Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 21, 2014

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on February 21, 2014

On this date (UTC) in 2011 a 6.1 earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand.   The prior September the city had experienced a 7.2 magnitude quake.  185 were killed.

On this date in 1891 an explosion of coal dust in a deep mine at Springhill, Nova Scotia killed 125 and injured many more.

On this date in 1970 a bomb detonated aboard SwissAir Flight 330.  While a controlled landing was attempted the plane crashed killing all 47 aboard.  On the same day a similar cargo bomb exploded in a second plane, but that aircraft was able to land safely.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

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38 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2014 @ 12:56 am

Since 2010 State and Local full time employment has declined by about 700,000 positions and seems to be likely to decline further.

What impact, if any, has this had on HS and EM capability and overall resilience in the USA?

A recent NY Times article stated that with over 1M private security guards that force outnumbers all K-12 teachers.

DHS producers NO statistics on the EM, HS, Public Safety community. Should DHS do so?

Does any open source document discuss death benefits for line-of-duty deaths awarded under the Federal Public Safety Officer awards statute? Last I heard this program, once FEMAs, administered now by DoJ awarded $150,000 for each death. Most federal gun and badge types can retire after 20 years!

BTW I estimate fewer than 20,000 EMs in the USA covering 90,000 gove

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2014 @ 12:58 am

continued: 90,000 governmental entities.

Comment by John Comiskey

February 21, 2014 @ 5:10 am

HLS ecosystems and collaboration

National Security and HLS are about many things. Above all, they are about diverse groups working together to both prosper and survive amid multidimensional threats, limited resources, and competing interests. The U.S. Intelligence Community and Thomas Friedman provide compelling arguments for NS/HLS predicated upon strategic collaboration.

The U.S. Intelligence Community’s 2014 worldwide threat assessment warns of rogue nation states, variant terrorist organizations and lone wolves, cyber vulnerabilities, climate change, environmental threats, scarce water resources, health threats, and others. The threats are many. The homeland is vulnerable. See: http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/140129/clapper.pdf

Thomas Friedman’s Feb 8, 2014 “Whose Garbage Is This Anyway?” identified a mingling of some of the above threats and a means to both prosper and survive, albeit in other homelands. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/opinion/sunday/friedman-whose-garbage-is-this-anyway.html and http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/20/magazine/the-way-we-live-now-01-20-02-on-language-homeland.html

Friedman informs us that garbage is dirtying the waters between Israel and the West Bank. Untreated/poorly treated waste water is sometimes used to irrigate crops and particularly date palms. The problem is mostly political as two sides of a political situation are unable to agree on how to treat the waste water. When winter storms came in 2013, floods blew away chunks of a political wall built to keep Palestinian suicide bombers out. Mother Nature laughs at “green” (political) lines.

Moreover, efforts of USAID to build a treatment plan to extract chromium 3 (a known carcinogen) from the Hebron Stream were thwarted by Israel after it was revealed that the sulfuric acid used in the treatment was a dual-use chemical that Palestinian terrorists could employ to make bombs.

Friedman argues that the Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians “actually” have all the resources needed to take care of everyone in the region, “but only if they collaborate.”

Yesterday, Phil Palin reminded us that the population is exploding and migrating to urban areas and is, therefore, more vulnerable. See: http://www.hlswatch.com/2014/02/20/more-more-concentrated-more-specialized-more-vulnerable/

Certainly, we must all collaborate or perish: See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu98o2zYKyU

Comment by E. Earhart

February 21, 2014 @ 6:44 am

Mr. Cumming,

I believe your first post highlights attributes that, if found on the positive side of the ledger, contribute to a resilient community. The intention of the following link is not resilience, but living well . . . does that not also include resilience?:

Investing in green space;
Investing in safe and secure neighborhoods;
Investing in happy employees;
Investing in world class health care and hospitals;
Investing in education and culture;
Investing in fitness and recreation; and
Rooting for the home team (“Pretty much any way you look at it, the more you identify with a local team, the more psychologically healthy you tend to be.”)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/18/pittsburgh-health_n_4339476.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Comment by E. Earhart

February 21, 2014 @ 6:49 am

For those who see weather/climate change/water supply as a threat to hls, perhaps the DODification of that ecosystem will help that cause.

