Featured Story

Countering Justice Dept., Homeland Panel Pushes Use of Private, For-Profit Prisons for Immigrant Detainees

Sunday, December 04, 2016
Some panel members objected to the report's overall findings, including that the government "should, or inevitably must" continue to rely on private jails. The recommendation comes months after the Justice Dept said it will phase them out. Critics argue that the jails are unsafe for people who face not criminal charges, but rather civil immigration violations and deportation proceedings. Under Donald Trump's deportation plans, immigration detention space is likely to continue to be needed.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Trump to Take Office with Enormous Power to Shape Future U.S. Policy on Voting

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    “The last time we had a national government that was as hostile to the protection of minority voting rights as we may have with this president was probably near the end of the first Reconstruction” after the Civil War, said prof Karlan. Several potentially decisive rulings on voting appear bound for a Supreme Court whose balance is in Trump’s hands. Voting issues will fall to a Justice Dept whose likely attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is viewed with deep suspicion by civil rights advocates.   read more
  • Cities across U.S. Prepare to Pay High Price for Resisting Trump Mass Deportations

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    Across the nation, in cities like Boston, L.A., Philadelphia and San Francisco, officials plan to defy Trump and act as a kind of bulwark against mass deportations. “I like to compare this to conscientious objector status,” said Oakland Mayor Schaaf. “We are not going to use our resources to enforce what we believe are unjust immigration laws.” But the cost may be steep: Trump has vowed to block all federal funding for cities where local law enforcement agencies do not cooperate with ICE agents.   read more
  • Constitutional Violations of Trump’s Foreign Business Dealings May Never Be Known Due to Limited Disclosure Rules

    Thursday, December 01, 2016
    Legally, Trump's foreign licensing deals could violate the U.S. Constitution. If the deals occur during his presidency and fetch anything above what’s considered fair market value, it would almost certainly violate the Constitution's Emoluments Clause. But how will we know if Trump is violating the clause? Because of limited financial-disclosure requirements, we might not. And Trump has refused to release his tax returns, a significant break from past presidential administrations.   read more

Unusual News

  • Federal Ethics Office Heaps Praise upon Trump for Agreeing to Divest Assets When He Didn’t

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    The normally secretive federal agency, in a bizarre series of oddly informal postings on its Twitter account, revealed that officials apparently concluded, erroneously, that Trump had committed on his own Twitter account to divesting his assets. “As we discussed with your counsel, divestiture is the way to resolve these conflicts,” they wrote on Twitter, later adding: “Bravo! Only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest. Good call!” In fact, Trump had made no such commitment.   read more
  • Decline in U.S. Dementia Rate Expected to Reverse with Rising Number of Older Americans

    Monday, November 28, 2016
    The rate of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in adults aged 65 and up dropped to about 9% in 2012 from nearly 12% in 2000. NIA's John Haaga said dementia rates would have to decline much more sharply than they have to counteract that trend. Dementia was most common in the oldest adults. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that about 5 million people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer's, and that is expected to rise to almost 14 million by 2050.   read more
  • Confusing Language in Ballot Measure Blamed for Colorado Voters’ Approval of Slavery in State Constitution

    Saturday, November 26, 2016
    Was it a hidden racist vote? Could more than 1 million people in Colorado really be in favor of keeping a slavery loophole? “It just shouldn’t be a Colorado value,” said activist William Dickerson. “It shouldn’t be in the bedrock of our founding document, both on the state level and on the national level.” Those bewildered by the vote say the explanation may be simple: Voters say they were disoriented by a mouthful of a ballot question, leaving them unsure what “yes” and “no” actually meant.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Soda Tax Gains Momentum in Cities across U.S.

    Thursday, December 01, 2016
    A soda tax may be coming to a city near you. Advocates say the recent sweep represents a watershed moment in the fight for soft-drink taxes. Once viewed as measures likely to find support only in largely health-conscious cities, soda taxes have emerged as a bountiful revenue source for cash-strapped local governments. “There’s a momentum with these taxes that will be hard for the industry to stop,” said Sanford dean Kelly Brownell.   read more
  • Huge Increase in Number of Doctors Annually Prescribing Millions of Dollars’ Worth of Medicare Prescriptions

    Saturday, November 19, 2016
    The number of providers who topped the $5 million mark for prescriptions increased more than tenfold. The number of prescribers—mostly physicians but also nurse practitioners–exceeding $10 million in drug costs jumped from two to 70. “The trends in this space are troubling and don’t show any signs of abating,” said Tim Gronniger of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “It’s going to be a pressure point for patients and the program for the foreseeable future.”   read more
  • High-Priced Economics Professors Hired by Corporations to Help Push through Mega-Mergers

