Office of the Spokesperson
***THE DAILY PUBLIC SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE***
SECRETARY ANTONY J. BLINKEN
10:00 a.m. Secretary Blinken meets with UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss at the Department of State.
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11:15 a.m. Secretary Blinken holds a joint press availability with UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss at the Department of State.
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4:30 p.m. Secretary Blinken meets with Uzbekistan Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov at the Department of State.
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DEPUTY SECRETARY WENDY R. SHERMAN
Deputy Secretary Sherman is on travel to Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt March 4 – 11, 2022. Please click here for more information.
DEPUTY SECRETARY FOR MANAGEMENT AND RESOURCES BRIAN P. MCKEON
Deputy Secretary McKeon attends meetings and briefings from the Department of State.
UNDER SECRETARY FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS VICTORIA J. NULAND
2:00 p.m. Under Secretary Nuland meets with African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security Adeoye Bankole at the Department of State.
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ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR WESTERN HEMISPHERE AFFAIRS BRIAN A. NICHOLS
Assistant Secretary Nichols is on travel to Chile from March 7-9, 2022. Please click here for more information.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR CONFLICT AND STABILIZATION OPERATIONS ANNE WITKOWSKY
Assistant Secretary Witkowsky is on travel to Haiti from March 7-9, 2022. Please click here for more information.
2:30 p.m. Department Press Briefing with Spokesperson Ned Price.
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The Department Press Briefing will be livestreamed on www.state.gov.
- The United States and United Kingdom: Reaffirming Our Alliance
May 2, 2021
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Zakka Jacob of CNN-News18
July 28, 2021
- Federal Court Enjoins Tuscon Area Tax Preparer From Preparing Tax Returns
November 20, 2020The Justice Department announced today that a federal court in Arizona permanently enjoined a Tucson area tax return preparer from preparing federal income tax returns for others.
- Veterans’ Disability Benefits: Processing of Claims Continues to Present Challenges
August 25, 2021The Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, asked GAO to discuss its recent work related to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) disability claims and appeals processing. GAO has reported and testified on this subject on numerous occasions. GAO’s work has addressed VA’s efforts to improve the timeliness of decisions on claims and appeals and VA’s efforts to reduce backlogs.VA continues to face challenges in improving service delivery to veterans, specifically speeding up the process of adjudication and appeal, and reducing the existing backlog of claims. For example, as of the end of fiscal year 2006, rating-related compensation claims were pending an average of 127 days, 16 days more than at the end of fiscal year 2003. During the same period, the inventory of rating-related claims grew by almost half, in part because of increased filing of claims, including those filed by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Meanwhile, appeals resolution remains a lengthy process, taking an average of 657 days in fiscal year 2006. However, several factors may limit VA’s ability to make and sustain significant improvements in its claims-processing performance, including the potential impacts of laws and court decisions, continued increases in the number and complexity of claims being filed, and difficulties in obtaining the evidence needed to decide claims in a timely manner, such as military service records. VA is taking steps to address these problems. For example, the President’s fiscal year 2008 budget requests an increase of over 450 full-time equivalent employees to process compensation claims. VA is also working to improve appeals timeliness by reducing appeals remanded for further work. While VA is taking actions to address its claims-processing challenges, opportunities for significant performance improvement may lie in more fundamental reform of VA’s disability compensation program. This could include reexamining program design such as updating the disability criteria to reflect the current state of science, medicine, technology, and labor market conditions. It could also include examining the structure and division of labor among field offices.
- Government Intervenes in False Claims Act Lawsuits Against Kaiser Permanente Affiliates for Submitting Inaccurate Diagnosis Codes to the Medicare Advantage Program
July 30, 2021The United States has intervened in six complaints alleging that members of the Kaiser Permanente consortium violated the False Claims Act by submitting inaccurate diagnosis codes for its Medicare Advantage Plan enrollees in order to receive higher reimbursements.
- Judges, Lawyers Bring Life Skills to Virtual Classroom Activities for Home and School
In U.S CourtsAugust 6, 2020High school teachers can bring real-life civics into their virtual lessons when they invite federal judges and volunteer attorneys to facilitate a civil discourse and decision-making simulation with students at home or in the classroom this fall.
