December 4, 2021

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Aransas man guilty of meth charge

10 min read
A federal jury sitting in Corpus Christi has found a 59-year-old local man guilty of conspiracy to distribute more than five grams of meth and possession with intent to distribute 27 grams of meth

Read full article at: https://www.justice.gov November 23, 2021
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  • Stabilization and Reconstruction: Actions Needed to Improve Governmentwide Planning and Capabilities for Future Operations
    In U.S GAO News
    The United States has become increasingly involved in stabilization and reconstruction operations as evidenced in the Balkans, Haiti, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In December 2005, the President issued National Security Presidential Directive 44, establishing governmentwide policy for coordinating, planning, and implementing U.S. stabilization and reconstruction assistance to affected foreign entities. This testimony addresses stabilization and reconstruction issues related to (1) State Department (State) efforts to improve interagency planning and coordination, (2) Department of Defense (DOD) efforts to enhance its capabilities and planning, and (3) State efforts to develop civilian capabilities. GAO's statement is based on its May 2007 report on DOD stability operations and preliminary observations related to State's interagency planning framework and civilian response capabilities.State and DOD have begun to take steps to better coordinate stabilization and reconstruction activities, but several significant challenges may hinder their ability to integrate planning for potential operations and strengthen military and civilian capabilities to conduct them. State's Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization is developing a framework for U.S. agencies to use when planning stabilization and reconstruction operations, but the framework has yet to be fully applied to any operation. The National Security Council has not approved the entire framework, guidance related to the framework is unclear, and some interagency partners have not accepted it. For example, some interagency partners stated that the framework's planning process is cumbersome and too time consuming for the results it produces. While steps have been taken to address concerns and strengthen the framework's effectiveness, differences in planning capacities and procedures among U.S. government agencies may pose obstacles to effective coordination. DOD has taken several positive steps to improve its ability to conduct stability operations but faces challenges in developing capabilities and measures of effectiveness, integrating the contributions of non-DOD agencies into military contingency plans, and incorporating lessons learned from past operations into future plans. These challenges, if not addressed, may hinder DOD's ability to fully coordinate and integrate stabilization and reconstruction activities with other agencies or to develop the full range of capabilities those operations may require. Among its many efforts, DOD has developed a new policy, planning construct and joint operating concept with a greater focus on stability operations, and each service is pursuing efforts to improve capabilities. However, inadequate guidance, practices that inhibit sharing of planning information with non-DOD organizations, and differences in the planning capabilities and capacities of DOD and non-DOD organizations hinder the effectiveness of these improvement efforts. Since 2005, State has been developing three civilian corps to deploy rapidly to international crises, but significant challenges must be addressed before they will be fully capable. State and other agencies face challenges in establishing two of these units--the Active Response Corps and Standby Response Corps--because of staffing and resource constraints and concerns that stabilization and reconstruction operations are not core missions for each parent organization. Congress has not yet enacted legislation necessary for State to obligate funds for the third unit, the Civilian Reserve Corps, staffed solely with non-federal volunteers. Further, State has not fully defined the types of missions these personnel would be deployed to support.
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  • NASA Human Space Exploration: Significant Investments in Future Capabilities Require Strengthened Management Oversight
    In U.S GAO News
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) again delayed the planned launch date for Artemis I, the first uncrewed test flight involving three closely related human spaceflight programs—the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System (SLS), and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS). Together, these programs aim to continue human space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit. The most recent delay, to November 2021, resulted in part from manufacturing challenges and represents a 36-month slip since NASA established a schedule to measure performance in 2014. This new launch date does not account for the effects of COVID-19. According to NASA officials, COVID-19 delays and schedule risks will place pressure on NASA's ability to achieve this launch date. Development cost estimates for key programs also increased. The cost of the SLS program increased by 42.5 percent and the EGS program by 32.3 percent since 2014, for a combined increase of over $3 billion, bringing the total to $11.5 billion. NASA does not plan to complete revised estimates for Orion, which are tied to the second, crewed test flight (Artemis II) before spring 2021. Key Parts of Space Launch System Ready for Testing at Stennis Space Center NASA awarded billions of dollars in development and production contracts to support flights beyond Artemis I, but the flight schedule has changed frequently due to a lack of clear requirements and time frames for planned capability upgrades. Limited NASA oversight also places efforts to plan and execute future flights at risk of adverse outcomes, such as increased costs or delays. For example, NASA is committed to establishing cost and schedule performance baselines for these efforts, but it plans to do so too late in the acquisition process to be useful as an oversight tool. In addition, senior leaders do not receive consistent and comprehensive information at quarterly briefings on future efforts, such as a program to begin developing a more powerful upper stage for SLS. This is because current updates provided to NASA management focus primarily on the more short-term Artemis I and II flights. This approach places billions of dollars at risk of insufficient NASA oversight. NASA is pursuing an aggressive goal to return American astronauts to the surface of the Moon by the end of 2024. The success of NASA's plans hinges, in part, on two upcoming test flights. An uncrewed test flight and subsequent crewed test flight are intended to demonstrate the capability of a new launch vehicle, crew capsule, and ground systems. The House Committee on Appropriations included a provision in its 2017 report for GAO to continue to review NASA's human space exploration programs. This is the latest in a series of GAO reports addressing this topic. This report assesses (1) the progress the programs are making towards the first test flight, known as Artemis I, with respect to schedule and cost, and (2) the extent to which NASA's human space exploration programs are positioned to support the planned Artemis flight schedule beyond Artemis I. To do this work, GAO examined program cost and schedule reports, test plans, and contracts, and interviewed officials. GAO also assessed the extent to which the COVID-19 state of emergency has affected schedules for these programs. GAO is making two recommendations to NASA to establish baselines ahead of a key design review and improve internal reporting about capability upgrades for human space exploration programs beyond Artemis I. NASA concurred with the recommendations made in this report. For more information, contact William Russell at (202) 512-4841 or russellw@gao.gov.
