October 21, 2021

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Return of Canadian Citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor

10 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

The U.S. Government stands with the international community in welcoming the decision by People’s Republic of China authorities to release Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig after more than two-and-a-half years of arbitrary detention. We are pleased that they are returning home to Canada.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

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  • Defense Infrastructure: Overseas Master Plans Are Improving, but DOD Needs to Provide Congress Additional Information about the Military Buildup on Guam
    In U.S GAO News
    Over the next several years, implementation of the Department of Defense's (DOD) Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy will result in the realignment of U.S. forces and the construction of new facilities costing billions of dollars at installations overseas. The Senate and House reports accompanying the fiscal year 2004 military construction appropriation bill directed GAO to monitor DOD's overseas master plans and to provide congressional defense committees with assessments each year. The Senate report accompanying the fiscal year 2007 military construction appropriation bill directed GAO to review DOD's master planning effort for Guam as part of these annual reviews. This report, first, examines how the overseas plans have changed and the extent to which they address the challenges faced by DOD and, second, assesses the status of DOD's planning effort and the challenges associated with the buildup of military forces and infrastructure on Guam.The fiscal year 2008 overseas master plans, which provide infrastructure requirements at U.S. military facilities in each of the overseas regional commands' area of responsibility, have been updated to reflect U.S. overseas defense basing strategies and requirements as well as GAO's prior recommendations for improving the plans. The plans also address DOD's challenges to a greater extent than they did in previous years. However, two areas continue to be of concern. First, the master plans do not address the issue of residual value--that is, the value of property being turned over to the host nation based on its reuse of property. Although DOD officials believe that residual value cannot be readily predicted and therefore should not be in the master plans, compensation received for U.S capital improvements at installations returned to host nations could affect U.S. funding requirements for overseas construction. Second, the master plan for PACOM, which provides details on the command's training limitations in Japan and several other challenges, does not provide details regarding training limitations for the Air Force in South Korea, which could cause the United States to pursue alternatives, such as training in other locations, downsizing, or relocating that could affect overseas basing plans. Without addressing the residual value issue and providing details on these training challenges, DOD cannot provide Congress a comprehensive view enabling it to make informed decisions regarding funding. GAO has previously recommended that overseas regional commands address residual value issues and that PACOM explain how it plans to address existing training limitations. Because these recommendations have not been fully addressed, GAO considers them to be open and believes that they still have merit. DOD's planning effort for the buildup of military forces and infrastructure on Guam is in its initial stages, with many key decisions and challenges yet to be addressed. Among the challenges to be addressed is completing the required environmental impact statement, initiated in March 2007. According to DOD officials, this statement and associated record of decision could take up to 3 years to complete and will affect many of the key decisions on the exact location, size, and makeup of the military infrastructure development--decisions needed to develop a master plan for the military buildup on Guam. DOD and the services are still determining the exact size and makeup of the forces to be moved to Guam, needed in order to identify the housing, operational, quality of life, and services support infrastructure required for the Marine Corps realignment and the other services' buildup. DOD officials said that additional time is needed to fully address other challenges associated with the Guam military buildup, including funding requirements, operational requirements, and community impact. Until the environmental assessment and initial planning efforts are completed, Congress will need to be kept abreast of developments and challenges affecting infrastructure and funding decisions to make appropriate funding and oversight decisions.
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  • Former Raytheon Engineer Sentenced for Exporting Sensitive Military Related Technology to China
    In Crime News
    Today, Wei Sun, 49, a Chinese national and naturalized citizen of the United States, was sentenced to 38 months in prison by District Court Judge Rosemary Marquez. Sun previously pleaded guilty to one felony count of violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).
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  • Long Island Car Wash Owner Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion
    In Crime News
    A Coram, New York, car wash owner pleaded guilty today to tax evasion, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme for the Eastern District of New York. According to court documents and statements made in court, Nicholas Pascullo, 56, operated a car wash and detailing business called H2O Car Wash & Exotic Detailing LLC (H2O), based in Lindenhurst, New York. From 2012 to 2017, Pascullo attempted to evade income and employment taxes owed by him and H2O for calendar years 2012 through 2016. As part of the scheme, Pascullo filed false partnership and individual income tax returns with the IRS that underreported the gross receipts earned by H2O and the flow-through income received by Pascullo and his partners.
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    An employee of a government contractor pleaded guilty today to his involvement in a scheme to overbill a contract administered by the General Services Administration (GSA) by approximately $1.25 million, and solicit and receive kickbacks from a subcontractor in exchange for providing that subcontractor valuable contract modifications.