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Al-Thani
August 20, 2021
- U.S. Special Envoy and Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland’s Visit to Tripoli
July 28, 2021
- Absconded human smuggler receives more time for possessing firearms
In Justice NewsDecember 15, 2021A 30-year-old Rio Grande [Read More…]
- State Department Terrorist Designation Reviews and Amendments
January 14, 2021
- Vietnam National Day
September 1, 2021
- Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS
November 17, 2021A New York man was sentenced today to 30 years in prison for attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, aka ISIS.
- North Carolina Tax Preparer Sentenced to Prison for Defrauding IRS
October 29, 2021A North Carolina tax return preparer was sentenced today to 20 months in prison for conspiring to defraud the IRS.
- Meet and Greet with U.S. Tri-Mission Italy
June 27, 2021
- Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices: Multiple DOD Organizations are Developing Numerous Initiatives
August 31, 2021What GAO FoundWe identified 1,340 potential, separate initiatives that DOD funded from fiscal year 2008 through the first quarter of fiscal year 2012 that, in DOD officials opinion, met the above definition for C-IED initiatives. We relied on our survey, in part, to determine this number because DOD has not determined, and does not have a ready means for determining, the universe of C-IED initiatives. Of the 1,340 initiatives, we received detailed survey responses confirming that 711 initiatives met our C-IED definition. Of the remaining 629 initiatives for which we did not receive survey responses, 481 were JIEDDO initiatives. JIEDDO officials attribute their low survey returns for reasons including that C-IED initiatives are currently not fully identified, catalogued, and retrievable; however, they expect updates to their information technology system will correct this deficiency. Our survey also identified 45 different organizations that DOD is funding to undertake these 1,340 identified initiatives. Some of these organizations receive JIEDDO funding while others receive other DOD funding. We documented $4.8 billion of DOD funds expended in fiscal year 2011 in support of C-IED initiatives, but this amount is understated because we did not receive survey data confirming DOD funding for all initiatives. As an example, at least 94 of the 711 responses did not include funding amounts for associated C-IED initiatives. Further, the DOD agency with the greatest number of C-IED initiatives identifiedJIEDDOdid not return surveys for 81 percent of its initiatives.Our survey results showed that multiple C-IED initiatives were concentrated within some areas of development, resulting in overlap within DOD for these effortsi.e., programs engaged in similar activities to achieve similar goals or target similar beneficiaries. For example, our survey data identified 19 organizations with 107 initiatives being developed to combat cell phone-triggered IEDs. While the concentration of initiatives in itself does not constitute duplication, this concentration taken together with the high number of different DOD organizations that are undertaking these initiatives and JIEDDOs inability to identify and compare C-IED initiatives, demonstrates overlap and the potential for duplication of effort. According to JIEDDO officials, the organization has a robust coordinating process in place that precludes unintended overlap. However, through our survey and follow-up with relevant agency officials, we found examples of overlap in the following areas: (1) IED-related intelligence analysis: two organizations were producing and disseminating similar IED-related intelligence products to the warfighter, (2) C-IED hardware development: two organizations were developing similar robotics for detecting IEDs from a safe distance, and (3) IED detection: two organizations had developed C-IED initiatives using chemical sensors that were similar in their technologies and capabilities.Our survey results showed that a majority of respondents said they communicated with JIEDDO regarding their C-IED initiatives; however, JIEDDO does not consistently record and track this data. Based on our prior work, JIEDDO does not have a mechanism for recording data communicated on C-IED efforts. Therefore, these data are not available for analysis by JIEDDO or others in DOD to reduce the risk of duplicating efforts and avoid repeating mistakes.Why GAO Did This StudyImprovised explosive devices (IEDs) are the enemy’s weapon of choice (e.g., 16,500 IEDs were detonated or discovered being used against U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2011) and, according to the Department of Defense (DOD) will probably be a mainstay in any present and future conflict given their low cost to develop coupled with their potential for strategic impact. Multiple DOD components, including the military services, have been pursuing counter-IED (C-IED) efforts leading up to June 2005 when DOD established the Joint IED Defeat Task Force followed in 2006 with the establishment of the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) to lead and coordinate all DOD actions to defeat IEDs. From fiscal years 2006 through 