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Eye Opener: Avocados and mangoes on the mind at USDA

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Friday! The Obama administration still has to fill several high-profile vacancies, but it’s got avocados and mangoes covered.

This week the Agriculture Department named new members to the National Mango Board and the Hass Avocado Board. Both panels are overseen by the Agricultural Marketing Service and only mango and avocado handlers, importers or domestic producers incur the costs to maintain them by paying a few cents per pound of produce.

USDA reappointed three members to the Mango Board and added four more for three year terms ending in Dec. 2012. The Avocado Board added four new members and four alternates also scheduled to serve until the end of 2012.

Just last week President Obama tapped a nominee for food safety undersecretary despite months of pleas from food industry representatives and food safety advocates.

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Snowcapalypse!: Washington-area federal offices are operating on Friday with an unscheduled leave policy, but workers that show up will be dismissed four hours early.

Other Nominees Named: On Thursday the president tapped Richard M. Lobo to serve as director of the International Broadcasting Bureau; Lowell Junkins to serve as chairman and member of the board of directors of the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation; and Sara L. Faivre-Davis and Myles Watts as members of the board of directors of the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation.

Cabinet and Staff News: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's behavior is causing headaches in the West Wing. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cancels Friday's press briefing due to the impending snowstorm. The Senate confirms GSA and Labor Department nominees. Former Obama administration official Van Jones to speak at a New York event for Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Former Bush aide Nicole Wallace penning a novel about a woman president.

More data breaches at Commerce Dept.: Commerce Secretary Gary Locke informed employees that at least two more breaches involving the names and Social Security numbers of some employees have occurred in recent weeks, following two other incidents in the past six months.

Pentagon to stock health facilities with morning-after pill: The decision came after a recommendation by the Pentagon's Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, an advisory panel that voted in November to include Plan B and the generic Next Choice on the list of drugs all military facilities should stock.

McChrystal: Conditions in Afghanistan war are no longer deteriorating: The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, whose gloomy assessment of the war last summer prompted the White House to boost troop levels, predicted further improvements this year.

U.S. commanders in Afghanistan face tougher discipline for battlefield failures: The military has reprimanded an unusually large number of commanders for battlefield failures in Afghanistan in recent weeks, reflecting a new push by the top brass to hold commanders responsible for major incidents in which troops are killed or wounded.

U.S. pondered military use in Georgia: President George W. Bush and his senior aides considered -- and rejected -- such a response in 2008.

Pelosi may wait on 'Don't Ask' vote: The speaker of the House suggested she'll wait until after the midterm elections and after the Pentagon's full review of its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Lobbying imperils overhaul of student loans: An aggressive lobbying campaign by the nation’s biggest student lenders has now put one of the White House’s signature plans in peril.

Impending winter storm highlights telework: The number of employees who telework could increase during the Obama administration. Among the strategic goals for the Office of Personnel Management included in Obama's budget proposal is boosting the number of federal employees who telework by 50 percent in 2011.

One-third of stimulus money is allocated: The spending includes roughly $199 billion in contracts, grants and loans, and about $93 billion in tax cuts.

DHS comes under fire for failure to track conference and travel costs: OfficialS acknowledged they lacked the means to know if the $110 million the department spent on conferences and retreats between 2005 and 2007 was a good use of taxpayer money.

DHS is ready for some football: Sixty four agencies at all levels of government, more than 1,000 federal, state and local law enforcement and security personnel and a battalion of bomb-detecting dogs are warming up for Super Bowl.

Justice Dept. criticizes latest Google book deal: The department said that a class-action settlement between the company and groups representing authors and publishers had significant legal problems, even after recent revisions.

U.S. agency to probe braking problems on Toyota Prius: The Transportation Department began its investigation into the Prius after receiving 124 complaints from owners of the 2010 model about "momentary loss of braking capability while traveling over an uneven road surface, pothole or bump."

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 5, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Revolving Door  
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Next: Early Dismissal for Federal Workers on Friday


Has the Hass Avocado Board received the sightings of "Picasso Among The Avocados"?

Posted by: jrosen1 | February 5, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

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