Featured Story

November Election Put Power to Change U.S. Constitution within Republicans’ Reach

Tuesday, December 06, 2016
The GOP already controls Congress, the White House and more governorships than in a century. But with control of state legislatures, they have power for an unprecedented opportunity: change the Constitution. A convention dominated by delegates from a single party is "alarming," said DLCC's Fiddler. "There are no rules. They can just throw out the whole Constitution if they want to. It's the wildest of Wild West situations."   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Concern over Militarization of U.S. Policy Arises from Trump’s Ceding Civilian Leadership Posts to Generals

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    Donald Trump's move to pack his administration with military brass has prompted worry about an increased militarization of American policy. Former Defense Dept adviser Singh said the law requiring a gap between military service and leading the Pentagon is "to preserve civilian control of the military, a cornerstone of American democracy." VoteVets' Soltz said, "We should never lose sight of the balance in civilian and military roles that has served our nation well for centuries."   read more
  • Countering Justice Dept., Homeland Panel Pushes Use of Private, For-Profit Prisons for Immigrant Detainees

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    Some panel members objected to the report's overall findings, including that the government "should, or inevitably must" continue to rely on private jails. The recommendation comes months after the Justice Dept said it will phase them out. Critics argue that the jails are unsafe for people who face not criminal charges, but rather civil immigration violations and deportation proceedings. Under Donald Trump's deportation plans, immigration detention space is likely to continue to be needed.   read more
  • Trump to Take Office with Enormous Power to Shape Future U.S. Policy on Voting

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    “The last time we had a national government that was as hostile to the protection of minority voting rights as we may have with this president was probably near the end of the first Reconstruction” after the Civil War, said prof Karlan. Several potentially decisive rulings on voting appear bound for a Supreme Court whose balance is in Trump’s hands. Voting issues will fall to a Justice Dept whose likely attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is viewed with deep suspicion by civil rights advocates.   read more

Unusual News

  • Federal Ethics Office Heaps Praise upon Trump for Agreeing to Divest Assets When He Didn’t

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    The normally secretive federal agency, in a bizarre series of oddly informal postings on its Twitter account, revealed that officials apparently concluded, erroneously, that Trump had committed on his own Twitter account to divesting his assets. “As we discussed with your counsel, divestiture is the way to resolve these conflicts,” they wrote on Twitter, later adding: “Bravo! Only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest. Good call!” In fact, Trump had made no such commitment.   read more
  • Decline in U.S. Dementia Rate Expected to Reverse with Rising Number of Older Americans

    Monday, November 28, 2016
    The rate of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in adults aged 65 and up dropped to about 9% in 2012 from nearly 12% in 2000. NIA's John Haaga said dementia rates would have to decline much more sharply than they have to counteract that trend. Dementia was most common in the oldest adults. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that about 5 million people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer's, and that is expected to rise to almost 14 million by 2050.   read more
  • Confusing Language in Ballot Measure Blamed for Colorado Voters’ Approval of Slavery in State Constitution

    Saturday, November 26, 2016
    Was it a hidden racist vote? Could more than 1 million people in Colorado really be in favor of keeping a slavery loophole? “It just shouldn’t be a Colorado value,” said activist William Dickerson. “It shouldn’t be in the bedrock of our founding document, both on the state level and on the national level.” Those bewildered by the vote say the explanation may be simple: Voters say they were disoriented by a mouthful of a ballot question, leaving them unsure what “yes” and “no” actually meant.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Trump Claims His Support for Dakota Pipeline is Unrelated to His Stock Ownership in Project Participants

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    President-elect Donald Trump supports completion of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline in the Midwest, based on policy and not the billionaire businessman's investments in a partnership building the $3.8 billion pipeline, according to an aide's memo. Trump's most recent federal disclosure forms show he owned a small amount of stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline builder, and at least $100,000 in Phillips 66, an energy company that owns one-quarter of the pipeline.   read more
  • The Clause in the U.S. Constitution that Trump as President Would Violate with His Foreign Businesses

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    There is no question that the Emoluments Clause applies to the president. Unless Trump sells or gives his business to his children before taking office the Emoluments Clause would almost certainly be violated. Even if he does sell or give it away, any retained residual interest would still give him a stake in its fortunes, again violating the Constitution. The full extent of Trump's business ties remains unknown, as he has refused to disclose them, or to make public his tax returns.   read more
  • Soda Tax Gains Momentum in Cities across U.S.

