Featured Story

Congress’ NSA Bulk Surveillance Reform Bill: Much Ado about Little

Monday, May 04, 2015
The bill doesn’t address data collection under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which allows the collection of the actual content of some communications, including that of Americans, and the collection of information from overseas calls. “If this bill passes, the NSA will continue unaddressed surveillance programs and will secretly torture the English language to devise novel justifications for spying on Americans,” said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Do States’ “Police Bill of Rights” Undermine Law Enforcement Accountability?

    Saturday, May 02, 2015
    The death of Freddie Gray last month while in police custody in Baltimore has put a spotlight on a Maryland state law that critics say allows police officers avoid being held accountable for abuse and other violations. Known as the “police officers’ bill of rights,” the laws in 14 states grant law enforcement special treatment not afforded to non-police accused of crimes. The statute allows officers to wait 10 days before talking to investigators and limits the time officers can be questioned.   read more
  • Whistleblowers Take Obama and Bush to Task for War on Whistleblowers, Urge Patriot Act Repeal

    Friday, May 01, 2015
    The seven whistleblowers also urged Congress to adopt legislation, the Surveillance State Repeal Act, which would end the Patriot Act and roll back government surveillance on Americans’ personal lives. They also criticized the administrations of President Barack Obama and George W. Bush for trying to punish whistleblowers.   read more
  • Are Republican Politicians Secretly Rooting for a Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage?

    Thursday, April 30, 2015
    A court ruling that legalizes same-sex marriages would allow GOP candidates to publicly decry the decision, giving their conservative supporters what they want to hear. But it would also allow them to concentrate on other issues instead of continually defining themselves as socially intolerant leaders whose views are unacceptable to millennials, the next generation of voters. If they can’t change this perception, the consequences to them could be even worse in the years ahead.   read more

Unusual News

  • Ohio Supreme Court Rules NFL Players Were Overtaxed When They Played Cleveland Browns

    Sunday, May 03, 2015
    Cleveland was taking a cut of visiting NFL players’ salaries in proportion to their team’s schedules. If the team played 20 games, including exhibitions, Cleveland would count 5% of a visiting player’s salary as subject to that city’s income tax. Former Indianapolis Colt Jeff Saturday also sued Cleveland, saying he shouldn’t have had to pay the city any tax for the game his team played in 2008 because he was back in Indiana rehabilitating an injury.   read more
  • Chicago College Dean Fired for Reporting Discovery of Decomposing Bodies on Campus

    Friday, May 01, 2015
    Dr. Micah Young was dean of health sciences and career programs at Malcolm X College until February 4, when he was fired for “alleged performance issues.” But Young claims the firing had more to do with his report of the discovery last summer of four decomposing bodies in an unrefrigerated walk-in safe on campus.   read more
  • Navajo Nation Taxes Junk Food

    Tuesday, April 28, 2015
    Tribal leaders said the change was necessary to curb obesity rates, which are three times the national average. The junk food tax, said to be the first of its kind in the U.S., comes to a community where up to 90% of the grocery stores’ inventory qualifies as junk food. In fact, the USDA has described the entire Navajo Nation a “food desert” because of the lack of healthy foods. More than half of the residents drive up to 240 miles just to get to a store that sells fresh fruits and vegetables.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Defense Experts Urge Base Closures, Personnel Cuts and Increased Care for Female Vets

    Friday, May 01, 2015
    Defense Reform Consensus, a group of 38 analysts from a list of think tanks representing all parts of the political spectrum, say the government should close more military bases and reduce the number of civilians who work for the Defense Department, among other recommendations.   read more
  • Political Megadonors—Top 1% of the Top 1%—Have Increasing Impact on Campaign Financing

    Friday, May 01, 2015
    During the 2014 midterms, 31,976 donors (out of 323 million people) were responsible for pouring $1.18 billion in disclosed political contributions at the federal level. And that doesn’t even include dark money that was spent through the use of loopholes in federal tax laws that allow the uber-rich to avoid revealing certain contributions.   read more
  • Congress Coughs up $300 Million to Extend Work on Useless Nuclear Waste Plant

