January 20, 2022

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Canadian Man Charged With Scheme to Commit Cyberattacks

18 min read
<div>A federal indictment unsealed today in Alaska charges a Canadian national with committing cyberattacks.</div>
A federal indictment unsealed today in Alaska charges a Canadian national with committing cyberattacks.

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  • Justice Department Requires Divestiture of Tufts Health Freedom Plan in Order for Harvard Pilgrim and Health Plan Holdings to Proceed With Merger
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it would require Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (Harvard Pilgrim) and Health Plan Holdings (fka Tufts Health Plan) to divest Tufts Health Freedom Plan Inc. (Tufts Freedom), in order to proceed with their merger. Tufts Freedom is Health Plan Holdings’ commercial health insurance business in New Hampshire. The department has approved UnitedHealth Group Inc. (United), as the buyer. Health insurance is an integral part of the American healthcare system, and the proposed settlement will maintain competition for the sale of commercial health insurance to private employers in New Hampshire with fewer than 100 employees.
    [Read More…]
  • Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Travel to Uruguay and Peru
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Lead Paint in Housing: Key Considerations for Adopting Stricter Lead Evaluation Methods in HUD’s Voucher Program
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found GAO found that the Housing Choice Voucher program had 1.1 million voucher holders living in units built before 1978, the year the U.S. banned lead paint in housing. Of these units, roughly 171,000 were occupied by approximately 229,000 young children (under age 6)––putting these children at an increased risk of lead exposure. The voucher program requires visual assessments for identifying deteriorated paint, with no testing of paint or dust. Any change to stricter evaluation methods would need to consider that certain states have a larger portion of pre-1978 voucher units occupied by families with young children. Estimated costs for adopting stricter lead evaluation methods for the voucher program would vary substantially depending on the method used and what units were included (see figure). Estimated initial costs range from about $60 million for a less expensive method applied only to units with young children to about $880 million for a more expensive method applied to all pre-1978 units. These estimated costs range from 3 percent to 41 percent, respectively, of the fiscal year 2021 budget dedicated to public housing agencies' administrative expenses for the voucher program. Total costs would also depend on the mobility of voucher households and the frequency of any additional lead evaluations. Total Estimated Cost to Change the Lead Evaluation Methods for Housing Choice Voucher Units Would Vary by Evaluation Method Used and Units Included Note: A combination evaluation includes all components of a lead inspection and a risk assessment. Estimated costs may vary by up to plus or minus 14 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. GAO analysis estimated that nearly 6,000 lead professionals can conduct lead evaluations in the U.S. While there is no indication of a national shortage of lead professionals, areas with high numbers of pre-1978 voucher units and low numbers of lead professionals may face implementation challenges. Selected cities offer observations from their implementation of a change in lead evaluation method. For example, education of landlords can help clarify new evaluation requirements and encourage landlords to continue to rent to voucher holders. Further, implementing a new method in phases could target areas with the greatest need and help landlords and the industry adapt to the new requirement and the increased demand for lead evaluations. Why GAO Did This Study Exposure to lead paint, which was used in housing built before 1978, can have serious health effects, especially for young children. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has primary responsibility for identifying lead paint hazards in housing receiving HUD assistance, including private rental units in the voucher program. Some members of Congress have raised questions about whether the voucher program should change from visual assessments to a stricter lead evaluation method. The 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Joint Explanatory Statement, includes a provision for GAO to review HUD's efforts to address lead paint hazards. This report identifies considerations for policymakers related to changing to stricter lead evaluation methods for the voucher program, specifically regarding the (1) number and characteristics of voucher housing units and their occupants, (2) costs for lead evaluations based on method used and units included, (3) availability of lead professionals, and (4) observations from selected cities that use lead evaluation methods stricter than visual assessments. GAO analyzed HUD data on the voucher program (as of year-end 2019, the most recent available) and information on lead professionals from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and states. GAO also conducted a nationwide, generalizable survey of lead professionals to estimate the costs of lead evaluation methods. In addition, GAO interviewed staff from HUD, EPA, and public housing agencies, and representatives from two national organizations that represent lead professionals. For more information, contact John H. Pendleton at (202) 512-8678 or pendletonj@gao.gov.
