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  • Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development: Who Is Anne Hazlett?

    Sunday, March 18, 2018
    In 2008, Hazlett was named by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) as the state’s director of agriculture. She returned to Washington in October 2009 as chief Republican counsel to the Senate Agriculture Committee. When Republicans regained control of the Senate in January 2015, Hazlett was promoted to the Committee’s chief counsel. She remained in this position until joining USDA. Since taking the job, Hazlett has focused on opioid abuse and rural broadband, among other issues.   read more
  • Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency: Who Is Vayl Oxford?

    Friday, March 16, 2018
    Oxford served as as director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, which attempts to halt nuclear weapons headed into the U.S. Oxford championed advanced spectroscopic portals, which scan steel shipping containers for nuclear materials. The $2 billion project was roughed up by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which in 2005 called DNDO guilty “of action being taken before thoughtful planning... Hasty solutions are fostering an apparent false sense of security.”   read more
  • United States Ambassador to Poland: Who Is Georgette Mosbacher?

    Monday, March 12, 2018
    The next U.S. Ambassador to Poland has no known connection to or expertise about Poland, but she has donated more than $525,000 to GOP candidates and organizations over the years. Mosbacher--who became rich from her marriages to wealthy, older men--was a defender of Donald Trump after his “grab ’em by the pussy” tape surfaced in 2016. Years earlier, she'd been described in the press as “beginning to rival Donald Trump as the Most Written About Person You Really Don't Want to Read About.”   read more
  • United States Ambassador to Mexico Resigns: Who Was Roberta Jacobson?

    Wednesday, March 07, 2018
    The brain drain at the State Department has sucked away another career diplomat as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson announced her decision to resign on March 1, 2018. Her exit--effective May 5--weakens U.S. diplomacy with Mexico and underscores the deepening crises in U.S.-Mexican relations and within the State Department as a whole. Appointed by President Obama in June 2015, Jacobson was the first woman to serve in the position after 55 men held that post or its equivalent.   read more
  • Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management: Who Is Anne White?

    Monday, March 05, 2018
    White has more than 25 years of experience in the nuclear field, working primarily on projects with complex technical, regulatory, and stakeholder issues. She has worked at a number of contaminated DOE sites, and since June 2017 has been decommissioning lead at Atkins Global. ECA Executive Director Seth Kirshenberg said that White “will bring an in-depth knowledge of the EM program and defense high-level waste issues to the Department.”   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Hungary: Who Is David Cornstein?

    Sunday, March 04, 2018
    Cornstein's chairmanship at TeleHubLink got him into trouble in 2001 when the firm was accused by N.Y. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer of violating consumer protection laws through a credit card scheme. The charges held up. As for Cornstein’s problem with Spitzer—no worries. Cornstein, a Republican, contributed to Democrat Spitzer’s gubernatorial campaign. The fraud case didn't derail Cornstein’s appointment to the board of the Battery Park City Authority, which was confirmed in 2001.   read more
  • Oscars 2018: Foreign Language Films Part Three—The Best of the Non-Nominees

    Friday, March 02, 2018
    When someone asked what became of Ayla, director Can Ulkay said, “She’s right here,” and asked her to join him in front of the audience. I have been going to the movies since I was four years old, and I have never witnessed such a dramatic moment. As the audience members collectively gasped in surprise, a shy, elderly woman dressed in traditional Korean clothing walked to center stage.   read more
  • Oscars 2018: Foreign Language Films Part Two—The 5 Nominees

    Thursday, March 01, 2018
    The winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, The Square is a fascinating compilation of set pieces that are held together through the life of Christian (Claes Bang), the curator of an art museum. The film was originally pitched as a satire of the art world, and this is certainly the crux of the plot. But on a more personal level, the message is that you can be intelligent, handsome, sophisticated and well-respected, and still make really stupid decisions—frequently.   read more
  • Oscars 2018: Foreign Language Films Part One—Bad Films and Obscenities

    Wednesday, February 28, 2018
    This year a record 92 countries entered films in the foreign language category of the Academy Awards. I saw 89 of these films. Give credit to the Motion Picture Academy for allowing the entry of films that are not allowed to be shown in their country of origin. The two most notable examples come from Venezuela and Syria.   read more
  • The Bahamas’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Sidney Collie?