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    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Home Health Agency and Former Owner to Pay $5.8 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
    In Crime News
    Doctor’s Choice Home Care, Inc. and its former owners, Timothy Beach and Stuart Christensen, have agreed to pay $5.15 million to resolve allegations that the home health agency provided improper financial inducements to referring physicians through sham medical director agreements and bonuses to physicians’ spouses who were Doctor’s Choice employees, the Department of Justice announced today. 
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  • Venezuela: Additional Tracking Could Aid Treasury’s Efforts to Mitigate Any Adverse Impacts U.S. Sanctions Might Have on Humanitarian Assistance
    In U.S GAO News
    The Venezuelan economy's performance has declined steadily for almost a decade and fallen steeply since the imposition of a series of U.S. sanctions starting in 2015. For example, the economy declined from negative 6.2 percent gross domestic product growth in 2015 to negative 35 percent in 2019 and negative 25 percent in 2020. The sanctions, particularly on the state oil company in 2019, likely contributed to the steeper decline of the Venezuelan economy, primarily by limiting revenue from oil production. However, mismanagement of Venezuela's state oil company and decreasing oil prices are among other factors that have also affected the economy's performance during this period. U.S. agencies have sought input from humanitarian organizations to identify the potential negative humanitarian consequences of sanctions related to Venezuela and taken steps to mitigate these issues. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Department of State (State) have solicited input from U.S.-funded humanitarian organizations on challenges they face, including the impact of sanctions. The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and State have also taken steps to mitigate negative consequences. For example, Treasury issued licenses permitting various types of humanitarian assistance transactions in Venezuela (see figure). Treasury also maintains a call center and email account through which organizations can receive assistance with compliance issues or other challenges related to sanctions. While Treasury officials told GAO they respond to individual inquiries, Treasury does not systematically track and analyze information from these inquiries to identify trends or recurrent issues. Without collection and analysis of this information, Treasury and its interagency partners may be limited in their ability to develop further actions to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not disrupt humanitarian assistance. U.S. Humanitarian Assistance Supplies for Venezuelans U.S. sanctions related to Venezuela have likely had a limited impact, if any, on the U.S. oil industry. Despite an overall lower supply of oil in the U.S. market from the loss of Venezuelan crude oil due to sanctions, crude oil and retail gasoline prices in the U.S. have not increased substantially. Many other factors in addition to the sanctions simultaneously affected the oil market and the price of crude oil and retail gasoline prices, including production cuts in January 2019 by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and decreased demand for energy during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to industry officials to whom GAO spoke, U.S. refineries have adjusted to these changes by shifting to alternative sources and types of crude oil. Venezuela has been experiencing an economic, political, and humanitarian crisis. The U.S. government has imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company, government, and central bank, among others, in response to activities of the Venezuelan government and certain individuals. Treasury and the Department of State lead the implementation of the sanctions program, and USAID is primarily responsible for implementing humanitarian assistance for Venezuelans. GAO was asked to review U.S. sanctions related to Venezuela. This report examines: (1) how the Venezuelan economy performed before and since the imposition of sanctions in 2015; (2) the steps U.S. agencies have taken to identify and mitigate potential negative humanitarian consequences of sanctions related to Venezuela; and (3) what is known about the impact of U.S. sanctions related to Venezuela on the U.S. oil industry. GAO analyzed economic indicators, reviewed documents, interviewed agency officials, and spoke with representatives from selected humanitarian organizations and the U.S oil industry. GAO recommends that Treasury systematically track inquiries made to its call center and email account, including the specific sanctions program and the subject matter of the inquiry to identify trends and recurring issues. Treasury concurred with GAO's recommendation. For more information, contact Kimberly Gianopoulos at (202) 512-8612 or GianopoulosK@gao.gov.