    Thursday, December 01, 2016
    A soda tax may be coming to a city near you. Advocates say the recent sweep represents a watershed moment in the fight for soft-drink taxes. Once viewed as measures likely to find support only in largely health-conscious cities, soda taxes have emerged as a bountiful revenue source for cash-strapped local governments. “There’s a momentum with these taxes that will be hard for the industry to stop,” said Sanford dean Kelly Brownell.   read more

Controversies

  • Texas Imposes New Obstacles on Abortion Providers and Their Patients

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    Despite losing a milestone abortion case at the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, Texas threw down another stumbling block last week. It will require facilities that provide abortions to pay for the cremation or burial of fetal remains, rather than dispose of them as biological medical waste. It is the latest attempt by abortion opponents to make it more burdensome for women to get abortions — by creating rules and laws that make it more difficult for providers to stay in business.   read more
  • U.S. Congress Passes Bill to Bar Companies from Suing Customers Who Post Online Reviews

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    Supporters of the bipartisan bill say it is needed to ensure freedom of speech in a growing online economy. It was written in response to businesses that have made customers sign non-disparagement clauses and then sued if a bad review showed up. In one case, a Dallas couple was sued by a pet-sitting company for up to $1 million after giving the company a one-star review on Yelp and complaining that their fish had been overfed. The case was dismissed this past summer.   read more
  • Ohio Tops Nation in Opioid Deaths

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    More people died of opioid overdose deaths in Ohio during 2014 than any other state, providing further proof that Ohio is the epicenter of an opioid epidemic ravaging the nation. And it appears doubtful Ohio will relinquish the grim standing soon. "We still have not peaked yet," said ADAMHS's Jones-Kelley. "That's the scariest part." Fentanyl -- and more recently carfentanil -- are extraordinarily potent synthetic opiates that officials blame for the ever-rising number of deaths.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Rollout of Fake News Traced to Money-Hungry Teens in Macedonia Town

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    “The fake news is the good news,” the 18-year-old said. “A fake news article is way more opened than any other.” He ripped much of his material off a right-wing news site that produces a steady drumbeat of pro-Donald Trump pieces. With 685,000+ page views a week, his monthly revenue is in the four figures, a considerable sum in a country where the average monthly pay is $383. He sees it all as a money-making scheme and preparation for his career after high school--in marketing and politics.   read more
  • Canadian Journalist’s Detention at U.S. Border Raises Press Freedom Alarms

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    He endured aggressive interrogations at border crossings in some of the world’s most authoritarian nations. But a recent confrontation at the U.S. border left him shaken. U.S. agents confiscated his phones and retained their SIM cards that held his confidential data. Privacy advocates said it illustrated a loophole that’s especially problematic for journalists: Without a warrant, U.S. border agents can legally search digital devices that they wouldn’t be able to touch anywhere else.   read more
  • 9/11 Families Claim GOP Senators’ Proposal Will “Gut” New Law Allowing Them to Sue Saudi Arabia

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    Terry Strada, national chair of 9/11 Families and Survivors United For Justice Against Terrorism, said Graham and McCain are seeking to "torpedo" the law by making changes demanded by Saudi Arabia's lobbyists. "We have reviewed the language, and it is an absolute betrayal," Strada said. "The president-elect has made his support for JASTA crystal clear, and there is zero risk that he will support this kind of backroom backstabbing of the 9/11 families."   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Liechtenstein’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Kurt Jaeger?

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    In 2000, Jaeger moved to the aviation IT company Atraxis Management Services in Zurich as a vice president but moved to Swiss International Air Lines the next year as vice president for aeropolitical affairs. There, he worked on the dissolution of Swissair and the formation of Swiss International as a subsidiary of Germany’s Lufthansa. Jaeger left Swiss in 2005 to become a member of the board of the European Free Trade Association.   read more
  • Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Dina Kawar?

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    Kawar went to work in the Amman office of Jordanian Prince Hassan as a researcher and in press relations. In 1991, she took over as director of Hassan’s Paris office, remaining until 2000 when she assumed the directorship of King Abdullah’s office there. The following year, Kawar was named Jordan’s ambassador to France. She added the Holy See and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to her portfolio in 2002 and Portugal in 2005.   read more
  • Bulgaria’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Tihomir Stoytchev?

