Office of the Spokesperson
The Department of State protects sea turtles around the world through its certification program, which allows for the importation of wild-caught shrimp into the United States pursuant to Section 609 of Public Law 101-162 (“Section 609”). Each year the Secretary of State (or his delegate) certifies to Congress that governments and authorities of shrimp-harvesting nations and economies have programs to reduce the incidental taking of sea turtles in shrimp trawl fisheries.
This year, the Department certified 35 nations and one economy and granted determinations for twelve fisheries as having adequate measures in place to protect sea turtles while harvesting wild-caught shrimp. Annual certifications are based in part on overseas verification visits by a team composed of State Department and National Marine Fisheries Service representatives.
Six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Government is currently providing technology and capacity-building assistance to other nations to contribute to the recovery of sea turtle species and help them certify under Section 609. The U.S. Government also encourages legislation like Section 609 in other nations to prevent the importation of shrimp harvested in a manner harmful to protected sea turtles.
For more information on the Certification to Congress, please see the Federal Register Notice published on April 30, 2021, 86 FR 23027. For more information on U.S. government sea turtle conservation efforts, please visit the websites of the State Department’s Office of Marine Conservation, the , and the .
For press inquiries, contact OES-PA-DG@state.gov.
- Six Men Charged for Roles in Scheme to Defraud Businesses of Luxury Goods and ServicesBy Sam NewsDecember 3, 2020Six men were charged in an indictment unsealed on Wednesday for their alleged participation in a nation-wide scheme to defraud dozens of businesses across the United States of luxury goods and services announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling of the District of Massachusetts.[Read More…]
- Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh ShringlaBy Sam NewsOctober 6, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Indiana Man Charged with Hate Crime for Making Racially-Motivated Threats Towards Black Neighbor, and With Unlawful Possession of FirearmsBy Sam NewsAugust 6, 2020The Justice Department announced today that Shepherd Hoehn, 50, has been charged by criminal complaint in federal district court with one count of violating 42 U.S.C. § 3631 for making threats to intimidate and interfere with his African-American neighbor because of the neighbor’s race and because of his use and enjoyment of his property, as well as two counts of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) for unlawfully possessing firearms.[Read More…]
- Covid-19: Data Quality and Considerations for Modeling and AnalysisBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2020The rapid spread and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored the importance of having quality data, analyses, and models describing the potential trajectory of COVID-19 to help understand the effects of the disease in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is using multiple surveillance systems to collect data on COVID-19 in the U.S. in collaboration with state, local, and academic and other partners. The data from these surveillance systems can be useful for understanding the disease, but decision makers and analysts must understand their limitations in order to interpret them properly. For example, surveillance data on the number of reported COVID-19 cases are incomplete for a number of reasons, and they are an undercount the true number of cases, according to CDC and others. There are multiple approaches to analyzing COVID-19 data that yield different insights. For example, some approaches can help compare the effects of the disease across population groups. Additional analytical approaches can help to address incomplete and inconsistent reporting of COVID-19 deaths as well. For example, analysts can examine the number of deaths beyond what would normally be expected in the absence of the pandemic. Examining higher-than-expected deaths from all causes helps to address limitations in the reporting of COVID-19 deaths because the number of total deaths is likely more accurate than the numbers of deaths from specific causes. The figure below shows actual deaths from the weeks ending January 1 through June 27, 2020, based on data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, compared with the expected deaths based on prior years’ data. Deaths that exceeded this threshold starting in late March are considered excess deaths that may be related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher-Than-Expected Weekly Mortality for 2020, as of July 14, 2020 Analysts have used several forecasting models to predict the spread of COVID-19, and understanding these models requires understanding their purpose and limitations. For example, some models attempt to predict the effects of various interventions, whereas other models attempt to forecast the number of cases based on current data. At the beginning of an outbreak, such predictions are less likely to be accurate, but accuracy can improve as the disease becomes better understood. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant loss of life and profoundly disrupted the U.S. economy and society, and the Congress has taken action to support a multifaceted federal response on an unprecedented scale. It is important for decision makers to understand the limitations of COVID-19 data, and the uses and limitations of various methods of analyzing and interpreting those data. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) includes a provision for GAO to, in general, conduct monitoring and oversight of the authorities and funding provided to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect of the pandemic on the health, economy, and public and private institutions of the U.S. This technology assessment examines (1) collection methods and limitations of COVID-19 surveillance data reported by CDC, (2) approaches for analyzing COVID-19 data, and (3) uses and limitations of forecast modeling for understanding of COVID-19. In conducting this assessment, GAO obtained publicly available information from CDC and state health departments, among other sources, and reviewed relevant peer reviewed and preprint (non-peer-reviewed) literature, as well as published technical data on specific models. For more information, contact Timothy M. Persons, PhD at (202) 512-6888 or PersonsT@gao.gov, SaraAnn Moessbauer at (202) 512-4943, or MoessbauerS@gao.gov, or Mary Denigan-Macauley, PhD at (202) 512-7114 or DeniganMacauleyM@gao.gov.[Read More…]