    Wednesday, April 29, 2015
    What’s $300 million when a project could end up consuming more than $50 billion over its lifetime? Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) called the continued funding of the MOX facility a “zombie earmark.” DOE officials are so fed up with the project that they were ready to shut it down. But backers in Congress, including Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C), made sure there was $300 million in the 2014 year-end spending bill for MOX. They even prohibited the Energy Department from putting MOX in cold standby.   read more

Controversies

  • Species Extinction and Extreme Weather Predicted in New Climate Change Studies

    Saturday, May 02, 2015
    One study warns that rising global temperatures could kill off one out of every six plant and animal species worldwide. If the temperature increase is 7.7 degrees, the loss of species could jump to 16%. Another study warned that a temperature increase of five degrees Fahrenheit could produce a 62-fold increase in heat extremes. "What used to be a one-in-1,000-days event or a one-in-three-years event becomes, for instance, a four-in-three-year or five-in-three-year event,” said Erich Fischer.   read more
  • House Republicans Try to Repeal Estate Tax and Give the 25 Richest Americans a $334 Billion Tax Break

    Friday, May 01, 2015
    The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, which cleared the House 240-179 on a nearly party-line vote, would amount to a $334 billion tax break for 25 of the nation’s billionaires. Republicans insist they just want to prevent mom-and-pop companies and family farms from being affected by the tax, although the GOP hasn’t been able to produce one such example.   read more
  • Pope’s Climate Change Campaign Alarms U.S. Conservatives

    Thursday, April 30, 2015
    “Francis sullies his office by using demagogic formulations to bully the populace into reflexive climate action with no more substantive guide than theologized propaganda," wrote Maureen Mullarkey."Pope Francis...would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate," said Joseph Bast, president of the Koch brothers-funded Heartland Institute.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Alarming Conditions at U.S. Air Base in Djibouti

    Sunday, May 03, 2015
    Air traffic controllers, civilians who work for the Djibouti government, regularly nap, listen to music, play video games and text on their mobile phones while directing military traffic from several nations, as well as civilian traffic from major world airlines. Many of the controllers are also resentful of the foreign presence in their country.   read more
  • Good News from the U.S.-Mexican Border

    Sunday, May 03, 2015
    Thanks to an agreement, Minute 319, between the U.S. and Mexican governments, a surge of Colorado River water was released from its floodgates down into Baja California en route to the Sea of Cortez last year. The efforts are paying off. Birds not seen in 50 years, such as the yellow-billed cuckoo, are returning to the area.   read more
  • NSA Used German Intelligence to Spy on Offices of French President and other EU Allies

    Saturday, May 02, 2015
    The American-German cooperation went on for at least a decade. The news is embarrassing for Merkel, who was vocal about the NSA tapping her phone calls. “You don’t spy on your friends,” she said at the time. But Germany’s intelligence agency did just that by sharing intelligence gathered from its “eavesdropping facility in Bavaria to monitor email and telephone traffic at the Élysée Palace, the offices of the French president, and of key EU institutions,” said The Guardian.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Peru’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Luis Miguel Castilla?

    Sunday, May 03, 2015
    Castilla joined Peru’s government as assistant finance minister under centrist President Alan Garcia in January 2010. When Ollanta Humala, a president with leftist leanings assumed office in July 2011, he surprised many by adding Castilla to his cabinet as minister of rconomics and finance. Humala thought that the presence of Castilla, an economic moderate, would calm the fears of Peru’s business community about the ascension of a leftist to the presidency.   read more
  • Niger’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Hassana Alidou?

    Sunday, May 03, 2015
    Alidou's focus is on promoting the early education of African students in their indigenous language, rather than the colonial language such as French or English as is the case now. As part of that work, Alidou consults on bi/multilingual and mother tongue education in Africa for the UNESCO Institute for Education. She was the regional director of UNESCO in Abuja, Nigeria.   read more
  • South Sudan’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Garang Diing Akuong?

