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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
  • The Gambia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Dawda Fadera?

    Sunday, June 10, 2018
    Fadera worked in The Gambia’s Personnel Management Office beginning in 1995, rising to become the office’s permanent secretary in August 2010. He was dismissed from the post by then-Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh in 2011, but brought back a year later when Jammeh found the office wasn’t functioning as well as it had been under Fadera’s leadership. In 2015, Fadera was caught up in a corruption investigation involving oil contracts, but the prosecution was dropped.   read more
  • Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan: Who Is Donald Lu?

    Friday, June 08, 2018
    During his time as ambassador to Albania, Lu earned both praise and criticism for his attempts to support ongoing efforts by the U.S. and others to root out the systemic corruption in the Albanian political and judicial system. Despite the long-standing nature of the corruption and the efforts against it, some right-wing commentators seized on the conservative politics of those recently targeted to smear Lu with charges of being part of a so-called “deep state” conspiracy against Trump.   read more
  • Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives: Who Is Alaina B. Teplitz?

    Thursday, June 07, 2018
    Like most other Foreign Service officers, Teplitz had a tour in Afghanistan, beginning in 2011 as minister counselor for management in the U.S. embassy in Kabul. While there, she was forced to defend the failure of a program meant to provide visas for Afghans who worked for the U.S. government. In 2015, as ambassador to Nepal, she had to preside over a memorial for six U.S. Marines killed in an aircraft accident while supplying aid to Nepal in the wake of earthquakes earlier that year.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Malta: Who Is Christine Toretti?

    Wednesday, June 06, 2018
    Toretti has been a major Republican donor, having given more than $1.2 million to Pennsylvania GOP candidates alone. She was also a member of Pennsylvania’s Women for Trump Team and Trump’s presidential transition team. She's worked to bring women into the male-dominated Republican Party, but it has been an uphill battle. “It’s like pushing a rope versus pulling it,” she said. Toretti also founded an annual leadership program to encourage Republican women in Pennsylvania to enter politics.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to South Korea: Who Is Harry B. Harris Jr.?

    Tuesday, June 05, 2018
    Harris took over as commander of Joint Task Force Guantánamo in 2016. Under his watch, three prisoners held at the base died while in custody. Harris quickly declared the deaths to be suicides, describing it as "not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” However, an investigation by Harper’s magazine cast considerable doubt on that verdict, suggesting that the three were killed during a torture/interrogation session held in a secret part of the base.   read more
  • Director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Who Is Gordon Hartogensis?

    Monday, June 04, 2018
    Hartogensis is a wealthy private investor who has no experience in government or pension fund management. However, he's well-connected, in a nepotistic way. He's married to Grace Chao, a sister of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This makes Hartogensis a brother-in-law of both Chao and McConnell. Consequently, the nomination has raised serious ethical questions.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary of Education for Career, Technical, and Adult Education: Who Is Scott Stump?

    Sunday, June 03, 2018
    Stump was Trump's second choice for the post because his first choice, Tim Kelly, was forced to withdraw after several bigoted blog posts written by Kelly became public knowledge. In 2014-2015, Stump was president of the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium, now known as Advance CTE. In January 2015, Stump left public service to become chief operating officer at Vivayic, whose co-founders had long considered Stump a mentor.   read more
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Who Is Robert Wilkie?

    Friday, June 01, 2018
    In 2010, Wilkie was named vice president and business development director for large Department of Defense program integration opportunities at design and construction consulting firm CH2M Hill. He returned to Capitol Hill in 2015 as an adviser to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina). Wilkie worked on the Donald Trump transition team before being nominated in 2017 to be under secretary at Defense. Wilkie has also served as an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve and the Air Force Reserve.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Nepal: Who Is Randy Berry?

    Thursday, May 31, 2018
    A career Foreign Service officer, Berry became, in 2015, the State Department’s first special envoy for human rights of LGBTI persons. He remained in the post for a time after Trump’s inauguration, despite disapproval from some in the conservative community. Just before Trump took office, Berry was named deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. His first assignment in Nepal came in 2007, when he was named deputy chief of mission there.   read more
  • Chair of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board Resigns: Who Was Vanessa Allen Sutherland?

    Wednesday, May 30, 2018
    Sutherland did not give a reason for her departure. However, the Trump administration has twice attempted to zero out the board’s funding in annual budget requests, which is particularly alarming considering that the CSB does not engage in regulatory or enforcement activities. It only conducts safety investigations. For example, in April 2018, Sutherland released a report pointing out that a deadly 2017 explosion at a Louisiana paper mill might have been prevented by tougher regulations.   read more
  • President of the Government National Mortgage Administration (Ginnie Mae): Who Is Michael Bright?

    Tuesday, May 29, 2018
    In 2009, Bright became a large bank financial analyst for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The following year he moved to the staff of Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) as financial policy adviser. There, he helped write the Corker-Warner Bill, which would have eliminated federal mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in favor of a new entity and shift more risk to the private sector. The bill did not make it through the Senate.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Estonia: Who Was Sonny Masso?

    Monday, May 28, 2018
    Masso’s withdrawal of his nomination remains a mystery. He never received a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and neither the White House, State Dept, nor committee leaders would provide an explanation. However, Estonian officials made clear their concern that the Trump administration was “downgrading” their nation by replacing the current U.S. ambassador, a career diplomat, with Masso, who was a political appointee and acquaintance of former Trump advisor Steve Bannon.   read more
  • Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board: Who Is Steve Feinberg?

    Sunday, May 27, 2018
    President Trump's political appointments tend to be military generals or billionaires. In Feinberg, Trump has a billionaire who likes to play soldier. Feinberg has trained in marksmanship with ex-military snipers and set up a private “military base” outside Memphis. His company, Cerberus, owns DynCorp, a defense contractor that charges billions of dollars for overseas military training. DynCorp reportedly was urged to submit proposals to the Trump White House to field a private military force.   read more
  • Under Secretary of State for African Affairs: Who Is Tibor Nagy Jr.?

    Thursday, May 24, 2018
    Nagy was a refugee from Hungary as a child, but grew up to be a career U.S. Foreign Service officer who spent his entire career working in Africa or on African issues. In 1987, he began a string of assignments as deputy chief of mission, serving first in Togo, then Cameroon and Nigeria. Nagy was first appointed an ambassador, to Guinea, in 1996, then returned to Ethiopia as ambassador in Addis Ababa. Nagy worked to improve living conditions for Foreign Service officers and their families.   read more
  • Under Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety: Who Is Mindy Brashears?

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018
    Brashears received more than $20 million in research grants over her career. Many came from government agencies, but a significant portion came from entities such as the Texas Beef Council and the American Meat Industry Foundation. Brashears will be regulating the industry that supported her academic career. She holds at least 17 patents, some for food decontamination processes. Unless she gives up the patents, she could benefit financially from those her agency is supposed to regulate.   read more
  • Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board: Who Is John Ring?

    Tuesday, May 22, 2018
    As an attorney, Ring represented the American Trucking Associations, Marriott International and ocean shipping firms. His biography boasts of his “extensive dealings with reduction-in-force issues,” that is, layoffs. In his confirmation hearing, Sen. Patty Murray said Ring worked to hurt employees on behalf of his clients. “The last thing our nation’s labor board needs is another champion for those at the top,” she told him. “You’ve encouraged the board to undermine long-established rights.”   read more
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