Featured Story

Blackwater Employees Convicted of Murder of 14 Iraqis

Friday, October 24, 2014
Private security guards employed by Blackwater Worldwide, in 2007, opened fire in the middle of a busy Baghdad intersection, killing 17 Iraqis. This week four of the security guards were convicted in a U.S. federal court on charges ranging from murder to use of an automatic weapon. “This verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war,” said U.S. attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • For the Bottom 90% of Americans, Financial Security is Slipping Away

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    No matter how you look at it, the economic picture for most of America is not good. Saddled with growing amounts of mortgage, consumer credit and student debt, the 90% has had little in the way of extra money to put into savings, says a new study. In fact, the savings rate by those in the lower 90% is about zero. By comparison, the top 1% of families put aside about 35% of their income. The authors say that income inequality will increase as long as the middle-class savings rate remains low.   read more
  • Ex-Nazis Still Receiving Social Security Benefits

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    “Among those receiving Social Security benefits were SS troops who guarded the network of Nazi camps where millions of Jews perished, a rocket scientist accused of using slave laborers...and a Nazi collaborator who engineered the...execution of thousands of Jews in Poland,” reported AP. Still getting Social Security payments from the U.S. government are Martin Hartmann, former SS guard at the Sachsenhausen camp; Jakob Denzinger, former guard at Auschwitz; and Wasyl Lytwyn of the Nazi SS.   read more
  • 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

Unusual News

  • California County Tried to Seize Marijuana Plants without Warrant because Growing them Wasted Water

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Officials insisted the plants had to go in order to help preserve water supplies, and the situation was so dire police need not obtain a court order first. Judge Thelton Henderson wrote: “The need to reduce water use, even during a drought, falls below the level of urgency associated with emergencies justifying a warrantless search in existing case law. The county’s inexperience in obtaining warrants...does not excuse the requirements of the [U.S.] Constitution."   read more
  • The 25-Year-Old Unsolved Kidnapping that Led to a Significant Increase in the Recovery of Missing Children

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    In 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted in St. Joseph, Minnesota. His parents, Jerry and Patty Wetterling have dedicated themselves to not only finding their lost child, but also helping other parents see their children come home safely. While Patty Wetterling has “helped change the landscape of missing children, from sex offender registries to police training,” the rate of missing children found has increased significantly—from 62% in 1990 to 97% today   read more
  • Tennessee Woman Jailed for Having Overgrown Lawn

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    Karen Holloway of Lenoir City had been cited by the city for the heinous crime of not pruning her bushes or mowing her lawn. When the yard wasn’t cleaned up, she had to appear in court with no lawyer. She asked the judge, Terry Vann, if she could perform five days of community service to avoid spending time “with child molesters, and people who’ve done real crimes.” Vann insisted she spend time in jail, but did reduce the sentence to six hours.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 2.4 Million U.S. Financial Records a Day Stolen by Hackers in Last 6 Months

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    “We’re in a day when a person can commit about 15,000 bank robberies sitting in their basement,” said the FBI's Robert Anderson. Some of the big name businesses targeted by hackers recently include JPMorgan Chase, Target and Home Depot. About half of all adult Americans—110 million people—have had their financial data compromised in some way in the past year. About 80% of businesses don’t realize their accounts have been breached until being informed by financial institutions or customers   read more
  • 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

Controversies

  • Senators Coburn and Lee Fight to Halt Creation of a Women’s History Museum

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Republican senators Tom Coburn and Mike Lee are blocking the measure from moving forward in the Senate. They say the plan could result in the federal government paying for a large portion of the museum at a time of trillion-dollar debts. Bill co-sponsor Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) says the holdup is “just outrageous.” She noted that other groups have established museums in Washington through the creation of a commission, which is what the bill calls for.   read more
  • If the Draft Ended 41 Years Ago, Why are Young Men Still Punished for not Registering?

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Each year millions of teenage men are required to register for a draft that does not exist. Those who don’t sign up are barred from receiving federal financial aid, student loans, job training, or employment from certain public agencies. In 40 states, getting or renewing a driver’s license is linked to whether a person registered for the draft. Each violator is also at risk for spending five years in prison and being fined up to $250,000, if the Justice Department chooses to prosecute.   read more
  • Interior Dept. Inspector General Closed 457 Investigations Last Year, but Released only 3 to the Public

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall said that the lack of disclosure stemmed from a policy requiring the agency to receive three separate Freedom of Information Act requests before releasing a report—an unrealistically high standard. Most of the cases "stayed hidden from public view," according to Greenwire. “Among them were cases exposing nepotism, contracting violations and allegations that BP America underpaid its gas royalties by millions of dollars.”   read more

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Wasted $7.6 Billion to Fight Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan…Which is Now at an All-Time High

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    “Afghan farmers grew an unprecedented 209,000 hectares of opium poppy in 2013, surpassing the previous peak of 193,000...in 2007," said SIGAR. "With deteriorating security in many parts of rural Afghanistan and low levels of eradication of poppy fields, further increases...are likely in 2014.” The illicit trade was valued at nearly $3 billion last year. Regions that had become “poppy free” as a result of U.S. anti-drug programs have been experiencing a “resurgence in cultivation.”   read more
  • In a Reversal, Rwanda Screens Air Passengers Arriving from U.S. for Ebola

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    The government of Rwanda has decided to start screening all visitors arriving from the United States. Rwanda may be reacting to an incident in New Jersey, where two Rwandan exchange students were pulled out of school following fears by staff members and parents that that the two might be carrying the Ebola virus, despite no evidence that they were. In fact, New Jersey is closer to Texas, site of the U.S. outbreak, than Rwanda is to West Africa, more than 2,500 miles away.   read more
  • 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