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- U.S. Accountant in Panama Papers Investigation Sentenced to PrisonBy Sam NewsSeptember 24, 2020A U.S. accountant was sentenced in the Southern District of New York to 39 months in prison for wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft, and other charges, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt and Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss of the Southern District of New York.[Read More…]
- Former Police Officer and Gangster Disciples Member Sentenced to PrisonBy Sam NewsNovember 16, 2020A former DeKalb County, Georgia, police officer and member of the Gangster Disciples was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for racketeering conspiracy involving murder, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak of the Northern District of Georgia.[Read More…]
- Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Veterans AffairsBy Sam NewsMay 17, 2021What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified 33 priority recommendations for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Since then, VA has implemented 13 of those recommendations by, among other things, taking actions to ensure that veterans receive evidence-based mental health treatment. In May 2021, GAO identified 8 additional priority recommendations for VA, bringing the total number to 28. These recommendations involve the following areas: response to the COVID-19 pandemic; veterans’ access to timely health care; the veterans community care program; human capital management; information technology; appeals reform for disability benefits; quality of care and patient safety; veteran suicide prevention; efficiency within the VA health care system; national policy documents; procurement policies and practices; and capital planning. Addressing the high priority recommendations identified above has the potential to significantly improve VA's operations, including those related to COVID-19. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact A. Nicole Clowers at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Human smuggling recruiter sentenced for conspiracyBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsAugust 5, 2021A 58-year-old Chandler [Read More…]
- Justice Department Requires Divestiture of Credit Karma Tax for Intuit to Proceed with Acquisition of Credit KarmaBy Sam NewsNovember 25, 2020The Department of Justice announced today that it is requiring Intuit Inc. and Credit Karma Inc. (Credit Karma) to divest Credit Karma’s tax business, Credit Karma Tax, to Square Inc. in order for Intuit, the creator of TurboTax, to proceed with its $7.1 billion acquisition of Credit Karma. The department said that without this divestiture, the proposed transaction would substantially lessen competition for digital do-it-yourself (DDIY) tax preparation products, which are software programs used by American taxpayers to prepare and file their federal and state returns.[Read More…]
- Manufacturers of “Spice” Sentenced for Operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise and Other CrimesBy Sam NewsSeptember 10, 2020Two defendants were sentenced Wednesday to 20 years each in federal prison for crimes committed in connection with the manufacture of synthetic cannabinoid products (commonly referred to as “spice”), operating a continuing criminal enterprise, manufacturing and distributing controlled substance analogues, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, maintaining a drug premises, and possession of a listed chemical with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance.[Read More…]
- Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Announces New Effort to Reduce Violent CrimeBy Sam NewsMay 26, 2021Attorney General Merrick B. Garland today announced a new Department of Justice effort to help protect our communities from the recent increase in major violent crimes.[Read More…]
- Tennessee Department of Human Services Agrees to Pay $6.8 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Liability in Connection with SNAP Quality ControlBy Sam NewsAugust 5, 2021The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) has agreed to pay the United States $6,854,416 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act in its administration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Until 2008, SNAP was known as the Food Stamp Program.[Read More…]
- Federal Lands and Waters: Information on Agency Spending for Outdoor Recreation Is LimitedBy Sam NewsJuly 22, 2021What GAO Found The information that the seven federal agencies GAO reviewed have about their spending that supports outdoor recreation varies and is not intended to fully or precisely reflect all agency spending on recreation. The Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Park Service identified budget lines related to outdoor recreation, although officials said this information may not accurately reflect the agencies' overall recreation spending. This is because some programs can support multiple purposes, so it can be difficult to determine how to divide a program's costs among its different purposes. For example, through its navigation program, the Army Corps of Engineers manages navigation locks, which benefit both commercial and recreational travel. The Bureau of Reclamation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) did not identify budget lines related to outdoor recreation. Examples of Outdoor Recreation Activities on Federal Lands and Waters Some agencies in our review provided spending information, while others provided funding information. The Army Corps of Engineers and Forest Service provided spending (expenditure) information, and BLM, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service provided funding (allotment) information. Funding represents amounts available to the agencies at a particular time but not necessarily actual spending. The Army Corps of Engineers' annual spending for its recreation program budget line averaged about $292 million for fiscal years 2010 through 2019. The Forest Service's annual spending for its budget lines that it identified as supporting outdoor recreation averaged about $225 million for fiscal years 2014 through 2019. BLM's annual funding for its budget lines that it identified as primarily supporting outdoor recreation averaged about $77 million for fiscal years 2010 through 2019. The Fish and Wildlife Service's annual funding for its budget lines that it identified as primarily supporting outdoor recreation averaged about $1.3 billion for fiscal years 2010 through 2019. The National Park Service's annual funding for its budget lines that it identified as primarily supporting outdoor recreation averaged about $1.5 billion for fiscal years 2010 through 2019. Why GAO Did This Study Federal agencies provide outdoor recreation opportunities and facilities on the hundreds of millions acres of lands and waters they manage, attracting hundreds of millions of visitors annually. These agencies include the seven that comprised the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation: the Army Corps of Engineers, BLM, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, National Park Service, and NOAA. However, federal