Featured Story

When Profit-Making takes over Emergency Services, Tragedy can Follow

Sunday, June 26, 2016
A Tennessee woman slipped into a coma and died after an ambulance company took so long that one worker took a cigarette break. A man watched a fire burn his house to the ground as he waited for the fire department, which billed him anyway and then sued him for $15,000 when he didn't pay. In each of these cases, someone dialed 911 and Wall Street answered. This approach creates a fundamental tension: the push to turn a profit while caring for people in their most vulnerable moments.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Political Partisanship of Americans at Highest Level in a Quarter-Century

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Fistfights at campaign rallies. A congressional sit-in. Angry political trolling on the internet. It’s not your imagination: America’s partisan divide is deeper today than at any point in nearly a quarter-century, says a new study. The Republican Party strikes fear in the hearts of 55% of Democrats surveyed, Pew found. Among Republicans, 49% felt the same way about the Democratic Party. “It’s really this intensity of negativity that’s increased,” said Pew report author Carroll Doherty.   read more
  • Psychologists Who Designed Torture Methods for CIA Admit to Torturing but Deny It Was Torture

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Mitchell and Jessen acknowledge using waterboarding, loud music, confinement, slapping and other harsh methods but deny that they were torture. "Defendants deny that they committed torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-consensual human experimentation and/or war crimes," their lawyers wrote. "This is historic," ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said Wednesday. "Until now, no one responsible for the CIA torture program has ever been forced to admit their actions in court."   read more
  • U.S. Senate Blocks Republicans’ Attempt to Give FBI Warrantless Access to Americans’ Online Data

    Thursday, June 23, 2016
    The Senate rejected the amendment 58-38, two votes short of the 60 necessary to move ahead with the measure that would give federal law enforcement direct access to email and text message logs, internet browsing histories and other potentially sensitive online data. Sen. Ron Wyden opposed the amendment and decried what he said was the hypocrisy of defending gun rights while pushing for a measure that would undermine the constitutional prohibition against unlawful search and seizures.   read more

Unusual News

  • Hawaii Passes Criminal-Monitoring Gun Law Said to Be First of Its Kind in U.S.

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Rap Back is a service of the FBI that provides continuous criminal-record monitoring for law-enforcement. When a Hawaii firearm owner is arrested for a criminal offense anywhere in the country, the service alerts county police departments in Hawaii. Law enforcement then will be able to evaluate whether that gun owner may continue to legally possess firearms. "This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawaii residents and visitors," said Gov. Ige.   read more
  • Death Sentences Plummet in Georgia, But Executions are On a Roll

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    The incongruity of the increasing numbers of executions and the plummeting numbers of death sentences took both prosecutors and defense attorneys by surprise. "Wow," defense attorney Akil Secret said. "Maybe the times are changing." The precipitous declines raise the question of whether prior capital sentences were justified, Secret said. "If a life-without-parole sentence is sufficient for today's worst crimes, why isn't it sufficient for those crimes from the past where death was imposed?"   read more
  • Americans Want Driverless Cars Programmed to Choose Their Safety in Car over that of Pedestrians

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    A new study indicates that what people really want to ride in is an autonomous vehicle that puts its passengers first. If its machine brain has to choose between slamming into a wall or running someone over, well, sorry, pedestrian. Should manufacturers create vehicles with various degrees of morality programmed into them, depending on what a consumer wants? Should the government mandate that all self-driving cars share the same values, even if that’s not so good for a car’s passengers?   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Globetrotting Supreme Court Justices Disclose Privately Paid Travel

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Justice Scalia was an enthusiastic traveler, taking more than 250 privately funded trips from 2004 to 2014. A few weeks before he died, he visited Singapore and Hong Kong. Justice Stephen G. Breyer was the most active traveler last year, taking 19 paid trips, including three to London and two to Paris. The trips were partly to promote his book “The Court and the World,” which was published last year. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was next, with 16 paid trips, but to less exotic places.   read more
  • Munitions Contractor Can Seek Site Cleanup Costs From Federal Government

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016
    A defense contractor responsible for cleaning up pollution at a facility where most munitions manufacturing was done under contracts with the U.S. military can seek cost recovery from the government, the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday. In 2013, Whittaker filed its own lawsuit under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, seeking recovery from the United States for expenses Whittaker incurred since the 1980s investigating and cleaning the Bermite site.   read more
  • House Votes to Give Itself an Increase in Office Expenses

    Sunday, June 12, 2016
    House lawmakers Friday passed legislation to increase their office budgets for the first time in years but again deny themselves a pay raise of their own. The additional money for staff salaries and other office expenses is aimed in large part at retaining staff aides, who are often 20-somethings who struggle to make ends meet in Washington, where rents have skyrocketed and opportunities outside of Congress often pay more than Capitol Hill jobs.   read more

Controversies

  • 1 in 3 Americans on Medicare Use Commonly Abused Opioid Painkillers

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Among all ages, there were nearly 19,000 fatal overdoses on prescription opioids in 2014. The magnitude of its use among seniors is "astounding," said Frederic Blow. "It's not just a young person's problem," he said. Overdose risk for older Americans is heightened by medication interactions and alcohol. There were about 40 million prescriptions for these drugs last year," said lead study author Miriam Anderson. "That's enough to give one to every Medicare beneficiary in the country."   read more
  • Trump’s Arguments against Release of His Video Deposition May be Undercut by His Public Statements

