Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Izumi Oguri of Nippon TV

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Tokyo, Japan

Chief of Mission Residence

QUESTION:  Okay.  Japan and the U.S. just have agreed to take a tougher stance on China’s aggression and threats, but economically Japan and China are enormously intertwined, and Japan has not been able to decouple from China.  Would the U.S. be satisfied with this situation?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I think both the United State and Japan share a deep concern about what we’ve seen in recent years, which is China acting more repressively at home and more aggressively abroad, including particularly in the region, whether it’s with regard to the Senkaku Islands or Taiwan, the South China Sea.  And based on my conversations here in Tokyo, that’s clearly a real concern to both of us.  And it’s important that we work in solidarity to deal with some of the challenges posed by China, and I am confident we’ll do that.

QUESTION:  At some point, Japan may no longer be able to stand by the U.S. (inaudible) stance towards China.  To what extent could the U.S. allow Japan to take a different approach?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  This is not about standing against something or someone; it’s about standing up for the values and principles and interests that we share and making sure that when those values, when those interests are being challenged, we work together to defend them.  That’s what this is about.

The relationship with China is a very complex one:  It has adversarial aspects; it has competitive aspects; it has cooperative aspects.  But the common denominator in dealing with each of those is to make sure we’re approaching China from a position of strength, and that strength starts with our alliance, with our solidarity, because it’s really a unique asset that we have and China doesn’t – the alliance, the cooperation among likeminded countries.  And when we’re working together, when we’re acting together, when we’re making clear our concerns together, that carries a much heavier weight than any one of our countries acting alone.  And that’s the spirit with which we’re going to go forward.

QUESTION:  As for the alliance, you stated that real partnership means carrying burdens together.  What exactly are the burdens you are referring to?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we’ve had an extraordinary alliance and partnership for decades that really is a cornerstone of peace and stability for both of our countries, for the region, and indeed in many ways for the world.  But that requires investments.  It requires investments in our defense, in our security.

The United States over the years has made very significant investments in our collective self-defense and in our security.  We’ve benefited tremendously from the incredibly generosity of Japan as a host nation to our forces.  And of course, I’m very pleased that we were able to extend the existing agreement for a year to give us some time to work through what I hope and expect will be a multi-year agreement on so-called host nation support.

But I think we both know that when it comes to the defense of our people, our values, and our interests, there is a burden that comes with that, and that is the investment we have to make in resources, including human resources, to stand up for our interests and our values.  And we’re both, I think, determined to make those investments.

QUESTION:  How do you expect Japan to fulfill its role?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I think that’s happening virtually every day.  The cooperation, the coordination, the work we’re doing together in so many different areas – not just security – is remarkable.  And the relationship that’s evolved over many decades, when you look at the way it’s evolved, we started out being focused on bilateral issues between us, and then increasingly we started to work together on regional issues, and now the United States and Japan are truly partners when it comes to global issues.  Whether it’s the work we’re doing together to combat COVID-19 and put in place a better global health security system, whether it’s dealing with climate change, whether it’s dealing with the proliferation of weapons, the United States and Japan are global actors, and we’re joined together in that.  And that’s a great source of strength for both of us.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And as you know well, the Japan-South Korea relationships are at the worst state.  So when we come to a point where we cannot solve the issue by ourselves, would the U.S. play a mediating role between two countries?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we’ve long urged our close friends in Japan and South Korea to work through difficult issues of history with a goal of reconciliation and understanding, and I hope that that continues.

I can tell you that from the United States perspective and President Biden’s perspective, we’re deeply invested in re-engaging with and reinvigorating our alliances, and that includes not only our relationship to our allies but the relationship of our allies to one another.  That’s an important part of this alliance system.

I’ve seen with – from firsthand experience.  When I was last in government, I spent a lot of time working on trilateral cooperation between the United States, Japan, and South Korea, and we made extraordinary progress working together on dozens and dozens of different issues, which just brought home to me that our three countries have so much in common when it comes to basic values we share and the basic interests we share.

