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  • Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs: Who Is Carl Risch?

    Wednesday, July 26, 2017
    Risch joined DHS's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) in 2006. After serving as an appeals officer and a manager, he worked as a field officer in the Philippines and at the embassy in Seoul, South Korea and served as acting chief of staff at CIS at the time of his nomination. While with CIS, he made refugee processing visits to Thailand, Pakistan, Namibia and Malaysia to encourage the resettlement to the United States of victims of persecution and torture.   read more
  • Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation: Who Is Brenda Burman?

    Tuesday, July 25, 2017
    Burman worked for four years in private practice as an attorney handling natural resource issues before going to work in 2002 as legislative counsel for energy and water for then-Sen. Jon Kyl. At both jobs, she dealt extensively with Native American water rights issues. In 2005, Burman joined the Dept of the Interior as counselor to the assistant secretary for water and science. She then began her first stint at USBR as deputy commissioner for external and intergovernmental affairs.   read more
  • Administrator of the Maritime Administration: Who Is Mark Buzby?

    Monday, July 24, 2017
    Buzby participated in NATO command operations during the Kosovo crisis of 1998-1999, and later in two deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. After a 2007 detainee suicide at Guantánamo, then under Buzby's command, he announced that prison conditions would be improved to promote “increased mental stimulation." He also warned that torture leads to false confessions, and that more useful information could be obtained from prisoners by "treating them like human beings in a businesslike manner.”   read more
  • Administrator of the Administration for Children and Families: Who Is Lynn A. Johnson?

    Sunday, July 23, 2017
    The next safety net chief will be Lynn A. Johnson, currently executive director of the Jefferson County (Colorado) Department of Human Services. For 14 years, Johnson worked for the federal court system as a probation and parole officer, specializing in dealing with offenders with mental health problems and those convicted of sex offenses. She also owned and ran a consulting firm focusing on mental health, high-risk youth, developmental disabilities, child welfare, and early childhood education.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity: Who Is Anna Maria Farias?

    Friday, July 21, 2017
    When the George W. Bush administration took over in 2001, Farias was named to head the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, the same position to which she was nominated in 2017, but the job fell through at that time. Instead, she started as counsel to HUD Secretary Martinez and later joined the Office of Community Planning and Development. Farias was named HUD’s director of faith-based and community initiatives in 2007.   read more
  • The Myth of Widespread Voter Fraud

    Thursday, July 20, 2017
    A panel of experts at the Ninth Circuit’s judicial conference agreed on one thing: the type of voter fraud President Trump claims is widespread in the U.S. is virtually nonexistent. Four Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to V.P. Mike Pence asking him to remove Kris Kobach as vice chair of the commission. They said his request for voter rolls replete with sensitive voter information was rife with privacy concerns. The also argued the data request will more likely be used for voter suppression.   read more
  • Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office: Who Is Jim McDonnell?

    Thursday, July 20, 2017
    Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, McDonnell took a job with the U.S. Dept of Energy as the founding director of the Office of Energy Assurance, responsible for protecting the nation’s energy infrastructure. In 2002, McDonnell began working for the Homeland Security Transition Planning Office in the White House, helping to plan the newly created Dept of Homeland Security. He got into a bit of trouble at DHS, however, and was investigated for loose contracting practices.   read more
  • United States Ambassador to Guatemala: Who Is Luis Arreaga?

    Wednesday, July 19, 2017
    In 2008, as director of recruitment, examination and employment, Arreaga presided over the largest intake of Foreign Service officers in State Dept history. He was first made an ambassador in 2010, as the envoy to Iceland. In 2011, he was confronted by the Icelandic government when U.S. officials subpoenaed a member of the country’s parliament in the WikiLeaks controversy. On the whole, his tenure was positive, even getting to watch “Game of Thrones” being filmed in the rocky country.   read more
  • Ambassador from United Arab Emirates to the U.S.: Who Is Yousef Al Otaiba?

