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  • Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development: Who Is Neal Rackleff?

    Friday, May 26, 2017
    As director of the City of Houston Department of Housing and Community Development (HCDD), Rackleff was responsible for community development projects, affordable housing, and neighborhood revitalization. During his term as director, HCDD produced 7,800 multifamily housing units and helped 1,700 single-family homeowners with rebuilding hurricane-damaged homes. He also worked on the redevelopment of the historic downtown building now housing the J.W. Marriott Hotel.   read more
  • Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency: Who Is Brock Long?

    Thursday, May 25, 2017
    Long joined the George W. Bush administration in 2001 as a hurricane program manager in FEMA for six states—but, significantly, not Louisiana, which bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina. One of his achievements was the distribution of an educational hurricane computer game for grade-schools. In 2008, Long became director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, where he directed the state’s response to incidents as different as the H1N1 flu virus and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.   read more
  • White Policeman Fired for not Killing Black Man with Gun

    Wednesday, May 24, 2017
    “I am not going to shoot you, brother.” In what world do those words being said by a police officer result in that officer being fired? You don’t have to go down the rabbit hole in search of a place where up is down, left is right, and war is peace. All you need do is go to Weirton, West Virginia. Police Officer Stephen Mader was fired from his job for not killing a Black man when he could have. He’s now in a battle that seems both absurd and highlights the absurdity of our times.   read more
  • Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United States: Who Is Lou-Anne Gilchrist?

    Wednesday, May 24, 2017
    An educator by profession, Gilchrist effected a major career change in 2009 by accepting an offer to become an education officer at the Ministry of Education, where she was responsible for the security and administration of all external examinations from January to October 2009. She was soon promoted to chief education officer at the Ministry of Education, where she supervised educational processes in schools from October 2009 to September 2016.   read more
  • Montenegro’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Nebojša Kaluđerović?

    Tuesday, May 23, 2017
    When Serbia and Montenegro split in 2006, in June Kaluđerović became Montenegro’s representative at the United Nations, running his country’s mission out of his son’s bedroom, and ambassador after that country became a member. While serving as UN ambassador, Kaluđerović was invited to speak at a New York meeting of the Nero Wolfe society, the Wolfe Pack, because the fictional detective created by Rex Stout was said to have been born in Montenegro.   read more
  • Director of the United States Secret Service: Who Is Randolph Alles?

    Monday, May 22, 2017
    Alles is the first Secret Service director in more than 100 years who didn't come from within Secret Service ranks. In 2003, in spite of official denials, Alles defended the use of a napalm-like substance in the Iraq war, saying, “The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological effect.” Working for Border Protection in 2013, Alles defended the use of $18 million Predator drones, costing more than $12,000 an hour to operate, for drug interdictions when cheaper platforms were available.   read more
  • Ambassador of Jamaica to the United States: Who Is Audrey Marks?

    Sunday, May 21, 2017
    Marks founded six businesses, including a banana plantation, a real estate development firm, a transportation company, and a venture capital operation. Her biggest success came in 1997, when she founded Paymaster (Jamaica) Ltd, the country’s first consolidated bill payment agency. It became a big success, with more than 1.4 million customers and more than $40 billion in annual transactions. She later sold 80% of her ownership in the company, but remained its chairman.   read more
  • Inter-American Commission Takes U.S. Human Rights Abuse Case for First Time

    Friday, May 19, 2017
    The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has given the U.S. three months to respond to charges of abuse of human rights, from the family of a San Diego man who was beaten to death by Border Patrol agents in 2010. It is the first time the commission has taken up a claim for extrajudicial killing, torture and obstruction of justice in the U.S. Border watchers consider it a major test of the Trump administration’s stand on immigration, crime and law enforcement.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration: Who Is Elinore McCance-Katz?

    Friday, May 19, 2017
    The appointment of McCance-Katz by President Trump drew criticism from Republican Rep. Tim Murphy: “While she was serving at SAMHSA, there were questionable hiring practices...an anti-medical approach to serious mental illness and substance abuse treatment and...the continued upward rise of suicide and substance abuse deaths.” McCance-Katz praised Trump’s election in a November article for National Review, calling it “an exciting turn of events for people afflicted with mental illness.”   read more
  • Director of the Selective Service System: Who Is Don Benton?