And so I think it’s ultimately profoundly in the interests of both Japan and South Korea that on the many issues that we have ahead of us that they work closely together even as they work through any remaining issues of history.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And as you said before, we are still facing the threat of COVID-19, and the Tokyo Olympics are scheduled for July.  So what conditions would be needed to be met in order to stage the Tokyo Olympics as scheduled?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we really defer to the Government of Japan, and we’ll support whatever decisions it makes.  In terms of how the United States would participate, that’s really a question for our own Olympic Committee as well, of course, for the International Olympic Committee.

QUESTION:  If the Games are held as planned, will the U.S. send a delegation as usual?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, again, I’d really refer you to the American – the U.S. Olympic Committee.  These are decisions that it will make.  But as I’ve said to my colleagues in Japan, we’ll certainly support the decisions that it makes about the Olympics.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And is there any possibility the U.S. will boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, we’ve heard the many concerns around the world about the prospect of those Olympics given the actions that China has taken both at home in terms of its abuse of human rights when it comes to the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, other minorities, or, of course, what’s happening in Hong Kong, the increasing tensions as a result of its actions on – with regard to Taiwan.  And we’ve heard a lot of those concerns, and we will continue to talk to other countries around the world to hear what they’re thinking, and at the appropriate time we’ll decide what to do.  But for now, we’re just listening to the concerns we’ve heard expressed from many countries around the world.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And yesterday you said you received moving and powerful letters from family of the Japanese abductees by the North Koreans.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Yes.

QUESTION:  And when you have a chance to talk with your North Korean counterpart, would you bring up the abduction issue as one of the main topics?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Yes.  It was a very powerful, very moving letter.  We’re in full solidarity with the families and with the Japanese people on the question of abductees.  And I can tell you that whatever happens going forward with North Korea, we will keep that near and dear to our hearts as well.

QUESTION:  And the Japanese Government is seeking a comprehensive solution to the abductions, nuclear weapons, and missile issues.  So does the U.S. support this position?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We are in lockstep when it comes to the importance of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula; when it comes to dealing with, as well, North Korea’s missile programs, which are increasingly threatening to both of us; and when it comes to human rights and including the abductees.  So I think we’re in very close synchronization and coordination.

We’re in the midst of a policy review on North Korean right now, but a big feature of that review is making sure that we have the insights and input from our closest partners, including Japan and South Korea, because their interests, their concerns are directly at stake.  And so I think we’ll continue to work through that review and in the weeks ahead complete it, and look forward to working in very close coordination with Japan and with South Korea going forward in dealing with North Korea.

QUESTION:  Okay.  We are almost out of time.  We have to end there.  So thank you very much indeed to – for being with us.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you so much.  Very good to be with you.  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Hits: 0

