Featured Story

Supreme Court Hits Brakes on Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Thursday, February 11, 2016
The surprising move is a blow to the administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations "an unprecedented power grab." A 5-4 majority issued the temporary freeze. The Obama administration's plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Federal Advisory Panel on Pain has 6 Members with Links to Drugmakers

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    Two panelists work for the Center for Practical Bioethics, which receives funding from multiple drugmakers, including OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, which donated $100,000 in 2013. One panelist holds a chair at the center created by a $1.5-million donation from Purdue. The other received more than $8,660 in speaking fees, meals, travel and other payments from pain drugmakers. The legislation creating the panel was championed for years by drugmakers.   read more
  • It’s Not Just Flint: Water Supplies in many U.S. Cities are Contaminated by Lead

    Tuesday, February 09, 2016
    In Flint, Michigan, as many as 8,000 children under age 6 were exposed to unsafe levels of lead. But it is hardly the only such occurrence. Unsafe levels of lead have turned up in tap water in city after city — in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Mississippi — as well as in scores of other places in recent years. Such episodes are unsettling reminders of what experts say are holes in the safety net of rules and procedures intended to keep water not just lead-free, but free of all poisons.   read more
  • U.S. Housing Agency Considers Booting Out Public Housing Residents with Improved Income

    Monday, February 08, 2016
    A HUD I.G. report has found that more than 25,000 of the 1.1 million U.S. families in public housing - about 2.5% - earn too much money to qualify for housing subsidies. "The families identified by HUD ... met the income limits at the time of admission...but their income now exceeds such income limits," HUD said. The agency added that rising income is good because it is a sign that a family is on its way to self-sufficiency, but when it's temporary it shouldn't be used to end assistance.   read more

Unusual News

  • With 400,000 Items in Storage, Overwhelmed Park Service Seeks to Limit Mementos Left at Vietnam Memorial Wall

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    Among the items left behind since the memorial was dedicated in 1982 are a custom-built Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a general's stars, eyeglasses, military ribbons and medals, money and flags. The proposed changes call for keeping only personal artifacts of personnel whose names appear on the memorial, Vietnam War military service items, and protest and advocacy materials related to the war. Most of the items left at the site now have no direct connection to Vietnam veterans or the war.   read more
  • Registered Drone Operators Outnumber Registered Planes in U.S.

    Tuesday, February 09, 2016
    FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a legal forum on Monday that the agency passed the milestone last week when it topped 325,000 registered drone owners. There are 320,000 registered manned aircraft. Huerta said the number of small unmanned aircraft is even larger because drone operators often own more than one drone. FAA officials launched a drone registration program just before Christmas, saying it would help them track down operators who violate regulations.   read more
  • 8 States See Big Drop in Number of People without Health Insurance

    Tuesday, February 09, 2016
    Independent experts say the coverage gains are due to the Obama health care law, boosted by economic recovery. That poses a dilemma for GOP presidential candidates, who are vowing to repeal "Obamacare," while offering hardly any detail on how they'd replace it without millions losing coverage. Indeed, a group of conservative policy experts said Republicans will need some kind of "grandfathering exemption" to avoid disrupting the lives of people who have gained coverage.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Millions of Dollars in Shadowy Campaign Money Fuel Presidential Campaigns

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    At least $4 million in dark money is flowing to outside groups helping White House hopefuls. Both parties benefit from money routed through obscure corporations, or from nonprofits that don't have to disclose their donors. The contributions are a reminder of federal court decisions in recent years, like Citizens United, that loosened prior restrictions in campaign finance laws. That can hide who's really backing candidates — and what favors or influence could be owed should they get elected.   read more
  • U.S. Utility Firms Worry about Insurance Coverage in Event of Power Grid Cyber Attack

    Friday, January 29, 2016
    The potential costs of an attack in the United States are huge. Last year Lloyd's and the University of Cambridge released a 65-page study estimating that simultaneous malware attacks on 50 generators in the Northeastern United States could cut power to as many as 93 million people, resulting in at least $243 billion in economic damage and $21 billion to $71 billion in insurance claims. The study called such a scenario improbable but "technologically possible."   read more
  • One Place Where Women’s Pay Remains Stubbornly Equal to Men’s: U.S. Military

