Featured Story

More Police Departments than Previously Thought Use Portable Surveillance Systems to Spy on almost Everyone

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
More U.S. police departments are using electronic surveillance on cell phones and laptop computers belonging not just to criminal suspects but also law abiding citizens. It's not clear which departments are doing this because the federal government has helped to shield police from disclosing their spy hardware. However, now that Washington, D.C. police are using this spy gear, members of the government might also be among those spied upon.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Report Shows Voter ID Laws Cut Participation in 2012 Election in Kansas and Tennessee

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    “GAO’s analysis suggests that the turnout decreases in Kansas and Tennessee beyond decreases in the comparison states were attributable to changes in those two states’ voter ID requirements,” the report said. The drop was even sharper in Kansas and Tennessee among young voters (18 to 23) and black voters.   read more
  • Republican Governors Outsource Prisons, Child Support Services, Jobs Agencies

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    Florida GOP Governor Rick Scott made headlines urging drug testing for state employees and welfare recipients, a program which, it turned out, benefited his drug testing company, according to the report. Scott also privatized state health care services for prison inmates, which reportedly resulted in a substantial increase in inmate deaths. Corizon Health—a prisoner health care provider that had been sued 660 times for malpractice.   read more
  • Director Comey Admits FBI does Conduct Surveillance without a Warrant

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) top official admitted this week that his agency sometimes bypasses the courts and pries into personal communications without a warrant. Director James Comey’s admission was prompted after he first insisted that the FBI never, ever conducts electronic surveillance without a court order.   read more

Unusual News

  • Sex Offenders Run for Office in Minnesota

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    The Moose Lake Sex Offender Treatment Program (MSOP) is for sex offenders who have completed their criminal sentences, but are deemed too dangerous to live without supervision. So they’re confined to the Moose Lake facility and are restrained by handcuffs and leg irons during any trips to the outside world, such as to a doctor. The program’s residents would like to change the conditions under which they’re held. So they’re registering to vote.   read more
  • Turning Guns and Bullets into Jewelry

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    The Cook County department seizes about 1,500 guns per year. The weapons usually come from drug houses, or are found during the serving of evictions. Typically the guns are taken to an incineration facility for destruction. The newly created jewelry is sold by Liberty for prices ranging from $35 to $1,600. From 20% to 25% of the profits from those sales will go to Children’s Home + Aid, a nonprofit working to stem violence in Chicago neighborhoods.   read more
  • Small Texas Fracking Company Earns Title of Worst Energy Sector Polluter

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    It’s not Chevron, ExxonMobil or Shell whose wells were found to leak the most methane in 2012. Instead it was a small company, Halcón Resources, which won the title for allowing the highest percentage of the gas to escape into the atmosphere. Halcón’s wells sent 6.5 metric tons of methane into the air for each million cubic feet of natural gas produced at its fracking wells in 2012. Second and third on the list were two other small producers, Bill Barrett Corp., and Unit Corp.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • The Key to U.S. Income Statistics: Average Family Income is Growing; Median Family Income is Falling

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    While the average income is growing, the median income, that is, the point at which half the families make more money and half the families make less money, is falling. Between 2010 and 2013, the average family income rose 4%, but the median family income fell 5% during that period. That means the income gains have been concentrated among the wealthy, with the poor and middle class still struggling to see a real recovery.   read more
  • World’s Richest Seven-Tenth of a Percent Own 44% of Assets

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    About 44% of all personal assets on the planet are owned by only 0.7% of the global population, according to Global Wealth Report 2014 produced by Credit Suisse. In the United States, the richest 1% takes home 20% of the nation’s total income. This is the highest rate since 1928. Credit Suiisse classifies the United States as one of only three developed economies with “very high inequality.”   read more
  • U.S. Said to Shrug off Discovery in Lebanon of a Billion Dollars of Its Missing Iraq Reconstruction Money

