Secretary Michael R. Pompeo with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani Before Their Meeting

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Jerusalem, Israel

Prime Minister’s Residence

MODERATOR:  Excellencies, welcome.  Please take your seats.  Prime Minister, please.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.  Secretary of State Pompeo, my dear friend Mike, it’s always a pleasure to see you in Jerusalem.  Foreign Minister Dr. Al Zayani, it’s a pleasure to see you again, and it’s a tremendous pleasure to welcome you for the first time ever in Jerusalem.  Under Secretary for International Affairs Shaikh Al Khalifa, our dear friend the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, National Security Advisor of Israel Meir Ben-Shabbat, and my chief of staff Asher Hayoun.

Just two months ago we made history in Washington.  We signed the seminal Abraham Accords.  I want to thank President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the President’s able peace team, led by Jared Kushner, for their leadership and vision in advancing this historic peace.  Three peace agreements in six weeks.  I don’t think it gets much better than that.

Today we’re making history again.  This is the first-ever official ministerial visit from the Kingdom of Bahrain to the State of Israel.  It marks another important milestone on the road to peace between our two countries and peace in the region.  The peace between Israel and Bahrain is built on solid foundations of mutual appreciation and shared interest.  Like Israel, Bahrain respects the past while embracing the future.  Like Israel, Bahrain is small in size but big in aspirations.  Like Israel, Bahrain has built a thriving economy by fostering innovation and free enterprise.

I was going to say, “Like Israel, Bahrain has natural gas,” but I’m not extending this analogy beyond its limits.  But Bahrain has natural gas and oil, but it doesn’t depend on these resources alone.  It has a robust and modern economy with a thriving e-commerce and fintech, cutting-edge aluminum production, cutting-edge tourism, and much more.  And today what we’re doing in this visit is expanding the “much more,” because what we’re doing is to enable the free flow of ideas, innovators, entrepreneurs between Israel and Bahrain, both directions.  And we are unleashing a tremendously potent economic force and a force for peace for the benefit of both our peoples.

And we’re not doing this in the distant future.  We’re doing it right now as we speak, and it’s happening with astonishing speed.  Israelis are flying to Bahrain.  Bahrainis are flying to Israel.  The sky is no longer the limit.  Foreign Minister Al Zayani, please convey to King Hamad my heartfelt admiration for his visionary and courageous leadership.  In 2019, His Majesty hosted a regional economic summit that brought together Bahrainis, Israelis, Americans, representatives from across the Middle East and beyond.  And I think that meeting, which was pooh-poohed at the time, was actually a harbinger of good things to come.  It was a tremendously important step on our common path to reconciliation and peace.  Today, King Hamad and I are building a bridge of peace that many others will cross in the future.

Secretary Pompeo, Mike, I thank you again for your unwavering friendship.  I don’t say that as lip service.  Unwavering friendship, constant at all times.  And I ask you to convey to President Trump my deep appreciation and the appreciation of our grateful nation for all he and his administration have done for the State of Israel and for peace.  Israel and Bahrain have had many contacts over the years, but very frankly, this day would not have happened, these Abraham Accords would not have been signed, without President Trump’s crucial support and leadership.

I welcome all our honored guests from the Kingdom of Bahrain and from the United States, and I thank you for being with us here on this special occasion as we take another historic step on the road to a broader peace.  Welcome, all.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.  Good afternoon, everyone.  It’s great to be back in Jerusalem, as always, the rightful capital of the Jewish homeland.  It’s great to be with you.

Mr. Prime Minister, thank you not only for hosting us here today, but for leading your nation’s commitment to harmony and cooperation and peace with all of the neighbors in the region.

Foreign Minister Al Zayani, thank you too for being here.  It’s great to see you again, and thank you for Bahrain’s courageous commitment to a brighter future for your people, and the people of the region.

I also want to take a moment to offer my condolences on behalf of the American people for the death of His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa.  His Highness – Royal Highness Prince Khalifa.  He was a distinguished leader, a friend, someone I had come to know.  He was a good friend to the United States.