    Sunday, December 20, 2015
    The one thing that historically has held back women in the armed forces is that not all jobs were open to women, especially spots in combat units which are seen as a prerequisite for promotion. But Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s announcement that all jobs are open equally to men and women changed that and women should soon see a clearer path to advancement. The Coast Guard offers a two-year sabbatical to encourage mothers to stay in the service.   read more

Controversies

  • Only in Georgia can Accused Police Officers Attend their own Grand Jury Hearing

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    Georgia is the only state that allows the officer's unchallenged statement at the end of a grand jury session,. In some other states, a prosecutor can call the officer as a witness, but the officer is subject to questions and can't listen to the other testimony. The law has drawn criticism, especially as police use of force cases face increasing scrutiny nationwide. Critics argue the law gives an officer an unfair advantage and makes it extremely difficult to indict an officer.   read more
  • Dangers Seen in Use of One-Touch Cell Phone Mortgage App

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    The Quicken Loans ad asks what would happen if the Internet “did for mortgages what the Internet did for buying music, plane tickets and shoes,” then showing a woman getting a home mortgage with the press of a button on her phone. If taken too literally, this could get people in trouble. A home mortgage is the biggest financial obligation most people will take on. If you buy the wrong music, plane ticket or shoes, it’s probably not a crippling financial burden, where the wrong mortgage can be.   read more
  • Judge Rejects Big Tobacco’s Rewrite of Court-Ordered Admission of Deception

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    Philip Morris and other cigarette makers will soon be required to make public statements about the health effects of smoking, after a federal judge called the companies' rewrite request "ridiculous - a waste of precious time, energy, and money for all concerned - and a loss of information for the public." Judge Kessler rejected the cigarette makers' proposals, including the tobacco companies' desire to completely remove their names from the statements.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Death by Guns, Drugs and Cars More Common in U.S. than Other Countries

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    "If we brought mortality from car crashes, firearm injuries and drug poisonings down to levels that we see in these other countries, we'd gain about a year of life expectancy," said lead author Andrew Fenelon. The injury data include accidental and intentional deaths and suicides, and deaths from prescription medications and illicit drugs. The study bolsters the argument that improving U.S. life expectancy will require addressing premature deaths among younger ages   read more
  • U.S. and UK Spy Agencies May be Allowed to Request Online Chat Data and Emails from Media Companies

    Saturday, February 06, 2016
    Talks focused on letting UK agencies, such as MI5, serve orders on U.S. firms demanding data for “live intercepts” in inquiries involving UK citizens. UK agencies might also be able to ask U.S. companies to turn over stored data, such as emails. Rep. Adam Schiff said Congress should monitor any privacy and civil liberties issues, "including making sure these British orders do not cover U.S. persons or individuals within the U.S., do not permit bulk collection, and have due process protections."   read more
  • Canada Stops Sharing Compromised Spy Information with U.S.

    Saturday, January 30, 2016
    Canada has stopped its electronic spy agency from sharing some data with key international allies after discovering the information mistakenly contained personal details about Canadians, government officials said on Thursday. Ottawa acted after learning that the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) agency had failed to properly disguise metadata - the numbers and time stamps of phone calls but not their content - before passing it on to their international partners.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chairman of the Federal Election Commission: Who Is Matthew S. Petersen?

    Tuesday, February 02, 2016
    President George W. Bush nominated Petersen to a spot on the FEC in June 2008. His nomination was confirmed by his former employers on the Rules Committee. He served a term as FEC chairman beginning in 2010. As one of the three Republican appointees on the FEC, Petersen has been a reliable vote against attempts to reform elections. In 2013, for instance, he voted to make it more difficult for the Justice Department to prosecute campaign finance violations.   read more
  • Secretary of the Army: Who Is Eric Fanning?

    Tuesday, January 26, 2016
    Fanning was deputy director of the Committee on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. The group was an outgrowth of the 9/11 Commission and assessed activities aimed at preventing WMD proliferation. In 2009, Fanning was named deputy under secretary of the Navy, where he worked to bring efficiencies to the service’s processes. If he’s confirmed by the Senate, Fanning will be the first openly gay civilian head of an armed forces branch.   read more
  • Cuba’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez?

