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  • CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation: Who Is Sean Cairncross?

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018
    Cairncross has no background in development aid to poor countries, which is the mission of the organization he was nominated to lead. He was, however, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’ assistant, a position whose days were numbered after Priebus was ousted six months into Trump's presidency. Years earlier, as counsel for the Republican National Committee, Cairncross helped push the GOP's “voter fraud” agenda, coming out against voter registration efforts and pushing voter ID laws.   read more
  • St. Lucia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Anton Edmunds?

    Friday, November 24, 2017
    In 1997, Edmunds worked as a consultant for a year before joining Caribbean-Central American Action, a private economic development organization. He started as director of marketing and business development and worked his way up to executive director and CEO in 2008. Since 2009, he has run his own consulting firm, Edmunds Group International, which advises corporations and governments on doing business in the Caribbean region. He remained with his consultancy until taking the Washington post.   read more
  • Estonia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Lauri Lepik?

    Thursday, November 23, 2017
    As Russia became more aggressive to its neighbors, Lepik, as Estonia's ambassador to NATO, urged that NATO troops be stationed in the Baltic states as a tripwire to a Russian attack. Indeed, an Estonian military base was converted into a NATO air surveillance base. There was concern from some in the region about President Trump’s close relations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Lepik said he was glad that Vice President Mike Pence made a stop in Estonia this past summer.   read more
  • Guatemala’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Manuel Espina?

    Wednesday, November 22, 2017
    An entrepreneur with no previous diplomatic experience, Espina once worked as a real estate investor and was involved in the fashion industry. He later founded Guatemala Prospera, whose goal is to instill moral and cultural values in Guatemalans, based on the teachings of American evangelical pastor John Maxwell. Espina is close to many Republicans, such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Those ties are seen in Guatemala as a major reason for Espina’s appointment.   read more
  • Belize’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Daniel Gutierez?

    Tuesday, November 21, 2017
    Gutieriez was dean and a member of the Board of Governors of Sacred Heart College, then became manager of marketing, logistics, corporate communication and business development for the oil company, Belize Natural Energy. In 2016 he took his first ambassadorial post, serving as his country’s representative to Caricom, the Caribbean Community, headquartered in Georgetown, Guyana. In addition, Gutierez served as executive director of Belize’s Economic Development Council.   read more
  • Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve: Who Is Jerome “Jay” Powell?

    Monday, November 20, 2017
    Trump is placing yet another multimillionaire in a position of power by naming Powell—whose $112 million net worth makes him the richest person at the Fed—to serve as the next chair of the Federal Reserve. Trump’s cabinet—which includes two billionaires and 11 multimillionaires—is the wealthiest in history, so Powell should fit right in. In 2011, Powell focused on persuading Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling at the same time that Trump was publicly pushing in the opposite direction.   read more
  • Ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Principe: Who Is Joel Danies?

    Sunday, November 19, 2017
    Danies served as management officer and chargé d’affaires in Belize, during and after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, when he used his authority to declare a disaster in order to allow U.S. aid to begin flowing. From 2011 to 2014, Danies served as deputy Haiti special coordinator, helping his native land recover from the devastating earthquake of January 2010. In that role, Danies sometimes found himself in awkward positions trying to explain American policies that were unpopular among Haitians.   read more
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services: Who Is Alex Azar?

    Friday, November 17, 2017
    Trump announced Azar’s nomination on Twitter, saying he would: “be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices.” Actually, Azar has resisted drug-price controls. During his tenure as a senior VP at drug giant Eli Lilly, the company increased the price of its insulin product, Humalog, by 345%. “This is a slap in the face to millions of Americans who are waiting on [the President] to take action to lower drug prices," said Rep. Elijah Cummings of the nomination.   read more
  • Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Who Is Seema Verma?

    Thursday, November 16, 2017
    Under Verma’s “Healthy Indiana Plan,” healthcare in the state has gone from bad to worse. In 2006, it was the 33rd healthiest state in a ranking by American Public Health Association and the United Health Foundation. By 2015, Indiana had fallen to 41st nationwide, The Washington Post reported. Verma has also consulted on similar plans for Michigan, Tennessee and Iowa. Her Indiana Plan removed people from Medicaid if they failed to contribute to a health savings account.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda: Who Is Peter Vrooman?