As the prime minister said, it was just now two months ago that the three nations joined President – three nations joined together President Trump, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates at a White House ceremony for the signing of the Abraham Accords.

Until then, there had only been two agreements through which Israel normalized relationships with its neighbors, and now the United States has helped achieve three in little more than two months.  We’re hopeful there will be many more to follow.

These agreements are important for so many reasons important to the whole world.  Indeed, as I travel the world, countries that you might not expect are thankful for the work that Bahrain, and the United Emirates, and Israel are now going to do together.

These agreements open up wonderful opportunities for commerce and economic development.  Today I saw a beautiful Gulf Air commercial aircraft sitting out at the airport when I landed.  They also tell – these agreements also tell malign actors like the Islamic Republic of Iran that their influence in the region is waning and that they are ever more isolated, and this shall forever be until they change their direction.

They also advance religious freedom.  Muslims will be able to more easily pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque thanks to the new flights through Abu Dhabi and Manama.  The skies above Sudan, too, are now open to flights from Israel.  And these new agreements also set down a marker – a marker for the future of the Middle East.  The Abraham Accords declare a common vision for “peace, security, and prosperity in the Middle East and around the world.”

Today, these new agreements Israel and Bahrain are making and that we will execute are making new strides in fulfilling that vision.  They round out these central commitments.  You are proving wrong those who say that vision can’t come to life.  You’re transforming great dreams into real action, bold action.  And the United States welcomes the exchange of letters that will enable the opening of embassies in each respective country – a truly historic step for building warm and fruitful diplomatic ties.

We’re pleased, too, that Israelis will now be part of Bahrain’s E-visa system, a truly remarkable achievement in normalizing relationships and easing travel between the two nations.

All of these accomplishments are a great credit to the dedication of your diplomatic teams, who I know have worked tirelessly.  I’m similarly proud of how our State Department team has worked hard to support the Abraham Accords as well.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, Minister Al Zayani, thank you for taking steps towards greater unity and peace and a wonderful opportunity between all the nations of the world.  Thank you and bless you both.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL ZAYANI:  Thank you, sir.  Mr. Prime Minister Netanyahu, Secretary Pompeo, good afternoon and thank you, Secretary, for joining us given all your busy schedule, and thank you for your support.

Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.  It is my pleasure to make this historic first visit to Israel by a minister of foreign affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain.  And I want to start by expressing my sincere thanks for the warm welcome and generous hospitality extended to me.  In particular, Mr. Prime Minister, the invitation to deliver these remarks at your official residence is a message of trust that is greatly appreciated and well received.

Today, I have been greatly encouraged by my meetings with President Rivlin and Foreign Minister Ashkenazi, and I am looking forward to meeting later with Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as the trilateral with the foreign minister and United States Secretary of State Pompeo.

As during last month’s visit to Bahrain by National Security Advisor Ben Shabat and U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, discussions continue to be productive, forward-looking, and held in a positive and constructive atmosphere.  We definitely have something to work with, and I am optimistic for the future.

During my meeting with President Rivlin, I conveyed the greetings of His Majesty King Hamad and the people of Bahrain to the president and people of Israel, looking forward to overcoming and rebuilding from the current COVID-19 pandemic, and underlining our readiness to cooperate on healthcare and post-pandemic recovery.  With Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Pompeo, I will be discussing how we can achieve the objective of the Abraham Accords in practical terms and underlining Bahrain’s appreciation for the United States role in delivering them.

I am thankful also for the condolences I received from the president and from the Foreign Minister Ashkenazi following the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and for their very kind words on the late prime minister’s life and achievements.

Ladies and gentlemen, throughout all the meetings, it has been obvious the intention and keenness of all sides to ensure that the peace we are pursuing will be a warm peace that will deliver clear benefits to our peoples.  We intend to focus on areas including trade, investment, entrepreneurship, tourism, banking, health, education, communication, technology and innovation, to name just a few.