    Monday, January 25, 2016
    Cabañas is Cuba’s first ambassador to the United States in more than 50 years. His appointment to the post came two months after a restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had ended during Cold War hostilities in 1961. Cabañas maintained a somewhat higher profile than his predecessors, traveling around the United States speaking to various organizations. He was the first head of Cuba’s Interests Section to allow himself to be filmed at such events.   read more

Featured Story

Supreme Court Hits Brakes on Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Thursday, February 11, 2016
The surprising move is a blow to the administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations "an unprecedented power grab." A 5-4 majority issued the temporary freeze. The Obama administration's plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Federal Advisory Panel on Pain has 6 Members with Links to Drugmakers

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    Two panelists work for the Center for Practical Bioethics, which receives funding from multiple drugmakers, including OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, which donated $100,000 in 2013. One panelist holds a chair at the center created by a $1.5-million donation from Purdue. The other received more than $8,660 in speaking fees, meals, travel and other payments from pain drugmakers. The legislation creating the panel was championed for years by drugmakers.   read more
  • It’s Not Just Flint: Water Supplies in many U.S. Cities are Contaminated by Lead

    Tuesday, February 09, 2016
    In Flint, Michigan, as many as 8,000 children under age 6 were exposed to unsafe levels of lead. But it is hardly the only such occurrence. Unsafe levels of lead have turned up in tap water in city after city — in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Mississippi — as well as in scores of other places in recent years. Such episodes are unsettling reminders of what experts say are holes in the safety net of rules and procedures intended to keep water not just lead-free, but free of all poisons.   read more
  • U.S. Housing Agency Considers Booting Out Public Housing Residents with Improved Income

    Monday, February 08, 2016
    A HUD I.G. report has found that more than 25,000 of the 1.1 million U.S. families in public housing - about 2.5% - earn too much money to qualify for housing subsidies. "The families identified by HUD ... met the income limits at the time of admission...but their income now exceeds such income limits," HUD said. The agency added that rising income is good because it is a sign that a family is on its way to self-sufficiency, but when it's temporary it shouldn't be used to end assistance.   read more

Unusual News

  • With 400,000 Items in Storage, Overwhelmed Park Service Seeks to Limit Mementos Left at Vietnam Memorial Wall

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    Among the items left behind since the memorial was dedicated in 1982 are a custom-built Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a general's stars, eyeglasses, military ribbons and medals, money and flags. The proposed changes call for keeping only personal artifacts of personnel whose names appear on the memorial, Vietnam War military service items, and protest and advocacy materials related to the war. Most of the items left at the site now have no direct connection to Vietnam veterans or the war.   read more
  • Registered Drone Operators Outnumber Registered Planes in U.S.

    Tuesday, February 09, 2016
    FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a legal forum on Monday that the agency passed the milestone last week when it topped 325,000 registered drone owners. There are 320,000 registered manned aircraft. Huerta said the number of small unmanned aircraft is even larger because drone operators often own more than one drone. FAA officials launched a drone registration program just before Christmas, saying it would help them track down operators who violate regulations.   read more
  • 8 States See Big Drop in Number of People without Health Insurance

    Tuesday, February 09, 2016
    Independent experts say the coverage gains are due to the Obama health care law, boosted by economic recovery. That poses a dilemma for GOP presidential candidates, who are vowing to repeal "Obamacare," while offering hardly any detail on how they'd replace it without millions losing coverage. Indeed, a group of conservative policy experts said Republicans will need some kind of "grandfathering exemption" to avoid disrupting the lives of people who have gained coverage.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Millions of Dollars in Shadowy Campaign Money Fuel Presidential Campaigns

    Sunday, February 07, 2016
    At least $4 million in dark money is flowing to outside groups helping White House hopefuls. Both parties benefit from money routed through obscure corporations, or from nonprofits that don't have to disclose their donors. The contributions are a reminder of federal court decisions in recent years, like Citizens United, that loosened prior restrictions in campaign finance laws. That can hide who's really backing candidates — and what favors or influence could be owed should they get elected.   read more
  • U.S. Utility Firms Worry about Insurance Coverage in Event of Power Grid Cyber Attack

    Friday, January 29, 2016
    The potential costs of an attack in the United States are huge. Last year Lloyd's and the University of Cambridge released a 65-page study estimating that simultaneous malware attacks on 50 generators in the Northeastern United States could cut power to as many as 93 million people, resulting in at least $243 billion in economic damage and $21 billion to $71 billion in insurance claims. The study called such a scenario improbable but "technologically possible."   read more
  • One Place Where Women’s Pay Remains Stubbornly Equal to Men’s: U.S. Military