Climate Change: climate change poses a serious threat to our national security, and that transitioning to alternative energy will enhance military effectiveness. Here are 15 current and former national security officials in their own words on the threat of climate change:

Thomas Fingar, former chairman of President Bush’s National Intelligence Council: “We judge global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. national security interests over the next 20 years … We judge that the most significant impact for the United States will be indirect and result from climate-driven effects on many other countries and their potential to seriously affect U.S. national security interests.”

Brig. General Steven Anderson, USA (Ret.), former Chief of Logistics under General Petraeus and a self-described “conservative Republican”: “Our oil addiction, I believe, is our greatest threat to our national security. Not just foreign oil but oil in general. Because I believe that in CO2 emissions and climate change and the instability that that all drives, I think that that increases the likelihood there will be conflicts in which American soldiers are going to have to fight and die somewhere.”

Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense: “[T]he area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security: rising sea levels, to severe droughts, to the melting of the polar caps, to more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense: “Over the next 20 years and more, certain pressures-population, energy, climate, economic, environmental-could combine with rapid cultural, social, and technological change to produce new sources of deprivation, rage, and instability.”

General Gordon Sullivan, USA (Ret.), former Army chief of staff: “Climate change is a national security issue. We found that climate instability will lead to instability in geopolitics and impact American military operations around the world.”

Comment by E. Earhart

February 21, 2014 @ 6:51 am

. . . Climate change, hls, DODification

Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN (Ret.): “If the destabilizing effects of climate change go unchecked, we can expect more frequent, widespread, and intense failed state scenarios creating large scale humanitarian disasters and higher potential for conflict and terrorism … The Department of Defense and national intelligence communities recognize this clear link between climate change, national security, and instability and have begun strategic plans and programs to both mitigate and adapt to the most likely and serious effects in key areas around the globe.”

General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.), former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Central Command and special envoy to Israel and Palestine under President George W. Bush: “It’s not hard to make the connection between climate change and instability, or climate change and terrorism.”

Admiral Joseph Lopez, USN (Ret.): “Climate change will provide the conditions that will extend the war on terror.”

General Chuck Wald, USAF (Ret.), former Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command under President George W. Bush: “People can say what they want to about whether they think climate change is manmade or not, but there’s a problem there and the military is going to be a part of the solution. It’s a national security issue because it affects the stability of certain places in the world.”

Brig. General Bob Barnes, USA (Ret.): “While most people associate global warming with droughts, rising sea levels, declining food production, species extinction and habitat destruction, fewer connect these impacts to increasing instability around the globe and the resulting threats to our national security. But the connection—and the threat it poses—is real and growing.”

Comment by E. Earhart

February 21, 2014 @ 6:52 am

. . . Climate change, hls, DoDification

Vice Admiral Richard Truly, USN (Ret.), former NASA administrator: “The stresses that climate change will put on our national security will be different than any we’ve dealt with in the past.”

General Paul Kern, USA (Ret.), Commander of the United States Army Materiel Command under President George W. Bush: “Military planning should view climate change as a threat to the balance of energy access, water supplies, and a healthy environment, and it should require a response.’

Lt. General Lawrence Farrell, USAF (Ret.): “The planning we do that goes into organizing, training, and equipping our military considers all the risks that we may face. And one of the risks we see right now is climate change.”

Admiral John Nathman, USN (Ret.), former Commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command under President George W. Bush: “There are serious risks to doing nothing about climate change. We can pay now or we’re going to pay a whole lot later. The U.S. has a unique opportunity to become energy independent, protect our national security and boost our economy while reducing our carbon footprint. We’ve been a model of success for the rest of the world in the past and now we must lead the way on climate change.”

Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, USN (Ret.): “The national security community is rightly worried about climate change because of the magnitude of its expected impacts around the globe, even in our own country … Climate change poses a clear and present danger to the United States of America. But if we respond appropriately, I believe we will enhance our security, not simply by averting the worst climate change impacts, but by spurring a new energy revolution.”