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014
    One would think that if more than a billion stolen dollars could be retrieved, the U.S. government would pursue a good lead. But successive presidential administrations have chosen not to investigate it. It was the mission of Stuart W. Bowen to find out where the funds went. When he heard that the cash had been shipped to Lebanon and hidden in a bunker, he told the FBI and CIA. But neither agency pursued it. Bowen attempted to go to Lebanon himself, but was forbidden to do so by his bosses.   read more

Controversies

  • NSA’s Chief Technical Officer Cleared to Moonlight for Private Firm Founded by Former NSA Director Keith Alexander

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    To say that Patrick Dowd has competing loyalties is putting it mildly. The chief technical officer for the National Security Agency (NSA) has taken a second job working for his old boss at a company engaged in the same kind of work as the spy agency. Dowd did get permission from his NSA supervisors to work up to 20 hours a week for IronNet.   read more
  • Honda Accused of Hiding Death and Injury Claims

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    Since 2000, automakers have been required to file quarterly Early Warning Reports (EWRs) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to give the agency a heads-up on trends of deaths and injuries. According to a letter CAS Executive Director Clarence M. Ditlow sent to NHTSA acting administrator David Friedman, Honda has not reported all the incidents of death and injury caused by exploding air bags in its cars.   read more
  • Alarming Rise in Temperatures in U.S.’s Northernmost Town

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    Research into weather records by the University of Alaska Fairbanks shows that the average temperature in Barrow rose by 2.7 degrees Celsius (about 5 degrees F) from 1979 to 2012. October average temperatures increased by an amazing 7.2 degrees Celsius (about 13 degrees F) over the same period. November’s averages climbed by nearly as much.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Classified Internal CIA Study Shows that Its Covert Arming of Foreign Forces Is Often Ineffective

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    The CIA review showed that arming foreign forces had “minimal” effect on the outcome of most conflicts. This was especially true when forces fought without American support on the ground. President Obama mentioned the study when asked if the U.S. had acted quickly enough to arm Syrian rebels. “I actually asked the CIA to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well,” he said. “And they couldn’t come up with much.”   read more
  • U.S. Bombing of Afghanistan Hits 2-Year High

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014
    Some military observers say the Pentagon may be increasing air support missions to help American ground forces pull out of forward operating bases and prepare to ship home. Other experts say more U.S. bombing attacks may become a regular part of the strategy in Afghanistan to compensate for fewer troops starting next year, when only 12,500 will remain behind to help Afghan security forces handle the brunt of the war against insurgents.   read more
  • ISIS Uses Ammunition Made in United States

    Friday, October 10, 2014
    The U.S. is currently spending upwards of a billion dollars attacking Islamic State forces that are using ammunition made in the USA. Conflict Armament Research picked up 1,730 empty cartridges—the part of the ammunition that stays behind when a bullet has left the gun—in northern Iraq and Syria. Of those, 323 were identified as coming from U.S. sources, likely captured from Iraqi forces. Much of it was manufactured at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Acting Director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Who Is David Friedman?

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator David J. Friedman became the agency’s acting director on December 12, 2013. Friedman is a curious choice to work for the NHTSA. His background is alternative fuels and clean vehicles, with only a little experience working with automotive safety issues.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan: Who Is Pamela Spratlen?

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    After serving as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, Spratlen was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic on April 15, 2011. In June 2014, she helped coordinate the handover of Manas Air Base, which had been an important transit base for troops and supplies going into Afghanistan, to the Kyrgyz government.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain: Who Is William Roebuck?