    Sunday, November 27, 2016
    Stoytchev was back in Washington in 2008 as deputy chief of mission in the embassy. He remained there until 2011, serving as chargé d’affaires from 2009 to 2010. Beginning in 2012, Stoytchev served as foreign policy secretary to Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev until being tapped as ambassador to the U.S. Stoytchev said one of his major goals is to get his country added to the U.S. visa waiver program, which would facilitate travel by Bulgarians.   read more

Featured Story

November Election Put Power to Change U.S. Constitution within Republicans’ Reach

Tuesday, December 06, 2016
The GOP already controls Congress, the White House and more governorships than in a century. But with control of state legislatures, they have power for an unprecedented opportunity: change the Constitution. A convention dominated by delegates from a single party is "alarming," said DLCC's Fiddler. "There are no rules. They can just throw out the whole Constitution if they want to. It's the wildest of Wild West situations."   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Concern over Militarization of U.S. Policy Arises from Trump’s Ceding Civilian Leadership Posts to Generals

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    Donald Trump's move to pack his administration with military brass has prompted worry about an increased militarization of American policy. Former Defense Dept adviser Singh said the law requiring a gap between military service and leading the Pentagon is "to preserve civilian control of the military, a cornerstone of American democracy." VoteVets' Soltz said, "We should never lose sight of the balance in civilian and military roles that has served our nation well for centuries."   read more
  • Countering Justice Dept., Homeland Panel Pushes Use of Private, For-Profit Prisons for Immigrant Detainees

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    Some panel members objected to the report's overall findings, including that the government "should, or inevitably must" continue to rely on private jails. The recommendation comes months after the Justice Dept said it will phase them out. Critics argue that the jails are unsafe for people who face not criminal charges, but rather civil immigration violations and deportation proceedings. Under Donald Trump's deportation plans, immigration detention space is likely to continue to be needed.   read more
  • Trump to Take Office with Enormous Power to Shape Future U.S. Policy on Voting

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    “The last time we had a national government that was as hostile to the protection of minority voting rights as we may have with this president was probably near the end of the first Reconstruction” after the Civil War, said prof Karlan. Several potentially decisive rulings on voting appear bound for a Supreme Court whose balance is in Trump’s hands. Voting issues will fall to a Justice Dept whose likely attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is viewed with deep suspicion by civil rights advocates.   read more

Unusual News

  • Federal Ethics Office Heaps Praise upon Trump for Agreeing to Divest Assets When He Didn’t

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    The normally secretive federal agency, in a bizarre series of oddly informal postings on its Twitter account, revealed that officials apparently concluded, erroneously, that Trump had committed on his own Twitter account to divesting his assets. “As we discussed with your counsel, divestiture is the way to resolve these conflicts,” they wrote on Twitter, later adding: “Bravo! Only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest. Good call!” In fact, Trump had made no such commitment.   read more
  • Decline in U.S. Dementia Rate Expected to Reverse with Rising Number of Older Americans

    Monday, November 28, 2016
    The rate of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in adults aged 65 and up dropped to about 9% in 2012 from nearly 12% in 2000. NIA's John Haaga said dementia rates would have to decline much more sharply than they have to counteract that trend. Dementia was most common in the oldest adults. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that about 5 million people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer's, and that is expected to rise to almost 14 million by 2050.   read more
  • Confusing Language in Ballot Measure Blamed for Colorado Voters’ Approval of Slavery in State Constitution

    Saturday, November 26, 2016
    Was it a hidden racist vote? Could more than 1 million people in Colorado really be in favor of keeping a slavery loophole? “It just shouldn’t be a Colorado value,” said activist William Dickerson. “It shouldn’t be in the bedrock of our founding document, both on the state level and on the national level.” Those bewildered by the vote say the explanation may be simple: Voters say they were disoriented by a mouthful of a ballot question, leaving them unsure what “yes” and “no” actually meant.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Trump Claims His Support for Dakota Pipeline is Unrelated to His Stock Ownership in Project Participants

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    President-elect Donald Trump supports completion of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline in the Midwest, based on policy and not the billionaire businessman's investments in a partnership building the $3.8 billion pipeline, according to an aide's memo. Trump's most recent federal disclosure forms show he owned a small amount of stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline builder, and at least $100,000 in Phillips 66, an energy company that owns one-quarter of the pipeline.   read more
  • The Clause in the U.S. Constitution that Trump as President Would Violate with His Foreign Businesses

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    There is no question that the Emoluments Clause applies to the president. Unless Trump sells or gives his business to his children before taking office the Emoluments Clause would almost certainly be violated. Even if he does sell or give it away, any retained residual interest would still give him a stake in its fortunes, again violating the Constitution. The full extent of Trump's business ties remains unknown, as he has refused to disclose them, or to make public his tax returns.   read more
  • Soda Tax Gains Momentum in Cities across U.S.