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  • Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry with Raj Chengappa of India Today
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
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  • Las Vegas Woman Arrested and Charged with Illegally Exporting Goods to Iran
    In Crime News
    A Las Vegas woman has been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to export goods from the United States to Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations.
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  • Small Business Contracting: Actions Needed to Implement and Monitor DOD’s Small Business Strategy
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Defense's (DOD) contract obligations to small businesses increased from fiscal years 2011 to 2020, while the number of small businesses contracting with DOD declined. The trend of higher obligations to a lower number of businesses applied to both small businesses and larger businesses. Department of Defense Small Business Contract Obligations and Vendors, Fiscal Years 2011–2020 DOD engages in many efforts across the department to leverage small businesses to meet its acquisition needs and leverage technological innovation. Such efforts are carried out by many different offices in the department and include a variety of outreach initiatives, such as vendor events, trainings, and other activities to contact and educate small businesses on working with DOD. Its 2019 Small Business Strategy describes these efforts and other initiatives to improve the effectiveness of DOD's small business programs. However, GAO found that DOD lacked key mechanisms to implement the strategy and better monitor and coordinate its small business contracting efforts. DOD has not developed the strategy's implementation plan, which is required by law. Such a plan would help ensure the initiatives described in the strategy are carried out and coordinated across DOD. DOD has not created a policy to guide the implementation of a unified management structure, as called for in the strategy. Doing so could improve communication and coordination among DOD staff who engage in small business efforts across the agency. DOD does not have a formal process for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of its Small Business Strategy. Establishing such a process would better position DOD to assess and communicate department-wide progress in implementing the strategy. Why GAO Did This Study In fiscal year 2020, DOD recorded more than $80 billion in contract obligations to small businesses for goods and services. In October 2019, DOD published its Small Business Strategy, as directed in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, to facilitate contracting opportunities for small businesses. A Senate Report relating to the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2021 includes a provision for GAO to review DOD's small business contracting efforts. This report examines defense small business contracting trends and the steps DOD has taken to monitor the implementation of its 2019 Small Business Strategy. GAO analyzed data from the Federal Procurement Data System and reviewed DOD's 2019 Small Business Strategy, other small business documentation, and relevant studies and reports. GAO also interviewed DOD officials, academics, researchers, and representatives of small businesses and industry associations.
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  • Retirement Security: Older Women Report Facing a Financially Uncertain Future
    In U.S GAO News
    In all 14 focus groups GAO held with older women, women described some level of anxiety about financial security in retirement. Many expressed concerns about the future of Social Security and Medicare benefits, and the costs of health care and housing. Women in the groups also cited a range of experiences that hindered their retirement security, such as divorce or leaving the workforce before they planned to (see fig.). Women in all 14 focus groups said their lack of personal finance education negatively affected their ability to plan for retirement. Many shared ideas about personal finance education including the view that it should be incorporated into school curriculum starting in kindergarten and continuing through college, and should be available through all phases of life. Women Age 70 and Over by Marital Status Note: Percentages do not add up to 100 percent due to rounding Individual women's financial security is also linked to their household where resources may be shared among household members. According to the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances, among households with older women, about 23 percent of those with white respondents and 40 percent of those with African American respondents fell short of a measure of retirement confidence, indicating their income was not sufficient to maintain their standard of living. The likelihood of a household reporting high retirement confidence rose in certain cases. For example among households of similar wealth, those with greater liquidity in their portfolio and those with defined benefit plan income were more likely to report high retirement confidence. This testimony summarizes the information contained in GAO's July 2020 report, entitled Retirement Security: Older Women Report Facing a Financially Uncertain Future (GAO-20-435). For more information, contact Tranchau Nguyen at (202) 512-2660 or NguyenTT@gao.gov.
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  • Ascension Michigan to Pay $2.8 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations
    In Crime News
    Ascension Michigan and related hospitals, Providence Park Hospital, St. John Hospital and Medical Center, St. John Macomb Oakland Hospital and Ascension Crittenton Hospital (collectively, Ascension Michigan), all located in Michigan, have agreed to pay $2.8 million to resolve claims that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting or causing the submission of false claims for payment to federal health care programs related to alleged medically unnecessary procedures performed by a gynecologic oncologist (the “Doctor”).