    Tuesday, July 18, 2017
    The UAE diplomat known as “the most charming man in Washington,” and a close friend of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, lost some of his magic recently, following release of emails that link him to a major international fraud, suggest that UAE coordinates closely with Israel, and reveal blunt criticism of President Trump. Otaiba has been a forceful voice against Iran, the Arab Spring movement, and neighboring Qatar, which the UAE royal family recently accused of supporting terrorism.   read more
  • CEO of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak): Who Is Richard H. Anderson?

    Monday, July 17, 2017
    The new head of Amtrak comes from one of train travel’s biggest competitors: the airline industry. The job may prove to be a challenge for Richard Anderson: in May President Trump proposed ending $630 million in subsidies for Amtrak’s long-distance train service, which comes to 45% of the $1.4 billion the government spends on Amtrak each year. Like Amtrak's outgoing CEO, Charles Moorman, Anderson has agreed to work for a “token sum.” He retired as CEO of Delta Airlines in May 2016.   read more
  • United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone: Who Is Maria Brewer?

    Sunday, July 16, 2017
    In Washington, Brewer has served as special assistant to the assistant secretary of administration and then special assistant to the undersecretary for management and in the Bureau of African Affairs executive office as the supervisory post management officer. Brewer’s most recent overseas assignment was as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires in Lagos. She returned to Washington in 2016 as deputy director for career development and assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources.   read more
  • Surgeon General of the United States: Who Is Jerome Adams?

    Friday, July 14, 2017
    Adams hadn't been on the job long as Indiana's health commissioner when he had to deal with a crisis--an outbreak of HIV, caused by drug users sharing needles. He had to overcome then-Gov. Mike Pence’s opposition to needle exchange programs to slow the spread of disease. “No matter how uncomfortable syringe service programs make us, they are proven to save lives, both by preventing the spread of diseases...and by connecting people to treatment...” Adams wrote.   read more
  • Should Panhandlers be Issued Licenses?

    Thursday, July 13, 2017
    Our idea about what it takes to regulate panhandling intelligently: Encourage “successful panhandling,” which brings together willing donors and willing solicitors; and discourage “unsuccessful panhandling,” which targets people who don’t even want to see solicitations, let alone give money to someone asking for help on the sidewalk. What’s wrong with most anti-panhandling ordinances is that they try to ban or discourage both kinds instead of promoting the former and discouraging the latter.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary for Aging: Who Is Lance Robertson?

    Thursday, July 13, 2017
    Just a year after graduating, Robertson co-founded the Gerontology Institute at Oklahoma State University, of which he was director from February 1994 to June 2005. He also served as executive director of PartnerShips for Aging, the largest regional gerontology association in the U.S. Additionally, Robertson has served as the president of the National Association of States United for Aging & Disability (NASUAD), a leading authority on aging and disability.   read more
  • United States Ambassador to Portugal: Who Is George Glass?

    Wednesday, July 12, 2017
    A major donor to Trump’s presidential campaign, Glass was repaid for his generosity by being nominated to the ambassadorship. He originally supported Jeb Bush in the most recent presidential contest, giving him $2,700 in 2015. He was a bigger donor to Trump, giving Trump Victory $77,500, as well as $22,500 to Trump’s scaled-down inaugural and $33,400 to the RNC during the last cycle. He has also contributed tens of thousands of dollars to numerous state Republican parties.   read more
  • Albuquerque Police Scramble to Hide Spying Details

    Tuesday, July 11, 2017
    “The city needs to stop stonewalling and disclose information about how it collects and uses cell phone data," said ACLU's Peter Simonson. “If APD is using Stingrays to snoop into people’s private information...[we] need to ensure that protections are in place to prevent these powerful tools from being misused or abused.” The Albuquerque Police Dept has been under federal investigation for years, and court-appointed monitoring, for excessive force and police killings.   read more
  • United States Ambassador to Costa Rica: Who Is Sharon Day?

    Tuesday, July 11, 2017
    Day, who until late 2016 served as the co-chair of the RNC, has been nominated by President Trump to be the U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica. She has no diplomatic experience. But, like Trump, she has a history of media bashing. In 2012, the Republican presidential candidate lost the women’s vote for the sixth election in a row. Day then spent the next two years traveling around the U.S. encouraging women to vote Republican. She's such an enthusiastic Republican that she named her dog Reagan.   read more
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