    Saturday, May 02, 2015
    Since taking over as ambassador, Akuong has had to contend with the U.S.-initiated threat to impose sanctions, through the United Nations Security Council, against South Sudan unless President Kiir and Machar can come to terms to end a civil war which began in December 2013 and has killed ten thousand and displaced an estimated 1.5 million citizens.   read more

Featured Story

Congress’ NSA Bulk Surveillance Reform Bill: Much Ado about Little

Monday, May 04, 2015
The bill doesn’t address data collection under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which allows the collection of the actual content of some communications, including that of Americans, and the collection of information from overseas calls. “If this bill passes, the NSA will continue unaddressed surveillance programs and will secretly torture the English language to devise novel justifications for spying on Americans,” said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Do States’ “Police Bill of Rights” Undermine Law Enforcement Accountability?

    Saturday, May 02, 2015
    The death of Freddie Gray last month while in police custody in Baltimore has put a spotlight on a Maryland state law that critics say allows police officers avoid being held accountable for abuse and other violations. Known as the “police officers’ bill of rights,” the laws in 14 states grant law enforcement special treatment not afforded to non-police accused of crimes. The statute allows officers to wait 10 days before talking to investigators and limits the time officers can be questioned.   read more
  • Whistleblowers Take Obama and Bush to Task for War on Whistleblowers, Urge Patriot Act Repeal

    Friday, May 01, 2015
    The seven whistleblowers also urged Congress to adopt legislation, the Surveillance State Repeal Act, which would end the Patriot Act and roll back government surveillance on Americans’ personal lives. They also criticized the administrations of President Barack Obama and George W. Bush for trying to punish whistleblowers.   read more
  • Are Republican Politicians Secretly Rooting for a Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage?

    Thursday, April 30, 2015
    A court ruling that legalizes same-sex marriages would allow GOP candidates to publicly decry the decision, giving their conservative supporters what they want to hear. But it would also allow them to concentrate on other issues instead of continually defining themselves as socially intolerant leaders whose views are unacceptable to millennials, the next generation of voters. If they can’t change this perception, the consequences to them could be even worse in the years ahead.   read more

Unusual News

  • Ohio Supreme Court Rules NFL Players Were Overtaxed When They Played Cleveland Browns

    Sunday, May 03, 2015
    Cleveland was taking a cut of visiting NFL players’ salaries in proportion to their team’s schedules. If the team played 20 games, including exhibitions, Cleveland would count 5% of a visiting player’s salary as subject to that city’s income tax. Former Indianapolis Colt Jeff Saturday also sued Cleveland, saying he shouldn’t have had to pay the city any tax for the game his team played in 2008 because he was back in Indiana rehabilitating an injury.   read more
  • Chicago College Dean Fired for Reporting Discovery of Decomposing Bodies on Campus

    Friday, May 01, 2015
    Dr. Micah Young was dean of health sciences and career programs at Malcolm X College until February 4, when he was fired for “alleged performance issues.” But Young claims the firing had more to do with his report of the discovery last summer of four decomposing bodies in an unrefrigerated walk-in safe on campus.   read more
  • Navajo Nation Taxes Junk Food

    Tuesday, April 28, 2015
    Tribal leaders said the change was necessary to curb obesity rates, which are three times the national average. The junk food tax, said to be the first of its kind in the U.S., comes to a community where up to 90% of the grocery stores’ inventory qualifies as junk food. In fact, the USDA has described the entire Navajo Nation a “food desert” because of the lack of healthy foods. More than half of the residents drive up to 240 miles just to get to a store that sells fresh fruits and vegetables.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Defense Experts Urge Base Closures, Personnel Cuts and Increased Care for Female Vets

    Friday, May 01, 2015
    Defense Reform Consensus, a group of 38 analysts from a list of think tanks representing all parts of the political spectrum, say the government should close more military bases and reduce the number of civilians who work for the Defense Department, among other recommendations.   read more
  • Political Megadonors—Top 1% of the Top 1%—Have Increasing Impact on Campaign Financing

    Friday, May 01, 2015
    During the 2014 midterms, 31,976 donors (out of 323 million people) were responsible for pouring $1.18 billion in disclosed political contributions at the federal level. And that doesn’t even include dark money that was spent through the use of loopholes in federal tax laws that allow the uber-rich to avoid revealing certain contributions.   read more
  • Congress Coughs up $300 Million to Extend Work on Useless Nuclear Waste Plant

