House Passes Reauthorization Of Key U.S. Surveillance Program

6 weeks ago A supervisor who managed security at a South Carolina prison accepted more than $219,000 in bribes over three years and got 173 contraband cellphones for inmates, according to federal prosecutors.

Christine Mary Livingston, 46, was indicted earlier this month on 15 charges including bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.

Livingston worked for the South Carolina Department of Corrections for 16 years. She was promoted to captain at Broad River Correctional Institution in 2016, which put her in charge of security at the medium-security Columbia prison, investigators said.

Livingston worked with an inmate, 33-year-old Jerell Reaves, to accept bribes for cellphones and other contraband accessories. They would take $1,000 to $7,000 over the smart phone Cash App money transfer program for a phone, according to the federal indictment unsealed Thursday.

Reaves was known as Hell Rell and Livingston was known as Hell Rell’s Queen, federal prosecutors said.

Both face up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and an order to pay back the money they earned illegally if convicted.

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President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday finalized a range of reforms designed to boost returns and address environmental harms from drilling on public lands, a move that will increase fees for oil and gas companies that operate there.

The new rules follow years of criticism from green and taxpayer groups that federal oil and gas development was not benefiting the public. Many of the changes by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) formalize provisions in Biden’s landmark climate change law, the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Under the new policy, oil and gas companies will pay higher bonding rates to cover the cost of plugging abandoned oil and gas wells as well as increased lease rents, minimum auction bids and royalty rates for the fuels they extract. The rules also limit drilling in sensitive wildlife and cultural areas.

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The U.S. House has passed a bill to reauthorize and reform a key U.S. government surveillance tool without including broad restrictions on how the FBI uses this crucial program to search for Americans’ data. But despite passage with bipartisan support, opponents of the final proposal forced a vote on a procedural motion to be taken early next week, further delaying the legislation being sent to the Senate. It is the latest in a series of hurdles for Speaker Mike Johnson who has been negotiating with far-right detractors of the legislation for weeks. The program is set to expire on April 19 if Congress does not act in time.