Five openly LGBTQ judges from different backgrounds and experiences offer insight into their lives before and after appointment to the federal bench in a new U.S. Courts video released in observance of Pride Month.
The panel participants are District Judge Darrin P. Gayles, Southern District of Florida; District Judge Judith E. Levy, Eastern District of Michigan; District Judge Robert L. Pitman, Western District of Texas; Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu, Northern District of California; and District Judge Staci M. Yandle, Southern District of Illinois.
Their comments were made during a recent Pride Month dialogue presented online to Judiciary employees.
- Small Business Innovation Research: Three Agencies Made Awards to Businesses Majority-Owned by Investment Companies and FundsBy Sam NewsJanuary 29, 2021Under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, participating agencies can make awards to small businesses majority-owned by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms (investment companies and funds). In fiscal years 2019 and 2020, four of the 11 agencies participating in the program received proposals from small businesses majority-owned by investment companies and funds (i.e., qualified small businesses), and three of the four made awards to such small businesses. Specifically, the Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of the Navy within the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Education made a combined 45 awards worth $31.6 million to qualified small businesses during this period. As in previous years, NIH made the most awards and awarded the most funds to qualified small businesses in fiscal years 2019 and 2020. The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy opened its SBIR awards to qualified small businesses, but did not issue any awards to them during fiscal years 2019 and 2020. Since 2011, when qualified small businesses became eligible for SBIR awards, participating SBIR agencies have considered whether to allow qualified small businesses to participate in the program. Consistent with what GAO found in December 2018, in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, agencies cited several reasons for not allowing qualified small businesses to participate in their SBIR program. For example, officials at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Homeland Security said that they did not pursue the option because qualified small businesses have not expressed much interest in their SBIR programs. In contrast, two component agencies within DOD—the Departments of the Navy and the Air Force—decided to allow qualified small businesses to receive awards and the Department of the Army within DOD was considering doing so. For example, Air Force program officials told us they found that providing SBIR funding to qualified small businesses would expand the Air Force's investment in cutting-edge technologies with both commercial and military uses. NIH—the agency that has made the majority of awards to qualified small businesses—has continued to make awards to qualified small businesses in its SBIR program, as these businesses are subject to the same standard reporting requirements as all other SBIR award recipients. NIH officials also noted that SBIR recipients provide information on specific project impacts, such as technology transfer and commercialization activities, and NIH cited development of a long-release capsule for medication as an example of a successful outcome from an award to a qualified small business. The SBIR program enables federal agencies to support research and development (R&D) projects carried out by small businesses. Participating agencies are required to spend a certain percentage of their extramural R&D obligations on their SBIR program each year. Eleven federal agencies participate in the SBIR program. To qualify for SBIR awards, a small business must meet certain ownership and other eligibility criteria. The Small Business Act, as amended, authorizes agencies to allow participation in their SBIR programs by qualified small businesses. Upon providing a written determination to the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA)—the agency that oversees the SBIR program—and specified congressional committees, agencies may make SBIR awards to qualified small businesses. The Small Business Act, as amended, includes a provision for GAO to conduct a study of the impact of requirements relating to the involvement of investment companies and funds in the SBIR program and submit a report to Congress regarding the study every 3 years. GAO's first review covered fiscal years 2013 and 2014, and in December 2018, GAO issued its second report on this issue, for fiscal years 2015 through 2018. This third report addresses (1) SBIR participating agencies' awards to small businesses that are majority-owned by multiple investment companies and funds in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 and (2) reasons participating agencies cited for allowing or not allowing the participation of qualified small businesses in the SBIR program. GAO reviewed agencies' data on the participation of qualified small businesses and conducted interviews with or obtained written answers from program managers from the 11 participating agencies and SBA. For more information, contact Candice N. Wright at (202) 512-6888 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Another extradition lands third ELN member on U.S. soil for international cocaine distributionBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsSeptember 21, 2021Another alleged [Read More…]
- Hawaii Couple Indicted in Tax Fraud SchemeBy Sam NewsJune 11, 2021A federal grand jury in Honolulu, Hawaii, returned an indictment today charging a Hawaii husband and wife with conspiring to defraud the United States and filing a false tax return. The wife was also charged with four counts of money laundering.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Jonathan Karl of This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABCBy Sam NewsAugust 15, 2021
