The WHO is — finally — preparing to declare a phase 6 pandemic, according to several media reports. Several stories have appeared suggesting H1N1 has already met preexisting criteria for phase 6. But the WHO has held back due to the comparatively mild nature of the current outbreak and concern that the declaration would be misunderstood. See Bloomberg and Science Now for more.
A new survey finds that, “Nearly eight years after terrorists struck on U.S. soil, more than a third of Americans say they worry about the chance that they or their relatives might fall victim to a terrorist attack— essentially unchanged from 35 percent five years ago.” The AP/GfK poll asked the terrorism related questions as part of a broader set of inquiries on politics and the economy. See pages 5-7 of the survey results.
In an interesting example of a “cyber-accident” with potential implications for nuclear terrorism, please see today’s New York Times coverage of “US releases secret list of nuclear sites accidentally.” Is this the same document, still available from the Secrecy News site (and also Cryptome)? If so, get the 13 MB file asap. Further, if so, mea culpa mea maxima culpa, William R. Cumming forwarded notice of this site to me early Tuesday and I did not recognize the implications.
New contributions to the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management consider national security strategies, terrorist networks, cost-benefit analysis of regulations, and more.
Pakistan’s reassertion of state authority in the Swat Valley has resulted in the capture of the regional administrative center of Mingora. Several reports suggest that other cities in the area northwest of Islamabad are on the edge of being retaken. Refugees from the fighting are being urged to return home starting June 17. But the Taliban and its allies will challenge the government from rural and mountainous hide-outs. Meanwhile attention is increasingly focused on possible Pakistani military action in Wazistan on the Afpak border. This is thought to be where al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership is concentrated. In a front page piece focused on Waziristan the Monday Washington Post headlined, “A New Optimism in War on Al-Qaeda.”
Anonymous readers have sent along the following important links:
The Rockefeller Institute of Government has released a new study entitled, Who’s in Charge? Who Should Be? — The Role of the Federal Government in Megadisasters. “This report recommends the federal government response to disasters should be changed to allow the president to appoint quickly a special Officer-in-Charge — with pre-approved discretionary funding — to oversee and coordinate government efforts following a major catastrophic event.”
From yesterday’s Federal Register please read this gem: The Department of Homeland Security, Policy Directorate/Office of Strategic Plans… is soliciting comments concerning the Quadrennial Homeland Security Report… Ideas, comments, or position papers will also be solicited at the
outset of the review and accepted via electronic means. All submitted
position papers will inform the QHSR Study Groups as they initiate
their analyses. All homeland security stakeholders are eligible and are
invited to provide input.” HLSwatch will certainly be giving this much more attention.
Reader Contributions Elsewhere
Arnold Borgis, a regular reader and contributor to HLSwatch, encourages readers of the Huffington Post to take action in regard to the threat of nuclear terrorism. “Terrorist acquisition of a nuclear bomb, or the materials required to construct one, would fulfill President Obama’s warning that ‘one terrorist with one nuclear weapon could unleash massive destruction.’ Significant, if insufficient, action has been made toward preventing nuclear terrorism while little has been accomplished in terms of preparedness for an attack. Similar to pandemic flu planning, such efforts need to occur outside of Washington, DC and include private businesses and citizens.”
Peter J. Brown, another frequent analyst and commentator here, gives readers of the Asia Times a detailed report on lessons-learned from last year’s massive Chinese earthquake. “A formal assessment of China’s emergency response and recovery efforts following last year’s earthquake was issued in December under the auspices of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with assistance from the Bangkok-based Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. The ADB report, “People’s Republic of China: Providing Emergency Response to Sichuan Earthquake” is much longer – almost 200 pages – and, in many respects, more comprehensive and candid than the Chinese government’s official white paper. To get a complete picture, one must read both the white paper and the ADB report. “