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  • Former Minister of Industry and Member of Parliament of Barbados Sentenced for Laundering Bribes
    In Crime News
    A former Minister of Industry and elected member of Parliament of Barbados was sentenced today to two years in prison for his role in a scheme to launder bribe payments from a Barbadian insurance company through bank accounts in New York.
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  • Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams Delivers Opening Remarks at the Federalist Society, Colorado Lawyers Chapter Panel Discussion: “Reviewing the Supreme Court’s 2019/20 Term”
    In Crime News
    Thank you for that kind introduction, Will, and for the invitation to join you today. Though I wish I could join you in person, even at this distance, it is a great pleasure to be here with you all.
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  • Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers: Observations on the Navy’s Hybrid Electric Drive Program
    In U.S GAO News
    In 2009, the Secretary of the Navy set goals to reduce fuel consumption and, 2 years later, initiated a program to install Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) systems on its fleet of Arleigh Burke class (DDG 51 Flight IIA) destroyers. The HED system draws surplus power from the ship's electric system and uses it to propel the ship. This allows the crew to turn off the propulsion engines and save fuel. Since 2011, Navy officials told us that they have spent over $100 million on the development, purchase, and upgrade of six HED systems. In October 2018, the Navy completed installation of one of the systems on the USS Truxtun (DDG 103). However, the Navy has yet to install the remaining five HED systems and now plans to use them to support another research effort. The Navy issued a January 2020 report to Congress on the HED system installed on the USS Truxtun, but did not include some requested information. For example, while the report included performance information from operations on board the USS Truxtun, it did not include sufficient information to determine the overall performance of the HED system. A comprehensive test and evaluation could have assessed the system's performance, reliability, and cyber survivability to inform program decision-making. Further, the report did not include a summary of planned investment that includes: an assessment of the costs and benefits of the HED system, or a projection of the funding needed to execute the program. The Navy stated that it did not include a summary of the planned investments in the report because the HED program was not included in the President's fiscal year 2020 budget and also due to the need for additional HED data. However, Congress appropriated $35 million in funding for the HED program in 2020, which was available to support ship installation of the five previously purchased HEDs. The Navy stated that it can only use a small portion of this funding before it expires in September 2022 since the systems cannot be upgraded and incorporated into a ship's maintenance schedule in the next 3 years. In summer 2020, Navy requirements officials informed GAO and Congress that they plan to suspend the HED program and send the five surplus HED systems to support research into a new electric motor, known as Propulsion Derived Ship Service (PDSS). Navy requirements officials identified several reasons for suspending the HED program, but these reasons differ from information GAO obtained during the course of this review. For example: Navy officials stated that it is expensive to maintain the HED system. However, the commanding officer and crew of the USS Truxtun and senior Navy engineers stated that the system requires little maintenance. Navy officials also stated that the HED is not used very often in operations. According to the Navy's January 2020 report, the system was designed for low-speed operations (speed up to 11 knots), which comprise more than one-third of a typical DDGs operating profile. GAO did not assess the Navy's decision to use the HED systems for PDSS research because the Navy did not have documentation regarding the requirements, testing, schedule, or costs of the PDSS effort. GAO could not determine the merits of suspending the HED program and using the other five HED systems for the PDSS effort because the Navy has yet to complete analysis that determines the costs, benefits, and performance necessary to support such a decision. If the Navy completes a further assessment—which has been requested by Congress—it could provide the information necessary to inform future decisions about the HED program. This report assesses the Navy's HED program. Senate Report 115-262 accompanying the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 asked the Navy to submit a report on the HED system installed on the USS Truxtun. GAO was asked to review the Navy's report and the Navy's recent decision to suspend the HED program to pursue the PDSS research project. This report (1) examines the extent to which the Navy's report on the USS Truxtun included information regarding the assessment areas as requested by Congress; and (2) describes the Navy's decision to suspend the HED program and use the HED systems for the PDSS research effort. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed the Navy's 2020 report on the HED system, analyzed data and documentation the Navy used to guide investments, and assessed HED performance information. GAO also interviewed relevant Navy officials, such as the commanding officer and other senior crew of the USS Truxtun, and Navy engineers. GAO is not making any recommendations. For more information, contact Shelby S. Oakley at (202) 512-4841 or oakleys@gao.gov.
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  • Statement Regarding Federal Civil Rights Investigation Into Shooting of Jacob Blake
    In Crime News
    Eric S. Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and Matthew D. Krueger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin released the following statement related to the Aug. 23, 2020, shooting of Jacob Blake:
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  • Hawaii Couple Indicted in Tax Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Honolulu, Hawaii, returned an indictment on May 13 charging a Hawaii husband and wife with conspiring to defraud the United States and filing a false tax return. The husband was also charged with five counts of money laundering.
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