January 27, 2022

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San Fernando Valley Man Who Plotted Bombing of Long Beach Rally Sentenced to 25 Years in Federal Prison

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<div>A California man who planned the bombing of a political rally in Long Beach, California, in 2019 was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in federal prison.</div>
A California man who planned the bombing of a political rally in Long Beach, California, in 2019 was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in federal prison.

More from: November 2, 2021

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  • Offshore Oil Spills: Additional Information is Needed to Better Understand the Environmental Tradeoffs of Using Chemical Dispersants
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found When an oil spill occurs, responders have several options to manage the environmental effects, including using chemical dispersants (see figure). Chemical dispersants used on a surface oil slick can be effective at breaking up floating oil, which can help prevent the oil from reaching shore and harming sensitive ecosystems, according to studies GAO reviewed and stakeholders GAO interviewed. However, the effectiveness of applying dispersants below the ocean surface—such as in response to an uncontrolled release of oil from a subsurface wellhead—is not well understood for various reasons. For example, measurements for assessing effectiveness of dispersants applied at the subsurface wellhead during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill had limitations and were inconclusive. In addition, there are limited experimental data on the effectiveness of subsurface dispersants that reflect conditions found in the deep ocean. Application of Chemical Dispersants at the Surface by Aircraft and Boat Chemically dispersed oil is known to be toxic to some ocean organisms, but broader environmental effects are not well understood. Dispersants themselves are considered significantly less toxic than oil, but chemically dispersing oil can increase exposure to the toxic compounds in oil for some ocean organisms, such as early life stages of fish and coral. Other potentially harmful effects of chemically dispersed oil, especially in the deep ocean, are not well understood due to various factors. These factors include laboratory experiments about the toxicity of chemically dispersed oil that use inconsistent test designs and yield conflicting results, experiments that do not reflect ocean conditions, and limited information on organisms and natural processes that exist in the deep ocean. Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other agencies have taken some actions to help ensure decision makers have quality information to support decisions on dispersant use. For example, the Coast Guard and EPA have assessed the environmental effects of using dispersants on a surface slick. However, they have not assessed the environmental effects of the subsurface use of dispersants. By assessing the potential environmental effects of the subsurface use of dispersants, the Coast Guard and EPA could help ensure that decision makers are equipped with quality information about the environmental tradeoffs associated with decisions to use dispersants in the deep ocean. Why GAO Did This Study In April 2010, an explosion onboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in 11 deaths and the release of approximately 206 million gallons of oil. During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, responders applied dispersants to the oil slick at the ocean surface as well as at the wellhead more than 1,500 meters below the surface. The subsurface use of dispersants was unprecedented and controversial. GAO was asked to review what is known about the use of chemical dispersants. This report examines, among other things, what is known about the effectiveness of dispersants, what is known about the effects of chemically dispersed oil on the environment, and the extent to which federal agencies have taken action to help ensure decision makers have quality information to support decisions on dispersant use. GAO reviewed scientific studies, laws, regulations, and policies. GAO also interviewed agency officials and stakeholders from academia and industry.
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  • Safe Haven for Hong Kongers
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Judiciary Seeks $1.54 Billion for Infrastructure
    In U.S Courts
    Citing “crucial infrastructure needs for courthouse security, courthouse construction, and information technology,” the Judiciary is asking Congress for $1.54 billion as part of any infrastructure bill enacted by the legislative branch.
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  • [Protest of Air Force Contract Award for Countermeasures Dispenser System]
    In U.S GAO News
    A firm protested an Air Force contract award for Lots IV through VII of the AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispenser System (CMDS), contending that the evaluation of proposals was unreasonable because it was based on a flawed quantity estimate. GAO held that the Air Force decision not to amend the solicitation resulted in an unreasonable and a flawed selection decision, since the change in quantity was material. Accordingly, the protest was sustained, and GAO recommended that the Air Force: (1) reopen the competition and issue a solicitation amendment to reflect its current best estimate of the quantity; (2) if, after reevaluation of bids, another bid represents the best value to the government, terminate the contract award and make a new award; and (3) reimburse the protester for its bid protest costs.
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  • Chicago Woman Sentenced to 56 months for Home Health Care Fraud
    In Crime News
    An Illinois woman was sentenced yesterday in the Northern District of Illinois to 56 months in prison and ordered to pay $6.3 million in restitution for her participation in a conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud.
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  • Readout of Justice Department, HHS Listening Session on the Bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act with Organizations Representing Communities Impacted by Hate
    In Crime News
    Yesterday, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra co-hosted a listening session with stakeholders on the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which was signed into law by President Biden on May 20. Under the legislation, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in coordination with the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and community-based organizations, are required to issue guidance aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The session was moderated by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.  