2011, JIEDDO has received over $18 billion in funding, however, DOD has funded other C-IED efforts outside of JIEDDO, including $40 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.We reported in February 2012 that DOD does not have full visibility over all of its C-IED efforts. DOD relies on various sources and systems for managing its C-IED efforts, but has not developed a process that provides DOD with a comprehensive listing of its C-IED initiatives and activities. In response to our recommendation that the Secretary of Defense direct JIEDDO to develop an implementation plan for the establishment of DODs C-IED database including a detailed timeline with milestones to help achieve this goal, DOD officials said that a revision of DOD’s Directive 2000.19E will contain a new task requiring combatant commands, the military services, and DOD agencies to report C-IED initiatives to JIEDDO. This would include programming and funding pursued by a military service, combatant command, or other DOD component, in addition to activities funded by JIEDDO. In January 2012, DOD estimated it would complete draft revisions to DOD Directive 2000.19E in early 2012, but as of July 2012, Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) officials stated that the revised draft was under review at the OSD level, and therefore, not issued. In addition, according to JIEDDO officials, DOD is conducting an ongoing review of C-IED capabilities across the Department that may affect JIEDDO and the contents of the draft directive.This report responds to congressional request asking us to examine the potential for overlap and duplication in DOD’s C-IED efforts. Because DOD lacks a comprehensive database of C-IED initiatives, we conducted a department-wide survey to determine (1) the number of different C-IED initiatives and the organizations developing them from fiscal year 2008 through the closing date of our survey, January 6, 2012, and the extent to which DOD is funding these initiatives, and (2) the extent and nature of any overlap that could lead to duplication of C-IED efforts. In July 2012, we briefed committee staff on the results of our survey and analysis.For more information, contact Cary Russell at (202) 512-5431, or email@example.com.
- Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Participation in an Extraordinary Session of the Strategic Stability Dialogue with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov
January 10, 2022
- A Cosmic Baby Is Discovered, and It’s Brilliant
September 26, 2020Born from an exploded [Read More…]
- Justice Department Sues Monopolist Google For Violating Antitrust Laws
October 20, 2020Today, the Department of Justice — along with eleven state Attorneys General — filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms. The participating state Attorneys General offices represent Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.
- Science & Tech Spotlight: Advanced Plastic Recycling
September 14, 2021Why This Matters Plastic waste in the U.S. has grown tenfold from 1970 to 2018, while recycling rates have remained low. Mounting plastic waste in landfills and oceans can contaminate ecosystems and adversely affect human health and wildlife. Chemical recycling technologies have the potential to improve plastic recycling, but several challenges remain. The Technology What is it? Plastics are found in many everyday items—including food packaging, water bottles, bags, and appliances. They are largely made from fossil fuel-based chemicals combined with various additives—such as stabilizers or flame retardants—to achieve a desired result (e.g., strength, rigidity, color, heat resistance). The majority of plastic waste in the U.S. ends up in landfills, with a relatively small portion incinerated and an even smaller portion recycled. The accumulating plastic waste in landfills generally does not biodegrade or break down. Figure 1. Methods of plastic waste disposal in the U.S. Plastic recycling technologies reprocess or remanufacture plastic waste for reuse. Currently, the dominant technology for plastic recycling is mechanical recycling, which uses physical processes—such as sorting, grinding, washing, separating, drying, and re-granulating—to recover plastics that can be substituted for virgin, or new, plastics. However, mechanical recycling technology is expensive, labor intensive, and generally results in lower quality plastics than virgin plastics. Consequently, industry is considering advanced recycling technologies— namely, chemical recycling—as an alternative or complement to mechanical recycling. Chemical recycling technologies use heat, chemical reactions, or both, to recycle used plastic into virgin-equivalent plastic, fuel, or other chemicals. In addition, recent advances in sorting technology—one of the physical processes common to both chemical and mechanical recycling technologies—may also increase the efficiency of chemical recycling and lead to increased plastic recycling. For example, artificial intelligence technologies have the potential to increase automated sorting efficiency. Similarly, another advanced technology efficiently sorts materials by identifying their molecular vibrations. How does it work? Chemical recycling can promote a