Featured Story

Director of the Office of Public and Indian Housing: Who Is Hunter Kurtz?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
In 2006, Kurtz took his first job related to housing, serving as special assistant to Assistant HUD Secretary for Community Planning and Development Pamela Patenaude. He then served as special assistant to the deputy chief of staff at HUD and as policy advisor in HUD’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations. Kurtz later left federal service to work for the City of Detroit, which had been taken over by state government due to the city’s financial problems.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Republican Plan to Eliminate Estate Tax for Super-Wealthy Could Hurt Charities

    Friday, October 13, 2017
    Just one out of 500 estates left by people with at least $5.5 million to their name – or couples with more than $11 million – get taxed today. Still, if Congress were to end the estate tax, as the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers propose, the government might miss those funds. What’s more, nonprofits could see their budgets pinched by a decline in giving. The question is, do fewer multimillionaires write charities into their wills when this incentive goes away?   read more
  • United States Ambassador to Angola: Who Is Nina Maria Fite?

    Thursday, October 12, 2017
    Fite joined the Foreign Service in 1990. Early career stops included Portugal and Jamaica. She worked on regional and bilateral environment, science and health issues while based in Budapest, Hungary. Fite was then assigned to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. This won’t be Fite’s first posting in Angola, having served as the political/economic section chief in the embassy in Luanda. Fite also was deputy economic counselor in Afghanistan and consul general in Pakistan.   read more
  • Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration: Who Is Brian Montgomery?

    Wednesday, October 11, 2017
    Nominated on Sept. 12, 2017, the next commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will be Brian Montgomery, the same man who led the agency during the housing bubble that caused the Great Recession—and forced FHA to get a $1.7 billion cash infusion from the Treasury. Despite possible signs of a new housing bubble, Montgomery has claimed that “excessive enforcement” of rules designed to prevent another bubble has made the housing market “sluggish” and advocates loosening those rules.   read more

Unusual News

  • Alabama Candidate Claimed Endorsement of Dead Person

    Wednesday, September 20, 2017
    In Alabama’s runoff election for the GOP nomination for a U.S. Senate seat, Luther Strange may have the crowning endorsement of President Trump, but Roy Moore seemed to have support from beyond the grave. On Monday night, Moore’s campaign deleted an endorsement on its website from conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, after it became apparent that Schlafly died last year at the age of 92. The two candidates have sought endorsements outside of Alabama to win over GOP voters.   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
  • Illegal to Talk about Yellow Traffic Lights in Oregon

    Sunday, April 30, 2017
    Jarlstrom sued the Portland suburb, claiming it programmed its yellow lights to be so brief that drivers didn’t have time to make it through an intersection before they turned red, putting drivers in danger. After the judge tossed his suit, a state agency launched a two-year investigation of Jarlstrom, then fined him $500 for publicly critiquing the mathematical formulas behind traffic light cameras without an engineering license. Jarlstrom calls that a prohibition on free speech.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 4 Programs that Both Obama and Trump Want to Eliminate

    Monday, May 01, 2017
    It sometimes seems that the differences between the priorities of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are so great that they can’t agree on anything. Not so. Here are four programs that President Barack Obama’s last budget and President Donald Trump’s first budget proposed for complete elimination.   read more
  • Reducing Aircrafts’ Bathroom Size Increases Airline Profits and Decreases Passenger Safety

    Saturday, December 24, 2016
    AFA-CWA's Sara Nelson said that “doors of these restrooms open into each other, creating safety issues. There are a lot of injuries, with smashed fingers, doors hitting people, bumps and bruises.” She said the rear cabin restroom doors also create a barricade, limiting the ability of crew to help a passenger in trouble. Some parents with small kids say they can't help their kids in the toilet unless the door stays open. Large-size passengers are at a loss.   read more
  • Price of Antidote for Heroin Overdose Skyrockets as Much As 500%

    Friday, December 16, 2016
    The price of Narcan -- the lifesaving heroin-overdose antidote that revives the dying -- has skyrocketed, with one formulation rising more than 500% in two years. Although Narcan first hit the market in 1971, demand has skyrocketed as the opioid epidemic worsens. And with more potent opioids on the street -- such as fentanyl -- first responders, the largest consumers of the drug, are finding they need multiple doses to revive overdose victims.   read more

Controversies

  • Bears Under Fire in Florida

    Friday, April 21, 2017
    “2015 was a deadly year for the Florida black bear. Collisions with vehicles killed at least 169 ... wildlife managers killed at least 108...that were considered nuisances or threats to human safety, at least 9 were killed illegally, and in October hunters killed at least 304 Florida black bears in the first Florida black bear hunt in 20 years,” the petition stated. The 2016 hunt was “voted down due to overwhelming public outcry against the barbaric and unnecessary hunt,” said an advocacy group.   read more
  • 97 Corporations and 16 State Attorneys General Join Court Fight against Trump Travel Ban

