Brewster Rockit by Tim Rickard – May 23, 2009
If you took a Memorial Day break from homeland security news, congratulations. Here’s a quick review of some of the headlines since Friday afternoon.
Economic Mess - In a profile of the Secretary and DHS in Sunday’s Parade Magazine, Secretary Napolitano, “stands by her contention that hard times could encourage terrorism. The U.S. economic crisis ‘can have a destabilizing effect on other countries, which can result in terror or other acts of violence against us,’ Napolitano warns, adding that some Americans might be radicalized by unemployment and poverty as well.”
Pandemic - On Friday the World Health Organization concluded its Geneva annual meeting without scaling to phase 6: a full pandemic. Bloomberg reports, ” ‘What has become clear is that it is not just the spread of the virus that is considered important; it really is the impact on the populations,’ said Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security and environment, at a press briefing in Geneva. “This input needs to be considered from a phase 5 to phase 6 change.’” Forty-six nations are now reporting 12,515 laboratory confirmed cases of H1N1. The actual spread of the contagion is acknowledged to be considerably more wideapread. (See more from WHO update.)
Nuclear Terrorism - A second North Korean nuclear test on Monday underlined concerns regarding access to nuclear and radiological weapons by rogue states and terrorist groups. Stealing or purchasing an existing nuclear weapon from Pakistan or a former Soviet state is generally considered the most likely terrorist tactic. (See more from the Belfer Center at Harvard.)
Environment - A conference on climate change opened Sunday in Copenhagen. At the meeting former Vice President Gore said, “It’s time to act now… We have to do it this year, not next year,” Gore told the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen. “The clock is ticking because Mother Nature does not do bailouts.” (More from AFP) But some claim the Copenhagen process has been hijacked.
Hurricane Season- The official NOAA forecast for the Atlantic season anticipates an “average year” of four to seven hurricanes. FEMA administrator Fugate and Secretary Napolitano, in Florida for the season opening, said FEMA is ready. The Secretary emphasized what can be done now, “People understand you can’t skimp on preparedness even in tight economic times, and we are working with localities on their preparations now, making sure that centers are set up, equipment and food and water are in position so they can be delivered very quickly.” Without any hurricane in sight, northeast Florida has been flooded.
Tax-free Preparedness – Louisiana and Virginia have instituted a program of tax-free hurricane preparedness. Long advocated for broader adoption by In Case of Emergency, Read Blog this program encourages risk readiness with financial savings and corporate communications. Target stores, for example, are running related full-page advertisements in many Virginia newspapers. (See more from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.)
Hindu Kush – Pakistani troops and Taliban insurgents are engaged in house-to-house combat in Mingora, the principal city in the Swat Valley. There are some reports of 2.4 million internal refugees from the fighting in Pakistan’s mountainous northwest. From a US Homeland Security perspective, Pakistani military intervention is key to disrupting and destroying terrorist training operations along the Afpak border. But even as terrorist training operations in Pakistan are under pressure, some suggest an expanded training shop in Somalia.