News Network

  • Higher Education: Department of Education Should Further Assess College Access Grant Programs
    In U.S GAO News
    Why This Matters The Department of Education gives grants to schools and organizations that provide disadvantaged students with services to help them attend college. These eight grant programs are collectively known as “TRIO”, named for the original three programs. Congress provides over $1 billion each year to these programs, but Education could do more to understand how well these grants work to help students. Key Takeaways Education could improve the information it has about TRIO programs in two areas: (1) grantee performance data, and (2) program assessments. Schools and organizations report data to Education to show how the TRIO grants they receive have been working. For example, organizations that receive grants to encourage students to complete college report on the numbers and percentages of students who received services and earned degrees.  Education evaluates grantees’ performance using the self-reported data, but has done little to verify the data. Accurate performance data are important because returning grantees can earn points for past performance in the next grant competition—increasing the likelihood that they will receive new grants. Almost 80 percent of recent TRIO grants went to returning grantees.  Therefore, grantees may have an incentive to report a more positive picture than warranted. Officials from an organization representing TRIO grantees told us there is a risk that some grantees may report inaccurate information.  As for assessing the individual TRIO programs, studies of some programs are outdated. In addition, Education has never assessed the effectiveness of three of the seven TRIO programs that serve students, and did not have any new assessments planned as of August 2020. How GAO Did This Study We analyzed data from Education about TRIO grantees and applicants. We also reviewed relevant federal laws and regulations and agency documents, and interviewed Education officials and other TRIO stakeholders. Education should take additional steps to ensure the reliability of grantees' performance data and develop a plan for assessing the effectiveness of the TRIO programs that serve students. Education generally agreed with our recommendations. For more information, contact Melissa Emrey-Arras at (617) 788-0534 or emreyarrasm@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Just the Facts: Trends in Pro Se Civil Litigation from 2000 to 2019
    In U.S Courts
    Most federal pro se cases are civil actions filed by persons serving time in prison. Pro se prisoner petitions spiked in 2016 after a pair of Supreme Court rulings made it possible for certain prisoners to petition to have their sentences vacated or remanded. Non-prisoners who file pro se actions most often raise civil rights claims.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Michael R. Pompeo with Aishath Shaany of Raajje TV
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Former Alabama Correctional Supervisor Convicted for Allowing Inmate Abuse
    In Crime News
    After a three-day trial, a federal jury convicted former Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) shift commander Willie Burks, 42, of failing to stop an officer under his command from assaulting an inmate at ADOC’s Elmore Correctional Facility.
    [Read More…]
  • The Untold Coronavirus Story: How the Diplomatic Security Service Helped Evacuate Americans from China
    In Crime Control and Security News
    By Eric Weiner, DSS [Read More…]
  • U.S. Policy Toward China: Deputy Secretary Biegun’s Remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    Stephen Biegun, Deputy [Read More…]
  • Florida Escort Pleads Guilty to Underreporting Income
    In Crime News
    A Fort Lauderdale, Florida, escort pleaded guilty today to filing a false corporate tax return, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ariana Fajardo Orshan.
    [Read More…]
  • Attorney General Announces Task Force to Combat COVID-19 Fraud
    In Crime News
    U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland today directed the establishment of the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance enforcement efforts against COVID-19 related fraud.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles Claims Against California Supermarket Chain and Affiliated Money Lender for Discriminating Against Asylee Worker
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today announced that it signed a settlement agreement with Northgate Gonzalez Markets Inc., a California-based supermarket chain, and Northgate Gonzalez Financial LLC d/b/a Prospera Gonzalez, an affiliated payday loan company (collectively, Northgate).
    [Read More…]
  • NASA’s Perseverance Rover Spacecraft Put in Launch Configuration
    In Space
    Stacking spacecraft [Read More…]
  • Violence in Jerusalem
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Our Deepest Condolences on the Passing of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Second Member Of “Boogaloo Bois” Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to Hamas
    In Crime News
    A Minnesota man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to provide material support and resources, namely property, services and weapons, to what he believed was Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization, for use against Israeli and U.S. military personnel overseas.
    [Read More…]
  • 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.
    [Read More…]
  • Designating Officials and Entities in Connection with the Military Coup in Burma