    Tuesday, February 07, 2017
    “President Trump’s executive order is unconstitutional, unlawful, and fundamentally un-American...[and] undermines our states’ families, economies, and institutions," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. High-ranking U.S. security officials, including Madeleine Albright, Leon Panetta and John Kerry signed a declaration arguing the ban endangers U.S. citizens. “We view the order as one that ultimately undermines the national security of the United States...” the officials said.   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

U.S. and the World

  • Which Countries have been Killing Americans? The Trump 7 vs. the Rest of the World

    Sunday, January 29, 2017
    These are the seven countries from which President Donald Trump halted entry to the United States: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Including all terrorist acts committed by terrorists who were foreign-born or whose parents were born abroad, the total number of Americans killed by terrorists from the Trump 7 is…zero. On the other hand, terrorists from other countries have killed 2, 689 Americans. Here are some examples.   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

Appointments and Resignations

  • Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs: Who Is Manisha Singh?

    Thursday, October 05, 2017
    In 2010, Singh was named the first executive director of the Barer Institute for Law and Global Human Services. The institute’s mission is to study and promote the effectiveness of legal frameworks as essential elements in achieving goals for health, education, and social and economic well-being in developing countries. Singh was there only a year though, returning to work at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and then resuming work for Sen. Dan Sullivan as his chief counsel.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain: Who Is Justin Siberell?

    Friday, August 25, 2017
    As acting coordinator for counterterrorism, Siberell charged in 2016 that Iran was the leading government sponsor of terrorism. In 2017, he said that the majority of the world's 2016 terrorist attacks took place in Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Under Siberell’s watch, Cuba was dropped from the report for the first time in 33 years. Siberell also led the secret briefing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on “Beyond Iraq and Syria: ISIS' Global Reach.”   read more
  • United States Ambassador to France and Monaco: Who Is Jamie McCourt?

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017
    McCourt, who is one of the most reviled figures in Los Angeles Dodgers’ history, has no experience in international diplomacy, but she did donate a lot of money to Trump’s campaign and to the Republican Party. As owners of the Dodgers, she and her husband alienated fans with higher parking prices, uniform changes and, because of a huge amount of team debt, failure to pay for talent. Jamie was made the team’s CEO in 2009 but quit in 2011 after receiving a $130-million divorce settlement.   read more

Featured Story

Director of the Office of Public and Indian Housing: Who Is Hunter Kurtz?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
In 2006, Kurtz took his first job related to housing, serving as special assistant to Assistant HUD Secretary for Community Planning and Development Pamela Patenaude. He then served as special assistant to the deputy chief of staff at HUD and as policy advisor in HUD’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations. Kurtz later left federal service to work for the City of Detroit, which had been taken over by state government due to the city’s financial problems.   read more
Latest News

Top Stories

  • Republican Plan to Eliminate Estate Tax for Super-Wealthy Could Hurt Charities

    Friday, October 13, 2017
    Just one out of 500 estates left by people with at least $5.5 million to their name – or couples with more than $11 million – get taxed today. Still, if Congress were to end the estate tax, as the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers propose, the government might miss those funds. What’s more, nonprofits could see their budgets pinched by a decline in giving. The question is, do fewer multimillionaires write charities into their wills when this incentive goes away?   read more
  • United States Ambassador to Angola: Who Is Nina Maria Fite?

    Thursday, October 12, 2017
    Fite joined the Foreign Service in 1990. Early career stops included Portugal and Jamaica. She worked on regional and bilateral environment, science and health issues while based in Budapest, Hungary. Fite was then assigned to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. This won’t be Fite’s first posting in Angola, having served as the political/economic section chief in the embassy in Luanda. Fite also was deputy economic counselor in Afghanistan and consul general in Pakistan.   read more
  • Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration: Who Is Brian Montgomery?

    Wednesday, October 11, 2017
    Nominated on Sept. 12, 2017, the next commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will be Brian Montgomery, the same man who led the agency during the housing bubble that caused the Great Recession—and forced FHA to get a $1.7 billion cash infusion from the Treasury. Despite possible signs of a new housing bubble, Montgomery has claimed that “excessive enforcement” of rules designed to prevent another bubble has made the housing market “sluggish” and advocates loosening those rules.   read more

Unusual News

  • Alabama Candidate Claimed Endorsement of Dead Person

    Wednesday, September 20, 2017
    In Alabama’s runoff election for the GOP nomination for a U.S. Senate seat, Luther Strange may have the crowning endorsement of President Trump, but Roy Moore seemed to have support from beyond the grave. On Monday night, Moore’s campaign deleted an endorsement on its website from conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, after it became apparent that Schlafly died last year at the age of 92. The two candidates have sought endorsements outside of Alabama to win over GOP voters.   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
  • Illegal to Talk about Yellow Traffic Lights in Oregon

    Sunday, April 30, 2017
    Jarlstrom sued the Portland suburb, claiming it programmed its yellow lights to be so brief that drivers didn’t have time to make it through an intersection before they turned red, putting drivers in danger. After the judge tossed his suit, a state agency launched a two-year investigation of Jarlstrom, then fined him $500 for publicly critiquing the mathematical formulas behind traffic light cameras without an engineering license. Jarlstrom calls that a prohibition on free speech.   read more

Where is the Money Going?

