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  • Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Who Is Andrew Bindman?

    Thursday, January 19, 2017
    Bindman has done several studies on healthcare involving those in poverty. He has also investigated the link between access to care and preventable hospitalizations. Bindman was named San Francisco General’s chief of general internal medicine in 1996. In 1999 and 2000, he served as visiting professor at University College London, then from 2009 to 2010 he worked on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, helping draft language for the Affordable Care Act.   read more
  • Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service: Who Is Elanor Starmer?

    Thursday, January 05, 2017
    Starmer joined the USDA in 2011, initially helping develop the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program. In 2015, she was made a senior adviser to Secretary Tom Vilsack. Not long after starting at the Agricultural Marketing Service, Starmer had to defuse a controversy when the American Egg Board was accused of trying to thwart the sales of an eggless mayonnaise. The head of the egg board stepped down and was replaced by Starmer’s predecessor at the AMS, Anne Alonzo.   read more
  • Acting Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service: Who Is Alfred Almanza?

    Thursday, January 05, 2017
    Almanza’s work impressed then-Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond, who asked Almanza to come work for him in Washington as FSIS administrator. When Almanza was named deputy under secretary, he kept his responsibilities as FSIS administrator despite no longer having the official position. In 2015, Almanza instituted a new poultry inspection system that puts much of the responsibility for ensuring food safety in the hands of the processors, rather than the USDA.   read more
  • Administrator of the National Agricultural Statistics Service: Who Is Hubert Hamer?

    Thursday, January 05, 2017
    Hamer was a fellow on the Senate Budget Committee and worked on the staff of the Secretary of Agriculture. By the late 1990s, he was in charge of NASS’ Missouri office. In 2000, Hamer was made associate deputy administrator for field operations, where he oversaw 24 field offices. He moved up to be chair of the Agricultural Statistics Board in 2010, leading the publishing of market-sensitive crop reports. He remained there until being named to lead the agency.   read more
  • Secretary of the Department of Education: Who Is Betsy DeVos?

    Wednesday, January 04, 2017
    The next Education Secretary, if Donald Trump gets his wish, will be a billionaire heiress with no training or experience in education who advocates privatizing the public school system despite having never attended public schools nor allowing her children to do so. She advocates gradually privatizing public schools and allowing them to be more religiously oriented. Devos has compared her work to a biblical battleground where she wants to “advance God’s Kingdom.”   read more
  • President and CEO, National Railroad Passenger Corporation: Who Is Charles W. Moorman IV?

    Wednesday, January 04, 2017
    Moorman continued to climb the corporate ladder and in 2003 was named senior vice president of corporate services and later that year was made senior vice president for corporate planning and services. In 2004, he was named Norfolk Southern’s president, the following year its CEO and in 2006, Moorman added chairman to his title. He took the Amtrak job for $1 a year, plus incentives that could reach $500,000. He also serves on the boards of oil giant Chevron and Duke Energy.   read more
  • At $125,000 Per Dose, Will This Be the Most Expensive Drug in the World?

    Sunday, January 01, 2017
    The FDA has approved Spinraza, the first drug to treat patients with spinal muscular atrophy, a disease that can kill infants before they turn 2. Biogen, which is licensing it from Ionis, said one dose will cost $125,000--equaling up to $750,000 to cover the the first year, and about $375,000 annually after that. Patients presumably take it the rest of their lives. The pricing could put it in the cross hairs of lawmakers and perhaps discourage insurers from covering it.   read more
  • Trump Proceeds with Development of Luxury Resorts Tied to Powerful Indonesian Political Figures

    Sunday, January 01, 2017
    Even as Trump says he'll end foreign business deals, he's taking on projects involving powerful political figures. They include a politician accused of trying to extort billions of dollars from a U.S. mining company, a top shareholder in that company, and a billionaire running for national office. “You could have two world leaders that are business partners,” said a Bush lawyer. “It makes it almost impossible to conduct diplomacy in an evenhanded manner." Said Trump: "It's not a big deal."   read more
  • U.S. Program to seize Assets Stolen by Corrupt Foreign Leaders May be undermined by Trump’s Global Business Interests