Comment by Claire B. Rubin

February 21, 2014 @ 7:52 am

The U.S. has a lot to learn from the Christchurch experience. and I have been trying to capture some of the lessons to be learned re recovery on my blog, http://RecoveryDiva.com

The ratio of damage to the central business district of this large city may be unique. And efforts to deal with it and recovery in a farsighted way are work considering.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2014 @ 7:55 am

SOMETHING THERE IS THAT DOES NOT LIKE A WALL!

Thanks as always John and Double E for comments.

I would add food and nutrition to the list of factors but perhaps already there as subcategory. Drinking water also.

Again a link to the seminal DSB 2011 report on climate change and national security:

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/dsb/climate.pdf

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2014 @ 8:05 am

The recent Presidential Executive Order signed on February 10th continues to bug me.

I think I finally know why! The National Security State [and it definitely is a STATE-perhaps even a nation-state] largely beyond the control of the voters and Congress is a designed to serve the President as Commander-In-Chief with large-scale personal perks and top-down deference.

The HLS mission is largely a collaborative cooperative one largely a civil function guided by the President in his Chief Executive role.

NO MATTER HOW HARD PRESIDENTS TRY THEY ARE MISTAKEN IN TRYING TO EXPAND THEIR COMMAND-IN-CHIEF ROLE INTO THEIR CHIEF EXECUTIVE DOMAIN!

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2014 @ 8:08 am

With respect to the IC [Intelligence Community] GAO in a recent report has inferentially concluded that the IC contractor community controls the IC!

THIS IS A MAJOR FAILURE OF GOVERNANCE IMO!

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2014 @ 8:17 am

NY Times reporting Governor Christie quote in his recent press conference:

“FEMA is the new F___ word!”

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2014 @ 9:09 am

The link to the GAO report on IC contractors set forth below:

http://www.fas.org/irp/gao/gao-14-204.pdf

Comment by john comiskey

February 21, 2014 @ 10:20 am

E. Earhart,

Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, USN (Ret.) comments below resonated with this hopeful but skeptical) blogger:
Climate change poses a clear and present danger to the United States of America. But if we respond appropriately, I believe we will enhance our security, not simply by averting the worst climate change impacts, but by spurring a new energy revolution.

The long gas lines that the Northeast endured during and after Superstorm Sandy were a sure tell that segments of our energy supply chain are not resilient. While the lines may have sparked impetus for change, the fundamental issue of energy security was largely ignored. Much the same could be said about the recriminations that followed the 1970′s energy crisis. See: http://www.npr.org/2013/10/29/241415235/fuel-supply-system-fixes-pick-up-gas-after-superstorm-sandy and http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08556t.pdf and https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40187.pdf

This blogger advocates an energy revolution tied to:
1. Energy R &D
2. Energy Conservation
3. Critical infrastructure and transportation design
4. New New-Deal that rebuilds national infrastructure
5. Water R & D, conservation, and supported by CI

Comment by Meredith

February 21, 2014 @ 12:13 pm

John:
I concur that HLS is about many things, but above all it’s about diverse groups working together. The article Defining Homeland Security we had to read for class emphasized this a few times and it was a common theme throughout all the different definitions of Homeland Security. Reese says “the homeland security enterprise encompasses a federal, state, local, and tribal government and private sector approach” (Reese, 2013). http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/R42462.pdf

After reviewing the 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community it is interesting to compare it to last year and see how fast the threats we face change. For example there has been quite an addition of regional threats we now face: The Sahel, East Africa, Resistance Army, Key Partnerships, etc. We are also facing threats we have been facing for quite some time such as cyber threats, homegrown threats, climate change, etc. In order to come out on top from all the threats we face it is critical that there is coordination amongst the homeland security enterprise.

Comment by john comiskey

February 21, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

MOOCs, nanotechnology and Arabs and Jews

Earlier in this blog I connected Israeli and Palestinian garbage and waste management to HLS. The IC and Tom Friedman provided compelling arguments for collaboration.

Frieman’s February 18th article “Breakfast Before the MOOC” affirms the argument. *Bloggers will have to google the article as this blogger has reached his 10 free article per month NYT’s limit and is unable to provide a hyperlink.

Apparently, an Israeli professor is teaching a Nanotechnology course on a MOOC platform. The professor’s university, the Technion is a premiere science and technology university and is locate in Israel. The course is available in both Arabic and English.

