Around Town …

  • Seattle resident Yuri Montgomery (aka, Yuri Malinkovski) received a New Year’s present of sorts from Uncle Sam. He was slapped with a $340,000 civil penalty and was banned from exporting from the U.S. for 30 years. If he behaves for ten years, the government will only require an up front payment $17,500. The balance of $322,500 will fester out there if he acts up again. What did he do? Exported items – mainly police equipment including boots and range clearing devices – subject to the Export Administration Regulations … while he prohibited from doing so because he was subject to Denial Order dated September 11, 2000.  Montgomery is a lucky man, he is not going to jail. He should have hired a lawyer earlier in this process. The December 30, 2010 Final Decision and General Order are available here.
  • A few days after Doña Hillary Clinton and Strongman Hugo Chavez shared a Kumbaya Moment, Chavez is making recommendations on who should serve as U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela. Among the nominees, Don Clinton and Sean Penn.  Whoever is running Western Hemisphere Affairs at the State Department or directing overall Latin America policy these days for the Obama Administration, well, let’s just say that it may be time for a “reset”.
  • The American Thinker penned an unusual item about security matter south of our southern border: Decorating Tijuana Bridges. According to the global intelligence company STRATFOR, entire Mexican provinces are now under the control of cartels (or, in some cases terrorist organizations). How much is the U.S. taxpayer investing for Mexico security training and assistance again? Not enough it seems; or maybe we’re not spending it the right way. That level of instability and violence we come to expect from Iraq or Afghanistan, not south of the U.S.-Mexico border. Hint: we should spend less on development programs, more on security and rule of law assistance.
  • Over at the Export Law Blog, a piece on how the “Census Blog Miffs Export Rules”
  • Roth Case Update: A U.S. Federal Court yesterday upheld the sentence of a University of Tennessee professor who violated the Arms Export Control Act by passing secrets to the Chinese. He was convicted for using foreign nationals on a military project and, to boot, took controlled data on the project in 2006. Professor Reece Roth used Iranian and Chinese nationals to work on developing plasma actuators for use on UAVs. He was sentenced to four years in prison. There are many lessons to be gleaned from the Roth case, especially for universities with robust research departments.
  • Rare earth elements-related CFIUS inquiry in the offing?
  • Google has been accused of a lot of things by detractors including invasion of privacy or facilitating human rights abuses in China, to name a few. How about inciting a war? The Nicaraguan government, slowly inching close to earning the title “regime,” has invaded an island based on intelligence it received from … Google Maps. The low level row has barely made the rounds in official Washington; however, there are reports that the Costa Ricans are asking the Obama Administration for assistance. Seriously though, folks who know a thing or two about the region argue that the ongoing river conflict – centuries old – is being used by Nicaraguan strongman Daniel Ortega to mask a domestic power grab he is preparing in anticipation for the upcoming elections. Ortega may want to avoid a constitutional action to remove him, except unlike Honduras were rule of law was the focus to keep out law breakers, Nicaraguans may be left unable to do a thing about the Sandinista power grab.
  • The Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee (ISTAC) will meet on January 26 and 27, 2011, 9 a.m., at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR), Building 33, Cloud Room, 53560 Hull Street, San Diego, California 92152. The Committee advises the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Export Administration on technical questions that affect the level of export controls applicable to information systems equipment and technology.
  • The Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee (SITAC) will meet on January 25, 2011, 9:30 a.m., in the Herbert C. Hoover Building, Room 3884, 14th Street between Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues, NW., Washington, DC. The Committee advises the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Export Administration on technical questions that affect the level of export controls applicable to sensors and instrumentation equipment and technology.
  • This item is a few weeks old but worth the mention: The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced before the Christmas holiday that PPG Paints Trading (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned Chinese subsidiary of United States-based PPG Industries, Inc., pled guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Export Administration Regulations, and other related charges. The combined $3.75 million in criminal and civil fines represents one of the largest monetary penalties for export violations in BIS’s history. The release is available here. According to the U.S. Government, the guilty plea stems from actions by PPG Paints Trading that caused the illegal export, reexport and/or transshipment of high-performance coatings from the United States to the Chashma 2 Nuclear Power Plant in Pakistan (Chashma 2), via a third-party distributor in the People’s Republic of China.
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