Newsletter

The Paper Trail: May 10, 2024

Border Patrol Brass Party With Tequila Mogul; Lax Testing of Bird Flu; $11 Million in Improper VA Bonuses; and More. 

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The Paper Trail

Top stories for May 10, 2024

Two top Border Patrol officials who partied with Mexican tequila mogul are now under investigation: Border Patrol chief Jason Owens and Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol sector chief Gloria Chavez are under investigation after they partied with and were hosted by a wealthy Mexican tequila maker who hoped to make a Border Patrol-branded tequila. Their relationship stretches back to at least July 2023, when the tequila maker hosted a party for CBP leadership in Laredo, Texas. (Julia Ainsley, Didi Martinez, and Laura Strickler, NBC News)

Committee member behind independent report on FDIC harassment says recommendations don’t go far enough: Major changes are likely at the FDIC following the release of a report that found the agency was rife with sexual harassment, discrimination, and other interpersonal misconduct. But what those reforms should look like, including whether the current chairman should resign, is proving thorny. (Sean Michael Newhouse, Government Executive)

Judge hearing noncompete cases holds stock in companies that use noncompetes: Judge J. Campbell Barker, who is presiding over a challenge to the FTC’s ban on noncompete agreements, owns as much as $665,000 in companies that regularly use those agreements. (David Dayen, The American Prospect)

Nine solitary studies: Over 11,000 people incarcerated in federal prisons are in solitary confinement, which a growing body of evidence identifies as causing profound and lasting harm while failing to make prisons safer. Yet there has been little change in Federal Bureau of Prisons policy. (Katie Rose Quandt, The American Prospect)

Noncitizen voting is rare. Republicans are focusing on it anyway: Critics warn that attempts to crack down on noncitizen voting could suppress the votes of Latino voters and lead to database mismatches that push legitimate voters off the rolls. (Colby Itkowitz, Patrick Marley, and Clara Ence Morse, Washington Post)

🔎 See Also: In Arizona, election workers trained with deepfakes to prepare for 2024 (Sarah Ellison and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Washington Post)

Environmental changes are fueling human, animal and plant diseases, study finds: Biodiversity loss, global warming, pollution, and the spread of invasive species are making infectious diseases more dangerous to organisms around the world. Surprisingly, researchers also found that urbanization decreased the risk of infectious disease. (Emily Anthes, New York Times)

Israel-Hamas War

Biden’s weapons sales to Israel breach legal limits, former officials say: While the Biden administration has expressed alarm over civilian casualties in Gaza, former officials say it has sidestepped laws governing foreign arms transfers intended to prevent those weapons from being used in violation of international humanitarian law. (Louisa Loveluck, Washington Post)

How Republicans echo antisemitic tropes despite declaring support for Israel: Prominent Republicans have seized on campus protests to assail what they say is antisemitism on the left. But for years they have mainstreamed antisemitic rhetoric in campaign emails, press releases, tweets, and newsletters. (Karen Yourish et al., New York Times)

Insurrection

“You’re a go”: How miscues and confusion delayed the National Guard on Jan. 6: New testimony underscores how a critical miscommunication between Christopher Miller, the secretary of defense at the time, and Ryan McCarthy, the secretary of the Army, contributed to a four-hour delay in deploying troops to the insurrection. (Luke Broadwater, New York Times)

Dobbs Aftermath

Dobbs was a gift to domestic abusers: Abusers can use abortion bans to prevent partners from leaving or retaliate against them if they do. Even before Roe was overturned, laws meant to restrict abortion access heightened the risk of domestic violence. (Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic)

Medical residents are starting to avoid states with abortion bans, data shows: According to new statistics, for the second year in a row, students graduating from U.S. medical schools were less likely to apply for residency positions in states with abortion bans and other significant abortion restrictions. (Julie Rovner and Rachana Pradhan, NPR)

COVID-19

Countries struggle to draft “pandemic treaty” to avoid mistakes made during COVID: Countries are still struggling to come up with a plan for how the world will respond to the next global outbreak. (Maria Cheng and Jamey Keaten, AP News)

Defense and Veterans Affairs

VA improperly approved nearly $11 million in bonuses for execs, watchdog finds: According to an inspector general report, VA improperly handed out almost $11 million in bonuses to 182 senior agency officials last year, with several taking home more than $100,000. (Lisa Rein, Washington Post)

Apache crash at Fort Riley injures two, latest in string of mishaps: This week’s AH-64 Apache helicopter crash at Fort Riley is the latest in a recent series of flying mishaps for Army pilots. Twelver crashes in the past six months have killed nine soldiers and one Border Patrol agent. (Jeff Schogol, Task & Purpose)