We look forward to the commencement of air services between Bahrain and Israel from the start of 2020.  We will see up to – up to 14 weekly flights from Bahrain to Tel Aviv, and we’ll add flights to Eilat and Haifa and up to five weekly cargo flights.  To kickstart this process, I am happy to announce that commencing from the 1st of December, the e-Visa system will be implemented in both Bahrain and Israel to allow for our citizens to travel freely between the two countries.

In addition, we will soon witness the reciprocal opening of the two countries’ embassies.  It is through such foundational context that we begin to nurture and build the networks of investment, business, tourism, culture, and so much more that can further solidify and add value to our joint efforts.  I am therefore confident that this emerging cooperation between Bahrain and Israel will pave the way to a dawn of peace for the entire Middle East.

To this end, I continue to emphasize in all my meetings that in order to achieve and consolidate such a peace, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict needs to be resolved.  I therefore call for both parties to get around the negotiating table to achieve a viable two-state solution as is also sought by the international community.

Ladies and gentlemen, in just two months we have made considerable progress and we are already demonstrating the wisdom of His Majesty King Hamad’s vision of reaching out to achieve a more stable region based on peace, dialogue, and understanding.  Equally, we are demonstrating what is possible, outlining a positive goal, and bringing a new sense of optimism for the future of the Middle East.

I am very much looking forward to building on this historic progress, and I am convinced that we have an opportunity to build cooperation, tolerance, co-existence, and trust, not only between our two nations but between all children of Abraham.  In doing so, let us deliver a peace which ensure a safe, stable, and prosperous Middle East for all its peoples.  Our region deserves no less.  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.  And I would be remiss if I wouldn’t mention our condolences, my condolences for the late prime minister.  I did, obviously, send you —

FOREIGN MINISTER AL ZAYANI:  Yes, sir.  Yes, sir.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  — a letter and published a note.  But he was a great friend, a great champion of peace, and he will be sorely missed.  And I take the opportunity also to offer my hopes for success and continued cooperation with the new prime minister, which I think reflects our great friendship.

On the question of embassies, we’re ready to help.  As far as I know, there’s one or two vacant embassies that are available.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Mike.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Mr. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you, foreign minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL ZAYANI:  Thank you, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  This is a wonderful day for peace.  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL ZAYANI:  Thank you.  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.