Some prospective students asked if the professor was real person. Another asked if the professor was an Arab or an Israeli Jew speaking Arabic pretending to be an Arab. They represented the few. So far there are 48,000 registrations for the Arabic version, including students from Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen, UAE, and the West Bank. Notably, Iranians are registering for the English version.

The professor said, “If the Middle East was like Technino, we would already have peace.”

Comment by Justin Blake

February 21, 2014 @ 2:44 pm

John, I completely agree with your point of climate change being one of the most dangerous threats to our nation. The impact climate change can have on the U.S. is mostly due to the size of the geography an event can cover at a single time. The events of Super-storm Sandy were compounded by the gasoline shortages experienced through-out the region. It is this bloggers belief that even if the regular supply chain was uninterrupted there would still be a critical shortage due to the drastic increase in volume of the gasoline. Citizens across the region were draining the reserves through a huge spike in demand caused by generator usage and the increase in emergency and utility workers in the area at the time. Most gas stations fill their tanks once every one or two weeks; during Sandy gas stations would run dry within hours of filling their reserve tanks. Compounding the problem was that much of the gas was being diverted to Department of Public Works (for emergency vehicles to fill their tanks) and for utility vehicles in order to keep repairs and emergency responders functioning. The only way I can see mitigating this problem is to have per-filled gas tankers staged at key areas ready to respond to any large-scale disaster. However, this would be a huge cost to tax-payers. The benefit may not be able to overcome the cost. Another issue with the gasoline was that many ports were destroyed making it impossible to have the large ships enter and unload their cargo. The roads were also blocked in many areas preventing travel by and normal road vehicles especially tanker trucks. Another issue encountered was the debris not just blocking the roads, but also causing tire blow-outs. When responding to towns with the fire department we had several instances where the tires were popping due to sharp objects in the roads, most of which were buried in sand, dirt, wood, metal, and other various items making it nearly impossible to see if the roads were safe to travel.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

John and Justin! I agree with your energy and energy supply chain concerns. Two problems! Energy supply chains in the USA a just-in-time system. Also the costs of energy fully born by th public and taxpayer now while benefits [largely in the form of profits fueled by tax breaks and political lobbying] are solely to the energy corporations.

90-95% of proven oil and gas reserves are held by nation-states now with Canada and the US the major exceptions.

In a lengthy 1982 legal opinion [unclassified] under a statutory mandate DoJ/OLC opined on the legal authority in place for a President or the Governors to allocate or apportion energy supplies. Perhaps remarkable the opinion concluded some Governors had more authority than the President to allocate or apportion.

The fallout from the recent shortages of propane and price spikes even now may reach a crisis for some consumers of propane.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

February 21, 2014 @ 6:59 pm

John,

Here is the link for “Breakfast Before the MOOC:”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/19/opinion/friedman-breakfast-before-the-mooc.html?_r=0

Comment by Ashley

February 21, 2014 @ 8:12 pm

John :
Collaboration is extremely important in so many different aspects. I agree with Friedman’s statement that the Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians have all resources but they need to collaborate. There has been no treatment because two sides are basically too stubborn to come to an agreement. This blogger feels as though the different areas involved need to collaborate for the sake of the safety of the communities involved.

In one of my classes we are discussing FEMA’s whole community approach. This blogger feels as though the whole community approach is a good comparison of how collaboration is of such high importance. Collaboration between local, state and federal government has proven to be more effective than one level of government working by themselves. If collaboration can be sought after in different areas such as Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians then more agreements could possibility be made.

Comment by E. Earhart

February 21, 2014 @ 8:22 pm

Who’s your Doggie?
The Strays of Sochi: Subject to CBP Inspection

As the Olympic Games wind down in Sochi, Russia, U.S. athletes will be returning home, many have reportedly made plans to adopt one or more of the hundreds of stray dogs roaming Sochi.

The Sochi strays-like all live animals-are subject to CBP inspection at U.S. ports of entry. Of course, it is one thing to board a flight home with “man’s best friend,” but it is quite another to clear Customs and Border Protection with any animal from foreign destinations.