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  • North Carolina Sport Supplement Company and Its Owner Plead Guilty to Unlawful Distribution of Steroid-like Drugs
    In Crime News
    A North Carolina resident and his sport supplement company pleaded guilty today to a felony charge relating to the introduction of unapproved new drugs into interstate commerce, the Department of Justice announced.
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Before Their Meeting
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  • Justice Department Charges More than 14,200 Defendants with Firearms-Related Crimes in FY20
    In Crime News
    Today, the Justice Department announced it has charged more than 14,200 defendants with firearms-related crimes during Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, despite the challenges of COVID-19 and its impact on the criminal justice process.
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  • COVID-19 Contracting: Contractor Paid Leave Reimbursements Could Provide Lessons Learned for Future Emergency Responses
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found To help government contractors keep their workforce in a ready state during the COVID-19 pandemic, section 3610 of the CARES Act generally authorized government agencies to reimburse contractors for paid leave provided to contractor personnel and subcontractors during the national emergency. Section 3610 did not appropriate specific funding for this purpose. The four agencies GAO reviewed—the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security, and NASA—reported use of section 3610 authority totaling at least $882.8 million over 14 months. The extent to which the agencies used the authority varied, from $1.4 million at Homeland Security to $760.7 million at Energy. Further, Defense officials estimated that defense contractors have more than $4 billion in paid leave costs that are potentially eligible for reimbursement under section 3610. Defense officials also noted, however, that the department does not plan to reimburse this full amount using existing funding. Agencies also based their reimbursement decisions on the nature of the work performed by contractors, such as whether telework was an option. Twelve out of the 15 contractors GAO interviewed reported that paid leave reimbursement had a great or moderate effect on their ability to retain employees (see figure), in particular those with specialized skills or clearances. Selected Contractors' Views on the Effect of Paid Leave Reimbursement on Workforce Retention Given the urgency of the pandemic, agencies prioritized quick implementation of section 3610 over a more deliberative process, resulting in variations such as how agencies tracked use of the authority. Officials from all four agencies said that they either have captured or intend to capture lessons learned from implementing section 3610 and are willing to share these with other federal agencies. However, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—which coordinates government-wide contracting policy—has not collected and shared lessons learned. With coordination from OMB's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, the government could seize an opportunity to enhance implementation of paid leave reimbursement provisions that may be enacted as part of rapid federal responses to future emergencies. Why GAO Did This Study In March 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act, which provides over $2 trillion in emergency assistance for those affected by COVID-19. Section 3610 of the CARES Act enables agencies, at their discretion, to reimburse contractors for paid leave provided to their employees and subcontractors who are unable to access work sites due to facility closures or other restrictions, and whose duties cannot be performed remotely during the pandemic. The CARES Act also includes a provision for GAO to review federal contracting pursuant to authorities provided in the Act. In September 2020, GAO found that agencies had not made much use of section 3610 authority as of July 2020, and expectations of future use varied. This report (1) examines how selected federal agencies have used section 3610 authority and (2) presents selected contractors' perspectives on COVID-19 paid leave reimbursement. GAO reviewed guidance and data and interviewed cognizant officials from four agencies with contract obligations greater than $10 billion in fiscal year 2019. GAO also selected a non-generalizable sample of 15 contractors that received or requested section 3610 reimbursements from one or more of the selected agencies and conducted semi-structured interviews of contractor representatives.
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  • National Science Foundation: COVID-19 Affected Ongoing Construction of Major Facilities Projects
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Since GAO's April 2020 report on the status of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) major facilities projects, the Large Hadron Collider High Luminosity Upgrade program began construction, and it along with the four other major facilities projects in construction (see figure), have weathered schedule delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. To partially account for increased costs associated with the pandemic, such as the cost of paying project staff while work is paused, NSF has authorized $38.9 million in total project cost increases to the award recipients constructing three of the five projects: $18.9 million for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, $10.0 million for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, and $10.0 million for Regional Class Research Vessels. Because the pandemic is ongoing and its full effects are not yet known, NSF expects to make further adjustments to the cost and schedule of all five major projects in construction. Design work on an additional major facility project continued without significant interruption from the pandemic. Further, NSF made awards to begin the agency's first three mid-scale research infrastructure projects. National Science Foundation Major Facilities Projects in Construction NSF has fully implemented GAO's prior recommendation on information sharing among award recipients and has drafted guidance or taken other steps towards addressing GAO's three remaining recommendations. To enhance information sharing among award recipients, NSF added a section to its terms and conditions in its major facilities agreements that encourages awardees to share information among awardees and participate in a knowledge management program. Why GAO Did This Study NSF supports the design, construction, and operations of science and engineering research infrastructure such as telescopes and research vessels. These projects include major facilities that cost over $100 million to construct or acquire, and mid-scale research infrastructure projects. Over the past 5 fiscal years, NSF has received over $1 billion in appropriations for these projects. Prior GAO reports reviewed NSF's oversight of the projects, its cost estimating and schedule policies, and the project management expertise of its oversight workforce. Senate Report 115-275, Senate Report 114-239, and House Report 114-605 included provisions for GAO to review and report annually on projects funded from NSF's Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account. This report, the fourth, examines (1) the cost and schedule performance of NSF's ongoing major facilities and mid-scale research infrastructure projects and (2) the extent to which NSF has implemented prior GAO recommendations related to its management of major facilities. GAO reviewed NSF and award recipient documents for the projects. GAO examined policies and procedures to identify efforts to implement recommendations and interviewed NSF officials for clarifying information.