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Files Statement of Interest Urging Transparency in the Compensation of Asbestos Claims
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today filed a Statement of Interest in In re Bestwall LLC in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina. In this bankruptcy case, the debtor Bestwall LLC seeks to establish a trust to resolve its asbestos liabilities pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 524(g), a provision in the Bankruptcy Code that provides the framework for responding to the unique issues associated with asbestos liability.
    [Read More…]
  • Military Health Care: Defense Health Agency Processes for Responding to Provider Quality and Safety Concerns
    In U.S GAO News
    The Defense Health Agency (DHA) within the Department of Defense (DOD) has established processes for preventing and responding to quality and safety concerns about individual providers delivering health care in military treatment facilities (MTF). Specifically, DHA's August 2019 policy standardized processes for managing health care quality in the Military Health System, which superseded the policies of each of the military services (Air Force, Army, and Navy). These processes include 1) initial and ongoing monitoring of providers; 2) taking action to deny, limit, or remove individual providers' ability to practice, known as adverse privileging action; and 3) reviewing the care delivered by individual providers involved in certain patient safety events, known as potentially compensable event reviews. For example, DHA policy establishes requirements for taking adverse privileging actions against a provider that either limit the care a provider is allowed to deliver at a facility or prevent the provider from delivering care altogether, when warranted. In particular, DHA policy specifies that the provider's privileges should be placed in summary suspension—a temporary removal of all or a portion of the provider's privileges—while a peer conducts an investigation of the concerns. DHA policy also specifies that summary suspensions lasting greater than 30 days, as well as any final adverse privileging actions, must be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). The NPDB is an electronic repository that collects and releases information on certain adverse actions and medical malpractice payments related to providers. According to DOD officials, 27 DOD providers were reported to the NPDB for a summary suspension lasting greater than 30 days between February 1, 2020—when this requirement was implemented—and September 30, 2020. DHA supports the delivery of health care to servicemembers and their families throughout the Military Health System. As in all health care delivery settings, concerns may arise about the quality and safety of care delivered by individual health care providers at MTFs. For example, patient safety events—incidents that could have resulted or did result in harm to a patient—may occur during the course of providing health care services and may raise questions about the quality and safety of care delivered. DHA is responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of health care delivered by military and civilian health care providers, including contractors, through its clinical quality management program. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a provision for GAO to review aspects of DOD's clinical quality management program, including its processes for reviewing the quality and safety of providers' care. This report describes DHA's processes for preventing and responding to quality and safety concerns about individual health care providers at MTFs. In future work, GAO will examine the implementation of these processes at MTFs. GAO reviewed documentation that contains policy and guidance for these processes, including DHA's August 2019 procedure manual for managing clinical quality management in the Military Health System. GAO also interviewed officials from DHA and each of the military services. We provided a draft of this report to DOD for review and comment. DOD concurred with our report and provided technical comments, which we incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Sharon M. Silas at(202)512-7114 or Silass@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Mauritius National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Department of Justice Files Complaint Against California Company To Stop Distribution of Adulterated Animal Drugs
    In Crime News
    The United States filed a civil complaint to stop a California company from manufacturing and distributing adulterated animal drugs, the Department of Justice announced today.
    [Read More…]
  • Four Additional Members of Los Angeles-Based Fraud Ring Indicted for Exploiting COVID-Relief Programs
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Los Angeles returned a superseding indictment, which was unsealed Thursday, charging four additional individuals for their alleged participation in a scheme to submit over 150 fraudulent loan applications seeking over $21.9 million in COVID-19 relief funds guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Department of Justice Forecasts an Increase in Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) Protection Activities and Criminal Enforcement Actions