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    "Trump is concerned about a poisoned jury pool," wrote Forge. "After dedicating months to poisoning that pool with dozens of nationally publicized speeches denigrating the claims against him and championing his hollow defense, he should be concerned. He knows the best cure for a snake bite comes from the snake's own venom. After months of spewing venom into the jury pool, Trump is trying to suppress the cure — his own admissions."   read more
  • States’ Criminalization of Alcohol Blood Test Refusals by Motorists Goes Too Far, Rules Supreme Court

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    "Blood tests are significantly more intrusive, and their reasonableness must be judged in light of the availability of the less invasive alternative of a breath test," said the ruling. For Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court should also require warrants for breath tests. "A citizen's Fourth Amendment right to be free from 'unreasonable searches' does not disappear upon arrest," she wrote. Sotomayor slammed the majority for creating a "categorical exception to the warrant requirement.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Ralph Thomas?

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Thomas worked at the Bank of New York for 22 years, eventually serving as vice president and regional manager. Beginning in 2004, he worked independently in the banking industry. He took time out in 2007 to run for parliament in Jamaica. He was the candidate of the People’s National Party, but lost. In 2010 he returned to the University of the West Indies as a senior teaching fellow in the Mona School of Business and Management. Thomas was tapped in 2013 to be Jamaica’s ambassador to China.   read more
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is François Balumuene?

    Sunday, June 19, 2016
    Balumuene served in 2000 as diplomatic and administrative assistant to the deputy commissioner general of the Government for MONUC Affairs, in charge of finance, logistics and foreign policy for the UN peacekeeping effort in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Later that year, he was made chargé d’affaires at the embassy to South Africa in Pretoria. In 2003, Balumuene was sent to India as his country’s ambassador. He then became dean of New Delhi’s diplomatic corps.   read more
  • The Netherlands’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Hendrik Jan Schuwer?

    Saturday, June 18, 2016
    The first assignment was as deputy permanent representative to the EU, then in 2007 he was made director of the private office of the secretary general of NATO. He returned to The Hague briefly in 2009 for a stint as director of the ministry’s North Africa and Middle East department, but was back in Brussels the following year, this time as ambassador to Belgium, where he served until being sent to Washington.   read more

Featured Story

When Profit-Making takes over Emergency Services, Tragedy can Follow

Sunday, June 26, 2016
A Tennessee woman slipped into a coma and died after an ambulance company took so long that one worker took a cigarette break. A man watched a fire burn his house to the ground as he waited for the fire department, which billed him anyway and then sued him for $15,000 when he didn't pay. In each of these cases, someone dialed 911 and Wall Street answered. This approach creates a fundamental tension: the push to turn a profit while caring for people in their most vulnerable moments.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Political Partisanship of Americans at Highest Level in a Quarter-Century

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Fistfights at campaign rallies. A congressional sit-in. Angry political trolling on the internet. It’s not your imagination: America’s partisan divide is deeper today than at any point in nearly a quarter-century, says a new study. The Republican Party strikes fear in the hearts of 55% of Democrats surveyed, Pew found. Among Republicans, 49% felt the same way about the Democratic Party. “It’s really this intensity of negativity that’s increased,” said Pew report author Carroll Doherty.   read more
  • Psychologists Who Designed Torture Methods for CIA Admit to Torturing but Deny It Was Torture

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Mitchell and Jessen acknowledge using waterboarding, loud music, confinement, slapping and other harsh methods but deny that they were torture. "Defendants deny that they committed torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-consensual human experimentation and/or war crimes," their lawyers wrote. "This is historic," ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said Wednesday. "Until now, no one responsible for the CIA torture program has ever been forced to admit their actions in court."   read more
  • U.S. Senate Blocks Republicans’ Attempt to Give FBI Warrantless Access to Americans’ Online Data

    Thursday, June 23, 2016
    The Senate rejected the amendment 58-38, two votes short of the 60 necessary to move ahead with the measure that would give federal law enforcement direct access to email and text message logs, internet browsing histories and other potentially sensitive online data. Sen. Ron Wyden opposed the amendment and decried what he said was the hypocrisy of defending gun rights while pushing for a measure that would undermine the constitutional prohibition against unlawful search and seizures.   read more

Unusual News

  • Hawaii Passes Criminal-Monitoring Gun Law Said to Be First of Its Kind in U.S.