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

Blackwater Employees Convicted of Murder of 14 Iraqis

Friday, October 24, 2014
Private security guards employed by Blackwater Worldwide, in 2007, opened fire in the middle of a busy Baghdad intersection, killing 17 Iraqis. This week four of the security guards were convicted in a U.S. federal court on charges ranging from murder to use of an automatic weapon. “This verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war,” said U.S. attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • For the Bottom 90% of Americans, Financial Security is Slipping Away

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    No matter how you look at it, the economic picture for most of America is not good. Saddled with growing amounts of mortgage, consumer credit and student debt, the 90% has had little in the way of extra money to put into savings, says a new study. In fact, the savings rate by those in the lower 90% is about zero. By comparison, the top 1% of families put aside about 35% of their income. The authors say that income inequality will increase as long as the middle-class savings rate remains low.   read more
  • Ex-Nazis Still Receiving Social Security Benefits

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    “Among those receiving Social Security benefits were SS troops who guarded the network of Nazi camps where millions of Jews perished, a rocket scientist accused of using slave laborers...and a Nazi collaborator who engineered the...execution of thousands of Jews in Poland,” reported AP. Still getting Social Security payments from the U.S. government are Martin Hartmann, former SS guard at the Sachsenhausen camp; Jakob Denzinger, former guard at Auschwitz; and Wasyl Lytwyn of the Nazi SS.   read more
  • 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

Unusual News

  • California County Tried to Seize Marijuana Plants without Warrant because Growing them Wasted Water

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Officials insisted the plants had to go in order to help preserve water supplies, and the situation was so dire police need not obtain a court order first. Judge Thelton Henderson wrote: “The need to reduce water use, even during a drought, falls below the level of urgency associated with emergencies justifying a warrantless search in existing case law. The county’s inexperience in obtaining warrants...does not excuse the requirements of the [U.S.] Constitution."   read more
  • The 25-Year-Old Unsolved Kidnapping that Led to a Significant Increase in the Recovery of Missing Children

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    In 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted in St. Joseph, Minnesota. His parents, Jerry and Patty Wetterling have dedicated themselves to not only finding their lost child, but also helping other parents see their children come home safely. While Patty Wetterling has “helped change the landscape of missing children, from sex offender registries to police training,” the rate of missing children found has increased significantly—from 62% in 1990 to 97% today   read more
  • Tennessee Woman Jailed for Having Overgrown Lawn

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    Karen Holloway of Lenoir City had been cited by the city for the heinous crime of not pruning her bushes or mowing her lawn. When the yard wasn’t cleaned up, she had to appear in court with no lawyer. She asked the judge, Terry Vann, if she could perform five days of community service to avoid spending time “with child molesters, and people who’ve done real crimes.” Vann insisted she spend time in jail, but did reduce the sentence to six hours.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 2.4 Million U.S. Financial Records a Day Stolen by Hackers in Last 6 Months

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    “We’re in a day when a person can commit about 15,000 bank robberies sitting in their basement,” said the FBI's Robert Anderson. Some of the big name businesses targeted by hackers recently include JPMorgan Chase, Target and Home Depot. About half of all adult Americans—110 million people—have had their financial data compromised in some way in the past year. About 80% of businesses don’t realize their accounts have been breached until being informed by financial institutions or customers   read more
  • 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

Controversies

  • Senators Coburn and Lee Fight to Halt Creation of a Women’s History Museum

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Republican senators Tom Coburn and Mike Lee are blocking the measure from moving forward in the Senate. They say the plan could result in the federal government paying for a large portion of the museum at a time of trillion-dollar debts. Bill co-sponsor Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) says the holdup is “just outrageous.” She noted that other groups have established museums in Washington through the creation of a commission, which is what the bill calls for.   read more
  • If the Draft Ended 41 Years Ago, Why are Young Men Still Punished for not Registering?

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Each year millions of teenage men are required to register for a draft that does not exist. Those who don’t sign up are barred from receiving federal financial aid, student loans, job training, or employment from certain public agencies. In 40 states, getting or renewing a driver’s license is linked to whether a person registered for the draft. Each violator is also at risk for spending five years in prison and being fined up to $250,000, if the Justice Department chooses to prosecute.   read more
  • Interior Dept. Inspector General Closed 457 Investigations Last Year, but Released only 3 to the Public

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall said that the lack of disclosure stemmed from a policy requiring the agency to receive three separate Freedom of Information Act requests before releasing a report—an unrealistically high standard. Most of the cases "stayed hidden from public view," according to Greenwire. “Among them were cases exposing nepotism, contracting violations and allegations that BP America underpaid its gas royalties by millions of dollars.”   read more

U.S. and the World

  • U.S. Wasted $7.6 Billion to Fight Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan…Which is Now at an All-Time High

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    “Afghan farmers grew an unprecedented 209,000 hectares of opium poppy in 2013, surpassing the previous peak of 193,000...in 2007," said SIGAR. "With deteriorating security in many parts of rural Afghanistan and low levels of eradication of poppy fields, further increases...are likely in 2014.” The illicit trade was valued at nearly $3 billion last year. Regions that had become “poppy free” as a result of U.S. anti-drug programs have been experiencing a “resurgence in cultivation.”   read more
  • In a Reversal, Rwanda Screens Air Passengers Arriving from U.S. for Ebola

    Thursday, October 23, 2014
    The government of Rwanda has decided to start screening all visitors arriving from the United States. Rwanda may be reacting to an incident in New Jersey, where two Rwandan exchange students were pulled out of school following fears by staff members and parents that that the two might be carrying the Ebola virus, despite no evidence that they were. In fact, New Jersey is closer to Texas, site of the U.S. outbreak, than Rwanda is to West Africa, more than 2,500 miles away.   read more
  • 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

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