Featured Story

U.S. House Republicans Pass Legislation to Undercut Federal Anti-Fraud Banking Initiative

Friday, February 05, 2016
The legislation "would defang the Justice Department," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in the House. "Federal prosecutors would be unable to prosecute fraud committed by big banks under FIRREA. This bill on the floor today says you cannot charge banks. The only investigation you can do of banks is if somebody does damage to the bank. Can you imagine that - with all the mortgage fraud that went on in our country?"   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • U.S. Railroads Unable to Meet Deadline for Installing Safety Technology

    Thursday, February 04, 2016
    Three of the biggest U.S. freight railroads have told the government they won't meet a 2018 deadline to start using safety technology intended to prevent accidents like the deadly derailment of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia last May. After a 2008 train collision that killed 25 people, Congress required railroads to start using the expensive technology on all tracks that carry passenger trains or those used to haul toxic liquids. Four commuter railroads also say they'll miss the deadline.   read more
  • Documents Reveal Drug Firms’ Schemes to Maximize Profits on Cancer, AIDS and Heart Drugs

    Wednesday, February 03, 2016
    The House committee reviewed more than 75,000 pages of documents from drugmaker Valeant. The paperwork shows that CEO J. Michael Pearson decided to buy two life-saving heart drugs, Nitropress and Isuprel, to dramatically hike prices and drive up his company's revenue and profit. The drugs generated $547 million in revenue and around $351 million in profits last year alone. The memo said the drugmaker also more than tripled the prices on over 20 additional U.S. products in 2014 and 2015.   read more
  • Convicted Felons Can Run for Office in Louisiana

    Tuesday, February 02, 2016
    Felons can run for public office in Louisiana because the state Senate improperly amended the state constitution in 1998 to prevent it, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled. Under state Senate Bill No. 321, of 1997, unpardoned, convicted felons were to be prohibited from seeking a municipal or state office.The bill was amended in the Senate, providing an exception for felons who had completed their sentence more than 15 years before the candidate-qualifying date.   read more

Unusual News

  • Federal Court Rules that Hospitals Can be “Urban” and “Rural” at the Same Time

    Friday, February 05, 2016
    Rakoff, who normally sits on the federal district court in Manhattan, said the statute was clear and downplayed concern that hospitals might seek classifications they do not deserve. The law "simply increases the number of situations in which hospitals can be treated as rural for some purposes and urban for others, but there is nothing 'absurd' about such a measured approach," he wrote. "An agency may not rewrite clear statutory terms to suit its own sense of how the statute should operate."   read more
  • Reviews of Questionable Convictions Lead to Record Number of U.S. Criminal Exonerations

    Thursday, February 04, 2016
    Texas was the top state for exonerations, propelled by conviction integrity units set up in its most populous counties. The state known for its tough approach on crime has also been a national leader in prosecutorial reform. "For the integrity of the system, it is the right thing to do," said Inger Chandler, head of Harris County District Attorney's Conviction Review Section, which had 42 exonerations in 2015. Texas had 54 exonerations in 2015, followed by 17 in New York and 13 in Illinois.   read more
  • Hundreds of Mississippi Jury Summons Mistakenly Instruct Potential Jurors to Call Sex Hotline

    Wednesday, February 03, 2016
    Multiple news outlets report that at least 350 jury summons with the incorrect phone number were sent out in Jackson County to potential jurors. Circuit Clerk Randy Carney says people started calling the circuit clerk's office Monday morning to report the problem. Others stopped by in person to address the issue. Carney says he doesn't know what caused the mix-up.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 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
  • Defense Dept. Leads List of U.S. Agencies that Ignore Thousands of GAO Cost-Cutting Recommendations

    Thursday, December 17, 2015
    The GAO makes recommendations to federal agencies on ways they can save taxpayer dollars. However, some of the larger agencies have yet to embrace 4,800 recommendations made by auditors. The Defense Dept., which has failed to implement 1,004 such suggestions, has by far ignored the GAO the most. One of the biggest defense programs the GAO has examined is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Pentagon, said GAO, did not adequately assess the affordability of the plane, which has had severe problems.   read more

Controversies

  • Northeastern Marine Life Found Vulnerable to Climate Change

    Friday, February 05, 2016
    NOAA's report assigned a "climate vulnerability score" to 82 Northeastern fish and shellfish species. It listed types of scallop and quahog and the Atlantic salmon as the most vulnerable in the region, as well as eastern oysters, a $175 million fishery in 2014. Also, certain types of herring, a vital part of the ocean's food web and commercially important as bait, were found to be highly vulnerable to climate change.   read more
  • State Medical Boards Falling Short in Protecting Public from Doctor Sexual Misconduct