closed-loop system, known as a circular economy, wherein plastics are reused rather than discarded in landfills or incinerated. There are three general categories of chemical recycling technologies: conversion, decomposition, and purification. Figure 2. Closed-loop chemical recycling Conversion focuses on converting polymers—long-chain hydrocarbon molecules built from smaller repeating units called monomers—in mixed or sorted plastics into smaller molecules. This can occur through a variety of techniques, including pyrolysis and gasification. Pyrolysis, sometimes called “plastics to fuel,” turns plastic waste into a synthetic crude oil that can be refined into diesel fuel, gasoline, heating oil, or waxes. This process involves heating the plastic waste to high temperatures (300-900°C) in the absence of oxygen. Different forms of pyrolysis use different temperatures, pressures, and processing times. Gasification also heats plastic waste to high temperatures (500- 1300°C) in a low-oxygen environment to convert plastic waste to synthesis gas, or “syngas.” Syngas—a fuel mixture containing mainly hydrogen and carbon monoxide—can be combusted for electric power generation or converted into other fuels or chemicals, such as ethanol and methanol. Decomposition breaks down polymers in sorted plastics into monomers to produce new plastics. This decomposition can be done with heat or chemicals. Chemical decomposition uses solvents to break the polymers into monomers. Some decomposition technologies use enzymes to break down polymers at temperatures as low as room temperature, resulting in less energy consumption. Purification uses solvents to separate polymers from additives or contaminants. Unlike other types of chemical recycling, purification does not break or modify the polymer. Purification may be used with mixed or sorted plastics. How mature is it? While technologies such as pyrolysis and gasification are mature, their use in plastic recycling is relatively new, due in part to the low cost of virgin plastic material and the challenges associated with recycling contaminated or complex plastic products. Conversion is currently the most mature of the chemical recycling technologies, with several companies using pyrolysis, and at least one company using gasification on a commercial scale. Several companies are also developing, or are in the initial phases of piloting, thermal and chemical decomposition. Purification is the least mature chemical recycling technology, although research into it is ongoing. Advanced sorting technologies vary in maturity, with molecular vibrations for material identification already in use, and artificial intelligence sorting still under development. Opportunities Resource conservation. Chemical recycling can produce raw materials of virgin quality, thereby decreasing demand for fossil fuels and other natural resources. Reduced landfill use. A significant amount of plastic waste ends up in landfills. New technologies could reduce the need for landfills, which may reduce the release of harmful chemicals into the environment. New markets. Developing advanced recycling technologies could promote domestic business and employment. Chemical recycling creates a market for plastic waste and a new way to reuse some plastics. Challenges Adoption hurdles. Companies looking to use chemical recycling may face several hurdles, including process and technology challenges, high startup and operating costs, underdeveloped domestic markets for recycled products, and limited incentives for recycling innovation and investment. Suitability. Chemical recycling may not be suitable for all types of plastic, particularly when polymer chains are irreversibly bonded together. Competition. Virgin plastics are typically cheaper to produce than recycled plastics, in part due to transportation costs and limited recycling infrastructure, making it hard for recycling processes to compete. Policy Context & Questions With the volume of plastic waste expected to grow over time, some key questions for policymaker consideration include: What steps could the federal government, states, and other stakeholders take to further incentivize chemical recycling rather than disposal? What are the potential benefits and challenges of these approaches? What steps could policymakers take to support a transition toward a circular economy, including innovation and investment in manufacturing and recycling capacity? What might policymakers do to promote advanced recycling technologies while also reducing the hazards associated with existing plastic production and recycling methods? For more information, contact: Karen L. Howard at (202) 512-6888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks Via Webinar Announcing Two New Resources for Law Enforcement from Office on Violence Against Women
February 24, 2022Thank you, Allison – and good afternoon everyone, I am thrilled to be with you all virtually today for the public launch of two new resources from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW): the National Violence Against Women Law Enforcement Training and Technical Assistance Consortium – or, LETTAC for short – and the Domestic Violence Resource for Increasing Safety and Connection, or “DV RISC.”