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    Roebuck was sent to Libya in January 2013 in the wake of the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi to serve as chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Tripoli, staying there for six months. During his confirmation hearing for the Bahrain job, Roebuck told committee members that he wouldn’t abide by Bahrain’s law that a government representative be present for meetings between embassy personnel and members of that country’s opposition party.   read more

Featured Story

More Police Departments than Previously Thought Use Portable Surveillance Systems to Spy on almost Everyone

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
More U.S. police departments are using electronic surveillance on cell phones and laptop computers belonging not just to criminal suspects but also law abiding citizens. It's not clear which departments are doing this because the federal government has helped to shield police from disclosing their spy hardware. However, now that Washington, D.C. police are using this spy gear, members of the government might also be among those spied upon.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Report Shows Voter ID Laws Cut Participation in 2012 Election in Kansas and Tennessee

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    “GAO’s analysis suggests that the turnout decreases in Kansas and Tennessee beyond decreases in the comparison states were attributable to changes in those two states’ voter ID requirements,” the report said. The drop was even sharper in Kansas and Tennessee among young voters (18 to 23) and black voters.   read more
  • Republican Governors Outsource Prisons, Child Support Services, Jobs Agencies

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    Florida GOP Governor Rick Scott made headlines urging drug testing for state employees and welfare recipients, a program which, it turned out, benefited his drug testing company, according to the report. Scott also privatized state health care services for prison inmates, which reportedly resulted in a substantial increase in inmate deaths. Corizon Health—a prisoner health care provider that had been sued 660 times for malpractice.   read more
  • Director Comey Admits FBI does Conduct Surveillance without a Warrant

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) top official admitted this week that his agency sometimes bypasses the courts and pries into personal communications without a warrant. Director James Comey’s admission was prompted after he first insisted that the FBI never, ever conducts electronic surveillance without a court order.   read more

Unusual News

  • Sex Offenders Run for Office in Minnesota

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    The Moose Lake Sex Offender Treatment Program (MSOP) is for sex offenders who have completed their criminal sentences, but are deemed too dangerous to live without supervision. So they’re confined to the Moose Lake facility and are restrained by handcuffs and leg irons during any trips to the outside world, such as to a doctor. The program’s residents would like to change the conditions under which they’re held. So they’re registering to vote.   read more
  • Turning Guns and Bullets into Jewelry

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    The Cook County department seizes about 1,500 guns per year. The weapons usually come from drug houses, or are found during the serving of evictions. Typically the guns are taken to an incineration facility for destruction. The newly created jewelry is sold by Liberty for prices ranging from $35 to $1,600. From 20% to 25% of the profits from those sales will go to Children’s Home + Aid, a nonprofit working to stem violence in Chicago neighborhoods.   read more
  • Small Texas Fracking Company Earns Title of Worst Energy Sector Polluter

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    It’s not Chevron, ExxonMobil or Shell whose wells were found to leak the most methane in 2012. Instead it was a small company, Halcón Resources, which won the title for allowing the highest percentage of the gas to escape into the atmosphere. Halcón’s wells sent 6.5 metric tons of methane into the air for each million cubic feet of natural gas produced at its fracking wells in 2012. Second and third on the list were two other small producers, Bill Barrett Corp., and Unit Corp.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • The Key to U.S. Income Statistics: Average Family Income is Growing; Median Family Income is Falling

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    While the average income is growing, the median income, that is, the point at which half the families make more money and half the families make less money, is falling. Between 2010 and 2013, the average family income rose 4%, but the median family income fell 5% during that period. That means the income gains have been concentrated among the wealthy, with the poor and middle class still struggling to see a real recovery.   read more
  • World’s Richest Seven-Tenth of a Percent Own 44% of Assets

    Saturday, October 18, 2014
    About 44% of all personal assets on the planet are owned by only 0.7% of the global population, according to Global Wealth Report 2014 produced by Credit Suisse. In the United States, the richest 1% takes home 20% of the nation’s total income. This is the highest rate since 1928. Credit Suiisse classifies the United States as one of only three developed economies with “very high inequality.”   read more
  • U.S. Said to Shrug off Discovery in Lebanon of a Billion Dollars of Its Missing Iraq Reconstruction Money

