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"F.B.I. Agents Get Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds"

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.
posted by Trurl on Jun 13, 2011 - 46 comments

Know your enemy

The top 10 federal contractors related in a sociogram displaying the network of overlapping lobbyist hires.
posted by ennui.bz on Jun 8, 2011 - 38 comments

A New Postal Service Model?

Is the US Postal Service nearing collapse? [more inside]
posted by beisny on Jun 4, 2011 - 156 comments

The Empire Is Dead, Long Live the Empire!

The Age of Imperialism is over, but its impact remains, leaving behind a long-lasting legacy through cultural norms. Comparing individuals on opposite sides of the long-gone Habsburg Empire border within five countries, it shows that firms and people living in what used to be the empire have higher trust in courts and police.
posted by -->NMN.80.418 on Jun 3, 2011 - 21 comments

Public Schools Charge Kids for Basics, Frills

In the wake of ever deeper budget cuts, public schools have begun charging students for basics, such as registering for honors or elective classes.
posted by reenum on May 26, 2011 - 100 comments

Bubbles and Public Facts

The Destruction of Economic Facts - "Renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues that the financial crisis wasn't just about finance—it was about a staggering lack of knowledge" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 23, 2011 - 35 comments

And there were moments of symbolism.

It is a strange, dubious and totally unaccepted moral purpose which holds the whole of the world to ransom.
On 1 March 1985, New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon David Lange (Previously) addressed the Oxford Union in support of the proposition that "Nuclear Weapons are Morally Indefensible". That speech is online at publicaddress.net (audio, transcript, highlights) and still resonates today. [more inside]
posted by doublehappy on May 23, 2011 - 30 comments

Video Games Now Eligible for NEA Grants

The National Endowment for the Arts' new Arts in Media Guidelines now include video games as an art form eligible for federal grants. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on May 17, 2011 - 41 comments

Vermont, Single-Payer in the USA?

With the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act being argued in lower courts, it's probably also worth looking at Vermont's adoption of single-payer health care: "On May 26, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont is expected to sign legislation that will create universal coverage in the state—eventually. Vermont will use subsidies from the Affordable Care Act to help create a Canada-style system. And its system, or so the theory goes, will become so popular and cheap that the rest of America will want to copy it." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 16, 2011 - 51 comments

Exile Nation: Drugs, Prisons, Politics, and Spirituality

"I realized that I was one of those extremely rare individuals who was a former POW of the drug war, and who got out and had the opportunity to share his story with the world." "It kind of makes an activist out of you when 3 helicopters land in your backyard and guys jump out with guns and destroy your place before your very eyes." Exile Nation is a documentary [complete film] [trailer] and an ongoing memoir, a work of “spiritual journalism”, and eventually "a documentary archive of interviews and testimonies […] revealing the far-ranging consequences of the War on Drugs to the American Criminal Justice System." [more inside]
posted by nTeleKy on May 13, 2011 - 11 comments

Jumping the pond

Dozens of concerned citizens will march on London this weekend to protest high taxation and government debt. Sound familiar? The rally is the first sign of what The Guardian terms "a radical Tea Party-style mass movement" in the UK. Organisers The Taxpayers' Alliance have previously been linked to the US-based Freedom Works.
posted by londonmark on May 13, 2011 - 49 comments

HUD Interactive Map Tool

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has launched a new interactive mapping tool for Community Planning and Development agencies, interested agency partners, and the public. [more inside]
posted by Kpele on May 11, 2011 - 12 comments

We're protecting you from the Internet, Citizen.

