Ned Price, Department Spokesperson
We are disturbed by reports that a Russian court sentenced Valentina Baranovskaya and her son, Roman Baranovsky, to terms of two and six years in a Russian penal colony, respectively, simply for being practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses. The sentencing of Valentina, a 69-year-old stroke victim, is particularly cruel. It also marks the first time a Russian court has sentenced a female Jehovah’s Witness.
The decision by the Russian court is the latest development in an ongoing crackdown on members of religious minority groups in Russia. Since the Russian Supreme Court designated the Jehovah’s Witnesses an “extremist” organization in 2017, 52 Jehovah’s Witnesses have been imprisoned for exercising their beliefs, including Alexandr Ivshin, who was recently given a record-length 7.5 year sentence for a Jehovah’s Witness by a Russian court.
We urge Russia to lift its ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses and to respect the right of all to exercise their freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief.
- Judiciary Launches Redesigned PACER WebsiteBy Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsJune 26, 2020The Administrative Office of the U.S Courts on June 28 will launch a redesigned informational website for the Judiciary’s electronic court records system, known as PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records).[Read More…]
- Statement of Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on the Verdict in the Chauvin TrialBy Sam NewsApril 20, 2021U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland's statement following the verdict in the state of Minnesota's trial of Derek Chauvin:[Read More…]
- Airport Funding: Information on Grandfathered Revenue Diversion and Potential Implications of RepealBy Sam NewsSeptember 8, 2020According to the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) data for fiscal years 1995 through 2018, nine airport owners—also known as “airport sponsors”—lawfully diverted airport revenue amounts ranging from $0 to over $840 million by a sponsor in 1 year. These “grandfathered” airport sponsors are currently exempt from federal requirements to use all airport revenue solely for airport purposes (see figure). Together, these sponsors own 32 airports serving millions of passengers a year. Five of these sponsors are city or state governments, which regularly diverted airport revenue into their general funds for government programs and services. Four of these sponsors are transportation authorities, which diverted varying amounts for various transportation-related purposes, such as supporting maritime ports or transit systems. Three of the transportation authorities also secured bonds using revenue from their various activities, including airport revenue, to finance airport and non-airport assets. Airport Sponsors That Have Reported Grandfathered Revenue Diversion, as of 2018 According to selected stakeholders, a repeal of grandfathered revenue diversion would have complex legal and financial implications for transportation authorities. Transportation authority officials said that a repeal would inherently reduce their flexibility to use revenues across their assets and could lead to a default of their outstanding bonds if airport revenues could no longer be used to service debt; exempting outstanding bonds could alleviate some financial concerns. For city and state government sponsors, a loss in general fund revenue could result in reduced government services, though they said a phased-in repeal could help in planning for lost revenue. In 1982, a federal law was enacted that imposed constraints on the use of airport revenue (e.g., concessions, parking fees, and airlines' landing fees), prohibiting “diversion” for non-airport purposes in order to ensure use on airport investment and improvement. However, the law exempted “grandfathered” airport sponsors—those with state or local laws providing for such diversion—from this prohibition. Viewpoints vary on whether these airport sponsors should be allowed to continue to lawfully divert revenue. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 provides for GAO to examine grandfathered airport revenue diversion. This report examines: (1) how much revenue has been diverted annually by grandfathered airport sponsors and how these revenues have been used, and (2) selected stakeholders' perspectives on potential implications of repealing the law allowing revenue diversion. GAO analyzed FAA financial data on grandfathered airports' revenue diversion for fiscal years 1995 through 2018, all years such data were available. GAO also analyzed relevant documents such as state and local laws, and airport sponsors' bond documents. GAO interviewed FAA officials and relevant stakeholders, including officials from nine grandfathered airport sponsors and representatives from bond-rating agencies, airline and airport associations, and airlines that serve grandfathered airports that were selected based on those with the greatest passenger traffic. For more information, contact Heather Krause at (202) 512-2834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Military Training: Actions Needed to Further Improve the Consistency of Combat Skills Training Provided to Army and Marine Corps Support ForcesBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021In conventional warfare, support forces such as military police, engineers, and medical personnel normally operate behind the front lines of a battlefield. But in Iraq and Afghanistan--both in U.S. Central Command's (CENTCOM) area of responsibility--there is no clear distinction between front lines and rear areas, and support forces are sometimes exposed to hostile fire without help from combat arms units. The House report to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2010 directed GAO to report on combat skills training for support forces. GAO assessed the extent to which (1) Army and Marine Corps support forces are completing required combat skills training; (2) the services and CENTCOM have information to validate completion of required training; and (3) the services have used lessons learned to adjust combat skills training for support forces. To do so, GAO analyzed current