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  • The $20 Bill: Andrew Jackson or Harriet Tubman?

    Monday, August 03, 2020
    With all the talk of taking down statues and changing the names of buildings, isn’t it time that we talk about the presence of Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill? Jackson was actually a slave trader who made his fortune buying and selling African-Americans. What he did to Native Americans was even worse. He forced an estimated 46,000 Native Americans off their ancestral lands and turned over the land to white people. Thousands of Cherokee died on the Trail of Tears, walking to what is now Oklahoma.   read more
  • Chief Operating Officer of the Armed Forces Retirement Home: Who Is Timothy Kangas?

    Tuesday, June 13, 2017
    Kangas worked for the State of Michigan for over 20 years in different positions, including 9 years as a combat medic in the Michigan Army National Guard; service as Trauma Coordinator, where he led efforts to create Michigan’s first statewide all-inclusive trauma system; and as Regional Healthcare Administrator for the Michigan Department of Corrections. He also served a one year stint in Iraq as an advisor to a Provisional Reconstruction Team for the State Department in 2007-2008.   read more
  • Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Who Was Michelle Lee?

    Monday, June 12, 2017
    Nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2015, Lee--a first-generation Chinese-American, engineer and attorney--became the first woman to be USPTO director. But she was in something of a limbo after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president. It took a Freedom of Information Act request to confirm in March 2017 that she still was in charge of the USPTO. She abruptly resigned her post on June 6, 2017.   read more
  • Benin’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Hector Posset?

    Sunday, June 11, 2017
    Beginning in 1994, Posset served as head of the ceremonial service in Benin's State Protocol Directorate, coordinating all of the official ceremonies of the president and was named the president’s head of protocol in 1996. The next year, he was made first counselor in Benin’s embassy in Ghana. When he went to Washington in June 2011, in addition to his other duties, Posset was Benin’s representative to the Organization of American States, where it has observer status.   read more
  • Switching from Coal to Natural Gas could Save Thousands of Lives Annually

    Saturday, June 10, 2017
    President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord claiming the pact would prevent our nation from further developing its fossil fuel reserves. Yet tens of thousands of Americans die annually from air pollution generated by burning of fossil fuels. Between 7,500 and 52,000 Americans meet early deaths due to power plant emissions. That’s huge. An analysis of switching from coal to natural gas found it would save tens of thousands of lives and tens of billions of dollars each year.   read more
  • Missile Defense Agency Wants $7.9 Billion to Oppose North Korea

    Friday, June 09, 2017
    Citing “great concern” about the North Korean missile threat, the Missile Defense Agency asked the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday to approve its $7.9-billion budget request. It includes $1.5 billion for the $40-billion ground-based defense system that successfully destroyed a mock ICBM above the Pacific Ocean last week. Despite the program's 40% success rate, agency director Syring said the test showed the American people "that we can defend them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”   read more
  • Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition: Who Is José Viana?

    Friday, June 09, 2017
    In 2006, Viana became an administrator at Eno Valley Elementary School in Durham, North Carolina, where he established a district-wide parent advisement committee to help ensure that low-income Latino children met academic standards. After two years in Durham, Viana moved on to the North Carolina Dept of Public Instruction, serving eight years as an administrator of the state’s Migrant Education Program, which helps migrant students learn despite the huge obstacles that migratory labor entails.   read more
  • Acting Chair of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission: Who Is Heather MacDougall?

    Thursday, June 08, 2017
    MacDougall has a history of being overwhelmingly pro-employer in disputes with workers. Fresh out of law school, she went to work for Krukowski & Associates (now Ogletree Deakins), a “boutique” law firm representing employers against workers. She later was a partner at Baker & Daniels (now Faegre Baker Daniels), which also represented employers against workers. Relocating to Florida, MacDougall practiced pro-employer labor law as an of counsel at Ford & Harrison in Melbourne from 2011 to 2012   read more
  • Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration: Who Is David Redl?

