Portal

  • Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training Service: Who Is John Lowry III?

    Monday, May 21, 2018
    Lowry served as general manager of Powertrain Operations at Harley-Davidson Motor Company in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, from 2001 to 2013. He left the company to become chief operating officer at REV Recreation Group, a manufacturer of recreational vehicles and motor homes in Decatur, Indiana, from 2013 to 2015. Since 2016, Lowry has been a consultant at Egon Zehnder, a corporate leadership advisory firm, in Chicago, where he heads the firm’s U.S. Supply Chain Practice.   read more
  • Director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Who Is Heidi King?

    Thursday, May 17, 2018
    In 2013, King became global director for environmental safety and risk for GE Capital. In 2017, she was appointed deputy administrator of the NHTSA, effectively running the organization since it had no administrator. While in that role, King advocated for reducing fuel mileage targets put into place during the Obama administration. She has also had to defend the agency’s handling of the Takata air bag recall, which involves more than 3 million vehicles and at least 22 deaths.   read more
  • Director of the National Security Agency: Who Is Paul Nakasone?

    Wednesday, May 16, 2018
    Nakasone rose in the Army, serving as a company commander in South Korea, and working at the Pentagon at the time of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Beginning in 2007, he was in charge of the Fort Meade (Maryland) Operations Center, where he deployed NSA personnel to Iraq and Afghanistan. During that time, he was also among a small group of officers to conceive the first cyber warfare command in the U.S. military, and served as executive assistant to the commander at the U.S. Cyber Command.   read more
  • Commissioner of the Social Security Administration: Who Is Andrew Saul?

    Sunday, May 13, 2018
    Saul joined the board of New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority in 1997. In 2003, he was chairman of the MTA audit committee when state and city comptrollers accused MTA of keeping two sets of books. In 2007, Saul entered the race for Congress from his home district in New York, and his deep pockets made the candidacy popular with the GOP. However, Saul dropped out of the race in 2007 days after The New York Times reported that two of his campaign donors were bidding to build on MTA property.   read more
  • Trump and Iran: The Big Winner is Vladimir Putin

    Thursday, May 10, 2018
    As analysts try to determine who were the big winners and losers in President Donald Trump’s decision pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, most of them seem to have overlooked one of the biggest winners of all…Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin gained a triple victory.   read more

PHOTO GALLERY

Get Smart Phone Meets Smartphone Click the photo for larger view Get Smart Phone Meets Smartphone

Top Stories

  • Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employment and Training Administration: Who Is John Pallasch?

    Tuesday, May 08, 2018
    Pallasch joined the Dept of Labor in 2001, as a special assistant directing the closure of department offices across the country. In 2007, he was named a deputy assistant secretary for policy in the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Pallasch even served as acting head of the MSHA for three days in 2008 after the appointment of acting director Richard Stickler expired. In 2009, Pallasch took a post as a special assistant in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.   read more
  • Director of the Central Intelligence Agency: Who Is Gina Haspel?

    Monday, May 07, 2018
    Part of Haspel’s time at CIA was her tenure as chief of a black-site prison in Thailand beginning in 2002. She was appointed deputy director of the CIA in 2017 despite opposition from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle because of her involvement with torture and rendition. Later, Haspel was to be a witness in a suit brought against two psychologists who ran the torture program. The Trump administration invoked executive powers to keep Haspel and others from having to testify.   read more
  • United States Ambassador to United Arab Emirates: Who Is John Rakolta, Jr.?

    Sunday, May 06, 2018
    Rakolta’s construction company has been engaged in construction projects in the UAE for many years. Rakolta and members of his family donated more than $260,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, as well as $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration. He also served as a financial advisor for Trump in Michigan and helped fund Trump’s transition team after the election. A lifelong Republican, Rakolta has donated more than $845,000 to Republican candidates and organizations over the years.   read more

Unusual News

  • 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
  • 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

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

  • 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

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Panama Resigns: Who Is John Feeley?