    Wednesday, April 29, 2015
    What’s $300 million when a project could end up consuming more than $50 billion over its lifetime? Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) called the continued funding of the MOX facility a “zombie earmark.” DOE officials are so fed up with the project that they were ready to shut it down. But backers in Congress, including Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C), made sure there was $300 million in the 2014 year-end spending bill for MOX. They even prohibited the Energy Department from putting MOX in cold standby.   read more

Controversies

  • Species Extinction and Extreme Weather Predicted in New Climate Change Studies

    Saturday, May 02, 2015
    One study warns that rising global temperatures could kill off one out of every six plant and animal species worldwide. If the temperature increase is 7.7 degrees, the loss of species could jump to 16%. Another study warned that a temperature increase of five degrees Fahrenheit could produce a 62-fold increase in heat extremes. "What used to be a one-in-1,000-days event or a one-in-three-years event becomes, for instance, a four-in-three-year or five-in-three-year event,” said Erich Fischer.   read more
  • House Republicans Try to Repeal Estate Tax and Give the 25 Richest Americans a $334 Billion Tax Break

    Friday, May 01, 2015
    The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, which cleared the House 240-179 on a nearly party-line vote, would amount to a $334 billion tax break for 25 of the nation’s billionaires. Republicans insist they just want to prevent mom-and-pop companies and family farms from being affected by the tax, although the GOP hasn’t been able to produce one such example.   read more
  • Pope’s Climate Change Campaign Alarms U.S. Conservatives

    Thursday, April 30, 2015
    “Francis sullies his office by using demagogic formulations to bully the populace into reflexive climate action with no more substantive guide than theologized propaganda," wrote Maureen Mullarkey."Pope Francis...would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate," said Joseph Bast, president of the Koch brothers-funded Heartland Institute.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Alarming Conditions at U.S. Air Base in Djibouti

    Sunday, May 03, 2015
    Air traffic controllers, civilians who work for the Djibouti government, regularly nap, listen to music, play video games and text on their mobile phones while directing military traffic from several nations, as well as civilian traffic from major world airlines. Many of the controllers are also resentful of the foreign presence in their country.   read more
  • Good News from the U.S.-Mexican Border

    Sunday, May 03, 2015
    Thanks to an agreement, Minute 319, between the U.S. and Mexican governments, a surge of Colorado River water was released from its floodgates down into Baja California en route to the Sea of Cortez last year. The efforts are paying off. Birds not seen in 50 years, such as the yellow-billed cuckoo, are returning to the area.   read more
  • NSA Used German Intelligence to Spy on Offices of French President and other EU Allies

    Saturday, May 02, 2015
    The American-German cooperation went on for at least a decade. The news is embarrassing for Merkel, who was vocal about the NSA tapping her phone calls. “You don’t spy on your friends,” she said at the time. But Germany’s intelligence agency did just that by sharing intelligence gathered from its “eavesdropping facility in Bavaria to monitor email and telephone traffic at the Élysée Palace, the offices of the French president, and of key EU institutions,” said The Guardian.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Peru’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Luis Miguel Castilla?

    Sunday, May 03, 2015
    Castilla joined Peru’s government as assistant finance minister under centrist President Alan Garcia in January 2010. When Ollanta Humala, a president with leftist leanings assumed office in July 2011, he surprised many by adding Castilla to his cabinet as minister of rconomics and finance. Humala thought that the presence of Castilla, an economic moderate, would calm the fears of Peru’s business community about the ascension of a leftist to the presidency.   read more
  • Niger’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Hassana Alidou?

    Sunday, May 03, 2015
    Alidou's focus is on promoting the early education of African students in their indigenous language, rather than the colonial language such as French or English as is the case now. As part of that work, Alidou consults on bi/multilingual and mother tongue education in Africa for the UNESCO Institute for Education. She was the regional director of UNESCO in Abuja, Nigeria.   read more
  • South Sudan’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Garang Diing Akuong?

    Saturday, May 02, 2015
    Since taking over as ambassador, Akuong has had to contend with the U.S.-initiated threat to impose sanctions, through the United Nations Security Council, against South Sudan unless President Kiir and Machar can come to terms to end a civil war which began in December 2013 and has killed ten thousand and displaced an estimated 1.5 million citizens.   read more