    Wednesday, June 07, 2017
    Redl spent the first five years of his career working for CTIA, the leading lobbying group for major telecom companies. In 2011, he left CTIA to work as Republican counsel for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. In 2013, he became chief counsel for the newly created Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Redl is a member of the Federalist Society, an ultra-conservative, neoliberal association of lawyers founded by prominent Republican politicians, lawyers, judges, and academics.   read more
  • Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Prince Khalid bin Salman?

    Tuesday, June 06, 2017
    In 2014, Khalid flew Royal Saudi Air Force missions against ISIS targets and in Saudi Arabia’s ongoing war in Yemen before an injured back took him out of the cockpit. He then worked as an adviser to the Ministry of Defense before leaving for Washington in 2016. Khalid is a full brother to Mohammed bin Salman, his nation’s minister of defense. Khalid’s appointment is seen as a way of establishing a high-level personal relationship between the Saudi ruler and President Trump.   read more
  • Czech Republic’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Hynek Kmoníček?

    Monday, June 05, 2017
    In 2006, Kmoníček was appointed ambassador to India. Among his many responsibilities was helping a Czech scientist who had been arrested by Indian officials for illegally collecting rare beetles. The scientist later discovered a beetle in China, which he named Anthaxia Kmoníček--for Kmoníček. Kmoníček has predicted that “Donald Trump’s administration will be a combination of the aggressive isolationism of Andrew Jackson together with the strategy of Richard Nixon minus Kissinger.”   read more
  • Ambassador of Malaysia to the United States: Who Is Zulhasnan Rafique?

    Sunday, June 04, 2017
    Zulhasnan became Federal Territories minister in 2006 after his predecessor was convicted of corruption charges. When a top Malaysian official, en route to address the UN General Assembly, was forced at L.A. Airport security to remove his shoes and belt, Zulhasnan demanded that U.S. government officials be subjected to the same treatment when they traveled to Malaysia. Later, Zulhasnan became executive director of a company specializing in property development and the production of palm oil.   read more
  • The Case for National Service

    Friday, June 02, 2017
    President Kennedy famously said “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” This was a rallying cry for over a million Americans to serve, and contributed to creation of services like Peace Corps. Today, President Trump proposes getting government out of the business of national service. Yet in today's divided nation, new research demonstrates that national service programs can bring people together.   read more
  • Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States: Who Is Yerzhan Kazykhanov?

    Friday, June 02, 2017
    Kazykhanov spent his entire career at the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry. Sacha Baron Cohen's 2006 mock documentary, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," was banned in Kazakhstan. However, in 2012, Kazykhanov admitted that the film had actually boosted the tourism industry in his country, noting, “For us, it is a great victory. I am grateful to Borat, the main character of the movie, for tourists' keen interest to (come to) Kazakhstan.”   read more
  • Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States: Who Is Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry?

    Thursday, June 01, 2017
    As Foreign Ministry spokesperson in 2013, Chaudhry found himself in an awkward position when secret documents were published showing that the Pakistani government had cooperated with the CIA’s drone bombing program inside Pakistan’s borders. Chaudhry was left to explain that even if this was true, the current government, installed four months earlier, would not continue the complicity, stating “We regard such strikes as a violation of our sovereignty as well as international law."   read more
  • Georgia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is David Bakradze?

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017
    Bakradze was named ambassador to Greece in 2012. He returned home in 2014 to become state minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration. Early in his short tenure as ambassador to Greece, Bakradze, along with five other ambassadors, has requested U.S. help in stopping Russian interference in the countries’ internal affairs. Bakradze cited Russian broadcasts into Georgia, a former Soviet republic, urging its citizens to oppose Georgia becoming a member of NATO.   read more
  • Ambassador from Poland to the United States: Who Is Piotr Wilczek?

    Tuesday, May 30, 2017
    Wilczek, a literary scholar with no previous diplomatic experience, is no stranger to the U.S., having taught Polish literature and culture as a visiting professor. He belongs to the American Study Group at the Polish Institute of Int'l Affairs, where members discuss and analyze political and cultural developments in the U.S. Despite his lack of experience, Wilzcek earned praise back home for his defense of Poland’s right-populist government against a critical article in The Washington Post.   read more
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