Welcome to "The Watchdog," which will keep a close eye on regulatory agencies and how their actions impact the lives of everyday Americans. Though the rules and regulations they write -- from determining how much arsenic is allowable in your drinking water to whether your favorite TV show can drop the F-bomb in primetime -- affect all of us, their deliberations and the way that lobbyists influence their decisions receive very little coverage. To make sense of these debates, follow the implementation of health care and financial reform and decipher the minutia of the Federal Register, "The Watchdog" is on the case. If you have any tips, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
04/04/2011 12:10 PM EDT
Almost Two Dozen Congressmen Receive Farm Subsidies
Seventeen of the named recipients were Republicans and six were Democrats. In total, the GOP took in more than $5.3 million, compared to only $489,856 for Democrats.The biggest beneficiaries of farm subsidies in the current Congress have been:
· Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tennessee) $3,368,843
· Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri) $469,292
· Rep. Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota) $443,748
· Sen. John Tester (D-Montana) $442,303
· Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) $330,046
Fincher, a self-described Tea Party patriot, who lists his occupation as "farmer" and "gospel singer" in the Congressional Directory, did not directly say whether he would continue to take subsidies, when asked by ABC News.
"We need a good, better, we need a better farm program and we need to streamline it," he said. "We need to look at many many options. And that's a long way off."
04/04/2011 12:05 PM EDT
The Wake-Up Call: One Year After Mine Disaster, Questions Unanswered
• Today's must-read: One year after a West Virginia mine explosion took 29 lives, questions linger about the time it took to find and identify victims, and notify their families. An NPR News investigation has discovered new details about the search and rescue effort and problems that plagued mine rescuers.
• Southwest Airlines attempted to push back on FAA-mandated inspections of aging Boeing 737s, like the one that lost part of the roof of its cabin Friday, complaining that the safety checks would “pose a significant burden,” a review of government documents reveals.
• Abandoned oil and gas wells have polluted the drinking water source for Fort Knox, Ky., and leaked oil into water wells in Ohio and Michigan. Similar problems have occurred in Texas, New York, Colorado and other states where drilling has occurred.
• Interior Secretary Ken Salazar criticized Transocean, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded April 20 and killed 11 workers, for issuing bonuses to its executives and declaring last year to be "the best year in safety performance in our company's history."