Featured Story

Insurance Companies Avoid Patients with HIV/AIDS by Overcharging for Medications

Saturday, January 31, 2015
Despite the mandate from the Affordable Care Act that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against patients with preexisting conditions, many of them are getting around the restriction by charging HIV/AIDS patients much higher rates for their drugs, which causes them to switch to other providers.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Why is the DEA Conducting Mass License Plate Tracking and Why was it Allowed to Conduct Mass Surveillance of Americans’ Phones Records?

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    "This program is a major DEA initiative that has the potential to track our movements around the country,” wrote ACLU's Bennett Stein. “The federal government is uniquely positioned to create a centralized repository of all drivers’ movements across the country — and the DEA seems to be moving toward doing just that. If license plate readers continue to proliferate without restriction...the agency will soon possess a detailed and invasive depiction of our lives.”   read more
  • Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Convicted

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Posecutors argued Sterling was the source who helped James Risen discuss a CIA operation in his book “State of War.” “The Sterling case – especially in light of Obama’s complicity in the cover-up of torture during the Bush administration,” Dan Froomkin wrote, “sends a clear message to people in government service: You won’t get in trouble as long as you do what you’re told (even torture people). But if you tell [a reporter] something we want kept secret, we will spare no effort to destroy you.”   read more
  • Dream Come True for Oil Companies: Obama Expected to Approve Drilling off Atlantic Coast from Virginia to Georgia

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Environmentalists contend the coast could suffer the same fate as the Gulf states after the 2010 BP disaster that fouled coastal waters with millions of barrels of oil. “Opening Atlantic waters to offshore drilling would take us in exactly the wrong direction,” said Bob Deans. Democratic senators from East Coast states blasted the move. “All of the risk is put on the backs of our shore communities, and all of the reward goes to Big Oil,” said Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey.   read more

Unusual News

  • Emoji Meet the Legal System

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    Emoji, also known as emoticons, have become so prevalent in electronic communications that their use is being cited as evidence in trials and arrests. In Pennsylvania, a man was convicted of threatening his wife via Facebook. In his defense, he cited his use of an emoticon indicating he was kidding. In Brooklyn, a teenager was arrested after police saw his threatening statement on Facebook, alongside emoticon images of guns. Police went to his home, where they found marijuana and a firearm.   read more
  • Army Major who Oversaw Sexual Assault Cases Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Rape

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Army Major Erik Burris, who had been responsible for supervising sexual assault cases by soldiers, was himself convicted Sunday of crimes including rape and forcible sodomy. Burris was found guilty of two counts of rape, forcible sodomy, four counts of assault, and disobeying an order from a superior officer. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, forfeiture of pay and allowances and dismissal from the Army. He had multiple victims.   read more
  • Wisconsin Town in Need of Jurors Grabs People off the Street

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    When Judge Michael Schumacher ran out of potential jurors for a trial, he instructed the sheriff, Ron Cramer, to round up more people. Cramer then hit the streets of the 65,000-population city, and using a little known law, ordered some residents to come with him to the courthouse. The sheriff cited the “Insufficient Jurors” statute on the books, which authorizes police to grab any local resident 18 years old with no felony convictions to serve on a jury if a pool runs dry.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Republican States more likely to Lose Grant Money Since Obama became President

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    A Reuters examination of federal budget cuts found funding reductions were highest in “red” states like Texas and Mississippi, where grant funding saw a 40% reduction. Programs that lost funding ranged from preschool to anti-drug initiatives. In purple states like North Carolina and Ohio, where Obama’s support was more evenly split with the Republican opposition, the funding cuts were smaller—a 27% drop. Meanwhile, Obama-friendly blue states like California only saw a 22.5% drop.   read more
  • Koch Brothers Unveil Plan to Outspend Political Parties in 2016 Election Campaign

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    At $889 million, a figure leaked this week at the Kochs’ annual winter donor retreat near Palm Springs, the brothers’ secretive fundraising network goal would dwarf the $657 million spent by the entire Republican Party during the 2012 election. The Koch budget might even match the total spending by both Republicans and Democrats in next year’s contests. And all the while, the Kochs will largely avoid disclosing the sources of their campaign operation.   read more
  • For the First Time in at Least 10 Years, a Decline in the Number of Americans Reporting Trouble Paying Medical Bills

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    The survey revealed the number of people who said they were struggling to pay their medical bills went down from about 75 million people in 2012 to 64 million people last year. The survey also showed that due to the implementation of Obamacare, the number of uninsured working-age adults in the U.S. declined from 37 million in 2010 to 29 million by the second half of last year. The rise in people with health insurance also meant fewer people skipped going to the doctor in 2014.   read more

Controversies

  • Would Atlantic Wind Energy Create more Jobs than Offshore Oil Drilling?