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  • Estonian National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Federal-State Settlement Resolves Environmental Violations at Hussey Copper Smelting Facility in Leetsdale, Pennsylvania
    In Crime News
    Hussey Copper has agreed to perform a comprehensive environmental audit, implement an updated environmental management system, and pay an $861,500 penalty to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law (PCSL) at its smelting facility in Leetsdale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
    [Read More…]
  • Readout of Meeting between Department of Justice and the Central Bureau of Investigation of Government of India
    In Crime News
    Deputy Assistant Attorney General Arun G. Rao of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, together with colleagues from the Consumer Protection Branch and the FBI, met this week with Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials in New Delhi to further strengthen law enforcement cooperation. They discussed means for combating emerging crime trends, including fighting rising telemarketing fraud.
    [Read More…]
  • Pharmaceutical Companies Pay Over $400 Million to Resolve Alleged False Claims Act Liability for Price-Fixing of Generic Drugs
    In Crime News
    Three generic pharmaceutical manufacturers, Taro Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., Sandoz Inc. and Apotex Corporation, have agreed to pay a total of $447.2 million to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act arising from conspiracies to fix the price of various generic drugs. These conspiracies allegedly resulted in higher drug prices for federal health care programs and beneficiaries according to the Justice Department.
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  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines Election
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Moldova National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Texas Woman Convicted of COVID-19 Relief Fraud
    In Crime News
    A federal jury convicted a Texas woman today for defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of over $1.9 million in loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
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  • Appointment of Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat as Special Adviser on Holocaust Issues
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Deputy Secretary McKeon to Highlight Importance of International Education, Foreign Affairs Careers at Indiana University
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Lenderking’s Travel to Saudi Arabia
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Military Personnel: DOD Needs Data to Determine if Active Duty Service Has an Impact on the Ability of Guard and Reservists to Maintain Their Civilian Professional Licenses or Certificates
    In U.S GAO News
    Since 2001, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on more than 600,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve components to support various operations abroad and at home. In particular, from September 2001 to July 2007, the department deployed more than 434,000 reservists to support operations in DOD's Central Command area of responsibility that includes Afghanistan and Iraq. Furthermore, DOD has modified its mobilization policy, which had previously limited the cumulative amount of time that reservists could be involuntarily called to active duty for the Global War on Terrorism. Under DOD's new policy, which went into effect in January 2007, involuntary mobilizations for reserve component service members are generally limited to no more than 12 months, and there are no cumulative limits on these involuntary mobilizations. While on active duty, reservists may be unable to take the required professional development courses or periodic tests needed to retain their professional currency in fields such as accounting or software engineering. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects rights of qualifying National Guard members, reservists, and certain other members of the uniformed services returning to their civilian employment after being absent due to military service. The act, however, does not explicitly address issues related to licenses and certifications. In the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, Congress mandated that we examine the number and type of professional or other licensure or certification requirements that may be adversely affected by extended periods of active duty, and identify options that would help provide relief. Specifically for this report, our objectives were to examine (1) DOD's efforts to identify the extent to which active duty service has had an impact on the ability of reservists to maintain professional licenses or certifications in their civilian careers, and (2) current relief options for addressing these issues if needed.The degree to which reservists serving on active duty have had difficulty maintaining professional licenses or certifications in their civilian careers is unclear, because neither DOD's Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs nor the reserve components collect the necessary data to track and monitor the issue. While all members of the Ready Reserve are required to provide their civilian employment information upon joining the reserves and to review and update that information each year, the required