December 1, 2022

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Leader of Alabama Chapter of Oath Keepers Pleads Guilty to Seditious Conspiracy and Obstruction of Congress for Efforts to Stop Transfer of Power Following 2020 Presidential Election

15 min read
A regional leader of the Oath Keepers pleaded guilty today to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding for his actions before, during and after the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. His and others’ actions disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

More from: March 2, 2022

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  • Jury Convicts Registered Sex Offender for Using Facebook to Conspire to Produce Child Pornography
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    A federal jury convicted an Indiana man yesterday for conspiring with multiple women to send him sexually explicit pictures of infants and young children.

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  • Justice Department Announces Global Resolution of Criminal and Civil Investigations with Privatized Military Housing Contractor for Defrauding U.S. Military
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    Today, the Department of Justice announced a global resolution of its criminal and civil investigations into Balfour Beatty Communities LLC (BBC), one of the largest providers of privatized military housing to the U.S. Armed Forces, for defrauding the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, and U.S. Navy, in connection with a scheme to defraud the U.S. military.

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  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities
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  • Science & Tech Spotlight: Consumer Electronics Recycling
    In U.S GAO News
    Why This Matters Consumer electronics contain critical materials whose supplies are limited, including gold, platinum, and rare earth metals. Domestic recycling of consumer electronics could extend the supply and reduce the current U.S. reliance on imports. New technologies are becoming available, but electronics recycling is complex and faces challenges, such as narrow profit margins. The Technology What is it? Recycling of consumer electronics—including smartphones, televisions, and computers—generally involves separating high-value metals from plastics and other low-value materials. Precious metals and rare earth metals are the economic driving force for consumer electronic recycling technology. These metals have high market values and limited supplies, and they can be reused across many industries, including the defense and energy sectors. Consumer electronic devices can also contain personally identifiable information (PII), including medical and financial data, which could be improperly disclosed if they are not destroyed prior to recycling. According to a study of selected consumer electronics, about 2.8 million tons were disposed of in the U.S. in 2017, of which about 36 percent was recycled. Figure 1. Selected valuable, hazardous, and digital materials contained within consumer electronics that can be recovered, disposed, or destroyed There is no federal standard requiring consumer electronics recycling. Some states have enacted electronics recycling laws requiring electronics producers to pay fees or contract with businesses to ensure electronic waste is collected for recycling. The U.S. recycles electronics domestically and also exports electronics for recycling abroad. How does it work? The high concentration of valuable material in certain consumer electronics is key to the economic viability of recycling these products. Cell phones, as one example, have more precious metal by weight than raw ore does. According to the EPA, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, and 75 pounds of gold can be recovered from a million recycled cell phones. Based on commodity market prices on August 12, 2020, these weights of metals are worth approximately $100,000, $290,000, and $2.1 million for copper, silver, and gold, respectively. In contrast, cathode ray tube (CRT) displays in older televisions and computer monitors have little recycling value, but they contain leaded glass and may be considered hazardous waste. In addition, recovery of certain valuable materials from consumer electronics is limited due to the high costs of technology and processing. Electronics recycling companies disassemble devices by shredding, which also destroys PII, or by hand. These companies then separate valuable materials for reuse (including gold, silver, platinum, and rare earth metals) from toxic materials for disposal (including brominated materials and lead). Traditional methods include burning to remove non-metal parts and separation using strong acids. New separation technologies are being used or piloted to recover precious and rare earth metals. For example, robotic disassembly uses machine learning and computer vision to more rapidly pick and sort items. Another new technology uses ultrasound to speed up the chemical removal of gold from cell phone SIM cards. Figure 2. Emerging separation technologies for recycled electronics Other technologies are emerging, like biometallurgy, which uses microorganisms to separate high-value metals from other materials, such as plastics, glass, and glue. For example, naturally occurring bacteria can oxidize gold in acidic solutions, making it soluble and thus easier to separate from other materials. Other advanced techniques, such as magnetic or electrochemical separation, are showing promise in the laboratory with existing technology. For example, in one study, researchers used ultrasound to dissolve nickel and gold within a SIM card. They then used a magnetic field to separate the dissolved nickel, which is magnetic, from the gold, which is not. Similarly, other techniques use electric fields to separate dissolved metals based on their weight and electric charge. How mature is it? Recycling technology is well established for some traditional single-stream processes, such as aluminum recycling. However, electronic devices are more complex and require disassembly and separation. At least one consumer electronics manufacturer is piloting robotic disassembly for its products. Emerging separation technologies such as ultrasound have come to market in the past decade and are being used. Manual disassembly and shredding are decades old. Biometallurgy is being tested in pilot plants, and new microorganisms are being developed in laboratories to treat electronic waste. Opportunities Increase supply and reduce imports. Recycling could increase the domestic supply of precious and rare earth metals and reduce the current U.S. reliance on overseas sources. Grow the green economy. Developing advanced recycling technologies could promote domestic business and employment. Reduce hazardous practices. A significant amount of recycling currently occurs in the developing world, where methods include open-pit burning. New technology could reduce the use of such methods, which are hazardous to the environment and human health. Lessen environmental impacts. Developing advanced recycling technologies could reduce the environmental impacts of raw ore mining and landfill disposal of hazardous materials such as lead and brominated materials. Challenges Market challenges. Markets for recovered materials may be limited, and the value of recovered materials may not be enough to cover the costs of equipment for collection, sorting, disassembly, and separation. Secure destruction of personal information. Many electronic devices contain PII. Shredding them may effectively destroy PII but may also make high-value material harder to recover. Counterfeit electronic parts. Exported used electronics may serve as a source of counterfeit electronic parts, which, as GAO previously reported, could disrupt parts of the Department of Defense supply chain and threaten the reliability of weapons systems. (See GAO-16-236, linked below.) Rapid technological development. As consumer electronics made with new materials get smaller, new technologies for separation may be needed to recycle valuable materials. Policy Context and Questions With the volume of electronic waste expected to grow, questions include: How can programs to support technological innovation, economic development, and advanced manufacturing be leveraged to promote a more robust domestic electronics recycling industry? What efforts can the federal government, states, and others make to incentivize recycling rather than disposal? What are the potential benefits and challenges of such policies? What strategies can the public and private sectors implement to address the risk that exports of used electronics will contribute to unsafe recycling practices, disclosure of PII, and counterfeit electronics? How can reductions in exports bolster job growth? For more information, contact Karen Howard at (202) 512-6888 or HowardK@gao.gov.

