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  • National Security Adviser: Who Is John Bolton?

    Wednesday, April 25, 2018
    As a reward for his efforts to help get George W. Bush elected in the contested 2000 presidential race, Bolton was named under secretary of state for arms control. In that post he effected the withdrawal of the U.S. from the International Criminal Court, and claimed without evidence that Cuba was running a biological weapons program. In 2001, he helped derail the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention that banned production and use of such weapons, claiming it endangered U.S. national security.   read more
  • Oscars 2018: Foreign Language Films Part Two—The 5 Nominees

    Thursday, March 01, 2018
    The winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, The Square is a fascinating compilation of set pieces that are held together through the life of Christian (Claes Bang), the curator of an art museum. The film was originally pitched as a satire of the art world, and this is certainly the crux of the plot. But on a more personal level, the message is that you can be intelligent, handsome, sophisticated and well-respected, and still make really stupid decisions—frequently.   read more
  • Oscars 2018: Foreign Language Films Part One—Bad Films and Obscenities

    Wednesday, February 28, 2018
    This year a record 92 countries entered films in the foreign language category of the Academy Awards. I saw 89 of these films. Give credit to the Motion Picture Academy for allowing the entry of films that are not allowed to be shown in their country of origin. The two most notable examples come from Venezuela and Syria.   read more
  • The Bahamas’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Sidney Collie?

    Sunday, February 25, 2018
    Collie began his career as a teacher, and then served as a legislator, practiced law and served in the diplomatic corps. He was a sought-after expert on Bahamian law in 2007 when the courts were deciding the fate of the daughter of model Anna Nicole Smith, who lived in the Bahamas before dying in a South Florida hotel room. A longtime member of the Free National Movement, Collie was called out of retirement in 2016 to chair the party for the upcoming elections, which his party won decisively.   read more
  • Director of the Indian Health Service: Who Was Robert Weaver?

    Friday, February 23, 2018
    Weaver had told untruths and made omissions during his testimony to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. And in 2010, the IRS filed two liens against his consulting business because of $120,000 in unpaid back taxes. The Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS) previously said questions about Weaver’s background were “pure character assassination.” But this month, HHS told CNBC simply, “Mr. Weaver is no longer the Administration’s nominee for Director of the Indian Health Service.”   read more
  • Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service: Who Is Ken Johnson?

    Wednesday, February 21, 2018
    Johnson took over as general manager and CEO of Co-Mo Electric Cooperative in Tipton, Missouri, in 2005. While there, he initiated a project to bring high-speed internet to the rural area. More than 15,000 subscribers in the area now have some of the fastest internet speeds in the country, provided by Co-Mo Connect, a subsidiary of the co-op.   read more
  • U. S. Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu: Who Is Joseph Cella?

    Tuesday, February 20, 2018
    Donald Trump's nominee is an ultra-conservative Roman Catholic politico who, in 2016, called candidate Trump “manifestly unfit to be president of the United States." Cella also leveled criticisms of vulgarity and racism against Trump. Yet a few months later, Cella joined a Catholic advisory panel for the Trump campaign, claiming he had “a sincere change of heart and mind” after Trump pledged to appoint anti-abortion judges. Catholics narrowly supported Hilary Clinton over Trump, 48% to 45%.   read more
  • Director of the Federal Transit Administration: Who Is Thelma Drake?

    Monday, February 19, 2018
    Although raised in a Democratic family, Drake, at age 14, volunteered for Republican Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign. She volunteered again in a presidential campaign, 45 years later, as a member of the Palin Truth Squad to counter “false attacks, rumors and smears" against GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin. Drake became a member of Congress in 2004, winning the House seat vacated by Republican Ed Schrock, who had been accused of having solicited sex on a gay phone dating service.   read more
  • Interior Dept. Announces Largest Sale of Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling Leases in History

    Sunday, February 18, 2018
    “How stupid can we be? The Gulf Coast is consistently nailed by hurricanes and yet our government insists on an energy strategy that exacerbates these hurricanes,” said Louisiana Bucket Brigade director Anne Rolfes. “Trump's auctioning off this massive amount of our ocean while at the same time proposing to rollback important environmental and safety requirements... [is] disgusting and nothing but a recipe for more devastating oil spills...” said a Center for Biological Diversity attorney.   read more
  • Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service: Who Is Charles Rettig?

