December 4, 2021

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Iowa Woman Sentenced to 304 Months in Prison for Hate Crimes Involving Attempting to Kill Two Children Because of their Race and National Origin

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<div>An Iowa woman was sentenced yesterday on two hate crimes charges for attempting to kill two minor victims because of their race and national origin.</div>
An Iowa woman was sentenced yesterday on two hate crimes charges for attempting to kill two minor victims because of their race and national origin.

More from: August 20, 2021

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  • Secretary Blinken to Deliver Remarks to the Media in the Press Briefing Room
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  • Military Training: Army and Marine Corps Face Challenges to Address Projected Future Requirements
    In U.S GAO News
    The Army's and Marine Corps' major training facilities--Army and Marine Corps combat training centers and Army mobilization training centers--have focused on training units for counterinsurgency missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. As troop levels decrease in Iraq and increase in Afghanistan, larger numbers of forces will be training for Afghanistan. To meet future requirements, the services plan to adjust training to train forces on a fuller range of missions. The House report to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 directed GAO to report on any challenges the Department of Defense faces as it adjusts training capacities. GAO assessed the extent to which the Army and Marine Corps have (1) made adjustments at their major training facilities to support larger deployments to Afghanistan; and (2) developed plans to adjust training capacity to meet future requirements. GAO analyzed service training guidance, future training requirements, and related plans, and interviewed headquarters officials and personnel from the services' major training facilities.Due to similarities in training requirements, the Army and Marine Corps did not need to make significant adjustments at their major training facilities to support the shift in operational priority from Iraq to Afghanistan. While the Army had to adapt training scenarios to more closely resemble the operating environment in Afghanistan, it did not have to adjust trainers, training ranges, and mock towns and villages as these are the same regardless of whether forces are preparing for missions in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Since the summer of 2009, the Marine Corps had withdrawn most of its forces from Iraq and shifted the focus of training at its combat training center to exclusively train forces for missions in Afghanistan. Like the Army, the Marine Corps noted that, because of similarities in training requirements, it had to make few adjustments beyond changing some cultural role players and signs in mock towns and villages to support its shift in focus from Iraq to Afghanistan. The Army and Marine Corps face several challenges as they plan to broaden the scope and size of training rotations to meet future training requirements. The Army projects capacity shortfalls at its combat training centers as it seeks to train brigade combat teams to meet future requirements for both ongoing operations and full-spectrum operations--offensive, defensive, and stability operations. The Army has identified the need to conduct 36 to 37 annual training rotations for its brigade combat teams by fiscal year 2011; the centers can currently conduct 28 rotations a year. The Army is developing an exportable capability, expected to increase its capacity by 6 rotations each year when it reaches full operational capability in 2013. However, this will not be sufficient to meet the total projected requirements. To address the gap, the Army plans to give priority to deploying units. The Army has not completed an assessment to determine its full range of options for meeting future brigade combat team training requirements, or the risks associated with not conducting the desired number of training rotations. The Army's force generation model calls for smaller reserve-component units to train for both ongoing and full-spectrum operations, but the Army has not finalized its training strategy for these reserve-component forces. The Army has identified training requirements and locations where deploying forces will train for ongoing operations, but it has not determined where or when it will train its reserve-component contingency forces for full spectrum operations. The Army has the capacity to train 86,000 reserve-component personnel at its seven mobilization training centers each year. It is also conducting enhanced training at other locations, which could expand capacity. Until the Army finalizes its reserve-component training strategy it will not be able to determine whether it can leverage existing resources to meet future training requirements, or whether any excess reserve-component training capacity exists. In the future, the Marine Corps plans to expand training to allow larger numbers of forces to train together, but it lacks sufficient space at its combat training center. It is considering alternatives for acquiring land, ranging in size from approximately 131,000 to 200,000 acres, and expects to reach a decision by fiscal year 2012. GAO recommends the Army develop a risk-assessment and mitigation plan to address gaps in training capacity, and assess how it can maximize existing resources to conduct reserve-component training called for under its force generation model. DOD generally agreed with our recommendations.
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  • The Bank of Nova Scotia Agrees To Pay $60.4 Million in Connection with Commodities Price Manipulation Scheme
    In Crime News
    The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), a Toronto, Canada-based global banking and financial services firm, has entered into a resolution with the Department of Justice to resolve criminal charges related to a price manipulation scheme involving thousands of episodes of unlawful trading activity by four traders in the precious metals futures contracts markets.
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    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today announced that it has seized 63.7 bitcoins currently valued at over $2.3 million.