training requirements, documentation of training completion, and lessons learned guidance; observed support force training; and interviewed headquarters officials, trainers, and trainees between August 2009 and February 2010.Army and Marine Corps support forces undergo significant combat skills training, but additional actions could help clarify CENTCOM's training requirements, ensure the services fully incorporate those requirements into their training requirements, and improve the consistency of training that is being conducted. CENTCOM has issued a list of training tasks to be completed, in addition to the services' training requirements, before deploying to its area of operations. However, there is confusion over which forces the CENTCOM requirements apply to, the conditions under which the tasks are to be trained, and the standards for successfully completing the training. As a result, interpretations of the requirements vary and some trainees receive detailed, hands-on training for a particular task while others simply observe a demonstration of the task. In addition, while the Army and Marine Corps are training their forces on most of CENTCOM's required tasks, servicemembers are not being trained on some required tasks prior to deploying. While units collect information on the completion of training tasks, additional actions would help higher level decision-makers assess the readiness of deploying units and servicemembers. Currently, both CENTCOM and the services lack complete information on the extent to which Army and Marine Corps support forces are completing required combat skills training. The Army has recently designated the Digital Training Management System as its system of record for tracking the completion of required training, but guidance concerning system implementation is unclear and the system lacks some needed capabilities. As a result, support forces are not fully utilizing the system, and are inconsistently tracking completion of individual and unit training using paper records, stand-alone spreadsheets, and other automated systems. The Marine Corps also uses inconsistent approaches to document training completion. Furthermore, as GAO reported in May 2008, CENTCOM does not have a clearly defined waiver process to provide visibility over the extent to which personnel are deploying to its area of operations without having completed its required training tasks. As a result, CENTCOM and the services have limited visibility over the extent to which servicemembers have or have not completed all required training. While trainers at Army and Marine Corps training sites have applied lessons learned information and made significant changes to the combat skills training they provide support forces, the changes to training have varied across sites. Army and Marine Corps doctrine requires the collection of after action reports, the primary formal vehicle for collecting lessons learned. Lessons are also shared informally, such as through communication between deployed forces and units training to replace them. While the services have these formal and informal means to facilitate the sharing of lessons learned information, trainers at the various training sites are not consistently sharing information about the changes they have made to their training programs. As a result, servicemembers are trained inconsistently and units that are deploying for similar missions sometimes receive different types and amounts of training.[Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Guatemalan Foreign Minister BroloBy Sam NewsJune 4, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Drug Control: International Programs Face Significant Challenges Reducing the Supply of Illegal Drugs but Support Broad U.S. Foreign Policy ObjectivesBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021The overall goal of the U.S. National Drug Control Strategy, prepared by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), is to reduce illicit drug use in the United States. GAO has issued more than 20 products since 2000 examining U.S.-funded international programs aimed at reducing the supply of drugs. These programs have been implemented primarily in drug source countries, such as Colombia and Afghanistan as well drug transit countries, such as Mexico, Guatemala, and Venezuela. They have included interdiction of maritime drug shipments on the high seas, support for foreign military and civilian institutions engaged in drug eradication, detection, and interdiction; and rule of law assistance aimed at helping foreign legal institutions investigate and prosecute drug trafficking, money laundering, and other drug-related crimes.GAO's work on U.S.-funded international counternarcotics-related programswork has centered on four major topics: (1) Counternarcotics-related programs have had mixed results. In Afghanistan, Colombia, and drug transit countries, the United States and partner nations have only partially met established targets for reducing the drug supply. In Afghanistan, opium poppy eradication efforts have consistently fallen short of targets. Plan Colombia has met its goals for reducing opium and heroin but not coca crops, although recent data suggest that U.S.-supported crop eradication efforts over time may have caused a significant decline in potential cocaine production. Data also indicate an increase in coca cultivation in Peru and Bolivia that may eventually offset these declines. Interdiction programs have missed their performance targets each year since goals were established in 2007. (2) Several factors have limited program effectiveness. Various factors have hindered these programs' ability to reduce the supply of illegal drugs. In some cases, we found that U.S. agencies had not planned for the sustainment of programs, particularly those providing interdiction boats in transit countries. External factors include limited cooperation from partner nations due to corruption or lack of political support, and the highly adaptive nature of drug producers and traffickers. (3) Counternarcotics-related programs often advance broader foreign policy objectives. The value of these programs cannot be assessed based only on their impact on the drug supply. Many have supported other U.S. foreign policy objectives relating to