Featured Story

Polluting Drinking Water and Lobbying go Hand in Hand

Wednesday, March 04, 2015
The 10 biggest corporate water polluters in the U.S. spent $53 million on lobbying and nearly $10 million on campaign contributions. These companies also dumped 100 million pounds of toxics in public waterways. The top polluter in the report is AK Steel, which discharged 19,088,128 pounds of toxics into rivers and lakes in 2012. It spent $739,752 on lobbying in 2014. The biggest lobbying spender was the No. 6 polluter: Koch Industries ($13.8 million on lobbying, 6,657,138 pounds of toxics).   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Obama Administration Sides with Hunters over Protection of Gray Wolves

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    The judge wrote that the Endangered Species Act “offers the broadest possible protections for endangered species by design [and] reflects the [U.S.] commitment to act as a responsible steward of the Earth's wildlife, even when such stewardship is inconvenient or difficult...” But the Obama administration objected to the ruling. Since 2003, the U.S. government has made four attempts to end protection of the wolves, and each time its effort was overturned in court.   read more
  • FCC Votes 3-2 to Make Internet a Utility and Block State Laws Limiting Municipal Internet Services

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    New rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Thursday will result in the Internet being treated like a utility under federal law and allow local governments to develop public high-speed online service. The rules were approved by a 3-2 vote of the FCC, with three Democrats voting for the rules and two Republicans against.   read more
  • Evicted to Make Way for a U.S. Military Base almost 50 Years Ago, Chagos Islanders May Finally Return Home

    Saturday, February 28, 2015
    The former inhabitants of Diego Garcia who were kicked off their island home by the British so the U.S. could develop a key military base may soon get to return home after nearly 50 years in exile. Diego Garcia was created as strategic U.S. military base during the Cold War. It also may have been involved in the CIA’s secret rendition program, serving as a refueling site for clandestine flights carrying detainees and possible “black site” where suspected terrorists were interrogated.   read more

Unusual News

  • Independents Outnumber Both Democrats and Republicans in 44 of 50 States

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    Americans have increasingly shunned both the Republican and Democratic parties in favor of independent status when it comes party identification. This trend has progressed to the point where in 44 of the 50 states, independents are a larger group than either the number of registered Republicans or Democrats. Alaska is 54% independent (26% Republican and 14% Democrat), and Massachusetts stands at 53% independent (35% Democrat and 11% Republican).   read more
  • Medical Marijuana May Go Kosher

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    The COO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher certification agency, Rabbi Elefant, has reportedly talked to several companies seeking a kosher seal of approval for medical marijuana. “Just as the OU gives out kosher certificates for vitamins or for any other medical product, after an examination of the ingredients, it is possible in principle to issue kosher certificates for cannabis, as long it is solely for medical uses and in countries where it is permitted by law,” said the Union’s CEO in Israel.   read more
  • “What the Drilling Industry has Bought and Paid for in Campaign Contributions they shall Receive.”

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    An Ohio Supreme Court decision last week compelled a justice to do something few public officials do when it comes to addressing the connection between campaign contributions and political favors. After the court sided with drillers in a fracking regulation case, Justice O’Neill in his dissent wrote that “the oil and gas industry has gotten its way.” Catherine Turcer said: “What I liked about Justice O’Neill’s opinion was his willingness to point out the elephant in the room."   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Prisons Increase Profits by Replacing In-Person Family Visits with Video Screens

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The video chats provide less privacy for visitors with picture and sound being recorded and often reviewed by jail officials. In-person visits were usually in a separate room, but the video chats often take place in the dayroom of a jail. Sometimes family members watch while fights break out behind their loved one. Attorneys are also troubled by the lack of privacy.   read more
  • 24 Companies with more than $1 Billion Each in Homeland Security Contracts

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The leader is IBM, which has received $4.9 billion from DHS, most of it for automatic data processing systems and services. (And DHS isn’t even its biggest federal customer. That would be the Department of Defense, which pays IBM more than $6 billion). Right behind is Integrated Coast Guard Systems, which makes radio navigation equipment, at just about $11.5 million less than IBM. They are followed by Computer Systems Corporation at $4.1 billion and Lockheed Martin at $3.9 billion.   read more
  • Oakland VA Lost Thousands of Veterans Claims, Found Them, and Then Lost Them Again