    Friday, February 16, 2018
    Trump's nomination of Rettig, a Beverly Hills tax attorney whose wealthy clients have included Michael Jackson and “Girls Gone Wild” creator Joe Francis, breaks a 20-year precedent of IRS leaders having backgrounds in business or management. A defender of Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns during an audit, Rettig also speculated that Trump “likely pays taxes at a lesser rate than many of us” and that he “may be worth far less than the approximately $10 billion he wants us to believe."   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Australia: Who Is Harry B. Harris Jr.?

    Thursday, February 15, 2018
    Under Harris' watch at Guantánamo in 2006, three prisoners died while in custody. Harris declared the deaths to be suicides, but an investigation by Harper’s magazine cast considerable doubt on that verdict, suggesting the three were killed during torture/interrogation in a secret part of the base. In 2017, Harris took responsibility for a bewildering chain of events that left the mistaken impression that a U.S. aircraft carrier rushed to confront a belligerent North Korea, when it did not.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary for HUD Policy Development and Research: Who Is Seth Appleton?

    Thursday, February 08, 2018
    A one-time intern at the Department of State and in the U.S. Senate while in college, Appleton eventually joined the staff of Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri) before joining Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s office as a legislative assistant in 2009. He had previously worked as Luetkemeyer’s policy director during his 2008 Congressional campaign. Appleton was promoted to be Luetkemeyer’s chief of staff in 2009. He remained with Luetkemeyer until leaving in August 2017 for HUD.   read more
  • Director of the United States Geological Survey: Who Is James Reilly?

    Wednesday, February 07, 2018
    An oil company geologist, Reilly turned his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut into reality. His first NASA mission was in 1998 when Endeavour visited the Russian space station. His 2001 space trip was more grueling; he flew aboard Atlantis and performed three spacewalks to help install an airlock on the International Space Station. In 2007 he took two spacewalks devoted to station construction . All told, Reilly spent more than 853 hours in space and performed 31 hours of spacewalks.   read more
  • Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Lois Brutus?

    Monday, February 05, 2018
    Brutus successfully advocated for a tougher rape law in Liberia. She also worked as child fighter coordinator at the UN observer mission in Liberia and in the Children Assistance Program as project coordinator for the USAID war affected youth program. Brutus is a founding member and former president of the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia. The organization was established in 1994 to offer legal defense for vulnerable women and children who may have suffered extended violence.   read more
  • Director of the Centers for Disease Control Resigns: Who Was Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald?

    Friday, February 02, 2018
    Fitzgerald purchased stock in Japan Tobacco, Merck & Co., Bayer, and health insurance company Humana, creating new conflicts of interest, especially in light of CDC’s ongoing work to reduce tobacco consumption—a mission Fitzgerald has claimed to support. Fitzgerald had been appointed by former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, who was similarly forced to resign last September because of his extravagant use of private planes on the taxpayer dime.   read more
  • Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs: Who Is Kirsten Madison?

    Thursday, February 01, 2018
    Madison started her career as a press assistant to Rep. Porter Goss. In 2006, as deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, she visited Nicaragua six months before presidential elections and urged Nicaraguans to oppose Daniel Ortega and José Rizo, whom she referred to as “two corrupt warlords who represent a return to a dark, selfish and unproductive past.” Despite her efforts, Ortega won the election, albeit with only 38% of the vote in a five-candidate contest.   read more
  • Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission: Who Is Tim Thomas?

    Wednesday, January 31, 2018
    Thomas, who works as a field representative for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined the Kentucky state government in 2004 as special counsel and adviser on the Kentucky Environmental Cabinet. He also served as federal facilities coordinator, ensuring they conformed to the state’s environmental rules. Thomas joined the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority in 2007 as its executive director. He transferred to the private sector in 2009 to work for mechanical contractor Swift and Staley.   read more
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