agencies are not required to track spending for outdoor recreation, and it is unclear how much federal funding is spent, through various programs, on recreation. The joint explanatory statement accompanying the Department of the Interior's fiscal year 2020 appropriation included a provision for GAO to conduct a study that identifies programs carried out by federal agencies that directly impact the outdoor recreation sector and that presents federal spending information for these programs. This report provides available information on what selected federal agencies know about their outdoor recreation spending. GAO focused on the seven council member agencies; reviewed available data and documents on agency spending or funding that supports outdoor recreation; and interviewed agency officials to understand how, if at all, each agency identified its spending that supports outdoor recreation. For more information, contact at (202) 512-3841 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s Participation in “The Low Carbon City for All”By Sam NewsJuly 8, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Senate Disbursing Office: Procedures Related to 2021 Cash CountBy Sam NewsSeptember 30, 2021What GAO Found GAO performed agreed-upon procedures at the Senate Disbursing Office (SDO) consisting of (1) identifying the authorized and reported amount of cash accountability for the Secretary of the Senate, (2) counting all cash items that support the cash accountability level of the SDO, (3) counting all noncash items that support the cash accountability level of the SDO, and (4) agreeing the total amount counted to the authorized amount and reported amount of cash accountability. The total value of cash and noncash items counted on August 10, 2021, agreed to the cash accountability level that the SDO authorized and reported, except for a difference of $3.06, which SDO officials stated is a known overage that has accumulated over time. The Secretary of the Senate is responsible for the sufficiency of these agreed-upon procedures to meet the SDO's objectives, and GAO makes no representation in that respect. The report provides the details on the agreed-upon procedures and the results of performing each of the procedures. The Secretary of the Senate in an email response stated that she had no comments on the draft report. Why GAO Did This Study The Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration requested that GAO perform procedures on the cash accountability level that the SDO authorized and reported. The cash accountability level represents the value of cash and noncash items for which the Secretary of the Senate, as disbursing officer for the U.S. Senate, is responsible. For more information, contact Hannah Padilla at (202) 512-5683 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Mexican national indicted for transporting people that resulted in deathBy Sam NewsIn Justice NewsMay 20, 2021A federal grand jury has [Read More…]
- Stabilizing Iraq: An Assessment of the Security SituationBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021From fiscal years 2003 through 2006, U.S. government agencies have reported significant costs for U.S. stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. In addition, the United States currently has committed about 138,000 military personnel to the U.S.-led Multinational Force in Iraq (MNF-I). Over the past 3 years, worsening security conditions have made it difficult for the United States to achieve its goals in Iraq. In this statement, we discuss (1) the trends in the security environment in Iraq, and (2) progress in developing Iraqi security forces, as reported by the Departments of Defense (DOD) and State. We also present key questions for congressional oversight, including what political, economic, and security conditions must be achieved before the United States can draw down and withdraw? Why have security conditions continued to deteriorate even as Iraq has met political milestones, increased the number of trained and equipped forces, and increasingly assumed the lead for security? If existing U.S. political, economic, and security measures are not reducing violence in Iraq, what additional measures, if any, will the administration propose for stemming the violence?Since June 2003, the overall security conditions in Iraq have deteriorated and grown more complex, as evidenced by increased numbers of attacks and Sunni/Shi'a sectarian strife, which has grown since the February 2006 bombing in Samarra. As shown in the figure below, attacks against the coalition and its Iraqi partners reached an all time high during July 2006. The deteriorating conditions threaten the progress of U.S. and international efforts to assist Iraq in the political and economic areas. In July 2006, the State Department reported that the recent upturn in violence has hindered efforts to engage with Iraqi partners and noted that a certain level of security was a prerequisite to accomplishing the political and economic conditions necessary for U.S. withdrawal. Moreover, the Sunni insurgency and Shi'a militias have contributed to growing sectarian strife that has resulted in increased numbers of Iraqi civilian deaths and displaced individuals. DOD uses three factors to measure progress in developing capable Iraqi security forces and transferring security responsibilities to the Iraqi government: (1) the number of trained and equipped forces, (2) the number of Iraqi army units and provincial governments that have assumed responsibility for security in specific geographic areas, and (3) the capabilities of operational units, as reported in unit-level and aggregate Transition Readiness Assessments (TRA). Although the State Department reported that the number of trained and equipped Iraqi security forces has increased, these numbers do not address their capabilities. As of August 2006, 115 Iraqi army units had assumed the lead for counterinsurgency operations in specific areas, and one province had assumed control for security. Unit-level TRA reports provide insight into the Iraqi army units' training, equipment, and logistical capabilities. GAO is working with DOD to obtain the unit-level TRA reports. Such information would inform the Congress on the capabilities and needs of Iraq's security forces.[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…]
- Indiana Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime for Making Racially-Charged Motivated Threats Toward Black Neighbor and to Unlawful Possession of FirearmsBy Sam NewsFebruary 12, 2021The Justice Department announced today that Shepherd Hoehn, 51, pleaded guilty in federal court to making threats to intimidate and interfere with his neighbor, who is Black, because of the neighbor’s race and because the neighbor was exercising his right to fair housing, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3631. Hoehn also pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing firearms, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).[Read More…]