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice (DOJ) today announced the protection activities undertaken by the FBI to counter the threat posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at certain National Special Security Events (NSSEs), Special Events Assessment Rating (SEAR) events, and select mass gatherings throughout the country over the past fiscal year. DOJ and the FBI are publicizing protection activities in an effort to deter careless and criminal UAS operators in light of an anticipated increase in enforcement activity in response to the misuse of UAS.
    [Read More…]
  • Additions of Cuban Military-Owned Companies to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Manufacturers of “Spice” Sentenced for Operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise and Other Crimes
    In Crime News
    Two 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…]
  • The Bank of Nova Scotia Agrees To Pay $60.4 Million in Connection with Commodities Price Manipulation Scheme
    In Crime News
    The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), a Toronto, Canada-based global banking and financial services firm, has entered into a resolution with the Department of Justice to resolve criminal charges related to a price manipulation scheme involving thousands of episodes of unlawful trading activity by four traders in the precious metals futures contracts markets.
    [Read More…]
  • Insitu Inc. to Pay $25 Million to Settle False Claims Act Case Alleging Knowing Overcharges on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Contracts
    In Crime News
    Insitu Inc., headquartered in Bingen, Washington, has agreed to pay $25 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting materially false cost and pricing data for contracts with the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Department of the Navy (Navy) to supply and operate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the Department of Justice announced today.
    [Read More…]
  • Religious Freedom Concerns in Russia
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Argentina Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Requires Divestiture In Order For Liberty Latin America To Acquire AT&T’s Telecommunications Operations In Puerto Rico And The U.S. Virgin Islands
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it is requiring Liberty Latin America Ltd. (Liberty), its subsidiary, Liberty Communications of Puerto Rico LLC (LCPR), and AT&T Inc. (AT&T) to divest certain fiber-based telecommunications assets and customer accounts in Puerto Rico, in order for Liberty to proceed with its proposed acquisition of AT&T’s wireline and wireless telecommunications operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The department has approved WorldNet Telecommunications, Inc. (WorldNet) as the acquirer. 
    [Read More…]
  • Three Charged with Illegally Exporting Goods to Iran
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that three individuals have been charged in an indictment with conspiracy to export U.S. goods to Iran in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR), as well as conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States, and conspiracy to engage in international money laundering.
    [Read More…]
  • Operation Legend: Case of the Day
    In Crime News
    Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend.  Today’s case is out of the District of New Mexico.  Operation Legend launched in Albuquerque on July 22, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.
    [Read More…]
  • Operation Legend: Case of the Day
    In Crime News
    Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend. Today’s case is out of the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Operation Legend launched in Milwaukee on July 29, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.
    [Read More…]
  • Las Vegas Man Sentenced to Prison for Fraudulent Tax Return Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Las Vegas, Nevada, man was sentenced to 70 months in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman, U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada, and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Tara Sullivan.
    [Read More…]
  • Department of Justice Awards Nearly $50 Million in Grants to Improve School Safety
    In Crime News
    The Department of [Read More…]
  • Tax Filing: Actions Needed to Address Processing Delays and Risks to the 2021 Filing Season
    In U.S GAO News
    The 2020 filing season occurred during the global COVID-19 pandemic, introducing challenges that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had to respond to quickly to fulfill its mission-essential functions. IRS took steps to protect the integrity of its operations, help ensure the health and safety of its employees, and provide relief to taxpayers. For example, IRS closed all its processing and service facilities for several weeks before re-opening with health and safety measures and extended the filing season deadline to July 15, 2020. IRS's 2020 processing of e-filed returns was generally on par with prior years. However, IRS's overall 2020 performance was significantly impacted by its reliance on manual processes such as for paper returns, and its limited ability to process returns remotely while processing centers were closed. As a result, as of December 2020, IRS had a significant backlog of unprocessed returns and taxpayer correspondence. Additionally, costs increased including interest on delayed refunds which exceeded $3 billion in fiscal year 2020. IRS has not revised its estimates for addressing all of the backlog due to operational uncertainties created by the pandemic. Doing so would help IRS determine how best to address the backlog and perform 2021 filing season activities. Refund Interest Paid to Taxpayers, Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020 GAO