information includes employment status, the employer's name, the employer's mailing address, the civilian's job title, and the total number of years in the current occupation, but does not include information on the impact active duty service potentially has on maintaining licenses and certifications. Officials at DMDC, which administers DOD's departmentwide Status of Forces Survey, confirmed that surveys of reservists conducted to date have not inquired about the impact of active duty service on a reservist's ability to maintain civilian professional licenses and certifications. Without any initial information on the scope of the issue, DOD is unable to identify the extent, if any, of the impact of active duty on the ability of reservists to maintain professional licenses or certifications in their civilian careers. DOD's Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs has not established relief policies and practices specifically designed to assist reservists in maintaining their civilian credentials. However, relief mechanisms do exist that may be applicable or serve as a model if DOD determines that a need exists to address the issue of expired professional licenses and certification. Some states, for example, have enacted provisions to provide relief to reservists in certain circumstances. In addition, different entities within DOD have developed programs and initiatives to assist servicemembers in obtaining licenses and certification. Further, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness administers a program for military spouses who have experienced similar challenges maintaining civilian professional licenses and certifications because of their partner's active duty obligations. Although the focus of that program is on providing assistance to military spouses to acquire new licenses and certifications, military spouses who need to renew their credentials upon relocating, such as nurses, are also eligible. DOD reviewed a draft of this report but did not provide formal agency comments. DOD did provide technical comments and we made changes to the report where appropriate.
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    In Justice News
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  • Fair Labor Standards Act: Observations on the Effects of the Home Care Rule
    In U.S GAO News
    In response to the Department of Labor's Home Care Rule—which extended Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime protections to more home care workers—some states made changes in their Medicaid programs, according to studies and GAO interviews with stakeholders and selected state officials. Many stakeholders said the rule led some states to limit home care workers' hours in their Medicaid programs to avoid overtime costs. For example, in Oregon, newly hired home care workers provided through Medicaid were generally limited to 40 hours per week, according to state documentation. Some states also budgeted additional funds for overtime pay. In addition, according to a few stakeholder groups, some states changed service delivery in their Medicaid programs, for example, by discontinuing services such as live-in care. In contrast, several stakeholders said some states did not make any major changes to their Medicaid programs' home care services. Provider agencies, workers, and consumers experienced changes after the Home Care Rule took effect. Specifically, some provider agencies restricted workers' hours to limit overtime costs, though this can result in the need to hire more workers, leading to increased costs of recruiting, training, and scheduling, according to several stakeholders. GAO's analysis of national survey data found that home care workers, when compared to occupations with similar education and training requirements, were more likely to work full-time but did not earn significantly higher earnings following the Home Care Rule (see figure). Many stakeholders GAO spoke with described ongoing challenges consumers face in obtaining home care services, such as difficulty finding workers to hire. Estimated Median Weekly Earnings of Employed Workers, 2010 through 2019 Note: The margins of error at the 95 percent confidence level are within plus or minus 7.2 percent of the estimate itself. Employment in home care is projected to grow nearly 40 percent over the next decade to meet demand from an increasing population of older adults and people with disabilities. Home care workers help those who need assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, eating, or bathing. State Medicaid programs may allow home care for eligible individuals as an alternative to institutional care. The Department of Labor's (DOL) Home Care Rule, which went into effect in 2015, extended FLSA protections to more home care workers. GAO was asked to review the implementation and effects of the Home Care Rule. This report examines what is known about (1) changes states made to their Medicaid programs in response to the Home Care Rule; and (2) the Home Care Rule's effect on home care provider agencies, workers, and consumers. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed 2010 through 2019 national survey data on workers' hours and wages; interviewed stakeholders from 15 organizations that represent the different groups affected, DOL officials, and home care program officials from three states selected based on variation in their Medicaid programs and minimum wage levels; and reviewed studies on state strategies to implement the Home Care Rule. For more information, contact Melissa Emrey-Arras at (617) 788-0534 or emreyarrasm@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Illegal Iranian Flow of Weapons to Yemen