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  • Gulf Coast Health Care Fraud Strike Force Expanded to Include Eastern District of Texas
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced the expansion of the Criminal Division, Fraud Section’s existing Gulf Coast Health Care Fraud Strike Force to include the Eastern District of Texas.
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  • Former Elkhart, Indiana Resident Sentenced to Over Six Years in Prison for Financing of Terrorism
    In Crime News
    Samantha Marie Elhassani, aka Samantha Sally, 35, formerly of Elkhart, Indiana, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Philip P. Simon to 78 months in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Financing Terrorism, announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana Thomas L. Kirsch II, FBI Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division Jill Sanborn, and FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Indianapolis field office Paul Keenan.
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  • Former Security Services Executives Plead Guilty to Rigging Bids for Department of Defense Security Contracts
    In Crime News
    Two former employees of G4S Secure Solutions NV (G4S NV), pleaded guilty today to criminal antitrust charges stemming from their involvement in a conspiracy to rig bids, fix prices, and allocate customers for defense-related security services contracts. Both defendants are Belgian nationals residing in Belgium.
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  • Five Charged in Scheme to Export Thermal Imaging Scopes and Night Vision Goggles to Russia, in Violation of Arms Export Control Act
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Los Angeles unsealed an indictment Thursday that accuses five defendants of conspiring to unlawfully export defense articles to Russia. Specifically, the defendants allegedly exported thermal imaging riflescopes and night-vision goggles without a license, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.
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  • Assistant Secretary Donfried’s Trip to Sweden, Estonia, Norway, and Rome 
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Former Union President Sentenced for Violent Extortion
    In Crime News
    The former president of Iron Workers Local 395 was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for his role in organizing a brutal assault on a group of non-union ironworkers in Dyer, Indiana.
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  • Convicted Sex Trafficker Sentenced to 270 Months in Prison
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today announced that Senior Judge William K. Sessions III sentenced Brian Folks, 45, to 270 months in prison today.
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  • Justice Department Resolves Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Massachusetts Landlord and His Employee
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that it has secured a settlement resolving allegations that Worcester, Massachusetts, landlord Mohan Prashad and his maintenance worker, David Besaw, violated the Fair Housing Act by sexually harassing female tenants.
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  • NASA’s AIRS Monitors Tropical Storm Fay as It Deluges the East Coast
    In Space
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  • Peacekeeping: Observations on Costs, Strengths, and Limitations of U.S. and UN Operations
    In U.S GAO News
    As of June 2007, more than 100,000 military and civilian personnel are engaged in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations in 15 locations in Africa, Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East. In 2006, the United States provided the UN with about $1 billion to support peacekeeping operations. Given that thousands of U.S. troops are intensively deployed in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, UN peacekeeping operations are an important element in maintaining a secure international environment. As requested, this testimony discusses (1) the costs of the current UN mission in Haiti compared with the estimated cost of a hypothetical U.S. operation and (2) the strengths and limitations of the United States and the UN in leading peace operations. This testimony is based on our prior report and information we updated for this hearing. To estimate U.S. costs, we developed parameters for a U.S. mission similar to the UN mission in Haiti, which the Joint Staff validated as reasonable. We then applied DOD's official cost estimating model. However, it is uncertain whether the United States would implement an operation in Haiti in the same way as the UN.We estimate that it would cost the United States about twice as much as it would the UN to conduct a peacekeeping operation similar to the UN mission in Haiti. The UN budgeted $428 million for the first 14 months of the mission. A similar U.S. operation would have cost an estimated $876 million. Virtually the entire cost difference can be attributed to cost of civilian police, military pay and support, and facilities. First, civilian police costs are less in a UN operation because the UN pays police a standard daily allowance, while U.S. police are given salaries, special pay, and training. Second, U.S. military pay and support reflect higher salaries and higher standards for equipment, ammunition, and rations. Third, U.S. facilities-related costs would be twice those of the UN and reflect the cost of posting U.S. civilian personnel in a secure embassy compound. When we varied specific factors, such as increasing the number of reserve troops deployed, the estimated cost for a U.S. operation increased. Cost is not the sole factor in determining whether the United States or the UN should lead a peacekeeping operation. Each offers strengths and limitations. Traditionally, the United States' strengths have included rapid deployment, strong command and control, and well-trained and equipped personnel. However, ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have reduced personnel and equipment readiness levels and resulted in shortfalls for military police, engineers, and civil affairs experts. The UN provides broad multinational support for its missions, with a UN Security Council mandate and direction for its operations. The UN also has access to international civil servants, police, and senior officials who have nation-building experience and diverse language skills. Finally, the UN has fostered a network of agencies and development banks to coordinate international assistance with peacekeeping missions. However, the UN has traditionally had difficulties in rapidly deploying its forces and ensuring unified command and control over its peacekeeping forces.
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