December 1, 2022

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Austin Powder Company Agrees to Improve Wastewater Treatment Facilities at Red Diamond Plant in McArthur, Ohio; Pay $2.3 Million Civil Penalty

12 min read
Austin Powder Company, owner and operator of the Red Diamond explosives manufacturing plant located near McArthur, Ohio, has agreed to implement significant upgrades to that facility’s wastewater treatment operations to resolve numerous Clean Water Act violations.

More from: March 16, 2022

  • Former Michigan Police Officer Sentenced to Three Years for Using Unreasonable Excessive Force During an Arrest
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    A former Hamtramck, Michigan, Police Department officer was sentenced today in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan for using unjustified and unreasonable excessive force during an arrest of a civilian and violating that civilian’s civil rights. As a result of the assault, the victim, identified in court documents only as D.M., suffered broken facial bones and lacerations requiring stitches, among other injuries.

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  • Federal Court Orders Tampa Pharmacy to Close in Case Alleging Unlawful Opioid Distribution
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    The Justice Department announced the launch of the department’s new Combatting Redlining Initiative today. Redlining is an illegal practice in which lenders avoid providing services to individuals living in communities of color because of the race or national origin of the people who live in those communities. The new Initiative represents the department’s most aggressive and coordinated enforcement effort to address redlining, which is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. 

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  • Justice Department Announces Results in Fight Against the Opioid Crisis Two Years after Launch of Operation S.O.S.
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    In July 2018, the Department of Justice announced the launch of Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge (S.O.S), a program aimed at reducing the supply of synthetic opioids in 10 high impact areas and identifying wholesale distribution networks and international and domestic suppliers.

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  • Virginia Attorneys Sentenced for Attempting to Extort a Multinational Chemicals Company
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    Two Virginia attorneys were sentenced today on federal extortion charges for their roles in a scheme to extort a multinational chemicals company by threatening to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if their demands for a $200 million payment disguised as a purported “consulting agreement” were not met.

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    In U.S GAO News
    In 2018, an estimated 2.7 million children lived with kin caregivers— grandparents, other relatives, or close family friends—because their parents were unable to care for them. Most of these children were cared for outside the foster care system, which can affect the types of services and supports available. While children did not live with parents for a variety of reasons, parental substance abuse and incarceration were often cited in data and in interviews with program officials. Most Children Living with Kin Are Not in Foster Care, 2018 Challenges faced by kin caregivers include having limited financial resources and needing legal assistance, particularly when caring for children outside foster care, according to survey data and studies GAO reviewed. This is, in part, because licensed foster parents generally receive foster care maintenance payments and other services. Officials in selected communities said they have addressed some challenges by, for example, providing temporary payments or legal representation to eligible kin caregivers. However, officials also said that program eligibility criteria or insufficient funds can limit availability or result in waiting lists. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides technical assistance and other support to help states use federal programs and initiatives established to serve kin caregivers. HHS officials said that these programs are optional, so they mainly provide assistance in response to states’ requests. However, this approach has not led to widespread use. For example, 23 states used the option under the National Family Caregiver Support Program to serve older relative caregivers with 1 percent or more of their fiscal year 2016 funds (spent through 2018). State officials said they would like more guides or tools for using these programs. By not proactively sharing information and best practices, HHS may be missing opportunities to help states better support kin caregivers. Grandparents and other kin often step in to provide stability and security when parents cannot care for their children. Taking on this responsibility can lead to significant hardships, especially for older caregivers. GAO was asked to study the challenges faced by grandparents and other older kin when becoming primary caregivers. This report examines (1) what is known about the numbers of grandparents and other kin serving as primary caregivers for children, and the reasons for that care; (2) challenges kin caregivers face and how officials report addressing them in selected communities; and (3) the extent to which HHS has supported states’ efforts to use relevant federal programs and initiatives. GAO analyzed U.S. Census Bureau survey and HHS administrative data; reviewed relevant literature, federal laws, regulations, guidance, and other documents; and interviewed officials from HHS, national organizations, and in four states (Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, and Ohio) and communities, selected for their relatively large numbers of grandparent caregivers and to reflect geographic and demographic diversity. GAO is making two recommendations to HHS on sharing information and best practices with states about federal programs that serve kin caregivers. HHS did not concur, stating that the agency already provides ongoing support. GAO maintains that implementing these recommendations would be helpful. For more information, contact Kathryn A. Larin at (202) 512-7215 or larink@gao.gov.

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    Today, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an advisory guidance document to help non-federal public and private entities better understand the federal laws and regulations that may apply to the use of capabilities to detect and mitigate threats posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations.

