World Press Freedom Day

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Tomorrow, the United States joins the international community in celebrating World Press Freedom Day.  Information and knowledge are powerful tools, and a free and independent press is the core institution connecting publics to the information they need to advocate for themselves, make informed decisions, and hold governmental officials accountable.  The United States advocates for press freedom online and offline, and for the safety of journalists and media workers worldwide.

Freedom of expression and access to factual and accurate information provided by independent media are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies.  Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression includes the right of all individuals “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” But the outlook for the rights of journalists today is harrowing.

That’s one reason we announced, in response to the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the “Khashoggi Ban” — to help deter threatening behavior against the media.  The Department’s 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released in March cites dozens of cases of media workers who have been harassed, attacked, and even killed for their work.  The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that in 2020, the number of journalists killed in retaliation for their reporting more than doubled, with Mexico and Afghanistan seeing the largest number of killings.  According to CPJ, the number of journalists jailed for their reporting in 2020 reached the highest level since the organization began keeping track, with the People’s Republic of China, Turkey, and Egypt imprisoning the most reporters last year. In Russia, authorities continue to restrict independent reporting, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has provided a pretext for repressive governments to intensify pressure on independent media.  It is exactly in that kind of hostile environment that the exercise of freedom of expression, especially by members of the press, becomes even more crucial in alerting the public to abuses and corruption and in countering dangerous misinformation and disinformation.  We call on all governments to ensure media safety and protect journalists’ ability to do their jobs without fear of violence, threats, or unjust detention.

In our increasingly digital world, press freedom and the free flow of information require Internet freedom.  We are concerned by governments’ increased efforts to deprive the public of information and knowledge by controlling Internet access and censoring content, including through the widespread use of network restrictions – some as long as 18 months – that make it impossible for journalists to conduct independent reporting.  Governments must not shut down, block, throttle, censor, or filter services, as these actions undermine and unduly restrict the rights of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression, disrupt access to essential services, and negatively impact the economy.

The United States condemns the use of partial or complete government-imposed Internet shutdowns, among other tactics, to prevent the exercise of freedom of expression online and restrict the ability of independent journalists to serve the public.  We urge governments to investigate and seek accountability for all crimes against journalists and media workers.  The United States is committed to working in partnership with members of the media, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and other concerned governments to support access to information and defend freedom of expression and the brave journalists who face intimidation, harassment, arrest, and violence in exercising their rights.

 