also found that about 23 percent of business tax returns were filed on paper even though an e-file option is available. IRS has not comprehensively identified barriers to business-related e-filing nor taken specific actions to increase e-filing. Doing so would help reduce the volume of costly paper-based work and improve services to business filers. Further, during the filing season, IRS transitioned nearly two-thirds of its phone customer service staff to telework, but was unable to do so for returns processing staff because most of its paper-based work is not set up to be performed remotely. As of late October 2020, about one-third of these staff remained on paid leave. Identifying and implementing alternative work assignments for staff that remain on paid leave would better support IRS operations and reduce costs. IRS has not fully identified and assessed all risks to the 2021 filing season—including those exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic—consistent with enterprise risk management practices. IRS identified some risks in October 2020 after GAO raised concerns, but did not fully address all essential elements of enterprise risk management, such as identifying options for risk response. Doing so would better position IRS to respond to risks during the 2021 filing season. In early 2021, after receiving a draft of this report, IRS provided additional information on its risk management efforts. GAO will review this information to determine if these efforts are sufficient to address its recommendation. During the annual tax filing season, generally from January to mid-April, IRS processes more than 150 million individual and business tax returns and provides telephone, correspondence, online, and in-person services to tens of millions of taxpayers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide relief to taxpayers, IRS extended the 2020 filing and payment deadline by 3 months to July 15, 2020. GAO was asked to review IRS's performance during the 2020 filing season. This report (1) describes the changes IRS made to operations and services for the 2020 filing season due to the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) assesses IRS's performance on providing customer service and processing individual and business income tax returns during the 2020 filing season and compare to prior filing seasons, where appropriate; and (3) evaluates IRS's plans to prepare for the 2021 filing season. GAO analyzed IRS documents, filing season performance data, and employee timecard data; assessed IRS's plans for the 2021 filing season; and interviewed cognizant officials. GAO is making seven recommendations, including that IRS revise estimates for addressing its backlog; identify and address barriers to e-filing for business taxpayers; identify and consider implementing alternative work assignments for returns processing staff on paid leave; and identify and assess risks to the 2021 filing season. IRS agreed with four recommendations and disagreed with three. GAO believes that the recommendations remain warranted. For more information, contact Jessica Lucas-Judy at (202) 512-6806 or lucasjudyj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Assistant Secretary Schenker’s Travel to Oman and Saudi Arabia
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Kosovo Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not [Read More…]
  • Iran and China, the Totalitarian Twins
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    Keith Krach, Under [Read More…]
  • Three Individuals Charged with Arranging Adoptions from Uganda and Poland Through Bribery and Fraud
    In Crime News
    Three women were charged in a 13-count indictment filed on Aug. 14 in the Northern District of Ohio for their alleged roles in schemes to corruptly and fraudulently procure adoptions of Ugandan and Polish children through bribing Ugandan officials and defrauding U.S. adoptive parents, U.S. authorities, and a Polish regulatory authority.
    [Read More…]
  • Former police officer gets 30 years for violating the civil rights of two men
    In Justice News
    A 26-year-old former [Read More…]
  • Global Entry for Indian Citizens
    In Travel
    How to Apply for Global [Read More…]
  • Rare Cuneiform Tablet Bearing Portion of Epic of Gilgamesh Forfeited to United States
    In Crime News
    The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York ordered the forfeiture of a rare cuneiform tablet bearing a portion of the epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian poem considered one of the world’s oldest works of literature. 
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Algerian Foreign Minister Boukadoum
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Seeking Justice for the Kidnapping and Murder of Daniel Pearl
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Medtronic to Pay Over $9.2 Million To Settle Allegations of Improper Payments to South Dakota Neurosurgeon
    In Crime News
    Minnesota-based medical device maker Medtronic USA Inc. has agreed to pay $8.1 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to induce a South Dakota neurosurgeon to use certain Medtronic products, the Department of Justice announced today. Medtronic also agreed to pay an additional $1.11 million to resolve allegations that it violated the Open Payments Program by failing to accurately report payments it made to the neurosurgeon to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
    [Read More…]
  • Aircraft Carriers: Homeport Changes Are Primarily Determined by Maintenance Requirements