    Thursday, November 17, 2016
    Economists affiliated with prestigious universities show that mergers benefit consumers. But they reap their most lucrative paydays by lending their academic authority to mergers their corporate clients propose. Corporate lawyers hire them to sway the government by documenting that a merger won’t be “anti-competitive.” Their optimistic forecasts, though, often turn out to be wrong, and the mergers they champion may be hurting the economy.   read more

Controversies

  • Online Hate Sites Surge during Month since Election

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    Some who track racists in America say Trump’s effect has been unmistakable. A range of white supremacist and so-called Alt-Right websites have seen surges in traffic across the last year. And many sites, among them Red Ice, which has advanced the idea that “the United States of America was built by white people for white people” and American Renaissance, which derides African Americans and Latinos as low-IQ losers, have seen their traffic more than double over the past year.   read more
  • Hillary May Have Lost Election, But She Beats Trump as Primary Target of GOP Oversight Chairman’s Ongoing Investigations

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    Democrats called for investigations into President-elect Trump's controversial financial ties with foreign businesses and governments. But Rep. Chaffetz, who promised before the election to investigate Hillary Clinton for years, says no rush on Trump. Instead he is pledging to continue investigating Clinton. Said Rep. Cummings: "For Republicans, there was no allegation too small to investigate with respect to Secretary Clinton, but now there is no scandal too big to ignore for Donald Trump."   read more
  • Only 1 in 4 Americans Want Health Care Law Repealed

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    While 52% of Republicans say they want the law completely repealed, that share is down from 69% just last month, before the election. More Republicans now say they want the law "scaled back" under Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress, with that share more than doubling from 11% before the Nov. 8 election to 24% after. It could be that some Republicans "got a protest vote off their chests, and they're done with that," Kaiser CEO Altman said. "They now have a more moderate position."   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Canadian Journalist’s Detention at U.S. Border Raises Press Freedom Alarms

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    He endured aggressive interrogations at border crossings in some of the world’s most authoritarian nations. But a recent confrontation at the U.S. border left him shaken. U.S. agents confiscated his phones and retained their SIM cards that held his confidential data. Privacy advocates said it illustrated a loophole that’s especially problematic for journalists: Without a warrant, U.S. border agents can legally search digital devices that they wouldn’t be able to touch anywhere else.   read more
  • 9/11 Families Claim GOP Senators’ Proposal Will “Gut” New Law Allowing Them to Sue Saudi Arabia

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    Terry Strada, national chair of 9/11 Families and Survivors United For Justice Against Terrorism, said Graham and McCain are seeking to "torpedo" the law by making changes demanded by Saudi Arabia's lobbyists. "We have reviewed the language, and it is an absolute betrayal," Strada said. "The president-elect has made his support for JASTA crystal clear, and there is zero risk that he will support this kind of backroom backstabbing of the 9/11 families."   read more
  • Germany Emerges as Test Case for Facebook Regulation of Online Hate Speech

    Tuesday, November 29, 2016
    In Germany, more than almost anywhere else in the West, lawmakers are demanding that Facebook go further to police what is said on the social network. The country’s lawmakers also want other U.S. tech giants to meet similar standards. “Facebook has a certain responsibility to uphold the laws,” said Heiko Maas, the German justice minister. In October, Maas suggested the company could be held criminally liable for users’ illegal hate speech postings if it does not swiftly remove them.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Dina Kawar?

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    Kawar went to work in the Amman office of Jordanian Prince Hassan as a researcher and in press relations. In 1991, she took over as director of Hassan’s Paris office, remaining until 2000 when she assumed the directorship of King Abdullah’s office there. The following year, Kawar was named Jordan’s ambassador to France. She added the Holy See and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to her portfolio in 2002 and Portugal in 2005.   read more
  • Bulgaria’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Tihomir Stoytchev?

    Sunday, November 27, 2016
    Stoytchev was back in Washington in 2008 as deputy chief of mission in the embassy. He remained there until 2011, serving as chargé d’affaires from 2009 to 2010. Beginning in 2012, Stoytchev served as foreign policy secretary to Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev until being tapped as ambassador to the U.S. Stoytchev said one of his major goals is to get his country added to the U.S. visa waiver program, which would facilitate travel by Bulgarians.   read more
  • Vatican City’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Christophe Pierre?