security and stabilization, counterinsurgency, and strengthening democracy and governance. For example, in Afghanistan, the United States has combined counternarcotics efforts with military operations to combat insurgents as well as drug traffickers. U.S. support for Plan Colombia has significantly strengthened Colombia's security environment, which may eventually make counterdrug programs, such as alternative agricultural development, more effective. In several cases, U.S. rule of law assistance, such as supporting courts, prosecutors, and law enforcement organizations, has furthered both democracy-building and counterdrug objectives. (4) Judging the effectiveness of some programs is difficult. U.S. agencies often lack reliable performance measurement and results reporting needed to assess all the impacts of counterdrug programs. In Afghanistan, opium eradication measures alone were insufficient for a comprehensive assessment of U.S. efforts. Also, the State Department has not regularly reported outcome-related information for over half of its programs in major drug transit countries. Furthermore, DOD's counternarcotics-related measures were generally not useful for assessing program effectiveness or making management decisions. GAO has made recommendations to the Departments of Defense (DOD) and State and other agencies to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. counternarcotics- related programs. In particular, GAO has recommended that these agencies develop plans to sustain these programs. GAO has also recommended that they improve performance measurement and results reporting to assess program impacts and to aid in decision making. Agencies have efforts under way to implement some of these recommendations.[Read More…]
- University of Arkansas Professor Indicted for Wire Fraud and Passport FraudBy Sam NewsJuly 29, 2020The Department of Justice announced today that Simon Saw-Teong Ang, 63, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Arkansas on 42 counts of wire fraud and two counts of passport fraud.[Read More…]
- Former Union Official Sentenced for Violent ExtortionBy Sam NewsMay 3, 2021An Indiana man and former business agent of Iron Workers Local 395 was sentenced today to more than four years in prison for conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion.[Read More…]
- The United States Stands with France in the Fight Against TerrorismBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2021
- Release of the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote StabilityBy Sam NewsDecember 18, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim Delivers Remarks at the LeadershIP Virtual SeriesBy Sam NewsSeptember 11, 2020Broke. . . but Not No More: Opening Remarks--Innovation Policy and the Role of Standards, IP, and Antitrust[Read More…]
- Russia’s Continuing Repression of Members of Religious Minority GroupsBy Sam NewsJuly 11, 2021
- Justice Department Issues Favorable Business Review Letter to Institute of International Finance for Sovereign Debt Information Sharing PrinciplesBy Sam NewsJanuary 14, 2021The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced today that it has completed its review of the proposal by the Institute of International Finance (IIF) to promulgate voluntary guidelines, called the Principles for Debt Transparency (Principles), allowing for public disclosure of information regarding the issuance of sovereign debt. Based on the representations in IIF’s letter request, including its description of certain safeguards, the department has concluded that the principles are unlikely to harm competition. Therefore, the department does not presently intend to challenge IIF’s proposed principles.[Read More…]
- Department Press Briefing – February 10, 2021By Sam NewsFebruary 10, 2021
- Supplemental Material for GAO-21-536: 2020 Federal Managers Survey: Results on Government Performance and Management IssuesBy Sam NewsJuly 28, 2021This product is a supplement to Evidence-Based Policymaking: Survey Data Identify Opportunities to Strengthen Capacity across Federal Agencies (GAO-21-536). Between July and December 2020, GAO surveyed nearly 4,000 federal managers on various organizational performance and management issues. The survey asked managers for their perspectives on their agencies' capacities to develop and use different types of data and information in decision-making activities, such as when allocating resources. In addition, the survey sought views on agency efforts to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a 56 percent response rate, the results are generalizable to the 24 major agencies included in the survey, and across the federal government. This product makes available the results from GAO's 2020 survey—at a government-wide level and for each agency. It also provides information about how and why GAO conducted the survey, and identifies other GAO products that analyzed and reported these survey results. For more information, contact Alissa H. Czyz at 202-512-6806 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Department of Justice Redoubles Efforts to Find and Prosecute Those Responsible for the 2001 Murder of Federal Prosecutor Tom WalesBy Sam NewsOctober 11, 2021Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco today announced that the Department of Justice has doubled the $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the October 2001 murder of Seattle Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Wales.[Read More…]
- United States Files False Claims Act Complaint Against Drug Maker Teva Pharmaceuticals Alleging Illegal KickbacksBy Sam NewsAugust 18, 2020The United States has filed a False Claims Act complaint against Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. and Teva Neuroscience Inc. (Teva), alleging that they illegally paid the Medicare co-pays for their multiple sclerosis (MS) product, Copaxone, through purportedly independent foundations that the companies used as conduits in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Department of Justice announced today.[Read More…]
- NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Passes Flight Readiness ReviewBy Sam NewsIn SpaceSeptember 26, 2020The agency’s Mars [Read More…]
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