    Thursday, December 01, 2016
    A soda tax may be coming to a city near you. Advocates say the recent sweep represents a watershed moment in the fight for soft-drink taxes. Once viewed as measures likely to find support only in largely health-conscious cities, soda taxes have emerged as a bountiful revenue source for cash-strapped local governments. “There’s a momentum with these taxes that will be hard for the industry to stop,” said Sanford dean Kelly Brownell.   read more

Controversies

  • Texas Imposes New Obstacles on Abortion Providers and Their Patients

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    Despite losing a milestone abortion case at the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, Texas threw down another stumbling block last week. It will require facilities that provide abortions to pay for the cremation or burial of fetal remains, rather than dispose of them as biological medical waste. It is the latest attempt by abortion opponents to make it more burdensome for women to get abortions — by creating rules and laws that make it more difficult for providers to stay in business.   read more
  • U.S. Congress Passes Bill to Bar Companies from Suing Customers Who Post Online Reviews

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    Supporters of the bipartisan bill say it is needed to ensure freedom of speech in a growing online economy. It was written in response to businesses that have made customers sign non-disparagement clauses and then sued if a bad review showed up. In one case, a Dallas couple was sued by a pet-sitting company for up to $1 million after giving the company a one-star review on Yelp and complaining that their fish had been overfed. The case was dismissed this past summer.   read more
  • Ohio Tops Nation in Opioid Deaths

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    More people died of opioid overdose deaths in Ohio during 2014 than any other state, providing further proof that Ohio is the epicenter of an opioid epidemic ravaging the nation. And it appears doubtful Ohio will relinquish the grim standing soon. "We still have not peaked yet," said ADAMHS's Jones-Kelley. "That's the scariest part." Fentanyl -- and more recently carfentanil -- are extraordinarily potent synthetic opiates that officials blame for the ever-rising number of deaths.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Rollout of Fake News Traced to Money-Hungry Teens in Macedonia Town

    Monday, December 05, 2016
    “The fake news is the good news,” the 18-year-old said. “A fake news article is way more opened than any other.” He ripped much of his material off a right-wing news site that produces a steady drumbeat of pro-Donald Trump pieces. With 685,000+ page views a week, his monthly revenue is in the four figures, a considerable sum in a country where the average monthly pay is $383. He sees it all as a money-making scheme and preparation for his career after high school--in marketing and politics.   read more
  • Canadian Journalist’s Detention at U.S. Border Raises Press Freedom Alarms

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    He endured aggressive interrogations at border crossings in some of the world’s most authoritarian nations. But a recent confrontation at the U.S. border left him shaken. U.S. agents confiscated his phones and retained their SIM cards that held his confidential data. Privacy advocates said it illustrated a loophole that’s especially problematic for journalists: Without a warrant, U.S. border agents can legally search digital devices that they wouldn’t be able to touch anywhere else.   read more
  • 9/11 Families Claim GOP Senators’ Proposal Will “Gut” New Law Allowing Them to Sue Saudi Arabia

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    Terry Strada, national chair of 9/11 Families and Survivors United For Justice Against Terrorism, said Graham and McCain are seeking to "torpedo" the law by making changes demanded by Saudi Arabia's lobbyists. "We have reviewed the language, and it is an absolute betrayal," Strada said. "The president-elect has made his support for JASTA crystal clear, and there is zero risk that he will support this kind of backroom backstabbing of the 9/11 families."   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Liechtenstein’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Kurt Jaeger?

    Sunday, December 04, 2016
    In 2000, Jaeger moved to the aviation IT company Atraxis Management Services in Zurich as a vice president but moved to Swiss International Air Lines the next year as vice president for aeropolitical affairs. There, he worked on the dissolution of Swissair and the formation of Swiss International as a subsidiary of Germany’s Lufthansa. Jaeger left Swiss in 2005 to become a member of the board of the European Free Trade Association.   read more
  • Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Dina Kawar?

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    Kawar went to work in the Amman office of Jordanian Prince Hassan as a researcher and in press relations. In 1991, she took over as director of Hassan’s Paris office, remaining until 2000 when she assumed the directorship of King Abdullah’s office there. The following year, Kawar was named Jordan’s ambassador to France. She added the Holy See and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to her portfolio in 2002 and Portugal in 2005.   read more
  • Bulgaria’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Tihomir Stoytchev?

    Sunday, November 27, 2016
    Stoytchev was back in Washington in 2008 as deputy chief of mission in the embassy. He remained there until 2011, serving as chargé d’affaires from 2009 to 2010. Beginning in 2012, Stoytchev served as foreign policy secretary to Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev until being tapped as ambassador to the U.S. Stoytchev said one of his major goals is to get his country added to the U.S. visa waiver program, which would facilitate travel by Bulgarians.   read more