    Sunday, January 01, 2017
    It's been a 6-year U.S. effort to seize $3 billion in assets of foreign officials who use their countries’ wealth to enrich themselves. If Trump doesn't separate his business from politics, it will be tougher for the Justice Dept to criticize foreign leaders who have gained wealth based on their government ties. "It reduces U.S. leverage because of the perceived hypocrisy. The moral case is drastically undermined,” said prof. Stephenson.   read more
  • Texas Judge Halts Federal Transgender Health Protections

    Sunday, January 01, 2017
    "Judge O'Connor's conclusion that transgender people and persons who have had abortions are somehow excepted from protection is deeply troubling, legally specious, and morally repugnant," said TLDEF's Ezra Young. Many transgender people expect Trump as president to abandon or weaken the transgender protection efforts pursued by the Obama administration. He has declined to repudiate a divisive North Carolina law that restricts transgender people's bathroom access.   read more
  • Chairman of the National Council on Disability: Who Is Clyde Terry?

    Sunday, January 01, 2017
    Terry certainly has experience with disabilities; he has been blind since birth because of a rare childhood glaucoma. While serving at NCD, he became the first blind person to “drive” an Audi automated car, taking a spin around the Washington, D.C., area. He has advocated for automated cars to accommodate disabled drivers. Another of his goals is to ensure fair wages for disabled workers, instead of a subminimum that some are allowed by federal law to receive.   read more
  • Attorneys General of 15 States Plan Court Action if Trump Scraps Clean Power Plan

    Saturday, December 31, 2016
    No sooner had President Obama called the Clean Power Plan “the single most important step that America has ever made in the fight against global climate change” than his Republican antagonists vowed to defeat it. But if If Donald Trump withdraws from the plan, his administration will meet 15 states battered by climate change in court. Trump has long attacked rising global temperatures as a hoax, and he has appointed fossil fuel executives and environmental opponents to top cabinet posts.   read more
  • State Lawmakers’ Skimpy 1-Sentence Draft Bills Often Mislead Public

    Saturday, December 31, 2016
    Some lawmakers and advocacy groups are critical of these vague and skimpy one-sentence bill drafts, saying they can shut out the public from important policy discussions, be used as a bait-and-switch tactic or lead to unintended consequences. Several lawmakers said that the finished product doesn't always get another public hearing. The National Conference of State Legislatures criticized such skeleton bills decades ago and in 1996 identified a dozen or so states that allowed them.   read more
  • Nation’s Big-City Mayors Unite to Defend Minorities, Immigrants against Trump Policies

    Saturday, December 31, 2016
    Trump's election has reinvigorated the coalition, giving de Blasio the means to rally dissent among big city mayors and helping claim the mantle of a leading Trump antagonist among Democrats. The group also urged the White House to end a registration program for nonimmigrant visitors that could lead to a Muslim registry, an idea endorsed by Trump. Amid pressure from the mayors, Democrats in Washington and civil rights groups, the Obama administration moved last week to dismantle the program.   read more
  • North Carolina Judge Delays Implementing Republican Actions that Curb Power of New Democratic Governor

    Saturday, December 31, 2016
    Republicans argued that their proposal was about ensuring electoral fairness, but Democrats said it plainly smelled of a power grab. Before the measure became law, governors were allowed to appoint a simple majority in their party’s favor. Democrats have been vigorous in their complaints about Republican legislation curbing Cooper’s authority, and the measures that they approved during a hastily called special session will almost certainly be litigated for months.   read more
  • Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors: Who Is Richard Stengel?

    Saturday, December 31, 2016
    Stengel wrote for The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Time, for which he covered the 1988 presidential campaign. In 1990, his book on apartheid caught the notice of Nelson Mandela, and Stengel was retained to ghostwrite Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom.” Stengel left Time in 2013 and the following year joined the State Department as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Among other parts of his job, he was tasked with countering ISIS’ message.   read more
  • Release of Nonviolent Drug Offenders Helps Bring U.S. Prison Population to 12-Year Low

    Friday, December 30, 2016
    The nation’s jail and prison population decreased in 2015, and the number of adults locked up or on parole or probation fell to a level not seen since 2002 while overall crime continued to drop. Reasons for the declining incarceration rates include the federal prison system releasing thousands of nonviolent drug offenders in 2015 and states seeking to save money by enacting legislation and policies to reduce prison populations. Total prison population: 1.5 million,the lowest level since 2005.   read more
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