    Sunday, February 25, 2018
    Collie began his career as a teacher, and then served as a legislator, practiced law and served in the diplomatic corps. He was a sought-after expert on Bahamian law in 2007 when the courts were deciding the fate of the daughter of model Anna Nicole Smith, who lived in the Bahamas before dying in a South Florida hotel room. A longtime member of the Free National Movement, Collie was called out of retirement in 2016 to chair the party for the upcoming elections, which his party won decisively.   read more
  • Director of the Indian Health Service: Who Was Robert Weaver?

    Friday, February 23, 2018
    Weaver had told untruths and made omissions during his testimony to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. And in 2010, the IRS filed two liens against his consulting business because of $120,000 in unpaid back taxes. The Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS) previously said questions about Weaver’s background were “pure character assassination.” But this month, HHS told CNBC simply, “Mr. Weaver is no longer the Administration’s nominee for Director of the Indian Health Service.”   read more
  • Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service: Who Is Ken Johnson?

    Wednesday, February 21, 2018
    Johnson took over as general manager and CEO of Co-Mo Electric Cooperative in Tipton, Missouri, in 2005. While there, he initiated a project to bring high-speed internet to the rural area. More than 15,000 subscribers in the area now have some of the fastest internet speeds in the country, provided by Co-Mo Connect, a subsidiary of the co-op.   read more
  • U. S. Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu: Who Is Joseph Cella?

    Tuesday, February 20, 2018
    Donald Trump's nominee is an ultra-conservative Roman Catholic politico who, in 2016, called candidate Trump “manifestly unfit to be president of the United States." Cella also leveled criticisms of vulgarity and racism against Trump. Yet a few months later, Cella joined a Catholic advisory panel for the Trump campaign, claiming he had “a sincere change of heart and mind” after Trump pledged to appoint anti-abortion judges. Catholics narrowly supported Hilary Clinton over Trump, 48% to 45%.   read more
  • Director of the Federal Transit Administration: Who Is Thelma Drake?

    Monday, February 19, 2018
    Although raised in a Democratic family, Drake, at age 14, volunteered for Republican Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign. She volunteered again in a presidential campaign, 45 years later, as a member of the Palin Truth Squad to counter “false attacks, rumors and smears" against GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin. Drake became a member of Congress in 2004, winning the House seat vacated by Republican Ed Schrock, who had been accused of having solicited sex on a gay phone dating service.   read more
  • Interior Dept. Announces Largest Sale of Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling Leases in History

    Sunday, February 18, 2018
    “How stupid can we be? The Gulf Coast is consistently nailed by hurricanes and yet our government insists on an energy strategy that exacerbates these hurricanes,” said Louisiana Bucket Brigade director Anne Rolfes. “Trump's auctioning off this massive amount of our ocean while at the same time proposing to rollback important environmental and safety requirements... [is] disgusting and nothing but a recipe for more devastating oil spills...” said a Center for Biological Diversity attorney.   read more
  • Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service: Who Is Charles Rettig?

    Friday, February 16, 2018
    Trump's nomination of Rettig, a Beverly Hills tax attorney whose wealthy clients have included Michael Jackson and “Girls Gone Wild” creator Joe Francis, breaks a 20-year precedent of IRS leaders having backgrounds in business or management. A defender of Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns during an audit, Rettig also speculated that Trump “likely pays taxes at a lesser rate than many of us” and that he “may be worth far less than the approximately $10 billion he wants us to believe."   read more
  • U.S. Ambassador to Australia: Who Is Harry B. Harris Jr.?

    Thursday, February 15, 2018
    Under Harris' watch at Guantánamo in 2006, three prisoners died while in custody. Harris declared the deaths to be suicides, but an investigation by Harper’s magazine cast considerable doubt on that verdict, suggesting the three were killed during torture/interrogation in a secret part of the base. In 2017, Harris took responsibility for a bewildering chain of events that left the mistaken impression that a U.S. aircraft carrier rushed to confront a belligerent North Korea, when it did not.   read more
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