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    Based on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data and GAO estimates, most U.S. large commercial jet airplanes are certificated at the minimum required stage 3 noise standards, but nearly all of them are able to meet more stringent noise standards. Sixty-three percent of large commercial airplanes in the United States are certificated as meeting the stage 3 standards; however, 87 percent of them were manufactured with technologies that are able to meet more recent and stringent stage 4 or 5 standards as currently configured, according to FAA's 2017 analysis. By analyzing updated data from airlines and aviation manufacturers, GAO estimated that this proportion is even higher: 96 percent of large commercial airplanes are able to meet stage 4 or 5 standards (see figure). According to FAA officials and aviation stakeholders, the primary reason many large commercial airplanes certificated as stage 3 produce lower than stage 3 noise levels is because engine and airframe technology has outpaced the implementation of noise standards. More recently, some airlines have accelerated retirement of certain airplanes, some of which are certificated as stage 3, due to the decrease in travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For the generally smaller regional commercial jets (i.e., generally with less than 90 seats), 86 percent are able to meet stage 4 or stage 5 standards, according to manufacturers' data. With regard to general aviation (which are used for personal or corporate flights), 73 percent of the jet airplanes in that fleet are able to meet the more stringent stage 4 or 5 standards, according to manufacturers' data. GAO Estimate of The Number of Large Airplanes in the U.S. Commercial Fleet That Are Able to Meet Stage 3 or Stage 4 and 5 Noise Standards, January 2020 According to stakeholders GAO interviewed, a phase-out of jet airplanes that are certificated as meeting stage 3 standards would provide limited noise reduction and limited other benefits, and could be costly and present other challenges. A phase-out could require recertificating the vast majority of stage 3 airplanes to comply with stage 4 or 5 standards. This process could be costly for operators and manufacturers but would provide little reduction in noise. Further, airplanes currently unable to meet more stringent standards would require modifications or face retirement. For older airplanes that could not be recertificated to meet stage 4 or 5 standards, some operators could incur costs for replacement airplanes sooner than originally planned. Although stakeholders indicated that a phase-out would not substantially reduce noise, they identified other limited benefits newer airplanes generate, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption. Although advances in technology have led to quieter aircraft capable of meeting increasingly stringent noise standards, airport noise remains a concern. FAA regulates aircraft noise by ensuring compliance with relevant noise standards. In 1990, federal law required large jet airplanes to comply with stage 3 noise standards by 1999, leading to a phase-out of the noisiest airplanes (stage 1 and 2 airplanes). Later, federal law required smaller airplanes to comply with stage 3 standards by 2016. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 included a provision for GAO to review a potential phase-out of stage 3 airplanes—the loudest aircraft currently operating in the United States. This report describes (1) the proportion of stage 3 airplanes in the U.S. fleet, and what proportion of these stage 3 airplanes are able to meet more stringent noise standards and (2) selected stakeholders' views on the potential benefits, costs, and challenges of phasing out stage 3 airplanes. GAO reviewed FAA's analysis of December 2017 fleet data, analyzed January 2020 fleet data from select airlines and airframe and engine manufacturers, and interviewed FAA officials. GAO also interviewed a non-generalizable sample of 35 stakeholders, including airlines; airframe and engine manufacturers; airports; and industry associations, selected based on fleet and noise data, stakeholder recommendations, or prior GAO knowledge. For more information, contact Heather Krause at (202) 512-2834 or krauseh@gao.gov.
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    A North Carolina man pleaded guilty today to smuggling drugs and other contraband into Caledonia Correctional Institution in exchange for bribe payments.
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  • Laboratory Safety: FDA Should Strengthen Efforts to Provide Effective Oversight
    In U.S GAO News
    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken steps intended to improve safety at its laboratories, including those that work with hazardous biological agents. Specifically, FDA created the Office of Laboratory Safety (OLS) in 2017 as a safety oversight body for all FDA laboratories. Establishment of FDA's Office of Laboratory Safety (OLS) Note: Prior to March 2019, OLS was referred to as the Office of Laboratory Science and Safety. In coordination with FDA's operating divisions—known as centers—OLS has standardized safety policies, incident reporting, inspections, and safety training. However in creating OLS, FDA did not implement key reform practices that could have helped ensure OLS's effectiveness. For example, FDA's centers and OLS did not reach a shared understanding of OLS's roles and responsibilities—a key practice for effective agency reforms. Although senior agency leaders were involved in developing OLS's strategic plan, disagreements about OLS's role raised by center directors at that time still remain. For example, center directors told GAO that OLS's mission should not include science, laboratory quality management, or inspections. Conversely, the director of OLS said OLS remains committed to its mission as envisioned in the strategic plan, which includes these areas of responsibility. FDA officials said they plan to update the plan in 2021, which presents an opportunity for FDA to address areas of disagreement. In its current form, FDA's laboratory safety program also does not meet the key elements of effective oversight identified in GAO's prior work. For example, The oversight organization should have clear authority to ensure compliance with requirements. However, as part of a 2019 reorganization, FDA placed the OLS director at a lower level than the center directors. Also, OLS does not directly manage the center safety staff responsible for ensuring the implementation of safety policies that OLS develops. As a result, OLS has limited ability to access centers' laboratories—in part because they cannot inspect them unannounced—or to ensure compliance with safety policies. The oversight organization should also be independent