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    An environmental group contends in a new report that a better job producer near the Eastern seaboard would be wind turbines, which could provide more employment than new drilling platforms. Oceana says offshore wind could, over the next 20 years, create nearly 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling. Turbines also could produce more energy than drilling, over a period of two decades, which would be enough electricity for 115 million homes.   read more
  • More than 60% of Statements by Fox News Pundits and Guests Turn out to be False, According to PolitiFact

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    The analysis revealed that 61% of the statements on Fox News were either mostly false, definitely false or “pants on fire” false. Another 18% were half true, 11% mostly true and only 10% completely true. Statements made on MSNBC and NBC news found 44% to land in the false categories. Twenty-two percent were half true, 24% mostly true and just 9% completely true. On CNN, 21% were various degrees of false, while 23% were found to be half true, 42% mostly true and 15% completely true.   read more
  • Pennsylvania Fracking Companies Flaunt Environmental Rules and Regulations…Every Day

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    The largest 20 frackers averaged more than 1.5 violations a day, with many racking up hundreds of violations. Some of the violations included allowing toxic chemicals to flow off drilling sites and into local soil and water; endangering drinking water through improper well construction; and dumping industrial waste into local waterways. The report noted that the numbers collected are probably on the low side.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • Senegal’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Babacar Diagne?

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    In November 2012, Diagne left his position at RTS and was appointed ambassador to the Gambia, a nation almost entirely surrounded by Senegal. Much of his work involved advocating for Senegalese held in prison in that country, many of them facing death sentences. He also obtained a grant from Senegal’s government to support women’s projects in the Senegalese women’s community in the Gambia. He served there until being sent to Washington in 2014.   read more
  • Angola’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Agostinho Tavares?

    Saturday, January 17, 2015
    In 2007, Tavares was made head of the Asia and Oceania Department of Bilateral Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His first ambassadorial posting came in 2011 when he was sent to represent Angola in Ottawa, Canada. On August 24, 2014, Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos appointed Agostinho Tavares da Silva Neto to be his ambassador to the United States.   read more
  • Comoros’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Soilihi Mohamed Soilihi?

    Saturday, January 10, 2015
    Soilihi in 2006 was appointed as special delegate to Moroni city hall and the following year he became chief of staff to Comoros’ minister of finance. Soilihi moved to foreign affairs, becoming political counselor to the minister in 2009. In 2010, Soilihi took over as director general of the Office of Radio and Television for Comoros. One of his achievements was to make Comoran television available via satellite.   read more

Featured Story

Insurance Companies Avoid Patients with HIV/AIDS by Overcharging for Medications

Saturday, January 31, 2015
Despite the mandate from the Affordable Care Act that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against patients with preexisting conditions, many of them are getting around the restriction by charging HIV/AIDS patients much higher rates for their drugs, which causes them to switch to other providers.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Why is the DEA Conducting Mass License Plate Tracking and Why was it Allowed to Conduct Mass Surveillance of Americans’ Phones Records?

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    "This program is a major DEA initiative that has the potential to track our movements around the country,” wrote ACLU's Bennett Stein. “The federal government is uniquely positioned to create a centralized repository of all drivers’ movements across the country — and the DEA seems to be moving toward doing just that. If license plate readers continue to proliferate without restriction...the agency will soon possess a detailed and invasive depiction of our lives.”   read more
  • Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Convicted

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Posecutors argued Sterling was the source who helped James Risen discuss a CIA operation in his book “State of War.” “The Sterling case – especially in light of Obama’s complicity in the cover-up of torture during the Bush administration,” Dan Froomkin wrote, “sends a clear message to people in government service: You won’t get in trouble as long as you do what you’re told (even torture people). But if you tell [a reporter] something we want kept secret, we will spare no effort to destroy you.”   read more
  • Dream Come True for Oil Companies: Obama Expected to Approve Drilling off Atlantic Coast from Virginia to Georgia

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    Environmentalists contend the coast could suffer the same fate as the Gulf states after the 2010 BP disaster that fouled coastal waters with millions of barrels of oil. “Opening Atlantic waters to offshore drilling would take us in exactly the wrong direction,” said Bob Deans. Democratic senators from East Coast states blasted the move. “All of the risk is put on the backs of our shore communities, and all of the reward goes to Big Oil,” said Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey.   read more

Unusual News

  • Emoji Meet the Legal System

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    Emoji, also known as emoticons, have become so prevalent in electronic communications that their use is being cited as evidence in trials and arrests. In Pennsylvania, a man was convicted of threatening his wife via Facebook. In his defense, he cited his use of an emoticon indicating he was kidding. In Brooklyn, a teenager was arrested after police saw his threatening statement on Facebook, alongside emoticon images of guns. Police went to his home, where they found marijuana and a firearm.   read more
  • Army Major who Oversaw Sexual Assault Cases Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Rape