Enter CBP agriculture specialists, who encounter all kinds of live animals every day at U.S. land, sea and air ports of entry. The Sochi strays-like all live animals-are subject to CBP inspection at U.S. ports of entry. Normally, dogs must have a certificate showing they have been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to entry. If a dog appears to be ill, then further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner’s expense may be required.

The Sochi strays, however, have no such documentation and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Russia is not considered rabies free. That is likely to present challenges for travelers returning with dogs from Sochi.

Comment by E. Earhart

February 21, 2014 @ 8:41 pm

Public Safety Officer’s Benefit Act of 1976

PSOB program, administered by the Department of Justice, provides a one-time benefit to eligible survivors of public safety officers whose deaths were the direct and proximate result of an injury sustained in the line of duty.

Current covered populations include EMTs, firefighers, LEOs, and certain FEMA personnel.

1976-1988 death benefit was $50K
2014 death benefit $ 333,604.68, plus college scholarship money for the surviving children, if they qualify.

Currently a legislative proposal to make eligible TSA Security Officers, as a category of workers eligible for death benefits, retroactive to November 1, 2013.

This would then cover TSA Officer Geraldo Hernandez killed November 1, 2013.

http://www.scpr.org/news/2014/02/20/42348/california-congresswoman-julie-brownleys-legislati/

Comment by E. Earhart

February 21, 2014 @ 9:03 pm

Phil, the skies in the early 70′s were really Wild West!

Prior to 1972, there was limited screening of passengers at U.S. airports.

Between 1968 -1972, there were 364 hijackings.

Screening protocols at the time did not require every passenger and their carry on items be screened, but only those who met a profile established by the FAA.

Then Delta Flight 871 and George Wright-July 31, 1972

Delta Air Lines Flight 841 was an aircraft hijacking that took place beginning on Monday, July 31, 1972, on a flight originally from Detroit to Miami.

Members of the Black Liberation Army took over the airplane in flight using weapons smuggled on board, including a bible cut out to hold a handgun.

The plane flew to Miami where the 86 hostage-held passengers were released in exchange for $1 million in ransom. The plane was then flown on to Boston where it refueled before flying to Algeria

Comment by E. Earhart

February 21, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

$1 Million Dollar Ransom Delivered by FBI agents in wearing Speedos

Four of the five hijackers were captured in Paris on May 26, 1976. The remaining hijacker, George Wright, had been convicted for murder during an armed robbery in 1962, eight years into his prison sentence he escaped from prison and two years after that highjacked Flight 841.

Comment by E. Earhart

February 21, 2014 @ 9:29 pm

Casas Novas Portugal-September 27, 2011- The FBI Gets their man! Perfect Example of Inter-agency Collaboration!

Michael Ward, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI’s Newark Division, remarked: “The investigation into George Wright serves as an example of law enforcement strength and tenacity. Even after 40 years, the commitment of law enforcement is unwavering. This case should also serve notice that the FBI’s determination in pursuing subjects will not diminish over time or distance.”

Juan Mattos, United States Marshal for the District of New Jersey, added: “The United States Marshals Service recently celebrated its 222nd year of constitutional authority, and this investigation of George Wright, with our partner agencies, the New Jersey Department of Corrections, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Judiciary Police in Portugal, defines our relentless pursuit of felon fugitives both domestically and internationally. This was a perfect example of interagency cooperation.

http://www.fbi.gov/newark/press-releases/2011/international-fugitive-captured-after-more-than-40-years

Comment by E. Earhart

February 21, 2014 @ 9:34 pm

Moral of the Story . . . Don’t make FBI Agents deliver ransom money wearing only Speedos!!

Shortly thereafter, the Nixon Administration instructed the FAA to adopt emergency regulations to ensure that all passengers and their carry-on items be inspected.

The birth of Airport/Aviation Security as we know it today. Some people did not like it then and some don’t like it now.

Comment by E. Earhart

February 21, 2014 @ 9:42 pm

Prescient Case Law

United States v. Edwards, 498 F.2d 496, 500 (2nd Cir. 1974) (Friendly, J.)