from program offices to avoid conflict between program objectives and safety. However, OLS depends on the centers for much of its funding and has had to negotiate with the centers annually for those funds, which can allow center directors to influence OLS priorities through the funding amounts they approve. FDA has not assessed potential independence risks from using center funds for OLS. Without taking steps to do so, FDA's laboratory safety program will continue to compete with the centers' mission objectives and priorities. In 2014, FDA discovered improperly stored boxes of smallpox virus, posing a risk to individuals who might have been exposed. This raised concerns about the oversight of FDA's laboratories that conduct research on hazardous biological agents. In 2016, GAO made five recommendations to improve FDA's laboratory safety, four of which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had not fully implemented as of July 2020. GAO was asked to examine FDA's efforts to strengthen laboratory safety. This report examines FDA's efforts since GAO's 2016 report to improve safety in its laboratories that work with hazardous biological agents. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed FDA documents; assessed FDA's safety oversight practices against key reform practices and oversight elements GAO identified in prior work; and interviewed FDA officials, including staff and senior leaders at OLS and the three centers that work with hazardous biological agents. GAO is making five recommendations to FDA, including to resolve disagreements over roles and responsibilities, to provide OLS with the authority and access to facilities necessary to oversee laboratory safety, and to take steps to assess and mitigate any independence risks posed by how OLS is funded. HHS agreed with all five recommendations. For more information, contact Mary Denigan-Macauley at (202) 512-7114 or deniganmacauleym@gao.gov.
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  • CEO Sentenced to Prison in $150 Million Health Care Fraud, Opioid Distribution, and Money Laundering Scheme
    In Crime News
    The chief executive officer of a Michigan and Ohio-based group of pain clinics and other medical providers was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for developing and approving a corporate policy to administer unnecessary back injections to patients in exchange for prescriptions of over 6.6 million doses of medically unnecessary opioids.
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  • 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.
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  • Cameroonian Citizen Extradited from Romania to Face Covid-19-Related Fraud Charges
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    A citizen of Cameroon was extradited to the U.S. yesterday to face federal charges for his alleged involvement in a fraud scheme perpetrated against American consumers.
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  • Justice Department Concludes Its Investigation of D.C.-Area Private High Schools’ Decision to Stop Offering Advanced Placement Courses
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it has completed its investigation into whether Georgetown Day School, Holton-Arms School, Landon School, Maret School, National Cathedral School, The Potomac School, St. Albans School, and Sidwell Friends School (jointly, “the Schools”) collectively agreed to stop offering Advanced Placement (AP) courses by 2022 in violation of the Sherman Act.  The Schools announced in June 2018 that they would eliminate AP courses from their curricula by 2022. 
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  • ‘All too frequent tragedies demand action to improve judicial security,’ Judge tells Judicial Conference
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    “Four federal judges and three family members have been killed since 1979. These horrific tragedies must stop,” Judge David W. McKeague told the Judicial Conference of the United States today.
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  • Judge Rya Zobel to Receive 2020 Devitt Award
    In U.S Courts
    Senior U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel, who grew up in Nazi Germany and later became the first woman to serve as director of the Federal Judicial Center, is the recipient of the 2020 Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award.
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  • Justice Department Issues Favorable Business Review Letter To ISDA For Proposed Amendments To Address Interest Rate Benchmarks
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced today that it has completed its review of the proposal by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc. (ISDA) to amend its standardized model documentation for derivatives to account for the potential discontinuation of certain interbank offered rates (collectively referred to as “IBORs”).  The department has concluded, based on the representations in ISDA’s letter request, including its description of certain safeguards, that ISDA’s proposed amendments to its standardized documentation are unlikely to harm competition.  Therefore, the department does not presently intend to challenge ISDA’s proposed amendments to its standardized documentation for derivatives.
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  • Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Louisiana Tax Return Preparers
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    The United States has filed a complaint seeking to bar Louisiana tax return preparers from owning or operating a tax return preparation business and preparing tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. The civil complaint against Leroi Gorman Jackson and Mario Alexander, both individually and doing business as The Taxman Financial Services LLC, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
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  • The Department of Justice Announces Standards for Certifying Safe Policing Practices by Law Enforcement Agencies
    In Crime News
    Today, the Department of Justice announced Standards for Certification that will be used by credentialing bodies so they can begin certifying thousands of law enforcement agencies over the next three months. The Standards of Certification are a result of President Trump’s June Executive Order 13929, Safe Policing for Safe Communities.
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  • Owner of Montana Construction Company Pleads Guilty to Employment Tax Fraud
    In Crime News
    A Great Falls, Montana, businessman pleaded guilty today to employment tax fraud, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Kurt G. Alme for the District of Montana.
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