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Commercial Vehicle Security: Risk-Based Approach Needed to Secure the Commercial Vehicle Sector
    In U.S GAO News
    Numerous incidents around the world have highlighted the vulnerability of commercial vehicles to terrorist acts. Commercial vehicles include over 1 million highly diverse truck and intercity bus firms. Within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has primary federal responsibility for ensuring the security of the commercial vehicle sector, while vehicle operators are responsible for implementing security measures for their firms. GAO was asked to examine: (1) the extent to which TSA has assessed security risks for commercial vehicles; (2) actions taken by key stakeholders to mitigate identified risks; and (3) TSA efforts to coordinate its security strategy with other federal, state, and private sector stakeholders. GAO reviewed TSA plans, assessments, and other documents; visited a nonrandom sample of 26 commercial truck and bus companies of varying sizes, locations, and types of operations; and interviewed TSA and other federal and state officials and industry representatives.TSA has taken actions to evaluate the security risks associated with the commercial vehicle sector, including assessing threats and initiating vulnerability assessments, but more work remains to fully gauge security risks. Risk assessment uses a combined analysis of threat, vulnerability, and consequence to estimate the likelihood of terrorist attacks and the severity of their impact. TSA conducted threat assessments of the commercial vehicle sector and has also cosponsored a vulnerability assessment pilot program in Missouri. However, TSA's threat assessments generally have not identified the likelihood of specific threats, as required by DHS policy. TSA has also not determined the scope, method, and time frame for completing vulnerability assessments of the commercial vehicle sector. In addition, TSA has not conducted consequence assessments, or leveraged the consequence assessments of other sectors. As a result of limitations with its threat, vulnerability, and consequence assessments, TSA cannot be sure that its approach for securing the commercial vehicle sector addresses the highest priority security needs. Moreover, TSA has not developed a plan or time frame to complete a risk assessment of the sector. Nor has TSA completed a report on commercial trucking security as required by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act (9/11 Commission Act). Key government and industry stakeholders have taken actions to strengthen the security of commercial vehicles, but TSA has not assessed the effectiveness of federal programs. TSA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have implemented programs to strengthen security, particularly those emphasizing the protection of hazardous materials. States have also worked collaboratively to strengthen commercial vehicle security through their transportation and law enforcement officials' associations, and the establishment of fusion centers. TSA also has begun developing and using performance measures to monitor the progress of its program activities to secure the commercial vehicle sector, but has not developed measures to assess the effectiveness of these actions in mitigating security risks. Without such information, TSA will be limited in its ability to measure its success in enhancing commercial vehicle security. While TSA has also taken actions to improve coordination with federal, state, and industry stakeholders, more can be done to ensure that these coordination efforts enhance security for the sector. TSA signed joint agreements with DOT and supported the establishment of intergovernmental and industry councils to strengthen collaboration. TSA and DOT completed an agreement to avoid duplication of effort as required by the 9/11 Commission Act. However, some state and industry officials GAO interviewed reported that TSA had not clearly defined stakeholder roles and responsibilities consistent with leading practices for collaborating agencies. TSA has not developed a means to monitor and assess the effectiveness of its coordination efforts. Without enhanced coordination with the states, TSA will have difficulty expanding its vulnerability assessments.
    [Read More…]
  • Five Peruvians Extradited For Overseeing Call Centers That Threatened And Defrauded Spanish-Speaking U.S. Consumers
    In Crime News
    Five residents of Lima, Peru, were extradited to the United States and made their initial appearances in Miami federal court, where they stand accused of operating a large fraud and extortion scheme targeting Spanish-speaking consumers in the United States, the Department of Justice and U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced today.
    [Read More…]
  • Judiciary Launches Vulnerability Disclosure Program
    In U.S Courts
    The federal Judiciary has unveiled a new Vulnerability Disclosure Policy to ensure the security of data that can be accessed online. The policy gives security researchers clear guidelines on how they may conduct vulnerability discovery activities. It also instructs researchers on how to submit discovered vulnerabilities to the Judiciary.
    [Read More…]
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