“When the risk is the jeopardy to hundreds of human lives and millions of dollars of property inherent in the pirating or blowing up of a large airplane, the danger alone meets the test of reasonableness, so long as the search is conducted in good faith for the purpose for preventing hijacking. . .To brand such a search as unreasonable would go beyond any fair interpretation of the Fourth Amendment.”

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2014 @ 10:35 pm

Double E! Many thanks for the wonderful research efforts reflected in your comments! Not just on this post. WELCOME ABOARD HLSWATCH!

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

Confirming Double E’s comments and from the NY Times Editorial Board:

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD FEB. 21, 2014

“The list of infectious diseases that could leap from remote areas of the world to strike countries thousands of miles away is growing. A warning of what can happen occurred a decade ago when an outbreak in China of a mysterious new viral disease, known as SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, was covered up by the Chinese authorities, allowing infected airline passengers to carry the virus to more than two dozen other countries. The disease killed nearly 800 people and caused large economic losses in Asia and Canada.

Now longstanding worries that such deadly viruses as Ebola might be carried from Africa to the United States and elsewhere have been joined by new concerns. These include, among others: potentially dangerous strains of avian flu recently detected in China; a newly discovered and often lethal lung disease, known as Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, which has so far been found mostly in Saudi Arabia; multidrug-resistant strains of tuberculosis that are very difficult to treat; and a painful mosquito-borne viral disease known as Chikungunya fever, which was first detected in Africa, spread to Asia and Europe, and recently invaded the Caribbean.

Beyond these natural threats lurk man-made threats, such as biological weapons that could kill millions and the danger that deadly pathogens being studied in laboratories might escape confinement or be deliberately released to set off a pandemic.

It made good sense, then, when the Obama administration, after meeting with representatives of three United Nations agencies and 26 countries last week, announced an ambitious plan to improve the surveillance and treatment of infectious diseases over the next five years in up to 30 countries.

There is much to be done. Although 196 countries have signed an international agreement, reached in 2005, to report outbreaks promptly to the World Health Organization and take steps to control them, the vast majority have not fully complied. The odds for improvement this time around may be better. The health systems in poor countries, though still fragile, have improved thanks to international programs to combat AIDS and other diseases, and those systems could be expanded.

A pilot project in Uganda last year, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed that biological specimens from sick patients could be gathered in remote areas of the country and carried by motorcycle and overnight delivery service to a well-equipped central laboratory, and the test results could be transmitted back by cellphone to the remote areas. A new technology currently being tested in Uganda is a dipstick, like those used for pregnancy tests, that can diagnose pneumonic and bubonic plague at the patient’s bedside in 20 minutes.

A relatively small investment can get this health security initiative off the ground. The Defense Department and C.D.C. are spending a combined $40 million this year (mostly from the Pentagon budget) to help detect and contain infectious disease threats in 10 countries. The administration said that it will propose an increase of $45 million in the C.D.C. budget for 2015 to help additional countries.

Congress ought to approve that money. A five-year program to extend assistance to 30 countries to protect their populations could cost the United States up to $1.5 billion, which would be worth spending if the initial projects prove successful. Other advanced nations need to contribute money and expertise, too. Diseases know no borders, and a health crisis in one country could, without control, become one.”

Comment by Christopher Tingus

February 22, 2014 @ 6:52 am

Friday Free Forum:

Crisis Threatens Russia as Ukraine Spins Out of Control
ambroseevansPritchard,teleGraPh | February20

The dramatic escalation of Ukraine’s civil conflict and fears of Russian military intervention have sent financial tremors across Eastern Europe, turning the region into the new fulcrum of the emerging market crisis.

“This has suddenly gone from a domestic Ukrainian story into a geopolitical clash,” said Lars Christensen, from Danske Bank.

The Russian ruble has fallen to a record low against the euro, with contagion reaching Poland, Hungary and Romania in recent days. “The moves in Russia are very like the events during the war in Georgia in 2008. Markets are pricing in the risk of Russian intervention,” he said.