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    The Oakland, California, regional office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) stuffed 13,184 benefit requests, some dating back to the 1990s, into a file cabinet where they were discovered in 2012, partially processed and then promptly lost. Two records selected during a random sampling of unprocessed informal claims found they missed out on $3,904 in benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder and hearing loss, respectively.   read more

Controversies

  • Cleveland Mayor Forced to Apologize for Claiming 12-Year-Old Shot by Police Was Responsible for his own Death

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    In his apology, Mayor Jackson said blaming the child for his own death was "an attempt to protect all of our defenses." A Rice family attorney responded, “I don’t want him just to apologize for the poor word use. I want him to apologize for the death of this 12-year-old child.” Another Rice attorney said, “I do believe that a...child died unnecessarily at the hands of Cleveland police officers and I do believe that certain officers shouldn’t have been entitled to wear the uniform.”   read more
  • Female Guards once again Allowed to Touch Guantánamo Prisoners

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    A military judge, Navy Captain J.K. Waits, issued a restraining order last year barring female guards from touching Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, who cited religious reasons for his request that only male jailers handle him. Hadi had refused to leave his cell because of the presence of women. After a wave of protests erupted from prosecutors and prison staff, Waits relented and lifted his restraining order.   read more
  • Dramatic Rise in Suicide Rate for Americans 40-64, but not for other Age Groups

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    Using the National Violent Death Reporting System, which collects data from 16 states, Hempstead and Phillips found that the suicide rate per 100,000 among the targeted age group went from 15.5 in 2005 to 18.2 in 2010. The unemployment rate in those states increased as well, from 5.1% to 9.6%. The rise was most dramatic in Rhode Island, where the unemployment rate more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, as did the suicide rate for those aged 40 to 64.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Immigration Officials Move to Deport 150 Bosnian Serbs Accused of War Crimes

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    Many of the accused are former Bosnian soldiers. Among the ones identified are an Ohio metal worker, a Virginia soccer coach, and four Las Vegas casino employees. Half of the 300 Bosnian suspects may have been involved in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which Serbian militias executed about 8,000 unarmed Muslim boys and men. “The idea that the people who did all this damage in Bosnia should have a free pass and a new shot at life [in the U.S.] is just obscene to me,” said Michael MacQueen   read more
  • Will John Legend Speak out against Bahrain’s Brutal Dictatorship when he Performs There?

    Sunday, March 01, 2015
    Legend is scheduled to perform Monday in a festival put on by the repressive government of Bahrain. Human Rights Watch has documented many abuses by the Bahraini government, including imprisonment of opposition figures on “terrorism” charges and police use of excessive force. Other issues include lack of freedom of expression; failure to address domestic violence against women; and abuses of migrant laborers from other countries.   read more
  • Average U.S. Payment for Killing an Innocent Person in Afghanistan: $3,426

    Sunday, March 01, 2015
    An analysis by The Intercept showed that between 2011 and 2013, the U.S. military made 957 condolence payments totaling $2.7 million, $1.8 million of them for deaths with the maximum amount generally capped at $5,000. The largest single payment for a death—$15,000—came in 2011. Other payments are as low as $100.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chief Executive Officer, Broadcasting Board of Governors: Who Is Andrew Lack?

    Saturday, February 28, 2015
    In an interview with The New York Times, Lack spoke of the difficulty of his job and said: “We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram. But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges.” Russia Today, a website and television channel run by the Russian government, blasted the comparison of their organization to terror groups.   read more
  • South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu?

    Sunday, February 22, 2015
    Mahlangu was elected to South Africa’s parliament in 1994. He was appointed deputy chairman of the National Council of Provinces, the upper house in South Africa’s legislature and became chairman in 2005. In his official biographies, Mahlangu has claimed that he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Fairfax in 1995, but this was actually an unaccredited diploma mill.   read more
  • Dominican Republic’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is José Tomás Pérez?