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  • Federal Real Property: Additional Documentation of Decision Making Could Improve Transparency of New Disposal Process
    In U.S GAO News
    In 2016, the Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act (FASTA) created the independent Public Buildings Reform Board (the Board) to support a new, three-round process for disposing of unneeded federal real property. The first of these rounds required the Board to identify and recommend at least five high-value disposal candidates with a total market value between $500 and $750 million. To identify these properties, the General Services Administration (GSA) collected and evaluated agency recommendations; a GSA-hired contractor analyzed real property data; and the Board held public hearings, visited properties, and met with federal officials. This process resulted in identifying 44 properties. The Board then took various steps to evaluate the 44 properties and recommended 12 final disposal candidates that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved in January 2020. (See figure.) However, the Board did not fully document the process used to evaluate these candidates. For example, the Board's rationales for why individual candidates were or were not recommended were vague or incomplete. Full documentation on the decision-making process would better position stakeholders, including members of Congress, to understand the Board's rationales, especially for decisions with financial implications. Process Used by Stakeholders for Identifying and Recommending High-Value Federal Real Property for Potential Disposal Candidates According to Board and selected federal agency officials, FASTA made it easier for agencies to pursue high-value property disposals due, in part, to exemptions from some requirements, such as having to first offer properties to federal, state, or local agencies. However, FASTA's effect on other long-standing challenges, including funding to prepare properties for disposal, is unclear. For example, FASTA created a dedicated funding source to implement Board recommendations including those related to covering disposal costs, such as relocating agency staff. However, officials expressed concern that access to these funds is not automatic and must go through the annual appropriations process, which rarely coincides with the timing of these projects. The administration proposed legislative language to make proceeds from the sale of assets in fiscal year 2021 available without additional actions by Congress. However, as of January 2021, legislation containing the proposed language had not been enacted. This report discusses elements Congress may wish to evaluate when determining whether to grant such budget-related flexibility. GAO designated federal real property management, including the disposal of properties, as a high-risk area in 2003. FASTA included a provision for GAO to review the recommendations and selection processes such as those used in the first round of identifying and recommending high-value properties as candidates for disposal. This report examines: (1) how stakeholders implemented FASTA to identify and evaluate high-value properties as potential disposal candidates and (2) stakeholder views on the extent to which FASTA helped agencies with the disposal of unneeded high-value properties and addressed long-standing challenges in disposing of federal properties. GAO reviewed FASTA and analyzed documents from the Board, OMB, GSA, and selected 14 federal agencies to examine the processes they used and the challenges they encountered under the FASTA process. Agencies were selected based on their recommendations of high-value properties and inclusion on the Board's final list, among other things. GAO also interviewed officials from the Board, OMB, GSA, and selected federal agencies. GAO is recommending that the Board fully document its process for recommending FASTA disposal candidates, including the rationales behind disposal decisions. The Board noted plans to develop more documentation of its future disposal decisions. For more information, contact David Trimble at (202) 512-2834 or trimbled@gao.gov.
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  • VA Police: Actions Needed to Improve Data Completeness and Accuracy on Use of Force Incidents at Medical Centers
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) policy on use of force states that police officers must use the minimal level of force that is reasonably necessary to gain control of a situation and should only utilize physical control methods on an individual when the force is justified by the individual's actions. To guide officers, VA developed a Use of Force Continuum Scale to define and clarify the categories of force that can be used. Categories of Force on the VA’s Use of Force Continuum Scale According to VA policy, all police officers must receive training on the VA's use of force policy when hired and biannually thereafter. Officers are trained—through classroom lectures and scenarios that emphasize effective communication techniques—to use the minimal level of force to deescalate a situation. Officers record use of force incidents electronically and the chief of police decides which, if any, use of force incidents need to be investigated in accordance with VA guidance. Chiefs of Police at the six facilities GAO visited conducted investigations in a similar manner, by reviewing evidence and comparing an officer's action with the VA's use of force policy to determine whether actions were justified. While most investigations are conducted at the local level, VA headquarters may also run investigations for certain incidents, such as when it receives a complaint against an officer. VA police officers record incidents in a database, Report Executive, but GAO's analysis indicates that VA data on use of force incidents are not sufficiently complete and accurate for reporting numbers or trends at medical centers nationwide. For example, GAO found that 176 out of 1,214 use of force incident reports did not include the specific type of force used. Further, Report Executive does not track incidents by individual medical centers. By addressing these limitations, VA can more effectively monitor use of force trends by type of force or medical facility, among other variables, to understand the VA's use of force incidents nationwide. GAO also found that VA does not systematically collect or analyze use of force investigation findings from local medical centers, limiting its ability to provide effective oversight. Specifically, there is no policy requiring Chiefs of Police to submit all investigations on use of force to VA headquarters, and VA does not have a database designed to collect and analyze data on use of force investigations. Collecting and analyzing such data nationwide would allow VA to better assess the impact of its deescalation policies and improve the agency's oversight efforts. About 5,000 VA police officers are responsible for securing and protecting 138 VA medical centers across the country. These officers are authorized to investigate crimes, make arrests, and carry firearms. The Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 included a provision that GAO assess aspects of the VA police services. This report addresses (1) what the VA's policies are on the use of force by police officers at medical centers, and what training officers receive on the use of force; (2) how VA records and investigates use of force incidents at medical centers; and (3) the extent to which VA sufficiently collects and analyzes use of force data at medical centers. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed VA policies, procedures, and training materials on the use of force and interviewed VA officials at headquarters and six local medical centers, selected to represent varying size and locations. GAO reviewed VA data on use of force incidents recorded from May 10, 2019, through May 10, 2020—the most recent full year data were available. GAO is making five recommendations, including that VA improve the completeness and accuracy of its use of force data; implement a tool to analyze use of force incidents at medical centers nationwide; ensure that medical centers submit all use of force investigations to VA headquarters; and analyze the use of force investigation data. The VA concurred with each of GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact Gretta L. Goodwin at (202) 512-8777 or goodwing@gao.gov.
