January 22, 2022

News

News Network

Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani

15 min read

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown:‎

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met with Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani today in Doha, Qatar. Secretary Pompeo thanked His Highness Al Thani for Qatar’s military partnership at the Al Udeid Air Base, initiatives to counter terrorism financing, and the ongoing support for Afghan peace negotiations. The Secretary and the Amir also discussed the need for working together to confront threats to stability in the region and the importance of overcoming divisions within the Gulf to further counter Iran’s malign influence. Secretary Pompeo noted growing bilateral opportunities for trade and investment as well as expanded cultural exchanges during the 2021 Qatar Year of Culture.

News Network

  • Black Lung Benefits Program: Continued Inaction on Coal Operator Self-Insurance Increases Financial Risk to Trust Fund
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of Labor (DOL) took initial steps to implement GAO's recommendations to improve its oversight of self-insured coal mine operators, but its reform effort was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic and a review of the program by the current administration, according to DOL officials. Black lung benefits are generally paid by liable coal mine operators, and federal law generally requires coal mine operators to secure their black lung benefit liability. Operators are allowed to self-insure if they meet certain DOL conditions. The federal government's Black Lung Disability Trust Fund (Trust Fund) pays benefits when no responsible mine operator can be identified or the liable mine operator does not pay. This can happen, for example, when an operator goes bankrupt. As GAO reported in 2020, the bankruptcies of some self-insured operators that occurred from 2014 through 2016 led to the transfer of $865 million in estimated benefit responsibility to the Trust Fund, according to DOL. This occurs when the amount of collateral DOL requires from a self-insured coal operator does not fully cover the operator's benefit responsibility should the operator become insolvent. Since 2016, several other self-insured operators have also filed for bankruptcy, according to DOL. In February 2020, DOL sent letters to 14 self-insured operators asking them to provide about $251 million in total collateral. Half of the coal operators provided the collateral DOL requested and the other half appealed, according to DOL. DOL officials said their ability to resolve the appeals was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic and they suspended reviews of coal operator appeals. In December 2020, DOL issued a preliminary bulletin for coal operator self-insurance that described significant changes and included actions that would have addressed GAO's recommendations. For instance, DOL set a goal to resolve coal operator appeals within 90 days after receiving supporting documents or meeting with the operator to discuss their concerns. However, in February 2021, DOL rescinded the preliminary bulletin due to a program review by the current administration, according to DOL officials. DOL officials said they have taken no further actions to resolve appeals or to collect any additional collateral or other information from self-insured operators. As a result, DOL has not obtained about $186 million in requested collateral from self-insured operators that appealed DOL's requested collateral. In addition, one of these operators, Lighthouse Resources, filed for bankruptcy in December 2020; this could result in a transfer of about $2.4 million in estimated benefit responsibility to the Trust Fund, according to DOL. In addition, two operators DOL said no longer met their requirements to self-insure almost two years ago remain self-insured. In November 2021, DOL officials said the current administration's program review is complete, but could not describe any anticipated changes to coal operator self-insurance going forward. Given that the Trust Fund had to borrow about $2.3 billion from the U.S. Treasury in fiscal year 2021 to make needed expenditures, we reiterate that DOL should take action to address our previous recommendations to help prevent additional benefit liabilities from transferring to the Trust Fund. Why GAO Did This Study The Trust Fund, which pays benefits to coal miners disabled due to black lung, faces financial challenges. It has borrowed from the U.S. Treasury's general fund almost every year since 1979 to make needed expenditures. In February 2020, GAO found that DOL's limited oversight of coal mine operator insurance exposed the Trust Fund to additional financial risk. This testimony is based on reports GAO issued in 2020 and 2018. GAO found in 2020 that in overseeing coal operator self-insurance DOL did not (1) estimate future benefit liability when setting the amount of collateral required to self-insure, (2) regularly review operators to assess whether the required amount of collateral should change, or (3) always take action to protect the Trust Fund by revoking an operator's ability to self-insure as appropriate. To obtain updated information for this hearing statement, GAO interviewed DOL officials in November 2021 and reviewed agency documentation.
    [Read More…]
  • Iranian National Charged with Illegally Exporting Laboratory Equipment to Iran
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment today charging a Canadian national with the unlawful export of laboratory equipment from the United States to Iran, through Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
    [Read More…]
  • Woman First in the Nation Charged with Misappropriating Monies Designed for COVID Medical Provider Relief
    In Crime News
    A Michigan woman was indicted on allegations that she intentionally misappropriated government funds that were designed to aid medical providers in the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19 and used them for her own personal expenses.
    [Read More…]
  • Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Travel to Uruguay and Peru
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Man Sentenced for His Role in COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Wisconsin man was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for fraudulently seeking over $600,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Florida Tax Preparer Charged in Connection with $7 Million Loan Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Florida tax preparer was charged in an indictment filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania yesterday with scheming to fraudulently obtain more than $7 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and pre-pandemic Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, and to launder the proceeds of the illegal scheme.
    [Read More…]
  • Briefing with Senior State Department Officials On U.S. Engagements at the United Nations and on the Margins of High-Level Week