    Saturday, February 21, 2015
    Pérez took elective office himself in 2002 as a senator from the Dominican Republic’s national district, serving in that office for four years. In 2007 he was made director of his country’s Civil Aviation Institute and was later caught up in a controversy for overspending on a headquarters building for his agency. Pérez twice sought the PLD nomination for president, in 2008 and 2012, but failed to get it both times.   read more

Featured Story

Polluting Drinking Water and Lobbying go Hand in Hand

Wednesday, March 04, 2015
The 10 biggest corporate water polluters in the U.S. spent $53 million on lobbying and nearly $10 million on campaign contributions. These companies also dumped 100 million pounds of toxics in public waterways. The top polluter in the report is AK Steel, which discharged 19,088,128 pounds of toxics into rivers and lakes in 2012. It spent $739,752 on lobbying in 2014. The biggest lobbying spender was the No. 6 polluter: Koch Industries ($13.8 million on lobbying, 6,657,138 pounds of toxics).   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Obama Administration Sides with Hunters over Protection of Gray Wolves

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    The judge wrote that the Endangered Species Act “offers the broadest possible protections for endangered species by design [and] reflects the [U.S.] commitment to act as a responsible steward of the Earth's wildlife, even when such stewardship is inconvenient or difficult...” But the Obama administration objected to the ruling. Since 2003, the U.S. government has made four attempts to end protection of the wolves, and each time its effort was overturned in court.   read more
  • FCC Votes 3-2 to Make Internet a Utility and Block State Laws Limiting Municipal Internet Services

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    New rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Thursday will result in the Internet being treated like a utility under federal law and allow local governments to develop public high-speed online service. The rules were approved by a 3-2 vote of the FCC, with three Democrats voting for the rules and two Republicans against.   read more
  • Evicted to Make Way for a U.S. Military Base almost 50 Years Ago, Chagos Islanders May Finally Return Home

    Saturday, February 28, 2015
    The former inhabitants of Diego Garcia who were kicked off their island home by the British so the U.S. could develop a key military base may soon get to return home after nearly 50 years in exile. Diego Garcia was created as strategic U.S. military base during the Cold War. It also may have been involved in the CIA’s secret rendition program, serving as a refueling site for clandestine flights carrying detainees and possible “black site” where suspected terrorists were interrogated.   read more

Unusual News

  • Independents Outnumber Both Democrats and Republicans in 44 of 50 States

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    Americans have increasingly shunned both the Republican and Democratic parties in favor of independent status when it comes party identification. This trend has progressed to the point where in 44 of the 50 states, independents are a larger group than either the number of registered Republicans or Democrats. Alaska is 54% independent (26% Republican and 14% Democrat), and Massachusetts stands at 53% independent (35% Democrat and 11% Republican).   read more
  • Medical Marijuana May Go Kosher

    Friday, February 27, 2015
    The COO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher certification agency, Rabbi Elefant, has reportedly talked to several companies seeking a kosher seal of approval for medical marijuana. “Just as the OU gives out kosher certificates for vitamins or for any other medical product, after an examination of the ingredients, it is possible in principle to issue kosher certificates for cannabis, as long it is solely for medical uses and in countries where it is permitted by law,” said the Union’s CEO in Israel.   read more
  • “What the Drilling Industry has Bought and Paid for in Campaign Contributions they shall Receive.”

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    An Ohio Supreme Court decision last week compelled a justice to do something few public officials do when it comes to addressing the connection between campaign contributions and political favors. After the court sided with drillers in a fracking regulation case, Justice O’Neill in his dissent wrote that “the oil and gas industry has gotten its way.” Catherine Turcer said: “What I liked about Justice O’Neill’s opinion was his willingness to point out the elephant in the room."   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Prisons Increase Profits by Replacing In-Person Family Visits with Video Screens

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The video chats provide less privacy for visitors with picture and sound being recorded and often reviewed by jail officials. In-person visits were usually in a separate room, but the video chats often take place in the dayroom of a jail. Sometimes family members watch while fights break out behind their loved one. Attorneys are also troubled by the lack of privacy.   read more
  • 24 Companies with more than $1 Billion Each in Homeland Security Contracts

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    The leader is IBM, which has received $4.9 billion from DHS, most of it for automatic data processing systems and services. (And DHS isn’t even its biggest federal customer. That would be the Department of Defense, which pays IBM more than $6 billion). Right behind is Integrated Coast Guard Systems, which makes radio navigation equipment, at just about $11.5 million less than IBM. They are followed by Computer Systems Corporation at $4.1 billion and Lockheed Martin at $3.9 billion.   read more
  • Oakland VA Lost Thousands of Veterans Claims, Found Them, and Then Lost Them Again