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  • Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams Delivers Remarks at Columbia Law School Virtual Event on Combating the Online Exploitation of Children
    In Crime News
    Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us today for a conversation on one of the most pressing challenges we face – the continuing fight against the online exploitation of children.  I want to thank Berit Berger and Columbia Law School for hosting us virtually, and for putting together this event on such an important subject.
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  • Cryptocurrency Fraudster Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud and Money Laundering Charges in Multi-Million Dollar Investment Scheme
    In Crime News
    A citizen of Sweden pleaded guilty to securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering charges that defrauded more than 3,500 victims of more than $16 million.
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  • Federal Court Orders North Carolina Pharmacy, Pharmacy Owner, and Pharmacist-in-Charge to Pay More Than $1 Million and Stop Dispensing Opioids
    In Crime News
    A federal court in the Eastern District of North Carolina entered a consent judgment and injunction requiring a North Carolina pharmacy, Seashore Drugs Inc., its owner, John D. Waggett, and its pharmacist-in-charge, Billy W. King II, to pay $1,050,000.00 in civil penalties and to cease dispensing opioids or other controlled substances, the Department of Justice announced.
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  • Sexual Assault and Harassment: NOAA Has Made Substantial Progress in Prevention and Response but Could Further Improve Its Processes
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (2017 NDAA) required the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop a policy for preventing and responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment of NOAA's workforce. In response to the 2017 NDAA, NOAA issued its Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response Policy in February 2018. GAO found that this 2018 policy is consistent with most of the relevant legal requirements from the 2017 NDAA and is partially or not consistent with some. For example, although NOAA has protocols for investigating allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment, NOAA's policy does not specifically describe these protocols, as required by the 2017 NDAA. In addition, the policy follows most selected practices recommended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in its 2017 Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment document. While NOAA's actions followed many selected EEOC promising practices, GAO found some shortcomings in the agency's prevention and response processes. For example, NOAA's 2020 mandatory training for supervisors and managers did not explain the consequences for failing to fulfill the reporting responsibilities related to allegations of harassment—in contrast to EEOC's promising practices. Specifically, the training did not describe the consequences managers could face if, for example, they failed to report incidents that they witnessed or that were reported to them. In the absence of training or other mechanisms to clearly outline consequences for failing to fulfill managers' responsibilities, agency managers may allow harassing behavior to continue, thereby raising liability concerns and undermining the message that sexual harassment is not tolerated. In addition, EEOC's promising practices state that those implementing an agency's complaint system should appropriately document every complaint. The offices responsible for implementing each of NOAA's complaint systems do not maintain or collect data in a consistent manner and have not always provided data to management in a consistent format. Consequently, the agency has experienced difficulty reconciling data from its multiple complaint systems for annual reports to Congress and is hindered in its ability to target prevention and response efforts, according to agency officials. Extent to which NOAA's 2018 Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy and the Agency's Related Actions Follow Selected Promising Practices Summary Results of GAO analysis NOAA's 2018 policy follows most selected Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment. ● NOAA's leadership and accountability actions to prevent and respond to sexual harassment follow selected EEOC promising practices. ◐ NOAA's anti-harassment training follows selected EEOC promising practices. ◐ NOAA's harassment complaint systems follow selected EEOC promising practices. ◐ Source: GAO. I GAO-21-560 ● Follows ◐ Partially Follows Why GAO Did This Study Sexual assault and sexual harassment can have harmful effects on the individual employees as well as the workplace by undermining employee morale and decreasing productivity. In 2018, NOAA identified several factors indicating that the agency may be at risk for harassment or assault, or both. GAO was asked to review NOAA's policies and actions for preventing and responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment. This report examines: (1) the extent to which NOAA's policy is consistent with relevant legal requirements in the 2017 NDAA and follows EEOC's promising practices and (2) the extent to which NOAA's actions follow EEOC's promising practices. GAO reviewed NOAA's prevention and response policy and actions from 2016 through August 2021. GAO analyzed data, interviewed officials, and compared NOAA's policy and actions to relevant sections of the 2017 NDAA and EEOC's promising practices.