    Thursday, February 04, 2016
    Reports related to sexual misconduct accounted for just 1% of all reports in the NPDB, suggesting that it's underreported. This could be because victims are unwilling to lodge complaints, given that a majority of reported cases result in no punishment for the accused. Penalizing doctors for sexual misconduct is crucial because such offences are intentional unlike negligence or diagnostic mistakes. Most of the doctors with sexual misconduct reports were aged 40 or older, the study noted.   read more
  • Texas Planned Parenthood Closings Led to Fewer Women Obtaining Contraceptives

    Thursday, February 04, 2016
    A study found that Texas saw a drop in women obtaining long-acting birth control after Republican leaders booted Planned Parenthood from a state women's health program in 2013, which researchers said may explain an increase in births among poor families. The same year Texas barred Planned Parenthood from state family planning services, then-Gov. Rick Perry signed abortion restrictions that shuttered clinics under a sweeping law that the U.S. Supreme Court will review next month.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • 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
  • U.S. Perceived as 16th Least Corrupt Nation; Denmark Tops List, North Korea and Somalia Tie for Worst

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016
    TI attributed the overall global improvement to the work of citizen activists fighting corruption in places such as Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Ghana - all countries which were able to improve their ratings in 2015. "Corruption can be beaten if we work together," said TI chairman Jose Ugaz in a statement. "To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery and shed light on secret deals, citizens must together tell their governments they have had enough."   read more
  • Pentagon Admits to Civilian Deaths during Bombing against ISIS Last July

    Saturday, January 23, 2016
    Since the beginning of the campaign, 120 allegations of civilian casualties had been received, 87 of which were deemed not credible. This latest news brings the total number of civilians likely killed to 16. In one case an air strike targeting 16 bridges likely killed a civilian driving a truck with a trailer, said Central Command. In another case, a secondary explosion from a vehicle near the intended target probably killed a civilian. Four others were wounded in strikes in Syria and Iraq.   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

U.S. House Republicans Pass Legislation to Undercut Federal Anti-Fraud Banking Initiative

Friday, February 05, 2016
The legislation "would defang the Justice Department," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in the House. "Federal prosecutors would be unable to prosecute fraud committed by big banks under FIRREA. This bill on the floor today says you cannot charge banks. The only investigation you can do of banks is if somebody does damage to the bank. Can you imagine that - with all the mortgage fraud that went on in our country?"   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • U.S. Railroads Unable to Meet Deadline for Installing Safety Technology

    Thursday, February 04, 2016
    Three of the biggest U.S. freight railroads have told the government they won't meet a 2018 deadline to start using safety technology intended to prevent accidents like the deadly derailment of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia last May. After a 2008 train collision that killed 25 people, Congress required railroads to start using the expensive technology on all tracks that carry passenger trains or those used to haul toxic liquids. Four commuter railroads also say they'll miss the deadline.   read more
  • Documents Reveal Drug Firms’ Schemes to Maximize Profits on Cancer, AIDS and Heart Drugs

    Wednesday, February 03, 2016
    The House committee reviewed more than 75,000 pages of documents from drugmaker Valeant. The paperwork shows that CEO J. Michael Pearson decided to buy two life-saving heart drugs, Nitropress and Isuprel, to dramatically hike prices and drive up his company's revenue and profit. The drugs generated $547 million in revenue and around $351 million in profits last year alone. The memo said the drugmaker also more than tripled the prices on over 20 additional U.S. products in 2014 and 2015.   read more
  • Convicted Felons Can Run for Office in Louisiana

    Tuesday, February 02, 2016
    Felons can run for public office in Louisiana because the state Senate improperly amended the state constitution in 1998 to prevent it, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled. Under state Senate Bill No. 321, of 1997, unpardoned, convicted felons were to be prohibited from seeking a municipal or state office.The bill was amended in the Senate, providing an exception for felons who had completed their sentence more than 15 years before the candidate-qualifying date.   read more