    Thursday, May 18, 2017
    Don Benton, a former Washington state senator, chaired Trump’s presidential campaign in the Pacific Northwest. Trump first rewarded Benton with a job in the EPA, but he quickly wore out his welcome. So in April 2017, with little fanfare, Trump made Benton, whose company sells sales motivation programs but who never served in the military, director of the Selective Service System. Like Trump, Benton has a talent for sucking money out of campaigns--including Trump's--and into his businesses.   read more
  • Director of the International Trade Administration: Who Is Gil Kaplan?

    Wednesday, May 17, 2017
    Kaplan wrote in a 2010 article that the U.S. should block Chinese-made computers as long as Beijing prohibits U.S. websites such as Google and YouTube from operating there. During the 2016 presidential campaign Kaplan supported “pausing all international trade negotiations for one year, while the U.S. undertakes a top-to-bottom review of the effect of international trade agreements on U.S. manufacturing,” as well as promoting “Made in America” purchases by the Dept of Defense.   read more
  • Chair of the Federal Election Commission: Who Is Steven Walther?

    Tuesday, May 16, 2017
    Walther served on the executive board of the ABA Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, which oversees the ABA’s political programs in more than 21 countries. In 1998, he led the election recount team for Sen. Harry Reid after his 428-win over Republican John Ensign. The following year, Reid offered to recommend Walther to be a candidate for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but Walther declined. However, several years later, when Reid recommended him for the FEC, Walther accepted.   read more
  • Chairman of the Export-Import Bank: Who Is Scott Garrett?

    Monday, May 15, 2017
    In Scott Garrett, President Donald Trump has once again chosen someone to lead an agency whose existence he opposes. Garrett was considered one of the most conservative members of Congress, voting against extending unemployment benefits, raising minimum wage and prohibiting price gouging by oil companies. He opposed reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act because he didn’t believe that ballots should be printed in languages other than English.   read more
  • Chair of the United States Access Board: Who Is Deborah A. Ryan?

    Sunday, May 14, 2017
    Starting as an administrative assistant and rising to associate director, Ryan became executive director when MAAB was re-named and re-organized in 1987. Ryan left MAAB in July 2002 to start her own accessibility consulting firm, Deborah A. Ryan & Associates, which she has owned and operated ever since. Ryan’s firm specializes in compliance with accessibility requirements created under Massachusetts law and federal laws such as the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Fair Housing Act.   read more
  • Dow Chemical Pesticides and the Trump Connection

    Friday, May 12, 2017
    With the election of Trump and naming Scott Pruitt as EPA chief, the agency’s position on chlorpyrifos changed. In March 2017, it denied the 2007 petition requesting a ban of the pesticide. Trump has reportedly enjoyed an increasingly close friendship with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris. Dow contributed $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, then wrote to Trump cabinet members asking them to set aside studies that found a certain class of pesticides to be harmful to an array of endangered wildlife.   read more
  • Chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board: Who Is Sean Sullivan?

    Friday, May 12, 2017
    A former U.S. naval officer who worked on nuclear-powered submarines, Sullivan began his political career in 2008, running as a Republican for an Eastern Connecticut congressional seat. He called for an end to the Iraq War, but opposed setting a date for U.S. troop withdrawal. He also called for increased spending for renewable energy and nuclear power. He later ran for state senate, calling for budget cuts and privatizing some social service programs, but lost to 84-year-old Edith Prague.   read more
  • Chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission: Who Is J. Christopher Giancarlo?

    Thursday, May 11, 2017
    Giancarlo moved into the trading world in 2000 as executive vice president and counsel for Fenics Software (later GFI), which made derivatives trading programs. While still at GFI in 2011, Giancarlo testified to the House Financial Services Committee urging a go-slow approach to regulating derivatives trading. In 2015, Giancarlo wrote a paper criticizing some of the CFTC’s reforms. His nomination to chair CFTC was warmly greeted by the investment industry, which is hoping for less regulation.   read more
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