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  • Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request: U.S. Government Accountability Office
    In U.S GAO News
    This testimony discusses the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2013. GAO very much appreciates the confidence Congress has shown in the efforts to help support the Congress in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve government performance and accountability for the benefit of the American people.GAO is requesting an appropriation of $526.2 million for FY 2013 to support a staffing level of 3,100. This funding level represents a modest increase of 2.9 percent over FY 2012, and is 5.4 percent below our FY 2010 level. The majority of the requested increase represents the first step in rebuilding our staff capacity to a level that will enable us to optimize the benefits we yield for the Congress and the nation.We have carefully reviewed every aspect of our operations from a zero base to identify opportunities to reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of our work and preserving our ability to assist the Congress in addressing the most important priorities facing the nation. However, given that staff costs now represent about 81 percent of our budget and the deep reductions already taken in our infrastructure programs, reducing the size of our workforce could not be avoided. By the end of FY 2012, for the first time in over 75 years, GAO’s staffing level will drop below 3,000 staff, resulting in a net reduction of 11 percent in our staff capacity, or 365 people, in only a 2-year period.GAO’s work directly contributes to improvements in a broad array of federal programs affecting Americans everywhere and remains one of the best investments across the federal government. With this committee’s support, in FY 2011, GAO provided assistance to every standing congressional committee and about 70 percent of their subcommittees. GAO issues hundreds of products annually in response to congressional requests and mandates. Our work yielded significant results across the government, including financial benefits of $45.7 billion—a return on investment of $81 for every dollar invested in GAO. Our findings and recommendations produce measurable financial benefits for the federal government, enabled through the actions of Congress and Executive Branch agencies, ultimately making funds available to reduce government expenditures, reallocate funds to more productive areas, or increase revenues.

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  • Statement from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act
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    Attorney General Merrick B. Garland made the following statement after President Biden’s signing of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law:

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  • Remarks of Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John C. Demers on the Iran Forfeiture Actions
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  • Critical Infrastructure Protection: CISA Should Assess the Effectiveness of its Actions to Support the Communications Sector
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Communications Sector is an integral component of the U.S. economy and faces serious physical, cyber-related, and human threats that could affect the operations of local, regional, and national level networks, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and sector stakeholders. Examples of Potential Security Threats to the Communications Sector In addition, CISA determined that the Communications Sector depends on other critical infrastructure sectors—in particular, the Energy, Information Technology, and Transportation Systems Sectors—and that damage, disruption, or destruction to any one of these sectors could severely impact the operations of the Communications Sector. CISA primarily supports the Communications Sector through incident management and information-sharing activities, such as coordinating federal activities to support the sector during severe weather events and managing cybersecurity programs, but has not assessed the effectiveness of these actions. For example, CISA has not determined which types of infrastructure owners and operators (e.g., large or small telecommunications service providers) may benefit most from CISA’s cybersecurity programs and services or may be underrepresented participants in its information-sharing activities and services. By assessing the effectiveness of its programs and services, CISA would be better positioned to identify its highest priorities. CISA has also not updated the 2015 Communications Sector-Specific Plan, even though DHS guidance recommends that such plans be updated every 4 years. As a result, the current 2015 plan lacks information on new and emerging threats to the Communications Sector, such as security threats to the communications technology supply chain, and disruptions to position, navigation, and timing services. Developing and issuing an updated plan would enable CISA to set goals, objectives, and priorities that address threats and risks to the sector, and help meet its sector risk management agency responsibilities. Why GAO Did This Study The Communications Sector, one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors, is vital to the United States. Its incapacitation or destruction could have a debilitating impact on the safety and security of our nation. The private sector owns and operates the majority of communications infrastructure, including broadcast, cable, satellite, wireless, and wireline systems and networks. DHS’s CISA is the lead federal agency responsible for supporting the security and resilience of the sector. GAO examined (1) the security threats CISA has identified to the sector, (2) how CISA supports the sector, and (3) the extent to which CISA has assessed its support and emergency preparedness for the sector. GAO reviewed DHS reports, plans, and risk assessments on the sector and interviewed CISA officials and private sector stakeholders to identify and evaluate CISA’s actions to support the security and resilience of the Communications Sector.