  • 4 Programs that Both Obama and Trump Want to Eliminate

    Monday, May 01, 2017
    It sometimes seems that the differences between the priorities of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are so great that they can’t agree on anything. Not so. Here are four programs that President Barack Obama’s last budget and President Donald Trump’s first budget proposed for complete elimination.   read more
  • Reducing Aircrafts’ Bathroom Size Increases Airline Profits and Decreases Passenger Safety

    Saturday, December 24, 2016
    AFA-CWA's Sara Nelson said that “doors of these restrooms open into each other, creating safety issues. There are a lot of injuries, with smashed fingers, doors hitting people, bumps and bruises.” She said the rear cabin restroom doors also create a barricade, limiting the ability of crew to help a passenger in trouble. Some parents with small kids say they can't help their kids in the toilet unless the door stays open. Large-size passengers are at a loss.   read more
  • Price of Antidote for Heroin Overdose Skyrockets as Much As 500%

    Friday, December 16, 2016
    The price of Narcan -- the lifesaving heroin-overdose antidote that revives the dying -- has skyrocketed, with one formulation rising more than 500% in two years. Although Narcan first hit the market in 1971, demand has skyrocketed as the opioid epidemic worsens. And with more potent opioids on the street -- such as fentanyl -- first responders, the largest consumers of the drug, are finding they need multiple doses to revive overdose victims.   read more

Controversies

  • Bears Under Fire in Florida

    Friday, April 21, 2017
    “2015 was a deadly year for the Florida black bear. Collisions with vehicles killed at least 169 ... wildlife managers killed at least 108...that were considered nuisances or threats to human safety, at least 9 were killed illegally, and in October hunters killed at least 304 Florida black bears in the first Florida black bear hunt in 20 years,” the petition stated. The 2016 hunt was “voted down due to overwhelming public outcry against the barbaric and unnecessary hunt,” said an advocacy group.   read more
  • 97 Corporations and 16 State Attorneys General Join Court Fight against Trump Travel Ban

    Tuesday, February 07, 2017
    “President Trump’s executive order is unconstitutional, unlawful, and fundamentally un-American...[and] undermines our states’ families, economies, and institutions," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. High-ranking U.S. security officials, including Madeleine Albright, Leon Panetta and John Kerry signed a declaration arguing the ban endangers U.S. citizens. “We view the order as one that ultimately undermines the national security of the United States...” the officials said.   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

U.S. and the World

  • Which Countries have been Killing Americans? The Trump 7 vs. the Rest of the World

    Sunday, January 29, 2017
    These are the seven countries from which President Donald Trump halted entry to the United States: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Including all terrorist acts committed by terrorists who were foreign-born or whose parents were born abroad, the total number of Americans killed by terrorists from the Trump 7 is…zero. On the other hand, terrorists from other countries have killed 2, 689 Americans. Here are some examples.   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

Appointments and Resignations

  • Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs: Who Is Manisha Singh?

    Thursday, October 05, 2017
    In 2010, Singh was named the first executive director of the Barer Institute for Law and Global Human Services. The institute’s mission is to study and promote the effectiveness of legal frameworks as essential elements in achieving goals for health, education, and social and economic well-being in developing countries. Singh was there only a year though, returning to work at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and then resuming work for Sen. Dan Sullivan as his chief counsel.   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain: Who Is Justin Siberell?

    Friday, August 25, 2017
    As acting coordinator for counterterrorism, Siberell charged in 2016 that Iran was the leading government sponsor of terrorism. In 2017, he said that the majority of the world's 2016 terrorist attacks took place in Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Under Siberell’s watch, Cuba was dropped from the report for the first time in 33 years. Siberell also led the secret briefing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on “Beyond Iraq and Syria: ISIS' Global Reach.”   read more
  • United States Ambassador to France and Monaco: Who Is Jamie McCourt?

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017
    McCourt, who is one of the most reviled figures in Los Angeles Dodgers’ history, has no experience in international diplomacy, but she did donate a lot of money to Trump’s campaign and to the Republican Party. As owners of the Dodgers, she and her husband alienated fans with higher parking prices, uniform changes and, because of a huge amount of team debt, failure to pay for talent. Jamie was made the team’s CEO in 2009 but quit in 2011 after receiving a $130-million divorce settlement.   read more