Mozilla recently received a request from the US Department of Homeland Security to disable and block at the root level the MAFIAAfire plug-in for Firefox. Mozilla declined to roll over.
posted by pjern on May 5, 2011 - 57 comments

Food Desert

Do you live in a food desert? [more inside]
posted by backseatpilot on May 4, 2011 - 54 comments

Americhrome

Americhrome: The color that has come to signify America in today’s combat theaters isn’t the red, the white, or the blue picked by Betsy Ross, but an ignoble sandy hue commonly referred to as desert tan and officially identified as Federal Standard 595 Color No. 33446. The official swatch of desert tan is housed in Franconia, Va., just outside Washington’s beltway, in a warehouse filled with the rest of the federal government’s certified color chips. From there, for $625, you can purchase a complete set of the 650 three-by-five-inch cards that define the colors covering the vast majority of items purchased by the Federal Acquisition Service, a $50 billion subsection of the General Services Administration, which acts as a kind of equipment manager for federal agencies around the country...
posted by jim in austin on May 4, 2011 - 34 comments

The Lockerbie Deal

How Britain's largest corporations helped engineer the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber.
posted by reenum on Apr 28, 2011 - 10 comments

TSA a Giant Waste of Money

John Mueller and Mark Stewart may have found the one part of government we can afford to cut in their paper "Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security" From the abstract "The cumulative increase in expenditures on US domestic homeland security over the decade since 9/11 exceeds one trillion dollars. It is clearly time to examine these massive expenditures applying risk assessment and cost-benefit approaches that have been standard for decades."
posted by RSaunders on Apr 27, 2011 - 30 comments

No Marriage Until Gay Marriage Is Legal

The Douglass Blvd. Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky has voted to stop signing marriage licenses until gay marriage is legalized by the state.
posted by reenum on Apr 25, 2011 - 87 comments

Where Do Babies Come From, and Where Do They Go?

Interactive map of international adoptions, from the superlative Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. The site contains an amazing amount of information about corruption in international adoption in countries like Nepal and Vietnam.
posted by the young rope-rider on Apr 19, 2011 - 18 comments

Tax Facts Hardly Anyone Knows

9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes - "4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all: Paulson made himself $9 billion in fees in just two years. His current tax bill on that $9 billion? Zero... 9. Other countries do it better: no one in Germany or the rest of the modern world goes broke because of accident or illness" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 18, 2011 - 191 comments

brittle efficiency and shallow triumphalism

Fareed Zakaria: Are America's Best Days Behind Us? - "We have an Electoral College that no one understands and a Senate that doesn't work, with rules and traditions that allow a single Senator to obstruct democracy without even explaining why. We have a crazy-quilt patchwork of towns, municipalities and states with overlapping authority, bureaucracies and resulting waste. We have a political system geared toward ceaseless fundraising and pandering to the interests of the present with no ability to plan, invest or build for the future. And if one mentions any of this, why, one is being unpatriotic, because we have the perfect system of government, handed down to us by demigods who walked the earth in the late 18th century and who serve as models for us today and forever. America's founders would have been profoundly annoyed by this kind of unreflective ancestor worship." [for/against]
posted by kliuless on Apr 17, 2011 - 93 comments

The Free-Banking vs. Central-Banking Debate

Out of thin air? "Have you ever said something like 'Let me buy you a beer next week'? I'm sure you have. We all issue promises of this sort. And we frequently use such promises as a form of currency... I have just described a simple credit exchange. Societies rely heavily on promising-making and promise-keeping. It is the foundation of all financial markets. I'd like to point out something about the promises you make. They are made 'out of thin air.' " [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 14, 2011 - 47 comments

S that D. Shut it down.

Will there be a government shutdown? Everything seems to hang on GOP riders. But it affects more than the federal employees and contractors. For example, National Parks will close. And so will DC services. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton tells Congress off, while DC residents wonder what are we going do with all our trash?
posted by troika on Apr 8, 2011 - 809 comments

The Brisk, Shady Sale of ‘Loosies’

With the crackdown on smoking and higher cigarette taxes in New York City, people who sell individual cigarettes, also known as loosies, are rapidly gaining new customers.
posted by reenum on Apr 5, 2011 - 69 comments

“I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up … I finally wanted to speak the truth.”