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  • Military Personnel: DOD Needs Data to Determine if Active Duty Service Has an Impact on the Ability of Guard and Reservists to Maintain Their Civilian Professional Licenses or Certificates
    In U.S GAO News
    Since 2001, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on more than 600,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve components to support various operations abroad and at home. In particular, from September 2001 to July 2007, the department deployed more than 434,000 reservists to support operations in DOD’s Central Command area of responsibility that includes Afghanistan and Iraq. Furthermore, DOD has modified its mobilization policy, which had previously limited the cumulative amount of time that reservists could be involuntarily called to active duty for the Global War on Terrorism. Under DOD’s new policy, which went into effect in January 2007, involuntary mobilizations for reserve component service members are generally limited to no more than 12 months, and there are no cumulative limits on these involuntary mobilizations. While on active duty, reservists may be unable to take the required professional development courses or periodic tests needed to retain their professional currency in fields such as accounting or software engineering. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects rights of qualifying National Guard members, reservists, and certain other members of the uniformed services returning to their civilian employment after being absent due to military service. The act, however, does not explicitly address issues related to licenses and certifications. In the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, Congress mandated that we examine the number and type of professional or other licensure or certification requirements that may be adversely affected by extended periods of active duty, and identify options that would help provide relief. Specifically for this report, our objectives were to examine (1) DOD’s efforts to identify the extent to which active duty service has had an impact on the ability of reservists to maintain professional licenses or certifications in their civilian careers, and (2) current relief options for addressing these issues if needed.The degree to which reservists serving on active duty have had difficulty maintaining professional licenses or certifications in their civilian careers is unclear, because neither DOD’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs nor the reserve components collect the necessary data to track and monitor the issue. While all members of the Ready Reserve are required to provide their civilian employment information upon joining the reserves and to review and update that information each year, the required information includes employment status, the employer’s name, the employer’s mailing address, the civilian’s job title, and the total number of years in the current occupation, but does not include information on the impact active duty service potentially has on maintaining licenses and certifications. Officials at DMDC, which administers DOD’s departmentwide Status of Forces Survey, confirmed that surveys of reservists conducted to date have not inquired about the impact of active duty service on a reservist’s ability to maintain civilian professional licenses and certifications. Without any initial information on the scope of the issue, DOD is unable to identify the extent, if any, of the impact of active duty on the ability of reservists to maintain professional licenses or certifications in their civilian careers. DOD’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs has not established relief policies and practices specifically designed to assist reservists in maintaining their civilian credentials. However, relief mechanisms do exist that may be applicable or serve as a model if DOD determines that a need exists to address the issue of expired professional licenses and certification. Some states, for example, have enacted provisions to provide relief to reservists in certain circumstances. In addition, different entities within DOD have developed programs and initiatives to assist servicemembers in obtaining licenses and certification. Further, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness administers a program for military spouses who have experienced similar challenges maintaining civilian professional licenses and certifications because of their partner’s active duty obligations. Although the focus of that program is on providing assistance to military spouses to acquire new licenses and certifications, military spouses who need to renew their credentials upon relocating, such as nurses, are also eligible. DOD reviewed a draft of this report but did not provide formal agency comments. DOD did provide technical comments and we made changes to the report where appropriate.

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  • Weapon System Sustainment: Aircraft Mission Capable Rates Generally Did Not Meet Goals and Cost of Sustaining Selected Weapon Systems Varied Widely
    In U.S GAO News
    Mission Capable Rates for Selected Department of Defense Aircraft GAO examined 46 types of aircraft and found that only three met their annual mission capable goals in a majority of the years for fiscal years 2011 through 2019 and 24 did not meet their annual mission capable goals in any fiscal year as shown below. The mission capable rate—the percentage of total time when the aircraft can fly and perform at least one mission—is used to assess the health and readiness of an aircraft fleet. Number of Times Selected Aircraft Met Their Annual Mission Capable Goal, Fiscal years 2011 through 2019 aThe military departments did not provide mission capable goals for all nine years for these aircraft. Aggregating the trends at the military service level, the average annual mission capable rate for the selected Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft decreased since fiscal year 2011, while the average annual mission capable rate for the selected Army aircraft slightly increased. While the average mission capable rate for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter showed an increase from fiscal year 2012 to 2019, it trended downward from fiscal year 2015 through fiscal year 2018 before improving slightly in fiscal year 2019. For fiscal year 2019, GAO found only three of the 46 types of aircraft examined met the service-established mission capable goal. Furthermore, for fiscal year 2019: six aircraft were 5 percentage points or fewer below the goal; 18 were from 15 to 6 percentage points below the goal; and 19 were more than 15 percentage points below the goal, including 11 that were 25 or more percentage points below the goal. Program officials provided various reasons for the overall decline in mission capable rates, including aging aircraft, maintenance challenges, and supply support issues as shown below. Sustainment Challenges Affecting Some of the Selected Department of Defense Aircraft aA service life extension refers to a modification to extend the service life of an aircraft beyond what was planned. bDiminishing manufacturing sources refers to a loss or impending loss of manufacturers or suppliers of items. cObsolescence refers to a lack of availability of a part due to its lack of usefulness or its no longer being current or available for production. Operating and Support Costs for Selected Department of Defense Aircraft Operating and support (O&S) costs, such as the costs of maintenance and supply support, totaled over $49 billion in fiscal year 2018 for the aircraft GAO reviewed and ranged from a low of $118.03 million for the KC-130T Hercules (Navy) to a high of $4.24 billion for the KC-135 Stratotanker (Air Force). The trends in O&S costs varied by aircraft from fiscal year 2011 to 2018. For example, total O&S costs for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (Navy) increased $1.13 billion due in part to extensive maintenance needs. In contrast, the F-15C/D Eagle (Air Force) costs decreased by $490 million due in part to a reduction in the size of the fleet. Maintenance-specific costs for the aircraft types we examined also varied widely. Why This Matters The Department of Defense (DOD) spends tens of billions of dollars annually to sustain its weapon systems in an effort to ensure that these systems are available to simultaneously support today’s military operations and maintain the capability to meet future defense requirements. This report provides observations on mission capable rates and costs to operate and sustain 46 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft in the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. How GAO Did This Study GAO was asked to report on the condition and costs of sustaining DOD’s aircraft. GAO collected and analyzed data on mission capable rates and O&S costs from the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force for fiscal years 2011 through 2019. GAO reviewed documentation and interviewed program office officials to identify reasons for the trends in mission capability rates and O&S costs as well as any challenges in sustaining the aircraft. This is a public version of a sensitive report issued in August 2020. Information on mission capable and aircraft availability rates were deemed to be sensitive and has been omitted from this report. For more information, contact Director Diana Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov.

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