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017
    Vrooman served as deputy political counselor at the U.S. mission to the United Nations from 2000 to 2005, and was an advisor on the Middle East. He then served three straight postings concerned with that region: as deputy political counselor at the embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel (circa 2006 to 2008); at the embassy in Baghdad, Iraq (circa 2008 to 2009); and as director for Iraq on the staff of the National Security Council (circa 2009 to 2011).   read more
  • Commissioner of Labor Statistics: Who Is William Beach?

    Tuesday, November 14, 2017
    In 1991, Beach was named president of the Institute of Humane Studies, which is funded by the Koch brothers, supporters of right-wing institutions. In 1995, Beach moved to the similarly oriented Heritage Foundation, where he co-authored a paper that promoted abandoning the Social Security system in favor of putting money into the financial markets. In the midst of the Great Recession that began under George W. Bush, Beach urged that unemployment benefits be cut.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic: Who Is Robin Bernstein?

    Monday, November 13, 2017
    Bernstein claims to speak only “basic Spanish.” But she is a founding member of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, which apparently qualified her to be the U.S. representative to the Dominican Republic. A former Democrat, Bernstein worked to persuade Democratic-leaning Jewish voters to support the GOP. She is a longtime friend of Trump's and handles insurance for some of his interests. Bernstein was a 2016 Trump delegate and one of his Florida electors in the Electoral College.   read more
  • Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Who Is Scott Mugno?

    Sunday, November 12, 2017
    Among Mugno's duties as safety VP for FedEx's Ground unit was serving as “brain coach” and “den mother” for FedEx drivers in National Truck Driving Championship competitions. Industry groups welcomed his appointment to OSHA, who has represented American Trucking Associations at Congressional hearings, believing he'll continue the Trump administration’s drive to weaken worker-protection regulations put in place under Obama. Mugno is an enthusiastic Trump supporter who attended his inauguration.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Norway: Who Is Kenneth Braithwaite?

    Friday, November 10, 2017
    Braithwaite’s Naval Reserve duties included serving at NAS Willow Grove (Pennsylvania) in its combat camera unit; deploying to Iraq in 2003 in a naval support role; and becoming commander of the Joint Public Affairs Support Element-Reserve in October 2004. In this role, he was deployed to Pakistan to assist with relief efforts for a major 2005 earthquake. Braithwaite retired from the Naval Reserve in 2011. In 2016 he served on Trump’s Defense Department transition team.   read more
  • Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs: Who Is Tara Sweeney?

    Thursday, November 09, 2017
    As government relations manager for ASRC, Sweeney supported oil drilling along the Coastal plain in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2010, as ASRC vice-president of external affairs, as part of her pro-oil drilling stance, she opposed the designation of a large portion of the North Slope as a critical habitat in order to protect polar bears. In 2015, she told The New York Times that the Arctic “is not a pristine snow globe that deserves to be tucked away and preserved.”   read more
  • Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement: Who Is J. Steven Gardner?

    Wednesday, November 08, 2017
    Gardner is a vocal defender of the coal industry and often minimizes mining's environmental damage. Environmental groups blasted his appointment to OSM. “...He will try and fight anything that gets in the way of profits for coal executives—even if it means sacrificing the health of the families...in Kentucky,” said Sierra Club's Tom Morris. “...He has shown nothing but contempt for science-based clean air and water protections for working people, and dutifully pandered to corporate polluters..."   read more
  • Suicide More Common in High-Altitude Counties

    Tuesday, November 07, 2017
    Psychiatric illness, mood disorders and lack of social support are recognized risk factors for suicide. Some studies show that increased elevation may enhance psychological problems, such as panic attacks, and that altitude is a significant risk factor for depressive symptoms and suicide. It's now shown that Americans in higher-altitude counties are at a higher risk for suicide. In Utah, the average geographic altitude is about 6,000 feet, and the rate of suicide is 70% higher than average.   read more
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