Last year, the unofficial Dean of the White House Press Corps, Helen Thomas, spoke about the State of Israel on camera. (Previously) Her replies: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," and that the Jews "can go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," sparked media outrage, prompted her to issue an apology and retire. After months of being out of the the public spotlight, she has now given her first long-form interview, which will appear in the April issue of Playboy Magazine. In it, she explains what she meant, tells us how she would like to be remembered and expands upon her positions regarding Israel, Jewish political influence, Presidents Bush and Obama, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
posted by zarq on Mar 22, 2011 - 224 comments

Deal of the Century

How two American kids became big-time weapons traders - "Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract. With a single deal, two stoners from Miami Beach had turned themselves into the least likely merchants of death in history." (via; previously on arms contractors)
posted by kliuless on Mar 21, 2011 - 69 comments

Bahrain explodes (part two)

Government of Bahrain declares state of emergency. Mixture of Saudi, UAE, and other GCC troops enter Bahrain upon invitation. [more inside]
posted by asymptotic on Mar 15, 2011 - 41 comments

ATF: Fast and Furious

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives deliberately allowed assault rifles to be smuggled into Mexico, so they could be tracked. The weapons were then used in a spree of murders, including that of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The operation was called "Fast and Furious". The Mexican government was apparently unaware of the operation, and is investigating. The ATF is going to have a review of whether their strategy supports "the goals of ATF to stem the illegal flow of firearms to Mexico".
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Mar 7, 2011 - 66 comments

Inside the multimillion-dollar essay-scoring business

With the institution of No Child Left Behind, educational testing in the US boomed. Now, some of the low paid temp workers hired to score these tests are speaking out about the behind the scenes manipulation that goes on to ensure test scores are in line with "customer expectations".
posted by reenum on Mar 7, 2011 - 142 comments

Now in Brooklyn, Homegrown Tobacco

Fed up with anti-smoker sentiments and taxation of cigarettes, Audrey Silk decided to plant her own tobacco at her home in Brooklyn.
posted by reenum on Feb 25, 2011 - 149 comments

Interactive Map of ISPs in the US

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently announced the rollout of a searchable map, which also offers a nation-wide view of internet service providers with filters for various technologies. The map is based on information collected from broadband providers or other data sources. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 24, 2011 - 7 comments

XOXO to Title X

Enjoying your Friday night? Be careful out there. In between other things, including voting for huge cuts to the EPA's budget and regulating power, the U.S. House of Representatives just voted to eliminate Title X, originally signed into law 40 years ago by Republican President Richard Nixon, which provides funding for Planned Parenthood. [more inside]
posted by limeonaire on Feb 18, 2011 - 130 comments

Bahrain explodes

Protests erupt in Bahrain. [more inside]
posted by asymptotic on Feb 15, 2011 - 54 comments

"The Package"

Inside the Secret Service. Sidebars: Radio Chatter and The Presidential Motorcade (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 8, 2011 - 48 comments

WTF, Senate?

Filibustery, making the filibuster — and the proposals in the U.S. Senate to reform it — more understandable. [more inside]
posted by carsonb on Jan 31, 2011 - 5 comments

Debtris

Debtris. From Information is Beautiful.
posted by Cool Papa Bell on Jan 27, 2011 - 21 comments

predicting civil unrest

Professors' global model forecasts civil unrest against governments - With protests spreading in the Middle East (now Yemen - not on the list) I thought this article and blog on a forecast model predicting "which countries will likely experience an escalation in domestic political violence [within the next five years]" was rather interesting. [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 27, 2011 - 42 comments

entrepreneurial paradise

In Norway, Start-ups Say Ja to Socialism - We venture to the very heart of the hell that is Scandinavian socialism—and find out that it's not so bad. Pricey, yes, but a good place to start and run a company. What exactly does that suggest about the link between taxes and entrepreneurship?
posted by kliuless on Jan 20, 2011 - 52 comments

Defense firms lure retired generals

From the Pentagon to the private sector - In large numbers, and with few rules, retiring generals are taking lucrative defense-firm jobs [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 10, 2011 - 56 comments

The 25-Year 'Foreclosure From Hell'