Unusual News

  • Federal Court Rules that Hospitals Can be “Urban” and “Rural” at the Same Time

    Friday, February 05, 2016
    Rakoff, who normally sits on the federal district court in Manhattan, said the statute was clear and downplayed concern that hospitals might seek classifications they do not deserve. The law "simply increases the number of situations in which hospitals can be treated as rural for some purposes and urban for others, but there is nothing 'absurd' about such a measured approach," he wrote. "An agency may not rewrite clear statutory terms to suit its own sense of how the statute should operate."   read more
  • Reviews of Questionable Convictions Lead to Record Number of U.S. Criminal Exonerations

    Thursday, February 04, 2016
    Texas was the top state for exonerations, propelled by conviction integrity units set up in its most populous counties. The state known for its tough approach on crime has also been a national leader in prosecutorial reform. "For the integrity of the system, it is the right thing to do," said Inger Chandler, head of Harris County District Attorney's Conviction Review Section, which had 42 exonerations in 2015. Texas had 54 exonerations in 2015, followed by 17 in New York and 13 in Illinois.   read more
  • Hundreds of Mississippi Jury Summons Mistakenly Instruct Potential Jurors to Call Sex Hotline

    Wednesday, February 03, 2016
    Multiple news outlets report that at least 350 jury summons with the incorrect phone number were sent out in Jackson County to potential jurors. Circuit Clerk Randy Carney says people started calling the circuit clerk's office Monday morning to report the problem. Others stopped by in person to address the issue. Carney says he doesn't know what caused the mix-up.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 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
  • Defense Dept. Leads List of U.S. Agencies that Ignore Thousands of GAO Cost-Cutting Recommendations

    Thursday, December 17, 2015
    The GAO makes recommendations to federal agencies on ways they can save taxpayer dollars. However, some of the larger agencies have yet to embrace 4,800 recommendations made by auditors. The Defense Dept., which has failed to implement 1,004 such suggestions, has by far ignored the GAO the most. One of the biggest defense programs the GAO has examined is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Pentagon, said GAO, did not adequately assess the affordability of the plane, which has had severe problems.   read more

Controversies

  • Northeastern Marine Life Found Vulnerable to Climate Change

    Friday, February 05, 2016
    NOAA's report assigned a "climate vulnerability score" to 82 Northeastern fish and shellfish species. It listed types of scallop and quahog and the Atlantic salmon as the most vulnerable in the region, as well as eastern oysters, a $175 million fishery in 2014. Also, certain types of herring, a vital part of the ocean's food web and commercially important as bait, were found to be highly vulnerable to climate change.   read more
  • State Medical Boards Falling Short in Protecting Public from Doctor Sexual Misconduct

    Thursday, February 04, 2016
    Reports related to sexual misconduct accounted for just 1% of all reports in the NPDB, suggesting that it's underreported. This could be because victims are unwilling to lodge complaints, given that a majority of reported cases result in no punishment for the accused. Penalizing doctors for sexual misconduct is crucial because such offences are intentional unlike negligence or diagnostic mistakes. Most of the doctors with sexual misconduct reports were aged 40 or older, the study noted.   read more
  • Texas Planned Parenthood Closings Led to Fewer Women Obtaining Contraceptives

    Thursday, February 04, 2016
    A study found that Texas saw a drop in women obtaining long-acting birth control after Republican leaders booted Planned Parenthood from a state women's health program in 2013, which researchers said may explain an increase in births among poor families. The same year Texas barred Planned Parenthood from state family planning services, then-Gov. Rick Perry signed abortion restrictions that shuttered clinics under a sweeping law that the U.S. Supreme Court will review next month.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • 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
  • U.S. Perceived as 16th Least Corrupt Nation; Denmark Tops List, North Korea and Somalia Tie for Worst

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016
    TI attributed the overall global improvement to the work of citizen activists fighting corruption in places such as Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Ghana - all countries which were able to improve their ratings in 2015. "Corruption can be beaten if we work together," said TI chairman Jose Ugaz in a statement. "To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery and shed light on secret deals, citizens must together tell their governments they have had enough."   read more
  • Pentagon Admits to Civilian Deaths during Bombing against ISIS Last July

    Saturday, January 23, 2016
    Since the beginning of the campaign, 120 allegations of civilian casualties had been received, 87 of which were deemed not credible. This latest news brings the total number of civilians likely killed to 16. In one case an air strike targeting 16 bridges likely killed a civilian driving a truck with a trailer, said Central Command. In another case, a secondary explosion from a vehicle near the intended target probably killed a civilian. Four others were wounded in strikes in Syria and Iraq.   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