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Rap Back is a service of the FBI that provides continuous criminal-record monitoring for law-enforcement. When a Hawaii firearm owner is arrested for a criminal offense anywhere in the country, the service alerts county police departments in Hawaii. Law enforcement then will be able to evaluate whether that gun owner may continue to legally possess firearms. "This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawaii residents and visitors," said Gov. Ige.   read more
  • Death Sentences Plummet in Georgia, But Executions are On a Roll

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    The incongruity of the increasing numbers of executions and the plummeting numbers of death sentences took both prosecutors and defense attorneys by surprise. "Wow," defense attorney Akil Secret said. "Maybe the times are changing." The precipitous declines raise the question of whether prior capital sentences were justified, Secret said. "If a life-without-parole sentence is sufficient for today's worst crimes, why isn't it sufficient for those crimes from the past where death was imposed?"   read more
  • Americans Want Driverless Cars Programmed to Choose Their Safety in Car over that of Pedestrians

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    A new study indicates that what people really want to ride in is an autonomous vehicle that puts its passengers first. If its machine brain has to choose between slamming into a wall or running someone over, well, sorry, pedestrian. Should manufacturers create vehicles with various degrees of morality programmed into them, depending on what a consumer wants? Should the government mandate that all self-driving cars share the same values, even if that’s not so good for a car’s passengers?   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Globetrotting Supreme Court Justices Disclose Privately Paid Travel

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    Justice Scalia was an enthusiastic traveler, taking more than 250 privately funded trips from 2004 to 2014. A few weeks before he died, he visited Singapore and Hong Kong. Justice Stephen G. Breyer was the most active traveler last year, taking 19 paid trips, including three to London and two to Paris. The trips were partly to promote his book “The Court and the World,” which was published last year. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was next, with 16 paid trips, but to less exotic places.   read more
  • Munitions Contractor Can Seek Site Cleanup Costs From Federal Government

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016
    A defense contractor responsible for cleaning up pollution at a facility where most munitions manufacturing was done under contracts with the U.S. military can seek cost recovery from the government, the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday. In 2013, Whittaker filed its own lawsuit under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, seeking recovery from the United States for expenses Whittaker incurred since the 1980s investigating and cleaning the Bermite site.   read more
  • House Votes to Give Itself an Increase in Office Expenses

    Sunday, June 12, 2016
    House lawmakers Friday passed legislation to increase their office budgets for the first time in years but again deny themselves a pay raise of their own. The additional money for staff salaries and other office expenses is aimed in large part at retaining staff aides, who are often 20-somethings who struggle to make ends meet in Washington, where rents have skyrocketed and opportunities outside of Congress often pay more than Capitol Hill jobs.   read more

Controversies

  • 1 in 3 Americans on Medicare Use Commonly Abused Opioid Painkillers

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Among all ages, there were nearly 19,000 fatal overdoses on prescription opioids in 2014. The magnitude of its use among seniors is "astounding," said Frederic Blow. "It's not just a young person's problem," he said. Overdose risk for older Americans is heightened by medication interactions and alcohol. There were about 40 million prescriptions for these drugs last year," said lead study author Miriam Anderson. "That's enough to give one to every Medicare beneficiary in the country."   read more
  • Trump’s Arguments against Release of His Video Deposition May be Undercut by His Public Statements

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    "Trump is concerned about a poisoned jury pool," wrote Forge. "After dedicating months to poisoning that pool with dozens of nationally publicized speeches denigrating the claims against him and championing his hollow defense, he should be concerned. He knows the best cure for a snake bite comes from the snake's own venom. After months of spewing venom into the jury pool, Trump is trying to suppress the cure — his own admissions."   read more
  • States’ Criminalization of Alcohol Blood Test Refusals by Motorists Goes Too Far, Rules Supreme Court

    Friday, June 24, 2016
    "Blood tests are significantly more intrusive, and their reasonableness must be judged in light of the availability of the less invasive alternative of a breath test," said the ruling. For Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court should also require warrants for breath tests. "A citizen's Fourth Amendment right to be free from 'unreasonable searches' does not disappear upon arrest," she wrote. Sotomayor slammed the majority for creating a "categorical exception to the warrant requirement.   read more

U.S. and the World

Appointments and Resignations

  • Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Ralph Thomas?

    Saturday, June 25, 2016
    Thomas worked at the Bank of New York for 22 years, eventually serving as vice president and regional manager. Beginning in 2004, he worked independently in the banking industry. He took time out in 2007 to run for parliament in Jamaica. He was the candidate of the People’s National Party, but lost. In 2010 he returned to the University of the West Indies as a senior teaching fellow in the Mona School of Business and Management. Thomas was tapped in 2013 to be Jamaica’s ambassador to China.   read more
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is François Balumuene?

    Sunday, June 19, 2016
    Balumuene served in 2000 as diplomatic and administrative assistant to the deputy commissioner general of the Government for MONUC Affairs, in charge of finance, logistics and foreign policy for the UN peacekeeping effort in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Later that year, he was made chargé d’affaires at the embassy to South Africa in Pretoria. In 2003, Balumuene was sent to India as his country’s ambassador. He then became dean of New Delhi’s diplomatic corps.   read more
  • The Netherlands’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Hendrik Jan Schuwer?

    Saturday, June 18, 2016
    The first assignment was as deputy permanent representative to the EU, then in 2007 he was made director of the private office of the secretary general of NATO. He returned to The Hague briefly in 2009 for a stint as director of the ministry’s North Africa and Middle East department, but was back in Brussels the following year, this time as ambassador to Belgium, where he served until being sent to Washington.   read more