    Sunday, December 20, 2015
    The one thing that historically has held back women in the armed forces is that not all jobs were open to women, especially spots in combat units which are seen as a prerequisite for promotion. But Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s announcement that all jobs are open equally to men and women changed that and women should soon see a clearer path to advancement. The Coast Guard offers a two-year sabbatical to encourage mothers to stay in the service.   read more

Controversies

  • Only in Georgia can Accused Police Officers Attend their own Grand Jury Hearing

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    Georgia is the only state that allows the officer's unchallenged statement at the end of a grand jury session,. In some other states, a prosecutor can call the officer as a witness, but the officer is subject to questions and can't listen to the other testimony. The law has drawn criticism, especially as police use of force cases face increasing scrutiny nationwide. Critics argue the law gives an officer an unfair advantage and makes it extremely difficult to indict an officer.   read more
  • Dangers Seen in Use of One-Touch Cell Phone Mortgage App

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    The Quicken Loans ad asks what would happen if the Internet “did for mortgages what the Internet did for buying music, plane tickets and shoes,” then showing a woman getting a home mortgage with the press of a button on her phone. If taken too literally, this could get people in trouble. A home mortgage is the biggest financial obligation most people will take on. If you buy the wrong music, plane ticket or shoes, it’s probably not a crippling financial burden, where the wrong mortgage can be.   read more
  • Judge Rejects Big Tobacco’s Rewrite of Court-Ordered Admission of Deception

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    Philip Morris and other cigarette makers will soon be required to make public statements about the health effects of smoking, after a federal judge called the companies' rewrite request "ridiculous - a waste of precious time, energy, and money for all concerned - and a loss of information for the public." Judge Kessler rejected the cigarette makers' proposals, including the tobacco companies' desire to completely remove their names from the statements.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Death by Guns, Drugs and Cars More Common in U.S. than Other Countries

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016
    "If we brought mortality from car crashes, firearm injuries and drug poisonings down to levels that we see in these other countries, we'd gain about a year of life expectancy," said lead author Andrew Fenelon. The injury data include accidental and intentional deaths and suicides, and deaths from prescription medications and illicit drugs. The study bolsters the argument that improving U.S. life expectancy will require addressing premature deaths among younger ages   read more
  • U.S. and UK Spy Agencies May be Allowed to Request Online Chat Data and Emails from Media Companies

    Saturday, February 06, 2016
    Talks focused on letting UK agencies, such as MI5, serve orders on U.S. firms demanding data for “live intercepts” in inquiries involving UK citizens. UK agencies might also be able to ask U.S. companies to turn over stored data, such as emails. Rep. Adam Schiff said Congress should monitor any privacy and civil liberties issues, "including making sure these British orders do not cover U.S. persons or individuals within the U.S., do not permit bulk collection, and have due process protections."   read more
  • Canada Stops Sharing Compromised Spy Information with U.S.

    Saturday, January 30, 2016
    Canada has stopped its electronic spy agency from sharing some data with key international allies after discovering the information mistakenly contained personal details about Canadians, government officials said on Thursday. Ottawa acted after learning that the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) agency had failed to properly disguise metadata - the numbers and time stamps of phone calls but not their content - before passing it on to their international partners.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chairman of the Federal Election Commission: Who Is Matthew S. Petersen?

    Tuesday, February 02, 2016
    President George W. Bush nominated Petersen to a spot on the FEC in June 2008. His nomination was confirmed by his former employers on the Rules Committee. He served a term as FEC chairman beginning in 2010. As one of the three Republican appointees on the FEC, Petersen has been a reliable vote against attempts to reform elections. In 2013, for instance, he voted to make it more difficult for the Justice Department to prosecute campaign finance violations.   read more
  • Secretary of the Army: Who Is Eric Fanning?

    Tuesday, January 26, 2016
    Fanning was deputy director of the Committee on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. The group was an outgrowth of the 9/11 Commission and assessed activities aimed at preventing WMD proliferation. In 2009, Fanning was named deputy under secretary of the Navy, where he worked to bring efficiencies to the service’s processes. If he’s confirmed by the Senate, Fanning will be the first openly gay civilian head of an armed forces branch.   read more
  • Cuba’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez?

    Monday, January 25, 2016
    Cabañas is Cuba’s first ambassador to the United States in more than 50 years. His appointment to the post came two months after a restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had ended during Cold War hostilities in 1961. Cabañas maintained a somewhat higher profile than his predecessors, traveling around the United States speaking to various organizations. He was the first head of Cuba’s Interests Section to allow himself to be filmed at such events.   read more