- Monaco National DayBy Sam NewsNovember 18, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Justice Department Obtains Settlement from San Diego Landlord to Resolve Claims Of Sexual Harassment Against Female TenantsBy Sam NewsJune 3, 2021The Justice Department today announced it has reached an agreement with defendant Larry Nelson to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging that he sexually harassed female tenants while owning and managing San Diego area rental properties.[Read More…]
- [Protest of DPSC Contract Award for Retractor Holder Sets]By Sam NewsAugust 17, 2021A firm protested a Defense Personnel Support Center (DPSC) contract award for retractor holder sets, contending that: (1) the awardee's item failed to conform to the solicitation requirements; (2) DPSC should have conducted a preaward survey of the awardee; and (3) the award violated patents held by the protester. GAO held that the protest was untimely, since the protester did not diligently pursue its basis for protest or request a post-award debriefing where it could have obtained the same or similar information pursuant to its Freedom of Information Act request. Accordingly, the protest was dismissed.[Read More…]
- COVID-19: VA Should Assess Its Oversight of Infection Prevention and Control in Community Living CentersBy Sam NewsJuly 29, 2021What GAO Found The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) took steps—such as issuing guidance and trainings—to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Community Living Centers (CLC), which are VA-owned and -operated nursing homes. This guidance focused on, for example, limiting CLC entry and testing residents and staff for COVID-19, while the trainings were intended to prepare staff for, among other things, a surge in cases. However, the agency conducted limited oversight of infection prevention and control in these facilities during the first year of the pandemic, from March 2020 through February 2021. In particular, the agency suspended annual in-person inspections of CLCs before resuming them virtually in February 2021. The agency also required that CLCs conduct a one-time self-assessment of their infection prevention and control practices but did not review the results in a timely manner to make more immediate improvements. VA officials acknowledged these shortcomings as the agency responded in real time to the rapidly evolving pandemic. As VA has described this time as a “learning period,” it could benefit from assessing its decisions and actions related to oversight of infection prevention and control during the pandemic to identify any lessons learned. Such an assessment would align with VA's plans to assess and report on the agency's overall response to the pandemic as well as its strategic goal to promote continuous quality improvement in CLCs. Results from such an assessment—which could look at both successes and missed opportunities—could help VA better prepare for future infectious disease outbreaks in CLCs. Why GAO Did This Study Close to 8,000 veterans per day received nursing home care provided by VA in CLCs in fiscal year 2020. COVID-19 has posed significant risks to nursing home residents and staff, as residents are often in frail health, and residents and staff have close daily contact with each other. The CARES Act includes a provision that GAO monitor the federal response to the pandemic. This report describes, among other objectives, guidance and training VA has issued to help CLCs respond to the pandemic and examines VA's oversight of infection prevention and control in CLCs during the pandemic. GAO analyzed documents, including guidance, training-related materials, and CLC self-assessments of their infection prevention and control practices. GAO also interviewed VA officials and CLC staff, the latter from five facilities selected based on factors such as having been cited for infection prevention and control deficiencies prior to the pandemic.[Read More…]
- Sao Tome and Principe National DayBy Sam NewsJuly 12, 2021
- Former Deputy Campaign Manager Pleads Guilty to Theft of Campaign FundsBy Sam NewsMay 7, 2021An Illinois man pleaded guilty today to the theft of more than $115,000 in campaign funds from the McSally for Senate Campaign in 2018 and 2019.[Read More…]
- Chinese Energy Company, U.S. Oil & Gas Affiliate and Chinese National Indicted for Theft of Trade SecretsBy Sam NewsOctober 29, 2020A federal grand jury has returned an indictment alleging corporate entities conspired to steal technology from a Houston-area oil & gas manufacturer, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick and Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division. Jason Energy Technologies Co. (JET) in Yantai, People’s Republic of China; Jason Oil and Gas Equipment LLC (JOG) USA and Chinese national Lei Gao aka Jason Gao, 45, are charged with conspiracy, theft of trade secrets and attempted theft of trade secrets.[Read More…]
- U.S. Judicial Conference Urges Senate to Back Security FundingBy Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsJune 9, 2021Citing a growing danger to federal judges and courthouses, the Judicial Conference of the United States has asked the U.S. Senate to support a total of $182.5 million in supplemental funding to bolster security.[Read More…]
- Disarmament Law and Morality: A CritiqueBy Sam NewsNovember 13, 2020Dr. Christopher Ashley [Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Spanish Foreign Minister González LayaBy Sam NewsFebruary 16, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Toyota Motor Company to Pay $180 Million in Settlement for Decade-Long Noncompliance with Clean Air Act Reporting RequirementsBy Sam NewsJanuary 14, 2021The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that the United States has filed and simultaneously settled a civil lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor North America Inc., Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. (Toyota) for systematic, longstanding violations of Clean Air Act emission-related defect reporting requirements, which require manufacturers to report potential defects and recalls affecting vehicle components designed to control emissions.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at a Joint Press AvailabilityBy Sam NewsSeptember 8, 2021
