Mystery Solved — Karen Kaplan in the Los Angeles Times tells us about the newly uncovered origins of H1N1. She writes, “The new H1N1 strain is based primarily on an unusual influenza virus that has been circulating widely in U.S. pigs since the mid-1990s. That “triple reassortant” flu is actually a combination of classical swine flu, a North American avian flu, and a strain of human flu. Somehow, a single pig became simultaneously infected with that virus and a pure swine flu strain found in pigs in Europe and Asia.”
All Alone and No-where to Go — Writing in the Guardian, Ian Black and Richard Norton-Taylor tell us, al-Qaeda’s
activity is increasingly dispersed to “affiliates” or “franchises” in Yemen and North Africa, but the links of local or regional jihadi groups to the centre are tenuous; they enjoy little popular support and successes have been limited. Lethal strikes by CIA drones – including two this week alone – have combined with the monitoring and disruption of electronic communications, suspicion and low morale to take their toll on al-Qaida’s Pakistani “core”, in the jargon of western intelligence agencies…”Core” al-Qaida is now reduced to a senior leadership of six to eight men, including Bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to most informed estimates.
Tag-Teaming Northcom — In an unusual display of bicameral cooperation, on Friday, September 11 both the House Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee gave headline attention to “insufficient coordination and synergy” between Northern Command and the state and local civilian authorities the DoD operation was established to support. Both committees point to a GAO report, obviously timed to be released on 9/11, entitled, Homeland Defense: U.S. Northern Command Has a Strong Exercise Program, but Involvement of Interagency Partners and States Can Be Improved. As of early Monday morning, GAO has not yet made the report available to the public, but the House Committee website is providing a link to the full report.
The Watch will give extended attention to the GAO report and related issues on Wednesday… if not before.
Mystery Continued — Jason Gale, with Bloomberg, reports on continuing efforts to determine why and how H1H1 “is lethal to a portion of young people in good health.” He leads with the attention-grabbing tale of “a 34-year-old New Zealander with no pre-existing medical conditions, (who) spent 11 days in a coma induced by doctors in a last-ditch effort to save his life.”
I like to Watch — California Watch, a new project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, is premiering with an indepth series on alleged fraud, waste, and abuse in expenditure of Homeland Security funds. According to the CW blog, the “series of stories written by reporter G.W. Schulz focus on waste and mismanagement in the state’s homeland security grant programs. He had a lot to work with. Schulz, a staff member at the Center for Investigative Reporting, found scores of examples of waste, questionable expenditures and a lack of oversight.”