Record Suffering In Afghanistan, Despite State Department Praise

Contradicting rosy statements made this week by the State Department, a Gallup poll released Friday showed that Afghanistan is wallowing in misery like few countries have this millennium. The research firm reported that 61 percent of Afghans consider themselves to be “suffering”–a number that is up from 23 percent in 2010, and the highest level of national misery measured by Gallup since it launched the poll in 2005. A worsening economy appeared to be a major factor behind the deterioration. The proportion of Afghans that… Keep Reading

With Help of CBO, Right Wing Think Tank Downplays Climate Change

A right wing think tank accused climate change activists of pushing a “disastrous” agenda, one week after receiving a briefing from a non-partisan government agency that whitewashed the economic impacts of a rapidly warming planet. The Hoover Institute, a Stanford University think tank, released a report this week that lent credence to science denialism and promoted a “balanced approach” to climate change. It decried “global-warming alarmists” who want “to precipitously abort our use of fossil fuels.” “Doing so,” the report claims, “would be economically disastrous”… Keep Reading

Obama Police Task Force Co-Chair Dampens Reformers’ Expectations

The co-chair of President Obama’s policing reforms panel on Friday sought to rein in expectations about the initiative’s potential impact. Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey pointed out that the task force only has three months, “which isn’t a whole lot of time,” and warned that tangible change might not even result from the report. “The easy part is writing the recommendations,” he said on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. “The hard part is implementing something.” Ramsey also intoned that the panel was formed, in part, as part of… Keep Reading

Unemployment Steady, Austerity Holding Back Labor Market

While the unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 percent in November, austerity measures appear to be holding back the labor market recovery, according to a pair of government reports. The employment report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 321,000 jobs were added to payrolls in November. However, for the second straight month, the public sector increased payrolls by only 7,000 jobs–down from 22,000 in September. A separate analysis by the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the deficit was reduced in October and November… Keep Reading

DOJ Gave Cleveland Police Millions While Finding Civil Rights Abuses

The Justice Department gave millions of dollars in grant money to the Cleveland police while it was investigating the force for repeated civil rights abuses. The department’s Civil Rights Division announced Thursday that it discovered the city’s police repeatedly “using unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment” after conducting a two-year long investigation. But as the Justice Department was compiling an exhaustive list of the cops’ abuses, it was funneling lucrative grant money into the force’s coffers. In September, the Cleveland Division of Police… Keep Reading

In 90 Seconds, Sen. Paul Squanders Post-Ferguson Goodwill With Post-Racial Snake Oil

When unrest broke out in Ferguson, Mo. in August, after municipal police officer Darren Wilson repeatedly shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) staked out ground that made Democrats nervous. Unlike many of his colleagues, Sen. Paul stuck his neck out to denounce police abuses and a system of law enforcement that unjustly punishes and brutalizes those it deems to have the wrong color skin. “Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application… Keep Reading

Spy IG Informed White House of Potential Privacy Abuse

Over the span of six months between 2013 and 2014, the intelligence community’s inspector general conducted more than two-dozen investigations and informed the White House that it’s looking into claims about a spying database that “improperly included US persons’ data.” The probe was revealed by a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Federation of American Scientists’ Steven Aftergood. Aftergood’s query compelled the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to hand over a redacted semi-annual report documenting the inspector general’s activities between… Keep Reading

Millennials More Likely Than Young Baby Boomers to Have Degrees, Language Skills, Money Problems

Young American adults are more educated, multilingual, and diverse today than three decades ago, according to the results of a Census Bureau study published Thursday. And they’re more likely to be destitute. About one in five young adults, or 13.5 million people aged 18-34–the so-called millennial generation–are living in poverty, the report found. In 1980, one in seven young adults from the Baby Boomer generation were living below the poverty line. This trend has occurred despite the fact that millennials aren’t much less likely to… Keep Reading

Chances of Justice for Sexually Assaulted Soldiers Not Improved by 2015 NDAA

The Pentagon claims that a lengthy report released Thursday shows it has improved how it deals with sexual assault. But critics argue that the problem is still grave and systemic, and the 2015 defense spending bill winding its way through Congress might not leave much room for improvement. While the Department of Defense found that victims appear less frightened to report sex crimes and that assaults are on the decline, it also admitted that 62 percent of victims who reported transgressions this year faced retaliation.… Keep Reading

Friday Deadline Looms for NSA’s Phone Dragnet

The National Security Agency’s warrantless telephone metadata collection will end tomorrow if President Obama declines to reauthorize the program. The administration must seek approval from the top secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court every 90 days to continue the bulk call record collection. The last court order was issued on Sept. 11. Since the program was revealed last June by journalists working with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, it has sparked a debate across the country about the government’s surveillance capabilities. A federal judge last December… Keep Reading

NFL Produces Rare Episode of Corporate Indignation from Lawmakers

Congress took a stand on Friday against corporations abusing their government benefits and violating the public trust. Well, it took a stand against one corporation, anyway. They “receive tremendous assistance, huge benefits from the Congress,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “But that doesn’t give them the right to abuse this privilege,” he added. “The government certainly shouldn’t endorse abusive behavior. The public benefits come with a public trust.” Senator John McCain, was so fed up with corporate abuse, he… Keep Reading

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