- Alien Smuggling: DHS Could Better Address Alien Smuggling along the Southwest Border by Leveraging Investigative Resources and Measuring Program PerformanceBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021This testimony discusses federal efforts to address alien smuggling along the southwest border. Alien smuggling along the southwest border is an increasing threat to the security of the United States and Mexico as well as to the safety of both law enforcement and smuggled aliens. One reason for this increased threat is the involvement of drug trafficking organizations in alien smuggling. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center's (NDIC) 2008 National Drug Threat Assessment, the southwest border region is the principal entry point for smuggled aliens from Mexico, Central America, and South America. Aliens from countries of special interest to the United States such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan (known as special-interest aliens) also illegally enter the United States through the region. According to the NDIC assessment, Mexican drug trafficking organizations have become increasingly involved in alien smuggling. These organizations collect fees from alien smuggling organizations for the use of specific smuggling routes, and available reporting indicates that some Mexican drug trafficking organizations specialize in smuggling special-interest aliens into the United States. As a result, these organizations now have alien smuggling as an additional source of funding to counter U.S. and Mexican government law enforcement efforts against them. Violence associated with alien smuggling has also increased in recent years, particularly in Arizona. According to the NDIC assessment, expanding border security initiatives and additional U.S. Border Patrol resources are likely obstructing regularly used smuggling routes and fueling this increase in violence, particularly violence directed at law enforcement officers. Alien smugglers and guides are more likely than in past years to use violence against U.S. law enforcement officers in order to smuggle groups of aliens across the southwest border. In July 2009, a border patrol agent was killed while patrolling the border by aliens illegally crossing the border, the first shooting death of an agent in more than 10 years. Conflicts are also emerging among rival alien smuggling organizations. Assaults, kidnappings, and hostage situations attributed to this conflict are increasing, particularly in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona. Communities across the country are at risk since among those individuals illegally crossing the border are criminal aliens and gang members who pose public safety concerns for communities throughout the country. Within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of Investigations (OI) is responsible for investigating alien smuggling. In addition, DHS's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and ICE's Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) have alien smuggling-related programs. This testimony is based on a May 2010 report we are releasing publicly today on alien smuggling along the southwest border. As requested, like the report, this testimony will discuss the following key issues: (1) the amount of investigative effort OI has devoted to alien smuggling along the southwest border since fiscal year 2005 and an opportunity for ICE to use its investigative resources more effectively; (2) DHS progress in seizing assets related to alien smuggling since fiscal year 2005 and financial investigative techniques that could be applied along the southwest border to target and seize the monetary assets of smuggling organizations; and (3) the extent to which ICE/OI and CBP measure progress toward achieving alien smuggling-related program objectives. Our May 2010 report also provides a discussion of the extent to which ICE/OI and CBP have program objectives related to alien smuggling.We found the following: (1) OI work years devoted to investigating alien smuggling along the southwest border increased from about 190 work years in fiscal year 2005 to about 197 work years in fiscal year 2009, an overall increase of 4 percent, with hundreds of arrests, indictments, and convictions resulting. The overall number of work years decreased from about 190 work years in fiscal year 2005 to 174 in fiscal year 2008, but increased 23 work years from fiscal years 2008 to 2009 primarily due to an increase in one office. The percentage of time OI investigators spend on alien smuggling investigations, versus other investigative areas, such as drugs, has remained steady during this time period at 16-17 percent. (2) The value of OI alien smuggling asset seizures has decreased since fiscal year 2005, and two promising opportunities exist that could be applied to target and seize the monetary assets of smuggling organizations. According to OI data, the value of alien smuggling seizures nationwide increased from about $11.2 million in fiscal year 2005 to about $17.4 million in fiscal year 2007, but declined to $12.1 million in fiscal year 2008 and to about $7.6 million in fiscal year 2009. (3) OI and CBP have not fully evaluated progress toward achieving alien smuggling-related program objectives. Federal standards for internal control call for agencies to establish performance measures and indicators in order to evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts. One of the major objectives of OI's alien smuggling investigations is to seize smugglers' assets, but OI does not have performance measures for asset seizures related to alien smuggling cases. Tracking the use of asset seizures in alien smuggling investigations as a performance measure could help OI monitor its progress toward its goal of denying smuggling organizations the profit from criminal acts. Thus, in our May 2010 report, we recommended that ICE develop performance measures for asset seizures related to alien smuggling investigations. ICE concurred with the recommendation and stated that ICE is in the process of assessing all of its performance measures and creating a performance plan.[Read More…]
- Iranian National Sentenced for Illegally Exporting Military Sensitive ItemsBy Sam NewsSeptember 14, 2021An Iranian national was sentenced today to 63 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).[Read More…]
- Cote d’Ivoire Travel AdvisoryBy Sam NewsIn TravelSeptember 26, 2020Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
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