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    Army Major Erik Burris, who had been responsible for supervising sexual assault cases by soldiers, was himself convicted Sunday of crimes including rape and forcible sodomy. Burris was found guilty of two counts of rape, forcible sodomy, four counts of assault, and disobeying an order from a superior officer. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, forfeiture of pay and allowances and dismissal from the Army. He had multiple victims.   read more
  • Wisconsin Town in Need of Jurors Grabs People off the Street

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    When Judge Michael Schumacher ran out of potential jurors for a trial, he instructed the sheriff, Ron Cramer, to round up more people. Cramer then hit the streets of the 65,000-population city, and using a little known law, ordered some residents to come with him to the courthouse. The sheriff cited the “Insufficient Jurors” statute on the books, which authorizes police to grab any local resident 18 years old with no felony convictions to serve on a jury if a pool runs dry.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Republican States more likely to Lose Grant Money Since Obama became President

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    A Reuters examination of federal budget cuts found funding reductions were highest in “red” states like Texas and Mississippi, where grant funding saw a 40% reduction. Programs that lost funding ranged from preschool to anti-drug initiatives. In purple states like North Carolina and Ohio, where Obama’s support was more evenly split with the Republican opposition, the funding cuts were smaller—a 27% drop. Meanwhile, Obama-friendly blue states like California only saw a 22.5% drop.   read more
  • Koch Brothers Unveil Plan to Outspend Political Parties in 2016 Election Campaign

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015
    At $889 million, a figure leaked this week at the Kochs’ annual winter donor retreat near Palm Springs, the brothers’ secretive fundraising network goal would dwarf the $657 million spent by the entire Republican Party during the 2012 election. The Koch budget might even match the total spending by both Republicans and Democrats in next year’s contests. And all the while, the Kochs will largely avoid disclosing the sources of their campaign operation.   read more
  • For the First Time in at Least 10 Years, a Decline in the Number of Americans Reporting Trouble Paying Medical Bills

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    The survey revealed the number of people who said they were struggling to pay their medical bills went down from about 75 million people in 2012 to 64 million people last year. The survey also showed that due to the implementation of Obamacare, the number of uninsured working-age adults in the U.S. declined from 37 million in 2010 to 29 million by the second half of last year. The rise in people with health insurance also meant fewer people skipped going to the doctor in 2014.   read more

Controversies

  • Would Atlantic Wind Energy Create more Jobs than Offshore Oil Drilling?

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    An environmental group contends in a new report that a better job producer near the Eastern seaboard would be wind turbines, which could provide more employment than new drilling platforms. Oceana says offshore wind could, over the next 20 years, create nearly 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling. Turbines also could produce more energy than drilling, over a period of two decades, which would be enough electricity for 115 million homes.   read more
  • More than 60% of Statements by Fox News Pundits and Guests Turn out to be False, According to PolitiFact

    Friday, January 30, 2015
    The analysis revealed that 61% of the statements on Fox News were either mostly false, definitely false or “pants on fire” false. Another 18% were half true, 11% mostly true and only 10% completely true. Statements made on MSNBC and NBC news found 44% to land in the false categories. Twenty-two percent were half true, 24% mostly true and just 9% completely true. On CNN, 21% were various degrees of false, while 23% were found to be half true, 42% mostly true and 15% completely true.   read more
  • Pennsylvania Fracking Companies Flaunt Environmental Rules and Regulations…Every Day

    Thursday, January 29, 2015
    The largest 20 frackers averaged more than 1.5 violations a day, with many racking up hundreds of violations. Some of the violations included allowing toxic chemicals to flow off drilling sites and into local soil and water; endangering drinking water through improper well construction; and dumping industrial waste into local waterways. The report noted that the numbers collected are probably on the low side.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • Senegal’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Babacar Diagne?

    Saturday, January 24, 2015
    In November 2012, Diagne left his position at RTS and was appointed ambassador to the Gambia, a nation almost entirely surrounded by Senegal. Much of his work involved advocating for Senegalese held in prison in that country, many of them facing death sentences. He also obtained a grant from Senegal’s government to support women’s projects in the Senegalese women’s community in the Gambia. He served there until being sent to Washington in 2014.   read more
  • Angola’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Agostinho Tavares?

    Saturday, January 17, 2015
    In 2007, Tavares was made head of the Asia and Oceania Department of Bilateral Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His first ambassadorial posting came in 2011 when he was sent to represent Angola in Ottawa, Canada. On August 24, 2014, Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos appointed Agostinho Tavares da Silva Neto to be his ambassador to the United States.   read more
  • Comoros’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Soilihi Mohamed Soilihi?

    Saturday, January 10, 2015
    Soilihi in 2006 was appointed as special delegate to Moroni city hall and the following year he became chief of staff to Comoros’ minister of finance. Soilihi moved to foreign affairs, becoming political counselor to the minister in 2009. In 2010, Soilihi took over as director general of the Office of Radio and Television for Comoros. One of his achievements was to make Comoran television available via satellite.   read more