    Saturday, November 26, 2016
    Pierre had helped to unite Mexico’s bishops and establish better links between the church and its followers. His posting to Washington was made upon the retirement of Nuncio Vigano, who had blindsided Pope Francis by setting up a meeting with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who broke the law by refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Pierre is seen as a good fit for the job because his experience in Mexico is considered helpful, given the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.   read more

Featured Story

Countering Justice Dept., Homeland Panel Pushes Use of Private, For-Profit Prisons for Immigrant Detainees

Sunday, December 04, 2016
Some panel members objected to the report's overall findings, including that the government "should, or inevitably must" continue to rely on private jails. The recommendation comes months after the Justice Dept said it will phase them out. Critics argue that the jails are unsafe for people who face not criminal charges, but rather civil immigration violations and deportation proceedings. Under Donald Trump's deportation plans, immigration detention space is likely to continue to be needed.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Trump to Take Office with Enormous Power to Shape Future U.S. Policy on Voting

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    “The last time we had a national government that was as hostile to the protection of minority voting rights as we may have with this president was probably near the end of the first Reconstruction” after the Civil War, said prof Karlan. Several potentially decisive rulings on voting appear bound for a Supreme Court whose balance is in Trump’s hands. Voting issues will fall to a Justice Dept whose likely attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is viewed with deep suspicion by civil rights advocates.   read more
  • Cities across U.S. Prepare to Pay High Price for Resisting Trump Mass Deportations

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    Across the nation, in cities like Boston, L.A., Philadelphia and San Francisco, officials plan to defy Trump and act as a kind of bulwark against mass deportations. “I like to compare this to conscientious objector status,” said Oakland Mayor Schaaf. “We are not going to use our resources to enforce what we believe are unjust immigration laws.” But the cost may be steep: Trump has vowed to block all federal funding for cities where local law enforcement agencies do not cooperate with ICE agents.   read more
  • Constitutional Violations of Trump’s Foreign Business Dealings May Never Be Known Due to Limited Disclosure Rules

    Thursday, December 01, 2016
    Legally, Trump's foreign licensing deals could violate the U.S. Constitution. If the deals occur during his presidency and fetch anything above what’s considered fair market value, it would almost certainly violate the Constitution's Emoluments Clause. But how will we know if Trump is violating the clause? Because of limited financial-disclosure requirements, we might not. And Trump has refused to release his tax returns, a significant break from past presidential administrations.   read more

Unusual News

  • Federal Ethics Office Heaps Praise upon Trump for Agreeing to Divest Assets When He Didn’t

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    The normally secretive federal agency, in a bizarre series of oddly informal postings on its Twitter account, revealed that officials apparently concluded, erroneously, that Trump had committed on his own Twitter account to divesting his assets. “As we discussed with your counsel, divestiture is the way to resolve these conflicts,” they wrote on Twitter, later adding: “Bravo! Only way to resolve these conflicts of interest is to divest. Good call!” In fact, Trump had made no such commitment.   read more
  • Decline in U.S. Dementia Rate Expected to Reverse with Rising Number of Older Americans

    Monday, November 28, 2016
    The rate of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in adults aged 65 and up dropped to about 9% in 2012 from nearly 12% in 2000. NIA's John Haaga said dementia rates would have to decline much more sharply than they have to counteract that trend. Dementia was most common in the oldest adults. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that about 5 million people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer's, and that is expected to rise to almost 14 million by 2050.   read more
  • Confusing Language in Ballot Measure Blamed for Colorado Voters’ Approval of Slavery in State Constitution

    Saturday, November 26, 2016
    Was it a hidden racist vote? Could more than 1 million people in Colorado really be in favor of keeping a slavery loophole? “It just shouldn’t be a Colorado value,” said activist William Dickerson. “It shouldn’t be in the bedrock of our founding document, both on the state level and on the national level.” Those bewildered by the vote say the explanation may be simple: Voters say they were disoriented by a mouthful of a ballot question, leaving them unsure what “yes” and “no” actually meant.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • Soda Tax Gains Momentum in Cities across U.S.

    Thursday, December 01, 2016
    A soda tax may be coming to a city near you. Advocates say the recent sweep represents a watershed moment in the fight for soft-drink taxes. Once viewed as measures likely to find support only in largely health-conscious cities, soda taxes have emerged as a bountiful revenue source for cash-strapped local governments. “There’s a momentum with these taxes that will be hard for the industry to stop,” said Sanford dean Kelly Brownell.   read more
  • Huge Increase in Number of Doctors Annually Prescribing Millions of Dollars’ Worth of Medicare Prescriptions

    Saturday, November 19, 2016
    The number of providers who topped the $5 million mark for prescriptions increased more than tenfold. The number of prescribers—mostly physicians but also nurse practitioners–exceeding $10 million in drug costs jumped from two to 70. “The trends in this space are troubling and don’t show any signs of abating,” said Tim Gronniger of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “It’s going to be a pressure point for patients and the program for the foreseeable future.”   read more
  • High-Priced Economics Professors Hired by Corporations to Help Push through Mega-Mergers