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Navy has a process for proposing and implementing homeport changes that considers a range of factors. The first key step in this process involves the Navy developing and updating an annual plan, known as the Strategic Laydown and Dispersal Plan, that guides the Navy's positioning of operating forces worldwide. Based on the plan, fleet commanders then identify requirements for any changes to homeports and submit requests to schedule a homeport change. Throughout the process, Navy leadership and a working group of stakeholders from across the Navy provide input and analysis. Among other things , the working group develops and assesses proposed changes among the possible aircraft carrier homeports based on their expertise and evaluates various homeport installation factors, such as maintenance dry docks (see figure) or ship power and maintenance facilities. The Navy also considers local factors including crew support and quality of life, such as schools and morale, and possible impacts to the natural and physical environment. The Navy has strengthened its process by implementing prior GAO recommendations, and has other planned actions underway to further improve and update its guidance. Recent Navy Aircraft Carrier Homeport Locations and Dry Dock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard The Navy made 15 aircraft carrier homeport changes in fiscal years 2011 through 2020 among the five available homeports. The driving factor for all 15 changes was maintenance. For example, 10 of the 15 changes involved ships moving to or returning from shipyards in Bremerton or Norfolk for planned dry-dock maintenance or midlife refueling. In 2015 and 2019, the Navy decided to homeport aircraft carriers in Bremerton and San Diego because Everett lacked nuclear maintenance facilities, which were available at the Navy's other aircraft carrier homeport locations. Previously, carriers homeported in Everett received regularly scheduled maintenance at the shipyard in Bremerton but did not conduct an official homeport change. The Navy reported that during these maintenance periods that lasted 6 months or more, the crew commuted 3 to 4 hours daily, which negatively affected maintenance and crew morale. As a result, the Navy decided not to return an aircraft carrier to Everett. According to Navy officials, factors in addition to maintenance needs also informed the changes, including a long-held plan to homeport three aircraft carriers in San Diego. Why GAO Did This Study The Navy relies on 11 aircraft carriers homeported on the East and West Coasts and in Japan to support U.S. defense strategic objectives and operations. These nuclear-powered ships require complex infrastructure, technology, and maintenance, some of which may not be available near their homeport. Changing an aircraft carrier's homeport means moving the ship's approximately 3,200 sailors, a fluctuation of 5,000 or more people depending on the number of family members involved. In House Report 116-120, accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, the House Armed Services Committee noted that the Navy reversed previous plans to homeport an aircraft carrier at Naval Station Everett, Washington. The House Report also included a provision for GAO to review the Navy's process to assign aircraft carriers' homeports. This report examines, for Navy aircraft carriers, (1) the extent to which the Navy has a process for making homeport changes, and considers local installation and other factors in the homeporting process, and (2) homeport changes from fiscal years 2011 through 2020 and the reasons for them. GAO analyzed Navy instructions and related policies, laws, and regulations; homeport plans and maintenance schedules; and fiscal years 2011–2020 documentation of homeport changes. GAO also interviewed Navy officials, including from relevant commands and homeports. For more information, contact Diana Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or MaurerD@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Cameroon man sentenced for wire fraud conspiracy
    In Justice News
    The leader and manager [Read More…]
  • Final Adoption of the U.S. Universal Periodic Review
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Two Louisiana Return Preparers Plead Guilty to Tax Fraud Conspiracy
    In Crime News
    Two Louisiana tax preparers pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud the United States, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Reaches Agreement with San Luis Obispo County Jail to Ensure Safe and Equal Access to its Programs for Inmates with Mobility Disabilities
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today reached a settlement under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with San Luis Obispo County, California, to ensure that inmates with mobility disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in San Luis Obispo Jail’s (SLO Jail) programs, services and activities.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Announces $5.3 Million in Awards to Support Operation Legend
    In Crime News
    At a roundtable with law [Read More…]
  • Tax Preparer Charged with COVID-19 Loan Fraud
    In Crime News
    A South Florida tax preparer was charged Tuesday by criminal information with wire fraud in connection with a scheme to obtain over 100 COVID-19-relief loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
    [Read More…]
  • Incyte Corporation to Pay $12.6 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations for Paying Kickbacks
    In Crime News
    A pharmaceutical company headquartered in Delaware has agreed to pay $12.6 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken At a Press Availability