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  • Special Representative Khalilzad Travels to Qatar, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at a Joint Press Availability
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  • Justice Department Issues Favorable Business Review Letter To ISDA For Proposed Amendments To Address Interest Rate Benchmarks
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced today that it has completed its review of the proposal by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc. (ISDA) to amend its standardized model documentation for derivatives to account for the potential discontinuation of certain interbank offered rates (collectively referred to as “IBORs”).  The department has concluded, based on the representations in ISDA’s letter request, including its description of certain safeguards, that ISDA’s proposed amendments to its standardized documentation are unlikely to harm competition.  Therefore, the department does not presently intend to challenge ISDA’s proposed amendments to its standardized documentation for derivatives.
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  • Justice Department Observes National Missing Children’s Day
    In Crime News
    As part of the 38th annual commemoration of National Missing Children’s Day, the Department of Justice today honored nine courageous individuals for their extraordinary efforts to recover missing children and bring sexual predators to justice. This year’s award recipients include four detectives and a sergeant from Fresno, California; two coordinators in the Missing Child Center-Hawaii in Honolulu; a sergeant from Addison, Illinois; and a U.S. Postal Service employee from Columbia, Maryland.
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  • Department of State Participation in Taiwan-hosted Event on Open Government and Anti-Corruption
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  • Strengthening Democracy in Central America and Addressing Root Causes of Migration at Central American Integration System Meeting
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  • Rare Diseases: Although Limited, Available Evidence Suggests Medical and Other Costs Can Be Substantial
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found According to the literature GAO reviewed, diagnosis of any disease can be complicated, and diagnosis of rare diseases can be particularly difficult because of a variety of factors. (See figure.) Although some rare diseases may be detected quickly, in other cases years may pass between the first appearance of symptoms and a correct diagnosis of a rare disease, and misdiagnoses—and treatments based on them—occur with documented frequency. According to the literature GAO reviewed and GAO's interviews, those with undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or untreated rare diseases may face various negative outcomes. For example, a person's health can suffer when appropriate, timely interventions are not provided or when interventions based on misdiagnoses cause harm. In addition, multiple diagnostic tests, medical appointments, and ultimately unwarranted interventions can add to the costs of the disease. Examples of Factors That May Interfere with Accurate Diagnosis Research on the costs of rare diseases is limited, in part because of the difficulty of diagnosing them. Nonetheless, the costs can be substantial, as indicated by available research from the U.S. and elsewhere and the experts, researchers, and organization officials GAO interviewed. These costs—to those with rare diseases, health care payers, the U.S. government, or a combination—can include direct medical costs (e.g., costs of outpatient visits or drugs), direct nonmedical costs (e.g., costs to modify one's home to accommodate a wheelchair), or indirect costs (e.g., loss of income or diminished quality of life). Peer-reviewed studies of specific rare diseases estimated costs for people with rare diseases that are multiple times higher than costs for people without those diseases. One recent study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, estimated $966 billion as the total cost (including medical and other nonmedical and indirect costs) in the United States for an estimated 15.5 million people with 379 rare diseases in 2019. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided technical comments on a draft of this report, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. Why GAO Did This Study By definition, few people have any specific rare disease. But there are many different rare diseases—about 7,000—and as a result, an estimated 30 million people in the United States have one or more of them. About half of those with a rare disease are children. Often genetic, many rare diseases are chronic, progressive (they worsen over time), and life-threatening. Relatively little is known about the costs of rare diseases, either individually or collectively. The Joint Explanatory Statement for the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, includes a provision for GAO to study the costs of rare diseases within the U.S. GAO examined, among other things, the challenges to diagnosing rare diseases and what is known about their costs. GAO reviewed documents from two agencies in HHS—the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and published literature, including studies on the costs of rare diseases in the United States and elsewhere published from 2000 through 2021. GAO also interviewed NIH and FDA officials; selected researchers and experts on rare diseases, health care, and health economics; and officials of organizations representing those with rare diseases. The organizations included two devoted to rare diseases in general and six representing those with a specific rare diseases or sets of related rare diseases. For more information, contact at (202) 512-7114 or dickenj@gao.gov.
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