Patsy Campbell has been fighting her foreclosure in Florida courts for the past 25 years. She has not made a mortgage payment since 1985 while foiling the efforts of several banks to evict her from her home in Okeechobee, Florida.
posted by reenum on Dec 30, 2010 - 150 comments

The Loophole Artist

Jonathan Blattmachr, one of the country's leading estates and trusts experts, feels that helping his clients reduce their tax liability helps the IRS close loopholes that he and his colleagues use. As with most attorneys, there are some clients who weren't happy with his work, but Mr. Blattmachr pushes on with his efforts.
posted by reenum on Dec 29, 2010 - 18 comments

Football Mascots, English Democrats And Shadow Mayors

The Local Government Act 2000 brought directly elected mayors to the UK. Take up was limited and success was mixed. If you were lucky you got Stuart Drummond. If you were unlucky you got Peter Davies. Davies, the mayor of Doncaster, is widely seen to have exacerbated existing problems in the town.

This week, the Localism Bill was introduced to Parliament promising referenda on directly elected mayors in the twelve largest cities in England. In advance of this, council leaders are being turned into 'shadow mayors'. The problem? The leaders don't actually want these new powers.
posted by ninebelow on Dec 16, 2010 - 9 comments

Officials Worry About Some Latino Converts To Islam

"Latino converts to radical Islam have been connected to terrorism cases in this country with increasing frequency — and officials are trying to understand why."
posted by reenum on Dec 11, 2010 - 29 comments

using technology to show that government can work

Elizabeth Warren on setting up the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection - lecture starts here, but really starts getting good here: "I feel like this is a boring speech." stay for the Q&A.
posted by kliuless on Nov 15, 2010 - 27 comments

Trains, the future, and the past

The US government is trying to blow life into the railroad's passenger services which have been declining since WWII because of production stops during the war, and government sponsoring afterward going primarily to air travel and roads. Meanwhile the French SNCF is going public in catching up with its dark past, in order to get a piece of the investment cake.
posted by Namlit on Nov 13, 2010 - 111 comments

"Show me what you eat and i will tell you who you are" - Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

While many government organizations are pushing a healthy lifestyle complete with a low-fat diet, one marketing group formed by the USDA, called Dairy Management, is making a case for more cheese in America's menu items. [more inside]
posted by mccarty.tim on Nov 6, 2010 - 65 comments

Pencils down.

It's Election Day in America, and as is so often the case in this fickle land, the results of the 2010 midterm elections are up in the air. Although President Obama's party is expected to suffer significant losses, record numbers of districts remain competitive, and even minute errors in polling could mean the difference between a historic Republican landslide and an unexpectedly robust Democratic defense. At stake are control of not just the Senate and House, but myriad state and local offices, many of which will play key roles in the dynamics of the 2012 presidential race -- and, more subtly but no less crucially, the once-in-a-decade congressional redistricting process. Much uncertainty surrounds the behavior of the electorate -- how many will turn out, and how informed will they be? To help move those statistics in the right direction, look inside for voter guides, national and state fact checkers, and an assortment of other resources to keep tabs on as the results roll in. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Nov 2, 2010 - 858 comments

Public Policy, Political Organization, and the Precipitous Rise of Top Incomes in the United States

Winner-Take-All Politics [1,2] (PDF) - "The sources of American economic inequality are largely political – the result of deliberate political decisions to shape markets in ways that benefit the already-privileged at the expense of a more-or-less unaware public." (via bd) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Oct 21, 2010 - 47 comments

“... like a killer whale born in captivity in SeaWorld."

"The Man Who Never Was." Vanity Fair editor Todd S. Purdum follows up his 2007 profile of then-Senator John McCain and a scathing 2009 profile of Sarah Palin by asking whether McCain, "...the leader so many Americans admired — and so many journalists covered — ever truly existed." (Previously)
posted by zarq on Oct 7, 2010 - 49 comments

Tea Party and Me

Former president Jimmy Carter speaks about the similarities and differences between the political climate in the mid 1970's and the present rise of the Tea Party.
posted by reenum on Oct 1, 2010 - 20 comments

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