Obama Orders U.S. Troops in Afghanistan to Keep Fighting for a 14th Year

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    In May, President Obama said American troops in Afghanistan would cease their “combat mission” by January 1. Now, come January 1, U.S. soldiers will engage in “combat operations,” marking the 14th consecutive year of fighting. So much for the war ending. The only real difference will be the size of U.S. forces. Instead of tens of thousands of soldiers, the U.S. will station only 9,800 to fight al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. Ground forces, manned aircraft and drones may be put to use.   read more

Unusual News

  • 80 Million Bacteria Are Transferred in a 10-Second Kiss

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Researchers in Europe have concluded that passionate kisses can involve a lot more than just emotion. They can also include upwards of 80 million bacteria being exchanged between two people. The findings originated in the Netherlands, where researchers asked 21 couples to have their mouths swabbed. “To our surprise, we found that those people that are intimately related ... share much more of that bacteria on their tongue than unrelated individuals,” said microbiologist Remco Kort.   read more
  • What Does Jeb Bush do for a Living?

    Monday, November 24, 2014
    Bush, the former governor of Florida, has four businesses registered to the same address in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables that don’t appear to have conducted any business anywhere, according to an investigation by ThinkProgress. Bush also has a consulting firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, registered to that address.   read more
  • 11 No-Fly Zones in the United States

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    Government installations covered by overflight restrictions include the Kennedy Space Center, the sky over presidential retreat Camp David, and the Bush family compound in Maine. But then there’s restricted airspace over Disneyland and Disney World, brought about by a provision slipped into a 2003 spending bill. Aircraft are also barred, of course, from flying over the conspiratorially-rich secret government complex in Nevada, Area 51.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Goldman Sachs Gets Harsh Words but Open Pockets from Congressional Subcommittees

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    Goldman has donated $1.1 million to current subcommittee members since 1989 — $911,000 of which went to Democrats. More than half of that total went to one individual, Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York). In fact, OpenSecrets.org added, “Schumer has received more from Goldman over the course of his career than any other current member of the Senate — and more from Goldman than from any other organization.”   read more
  • 10 Years after 9/11 Commission Recommended it, FCC Finds Funds for National First Responder Communications Network

    Friday, November 21, 2014
    The commission recommended that the federal government create a way for police and firefighters from different jurisdictions to communicate with each other in a crisis—something they couldn’t do during the response to the 9/11 attacks. Congress authorized the FCC to reserve certain broadcast frequencies for public safety use. The FCC auctioned off a band of wireless frequencies to telecommunications companies, which netted more than $11 billion to establish the network, FirstNet.   read more
  • Recent Veterans more likely to be Employed than Non-Veterans

    Thursday, November 20, 2014
    In the period from 2011 to 2013, employment among veterans of both genders of the wars was 79%, compared to 70% of nonveterans. Employment among male Gulf War veterans was 84%. Men who served in Iraq and Afghanistan last decade had a lower, though still impressive rate of 78%. Both groups of veterans were better off than nonveteran men, whose employment rate was 75%. Similarly, women who served in both wars have struggled less with unemployment.   read more

Controversies

  • Texas Approves Controversial School Textbooks Still Laced with Ideologically-Driven Inaccuracies

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    Inside the controversial texts are “factual inaccuracies and exaggerations of Moses’ impact on the founding of the U.S.” Before some revisions were made, the books were even worse. They contained a cartoon mocking affirmative action recipients, de-emphasis of slavery’s role in the Civil War, negative stereotypes of Muslims, and denials of climate change. Board member Marisa Perez said she was not proud of the board’s decision, which relied on a “screwy” process involving textbook publishers.   read more
  • House Bill Would Permit VA Doctors to Use Medical Marijuana as Option for Patients

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    “We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals,” said Rep. Blumenauer. As it is now, VA staff aren’t even allowed to fill out paperwork to allow a vet to enroll in a legal state marijuana program. If the bill becomes law, it could help many vets who suffer from PTSD, which includes 20% of the 2.8 million soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.   read more
  • Lawsuit Aims at Environmental Impact of U.S. Coal-Leasing Program

    Thursday, November 27, 2014
    The lawsuit, directed at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), says the coal leasing program’s impact on climate change hasn’t been updated or assessed since 1979. The plaintiffs want the Department of the Interior, BLM’s parent agency, to conduct a comprehensive environmental review of the coal program. Such a review is critical, they say, because coal mined on federal lands produces 14% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions annually and 11% of its yearly greenhouse gas emissions.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyzstan: Who Is Sheila Gwaltney?

    Sunday, November 23, 2014
    She was sent back to St. Petersburg in 2008, this time as consul general. In 2010, Gwaltney was assigned to Moscow as deputy chief of mission. She eventually served as chargé d'affaires, ad interim. As such, she was in charge of the embassy after Ambassador Mike McFaul left, and she handled much of the U.S. response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine, events she had warned of earlier.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Latvia: Who Is Nancy Pettit?

    Sunday, November 23, 2014
    In 1992, Pettit got to put her knowledge of the Soviet Union to first-hand use when she was named a political officer in the embassy in Moscow. Her husband was also there, as were their two children, when a constitutional crisis swept the country. The Pettits and other embassy personnel and their families were forced to remain in an underground shelter for two days during the unrest.   read more
  • Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Who Is Michelle K. Lee?

    Saturday, November 22, 2014
    In 2003, Lee went to work for Google as its deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy. She advised the search engine giant on its acquisition of YouTube, participation in the Nortel patent auction and on mobile phone patent issues. Lee left for government service in 2012 to head the newly opened Silicon Valley outpost of the USPTO.   read more