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  • School Owner Sentenced for Defrauding Department of Veterans Affairs Program Dedicated to Rehabilitating Disabled Military Veterans
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  • The United States Welcomes the Appointment of Staffan de Mistura as the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara
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  • Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction: Opportunities for DHS to Better Address Longstanding Program Challenges
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2016, GAO evaluated Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to consolidate chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear security programs into the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) office. GAO recommended DHS use, where appropriate, the key mergers and organizational transformation practices identified in prior work, such as conducting adequate stakeholder outreach. DHS agreed with and addressed the recommendation by soliciting employee feedback on the transformation and formed a leadership team for the consolidation, among other practices. However, GAO observed that significant challenges remained at the CWMD office—such as low employee morale and questions about program efficacy. GAO has ongoing work evaluating these issues and plans to issue a report in early 2022. Over the past decade, GAO has also conducted extensive work evaluating legacy and ongoing programs managed by the CWMD office and has identified program management challenges and opportunities for improvement in the following program areas: Biosurveillance programs: Since 2009, GAO has reported on progress and challenges with two of DHS’s biosurveillance efforts—the National Biosurveillance Integration Center and the pursuit of replacements for the BioWatch program (aimed at detecting aerosolized biological attacks). For example, DHS faced challenges defining these programs’ missions and acquiring suitable technologies. In December 2009 and September 2012, GAO highlighted the importance of following departmental policies and employing leading management practices to help ensure that the mission of each program is clearly and purposefully defined and that investments effectively respond to those missions. DHS agreed with and addressed these recommendations. Most recently, DHS agreed to a May 2021 GAO recommendation that it should follow best practices for conducting technology readiness assessments for a biodetection effort and described planned efforts to conduct one before the next key decision event. Nuclear/radiological detection: In May 2019, GAO found that the CWMD office lacked a clear basis for proposed changes to the strategies of the Securing the Cities program, which is designed to enhance the nuclear detection capabilities of federal and nonfederal agencies in select cities. GAO found the strategies were not based on threats or needs of the participating cities. DHS agreed with our recommendations aimed at improving communication and coordination with participating cities, but has not fully implemented them. Chemical defense: In August 2018, GAO found that DHS had not fully integrated and coordinated its chemical defense programs and activities, which could lead to a risk that DHS may miss an opportunity to leverage resources and share information. Improved program integration and coordination could lead to greater effectiveness addressing chemical threats. DHS agreed to develop a strategy and implementation plan to aid integration of programs, which it expects to finalize in September 2021. Why GAO Did This Study In December 2018, statute established the CWMD office, reorganizing several legacy offices, including the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and Office of Health Affairs into one. The office manages programs intended to enhance the United States’ ability to detect, deter, and defend against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. However, programs operated and managed by the CWMD office have faced longstanding challenges, some which predate the reorganization. This statement describes our 2016 work related to the CWMD office formation and findings from our past reports on CWMD programs from 2009 through May 2021, including challenges and opportunities for the effective operations and implementation of key programs related to biodefense, nuclear security, and chemical security. To conduct our prior work, GAO reviewed relevant presidential directives, laws, regulations, policies, strategic plans, and other reports and interviewed federal, state, and industry officials, among others.

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  • Canadian National Pleads Guilty to Human Smuggling Conspiracy
    In Crime News
    A Canadian national pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to bring aliens to the United States for private financial gain in connection with his role in a scheme to smuggle aliens from Sri Lanka through the Caribbean and into the United States.

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  • Man Sentenced for Receiving, Soliciting and Promoting Child Pornography
    In Crime News
    A Virginia man was sentenced today to 240 months, or 20 years, in prison, to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for downloading images and videos depicting children as young as 4 years old being sexually abused, and for utilizing the Dark Net to solicit and promote child pornography.

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  • Issues in Implementing International Peace Operations
    In U.S GAO News
    Between fiscal years 1996 and 2001, the United States provided $3.45 billion in direct contributions and $24.2 billion in voluntary or indirect contributions to 33 U.N. peacekeeping operations in such areas as the Congo, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Bosnia, and, most recently, Afghanistan. The prospects for implementing peace agreements are enhanced if all major parties to the conflict participate in negotiating the agreements and if these agreements include specific authority and mechanisms for their enforcement. Peace operations are more likely to succeed if the military forces carrying out the operations have clear objectives, sufficient resources, and the authority to carry out their tasks. Military forces can help create a secure environment for civilian work to proceed. Moreover, the slow or late deployment of a peace operation’s civil administrators might impede efforts to establish good governance. Finally, peace operations tend to be more successful when locals participate at every reasonable opportunity.

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  • 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.

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