Any deployment of Russian troops to stiffen the Ukrai- nian government—even if invited by President Viktor Yanukovich—could spiral out of control, leading to an East-West standoff not seen since the Cold War. It might [have] even been seen as replay of Russian intervention in Hungary in 1956 to prevent the country slipping out of the Soviet sphere.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called Ukraine a “powder keg” as the death toll rose to 70, while Poland’s premier Donald Tusk warned of civil war.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the dem- onstrators fascists bent on a 1930-style “Brown Revolution.” Moscow has accused the EU of instigating a coup d’état by mob violence.

Regis Chatellier, from Société Générale, said there is a “high risk” that Ukraine will be pushed into default on its €60 billion (us$82.4 billion) sovereign debt, triggering a credit shock for Russian banks. Sberbank and vtb are both large holders of Ukrainian bonds. Global emerging market bond funds hold 3 percent of their portfolio in Ukrainian debt. “The spillover effect of a Ukrainian default would be significant, but not systemic,” he said.

The decision by the Ukrainian nationalist stronghold of Lvov this week to declare “independence” from Kiev has upped the ante, creating a volatile climate in which the Ukrainian Army may be forced to intervene to head off civil war.
“Ukraine is on the verge of splitting into two countries. We’re looking at events that we have not seen in Europe since the breakup of Yugoslavia,” said one City economist with links to Lviv. “When you have this level of hatred and mistrust, anything can happen.” …

Military intervention to subjugate the rebels in the Catholic strongholds of Western Ukraine orbit could lead to a quagmire. …

Russia largely escaped the first wave of the emerging market crisis—mostly directed against those, like Tur- key, South Africa and Brazil, with large current account deficits—but is now at the epicenter as worries switch to geopolitics. The ruble has fallen 10 percent against the dol- lar this year. …
The Ukrainian crisis is happening against a backdrop of stress for emerging markets as the U.S. Federal Reserve and China’s central bank tighten monetary policy. This is forc- ing a string of countries to tighten in lock-step to shore up their currencies, even if their own economies are slowing.

The International Monetary Fund said in a report for the G-20 summit this weekend that emerging market woes are the key risk for global recovery, warning that a trifecta of “capital outflows, higher interest rates and sharp currency depreciation” could set off a corporate debt crisis.
Société Générale said in a new report that emerging markets have risen from 18 percent of world output to 40 percent over the past 20 years, implying that a broad up- heaval in these countries today would have “much greater ramifications for the global economy.”

submitted by Christopher Tingus
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA
chris.tingus@gmail.com

re Homeland Security and A Weakened America

Comment by Christopher Tingus

February 22, 2014 @ 6:57 am

Friday Free Forum:

The United States of Decline
deroy murdock, NatIONal revIeW | February 17

america is unraveling at a stunning
speed and to a staggering degree. This decline is breathtaking, and the
prognosis is dim.

For starters, Obama now rules by decree. Reportedly for the 27th time, he has changed the rules of Obamacare singlehandedly, with neither congres- sional approval nor even ceremonial resolutions to limit his actions. Obama needs no such frivolities.

“That’s the good thing about being president,” Obama joked on Febru- ary 10. “I can do whatever I want.” In an especially bitter irony, Obama uttered these despicable words while guiding French President François Hollande through Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson—a key architect of America’s foundation of limited government. That very day, Obama decreed that
the Obamacare mandate for employ- ers with 50 to 99 workers would be postponed until 2016 (beyond an earlier extension to 2015), well past the November 2014 midterm elections.

This eases the pressure on Democrats, whose campaigns would suffer if voters saw their company health plans canceled due to Obamacare’s unneces- sary, expensive, mandatory benefits— e.g. maternity coverage for men.
So, by fiat, Obama has postponed the employer mandate. …

Also by decree last week, Obama decided unilaterally to soften political asylum rules. Refugees and other immigrants who provide terrorists
“limited material support” now can come to America. …

Meanwhile, the Justice Depart- ment is working hard to revoke the asylum of and deport the Romeikes. This evangelical-Christian family was granted refuge in America to escape prosecution for homeschool- ing their children, which German law forbids. ..The transparent electoral motive that fuels so many of Obama’s executive orders seems unprecedented. The tone is also brand new. Obama’s predecessors have signed executive orders and, more or less, left it at that. But Obama pounds his chest as he does so. As he told Congress at last month’s State of the Union address: “America does not stand still—and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand op- portunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”
While appalled Republicans sat on their hands, Democrats stood up and shouted like equatorial, rubber-stamp parliamentarians: “Hooray! We are irrelevant!”
Chilling. …

Rather than resist an increas- ingly weak—yet ever more assertive— Obama, gop congressional leaders hand him whatever he wants. …

Also, Earth’s sole superpower is sagging where it should be No. 1.
America has slouched to No. 12 on the 2014 Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom.