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  • Judges and Lawyers Engage Students in Conversations About the Constitution
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    More than 550 students at South Florida high schools engaged in a day of candid conversations with federal judges and attorneys about the Constitution, civil discourse, and solid decision-making skills in the law and in teens’ lives. The event was part of a monthlong national celebration of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.
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  • Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Massachusetts Sober Home Operator
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit today alleging that Peter McCarthy, who operates a group of residential sober homes through his company, Steps to Solutions Inc., subjected female residents to sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.
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  • Los Angeles Man Arrested for $27 Million PPP Fraud Scheme
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    A California man was arrested today in Los Angeles on criminal charges related to his alleged bank fraud, false statements in a loan application and money laundering arising from the submission of fraudulent applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds.
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  • Defense Logistics: Army and Marine Corps’s Individual Body Armor System Issues
    In U.S GAO News
    Since combat operations began in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. forces have been subjected to frequent and deadly attacks from insurgents using various weapons such as improvised explosive devices (IED), mortars, rocket launchers, and increasingly lethal ballistic threats. Since 2003, to provide protection from ballistic threats, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas, has required service members and Department of Defense (DOD) civilians in its area of operations to be issued the Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) system. Used by all U.S. military service members and DOD civilians in the area of operations, the IBA consists of an outer tactical vest with ballistic inserts or plates that cover the front, back, and sides. As the ballistic threat has evolved, ballistic requirements have also changed. The vest currently provides protection from 9mm rounds, while the inserts provide protection against 7.62mm armor-piercing rounds. Additional protection can also be provided for the shoulder, throat, and groin areas. Concerns also regarding the level of protection and amount of IBA needed to protect U.S. forces have occurred in recent years, prompted by a number of reports, newspaper articles, and recalls of issued body armor by both the Army and the Marine Corps. In May 2005, the Marine Corps recalled body armor because it concluded that the fielded body armor failed to meet contract specifications, and in November 2005, the Army and Marine Corps recalled 14 lots of body armor that failed original ballistic testing. Additionally, in April 2005, we reported on shortages of critical force protection items, including individual body armor. Specifically, we found reasons for the shortages in body armor were due to material shortages, production limitations, and in-theater distribution problems. In the report, we did not make specific recommendations regarding body armor, but we did make several recommendations to improve the effectiveness of DOD's supply system in supporting deployed forces for contingencies. DOD agreed with the intent of the recommendations and cited actions it had or was taking to eliminate supply chain deficiencies. Congress has expressed strong interest in assuring that body armor protects ground forces. Additionally, as part of our efforts to monitor DOD's and the services' actions to protect deployed ground forces, we reviewed the Army and Marine Corps's actions to address concerns regarding body armor to determine if they had taken actions to address these concerns. Because of broad congressional interest in the adequacy of body armor for the ground forces, we prepared this report under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct evaluations on his own initiative. Our objectives for this review were to determine to what extent the Army and Marine Corps (1) are meeting the theater requirements for body armor, (2) have the controls in place to assure that the manufacturing and fielding of body armor meet requirements, and (3) are sharing information regarding their efforts on body armor ballistic requirements and testing.In this review, we found that the Army and Marine Corps have taken several actions to meet theater requirements, assure testing, and share information on body armor. We also found that contractors and non-DOD civilians receive body armor if this provision is included in a negotiated contract. Specifically, we found that the Army and Marine Corps are currently meeting theater ballistic requirements and the required amount needed for personnel in theater, including the amounts needed for the surge of troops into Iraq; have controls in place during manufacturing and after fielding to assure that body armor meets requirements; and share information regarding ballistic requirements and testing, and the development of future body armor systems, although they are not required to do so. Regarding contractors or non-DOD civilians, we found that DOD Instruction 3020.41 allows DOD to provide body armor to contractors where permitted by applicable DOD instructions and military department regulations and where specified under the terms of the contract. CENTCOM's position is that body armor will be provided to contractors if it is part of a negotiated contract.
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