    Friday, January 12, 2018
    Feeley informed the State Department on December 27, 2017, that he would be leaving the Foreign Service because he no longer believed he could work for President Donald Trump. Feeley’s resignation was made public on January 12, 2018, the day after Trump remarked at a White House meeting with members of Congress working on immigration issues: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”   read more
  • Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division: Who Is John Demers?

    Tuesday, November 07, 2017
    Demers helped draft Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which allows the NSA to collect emails and other electronic communications of foreign targets overseas, including correspondence with U.S. citizens. At his confirmation hearing last week, Demers made it clear that the NSA should not be required to obtain an FBI warrant before searching the communications of American citizens. He also waffled on the subject of whether journalists should be jailed for refusing to reveal their sources.   read more
  • Chief of Protocol: Who Is Sean Lawler?

    Wednesday, October 25, 2017
    In 2000, Lawler handled flag writing duties for the commander of the Abraham Lincoln strike group, which was deployed as part of President George W. Bush’s “War on Terror”, Operation Southern Watch in Iraq, and Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. Lawler moved on in 2002 to be executive assistant to the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. In 2005, he was transferred to the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis as leading chief petty officer in the Administrative Department.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

    Charged with collecting taxes and enforcing tax laws, the Internal Revenue Service is popularly dubbed the “most hated” agency in the U.S. federal pantheon. The agency determines, assesses and collects revenue, including from personal and corpo...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Angola

    Angola exports more $12 billion worth of oil to the United States every year, which amounts to 5.7% of U.S. total oil imports, or about twice as great a share as Kuwait had at the time of the 1990 Gulf War. Angola’s exports to the U.S. and the ...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Butenis, Patricia

    Patricia A. Butenis was appointed as the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives on May 27, 2009.   She was sworn in on August 19, 2009. Previously, she served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Baghdad from 2007 to 2009. ...   more

Blog

  • Republican Health Care Failure and Scottish Soccer

    As the Republican Party failed to pass a health care replacement to Obamacare, I was reminded of an old soccer joke. Keep in mind that since it was enacted in March 2010, Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted more than 60 times to...   more
  • Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training Service: Who Is John Lowry III?

    Monday, May 21, 2018
    Lowry served as general manager of Powertrain Operations at Harley-Davidson Motor Company in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, from 2001 to 2013. He left the company to become chief operating officer at REV Recreation Group, a manufacturer of recreational vehicles and motor homes in Decatur, Indiana, from 2013 to 2015. Since 2016, Lowry has been a consultant at Egon Zehnder, a corporate leadership advisory firm, in Chicago, where he heads the firm’s U.S. Supply Chain Practice.   read more
  • Director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Who Is Heidi King?

    Thursday, May 17, 2018
    In 2013, King became global director for environmental safety and risk for GE Capital. In 2017, she was appointed deputy administrator of the NHTSA, effectively running the organization since it had no administrator. While in that role, King advocated for reducing fuel mileage targets put into place during the Obama administration. She has also had to defend the agency’s handling of the Takata air bag recall, which involves more than 3 million vehicles and at least 22 deaths.   read more
  • Director of the National Security Agency: Who Is Paul Nakasone?

    Wednesday, May 16, 2018
    Nakasone rose in the Army, serving as a company commander in South Korea, and working at the Pentagon at the time of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Beginning in 2007, he was in charge of the Fort Meade (Maryland) Operations Center, where he deployed NSA personnel to Iraq and Afghanistan. During that time, he was also among a small group of officers to conceive the first cyber warfare command in the U.S. military, and served as executive assistant to the commander at the U.S. Cyber Command.   read more
  • Commissioner of the Social Security Administration: Who Is Andrew Saul?

    Sunday, May 13, 2018
    Saul joined the board of New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority in 1997. In 2003, he was chairman of the MTA audit committee when state and city comptrollers accused MTA of keeping two sets of books. In 2007, Saul entered the race for Congress from his home district in New York, and his deep pockets made the candidacy popular with the GOP. However, Saul dropped out of the race in 2007 days after The New York Times reported that two of his campaign donors were bidding to build on MTA property.   read more
  • Trump and Iran: The Big Winner is Vladimir Putin

    Thursday, May 10, 2018
    As analysts try to determine who were the big winners and losers in President Donald Trump’s decision pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, most of them seem to have overlooked one of the biggest winners of all…Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin gained a triple victory.   read more

Top Stories

  • Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employment and Training Administration: Who Is John Pallasch?