“Now considered only a ‘mostly free’ economy, the U.S. has earned the du- bious distinction of having recorded one of the longest sustained declines in economic freedom, second only to
Argentina, of any country in the [20- year] history of the Index,” the report states. “The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic free- dom each of the past seven years.” …

Thanks, in part, to Team Obama’s surveillance of journalists from Fox News Channel and the Associated Press, America tumbled 13 spots down Reporters Without Borders’ 2014 World Press Freedom Index. The U.S. dropped this year from No. 33 to No. 46. Hence, 45 nations now have freer journalists than does America. rwb calls America “satisfactory” rather than the top-rated “good.”

As the report states: “Amid an all-out hunt for leaks and sources, 2013 will also
be the year of the Associated Press scandal, which came to light when the Department of Justice acknowledged that it had seized the news agency’s phone records.”

America is a total mess.

submitted by Christopher Tingus
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA
chris.tingus@gmail.com

re Homeland Security and A Weakened America

Comment by E. Earhart

February 22, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

Any Takers?

FEMA Seeks Applicants for National Advisory Council

Note: Individuals appointed for these positions will serve as a Special Government Employee. For more information on requirements, please visit http://www.oge.gov/Topics/Selected-Employee-Categories/Advisory-Committee-Members/.

For more information on the NAC visit: http://www.fema.gov/national-advisory-council

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is requesting individuals who are interested in serving on the National Advisory Council (NAC) to apply for appointment. The NAC is an advisory council established to ensure effective and ongoing coordination of federal preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation for natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.

The NAC advises the FEMA Administrator on all aspects of emergency management while incorporating the whole community’s input through appointed council members.

The NAC consists of up to 35 members, all of whom are experts and leaders in their respective fields. The members of the NAC are appointed by the FEMA Administrator and are composed of federal, state, tribal, local, private sector, and non-profit leaders and subject matter experts in a wide range of disciplines.

Appointments are for a three-year term.

Comment by E. Earhart

February 22, 2014 @ 12:51 pm

Or this . . .

The Congressional Research Service (CRS)-
Analyst in Intelligence and National Security

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/361376800

CRS Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade (FDT) Division is seeking an Analyst in Intelligence and National Security to track and analyze policy issues related to intelligence and national security. The analyst will provide objective public policy analysis and consultation to congressional committees, Members, and staff.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 22, 2014 @ 2:12 pm

Double E! As to FEMA’s NAC over the years I have encouraged people in the categories that I knew to outstanding in EM in both their knowledge base and competency and experience. Many applied. Some received acknowledgement, some did not. None were accepted. One disqualifier was if you had ever been a federal civil servant. The selection was largely political and perhaps a payoff for some past contribution to then party in power.

The then statutory FEMA Advisory Council established in the original Presidential Reorganization Plan of 1978 by President Carter was finally disestablished by FEMA Director James Lee Witt. And never reestablished until Congress did so by PKEMRA 2006!

The Federal Advisory Committee Act [1974?] still is in effect but largely ignored even by the Congress which liberally grants statutory exemptions to FACA.

Most agency heads can obtain advice outside of this formal committee structures except for Ex Parte discussions during formal rulemaking. Yet the formal reports of these Committees are often of value even if just as benchmarks. Some became seminal recommendations and identifiers of problems and solutions.

As to the CRS job announcement these jobs are often held by PhDs or PhD candidates. I have number of friends there now and in the past.

The people of the US owe a debt of gratitude, as does Congress, for the outstanding work of CRS employees which is on a nonpartisan basis.

I hope the most qualified continue to apply to both the NAC and CRS.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 22, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

I believe CRS officially part of the Library of Congress currently has about 1200 employees.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 23, 2014 @ 8:50 am

Chris! Thanks for these useful links!

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