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • “Project Python” Mexican national convicted of meth smuggling
    In Justice News
    A 47-year-old resident [Read More…]
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland Addresses the 115,000 Employees of the Department of Justice on His First Day
    In Crime News
    Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson’s Remarks Good morning. It's my honor to welcome Merrick Garland back to the Department of Justice as the 86th Attorney General of the United States. I'd also like to recognize the Attorney General's wife Lynn, his brother-in-law Mitchell and his nieces Laura and Andrea.
    [Read More…]
  • Retirement Savings: Federal Workers’ Portfolios Should Be Evaluated For Possible Financial Risks Related to Climate Change
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Retirement plans' investments, including those of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for federal employees, could be exposed to financial risks from climate change, according to GAO's literature review and interviews with stakeholders knowledgeable about climate change and financial markets. Stakeholders said climate-related events, from natural disasters to changes in government policy, are expected to impact much of the economy and thereby investment returns (see figure). Retirement plans can assess their exposure to these risks by analyzing the potential financial performance of holdings in their portfolios under projected climate change scenarios. How Climate Change Could Impact Retirement Plan Investments GAO reviewed retirement plans in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Sweden that had taken steps to incorporate climate change risks into their plan management. Officials from these plans described using engagement—such as outreach to corporate boards—to encourage companies in which they invest to address their financial risks from climate change. Officials had taken other steps as well, such as incorporating climate change as a financial risk into their policies and practices. Officials communicate information on climate-related investment risks through public disclosures and reports. The agency that oversees TSP, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB), has not taken steps to assess the risks to TSP's investments from climate change as part of its process for evaluating investment options. Officials told us that they use a passive investment strategy and do not focus on risks to a specific industry or company. FRTIB is required by statute to invest TSP's funds passively, however, it has previously identified and addressed investment risks. For example, in the 1990s, FRTIB reviewed its investment policies and recommended adding an international equities fund and a small- and medium-capitalization stock fund, both passively managed, to incorporate classes of assets that it determined were missing from TSP's investment mix. Stakeholders in the financial sector, including an advisory panel to a federal financial regulator, have stated that it is important to consider the investment risks from climate change. Evaluating such risks is also consistent with GAO's Disaster Resilience Framework. Taking action to understand the financial risks that climate change poses to the TSP would enhance FRTIB's risk management and help it protect the retirement savings of federal workers. Why GAO Did This Study Climate change is expected to have widespread economic impacts and pose risks to investments held by retirement plans, including the federal government's TSP. As of November 2020, TSP had 6 million active and retired federal employee participants and nearly $700 billion in assets. GAO was asked to examine how the agency that oversees TSP has addressed its exposure to such risks. This report examines (1) what is known about retirement plans' exposure to climate change-related investment risks, (2) what comparable retirement plans in other countries have done to address risks from climate change and how they communicate this information to the public, and (3) what steps FRTIB has taken to address investment risks from climate change. GAO reviewed relevant literature and interviewed representatives from investment consulting firms and other stakeholders knowledgeable about climate change and its possible financial impacts. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed officials from selected retirement plans for public- and private-sector employees in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Sweden identified as examples of plans that are addressing climate risks. GAO also reviewed TSP documents, and interviewed FRTIB officials.
    [Read More…]
  • Kiribati Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Brings Enforcement Action Against Centurylink
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that CenturyLink, Inc. has agreed to settle allegations that CenturyLink violated the court-ordered Final Judgment designed to prevent anticompetitive effects arising from its acquisition of Level 3 Communications, Inc. 
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Files Complaint against Jeffrey Lowe and Tiger King LLC for Violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act
    In Crime News
    Today, the Department of Justice filed a civil complaint against Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe, Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park LLC, and Tiger King LLC, to address recurring inhumane treatment and improper handling of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act.
    [Read More…]