    Thursday, November 17, 2016
    Economists affiliated with prestigious universities show that mergers benefit consumers. But they reap their most lucrative paydays by lending their academic authority to mergers their corporate clients propose. Corporate lawyers hire them to sway the government by documenting that a merger won’t be “anti-competitive.” Their optimistic forecasts, though, often turn out to be wrong, and the mergers they champion may be hurting the economy.   read more

Controversies

  • Online Hate Sites Surge during Month since Election

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    Some who track racists in America say Trump’s effect has been unmistakable. A range of white supremacist and so-called Alt-Right websites have seen surges in traffic across the last year. And many sites, among them Red Ice, which has advanced the idea that “the United States of America was built by white people for white people” and American Renaissance, which derides African Americans and Latinos as low-IQ losers, have seen their traffic more than double over the past year.   read more
  • Hillary May Have Lost Election, But She Beats Trump as Primary Target of GOP Oversight Chairman’s Ongoing Investigations

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    Democrats called for investigations into President-elect Trump's controversial financial ties with foreign businesses and governments. But Rep. Chaffetz, who promised before the election to investigate Hillary Clinton for years, says no rush on Trump. Instead he is pledging to continue investigating Clinton. Said Rep. Cummings: "For Republicans, there was no allegation too small to investigate with respect to Secretary Clinton, but now there is no scandal too big to ignore for Donald Trump."   read more
  • Only 1 in 4 Americans Want Health Care Law Repealed

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    While 52% of Republicans say they want the law completely repealed, that share is down from 69% just last month, before the election. More Republicans now say they want the law "scaled back" under Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress, with that share more than doubling from 11% before the Nov. 8 election to 24% after. It could be that some Republicans "got a protest vote off their chests, and they're done with that," Kaiser CEO Altman said. "They now have a more moderate position."   read more

U.S. and the World

  • Canadian Journalist’s Detention at U.S. Border Raises Press Freedom Alarms

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    He endured aggressive interrogations at border crossings in some of the world’s most authoritarian nations. But a recent confrontation at the U.S. border left him shaken. U.S. agents confiscated his phones and retained their SIM cards that held his confidential data. Privacy advocates said it illustrated a loophole that’s especially problematic for journalists: Without a warrant, U.S. border agents can legally search digital devices that they wouldn’t be able to touch anywhere else.   read more
  • 9/11 Families Claim GOP Senators’ Proposal Will “Gut” New Law Allowing Them to Sue Saudi Arabia

    Friday, December 02, 2016
    Terry Strada, national chair of 9/11 Families and Survivors United For Justice Against Terrorism, said Graham and McCain are seeking to "torpedo" the law by making changes demanded by Saudi Arabia's lobbyists. "We have reviewed the language, and it is an absolute betrayal," Strada said. "The president-elect has made his support for JASTA crystal clear, and there is zero risk that he will support this kind of backroom backstabbing of the 9/11 families."   read more
  • Germany Emerges as Test Case for Facebook Regulation of Online Hate Speech

    Tuesday, November 29, 2016
    In Germany, more than almost anywhere else in the West, lawmakers are demanding that Facebook go further to police what is said on the social network. The country’s lawmakers also want other U.S. tech giants to meet similar standards. “Facebook has a certain responsibility to uphold the laws,” said Heiko Maas, the German justice minister. In October, Maas suggested the company could be held criminally liable for users’ illegal hate speech postings if it does not swiftly remove them.   read more

Appointments and Resignations

  • Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Dina Kawar?

    Saturday, December 03, 2016
    Kawar went to work in the Amman office of Jordanian Prince Hassan as a researcher and in press relations. In 1991, she took over as director of Hassan’s Paris office, remaining until 2000 when she assumed the directorship of King Abdullah’s office there. The following year, Kawar was named Jordan’s ambassador to France. She added the Holy See and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to her portfolio in 2002 and Portugal in 2005.   read more
  • Bulgaria’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Tihomir Stoytchev?

    Sunday, November 27, 2016
    Stoytchev was back in Washington in 2008 as deputy chief of mission in the embassy. He remained there until 2011, serving as chargé d’affaires from 2009 to 2010. Beginning in 2012, Stoytchev served as foreign policy secretary to Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev until being tapped as ambassador to the U.S. Stoytchev said one of his major goals is to get his country added to the U.S. visa waiver program, which would facilitate travel by Bulgarians.   read more
  • Vatican City’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Christophe Pierre?

    Saturday, November 26, 2016
    Pierre had helped to unite Mexico’s bishops and establish better links between the church and its followers. His posting to Washington was made upon the retirement of Nuncio Vigano, who had blindsided Pope Francis by setting up a meeting with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who broke the law by refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Pierre is seen as a good fit for the job because his experience in Mexico is considered helpful, given the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.   read more