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    The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) extramural research spending totaled about $510 million in fiscal year 2019—nearly half of the $1.1 billion in total spending on VA research. Of the $510 million, federal sources, such as National Institutes of Health, funded $382 million (75 percent), and nonfederal sources, including private entities, academic institutions, state and local governments, and foundations, funded $128 million (25 percent). Spending at the 92 VA medical centers that conducted extramural research in fiscal year 2019 ranged from less than $2 million to more than $10 million (see figure). VA medical centers' nonprofit research and education corporations (NPC) and academic affiliate partners administered the grants that accounted for 91 percent of the spending. Figure: Extramural Research Spending by VA Medical Centers that Conducted Extramural Research in Fiscal Year 2019 VA has made efforts to promote and support VA medical centers' partnerships with academic affiliates—for example, by coordinating a mentoring program for local VA research officials—and considers effective affiliations as an enhancement to research. However, VA's Central Office officials have not provided examples of successful practices for strengthening research partnerships with academic affiliates. Having such practices would promote collaborative opportunities for VA medical centers with academic affiliates, particularly for medical centers that have poor communication with affiliates. Additionally, VA's Central Office has provided general guidance but not specific tools to VA medical centers for determining when an NPC or an academic affiliate should administer a project's extramural funds. Having specific decision-making tools could help medical centers make more informed decisions to provide optimal support for the research. VA research, which has contributed to many medical advances, may be funded by VA's appropriation or extramurally by other federal agencies and nonfederal sources. To access extramural funding, investigators at VA medical centers usually work with an NPC or academic affiliate partner to submit a grant proposal. Once a grant is awarded, medical centers' partners administer the grant by distributing funding, fulfilling reporting requirements, and performing other administrative activities. GAO was asked to review VA's extramural research. This report examines, among other objectives, (1) how much VA spent on extramural research in fiscal year 2019 and (2) the efforts VA has made to support medical centers' partnerships for extramural research. GAO analyzed VA policies, documents, and data. It also conducted site visits and interviewed officials from VA's Central Office and from a nongeneralizable sample of VA medical centers, NPCs, and academic affiliates, which GAO selected to represent variation in geographic location and funding. GAO recommends that VA (1) provide more information to VA medical centers on strengthening research relationships with academic affiliates and (2) develop decision tools to help VA medical centers determine whether NPCs or academic affiliates should administer extramural grants. VA agreed with GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact John Neumann at (202) 512-6888 or neumannj@gao.gov.
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  • Manhattan Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Attempting to Provide Material Support to Terrorist Organization
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that Jesus Wilfredo Encarnacion, a/k/a “Jihadistsoldgier,” “Jihadinhear,” “Jihadinheart,” “Lionofthegood,” was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based designated foreign terrorist organization responsible for multiple high-profile attacks, including the infamous Mumbai attacks in November 2008.  In addition, Encarnacion was sentenced to a lifetime term of supervised release.  Encarnacion pleaded guilty on Jan. 22, 2020, before United States District Judge Ronnie Abrams, who also imposed today’s sentence.
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  • New U.S. Embassy in Pristina, Kosovo, Wins Engineering Excellence Grand Award from American Council of Engineering Companies
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Release of the 2021 Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Report
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to ISIS
    In Crime News
    In San Antonio today, 22-year-old Cost resident Jaylyn Christopher Molina, aka Abdur Rahim, admitted to conspiring to provide material support to the designated foreign terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham/Syria (ISIS), announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas Gregg N. Sofer and FBI Special Agent in Charge of the San Antonio Division Christopher Combs.
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  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Public Designation of Oligarch and Former Ukrainian Public Official Ihor Kolomoyskyy Due to Involvement in Significant Corruption
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Two Bank Executives Charged for Conspiring to Launder Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Through U.S. Financial System in Connection with Odebrecht Bribery and Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    An Austrian man was arrested today in the United Kingdom on criminal charges related to his alleged participation in a conspiracy to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system as part of a scheme to pay bribes around the world and defraud the Brazilian government. 
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  • MS-13 Member Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy Involving Murder and Attempted Murder
    In Crime News
    A Maryland man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise by murdering a suspected rival gang member and attempting to murder two other victims, in connection with his MS-13 gang activities. 
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  • Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Two California Doctors for Discrimination Against Patient with HIV
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department filed lawsuits today alleging that two obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) doctors in Bakersfield, California refused to provide routine medical care to a patient on the basis of her HIV status, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
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  • Mary Ida Townson Appointed U.S. Trustee for Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
    In Crime News
    Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has appointed Mary Ida Townson as the U.S. Trustee for Florida, Georgia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Region 21). Ms. Townson will assume her duties in June and will replace Nancy Gargula, who is the U.S. Trustee in Region 10 and who has served as the interim U.S. Trustee in Region 21 since April 2019.
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  • Judicial Conference Approves Measures to Increase Security for Federal Judges
    In U.S Courts
    A series of recommendations to upgrade and expand security for federal judges and increase Congressional funding to support the security program have been approved by the federal Judiciary’s national policy-making body.
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  • KuuHuub Inc., Kuu Huub Oy and Recolor Oy to Pay Civil Penalty for Children’s Online Privacy Violations
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), today announced that KuuHuub Inc., a Canadian corporation, and two Finnish corporations, Kuu Huub Oy and Recolor Oy, have agreed to a settlement to resolve alleged violations of the FTC Act and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) associated with the companies’ “Recolor” mobile app and digital coloring book.
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  • United States Hosts Indo-Pacific Virtual Conference on Strengthening Governance of Transboundary Rivers
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • South Sudan Travel Advisory
    In Travel
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  • NASA Announces Mini Payload Challenge Winners
    In Space
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  • Developer Agrees to Mitigate Impacts to Streams and Wetlands
    In Crime News
    A developer and his companies have agreed to effectuate $900,000 in compensatory mitigation, preserve undisturbed riparian areas, conduct erosion-control work on streams, and be subject to a prohibitory injunction to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on property north of Houston, Texas, the Justice Department announced today.
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  • The Sentencing of Russian Opposition Figure Aleksey Navalny
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Somalia Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to Somalia [Read More…]