    Thursday, February 26, 2015
    The Oakland, California, regional office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) stuffed 13,184 benefit requests, some dating back to the 1990s, into a file cabinet where they were discovered in 2012, partially processed and then promptly lost. Two records selected during a random sampling of unprocessed informal claims found they missed out on $3,904 in benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder and hearing loss, respectively.   read more

Controversies

  • Cleveland Mayor Forced to Apologize for Claiming 12-Year-Old Shot by Police Was Responsible for his own Death

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    In his apology, Mayor Jackson said blaming the child for his own death was "an attempt to protect all of our defenses." A Rice family attorney responded, “I don’t want him just to apologize for the poor word use. I want him to apologize for the death of this 12-year-old child.” Another Rice attorney said, “I do believe that a...child died unnecessarily at the hands of Cleveland police officers and I do believe that certain officers shouldn’t have been entitled to wear the uniform.”   read more
  • Female Guards once again Allowed to Touch Guantánamo Prisoners

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    A military judge, Navy Captain J.K. Waits, issued a restraining order last year barring female guards from touching Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, who cited religious reasons for his request that only male jailers handle him. Hadi had refused to leave his cell because of the presence of women. After a wave of protests erupted from prosecutors and prison staff, Waits relented and lifted his restraining order.   read more
  • Dramatic Rise in Suicide Rate for Americans 40-64, but not for other Age Groups

    Monday, March 02, 2015
    Using the National Violent Death Reporting System, which collects data from 16 states, Hempstead and Phillips found that the suicide rate per 100,000 among the targeted age group went from 15.5 in 2005 to 18.2 in 2010. The unemployment rate in those states increased as well, from 5.1% to 9.6%. The rise was most dramatic in Rhode Island, where the unemployment rate more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, as did the suicide rate for those aged 40 to 64.   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Immigration Officials Move to Deport 150 Bosnian Serbs Accused of War Crimes

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015
    Many of the accused are former Bosnian soldiers. Among the ones identified are an Ohio metal worker, a Virginia soccer coach, and four Las Vegas casino employees. Half of the 300 Bosnian suspects may have been involved in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which Serbian militias executed about 8,000 unarmed Muslim boys and men. “The idea that the people who did all this damage in Bosnia should have a free pass and a new shot at life [in the U.S.] is just obscene to me,” said Michael MacQueen   read more
  • Will John Legend Speak out against Bahrain’s Brutal Dictatorship when he Performs There?

    Sunday, March 01, 2015
    Legend is scheduled to perform Monday in a festival put on by the repressive government of Bahrain. Human Rights Watch has documented many abuses by the Bahraini government, including imprisonment of opposition figures on “terrorism” charges and police use of excessive force. Other issues include lack of freedom of expression; failure to address domestic violence against women; and abuses of migrant laborers from other countries.   read more
  • Average U.S. Payment for Killing an Innocent Person in Afghanistan: $3,426

    Sunday, March 01, 2015
    An analysis by The Intercept showed that between 2011 and 2013, the U.S. military made 957 condolence payments totaling $2.7 million, $1.8 million of them for deaths with the maximum amount generally capped at $5,000. The largest single payment for a death—$15,000—came in 2011. Other payments are as low as $100.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Chief Executive Officer, Broadcasting Board of Governors: Who Is Andrew Lack?

    Saturday, February 28, 2015
    In an interview with The New York Times, Lack spoke of the difficulty of his job and said: “We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram. But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges.” Russia Today, a website and television channel run by the Russian government, blasted the comparison of their organization to terror groups.   read more
  • South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu?

    Sunday, February 22, 2015
    Mahlangu was elected to South Africa’s parliament in 1994. He was appointed deputy chairman of the National Council of Provinces, the upper house in South Africa’s legislature and became chairman in 2005. In his official biographies, Mahlangu has claimed that he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Fairfax in 1995, but this was actually an unaccredited diploma mill.   read more
  • Dominican Republic’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is José Tomás Pérez?

    Saturday, February 21, 2015
    Pérez took elective office himself in 2002 as a senator from the Dominican Republic’s national district, serving in that office for four years. In 2007 he was made director of his country’s Civil Aviation Institute and was later caught up in a controversy for overspending on a headquarters building for his agency. Pérez twice sought the PLD nomination for president, in 2008 and 2012, but failed to get it both times.   read more