For another year, DoD fails to make condolence payments to civilian harm victims: Once again, the Pentagon reported that, for the previous year, it made zero ex gratia payments to civilians harmed by U.S. operations. The lack of payments is especially surprising given the explicit authorization of $3 million annually for this purpose, and the many requests from civilian survivors whose harm the military has confirmed. (Joanna Naples-Mitchell and Annie Shiel, Just Security)

Business and Finance

Tesla is under a federal wire fraud probe for misleading investors: The DOJ is investigating whether Tesla committed securities or wire fraud by making misleading statements about its electric vehicles’ self-driving capabilities. (Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica)

No one has seen the data behind Tyson’s “climate friendly beef” claim: Environmental groups question the meat industry’s claim that its products are “climate friendly” or “low carbon” and petitioned the USDA to stop the industry from using those labels. (Georgina Gustin, Ars Technica)

Shareholders pressure Barclays to pull back on financing for fracking: Shareholder proposals on environmental issues have been on the rise in recent years, but overall support has been muted. (Claire Brown, Wall Street Journal)

Tech

TikTok sues federal government over potential U.S. ban: TikTok and ByteDance claim the new law forcing the company to sell the platform to a non-Chinese company or face a ban violates users’ First Amendment rights. The lawsuit also argues that a divestiture within the law’s 270-day time frame isn’t possible. (Rachel Scott, ABC News)

🔎 See Also: TikTok to start labeling AI-generated content as technology becomes more universal (Michelle Chapman, Associated Press)

Meet AdVon, the AI-powered content monster infecting the media industry: In a practice that blurs the line between journalism and advertising, AdVon Commerce is using AI to generate content under fake bylines for Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and other publications. (Maggie Harrison Dupré, Futurism)

Health Care

How poor tracking of bird flu leaves dairy workers at risk: The estimated 100,000 people who work on U.S. dairy farms — most of whom are immigrants, often undocumented, who may not be protected by occupational safety laws — are at high risk for bird flu. Yet there has been virtually no testing on farms, and health officials know little about who may be infected. (Apoorva Mandavilli, Linda Qiu, and Emily Anthes, New York Times)

Hack targeting hospital chain Ascension is impacting patient care: The network of 140 hospitals is the latest victim of a cyberattack targeting medical infrastructure, underscoring the vulnerability of America’s health care system. (Daniel Gilbert, Joseph Menn, and Dan Diamond, Washington Post)

Facing unchecked syphilis outbreak, Great Plains tribes sought federal help. Months later, no one has responded: The syphilis rate among Indigenous people in the Great Plains is higher than ever. Desperate for help, tribal leaders from four Great Plains states in February asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to declare a public health emergency. Becerra still hasn’t responded. (Anna Maria Barry-Jester, ProPublica)

ICYMI

Immigration and Border Security:

Biden administration will seek partial end to special court oversight of child migrants

Is Biden’s border plan working? Here’s how the top immigration official says it is

Border Patrol agent claims “cartels control the border” in NewsNation interview

Immigration agency response to AI order lags despite head start

Other News:

What Trump promised oil CEOs as he asked them to steer $1 billion to his campaign

Why are hate crimes so hard to convict in court?

AstraZeneca is withdrawing its COVID vaccine worldwide, citing low demand

Who ran this derogatory prison meme page at FCC Lompoc? A prison guard

Cruise ship drags dead whale into New York, prompting investigation

Upcoming Events

📌 Zoom Webinar: Using Oversight to Encourage, Not Hinder, User-Friendly Government Efforts in the Digital Age. Levin Center for Legislative Oversight and Democracy. Friday, May 10, 1:00 p.m.

📌 Zoom Webinar: Improving User Experience with Government Programs While Fighting Fraud. Levin Center for Legislative Oversight and Democracy. Monday, May 13, 12:00 noon.

📌 Reviewing and Examining the Francis Scott Key Bridge Federal Response. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Wednesday, May 15, 10:00 a.m., 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.

Hot Docs

🔥📃 VA OIG: VA Improperly Awarded $10.8 Million in Incentives to Central Office Senior Executives. 23-03773-169(PDF)

Nominations & Appointments

Nominations

  • Adam B. Abelson - Judge, United States District Court for the District of Maryland
  • Jeffrey Samuel Arbeit - Judge, United States Tax Court
  • Shannon A. Estenoz - Deputy Secretary of the Interior
  • Cathy Fung - Judge, United States Tax Court
  • Benjamin A. Guider III - Judge, United States Tax Court
  • Embry J. Kidd - Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • Christopher J. Lamora - Ambassador, Central African Republic
  • David Slayton Meale - Ambassador, Bangladesh
  • Joseph F. Saporito, Jr. - Judge, United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • Meredith A. Vacca - Judge, United States District Court for the Western District of New York