    Tuesday, May 08, 2018
    Pallasch joined the Dept of Labor in 2001, as a special assistant directing the closure of department offices across the country. In 2007, he was named a deputy assistant secretary for policy in the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Pallasch even served as acting head of the MSHA for three days in 2008 after the appointment of acting director Richard Stickler expired. In 2009, Pallasch took a post as a special assistant in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.   read more
  • Director of the Central Intelligence Agency: Who Is Gina Haspel?

    Monday, May 07, 2018
    Part of Haspel’s time at CIA was her tenure as chief of a black-site prison in Thailand beginning in 2002. She was appointed deputy director of the CIA in 2017 despite opposition from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle because of her involvement with torture and rendition. Later, Haspel was to be a witness in a suit brought against two psychologists who ran the torture program. The Trump administration invoked executive powers to keep Haspel and others from having to testify.   read more
  • United States Ambassador to United Arab Emirates: Who Is John Rakolta, Jr.?

    Sunday, May 06, 2018
    Rakolta’s construction company has been engaged in construction projects in the UAE for many years. Rakolta and members of his family donated more than $260,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, as well as $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration. He also served as a financial advisor for Trump in Michigan and helped fund Trump’s transition team after the election. A lifelong Republican, Rakolta has donated more than $845,000 to Republican candidates and organizations over the years.   read more

Unusual News

  • 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
  • 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

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

  • 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

Appointments and Resignations

  • U.S. Ambassador to Panama Resigns: Who Is John Feeley?

    Friday, January 12, 2018
    Feeley informed the State Department on December 27, 2017, that he would be leaving the Foreign Service because he no longer believed he could work for President Donald Trump. Feeley’s resignation was made public on January 12, 2018, the day after Trump remarked at a White House meeting with members of Congress working on immigration issues: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”   read more
  • Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division: Who Is John Demers?

    Tuesday, November 07, 2017
    Demers helped draft Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which allows the NSA to collect emails and other electronic communications of foreign targets overseas, including correspondence with U.S. citizens. At his confirmation hearing last week, Demers made it clear that the NSA should not be required to obtain an FBI warrant before searching the communications of American citizens. He also waffled on the subject of whether journalists should be jailed for refusing to reveal their sources.   read more
  • Chief of Protocol: Who Is Sean Lawler?

    Wednesday, October 25, 2017
    In 2000, Lawler handled flag writing duties for the commander of the Abraham Lincoln strike group, which was deployed as part of President George W. Bush’s “War on Terror”, Operation Southern Watch in Iraq, and Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. Lawler moved on in 2002 to be executive assistant to the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. In 2005, he was transferred to the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis as leading chief petty officer in the Administrative Department.   read more

Domestic Policy/Agency of the Day

  • United States Army Combined Arms Center

    Referred to as the “intellectual center of the army,” the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (USACAC) oversees the operation of 33 schools and training centers, each of which is responsible for teaching specific skills to Army personnel and members...   more

Domestic Policy Divisions

Go to Department

Foreign Policy/Nation of the Day

  • Bulgaria

    Once one of the Soviet Union’s most stalwart allies, Bulgaria has gradually embraced Western style democracy and free market systems. Today, the country is part of the European Union and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)...   more

Nations

Meet Your Government

  • Welch, C. David

    C. David Welch, the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs during George W. Bush's second term, was born in Munich, Germany in 1953 and spent his childhood living in Germany, Brazil, Morocco, Ecuador and Mexico. His parents were also in t...   more

Blog

  • Republican Health Care Failure and Scottish Soccer

    As the Republican Party failed to pass a health care replacement to Obamacare, I was reminded of an old soccer joke. Keep in mind that since it was enacted in March 2010, Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted more than 60 times to...   more

PHOTO GALLERY

Get Smart Phone Meets Smartphone Click the photo for larger view Get Smart Phone Meets Smartphone