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014
    One would think that if more than a billion stolen dollars could be retrieved, the U.S. government would pursue a good lead. But successive presidential administrations have chosen not to investigate it. It was the mission of Stuart W. Bowen to find out where the funds went. When he heard that the cash had been shipped to Lebanon and hidden in a bunker, he told the FBI and CIA. But neither agency pursued it. Bowen attempted to go to Lebanon himself, but was forbidden to do so by his bosses.   read more

Controversies

  • NSA’s Chief Technical Officer Cleared to Moonlight for Private Firm Founded by Former NSA Director Keith Alexander

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    To say that Patrick Dowd has competing loyalties is putting it mildly. The chief technical officer for the National Security Agency (NSA) has taken a second job working for his old boss at a company engaged in the same kind of work as the spy agency. Dowd did get permission from his NSA supervisors to work up to 20 hours a week for IronNet.   read more
  • Honda Accused of Hiding Death and Injury Claims

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    Since 2000, automakers have been required to file quarterly Early Warning Reports (EWRs) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to give the agency a heads-up on trends of deaths and injuries. According to a letter CAS Executive Director Clarence M. Ditlow sent to NHTSA acting administrator David Friedman, Honda has not reported all the incidents of death and injury caused by exploding air bags in its cars.   read more
  • Alarming Rise in Temperatures in U.S.’s Northernmost Town

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    Research into weather records by the University of Alaska Fairbanks shows that the average temperature in Barrow rose by 2.7 degrees Celsius (about 5 degrees F) from 1979 to 2012. October average temperatures increased by an amazing 7.2 degrees Celsius (about 13 degrees F) over the same period. November’s averages climbed by nearly as much.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Classified Internal CIA Study Shows that Its Covert Arming of Foreign Forces Is Often Ineffective

    Friday, October 17, 2014
    The CIA review showed that arming foreign forces had “minimal” effect on the outcome of most conflicts. This was especially true when forces fought without American support on the ground. President Obama mentioned the study when asked if the U.S. had acted quickly enough to arm Syrian rebels. “I actually asked the CIA to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well,” he said. “And they couldn’t come up with much.”   read more
  • U.S. Bombing of Afghanistan Hits 2-Year High

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014
    Some military observers say the Pentagon may be increasing air support missions to help American ground forces pull out of forward operating bases and prepare to ship home. Other experts say more U.S. bombing attacks may become a regular part of the strategy in Afghanistan to compensate for fewer troops starting next year, when only 12,500 will remain behind to help Afghan security forces handle the brunt of the war against insurgents.   read more
  • ISIS Uses Ammunition Made in United States

    Friday, October 10, 2014
    The U.S. is currently spending upwards of a billion dollars attacking Islamic State forces that are using ammunition made in the USA. Conflict Armament Research picked up 1,730 empty cartridges—the part of the ammunition that stays behind when a bullet has left the gun—in northern Iraq and Syria. Of those, 323 were identified as coming from U.S. sources, likely captured from Iraqi forces. Much of it was manufactured at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Acting Director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Who Is David Friedman?

    Monday, October 20, 2014
    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator David J. Friedman became the agency’s acting director on December 12, 2013. Friedman is a curious choice to work for the NHTSA. His background is alternative fuels and clean vehicles, with only a little experience working with automotive safety issues.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan: Who Is Pamela Spratlen?

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    After serving as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, Spratlen was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic on April 15, 2011. In June 2014, she helped coordinate the handover of Manas Air Base, which had been an important transit base for troops and supplies going into Afghanistan, to the Kyrgyz government.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain: Who Is William Roebuck?

    Sunday, October 19, 2014
    Roebuck was sent to Libya in January 2013 in the wake of the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi to serve as chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Tripoli, staying there for six months. During his confirmation hearing for the Bahrain job, Roebuck told committee members that he wouldn’t abide by Bahrain’s law that a government representative be present for meetings between embassy personnel and members of that country’s opposition party.   read more