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Former Government Contractor Sentenced for Role in Bribery and Kickback Scheme
    In Crime News
    A former government contractor was sentenced today for his role in a bribery and kickback scheme where he paid bribes to secure U.S. Army contracts.
    [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – November 03, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • The United States Targets Foundations Controlled by Iran’s Supreme Leader
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction: Opportunities for DHS to Better Address Longstanding Program Challenges
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2016, GAO evaluated Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to consolidate chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear security programs into the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) office. GAO recommended DHS use, where appropriate, the key mergers and organizational transformation practices identified in prior work, such as conducting adequate stakeholder outreach. DHS agreed with and addressed the recommendation by soliciting employee feedback on the transformation and formed a leadership team for the consolidation, among other practices. However, GAO observed that significant challenges remained at the CWMD office—such as low employee morale and questions about program efficacy. GAO has ongoing work evaluating these issues and plans to issue a report in early 2022. Over the past decade, GAO has also conducted extensive work evaluating legacy and ongoing programs managed by the CWMD office and has identified program management challenges and opportunities for improvement in the following program areas: Biosurveillance programs: Since 2009, GAO has reported on progress and challenges with two of DHS's biosurveillance efforts—the National Biosurveillance Integration Center and the pursuit of replacements for the BioWatch program (aimed at detecting aerosolized biological attacks). For example, DHS faced challenges defining these programs' missions and acquiring suitable technologies. In December 2009 and September 2012, GAO highlighted the importance of following departmental policies and employing leading management practices to help ensure that the mission of each program is clearly and purposefully defined and that investments effectively respond to those missions. DHS agreed with and addressed these recommendations. Most recently, DHS agreed to a May 2021 GAO recommendation that it should follow best practices for conducting technology readiness assessments for a biodetection effort and described planned efforts to conduct one before the next key decision event. Nuclear/radiological detection: In May 2019, GAO found that the CWMD office lacked a clear basis for proposed changes to the strategies of the Securing the Cities program, which is designed to enhance the nuclear detection capabilities of federal and nonfederal agencies in select cities. GAO found the strategies were not based on threats or needs of the participating cities. DHS agreed with our recommendations aimed at improving communication and coordination with participating cities, but has not fully implemented them. Chemical defense: In August 2018, GAO found that DHS had not fully integrated and coordinated its chemical defense programs and activities, which could lead to a risk that DHS may miss an opportunity to leverage resources and share information. Improved program integration and coordination could lead to greater effectiveness addressing chemical threats. DHS agreed to develop a strategy and implementation plan to aid integration of programs, which it expects to finalize in September 2021. Why GAO Did This Study In December 2018, statute established the CWMD office, reorganizing several legacy offices, including the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and Office of Health Affairs into one. The office manages programs intended to enhance the United States' ability to detect, deter, and defend against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. However, programs operated and managed by the CWMD office have faced longstanding challenges, some which predate the reorganization. This statement describes our 2016 work related to the CWMD office formation and findings from our past reports on CWMD programs from 2009 through May 2021, including challenges and opportunities for the effective operations and implementation of key programs related to biodefense, nuclear security, and chemical security. To conduct our prior work, GAO reviewed relevant presidential directives, laws, regulations, policies, strategic plans, and other reports and interviewed federal, state, and industry officials, among others.
    [Read More…]
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. Agrees To Pay $920 Million in Connection with Schemes to Defraud Precious Metals and U.S. Treasuries Markets
    In Crime News
    JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPMorgan), a New York, New York-based global banking and financial services firm, has entered into a resolution with the Department of Justice to resolve criminal charges related to two distinct schemes to defraud: the first involving tens of thousands of episodes of unlawful trading in the markets for precious metals futures contracts, and the second involving thousands of episodes of unlawful trading in the markets for U.S. Treasury futures contracts and in the secondary (cash) market for U.S. Treasury notes and bonds.
    [Read More…]
  • Laredo man admits to smuggling meth in fire extinguishers
    In Justice News
    A 40-year-old Laredo man [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • NASA to Broadcast Mars 2020 Perseverance Launch, Prelaunch Activities
    In Space
    Starting July 27, news [Read More…]
  • NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Passes Flight Readiness Review
    In Space
    The agency’s Mars [Read More…]
  • “Project Python” Mexican national convicted of meth smuggling
    In Justice News
    A 47-year-old resident [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Secures Agreement with Hy-Vee Supermarket Chain to Make Online COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Accessible for People with Disabilities
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today announced that it has secured a settlement agreement with Hy-Vee Inc. that will help people with disabilities get information about COVID-19 vaccinations and book their vaccination appointments online.
    [Read More…]
  • Spain Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Woman Arrested at Chicago O’Hare Airport for Conspiring to Kill Her Mother and Placing Body in Suitcase
    In Crime News
    An Illinois woman was arrested today when she arrived at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, for allegedly murdering her mother on Aug. 12, 2014, while on vacation in Bali, Indonesia.
    [Read More…]

Crime

Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.